Retro gaming has become big business in recent years, with 8-bit games now popular amongst a new generation of gamers.
8-bit consoles and computers once dominated the home entertainment system, whether it was a console such as the Master System or Nintendo Entertainment System, or more computer-centric machines such as the ZX Spectrum or Commodore 64. The flexibility of the Raspberry Pi has brought titles from 8-bit machines, such as the Commodore 64, back to life. For many gamers of the older variety, evenings hunched over a little colour television looking at blocky graphics was the norm, and now those titles invoke feelings of nostalgia.
Return of Retro Gaming
Even big developers often revisit their old titles, remastering them for a new audience. Recently, the Mass Effect trilogy was announced as being re-released with a next-generation polish, much to the delight of gamers who played the first title, back in 2007. Whether harking back to 8-bit days, 16-bit days or even more recent PlayStations 2 and 3 releases, retro gaming is on the rise.
There is even a market for 8-bit versions or interpretations of popular games and shows that have come since. For instance, Final Fantasy is a game which stretches the most powerful of machines to their limits, but it has an 8-bit webcomic based on it for fans to enjoy.
Rise of Retro Entertainment
CNET explains it is not always games which get an 8-bit makeover, the hugely successful TV show Breaking Bad got one of its own. Following the adventures of Jesse Pinkman and Walter White, the show ran for five seasons and won a host of awards. It also later received a film spin-off, El Camino, showing what Jesse did after the climax of the show. The 8-bit version was fan-driven and intended to mix retro gaming with a contemporary television show, which it did successfully.
Such was the popularity that another series also came as a spin-off, Better Call Saul. Foxy Bingo discusses how Better Call Saul features Jimmy, know as Saul Goodman, who also starred as the shifty lawyer protecting Walter in Breaking Bad. The series were intrinsically linked, and the Better Call Saul narrative wound its way towards the chronological start of the Breaking Bad series, delighting fans. It stood to reason that, following on from the 8-bit Breaking Bad experience, there is also a similar release for the follow-up show.
Brazilian developer Collectivo created ‘Batter Call Saul: The Game’, which draws from the character and themes from the series and interprets them as an 8-bit game. The mechanics are familiar though; there is no Leisure Suit Larry style RPG for Saul, which might be a good fit, but instead classic games used within the Better Call Saul setting. The classic games used as a basis for the gameplay are Snake, Donkey Kong. Pac Man and Space Invaders, but they are reimagined as La Serpiente, Billboard Fever, Pac Mike and Space Inmates.
Whilst the release is unlikely to challenge The Legend of Zelda or Mega Man 2 as the best 8-bit release of all time, it is bewildering that gamers are hungry for experiences that regress, rather than show progress. A Better Call Saul video game on the PlayStation 5 would have to be too immersive and featured so much licensing, that it is not practical. The days of 8-bit gaming were so much easier, with a simplistic approach to titles and minimal fuss in terms of release and promotion.
They were simpler days and for many gamers, young and old, they are days that they are happy to recreate through various forms even as we sit on the cusp of the ninth generation of machines.