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I don’t mean to sound like a pretentious hipster, but I really do think that retro games are more fulfilling than the games that we have today. After all, who really needs 4K graphics, online multiplayer, and microtransactions?
We need to go back to the days where games were just games—they weren’t used to capitalize off players, and the developers actually took pride in their construction. These are the reasons why the classics hold a special place in the world of gaming.
1. Make-Do Graphics
Back in the 80s and 90s, we didn’t have the technology that allows developers to create realistic 4K graphics. Right now, we’re stuck in a video games arms race where developers compete to make the most lifelike graphics. Anthem is a great example of how developers sacrifice gameplay for graphics—Bioware put all its effort into visuals, which resulted in huge gameplay inconveniences that lead to players giving up on Anthem.
Graphics add a lot of character to a game. Developers back in the day never had the chance to create jaw-dropping graphics, so they did what they could. Pixel-by-pixel, developers painstakingly created an environment filled with interesting characters. Retro graphics are just enough to get the point across; we know what we’re looking at, and the pixelated graphics are far from overwhelming.
2. Unique Chiptune Music
Recent games like Halo and God of War have amazing soundtracks filled with instrumentals from professional orchestras. They sound crazy-good, but there’s just something really charming about the music from classic games.
Developers didn’t have the technology to incorporate actual instruments into their games, so they had to invent their own. With retro games came a new genre of music: chiptune. Classic games get their songs from a retro console’s programmable sound chip (PSG). Some might say the music from a retro game is repetitive, but it’s super catchy and innovative for its time.
3. Couch Co-Op
Am I the only one who’s tired of online multiplayer? I hate the fact that most new games don’t support local co-op. Instead of me heading over to my friend’s house to play their game, now I have to purchase my own copy and communicate with my friend via headset.
The satisfaction and fun-factor of finishing a game with a friend at your side just can’t be beaten. I miss having a friend over and eating some snacks while we tackle our favorite game together.
4. Imaginative Storylines
Retro games have some incredible storylines, from a love-motivated quest of bubble-breathing dragons to the story of the android warrior Mega Man, you can’t ignore the originality of a retro game’s plot. These ideas were so fresh because they had never been done before.
In the present day, the big names in gaming have run out of ideas. Instead of coming up with a unique plot, developers revert to overused concepts relating to the military, mechs, zombies, and the apocalypse. Some companies (I’m looking at you, Nintendo) have even gone so far as to spit out constant remakes of old games without taking the time to create new ones.
5. Plug and Play
Every time I turn on my Xbox One, I feel like there’s another system or game update. As a result, I’m forced to wait several minutes before I can even start playing my game. Newer consoles like the Xbox One actually require an internet connection to get it set up in the first place.
Why go through all that trouble when you can just plug in an N64? Sure, you might have to blow into the game cartridge a couple of times to get it working, but at least you won’t have to sit around and wait for a sluggish update.
6. Cheat Codes
Cheats and mods are taken too seriously today. One simple mod can turn into a legal firestorm. While I agree that using cheats and mods to have an advantage over other players definitely isn’t fair, I think that players should at least have the chance to use them when they’re offline. Unfortunately, that’s just not the case, as it’s a hassle to use mods in today’s games.
Remember the days when the iconic Konami code gave you extra lives? Finding and using a cheat code on a retro game made you feel like a code-cracking genius. It’s actually like the developers wanted you to find those loopholes. Newer games go to great lengths to prevent cheats and mods, and that’s just not fun.
7. Truly Challenging Games
How many tries did it take you to beat Super Mario Bros for the first time? Don’t lie—I know you didn’t beat it in one try. It likely took you dozens, hundreds, if not thousands of times to get through the whole game without cheating. Its music still probably haunts you until this day.
Dark Souls is easy compared to the classics. I mean, in Dark Souls, you can actually save your progress. Some retro games don’t even allow you to save, let alone stop at checkpoints. It’s either you keep playing for eight more hours or lose all of your progress.
Once You Go Retro, You Never Go Back
New games have us spoiled—we can customize our characters, save whenever we want, and play with friends from around the world. While the recent advancements in gaming can improve your gaming experience, sometimes you just have to go back to your roots.
In the end, combatting a retro game’s raw, challenging levels will make you a better player. With all this talk about retro games, do you know what exactly a retro game is? Find out more in our article about the qualities that make a game retro.