It has been a while. I had to get settled into school once again, so that took priority over this. But now I“m back, and ready to talk about gaming. With that, let“s go back to the past and talk about retro games and why they are so important and impactful now.
The retro gaming scene is a bit different. Why is it when games can look like this, or this, that games end up looking something like this? When tools are limited, people get creative about how those tools are used. It“s like if a child wants to play with a sword, and doesn“t have a plastic or rubber sword to play with, that child will grab a stick. If there“s no stick, then the child will form a chopping motion with their hand and pretend that the arm is the sword. Retro gaming taps into this mindset.
Streets of Rage, a side scroller on the Sega Genesis, had an abundance of moves for using only 3 buttons. Looking at some games today, there is practically button overload, even though buttons are generally used for 1 or 2 functions. This limited capability (in terms of just more than hardware and buttons) is something that the indie games are capitalizing on. And indie games are creating a ton of buzz nowadays.
You can also press in the sticks like they're buttons.
With simplicity however, usually comes difficulty. Games today are certainly hard, but I generally don“t find them punishing with the exception of certain parts. Mega Man for example, I tend to find rather punishing while playing through the game, dying and continuing multiple times before getting to the Wily Towers. Streets of Rage is incredibly hard, especially once you put the difficulty settings higher. I“ve died a lot playing Vanquish too, but it was usually during a boss, or if I was screwing around. Have games really become easier, or have I become that much better?
Another factor that retro games use is the pure imagination of these games. This generally leads to their charm. Usually this is seen in their bright or contrasting colors, or how over the top some of the games are. The games of old seem to take that imagination and run with it as far as possible. I“m not saying games today don“t have imagination, but there is some aspect of games today where they wouldn“t fit in with the games of the 8 or 16-bit era. Look at Jack Cayman. His character design is rather cartoonish, with his overly muscular build and mechanical arm, but other aspects of him are made to look realistic. Jack looks like he“s straddling the line of cartoon and realism, whereas someone like Sonic is clearly on the cartoon side.
On the consumer side lies the fact that information is more widely available. Now you can watch videos and read tons of reviews before deciding to make a purchase. Before the internet starting sharing everything, you had magazines, word of mouth, and maybe the back of the case to get you enticed. I think a lot more experimenting happened on the consumer side with limited information available to them. However, a limited number of genres were also successful on certain platforms. Side scrollers were EVERYWHERE, but first person shooters were the rare commodity on home consoles for a while.
The last factor I will talk about in retro gaming goes with the actual limitation of hardware, stamina. Less saving was around, and not every game used a password, so you had to bust your butt and blast through the game in one sitting. It“s not necessary to do so now, but I do find myself loving the fact that I can sit there for a few hours undisturbed and just play the game, even though I“m nowhere near done with it. Maybe this is one reason why I love gaming so much, and not the escapism and vast worlds that I explore.
I'll explore other aspects of retro gaming in the next few entries. Hope you enjoyed this one, and I apologize about the long wait.