Nostalgia and Video Gaming


Despite the constant push for new innovation in gaming, nostalgia remains a huge part of the industry. Whether it’s the pixelated graphics or simple gameplay, many gamers yearn for the classics.

Luckily, developers have been releasing retro games with modern features. For example, Shovel Knight was able to preserve the NES aesthetic while offering a modern interface.

1. Pac-Man

Nostalgia goes hand in hand with video gaming. It’s one of the reasons why gamers continue to play games like Pac-Man. Even though the game is over 40 years old, it continues to be a hit!

When Pac-Man first hit the scene in 1980, it was unlike anything else out there. Whereas other arcade games of the time involved shooting marauding aliens, Pac-Man was about eating – and the main character looked like a cartoon with big eyes and an open mouth. It was designed by Iwatani Tohru with the intention of attracting female customers, unlike most games at the time which were aimed at young men.

Players maneuvered the yellow character around a maze consuming PAC-DOTS and avoiding ghosts, while collecting power pellets to clear each level.

2. Sonic the Hedgehog

At its simplest, nostalgia is a sentimental yearning for a happy past. That certainly plays a role in gaming, but so do other factors. Gamers who find themselves tired of sprawling open-world games or dreading another session of Fifa can escape to the quaint simplicity and challenge of old-school couch co-op.

Designed to be Sega’s mascot, Sonic the Hedgehog introduced players to a spiny speed merchant with the game’s dazzling loops, corkscrews and clever environmental tricks. Naka envisioned a character obsessed with speed and let Ohshima fill in the details of a recognizable creature whose color matched Sega’s cobalt blue logo.

As the player progresses through each zone on South Island, Sonic destroys robotic hostiles operated by the principal villain, Dr. Ivo Robotnik (better known as Doctor Eggman). At the end of each chapter, Sonic defeats the villain’s vehicle and liberates woodland animals inadvertently infesting its mechanical body.

3. Super Mario World

Nintendo’s 8-bit NES console was being upstaged by Sega’s Genesis, whose black box was cooler, faster and had a bigger library of games. The company needed a hit to reclaim the lead and Super Mario World delivered.

The game quickly showed off what the new system could do – crisp colorful sprites populate wide open spaces while music adds to the atmosphere. Hitting enemies multiple times or in certain ways changes the music tone to let players know they are close to earning a 1up if they keep going.

The game also introduced several key concepts such as the seven Koopalings, a Cape Feather to fly in the air and Yoshi who can be brought into any level (except ghost houses and castles) and can be fed enemies to become a different color providing a unique power-up. It also has one of the best overworld maps for any Mario game.

4. The Legend of Zelda

Nostalgia is a major part of the appeal of classic video games. Players connect with these games as relics of childhood and simpler times, and the allure of reliving those memories is similar to that which draws people to vintage albums or to re-watch classic movies.

This Nintendo classic is a role-playing game that centers on a green-clad hero named Link, whose job it is to save the kingdom of Hyrule from a dark demon called Ganon. Link travels between an overworld and dungeons, where he must collect items and battle enemies in order to progress through the story.

The Legend of Zelda was first released in 1986 for the NES, as one of the launch titles for the Famicom Disk System in Japan, which offered the ability to save game data on an internal battery. It was later re-released as part of the NES Classic Edition and as one of the timed demos available in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, limited to two minutes of play.

5. Mario Kart

In an age when AAA games push the limits of photo-realistic graphics, pixelated classics can offer something a little simpler: nostalgia.

With the modern console market dominated by games that immerse you in fully-realized worlds, many people find a real joy in returning to simpler times. Whether it’s the pacing and banana shots of Kick Off, or the sharp passing game and barmpot storyline in Sensible Soccer, these older titles are popular with gaming fans who prefer a more laid-back experience.

The resurgence of retro gaming is hard to ignore. A number of retro-inspired systems are selling well, while newer games with a recognizable 8 or 16-bit aesthetic have found a huge audience. This nostalgia could prove to be the key to a long-lasting resurgence for the medium of video gaming.

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