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It's 2021 soon. What is retro?


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2000? That’s ridiculous. Basically under that rule back in 2000 anything after 1980 isn’t retro. Retro is anything that’s not currently being officially supported, PS3/360/Wii would be the newest retro consoles. People who are getting long in the tooth might think that those were only released yesterday but many who are today old enough to drink and drive would have been barely out of nappies when they were released. 

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I think there's a sophistication to the production of 6th gen (DC, PS2, Xbox, GC) and 7th gen (PS3, Wii, 360) games that takes away from the janky charm of what we think of as "retro". I was trying Crime Killer and Future Cop LAPD on Duckstation the other day (both released during 1998 in PAL land) and they're both adorably stupid blasters with chunky polygons and loose gameplay. (I know that the "tone" shouldn't have anything to do with "retro" quality, but sometimes it fits with the vibe of the era. Also: nostalgia!)

 

 

Look at this "retro" game. :wub: 

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I know it's not in the spirit of this thread, but "Who cares?" would be my answer.

 

Pigeonholing games into being 'retro' or not serves absolutely no purpose whatsoever. Games are games. Some are older than others and some have 'better' graphics than others but an arbitrary dividing line seems to me to achieve nothing.

 

Retrogamer is an enjoyable read, but I'd much prefer a magazine that was of a similar vein but had features covering all games of all ages and types and on all platforms. Maybe call it 'Gamer'.

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13 hours ago, Rex Grossman said:

I think we should all agree that 2000 is the cutoff for retro,

 

Obviously RG should still cover things after 2000 because it can still be interesting, it’s just not actually retro. And that’s fine. 


Hah no. 
I’ve often considered things to be “Retro” when they’re discontinued, out of print, unavailable… but I guess that means the Wii U is retro… 

…or is it closer to the meaning of the word? Games technology that feel tangible “out dated” or distinctly from the past? 
 

I kinda just avoid the term “Retro” now, as this all goes in circles… and much prefer the term “Classic gaming”. They’re all games anyway. 

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2 hours ago, FatOldGeek said:

I know it's not in the spirit of this thread, but "Who cares?" would be my answer.

 

Pigeonholing games into being 'retro' or not serves absolutely no purpose whatsoever. Games are games. Some are older than others and some have 'better' graphics than others but an arbitrary dividing line seems to me to achieve nothing.

 

Retrogamer is an enjoyable read, but I'd much prefer a magazine that was of a similar vein but had features covering all games of all ages and types and on all platforms. Maybe call it 'Gamer'.

Fusion magazine is a good for that 

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37 minutes ago, Kevvy Metal said:


Hah no. 
I’ve often considered things to be “Retro” when they’re discontinued, out of print, unavailable… but I guess that means the Wii U is retro… 

 

 

Also all the Forzas except Horizon 4.

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1 hour ago, Dudley said:

May 1996 CVG launched their retro section, that's probably as good an indication of what "Retro" meant early on as any...

 

image.thumb.png.04bb6c62703be20699af2e6407d05ea5.png

 

 

 

Never bought C&VG, but to their credit they had one of the earliest regular retro columns, which I used to read from a friend's copy. :) 

 

Just had a look at Super Play issue 37 from October 1995, which has possibly the first column about retro gaming (described in those words) in a games magazine, and it only mentions old American consoles, as was the style of the time...

screenshot1.thumb.jpg.ba8820a424426cdfb9c866d7e77c571a.jpg

Same feature also mentions a now-forgotten American fanzine, which goes back to at least 1993...

 

screenshot2.jpg.e2d2cdbf46d41063026bd58fac89e321.jpg

Several issues later (39), Super Play would mention the first known British retro gaming fanzine in their Fanhunter column, of which there is only scant evidence remaining online.

 

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5 hours ago, Kevvy Metal said:

I’ve often considered things to be “Retro” when they’re discontinued, out of print, unavailable… but I guess that means the Wii U is retro… 

 

Don't read the latest issue of Retro Gamer! 😀

 

Let's just agree that everything pre-pandemic is retro.

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9 hours ago, Spartan said:

I was in CEX earlier, overheard a 7/8 year old girl asking her granddad (who was maybe early 50's) "what's a PSP?"

 

If it's more than 2 gens, it's retro to me

That’s always been my point (I mentioned it earlier) so many people know what’s retro to them but forget that people younger than them will have a completely different idea. Going back to an earlier idea mentioned here, we were also going to split the mag into sections showing different generations, but all you’re achieving is that you’re signposting particularly large sections of the mag a reader won’t be interested in. That’s why we just mix it all in. We’ll always have 8-bit computer stuff in the mag as it’s what the magazine was built on, but it doesn’t dominate the mag like it did 17 years ago because it simply doesn’t sell the mag like it did.

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18 minutes ago, ianinthefuture said:

I still remember the (mild) fury (from some quarters) when I did the split Half-Life/Black Mesa piece for Retro Gamer years ago. Not only was Half-Life 'not retro enough' to be retro, but Black Mesa was a brand new game. How dare I, etc etc.

Ah yes. I also remember the push back we had because we ran both articles at the same time across three spreads so that Half-Life making of was on the left-hand side and Black Mesa was on the right-hand side. "You can't do that" Too late, we did it. :lol:

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2 hours ago, strider said:

Ah yes. I also remember the push back we had because we ran both articles at the same time across three spreads so that Half-Life making of was on the left-hand side and Black Mesa was on the right-hand side. "You can't do that" Too late, we did it. :lol:

It was a good feature, it looked nice, and it suited the mag. YEEEEEAH

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I'm not entirely sure that people get to decide what is retro or not, as they grow older. I dislike the term in any case, but it's useful for marketing; to the older gamers (or younger gamers that want to play "old stuff"). To me, "retro" is kind of defined by teenagers, or at least, what is marketed to them (i.e. the new stuff). They're a huge sales target and tend to be on the cutting edge of tech, not caring about "the way things were" or giving much respect to history or legacy (obviously there are exceptions and I am generalising, but I'm trying to make a point). When I was in the late 90s as a 16 year old, the 16-bit Mega Drive was retro (along with Space Invaders and Pod on my old BBC), and the 32-bit Saturn was about to appear retro due to the amazing magazine articles of the 128-bit Dreamcast.

 

Times have certainly changed.

 

I'm guessing, because I cannot remember the last time I interacted with a 16 year old, that retro to them might also be a mix of all that "old 2D stuff" and everything before and including last-gen. The new Metroid is 2D (mostly) and isn't retro in the slightest, but it's "retro style" if you want to say that it plays like old games... it's not some 3D world where you the player exist for 100 hours, etc.

 

However, I have a feeling, as a marketing tool, the 16 year olds etc don't give a shit about "retro"... that's what their dad likes! Which is our age group. Millenials and Gen X. We are the ones being sold "retro" as our childhood memories. Playing 2D sonic bringing a tear to your eye because you remember the good old days of pre-9/11/ISIS/Blair/Trump/Johnson/Brexit and before decent fucking internet. Modem tones, that's retro. Crazy frog ringtone. Pogs. All that shit. Buy it, remember what it was like to be young and relevant, with your whole future ahead of you.

 

But yeah for me fuck all decent has come out since 360 which weirdly is somehow a favourite console even though 4 died on me... the quality and breadth of some of the games was spellbinding, and I have one plugged into a Japanese arcade cab with a CRT so I can pretend I am in a smokeless Akihabara.

 

Here's a new one. If it can be played on a MiSTer FPGA, it's proper retro... (throwing down the gauntlet there—Saturn and PS1 are coming!)

 

 

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I'm forever overly impressed (or suspicious) when people 10-20 years younger than me seem to know / care about consoles from my youth. Seems miraculous that they could have got to that point in today's age.

 

Without powerful nostalgic forces overtly and covertly guiding my likes and dislikes as an adult I'm sure I would've fully lost interest in videogames come the HD era. (As it stands I did lose interest in home consoles from the PS2/GC era onwards - but ended up shifting towards handheld and 'proper' retro instead).

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On 25/10/2021 at 15:32, Spoonman said:

I'm not entirely sure that people get to decide what is retro or not, as they grow older. I dislike the term in any case, but it's useful for marketing; to the older gamers (or younger gamers that want to play "old stuff"). To me, "retro" is kind of defined by teenagers, or at least, what is marketed to them (i.e. the new stuff). They're a huge sales target and tend to be on the cutting edge of tech, not caring about "the way things were" or giving much respect to history or legacy (obviously there are exceptions and I am generalising, but I'm trying to make a point). When I was in the late 90s as a 16 year old, the 16-bit Mega Drive was retro (along with Space Invaders and Pod on my old BBC), and the 32-bit Saturn was about to appear retro due to the amazing magazine articles of the 128-bit Dreamcast.

 

I'm guessing, because I cannot remember the last time I interacted with a 16 year old, that retro to them might also be a mix of all that "old 2D stuff" and everything before and including last-gen. The new Metroid is 2D (mostly) and isn't retro in the slightest, but it's "retro style" if you want to say that it plays like old games... it's not some 3D world where you the player exist for 100 hours, etc.

 

But yeah for me fuck all decent has come out since 360 which weirdly is somehow a favourite console even though 4 died on me... the quality and breadth of some of the games was spellbinding...

 

 

I think 'retro' is only defined by the person in question. Anything older than, let's say, 10 years is old in this world, but the older you get, the more time seems to speed up, and we all seem to have a stronger rose tint on the older we get.

 

My 2 Nieces couldn't give a fuck about my old watches when they were younger, but the minute I got an Apple Watch they were transfixed! However, the older they got (The oldest has just crept into her teens) the more they seem to show an intrest in anything from my childhood, like old watches as it's so diffrent from current technology. But the way I look at it, when I was a late child in the late 80's, I couldn't care less about the BBC Micro and Elite (For example) as the graphics were so old and creeky. Compared to my Master System and soon to be Mega Drive, the games looked and played terribly.

 

As I got older and got more into games, I started to appreciate what games like Space War and Elite were doing but I felt like I grew up in an odd time in history as the early games were almost abstract paintings in look and sometimes control, wheras the 8-bit to 16-bit generation added detail ontop of the loose detail definitions of worlds we used to play. Is that cut now so strong that it's hard to go back? I introduced my Nieces to Crazy Taxi at only a few years old and they adored it, still playing it and now Minecraft 10 years on. I feel games from the Dreamcast / PS2 era can still be recognised as 3D game worlds without too much interpretation by the player!

 

I find it stunning that you mention that for you, nothing decent has come out since the 360 though. Maybe you have the same difficulty I described but in reverse order? 😜

 

I've just completed some stunning games on PC, Switch and am deep into Breath of the Wild and it's showing Witcher III a thing or two, in the most stunning game world I've been in so far. If you've not played anything new recently, then I urge you to take a look as you're really missing out.

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14 hours ago, Wools said:

 

I think 'retro' is only defined by the person in question. Anything older than, let's say, 10 years is old in this world, but the older you get, the more time seems to speed up, and we all seem to have a stronger rose tint on the older we get.

 

My 2 Nieces couldn't give a fuck about my old watches when they were younger, but the minute I got an Apple Watch they were transfixed! However, the older they got (The oldest has just crept into her teens) the more they seem to show an intrest in anything from my childhood, like old watches as it's so diffrent from current technology. But the way I look at it, when I was a late child in the late 80's, I couldn't care less about the BBC Micro and Elite (For example) as the graphics were so old and creeky. Compared to my Master System and soon to be Mega Drive, the games looked and played terribly.

 

As I got older and got more into games, I started to appreciate what games like Space War and Elite were doing but I felt like I grew up in an odd time in history as the early games were almost abstract paintings in look and sometimes control, wheras the 8-bit to 16-bit generation added detail ontop of the loose detail definitions of worlds we used to play. Is that cut now so strong that it's hard to go back? I introduced my Nieces to Crazy Taxi at only a few years old and they adored it, still playing it and now Minecraft 10 years on. I feel games from the Dreamcast / PS2 era can still be recognised as 3D game worlds without too much interpretation by the player!

 

I find it stunning that you mention that for you, nothing decent has come out since the 360 though. Maybe you have the same difficulty I described but in reverse order? 😜

 

I've just completed some stunning games on PC, Switch and am deep into Breath of the Wild and it's showing Witcher III a thing or two, in the most stunning game world I've been in so far. If you've not played anything new recently, then I urge you to take a look as you're really missing out.

 

Long post below, apologies!

 

Many thanks for this post, really enjoyed reading it! Also, I really agree with basically all points. But I suppose there’s some difference between vintage and retro? I mean, it’s only words, but I have say, a vintage watch, but a retro item might be something that was cool at the time, but apparently “sucks” now? Like flared trousers are retro (although coming back) but vintage clothing from 1930 isn’t really called retro. Perhaps games aren’t yet old enough to be vintage? Vintage is a wine-word anyway, some I’m not sure when it became acceptable to call simply old things “vintage”.

 

Slight segue here, but finishing off the thought, “the problem is me” regarding decent games since 360. I don’t even have a child to distract me from gaming, but if I think back to when i was younger, Shenmue was great but a bit of a slog (I haven’t tried 3), and all my favourite games were pretty much the arcade games on DC, Sonic on MD, Sega Rally, Wipeout 2097, and NiGHTS on Saturn. I can’t remember xbox too well, but I think that was Burnout and Splinter Cell? 360 era, entered HALO and COD and more amazing Splinter Cell. Also, the cave shooters, and I was living in Japan.

 

My first home computer was a BBC Micro and I had Pod and Grannies Garden and Tempest. They were awful and some very hard, but I enjoyed them. I then had a Game Gear and loved that to bits, Lemmings and Sonic were favs. Then we had a Mega Drive and I was all about Sonic 2, Earthworm Jim, Lotus Turbo Challenge, Road Rash, Columns, etc. The Saturn blew my mind, and Sega Rally was an obsession. DC had such depth and variety but Power Stone was a top-tier multiplayer game, at the perfect time. Then I went to uni and gamed a little less.

 

I have a Switch (and just bought my girlfriend a Lite) and do in fact have the aforementioned BoTW. I’ve played quite a few hours, but essentially got a bit bored riding a horse around aimlessly, trying to uncover more of a map to feel built up enough to go fight that ghost dragon thing in the middle. I enjoy lots of aspects of the games when I’m playing it, but I don’t really like the open-world genre, except for GTA perhaps. I have RDR2, and though it’s one of the best looking games I’ve ever seen, I simply cannot be bothered to see it through. I think it’s because it’s playing through a story, rather than being a challenge for me, the player. That’s probably why I like those old arcade games so much. I’ve no issue with playing a level again and again to try and perfect it, but throw me in a huge open world and I am easily bored. For some reason, that doesn’t happen so much with GTA.

 

Regarding GTAV for example… that came out on 360. 2013. It’s an 8 year old game! It’s being played on PS5 right now (which is great and a testament to the game), but my goodness. I don’t class 360 as “retro” but if people do then there’s a “retro” game being played right now on current-gen, but not in a like “here’s original pac man” way. 

 

I play “e-sports” I hate the term, but i am in online competitive NHL leagues, and the games (e.g. NHL 22) are not really any better and in many ways worse (slow menus and awful GUI with poor netcode underneath) than the 360-era NHL 10. The graphics are hardly better, either. Games like this, and others, make me feel like though of course there’s been progression graphically and with “world interaction” the real differences are so minimal. Having said that, I just remembered that PSVR really did stop me thinking like this and was the “step up” that I talk about. Wipeout HD, Rez, and Tetris Effect are basically 10/10 for me.

 

I guess the whole situation is like the film industry. There are indeed some good films released at the moment, many are not at all to my tastes (MCU, Transformers, endless remakes and reboots), but there are so many films from the 90s that are original (many book adaptations, too) and although they’re dated (CRTs, no internet, mobile phones, etc) if anything it helps the story.

 

Finally, not that there’s anything wrong with refining and improving something—I like 2D shmups for example and they are “all the same”. But there’s a gameplay challenge in there, that costs me hours, rather than a long story about a character I care very little for… so perhaps I am just looking at the wrong games (I don’t want Last of Us and Horizon or the Witcher, for example… perhaps my recommendations are just poor?)

 

Anyway, massive rant and tangents, thanks for reading (if you did).

 

TL;DR

I am not sure that “retro” can just be anything old but has to be a particular style, but it’s a somewhat fluid term, depending on the age of the speaker. And since the 360 I have felt most games are almost the same, except PSVR which blew my mind. I like 2D shmups though, so you can basically ignore me.

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