There's a very good reason classic game genres never go out of style. While games may age, what they have to offer never does. These classic genres show a fundamental understanding of just what it means for a good game to be “good” and still cater to a sizable niche of gamers today.
In this article, we'll discuss some of the more popular retro genres still well-loved in 2024 and look at what modern games emulate that style today.
The Return of the “Boomer Shooter”
Retro FPS games tend to be lovingly called the “boomer shooter.” Unlike modern first-person shooters, boomer shooters are a bit on the story but heavy on the action and atmosphere. There’s an emphasis on fast movement, good gunplay, and resource management to win the day.
Image courtesy of Id Software’s Doom via GOG
Modern reimaginings involve titles like Cultic, Warhammer 40 000: Boltgun, and Viscerafest. Their pixelated aesthetic may seem low-budget, but this callback to the classic graphic style is deliberate, as is the fast-paced nature of their combat. These modern games channel the same energy their predecessors did, and their quality shines through the retro-style.
Image courtesy of Jasozz Games’ Cultic via Steam
First-person Dungeon Crawlers were all the rage back then. Games like Might and Magic and Wizardry were top-dog and affectionately called “blobbers” because the player’s party “blobbed” and moved like a singular person. These RPGs emphasized the adventure, taking players to far-flung continents and having them dive into dungeons and face off against demons.
Image courtesy of Sir-Tech’s Software’s Wizardry 6 via GOG
Titles like Legend of Grimrock and Vaporum are all modern takes on the age-old blubber. The controls have been improved, but the spirit of the genre lives on, with plenty of games taking up this classic dungeon-crawling mantle.
Image courtesy of Fatbot Games’ Vaporum: Lockdown via Steam
2D Platformers Replatformed
Who can forget games like Mario, Metroid, Castlevania, and the classic Prince of Persia? These iconic platformers weren’t just great games; they also spawned multimillion-dollar franchises that exist up until today. Their legacies were built on the fundamentals of jumping and shooting, and while this genre can be a little simplistic, nothing beats a classic side scroller done right.
Image courtesy of Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros.
Image courtesy of Studio MDHR Entertainment Inc’s Cuphead via Steam
Even Ubisoft can see the potential of a good platformer and has thrown its own hat into the ring with the rebooting of the Prince of Persia franchise. Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is their own take on the side-scrolling platformer and channels the speed and flow of the classic games.
Untold Horrors Now Resurfaced
The survival horror genre started with games like Alone in the Dark and Resident Evil and peaked with the PS1 and PS2 horror games like Resident Evil 3 and Silent Hill 2. With a focus on managing limited inventory spaces, the survival horror genre is a good mix of risk and reward gameplay with horror aesthetics. It asks players to manage their ammunition and healing while creepy, crawly horrors stalk them from the shadows.
Image courtesy of Capcom’s Resident Evil 2 (Classic)
While this type of horror game fell out of favor, modern survival horror titles still exist, with a very dedicated cult following anticipating every new release. Games like Song of Horror, Alisa, and Signalis are all new takes on the genre, combining the very best parts of survival horror with their own unique spins on what can truly frighten an avid horror gamer.
Image courtesy of rose-engine’s Signalis via Steam
Roleplay Gaming in Resurgence
RPGs will never die. That much is certain. Whether it’s the engaging story that keeps players at the edge of their seats or the fun, interesting combat keeping players hooked, RPGs have always had a place on a classic gamer’s shelf. Household titles like Final Fantasy and games like Dragon Quest, Fallout, and Baldur’s Gate are well-known. All of them play differently and ask for different levels of roleplaying to immerse yourself in them, but all of them have the traits that an RPG gamer loves—a unique, interesting world to explore and immerse themselves in.
Image courtesy of Interplay’s Fallout via GOG
Today, there are plenty of modern RPGs. While the genre might not be as popular as it once was, entire generations of gamers still look fondly back on RPG franchises like Mass Effect. 2023’s own GOTY award winner as an RPG title - Baldur’s Gate 3 - and games like Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous and Divinity: Original Sin still have a market to tap into.
Image courtesy of Larian Studio’s Baldur’s Gate 3 via Steam
Our very own WrestleQuest is a testament to how much we believe in the genre. Mixing turn-based gameplay with a wrestling hero into the unknown, WresteQuest is our personal love letter to the RPG genre as a whole.
Thinking back on these titles is a blast from the blast and a proper nostalgic look at what gaming once was and how it is today. If you think any more retro genres deserve to be remembered, join our Discord, and let’s reminisce on these classics together.
This article was written by Alexander Cuaycong.