I am going to list five Retro games that I have played and will write what I like about them, how they work, the visual look of the game etc. A couple of these games would not necessarily be considered ‘Retro’ but I included them in my list because they are comparable in style and visuals to a classic Retro game.
Space Invaders is one of the most classic Retro games, what I like about this game and many other retro games is the simplicity of it; a black background makes the frontal objects/characters pop out. In space invaders, the objective is to destroy the invading ships before they reach you (they get increasingly faster as time goes on). Once you have destroyed all of the ships you have won the game but it’s not as easy as it sounds.
An iconic character composed of a single yellow circle with a triangular mouth, similar to space invaders the reason for the success of ‘Pacman’ is the repetitive and addictive style of play. The graphics are very basic with under 10 game sprites and a simple blue outline for the walls. There is only one level and a scoreboard, the aim is to eat all of the little dots whilst running away from the Ghosts. You have three lives and if you get caught by a ghost three times then your score resets.
Super Mario Bros:
The Super Mario Bros is perhaps one of the most well-known franchises of all time, the characters are instantly distinguishable by pretty much everyone alive. The story is one of revenge and justice as a simple plumber sets out on an adventure to rescue a princess from an evil Turtle named Bowser. The game features nice colored in backgrounds with plants as decor, mystery boxes that when punched release either coins (in-game currency) or powerups that have different effects on Mario. There are also enemies that will kill you (or take a life of you) when they touch you, you can jump over them to avoid this or simply jump on top of them to kill them. The adventure features multiple levels with unique obstacles for Mario to overcome. The success of ‘Super Mario Bros’ was no doubt down to the unique platformer style gameplay that was not used before. The idea of a story for characters to follow in a game was fairly new as well (apart from text-based games). At the time most games would be about doing the same thing over and over and getting a higher score, ‘Super Mario Bros’ was something more than that and has since flourished into an international success.
Hotline Miami isn’t exactly a retro game but it is very much influenced by the retro style. Its an extremely unique ‘top down shooter’ game that features bright colours, a retro techno soundtrack, different characters (masks) that have unique abilities. It follows the story of ‘Jacket’ who receives phone calls instructing him to commit massacres against the local Russian Mafia. Before each level, you walk through your apartment and answer the phone, the cleverly worded calls hint at what you can expect in the level e.g. ‘Babysitting for loud kids’ is a hint that the enemies will have guns.
Although it doesn’t look like much on the outside it has a surprising amount of depth and storytelling that will have you wanting to play the next level. The gameplay is extremely fast-paced and exciting, you are thrown into dangerous environments against enemies with very quick reactions, this encourages players to try and beat the levels using stealth if they find the traditional method too hard.
The visuals and the music quickly grow on the player, immersing them in the style of the game, this is what makes Hotline Miami one of my favorite games.
Battle Brothers is not exactly considered a ‘Retro Game’ but it again has a retro aesthetic and style. The visuals of this game are not for everyone but with my interest in ‘Medieval Fantasy’, I quite enjoy them. The game is ‘turn based’ meaning you take turns to attack or use an ability while the enemy waits to make their move (and vice versa). The game starts with the fall of a mercenary company, you are now the leader of this company as more than half of your companions and your leader have been killed in battle. You are now in charge of operations and can take quests, hire recruits and purchase equipment and supplies. Accepting a quest will give you an objective E.g. ‘Kill bandits in their hideout’ or ‘help escort a merchant to the next town’. Successfully completing quests will reward you with money which you will have to spend to keep the company going.
On the left image above you can see an example of a battle/encounter, when you bump into enemies on the world map (Right above) you are forced into battle. The player can choose to flee, although this will leave your company with serious injuries or you can stay and take your chances. The combat is very unique in how each character has an individual turn and amount of energy, the energy of each character determines how many actions they can take per turn. The game is extremely in-depth with a number of different items and upgrades you can find, along with injuries sustained by characters etc it can make for quite a satisfying ‘Micromanagement’ experience.
Overall I think that the graphics are very well designed and immerse you into the game, the harsh realities of death and injury keep you making sure each move is planned perfectly.