Over the past weeks or so, parents have been spending the usual fortune on the latest games for their excited offspring this Christmas – some things never change, you might say, and as far as it goes, that’s true. Anyone who grew up in the 1980s and 90s will remember the excitement of either a new gaming system or at least some new games for their Spectrum, Commodore, Mega Drive or SNES.

Advances in gaming
Of course, today’s games offer HD graphics, 3D realism, virtual reality and the ability to challenge your friends online. They also allow you to play on the go, and appeal to a far wider audience. Moreover, these days gaming is not all about the kids. It is equally about the adults, as the hugely popular online casino segment illustrates. There are new sites going live all the time, and desperately trying to find something new to offer in order to climb those all-important online casino ratings and attract new punters. Other games such as Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty have a level of realism, coupled with a level of violence, which many say is also not suitable for children. Gaming has grown up.

Despite all the impressive technical qualities of modern games, there are certain aspects that we enjoyed with the early retro games that have somehow been slightly lost with the passage of time. I wonder if today’s games will have the same place in people’s hearts as those retro games from the 80s and 90s.

Here is the argument for those who believe that games from the past might be better than games today…

1) Was gaming more immersive in the past?
It’s ironic that, armed only with a controller, a keyboard or a joystick, we were perhaps more immersed in our games back in the 80s than children are today, despite the VR headsets, interactive gaming chairs and ever more complicated controllers. Perhaps it was all just so new to us, and children today are bombarded with so many interactive screens that it’s not as special for them. For us, controlling an image on a TV was something magical. Perhaps it is because the graphics were less realistic, and we had to use our imaginations. Or maybe with the distractions of Snapchat, Twitch and all the rest, children just have a reduced attention span these days.

2) Today’s games are a lot easier
Games like Legend of Zelda and Resident Evil have seemingly endless levels, and it almost becomes a race to simply rush through them to the next. Face any real problem, and there will be an online guide to see you through. This could be because developers don’t want to frustrate gamers, as that could damage sales. Years ago, games were a real challenge. Who lay awake at night trying to work out how to get through a particular level in Lemmings? A quarter of a century on, people are still puzzling over some of them! And there were no online cheats or YouTube walkthroughs. You had to devote time and patience to a game, and the rewards were all the bigger for it.

3) Games pushed the boundaries
Even many modern gamers complain that all the games are the same today. First person shooters, third person explorers, driving games and football games make up a huge slew of modern gaming today and often sequels to popular franchises are just churned out year after year. Modern games might be more technologically advanced, but in the early days, games were more ground-breaking, mostly due to it all being a new technology. Games were becoming more advanced literally month on month, and with new ideas for gameplay coming through all the time. Some were downright surreal, such as Attack of the Mutant Camels or the faeces-obsessed Toilet Kid. Today’s youngsters just don’t know what they’re missing.

4) Lack of updates
Sure, you sometimes had to wait 5-10mins for games on cassette to load, but for console games they loaded pretty much instantly. Compare that to today when nearly every time you switch your console on you have to download a 2GB update and when you put in a new game you often have to download a 10GB update or patch. Plug and play certainly did have its perks.

5) All that choice
When it comes to serious gaming, you are pretty much limited to whatever Microsoft, Sony or Nintendo give you. Think back 20 or 30 years: Yes, we had Sony and Nintendo, but we also had Sega, Atari, Amstrad, Commodore, Sinclair and many more. We were spoiled for choice.

The good news, however, is that we can at least relive most of our favourites from yesteryear with the growing number of emulators available for our PCs, consoles and Raspberry Pis. Why not treat yourself to one over the Christmas holidays and show the kids how it’s really done? Happy gaming!