Modern technology is all very well, but old-school
entertainment still has its charms. Dave Stevenson takes a step back in time.
Modern computers offer a formidable amount
of processing power - and modern computer games push this to the limit. Triple-A
blockbusters such as Tomb Raider and Lost Planet 3 will max out your CPU and
call for all the horsepower available from a beefy graphics card.
older games are remembered with a great deal of affection
Bigger isn’t always better, though. Many
older games - ones that would be considered technically limited by today’s
standards - are remembered with a great deal of affection. And if you want to
relive the heady days of Super Mario World, Quake and Bubble Bobble, the
tremendous number-crunching capabilities of a current PC make it possible to do
Virtually every retro gaming console and
home computer you can think of can now be emulated at full speed in software,
allowing you to run classic games right from Windows, often in glorious Full
Here’s how to find and run retro games, and
prove that the old days really were the best. For those for whom console gaming
will forever be the poor cousin of PC gaming, we’ll also explore the various
ways you can revisit classics from the days of the DOS prompt.
Getting classics the easy way
Setting up an emulator isn’t the only way to play old gaming
classics. Jump onto eBay and you can often find the original hardware. Demand
has kept prices pretty buoyant, however: you’ll pay in the region of $100 for a
Commodore 64 with a handful of games, and around the same for a Super Nintendo.
The Sega Megadrive has depreciated faster, so if you’re after a sniff of Sonic
the Hedgehog as it was meant to be played, you might need only $50 for an
original 16-bit console.
Arcade Classic Wireless Console with
20 SEGA Games and 40 Game Bonus Cartridge
Buying consoles from eBay isn’t terribly
convenient, however. If your TV has only HDMI connections, you’ll need to get
hold of an RF or scart converter, while retro gaming hardware also tends to
involve trailing cables across your living room - wireless console controllers
became the default option only with the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
When it comes to PC games, some publishers
have updated their old releases to work on newer hardware. Head to Steam, for
example, and you’ll find the likes of Railroad Tycoon II, The Secret of Monkey
Island and Wolfenstein 3D nestled alongside newer titles, O The remastered
version of The Secret of Monkey Island - with optional low-resolution graphics
- is available on Steam for only $11 often for sub-$8 prices. There’s also the
DRM-free option of Good Old Games, where almost 700 titles - including SimCity
2000, Theme Hospital and the first three Tomb Raider games - are available,
thanks to licensing agreements with around 30 games publishers. Often enough,
games are compatible with both Windows PCs and Macs, and best of all, Good Old
Games offers truly impulse-buy pricing, with many titles available for less
Old Games offers truly impulse-buy pricing
There’s also a burgeoning business in
porting older games to the iPhone and iPad, partly because Apple doesn’t allow
emulators onto the App Store (since this would allow the execution of
unapproved code). Search the store and you’ll find plenty of high-quality
options, including old-school Sonic titles from Sega, plus Doom and a
touchscreen version of the old ZX Spectrum classic Manic Miner.