Buying Retro Games: Original or Re-Release?

If you’re looking to buy a classic retro game, should you pick up the (often more expensive) original version, a modern re-release or remastered version?

Have you ever walked into a game store and noticed that they stock a retro version and re-release of the same title?  I am sure most adult gamers have encountered this situation at some point, which then creates a dilemma: which version should you buy?  Sure, the original retro version would be pretty awesome from a nostalgia perspective, but sometimes you just want to play a classic game on a modern console with improved graphics and features.

Is it necessary to own every version of a game? I own Super Mario Bros. on the NES, Super Mario All-Stars (which includes Super Mario Bros.) on the SNES, and Super Mario Bros. Deluxe on the Game Boy Color. That’s three copies of the same title. Each version of the game offers a different experience, using different controllers and hardware and with slightly different graphics, controls, and features.  In a strange way, these minor differences make them unique.

Mario jumping over lava

But, if you’re looking to buy a classic retro game, should you pick up the (often more expensive) original version, a modern re-release or remastered version?

Original Games

Original games give a nostalgic experience with retro consoles. Adult gamers especially will relish playing the games they enjoyed in their youth in the way that they were originally intended to be played. Some of the best video games in history are retro games – fact! The original versions still hold their quality to this day. Retro games such as Sonic the Hedgehog are still enjoyable to play to this day.

Sonic running forward.

Furthermore, you may need to purchase a “modern” retro console to play your original retro games on modern TVs. Many classic consoles such as the NES and Sega Genesis cannot be played on an HD (or later) television. There are many “modern” retro consoles on the market from various companies which come with the functionality to play games on modern TVs.  Some of the best are:

  • Analogue Super Nt
  • RetroN 1 by Hyperkin
  • Sega Genesis Flashback

However, sometimes buying the original version of retro games isn’t the best option.  Some retro games have flaws, such as glitches due to errors in the programming which could not be fixed with patches (as much as we hate patches today, they do have their advantages). This may ruin your experience. A re-release or collection may be better options, as developers normally fix bugs when they are creating a re-release version of a title. Modern versions also generally run smoother than the original games on original consoles due to better hardware being available today.

Game Re-Releases and Remasters

The current trend for many companies such as Capcom and Nintendo is remastering or recreating classic games for modern consoles. Sometimes, developers completely recreate every detail from retro games. They often feature upgraded graphics, controls, and features.  As an added bonus, you don’t need to own any retro hardware to enjoy the re-released titles.

Link fighting an enemy in a gorgeous remake.

I recommend the following re-releases, which are exceptional cases of games being re-developed for a new generation:

Then There’s Retro Games Being Included in Collections

Almost every major video game franchise has collections of titles on a single disk. The perk is you can not only play classic titles on modern consoles but you usually also get every game in a series. Collections typically include special content such as art galleries, special videos, and music boxes. Unreleased titles may also be included in the package to lure your wallet.

Solid Snake standing in the rain.

I recommend buying the following collections, many of which are from recent years, but a few are amazing gems from previous generations that are worth buying:

  • MegaMan Anniversary Collection (GameCube, PS2, Xbox)
  • Metal Gear Solid HD Collection
  • Super Mario All-Stars Limited Edition

Of course, a significant downside to collections is you may already own some or all of the games that are included, which significantly reduces the incentive to pick them up.

And, What About Digital Versions of the Games?

In this day and age, many titles are available for purchase as digital games from online stores. You simply buy the game and download it to your console’s hard drive. Digital games are the most convenient form of gaming; you only need to turn on your console and select the game from the console’s menu. They require no disk or cartridge. You do not need to worry about scratches on disks or dust in a cartridge.

Furthermore, many digital versions of retro games are cheaper than physical copies, especially when it comes to rarer titles. Generally, digital games only cost a few dollars, whereas a physical copy of a popular game may cost more than $20. Sealed copies of retro games cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. You do not need to break your bank with digital games.

Final Thoughts

Whether you opt for the original versions of retro games or the multitude of other options available with you will depend on what kind of a gamer you are.

I do not recommend digital games for collectors. The purpose of a collection is to have physical copies. There is not any value in a digital copy. There is an amazing feeling of happiness and pride when you buy a physical copy of a game and can add it to your growing collection.

If you’re not a collector, then it can be difficult to choose the best version of a game to purchase. Consider all of your needs and wants before purchasing a title with a variety of versions. Pick the right choice for you. The best advice is to play every version of a game. They all offer a different experience, and you can discover the best version of your favorite title.  Price will always be a consideration, but the experience is more important.