“Why I love Classic Gaming” part II: Durability

nes-cart

The Nintendo Entertainment System was first released in 1983. It is now 33 years old. The same age as Jesus… coincidence?

As promised, here is the second entry in our ongoing series about why retro classics gaming is so frickin’ amazing. You can check out my first post here.

Take a good look at the NES pictured above. Take a good, hard look. No, it’s not a jump scare gif. It’s a picture that anyone could have taken, even in 2016. It’s a picture of a working NES, a system that is over 30 years old, still running. Now, granted, that specific pictured NES could be a new one (can you still get “new” ones?). But I’ll tell you what, I’ve been through two PlayStation One’s that stopped working because of lens problems, two PlayStation 2’s, a slim and a regular black one, that just decided they had had enough, an Xbox that cried itself to sleep, a Gamecube that became a paperweight, and a PS3 that’s rapidly deteriorating and recently refuses indomitably to run even its own PS Store.

But you know what? My Super Nintendo still works. In fact, it works just fine. Works better than my PS3. Its old fashioned cable cord, AC adapter and cartridges are much more reliable. When I turn it on, I don’t need to sit through a screen that tells me it was last shut down improperly and its stupid data might be corrupted. I can pull its controllers out of the closet and they still function, after decades, while I’m finding myself fighting with not one, not two, but three glitchy and temperamental PS3 controllers. The very experience is driving me to get a PS4, ASAP. But back in “my day”, you needn’t worry about crap like that.

I’ve got an NES sitting on my entertainment center. This thing still works. I have no idea how old it is, since it’s my wife’s, but she used it in her childhood and it will probably still be functioning when our son is old enough to enjoy it. That’s two generations of Nortons that will be able to grow up with the same machine while on the other hand… these so-called “next-gen”, modern consoles break down after a handful of years. What, are their insides made of papyrus?

Durability.

That’s why I’m a retro classics gamer. Everybody knows the way to get your cartridge working. Fold your shirt over it and blow. That’s it. No monkeying around with tech support, no worrying about scratched discs, no waiting for hours and hours for a digital download only to find it interrupted or eventually corrupted, and no surfing the internet for deals on replacement hardware. Cartridges last for forever. Heck, you can probably excavate one of those E.T. cartridges from its burial site in a New Mexico landfill and plug it into your Atari and play it, after a few quick puffs of breath.

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Cartridges last so long, turns out they’re not even biodegradable! Who knew?

It’s like they knew how to build ’em back in the day. My SNES has survived moving across the Pacific ocean, when my familiar relocated from Hawaii to sunny Southern California. Digital downloads and streaming games, you could object, make the fragility of a lot of these modern systems and hardware irrelevant. Ok. Sure. So then have fun waiting a whole day while your download crawls on. Meanwhile? I’ll be cranking out Aladdin, Super Mario Bros. 3MetroidFinal Fantasy IIIChrono Trigger and Ocarina of Time. Probably finish like a thousand games before you get to play yours.

Nah, that’s a little unfair, I’ll admit. Still, it’s hard to argue that the old cartridge systems had a breadth of survivability that is simply missing from next-gen technology. I’m not sure how long it will be until PSX and Gamecube is considered truly “retro”, but it seems as if the drop in durability occurred right around there in the mid 90’s to the year 2000. Perhaps the N64 as the last arm of the Cartridge Age was what ushered out dependable hardware, once it breathed its last and gave in to its successor. I’ll be getting my PS4 soon, hopefully. I wonder how long it will last.

When I turn on my NES or my SNES, even my N64, I know it is going to work. I plugged it all in right. When I turn on a next-gen system? There’s always that moment where I think my bladder might imminently release.

If you liked what you read and agree with me, leave me a comment. You can let me know if you disagree, too. I might even read your comment! Look for more upcoming posts as I continue to expound why classics gaming should be embraced by peoples of all colors and creed.

Well-Red-Mage-Black-
-The Well-Red Mage

 

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