Monday, 3 June 2013

Are Modern Games Better Than Retro Games?

The argument over whether modern games can be considered to be superior to retro games has waged pretty much for as long as games have existed. Retro gamers and modern gamers alike can be fanatical in their beliefs and so the argument is never really won or lost, it just goes on and on. Normally it’s an argument that I don't give much thought to. I enjoy both modern games and retro games but, at the moment, my retro collection is far larger than my modern collection.

So what made me want to take part in the argument?

Well more and more I've seen people arguing that modern games have to be better than retro games. Its as if its no longer a matter of opinion and it now belongs solely to the world of fact. Perhaps the most worrying part is that these people don't come across as mindless fanboys, they put forward their arguments in a calm and intellectual manner. But can they be right?

Their argument stems from the perceived superiority modern ideas and technology have over old ones. Games now have better audio and visual quality, the controls are often tighter and more responsive, the worlds can be bigger and more full, voice acting allows for a cinematic experience and basically big games these days play out like Hollywood movies. This is all true, modern games do look and sound great and I love roaming around huge worlds like Skyrim. I love modern games. But do these factors make them better than retro games? Why is Mario Galaxy better than Super Mario Bros.? Because it looks prettier and has a bigger world? This is what a lot of people argue and I think its wrong.

Retro games are of course slaves to the technology of their time but this does not mean they cant be as good as a modern game. Technical marvels and gameplay innovations do not determine a game’s greatness, nor do sales figures. What matters is that the individual playing a game is enjoying it. It could be a forty year old arcade game or the latest Call of Duty, if that one person enjoys it then it can be considered good. So what if a game has better graphics, better sound, better controls? This does not make it a better game.

My issue with this isn't that the argument exists, its a fine argument. Personally I don't know what I prefer, my favourite games of all time are mainly retro but nostalgia obviously plays a part there. I do love modern games but I couldn't pick between old and new if I could only have one or the other. Anyway... my problem here is that people argue this as though it is fact that modern games are better, as though the argument cannot exist because there is nothing to argue over. This is what is wrong and this is what has prompted me to write this.

Keep the argument based on opinion. Facts don't belong here.

Out of interest which do you lot prefer? Retro or modern? Or do you not have a preference? 

Now I'd just like to add a shout out for Randy who sent me a link to his blog which is all about the world of gadgets. Go check him out if you're into technology. 


  1. It's an age old argument, and I was amused to see that you brought it up after reading your "Donkey Kong Country" review. I was amused to see you mention how tough you found DKC to be; in direct contrast to how I remember it back in the day.

    I think the modern game fans are more drawn to the graphics, whereas the retro gamers look for a challenge. Coming from an age where the graphics could only serve as suggestions, and you had to fill in the rest, I fall into the second camp. I like games that make you think, that don't provide save options every three feet, and aren't afraid to show you who's boss.

    1. I have to say as a modern gamer I find the level of challenge is just right to make the challenge add to the game's appeal. DKC is tough but I love it for it.