When is a game a "retro" game?

As suggested in this thread, I’m opening this new topic to discuss about what and when a game is (called) a “Retro” game. I think we have to distinguish two cases:

  • (Very) old games
  • A new Game that looks like an old game (like TWP)
1 Like

Retro City Rampage?

1 Like

Interesting question. :slight_smile: It’s a new game but a “clone” of the retro(?) game GTA 1/2.

Other than @Sushi and @Guga I title more games “retro” games, for example for me “Half Life” is a “retro game”.

I’d say those are just old games…

…and those are retro games. In my mind ‘retro’ means mimicking an old style, as in ‘retrospective’. It can’t be retrospective at the time as that makes no sense.


A :100: times this!

That´s exactly how I define the term, too. And it´s even in the word. Old games are old games retro means going back to an older style.


The first two GTA games are an interesting case for the style and time they were made in. They were released at a time where there was a clear dominace of 3D games and the topdown perspective was largly dying out at the time and here comes this small studio delivering a game that looks like playing with matchbox cars and it becomes this huge success.

Of course they went the 3D route in 2001 and only rarely (Chinatown Wars, Advance) looked back, but all the thought behind these decision would interest me to be honest. Unfortunatly I hear that biopic movie about the Houser brothers is supposed to be largly terrible.

1 Like


Well, you might be right, but then you’re forgetting another quite popular use of the word “retro” in games. Retrogaming. As in “playing old games”, not “retro games”.

But I could agree with you. I don’t like the word retrogaming. That’s like saying retromoviewatching whenever I feel like watching an old movie, and nobody says that. So why should we distinguish between “gaming” and “retrogaming”? Gaming is gaming, no matter how old the game is. I’m not “retro boardgaming” when I play Pictionary only because Carcassonne came out 15 years later.

I think that’s because today (video) gamers are snob kids who never experienced the reality of limited hardware capabilities. They use the term retro to excuse themselves for playing something which isn’t any or all of these: 3D, fast-action, hyper-realistic, DLC, micro-transaction based - and not to forget some in-game chat/social network stuff,…

Though, like I said earlier the term retro is in the eye of the beholder*: if you grew up in the '70s/'80s, playing any of those video games qualifies as replaying an old game. Nostalgia would be a more appropriate term. If you were born in the 90’s or later, then playing those old games is indeed retro (as in looking backwards to a time you did not experience first-hand). Next to that, the term “retro” became a way for online stores to classify games (mainly on their visuals) as using a style that is below par of what the computer/console/phone hardware can do. “It’s ok, it’s supposed to look like that. It’s retro!” Like a hipster thing. Retro sells. Like “vintage” in fashion.
Myself, I couldn’t care less of what other people think about the coolness of the games I enjoy and like to play today.

So yeah, I think the analysis of @PiecesOfKate and @milanfahrnholz above is spot on. I also tolerate younger people using different terminology. I just don’t care :smile:

*: if that triggered an image of a skeleton in armor hacking its way through a wooden door…welcome to the '80s, my friend!

Yeah I hadn’t thought of that usage. Although, retrogaming is a verb there - it’s the gaming part that’s retro, not the game. It just means ‘playing old style’.

The problem is the use has morphed a bit to mean generic ‘playing old or old style games’, probably since that kind of stuff made a comeback.

That’s a good point - it probably depends on who’s using it.

And the only reason for that comeback is that the kids from back then have grown up now to be the marketing guys and gals on one side and a customer potential who can afford to buy that stuff (again or for the first time) on the other side.

Yep - nostalgia sells! And also because trends and fashions have a way of coming back round again.

That´s a really good point. When you look at the 80s they were really a lot about the 50s (Back To The Future, Stand By Me, Huey Lewis, Robert Palmer, Happy Days, Laverne And Shirley) because the people born in the 40s and 50s were between 30 and 40 by that time. Just like us now that´s were all that 80s stuff comes from. Who knows what and when the next wave will be like.

Exactly! Same thing happened again with “That 70’s show”

Well, at least in Germany the 60s and the 20s are very popular at the moment too. Younger people are paying a lot of money for the furniture of the 60s. The “Rockabilly” scene is still growing. And more and more (younger) people are discovering the Lindy Hop.

Right and that was the 90s/00s. Though that 80s was a major failure. Maybe it was too soon, or just not funny.

Why those and why would you think that is?

Don’t ask me. :slight_smile: I hate these Cocktailsessel (don’t know the english word) and other incommodious furniture from the 60s.

That´s funny because where I live I discovered a while ago a hair saloon that is designed to look exactly like it was from the late 1800nds early 1900nds. I thought “wel that´s gotta be a hipster barber shop”. And look at those beards, glasses and suspenders that walked out of there, I was right!

Yeah! Where are the neon signs and the brown carpets from the 80s?!?

1 Like

We really need to open an 80s themed restaurant like in Back To The Future 2. With 80s music, decoration, clothing and arcade machines…

1 Like