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Retro Gaming: Old is Gold for Cardiff Gamers

Vintage games, like vintage fashion, are back in vogue, but what is it about these games that’s given them a second life?

It’s a Friday Night in darkened room. The whir of powering up consoles sounds from  around the room. Bright flashing colours burst out of every screen in 1990’s fashion. It’s game night — retro game night — in Cardiff, and this Arcade Café is about to take everyone on a nostalgia ride.

This phenomenon took place at The Gate, in Cardiff. Run by The Arcade Vaults, gamers were given the opportunity to enjoy a huge array of old games and consoles. From the Nintendo Wii to the Commodore Amiga-1200, any console from the 80’s to the present was on offer.

The creator of The Arcade Vaults, Chris Munasinha, said “Why do people like retro games? I suppose it would be nostalgia mainly, people remember how much fun they had on these games as kids.”

At just £3 per ticket, it seemed like a steal for any nostalgic gamer to go along and revel in the majesty of Tekken (pictured above) and Super Mario.

Chris said “I think retro gaming is undergoing a bit of a renaissance, with indie games becoming more and more popular on the major gaming platforms.”

There certainly seemed to be the evidence to prove that theory on Friday, as queues began to form to play games that haven’t been seen on shelves for decades. Gamer Daniel Jones said, “I’ve never been to an event like this before. But you have to appreciate the old classics.”

The Arcade Vaults is a relatively new venture into the gaming world. Switching on in October, they have held events at 10FeetTall bar in Cardiff, and are regulars at Tiny Rebel. They have their own consoles and equipment, and are always looking for ways to allow people to unlock their childhood. They aim to have their own permanent venue, but there is competition from Kongs Bar in the city centre, who have arcade machines.

But creator Chris doesn’t mind the competition. “When I saw that Kongs had opened up with arcade machines I thought we wouldn’t be able to compete. But they’re more of a bar, that has games. What we want to be is a place to purely play these retro games, on retro consoles.

Riding on the wave of childhood nostalgia, more and more companies are marketing games with a retro angle. Whether its really retro games, with an authentic arcade feel, or remaking a fan favourite, there is a huge demand now for older games.

For example, The Nintendo Wii was released in 2006, and it really began this new found love for simple, retro games. Huge success with Wii Sports and The Super Mario Bros showed just how much people longed for these sorts of games.

In fact, the best-selling game of all time is simply, Tetris. Re-released in 2006, it has now gone on to sell 100million copies. This demonstrates how much people desire old, familiar games.

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There are periods, however, where gamers will demand something new and fresh. Chris Munasinha said “It’s the cyclic nature of the industry. Sometimes people want new, sometimes they need retro games.”

In 2007 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare was released. A groundbreaker in terms of graphics and storyline, and a pioneer for mass online gameplay, it had sold over 13 million copies within two years of its release.

Then it was revamped in 2016, and sold alongside Infinite Warfare, the newest game in the Call of Duty franchise, for £70 in total (average games normally sell for around £45). Despite only being released in November, it became the highest selling game of the year.

This recent desire for old games and nostalgia may be following the similar trend seen in movies. The most popular and sought after films each year tend to be the rebooted old classics, or the next in the long line of Marvel movies.

The success of these movies and games is the real indicator that retro is back in fashion, and likely to stay for a while.

The nostalgia for old games, it seems, is unlikely to end here. And The Arcade Vaults plan to be there every step of the way, with 2 events going on each month around Cardiff. So anyone can reconnect with those old games they thought they’d left behind.