Raising a Gamer

Rainy day fun!

While for some of you it seems that winter just won’t quit, Spring is in full bloom in central Florida. I can finally get back outside with the family and enjoy some fresh air and sunshine. This time of year is full of sporadic weather and plans for a fun beach day or trip to the park can be easily ruined by a sudden thunderstorm. Just because you are stuck inside doesn’t mean that you need to sit around like a bump on a log. There are many great retro gaming peripherals available that will get you on your feet and help keep you and your family active while waiting for the storm to pass.

I also wear my jogging suit to play video games.

I also dress up in a jogging suit to play video games.

Considering that even advanced technology such as Nintendo’s Wii or Microsoft’s Kinect can still offer a less than ideal motion gaming experience, it is important to understand the limitations of the hardware when attempting to use retro peripherals. Even when brand new, these systems rarely lived up to the hype seen in commercials. Let’s admit it, some of the most enjoyable moments when motion gaming with friends/family are watching people react to how these systems fail. My wife and daughter sure enjoy watching me flail around at the arcade, so why wouldn’t they enjoy it at home?

Motion gaming has been around almost as long as home console. The Foot Craz activity pad for the 2600 allowed gamers to interact with their consoles in a new way. The NES continued the trend with the Power Pad and Power Glove and put out some more diverse games, one of the more interesting being Street Cop. The Genesis offered the Activator ring which used infrared beams in place of the traditional controller. The Activator was a commercial failure but still looks like it would be a heck of a lot of fun to play around with, I hope to come across one sometime.


The marketing for the Activator was wayyyy better than the actual product.

Although a potentially great way to get moving while trapped inside on those rainy days, many of these retro motion peripherals can be hard to find or cost prohibitive…or both. If we start looking for slightly newer stuff the search becomes a bit easier and quite a bit less expensive. The 6th generation of consoles featured many inexpensive and unique ways to play. The Eyetoy for PS2 is interesting, but I feel kids might respond better to motion gaming when they actually have an object they can interact with and touch.

The Dreamcast and Gamecube have a few notable family friendly motion peripherals, namely Samba de Amigo’s maracas, Donkey Konga with it’s bongo controller, and Dance Dance Revolution Mario Mix. There is something to be said about DDR: Mario Mix, it was the first DDR release on a Nintendo console and unlike most DDR games it includes a fun story mode and very easy difficulty setting that makes it accessible to the whole family. DDR Mario Mix also features some really great Super Mario tunes. At the very least I would suggest firing up YouTube and checking out the soundtrack.

Any game that let's you have a dance contest with Waluigi is alright in my book.

Any game that let’s you have a dance contest with Waluigi is alright in my book.

Rhythm and music games are especially great for kids. It gets them moving and helps to develop coordination.  If you happen across any of these devices in your retro game hunts I would encourage you to pick one up. Once the sun comes back out and it dries up a bit, get back out there! Make some memories. As a parent you will learn that these little people grow up entirely too fast.