Boss Rush Banter: I Don’t Know How to Define “Retro” in Gaming, Do You?

How do you define what a retro game is? What constitutes how a retro game is defined always seems to be a hot topic on the internet that not a lot of people can agree on. I’ve heard arguments saying that in order to be “retro” a game has to be ten years old, have pixels, or can’t be played with an HDMI cable. The term “retro” seems to be ambiguous, so let’s take a look at how we can narrow down the term “retro” for gaming.

Let’s take a quick look at how Wikipedia defines retro. The online encyclopedia describes it as:

“a style that is consciously derivative or imitative of trends, modes, fashions, or attitudes of the recent past. It generally implies a vintage of at least fifteen or twenty years. For example, clothing from the 1980s or 1990s could be retro.  Retro-style is an outdated style or fashion that has become fashionable again.”

By this definition, something that’s retro does not have to be old; it can be brand new but would have to be made in the style or time of the item/game that the studio is trying to replicate. With that being said, would you consider a game like Celeste or Octopath Traveler to be a retro game?

I personally don’t go by the Wikipedia definition of retro when I define retro games; I like to define them by difference in technology from then until now. Let’s take a look at PlayStation 2 and GameCube for instance. PlayStation 2 was released in March of 2000 and Nintendo GameCube was released in November of 2001. I have seen a lot of people tell me that because the graphics are 3D and the systems are capable for a full 360 rotation, that these systems shouldn’t be considered retro. I disagree. Neither of these systems support an HDMI cable, and most games on either system don’t fully support wide screen. It’s crazy to think that games made 16 years ago may not even have full screen support.

In my eyes, I will always look back on the difference in technology to define what retro gaming is. However, “retro” seems to be open for interpretation. How would you define what a retro game is? Share your reactions in the comments below.

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