Home > Random Thoughts > The term “retro”.

The term “retro”.

Before I start, let me say I have NO RIGHT to tell you how to make games. These are just personal thoughts. Please take them with a grain of salt.

I have mixed feelings about the term “retro” as it has evolved into a gaming buzzword. Allow me to explain.

I feel that grouping older games into a single genre called “retro” is both ignorant and unnecessary. This is a common buzzword tossed around without a solid definition in order to sell games to the 25+ crowd. I see a lot of games that are called retro that have very little look and feel of the classic games I played as a kid in the late 80’s and early 90’s.

A game created in the 80’s and 90’s style should conform to a large majority of limitations of the time. I see a lot of games pushed out under the guise of being retro that don’t remind me of anything I played back in the early days. In those days we never saw 1000 sprites on the screen all being dynamically rotated and transformed with 32 bits per pixel. Clone games that run in absurd resolutions and have stiff unanimated smudgy 256×256 sprites being rotated in hardware are by no means retro. OK now that 2D is almost dead in the mainstream I guess it could be considered retro for what … the year 2005?

Please if you are going to call a game retro make it look and feel like it came from the early 90’s.

Even though I cringe at the term retro (it is not specific enough and groups entire genres into a mess by release date) the blow is lessened by the following.

My original sprite (yep some of my OLD art here!)

Adhere to low resolutions. (NEVER INTERPOLATE pixels use integer scaling and find the best fit for the window.)

Good clean integer scale.

Bad interpolated mess.

If you are going to transform a sprite, transform it in the lower resolution before upscaling the entire screen to run in a modern resolution. Don’t have differently sized pixels … please. Rotating a sprite after scaling it into the display resolution will cause diamond shaped pixels and ruin the effect … yuck! Transform in low resolution then upscale the entire scene with integer scaling.

Now the retro feeling is lost, this should have been rotated in the low 1:1 sprite resolution not the display resolution!

Stick to color limitations, don’t go making 256×256 pixel smudgy Photoshop messes. Also don’t go making 256×256 pixel smudgy photoshop sprite messes then posterizing and shrinking the sprite to fit it into the game. Blurring the heck out of poor Mario won’t make him seem any more detailed in a higher resolution.

Uh oh… (Look just because it is bigger and more colors doesn’t add any detail!)

Categories: Random Thoughts
  1. raizor
    June 6, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    Interestings points and i agree with most of them. The ‘retro’ label seems to be stamped on anything that’s not a 3d FPS shooter these days. Bilinear filtering for sprites is indeed the Devil’s work 😉

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