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Retrogaming, also known as classic gaming and old-school gaming, is the hobby of playing and collecting older computer, video, and arcade games. These games are played either on the original hardware, on modern hardware via emulation, or on modern hardware via ports or compilations. Participants in the hobby are sometimes known as retrogamers in the United Kingdom, while the terms classic gamers, or old-school gamers are more prevalent in the United States. Similarly, the games are known as retrogames, classic games, or old-school games. Retrogaming is often linked to, although not the same as, indie gaming, the hobby of playing games that are not published by any conventional publisher. Additionally, the term old-school could apply to a newer game, but with features similar to those of older games, such as "old-school RPGs".
Among the most popular retro games are those produced around the 1980s[, and include games for the ]Atari 2600, Commodore 64, MSX, ZX81, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, and the Nintendo Entertainment System. Arcade games are also popular, especially early games by Konami, Sega, Atari, and Williams Electronics. Games in this era were frequently attributed to individual programmers, and many retro gamers seek out games by particular developers, such as Eugene Jarvis, Dave Theurer, Jeff Minter, Tony Crowther, and Andrew Braybrook. Some games are played on the original hardware; others are played through emulation, and in some cases entirely new versions of the games are written (so-called "retro remakes"). As well as playing games, a subculture of retrogaming has grown up around the music in retro games.
In the wake of increasing nostalgia and the success of retro-compilations in the sixth and seventh generations of consoles, retrogaming has become a motif in modern games, as well. Modern Retro games will impose limitations on color palette, resolution, and memory well below the actual limits of the hardware in order to mimic the look of older hardware. These may be based on a general concept of retro, as with Cave Story, or an attempt to imitate a specific piece of hardware (as with La Mulana and its MSX color palette).
Modern retrogaming began to gain traction thanks in part to the independent gaming scene, where the short development time was attractive and commercial viability was not a concern. More recently major publishers have started to embrace modern retro with releases like Mega Man 9 (an attempt to ape NES hardware), Retro Game Challenge (a compilation of new games on faux-NES hardware, and Sega's Fantasy Zone II remake, which actually used emulated System 16 hardware running on PlayStation 2 to create a 16-bit reimagining of the 8-bit original.
Modern retro may sometimes be more broadly applied to games that feature retro-style designs with more modern graphics, like Pac-Man: Championship Edition, Space Invaders Extreme, or 3D Dot Game Heroes.
The nostalgia-based revival of older game styles has also been accompanied by the development of the modern chiptune genre of game music. Chiptunes are characterized by severe limitations of sound imposed by the author's self-restriction to using only the original sound chips from 8-bit or 16-bit games. These compositions feature in many retro-style modern games and are popular in the demoscene.
- Atari Flashback (plug-and-play system)
- C64 Direct-to-TV
- Capcom Classics Collection (compilation)
- Console emulator
- History of video game consoles (third generation)
- History of video game consoles (fourth generation)
- MAME (arcade emulation)
- Multiple Classic Computer
- Midway Arcade Treasures (compilation)
- Namco Museum (compilation)
- Power Player Super Joy III
- Virtual Console
- Collecting arcade games at the Open Directory Project
- Classic console platforms at the Open Directory Projectfr:Retrogaming