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Classic Games (Games)

Everything Old is Old Again 106

Posted by Zonk
from the pac-man-and-i-have-the-same-birth-year dept.
TechDock writes "GameDaily interviews some of the folks involved with retro game services, including GameTap, XBox Live Arcade, and assorted standalone retro game devices. They discuss the new business models associated with the retro business, and why 25 year-old games are still popular." From the article: "Want to feel really old? It's been 26 years since the sound of 'waka-waka-waka' first resounded in an arcade. Yes, 1980 was the year Midway licensed and installed the coin-op version of Namco's Pac-Man in the U.S. And 2006 is the year that Pac-Man has become one of the most popular downloads on Xbox Live Arcade and GameTap. Talk about a game with legs."
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Everything Old is Old Again

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  • Legs? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 03, 2006 @02:28PM (#16296069)
    Pac has no legs!
  • They discuss the new business models associated with the retro business, and why 25 year-old games are still popular

    25 year old games are still popular because of people like myself who still think that Stratosfear, Dark Side of the Moon and 2112 are fantastic albums but couldn't name a song by Blink 187 or Disturbed.

    Part nostalgia and part not keeping up with the times is what really makes retro popular. While I can't appreciate the latest Rob Zombie offering it doesn't mean I don't like Counterstrike S
    • by Ant P. (974313)
      I couldn't name one either, and Pac-Man's older than I am. Maybe those bands just suck.
      • If you don't even know what band played Dark Side of the Moon, then you have no culture. Really, that is as widely known as the Wedding March's theme!
        By the way, yes, I know who wrote that one too. Not hard, and I love the composer. You don't. See? Lack of culture.
        • ... I believe by saying "Bands" he was referring to Blink 187 and Disturbed seeing as Stratosfear, Dark Side of the Moon and 2112 are albums not bands...
      • I'm older than Pac-Man, and while I agree that Blink 182 sucks, you're bound to have heard them if you listen to any modern alternative. And Disturbed's Down with the Sickness is excellently angry, and I just heard a cover they did of Genesis's Land of Confusion on the radio this morning.

        Just because you don't keep up with modern music, doesn't mean anything you haven't heard sucks.
        • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

          by Afrosheen (42464)
          Bah, the only reason you're familiar with the Disturbed song is because you frequent titty bars.

            Wait, how do I know that? *whistles and backs away quickly*
          • Nah, I heard it on the soundtrack to a Jet Li movie. It's also pretty commonly played on a local radio station near my house (WYNF, 96.5) though the edit out the profanity, which makes it significantly shorter.

            There was also an excellent "Lounge Singer Style" cover of it on Dawn of the Dead
            • by Afrosheen (42464)
              Oh man, I got modded down for flamebait because I made a joke. I feel like I'm on Digg all of a sudden.

                Anyway, yeah Dawn of the Dead had a cool soundtrack. There was some irony in the initial elevator scene with the music but I don't specifically remember what song it was playing.
        • by Ant P. (974313)
          I hear them on the radio all the time. I just don't find most new bands these days original enough to be worth remembering.
    • by PFI_Optix (936301)
      "25 year old games are still popular because of people like myself who still think that Stratosfear, Dark Side of the Moon and 2112 are fantastic albums but couldn't name a song by Blink 187 or Disturbed."

      That's okay, you're not missing much.

      "Part nostalgia and part not keeping up with the times is what really makes retro popular."

      For those of us old enough to be nostalgic, that's true. But what about the generation that doesn't remember Pac Man and Galaga in the arcades? I'm finding that they're the ones w
      • by joshetc (955226)
        It must be the story-drive nature; Pacman: Run around and as much shit as possible as fast as possible.
        • I heard Morgan Spurlock [wikipedia.org] is making a remake of Super Size Me [wikipedia.org] with Pac-Man, using Super Pac-Man [wikipedia.org] as the background story.
          • by nuzak (959558) on Tuesday October 03, 2006 @03:42PM (#16297277) Journal
            You know how to use wikipedia. I'm so proud of you. Now stop.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Yvan256 (722131)
              Well, that's how the web should work. References for people who don't know who Morgan Spurlock is, what "Super Size Me" is or what's the point of the reference to Super Pac-Man (i.e. huge Pac-Man, i.e. Super-Sized).

              Slashdot makes external links heavy on the text by adding the domain name in brackets after the actual link. It's not my fault, that's the way Slashdot works. I hate it myself, and I'm too lazy to go check my account settings to see if there's a way to disable that "feature".

              • by nuzak (959558)
                The way the web works for me is that if I want to look something up on wikipedia, I right-click it and select "search wikipedia". Link noise is otherwise just that. Oh well, at least it's not like an old Wiki where everyone SpellsLikeThis and thinks that's somehow a GoodThing (and I also thank the stars that MediaWiki doesn't promulgate that nonsense)

                Anyway, the feature that shows the brackets is set at the individual reader's end, somewhere in the preferences. I'm pondering turning it off myself, since
                • by Yvan256 (722131)
                  The way the web works for me is that if I want to look something up on wikipedia, I right-click it and select "search wikipedia". Link noise is otherwise just that.
                  If you want the link, it's there. It's not "noise". If you have to copy/paste something into a search engine or wikipedia (or anything) then you're working for the computer. The computer should be working for us. If I add links, I do the task once. If I don't, then (random number) people will do the same task.
              • by mrbcs (737902)
                I like that feature. I think enough of us have had to use eye-bleach because of some tard "linking" to a story only to have goatse come up.
                • by Yvan256 (722131)
                  I think enough of us have had to use eye-bleach because of some tard "linking" to a story only to have goatse come up.
                  That's what the browser's status bar is for. If you're afraid to click on a link, just hover the URL then look at the URL in the status bar before actually clicking. No need to add noise to the text with the URL in brackets after the link, stupid slashdot.
      • by HTH NE1 (675604) on Tuesday October 03, 2006 @02:56PM (#16296615)
        Retro games are "pure" in a sense; ...they don't bore you with cut scenes

        The Pac-Man series did have cut scenes; they were just under one minute each.

        In the first one, Pac-Man is chased from the right edge of the screen to the left by the four ghosts. The four ghosts reappear in their blue edible form and a larger Pac-Man chases them off the right side of the screen.
      • by brkello (642429)
        Or you are looking at the past with rose colored glasses. Games are less fun now because you have grown up. Nothing wrong with going back and finding the joy of your childhood in these games. But to think they are strictly superior to modern games is a bit naieve. For example, classic games were a lot of fun to play as kids...but they never brought a tear to my eye like some modern games are capable of.
    • by kfg (145172) *
      I'll tell you why I still play Asteroids; because it's one of the best games.

      No, off the top of my head I can't tell you the title of a Blink 187 song, but about half the artists I listen to are under 25 years of age themselves. Some of them well under.

      I listen to them because they are good.

      KFG
      • by flink (18449)
        Unfortunately, Asteroids just isn't the same on a regular CRT. The only way to play is on an arcade machine with the bullets blazing little phosphor trails across a vector monitor.
    • by danpsmith (922127) on Tuesday October 03, 2006 @02:50PM (#16296503)
      Part nostalgia and part not keeping up with the times is what really makes retro popular. While I can't appreciate the latest Rob Zombie offering it doesn't mean I don't like Counterstrike Source... Not to say I don't enjoy kicking up Telengard from time to time but I don't play it as intensely as EQ2.

      I don't know that that's necessarily true. I think part of retro popularity is that sometimes things have inherent value. It's the same way that William Shakespeare's plays don't go away after so many years. Now I know that I'm comparing Shakespeare to Pac Man, but bear with me here.

      I love listening to the Beatles and the Doors, I was born after these bands were long dead and buried (well maybe not buried in the case of the Doors), I discovered them anew in my own life and formed my own kinship with their recordings.

      In the same way the first video game my little nephew ever played (at about 2 or 3 years old) was the first Super Mario Brothers. There are newer, better, more graphically entertaining games available, but my nephew is just as happy playing Super Mario Brothers as he is playing anything else (and he's now a bit older).

      I would argue that old games have inherent value, they are classics for a reason. There are a million old games which straight up suck, but they don't get the downloads because nobody cared then and nobody cares now. Just like music, film, plays, books, novels, etc. videogames have retro value because they are inherently entertaining, not because they are the newest technology and the best EFFECTS EVER... Many of today's games that are great graphically will be forgotten quickly after they are released, because they lack the same things that make classics strong. Mario, Pac Man, Duck Hunt and friends will bridge the gap generation after generation because they are as good now as they were then, even if we have better graphics.

      There are certain things which defy trendiness because they are good art and good entertainment, and these things will remain when everything else crumbles. People get so concerned with pushing units that they forget these facts in every one of the trades I just mentioned. Some things are eternal, some are rubbish. Those which only have nostalgia value (because it was the only game you had one time as a kid growing up) won't get exceptional attention now just as they didn't then. It's not just being old that makes them popular, it's the fact that they were great.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        ...I think part of retro popularity is that sometimes things have inherent value. It's the same way that William Shakespeare's plays don't go away after so many years...

        I would tend to agree, some might feel nostalgia towards Shakespeare if they were introduced to his works as a child, but you'd be hard pressed to find someone who remembers seeing those plays on opening night.

        I think in some ways older games are still popular because the games are GOOD and they will always be GOOD, they aren't good becaus

      • by plover (150551) *
        I think the biggest reason some of these games had value (especially to us old guys) was their novelty. PONG was cool because it was the first video game. Asteroids was cool because it had "graphics". Tank Battle was cool because two players could shoot each other. Dragon's Lair was cool because it incorporated a real cartoon. Battle Zone was cool because it was the first "3D" game. Castle Wolfenstein was cool because it was the first 3D game to feature images instead of wireframes. And so on.

        Each

      • by Leviance (1001065)
        I don't think I'm the only one whose most anticipated title for the Wii is the revamped Duck Hunt
    • Well... that, and the fact that games back then were *extremely* limited on graphics, so they had to focus all their efforts on making it fun rather than pretty.
    • by Deinhard (644412)
      Funny that you should mention Disturbed, since the song that is getting the most airplay is Land of Confusion, a cover of a twenty-year-old Phil Collins song (and not a bad cover, btw). They just fall into the "everything old is new again" category.

      That said, I can't name songs for most of the new artists out there (I have Dream, Floyd, and Rush on my iPod), but I can appreciate the latest Rob Zombie (or Tool, or Godsmack).
    • by mbsatgt (948603)
      Wow, I am not as in the dark as I thought I was, apparently. I couldn't name a song by those bands either, but Blink 187 didn't sound right, and sure enough, iTunes confirms it:
      http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/ viewArtist?id=116851 [apple.com]
      The band is Blink 182. The funny thing is everyone else in the thread also just assumed it was Blink 187. Ah well, having looked at their "Greatest Hits" (Ah the irony, that a "Greatest Hits" album is always where you look to find out if you have even heard of
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 7Prime (871679)

      Don't forget The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway!

      No, but seriously, time is a good filter. Usually the higher end of things tend to be remembered, at least all the crap gets forgotten. As big as Disturbed are, in 20 years, hardly ANYONE will remember who they are. If you really think back to the early 80s in gaming, there was a whole lot of shit out there... I'm a proponant to think that creativity is pretty constant among humans... no matter how corporate we get, or how primative we become, there's usually al

    • by leland242 (736905)
      dude, check out the new disturbed song - "land of confusion"

      oh wait, that was a Genesis song from the 80's. never mind.

      Although, I have to take some issue with your arguement. For instance, I have no idea who released Stratosfear, but I could tell you who put out the other two. Your tastes are not going to be the same as everyone else. Is Blink 182 a good band, i dont think so. same is true for Disturbed (i think they just keep making the same song). However, that doesnt make them any less important t
  • by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Tuesday October 03, 2006 @02:32PM (#16296141)
    It's been 26 years since the sound of 'waka-waka-waka' first resounded in an arcade.

    I'm pretty sure I remember seeing the Muppets on a TV in an arcade before 1980...
  • In time... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    There will come a time when games like The Legend of Zelda and Castlevania will be 80 years old. I wonder if anyone will still be playing them then.
  • by TobyRush (957946) on Tuesday October 03, 2006 @02:33PM (#16296153) Homepage
    Four Ways in which My Life is Just Like Pac-Man's:

    1. Ever-present wail of sirens
    2. Relentlessly pursued by ghosts
    3. Four special pills daily keep ghosts at bay
    4. Occasionally eat some fruit

    (by John Crownover, http://mcsweeneys.net/links/lists/16JohnCrownover. html [mcsweeneys.net])
  • A lot of these games are still popular because there is a crowd that grew up with them. The reason? Well, first was novelty, back in the late 1970s, video games were whizbang and fascinated a lot of ordinary folk. The second reason was the swift growth of arcades and the amount of businesses like pizza parlors installing games.

    How many of today's games will appeal to people decades here? Arcades are dead, and the only way you can get exposed to video games is if you buy a console. Then, the complicated nat

    • Re:Nostalgia (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jace of Fuse! (72042) on Tuesday October 03, 2006 @02:39PM (#16296303) Homepage
      Even if the code to PacMan were lost, you could write that sort of gameplay again in just a couple of hours.

      Granted, you could make a pretty faithful Pac-Man clone in a few hours, maybe less if you weren't too picky about how close it was, but to make an exact duplicate would be difficult for a few reasons.

      First, the Ghosts aren't exactly random, and they aren't exactly "patterns". They more or less respond in accordance to the player and almost precisely at that. A really good player with excellent timing can develope a pattern that will result in the ghosts moving in exactly the same way each time. The best players have a pattern for each level up to level 18 at least.

      Each of the four ghosts have a response different from the others so while in a very indirect way the player may be "controlling" the ghosts they are designed to respond in a way that makes them more or less close in on the player.

      Pac-Man is a brilliant game in a lot of ways. Some people really appreciate how brilliant it is, and they're the ones with the 50,000+ scores. Some people just acknoledge that it's a classic. Others only know it because it's famous. But no matter how you look at it Pac-Man is going to stick around a long time because it just happens to be fun.
      • by master_p (608214)
        Ms PacMan is much better, because the patterns are way more difficult to trace. I've searched for gameplay guides that show patterns, but I found none.
        • I wouldn't say Ms Pac Man is "better", I would just say it's a natural progression for those who have mastered Pac Man. It's essentially the same game with different level designs and, as you have noticed, harder to develope patterns.
          • by master_p (608214)
            ...and different boards and a story developing in intermissions and moving fruits and many other details over Pac Man...
    • by smchris (464899)
      Even if the code to PacMan were lost, you could write that sort of gameplay again in just a couple of hours.

      It _felt_ like it took a couple hours just to key in the assembly from ZX Magazine for what passed as one of the Pac Man versions on the Sinclair ZX81.

  • Sure, there are people who want to manage theyr'e massive empire in Civ 4, but for a lot of people with little time, sometimes a mindless game of Pac-Man, Tetris, Space Invaders, etc, is just perfect. Makes you wonder where game like GTA and Halo will be 20 something years from now.
    • by Babbster (107076)
      Agreed. I don't think that nostalgia is a primary factor in this. Rather, it's the quality of the games. For example, Geometry Wars, while a throwback to old games, is a relatively recent creation. So, its popularity (I'm a new convert, having just bought a 360 this weekend) is due to the fact that it's fun.
      • Yup, it doesn't really matter how shiny a game is, down the line, fun is all that matters. Thats why we will always and forever see mario games (platformers, im not talking about strikers, tennis, etc). Mario, the old game, was really fun. And they've more or less fun since. (sonic, on the other hand, keeps getting worse). Guitar Hero is an amazing success, it focuses primarily on fun factor, shiny graphics are not important to the fun of the game, not really.
    • I don't disagree with your point, but GTA is a poor example. Half the delight of it is being able to ignore the scripting missions and just jump in a car and go screaming through the city, narrowing missing cars, terrorizing pedestrians and then having to fractically keep ahead of the cops as they try to crack down on your little spree...
      • true, thats one reason I ever really game a damn about played Driver. But the full extent of the gae isn't unlocked right off the bat. a poor example, I agree.
  • I still play chess (Score:2, Insightful)

    by davidwr (791652)
    Does that count?
  • Having old games made into movies helps. :)

    I just saw a machinima short for Pac-Man and Space Invaders from LoadingReadyRun [loadingreadyrun.com]. Go to the page http://www.loadingreadyrun.com/vid.php?cat=MT [loadingreadyrun.com] and look for "Pachinima" to download a humorous 12 MB movie [loadingreadyrun.com].

    (And, to be on topic... yay emulators.)

  • people want to connect with the games of their youth.

    there's a bar in williamsburg brooklyn, barcade. full of old-ass consoles. place is always packed, and not because of the ubiquitous williamsburg indie rock jerkoff either. 30-somethings dump tons of quarters into those badboys. two reasons:

    1) they still cost a quarter
    2) they've got Robotron 2084 for hell's sake. robotron 2084!!. and time pilot.
    • Do they have Windjammers? Because that's all that matters.
    • If you're ever up in NH, be sure to visit Fun Spot. Here's their list of classic games:

      http://www.funspotnh.com/gms-classic.htm [funspotnh.com]
    • by Blakey Rat (99501)
      Just FYI, Robotron 2084 and Time Pilot are both on Xbox Live Arcade. Not as good as playing it in a bar with a beer in your hand and a bunch of enthusiastic people nearby cheering you on, but a lot cheaper.
    • by kpharmer (452893)
      > people want to connect with the games of their youth.

      how about a few other reasons, like:
      - these games are quick to pick up - you don't have to blow eight hours to just learn the game
      - many of them lived & died on gameplay - which many newer, more media-rich games blow

      > 2) they've got Robotron 2084 for hell's sake. robotron 2084!!. and time pilot.

      Man, i loved both of those games. Especially Robotron. What a great workout - I could hit three million in that game ov
    • If you can get past the fact that it's run by The Mouse... DisneyQuest has floors filled with the classic arcade games... hell, some that I, as a nearly-40-year-old, hadn't seen before, like Spacewar [wikipedia.org] (as implemented from Slug Russell's designs back in the 1960's at MIT.
  • I just downloaded Pac-Man for my iPod [apple.com], and I've already played it around 20 times. It's great for a quick pick-up game, especially since I can save and quit. If I want to do a few minutes without having to think about where I left off, it's perfect! Now if only I could get Golden Axe for my iPod, I'd be all set!
    • by Ucklak (755284)
      Didn't Golden Axe require buttons? How is that going to be managed?

      Dragons Lair, I'd like to see that for the iPod.
  • Mona Lisa's Smile (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Fullhazard (985772) on Tuesday October 03, 2006 @02:51PM (#16296521) Homepage
    Pacman is popular for exactly the same reason that countless people pay money to see the Mona Lisa.
    Firstly, it's simplistic, and not filled with greater meaning. Secondly, it's popular/famous, and present in 'popular culture'. If you asked somebody who wasn't into games/art about Gradius/Garden of Earthly Delights by Bosch, they'd greet you with a blank stare, but mention EVERYONE knows Pacman/Mona Lisa to one extent or another. Thirdly, it's deeply layered. Despite simplistic gameplay/subject matter, there is a rich possibility under the surface.
    Okay, i'm now officially a giant nerd.
    • Hmmm, gotta disagree with you their. First, Mona Lisa was full of "greater meaning", just like damned-near every painting created during that period, and Leonardo was as guilty of it as anyone. Second, how exactly it Pacman deeply layered? I can't see any depth to it, and I was under the very strong impression that was why so many people liked it. Not to put too fine a point on it, your third statement almost directly contradicts your first, and they're both fairly far off the mark anyway.
    • hehe, I just pictured this image of some server admin at google sitting there scratching his head and wondering what the hell could cause such a huge surge in queries for "Garden of Earthly Delights".
      • by neminem (561346)
        Heh. Garden of Earthly Delights... is it sad that I have absolutely no idea what the art piece looks like, but I thought immediately of a little-known song by a little-known 60s psychadelic band called United States of America (one of the first meant-to-be-popular-rather-than-experimental music groups to use electronic sounds in their music!). Not one of their better songs, though. Now I have to go google Garden of Earthly Delights, just to increase the hit rate. Now I'm sad, USA wasn't mentioned anywhere
  • by SomeoneGotMyNick (200685) on Tuesday October 03, 2006 @03:00PM (#16296683) Journal
    ....things were the same as I suppose they are today. You young whippersnappers!!!!

    However, back then, they promoted game play, not eye candy. I don't care how low my ride is or how much it's been tricked out on my "underground" racing game. If I race my NFS car around a track, I can bang it up for a while and come out unscathed. I just make it to the finish line faster by bouncing off the other cars.

    However, in Pole Position, you needed more skill. You blew up when you hit another car or road sign. You had to be careful around the turns or you didn't place in position for the next race. Let's see how many young NFS players even qualify in Pole Position.

    The other thing about retro gaming is that the older gameplay works well on a handheld platform. You may not always have your DS or PSP with you, but you do have your mobile phone.....

    I want a spinner on my next phone. I want to take Tempest with me wherever I go.
    • by nuzak (959558)
      Ok, NFS2 Underground has no crashes. Neither does PGR. So go play Burnout (I recommend Burnout 3, as Burnout 4 is actually not as good). It's pretty, and you crash. The physics are something akin to matchbox cars, but so it is with almost any driving game. Only problem is, it's too easy, so you'll want to do multiplayer.

      Yes, some games are great and timeless, and I too bemoan the lack of originality in most games, but I think it goes in cycles. I'm not about to join the cane-wagglers pissing and moani
      • So go play Burnout (I recommend Burnout 3, as Burnout 4 is actually not as good)

        Oh, I love Burnout 3 (didn't know there was a 4 out). I didn't mention it in my previous post because it's in a class by itself right now. Most other race games, even Gran Turismo, lack final realism. That's the part where you suffer for your actions and banging your car all up is detrimental to game advancement. Then again, I enjoy true realism in my games. That's also why I turn off all assists on my Flight Simulator games.

    • by Dorceon (928997)
      ou may not always have your DS or PSP with you, but you do have your mobile phone.
      Speak for yourself. Some of us choose not to pay the T-Mobile tax, and my DS is a better alarm clock anyways.
    • by El_Isma (979791)
      However, back then, they promoted game play, not eye candy.

      Well... Maybe because there's not much eye candy you can fit into 16 colors...

      Back then, there was no processing power available for eye candy.

  • And yet TV shows often use the same sound effects for the background noises of an arcade, and it's usually always either Galaga (even if there's no Galaga game present) or/and Atari 2600 Pac-Man(!), even if they're actually playing at a LAN party a fictional MMOFPS First Degree Murder: San Fernando Valley as the latest "ripped from the headlines" scare tactic over video games.
    • God, those craptastic sound effects from the Atari 2600 Pac-Man are so annoying and pop up entirely too often. POKEY, we hardly knew ye.
  • You can play ancient games on hundreds of different emulators, yet because you're too lazy to hook your computer to your TV means you'll pay M$ a few bucks just so you won't have to put down your 360 controller? Isn't that just a little bit sad? This is slashdot! You're supposed to have everything networked to everything else in your homes and have it all accessible from anywhere outside of your homes as well! What kind of geeks are you?! :)
  • you play it for a few minutes and then you're like, okay, I'm kind of sorry I tried it again because I had better memories of it. The truth is the game still kicks butt; it just needs a little updating for the hi-def generation -- maybe tightening up the graphics, maybe adding a background.

    I have an arcade cocktail Temptest machine in my basement, that I still play occasionally. It uses color vector graphics. Made in 1980, it is ~2048 x 4096. Let's see you do *that* on your hi-def screen sonny. In my

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