It’s been coming on for the last few years but never has the gulf between new releases and old games been as wide as in 2016. Back in 2011 I was all about playing new releases and grabbing them on the cheap. Almost everything else was only “old” by a year or two thanks to GameFly and PlayStation Plus or Xbox Live freebies. I hit a perfect balance of new and old in 2012 and spent the next two years playing catch up on modern oldies over full priced new releases. Those were also some of my most active years, playing 120+ games annually. 2015 is when I started to slow down, playing only 98 games in the year, most of which were once again recent releases, not retro games.
2016 has brought me closer than ever to being a retro gamer. The explanation is two-fold. On the modern front, AAA new releases have never been more boring to me. I simply passed over the ones that looked interesting, waiting for them to be freebies down the line or on deep discount in 2017. Meanwhile, the new games I spent the most time with were of the free-to-play or repeatable variety. Spelunker World, Ace Combat Infinity, Starbound, Big City Stories, Dragon Quest Builders, and most recently Let it Die. Be it building worlds of my own imagining or having an amazing run to bring my character to new levels, I stuck with a small handful of games through most of the year. 97 in total, for the record.
At the same time all kinds of things called me to the Retro side. My renewed attempts at a social life in 2016 introduced me to Rich’s assortment of old consoles. That Fairchild Channel F, it’s so amazing! In the Summer Jeff fell down the RetroPie hole, dragged me in and then climbed out and onto Pokemon Go. Finding myself in that hole I figured I’d see how far it went and, you guys, it goes so far.
In making my own theme for the RetroPie I scrutinized every console and platform with a focus I’d never given them before. Instead of sticking to my established favorites I stood back and finally looked at things from a global and historical perspective. I started listening to Retronauts and I engaged even more with the amazing #retrocollective community on Instagram, putting aside my jealousy and really admiring their collections.
Fueling both the old and the new in 2016 was DelistedGames.com. Regardless of quality, games are more ethereal than ever before and it’s disheartening to see them disappear. It takes an objective point of view to dig into these frequently maligned titles and it led me to a new appreciation of, well, every aspect of gaming. So maybe I only play thirty games next year or maybe I play a hundred and thirty really old ones. However the numbers shake out I know it’ll be a more rewarding and enlightening year in gaming than I’ve ever had.
And so begins another round of year end recaps, starting today with my Best Old Games of 2016.