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Why Classic Games Are Still Worth Playing in 2023


Classic Games: What They Are, Why They Matter, and How to Play Them




Video games are one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the world. They have evolved from simple pixelated graphics and bleeping sounds to immersive 3D worlds and realistic soundtracks. But while modern video games offer amazing experiences and possibilities, there is something special about classic games that still captivates many gamers.


Classic games are video games that are based on older or obsolete systems, or that imitate the style and gameplay of such games. They are often referred to as retro games or old-school games. Classic games have a unique charm and appeal that stems from their nostalgia value, their innovation and originality, their simplicity and accessibility, and their social interaction potential.




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There are many examples of classic games from different genres and platforms. Some of them are arcade classics like Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Space Invaders, Frogger, Galaga, Asteroids, Centipede, Pole Position, Street Fighter II, Mortal Kombat, Tetris, Puzzle Bobble, Metal Slug, Dance Dance Revolution, Pac-Man Championship Edition DX, etc. Some are console classics like Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Mega Man, Castlevania, Metroid, Sonic the Hedgehog, Kirby, Pokemon, Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger, EarthBound, Super Mario 64, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil, Grand Theft Auto III, Halo: Combat Evolved, Super Mario Galaxy, etc. Some are computer classics like Adventure, Zork, The Oregon Trail, Lemmings, Doom, Wolfenstein 3D, Quake, Half-Life, Myst, The Sims, Diablo, StarCraft, Warcraft III, Baldur's Gate, Fallout, etc.


History of Classic Games




The history of classic games is a fascinating and diverse story that spans decades and continents. It is impossible to cover every detail and milestone in this article, but here are some of the most important events and trends that shaped the evolution of classic games.


The 1950s and 1960s: The Dawn of Video Games




The first video games were not created for entertainment, but for scientific and educational purposes. Computer scientists and engineers designed simple games and simulations on minicomputers and mainframes, such as tic-tac-toe, chess, checkers, tennis, lunar landing, missile defense, etc. These games were mostly played by researchers and students, and were not widely accessible to the public. Some of the earliest examples of video games are OXO (1952), Tennis for Two (1958), Spacewar! (1962), and The Oregon Trail (1969).


The 1970s and 1980s: The Golden Age of Arcade and Home Console Games




The 1970s and 1980s saw the rise and fall of the arcade and home console markets, as well as the emergence of some of the most iconic and influential games in history. The arcade industry boomed with the popularity of games like Pong (1972), Space Invaders (1978), Pac-Man (1980), Donkey Kong (1981), Frogger (1981), Galaga (1981), Centipede (1981), Pole Position (1982), Street Fighter II (1991), Mortal Kombat (1992), etc. These games attracted millions of players and generated billions of dollars in revenue.


The home console market also flourished with the introduction of systems like the Magnavox Odyssey (1972), Atari 2600 (1977), Intellivision (1979), ColecoVision (1982), Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) (1983), Sega Master System (1985), Sega Genesis (1988), Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) (1990), etc. These systems allowed players to enjoy games at home, with better graphics, sound, and gameplay than the arcade counterparts. Some of the most famous console games are Super Mario Bros. (1985), The Legend of Zelda (1986), Mega Man (1987), Castlevania (1987), Metroid (1987), Sonic the Hedgehog (1991), Kirby's Dream Land (1992), Pokemon Red and Blue (1996), Final Fantasy VII (1997), Super Mario 64 (1996), The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998), Metal Gear Solid (1998), Resident Evil (1996), Grand Theft Auto III (2001), Halo: Combat Evolved (2001), Super Mario Galaxy (2007), etc.


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The 1980s also witnessed the 1983 video game crash in the United States, which was caused by a number of factors, such as market saturation, low-quality games, competition from personal computers, and lack of consumer confidence. The crash nearly destroyed the American video game industry, and led to the rise of Japan as the dominant force in the global video game market.


The 1990s and 2000s: The Technological and Cultural Shifts in Video Games




The 1990s and 2000s marked a period of technological and cultural shifts in video games, such as the introduction of CD-ROMs, 3D graphics, online gaming, handheld devices, and retro-styled games. These changes brought new opportunities and challenges for the video game industry and the gamers. CD-ROMs enabled games to have more storage space, better sound quality, and cinematic cutscenes. Some of the first CD-ROM games were Myst (1993), The 7th Guest (1993), Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger (1994), etc. CD-ROMs also allowed games to have full voice acting, such as in Star Wars: Rebel Assault (1993), The Dig (1995), Grim Fandango (1998), etc. 3D graphics revolutionized the way games looked and played, creating more realistic and immersive environments and characters. Some of the pioneers of 3D graphics were Wolfenstein 3D (1992), Doom (1993), Quake (1996), Super Mario 64 (1996), Tomb Raider (1996), Half-Life (1998), etc. 3D graphics also enabled new genres and perspectives, such as first-person shooters, third-person shooters, stealth games, survival horror games, etc. Online gaming opened up new possibilities for multiplayer and social interaction, as well as new business models and distribution methods. Some of the early online games were MUDs (multi-user dungeons), MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role-playing games), and FPSs (first-person shooters). Some of the most popular online games are World of Warcraft (2004), Counter-Strike (2000), Halo 2 (2004), Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (2007), League of Legends (2009), Minecraft (2011), Fortnite (2017), etc. Handheld devices made video games more portable and accessible, allowing gamers to play anywhere and anytime. Some of the most successful handheld devices are Game Boy (1989), Game Boy Advance (2001), Nintendo DS (2004), PlayStation Portable (2004), Nintendo 3DS (2011), PlayStation Vita (2011), Nintendo Switch (2017), etc. Some of the most famous handheld games are Tetris (1989), Pokemon Red and Blue (1996), Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins (1992), The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (1993), Pokemon Gold and Silver (1999), Advance Wars (2001), Mario Kart DS (2005), Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day! (2005), Nintendogs (2005), Animal Crossing: Wild World (2005) etc. Retro-styled games emerged as a response to the increasing complexity and realism of modern video games, as well as a homage to the classic games of the past. Retro-styled games are games that mimic or pay tribute to older games in terms of graphics, sound, gameplay, or theme. Some of the most notable retro-styled games are Cave Story (2004), Braid (2008), Super Meat Boy (2010) Shovel Knight (2014) Stardew Valley (2016) Celeste (2018) etc.


Types of Classic Games




Classic games can be categorized into two main types: vintage retrogaming and modern retrogaming. These types reflect different ways of playing or creating classic games, depending on the preference and motivation of the gamer.


Vintage Retrogaming




Vintage retrogaming is playing or collecting original hardware and media from older or obsolete systems. Vintage retrogamers are often motivated by nostalgia, curiosity, or appreciation for the history and culture of video games. Vintage retrogamers may also enjoy the challenge and novelty of playing games that are rare, difficult, or different from modern standards.


Some examples of vintage retrogaming methods are:



  • Using emulators: Emulators are software programs that simulate the functionality of a specific system on another device, such as a computer or a smartphone. Emulators allow gamers to play classic games without needing the original hardware or media. However, emulators may not be able to replicate the exact performance or features of the original system, and may raise legal issues regarding intellectual property rights.



  • Using ROMs: ROMs are files that contain the data of a game cartridge or disc. ROMs can be used with emulators to play classic games on different devices. ROMs can be obtained by dumping the data from the original media using special devices, or by downloading them from online sources. However, ROMs may also pose legal problems regarding intellectual property rights.



  • Using flash carts: Flash carts are devices that allow gamers to load ROMs onto a cartridge that can be inserted into an original system. Flash carts enable gamers to play multiple classic games on one cartridge, without needing to swap or damage the original media. However, flash carts may also have legal issues regarding intellectual property rights.



  • Using clone consoles: Clone consoles are devices that mimic the functionality and appearance of an original system, but with some modifications or improvements. Clone consoles allow gamers to play classic games on modern TVs or monitors, with better video and audio quality, or with additional features like save states or cheat codes. However, clone consoles may not be compatible with all games or accessories, and may infringe on the trademarks or patents of the original system.



Modern Retrogaming




Modern retrogaming is playing or creating games that mimic or pay homage to older games in terms of graphics, sound, gameplay, or theme. Modern retrogamers are often motivated by creativity, innovation, or admiration for the style and mechanics of classic games. Modern retrogamers may also enjoy the variety and diversity of games that are inspired by or influenced by classic games.


Some examples of modern retrogaming methods are:



  • Using ports: Ports are versions of classic games that are adapted to run on different systems or devices, such as computers, smartphones, tablets, etc. Ports allow gamers to play classic games on more convenient or accessible platforms, with enhanced graphics, sound, or controls. However, ports may not preserve the original feel or quality of the classic games, and may introduce bugs or errors.



  • Using compilations: Compilations are collections of classic games that are bundled together on one disc or cartridge, or as a digital download. Compilations allow gamers to play multiple classic games on one system or device, without needing to buy or store separate media. However, compilations may not include all the features or extras of the original games, and may have compatibility or licensing issues.



  • Using remakes: Remakes are versions of classic games that are rebuilt from scratch using modern technology and design. Remakes allow gamers to experience classic games with improved graphics, sound, gameplay, or story. However, remakes may not capture the charm or essence of the classic games, and may alter or omit some elements that fans may prefer.



  • Using original games: Original games are new games that are inspired by or influenced by classic games in terms of graphics, sound, gameplay, or theme. Original games allow gamers to enjoy fresh and unique games that pay tribute to or reference classic games. However, original games may not be as polished or refined as modern games, and may have limited appeal or recognition.



How to Play Classic Games




Playing classic games can be a fun and rewarding hobby for gamers of all ages and backgrounds. Whether you are a vintage retrogaming enthusiast, a modern retrogaming fan, or a creative retrogaming hobbyist, there are many ways and resources for you to play classic games. Here are some tips and suggestions for playing classic games, depending on your type and preference.


For Vintage Retrogaming Enthusiasts




If you love playing or collecting original hardware and media from older or obsolete systems, here are some places where you can find them:



  • Online auctions: Online auctions are websites where you can bid on or buy items from sellers around the world. Online auctions can be a great source for finding rare or valuable classic games or systems at reasonable prices. However, online auctions can also be risky or unreliable, as you may encounter fake or damaged items, dishonest or fraudulent sellers, or high shipping costs. Some of the most popular online auction websites are eBay, Amazon, and Craigslist.



  • Flea markets: Flea markets are outdoor or indoor markets where vendors sell various goods, often second-hand or vintage. Flea markets can be a great source for finding cheap or bargain classic games or systems, as well as other interesting or rare items. However, flea markets can also be crowded or chaotic, and you may have to haggle or negotiate with the sellers. Some of the most famous flea markets in the United States are Rose Bowl Flea Market in Pasadena, California, Brimfield Antique Show in Brimfield, Massachusetts, and Canton First Monday Trade Days in Canton, Texas.



  • Retro game stores: Retro game stores are specialized shops that sell classic games or systems, as well as other related merchandise. Retro game stores can be a great source for finding quality or authentic classic games or systems, as well as getting expert advice or service from the staff. However, retro game stores can also be expensive or limited in their selection, and you may have to travel far to find one. Some of the most renowned retro game stores in the United States are Pink Gorilla Games in Seattle, Washington, Digital Press Videogames in Clifton, New Jersey, and Game Over Videogames in Austin, Texas.



  • Collectors' forums: Collectors' forums are online communities where collectors of classic games or systems share their passion, knowledge, and collections. Collectors' forums can be a great source for finding information or tips on classic games or systems, as well as making friends or trading with other collectors. However, collectors' forums can also be competitive or elitist, and you may have to follow strict rules or etiquette. Some of the most active and helpful collectors' forums are AtariAge, NintendoAge, and Sega-16.



For Modern Retrogaming Fans




If you love playing or creating games that mimic or pay homage to older games in terms of graphics, sound, gameplay, or theme, here are some platforms and services that offer them:



  • Steam: Steam is a digital distribution platform that offers thousands of games for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android devices. Steam has a large and diverse library of classic games and retro-styled games from various genres and developers. Steam also has features like cloud saving, achievements, trading cards, workshops, etc. Some of the most popular classic games and retro-styled games on Steam are Half-Life (1998), Doom (1993), Cave Story (2004), Braid (2008), Super Meat Boy (2010), Shovel Knight (2014), Stardew Valley (2016), Celeste (2018), etc.



  • GOG.com: GOG.com is a digital distribution platform that offers DRM-free games for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android devices. GOG.com specializes in classic games and retro-styled games from various genres and developers. GOG.com also provides features like offline mode , user reviews, forums, etc. Some of the most popular classic games and retro-styled games on GOG.com are Fallout (1997), Baldur's Gate (1998), Diablo (1996), StarCraft (1998), The Witcher (2007), Undertale (2015), Hollow Knight (2017), Cuphead (2017), etc.



  • Nintendo Switch Online: Nintendo Switch Online is a subscription service that offers online multiplayer, cloud saving, voice chat, and other features for Nintendo Switch games. Nintendo Switch Online also includes access to a library of classic NES and SNES games that can be played on the Switch. Some of the most popular classic NES and SNES games on Nintendo Switch Online are Super Mario Bros. (1985), The Legend of Zelda (1986), Metroid (1987), Kirby's Adventure (1993), Super Mario World (1990), The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (1991), Super Metroid (1994), EarthBound (1994), etc.



  • PlayStation Now: PlayStation Now is a subscription service that offers streaming and downloading of over 800 games for PlayStation 4 and Windows PC. PlayStation Now includes a variety of classic PlayStation games and retro-styled games from various genres and developers. Some of the most popular classic PlayStation games and retro-styled games on PlayStation Now are Metal Gear Solid (1998), Resident Evil (1996), Final Fantasy VII (1997), Crash Bandicoot (1996), Spyro the Dragon (1998), God of War (2005), Uncharted: Drake's Fortune (2007), Journey (2012), etc.



  • Xbox Game Pass: Xbox Game Pass is a subscription service that offers access to over 100 games for Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and Windows PC. Xbox Game Pass includes a range of classic Xbox games and retro-styled games from various genres and developers. Some of the most popular classic Xbox games and retro-styled games on Xbox Game Pass are Halo: Combat Evolved (2001), Fable (2004), Gears of War (2006), Mass Effect (2007), Banjo-Kazooie (1998), Ori and the Blind Forest (2015), Cuphead (2017), Dead Cells (2018) etc.



For Creative Retrogaming Hobbyists




If you love making or modifying classic games or retro-styled games, here are some tools and communities that can help you:



Game Maker Studio: Game Ma


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