Retro Gaming

BY DEAN MOSES

We often review remasters and remakes, such as last issue’s Final Fantasy VII and, prior to that, Resident Evil 3. These are nostalgic titles brought to a new generation, but other than these modernized releases, how many of us really venture back to the roots of gaming and play the originals? Like vinyl records or rare books, or even VHS tapes, vintage video game collecting has become more in vogue during recent years, some old-school games that once lined bargain bins have even skyrocketed in price. Still, it is not easy to gather assortment of classic discs and cartridges. With all the novel advances in technology, you cannot simply hook up retro systems to high-definition (HD) televisions with composite cables and expect them to appear pleasing to the eye. So, this week we show you how to connect your old consoles to state-of-the-art TVs and debate whether it is worth venturing into the wonderful world of collecting—you may even learn some unexpected facts along the way.

Keeping the Dream Alive

For simplicity sake, it will be easier if we focus on one console, however, these methods of renovating an outdated machine should work with most classic systems. Recently I brought the Sega Dream-cast into the HD realm. If you are unaware, the Dreamcast was Sega’s last home console release before strictly becoming a third-party developer. From the same creators of Sonic the Hedgehog and the Genesis, the Dreamcast brought many innovations to the market, including the first mainstream way to play video games online and an interactive memory card that can be used as a portable gaming device in and of itself. Unfortunately, as great as it was, the system only stayed in production for a few years due to poor sales. Since then it has been hailed as one of the greatest con-soles of all time. Thankfully, there are those who are keeping the dream alive by developing new re-leases for this two-decade old hardware.

Getting the Hook Up

Publishers such as JoshProd have brought games like Breakers and Another World HD to the Dreamcast. Although not supported by Sega these are official releases that are hitting the system all these years later. To me, this is incredible. But how do we go about getting the hook up to play these games in HD? Of course, we can have our consoles fitted with HDMI ports and mods that allow us to run region-free games but the availability of this is limited and expensive. As a more reasonably priced option, cables can be purchased from companies like Hyperkin that fit easily into the machine, upscaling the visual output to 480p, which, in turn, allows for HD graphics. Seeing these vintage gems in this new light is astounding and makes a world of difference. I recently played Resident Evil Code Veronica for the first time in a decade and it felt akin to experiencing it for the first time.

The Downside

To make these tests, I purchased a Dreamcast with a custom smoke shell. This was a costly acquisition, but I believed the games (excluding the new releases) would be rather cheap in 2020. Unfortunately, this is where we come to the downside of vintage game collecting. A quick scroll through websites like eBay will reveal the sad truth that many memorable games sell at outrageous prices. My dreams of picking up the original Resident Evil 3 were dashed when I discovered that complete boxed versions run in the$100-200 range. Physical stores such as Video Games New York or 8-Bit and Up will sell titles at a more reasonable price but the trek to one of these stores is not always convenient. Another option is always flea markets or conventions like New York Comic Con, yet this will require both patience and luck. With that in mind, this is also an appealing part of collecting: the thrill of the hunt.

Conclusion

So, is it worth collecting for an old system like the Dreamcast? The answer is dependent on a number of factors, such as if you already have a working console and games laying around. If so, the impact on your wallet will be minimal as you will simply need to pick up a HD cable for the system of choice in order to get started. If not, then the dollar amount could easily exceed hundreds of dollars unless you can find an exceptional deal online or at a flea market. Either way, the experience of playing classic, physical media cannot be beaten or over-stated. There is something special about handling your very own library of vintage games.

Photos by Dean Moses