Just two months away from closing out 2014, both Sony and Xbox are prepared to stand toe to toe to slug it out over domination in the next gen console market. Each vying for the money and time from millions of gamers around the globe. But has a growing trend in retro gaming changed the roadmap of future releases?
What strikes me, is while we're ending the dominance of the previous gen game systems and moving into the next, some of the most popular titles in the past year would be retro gaming titles. We're seeing 8-bit and 16-bit style games released by indie publishers or seeing old favorites get the HD treatment for fan's sake.
Why is this?
I remember the days of the Atari, a fun system with it's fair share of games, but not until the NES did we see the explosion of gaming take a strong foothold in homes everywhere. This popularity was further enhanced by both the SNES and the Sega Gensis, which ushered the 16-bit "Golden Era" of gaming. Games from this time are still highly sought after and played by those that still have the original game systems. The nostalgia is what keeps us coming back. The feelings these old games dredge up is what we keep coming back to. Of course everyone will have their own retro system of choice. Some will go back to 8-or-16-bit systems, others will recall the N64 or Dreamcast as their system of choice. Still others will recall the Playstation, PS2, or even the Xbox as their retro gaming system, depending on age, it's all relative.
As an older gamer, I can truly speak to the nostalgia that retro gaming stirs up. Whether it's a classic brought back to life for a new generation of gamers to enjoy, or a new game done in a classic style. New games that come to mind that were new properties done in classic 8-bit or 16-bith style include Shovel Knight, Retro City Rampage, and Castle Crashers. Older 8-bit and 16-bit games that we're seeing get re-releases include Street Fighter, the Sonic the Hedgehog series, and Rayman to name a few. Classic games that were given the HD treatment include Duck Tales Remastered, Double Dragon, Bionic Commando, and several Final Fantasy titles.
To say that I get excited by getting a chance to play these games on modern consoles is an understatement. Retro gaming offers a chance to go back to a time when gaming was growing. Perhaps it brings up memories of a time before Google, before online play, where we had to work for our rewards, and actually have someone with us physically to conquer a multi-player game. But what I find most interesting about retro gaming is that despite all the high-end graphics, despite all the power of the modern game consoles, so many of us still go back to these games time and time again.
This trend of retro gaming defines clearly that graphics are not what wins players, but story and value of game play that keeps fans coming back for more. That's not to say that graphics are not game enhancers. Graphics help make the gamer feel like they are playing in a fully realized world. But a gamer will remain so long as the story that is being told in that world is compelling and has value. When I look at older games, the story is what captured our attention then, and it's what drives us back now.
For example, Final Fantasy IV is still my favorite game to this day. I will play that game at least once a year because the story still gets me. The characters were fun, the music helped drive the story that unfolded before me, and I still cheer the hero on at key moments in the game.
How do you feel about retro gaming? Do you find that the past is better off left in the past, or do you find yourself enjoying both new and classic properties done in a way that gives a nod to classic style gaming of the past?