10 things “retro modern” games get wrong about the era they imitate

All gamers love a welcome throwback to the retro era of gaming. As games developed, developers yearned to return to the sweet and sweet old days of gaming. Game fans will see many games announced. today as “retro” or “a blast to the past”. However, there are quite a few things that are forgotten about this bygone era of the game.

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There are many ways that developers have gone wrong with the “retro genre”. Retro is not a style, but a totally different understanding of game theory. It goes beyond a simple look or style of play.


ten Retro is not just a look

One of the biggest misconceptions among gamers is the belief that Retro is just a “look”. Just because a game lacks AAA graphics or has an 8-, 16-, or 32-bit style doesn’t mean it’s retro. While it is true that many games of the time had this look, this was mainly due to technological inferiority compared to modern graphics and hardware.

It also greatly discredits some of the incredible arts in games like The last express Where Myst. Retro can always be beautiful. It’s not just pixels.

9 Difficult does not equal better

Screenshot of the arcade game Donkey Kong with Pauline

To give gamers value for their money, the developers deliberately made their games to be exponentially harder in order to artificially extend the length of the game.

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The dimensions of technological hardware have also underlined this need. When you have 2MB of space to put a full game, developers have to find a way to make it stronger. This is why “retro” games have the infamous reputation of being tough: they were. However, as games developed this was less necessary, allowing developers to focus more on making good long games. No one wants to be stuck on the first level anymore.

8 Backups were invented for a reason

Super Mario

Saves were an integral feature when games got longer over time. It didn’t matter when your game took at most an hour to complete if you had a save. But as games developed into a more complex art form containing stories and multiple missions, it was no longer practical to have no backups.

In addition, technology has finally authorized for this to happen on the hardware. After a while, the save locations weren’t limited either, for the most part. No, with the advent of multiple TB hardware systems, saving space is no longer a problem.

7 Retro music is not computer music

Retro music is not just electronic “beeps” and “boops”. This greatly discredits many of the incredible composers who made games in the eighties and nineties. Who can ever forget the intense guitar hymns echoing through your head as you battle aliens through Duke Nukem? Or the mysterious orchestras that guide you through The 7th guest?

There are countless examples of well-done compositions, many of which can be performed live by real symphonies. The music of then is no different from that of today. It had just gone through bad speakers at the time.

6 3D combat took a long time to work out

Which developers seem to forget about retro game fights? Frankly, it wasn’t very good. And maybe it is a good thing that they are forgetting. Anyone who plays the original Loss will be surprised to find that they cannot look up or down. Camera on the shoulder? It was not a common feature until Resident Evil 4.

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The fight certainly lacked the “umph” it has now. It’s not quite the same when you can’t chop an alien to death and feel every gruesome detail. Or even be able to turn 360? Imagine if players still had to press a button to turn around! Frankly, it’s better to stay in the good old days.

5 Retro has good graphics

Trying to emulate a retro style is no excuse for poor graphics. Retro games have elaborately beautiful graphics. Take almost any point-and-click game from Lucasarts such as Monkey island. This game was painstakingly crafted pixel by pixel to the absolute maximum that could be accomplished when it was created.

And it’s still as beautiful as the retro days it came out. Retro games hold up to modern light if given the chance.

4 History and traditions have always played a big role

the main characters of i have no mouth and i have to scream trapped in cages

There are some absolutely amazing stories lurking in the old games. Arguably, many of them are better than modern games. Since games had to rely a lot more on text and less graphics, the writing had to be stellar. This is what led us to get games like the underrated criminal I don’t have a mouth and I have to scream, a fascinating and gruesome adaptation of the short story of the same name by Harlan Ellison.

Even in older games, take a second to read the arcade lore. There are so many little details for players to discover (like Peach is actually Princess Toadstool).

3 The games did not hold hands

Little Mac fights Mike Tyson

In the past, the games were difficult and they certainly didn’t hold anyone’s hand. Depending on whether one is grizzled Dark souls survivor or a novice player, it can be a good thing or a bad thing. Many would tell novice players to just “get good”. However, that thought ultimately drives players away from the game.

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This is why games, in the modern age, tend to contain levels that cater for different abilities. Accessibility has improved and now anyone can play, not just masochists.

2 The puzzles didn’t make sense … most of the time

screenshot from tentacle day showing one of the characters in a waiting room

Puzzles in classic puzzle games often didn’t make much sense. In fact, a major innovation has been games like Myst who managed to have complex puzzles that could be solved by logic. However, most of the time the puzzles were quite intractable, forcing players to randomly hope that their Rubber Duck could power the AC unit needed for the next level.

The puzzles should make sense and be fair to the players. No one likes to get stuck in an impossible puzzle because they forgot to do X, Y, and Z. Modern games are better than that.

1 Simplicity is better

Full Russian Tetris Video Games

Retro games were simple. Ultimately, they had to be to accommodate their limited technical space. A lot of the “retro” stuff in games was actually hiding technical layers. For example, Silent Hill’s the famous fog happened because they failed to fully surrender the city. However, what they found was that it ultimately added to the atmosphere of the game and became a staple of the franchise and lore.

Even beyond that, however, the games generally focused on a core concept. This is what makes Tetris and Galactic so addicting. They have a clean and simple mechanic.

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