May 23 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Console favourites Sonic and Mario are among the guides on an interactive journey through nearly 35 years of gaming currently on show in Norwich.
A retro arcade at Fusion at the Forum charts the evolution of gaming from its pixellated origins through to the cutting-edge technology of today – and allows gamers to try their hand at some console classics.
James Coates, who has organised the exhibition, said the aim was to chart the history of consoles in a fun and accessible way.
And the arcade, which opened last week, has already proved a hit with all ages, from adults rediscovering the games of their youth to children left amazed at the primitive graphics endured by their 1980s counterparts.
Mr Coates said: “The reactions from the kids are really interesting: a lot of them go to the older games first.
“There aren’t as many menus or buttons, and they know what they have to do – they are simpler, but they get the concept of the game quickly.”
He said he had paired each console with one of its “iconic” games – Super Mario Bros 3 and Duck Hunt for the NES, or Sonic the Hedgehog on the Sega Megadrive – but also included sometimes-forgotten consoles like the Sega DreamCast and Nintendo Game Cube.
The arcade has seen “a lot of father-and-son bonding”, he added, with parents showing their children the games they grew up with.
“The parents pick the games up straight away, and remember all the cheats immediately. It doesn’t go away,” he said.
“But we’ve tried to be a bit educational by putting up a timeline on the wall, so they can see how things have changed.”
This year’s arcade, in association with Game, is the third to be held at Fusion and the biggest to date, though plans are already afoot to expand next year.
“The Atari, which dates to the late 1970s, is about as far back as we’ve gone, but we might be expanding next year, possibly taking in early home computers as well,” said Mr Coates, who said the arcade had a serious purpose too.
“Lots of colleges now do computer game design courses, and it’s one of the areas where Britain still leads the world, so this feeds into that too.”
Mark and Roz Edwards, on holiday in Norfolk from Gloucestershire, brought their children Cerys, eight, and Oliver, five, to enjoy the games.
Mr Edwards said: “I remember all the way back to Pong on the Atari, but the first proper console I had was the Playstation.
“The old consoles are still great, and still a lot of fun to play, even for the kids.”
Anthony Steele, a 35-year-old from Brundall, was at the arcade sharpening his Space Invader skills yesterday.
He said: “My first console was a Sega Megadrive, and I remember doing a paper round to save up for it.
“That was what started me off. Then I outgrew it and became a computer geek.”
The Retro Arcade is at the Forum from 10am to 5pm, Monday to Saturday, until August 18.