Happily Reminisce Some Throwback Gaming, Because Modernizing A Console For Retro Games Can Be Done In Different Ways.
If you readers grew up in the 80’s and 90’s, you probably may have heard of Atari, Nintendo and, at a later point of those eras, Sega. Three console giants ruled the gaming industry with memorable titles like Pac-Man, Super Mario and Sonic just to name a few.
Ahh, those indeed were the good old days when the graphics were easy to comprehend and game mechanics were both simple and multi-layered. And the spoils of those great days may still be functional, so if you are one of the fortunate people who still have a console for retro games in your closet, consider yourself lucky!
There is something about the novelty of how 8 and 16-bit gaming just strips everything down to the core. Game mechanics becomes the focal point of retro gaming where we players look to recall the best way to overcome a puzzle or an obstacle, but in the fastest or most efficient way possible.
The same can be said about retro gaming these days as well – given that the material quality of these consoles are not in the same vein as the current generation, any little excess nudge can cause a part or the entire thing to break. So to ensure that gaming nostalgia will keep on going, there are ways to maintain both enjoyment and longevity of our beloved and aged consoles.
Let us look into them right now.
The After Market keeps The Retro Gaming Party Going.
I had mentioned in a previous article that the production of the NES and the Famicom came to a screeching halt as far back as 21 years ago. Unfortunate as this may sound, this does not change the fact that there is a large quantity of cartridges that embody over 1000 titles ever released around the world that are still raring to be played out there.
So if you are one of the lucky people who still happen to have their old Nintendo console (or consoles, for that matter), I have only one thing to say to you… You are extremely lucky.
What did come to my attention recently (or I probably forgot about) is that there are a group of manufacturers who got permissions from Nintendo to recreate the same functions of both the NES and SNES, then repackaged them so that consumers could a bit more mileage to their collection of game cartridges. In essence, it is because of these after market consoles that resulted in the longevity of both the most recognizable 8 and 16-bit platforms that we’ve come to know and love.
Help! I have the console but I am missing games. What can I do?
Well, some of these products have ways to workaround this. Some of these already come built-in titles already, which allows you to jump in immediately. Other products also have the capacity to load up roms through external storage (how to get those game roms is totally on you, though). Still others even have the ability to copy the contents of a game cartridge and save it internally. Nifty!
There are several notable names out there, such as the RetroN5, which brings 10 consoles from both Nintendo and SEGA into one HD package. The FC Twin and Retro-Bit Super Retro Trio are also great consoles to have, as they do a lot on the multiple-console standpoint while at the same time retaining the display and sound quality we’ve come to love in retro gaming.
Oh, Sega is no slouch in this realm either. ATGames boast of two products: the Arcade Master allows you to play your 26 of your favorite games on a 6-button arcade stick layout right off the bat (this number can be added to via SD card), and the Genesis Classic comes with wireless controllers and around 80 games installed you have difficulty finding cartridges for this console.
Whichever of these products you choose from, you can definitely breathe easy knowing that there are still products out there that will keep your old games alive.
Everything’s Smaller (and More Efficient) These Days
By now, you may have already caught wind of Nintendo’s new console that’s bound to change the way we game. And while this is definitely exciting news, it is also worth mentioning that several “compact” solutions from the Nintendo family has made the headlines, too.
Nintendo will be releasing mini versions of their NES consoles – the Mini NES and the Mini Famicom (depending on which hemisphere of the planet you currently live in). As they are aptly named, the consoles are far more portable than their previous manifestations – in fact, they fit in the palm of your hand!
They also come with an HDMI cable, controller/s (the Mini Famicom comes with 2 wired ones while the NES counterpart comes with one) and 30 of the most popular game that were released in the platform. Yes, what a November to remember!
Another option (which is not brand-specific, at that) is the Retro Freak, which boasts of the ability to play games from both Nintendo (Famicom, SNES/Super Famicom, Gameboy variants), SEGA (Genesis and Mega Drive) and PC (the Turbografx-16) cartridges in crisper quality due to the HDMI input. The product has its own USB controller for a port which is compatible with the DualShock 4 and XBOne controllers, and also supports retro controllers using their native ports.
The kicker with this product is that the console itself is detachable from the cartridge reader (which is also used to read/copy games into the product), so you literally put it in your pocket and plug it into any HDMI-enabled monitor. Pretty cool!
But are these the only minified versions out there?
There are probably more, as current technology has been very good at repackaging our old, bulky consoles into a minimalist form, but at the same time providing more optimized and cleaner media quality. So expect that these would not be the last we will hear from pocket console gaming. I personally think that it would be great to carry one of these in my pocket and just plug it into my TV or computer monitor and just play for hours!
Cord Cutting? More like Cord Saving!
One of the definite concerns about retro gaming is running the risk of the controllers breaking. Whether its through excessive grinding on the buttons or the cord and wires going brittle or snapping, the material used on these controllers were not really meant to stand the test of time given the quality of materials by current standards. I especially remember mashing my thumbs on the buttons of ever version of the Famicom, and each time seeing button specks coming off the controller and sticking to my thumbs. Not ideal for keeping the old-school gaming feel alive.
Thankfully there are welcome solutions to prevent further damaging these legacy controllers, and more often than not it involves their non-use in favor of a more modern, wireless option.
One of these solutions is to outright shelve the old controllers in favor of the newer guys on the block. For instance, wireless receivers such as the 8Bitdo Retro Receiver allows players to use a Dual Shock 3 and 4, as well as the Wii Mote and Wii U Pro.
This is great especially if you have your favorite current generation controller lying around, as you can just pair it up and jump right in! These kinds of wireless receivers also have analog stick support, too, so you can use it for in-game movement.
If you do have some additional spending power, though, and you really want to keep with the whole retro look and feel, here is another great solution – there are wireless controllers that have been created to look similar (if not exactly) like the original retro controllers. For instance, the same folks who released the Retro Receiver also boast of a lineup of wireless “retro” controllers – from actual replicas of the NES/SNES and Famicom/Super Famicom, to reshaped variants like the the slim and rounded Crissaegrim Pro to arcade sticks that are themed like the NES and Famicom.
Either of these options are definitely effective ways to keep your retro consoles relevant in current times, as well as keep the retro gaming party going in your own home. Just make sure to take note of the fine print, particularly the ratio between controller receiver to controller (a usual scenario is 1:1).
So to recap, it is very easy to see how modern materials and technology has made it easier to redesign, refurbish, or simply add a wireless element to retro gaming. You can choose from a variety of aftermarket products to make use of the same cartridges you may still have in your back shelf. If the lack of console is your concern, then look no further at the variety of minimalist and portable versions of these consoles that are either out in the market already, or still on its way. Finally, if your old system’s controllers are not up to the task, then you can always look into wireless receivers that support both newer generation controllers or stylized wireless controllers which look like the predecessors without the excess cables.
Retro gaming need not be a bygone era that we just look back on vividly, and we can be thankful that there are some great manufacturers out there who make it their passion to keep these games fully accessible to the younger and the future generations.
What are your thoughts on retro gaming? Like something that you see or have something better in mind? Let me know in the comments section!
Categorised in: Controller Articles