It's time for another issue of On the Download, our monthly feature about downloadable games and content. This is my first time covering this column, and I was a bit perplexed as to what to discuss. I'm not exactly a hardcore PC gamer, but Andrew already covered that perspective a few issues ago. Do I dabble in the occasional indie bundle? Sure, but that's more Jason's domain. So what's a poor Co-Optimus editor to do in this situation?
A great piece of advice I've heard often is "write about what you know". If I were to have an area of expertise amongst the Co-Optimus staff, it probably would be classic video games. I was born right around the same time as video games were created, and have had a gaming console available in my home for 30 years now. But how do old school games and downloadable content have anything to do with one another?
More than you might think! The era of Xbox Live, Playstation Network, Steam, and other downloadable content services is like a new golden age of classic gaming. For years, the only way to play the best games of the 80s and 90s was by tracking down a dusty old console. Craving the innovative beat em up River City Ransom? Better find a copy of the game and working NES. Streets of Rage 2 more your thing? Hope you kept your Genesis.
Depending on the rarity of the game you were interested in, there could often be a significant financial investment in a classic game. For myself, Radiant Silvergun was a holy grail of sorts. It was considered by many to be the greatest game in the genre. But to play it in any way, you had to first own a Sega Saturn, and these weren't exactly commonly available in garage sales like other classic consoles. Then, you'd have to pay a premium for an import copy of the game. Radiant Silvergun had a market value in the hundreds of dollars for many years. I didn't want to spend a car payment's worth of my budget on any game, no matter how good it was supposed to be.
So, up until the relatively recent past, classic gaming was a bit of a hassle. Hooking up several different consoles to your TV, storing two or more controllers for each system, and often paying a premium for vintage games kept many folks out of the hobby. For the more casual fan, playing the classic games of the past again was simply too much trouble. But when the era of downloadable content arrived, all that changed.