The Retro Section At EB Games Expo Is A Weird Reality Check

I, like most of you reading, grew up with video games. We all have those memories. Those weird, twisted, distorted memories of video games: the consoles we played, the games we played. They're part of our history. At EB Expo they have a really nifty Retro section. It's small, but it's pretty great.

The weird part for me is the distance. The distance between how you remember something and how it actually was. The thing that always surprises me is how big the old consoles are: the technology itself I mean. The Neo Geo. Massive. The Atari Lynx — I can't believe Atari had the gall to market that thing as a handheld device to children. How could any child hope to hold this thing aloft with their tiny arms and baby fingers.

Perhaps the most disappointing moment for me (in a good way, I guess) was seeing four young guys huddled around a single CRT, playing Goldeneye. When I was a teenager that game was a mighty totem to what was possible with video game technology. It was a jaw dropping achievement. Now it felt so terribly pedestrian. It looks terrible, the frame rate chugs, the controls are borderline unplayable. I remember when that game was all I played, all I talked about. It felt weird to see it in such a bad state, betraying the rose tinted memories I had.

Nevertheless, the Retro section was a real experience. Your age and the games you played as a youngster will most likely define your experience of the whole thing. But I have to admit, I found it pretty alarming to see the GameCube and the Dreamcast set up in a 'retro' area. That was another wake up call entirely...


    Reminds me of my first and last experience with MAME. Loaded up Double Dragon which was indisputably The Greatest Game Of All Time back when I used to feed every 20c coin I could find into it.

    A chunk of my childhood died when I revisited that 25 years later. I haven't touched MAME since :P

      Hehe. Some memories are best left as just that... memories. :)

        I think the same thing every time I attempt to play a master system emulation. That was the BOMB when I had it as a kid... not any more :-(

          Yep. You don't even have to go back that far. A few years ago I went back and tried playing Black on the PS2. Absolutely amazing game when it first came out. These days... not so amazing.

            Man I remember that! The graphics looked amazing back then.

            Then again, I swear I once said that Gran Turismo was 'photo realistic'. :P

          The one game that I find still holds the test of time (mind you it's not that old) is Fallout. I still chuck it on once a year and it's a blast to play.

      what are you talking about. Double dragon is still great.

    I learnt some time ago to leave my fond gaming memories right where they are. My adult brain comes back to these games and goes '........ oh man, this was bad.' I mean it wasn't bad, per se - just not even a tenth as awesome as my memories made it.

      It is hit and miss, Steams been bringing back games I used to play as a kid recently (Super Frog, Gorky 17). Recently got my hands on Mad Doctor for the C64....yep that was bad, but a reboot could make it interesting. That and Moonstone on the Amiga 500.

      Sometimes I've gone back to games I loved as a kid and found they were actually terrible. Other times, they still hold up. It really depends on the game. Most of Lucasarts' games still hold up for example - TIE Fighter feels amazingly fresh for a nearly 20 year old game, for example, and their adventure games are still fantastic.

      I think the bigger thing is that when we were kids, we had a very small number of games, and played the crap out of that limited selection, so we basically tricked ourselves into believing they were good. Truth is, a lot of them weren't, even by the standards of games at the time.

        And games that felt enormous at the time, really weren't that big.

    I miss my Lynx...then again...I miss my Commodore 64 too

    Needs more Spectrum. My childhood grew up around that until I got a paper-round and saved up enough for a Mega Drive (Genesis). Memories

    Anyone else distrubed how the young whipper snappers are handling the N64 controllers.

    You see how those guys are handling the N64 controller? Yeesh, have they even PLAYED video games before?

      oh god... how... what... why... HOW ARE THEY SHOOTING?!

    You think that Atari Lynx was big? That's actually the "slim" version of the Lynx, or the Lynx 2 I think Atari marketed it as, despite it having the same guts as the original Lynx.

    The original Atari Lynx was actually even BIGGER than that. I had one, and it was awesome :)

      I came here to post the exact same thing... From what I remember the original was wider but significantly thinner than the Lynx 2 and yes, it was awesome =)

      (Side note: I had the original with 32 games until our house got robbed... got a Lynx 2 to replace it but it just wasn't the same, and I never re-collected anywhere near as many games...)

    Similar happened to me at Pax Aus. Sometimes memories are best left as memories.

    Goldeneye is a particularly bad one. Everyone loves the shit out of that game, and it's way better to keep that "love" in the present tense. Playing an instant of Goldeneye - indeed, even seeing a reflection of it in your phone while walking past that retro kiosk - will instantly ruin that.
    I find the games that stack up the best are ones where gameplay and simple mechanics prevail. Presentation isn't important when it's gaming, stripped back to its core. 64 and PS2 games exist in that weird in-between stage - when things like frame rate (particularly in the case of Goldeneye) come into it. We're just not wired to ignore that sort of stuff any more, and it shows more than ever when the memory of a perfect game is tarnished by modern standards. Leave it in the past, I say, unless you absolutely know that regardless of its limitations, you'll still enjoy your time with it.
    It's for this reason I will never play Wacky Wheels ever again. Never.

    BBC Micro or go home.

    The censorship/ratings stickers on those systems is pretty damned amusing. Ratings on games that (for the most part) were from before people even thought about applying that kind of thing to games.

      As the person who organised all the rating stickers on them, let me just say that it took a LOT of google research to get some of the ratings :P

      We just wanted to make sure we were 100% compliant with OFLC standards because we knew they'd be keeping an eye on the show.

        If so, I tip my hat off to you for a job well done. Well played, good work, million Internets to you etc!

        "Lemmings - MA15+: Animated mischief violence; Adult Themes; Nuclear Warfare"

    I know the retro letdown all too well. The sunny idealism in my mind keeps thinking: the good ol' days are where it's at, where it was all about gameplay and instead of graphics. Then I actually go to play those games and...meh. (AND the graphics are terrible on top of it) I think part of the problem is...I'm all grown up now. My adult mind seeks something a lot more complicated than the what the Atari and arcade style games of yesteryear can offer. As has been mentioned many times on this page, sometimes memories are best left as memories.

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