Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Let Go of Retro

I love some games that would be considered retro games.  I reminisce about the soundtrack to Comix Zone, being my favorite gaming soundtrack of all time.  I loved the huge satisfaction that you would get from passing a level without scaling difficulties.  Though, for the most part, I do not find old games more appealing than more recent games.  I may be materialistic, or superficial, but when returning to game titles which have recent iterations, I can't help but stack the two against each other.  Controls, visuals, gameplay, and storytelling methods have all been greatly improved over the decades, and I believe it's for the better.  I would much rather listen to engaging dialog, see the character's emotions, and pick my response in Mass Effect, than read lines of dialogue in an rpg of the past.  This may be totally lazy, but I don't care.  Current games can be bogged down with unorthodox motion controls (Twighlight Princess), or ridiculously complicated UI (The Witcher), but as I whole I prefer the depth and style of gameplay that is allowed by current gaming technology.  Admittedly, retro games do absolutely have their advantages, (see: http://metro.co.uk/2013/03/29/why-i-love-retro-gaming-and-why-its-still-relevant-readers-feature-3564251/), but I have found the advances in gaming technology to be primarily for the better.

Beyond the games themselves, I have difficulties with the term "retro games".  In the Suominen reading, retro games were loosely defined as "Typically the current retrogaming refers particularly to the usage of game devices that were used before personal computers (common since the early 1990’s)."  While I appreciate the suggestion at making a blanket term to cover most, if not all videogames that were produced before, after, or during a certain time period, the term retro game actually raises many more questions than it answers for me.  Are remakes of retro games still retro?  It is not uncommon for game developers to revive long lost games with new remakes which polish up the graphics, and update the game mechanics and controls to be friendlier to the modern gamer.  Is this a retro game?  Does the designation of when a game becomes a retro game change with time?  Is the chronological line that is drawn separating retro from non retro games static?  Or will it dynamically change when time advances?  Are there any features of modern games that will never be considered retro?  Will all generations of gamers be subjected to the same rules for what is and is not a retro game?  How can a player return to a game that was released before their birth?  Is a game status as retro purely based off the year they were released?  Or are the game's features more important for it to be assigned the title as retro?  Modern games which strive to look or resemble older games, such as Hotline Maimi, or 3D Dot Game Heroes, will they receive the retro title?

For people like me, who have a difficult time with such an inclusive, and exclusive term as retro games, I would prefer simply stating a game's console or year of release, instead of qualifying it as retro. 

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