March 18, 2011

The Return to Retro

I'm certainly not the first to notice, or even mention, the notion that retro seems to be in vogue with modern gaming. Why is gaming returning to its roots? Like clothing from the '80s, shouldn't all terrible fads stay in the past?

There are a lot of ways for games to go retro, from bringing back old characters and gameplay concepts, to music and graphics, movement toward more simplistic gameplay with fewer buttons being required to play, and...wait. No, that's all I can think of. But still! There are lots of ways for developers to go retro and good reason to consider it, as well.

The best reason for retro gaming to be around is that people get genuinely excited by it. It reminds them of the good 'ole days when all you needed was a Hi-C Ecto Cooler Juice Box and a pair of Umbros to be happy.

Gaming today is not what it was when I was growing up (it's a lot better), but I'm sure I'm not the only one who submits to nostalgic tendencies by breaking out Oregon Trail and Mario Brothers once in a blue moon. Like returning to a beloved book, however, it's never as good the second time around, and gamers can be left unsatisfied and wanting more.

There's an art form to making something new have an old feel, and when making a highly anticipated sequel to a popular old game, there's a lot of pressure. To the developers out there: Please don't rush the job, there's nothing worse than having your favorite game memories destroyed because of a crappy sequel.

Ok, so I know technically a return to retro would require something to have been in style in the past, and that's not exactly what's happening here. Though retro trends may not have a contextual precedent in gaming, they can be seen in practically every other facet of life--such areas as clothing fashions, hairstyles, furniture, car manufacturing, etc.

Everything comes back around. Let's just hope Pac-Man can leave his Member's Only jacket back in the days of hair bands and trickledown economics.

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