Okay, old-school gamers, now’s the time to prove your 8-bit mettle and prove once and for all that the golden age of console gaming began and ended with the likes of the Commodore 64 and the Atari 2600. I present you with the Hydra Console Game Developer Kit, which ThinkGeek describes thusly:

hydra_dev_kit.jpg“For beginner to intermediate coders, you need only a minimum of programming experience in any BASIC or C-like language. You get all of the hardware and software you need including the Hydra console, comprehensive programming guide, keyboard, mouse, gamepad, and your own cartridge to store your games on. Included on the CD is all the source code and executables for all the included games, demos, tools, and examples. Additionally, ‘Hydra Tiny BASIC’ based on the ‘Tiny BASIC’ specification originally published in ‘Dr. Dobb’s Journal’ in 1975 is included. With this classic version of BASIC, you can write programs directly on the Hydra without the need for a PC! Simply load BASIC into the Hydra or on the included game cartridge, and you are up and running with nothing more than your TV and keyboard.”

i_love_8bit.jpgFor $199, what you really get is a time machine back to the late 1970s, when the personal computing and video game revolutions were first born. Take all these HALO-infested whipper-snappers to the woodshed by showing them how real video games (and gamers) worked and played. Or better yet, young turks, beat the fogeys at their own game by coding a retropunk classic of your own, and prove that Tetris and Pong have got nothing on next-gen minimalist hackers. (Just pretend you’re coding for a lightweight Java app to insert in your blog.) And whichever side of the game-generation gap you’re on, you’ll need the requisite pseudo-vintage T-shirt that proclaims your loyalty to the bygone — but not forgotten — era of gaming greatness: I (heart) 8-bit!