The Retro Gaming Archive is a project that seeks to play and review every video game ever created in chronological order. How will we do this without going insane? We’re glad you asked.
Chronological order – sort of
We debated starting from the beginning – 1972-ish, with the release of the Odyssey and Pong in arcades – and moving forward chronologically from there. The more we thought about that option, the more our souls quivered. The 70s and early-to-mid 80s are truly the wild west of gaming. Quality control was scant. Bad games overtook the industry in such a way that it almost collapsed. No, we won’t be forcing ourselves through that nonsense all at once.
In order to thoroughly enjoy this project, we will alternate consoles. We might play a stint of Famicom/NES games before heading over to the Sega CD or PS1 or Neo*Geo. No matter what console we play, we’ll progress through it in chronological order.
The further back in time the game was released, the harder it is to pinpoint exact release dates. Since the 1980s, Japan has done an excellent job with providing exact release dates, to the day. America and Europe, not so much until the early 2000s. We will do the best we can with the latter. For a game that has multiple release dates in different territories – let’s say a game released in March in Japan and October in the US – we will use the earlier of the two release dates in determining when to review the game.
Every video game, if possible
When we say “every video game,” we’re not just giving ourselves a lofty goal. We truly do mean every video game. Every console game. Every PC game. Every arcade game (actual game, not UFO catchers and pachinko machine). We are realists, though. We’re starting with console games only, because Lord knows there’s enough of them. When we say “consoles,” we mean home consoles that allow you to switch out cartridges or discs. Dedicated consoles that come with many games pre-installed (such as the Odyssey series or the NES Classic, among hundreds of others) will not be covered, at least initially. Arcade reviews will appear intermittently, but we will be not as chronologically strict with these. PC reviews will come at a hopefully-sooner-than-later date.
That said, some games might be out of our reach. Perhaps they’re too expensive, too rare, unable to play through emulation, unable to obtain a physical copy, and so on. If this is the case, we will discuss the game with what information we have, and move on to the next one.
How will we play?
We will play games primarily one of two ways: emulation or official release. Obviously, the latter is preferable, but it isn’t always reasonable, given inflated prices, faulty hardware/software, and general scarcity of certain games.
Officially licensed games are a given. Unlicensed games are to-be-determined. Japanese games that don’t have an English translation will be reviewed when we: a) hire a Japanese speaker/reader to review them or b) if they don’t need any Japanese comprehension to play. Hacks and homebrews might be covered at some point, but not any time soon. Porn games/salacious titles of any kind (FMV, hentai, etc.) will not be covered.
Just written reviews for now
The Archive is going to focus on the written word for the time being (reviews and books), but we do see podcasts and videos in our immediate future.
Posting as much as possible
There will be weeks where we post multiple reviews, sometimes on a daily basis. There will be weeks where we might not post anything. This depends on our schedule. If we think we won’t be posting anything for awhile, we will notify you.
Different versions of the same game
We all know that games often have multiple versions released across numerous platforms. Take the original Donkey Kong, for example. In addition to its original arcade release, the game was released on the Famicom/NES, Game & Watch, Atari 2600, Intellivision, ColecoVision, Coleco Mini-Arcade, Atari 8-bit computers, TI-99, IBM PC, VIC-20, C64, MSX, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, Famicom Disk System, Atari 7800, e-Reader, Game Boy Advance, all three Virtual Consoles, NES Online, and the NES Classic/Famicom Mini. Now some of these versions are quite different from each other, and as such, they will warrant their own separate review. However, those that are very similar to each other (NES, Game Boy Advance, Virtual Console, etc) will be discussed in one larger review.
Sections of the website
Larger console manufacturers, like Atari, Nintendo, Sega, Sony and Microsoft will have their own sections with specific names. “Nintendo is Great,” “Sega Does,” “Polygon Symphonies,”etc. These sections will be hubs for information about all games released on these platforms. Once these sections are more or less complete, we will start making sections for other consoles.
Rules subject to change
These rules are a tentative template, a pattern. We are not sure if this pattern will satisfy and suffice over the next however long it takes to complete this project. If we enjoy reviewing games in this manner, we will continue to do so. If it proves to be too cumbersome, annoying, and/or we just want to try something different, we will do so. Should we change anything, we will let you know.
The Retro Gaming Archive is a dream of mine that will not go away. Believe me, I’ve tried. I’ve told myself that this is a stupid idea, that nobody reads game reviews anymore, and why even bother? And yet, as much as I’ve wanted to agree with the naysayers in my head, not even their continual pessimism can stop this desire.
I love the idea of an enormous catalog of reviews that document games from every country. I love the idea of exploring games in chronological order. The very notion appeals to me on some deep, primal level that I can’t explain; it always has.
I’ve taken on ridiculous gaming quests before. I’ve reviewed every NES game. I’ve reviewed a good chunk of the Sega console catalog (with a large amount to go). I know what it’s like to set a seemingly insurmountable goal for myself. I’ve succeeded and I’ve failed.
The Archive is my Final Quest. Once one decides to review every video game in chronological order (ish), there’s really nowhere to go from there. Yes, this will be challenging. Yes, there will be days where I’ll want to shut everything down. I’ve had those days before with other gaming quests. They will pass.
For now, I’m excited to take the journey, and I hope you’ll take it with me!
– Dylan Cornelius, Founder and Head Curator of the Retro Gaming Archive