The games industry has grown exponentially over the last 20 years or so, as advances in technology have brought video games into almost every home, and almost every person on the planet has access to a smartphone with internet capabilities. Every conceivable type of game is on offer to players, from puzzle and arcade games, to MMORPGs and First Person Shooters. Games are fun and exciting; a source of entertainment and a way to socialise with friends across the globe.
Retro games have once more come to the fore, with renewed interest in popular games like Super Mario Bros, Mario kart, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, 007: Goldeneye, and even more basic games like Pong and Pac Man. But it is not just old games that are remembered fondly; there is always an interest in the ‘good old days’; retro fashion, TV shows, and music.
Why are retro games so popular?
One of the key reasons that retro games are growing in popularity is nostalgia. The memories of playing with parents, or gathered round an arcade with friends, are memories people want to recreate. It is also now that millennials (especially slightly older ones) may be sharing their fond childhood memories with their own children. After all, we remember the scenes of fathers showing off their Poke Card collections to their kids when Pokémon Go was launched!
However, nostalgia only plays a part in why retro games are popular. The feel of the game, the visuals, the graphics and the challenges all come together to determine the playability and longevity of the game. The culture that went alongside the games back then was very different too. The idea of competition was very different: you could play against your friends locally to see who was the best but the focus was not to destroy your opponents and be perfect. There is also the ‘wow factor’: it was so innovative to have a game in your house, on your TV, it made it feel like anything was possible. Now, if a game isn’t perfect, it is criticised.
Many of the new versions of retro games, or new games with a retro feel, avoid many of the issues that came with the originals:
More choice for players
Better graphics and sound
Retro Slot Games
Many casino operators have taken advantage of this renewed love for retro, and have created a number of slot games that draw on this theme. The online slots at DraftKings feature a retro theme that is clear to see on a number of different games, from the imagery used, the themes, and the musicians and films from the 1970s and 1980s.
Attack on Retro
This game draws on old school science-fiction themes to provide an immersive and exciting gaming experience. There are many features in this game, with the game play in-keeping with the retro vibe. The bonus feature provides a mask scatter which pays out on three or more. There is also a re-spin feature, random wilds and bonus free spins, which provide a 95.98% RTP.
Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure
Based on the iconic movie of the same name, this game draws on the nostalgia and cult following of the film. The iconography is very 1980s, with big hair and shoulder pads, the Wyld Stallyns, and of course the eponymous heroes featured throughout. The No Way, Yes Way! feature gives players a second chance at the bonus feature which transports players to the phone booth and travel through time to collect historical characters.
Renewed popularity of old school consoles
As well as a renewed interest in retro games, there has been a bona fide explosion in the popularity of retro gaming systems. Many of these come pre-loaded with the most popular titles of the day. They do have their limitations: additional games cannot be downloaded, there is no online functionality, and there is no way of inserting cartridges or disks to play additional games.
Nintendo released a number of mini plug in and play consoles preloaded with their most popular retro games such as Balloon Fight, Bubble Bobble, Donkey Kong, and Super Mario Bros 1, 2 and 3 in 2016 which sold out of the 2.3 million units in record time.
Sega released the Genesis (also known as the Mega Drive outside the US) recently, with 42 pre-loaded games, including classic like Sonic the Hedgehog, Gunstar heroes, and Earthworm Jim. They added a bonus of wireless controllers, so the retro vibe is there, but not quite as close to the screen!
SNK Neo Geo Mini
This micro arcade cabinet is top of the class for nostalgia value, with baked in controls perfect for the quick fire games that come with it, including Monsters 2 and Metal Slug. The downside of this ‘console’ is the tiny screen, that can make gameplay slightly difficult, and it does not easily plug into a monitor. It is perhaps best as decoration rather than a playable console.
Games of the past laid the foundations for the games of today, and it is only right that they are seeing a resurgence, and a bit of a revamp, to bring them into the 21st Century, and showcase them to a whole new generation of gamers.