Why enjoying retro gaming is like enjoying classic cars

I own an Amstrad CPC 6128. It’s a lovely bit of old kit. Sure it’s not our original; In a big clear out, ours accidentally went to charity so I had to get mine from eBay. Some of the keys don’t work, the COPY button has tape on it with ‘Copy’ written in marker pen and the colour monitor needs two power button clicks to turn on properly but I wouldn’t trade it for all the PS4s in the world. It’s a feeling that the system produces gold every time it powers on in the old parts and design. A feeling that you know how things work from start to finish and the lies you tell yourself about its build quality. I get the same feeling from the Neo Geo Pocket Colour and recently modding mine to run a LCD screen both reminds me how different the construction process was and how some things never change. What does all this have to do with cars though?

The Red Dwarf

My dad once bought and restored a classic Volkswagen beetle. It required incredible amount of labour, hours of tinkering in the garage, tracking down spare parts no longer being made and visiting various conventions to see others work. Customising the beast with changes to the parts, adding a sticker saying, “It ain’t big and it ain’t clever” inside and taking it out for drives where it would zip like a hell beast around country lanes. He would even take on extra projects as well as the Red Dwarf (it had a sticker on the back confirming it’s name) Taking the time to repair others that needed similar levels of help or entire welding jobs just to keep them running. He did all this as a hobby in his spare time and if you enjoy any sort of retro gaming I imagine this all sounds strangely familiar. Repairing a lose wire, soldering kit and chips to allow for changes in output and soaking parts in solutions to de-yellow cases. You get the idea.

Ribbons and glue, a dangerous mix

Over the years as generations grow with newer technology, the tinkering aspect of machines has fallen away more and more and as such more people are getting into retro kits. This makes sense when you think about how technology has moved along with the times. When was the last time you felt the need to pry open a games console if it broke? If the car is revving itself would you open the side and check the on-board computer after trying various fixes? Nope, you’d pass it on to a specialist to repair it for you or move onto a new model. That’s just the way things are moving to now. It does however redefine what we class as retro these days and thankfully both with cars and games it’s a perfect time to enjoy them the most (before we have to figure out how to run classic cars on electricity)

The old and not so old, all from dead systems

One part nostalgia and one part hobby to enjoy. Both classic cars and classic games have similar interactions between its fans. Similar communities built up on shared interest and a passion for the subject matter (both having a few bad apples of course) Both communities have incredibly rare commodities and it’s not too surprising to find the rarest games or cars on eBay for insane amounts of money. Rare moments in bidding history being covered by the regular press creating fabled rare treasures of the not-so-long-forgotten past snapped up by the wealthy few. From Chris Evans buying a vintage Ferrari 250 GT for 12 million pounds to a mint copy of Super Mario Bros selling at auction for $100,150.

modern alternatives
Modern remakes make the retro experience a lot easier to enjoy with a few improvements

Obviously we’re not going to go to big chains like Halfords for video games anytime soon and if you won’t find a carburetor for sale in Retro Gamer but keep an eye out on your local computer store. They’ll end up selling Playstation2 titles as if they were classic Morris Minors and most are already becoming hot spots for repairs just as any other specialist garage. That boxed NES in the roof might be enough to buy a new set of tyres for that Bentley Blower in the garage or you might find some common ground buried in a pile of rusted wires.


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