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Retro Games FAQ
What are retro games?
Retro games, sometimes called classic or old-school games, are old games of any format that can still be played today. There is no fixed timeframe, style, or games system to be considered a retro game, but generally, any game released before the year 2000 can currently be accepted as retro. Who knows? By 2050, perhaps your current favorite AAA game will be considered retro.
They can be 2D, with pixel art graphics that were prevalent on 8-bit or 16-bit systems in the ‘80s and ‘90s. A number of classic platform games, RPGs, and top-down shooters were made in that style and remain recognizable and playable even now. Despite appearing more technologically advanced than those games, 3D games, such as 1998’s Unreal, can also be considered retro games.
Retro games can be played in a number of ways. Some PC games from decades ago are simply still playable, having been kept up-to-date by their developers, publishers, or even fans who wish to keep their favorite games running on modern hardware. In fact, some fan patches are so well-made that they’ve been formally accepted by the developer as updates and pushed out to players.
Some older PC games have been re-released with updated engines by third-party specialists. These are often titles that were released on CD or DVD but which the original developer or publisher, for any number of reasons, declined to continue to support them. The re-release can be the original game made playable for modern systems, or it could be a re-master, retaining the original gameplay but updating the graphics and sound.
Official emulation is a recent trend, where publishers of older console games will release the game on PC or modern console systems. These are typically the original game files, released with an emulator to be playable without the original hardware. This allows people who don’t have access to original systems and media (games came on disks and in cartridges, all of which can degrade), which can date back decades, to easily play some classic or even “lost” games. It’s even the case that games that were once kept exclusively to a single system can now be played on any hardware that supports the emulator.
In short: retro games, or old-school games, or classic games are simply games from an older generation that can be played today.
Why are retro games still so popular?
Retro games represent a lot of things. At their simplest, they’re a way for people who played the game when it first came out to reconnect with the game. A lot of formative gaming memories are powerful experiences, and reliving those experiences will give you a new perspective or better appreciation of what you played. Also, you might realize that the game wasn’t quite as hard as you remember it. That’s always humbling.
They’re often also still great games that stand the test of time. Great writing, art, and gameplay doesn’t age. You can pick up a classic RPG from the ‘90s and enjoy it just as much as a modern game, with the added bonus that it’ll probably run extremely well on almost any hardware.
Can you play retro games online?
Yes. In fact, many games that could previously only be played together in person, with players sharing a console or playing together on LAN (multiple gaming systems hooked up together in the same room), can now be played online, enabling multiplayer co-op or versus gaming in ways never dreamed of at the time of release.