Thursday, July 15, 2004

Looking at my Apple Newton and back at the numerous "vintage" synthesizers I've had in the past, I must conclude that I have a borderline obsession with obsolete technology. This obsession definitely spills into the realms of video games. Though, in this, I feel much more justified. Say what you will about better sound, 3D graphics, intense cinematic cut scenes, at the end of the day, I will *still* throw myself around playing Bosconian (trying to make the quick turn), scream at the screen during Pac-Man and wile away dazed hours listening to the -annoying- Dig Dug music until Genevieve can't take it any more. But, put me in front of anything made after the 90's (except 'Resident Evil' or the first 'Serious Sam', both of which I love) and I'll play it, sure, but all of those elements designed to get me "into the game!", do less for me than those huge pixels of years ago.

I think, in part, it's living out memories from years ago. Heading over to my friend Jay's house to play Zelda and Ninja Gaiden on the NES. (Side note: I look at the PS2's and such today and no matter HOW cool it is/was to have one of those now, it stands no-where-close to how cool it was to have an NES in the 80's. I mean, in 2 years, PS2's will be on sale in the bargain bin somewhere. While the newest issue of 'Nintendo Power' was something to be simply *drooled* over during recess). Popping quarters in the Centipede or Galaga (and later on Altered Beast and Xenophobe) machines in the local bowling alley. Strolling down the isles of Toys r' Us ogling the newest Super Mario or Contra game.

But, really, a lot of it is just that they're still freggin' FUN. The people that programmed those games could give a rat's ass about the story behind it. Half the time the back-story on the box seemed like a very thin thread slapped on at the end and meant to give you some sort of purpose in playing the game (I guess they didn't think we'd be happy with "blow shit up", though most of us were). They cared about making a fun game. They wanted you to keep popping quarter after quarter into the machine. People also forget that old game carts -were-not-cheap-. Sure, you can get any NES cart for the price of a pack of gum nowadays, but I remember these things going for $50.00 a pop, easy. If you were going to hand over that hard-earned allowance money to play a character who could either be a street fighter or a leatherman, it better be something that's going to suck you in for hours-on-end.

So, what were your favorite games? What kept you away from the sun and trapped in a smoke filled game room?

I would suggest anyone who went "hell yeah" at any point in this blog to immediately grab a twenty and buy the first Namco TV Games joystick (which features many of the exciting games I talked about above). I own one and love it to death.