A nostalgia trip with SNES consoles stacked to the ceiling
When I was young I was a total idiot. I think I must have been the only person on the planet who didn’t realise you could copy games on the Commodore 64 in the same way you could copy music cassettes. Hence my mates and I stupidly buying multiple copies of California Games, Fantasy World Dizzy and Bionic Commando. Back in those days – the late 80s – kids were usually divided over what home computer they owned. The three main systems were the C64, Amstrad and ZX Spectrum. If your parents were a bit more flash with the cash you may be lucky enough to blag an Amiga 500/600 or an Atari ST.
I myself had a C64 which sat on a stand my dad had made in the living room. We only had one TV in our house, so when I wanted to play it my dad would have to unplug the aerial, lift up the big bulky TV, carry it across the room and put it on the stand for me to play. I wish I had a few photos kicking about of it somewhere. There were some class games on the C64, and indeed all those early systems. The soundtracks too have lasted the test of time, with chiptune making somewhat of a resurgence in the last few years. The tunes for Last Ninja 2 andRobocop always stood out for me.
Despite my love for the C64, however, I think the moment that made me realise it was time to move on was when I played its version of Street Fighter 2. I had been ducking off into the arcade on the way home from school to play the coin-op version of it and so I was looking forward to loading up the cassette and reliving the experience in my living room. Oh how wrong I was. If any of you have ever played Street Fighter 2 on the C64 then you’ll know how bad it is. Not long after this I shelved my C64 and made the jump to a 16-bit console. Once again, troops were divided: you either had a Super Nintendo or a Sega Mega Drive (Genesis to you Americans). I chose the Mega Drive.
Since then, of course, gaming systems have progressed rapidly to become what you know today. But for many people retro gaming is still a big thing. Some of the titles you most likely binned or stuck in the attic back in the day now sell for a fair bit of cash. I live in Tokyo and one store that is entirely devoted to the world of retro gaming is Super Potato. Located in the nerdcore area of Akihabara (think maid cafes and anime), Super Potato is a haven for forgotten consoles, rare Nintendo games and all sorts of other weird console-related stuff. There are literally piles of Super Nintendos and other consoles stacked up to the ceiling, and there’s even a little retro game arcade on the top floor where you can play titles like Metal Slug, Splatterhouse and Double Dragon. (Alas, no Golden Axe when I went.)
Of course, because this is Japan all the equipment and titles are the Japanese versions but that’s also what makes it cool. You’ll see Streets of Rage being sold under its original title, Bare Knuckle, and lots of complicated looking RPGs you’ve never heard of. There are also a few display cabinets with some more expensive stuff locked away, such as mint boxed Atari Jaguar. Although if you have ever seen the infomercial made for it (totally and utterly ridiculous) you would wonder who on earth would ever buy it.
As it so happens, this year’s Tokyo Game Show took place just last week, with a strong focus on PlayStation VR – Sony’s newest virtual reality gaming experience. And so as gaming becomes more more and more like real life, it’s good that a place like Super Potato exists to transport you back to simpler times.
[click on an image below to start slideshow]