Thursday, March 26, 2009

The warm hug of nostalgia

Hanging out with a friend (or group of friends), gathered on couches around the TV, playing video games. I'm sure I'm not the only kid in my generation for whom this is a classic scenario. It still happens from time to time in my life, too - I got to sit down and play Street Fighter IV with my man Nick last time I was in Portland.

What you see when playing Retro Game Challenge: Not just the game, but the two kids playing the game...(okay back in 1980s Japan, but still). Image from

I just picked up and have spent a little bit of time with Retro Game Challenge for the DS, which has a convoluted history and in-game story, but plays on the imagery of sitting around and playing games with your friend. I caught the buzz for the game after hearing about it on every single gaming podcast I listen to, and that word of mouth convinced me to track the game down.

The game is actually based off a Japanese TV show, Game Center CX, in which the host is challenged to complete a variety of classic video games. Retro Game Challenge is a game based off that - you still have to face challenges put down by Game Master Arino, but the translation is done so that it's a way for you to escape imprisonment in 1980s Japan.

Okay. So you play lovingly crafted games based off 8-bit video game tropes (space shooter, 2D racer, ninja platformer, basic RPG). Big deal? Well, as the screenshot above shows, the game goes on on the top screen; on the bottom, it's you and your friend (apparently Arino c. the time period) and get to hang out as kids playing games. Arino chips in - "AWESOME!", "INCOMING!" - and when you even select to go play a game, it shows your character scooting on the floor over to the bookshelf.

Sure, you're lounging on tatami mats in a very Japanese apartment playing a Japanese Famicom lookalike...but man, the sentiment is there. The Internet is great and all, but sometimes you miss -itting down with a friend and playing pass-the-controller to play a single player game. Sometimes it's the childhood nostalgia that gets you the most.

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