|Retro gaming coming back?|
Mark Asher - News - 06/03/04 - Link
There's a NYTimes story reprinted at CNET about the comeback of retro gaming. Pac-Man in a rap song, in a commercial, Nintendo's launch of ancient games in the U.S., etc. Did you know that early videogame designers were nuts, though? Here's the proof. Pay attention to the bolding.
In the early 1980s, when he was 25 and working on the arcade games Defender and Robotron 2084, Eugene Jarvis wasn't sure video games would last. I'm sure these guys were the original tin foil heads.
"There was a fear that everything would just kind of die," he said recently. Video games were new and seemingly impermanent, vulnerable to business convulsions that made him fear that he was involved in a faddish "digital Hula-Hoop" and that ever improving graphics would render early games obsolete. There were even wild theories that spaceborne alpha rays could cause arcade machines to decay.
Those all-in-one joystick game things have been doing well too, according to the article.
This month the toymaker Jakks Pacific will add two new units to its own classics effort, the million-plus-selling TV Games line. The TV Games devices resemble classic arcade and home-console joysticks but actually contain and play games as well, serving as controller, processor and retro game collection all in one. One new unit will be shaped like a 1970s Atari "paddle" controller. When plugged directly into the TV, it will play 10 Atari classics, including Breakout and Warlords. The other unit resembles an arcade joystick and will include Ms. Pac-Man and four other games. Nintendo is also releasing vintage games for the GBA, such as Donkey Kong, at $20 per title no less -- [cough] ripoff [cough].
Stephen G. Berman, president of Jakks Pacific, said the appeal of the products, priced at $25 each and sold in game stores as well as at mainstream retailers like Urban Outfitters and Walgreen's, stretched beyond current gamers. "People who don't have the ability to play and the patience to play PlayStation 2s or the Xboxes have the ability and patience to play our TV Games," he said. The joysticks have been successful enough that two major game publishers, Sega and Konami, announced separate plans last month to license competing products through Radica Games and Majesco, respectively.
What I'd like to see is the old Intellivision Dungeons and Dragons game, but that apparently will never reappear due to licensing issues.