Monday, March 21, 2011

In which I discover they still make videogames

It's kind of embarrassing to admit but my game of choice on my fancy new hi-tech iPhone 4 hasn't been some flashy God of War type digital extravaganza, but instead a rather charmingly poky 20-year-old Sega videogame, Sonic The Hedgehog. I stumbled across an app download that exactly duplicates the 1991 version of Sonic, spent my $2 and was hooked, drawn in again into the land of spinning rodents and magical gold coins where I whiled away much of a summer away from college playing. Perhaps age 19 is the perfect time to spend a summer playing videogames.

I've got to admit the videogame revolution of the past two decades has mostly passed me by, and my joystick skills pretty much ended with Sega Genesis and Nintendo games in college. We don't own a PlayStation or a Wii or a Kinext or whatever they're called; I've thought about it, but I get kind of addicted to these things and I *know* 7-year-old Peter gets hooked on 'em, and it wasn't until the last couple of years I really had the spending money to buy big videogame setups anyway. The iPhone is giving me a chance to check some of the newer games out (go Angry Birds!) but, well, I tend to find stuff like Mortal Combat IV kind of... boring. I've just never been a huge fan of the shoot 'n' kill lots of things school of games.

Now, my true videogame addiction days peaked around 1983 or so with the beloved Atari 2600, which was in every '80s child's home. These games were hopelessly clunky by today's standards -- a square red dot is a knight with a sword? But your imagination filled in the technical limitations marvelously, turning "Yar's Revenge" into a sweeping galactic struggle or the hopelessly primitive castles and dragons of "Adventure" into a derring-do epic. My brother and my friends would crouch around the Atari for hours playing stuff like "Raiders of the Lost Ark," as it bleep-blooped away.

Maybe that whole recapturing childhood thing is why I'm enjoying going all retro with Sonic The Hedgehog, as the little Sega critter, while more advanced than the Atari 2600, is still pretty crude compared to some of the other slick modern games I've seen. But he's familiar, and while it may not quite have 3-D reality, the goofy little world of Sonic is still pretty exciting by my undemanding videogame standards.

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