Retro video games have become big business these days. With products like all these mini consoles such as the NES and SNES classics, the Atari Flash Backs and the various collections of retro games, it’s become clear that a large segment of the gaming consumer base has an affinity for products that remind them of the glory days. But have you ever noticed that most of these retro products are either made by Nintendo, or done in the same style as Nintendo products? Even the wave of “retro inspired” games many come in the form of pixelated 8-bit graphics. This desire to recapture our youth has expanded beyond the generation who grew up with Nintendo. More and more young people who never owned an NES are getting into “retro” collecting or retro gaming.
Okay so the question is does Nintendo have a monopoly on retro? I don’t mean they are the only company making products that fall under the retro umbrella, rather my observation is their products, new and old, are the central focus of all things retro related. I never considered playing big box PC games or classic computer games as retro gaming. Part of this is PC’s are inherently backwards compatible by their natures. This is coupled with the fact the majority of the well known PC games retro gamers might collect are typically re-released on modern consoles in an near endless manner anyways.
A few years ago I purchased a PS4 because, for me, the original PS1 was starting to get nostalgic and I was really missing those old franchises. The fact FF7 HD was promised early in its life was a major contributing factor. But despite feeling nostalgia for the Playstation brand, I never considered it retro. For me, maybe I am missing the mark, but I even consider new or modern Nintendo games are retro games. Even thought it just released a few weeks ago, Kirby Star Allies could easily fit right in with my Kirby Super Star on SNES. Aside from the HD graphics and the modern look, it really doesn’t feel like a modern AAA title at all. In fact in all honesty, I rarely think any Nintendo game falls into that camp. I am not one of those who think of this as a bad thing, for me part of the appeal for Nintendo is how they aren’t Sony and how they don’t change with the times. Even if you pick up a new console with a nee fangled controller scheme, at the end of the day the games still always feel like the same old classic Nintendo games I have grown to love.
Looking back I can honestly say I don’t get this vibe with Playstation or even PC games. One of the reasons I diverged from the Playstation and stuck with GameCube instead of PS2 is because the PS2 felt so different from PS1, whereas Nintendo GameCube felt like a new and improved N64. When I looked back at the Wii I overcame my dislike of motion controls and developed a strong affinity for the platform based on all of the retro goodness it brought to the world.
I don’t even get excited for “modern AAA” games coming to the Nintendo Switch. Part of that is I own both a gaming PC and a PS4 already, but also, the appeal of a Nintendo console is the Nintendo style games. My question remains then, do Nintendo games automatically qualify as retro games by default? If so, does that inherently give them an unabridged monopoly on the genre?