You never forget the games you loved as a child. Those times when your parents let you play on the PlayStation or Nintendo 64 for an hour before dinner were always the best, even if they didn’t happen as often as you’d have liked. A lot has changed since those days, but one thing has stayed constant – our feelings toward nostalgia. We’ll never stop loving the games from our past, although some of them haven’t aged well over the last 20 years. Luckily, there are plenty of modern releases that are designed to look just as retro as the classics, only with much better gameplay.
Games like “Super Mario Bros.” probably come to mind when you think of 2D side-scrolling platformers, especially ones with 8-bit graphics. However, if you thought that this style of gaming belonged in the ‘80s, think again. Developer Yacht Club Gaming utilized similar elements in its 2014 release “Shovel Knight” and is now responsible for producing one of the most successful indie titles of all-time. Millions flocked to buy this Kickstarter game when it came out, and people still love it today.
The visuals are exactly what you’d expect of a game released in the era of nostalgia, but they look incredible in HD. Plus, don’t be fooled by “Shovel Knight’s” retro imagery. It may look old, but the release is as complex – if not more so – than some of the most challenging platformers out there. “Super Mario Bros.,” “Megaman” and other similar games weren’t known for taking it easy on the player, and this indie title has definitely stuck to that formula. You won’t be completing it in a few hours, that’s for sure.
It’s easy to forget just how much of a competition there was between Sony and Nintendo in the ‘90s. The former introduced Sonic as a way to rival the success of Mario, but the speedy hedgehog couldn’t outrun everyone’s favorite Italian plumber. Fortunately, the unique structure of “Sonic the Hedgehog” made it just as captivating a game to play, and the series has continued to thrive over the years.
In 2017, Sega released another addition to the franchise that reminded fans of the good ol’ days. “Sonic Mania” featured side-scrolling platformer levels in the same vein as the original games, complete with ‘90s graphics for that old school feel. The release was an instant success, recapturing the essence of nostalgia that had been lost in the franchise’s newer games. It brought back the thrill of speeding through a level with all the frustration that comes from hitting an enemy. Some things should never change.
Farming simulator “Stardew Valley” was inspired by another series of games from the same genre, so it’s no wonder the creator decided to give his release a retro touch. The indie title is largely based off of “Harvest Moon,” a franchise that’s been around since the mid-‘90s. Elements like relationship development, combat, and – of course – running a farm were all taken from the older series, with the intention for “Stardew Valley” to improve some of the shortcomings in those games.
The indie title might not offer the ultra high-def 4K graphical experience that a lot of gamers are used to nowadays, but it’s incredibly addictive. The retro style of “Stardew Valley” adds to its charm, something that it already has heaps of with its fleshed-out characters and adorable take on farm life. Many people have found themselves lost in this game for hours, and rightly so. It’s super relaxing to play after a long day at work.
Some people say that video games have gotten too easy nowadays. Perhaps we’re just more skilled with a controller than we were 20 years ago. We’ve become so familiar with how to navigate platforming stages and take down bosses that it’s like second nature to us no matter what we’re playing. The creators of “Cuphead” felt that this was the case which is why when it came to their game, they didn’t go easy on the player.
Described as one of the more challenging games of 2017, the run and gun indie release received a lot of praise for embracing the art styles of the past. Focused specifically around the cartoons of the ‘30s, the retro aesthetic gave this game a lot of charm and made its rich variety of bosses a lot more fun to fight. It’s not often that you enjoy losing a level, but “Cuphead” managed to make defeat rewarding in its own way.
If you yearn for that retro style but don’t have your old consoles or games still lying about, these titles should get the job done. You can feel like you’re still a kid in the ‘90s, only without your parents around to stop you from playing for as long as you’d like. Isn’t that the dream?