The Truth About Retro Games

Retro games suck.

Space Invaders is repetitive. Pong is boring. Asteroids is as much like space flight as taking a bath is like being a dolphin in the ocean. And the famous gameover screen on Missile Command is more likely to induce seizures than nightmares.

On a related note, I’m far too young to remember those games as new.

Most of the vocal proponents of retro gaming share two traits. They remember the games from when they were cutting edge technology, and they don’t actually play the games they hold so dearly.

You might have seen, around various gaming forums, the members whose contribution tends to be along the lines of “modern games suck, games like the original Donkey Kong had real gameplay”. These people never play Donkey Kong now – and don’t let the fact that they have a NES and an original Centipede arcade cabinet in the garage fool you, their gaming is all on modern systems. They’re outspoken and devs listen, and out comes the newest HD version of Pong. But the reaction is always the same: “its not as good as the original”.

Nostalgia overlooks the flaws or drawbacks of a game, by remembering it as it seemed at the time. The games that were bad even for their time are largely forgotten, while the better ones become heralded as classics.

This is holding modern game design back.

Games like Snake weren’t designed with 4 directional movement and block graphics because people thought that was a great look for a game, they were built that way because computers of the time couldn’t handle anything more advanced. They pushed the boundaries of what was possible for coin-ops, and people dreamt of the day when the graphics and gameplay could really simulate the world the designer had envisioned.

That day should already be here, but remakes and re-releases hold gaming back in a way that no other medium is suppressed by.

Gamers and developers alike should stop using outdated technology and nostalgia to shape the market, because those games already exist, and modern machines are capable of so much more.

Got something to say about this article? Are you the gamer with the unused NES – or perhaps one that’s brought out daily for marathon Pacman runs? Let us know in the comments below.

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