Gaming. Newer is not always better.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been forwarded various emails, articles, comics, reviews and opinion pieces that all seemed to echo the same basic premise. Old video games are AWESOME!!

They all started the same way, talking about all the benefits of the newer games available for their system of choice. About the interactive controls, racing wheel setups with 6-speed H-pattern shifters, force feedback and 3 pedals with adjustable resistance. Wiimotes, Move controllers, Kinect, dancepads, balance boards, guitars, drumkits and more. Then about the updated graphics, translucency, real-time lighting, weather effects, and resolutions to rival IMAX. Then about the 7.1 surround sound, orchestral scores, professional voice acting and customizable soundtracks. Then the storylines, character arcs, twists and expanded universe. But then a vital question was asked. A question that rendered moot all that came before it. Are they more fun?

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Obviously the answer they all came to was a resounding ‘no’, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this. But the reasons they gave were all different.

This is one that almost everyone can agree on. Earlier games didn’t have the photo quality realism, the surround sound or the immersive controller so they needed something else to get you to play and keep playing. They had quality gameplay. Arcades of the 80’s were masters of game design that you could pick up in minutes but would keep you challenged for a decade (special mention here to Ghosts N Goblins). Also, the variation in game design meant you could spend hours playing in an arcade without playing a single genre twice; Puzzle, Fighter, Racing, Beat Em Up, Scrolling Shooter, Maze, Sport and of course Pinball.

I must admit I was surprised when I saw this but it does make sense. Think about two popular games out at the moment “Call of Duty” and “Battlefield”. If you were to take a screenshot of each one then remove all the game stats and HUD (Health, ammo, objective etc)….. would you be able to tell them apart? Die hard fans of the series obviously could but your average gamer? Now take some popular arcade games from the same genre, “Street Fighter” and “Mortal Kombat”. Completely different. Each had their own visual style and each stuck with it through the sequels, you could easily see the differences in the games and appreciate exactly what each one offered. Actually, let’s change that title for a little more accuracy.


Again, it would seem at first glance that the modern games have this won as well, but consider this….. if I played the music from Deus Ex (2000) and the sound effects from PacMan (1980) which do you think you’d recognise first? I thought so. Even though it’s 20 YEARS older. Admittedly, this could be down to the fact that it’s a lot easier for simple tunes to get stuck in your head, something advertisers have known for decades. But I’d like to think it’s because it’s simply good music. As an experiment I found copies of the music from a series of Commodore 64 games made from 1983 to 1990 and played them for one of my brothers. This was music he hadn’t heard in over 20 years but he named almost every single one of them within about 15 seconds. That just wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t brilliant music.

Side note: Check out the SID music archive. Music that’s still being made from the Sound Interface Device from the C64.

I was planning to put in a whole section here about the social aspect of gaming (modern: internet multiplayer VS retro: friends around a TV) but that will have to wait.

To make up your own mind about Modern VS Retro gaming check out MAME, the Multipe Arcade Machine Emulator to play some old-school arcade games on your windows PC. Or for something a litle more recent Good Old Games will have your fix.



In all honesty this entire post was just an excuse to upload a zip file for my brother. But it was fun to write and hopefully at least semi-interesting.

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