Jack and I have been talking about the Konami code of late, and this discussion has brought up some nostalgia for me. Now that I don't own a console system, most of the games I play now are by indie developers. And while that's totally cool, hip, and even hip-ster, I realize that I miss the old days. The days of video game rental. That was a fantastic time.
I don't know about you, but for myself, and Jack too, we didn't just buy loads of games. We couldn't afford it, and our parents certainly weren't going to do that for us, especially not with video game rental. I played dozens of nes and snes games, but only owned about one - two dozen of each through the entirety of my owning those systems. I chose to buy, with my meager paper route money, only the best, most guaranteed games. This usually meant Squaresoft, or Nintendo, and sometimes a random game I rented that I loved, like Snake Rattle N Roll. Which I think was Rare- the company, and the adjective.
But during the rental period, there were bunches of games that were good, even great, but just not enough to buy. I loved being surrounded by games I would rate B- to B+. And I remember growing familiar with the different publishers. Rare, Hudson Soft, Enix, Konami, Capcom. There were bunches more, but my memories are fading on the subject. Each of these companies had a sort of personality that you grew to know. When you picked up a Konami game, you had an idea of what you were getting into. Capcom meant action - they probably had one of the most distinctive personality, and it seems to endure today, though I don't know where outside of Street Fighter games.
Back in the rentals, you could just browse through the games. It was sweet. There were games that I never bought, but I would rent multiple times. Sometimes to beat, other times just because your family was going to the video rental store and you were NOT about to pass up a chance to rent a game, whether or not you had anything in mind. Sure, I'll rent Megaman 2 again! What the hell, let's try Adventure Island? Hey, this game over here is by Konami, it's probably good. Goddammit, is the Sword Master ever coming out?!
I wish sometimes for a modern rental system. On the other hand, indie games often cost close to the same as a rental did. Sometimes they're even free! Games like Angry Birds, Super Crate Box and Realm of the Mad God are all totally fun and totally free, if a bit limited in scope. Super Meat Boy, Braid and Bit.Trip.Runner have pretty high production values, don't cost much and are great fun. I'm slowly building a new vocabulary of game publishers.
And, then, of course, there's emulation. Where-in any and all games for a past system are available, all at once. But so far emulator production values have not been strong, and it doesn't feel the same. I want to see an emulator, in which the Rom library is represented as game-boxes on a bookshelf. I can click on the box and get a view of it, look at the pictures, read the description and then choose whether or not I want to play it. That would be totally sweet. Not the same, but a start.
I guess what I'm trying to get at is that there is something about the experience of playing a game that exists outside of the screen and the controller. This is something that is lost when playing games on my PC, irreplaceable using emulators, and I do miss it.