I’ve been on a small retro kick of late, in no small part to the potential of Game Room.

I have a spot spot for the Atari 2600, Intellivision and arcade games of old. They had such a cool feel to them, and I’ve actually ordered a few of those old game catalogs from Atari 2600.com. For you younger gamers, video games back then actually came with small books with the full library of games from said company (Atari, Activision, Mattel, Coleco, Imagic, Parker Bros., etc). They had full artwork, talked about games, accessories, upcoming games…. The closest thing some may remember are posters from the NES/Master System days which did essentially the same thing. This died out towards the end of the 16-bit era, and it’s one of the things I miss the most from the old days.

I’m rambling a little bit, but this is part of the “old game nostalgia” for me past emulations and compilation discs that we see today.

Game Room has some potential, if they choose to do things properly. But there are a few factors that will likely gauge its success.

* How are they going to re-release games that are already on XBLA? I’m admittedly disappointed that I can’t move my Pac-Man, Time Pilot and Tron games into little arcade cabinets for my virtual room. One would think they’d find a way to compensate for this. Perhaps not getting the specific game achievements (though Game Room does have achievements), but at least just setting a pre-bought game in there for fun.

* Who is going to support it? So far, it’s Atari, Konami, Intellivision and based off early screens, Activision? The question is, will Activision release the Imagic games that they own the rights to on the service? Sega, Taito, Capcom, Namco-Bandai, and Tecmo all seem like realistic contenders, but how “authentic” of an old-school experience can we hope for? How far into gaming history are we going to go? Just the 1980’s? The early/mid 1990’s?

* Will there be other systems? What about the 8-bit and 16-bit days? While Nintendo’s specific properties are under the “forget it” status, what about some of those great 8-bit classics the third-parties released? It would make since Game Room is somewhat cheating already by adding the 2600 and Intellivision to the mix. Those were home systems, so in my mind, anything goes.

* What about the “lost” games?
Midway comes to the forefront of this question, especially since any support they gave was yanked from XBLA recently. They hold a LOT of arcade classics: Defender, Joust, Robotron 2084, Root Beer Tapper, Spy Hunter, Rampage…. That’s not even counting the Atari titles they had in their catalog: Gauntlet, Marble Madness, Toobin’, Paperboy…. And then what about classics from the time from other companies, such as Q*Bert, Burgertime, Mr. Do, Berzerk, Lady Bug, Crossbow…. Some of today’s companies own the rights to a few of these, but will they participate in this? What about the ones who aren’t “owned” by anyone? Will they remain lost in time?

* Can we properly visit our friend’s arcade?
We’ve already connected with our friends. Can we just hang out and play their games?

* How much of a “Game Room” are we talking here? Any chance to get some virtual skeeball, pool, or air hockey? Can we talk Farsight (who made my favorite Pinball Hall of Fame games) to toss in a few classic pinball titles? The mind wonders….

I think Game Room will succeed largely in providing content lost to the ages, or that can’t be bought on multiple compilation discs already. It’s also going to depend on how “authentic” they want to try and be. I’ve seen the Adventure dragon cruise around the arcade, and can’t help but wonder what else they’ll have in store to liven up the place.

I guess we’ll find out the definitive answer next week….

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