One thing the gaming world has absolutely no shortage of is Retro games. What is this fascination with the latest trend in games that look like they were made 30 years ago? In this article we dive into Y.A.R.G. – Yet Another Retro Game.
As I sit here with my $500 video card, liquid cooled, overclocked beast of a PC what do I have to push the limits of the technology that I have so generously paid for? The likes of games like Terraria, Undertale, Binding of Isaac and about 1,987,763 more titles just waiting for me to get my retro on. Why? Is nostalgia really that great of a pull that it sucks you in, makes you feel like a kid again? What about the newest generation being obsessed with retro games then? It can’t be nostalgia, so what is it? Nostalgia by proxy? Nah…
I lived in the retro gaming era and subsequent gaming boom, and eventual crash of the 80s, and frankly it wasn’t all THAT great. We foamed at the mouth for better graphics, gameplay and realism, and dreamed of a day when graphics would mirror reality and quite possibly become reality (even if for a short time) with VR technology. Gaming was status, popularity and an escape. it was extremely popular, because Developers were constantly pushing the limits of hardware, and giving us new experiences! So why is retro gaming so popular NOW with all the technological advances we have gone through in the last 30 years? Why take a gigantic leap backwards in innovation instead of breaking barriers and pushing forward into something new and exciting?
“The modern gamer is broken, broken to a point where they feel they must look back… 20 or 30 years…”
I personally feel for some it is believed that games (not all obviously) created in the 80’s and 90’s were made with love and care. For the most part that is not an inaccurate statement. They played great out of the box (more often than not), bugs were almost unheard of in major releases. Beta testers were paid money (I know I used to be one!) and didn’t pay the Developer to test the game (imagine that). Updates (now called DLC) were free, and when you played, you were guaranteed a complete gaming experience you would remember. Quality and gamer satisfaction were paramount. Unlike today’s game releases that “release now, patch later”, cut core elements from the game and offer them as pre-order bonuses, or sell you your gaming experience one piece at a time with overpriced DLC and season passes. The modern gamer is broken, broken to a point where they feel they must look back… 20 or 30 years to get the gaming experience they crave, even if that sacrifices graphics and complexity to do it.
For better or worse, In steps the Indie Developer ready to serve and scoop up your money, like some ugly vulture hungry for its next meal. Indie Developers (and even some AAA companies now) are crapping out Retro Games at an alarming pace, and it does not seem to be showing any signs of slowing. I can find on average 10 new retro games a DAY on steam and even more (WAY WAY more) on Steam Greenlight.
To put it bluntly, a blind monkey missing 6 fingers while juggling could program a retro game in today’s modern technological world. I am not saying it does not take time and effort though. That said however, faster processing speeds, virtually unlimited memory, and easily downloadable and cheap (sometimes free) game creation software have opened the flood gates to literally 100s of thousands of would-be retro style games and the numbers grow every day, exacerbated and capitalized on by programs like Steam Greenlight.
Unfortunately most (not all) of these games follow the same steps of other modern games, “release now, patch later” , day one DLC, Fee to Pay, and so on. They have missed the mark on what it really is to be a retro game, and instead, milk the markets almost insatiable appetite for a true gaming experience presented in Retro style. Instead of bringing us the new experiences we crave, we more often than not, are left with a sour taste in our mouths. The only nostalgia we end up feeling is for the 1982 colossal failure “ET” on the Atari 2600. Easily one of the worst games to release on the Atari in the 80s.
I’ve been there, done that, I’m tired of retro games, I lived them. I don’t need or want to feel like a kid again, I hold no nostalgia for NEW retro games. I am ready for my 2016 gaming experience now please. I am ready for my VR, Vulkan, DirectX 12, and realistic graphics that use my $500 video card and push it to its breaking point. I don’t want to “remember what games used be like”. I’ll tell you what I am ready for though… I am ready for modern game developers to take notes from the retro game developers that came before them and deliver to me an experience that makes me sit back and say “WOW That’s awesome!!”…. Not “hey look… YARG!”.