So, you want to make a retro-styled game

in Design

Retro-styled games are super popular right now. Make it look like an NES game, or GBA game, and you get a look that brings out that nostalgic feeling in fans.

In fact, we just released some new tunes for retro-styled games, the 8-bit Perfect Collection!

8-bit-perfect-collection-right

You can get it here on Steam, or here from our store. Check it out on our store for some sweet samples. But enough of the blatant advertising, let’s look at two things you need to keep in mind if you are going Retro with your game.

Retro is Not Easier

Sometimes, people get this idea into their heads. That retro-styled art and sprites are really easy to make, and anyone can do it.

No, just no. Old school looking sprites are tricky, the problem isn’t in getting all the details right like it is with larger formats, the problem is that you are trying to communicate a LOT of information in a tiny amount of space.

Not only that, but your palette is even MORE important than with painted or even larger pixel styles. Just look at how much Jason Perry conveys with just a few pixels with his Time Fantasy Pack.

Pshht and you thought the blatant advertising was over. Check out the Time Fantasy Pack on Steam or our Store.

Pshht and you thought the blatant advertising was over. Check out the Time Fantasy Pack on Steam or our Store.

At this level of detail, every single pixel matters. Don’t pick a retro-style just because you think it is “easier”.

Consistency, Consistency, Consistency!

Ok, another thing we need to talk about is consistency. If your graphics look like they are being pushed out by ’92 hardware, and your sound seems like it is coming out of 2017 hardware… well, it is going to seem kind of mishmash and not cohesive.

Make sure every part of the presentation of your game matches the style you are going for. The whole thing needs to be retro. Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t make your gameplay more modern, but the look, the sound, those should all be cohesive.

So that means, all your graphics, sprites, battlers, tiles, parallaxes, animations, etc, etc. All your sounds, SFX, Music, etc.

Personally, I would even suggest getting a retro-styled font.

... This time I'm not even going to try to put it into the flow of the article. Just check out Old School Modern on Steam and our Store!

… This time I’m not even going to try to put it into the flow of the article. Just check out Old School Modern on Steam and our Store!

 

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Michael_Ponder_JR

    Those graphics are NOT 8 bit, people need to learn the difference between 8 and 16 bit graphics.

    There are too many colors in use for them to be 8 Bit.

    8 Bit graphics usually tend to only have like 4 or 5 colors including the invisible color for what you don’t see in a spite.

    Those sprites for instance have a bit more going on than 4 or even 5 colors

  • I Want Your Body

    I appreciate the lowdown on conveying more with less, but disagre on the limitations you believe should be set. As the other commenter said even that pack is using more than 8-bit color range. Why not use what you have if it fits?

    As for the sound also having to match, that’s just not true. At least in the sense of matching the graphical era (obviously the sound should match the atmosphere and purpose.) Why not do what you can to set atmospere?

    Not that you can’t set atmosphere with low bitrate or chiptunes even, but take a look at The Longing Ribbon. Wonderful atmopshere despite being “mismatch.” Rpg 2000-3 graphics combined with the occasional hand drawn addition….and high quality music and sfx, not chiptunes. (Or they sounded high quality compared to graphical era, they may have been low bitrate for all I know.)

    • I Want Your Body

      To be fair, I should mention I do love it when everything matches. Take Moga’s neato customized games for example, graphics and music match. But that match doesn’t always have to be the case for the game to work.