Five Reasons Why Retro Games Were Better Than Modern Games

Photo by Denise Jans on Unsplash

Believe it or not, there are a lot of folks out there who prefer retro games for PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, SNES, Sega Genesis, Arcade, and other “ancient” consoles to the detriment of modern games with highly realistic graphics. No, not because they can’t afford to buy a console or PC capable enough to run games with more modern graphics, nor because they’re incurable nostalgics. While nostalgia may play a role in this case, however, there’s a much deeper explanation for why many still prefer retro games.

First of all, I wish to point out that I’m not an adversary of modern games. If you’ve read my previous articles, you know very well that I like to play games such as GTA 5, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Sniper Elite 4, and many others. Modern games are more attractive due to the fact that they offer much more realistic graphics, but believe it or not, some people can live without that. And nobody can deny that retro games are better than modern games, at least when it comes to the following aspects:

No lengthy updates

Modern games frequently need to update themselves, and many of them won’t even start if you don’t wait for the latest update to install. Many of those updates are completely useless; others can even damage the game to some degree, and they take a lot of time to install. You obviously open a game to play it, not to wait forever for the latest update to install. If you’re also familiar with those frustrating scenarios, it means that you definitely play modern video games.

Surely, many of those updates can be important and improve the gaming experience, but wouldn’t it be reasonable to get the complete experience right from the start as long as you pay for a game? Guess what? On retro games, on the other land, you get the complete experience right from the start. There are no updates or DLCs, and you certainly don’t need anything to install before launching a new session of a game. It’s just you and your game; play it as much as you like!

No cutscenes and less focus on the story

Sure, it’s important for any game to have a story in order for the player to have any idea what the heck he is struggling for in those games. But modern games add an exaggerated emphasis on the story, and they keep bombarding you with cut scenes that you can’t even skip in many cases. It can be very frustrating to be forced to watch cutscenes when you just want to freaking play the game. Games are meant to be played, which is why they’re being called games in the first place! If you want to watch a lot of dialogue and a story, you go for a movie or a book.

Retro games, on the other hand, are a lot more focused on the gameplay itself than on the story, which makes them a lot more enjoyable as long as you just want to play, not watch The Young and the Restless. They’re almost completely devoid of cut scenes, especially those very frustrating ones that appear during the gameplay itself, when you expect them the least. Most of the PlayStation 2 games, for instance, had tremendous success worldwide, and they’re known for their very little focus on the story.

No in-app purchases

In many modern games that are usually free, you need to pay money if you want to unlock certain upgrades. One good example is World of Tanks, a game that keeps getting updated and improved every year. Although it won’t cost you anything to install and run the game, you have to pay money if you want to get your hands on more advanced tanks.

When it comes to retro games, on the other hand, the only way to unlock various upgrades, such as weapons, transformations, and characters, is to actually play the game. The feeling of unlocking an upgrade based on your own effort is infinitely more pleasurable than having to pay money for it.

More difficult gameplay

Remember the last time you played a modern game, and your fingers hurt after only a few minutes of gameplay? Neither do I. Games now are made with the comfort of the player in mind, as you often need to press as few buttons as possible to progress or maintain a certain pace. As for retro games, you often had to remain with muscle soreness on your hands to progress, and two very good examples that come to mind in that regard are Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3 and God of War. These two games require every bit of attention and skill in order to progress. While the gameplay might have certainly been a bit painful, that’s what added to the beauty and passion of playing such games – you just somehow felt the struggle along with your character, as the game really made you feel that you were stepping in his shoes. As for modern games, on the other hand, many of them completely rob you of such experiences.

Let’s also not forget that in the case of most retro games, you step in the shoes of a character who has a limited number of lives. If you lose those lives, you have to start your mission right from the beginning or even from the beginning of the game itself. As for modern games, most of the time, you can fail as much as possible; you’ll still spawn in the place you’ve been at your failure. Such an approach was made in order to make players not feel bad if they lose. While that may be a nice idea, such games rob you of the true delight when you reach the next level. How could you truly be happy about defeating one of the game’s bosses, for instance, when you know that you can fail as many times as possible and still have the chance to beat him?

Local multiplayer

Many of the retro games allow you to play them alongside a friend in the same room. You could permanently tease, joke around, and laugh a lot as you both play the game, which can indeed be a very fun experience. As for modern games, many of them lack the local multiplayer mode and instead rely on an online multiplayer setup. While that could be the next level for some people, as they get to play against many other gamers and make new friends from other cities and countries, the experience of playing against a “real adversary” in the same room is definitely priceless.

Boss fights

This one may be subjective, which is why it doesn’t necessarily count when it comes to the main reasons why retro games were better. But we all have to admit that retro games often have boss fights that you need to go through at the end of each level. This adds an extra feeling of tension and delight if you defeat those bosses, while when it comes to modern games, most of them don’t have any boss fights. You just need to pass a mission, and that’s it. No real excitement and delight when you go to the next level, but once again, some people may find this approach without boss fights more interesting, and that’s okay. It’s always great when people don’t have the same opinion on the subject.

To summarize, I believe that retro games have done a better job than modern games when it comes to the gameplay itself, although the latter have much better graphics. If graphics are all you care about when it comes to gaming, sure, go ahead and play modern games! But I believe that the good old saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” can also be applied here.

It’s okay to be a fan of either modern games or more retro titles if you ask me. Ultimately, each and every person decides for themselves what to play, while they can also choose not to play video games at all if that’s what they want.

Cristian Antonescu
Cristian is in love with technology, as are many of us. He has a vast experience as a content writer in the field. He's involved especially in the hardware area, where he covers the latest news regarding smartphones, laptops, PC components, and so on.