Retro System Review: The Problems with Portable Retro Systems

Many people who used to play the older generation of games have started getting into buying new retro console systems. While there are tons of new retro gaming systems there are also a few retro gaming systems that are actually portable. Though these systems were never intended to be portable they are now portable. But is portability for games that were never made to be portable a good idea? How do these portable devices compare to their non portable counterparts?
There is one obvious problem that all the portable systems has and that is that they all run on batteries. These systems can run through batteries like crazy. Some systems use regular batteries that can be replaced and some have built in batteries that can be recharged like a cell phone but they can not be replaced. The issue of battery consumption is a real issue with these devices.

These systems were not made to be taken portable. Many of these systems are smaller then the cartridges that they play. They can be very awkward to play with this large game cartridge sticking out. Sega did make a portable gaming system for the Genesis but they did not sale well and there is a reason why. Also most people who are interested in these classic consoles are in there twenties at least and portable gaming is not something that is big for them. Kids who sit in the back of the car may need portability but the 25 year old who has to drive to work can not play while he drives.

The controller issue is an problem that almost all the new portable systems face. Most do not allow for you use use the original controllers. This means that peripherals will not work. Also some systems do not use any controllers that are not on the system itself. Many use wireless controllers but most of these wireless controllers are not very good quality.

Many retro gaming devices have problems with being built poorly. The portable units are some of the worst made devices. Most of the portable systems are badly made. Not only do they break or parts of them break easily but they do not work as well as home console versions. Most of these portable devices do not emulate as well as the home consoles. The prices of these are often much more then home consoles. Often you can get a home console that plays more systems games and are better built.

If you do want portability there are other options. There are many mp3 systems that also have emulators. They often do better because even games that may not emulate well you can find one or two versions that do work. There are also many bad versions of these systems but there are some great versions that are well made. Most of these systems play many kinds fo games too.

Overall these portable retro systems have many problems. The cost is high and the quality is bad. There is not much positive about these systems. I would not recommend the retro portable devices.

Video Games as Cultural Capital

Can games be considered art?
This is one prevalent philosophical question that I’ve seen time and time again in this site. And to me, this is just weird because even still, this question to me makes no sense. What is this art we’re speaking of and why do people only consider some games as art and not many others? Or why do some people say games can never be considered as art? It’s a loaded question with no correct answer and for that matter, no wrong answer. And yet, it’s so interesting to see people so fierce when they try to answer this question.

I guess in the end, I have to assume that by art, people mean something that contains incredible amount of creativity. I mean, that has to be why Ico is considered as art but Tomb Raider isn’t. And probably why Metroid Prime is considered as art but Halo isn’t. I have no clue why there’s this general consensus but if you ask me, it could go either way. Every game starts out from art concepts so since it has art in it, you could say it’s art. XD Or I could argue that since there’s still no game in existence that really could be appreciated for what its form is, rather than be judged on its interactivity or on its technical achievements, no game is art but just a form of entertainment. In paintings, you can just look at it and be inspired just by what it is and you don’t ever have to talk about techniques or styles the painter used to make that painting. In a novel, a particular phrase or sections of words can be artistic in that sense. So I guess I can argue that games have not achieved that artistic level yet.

Of course, my answer to this question is not so absolute. I don’t believe that all games are art and I also don’t believe that no games are art. What I mean to say is, I see artistic quality in every single video game, yes even in a game like Gears of War (just look at the vistas! look at the realistic meat that falls out with a headshot!), but at the same time, I feel that video games don’t count as cultural capital.

Now, by cultural capital, I mean something that increases your societal position or knowledge by possessing it. For example, Shakespeare’s Hamlet is considered as a huge cultural capital because knowledge of it can provoke numerous discussions in which you can use Hamlet as a reference. Inside Hamlet itself are also numerous cultural capital which the reader must already know about, such as the bible.

In today’s society, games are still not at the level where it can be used as cultural capitals. In fact, not many games even contain cultural capital. There are exceptions of course since Metal Gear Solid 4 has tons and tons of it (references to all sorts of movies galore) but how many games are there that require the player to know about different cultural products to fully understand the game? Did you have to have read the bible to fully understand Call of Duty 4? No, I highly doubt that.

Games simply don’t count as cultural capital today. If you’re writing an essay about viability of machines with artificial intelligence in your English class, it just wouldn’t be right to use Half-Life as a reference. Your English teacher would be confused and would not understand the reference. It would have been much better if you used the movie Matrix as the reference.

Of course, now we come to a point where we come to ask, is something considered art only when it is considered as cultural capital? Now this is problematic since for something to become a good reference material, it not only has to provoke intelligent discussion, it must also be somewhat mainstream and popular to certain audiences. Bible is a large cultural capital because it’s the best selling literary work in the whole wide world. Hamlet is a cultural capital because literary professors have all read it.

But my point here is not that games should become mainstream to English professors so it would become a cultural capital. That’d actually be very terrible because then games would be made to be accessible to English teachers which is just… ugh. What I’m saying here is that if all current games became to be played by everyone today, it still wouldn’t really count as cultural capital. There isn’t many games today that actually contain cultural capital except for very few games like Metal Gear Solid or Bioshock but even these games are minimal when it comes to this issue.

Of course, you could argue that a game is not supposed to spark any kind of intellectual or philosophical discussion but to be just fun and entertaining. Does it need to have any cultural capital at all? No, of course not. But why separate fun and intellect? Movies are fun to watch but there are tons and tons of movies that are both fun and intellectually provoking, even some movies geared towards kids.

This is my long-winded way of saying simply, I would like to see more novel references, more movie references, more thought-provoking themes in my games. And they should be made so that even if people don’t understand those references, they can still have a good grasp of the game and have tons of fun with it. Kind of like Bioshock, which had a bunch of references and themes derived from the novels Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand) and 1984 (George Orwell) and yet even for people who’ve never read any of those novels, it was still enjoyable. More games should be like that. It would still be hard to argue that games are art even when games become rich in cultural capital but at least then they would be more artistic than before. That’s what I think anyway.