Author: Brad Lind

The Super NES Classic Mini – All the power of the 90’s

Super NES

If your born around the same time as me, then there is a very good chance you will have some fond childhood memories of late-night sleepovers at a friend’s; All-nighters filled with R-rated movies, chips, “deep conversations”, a case of Dr. Pepper, and of course…Super NES! While by no means one of the pioneer gaming systems like the NES or the Atari before it, this goliath of the gaming world is in a class of its own.

Now with the release of the Super NES Classic Mini, you too can own one of the most iconic retro game systems ever created. And let me tell you ladies and gentlemen, just like a toaster, every household needs to own a Super NES Classic Mini.

The Super NES – And God Said “Let there be kick-ass gaming”

If you were a gamer in the 80’s you probably thought nothing could top the NES. A portable living room arcade with hundreds of amazing games to choose from, how could video games get any better??? Then Nintendo dropped the SNES on you and shook your world to the very core.

Released in 1991, Nintendo’s second gaming system in many ways trumped it first, not only because of its obvious upgrade in graphics, or robust library of top shelf games, but also because of the focus on story driven titles and multiplayer experiences. This system really was the first glimpse at what video games could be; epic interactive stories, with characters you cared about, and visual design bordering on art.

Selling over 49 million units worldwide, it would be safe to say that the Super Nintendo reined as the number one game system for many years, beating out the Sega Genesis by over 15 million units sold. With its competition crushed, Nintendo’s Super NES cemented its victory in the first generation of “console wars”.

*** If you’re interested in learning more about the history of SNES and other consoles, check out my post on The History of Video Game consoles. ***

What’s in the Box

Much the same as the NES Classic Mini release before it, the Super NES Classic Mini contains everything a gamer needs in one box. Each system is an exact replica of the SNES except ¼ of the size. There is no actual game slot, since every system comes pre-loaded with 21 games, and the 2 controllers that are included with the system look and feel just like the original SNES controller.

The one downside to the controllers is, like the NES Classic Mini, the cords are way too damn short, not coming much past 2 feet in length. Fortunately, Amazon has you covered, and for the modest price of $10 for 2, you can get cord extensions that will add an extra 10 feet to both your Super NES Classic Mini controllers and your NES Classic Mini controllers. With that extra length, you should be able to leave your Super NES Classic Mini plugged into your TV via the short HDMI cable that is included and still game from anywhere in your living room. I know, it seems like in this day and age Nintendo should easily be able to make the controllers wireless, but then you would miss the added excitement of possibly tripping over a bunch of cords every time you get up to get a snack..

That small problem aside, the Super NES Classic Mini looks great on my 50 inch flat screen and set up was a breeze. No downloading updates, or internet connection required, just plug in and play – a design I sorely miss with the new video game systems these days. For the modest price of 100$ CAD I feel as though I’ve more than got my moneys worth with this retro gaming system.

The Games

Street Fighter II

The SNES was one of the last gaming systems to come out before the age of 3d graphics, and Nintendo really perfected their craft with this system. Like the Nintendo classic game system released before it, every game on the Super NES Classic Mini is a gem. Nintendo made sure to include almost all the major titles one would want on a walk down memory lane. Super Mario Bros, Donkey Kong Country, F-Zero, Mario Kart, Street-Fighter 2, Mega man X, Super Punch-Out, and 14 other games. Even the elusive and pricey Super Mario RPG is included on the list of 21 preloaded games, a must play for anyone who buys the Super NES Classic Mini.

Also, as a bonus, the system also comes with Star fox 2, which was never officially released with the original SNES. I’m not a huge Star Fox fan, but my friends who are assure me it’s a pretty fun title to check out. With so much superior 2d gaming at your fingertips, you could literally spend days playing dipping you toes into these titles and barely scratch the surface.

Conclusion

Let’s be honest, the SNES is a game system that isn’t going anywhere. There are just too many amazing titles and hours of entertainment for anyone who enjoys video games for it to ever disappear. I feel that any serious gamer, new or old, should have some kind of appreciation for the Super NES Classic Mini, even if you didn’t grow up with one. Hell, I owned a Sega years before I got a SNES and I still love this system to death.

While the system is pretty close to perfect, the short controller cords are annoying, and I would have loved to have seen a few more titles from the massive SNES library included on the Super NES Classic Mini (anyone remember Clay Fighter!?). These short-comings are miniscule when compared to everything the Super NES Classic Mini does right and for that reason I have been recommending this system to everyone who appreciates video games and/or the nostalgia one feels when playing these classic systems from a different era. So, get yours today and get your game on with one of the gaming worlds best!

 

 

 

 

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Categories: Classic Gaming Consoles

The Nintendo Classic Game Console – Re-live and Re-love

Ah, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). Any gamer worth their salt has had some form of relationship with this Nintendo Classic Game Console. Arguably one of the best video game consoles ever made, the NES helped shape the video game industry to what it is today. In fact, peoples love for this console runs so deep even nowadays, that when Nintendo decided to do a release of their Nintendo Classic Game Console, dubbed the NES Classic Mini, it was an instant success, to the point that finding one became impossible. During the initial run of the NES Classic Mini, limited supplies and consumer hype meant that only the most dedicated of gamers would get their hands on the release of the Nintendo Classic Game Console, the NES. But the powers that be heard the cries of the masses and have decided to release the NES Classic Mini for a second time, and in greater numbers! No longer the elusive beast it once was, finding one of these Nintendo Classic Game Consoles has never been so easy.

The Nintendo Entertainment System – A Meteoric Rise to Power

Nintendo Entertainment System

At first there were video games, and it was good. Video game consoles held a small corner of the entertainment market and a portion of the population fell into the new category of ‘gamers’. Then in 1985 everything changed. Nintendo released its first video game console, and the gaming industry seemingly transformed over night.

The NES grabbed the publics attention with its revolutionary D-Pad controllers, top of the line 1st party games such as Mario Bros, and strict rules for 3rd party developers insuring only quality (for the most part) games where being made for the system. For the modest price of $99 the system came with 2 controllers and Super Mario Bros. and was the ‘must have’ Christmas gift for several years running. Nintendo even tried to up the fun by releasing a bunch of peripheral add-ons such as a light gun, a “Power Glove” controller, and of course R.O.B the robot.

What ever Nintendo did worked, and by the late 1980’s Nintendo was a household name. Nintendo has since proved what a gaming juggernaut their company is, and to this day still is one of the biggest names associated with video games.

*** If you’re interested in learning more about the history of the NES and other consoles, check out my post on The History of Video Game consoles. ***

What’s in the Box

Opening my brand-new Nintendo Classic Game Console felt like it did when I opened the original NES for Christmas 26 years ago. The system looks like an exact replica of the Original NES, in all it’s boxy, grey glory; just a ¼ of the size. The controller feels 100% true to the original NES controller, except for the 2-foot cord. Come on Nintendo, with today’s TV’s, there is no need to sit 2 feet away from the television like back 30 years ago.

Fortunately, you can buy a cord extension from eBay to alleviate this oversight. It costs 10$ for 2 and it was more than worth it to be able to sit on my couch 10 feet away and comfortably game with no trouble. While you’re on eBay, you mine as well buy an extra controller for 10$ as well, seeing as this version of the Nintendo classic game system only comes with one. I should mention though, if you bought the Super NES Classic Mini, the controllers are interchangeable, so you can use your Super Nintendo controller for any 2 player games you might want to hack with a friend.

The system itself hooks up easily to pretty much any TV via an HDMI cable, and definitely draws a lot of conversation siting in my living room on my home entertainment stand.

The Games

Oh, where to begin. Maybe I’m biased because these games where such a big part of my childhood, but I would have to say the NES has some of the best titles out there as far as retro gaming is concerned.

Pacman on the NES

For starters we have one of the best Mario games ever made, the ultimate side scrolling action of Super Mario Bros 3. I like most Mario games, new and old, but everything about this game, from the level design, to Mario’s new power ups, to the hidden secret flutes, to Big World, all just make this game a must own and play.

Another favorite of mine is the original Legend of Zelda. This was one of the first RPG’s I ever got my hands on, and it absorbed hours of my life as a child. To be honest, there are so many amazing games for this Nintendo classic game console, that I must stop myself from rambling on, or we could be her all night. Final Fantasy, Dr. Mario, Double Dragon, Megaman, and Contra, just to name a few of the greats that everyone should play.

If you’re like me and decided to buy yourself a retro remake of the Nintendo Classic Game Console, then chances are it came pre-loaded with a certain number of games. With my purchase of the NES Classic Mini, it came pre-loaded with 30 games, (all heavy hitters), but I know with lots of 3rd party NES Retro systems, the list of games can go all the way up to 300. Hell, you can even mod the Nintendo Classic Game Console if you have the desire and a little know-how, and load on any game your heart wants.

Conclusion

Buy. Go buy it, right now. Serious, why are you not on Amazon adding a Nintendo Classic Game Console to your cart right now. I love everything about this system, from the games to the controllers. I also love the fact that I don’t have to blow into the system just to get the damn games to work (you old school gamers know exactly what I’m talking about).

So, whether you’re an old school gamer, or a young buck looking to take a stab at the games your daddy played, this Nintendo classic game console has something for everyone, and for the modest price of 100$, its something that every gamer should own and experience. Time to pick up those sticks and get gaming!

 

 

 

 

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Categories: Classic Gaming Consoles

The Atari Classic Game Console – Putting the ‘Joy’ in Joystick

The Atari 2600. The original ‘must have’ video game console. For those of us that haven’t been spoiled by today’s modern graphics, it’s a fun, basic, but challenging system to play. The original Atari 2600 came out a little before my time but finding an Atari system in the 80s was fairly easy, and its blocky graphics and joystick controllers was still very much part of my youth. Nowadays finding a working Atari 2600 console and game cartridges is no small task so I’ve instead invested in an Atari Classic Game Console (in this case the Atari Flashback 8 gold), and that will be the system I am referencing in this post.

The Atari 2600 – A Quick Look Back

The Atari 2600

The Atari 2600 could be considered the grandfather of modern video game consoles. Released to the public on September 11, 1977, it was not only one of the first video game systems produced in the Second Generation of consoles but was the first console to really resonate with the public and become a household name. The system was sold with two joystick style controllers, and a game for $199, which works out to roughly $850 dollars today. Even with the seemingly high price tag, the Atari 2600 sold over 30 million units in its lifetime and was the first video game console that was considered a commercial success.

*** If you’re interested in learning more about the history of Atari and other consoles, check out my post on The History of Video Game consoles. ***

What’s in the Box

As I stated earlier, finding a working Atari 2600 with functioning games and controllers is a big pain in the @$$ these days. So, if you’re an old guy like me looking to relive your glory days, a young buck who’s into retro gaming, or even just a console collector, I’d recommend getting your hands on an Atari Classic Game Console.

Like most of the classic game console remakes that are being produced today, the Atari Flashback is not only smaller and more durable than its clunky 40-year-old forefather, but it also comes pre-loaded with games and the Atari Flashback 8 Gold comes with 2 wireless controllers that work quite well, so no fighting with 2 foot controller cords (looking at you Nintendo). The games look great, or as great as an Atari 2600 game can, running at 720p plugging into any flat screen TV via HDMI cable. No worrying about those stupid RCA cables to get your game on. All in all, the Atari Classic Game Console setup is fairly brainless, and looks good on my TV stand, next to my NES and SNES Classic Game consoles. For the modest price of $112, I felt it was money well spent.

The Games

Space Invaders!!

As anyone who’s played an Atari before knows, the games are often a frustrating mix of basic, yet unforgiving game play and simplistically beautiful design. Yet for every playable game there was often 5 unplayable hunks of garbage to suffer through. Fortunately, with the Atari Classic Console i bought, most of the wheat is separated from the chaff, and the system is pre-loaded with 120 of the Atari essential games.

Some of the highlights for me include Pitfall, the original side-scrolling platformer, Space Invaders, one of the first video game shooters and an arcade classic, and of course Frogger, the ultimate “throw your joystick at the TV in frustration” game. And with so many other titles to play, one could spend days losing repeatedly at all the different retro titles on the system. As far as entertainment to dollar ratio goes, the Atari games deliver a lot of bang for your buck.

The Play

The last time I actually held an Atari 2600 joystick in my hands and played on the original system was well over 20 years ago, so its hard to compare how the Atari Classic Game Console holds up against the original 2600. That being said, the system just feels right. Everything I remember from the Atari 2600 is there and plays as I think it should. The games look as good as a 40-year-old system can on a HD TV, and the added function of saving, pausing and rewinding games makes the Atari Flashback 8 Gold even better than the 2600 in a lot of ways. If your looking to have some fun and appreciate retro video games, the Atari Classic Game Console might just be right up your alley. Just remember to keep an eye on your blood pressure as these games have been known to infuriate even the most tranquil of men.

Conclusion

I’ll be honest, this system isn’t for everyone. The games lack any kind of real story or character development, and the graphics are love or hate. But if your looking for a quality system to get your Atari fix, the Flashback 8 Gold is an excellent choice. I picked mine up online at Walmart for $112 and couldn’t be happier. Its fun to have friends over and have Frogger competitions or see who can get the high score in Asteroids. The wonderful thing about Atari games is even non-gamers can pick up the sticks and have an enjoyable time, as pretty much all the games are easy to learn, but hard to master.

While I decided to purchase the Atari Flashback 8 Gold, there are tons of other Atari Classic Game Consoles for purchase. The Flashback series alone runs from 1 – 8, each slightly different from the next, not to mention all the other knock-offs, emulators and Atari bundles out there. For those of you interested I’ve included some links to help you on your purchase of your own Atari Classic Game Console. So, get out there and get gaming!

 

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Categories: Classic Gaming Consoles

The History of Video Game Consoles – A Brief Walk Through Time

In today’s high-tech world, it’s hard to imagine a life without video games. Whether it’s on our smart phone, computer, or one of the many new and old game systems, video games are a prevalent part of our lives, and don’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. Obviously, that was not always the case. Let’s take a trip back to the mid 1900s and briefly explore the history of video game consoles.

 

Early 1950s – Video Games for Science

When looking back on the history of video game consoles, it’s easy to forget that the first video games were not technically on a console of any kind, but rather, were created by computer scientists in labs. These men of higher learning would use “super computers” that usually filled a room, to run their rudimentary games, such as digital tic-tac-toe and tennis. While not pretty or all that engaging, this was the beginnings of the multi-billion industry that gaming is today.

The 1970s – Video Arcade Mania

With technology advancing and the design of better circuitry and smaller microchips, the path was paved for the first coin operated video game, “Computer Space”! The awkward, brightly colored fiberglass cabinet featured a player-controlled rocket battling it out against flying saucers. While nothing special by today’s standards, this arcade video game was the first of a new generation of entertainment. Near the end of the 70s video arcades were popping up all over and kids the world around found themselves needing raises to their allowance.

1972 – Ralph Baer’s Brown Box

In 1972, with the arcade games like Pong drawing the attention of America’s youth, Ralph Baer with a handful of developers sought to bring the arcade to the family living room with the invention of the first home video game console on the market, dubbed the “Brown Box”. This is truly where the history of video game consoles began. Baer licenses his console to Magnovox, and soon the Magnovox Odyssey hits shelves as “the new electronic game of the future”.

The Magnavox Odyssey

The system is a far stretch from today’s consoles however and is essentially just a few black and white dots on a TV that behave differently depending on the game being played and controlled with 2 rectangular controllers. The system was so basic it didn’t produce sound and came included with physical dice, cards and other board game accessories as well as plastic overlays for the TV screen to coincide with the game you were playing (so a racing game would look more like a racing game than just 3 moving squares on a TV screen). While not a commercial success, the Odyssey laid the groundwork for the next generation of consoles.

1976 – Second Generation Consoles and the Future

With consumers worldwide getting a taste for video games, the market is soon flooded with consoles to choose from. The Fairchild Channel F, the Coleco Telestar Arcade, and the new Magnavox Wonder Wizard 7702, all try to make their mark on the burgeoning new industry, but its not until 1977 when Atari releases its Atari 2600 game console that home consoles gain a real presence in family living rooms.

The 2600 with its joystick controllers, removable game cartridges, computer-controlled players and massive game library, made Atari a household name and commercial success. Later second-generation consoles such as Holovision, Intellivision and The Atari 5200 continued grabbing peoples interest in video games but it wasn’t until the 3rd generation of consoles that the video game market truly took shape.

1985 – Third Generation and Mario Domination

By 1983 interest in video game consoles were waning, and market saturation of overproduced, inferior quality games caused the video game market to crash. Several companies went bankrupt and the video game consoles future looked bleak. Enter the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in 1985. It was far and above the best-selling video game system of its time and kick started the video game market all over.

The NES quickly differentiated itself from the other systems of the past with its optimal d-pad controller, video arcade graphics and sound, stellar list of both first and third-party games, and various accessories. Nintendo also aggressively priced the NES system, almost losing money on every purchase, making up for the difference in the cost of the games and accessories. Nintendo seemingly did everything right with the NES and soon 30% of all American households owned the system (a substantial number for the time considering only 23% of households owned a personal computer) with over 62 million systems sold worldwide.

Shortly after Nintendo’s success, Sega released the Sega Master System to the world. The Sega enjoyed limited success (mostly in Europe and South America where the NES was hard to find) but only grabbed a small corner of the market, selling 15 million units worldwide. Sega was down but not out.

1988 – Forth Generation and Onward

The Sega Genesis

With the gaming market in full recovery after the 1983 crash, Sega needed to reinvent itself to compete with Nintendo. So, with some aggressive marketing and a brand new speedy, blue mascot, Sega released the 16-bit Sega Genesis. The system was an enormous success for Sega selling over 40 million units worldwide. Part of Sega’s advertising campaign was challenging Nintendo’s dominance by stating their product was a cooler, and more realistic arcade experience and used campaign slogans such as “Genesis does what Nintendon’t” to really drive their point home.

In response Nintendo released their own 16-bit system in 1991, the Super NES. For the next couple of years these two systems were the only 4th generation consoles anyone cared about and the first “console wars” had begun. With their late start, the Nintendo managed to narrowly outpace the Sega, with 49 million units sold, and to this day, the debate over Genesis or Super NES can still be heard in school yards and comic shops across the country.

Which ever console was truly the 4th generation winner is irrelevant (a discussion for a later post), as it was the consumer who truly came out on top of the console wars as both companies now had a drive and reason to produce a constant stream of top shelf games and accessories. Thanks to Nintendo and Sega the future of videos games was secure.

In Conclusion

It’s interesting to look at the progression of video games over the years. From a few colorless squares to massive, 3d rendered, open world environments, in less than century, its hard to fathom what shape the industry will have taken another 50 years from now. And while one could go into great depth covering each system that’s ever come to pass, hopefully this brief post gives you a basic idea of where the games you’re playing today trace their roots and gives you a better idea of where to start if you’re looking to purchase a retro gaming system of you’re own. So pick up those sticks and happy gaming!

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Categories: Miscellaneous

About Me

Welcome to Retro Gaming Plays! Your source for all things retro gaming.

ABOUT ME

Hi everyone, and welcome to Retro Gaming Plays. Video games are a huge part of my life, past, present, and they still absorb a large amount of my time today!

Born in Canada in the 1980’s, a child of divorced parents, I ended up moving around a lot. Making friends could sometimes prove to be a challenge in a new school, but the one sure icebreaker I had, was video games. Super Mario opened more doors for me than my baseball skills ever could, and some friendships were started based on nothing more than a need for player 2.

Now, several decades later, I’m currently engaged with a young daughter, career and mortgage to worry about, and I still use video games as an escape and stress relief. I think its safe to say that I live my life by the old adage, “once a gamer, always a gamer”!

MY GAMING HISTORY

There are certain times in one’s youth, when such a monumental, life changing event occurs, that the very code of who we are is changed or rewritten for the rest of our lives. For me that moment was on May 21st 1990, when for my birthday I received my very first video game system, the Sega Genesis. While I had spent countless hours playing the original Nintendo the previous summers at my cousins (actively ignoring my parents wishes to “get outside and get some exercise”), the Sega was the first (of many) game systems I owned. Sega sleepovers with my friends, walking down the video store to rent a new game (and buy a Slurpee), and high scores became my youth. My life began to revolve around the all-mighty game console, from Sega, to Nintendo, to super Nintendo and on, I had to have, and play the newest and best game systems. Even to this day, the allure of sneaking off to my man cave to play the SNES mini, or Sega Genesis, or enjoy the simplistic difficulty of Pong, holds a specific power over me that today’s systems just can’t replicate.

OUR GOAL

This website is for the consoles and games of yesterday. Whether you’re an old timer like me, looking to relive your glory days, or a millennial, checking out the games your parents used to jam, this is the place to be! Discuss, buy, or just doing some reading up on the systems that made gaming what it is.
If you ever need a hand or have any questions, feel free to leave them below and I will be more than happy to help you out.

All the best,

Brad

brad@retrogamingplays.com

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Categories: Miscellaneous