During a night to reminisce over the “good old days,” a number of gamers showed up with their consoles from the late 90s and early 2000s at Jeddah’s Game Park on Saturday.
Owner of Game Park, Bandar Rouzi, opened the gaming space three months ago.
“My friends and I would usually go to cafes or rent a space for gaming, and I decided to create Game Park,” he said. “The numbers of visitors are increasing day by day.”
He said that he wants classic video games to make a comeback.
“We welcome anything related to gaming. I have been playing these old SEGA and Nintendo games for a long time. I want them to make a comeback and for people to play them because they hold such dear memories.”
Retro games are popular abroad but Saudis are nostalgic, he said. “I think we (Saudis) hold on to old things more than others. Whenever we find something old that we love, we keep it and take care of it, and relive some memories with it.”
Some of the retro games of the event include Street Fighters, Tekken, Mortal Combat, Crash Bandicoot, Super Mario, Pac-Man, Need for Speed, and Resident Evil.
“People still play these games and there are tournaments for them,” he said, adding that they are using all of PlayStation’s consoles, Sega and the old Super Nintendo consoles, as well as the family computer.
Ziyad Felemban, who works at Xentrics, a gaming electronic sports center in Jeddah, said such events are an opportunity for gamers to connect with each other.
“In these events, gamers can talk about their interests. If someone talked to me about cars, I wouldn’t be that interested, but if someone talked to me about gaming, we could start a conversation there,” he said.
Felemban said the beauty of retro games is their simplicity. “The first game I played was Sonic the Hedgehog 2 on the Sega Mega Drive — they call it Genesis in the US — I remember when I was a child, games used to be so simple; all you had to do is turn left or right plus press another button. It didn’t have all these instructions (as is the case with the new games).”
Ahmed Melibari, a computer scientist and graphic designer who is a veteran gamer, said that what today’s generation mostly has in common is gaming.
“Back in my day, not many were interested in electronic games. These days, video games have become a unique language between all gamers,” he said.
Melibari kept and took good care of his consoles from 1999.
“I call them treasure. I have always loved collecting these devices since my childhood. The first gaming device I owned was an MSX, and I bought every other device that came after it and collected them,” he said.
The Sega Mega Drive is the oldest device he owns from 1999.
“I bought it as soon as it was released in the market. It was very rare that someone buys a device from Sega. In the 90s, there was a debate about the best console in the market, much like today with the Sony 4 and Xbox One. Back in my day it was between Sega and Super Nintendo,” he said.
Melibari is very attached to his classic games and consoles. “They are the reason I entered the computer science world, programming and graphic design,” he said.
Classic games were better than the new ones, he said. “There was more depth to their stories.”
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