Beep! Doo! Boop! The sounds of retro-era video games are unmistakable, and with the advent of nostalgia, they can be heard everywhere. Retro, or "old-school" video games are quite different from today's video games, but their entertaining magic has kept fans interested in video games for over 30 years.
Many of the core game objectives have not changed since the beginning of gaming. Most video games focus on either breaking, killing, maiming, or destroying, or on exploring or collecting knick-knacks and doo-dads for no apparent reason. Arcade games like Pac-Man (Arcade) embody the collector spirit the same way modern 3-D adventure games such as Ratchet and Clank (PS2) typify the genre. Despite changes in the presentation, the same fun gameplay keeps gamers playing through their lives.
Of the segments of game design, the graphics have received the biggest changes since the first video games. In the beginning, there was just Pong (Arcade), where a quarter would get you a first-to-seven game of tennis. Unfortunately the ball was just a white square, the racquets were only extended white lines, and the ball didn't ever go outside the dreary black court. In its time, Pong was the latest in video game technology and machines would often break down from being overfilled with quarters. Going to the arcade is no longer a necessity to play the latest video games. Home systems often have comparable or better performance than arcade, and with rising arcade prices, the home route is often more economical. One popular arcade game, Soul Calibur II, is currently available for all three major consoles. With highly detailed 3-D graphics and advanced competive action, the only thing Soul Calibur II has in common with Pong is that two players can play against each other.
Many characters from classic games, such as Mario, are still featured prominently in games today. With all the technological advancements, the characters will not be the same. The 8-bit sprites of Super Mario Bros. for the NES are jarringly crude compared to the 3-D rendered, high resolution, anti-aliased, triple-buffered characters of modern video games. Mario no longer has a jerky 2 step running animation; instead he can move in three dimensions at sixty frames-per-second.
Games of today have gotten considerably more mature. In the retro games, blood was never seen, and "killing" an enemy involved nothing more than jumping on their head to squash them flat. Today's games have realistic blood spurting out of enemies. Of course, after they die you can watch it again in four different slow-motion replays. It isn't just the violence that is different about today's games; modern games deal with more mature themes too. Sex, violence, drug use, and adult humor are common in contemporary games.
Advances in game technology have improved sounds, graphics, and complexity of games, yet some people don't believe games have really improved. Oftentimes a publisher will remake or rehash a game for any new console that comes out to avoid creating unique and original game concepts. Sure, similar gameplay is fine, but who needs eighteen Army Men games in five years? Almost all new games in the US are variations on existing games. Truly original games like Vib-Ribbon, a music game that generates levels based on your own CDs, are ignored as publishers release yet another Tomb Raider game. In the days of the Atari 2600 and Intellivision, every game was something new because the designers were creating concepts that had never been done before. Today's gamers just accept the idea that a man running up ramps and ladders while dodging barrels is just the process that a plumber goes through to save his girlfriend, but in 1981 it was truly original.
Rarely do you ever hear the Wakka-Wakka's or Beep! Doo! Boop! of classic video games. Although the sounds have changed and the graphics have gotten clearer, gamers are still drawn to the same aspects of games. Gameplay hasn't lost importance, and even with the greatest graphics in the world, a game that isn't fun will end up in the trash, just like that Atari 2600 that everyone used to have.
This is an essay for my high school Writing 121 class as part of Node Your Homework