Together Retro: A Journey Though the Best of Classic Gaming

retro-game-club-logo

The Idea in a Nutshell

There a hundreds of video games out there that represent a significant piece of gaming history and many of these are still relevant and fun for even the most experienced of gamers. This group project will help us all explore the best games history has to offer while collectively sharing our experiences with each other.

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The Motivation

Ever since I entered my twenties, I haven’t been able to spend as much time on gaming as I would like. Between my studies and my career, I have far less time to explore my growing game library, let alone all the other games I don’t have that other people rave about.

When I do play games, I tend to go back to my old favorites that I am comfortable with or genres I have always been drawn to. Lately, I have realized that in order to really enjoy what the last few decades of gaming have to offer, I will need to make an actual effort to try all the wonderful games out there that I have yet to truly explore and experience.

Much like your typical resolutions like losing weight or quitting smoking, it isn’t enough to just say you want to accomplish a goal. To actually achieve a goal, (in this case play though the best games of all time) you need to have a solid plan and stick to it. It also helps when you have one or more people to keep you accountable and on track. (Fortunately, playing high-quality video games is much more fun to most people that dieting and fighting addictions)

In order to have both an organized “game plan” and at least a few people to keep me on track, I thought a retro gaming club (similar to a book club) would be a nice solution to get me headed in the right direction and help grow the community at the same time. I tossed the idea out in the forum and everybody seemed to be up to the task.

How It Works

The main concept of this project is to have a designated game that every participant would play over a pre-determined period of time. Once everybody has spent time playing the featured game, everyone can give their thoughts on what they liked or disliked about the gameplay, how it holds up to today’s standards, and how it influenced later games. You can also share high scores and help other members with tactics you have learned. Even with well-known games, devoting some time to them again could give us a fresh perspective and help us re-discover some fun moments from our past.

The time devoted to each game may vary depending on its complexity or length. A week may be enough time to spend on simple games like Pong or Asteroids, but more complex or story-driven games like Metroid or Chrono Trigger may require a month or so for most people to fully experience.

With each featured game selection, I hope to have a post that give a bit of background information, links to helpful guide or tips, and some goals that might be worth achieving. Everyone will then be invited to jump right into the game and share their thoughts as we progress through it together.

I would also like to have a prize each month to be awarded to the member that had the best contribution to the conversation that month. (We will see how things go before laying down any specifics.) This should help give people incentive to stay involved and share their experience and knowledge with others in the club (and maybe add a bit of competition)

Additional Goals of the Project

In addition to the overall objective of playing all the best games history has to offer, one of my main goals with this project is to overcome “emulator syndrome”. I’m particularly vulnerable to this disorder in which having so many games at my fingertips via emulators and ROMs, I often will boot up a game and play it for three minutes before loading up the next game.

To overcome this nasty habit, I think it will really help to have all of us playing the game for an established span of time and have some objectives to reach. We might not be able to play each game to completion, but it will be refreshing for people like me to actually spend some quality time with a new-to-me game.

I also think this classic gaming club could not only help round out our gaming experience and teach us some history lessons, but it could also help our community grow closer together. It could also be a great time to invite your not-so-classically-minded friends to join in on the journey and begin to appreciate games of years gone by.

History vs. Variety

One of the biggest challenges of this project is to not make this feel like a chore. The primary goal is to have fun, so it will probably be in our best interest to take our time and give feedback on where everyone would like to see the project progress. While we may have a timeline of games established, I intend to have everything be flexible as long as we stay together as a group.

I originally thought it would be interesting to follow the progression of a certain genre in order to obverse innovation throughout history, but that may turn off people that don’t like that genre, and of course, variety is the spice of life. We may try to occasionally group some similar games together in order to see some transitions, but our goal with be to avoid redundancy.

One might also argue that it would be fascinating to start with the pioneering games and gradually progress through the most important games chronologically. However, given how much time is involved with experiencing most games, we would be stuck in the 80’s for quite a long time. Instead, I think the best approach could be to do multiple passes through history, spending a brief time in each era before repeating the cycle.

I think it might actually be cool to start with Pong and then Asteroids or something — like actually spend a good amount of time playing the originals. For instance, you could have a Pong tournament with your friends or significant other or share you high scores on Asteroids – that type of thing. On older games like that, it might also be cool to have a brief list of modern remakes that are worth trying afterwards and see how they are better or worse than the originals.

As much as I love the Dreamcast and some of the newer machines that could be considered “retro” at this point, I want to try to keep the newer, 3D games to a minimum for the first few cycles. (Due to my absolute love of the game, we might have to make Jet Set Radio our first Dreamcast pick despite the number of times I’ve already played it).

If you would like to see a deeper discussion on balancing a chronological experience with variety, check out this forum thread.

How & When Do We Start?

First of all, if you are interested in joining in on the fun, you will need to sign up on the racketboy.com forum. (Don’t worry, I won’t spam or give out your info) I will be closing down the comments section of each game selection post so we can have all of our discussion in the forum, which is much more useful due to quoting, image capabilities, and such.

I hope to get things started with an “easy” classic in a couple of weeks before jumping into something a bit more involved. We can discuss further details of what games are in store in the forums and I will make a post on the front page when it is time for a new game.

To keep up to date on the project, be sure to either subscribe to the site’s RSS feed or sign up for email updates. You can also follow my Twitter feed if you would like. I will try to post upcoming games on Twitter in addition to my short thoughts on the current game and my normal everyday babbling.

Are You In?

I’d love to hear your feedback on this idea, so let me know if you are interested in participating and if you have any thoughts or ideas on how to improve the concepts I’ve already shared. Also, if you have any questions about how this will work out, please use the comments section below.

Do You Want To Join The Club?

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Special thanks to Iconfactory for the icons used in the header graphic

33 Comments

  1. Mozgus says:

    Now that you explained it more, it makes sense. I’m in.

  2. Alejandro Moreno says:

    I’m in. I already have an account for the forums, even if I haven’t used it much 🙁

    I’ll try to keep up with the game selection. It sounds like a great idea.

  3. Seth says:

    Sounds like a great idea to get the motivation to play some retro games for more than 30 seconds!

  4. PharmaceuticalCowboy says:

    Jet Set Radio should be #1… 🙂

  5. Jemsic says:

    I agree. JET SET RADIOOOOOOOO!!!!

    ;D

  6. Dig says:

    This sounds like an excellent idea. Whenever I pick up a new hobby or interest, I enjoy the newer stuff that is more relevant to my time, but I also like to see what ideas and projects led up to that point. Much like how a film buff can’t be considered legitimate until they have seen Casablanca or the Seven Samurai, deeply involved fans of videogames can’t say they truly understand the medium until they’ve played some Zork or have experienced the platformers that existed before Super Mario Bros. changed the playing field forever.

    Although I haven’t been the most active person in the forums, I think it will be fun/informative to engage people in semi-faux-academic discussion about our 8-bit protagonists. Why do our heroes from Asteroids continue to destroy those terrestrial objects when there is no evidence of any civilization that they are meant to protect? Is it an act of vengeance? A means to release the pent-up rage on the inanimate objects which destroyed everything that these space explorers knew in their former lives? Perhaps it is a retelling of the story of Sisyphus who was punished to a lifetime of rolling a stone up a hill, only to have it roll back to the bottom once he had reached the top, forever repeating a cycle of futility and a job that is never done.

    Hmmm.

  7. PacoDG says:

    I can take some of my Call of Duty 4 and Rock Band playing time for a classic I think. I like this idea of group gaming, very different.. but in a good way.

  8. I’m definitely in! I’ve always wanted to try certain retro classics but it’s difficult to go back a lot (my limit is usually 32 bits) now that everyday a new shiny game comes out for my 360…

    I hope that playing with a plan and with other people will help keep me motivated.

  9. Jafmeister says:

    This sounds awesome, so I’m in. Will give me a reason to get the Saturn and Dreamcast hooked up again.
    Jet Set Radio has to be number 1, I’m gonna go scour ebay for a copy.

  10. geozeldadude says:

    i tried to get some people on IGN to sign up for an idea just like this as well when the VC came out, but didn’t have any luck. but i’m def. in.

  11. emilles says:

    What a great idea! I have had the same problem with the explosion of emulation and (relatively) cheap retro games in the past several years. I have tons of games for numerous consoles that I have played no more than 5 minutes. And a number are still in factory wrap. What a shame.

    I have found that sequencing the (spc, vgm, nsf, etc.) soundtracks for myself has kept me focused on playing all of my games for a particular console and playing those games to completion. Plus once I am done with the game and soundtrack, I have something that I can play while working or whatever to remind me of the gameplay experience.

    This club idea sounds like a fantastic way to do some of the same things plus share a common experience.

  12. Abras says:

    A bit of male bonding through retro gamin eh? Well I’m in. Man hugs all around.

    In all seriousness, this could be fun.
    A question:
    Will old computer games be included? This is not a computer oriented site and I have to say I’m not inclined to computers either, but then isn’t the whole point of this thing to widen our horizons? From what I hear, there are hundreds of amazing computer gems just waiting for us console gamers to experience. Besides, it will be damned near impossible to get a complete history without including computer games.

    Discussions may also arise from a game design point of view, which is good for me since I’m slowly getting into that wacky world known as “Game Design.” I used to think a designer’s job was kinda cushy and unnecessary, that is until I made my first game. Believe me, these guys are artists and this could be a great opportunity to experience some of their greatest works ever.

  13. Retro Garden says:

    Sounds like fun, as a long time reader but occassional commenter, I’m in 🙂

  14. Caboose says:

    This is perfect. I was just about to start doing something like this in a couple of weeks by myself after I had gathered a solid list of games, but this idea is much, much better. Definitely in.

  15. The Apprentice says:

    I’m the 100th person to say yes. The idea is excellent. I had a similar idea a while back, but it never got very far. I have a ton of free time to devote to this, as long as emulation is OK (Which I assume it is).

  16. racketboy says:

    Jafmeister, Jemsic & PharmaceuticalCowboy: I would personally love to do JSR first, but I dunno if its the most practical to get started with. I’ll see if we can squeeze it in early one though 😉

    Dig: I like your comparison to the film world. When I started this site, I always wanted to help bring classic games that same type of appreciation of classic films.

    emilles: I like the soundtrack idea. Perhaps I can link to some soundtrack stuff for each game for those that would enjoy it.

    Abras: I’m not ruling PC games out, but as you noted, I have a console bias. But I’ll try to sprinkle in some PC stuff.

    The Apprentice: Emulation is very much ok. I will probably emulate a good deal just for the convenience factor (especially on portable devices).

  17. Mucx says:

    I would start small and pick a game that people can easily emulate through an emulator. I know everyone here likes to literally collect the old hardware but some of us (like me) well don’t.

    I would wait a bit, let this idea find its legs before choosing a game that actually requires the physical hardware and copy of the game. Start off with some 8bit games perhaps, that way you can be guaranteed to have a good amount of people following along as most can easily emulate it…this gets the ‘idea’ or ‘game club’ running and it can then venture into actually needing the hardware to join in the fun.

  18. racketboy says:

    That’s essentially what I was thinking — thanks for wording it so well 🙂

  19. tankexmortis says:

    Great idea. I don’t think I’ll be participating though, since I’m too lazy to want to bother with yet another forum.

    May I suggest the hell out of Metal Storm for the NES? Probably the best game I’ve ever played that’s actually obscure (as opposed to games like JSR and Psychonauts which, while fantastic, are well-known to most gamers).

  20. Droid party says:

    Do I want to participate….HELL YEAH! Cannot wait for this to start. I myself suffer from emulator syndrome and this will be an excellent way to experience some of the games that I have overlooked in the glut of roms I have stored on my PC and Xbox. It will motivate me to actually spend time on them. Can’t wait.

  21. m3talst0rm17 says:

    I am really excited about this. I have been a long time reader of this site and I just registered so that I can take part in this. And as for tankexmortis’ recommendation of Metal Storm…HELL YES!!! Seriously, I have been collecting for over two years now (playing since childhood) but buying Metal Storm was one of those “A-HA” moments that welcomed me to the world of hidden gems.

    And I agree with Mucx in that it should be a game that is easily emulated. Though I have a lot of the original hardware, I plan on using my psp for most of this because of convenience. So, yeah I can’t wait for this to get started. I love the idea of this and I will be telling several of my friends about this and hopefully get them involved.

    Great site, by the way.

  22. xraydash says:

    I’m definitely in and have never played Jet Set Radio…

  23. Ender says:

    I’m in and would like to in-depth Super Mario World ^^

  24. I just have one question. If we are interested in participating do we have to contribute everytime and do we need to play every game to be a participant? You see, I am interested in contributing but due to limited time and lack of interest in emulation I don’t forsee that I would always be able to contribute but I am interested in sharing my thoughts when I can.

  25. racketboy says:

    You can sit out as many as you want.
    But part of my goal is to choose games that most people would like to play.

  26. Andrew Ryan says:

    Well it’s working already! Because of tankexmortis’s post I shifted through my collection and found metal storm for nes. Boy am i glad i did. It really is an amazing game. I’ve only been playing it for a couple of hours but the mechanics and learning curve are pretty much perfect for a game of this era. If half of the obscure games that come up in this group are half as good as this, im sold!

  27. Wry Guy says:

    Registered in the forums. I am in.

  28. Nateup says:

    Im going to get on board.

    Too bad I missed Samurai Shodown! One of my favs.

    Whats the next brawler?!

  29. racketboy says:

    next brawler? dunno. I’m trying to keep the genres mixed up pretty well, so it may be a little while.
    I hope to create a calendar soon…

  30. Xenon says:

    I’m on board 🙂 That’s a great idea.
    I do write ups myself, for no reason whatsoever, so to do it with an aim is something I’d be really interested in.

  31. suolakurkku says:

    Great idea! I’ll certainly participate. Always fun to discover some classics that I have missed out on by the years.

  32. Grant says:

    This is a great idea for a site. I have been doing a similar thing myself, buying a bunch of N64 games I never went through at the time, PS2 as well. Shall sign up to the forum now!

  33. A worthy idea. I might be down for this. I’ll keep lurking in that particular forum and seeing what comes up. 🙂