While the retro scene is undergoing a resurgence, there is still no clear answer to the question, “What are retro games?”
With the debate still raging on, this post will take a closer look at retro games to determine what is considered retro gaming and how old a game must be to be retro. Let’s dive in.
The Nostalgic Factor Behind the Resurging Retro Game Industry
We are currently experiencing the shortest intervals between game releases, with developers continuously launching new games every other month.
Every avid gamer is always on the edge of their seat, eagerly waiting for the next big game to hit the market. As soon as that game is out or a developer launches a new innovative system, many won’t hesitate to make the purchase, quickly stowing away their current consoles.
In the process of continuously buying the latest games or consoles, many inevitably forget about the old games they used to love and play.
One day, years later, they come across their old system and decide to plug it in to see if it works. While it might take a bit of cleaning, considering the dust and cobwebs covering it, the console eventually boots up, welcoming them with chiptune music and classic graphics.
Though these graphics pale in comparison to what modern games have achieved, they set off a signal in the brain, evoking feelings of nostalgia and making them feel extremely happy and a little sad at the same time.
This reaction is what we refer to as the nostalgic factor, and it is this factor that the gaming industry capitalizes on to hook you and every other gamer. After all, who wouldn't want another chance to revisit playing games that made their childhoods memorable?
Many developers go a step further and even release “modern” retro game consoles like the SNES Classic, NES Classic, and PlayStation Classic, launching old games in high-definition to feed off of your nostalgia.
What Are Retro Games?
The best place to begin when trying to come up with a definitive retro console definition is by determining the origins of the word “retro.”
According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, the term refers to anything that contains or revives the styles and fashions of the past. While this definition mainly relates to fashion, it is still helpful in our efforts to define what a retro game console is. Clearly, considering something as retro has plenty to do with revamping or resurrecting the past.
How Old Does a Game Have to Be to Be Retro?
Though the meaning of the word retro is clear, one aspect that makes it challenging to find a definitive answer to the question, “What are retro games?" is determining how old a game has to be to be considered retro.
At the end of the day, determining the criteria to use to classify something as retro comes down to personal preference.
For some, their personal definitions of retro games are game consoles that are at least two generations old. If we were to use this classification, it would mean that the PS2, original Xbox, and GameCube are technically retro game consoles, especially since the release of the Xbox Series X and PS5 consoles.
However, while the PS2 is the best-selling game console, many game community members would hesitate to call it retro primarily because of how old it might make them feel.
Defining It By Year of Release
For others, defining retro games is simply a matter of looking at the year a game hit the market. They determine retro being any game developed shortly before the turn of the millennium. This includes SNES, NES, Sega Genesis games, and other titles that laid down the foundation developers use to create the games we play today.
How Far Back Should Retro Games Reach?
The current retro game appeal mainly revolves around pixel art. While the art is simple, it is crisp and has style. Additionally, it is not in some kind of limbo between pixelated and realistic like the graphics you will find in PlayStation 2 and N64 games.
Yes, there is an obvious distinction between new games and retro games. However, what counts as a retro game today is a continuous moving target, especially considering the number of notable titles developers are releasing every month.
Why Is There No Definitive Answer to the Question, “What Are Retro Games?”
With different people using various criteria to come up with their definition of retro games, it is almost impossible to come up with a meaning that the entire game community would second.
People have to draw a clear line between their personal perception of retro games and what the term means in the broader gaming community—something few people are able to do. For instance, if you are in your mid to late twenties, you would likely classify some of the PS2 games you played as retro. However, these are not the options older gamers would view as retro.
The Five Best Retro Game Collections for Your Modern Console
Regardless of the definition you use, there has never been a better time to dive into the world of retro games. Whether you are returning to such options for the first time or are a gaming veteran with special memories of 8- and 16-bit classics, there is something for you.
The best part is that you do not have to say goodbye to your favorite classic games just because you have a modern console. There are plenty of retro game collections you can play on your current gaming consoles, removing the need for retro gaming systems or emulators.
Here is a list of five of the best retro game collections for your modern console.
1. Sega Genesis Classics
Developers have released this collection on different platforms over the past several years, making it possible for you to play Sega Genesis Classics on all current consoles and even PCs.
While the games you get will vary from version to version, there are certain selections that are constant, including the first three Sonic the Hedgehog games, Mappy, Kid Chameleon, and the famous Phantasy Star II, III, and IV.
2. Mega Man Legacy Collection
Today, gamers can get their hands on the Mega Man Legacy and Mega Man X collections. Regardless of the option you pick, you are certain to enjoy hours of side-scrolling and run-and-gun action on any console available.
3. Contra Anniversary Collection
Do you love mechs or simply cannot get enough of robot-fighting action? Then the Contra Anniversary Collection is perfect for you. The collection comes with everything, including Contra and Contra II: The Alien Wars. It even contains Contra Hard Corps.
While you will come across the same game in a different name, the number of games the collection has is still quite impressive. The best part is the Contra Anniversary Collection is available on all current gaming consoles and PC.
4. Castlevania Anniversary Collection
You’ll be happy to know that Contra is not the only series that Konami has made available on modern consoles. Players can now enjoy their favorite classic vampire-fighting series, thanks to a collection that includes everything, from Castlevania to Super Castlevania IV.
If this wasn’t enough, the collection also includes:
- Castlevania Bloodlines
- Castlevania the Adventure
- Kid Dracula
- Castlevania II: Belmont’s Revenge
5. Capcom Beat ‘Em Up Bundle
The 80s and 90s were Capcom's undisputed era of arcade game domination. Today, you can transport yourself back to a simpler time with a collection that contains several exciting games.
Though you will not find a lot of variety, the collection offers classics like Warriors of Fate, Final Fight, Captain Commando, Knights of the Round, and The King of Dragons. Capcom went a step further and even included Battle Circuit and Armored Warriors, making them available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, and Nintendo Switch.
Considering the number of games you can now access on modern platforms, it is safe to say that retro games will continue to be a permanent and memorable part of modern gaming culture. Even restrictive publishers like Nintendo are capitalizing on the nostalgic factor, releasing products like the SNES Classic Edition.
Regardless of how you choose to define retro games, there is nothing stopping you from taking the nostalgic trip down memory lane to appreciate just how far gaming has come in a relatively short time.
Get Your Retro Game Fix at Fair Game
Are you looking for the best selection of retro and classic games, accessories, and consoles in Sacramento, California? Look no further than Fair Game in Sacramento. Whether you are a hardcore collector or a casual gamer, we have the retro systems and video games you desire.
At Fair Game, we pride ourselves on maintaining an impressive selection of games for various systems like Atari, Sega, Nintendo, Game Boy, Wii, PlayStation, and Xbox.
Besides getting exciting gaming selections and finding an answer to “What are retro games?” you can also contact Fair Game at (916) 944-4263 or visit our blog to get the latest information on everything retro.