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Retro video games live on

Date

Gamers are finding new ways to play their old favourites.

Retro Games

Retro Games

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 at the local milk bar, pumping coins into arcade classic such as Asteroids, Space Invaders and Galaga. Others cut their teeth playing Pitfall on the Atari 2600, Super Mario Bros. on the Nintendo Entertainment System or Ikari Warriors on the Commodore 64.

From Tetris and SimCity to Karateka and Myst, most of us have clocked up our fair share of game time over the years.

Even if your old game machines are long gone, you can still play many of your favourites on new devices. App stores are full of old games revamped for nostalgic gamers looking to recapture their youth or introduce a new generation to the classics.

Most games are only a web search away, playable in your browser, although some online versions are less than official.

Some old games are considered ''abandonware'', because their developers have either gone out of business or aren't interested in rereleasing old games for new platforms.

Classic games are often revived by fans as a labour of love, even if they don't have the blessing of the game's owner. Games might be rewritten for new devices, or the entire console might be emulated in software so it can run on other hardware.

You'll find official Flash remakes of classics such as Pong and Missile Command at atari.com/arcade, but you'll be hard-pressed 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 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, Snes9x for the Super Nintendo, Kega Fusion for the Sega Genesis, Vice for the Commodore 64 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.

Hardcore retro gamers might be happy to run emulators or maintain a collection of old consoles, but most people will find it easier to simply search for new versions of their favourite games. 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 Pac-Man, along with puzzle games such as Tetris and adventure classics such as The Secret of Monkey Island.

Meanwhile, Xbox Live Arcade offers a few original Xbox games such as Max Payne and Fable, plus you'll find classics such as Banjo-Kazooie, Sonic the Hedgehog and Quake Arena.

Arcade gamers will enjoy classics such as Street Fighter II, Pac-Man, Golden Axe and Ghosts 'n Goblins.

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, Pac-Man, Ghosts 'n Goblins, Galaga and The Legend of Zelda.

If you prefer to play games on the run, you'll find plenty of classic games for Apple, Android and Windows Phone 8 devices. Old-school game developers such as Atari, Activision and Capcom have rereleased many classic titles for handheld devices in order to tap into the retro-gaming dollar.

You'll also find console emulators for all three mobile platforms, but again results can be hit and miss. Apple's strict vetting of apps means that you cannot install some hardware emulators unless you jailbreak your iGadget.

If you're after a more arcade-style experience, look to the iCade Arcade Cabinet, which features a joystick and buttons like an old-style arcade machine. The iCade is designed for iGadgets, but relies on a Bluetooth connection and is compatible with some Android games and emulators.

From shoot-'em-ups and racing games to puzzle-solvers and sprawling adventures, whatever your taste, it's not hard to revisit the classics and get back in the game.

How do you play your favourite retro games? Let us know in the comments.

40 comments

  • I designed and built an arcade cabinet from scratch and I run MAME on it.

    Commenter
    SuperMaloPerro
    Date and time
    January 04, 2014, 10:48AM
    • Well done you!

      Commenter
      pfft
      Date and time
      January 05, 2014, 3:14PM
  • This is hardly news, I downloaded my first Commodore 64 emulator off the internet 10 years ago back in 2004

    Commenter
    MrTransfield
    Date and time
    January 04, 2014, 11:14AM
    • It seems to be "news" every year or so. Nothing new, just the same info rehashed each time.

      Commenter
      AKKK
      Date and time
      January 04, 2014, 4:48PM
  • I think you'll find many people will continue to go back to retro games, because they're more complete with less bugs and had passion behind their making rather than a dollar sign. AAA titles and their developers are dictated by their uber large marketing and publishing giant owners of which restrict their ability to complete games properly due to budget and time restrictions. Hence fourth a generation of somewhat rubbish in-complete and buggy games released with the moto, release now, patch later.

    Commenter
    chris
    Date and time
    January 04, 2014, 11:48AM
    • I completely agree. The path of a computer game designer 20 or 30 years ago would have been one more of a hobby than a Hollywood like movie enterprise which is prerequisite today. Speaking of which, due to the more primitive computers of the day, a game designer couldn't afford to and hence didn't have to devote a lot to graphics, just to the development of a concept. I think I now understand why my parents still prefer music of the 60s and 70s for much the same reason.

      Commenter
      Joseph M
      Date and time
      January 04, 2014, 12:58PM
    • This is an important point. In the pre-Internet days, bugs were something that publishers were keen to avoid, as there was no ready means of addressing them post-release. For most users, the only recourse was to have new floppy disks sent through the post. Whereas today, publishers seem content to rush games to launch and release them half-finished, and to rectify any problems by means of enormous patches. Tough luck if your Internet access is limited or unreliable! That said, there were more than a few rush jobs back in the day as well - who remembers the Atari 2600's hideous version of Pacman?

      Commenter
      Bugsypal
      Date and time
      January 04, 2014, 3:09PM
    • @chris ..i thought the same thing ..but you can say the same about movies aswell its all about money not a good story......ah good old days ....kickass torrents can help you out with rom,s and emulators and much more...only if you have the original that is p-)...dont want to take money from the devil do we...

      Commenter
      skeptic
      Location
      perth
      Date and time
      January 05, 2014, 9:52AM
    • You could have just said "get off my lawn"

      Commenter
      crs
      Date and time
      January 06, 2014, 11:22AM
  • For PC gamers, there is 'Good Old Games', GOG.com. While it now also sells new releases, it has many vintage games tuned to run on modern systems at a low price. During a recent browse I saw such gems as the first 6 Might & Magic releases, Populous, Pirates and original HoMM.

    Commenter
    Mr Coot
    Location
    Perth, WA
    Date and time
    January 04, 2014, 1:53PM

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