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FRONTBURNR | September 17, 2014

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Retro Game Love: Are We Just Trying To Relive Our Pasts?

| On 18, Mar 2013

What is it that fuels the retro gaming craze?

Think back to your old NES. Remember blowing out the cartridge? Getting the rubbing alcohol and the Q-tips? At the time, it was a major pain in the ass. But now, most of us look back at it think something along the lines of, “Good ‘ole Nintendo.”

What it reminds me of is one of those really campy sitcoms with the laugh track and the cartridges are like the next door neighbor who is a screw up but everyone still finds him incredibly endearing.

I spent hours with my nose practically on the television (which was on channel three) glass since the cords weren’t very long.

The invention of the wireless controller was a beautiful thing.

The only game I had for my NES was Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt which came with the console. [Though I routinely nabbed my cousin's Paperboy.]

Super Mario Bros time limit

The inability to save drove me crazy and I would go for weeks at a time without playing stupid Super Mario Bros. out of frustration. What was the point in getting further than I had gotten the last time if I couldn’t save?

And the time limits? The time limits can suck it.

Simba Roar from the Lion King gameI moved on to the Genesis after I stuck my tongue out at the NES and shoved it under my bed.

I played the hell out of some Sonic the Hedgehog and The Lion King [Shut up! It was fun!] And Cool Spot. Remember Cool Spot?

Oregon Trail We played Oregon Trail in Typing/Computer class on Fridays. I coerced Mom into getting it for me so I could play at home on my Tandy. That game looked horrible. My wagon was always getting swamped in the river. Someone was always breaking their arm or getting sick or dying on me. I should have hated that stupid game but it was a blast.

None of these games had an amazing story. The graphics–especially when compared to what we have now–were nothing to write home about. But they were fun. Fun in a way that is somewhat reminiscent of today’s casual games.

Back to my original question: What is it that fuels the retro gaming craze?Good ole days of gaming

Could it be as simple as most people choose to just remember the good and let the bad slip from their minds?

The past is prettier when viewed from the present?

We can’t relive our childhood but we can go back and play the games from our past.

Have you ever looked up the hot guy from high school–or that super hot German teacher–only to find they’ve gained 40 pounds and have developed male pattern baldness?

Sometimes the past should stay in the past and childhood memories shouldn’t be sullied with present day impressions.

What do you think?

Are people trying to relive their childhood through replaying old games?



  1. Shayde

    Sometimes older games are just more fun.

  2. I loved playing the Lion King on Genesis, same with Aladdin… I remember my very first video game dream was due to being stuck on a mission. I dreamnt the solution, and tried it out the next day to great success. Used to also play Theme Park non stop on genesis, as my only computer at the time was my C64 that we got in ’88. My babysitter had a Mac, so I would go over there and play Dino Park Tycoon and Simcity 2k all day til my mom picked me up (1995). I miss the good ole days, trolling on War2 as a middle school kid, playing LAN games of it with neighboorhood friends. Downloading the demo to GTA on dial-up using a download resumer. Ahhh, nostalgia!

  3. When I play a “retro game” (ie- I game I have already beaten, from a console that is not sold in stores anymore) I usually play it because it was a game I enjoyed when I originally played it so I figure that I would enjoy it again. Also, I dont have any kind of current gaming system, so when I want to play a video game, I have to pick a free one and most of the retro games are free because the copyright has ran out on them. So, Im also a retro gamer because Im not really into the new games either.

  4. I love playing old games, it’s more than reliving my childhood though. This weekend, I broke out the retro systems and played Mario, Sonic, Kirby etc with my 5 year old. We had more fun doing that than we have had playing our current gen consoles. I think the thing is, these games were designed with gameplay as the focus. While he isn’t great, he had fun playing Mega Man because e kept finding new things to do. There isn’t an over-stimulation with real to like graphics, it’s usually silly-yet-enjoyable games where the whole point was to play for a few hours and have a great time.

    I think Retro works because it is offers a simple concept that leaves a lot still to the imagination..

    • I would tend to agree with you too Josh. My brother and I will still break out Tecmo Super Bowl and have more fun playing that than even Madden. However, that cannot be said of my youngest brother (18) who merely just laughs at us. That said, I think Amy can be right that there is a movement wherein older games are perhaps perceived to be inherently “better” either due to our own sense of attachment or perception of them. Not sure if that is a bad thing but being more aware of how we judge retro games or why we love them so unconditionally is an interesting perspective.

      • I could use Earthbound as a great example of it isn’t just holding on to the past… The mechanics in the game are amazing, without the guide and not knowing what to do, the difficulty level is there (though they did pack the guide in with the game,) the story is great as well as the characters. For some reason it seems to still be a niche type game though? I have tried to introduce every gamer I have ever met to EB since I first rented it from Blockbuster in the summer of ’95. I still think the graphics have even held up considering the age and every time I play any pokemon game it is hard not to see the huge influence.

        /end Earthbound fanboy message

        • that rolling hp bar…

          • I lovedddddddddd it, allowed for a last second reaction and praying that it went through to save the team!

  5. born4this

    I’ll admit I probably see the Super Nintendo through rose colored lenses, but I’m not super nostalgic for all old things. Some think it’s because I didn’t grow up with one, but I just have a hard time getting into NES games these days. The Super Nintendo games look a lot better & you can save your games (though some NES games did have a password system.) Also, many of the SNES games are basically remakes of games on the original Nintendo Entertainment System. Super Metroid isn’t technically a remake, but I played the original Metroid with some friends a few years ago & it might as well be. I’m also not nostalgic for early 3D gaming systems like N64 and Playstation, though I do think they have some fun games. I look at the graphics on those consoles now & I feel like my eyes are going to start bleeding, HAHA!

    Anyways, I like old school gaming a lot, but I really don’t think it’s because I’m trying to relive my childhood. To be honest, I’ve mostly enjoyed my adult life more than my childhood. Not to say that I didn’t have a good childhood, but I got bullied quite a bit & didn’t necessarily have many loyal friends, just a lot of acquaintances. I genuinely consider my years after college the best years of my life, though I do miss the simpler days of my youth which contained far less responsibilities.