Retro Revolution: Old School Meets New Cool With the Latest Games, Gadgets and Gear
From bluetooth turntables to digital pinball machines, we take a look at the latest gadgets and games putting a new spin on retro tech. Photo: DutchScenery/Getty Images
What’s old is new again.
From classic cars and vintage clothing to entertainment-based nostalgia like vinyl and pinball, it seems Canadians are looking to the past for a little slice of solace.
In fact, the penchant for anything “retro” seems to be divided into two camps: collectors looking to buy (and perhaps restore) authentic machines to appreciate today, or those who are looking for new products inspired by yesteryear’s designs — but with a modern twist.
Perhaps it’s a turntable to play your record collection that also lets you wirelessly stream your music to a pair of Bluetooth speakers — you get the idea.
If “old school meets new cool” sounds good to you, here’s a look at what’s trending today.
Retro Games Go Digital
Arcade 1Up has enjoyed success over the years with its line of retro game cabinets, those 3/4-sized arcade machines featuring ’80s classics such as Ms. Pac-Man and Galaga, as well as countertop and sit-down head-to-head models, and virtual pinball tables.
The company’s newest gaming experience, however, is the Infinity Game Table, a touchscreen tabletop packed with more than 40 iconic board games for up to six people.
This includes classics such as Monopoly, Scrabble, Battleship, Connect-4, Candyland, Sorry! and Trivial Pursuit, to name a few — all playable by using your fingertip on the water- and impact-resistant high-resolution display.
Infinity Game Table’s legs are removable, should you want to play on your kitchen table or living room’s coffee table. No more lost game pieces or someone stealing money from the bank! Plus, support for “haptic feedback” means you will feel a slight tactile vibration when, say, rolling the dice or sinking a battleship.
And because it’s Wi-Fi-enabled, you can play against others around the world or purchase new games that can be downloaded from an online store.
For some flipper fun, AtGames’ Legends Pinball ($1,199.99) is billed as the “world’s first connected pinball” table, that allows for online multiplayer matches, where each player can both chat and watch others turn in real-time.
Measuring 5.3 x 3.5 x 1.58 feet, Legends Pinball may look like it has real flippers, bumpers, ramps, and a silver ball, but it’s essentially a pinball simulation on a giant 32-inch HD LCD playfield.
The benefit? It includes 22 built-in arcade pinball games you can toggle between at any time, plus it’s expandable to install new games, and unlike Tommy (from the 1975 flick based on music by The Who), you can pause, rewind and save your progress.
Arcade1Up also sells virtual pinball machines, each one featuring 10 games. Examples include Marvel Pinball and Star Wars Pinball, both with a 24-inch LCD playfield, 8-inch LCD score screen, authentic flipper feedback, and real plunger and buttons. Similar to its arcade machines, these tables are a 3/4 scale compared to the originals.
Turntables never really went out of style, but there are now several options to appreciate the wonderful warmth of analog audio.
For example, The House of Marley’s Stir It Up Wireless ($349.99) turntable provides a sleek design using solid bamboo, exclusive REGRIND silicone and REWIND fabric (which includes recycled plastic) and recyclable aluminum.
It can wirelessly connect to any Bluetooth speaker or sound bar (sold separately) and includes a built-in switch pre-amp for compatibility with wired speakers and AV receivers (via optional RCA output). Plus, Stir It Up Wireless includes a USB port for PC recording and a 3.5mm headphone jack for private listening of your 33 or 45 RPM records.
There’s also the JAM Vintage Retro Bluetooth Speaker ($69.99). Available in several colours, you can hear clear and surprising powerful audio from these classic-looking speakers — perhaps inspired by cars from the ’50s — and with battery life that lasts up to 16 hours between charges. Pair two of these speakers for stereo sound, or use the auxiliary port if you don’t have a Bluetooth device nearby.
Phone it in
Finally, flip phones are back — but now with a foldable display.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G, when folded, is small enough to slip into your jeans or clutch purse, and with a Cover Screen to view notifications and messages, and integrated Samsung Pay to buy something at retail by waving the device over a contactless terminal.
When you want more real estate, however — perhaps to view a video, play a game, read an ebook, or browse the web — the Z Flip3 opens to reveal a gorgeous 7.6-inch QXGA+ Dynamic AMOLED display with a silky smooth 120Hz refresh rate.
Or fold it halfway for hands-free video calling, propped up in an “L” shape, to place on a table or desk. The 128GB model is available in Phantom Black, Lavender, Cream and Green, while the 256GB option is in Phantom Black.
A version of this story was published on May 2, 2022