Retro Gaming: Unmasking the Nostalgic Charm in 2023

Last updated: 12/27/2023
7 minutes read

With the constant surge of innovative technology in gaming, it's not surprising that high-definition graphics and complex gameplay mechanics take center stage.

Amid the revolutionary upgrades, a nostalgic trend endures - retro gaming. The classic gaming style has carved a niche for itself in the gaming industry, boasting a dedicated following. So, what is it that makes retro gaming appealing?

Understanding the Allure of Retro Gaming

Retro gaming, a term often synonymous with vintage games, refers to video games from the 1970s to the early 2000s. Anything can fall into this bracket, whether it's arcade cabinets or home consoles.

Retro gaming is making a remarkable comeback, but why? It's not just about revisiting the past; it's a nostalgic journey that brings players back to the charming simplicity of earlier times. The games of this era, renowned for their innovative mechanics, offer an enjoyable experience shrouded in a unique vintage charm.

The resurgence of retro gaming goes beyond playing old games on modern platforms; it's about infusing new life into the nostalgic art, soundtracks, and gameplay that defined a generation of gaming.

Top 5 Retro Games on Current Gen Consoles

Today's video game landscape draws significantly from the retro classics, and contemporary platforms have opened the door to a new wave of retro-inspired gaming. It's also worth noting that some games can be played directly on a browser (as in the case of HTML5 games) while others are downloadable to your device.

Personal taste often dictates our favorite games, but certain titles have left an undeniable mark on the industry due to their wide appeal and influential nature. Here are our picks for the top five retro games that have made a triumphant return on modern platforms.

1. Super Mario World (Nintendo Switch)

Nintendo’s Super Mario World on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) redefined platform gaming upon its release in 1990. Shigeru Miyamoto’s Super Mario Bros had already changed the game upon its release, with gamers experiencing its innovative smooth scrolling and precise controls breathed new life into the genre, making Super Mario Bros a commercial and critical success.

Super Mario World took this one step further, using the 16-bit graphics of the SNES to take everything to the next level. Now, there’s an overworld, along with a greater variety of levels and monsters to encounter. And this was Yoshi’s debut too! The game's enduring popularity is evidenced by its active presence in the speedrunning community and various remakes.

2. Resident Evil 4 (Nintendo Switch, Xbox One PS4, PS5)

Capcom’s survival horror classic quite literally changed the genre with Resident Evil 4. Released in 2005, the game’s reveal proved to be at odds with diehard fans who were expecting another encounter with the devilishly evil corporation Umbrella and its merry collection of zombies and other unsightly monsters.

Resident Evil 4 immediately threw this into the trash, starting the game with the demise of Umbrella, with returning protagonist Leon Kennedy traveling to Spain to save the president’s daughter. Was it corny? Yes. Was it just full of ridiculous twists and gameplay scenarios? Yes.

Resident Evil 4 reinvented the over-the-shoulder third-person shooting genre, and its influence in this genre can be felt today, whether it’s The Last of Us, Gears of War, or anything else. It all points back to RE4. It even got a remake in 2023, too.

3. The Legend of Zelda - Ocarina of Time (Nintendo Switch)

Another Nintendo classic, there’s no escaping it. This 1998 masterpiece took the world by storm, setting a new standard for 3D adventure gaming. With an expansive world to explore and a multitude of puzzles to solve, Ocarina of Time encapsulated what made the Zelda series so beloved while adding new layers of depth.

For many gamers, this was their first big Zelda experience as they clutched at their weirdly shaped Nintendo 64 controller. OoT brought a new sense of adventure as you traveled through time to fight Ganondorf with your Master Sword, switching between kid and adult Link when necessary.

The game's influence is still felt in contemporary titles, and it remains a fan favorite through various rereleases. It even had a remake of the Nintendo 3DS too that’s well worth checking out.

4. Doom (Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PS4, PS5)

Doom took the gaming world by storm in 1993. If Wolfenstein opened the door to first-person shooters, Doom ran through it with a chainsaw. Its visceral, fast-paced action experience was unparalleled at the time. Developed by id Software, now part of Microsoft, and led by John Romero and John Carmack, Doom's gameplay was straightforward yet addictive, requiring players to navigate through levels and dispatch hordes of demonic enemies with Doomguy (yes, that’s his name - don’t question it) fighting to survive the hell on Mars.

The game's legacy persists today, with source ports and console releases still enjoyed by many. Today, it’s now quite affectionately known as a boomer shooter, but its gameplay, level design, and catchy soundtrack make it forever relevant.

5. Final Fantasy VII (Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PS4, PS5)

Final Fantasy VII was a pivotal moment for the franchise, with Square Soft (now Square Enix) moving the franchise from 2D to 3D, which also took advantage of the massive space that moving to the CD format allowed. This is where CGI cutscenes become a thing with the franchise.

The game followed Cloud, a 1st Class Soldier tasked with supporting a fringe-eco group in saving the world from an evil corporation. Along with the legendary soundtrack and story the game is known for, it also introduced gamers to the JRPG genre, as well as the turn-based combat we came to love.

The original version is available on basically every format, plus, there is also a new remake for players to experience!

Whether you're a long-time fan or a newcomer to these games, there's no denying the timeless allure of these iconic titles. Enjoy your trip down memory lane!

The Future of Retro Gaming: A Sneak Peek

As we navigate the latter half of 2023, the gaming landscape is abuzz with anticipation. Several game developers are poised to release titles with a distinctive retro flavor in the coming months. Some noteworthy titles slated for release in the third and fourth quarters of 2023 include:

Star Ocean The Second Story R

Another gem from Square Enix coming November 2nd, this retro remake of the classic RPG promises an exciting and immersive space-faring adventure. With its enriched graphics and intricate storytelling, it's sure to provide a deep dive into nostalgia for fans of the original Star Ocean.

Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol. 1

Konami brings back the beloved stealth series with remastered versions of the original games on October 24th. The collection includes upgraded graphics, enhanced gameplay, and the timeless thrill of playing Solid Snake.

Silent Hill 2 Remake

Bloober Team offers a new take on the horror classic, Silent Hill 2, with revamped graphics and atmospherics that still maintain the eeriness of the original, arriving September 29th. This remake is set to unsettle a whole new generation of gamers.

Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars

This acclaimed RPG game is making its triumphant return on November 17th. Known for its innovative blend of platforming and role-playing elements, this title offers a rich storyline, strategic gameplay, and charming visuals.

Looking even further ahead, early 2024 is shaping up to be another exciting period for retro gaming, with major developers teasing projects that will take us on a nostalgic journey back to the roots of gaming. Though details remain scarce, the game development community's continued interest in the retro style assures us that the classic, timeless appeal of pixelated graphics and 8-bit music is here to stay.

Yes, as long as you own the original game and console, it's completely legal to play.

Is Retro Gaming a Hobby?

For many enthusiasts, retro gaming is a much-loved hobby that allows them to relive childhood memories and enjoy classic gameplay mechanics to the fullest - so yes! Retro gaming can definitely be considered a hobby.