2017 is setting itself up to be the year of the retro plug-n-play.
The SNES Classic is set to launch in late September, along with Atari 2600 and Sega Genesis Flashback consoles. All three are hoping to recapture the NES Classic craze that overtook the gaming market at the end of 2016.
I reached out to Yada Khoongumjorn, product manager at AtGames, which is spearheading the Atari and Genesis projects. Together we talked about retro gaming and the rise of plug-n-play consoles:
GEEKNIFTY: Tell me a little more about your background with retro games. How did you get into gaming, and what were some of your favorite titles?
YADA KHOONGUMJORN: I grew up playing what we would now called retro games so finding my way into this industry seems natural. My favorite games growing up would have to have been: Phantasy Star III,Chrono Trigger, Killer Instinct, nearly any Final Fantasy game, and Altered Beast.
GN: You can find a lot of retro games on modern consoles, but there's obviously a demand for plug-n-play versions of classic games. Why do you think that is?
YK: I think the ease/simplicity of having an all in one console is what is creating the demand. Also the users that want these retro games may not always own modern consoles.
GN: There are about 205 games between the Atari Flashback 8 Gold and the Sega Genesis Flashback. What was the biggest challenge in getting them ready for modern audiences?
YK: There are two areas that come to mind:
First would be obtaining the licenses and rights to the games. This year we were able to secure Pac-Man for our portable units and the entire Activision library that will be featured on a dedicated Activision unit. The second major challenge is production and distribution. We always aim to produce a high enough volume to make sure that our product will be affordable and always be available in the 40,000+ stores that we distribute to.
GN: Were there any titles that you wanted to include in either the Atari Flashback or the Genesis Flashback but couldn't? What were they, and why?
YK: There are plenty of games that we would love to include, but unfortunately obtaining licenses is not always an easy task for a variety of reasons. We believe it's of the utmost importance for the health of the retro gaming community that every game on all of our products is always officially licensed.
GN: "The future of retro gaming" is a bit of an oxymoron, but where do you see classic gamers getting their fix in the next few years?
YK: I can see the current trend lasting well into the future.
GN: Admittedly, I haven't played a lot of games from the 8-bit and 16-bit eras. Where should I start?
YK: For Atari I would suggest: Atari Climber, Pong, River Raid, Pitfall!, Space Invaders, and Yar’s Revenge.
As far as Sega: Any Sonic game, Mortal Kombat, Phantasy Star, and Golden Axe.
You can learn more about AtGames' retro video game offerings by visiting their website.