Remember the days when finding your favourite part in a film meant rewinding and fast-forwarding a VHS tape? A process that could often take 15 minutes or more. Those times sure were great, weren’t they? Or is that just my rose tinted spectacles playing tricks on me?
Retro video games, on the other hand, were unquestionably the bee’s knees. They supported 8 bits of information and a handful of pixels, but sure could do a lot within those limitations. Every aspect of them was a glorious celebration of excellence, pure unadulterated gaming joy, so perfect that I wept tears of happiness with each new 8-bit masterpiece. Or is that those rose tinted spectacles again?
Retro video games are making a major comeback, which means that, if anything, rose tinted spectacles are a ticket to some serious retro-fuelled cha-ching.
Nostalgia Reigns Supreme
As the core of gamers, those with the money to spend, tick over into their thirties and beyond, retro gaming has made a comeback of epic proportions. Cutting edge graphics are cast aside, accepted video game formats are tossed out, and 8-bit gaming takes its place back in the spotlight once again. Why? Due to one very simple word that holds an enormous amount of power; nostalgia.
Fond memories are an extremely compelling force, and game developers are taking full advantage. Why wouldn’t they? Creating a game that resembles those from two decades ago takes a great deal less effort and money than creating a cutting edge game of today. Hence why we have games like Shovel Knight that don’t just mimic the retro style as much as embrace it with both arms, and give it a long, loving kiss on the mouth.
But is it really so easy to wear the mask of retro, and simply rake in cash hand over fist?
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Rose Tinted Is a Tricky Beast
The SNES Classic Edition, Super Retro Boy, and Sega Genesis Flashback are all in the pipelines. As the names suggest, they are re-releases of the classic consoles, exclusively featuring retro games with just a few mild tweaks and adjustments to keep alive the notion that the systems aren’t a thinly disguised cash grab.
Games like Shovel Knight, on the other hand, faced a far greater challenge. Appearing retro, while not actually being retro. Because it just so happens that the vast majority of retro games were awful. Don’t tell that to your target market, however, because they have rose tinted spectacles glued permanently to their faces.
Most simply forget that their once beloved childhood games have aged appallingly. So, creating a true retro game would require it to likewise be appalling. No prizes for guessing how well that would go down. The truth is, in reality, creating retro games may be a breeze in some regards, comparatively speaking, but pleasing the retro fan-base is a nightmare.
A Matter Of Taste
Retro games are back, and likely have a more or less permanent place in the video game world. Retro style, 2D and with a strong focus on gameplay is a concept that really has far more going for it than simple nostalgia. The games of today tend to lean so heavily on visual appeal that other aspects, such as being an enjoyable experience, buckle a little under the weight.
The whole situation says a great deal about the video game industry as a whole, and brings up some very interesting questions about what the future of the industry might hold. After all, the truth is that graphics are more or less reaching a plateau point, and what exactly will keep players coming back for more, beyond graphic evolution, is a question that will soon have to be answered. While you ponder that, I’m off to play Pac Man.