Obselete or Awesome?

October 17, 2010

I have an awful lot of old technology kicking around. Most of it is technology of a gaming nature. There are my parents’ gaming consoles that are older than me, the Gameboy colour that’s been in service for over a decade, and the slightly newer Gameboy advance.

Now, when these things came out, they were so cutting-edge, so amazing. The 1985 Nintendo, I’m told, was stunning in that you could actually change the game.  No need to play the same games at the arcade- you can just pop in a new cartridge! Now, these cartridges are about the size of my hand, and the best “fix” if they misbehave is blowing along the bottom in an optimistic attempt to dislodge dust. But you know what? 95% of the time, they still work. Okay, the “Duck Hunt” guns have long ceased functioning, but everything else has survived the years amazingly intact.

Ditto for the Gameboys. Now those were amazing, because you could take them along with you. Game time was anytime! My favourite aspect of the Gameboy Colour? Well, aside from the improvement in graphics (Pokemon Gold and Silver were in multiple colours!), you could actually link up to other people.

Despite the high-tech nature of the link cable, it was still a nailbiting experience. We hunched over our Gameboys, one hand keeping the cable firmly wedged into the drive, breath held until the trade or battle was over. Because so many things could go wrong. If it slipped at the wrong moment, the Pokemon you were trading might vanish, lost somewhere in the link. Or else your character might be stuck in the battle room. There was always the feeling of tempting fate, of sheer relief when we pulled it off. You don’t get that with the internet linkups nowadays.

As awesome as the Gameboy Colour was, the Gameboy Advance had two major innovations. All right, three.

  1. The cartridges were half the size.
  2. The screen was backlit. You could play in the dark. Without another light or anything!
  3. It folded up, and was therefore very cool and portable.

Otherwise, same basic machine. As I’ve aged, maybe I notice the graphics are still pretty bad. And the music… well, I think Gameboy music could be its own genre. But it still holds its own against the DSs and other new gizmos. There didn’t seem to be as high a degree of “planned obsolesence.” These things were built to last, and last they did.

One day, all our current electronic gadgets will be obsolete. But will they still work as well? Will they be able to hold their own and continue to function, even if only for nostalgia’s sake? I don’t know. All I know is that the old devices are tanks of technology, and I don’t see them breaking down anytime soon.



One comment

  1. I will date myself by going back a generation further, to the Atari 2600 my dad got for us in 1979. At a whopping 64 X 64 pixels, it didn’t provide much detail, and the sounds effects were primitive, but oh my, the hours of fun we had with Asteroids, Space Invaders, and Breakout. Believe it or not, the Atari Classics is one of MY kids’ favorite cartridges for their cutting edge new game system. The allure is still there!

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