Science& Tech

No escaping death – and lure of old arcade games

Pedro Rodrigues

In light of Sony’s Playstation 4 announcement yesterday, The Archer seized the opportunity to visit Welsh store, Super Tomato. There we found an ark full of long forgotten treasures. From Atari 2600 to NES to Sega’s Megadrive, we tracked back through history of videogames and used the chance to play a few of our favourites.

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Old computer games couldn’t be beat. They just got harder and faster until you ended up dying. The resemblance to real life in videogames can be uncanny, especially in an age dominated by the pursuit of reality-like experiences in videogames. Sony even yesterday announced its intention to “win the war against reality”.

Looking back, we found that despite lacking the newest generation’s stunning graphics or scientifically improved mechanics, retro games made up for their simple premises and playability with a unique aura of unforgettable characters, compelling storylines and endless challenging moments.

The giant Japanese corporation Sony announced yesterday the upcoming Playstation 4, regarded as the future of videogame consoles and “the most powerful gaming platform ever created” according to Sony’s Development Manager, Andrew House, during the PS Meeting 13 conference in New York. Following the announcement, The Archer saw #Playstationmemories trending on twitter to start our journey back to the basics.

Like many of the twitter users throughout the day, we still hold dear the mental picture of our first day in Sony’s virtual playground. It was 1995 when the Playstation was first released in the UK, but memories of catching fugitive monkeys or naming all the leading characters from the “Final Fantasy” series after previous love crushes still remain fresh.

Drowned in nostalgia, The Archer´s team visited Super Tomato, a store that specialises in retro games in Cathays, Cardiff, to revive those lost moments of simple joy.

Right at the entrance we got stunned with the shop window, full of artefacts we long thought lost. Inside, from Sega to Nintendo, hundreds of games and characters’ figurines were spread throughout the shelves.

Super Mario alongside Sonic the Hedgehog; Pikachu chasing wrestling legend Hulk Hogan; all types of consoles, cables and commanders were laying on the floor waiting for someone to bring them back to life. Everything seemed in perfect harmony, and to us it was just like going back to those lazy Sundays, with large blue jeans and a granny knitted wool sweater, while sitting on the sofa in the morning to enjoy the first game after breakfast.

Although the first “home” console only appeared in 1972 with the Magnavox Odyssey, today we are already approaching the eighth generation of gaming platforms. With four decades of gaming we knew it would be a seemingly impossible task to choose just one console as our favourite.

So we tried them all! We started with the arcade games, and it was surprising to realize how with just a joy stick and two buttons you could have so much fun. Either dodging and shooting UFOs in “Space Invaders” or fleeing from ghosts in “Pac-Man”, the simple mechanics and the horizontal dexterity challenges were enough to entertain us for a whole afternoon.

Moving past the first computer games and the first Nintendo platform NES (how could we forget the first ever Super Mario franchise game with the little jumping Italian plumber), we took a quick break in Kanto to catch some Pokemon with an ancient Gameboy Pocket in our hands.

After we had a blast on pilling those lines on Tetris, we jumped directly to the fourth generation, dancing at the rhythm of Donkey Kong’s jungle drums. Here we found our lost eternal love – Nintendo 64.

Just seeing those cartridges again, memories of our childhood flowed back. To take Zelda – Ocarina of Time from the box and put it back on the console was a picture to cherish. As soon as the music started, we knew we were in the right place. Colourful visuals, only 64 megabits worth of graphics but enough soul to endure a life-time in our hearts. No wonder that a game as old as Zelda, released in 1998, is still held as the best game in videogame history.

All in all, it felt just right coming back to reality. Because that is in fact the most valuable virtue of videogames – They allow you to have a quick getaway from reality, and you can continue living your life knowing that a dream in a fantasy world is always one button away.

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