Post-Modern Pac-Man – Retro gaming brought bang up to date
We often look back on our childhood toys with fond memories. For many of us those “toys” will include some sort of computer game. You might have owned a Nintendo Wii, a Sony PlayStation, a Nintendo Game Boy, a Sega console or one of the early computers such as a ZX Spectrum or BBC micro.
You might even have hung out in one of those gloriously noisy games arcades which popped up everywhere in the 80s and 90s. Whatever your gaming heritage I’m sure you spent many hours happily bashing away on the keys trying to beat your highest score.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could relive some of those glory days without having to actually find and buy a 30-year-old computer which still works?
Well you can! Retro gaming has come to your rescue.
Retro gaming uses emulators to play your old games. Emulators are special programs that allow your modern computer or games console to “pretend” to be a vintage games machine. You use the real programmes and play them in the emulator to get an exact copy of the gaming experience. You can also buy retro controllers for almost all the old systems that plug into your modern computer but let you use a keypad that looks exactly like the original controller.
Finding games is very easy and usually free. There are a number of enthusiasts who have built superb libraries of all the old software and provide them as free downloads via their websites. If there was a particular game you loved, or one you longed to have a go at, the chances are you’ll be able to find both an emulator and the game somewhere on the web.
Modern games machines are also catching on to retro gaming. You can buy emulators for most modern games consoles which allow you to play games from the old systems. These aren’t free but are usually a simple download from the relevant app store.
You’ll also find new consoles and handheld gaming devices dedicated to playing arcade classics and consoles games. Some companies are even producing copies of the original hardware that look like the old machines but with more reliable, modern electronics inside.
So, if you’re after a taste of nostalgia, or if you just want to find out what some of the great classics were like, check out one of the systems below or have a look online for your ultimate system.
RetroPie is a complete retro gaming system that uses a Raspberry Pi computer that plugs into your TV. There are complete kits available which will get you set up for well under £100.
LaunchBox is a free emulator for your computer or laptop. It includes emulators for almost any system you can remember in a nice easy to use package. Just add a controller of your choice for the full retro gaming experience.
The Nintendo Switch has an app that lets you play all the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) games. Just visit their online shop.
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