If you’ve played video games for as long a period as we have, you’ll likely recall the old days of 2D characters, side-scrolling and text-based dialogue. These sorts of graphics, like any other form, were thought to have been consigned to the cartridges of history. However, as any person on top of the current state of the gaming industry will be aware, we’re currently experiencing somewhat of a revival of these supposedly defunct games and visuals. With so much new tech out there to entertain and captivate, why are we revisiting our roots?
Firstly, the ‘retro feel’ is part of a wider trend going on in society. In the face of staggering technological progress, people are reverting back to old ways; vinyl players, fixie bicycles, brick-like phones – it’s all about rediscovering the slightly more difficult, but more rewarding way of doing things. Take Titan Souls, a new indie game for the PS4 and Vita. In the game, both the player and enemies all have one life and the player only gets to carry one arrow. All of this making for a more challenging gaming experience. The gameplay is blocky and beautiful, perfectly satiating people’s demands for something more akin to Battletoads rather than Halo. Also, due to the massively improved processing abilities of gaming devices these days, developers can pack in a huge amount of content compared to games that looked and played in a similar way twenty five years ago.
The trend is also about simple nostalgia. Films including Wreck It Ralph and Pixels feature gaming characters and the like that now exist mainly in the fond memories of gaming fans. Gamers want to relive their old gaming haunts and developers are cottoning on to this. Everywhere games are taking the retro route. Take a look at the Fruit Shop game at Mr Smith Casino as it’s a perfect example of this; retro symbols and sounds, mixed with classic fruit machine gameplay – it’s almost like being a child again in the 1980s on the Commodore 64!
Graphics such as these are more artistic representations of places, people and plots, compared to the photorealistic games of the current next-gen titles. Within the soft, yet blocky, changes in tone and colour within these indie titles there’s a quaint beauty that can’t be matched in ultra-high definition games. Instead of trying to trick players into thinking they’re actually there actually stood there within the game, pixelated graphics are practically saying, in an unabashed fashion, that games are just that; games.