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Throwback Products We Love: Classic Video Games


No one ever developed rage issues jumping barrels in suspenders and a funny hat.

Gather 'round kids. Let Grampa tell you of a time when the most popular video games were not based on emulating psychopathic violence -- when game-playing kids learned important skills about ghost avoidance, primate behavior, and amphibian survival strategies.

Those happy days can live again thanks to a retail revival of old pals like Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Super Mario, Frogger, and many others. No one ever developed rage issues jumping barrels in suspenders and a funny hat. Hand-held and online versions are widely available, but perhaps you want more. You want to recreate the actual experience, down to the heartbreak of having to beg for quarters just to feed your habit. Fear not, frogman -- actual arcade machines are available. But you'll need more than loose change to play.

Most of the full-sized games are used models. Like George Costanza you can find a genuine old-school Frogger game for sale. And like Connecticut video master Pat Laffaye you will then be able to challenge George's legendary score of 860,630 points. About 6,000 quarters gets you started.

The unchallenged king of video game nostalgia is the little yellow gobbler who says wacka-wacka-wacka all the day long, so it's only natural that full-size Pac-Man cabinets are being manufactured once more. They're not quite identical to that precious time sink of your youth -- the coin slot on this version by Namco is only a decal. With a price tag of $2,000-$3,000 you probably won't have any coins left anyway.

Less ambitious gamers will find plenty of gift options. Joystick-equipped plug-in consoles for the TV are available from Jakks Pacific (JAKK) toy company. The Pac-Man unit features 12 games including Galaxian, Galaga, and Dig Dug.

Hand-held versions of almost every classic game are another choice -- eBay (EBAY) is full of them.

Finally, if you have a nostalgic games freak on your list you can always direct them to Classic Games where they can play games like Super Mario, Pac-Man and Donkey Kong free. Great advice, but a really crappy gift.
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