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| 4th November 2020

Getting Started with Retro Gaming

With so many new toys and games being released today, sometimes, you just want to go back to something familiar and nostalgic. Did you know that more and more adults and children are getting into retro gaming? 

So what exactly is retro gaming? What type of equipment do you need if you, your partner, or your kids want to give it a go? 

What is retro gaming? 

Retro gaming is the playing or collecting of games that were designed and developed for older consoles, PCs, or arcade machines that were released between 1972 and 1994. 

Things that are most commonly associated with retro gaming are classic (also known as “old-school”) games, game cartridges, consoles, controllers and other hardware, pixel art and chiptune music. 

Recently, more and more people seem to be dusting off their old consoles or searching for new hardware that allows them to play these old-school games. Why exactly is retro gaming becoming so popular again?

Why should you try retro gaming?

There are many reasons why retro gaming is becoming an increasingly popular form of entertainment and relaxation to more and more people around the world. Whether it be seasoned gamers that grew up playing the classics, younger gamers, or newcomers to gaming in general, retro gaming is no longer just a niche hobby for “nerds”. 

Retro games can be more challenging yet fulfilling 

With modern games today, gamers often feel that they are playing an increasingly insignificant part in the progression of the games themselves as most big gaming companies continue to focus on improved graphics, special effects and storyline instead of trying to provide challenging or unique gameplay.

Retro games, on the other hand, are said to have been designed to be more challenging. They were made with a focus on gameplay and player satisfaction, which gives them much higher replay value, even today.

Retro games are simple and affordable 

Did you know that today’s unique “pixel art” aesthetic has its roots in retro gaming? Its simplicity is something gamers find attractive. 

Aside from that, even if you choose to buy the official versions of retro gaming hardware, such as the Sega Genesis Mini, the SNES Classic, or the Capcom Home Arcade, you will still only be paying a fraction of what it would cost you to buy a new PS5 or XBox Series X.

Last, but definitely not least, retro games do not try to sell any downloadable content and have no ongoing expenses to try to keep you playing them, which means that their cost to enjoyment ratio is much higher.

That’s why gamers are starting to collect old game consoles and playing it alongside their Xbox or PSP, for a change. 

Retro game consoles

How do you play retro games?

You can play retro games on old hardware, new hardware, as well as on emulators.

Retro gaming on old hardware 

Some retro gamers are more than happy to just sit down at their PCs or gaming laptops and play Super Mario or The Legend of Zelda for a few hours to relax – and to them, this is retro gaming.

However, many retro gaming purists believe that “true” retro gaming means only original cartridges and hardware should be used for the best gaming experience. However, these old hardware pieces may be quite expensive! Rare ones can fetch thousands of euros in auctions! 

New retro gaming hardware 

There are three types of new hardware for retro gaming:

Official retro gaming consoles 

With the increasing popularity of retro gaming companies like Nintendo and Sega have invested money into the R&D, design, manufacturing, marketing and shipping of these devices. Some examples of popular new retro gaming consoles are:

  • SEGA Genesis Mini 
  • SNES Classic
  • Capcom Home Arcade 
  • Playstation Classic
  • Nintendo Switch (not designed specifically for retro gaming but can play classic Nintendo games if you have a paid Nintendo Switch Online membership)
  • NES Classic
  • Atari Flashback X (there are many versions in the Flashback series, including portable ones)


An emulator is hardware or software that enables one computer system to behave like another computer system. Simply said, you can use your new laptop system to play as if you’re using an old console! 

There are basically two types of emulators when it comes to playing retro games: emulator software that you run on your PC and emulator websites or online emulators. The main difference between the two is that you have to download the software if you want to play the games offline while you have to stay online if you want to use the online emulators. 

Emulator websites are probably the most common way that casual retro gaming fans access their favourite games of yesteryear. However, the games may take time to load and you may also be bombarded with ads! (If you want to skip the downtime, you’re better off playing retro games like Mario Brothers and Sonic the Hedgehog on new devices like the Nintendo Switch!)

Nintendo switch retro

If you’d like to try out or get into retro games the easy (and legal) way and start playing dozens of the classics at a very affordable price, check out the products in our retro game console section. 

A final reminder about online safety 

Whether you’re shopping for new consoles or playing your retro games, make sure that you stay safe online! You can learn more about this with CyberSafeIreland and you can also read our other blog posts with practical tips on how to protect yourself and your loved ones.

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