Nowadays, with Full HD graphics, new generation consoles and 4K graphics getting our minds, we could definitely say that playing with old school games is a waste of time at least, since the new games offer both good graphics and fun. But how fun the new games are?
For the record, I was born in the 1980s and although I'm not big enough to say that I was going through the "birth" of gaming, I can still say that I was "present" at the time when Nintendo revolutionized the industry with the release of the NES, as I was present during the "historical fight" between Nintendo and Sega as well as the release of PSone and N64.
I started with Atari 2600 and when it decided to "leave" me after many hours of play, I bought the NES. I still remember how long I've been waiting to buy Megaman 2, my first game on Nintendo's console and one of my favorite.
Later on, I bought the Super Nintendo (in package with Super Metroid), and my collection began to grow with other machines like Amiga 500, Game Boy, Sega's Mega Drive, and later with Sony PSOne (which together with The SNES, were the best consoles that passed through my hands), GameBoy Color and later Advance, Sega Saturn and later Dreamcast, as well as Nintendo 64 to complete the collection before 90's left us.
At that time, if you wanted to learn about new releases and new systems, you either needed to buy the magazines every month, or to find a seller who knew the gaming well. There were and some good TV shows to learn about the upcoming releases.
Surely I have played countless of games on these consoles, which I was pleased with. However, it is difficult for me to distinguish them because at that time the most games were amazing. What I can tell, however, is that when you wanted to play a game, you simply had to insert the cartridge in, press the power button and in a few seconds the game was ready to play, something that is not the case with the newer consoles. I still remember on N64 when the time you took off your finger from the "Reset" button, the game had already gone to its start menu.
Nowadays, this is not the case, because apart from the fact that the games have become so big and 'heavy' (since they have to satisfy every graphic's fan), that they need to be installed first, something that takes a lot of time.
Today, you just never buy the full game. Whether you get it with problems (and you have to download a patch later on) or you get it... half and you have to download an update (in Lords of the Fallen for PS4 for example I had to download an update about 5GBs before I could play the game), or you have to pay for a DLC to get some extra stuff for the game.
If this was something that pleases me in Retro games, there is something else that pleases me more and is the simplicity of their game play. NES had two buttons along with the directional controls, while the Super Nintendo had 4 + 2 on the top and although the N64 had a lot more, its games was too simple to control (see, for example, Zelda 64: OoT).
Something that makes me happy playing these games are their graphics. Yes, it's not today's graphics, but I like the sprites on the screen. 2D graphics are my favorites, and even the older 3D graphics have never annoyed me, even if I'm used to today's HD graphics.
Although Tomb Raider's Remake has improved graphics, even today I enjoy playing the classic title. Especially its music themes are awesome. For me, Eidos can never been able to re-create the first title's atmosphere, despite the remakes they made.
The best part of these games was their music. I believe in every game, the companies were putting something like a bet on what will be a gamers' favorite. Many of these tracks have also made a remarkable remix (eg: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7), while some of them are composed either by an orchestra (eg 1,2,3), or by amateurs from their homes (eg: 1, 2). Surely younger people will agree that today they do not pay much attention to the quality that existed back in the day.
And here I would like to mention some of the newer consoles. For example, the PS3 is a very good option, like the Xbox 360, until it showed me the famous "red circle of death" to make it spare parts. I have the PS3 as a multi-emulator system along with its own games I play.
And somewhere I got the PS4.
The PS4 is for me the worst game console I bought in terms of games and I literally regretted taking it to the point where I call it PrayStation 4 because we are praying to make a good game or to not make another remake/remaster game or even to NOT release a new version of the console with better graphics.
Especially when they announced the PS4 Pro version, I regretted twice. From the moment I bought it, the console had very few games, mostly older remakes that I had already played on PS3 and deep down PrayStation 4 showed me that it was time to become a PC gamer, despite the fact that I was a console gamer for years. Thank you Sony, you got me out of a difficult dilemma.
Now for the 3-4 exclusive of each console, no problem at all, I will play many other good games at better prices. And even today, few titles are worth to buy for the PS4 (for me at least) and I'm pretty sure that PlayStation 5 will be released soon, which will give a lot of pain to those who bought the PS4, then they got Pro and Sony's VR, because I'm pretty sure Sony will either give it up, like PSVita or PS3's Wii style controllers (aka PlayStation Move), or they will continue it to the PS5, of course incompatible with the one people already bought. Yeah, that's the way Sony do businesses.
I do not buy Nintendo's consoles since the GameCube. Nintendo has generally stopped being the Nintendo we knew. Their consoles are using cheap materials, but they are sold them expensive. Their consoles have a few good games, usually 1-2 Mario and a Zelda for the fans, while Nintendo can abandon a console and move the next one very easily.
I think Nintendo's Switch is a good option, though I do not get it in my hands yet, but for now I think you're just buying a Zelda at $350, the console will be dusty after that as with any other Nintendo's console, as there are not many manufacturers making games to support it. Now Zelda's reviews are mixed, others say that Nintendo paid for good reviews, but I can not say my opinion if I do not play it. However, the 1-2 Switch is just a rip off, since they should give it free of charge as a package with the console and not charge $50 for it.
Definitely a great role in the retro-state is driven by nostalgia, as many sites who supporting the retro-state do it mainly because they are nostalgic for the games of that era, or they are nostalgic at the time when they were young. The part of nostalgia is definitely gets me too, when I'm playing with these games, but it is definitely a small part.
Most importantly, these games had something different from today's games. Perhaps because you could not get it all or the most of them (such as today for instance, where either by piracy or by Steam you can have them all with a few clicks) or because you waited for them while watching some photos in the magazines of the time. But certainly you are not got bored so easily, unlike today, where if there was not the online gaming, you would not be able to play with them for more than a few hours (eg Call of Duty).
I wrote "online" and I remembered how those games could get you be with your friends. I still remember getting together with my friends and playing the games, helping each other with the puzzles and scaring with the game's bosses or with the games itself, like Resident Evil.
So many years later, and the games have not changed very much (meaning you still sit with the controller in your hands and play), but our lives have changed. Our friends from the neighborhood and school have been lost, our way of life has changed. The friends, who were gathering together and playing "double" in Street of Rage or Final Fight, we may have been lost for years, but the memories in the room and the agony when we were approaching the last "boss", are there, in our room, with the controller in our hands and the nervousness to defeat the last boss and win the game. Many of us, remember these moments nostalgically.
Unfortunately, those times have gone for ever. And since the industry is moving at incredible speeds, it gets along and the games, making them lose their gaming quality to gain the quality of graphics. Fortunately, the nostalgist and their efforts (either by programming emulators or by sharing the games, or by having sites supporting the Retro-state) are keeping that time unchanged.
For those who thinking playing these games, I suggest them to give them a try, either through the legal services provided by the companies (eg Nintendo's Virtual Console), or by emulation. I am sure you will see that those games are far more better that today's games, and it is no coincidence that companies have long ago begun to re-release some of their classic titles (see Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy).