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Thread: RetroGame Revival: Good or Bad?

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    Default RetroGame Revival: Good or Bad?

    Another recent blog post I wish I could have posted on here first. Read on if you are interested.

    Wow -- this is a terrible title for this blog. I might have to go back and amend it. First off, isn't retrogame or retrogamer and revival kind of redundant? Seciond of the offenses is that these cultural movements aren't necessarily good or bad. They simply are, and if they are more than this, it isn't as simple as "good" or "bad" in any case. Any interpretation of them is just my opinion.

    So, is it just a fad? Is it here to stay? I think it is indeed he to stay. All fads are cultural movements, but not all cultural movements are mere fads. Fad implies more transience, and more vacuous nature. These games would be here to stay in some ofrm or another regardless of whether there was interest in them, and the sheer magnitude of their former popularity, coupled with their cute and addictive (ie: "timeless") nature means that long after these old disks, arcade boards, ROM, and cartridges have lost theior battery power making it impossible to save your game or become completely unplayable in a non-digital format, they wqill be revived, in the same way that google, a massive mainstream corporation revamped their logo last week on the Pac-Man's 30th anniversary in the most elaborate (and likely costly) vneture yet, by forming the google logo into a playable Pac-Man maze (I won my my first round!). As gamer Steve Sanders has said of archaic games "These are the games people cared about." We still do.

    Pac-Man didn't just become a Saturday Morning Cartoon, along with a host of his contemporaries. He is a cultural icon. My uncle once used the charcter to describe the shape of a surgical tool that was to be used on him to make sense of it to my family. Everyone understood. I rest my case.

    Seriously, though, retrogaming is all the rage in the 2000s. Sure X-box 360 and Wii are the kingd of the day when it comes to cutting edge, Son'y monsterously oversized, overpriced PS3 continues to limp along, and Dreamcasts and Playstation 2s sell surprisingy well in a downed economy (online marketplaces repackaging unsold or used dreamcasts with new games as new consoles sell well, and the PS2 continues to sell far better than its successor, the result of a downed economy and the quality of software available). New Dreamcast games are still being made, and the Sega Master System continues to have new games published for it in Brazil. Independent developers such as Milestone, Good Deal Games, 4 Play/Scatologic, G.rev, redspotgames, and many others continue to develope and publish new games for older consoles (likely without the consent, publicity, or support of the system's original developers). Many of these games quickly become collector's items.

    In the mainstream, the retro revival can be seen in malls across America, selling derivitaves (either officially supported or pirated international derivitaves) of older systems, often in the popular (but cheap) plug'n'play format (the CTV, or commodore 64 for your television, for example, came packed with over 30 games inside of a joystick that plugs into your monitor, or Atari's "new" systyem, the all-in-one plug'n'play Atari Flashback, fashioned to look like a vintage 2600, or even the seemingly endless array of dual systems such as the Twin Famicom, which plays both NES and SNES games, Genesis and SNES games, or some derivation thereof).

    T-shirt are the most visible sign of retrogaming outside of the house. Retro gamer shirt are sold everywhere, just as vintage-looking AC/DC, Saturday morning cartoon, and Marvel and DC comic's shirts, are being bought and sold by kids too young to even remember, muvch less have lived through, these times. Still, it warms my heart to see a T-shirt sporting the Atari logo I remember seeing when I was far too young to have ever held a joystick.

    "i am 8-bit" is another outpouring of life-support into the classic gaming format. This is a multi-artist, multimedia teqam of artists who have joined forces in representing their favorite characters of the 8- and 16- bit era of gaming artistically. They have released at least one art-book that I know of, sold in places like Barne's and Noble, and conmtinue to exhibit works all over the place. I once met a couple of the artists and saw their work at an art exhibition at Pergamont Station in L.A. here in CA. Warning: many of these renderings are not for the kiddies. Nevertheless, its fine art format aside, i am 8-bit is a kindred spirit and bastard child of pixel art, which has become popular within the last twenty years in or outside of gaming, and which, in its purest form, uses an isometric perspective like that seem in the very non-pixel oriented The Sims or in arcade games like Viewpoint or computer games like the original Sim City. Created skillfully, often employing tiny pixels themselves to painstakingly render the work with a sometimes surpring detail but a distintly stylized and retro feel, these pieces have given way to an wera of subculture which embraces larger pixels and less detainled artworks representing characters like Donkey Kong, Link, or the guys from Contra in all their pixelated glory. Spritemaking and the modification of in-game graphics, and even from the ground up new derivations of old games (an example being Sonic Chaos Revolution and numerouis Zelda spin-off) continue to thrive in the Homebrew scene, which releases new or modified games indepentendly devloped (thus, homebrew) and released.

    Never in my life have I live in an era where I could expect to regularly see a slim, well-rounded girl wearing an Atari or Q*bert T-shirt.

    The 8-bit phenomenon hasn't left any stone unturned, least of all music. Video game soundtracks are now big sellers, even the 8-bit variety. However, a new trend has shown its face on shows like my personal favorite "Retroware TV." As reported on sister site From Pixels to Plastic, gamers have created recording studios using 8 and 16-bit machines such as Nintendos, SNES's, Ataris, and even Game Boys to creae everything from guitar sounds to keyboards by running the sound created by very real instruments through, say, an old Atari 7800 sound chip. In one episode, a user hav transformed an old NES into a mini sound studio, complete with volume knobs soldered onto the front. It looked more professional than it sounds. I'm not watching a youtube video of Joey Mariano playing his guitar through a Game Boy foot pedal. As a guitarrist myself, these seems impossible, but the sound is unmistakeably 8-bit. The Boston collective interviewed on Retroware TV was, as I recaled, known as Chiptunnes and as quoted in an article on Boson.com, James Therrien said “Chiptune,’’ he says, “is essentially about using old video game hardware — Commodore 64s, Game Boys, Nintendos — to make music via their old sound chips.’’ Pretty remarkable given the current state of the games industry as so unabashadly forward-thinking, or are they?

    Book abound on retrogaming these days, although most so far are geared more towards a very mainstream audience, this in itself points out the new genre's viability. Many books exist, like the popular Arcade Mania: The Turbo-Charged World of Japan's Game Centers, and The Ultimate History of Video Games: From Pong to Pokemon -- The Story Behind the Craze That Touched Our Lives and Changed Our World. My personal favorite, however, is Van Burnham's "Supercade: A Visual History of the Video Game Age 1971-1984 (what a great date to end it!). The Book is beautiful, from its glossy abstract cover to its art-damaged screenshots and compulsively detailed history. There's even a video game collector's price guide out called "The Video Game Bible," which tells you how much to expect to fairly pay for any game, even the very very obscure gems that go for hundreds. Some follow up books were planned by Andy Slaven and his crew, but never surfaced.

    What about magazines? There are indeed a handful of popular, though niche, magazines that capitalize on/genuinely revere classic games. For my money, the U.K.-based Retro Gamer magazine tops my list. They had my money the minute I saw their cover featuring the biomechanically gorgeous first boss of R-Type. They ARE European-based, and so some games and machines covered are more foreign to American readers, but they still cover an amazing wealth of styles, systems, games, companies, and even cultural phenomena like "From ixels to Plastic," "I Am 8-Bit," and newer games featuring either old-style gameplay or older characters and franchises. Always an engrossing read and highly recommended.

    The games themselves are capitalizing on the retro craze. Games with simple graphics or gameplay styles like Katamari Damacy, Alien Hominid (featuring cell shaded polygon-based graphics but 2D Contra-style play), Zelda: 4 Swords Adventures, many Wii-Ware and X-box and PS3 Live Arcade releases, both original and via "virtual console" emulation, Nobi Nobi Boy, Contra: Shattered Soldier are modern looking but with ancient gameplay. Newer games utilizing the blockiness and the pixel art aesthetic of 8-bit revival include 3D Dot Game Heroes, recently released on the PS3 to good reviews. Other niche titles embracing retroware gameplay or graphics include Eat Lead (an action game serving both as a send-up and paying homage to action games, especially early first person shooters), Vib Ribbon (which uses vector graphics and simple gameplay and visuals in a new way, Rez, a shooter using synesthesia as a theme, Contra 4 on Nintendo DS, and the hordes of new shooters still surfacing on the Dreamcast and Jaguar scenes. It could even be argued that older games like Alundra on the original Playstation (a remarkable Zelda clone with gorgeous 2D graphics) and even Mario Clash on the ill-fated Virtual Boy (which was an early example of fusing old gameplay and technology with new technology) were throwbacks with good results.

    Retro gamnes tv shows abound on the internet, and some have spawned official and not-so-official DVD releases. Classic Game Room, a short-lived, but much loved, early internet show centered around gaming and introducing the sarcasm and brand of humor now found commonly on shows of this format, recently had a DVD release you can find on Amazon wheich celebrated its short but influential existence, and Retrowaretv continues to broadcast reviews, information, news and stories from the basement, literally, of a couple of enthusiastic retro game players. On the show, they also support affiliates, new projects (like working reproductions of retro gaming games that are too pricey for the general public, and From Pixels to Plastic, which reconstructs 3 dimensional (albeit pixelated) scenes from older games. Videogame Take-
    Out is another such show. Humorous shows are often less beholden to retrogaming in general, but still feature older games in their shows on a regular basis, although the emphasis is here again on humor. These include The Angry Video Game Nerd and a few other shows in which the percieved, but often very real difficulty of older games, especially bad ones, is exploited for the sake of crude and/or offensive humor, which is the emphasis of said shows.

    Retroganming recently rwent "viral" on the internet as well. Stories reviewing new entries in long-running series like Super Mario Bros. (with the distinctly non-retro Super Mario Galaxy 2), the miraculous return to 2d form of Sonic in Sonic the Hedgehog 4, are regularly featured on sites like Yahoo! News (which is really unfortunate, if you ask me). A recent story on Yahoo! reported the historic breaking of the Asteroids high-score. The brilliant \documentary "The King of Kong" has both imporved expusure ofr the long-running Twin Galaxies scorebeaord, which is available online, and has served to heighten public awarness and popularity of cheif Donkey Kong contenders Billy Mitchell and Steve Weibe, who are now virtual celebrities on a wide scale. Phrases combining popular urban clioches and retro gaming like "old-school" and "it's on like Donkey Kong," are the norm among teens, 20, 30, and 40-somethings.

    Back to the viral videos, the culmination of all of this (so far) has been a "viral" video that got wide exposure on retrogaming outlets like youtube (and wewas featured as a Yahoo! top story about a month ago) represented the coming to life of the I am 8-bit and From Pixels to Plastic subgenre movements, featured videogame sprites coming to life, becoming 3D pixels, and attacking new York City. The rendering is beautiful and thwe epic in scale video was brilliantly conceived and executed. Both its creation (tyhe video is called "Pixels" and is by artist Patrick Jean) and its popualrity represent a high-water mark (thus far) for the retro gaming movement.

    Honestly, I ping-pong (no pun intended) back and fourth on this one. This is essentially both a fad and a subculture of a subculture. Nerd culture has become popular and mainstream-ized in the 2000s, but it's also been watered down. It's hard to tell for the less informed of us who the REAL, original "nerd" are. Or are they "geeks?" Essentially, I'm saying that all those teens wearing skinny jeans and atari shirts are the clingers-on and when their interest in the "fad" side of the movements (which is one, don't forget, of reverence) dies down, what will be left is a subculture of a larger D&D and Caltech inspired nerd culture, a culture I respect, and one which will hopefully go on long before it ever dies.

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    in before portnoyd

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    This is too long to be a blog post and doesn't belong here. Please just do one link to your website and leave it at that. We don't need multiple threads with this kind of lengthy post.

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    HEYOOOOOOOOOOOOoooo!

    I actually read your extraordinarily long post. Some comments:

    Spell check and proof read.

    Your title is misleading and doesn't correlate to the post itself. Not only that, you also dismiss it within the first paragraph.

    Every paragraph boils down "And retrogaming can be found here" where "here" is your venue of choice. There is little opinion and partly due to that, little substance.

    You post this to a retrogaming messageboard when the article is tuned to those who, to be blunt, don't use the net. I would not expect many positive responses.

    And finally, lol wut

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    Okay, read your article, and it felt like something that belonged on Yahoo, or maybe IGN. Way to long, and didn't really thrill me with anything interesting, plus the typos. You sir get the *facepalm*


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    Smile

    Seriously, Have you been taking you meds?
    In yo face!

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    Thanks for the Cliff Notes version portnoyd, now I don’t need to waste my time.
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    Good article. Thanks.

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    Default RE: Seriously, Have you been taking you meds?

    Gee must have misplaced them. You sure they weren't on the end of that stick that got jammed up your asshole?

    Sorry guys. I realize I'm submitting my work for public judgment by submitting on here. Maybe I'll develop a taste for it and maybe I won't, but until then, don't expect me not to fire back.

    Don't like it? Don't read.
    Quote Originally Posted by RASK1904 View Post
    Seriously, Have you been taking you meds?

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    Default RE: portnoyd

    Will spell check and proofread, if I develop some motivation. Until then, don't read my posts (I'm sure that will; take a lot of convincing).

    Will change title . . . . wait . . . no I won't.

    The blog was made for anyone to read, and thus was posted on my other blogs which arent geared towards game players, so in that you're right.

    Now that you know that my posts are longer than "Hop on Pop," you can be keenly aware that your don't want to read them in the future.

    Quote Originally Posted by portnoyd View Post
    HEYOOOOOOOOOOOOoooo!

    I actually read your extraordinarily long post. Some comments:

    Spell check and proof read.

    Your title is misleading and doesn't correlate to the post itself. Not only that, you also dismiss it within the first paragraph.

    Every paragraph boils down "And retrogaming can be found here" where "here" is your venue of choice. There is little opinion and partly due to that, little substance.

    You post this to a retrogaming messageboard when the article is tuned to those who, to be blunt, don't use the net. I would not expect many positive responses.

    And finally, lol wut

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    Default RE: portnoyed

    Oh, yeah . . .one last thing. I had another account on here I haven't used in ages which I rarely used, and where posts were generally less than a paragraph long. These are repostings from a blog site I've used for over a year, and my posts are generally more discussion oriented than this, so just chill out.
    Quote Originally Posted by parker311 View Post
    Will spell check and proofread, if I develop some motivation. Until then, don't read my posts (I'm sure that will; take a lot of convincing).

    Will change title . . . . wait . . . no I won't.

    The blog was made for anyone to read, and thus was posted on my other blogs which arent geared towards game players, so in that you're right.

    Now that you know that my posts are longer than "Hop on Pop," you can be keenly aware that your don't want to read them in the future.

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    Quote Originally Posted by parker311 View Post
    Will spell check and proofread, if I develop some motivation.
    If you can't put the due diligence into the appearance of your writing, why should anyone care what you have to say?

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    Quote Originally Posted by portnoyd View Post
    If you can't put the due diligence into the appearance of your writing, why should anyone care what you have to say?
    Ouch.

    What did the five fingers say to the face?

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    Quote Originally Posted by portnoyd View Post
    If you can't put the due diligence into the appearance of your writing, why should anyone care what you have to say?
    Portnoyd is blunt and to the point. What's the point of posting anything on a message board BUT to have people read what you have to say? Granted some people lowered their cannons and fired their barrages against you, but those that did give constructive criticism (like Port's first post) shouldn't get the middle finger from you. In fact, if you want to be respected as a writer, you shouldn't even swing back if you do get any negativity. Take the blatant slaps and let it run off your back like water off of a duck.

    Punctuation and spelling are very important. Especially spelling. Message board post or not, if you are wanting to essentially publish "e-essays", you want to step up the quality. You've got enough spelling mistakes and such that would make my Funk & Wagnalls have a verbal coronary. Since most browsers have spell check-don't be afraid to use it. As for punctuation- you seem to like parenthesis but they are either over done or are used incorrectly. Most of a paragraph is the contents of parenthesis. These two things are a great step in getting off on the right foot.

    As Portnoyd said, your title and your post are pretty mutually exclusive. You don't really analyze the negative or positive effects of retro games/gaming, you just go on to explain it. For example-the games with "simple graphics or game play styles": is it a good thing we got some of those games? Even though a game like 4 Swords got good reviews, what was the impact in sales? Do these remakes or retro inspired games bring back what is perceived was "right" with gaming (more difficulty, streamlined play, simplistic design) or does it show that modern developers are running out of ideas and just cashing in on late 20's-30-somethings' nostalgia when they could be making "new" gaming experiences?

    In regards to the cultural impact, why not compare it to other cultural shifts we've had over the past three decades? The 80's had a pretty strong youth culture that fed off the old 50's vibe. I remember seeing many Rebels without a Cause roaming the hallways back in middle school. The airwaves were playing music by The Stray Cats or Jimmy Hall, both having very 50's music. If I'm not mistaken, in the late 90's there was a push towards the 70's in dress. If you want to compare the cultural impacts of actual products (as video games as a whole is), look at the long lasting Harley Davidson phenomenon.

    You mention the explosion of books that focus on the retrogaming scene and how they are written for a more mainstream audience. This would be great to compare these books to those that focus on classic cars, for example. You make it sound like the whole concept of books about a particular subject is rather new when actually it isn't. It's just that video games, compared to other mediums, have only been around for roughly 30+ years.

    So what you've got here is basically a piece that preaches to the choir (so to speak)-many of us know this. Heck some of us live it by how we dress or what we listen to. What could have been an interesting piece on the perceived pros and cons of retro gaming becomes something that has been written about before in various ways over the last decade. If you're going to title your piece as such, challenge yourself to fulfill that concept. You'd be surprised just how rewarding it can be.

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    Quote Originally Posted by parker311 View Post
    Gee must have misplaced them. You sure they weren't on the end of that stick that got jammed up your asshole?

    Sorry guys. I realize I'm submitting my work for public judgment by submitting on here. Maybe I'll develop a taste for it and maybe I won't, but until then, don't expect me not to fire back.

    Don't like it? Don't read.
    Methinks Nintega is trying to return again.

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    This kind of backlash is why I never thought to repost every Satellablog article I've ever written here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiddo View Post
    This kind of backlash is why I never thought to repost every Satellablog article I've ever written here.
    Personally, I would've not backlashed against that because that sounds more interesting than eighty posts about CD ROMs with barely any spellchecking.

    I'd rather learn more about a Japanese SNES device that is still not fully known than a storage format I've read about hundreds of times.

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    Humorous shows are often less beholden to retrogaming in general, but still feature older games in their shows on a regular basis, although the emphasis is here again on humor. These include The Angry Video Game Nerd and a few other shows in which the percieved, but often very real difficulty of older games, especially bad ones, is exploited for the sake of crude and/or offensive humor, which is the emphasis of said shows.
    It's never easy to face the firing squad. Especially since your crime was one of good intentions, hard work, and a passion for the subject.

    You don't get to defend yourself at the trial.

    We don't offer you any last requests.

    With that said, you need help. Bad.

    So we pull the trigger.

    You repeat yourself.

    What are you telling us?

    Older videogames are fuel for profanity laced comedy skits. Why? Because not everything retro was good.

    This ties into your main theme.

    Give us examples. Let your audience laugh at the mistakes that were made. Some of them will have no idea what Hylide is, but they do know Ed Wood, and can relate on a similar level. Even if they've never played Super Pitfall, the rules of beating that game achieve a Wonderland logic that stand on their own. And Action 52? One of the games in the deck is a joker that won't even start up...

    Then there's the sheer amount of dying involved. Retrogames are often cheap, unfair, and could force you to restart your entire game if a tiny weaving bird knocked you into a cliff.

    Is that challenge something we want back?

    Is Demons Souls a retro game, in a way?

    This is just one way to take it. There are others. I'm sure you can think of more than me, as I'm barely awake while writing this.

    Believe it or not, I wish you all the best in your writing.

    You need a lot of practice, but unlike a lot of people who talk about writing about games, you've gotten past the hardest part - actually doing it.

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