"Retro City Rampage" is like most other forthcoming videogame releases this year, with one exception: it will look like it was made over a decade ago.
If all goes according to plan, by the holiday season owners of the Nintendo Wii and other consoles will be able to download and play the new game by Brian Provinciano, pictured above, in all its 2D, pseudo-8-bit glory. Filled with era-appropriate references, the game is a labor of love years in the making and it may become a standard-bearer for an emergent niche, "retrogaming."
Over the past several years, a community of developers and fans infatuated with the games and styles of yesteryear has developed. Their "8-bit" embrace is fueled by nostalgia, but like filmmakers working with the idiosyncrasies of 16 millimeter film, scaling games back technologically may also force fans to reconsider the elements of the medium.
Retrogaming comes in three main forms: remakes, demakes and new games made in the old style. A remake involves taking a favored old title and updating the graphics, music and dialogue, while leaving the gameplay generally untouched. A demake is the opposite: a modern game made to run on - or in the style of - consoles that were popular long ago. (Halo for the Atari 2600, for example, which is pictured below.) And then there is the third category, retro-styled games like Provinciano's: new titles that feature music and imagery in an older style. (Check out the trailer for the game at the end of the post.)