As the race to release the next generation of video game consoles comes to a photo-finish extravaganza of cutting edge technology and universe-expanding games, the most prized possessions of the videogame enthusiast are not coming from the high street stores but from car boot sales and internet auctions. Once again, Sir Clive Sinclair is racing down the final stretch at the heels of newcomer giants Microsoft and Sony, with many other old campaigners like Atari, Commodore and Amstrad in hot pursuit.
But with the world's leading technology now being produced by videogame manufacturers rather than NASA, how can twenty-year-old budget range electronics even compete? Well, the modern gamer is not easily impressed by flashy visuals, stunning sound and galaxy-sized games, and is calling out for an aspect that should lie at the heart of all games and is indifferent to appearance: fun.
The pick-up-and-play appeal of the old games allows players to jump straight into the action with an instinctive sense of purpose, bypassing the need to wade through instruction manuals of epic proportions and high-budget, ponderous cut-scenes that frustratingly, in many cases, cannot be skipped.
The new Eurogamer Retro channel has arisen to celebrate the old games and the machines which played them. For launch, a selection of our favourite games for the ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64 camp have seen their dust-coated cassette cases rescued from the confines of the attic and loaded at excruciatingly slow speed onto their respective 8-bit machines. With the somewhat familiar dulcet loading screeches of each game floating harmoniously on the thrice stale breeze, a joystick in one hand and an insane grin of nostalgic bliss painted across our faces, the Eurogamer crew set about determining what actually made these 8-bit games any good.
A nod has also been given to our favourite selection of arcade titles dating pre-1986. The 8-bit architecture of the home computers could only dream of pushing as many pixels in as many colours so gracefully around a screen of such high resolution. But to be fair to the 8 bits, in time they tried to emulate their arcade brethren, and in many cases succeeded remarkably well.
The retro channel will evolve. As we move focus to the games of the 16-bit era and beyond, we will continue to expand on the generation before, exploring the nuances that makes the gaming of our past such a happy, retrotastic place to be.