Video game

From Donkey Kong to Final Fantasy: How retro video games are making a comeback – Evening Standard

Maybe it’s the coronavirus lockdown or maybe it’s because people from the 80s are getting older, but it’s hard to resist the pull of retro video games.

Great waves of nostalgia will wash over anyone today who was actively playing video games when consoles first began coming out, and people who grew up during these times alongside it all are now feeling sentimental about those times in their 20s, 30s and 40s.

Whether it was Donkey Kong in 1981, Legend of Zelda in 1986 or Final Fantasy in the 90s, this period saw the first iterations of pretty much every major video game franchise still going today.

The charm and pull of ‘retro’ video games have never gone away and you don’t have to look far to see this confirmed. Even this year has seen the remake of Final Fantasy VII release in April and subsequently, a brand new Crash Bandicoot was announced in the summer.

This revival, mind you, isn’t exactly new and has been happening for years now.

Below we’re going to list some retro video game franchises which are still making waves today. Be they lengthy remakes or simple ports, retro games aren’t going anywhere.


Pokémon is pretty much going to go on forever and ever thanks to the popularity of the first two games on the original handheld Nintendo GameBoy.

Stemming from that, Pokémon had something of a life on the N64 console with titles like Stadium and Pokémon Snap. More recently, Pokémon Sword and Shield released last year, continuing the mainline series which first began with red and blue (or green, in Japan).

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Pokémon Snap is coming to Nintendo Switch (Pokémon)

Snap, which is one of the most beloved Pokémon games, is going to undergo the remake treatment too and will be coming to the Nintendo Switch console.

Somewhere in 2020, we’re going to have a list of new video games being released which were all introduced in the 1980s and 90s.

Donkey Kong Country

While there’s nothing specific about Donkey Kong that’s new, this classic from the 16-bit era of gaming is being ported to the Switch.

It was such a big deal that the game was trending on Twitter, with people calling out in joy that this gem was going to be available at this scale.

Every month, the Nintendo Switch adds retro games from the SNES and NES to the Switch console through a virtual console function, which basically lets you play these original games on your Switch console.

All you need is a Nintendo Online membership (kind of like a PS Plus subscription) and you’ll get access to a huge library of old games which defined Nintendo.

Donkey Kong Country will be on the Switch soon (Nintendo)

This is something the 3DS did, just emulating older GameBoy games, for example.

Nintendo has been doing this for a while now but it’s clearly a solid choice to add these classic games to its ever-growing library.

It gives returning players a powerful hit of nostalgia while also opening up retro games to younger people who might never have had the chance to experience what gaming was initially like.

Final Fantasy

Final Fantasy is one of the best-selling video game franchises of all time, shipping hundreds of millions worth of copies across the globe.

In recent years, there’s been a deep yearning for the older, infancy days of Final Fantasy which is oft held as the pinnacle of the RPG series.

To this day, Final Fantasy has enjoyed critical acclaim to utter hatred from fans and critics alike, as publisher Square Enix is endlessly failing to tell a good story in a modern Final Fantasy.

Even when you look at the first part of the Final Fantasy VII Remake, which was released in April, the publishing team simply couldn’t help themselves from changing the story up and convolution it to the nth degree.

The visuals and environments are breathtaking (Square Enix)

Not to say that the first mainline games in the series weren’t convoluted, but they held a certain charm, innocence and playfulness which has been subsequently lost in modern Final Fantasy titles.

That said, the appetite for Final Fantasy games has only been increasing despite the hatred the Remake received and it’s probably a safe bet to say that more Final Fantasy games will be getting remakes in the future.

This is due to the lofty heights games like Final Fantasy 2, 4, 6, 7 8 and 9, for example, are held in gamers’ hearts.

Retro Final Fantasy is considered the best of the best and right now, nearly every numbered mainline Final Fantasy game has been ported to PC or console, still enjoying success so many years after the initial release.

It was recently the anniversary of Final Fantasy IX, which was released 20 years ago now. Consider as well that the often-overlooked Final Fantasy VI is now 26 years old.

The fact that Final Fantasy is still relevant today and still held in such high acclaim goes to show how impactful those first few titles were.

Crash Bandicoot

Crash Bandicoot has been popular ever since it was first released back in 1996 — and two further editions of the game soon followed.

The original, however, is by far the most iconic as it introduced many to the platforming genre when it came out on PlayStation One.

Studio Naughty Dog has certainly come a long way since those days of making games where you had to collect Wumpa fruit and donning a mask made you invincible.

The overworld map, in all of its pixellated glory (Naughty Dog/Sony)

After falling out of favour in the past decade, platformers have seemingly re-emerged as an important part of the gaming landscape. Games like Crash were often held as the gold standard in the platforming genre.

Games like Croc Legend of the Gobbos, for example, didn’t receive nearly as much love as it should have despite coming out a year after Crash.

Lo and behold, in 2017 Crash Bandicoot got its remake for a modern audience and there’s more to come from the franchise now.

Crash Bandicoot 4 was announced recently and it’s basically going to retcon all of the unpopular and pointless Crash games which came out after Crash 3: Warped.

Either these companies are running out of ideas for new games so they want to recapture the magic of the original iteration or people are genuinely interesting in the games for the sake of nostalgia. It seems that the latter is the case when you consider how these games are received by new and old players alike.

These few titles are just the tip of the iceberg and this trend isn’t anything new.

We think it’s a safe bet that games are going to be remade and re-imagined over and over again as technologies advance and the capabilities of console and PC gaming continue to innovate and provide us with things we never thought possible.

Above all, there is a want to be able to still play and relive the early days of gaming in the modern era – which is something we should encourage, if only as a consideration for those who simply weren’t alive at the time to play games which are held in the pantheon of gaming.


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