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Eight-bit excitement is back with a bang: Did Somebody Say Retro? bringing classic games to Wolverhampton

By Heather Large | Wolverhampton | Wolverhampton entertainment | Published:

Collecting coins with Mario, zooming around with Sonic the hedgehog or jumping over obstacles with Donkey Kong - if you grew up in the 1980s and 1990s you will remember playing your first video game.

Retro gamer Shaun Campbell, of Wolverhampton

This was the era when home gaming became commonplace in our living rooms and people were eager to get their hands on the latest Nintendo, Sega or PlayStation.

Today the UK gaming market is worth a record £5.7billion and thanks to constant technological advances and the advent of online gaming, playing are now spoilt for choice more than ever when it comes to indulging in their hobby.

Yet more and more gamers are choosing to relive their youth by brushing the dust off their old consoles and enjoying the eight bit action of their childhood.

"It's fun to go back and play the games we enjoyed as a child because that's when we first got excited about gaming and playing these games gives us those feelings of excitement again.

"People are buying back the consoles they had when they were young or getting them out of the loft," says avid retro gamer Shaun Campbell.

Retro Gaming more popular than ever

Returning to the classics has grown in popularity in recent years, so much so that industry giants such as Nintendo and Sony have even released their own retro mini-gaming consoles.

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"For me whether a game is considered retro or not depends on the age of the person playing. For me retro would be anything I played when I was young. My first console was a NES and I grew up playing that as well as a PlayStation 1 and the original Game Boy," says Shaun, aged 30.

Some of the classic games and equipment collected by retro gamer Shaun Campbell, of Wolverhampton

He now spends a few hours a week going back down memory lane including playing the favourites from his childhood which include Super Mario Bros. 3 on the NES.

"This was the first game I really got into and invested many hours trying to complete. There wasn’t a save feature on nearly all NES games, including this one, so there were several occasions where I would have to leave my NES on overnight so I wouldn’t lose my progress.

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"Looking back, there was something very special about playing a game that you couldn’t save, it made each play through that little bit more exciting," explains Shaun, who lives in Oxley, Wolverhampton.

Crash Bash on the PS1 was another stand out game he remembers from his youth. "Back in the days of the Multitap, if you were a PS1 kid and not N64, you could only play four player games if you had a Multitap.

Some of the classic games and equipment collected by retro gamer Shaun Campbell, of Wolverhampton

"So Crash Bash is where I started to play four player games. Crash Bash is a Crash Bandicoot game, and the first game in the series in the Party genre.

"I’ve had so much fun playing this with my sister and our neighbours, not to mention some tantrums when I lost," says Shaun.

The introduction of new technology also changed the way he played games as he grew up and a made it a more social experience.

"Halo 2 on XBOX was,and still is, an incredible game from start to finish, and also the first game I could play online, back in the old days of dial-up internet.

"Having to wait until the evening so that my parents would let me take over the phone line and join my mates online.

Some of the classic games and equipment collected by retro gamer Shaun Campbell, of Wolverhampton

"Not to mention it was the first time that I could have conversations with people from all over the world, that was pretty amazing," says Shaun.

The office worker, who has now launched his own retro game hire service, believes the games he enjoyed as a teenager still haven't lost their sparkle.

"The graphics are much simpler but that doesn't matter as long as it's a fun game to play. Some games are more complicated now but then some of the older ones were difficult to play too.

"I was playing the original Crash Bandicoot on the PS1 the other week. It's simple visually but it's quite hard to play so it can be challenging," says Shaun.

Donkey Kong II Game & Watch owned by retro gamer Shaun Campbell, of Wolverhampton

For the past five years he has been building up his retro collection and now has at least 300 games for his eight consoles, which also include a Super NES, N64, Nintendo GameCube, Sega Mega Drive, Sega Master System and XBOX, and Game Boys.

He says the big demand for nostalgic games inspired him to start his business - Did Somebody Say Retro? - catering for all kinds of events from weddings to birthday parties.

"I can take along CRT televisions, consoles and games and set them up how people want. I recently held a launch event and the response was amazing.

"It was fantastic to see people of all ages, playing computer games against each other and just having fun," says Shaun.

Some of the games collected by retro gamer Shaun Campbell, of Wolverhampton

He will also sharing his love of retro gaming by hosting monthly events at the Clarendon Hotel, Chapel Ash, Wolverhampton, starting on April 28.

At the event there will be nine different consoles to play on, including the Super Nintendo, Sega Mega Drive and PlayStation 1, as well as a VHS corner with classic TV shows playing throughout the day.

"It's all about tapping into that nostalgia and offering an authentic experience to take people back to their childhood," says Shaun.

Heather Large

By Heather Large
Special projects reporter - @HeatherL_star

Senior reporter and part of the Express & Star special projects team specialising in education and human interest features.

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