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Retro Revolution: What The Hell Is "Retro", Anyway?

Posted on Wednesday, October 19 @ 14:34:50 PST by KevinS



I've named this little recurring column "Retro Revolution" because it focuses on older games, but there is some debate on just what "retro" is. Some games and consoles are universal, like the Atari VCS and the NES, but what about the PS2? When did the Saturn reach the threshold? And when should we expect to reminisce about the original Xbox… or can we already?


I've heard multiple interpretations on what "retro" should encompass, so let's start with a common one: the "Ten Year" rule. If a console celebrates a ten-year anniversary of its launch (like the PS2 did around October of last year, or the GBA earlier this year), then it's automatically included with the "retro" group. The main argument ,as I understand it, would indicate that if a piece of hardware was released a decade ago, it would have a style that would be specific to that hardware and its limitations. The real reason why this might be popular is that it requires only rudimentary math skill and… well, yeah, just basic math.

You would think I might stick with that one (I'm a writer for a reason… numbers ain't my first love), but I tend to go by the "Two Generation" rule. If a game platform is two generations behind the current one (like the NES became retro behind the Playstation release), then it's done in. The only exceptions to that would be a situation like the Dreamcast, which was sort of released between generations and died way before its time. The Dreamcast is an interesting situation all on its own, released in that in-between period of the PS2 and the N64 (technically, it started that following generation) and, after its untimely demise, became almost immediately "retro" for its lack of shelf life.

A third idea that will occasionally rear its head is the "dude, it's old" thought process. My nephew is 14 now, and everything that's not of this generation (or this current part of this generation… think the past 6 months) would constitute retro… or just "old". And who wants to play "old" when there's all kinds of shiny "new" that "everyone else" is playing? Who really wants to play a newand awesome2D platformer with new mechanics and level structures when the new Resistance is out and shit goes crazy? Who needs anything bit.Trip when we can download Assassin's Creed? [Can Dark Souls be called a "neo-retro" game? ~Nick Tan]

But the real question is: What do you think? Let me know in the comments. I want to hear what GR considers retro!




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