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c0op3r

What makes a system "Retro" - open discussion

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So I brought a version of this question in the Wii Forum a while back about the Wii and why it has not been moved to 'Retro' Status.  Then I was watching RetroRGB (youtube) the other night and someone posed a similar question to Bob, I found the answer interesting, in short he did not have a definitive answer but made an interesting point.

 

So to me what makes a system or machine Retro?

 

1) No longer support by or having software produced by the first party - helps if they have produced a replacement (ie Playstation 1 there is a 2, 3 etc so the Playstion meets this requirement).

2) Does not have a digital video output (this was the point brought up by Bob of RetroRGB) - I found this to be a great point as all modern systems have some sort of Digital video output.

 

I would love to hear other thoughts on this, and where you draw the line for retro.

 

Cooper

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Posted (edited)

I agree with number 1. Once a console is "dead" I would say it is technically retro. I would say that even the PS3 is retro. But older consoles are more retro. I should say that to me personally the PS3 is not retro, but futuristic, as the newest console I have played a meaningful amount of time is the N64.

 

I don´t think digital video output has anything to do with it. That is just a coincidence, which matches Bob´s personal opinion on which consoles are retro and not. If all future consoles have digital output, that would mean that the PS3 for example would still not be retro 50 years from now.

Edited by Lord Mushroom
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Posted (edited)

On second thought, I think they still make Sega Master Systems in Brazil, so it wouldn´t meet my definition of a retro console, although it clearly is. And consoles like PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii, which I consider to be (barely) retro, are probably still being supported in some ways, and maybe even sold. Maybe a console becomes retro x years after it was first released. Shall we say 10 years?

Edited by Lord Mushroom

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Is that Sega Master system that is being produced in Brazil still being done by Sega?  If not then it still meets the First party producers criteria 

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I don´t really think it matters if the first party is still producing the console or not. I would say that the Sega Master System would still be retro even if Sega had been selling the Master System all over the world up until today and beyond.

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I would consider GameCube retro and it technically has digital video out.

 

For me I'd say retro is at least 3-4 generations older than current.

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2 minutes ago, Punisher5.0 said:

I would consider GameCube retro and it technically has digital video out.

 

For me I'd say retro is at least 3-4 generations older than current.

Is the GameCube Digital out really digital?  As I understand it it is NOT it is component, I could be wrong though.

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1 minute ago, c0op3r said:

Is the GameCube Digital out really digital?  As I understand it it is NOT it is component, I could be wrong though.

100% digital. There is a digital to analog convertor in the cable.

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1 minute ago, Punisher5.0 said:

Also, from your requirement list the original 360 fits as being retro.

Mine are not etched in stone that is why I opened the discussion, but yes I think you are correct.

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It uses a cartridge and is primarily a 2d system.

 

The change from 2d to 3d and the perceived need for CDs that came along with this new format marks a major change in gaming.  Obviously the N64 didn't make that move as far as the medium goes, but it is primarily a 3d game system and even has a controller for 3d games packed in.  Though I greatly disagree, most people thought it should have came with a CD drive instead of a cartridge slot. Thankfully this helped developers for the system not fall into the "we must fill the medium or include a 2nd CD" mindset.

 

 

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Posted (edited)
14 hours ago, c0op3r said:

1) No longer support by or having software produced by the first party - helps if they have produced a replacement (ie Playstation 1 there is a 2, 3 etc so the Playstion meets this requirement).

2) Does not have a digital video output (this was the point brought up by Bob of RetroRGB) - I found this to be a great point as all modern systems have some sort of Digital video output.

Vita?

 

I guess Vita TV does have digital video output, though. Not sure if 3DS is still getting games from Nintendo, so it may count as well.

Edited by Steven Pendleton
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This is a variation on the "modern" vs. "classic" debate that comes up here probably about once every 3 months and has done so for almost 20 years. At least "retro" is slightly more nebulous, but I don't really know what it has to do with this forum as the original post seems to be saying. This forum is divided into modern and classic, not "retro". So there's no moving the Wii to some "retro" forum.

 

If it's more of a general question, for me a retro system has to have at least very little discernible tie to modern, current systems. So, for example, the Switch has obvious inspirations from the Wii, with its motion controllers especially, and it's got quite a few Wii game ports and even more straight sequels with no real changes other than somewhat higher resolution. The Wii also works on widescreen TV's that we all still use, it uses disc media that all modern consoles (other than Switch) still use, etc. So going back to the Wii does not feel "retro" to me at all - the experience of it is just like playing a previous version of what we still have.

 

"Retro" to me has to be an experience that you just can't get anymore. That rules out almost anything produced after about 1999. I might accept that the PS1 and Saturn are "retro" in that very early 3D graphics look nothing like modern 3D graphics, and even modern remakes of games from those platforms just aren't the same experience as a result.

 

But the Wii? The Xbox 360? Nah.

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When the console belongs to a time that has gained a reputation for a certain style. A generation, so to speak. The VCS is iconic of the very late 1970s and most of the 80s. There were many cultural items, things, themes, and so on, that speak "80's".

 

Without (yet) belonging to a defining generation a console hasn't matured enough to be retro.

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For the purposes of the "What have you actually played" trackers here on AA, the year 2000 is the cutoff for the difference between "modern" and "classic".  That means that anything Dreamcast or older is considered "classic" and anything newer is "modern".  But again, that's just for the purposes of the tracker. 

 

Of course, "classic" and "retro" may not have the same definition. 

 

But it's not a bad cutoff, I think.  For the most part, systems made before 2000 were pure gaming systems.  They didn't also play movies or stream Netflix or become "entertainment centers" or whatever they're supposed to be now.  Yes, Playstation and Saturn played audio CDs and there are some systems (GameCube) that came out later that were still only for games, but for the most part, this is where things started to change.  It's not a perfect cutoff, but it's not bad.

 

And everyone's definition of them may be different as well.  So I don't really think there is a standard across all of gaming.  I think we'll need several categories... so that, as we progress, games and systems are grouped a little better.  For example, some people consider PS2 to be retro, but should it really be put in the same category as the 2600?  I think they are far too different.  Maybe we need some kind of middle category... so that the really old systems (2600, Colecovision, Odyssey, NES...) are separated from the relatively old systems (PS2, XBox, Gamecube...) and from the modern systems (PS3, XBox 360, WiiU, current gen...).  Just a thought.  Some of these differences may seem silly for now... with gaming only being around 40 or 50 years old or so, but what about in another 50 years?  It will be necessary.  In 50 years, would people be lumping the PS5 in with the Intellivision?

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I think "retro" lies in the eyes of the beholder. For me at 45 years of age, I still consider something like PS2 and first Xbox to be modern (just like the divide in the trackers as Eltigro explained). Those were released well into my adult life and at a point where I no longer was into concurrent gaming. However I realize that for a 15 year old, the PS3 and Xbox 360 definitely are retro, both roughly being released the same year you were born.

 

For similar purposes, I think the word "vintage" is overused. In its original domain - wines - it represented a particularly good crop, a vintage wine is not neccessarily of a particular age but one that proved to be worthy storing until it reached its prime and ready to be consumed. Now, we don't eat or drink video games, but if the term "vintage" would be reserved for particularly good and noteworthy systems, the discussion would not be about how old a console or computer needs to be in order to bear that term, but how important and well remembered it is. It still could be a "retro" console, depending on your own perspective. It would always be an "obsolete" system, but perhaps that sounds negative. Old simply, if you somehow need to differentiate it from current day or yesteryear's systems.

 

Regarding the structure of the forum, I doubt the admins would want to shift around categories on a yearly basis just like it was some kind of school and systems graduating from one level to another. While the "generation" term also is highly discussed, in particular for systems released inbetween two other major formats, perhaps that would be the best way to organize categories unless you want every single subforum on the same level. Of course organizing by manufacturer also is a given. Since this is AtariAge, the Atari side of systems already is properly arranged and the other forums are here for convenience or relate to formats which don't have a following elsewhere (true for the classic systems, not so much for the modern ones).

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Posted (edited)

As for me personally, I actually consider October 30, 1987 to be the cutoff date. Anything released before that is retro and everything on or after that date is modern.

 

Look at the 3 major 4th gen consoles. Neo Geo is a bit of an outlier, so let's not count that one. The Satellaview let you stream games into your house from outer space. That's pretty damn modern. Mega Modem exists, and so did Sega Channel and the XBAND, so you could play your console games online in 4th gen.

 

Check out the significance of the date I mentioned. Yes, that's right, that's the release date of the PC Engine AKA the first home video game console (not computer) to use CDs as a storage medium. Yes, the CD-ROM2 released later, but that's not really the point. CDs lack the capacity for modern games, but the PC Engine began the movement of disc-based home console games, and it caused Sega to panic and release the terribly rushed Mega-CD and Sega CD to compete with it. Nintendo also considered a CD-based addon for some time, which is why we now have the PlayStation. That generation also gave the US Sega's game rating system, which later evolved into the ESRB. Not sure if PEGI or CERO existed at that point, but it was at that point that this stuff happened in the US.

 

Basically, everything changed when the PC Engine launched, and that's why I consider it to be the first modern home console.

Edited by Steven Pendleton

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17 hours ago, christo930 said:

It uses a cartridge and is primarily a 2d system.

 

The change from 2d to 3d and the perceived need for CDs that came along with this new format marks a major change in gaming.  Obviously the N64 didn't make that move as far as the medium goes, but it is primarily a 3d game system and even has a controller for 3d games packed in.  Though I greatly disagree, most people thought it should have came with a CD drive instead of a cartridge slot. Thankfully this helped developers for the system not fall into the "we must fill the medium or include a 2nd CD" mindset.

 

 

Ehhh I don't like that argument.  That would squarely put aged out iOS games that didn't go 64bit as retro along with the Gameboy Advance and Nintendo DS (both like phones will do 3D, but they're primarily 2D pushing items of the time.)  I guess it fits to a point, a good point, if you exclude mobile gaming.

 

Then again I really dislike Steve's post before mine... 1987?  Yeah, I don't think so. :D  It seems like excuses for an idea that was tacked onto an old system even if it was ahead of its time.  I mean that argument there even screws it up domestically in Japan since Satelliview was used because the NES(Famicom) had a dial up local online capability to the system as well back in the mid 80s.

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3 minutes ago, Tanooki said:

Ehhh I don't like that argument.  That would squarely put aged out iOS games that didn't go 64bit as retro along with the Gameboy Advance and Nintendo DS (both like phones will do 3D, but they're primarily 2D pushing items of the time.)  I guess it fits to a point, a good point, if you exclude mobile gaming.

 

Then again I really dislike Steve's post before mine... 1987?  Yeah, I don't think so. :D  It seems like excuses for an idea that was tacked onto an old system even if it was ahead of its time.  I mean that argument there even screws it up domestically in Japan since Satelliview was used because the NES(Famicom) had a dial up local online capability to the system as well back in the mid 80s.

IOS and phones in general are not gaming platforms.  I would not count any IOS device as any kind of game system retro or otherwise.

 

I realize there are 2d games for the CD based systems, but we are talking generalities.  I don't think the online stuff really matters.  You could go online with a Commodore Pet or an Apple I.

 

IMHO, gaming fundamentally changed with both CDs and 3d graphics being the norm.

 

 

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Well that would be your opinion, though I think given the age of the iPhone and Android even now, and let's face it I also meant other old pre-that too, they had games ranging from great to many just terrible but they would be decided retro.

 

It is true though for better or worse CD and 3D changed things, and then online consoles now there was a down turn in quite a few tried and true classic things as well around gaming and with games.

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7 hours ago, Tanooki said:

Then again I really dislike Steve's post before mine... 1987?  Yeah, I don't think so. :D  It seems like excuses for an idea that was tacked onto an old system even if it was ahead of its time.  I mean that argument there even screws it up domestically in Japan since Satelliview was used because the NES(Famicom) had a dial up local online capability to the system as well back in the mid 80s.

Don't worry, I know nobody is going to agree with me and it doesn't bother me. I didn't know the Famicom had an internet thingy, but I'm definitely not a Nintendo guy and don't really care about their pre-Gamecube systems much at all.

 

Stilll...

 

did the Famicom games get streamed into your house from outer space? Everyone knows that outer space is super modern and awesome and that being on the Earth is for losers like me... right?

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Well, oddly enough, although everyone makes good points, the word "retro" itself actually (or I guess was actually) meaning "imitating something from the recent past".

 

If we actually use the real definition of the word, only the recent mini consoles, like the SNES Classic, Genesis Mini, TG16 mini, etc are "retro".

 

In the way gamers use it, I guess it can mean whatever we want, since we are ignoring the actual definition to begin with.

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I guess this is all just opinion based so I guess I'll throw my two cents in with the rest of everyone, who by the way had some pretty good viewpoints.

 

Retro consoles in today's market, although subject to change in time, is anything that was sold with a wired controller, and doesn't have a online store built into the system to where you buy the majority of the games on a system. The Sega Channel for the genesis doesn't count because I'm talking about wide spread, where most of a system's games can be purchased/played online. I don't think the classic editions should even be considered because there not consoles, in my opinion, there just emulating machines.

 

At the moment, I don't think the Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, and PS4 are retro, but that's just my opinion.  I also have not included handhelds, because I haven't owned one since the original gameboy and the gamegear, and I'm not really up to snuff on release dates and online/physical media distribution for most handheld systems.

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If Satellaview marks the beginning of modern gaming, I suppose the Intellivision Playcable would too. It means "retro" are all game systems before 1980/81, and everything after that consists of modern games. :-D

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