Retro gaming – how the classics shape the hits of todaySeptember 21, 2011
This is a guest post by Simon Parry. Simon is a writer for Liberty Games, a specialist retro arcade machine retailer.
Blowing the dust out of your cartridge, giving it that magic tap and plonking it into the console for some good old Sega fun – ah those were the days! Before the world of video gaming was dominated by guns, gore and great graphics, virtual entertainment was all about collecting gold rings, rescuing Princesses and dodging pixilated asteroids in outer space! Of course the world of gaming has changed drastically over the years. Sonic is fighting ultimate life forms instead of Robotnik, Street Fighter is in 3D and Final Fantasy has replaced blocky images with smoking hot girls who have the ability to summon aeons! That’s not to say that the evolution of gaming and technology hasn’t become a bad thing as we can now be thrown into a realistic battlefield to fight for our very lives by playing with friends halfway across the world.
So how do the old retro arcade games we have grown up with link to the modern gaming world we have come to inhabit? Well do you really think recent sensational video games such as Call of Duty or Ratchet and Clank were thought up out of the blue? Of course not! Classics such as Mercs, Bubsy the Bobcat and Dynamite Headdy will have played a big part. Just as music has a source of inspiration, so do video games. Think about it, if Hironobu Sakaguchi had never made that very first Final Fantasy then some of the most well loved RPG’s of today simply wouldn’t exist! If Makoto Kanoh and Hiroji Kiyotake hadn’t of made Metroid, would the well loved Halo really exist? The list goes on.
What is really interesting to see is how surviving video games of the retro world have morphed into the great masterpieces we see today. A prime example of this is Sonic the Hedgehog. Soon to be celebrating his 20th anniversary, this speedy blue critter has changed dramatically in both appearance and video gaming style. Once upon a time you would be dashing through Green Hill Zone as a podgy blue 2D hedgehog collecting rings, whereas now you can find yourself in a 3D world conversing with human inhabitants and gaining new abilities throughout the game! Other games which have managed to survive the ages include Street Fighter, Phantasy Star, Mario and of course Mortal Kombat!
Of course the good old arcade gaming days aren’t completely dead. Instead of relentlessly searching the web for these timeless classics, we can now simply purchase them as either classic gaming compilations or even download them onto our consoles from places such as Xbox Live Marketplace! Handy if you foolishly sold that precious Sega Mega Drive or don’t want to pay and arm and a leg for Gunstar Heroes.
What is also interesting to see is how 8-bit music has had an impact on the music produced today. How often have you been listening to a song on the radio and then all of a sudden picked up on the use of 8-bit sounds introduced into it? There has even been a recent surge in musicians using 8-bit music sequencers such as LSDJ, to draw out the incredible sounds of a gameboy and create their very own video game styled music! For a deeper look into the world of 8-bit music check out artists such as Sabrepulse and Bit Shifter.
So the question is, when we are old and grey and we’re sat in our armchairs twiddling our long grey beards, will we spare a thought for these legendary games we grew up with? The answer should be “yes” because without them the gaming world we know and love today would simply not exist!
What’s your favourite game from your childhood? That coffee-table shaped Pac Man machine? The cerebral Another World? Or is there a game that’s currently out and you think will become a legend in years to come? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.