Soon after I started working on the “Best Retro-Style Games” feature I realized that this is a very prolific sub-genre and that while multiple games make use of this style to catch the attention of a very specific audience, there are also other titles that really succeed at making an experience that feels both old and new at the same time. Here’s a list with ten terrific retro style games that I couldn’t include in the previous article.
Originally released as a freeware platform adventure, Cave Story is an homage to classic two-dimensional games from the NES era, especially to the Metroid series. The internet made sure that Cave Story become extremely popular and that’s why over the years it’s received a few updated releases, including WiiWare and DSiWare ports, an enhanced Steam version called Cave Story + and a 3D remake for the Nintendo 3DS.
To a certain extent, To the Moon uses its references to classic titles to trick the players into thinking that this is a 16-bit role-playing game. But once you start playing you realize that this is a graphic adventure with a fantastic story, great sense of humor and some heart-wrenching moments. The visual aspect, soundtrack and simple mechanics will probably remind you of classic games, but underneath all that, there’s a fresh and new experience.
Mega Man 9
For Mega Man 9 and 10, developer Capcom decided to go back to the series’ roots and craft a familiar 8-bit experience. This retro-throwback was extremely well received by hardcore fans of the series who have been jumping on platforms and identifying the attack pattern of bosses for decades. Unfortunately, Mega Man 9 is only available on consoles (Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360,) so if you own a PC, the only option involves spending some money on one of those machines.
Bit.Trip Runner is a two-dimensional platformer that also features arcade-style rhythm mechanics. Of course, following the rhythm at the same time you jump over platform makes the game feel refreshingly unique and new, but at its core, this is a traditional platformer. Additionally, the 8-bit music that combines the electronic and techno genres makes the game feel old and new at the same time.
Gunpoint is a stealth-based puzzle platformer where you assume the role of a freelance spy who needs to infiltrate buildings to complete various objectives. Its unique art style, writing, music, gameplay and visuals make Gunpoint an entertaining game where fans of classic games will feel right at home.
Evoland takes you on a journey through the history of video games, including the Game Boy, Super Nintendo and PlayStation eras, among others. See as you progress, you unlock technologies that make Evoland look, sound and play as if it was a game from a particular era. Some of the games that inspired Evoland include Final Fantasy VII, The Legend of Zelda and Diablo, so if you’re a fan of any of those games, you need to play Evoland.
Clearly inspired by Metal Slug, Mercenary Kings is a fast-paced, cartoonish platformer where you need to shoot everything that moves. Detailed animations and sprites are the main components of this games in terms of visuals. There’s also a weapons crafting system and co-op mode, so there’s content for hours and hours here.
Volgarr the Viking
In this two-dimensional platformer you need to slash everything around you, so if you have any sort of affection for 8-bit and 16-bit action platformers, this is definitely for you. Additionally, there are multiple mechanics that keep the combat fresh and entertaining, so you can double jump, slide, collect armors and so on.
Mighty No. 9
This game has been inspired by Mega Man. Do I need to say anything else? I guess I could, but since this game hasn’t come out yet, it’s difficult to make references to specifics. Still, from what I’ve seen so for Mighty No. 9 looks, sounds and feels like a Mega Man game and that’s great.
The Legend of Grimrock
Do you enjoy dungeon crawlers? If you do, it doesn’t get better than The Legend of Grimrock, a first-person, grid-based dungeon crawler that has been inspired by PC role-playing games like the Ultima Underworld series. The game definitely borrows a lot from those classic games, but also looks terrific by today’s standards which is always great.