The console wars of the mid 90’s was an epic time to be a gamer. Companies pushed each other to improve their systems and the consumers actually reaped the rewards. Today the console wars are all but over with Sony crushing the current generation sales with the PS4. Microsoft is still hanging on but the excitement and competition of the past seem to be a memory of a bygone era, or is it? If you are a retro gamer maybe the best is yet to come. Right now there are still companies that are producing consoles that are pushing each other through competition and once again we get to reap the rewards. The retro console wars are hot right now and there are many vying for your dollar. This month I’ll be taking a look at a few of my favorite retro consoles and why they have become so popular. First things first, let’s take a look at what is driving these new console wars.
This will come as no surprise to OSRS players, but nostalgia is a driving factor for retro gaming. People get to a certain age and look back fondly at things they enjoyed when they were younger. At the same time, these are the same people that are now beginning to have some disposable income. It’s only natural for companies to try and cash in on this sense of nostalgia. Another factor that is helping to heat up the retro gaming market is collecting. NES, SNES as well as Sega Genesis and PlayStation are all popular in the game collecting market. Sega Dreamcast and Nintendo 64 are also beginning to see a higher demand too. There is even some truth to the old saying ‘they don’t make things the way they used to’. As any gamer of the early generations can tell you the old games were tough. That’s not just looking back with rose colored glasses either but they were legitimately more challenging than many games today. Today you complete a game, back then you had to beat it. There are many more reasons for the popularity of retro gaming, however, let’s begin looking at what consoles are being offered in this genre.
One company that is a big player in the scene is Retro-bit. Retro-bit offers a number of emulation and clone based systems. The two biggest sellers and best consoles they offer is the RetroCade system and the Retro Trio Plus. The RetroCade is an emulation based system that offers not only console games but some arcade classics as well. There are 90 pre-programmed games on the system with Retro-bit claiming there could be more added through firmware updates in the future. It is a plug-and-play console that has both HDMI and AV cables. The beauty of this console is the arcade classics that it has. The arcade games are as they were, warts and all. The occasional lag or slow down you remember from the original arcade games are present here. Whether that is a plus or minus is up to you but I prefer it because it seems that when emulators try to artificially speed up a game because it detects it lagging the end result is much worse than just leaving it alone. That being said it does have console classics as well like Mega Man 2 and in some cases, it has both arcade and console versions. The Retro Trio Plus is a clone based system. This is not an emulator it is rather real hardware. You can play NES, SNES and Sega Genesis on this system. There are three different slots where you can put the corresponding games in. It comes with two super Nintendo inspired controllers and can be hooked up via HDMI or composite. The great thing about this system is that you can hook it up to a CRT tv and use a light gun for games like Duck Hunt or Hogans Alley. It also has the added bonus of being able to play real game cartridges. This opens up the vast majority of the licensed catalogs to you. If you are a game collecter this could be an excellent space saving choice. Oh, and did I mention you can use original NES, SNES or Genesis controllers if you chose.
Hyperkin is another company trying to cash in on the retro gaming craze. They put out the Retron V which is 10 systems in one. It is an emulation based system but what it does is lift the ROM from the inserted game rather than being preloaded. It can play NES, SNES, Famicom, Super Famicom, Sega Genesis or Sega Master Drive as well as handhelds like a Game Boy, Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advanced. This system comes with a wireless controller but all the reviews say its really not very good. Luckily you can use the original controllers with it if you like. It also has an SD card slot where you can download translation paths from the Hyperkin website and play imported games in your native language. This is the one incredible feature that really sets this one apart. It also is region free and has a slider switch where you can pick the region and play any game you like. All and all it’s a worthy competitor to the Retro-bit offerings although it has suffered from reliability issues in its reviews.
Finally, we come to the big boy on the block Nintendo. Nintendo not only saw the enthusiasm people had over retro gaming but decided to jump in the game themselves. First, they introduced the Nintendo Classic Mini. This is a cool little retro console that includes 30 games with it and no you can’t officially add games. The console was so popular when it was released there were serious supply shortages and they are still scarce even today. Nintendo followed this up with the SNES Classic Mini. This little retro console had another classic 30 SNES games but Nintendo had learned from the previous release and did make some small tweaks and added more supply. The SNES was well received and even with the increased production is still hard to come by today. The great thing about these consoles is that they can be used with modern TVs via HDMI hookups. Nintendo probably isn’t done there either. There are already rumors that they are working on a Nintendo 64 Classic Mini. Not to be outdone Sony has announced they are getting in the retro console scene with their release of the PlayStation 1 Classic this year.
All this competition is great for retro gamers. No matter if you are simply into the nostalgia of the old games and just want to plug and play or you’re a hardcore retro gamer there is something for you. Of course for the purest out there you can still find the original consoles but they are becoming much more expensive and it can be difficult to get them working on new televisions. That’s why the new retro consoles are so appealing to consumers that aren’t worried as much about the collecting end of things. One thing is for sure as Sony and Microsoft compete for supremacy in the current generation of consoles there is another less well-known console war going on. No matter if you enjoy the newest of the new releases or the old stuff have fun and until next time, Happy RuneScaping.