This past Wednesday I saw the newest Nintendo Direct. Yes they had a whole bunch of news on their current lineup of games that are coming out but then there was a message for those who are Nintendo Switch Online Members. Starting on September 5 they will be adding 20 SNES Games to a Super Nintendo Entertainment System app which you can only download if you are a Switch Online Member. The best part? All of these SNES games, like the NES games that came before it, are free to play. As well as the NES games before it, Nintendo will be adding even more SNES games to the line up at no additional charge, meaning we could play these games all over again. Nintendo also hasn’t taken away any games from their service, so people who were pounding their fists wanting the return of the Virtual Console can rest easy. The list of games is moderate, it has the must play titles like Super Mario World and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (games that were included in the SNES Classic edition) but it’s also releasing the fan favorite Pilotwings and a game I’ve never heard of called Stunt Race FX (games that weren’t included in the mini).
Now you must be thinking, “But Ben, why are we living in a golden age of retro gaming? Just because Nintendo made some older games playable?” Well to put it frankly… yes. After watching the Direct I started thinking, and this day and age is perfect for retro gamers of all ages because these classic games are readily available to us to play right now. It’s the active availability for these games that makes it great, and it’s not just Nintendo that’s doing it (although in my personal opinion they are doing the best job of making their old school titles more available). The SEGA Genesis Mini is going to be out soon and if you walk into the game section at Target I’m willing to bet you can find the Atari flashback systems or the collection game for the PS4 and Xbox. Now some game collectors and retro gamers may scoff at this and will only go with the physical copy, and that is a totally fine. I would also go the route of having the original game and system but sadly I’m on a VERY tight budget and can’t be spending a ton of money on original game consoles and their games. Especially when the games I really want are rare and those carts cost a very pretty penny. For gamers on a budget this is perfect, I love my Switch and the fact I could play one of my favorite NES games Ice Hockey on it without having to plug my NES into a TV that may not be compatible is a nostalgia dream come true.
It’s not just the games being ready to play on newer systems that makes this a golden age. More and more companies are making controllers and cables for classic systems that can work with HDTVs as well as all in one gaming systems so you can still play your classic games without the hassle of unplugging and replugging in consoles. I’ve also noticed more and more retro game conventions and arcades have been popping up more and more and that couldn’t make me happier. People are going out to have fun at arcades again, plus it may also help that some of these new retro arcades that have been opening are also bars but hey, it works. Even when I go shopping with my girlfriend I’m noticing stores coming out with retro game inspired products be it clothing or other knick knacks. Now this could just be a phase and the old Retro video game style may vanish quicker than we think, but when game companies keep making their older and beloved games readily available to the masses, it makes me smile. Not only could I play a classic game I loved when I was a kid, but I could also introduce said game to my (future) kids and show them how it’s done.