Here at CalmDownTom, there is a constant pull between gamings past and its future. For every new release we preview and enthuse about, there is an old game that we want to reminisce over and even go back and experience again. Every gamer has missed amazing games for one reason or another, whether they were cult games that never found an audience or niche titles that didn’t get the marketing love they deserved. We have spent as much time shining a light on those overlooked titles as we have on promoting new releases, and our “You should have played” features have showcased games from many different console generations and genres, from Moonstone on the Amiga to The Ship on PC.
During times of creative stagnation in the music industry, artists will look backwards to periods of creative fertility for inspiration. In the games industry the same thing is happening to gamers who are no longer satisfied with military shooters and big budget games created by focus groups and committees. Instead, they look back at retro titles for their entertainment. Gamers are going back to classic titles to experience all the great game design and creativity offered by the previous generation of consoles best games. Who wants to play the mediocre Final Fantasy 13 when they can go back and play the far more ambitious and involving Final Fantasy 6? Who wants to play the newest Madden on PS3 when they have such fond memories of the simpler, more enjoyable versions on the Sega Genesis?
Gamers willingness to go back and experience these games all over again has led to the proliferation of emulators and retro re-releases on mobile devices, but these suffer their own problems. Remakes sometimes lose the charm and feel of the originals and are often priced highly to exploit the nostalgia of the fans who may already own the original in a form they can no longer play. Meanwhile, the mobile devices may emulate the original games, but they lack the physical controls that are required for satisfying play. Speedball 2 and NBA Jam may be nicely remade on iPhone, but playing them with a touchscreen D-Pad is far from satisfactory.
Into this market comes Blaze with the Game Gadget. Its a device aimed at those gamers who want retro games as well as new releases with physical controls. An open source device, it looks to have a slick user interface and a sturdy design with technical specs good enough to play most games a retro gamer would demand. Most excitingly, it required almost no conversion work from studios meaning that it will play games in their original form. These should be available at a decent price through the consoles digital store. Its a far cry from Apple’s locked down approach, with an integrated SD Card reader and an open OS. The potential for the device won’t be limited by what the console manufacturers choose to offer; the open source nature means the community could make some amazing things on this new device.
Most impressive of all? The £99.99 price tag.
We hope to feature the Game Gadget once we get a review unit soon. In the meantime, have a look at the video below: