Archived Story

Joystick: Retro is just a state of mind

Published 10:17am Thursday, April 11, 2013

We’ve been talking a lot about retro games in the office lately.

Specifically games like “StarTropics,” an incredibly goofy action-adventure game involving your missing scientist uncle and a whole lot of science fiction goodness. The 1990 Nintendo title was an enjoyable “Legend of Zelda” knockoff, but lately there are tons of games like it coming to mobile and console systems.

I keep hearing great things about “Dragon Fantasy,” an eight-bit RPG series starring an older, bald protagonist who must go on a hilarious journey to save the world. The first game, “Dragon Fantasy: Book 1” is heading to the Playstation Network next week, to much acclaim from mobile gamers who wanted to play it on a bigger screen.

Then, there are games like “Slayin,” a recently announced iOS title touting itself to be the world’s first endless action RPG. In effect, you run around a small arena where enemies swarm you level bullet-hell style, constantly doing battle and occasionally buying items and upgrades from shopkeepers who drop in like commandos.

Retrogaming has become some sort of badge of honor in video game culture, where limiting the graphics and dimensions within a game universe is seen as a true test of a gamer’s skill. Of course, people are free to game however they want, but I get the sense playing older-looking games is the way many gamers hold onto nostalgia in the way your parents or grandparents break out old movies or records.

That’s not a bad thing, especially with the explosion of unique ways to exploit older technology. Chiptunes music uses computer noises and old game programs to create old game-like music, and that scene has grown quite large over the past few years. A lot of these retro-looking games are the same sort of odes to the past, and if a new generation gets into some of the classics that define what games mean to us nowadays, so much the better. A little history lesson never hurt, especially when you can easily find so many classic gems nowadays.

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