How Playing Retro Games Helped Overcome My COVID-19 Stress

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The COVID-19 pandemic affected millions of people and disrupted life on a global scale.

Lockdowns, restrictions, event cancellations and mask wearing had become a common thing and because of the spread of the virus, our movements had been restricted and there was little we could do but hope that the situation improved.

In Australia, after it looked like we had the virus under control, the Delta virus came along and lockdowns and restrictions returned. Going out was banned, with the exception of shopping and take away foods, with some taking to working from home.

All of this definitely caused stress on lot of people, myself included. However, I was able to keep calm and use the time to enjoy myself and engage in other activities and that also included playing retro games that were popular during my childhood.

Before the lock down occurred in Australia, I was able to purchase a Raspberry Pi RetroPie which thankfully had the games pre-loaded. Of course, it was expensive but I was able to pay for it. It took a while to arrive from UK but when I received it, plugged it in and played it for the first time, I had a big smile and a sense of satisfaction that it was worth the cost.

It took a while to arrive from UK but when I received it, plugged it in and played it for the first time, I had a big smile and a sense of satisfaction that it was worth the cost.

The RetroPie unit covers almost all of the platforms that I had played and remembered hearing about from my childhood: the Sega Genesis, NES, Dreamcast, and even the very old consoles such as MSX, Atari 7800, etc. The only disappointment I had was that Sega Saturn wasn’t included but given how difficult it is to emulate Saturn games that was understandable.

There was also an arcade section featuring many games that I had played before and some that I was playing for the first time. Upon seeing the list of games, my jaw dropped to the floor and I knew instantly that I was going to have fun.

Then the lockdown began in Australia, and I was glad that I was able to get the RetroPie before it was too late.

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Now, I was able to enjoy games that I remembered from my childhood: Donkey Kong, King of Fighters, Sonic, Mega-Man, and more. I enjoyed the Japanese import games that I had never played before; I discovered tons of arcade games that I had never seen before, so much so that I wished that I had a time travel machine to travel back in time and feel the sensation of inserting coins in the machines to start the games.

I was also able to play the PC-Engine games that I had desired so much to play in my childhood but never got to because it was only popular in Japan. I was also able to enjoy the N64 and PS1 games such as Mario Kart, Gran Turismo, and many others. I had so much fun playing them with my dad, who stayed with me when the lockdown occurred, recalling good memories from when I was a kid. In fact, I remember many Neo-Geo arcade games that were there in Bangladesh as it was quite popular at that time.

I had so much fun playing them with my dad, who stayed with me when the lockdown occurred, recalling good memories from when I was a kid.

Thus, the RetroPie had really helped me, providing tons of fun and entertainment in addition to the movies that we watched which helped us get through during lockdown.

Not only was I happy, emulation also played a role in helping to reduce my mental stress during the COVID lockdown. Popular emulators such as MAME (arcade emulator), Kawaks (Neo Geo, CPS1 and CPS2 emulator), nullDC (Dreamcast emulators), etc. all helped me enjoy a ton of games.

Whether I feel like beating bad guys in an arcade game or go on a rally race in the Dreamcast, the emulators I had were there to give me a good experience on my laptop. Sure, the games may not be 100% accurate, but I didn’t mind the occasional glitch or slowdown that comes with playing games in an emulator. Meanwhile, save states helped me to pick up where I left off.

Buying an arcade machine, a classic console, or even the original games becomes very expensive as their prices rise drastically. So, the emulators are the only way to go unless you are very serious about collecting the gear.

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Kawaks v1.46

Of course, I still play them for an hour or little longer, depending on my schedule, but being able to enjoy playing those games has helped in lifting my mood during and since the long COVID lockdowns.

The situation has gone back to normal now and the restrictions are lifted but I will never ever forget the times that I was able to enjoy playing those retro games on RetroPie and emulators.