Cartridges rot in garages, companies hoard demos that they will never release, and obscure titles fade into the nothing. Now, years of neglect are eroding gaming history… and some games may be lost forever.
Here’s the problem.
Over time, game data and features literally die. Solid state media used in game cartridges naturally lose their electrical charge, and the ability to store any data. You might love Pokemon Gold and Silver but the internal battery on those carts only lasts about around fifteen years, maximum. Magnetic media such as floppy discs and hard disc drives lose their orientation over time, eventually erasing the contents.
And for those of you who think it’s not YOUR issue, even DVDs and CDs from the mid nineties are at risk of decay.
For those looking to salvage their retro goodies, it’s not enough to keep old games in a box at the back of the garage. Exposed circuit boards are damaged by dust and bright light, humidity eats away at magnetic media. And sure, some ROM sites and fan collectors copy data directly, but there’s no way to ensure proper preservation of original games.
At this rate, we’re doomed to enjoying imperfect copies of titles like Nintendo 64 version of Mother 3, original Final Fantasy 7, even Kirby. The potential of lost source data or imperfect copies causes very real anxiety for archivists who want to preserve the genuine article.
Make your own solution.
Players should start capturing gameplay videos, record their thoughts on the games, and SHARE IT. We’re going to need to start building an oral history of these games, so that eventually, we’ll be able to salvage and recreate authentically.
Don’t forget, emulators exist too. Gaming companies want you think that “emulations” are illegal, but they’re not, and eventually it may be our only option to get some long lost Kirby play in.