“Ultra HD 8-bit Deathmatch: Retro vs Modern Gaming!”


“But here I am in July, and why am I thinking about Christmas pudding? Probably because we always pine for what we do not have. The winter seems cozy and romantic in the hell of summer, but hot beaches and sunlight are what we yearn for all winter.”
-Joanna Franklin Bell



NPCs, behold the brilliance of using random internet inhabitants to create post content for me! In all seriousness, thank you to everyone who responded to the polls I posted recently. The polls in question asked participants what they thought were the worst elements for retro gaming and the worst things about modern gaming. We focused specifically on their shortcomings, no mention of their merits allowed. The answers may vary depending on your definition of “retro”. Personally, I reject the idea that any non-current gen games are retro. I personally define the retro era as ending with the fourth generation of consoles right at the rise of 3D, but it’s not a category that’s set in stone somewhere.


I think you know which side of the fence I fall on. As a Classics Gamer, I enjoy a lot of retro gaming but I have enough platforms to also enjoy the modern games of my choice. Feel free to debate these points if you feel so inclined, it won’t hurt my feelings. Some of the results, which I’ve conveniently collected below for your reading pleasure, may actually surprise. Then again, maybe they won’t.





I put the most common complaints at the top of the respective lists:


the Crimes of Retro Games

  • Games with severely outdated graphics.
  • Collecting them is becoming too expensive.
  • Having to find functional hardware that’s still in good condition.
  • Over-reliance on nostalgia.
  • Too difficult to enjoy.
  • Having to write down insanely long passwords.
  • Grinding for levels.
  • High random encounter rates.
  • No online features.
  • Games too short.
  • Too many games, too little time.
  • Unnecessary repetition.
  • Having to wait to reach the next save point.
  • Poorly implemented or unpolished gameplay.
  • Batteries dying.
  • Early 3D had very clunky controls.
  • Trying to make ROMs and emulators run efficiently.

the Crimes of Modern Games

  • Games released too early clearly before they’re finished.
  • Microtransactions.
  • Over-emphasis on graphics over gameplay.
  • Too many updates.
  • Games that require online network access but have no “doomsday contingency” that lets you keep playing if the servers shut down.
  • Games as a service rather than a product.
  • DLC overkill: downloadable content that should’ve been in the original release.
  • Over-coverage online and subsequent spoilers.
  • DRM issues.
  • Some lack of local co-op.
  • Dealing with trolls.
  • Exclusives.
  • Patronizing tutorials.
  • Some horrific voice acting.
  • Over-complicated HUD, UI, and gameplay features.
  • Enjoying games relies on online connectivity.
  • Secrets and add-ons are purchased rather than earned by skill.
  • Grinding for loot.
  • Hardware breaks and bricks easily.
  • Pay-to-win features.
  • Every protagonist is a middle-aged white male.
  • Long loading times.
  • Bland AAA games that take no risks.
  • Too many “mature” games, not enough “magic” anymore.
  • The rehashed sequels.


So take your pick. What’s most important is being critical even about what you love and laughing at it once in a while. Which era of gaming are you most drawn to? Do all of these crimes make sense, or are some of them infuriatingly misinformed? Did you notice that some of them are shared by both retro and modern gaming?


Hahaha! Anyway, thanks for reading and thanks to those who participated! Anything else you’d add to these lists?

-The Well-Red Mage


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58 replies »

  1. As usual, a calm n balanced viewpoint Well Red sir!
    However, retro (to Lord C, everythin b4 Ps3/X360) is better cos GoldenEye + no obbjob slaps rule + friends = win!
    Vs today: suicidal, friends busy, can’t afford to game or buy consoles… *Sobs Vigorously*

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t know. Modern DLC content and micro transactions are terrible, but so is grinding for experience and waiting for save points in retro. Wait a second, don’t modern games also have experience grinding and lack of checkpoints? RETRO ALL THE WAY!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I once classified myself as a retro gamer, but now…I think my heart will always lie in retro land, and even the current games I like have a touch of that to them. They’re either games from long established series or games that strive to emulate past aesthetics.

    It was the blogging community that made me break out of my retro snobbery though hehe, and I’m happy it happened. There are quite a few games out there that hold my interest and fill up my backlog.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pooh pooh retro-snobbery is terrible, but then I suppose snobbishness of any kind is nauseating. This is something I too am trying to grow out of, personally. I love retro gaming but this is why I’ve labeled myself as a Classics Gamer since this blog’s inception. That covers modern classics as well. Plus I don’t care for the word “retro” itself. It reminds me of brown couches and olive green drapes. I suppose it’s that aspect of writing which keeps writers writing, that it makes them honest with themselves and any possible snobbery, and only honest writers will discover their passion for the craft.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. That burger comparison is wrong. Preorder bonuses aren’t just bacon anymore. It’s bacon versus premium bacon versus extra bacon versus bacon and pickles versus extra everything versus $1 off coupon.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great Rundown!

    Everything comes full circle. We recently plugged back up
    our N64 & after 20 years it still works great. We are picking
    up games for under $20 on ebay & we have never had so
    much fun! Our first play through of Starfox 64 was a blast
    sweat, jumps, yells, & laughter. We also played Pokemon
    Snap & had so much fun. Our nephews recently got a
    Mini NES & we spent a birthday weekend playing Mario 3,
    showing them how to get the Warp Whistle, how to use
    various items & a few little secrets. Tbh, we are happy to
    spend a few months (or even a year) enjoying the retro
    realness before we invest in these “next gen consoles”.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. There are loads of annoyances with both retro and modern gaming but I always find enjoyment in both. I’d say I probably sway more towards modern games because of the attraction of shiny visuals and online play, along with the fact that although there’s a lot of boring crap and all that, I think there’s more variety than ever now due to the sheer multitude of different games on the market. There are a lot more developers floating around nowadays and as a result there’s a lot of different kinds of games being made, whether they’re on the indie market or they’re big’uns, and the amount of potential for fun there is with the new developing skills they’ve perfected is insane. I think although games have a lot of problems with DLC and all that, I think the positives outweigh the negatives and these are exciting times to be playing games.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. There is so much on both of theses lists that I could place in the other. The “problems” with gaming haven’t really changed, it’s just the way we look at things now that has. For many of us, especially those of us that are old enough to have experienced the “retro” games when they first released, we’ve lived through these issues continuously, generation to generation.

    Some are certainly new and unique to the rise of gaming with the internet but are they all actually problems? Games as a service, quality DLC that extends the life of a game, patches that fix bugs? I’m not sure I can say that I think any of that is offensive or outright bad. I mean Arcade games were designed to be unfair to the player so that you had to put multiple dollars in to play through it. I would have killed for extra levels in Mega Man 2. And are we really angry that devs continue to fix problems with their games? I remember plenty of games during my early years that had game breaking bugs that would kill your progress (and possibly your desire to start over), those are things that get fixed now.

    Sometimes I think there may be something missing in today’s games but then I see my son working his way through new games in the same way that I did when I was a kid and what I’ve come to realize is that games haven’t really changed. I have.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Sounds like you’re just as surprised as I was by some of the things on these lists, and that’s what I get for putting the question on in multiple places across the internet: interesting answers. For me, even though I gravitate more toward retro, I think it was helpful to see the problems that people associate with different eras of gaming and see that no era is or was perfect. I’ll gripe about issues I see with modern gaming when I have to sit through a 5 minute loading screen but then I’ll complain with just as much furor if the retro game I really want to buy is being sold for several hundred dollars.

      You’ve given a wise response, though. I can’t wait to see my own son latch on to a game on his own for the first time. The point essentially is are games still enjoyable? Well sure they are. Not all games were enjoyable back then and this compilation of crimes shows that things weren’t always what nostagia makes them out to be, while at the same time showing that the industry still has opportunities for moving forward.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Those comics are disturbingly accurate. As are both those lists! I think I lean more retro, but my main takeaway from this great read is I’m a glutton for punishment, because I deal with all crimes from both lists!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Well that’s an interesting takeaway, my emerald friend! I love all gaming with a preference for the retro, but it’s good to have a critical look at all of it now and then. Just to make sure our heads are on straight.

      Liked by 2 people

    • I can at least reasonably pass on new releases because they’re so expensive when I’ve got older games that I can find used for cheap or in collections and compendiums, or just hanging out on my shelf unplayed. Either way, time and pricing are huge issues.

      Liked by 1 person

        • Likewise. I did make a few day one purchases this year but that’s because I picked up new hardware, the Switch. Usually I avoid those because sometimes you get a busted game on day one for whatever reason. Sales are the way to go!

          Liked by 2 people

      • Having patience and a keen eye is always beneficial.
        We find that todays micro-transactions quickly add up
        when in essence you are buying nothing but virtual product.

        Sadly this type of business model is pretty unscrupulous
        since micro-transactions tend to bypass parents until
        they see a $300 bill for mobile gaming micro-transactions.

        In the past we had to save up our our hard earned pocket
        money for a new release. Now everything is just a button
        click away & instant gratification culture only intensifies this
        disturbing phenomenon. There is a balance to all things,
        but the research shows the psychology behind these models
        goes back to the good ole’ Skinner Box. 📦 ⚡️ 🐀 ⚡️ 💸

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I have a blend of old, and new. I enjoy both a lot. I think a lot of us get wistful for the old stuff because in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s not only did we grow up with it, companies took more chances. So there are a plethora of games that feel unique, even if sometimes weird. Pitfall! was one of the earliest examples of console adventures. Super Mario Bros. was the big foray into the modern platformer. Space Invaders gave the world the shmup. Ultima gave us grand scale in our RPGs. Outrun gave us branching paths in arcade racing. That isn’t to say that there aren’t new, or experimental ideas in games now. There are. But they’re not put out by the larger companies as often since there’s so much money involved now. If a new idea isn’t fun, and doesn’t land, it could end up laying off a lot of people. I think one of the great things in contemporary gaming, is the rise of small businesses. Independent developers are making a lot of new, and interesting games. As well as the kinds of games we wish the larger companies would still make. And a lot of them have been big successes. Rocket League. Shovel Knight. Axiom Verge. Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams. Chivalry: Medieval Warfare. Insurgency. Are all examples of games from smaller studios that have really entertained me. Even with the annoyances of micro transactions, Pay-To-Win, Overemphasis on pre-ordering, day one patches, etc. It’s a really nice time to be a fan of games. You get the big blockbuster stuff. You get the experimental middle ground. But I also think the old classic stuff is great, and it’s important to remember. I always get excited when I see a kid, or someone I have a few years on get intrigued by the old stuff. It’s like when you’re getting into Rock N’ Roll, and you discover what your favorite band was influenced by, and before long you realize knowing how The Beatles or The Rolling Stones or Elvis Presley shaped music is important for today’s artists, and fans. Classic Atari, Intellivision, Colecovision, Sega, Vectrex, Commodore, Apple, IBM-PC, Sinclair, Amstrad, Sinclair, MSX, Nintendo consoles, and computers (among many others) are where the medium we love was born. And so Retro gaming isn’t just about enjoying the games of yesteryear. It’s about keeping that history alive. That isn’t to say just because a game is old, it is automatically good. The glut of shovelware was one of the factors in the North American Video Game Market crash after all. But my hope is that if I live to be 100 I still see people interested in experiencing Demon Attack, Yars’ Revenge, Space Invaders, Donkey Kong, Berzerk, and Pac-Man. Those games may be simple, but they’re timeless. There’s a reason why after all these years I still fire up Forbidden Forest on my C64.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ah yeah epic comment! Thanks! Nostalgia is definitely an important factor that’s not to be overlooked, though I think you and I both agree that nostalgia doesn’t completely account for the love of retro gaming. That risk-taking and the money involved that you mentioned is probably one of my top five or so grievances with modern games. It just makes me pickier, though. It is indeed a good time to be a gamer with everything that there is to choose from.

      Liked by 1 person

      • There’s definitely less risk in today’s retail industry, but I’d argue there are tons of risks being taken in the indie scene. Most of the risk, though, comes in the way of genre hybrids (Crypt of the NecroDancer, Rocket League), not necessarily fresh ideas.

        Right now I’m very much into point & click stuff and I’ve been revisiting a lot of the classics by way of GOG and the Steam sale. As a console kid growing up, this entire genre is mostly new to me — so I have no nostalgia for it, but I’m immediately drawn to the pixel art, storytelling, etc. Thankfully classic gaming on PC is mostly affordable if you’re okay with digital purchases, but on console it’s a whole different beast. My girlfriend just checked today and she has 3 PS2 games that would bring in nearly $500 total if she sold them. That’s insane, and far more than you’d pay for three modern game and all of their respective DLC.

        Liked by 1 person

        • You hit the nail on the head, as always, CBA. This is why the indie scene is really so beloved in so many circles. It’s a section of the market seemingly dedicated to a lot of what we’ve loved from the past. Risk taking is high on that list. Of course, we’re speaking in generalities, though. There are several bland, clone-ish indie games and some really great AAA games. Just got to cover my tracks, you know? 😀

          I love the point and click stuff and I have a huge nostalgia epicenter somewhere in my gray matter for it thanks to two things: Maniac Mansion on the NES and Zak Mckraken and the Alien Mindbenders on the C64. Those two really sold the P&C genre for me and I’ve loved it for all its anachronisms ever since. Sure, it’s not the same now that hints and solutions are at your fingertips thanks to the internet, but that didn’t stop me from later enjoying (as best I could) Grim Fandango and Broken Age, more recently.

          And yeah, the retro game resale market is dumb.

          Liked by 1 person

  10. I love the comics here; they’re so true!

    I wonder sometimes if games have “grown up” with the people who started playing them when video games were in their infancy (us? cough cough). Developers are developing for an older audience, a more cynical audience,and…well games can reflect that. That has nothing to do with what you’re saying, but it was just a thought I had reading this.

    At the end of the day, no game, style, or era is perfect, and it all comes down to preference. One thing I’ll never understand is what appears to be the never-ending war between gamers, either because of the consoles they own or the types of games they play. I will say that the advent of the internet seems to have upped the presence – or perhaps the volume – of the trolls and haters, though… At any rate, there’s so much out there to experience and enjoy, just let people enjoy themselves.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I definitely see the cynicism in modern gaming but I know for me, and for some others, it’s still off-putting. Not all adults are automatically cynical about the world and I personally think that adults need to get back to experiencing the world with the wonder and excitement of children again. It’d probably make us happier people. The thing with gaming as it is now though is there are so many options. Luckily, cynicism and so-called mature content in gaming may characterize the mainstream scene but it doesn’t dominate the entire industry. For me, modern indies are definitely scratching that itch for the delightful, the magical, the mysterious without the dark, gritty, and ultra-violent. I also approach gaming as something I can share with my own kids so I usually steer clear of that, anyway. Preference, as you pointed out, is indeed a huge factor in deciding what kind of games you like and enjoy playing. And yes, let people enjoy playing and at the same time stand against people treating other people like feces in so-called social online gaming. I like to think that trend will break eventually but I sure miss couch co-op. Thanks for the comment! 😀

      Liked by 2 people

      • I agree. I like a little grit in my games as much as the next guy, but there’s something to be said for looking at the world with a little wonder as an adult. I definitely think if people were exposed to a little more magical or fantastical types of games/media, it would definitely begin to put us all in a much happier state. I think that might be why games like Journey and Abzu are popular, as well as indie titles, like you mentioned.

        I miss couch co-op, too!

        Liked by 2 people

        • Just want to jump in on this thread – I guess I fall somewhere in the middle camp between cynicism and wonder. I am the type of person who goes to the pharmacy and gets overwhelmed by the sheer amount of toothpaste and shampoo brands – the marketplace is over-saturated and there’s too much choice. When you were young, you had what games you had and you learned to love them, even if they were flawed. In that sense, I am a bit cynical, in that gaming landscape is so competitive that studios are constantly trying to one-up the other guy, which too often means a focus on graphics and action over actual story and gameplay. Despite that, amazing and innovative games come out every day, but even games that are truly decent will fall under my radar because my time is limited. So in a sense, I almost feel guilty because I simply can’t play all the games I would absolutely love to. I think that is where some of the wonder goes as an adult – just in the sense that my hobby is now so hard to properly keep up between work and my relationships.

          That being said, I like to think I still approach games with a sense of wonder, and I’m so glad that my partner in crime has the same silly sensibilities as myself and we share a lot of those experiences. I’m playing Gravity Rush 2 currently, and just the act of flight in that game makes me so happy – I used to dream a lot as a kid I could fly like that. Recent games I’ve played that were so amazing, like Horizon Zero Dawn, Breath of the Wild, Shovel Knight, Life is Strange, Axiom Verge, have all left their marks on me same as the games I played as a child.

          So when it comes to Retro vs. Modern, I’m ambivalent. They both have their pros and cons. A good game is a good game, whether rendered in 8-bit or UHD 4K!

          Liked by 2 people

          • Thanks for jumping in, J! I know exactly what you mean about paralysis because of too many choices. I find myself gravitating to a single console and camping there for months because of this. I just can’t keep up with all the new releases because of time and money, so it’s best if I just put them out of mind and come back to the ones that I really want to eventually. Helps me avoid hype, as well. Wonder and cynicism… I’m just glad the market is big enough to support both.

            You’ve dug deep enough to reach my ulterior motive with posting this article. Shh it’s a secret to everybody. Both retro and modern gaming have their pros and cons, and that’s my point. I’d like to see less infighting so rather than split up this post into two posts, with one about retro gaming and the other about modern gaming, I decided to include all the cons together to show everyone that neither one is perfect. Essentially, it just comes down to what you enjoy and what someone else enjoys, but at least now we know better what others are thinking about the eras and where some of their real faults lie. I’d be concerned if all there were were games prior to the 2000’s or if there were only AAA games today. Likewise, some of these crimes are indeed shared across all of gaming, so in the end, a good game is a good game! 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

          • They definitely do both have pros and cons! That’s an interesting point you make about having time as an adult. I wonder if knowing your hobby can run away without you sort of kills the mood sometimes, as it were.

            But I agree wholeheartedly that, at the end of the day, a good game is a good game, whether it’s two days old or twenty years old!

            Liked by 2 people

            • There may be slightly different sensibilities over time but the core needs of gamers in terms of story and gameplay don’t essentially change. A lot of keen commenters have pointed out that there are a lot of shared crimes between these lists.

              Liked by 1 person

  11. I love all games from all generations, though the SNES era is my favorite. Having to write down insanely long passwords… now that made me laugh! I used to have a notebook full of passwords and cheat codes for all my games!! Actually, I still have it haha!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I started gaming during the end of SNES era at a very young age, and then I grew up on the Nintendo 64. I’m not sure if that’s classified as classic or not, haha. Anyway, I know there’s a ton of amazing retro games I haven’t played yet. For example, I was too young to get into the glorious 16-Bit RPGs on the SNES that many people are very fond of (yes, including FFIV, which I’m working on now, FFVI, and Chrono Trigger! I hate backlogs…). I really enjoy the quality of life improvements modern games have (insane amounts of grinding as time sinks is not fun gameplay to me), but I also have the utmost respect for the roots of my favourite hobby. I guess I really like playing games from all generations. I even have an Atari 2600 🙂 I fully appreciate where video games came from, and I love the direction they are going, especially in terms of equality issues (there are so many badass female characters I look up to now!). DLC, micro transactions, shoehorned multiplayer modes, online gaming rage trolls, and always online requirements just need to go away. NOW!!

    Liked by 4 people

    • You can classify it however you’d like to classify classic. Nobody owns it all, and that’s the beauty of this hobby of ours. Those backlogs are tough but you’re on the right track sounds like. We’re both right there with playing games from all generations!

      Liked by 2 people

  13. I really enjoyed those comics – most of them are spot on. I think there have been some annoying developments in modern gaming but on the whole I think it’s a net positive. I’m also ok with updated versions of the old games, and am excited for the new Crash and FF12 remakes

    Liked by 3 people

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