Retro gaming challenge fail: what I learned

My year long retro gaming challenge sputtered to a halt after only 20 weeks, but it’s not all doom and gloom.
Image: Sjoerd Wijn
If you read the tail end of my last retro gaming challenge, focusing on Athlete Kings, you might have noticed that there was no voting for the following week’s challenge.
Actually, that’s not true; there was momentarily a vote live, but I rather quickly came to the decision that it wouldn’t actually go forward, just as I wasn’t going to go forward with the challenge from there.

Retro gaming challenge: Why give up?

There were a couple of key reasons. Firstly, when I envisaged doing the challenge, I wanted to be able to dedicate proper time to it, but week in and week out, I was struggling to come up with consistent time to dedicate to either playing or writing in the way that I wanted to.
That fed into the secondary problem. I wasn’t terribly happy with what I was writing, either in content or quality. Fussing about intangibles? Maybe, but this is what I do for a living, so I should strive for the best possible. There were all sorts of angles I wanted to take, but the lack of time (or in some cases, exhaustion from other issues) meant that I wasn’t engaging with them. As such, I felt like what I was doing was either too similar to lots of other retro content already available, or just not up to the standard I set myself. I would have liked to do video, but there just wasn’t time. Line up some challenges with friends, but likewise.

No game images for this one, so have a Rik Mayall Nintendo ad instead. Because… why not?

I’d started the challenge not long after finishing my 52 week short story challenge. While that too had hit me with time pressures, I’d enjoyed the creative process behind creating short works of fiction. Within the space of gaming, however, setting the same kinds of challenges in terms of creating content just didn’t fire me up in the same way.

Retro gaming challenge: It’s not all bad, though

I set out to play a different retro game each week because I was concerned that the collection of games I own had become exactly that: A collection. I’ve noted before that I don’t like the idea of locking games away into a collection, never to be played. I’ve seen those folks, and while your money is your own, sealing games and doing nothing with them makes me sad. Playing 52 games over a year should have achieved that aim, and I did get through 20 of them, from terrible games through to some of my very favourite games.


But there’s more than that. Playing those games invigorated my interest in gaming generally, and in retro gaming specifically. I’d be playing Alien 3 on the Megadrive, and pondering on how much fun Midnight Resistance is because it’s on the same shelf. Since cancelling out, I’ve played some.
Likewise, playing Unirally reminded me of a whole host of underappreciated SNES games, and a small stack of 100 yen Japanese SNES games I’ve barely played, and those too have seen rotation out of my SNES since dropping the challenge aspect. It’s been a mix of admitted nostalgia, because yes, that’s part of the retro experience, as well as challenging myself with games that I might only play for a short period of time.

Continuing the ads theme; there’s just so much simple joy in this one (even if my Japanese isn’t up to scratch to work out what’s going on)

That’s fine too, by the way. I don’t much like the idea of a “pile of shame” per se, because it’s not as though the code cares if it’s being run or not.
I set out to play 52 games over the course of the year to reignite my general passion for gaming, and my specific passion for retro gaming, and while I didn’t make it past the 20 week mark, I’m back making gaming a regular part of my daily routine out of fun, not obligation. In some ways, then, mission accomplished.
Also: Yes, I’ve played some Bubble Bobble by now. Because of course I have.

Curses. There are no ads for Bubble Bobble. Wrong era, I guess. This will have to do.

Retrogaming Challenge: The 20 weeks that did happen

Want to read about the games I did play over nearly half a year? Here you go.

Shin Nippon Pro Wrestling: Toukon Road 2: The Next Generation (N64) Toukon_Reversal Donkey Konga (Gamecube) DonkeyKonga_2
The Firemen (SNES) Firemen_Fires Space Invaders (2600) SpaceInvaders2600_1
Three Dirty Dwarves (Saturn) 3DD_BossFight Trog (NES) TROG_EAT
Robocop vs The Terminator (Megadrive) RBvT_guns James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing (Xbox) EoN_Bond_Corner
Godzilla Generations (Dreamcast) Zilla_1 Devil Dice (PSOne) DD_Trial
Asterix (Sega Master System) Asterix_Romans Toki (Atari Lynx) Toki_1_600
Backyard Wrestling: Don’t Try This At Home (PS2) byw2 Super Monkey Ball (Gamecube) SMB_Goal
Unirally (SNES) Unirally_1 Mutant League Football (Megadrive) MLF_Ref_600
Q*Bert (Atari 2600) QBert_2_600 Alien 3 (SNES vs Megadrive) Alien3_MD_600
F-Zero X (N64) F-Zero_Countdown_600 Athlete Kings (Saturn)   AthleteKingsLJ_600

Author: Alex

Alex Kidman is a multi-award winning Australian technology writer, former editor at Gizmodo, CNET, GameSpot, ZDNet, PC Mag, APC, Finder and as a contributor to the ABC, SMH, AFR, Courier Mail, GadgetGuy, PC & Tech Authority, Atomic and many more. He's been writing professionally since 1998, and his passions include technology, social issues, education, retro gaming and professional wrestling.

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