Does Nintendo have a monopoly on retro?

Retro video games have become big business these days. With products like all these mini consoles such as the NES and SNES classics, the Atari Flash Backs and the various collections of retro games, it’s become clear that a large segment of the gaming consumer base has an affinity for products that remind them of the glory days. But have you ever noticed that most of these retro products are either made by Nintendo, or done in the same style as Nintendo products? Even the wave of “retro inspired” games many come in the form of pixelated 8-bit graphics. This desire to recapture our youth has expanded beyond the generation who grew up with Nintendo. More and more young people who never owned an NES are getting into “retro” collecting or retro gaming.

Okay so the question is does Nintendo have a monopoly on retro? I don’t mean they are the only company making products that fall under the retro umbrella, rather my observation is their products, new and old, are the central focus of all things retro related. I never considered playing big box PC games or classic computer games as retro gaming. Part of this is PC’s are inherently backwards compatible by their natures. This is coupled with the fact the majority of the well known PC games retro gamers might collect are typically re-released on modern consoles in an near endless manner anyways.

A few years ago I purchased a PS4 because, for me, the original PS1 was starting to get nostalgic and I was really missing those old franchises. The fact FF7 HD was promised early in its life was a major contributing factor. But despite feeling nostalgia for the Playstation brand, I never considered it retro. For me, maybe I am missing the mark, but I even consider new or modern Nintendo games are retro games. Even thought it just released a few weeks ago, Kirby Star Allies could easily fit right in with my Kirby Super Star on SNES. Aside from the HD graphics and the modern look, it really doesn’t feel like a modern AAA title at all. In fact in all honesty, I rarely think any Nintendo game falls into that camp. I am not one of those who think of this as a bad thing, for me part of the appeal for Nintendo is how they aren’t Sony and how they don’t change with the times. Even if you pick up a new console with a nee fangled controller scheme, at the end of the day the games still always feel like the same old classic Nintendo games I have grown to love.

Looking back I can honestly say I don’t get this vibe with Playstation or even PC games. One of the reasons I diverged from the Playstation and stuck with GameCube instead of PS2 is because the PS2 felt so different from PS1, whereas Nintendo GameCube felt like a new and improved N64. When I looked back at the Wii I overcame my dislike of motion controls and developed a strong affinity for the platform based on all of the retro goodness it brought to the world.

I don’t even get excited for “modern AAA” games coming to the Nintendo Switch. Part of  that is I own both a gaming PC and a PS4 already, but also, the appeal of a Nintendo console is the Nintendo style games. My question remains then, do Nintendo games automatically qualify as retro games by default? If so, does that inherently give them an unabridged monopoly on the genre?

Collecting loose action figures versus sealed?

Nearly 20 years ago I started getting back into collecting action figures. What got me back into it was a combination of the Robots in Disguise Transformers toy line and the Star Wars Prequels toys getting released. I mostly started buying new toys in those two lines while also going back to retro G1 and G2 Transformers.

One of the things I told myself to justify collecting toys was layers of lies. For the G1 Transformers I convinced myself they were “cool” because they were made with metal parts. I also thought they were acceptable because they turned into semi-realistic classic cars. I even would use the line, these will be worth even more money in the future.

However, at the end of the day I really just wanted to own the toys for the very childish purpose of actually playing with them. I know, if you collect action figures, or other toys, the accepted norm is to keep them sealed or at the very least displayed on a shelf as “collectibles” but if you actually enjoy using them as intended suddenly you become extra weird.

This is where I got to thinking, what if you are that weird? I mean it’s easy to just make the case that anyone who collects toys or action figures already has some sort of problem to begin with. I don’t know if I accept the notion it’s automatically OCD, if kind of sounds like an excuse when people blame their “OCD” on something when most of them in reality don’t actually have clinical OCD. Oh well, that’s a story for another day.

I guess I just wonder if a person has to make all of these excuses to enjoy pursuing a particular hobby, does it mean there is something wrong with the way that person feels about their hobby? Sometimes, I wonder if it really just means there is something with the hobby itself. I am not sure if that line of thinking is particularly productive. Then again, who am I to determine what is healthy behavior when I sit here typing away on a blog talking about whether or not I want to collect Transformers toys as a hobby or just for the fun of transforming them?

I guess, for me personally, the reason I always had a problem with buying, and keeping, sealed collectibles of any kind, is it limits your actual enjoyment of the product. As an example in the interest of hoping something would gain value if I kept it sealed instead of just enjoying it as intended, I still to this day have an unopened tin of flavorless mint candies in one of those NES shaped collectible tins. I will never be able to get to a point where I trust the candies contained within to open and eat it them, so they remain sealed until the end of time.

Back when I first got back into collecting Star Wars figures I was beginning with a combination of the then-current Star Wars prequels as well as picking up the various Power of the Force and other lines featuring classic figures. Even at that time I was still opening them up. I told myself I could justify it by keeping them on the shelf being properly displayed. This never worked, once opened and “played with” they didn’t just lose their resale value, the reality was I always lost the little accessories that came with them. At even tried keeping them in plastic baggies at one time, but even that proved to be too cumbersome when the reality was I preferred tossing them into a shoe box where it would be easier to just grab the figures I wanted at that moment.

All of this meant I eventually ended up with a bunch of loose, incomplete and well worn figures with absolutely zero resale value. Thus, I either ended up donating them to thrift stores, or giving them away to my sisters’ various kids at different points in time for different reasons, usually as birthday or Christmas presents when I was too broke to get them something new. In the end I learned that I was not a toy collectible at all, not even a little bit. Really I was just a big kid at heart who never wanted to give up the things from his childhood. Whichever method you prefer just remember the whole point of any hobby is to get personal fulfillment, not as some sort of misguided investment.

Thor Ragnarok thoughts

I know it’s been out for a few months and I just got around to watching it last night. Full disclosure, I haven’t seen the second Thor movie yet.

I am starting to think that either I have aged out of the Marvel super hero movies, or I was never that into them in the first place. I loved the first Thor movie as with most of the solo Marvel movies. In fact of all the Marvel movies I have seen the only two I didn’t care for were the first Punisher movie from the last go round and Daredevil. I know those aren’t Marvel Studios movies but I am talking any movie featuring Marvel Comics characters. So how did I find myself watching Thor 3 and not enjoying the movie?

I felt the movies have not gotten to a point where they are all basically just mini-Avengers films now instead of stand-alone superhero pictures. This has become a bit of a chore trying to keep up with all of the movies, but even beyond that it’s starting to introduce unnecessary clutter into the film. I get these are Marvel Cinematic Universe films, but I kind of miss the days when you could watch a solo movie and the only connection to the other films were throw away references or end-credit scenes. Now it’s gotten to the point where if you miss one or two you could go into a stand alone sequel and be totally lost. I am not even sure if it is entirely possible to just watch the three Thor movies as JUST Thor movies. I haven’t seen Thor 2 but I can already tell if you missed Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange and Civil War, among who knows how many others, you could go into this movie totally lost.

How about the movie by itself then? Screw it, I honestly cannot take this movie on its own, there was just too much going on that I know I missed by not watching certain other movies. I know who Doctor Strange is, sort of, from the comic books, but I am getting older I haven’t ready any comics since I was much younger, so I shouldn’t have to watch a throw away side movie in this grand shared universe just to make sense of the third movie in what should have been a stand alone series with just connections to the larger Avengers movies. Okay, so now it’s gotten to the point where you can’t just keep up with the main line you have to follow all the side movies. I remember the days when reading those epic cross overs that it would be cumbersome trying to track down all the different issues from the off books that weren’t in my regular reading list. X-Men were among the worst when it came to cross overs. For all the love the Marvel Movies get, I prefer how the X-Men films do it where each movie does loosely references each other but could each stand alone as they often ignore one another.

Okay enough rambling now what did I actually think of the movie? I guess if I had seen these other films it wouldn’t feel overwhelming because there were just a lot of things going on that didn’t make sense within the context of this individual film. That in itself made it harder for me to enjoy the film. Yes, the action was good, the characters were true to their previous portrayals and the over all plot was largely convoluted to the point where it felt like all they were doing was using this as either a filler movie to get to the next chapter of The Avengers or just using it as a cash in to keep the wheels going.

As far as this film being a commercial for the movies I haven’t seen goes, yeah well it would be easier if there wasn’t one of these films coming out a month for 12 months out of the year.