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Ninterview: Australian Retro Gamer

Posted by Damien McFerran

Retro gaming from down under

The next subject in our Ninterview chair is a retro gaming fanatic from Down Under known as Australian Retro Gamer - or ausretrogamer, for short. We caught up with this internet phenomenon to quiz him on his love of all things retro and Nintendo.

Nintendo Life: Who are you, and what do you do for a living?

Australian Retro Gamer: My name is Alex; I am a 30-something IT Consultant. My aspirations are to become a freelance journalist writing about retro gaming. This is where ‘ausretrogamer’ comes into play. ausretrogamer is my outlet for sharing my passion of old video gaming systems.

NL: What was your first gaming experience?

ARG: My earliest memory of gaming was seeing a shiny new Atari 2600 on the shelves at a department store. I recall begging my parents for one, but at a cost of a few hundred dollars (a lot of money in the early '80s), there was no chance. Instead, my parents bought me the Hanimex 666T, the perfect Pong machine. It did the trick for a while, but I knew I wanted a console or home computer to play the popular games at the time (Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Galaxian and the like). I was also partial to table top games (especially Astro Wars) and Nintendo’s Game & Watch series. I would drool watching other kids with their Donkey Kong Multi-Screen. Once again, due to the premium price of Nintendo products, my parents got me Crazy Kong, a Game & Watch knock-off - which I still have.

NL: You've amassed a pretty stunning collection of gaming items. When did you start collecting, and what inspired you to do so?

ARG: I never really considered myself as a collector. I would describe myself as an enthusiast.

I have always had some sort of video gaming system in the house since 1982. I (foolishly) traded or sold systems along the way so I could have the latest and greatest new generation console or home computer. My interest in video gaming started to wane in the late 1990s and I actually sold-off my remaining Sega, Sony and Nintendo systems. I packed up the gear I didn’t sell and stuffed it in the garage at my folk's place.

I re-started my ‘collection’ in 2009 after I bought another Dreamcast (my first Dreamcast was sold to a friend, and I truly missed that console). After that, I got the bug to get the other systems that used to bring me such joy and pleasure as a kid. From there, it grew to obtaining systems I always dreamed of having as a kid (but could not afford). The rest, as they say, is history. Actually, it would be remiss of me to not mention my wife - she has truly indulged me and encourages me to pursue my passion for classic gaming systems.

NL: What's the most valuable item in your collection?

ARG: From a monetary perspective, it is the arcade machine. In terms of sentimental value, it has to be the C64; it has been with me since 1986.

NL: Is there an item you'd love to acquire but haven't so far?

ARG: The ultimate would be the SX64, but there is also the FM Towns Marty, Vectrex, and the prototype Konix Slipstream (Multi System). These systems go for a pretty penny, so my chance of getting even one of them is quite slim - and the Konix prototype probably doesn’t even exist.

NL: What is it about retro collecting that makes it so appealing?

ARG: It's the nostalgia - it's quite intoxicating. I associate the old gaming systems to a time in my life when I was having fun without any concerns in the world. Ah, to be a kid again. I do get a buzz out of buying something that I have been hunting for a while. The adrenaline rush associated with the transaction is probably on par with someone bungee jumping – it feels great. I often feel like a kid in a candy store.

Video games are now part of mainstream culture, and as a result people are paying more attention to past classics. Do you think vintage games should be given the same exposure and reverence as classic movies, books and albums?

Yes! Vintage games have a way to go before they get the same recognition as the classic movies/books/music but you have to remember, gaming is relatively young compared to the other forms of entertainment, so it is only a matter of time before classic video games get the same appreciation as the classic movies, book, and albums.

NL: What's your favourite Nintendo console?

ARG: Oh man, that is like asking me to pick my favourite child – totally impossible; I love them all the same. However, I spent countless hours on the SNES and N64 - so they would be up there for sure.

NL: And your favourite Nintendo game or franchise?

ARG: Nintendo are masters of creating enduring games and franchises. I always played on Sega hardware when I wanted a quick fix of one of their arcade conversions. But, when it came to playing for hours, it was Nintendo and the obvious game choice was Mario. From playing Mario on the Game & Watch to playing him on the latest hardware (3DS XL / Wii U), he never lets me down. If I had to choose one game, it would be Super Mario World on the SNES - it was (and still is) the perfect 2D platformer.

NL: You recently paid a visit to the Nintendo Store in New York - what was that experience like?

ARG: Visiting the Nintendo World store was an amazing experience. I actually went back to the store three times while staying in NYC! The ground floor had all the latest Nintendo wares that you could play and experience. For me though, the highlight was upstairs. Once you hit the second level and you go past the Nintendo clothing and toys (which I stocked up on), it’s like stepping into a Nintendo museum. There were glass cabinets housing old Nintendo hardware and cards, as well as their famous franchises. I took many photos and videos and have dumped them on my Facebook page for all to enjoy.

NL: What's the gaming scene like in Australia?

ARG: The gaming scene in Australia is alive and well, there are even a number of TV shows on mainstream channels. We recently had the ‘Game Masters’ exhibition at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) which proved extremely successful. We also have the PAX event coming to Australia. It will be the first international PAX event, and it will be right here in my hometown. I am in discussion with the PAX guys in regards to my involvement with this event. It should be huge. The retro gaming scene is still gathering momentum. This is where I want to help to promote retro gaming to get it on par with the entire gaming scene. We need to get people to come out of the retro gaming closet and share in this wonderful experience.

NL: What are your thoughts on the Wii U?

ARG: I have only played the Wii U on demo units. The controller is unbelievable. It is typical Nintendo ingenuity. I will wait for a price drop before I fork out for a unit (unless Nintendo feel generous and send one over to me!).

NL: What's your favourite thing about Nintendo? Why do you rate them so highly?

ARG: Nintendo represents premium and quality video gaming products. It is a brand you can trust. They have been around for a long while now, and I hope they remain in the business for a long while yet. I thank Nintendo for reviving the video games market in the mid '80s. Imagine if they hadn't been there to resuscitate the industry! One thing that always irks me is the erroneous belief that Nintendo only cater for younger players. This is totally unfounded. I know, some games may seem ‘cutesy’, but they are damn addictive to play. I see adults thrashing around with their Wii Remotes all the time!

NL: What elements of Nintendo Life do you like the most?

ARG: I like the fact that Nintendo Life knows how to connect with the gamer – a prime example, this Ninterview. Content is important of course, so I am always devouring the game reviews and (surprise surprise) the retro section. I enjoy the writing style; it is engaging and entertaining - the perfect ingredients.

You can follow Alex on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Ninterviews are a series of interviews where we get to know interesting people with a passion for Nintendo. Please contact us if you have any suggestions for future Ninterviews. Click here to see the full series.

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User Comments (15)



Chunky_Droid said:

Good interview, being an Aussie myself

Might meet up with him at PAX for a beer or two, the older stuff always holds a special place in my heart too



cornishlee said:

Thanks Damien. A good interview and a lot of nostalgia in those photos too (what was the name of that wide guy with the helmet on the action figures shelf? My little brother [or me, I can't be sure] used to have that...).



Matty2310 said:

Good interview.
I also went to the "Game Masters" exhibition. Very good fun for all gamers!



SteveW said:

I agree, the whole idea that Nintendo is just geared towards kids is ridicilous but you can thank a lot of the 360 and PS3 fanboys for promoting that attitude...



KingDunsparce said:

That was a good interview! I hope that retro games will get the attention they deserve in the future.



hYdeks said:

awesome interview! If I didn't sell alot of my gaming stuff through out the year, I would have ALOT of gaming stuff, and zero room to live in lol

@SteveW I think it's ridiculous too, but some people prefer the shooter type "adult" games. I say a game that make a adult interested, and a kid interested and able to play together is a greater thing (Donkey Kong Country Returns, Kirby Return to Dreamland, New Super Mario Bros U etc. etc.)



sr388survivor said:

Actually, it's funny that more kids tend to play "mature" games where as adults often prefer playing Nintendo games. A mature rating doesn't mean it's for mature people and can often mean a very immature game.

Not that there's anything wrong with immature games. I absolutely loved Bulletstorm and I think that may have been written by a 12 year old. lol. It's just ironic.



Capt_N said:

I can personally testify as a young adult that I enjoy Mario, Metroid, & Zelda. I can also personally testify that this past Christmas, I was in a store restroom, washing my hands. A father, & (his) probably-younger-than-7-years-old son walked in. While I was washing, & drying my hands, the dad asked his son what game system he wanted. He replied the X-Box 360 (I think he also said w/ Kinect), while the father suggested to him, & tried to persuade him a 3ds instead. Now granted, this could have been b/c of the 3ds being cheaper of the 2, the father thinking his son would get more enjoyment out of the 3ds as opposed to the Kinect, the father wanting to play the 3ds himself, or perhaps an erroneous thinking that there aren't age-appropriate games on Kinect his son could play, & enjoy. Whatever the reason, I immediately thought of how Nintendo is perceived as kiddy, & I was relatively amused at the father attempting persuasion. I just let a little smile to myself in the mirror in front of me, & walked out. Oh, now I remember, the kid wanted Kinect b/c apparently, his friend's older brother, or someone he knew had one, & he was a cool person, or something.

Like I've said before, topics such as sex, violence, etc. can be touched on in most media, in this case video games, or in a video game's storyline, all the while presenting it only out of necessity, & not throwing it into a player's face; like a sex scene would do, or like an extended murder scene. I wasn't alive back then, but tv from decades ago(like the 1960's for instance), Alfred Hitchcock for example, managed to always frighten people w/o actually showing a murder. You'd see the shadows of it taking place, &/or hear the screams, but that was a perfect way to present it, w/o showing the gore. That's just an example, of course.

As for this guy's collection, he has a nice one. He truly has a nice setup. Glass cases, & all. I especially like his Donkey Kong, & really like his Super Mario Bros. 3 Nelsonic game watches. Those are quite cool, & last I checked, expensive.



Zombie_Barioth said:

Real nice interview, always nice to hear there are other people that can appreciate the classics just as much as the new games. I hate hearing people grip about old games being ugly.

Most kids go through the "thats for babies" stage, but when other people do it its just sad. The fact that you feel the need to prove how "mature" you are just proves how immature you really are. You don't need ultra realistic graphics and buckets of blood and gore to have mature themes or get a point across. By that same token mature-rated games don't need to take themselves too serious either.



grumblegrumble said:

He sounds kind of like me.. hah.. But he has more retro game stuff in his collection, and for that, I'm a little jealous hehe Nice to meet him.



MarioKenny1992 said:

"If I had to choose one game, it would be Super Mario World on the SNES - it was (and still is) the perfect 2D platformer."

I wholeheartedly agree with that statement! Mario has NEVER let me down either, but jeez, Super Mario World is just flawless in every way! It's my favorite game of all time, as well!



julianozuca said:

Terrific guy, I can relate to him in pretty much everything retro-gaming-wise. Now in my 30s I'm starting to dig my old NES favorites from auctions as well since I sold my Atari 2600 for a NES and that NES for a SNES...

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