What are pixel games anyway? Pixel games have always been more realistic and slick than they’ve ever been, with pixel games literally being a requirement back in the mid-1990s. Launching into the video game scene in the mid-1990s, pixel-based art was all but the only viable option for truly high-quality graphics, as the technology available at that time was rather poor. Still, this art form was an instant hit and grew into something of a revolution.
In many ways, the world of pixel art has only gotten better since then. Advancements in chip technology and digital image processing have blossomed, giving us amazing new possibilities. Today’s chip-and-scan systems enable us to create some truly gorgeous graphics with the help of some powerful computers. And with advances in stereo FOV (field of view) technologies, we can take our creations to a whole new level, literally. The ability to produce fine details that rival the best work done by traditionalists has fueled the rise of retro pixel games. And the best part is…
We’re talking about turning your PC or your gaming console into a retro tool. In fact, the term “retro” actually just refers to the fact that the games you play have a vintage feel. And one of the most popular early days of pixel art games is actually Sonic the Hedgehog. A platform game with very authentic 3D effects, Sonic the Hedgehog draws a lot of fans from different generations. And it is for this reason that we end up playing these old classic pixel games.
Of course, we’re not talking about Sonic the Hedgehog here. We’re talking about old-school, cartridge-based video games! One of the earliest and most popular examples of this kind of game is Marble Islands. Developed and published by Nintendo, this game was among the first titles to implement full-color graphics using sprite-based chip technology. This led to a lot of innovations in terms of game play, which in turn led to a variety of improvements. Basically, this game was ahead of its time, and gave birth to a generation of addictive, high-speed, high-quality video game titles that are still available on the market today.
One of the biggest reasons why pixel art games are so special and attractive to gamers is the visual aesthetic that they offer. Old-school games tended to be fairly bland, with blocky graphics and minimal sounds. Today’s gamers are used to seeing graphical masterpieces all the time. Even some of the most primitive video game consoles out there feature sophisticated, highly colored worlds filled with plenty of details and animation. These highly colored worlds are what’s making pixel art titles so special.
Another reason why many gamers are drawn to pixel art is the fast-paced action that is featured in many of the best titles. Although it’s true that most arcade games tend to be rather slow-paced and boring by modern standards, the pace of classic arcade games is often blisteringly fast. Because of the nature of arcade games, there is always an urgent need to achieve quick results, and this often translates into intense, high-speed action. In many cases, it’s the very pace of the game itself that is the cause of this high-speed action, as the nature of the gameplay requires quick decisions and reactions.
Lastly, most modern platforming titles use some degree of pixel art. There are many titles that feature highly colored, stylized backgrounds featuring lots of moving elements. Generally, these backgrounds are done using some sort of 3D animation, but it’s rare to find pure 2D backgrounds. The backgrounds and character designs used in these games are clearly a form of pixel art, and this is particularly evident in titles like Sonic the Hedgehog and Mario Galaxy. This is probably best demonstrated by the often-crowded and often-overlooking green hedgehog and his infamous blue hat.
These are only a few of the many unique features of retro gaming that can be found within some of the most popular retro pixel art games today. With such a diverse genre of games, it’s no wonder that gamers have developed a keen interest for them. Most people don’t even consider retro gaming to be part of the ‘retro’ genre – what most people would consider to be retro are titles from the early days of video gaming (and before!). For the many retro gamers out there who aren’t familiar with the term, here’s a quick explanation: