I have a strange relationship with retro games; I love them, and I hate them. I love them because they bring me back to my childhood; long summer days in Orange County with the windows open, a pile of snacks, and Red Baron, Wing Commander, or something equally enjoyable pumping out of my SoundBlaster.
On the other hand, as I’ve grown older I’ve learned the lesson that many people in their 30’s do; you can’t go back to your childhood. My collection of 80’s and 90’s PC games numbered in the hundreds, and I had the systems that could run them. However, when I would load a game up I felt a certain emptiness and sadness. No longer was I an energetic 14 year old experiencing some fantastic games for the first time, I was an adult re-playing games with outdated graphics, user interfaces, and storytelling. Those classic games didn’t get worse with age, the gameplay experiences they offered had already been enjoyed, all they offered me as an adult were memories. Then about 8 years ago I discovered the joy of Retro Gamer, a magazine that fetishizes the games I grew up with without the disappointment of trying to re-live the past. Through the magazines’ glossy pages full of trivia, anecdotes, and oversized screenshots I was able to have my memory jogged just enough to experience the joy they offered, without the disappointment aged reality. A couple years ago I finally sold my entire game and console collection in an effort to move on and enjoy some new games; to create new memories. I still read Retro Gamer and other books and magazines on old game, but now it’s out of remembrance rather than longing.
And with that we come to Commodore 64: A Visual Commpendium, a new book that not only features a clever typo, but aims to visualize the memory of the Commodore 64’s glory days without the pitfalls of trying to experience them again. If successfully Kickstarted the book is set to contain a ton of information on the visual joys of the classic system, complete with tons of screenshots, artwork, and game maps. The inclusion of some loader art, especially the more abstract kind, is a little surprising and a welcome change from other books in the retro game genre.
Sam Dyer, the man in charge of putting the book together, emphasizes that he’s devoted to making the end-product as high quality as possible, including using more expensive local printers so he can properly harass them if something isn’t perfect.
Even if you’ve never used a Commodore 64 you should give the Commodore 64: A Visual Commpendium Kickstarter a look. The system may not be a part of your gaming memories, but its games are part of our shared heritage as gamers, and while we can’t live in the past we can certainly honor it.
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