Retro video games thriving on new platforms
While the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One compete to enthral us with a new generation of games, there’s still plenty of life left in the classics.
With the average gamer in their 30s, many of us began playing video games long before Sony and Microsoft arrived on the scene. A generation of gamers started out pumping coins into arcade classics such as Asteroids, Space Invaders and Galaga. Others cut their teeth playing Pitfall on the Atari 2600 and Super Mario Bros on the Nintendo Entertainment System.
Even if your old game machines are long gone, you can still play many of your favourites on new devices. Most games are only a web search away, and playable in your browser, although some online versions are less than official.
Classic games are often revived by fans, even if they don’t have the blessing of the game’s owner.
You’ll find official Flash remakes of classics such as Pong and Missile Command at atari.com/arcade, but you’ll be hardpressed to find other games houses offering their classics online for free. Search further afield and you’ll find a treasure trove of arcade classics at sites such as
Gamers are filling up lounge rooms to play classic games such as Pac-Man. commodore.ca, thesimplearcade.com and classicgamesarcade.com.
If you’re passionate about a particular old console or computer, then you might look for emulator software to recreate it on Windows, Mac, Linux or a handheld gadget. Popular downloadable emulators include Stella for the Atari 2600 and Snes9x for the Super Nintendo and MAME for emulating arcade machines. You’ll also find browser-based emulators at sites such as nesbox.com and the Console Living Room at archive.org.
Emulators are powerful, but it can take some tinkering to get everything running smoothly. With emulator software mimicking the console hardware, you then need a copy of the game file, known as a ROM. You’ll find vast ROM libraries at sites such as emuparadise.me and coolrom.com, but with some games you’re infringing on copyright, even if you own the original cartridge.
Proceed with caution, as the promise of classic games is sometimes used to trick people into installing malicious software.
Smartphone and console app stores sell old titles for only a few dollars and you’ll often find classic game bundles from famous names such as Atari, Activision, Midway, Namco and Capcom.
Sony’s PlayStation Store is full of old PlayStation games such as Tomb Raider, Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon. You’ll also find revamped arcade classics such as Street Fighter II and PacMan.
Xbox Live Arcade offers a few original Xbox games such as Max Payne and Fable, plus classics such as Banjo-Kazooie.
Arcade gamers will enjoy classics such as Street Fighter II and Pac-Man.
Wii U owners won’t find original Wii games in the Nintendo eShop, but they can download old NES and Super NES games such as Street Fighter II and Galaga.
You’ll find plenty of classic games for Apple, Android and Windows Phone 8 devices.
You’ll also find console emulators for all three mobile platforms, but again results can be hit and miss.
From shoot-’em-ups and racing games to puzzle-solvers and sprawling adventures, it’s not hard to revisit the classics and get back in the game. SMH