I spend a lot of time remembering and reading about the video games I played while growing up, mostly because it’s the closest I can come to actually playingthem again, until the magical day arrives when I have an entire room in my house dedicated to housing a classic arcade and console collection, but I totally don’t think Kaylie would let me. Maybe it’s a geek’s midlife crisis, or something, but I have really missed those arcades recently.
Whenever I play any classic arcade or console game, it’s like I’m flipping very rapidly through a book with different places and years on each page; I see just enough to make an emotional connection, but it never enough to capture any details. I don’t know what it’s like for anyone else, but for me, when I pick up a joystick controller today, I pick it up in 1979, 1980, 1983, 1985. When I played Pitfall! the other day on iPhone, I played it in my living room, on the train to work,and remember it going to Braden’s house playing it too.
It’s awesome that I can play every Atari game ever written using the emulator on my Xbox, and it’s a lot of fun to plug in an Atari Flashback for a quick ‘Missile Command’ battle, but those experiences aren’t quite the same as playing an actual vintage Atari. It’s pretty easy to walk into a Target or a Best Buy these days and get one of those joysticks that has a dozen or so games in it, and being able to play them in some form is always better than not being able to play them at all, but the joy I feel when I get to play on an actual console just can’t be emulated. There’s something about searching a box for exactly the right game, flipping the switches, and picking up an actual joystick to play Frogger or Pitfall or River Raid that emulation just can’t capture.