It used to require a lot of time and effort to play old-school retro games, but things have gotten a lot easier. It’s as simple as picking up a retro game console or an emulator, or downloading your favorite classic collection on your PC and console. However, reliving golden gaming moments isn’t just about getting your hands on the games.
Some of my fondest memories feature friends and family playing together on the big tube TV or gathering into a room for LAN parties. Sure, these days you can still trash talk each other, coordinate team maneuvers, or chat and joke with gaming headsets over the internet, but it doesn’t quite feel the same. There’s something about seeing the horrified face of the person you just blasted into oblivion, witnessing their protracted victory dance after a win, or just laughing together that elevates the whole experience. That’s what Piepacker wants to tap into.
It’s a new browser-based platform that combines retro games with video chats to re-create that couch co-op vibe. You can join up to three friends to play a growing library of retro games such as Sensible Soccer, Worms World Party, and Micro Maniacs Racing. It’s free to sign up for a Piepacker account and create a room for the game you want to play. Send a link to invite others to join, and all they need to input is an email address. There’s nothing to install, but Piepacker only works with Google’s Chrome browser for now.
“Piepacker’s vision is to be available to the widest audience possible, allowing gamers to hang out and play together,” writes Benjamin Devienne, cofounder and CEO of the company, in an email. “Being accessible in one click, for free, is part of our DNA. That’s why we designed it free from day one, and we aim to keep it free forever.”
Licensed Games and Low Bandwidth
Courtesy of Piepacker
A part of the reason Piepacker can do this is thanks to its cloud technology and approach, which Devienne says requires, on average, 27 times less bandwidth than traditional HD cloud gaming services. “It means it’s much cheaper to run for us, but it’s also much more accessible for our users with more modest internet connections,” he says.
Small video windows on the right of the screen ensure you can see the people you’re playing with, though you can turn your microphone or camera off. Shy gamers also have the option of applying digital masks, and there’s a text chat window too.