4 Things We Miss About The Classic Video Game Era


With the latest iterations of the Playstation and Xbox now on sale, video gamers are being treated to brand-new games made with the latest features enabled.

Ray tracing, fast loading times, and 3D audio tech are some of the features that gamers are now getting used to, assuming of course that they have managed to get their hands on a new console.

Over the years, technologies have continued to evolve into the consoles that many of us have in our living rooms today. But as wonderful as the PS5 and new Xbox consoles are, with all of their fancy bells and whistles, some of us still miss the 'good old days' when video games weren't as graphically intensive as they are now. We are thinking of those years' pre-Playstation, with those games and consoles that are now considered 'retro.'

Why are we nostalgic? Well, you only need to check out our retro thread for some of the reasons why.

Here are some of the things we miss about the classic video game era.

1. Playing games in the arcade

The period between the late 1970s to the early 1980s is considered by many to be the 'golden era' of arcade games. This was when games were primarily played at the local arcades, with the likes of Pac-Man, Galaga, and Asteroids eating up our hard-earned pocket money. Yes, some of these games could be played on the Commodore and Spectrum machines that were born around this time, but in terms of graphical capability, they had nothing on the machines some people skipped school to play on.

It was a time of wonder when video games were still relatively new and exciting. And long before eSports came into fashion, it made superstars out of people like Billy Mitchell who became famous the world over for setting high scores on Donkey Kong. Check out the documentary The King of Kong for more of his story.

Of course, many of these vintage video games can still be played today through emulators and arcade rentals, so they aren't entirely gone forever. But when compared to the modern games on the market, many people turn their noses up at them, forsaking the delights of Out Run and Contra for the latest Forza and Call of Duty instead. This is understandable but we still think today's gamers should give these old titles a try.

2. Local multiplayer


Local multiplayer hasn't entirely gone away. There are still titles that offer this feature but they are few and far between in this era of online gaming.

During the arcade era, many games could be played side by side, and as Sega and Nintendo machines became commonplace, there were hundreds of titles for two or more players all crammed onto the same sofa.

The irony of new consoles is that, despite their social options, they aren't very social at all. It's difficult to replicate the living room rivalry between gamers playing the original Mortal Kombat or the camaraderie that existed when playing Golden Axe and Streets of Rage. Yes, we can shout instructions at our teammates when playing the latest Call of Duty, but we can't high-five each other, share popcorn, or throw cushions at each other after losing a game of Mario Kart.

3. Games being the complete package

It's a sad state of affairs that many of today's video games are being released unfinished. Destiny and Cyberpunk 2077 are two relatively recent games that required a lot of patches and updates after release and many companies are profiting off gamers with the promise of expansions and new game gear.

Of course, it is great when games can be expanded on with new content, presuming they weren't broken in the first place. But before the advent of the internet, video game companies had to get things right the first time. Most of them ensured games weren't broken upon release and developers stuffed these games with the content players wanted before making them available for sale. This was good news for gamers who didn't have to fork out any more money after bringing the game home. And they didn't have to delay playing their games because of day one patches. They simply slipped the disc or cartridge in and started playing!

4. Mystery and challenge

Today, there is no shortage of game reviews, how-to guides, and forums of gamers discussing hidden secrets in their favorite video games. On the one hand, this can be perceived as a good thing. Review scores mean we can avoid video game stinkers and online tutorials mean we have a chance of completing such games as Dark Souls and Bloodborne.

However, life was different back in the 80s and 90s. Yes, magazines featured reviews and game guides but not everybody accessed these. It meant spending pocket money on magazines instead of the latest game release and not everybody was able or happy to do this. And besides, not every magazine had the in-depth guides that are prevalent online today. The downside of this was that gamers didn't always know what they were letting themselves in for so they sometimes made bad spending choices. But the upside was that gamers could avoid spoilers (other than those that could be heard on the playground), so they could experience a game anew and sometimes discover a classic.

There was also the challenge of playing a game without many guides to follow. Games back in the 80s and 90s were deceptively hard, as anybody who persevered through Ghost 'n' Goblins will tell you. Gamers had to rely on their talents to make it to the end, even if they did break many joysticks out of frustration in the process. Difficult? Yes. But it can be safely assumed that the gamers of yesteryear felt a greater sense of achievement than those gamers today who turn to a YouTube video at every turn while playing.


Life in the classic video game era wasn't all sunshine and rainbows. Not every game was a good one. Graphics were sometimes poor, even for the time. And loading times often took forever, especially when playing on a Commodore 64 or Spectrum. So it's easy to look back with rose-tinted glasses. However, there were a lot of good things about that era and it might be that you have good memories too. Let us know your thoughts on our forum pages or in the comments section below.

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