The Xbox 360 launched on November 22nd, 2005 – that's almost 17 years ago. Its rival, the PS3, arrived on November 11th, 2006, while the eventual victor of that hardware generation – the Nintendo Wii – hit store shelves on November 19th, 2006. There are teenagers hurling insults at one another on Call of Duty: Warzone right now who weren't even alive when these machines arrived on the scene.
However, despite the amount of time that has elapsed between their releases and today, there are many people who feel that none of these consoles can truly be considered 'retro' in 2022.
It's an odd situation, especially when you consider that, back in the mid-to-late '90s, many people were referring to the Master System, NES, SNES and Mega Drive as retro – and some of those machines weren't even a decade old at that point.
Clearly, what is considered to be retro is all down to personal preference. If you're in the 30s or 40s, then the PS3 launch probably feels like it happened yesterday, but if you're in your mid-20s, then it will feel like a lifetime ago. It's all relative.
Do you consider these platforms to be retro now? Vote in the poll below and leave a comment to tell us.
I voted yes, but actually I think the Wii is definitely “retro” whereas the 360 and PS3 are more debatable. The difference is down to HD graphics, which feels very “modern” and not retro yet at all (to me, obviously). That said, if I were to consider the question in purely subjective terms (forgetting about actual age) I would say that something changed with game design around the time of the PS2. Consoles and, generally speaking, the software created for them, can be thought of as before (retro) or after (modern) this change. This is my own feeling on the matter. The last truly retro console was the Dreamcast.
Yeh Retro for me. 17 years ago has to be retro surely.
I don't think of it so much as being a question of time as one of design. What has really changed between the PS3 era and the PS5 one? Graphics have got better and framerates more reliable, but there isn't a revolutionary change between them, and most importantly control and game mechanics haven't drastically changed. They don't feel retro to me because the current era often feels like a polished version of that era.
@MSaturn I totally agree.
I have said this before somewhere, but home 3D hardware was just not good enough for the 32/64 bit era. I believe SEGA was initially correct with the Saturn, one more generation of high quality 2D/2.5D games would have produced some really good games; maybe similar to what have been made in recent years. The industry should have waited one more "generation" for 3D. I believe the Dreamcast straddles that line.
Do not get me wrong, there were a few good games, but as a whole, the Saturn/PS1/N64 generation was a let down for me. By the time the PS2 arrived, the home 3D hardware was good to go.
But I did vote yes, although I still think these consoles have "modern" feel to them, they are old enough now that they can feel dated. Although many more games have a timeless feel to them in comparison to the early days, i.e. they are still playable and enjoyable.
By the time the NES was in full swing, I would have though the ATARI was dated.
I think of it like this: if I am playing on my Wii today I am playing a 16 year old console. When the Wii was released, what console would I have to have been playing at that point for it to be 16 years old in 2006? Something from 1990, so a Mega Drive or Game Boy. Would those have felt ‘retro’ in 2006? Definitely. As such the Wii is retro.
Might need to coin a new term for it, like nu-retro or neo-retro, since the aesthetic of that era is so distinctly NOT retro lol.
@Hikingguy absolutely — 2D graphics had finally come to a point where you could get a faithful arcade-style experience in the home.
Then again, the 3D games we got at the time felt more like a lot of developers experimenting and finding their feet, so maybe we needed that period for them to figure things out, rather than waiting for the technology to catch up with their ambition.
It's crazy - there's the same gap between the Xbox 360 and now as there was between the ZX Spectrum / C64 and the Dreamcast. Crazy when you think about it like that
No. Retro is anything before PS2. After PS2 I guess modern would be the term.
@Tasuki While I agree that a new term would be needed to bridge the gap, modern usually refers to current gen. It would be weird to think in 20 years that Elden Ring or Bloodborne would be considered retro lol.
It's a tough one this, yes they can be considered retro. But like some one else pointed out each gen now just feels liked a polished version of the gen before. Personally I absolutely live and breathe 8. 16 bit, arcade 80s, 90s stuff. That's retro, those classics will never be beaten or truly ever seen again. It was a magical time to be a gamer. Yes ps3, wii, 360 may be retro. But I'm sure they won't ever be as collectable or as loved as the above mentioned. The likes of the zx spectrum, c64, Megadrive still have a thriving community, with new games being produced. Ps3, 360, wii, dead. But they have some classics that i own.
That 3D learning curve could have happened at any time. It could have happened in the arcade, it could have happened during the Dreamcast/PS2 era. Transitioning into 3D would have been much easier with more capable hardware. There is no reason it needed to happen with under powered hardware and controllers primarily designed for 2D.
However, it has always bothered me that developers like to push "current" hardware just beyond what they are capable of, especially with limited corporate mandated time constraints. For example, if during the PS3/360/Wii era, if some developers did not feel obligated to hit 1080p, then they might have been able to create some wonderful 60FPS or locked 30FPS games still playable today, and of course some games are. But as it is, most games of that era that tried to target 1080p on hardware not really able to push both graphical and 1080p limits, they ran into problems. They really needed to target one or the other in order to finish their game in a timely manner. I mean the generation this article is talking about is when 3D really hit its stride. The controller was basically standardized and the hardware was more than capable. Hence the reason I think why some people might have a hard time calling it "retro". What we have today is really just a more fine tuned PS3/360 era. It feels more like big baby steps and not quantum leaps. Like the Atari to NES or the 8bit to 16bit. And the 2D/2.5D games we got during the 32/64bit era were really good. Nights into Dreams comes to mind.
The Wii was a whole other thing. And very fun. But it ran into problems when developers tried to makes games similar to the ps3/360.
Are the games and consoles still being made?
I voted no.
I think that anything less than 20 years old is fairly new.
I'm 51, so if they're retro I'm a corpse
@ultraviolet By that logic, the Wii U would be retro now.
Also, you can still buy PS3 and Xbox 360 games. They even recently re-released Sonic '06 only on Xbox 360.
Meanwhile, Nintendo is closing the Wii U and 3DS eShop.
No it's only a few years since they stoped making games for 360, and the wii must have been the longest running console ever.
I voted yes but honestly I think it's debatable. One idea that's kind of been bouncing around my mind as to why I find retro consoles so fascinating is the incredible changes in experiences between generations. From the first generation of consoles up to the sixth generation every step up in technology was not just an incremental improvement, it felt like a revolution.
The first generation was mainly composed of Pong clones, compare the best Atari 2600 or Intellivision games to that. Pitfall, Yars' Revenge, and Adventure must have been mind blowing.
Now compare those Atari 2600 games to just about anything on the NES or Master System, again the leap between Pitfall and Super Mario Bros. or Adventure and The Legend of Zelda or Final Fantasy is so huge it barely feels like evolution. Now you could have games that told stories, that saved your progress and weren't just arcade style score attacks. Then the SNES and Genesis came along and more or less perfected 2D gaming. Again, compare Zelda on NES to A Link to the Past on SNES or Crusader of Centy on Genesis and it's like comparing the original Flash Gordon serials to Star Wars.
Of course, in the fifth generation, the PS1, Saturn, and N64 introduced true polygonal 3D games that again felt like a completely new kind of experience. I remember the first time I played Super Mario 64 the freedom on offer blew my mind. Finally, the PS2, Dreamcast, GameCube, and original Xbox hammered out the rough edges of the previous generation's games in much the same way that the SNES and Genesis did for 2D gaming.
I think the PS3 and Xbox 360 (leaving Wii out because that's around the time Nintendo just said ***** it, we're doing our own thing) were the first generation that really felt more like an incremental upgrade than a revolution. PS3 and 360 games certainly had better graphics than PS2 and OG Xbox games, they could certainly create larger worlds and more complex AIs, but the difference wasn't really that great. Like, if you compare GTA: San Andreas on the PS2 to GTAIV on the PS3 you can see the improvements, but it still feels like a similar experience in a way that the jump from Adventure to The Legend of Zelda, or TLoZ to A Link to the Past, or ALttP to Ocarina of Time, or OOT to Wind Waker did not. And I think the subsequent generational changes are similarly incremental.
PS2 to PS3 to PS4 to PS5, Xbox to Xbox 360 to Xbox One to Xbox Series X, it almost feels more like upgrading your PC to keep up with more demanding software rather than bringing in a whole new system with entirely new design philosophies built in.
@Hydra_Spectre I didn't realise Sony and Microsoft where still releasing games for the PS3 and 360
I personally would class retro as something which is not made any more
But Wikipedia says it's tipcally about 20-30 years in the past
I went with "I don't care" which is exactly my feeling. I have both PS3 and 360 and it never crossed my mind whether it's retro or not, I just enjoy the game.
@Axelay71 I think there’s another aspect of this: the age of the gamer. I was a kid during the 8 bit/16 bit generation and a teen during the 32 bit/64 bit generation. As such most people my age will be very nostalgic for those systems and are currently the age with some disposable income (!) and a desire to relive their childhoods. In 10/15 years time it will be kids who grew up with the Wii/PS3/Xbox 360 who will be in the same situation. As such, the same feelings of nostalgia will be felt for the games of that generation. Sadly the older generation will be forgotten by most (aside from people who also played retro games through Virtual Console or Xbox Online).
I’m sure people of my parents’ generation thought similar things about other trends and media: ‘huh, no-one will remember Oasis or the Spice Girls; the Beatles are classic!’ Whilst I do like my sixties/seventies tunes it is stuff from the 80s/90s that are my ‘classics’ (and I cannot stand modern music but my kids will feel the same way about it as I did for the stuff that was around when I was their age). Let the circle be unbroken…
@Hikingguy it’s funny that the Wii is actually the antithesis of the issue of ‘pushing the hardware’ like you mentioned with regards to HD. The Wii is basically 2 GameCubes squashed together with added online and motion controls. With it’s lack of power it struggled to do decent versions of multiplat games but with the technology being so well known to Nintendo you can see how comfortable they were with developing exclusives for it, where they focused on innovation with current tech rather than pushing it to its limit and falling short. All the first party games I have owned are still extremely playable today, aside from any that took the motion control too far I have just bought Skyward Sword for Switch as the Wii original is the only Zelda I have ever abandoned halfway through apart from Twilight Princess which I later completed on GameCube). The only glaring issue is the lack of HDMI but with a CRT tv it looks great.
@Gamecuber hey see your point completely, but like I said none of the newer gens. Will have new titles being made for them keeping them alive for years after there commercial success.
2 generations and 17 years ago? Of course they are retro!
They also appear in my retro section of gaming - currently playing DKCR on my Wii.
Wii U is retro too as far as I am concerned.
@Axelay71 I don’t know; the Dreamcast still gets regular releases these days 😁 I think it will depend on the fans. With the ability to mod the Wii (which I have done recently) it has given it a brand new lease of life. We will just have to see I guess.
@Gamecuber yes good call, I collect Dreamcast stuff. Sturmwind on DC is incredible for an indie title.
@Gamecuber Yeah, you are correct. I tried to separate out the Wii, but my comments can get long. The Wii really should not be lumped into the same category as the other two.
Sure it was released at similar times, but it is a very different thing. I still have mine hooked up to a CRT and it is perfectly enjoyable. I love Mario Kart Wii. First party stuff on the Wii is really well done. It is kind of like Nintendo did what SEGA initially wanted to do with the Saturn, and it kind of paid off for Nintendo.
It is funny you mention Zelda. I thoroughly enjoyed all the Zeldas on the NES/SNES/GB, however I did not enjoy the Zelda on the N64. I keep trying to play it, but I always get board and stop. So I did not play any Zelda's until Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword on the Wii and, once again, I did not enjoy them and stopped playing. It was not until Breath of the Wild that I truly enjoyed Zelda again. I have put hundreds of hours into both the Wii U and Switch versions.
@Gamecuber The Dreamcast is the console that I see as straddling the line. I guess when I look back, I think when SEGA bowed out of the console business, it was kind of the end of an era. I still mentally lump the Dreamcast into the retro camp, but I also think it is the first true home console that could do quality 3D. It can do 2D/2.5D really well (arcade quality), and 3D good enough to make it still fun to play today. Crazy Taxi is still a blast to play today and ChuChu Rocket! is as fun as ever.
Although it is fun to see how far developers can push hardware, unless they have unlimited time to perfect the techniques, the experience is usually less than stellar. An example of what I mean is like when the 16bit consoles tried to do polygon 3D, it is really neat to see it done, but the game play is less than enjoyable.
On the other hand, it is really fun to see what the modding community can do with older games that just needed more time (and maybe skill). The extra time pays off big time for some less polished games.
@Hikingguy Ocarina of Time was my first real Zelda experience (apart from playing a bit of Zelda 1 on a friend’s NES in the early 90s) and it’s still my favourite by far, closely followed by Wind Waker. I personally never managed to get through Link to the Past or Zelda 2, though I’ve beaten the original game and a number of others. I’m hoping we might get the 3DS version of Ocarina on Switch at some point. I’ve always preferred console to handheld gaming if given the choice and to have one of my favourite games with the updated graphics of the 3DS but at 1080p would be fantastic.
I’ve put in over a hundred hours into Breath of the Wild on Wii U and completed it but have felt no compulsion to go back and play it again. The open world is lovely but the lack of true dungeons and the annoying weapon breaking system is not something I want to go back to. In fact, aside from the not terribly accurate motion controls of Skyward Sword, it was the destructible shields that put me off. Now that the Switch gives button controls to the game and I’ve gotten used to the mechanics of Breath of the Wild’s weapons I’m hoping I’ll see it through.
@Gamecuber That is interesting, because what you list as negatives for BotW, I would consider positives. Because the game is so open from the start, I always thought it would have been too easy if weapons were unlimited. It added a layer of strategy. And I really enjoyed the Shrines.
In my mind PS1 and Saturn are Retro, but anything after is not in my mind.
But maybe the old computers (C64/Amiga etc) should be called something different, Classics? Or something else I dont know.
@ultraviolet No new games, but they are still selling the games digitally.
Meanwhile, Nintendo closed the Wii Shop and the DSiWare Shop and will close the 3DS/Wii U eShop soon.
Even PSP games are still sold digitally to this day.
There is a part of me that feels anything after Megadrive/SNES can't be retro as they are all the same dimension of gameplay.
For example if you compare Gran Turismo (1997) on PS1 with Gran Turismo 7 (2022) on PS5 they play almost identical and overall the experience is near identical. You cant say the same when you compare Mario World (1990) to Mario 64 (1996)
The next giant leap for mankind in gaming terms will be when or if we get a Holodeck moment like on Star Trek TNG where we play in a real environment or a Matrix moment where we just plug our brains in to connect to a simulation that is indistinguishable from reality.
If that does happen it will probably be when we have all long gone like the 22nd century or mabee even later.
Retro isn’t a bad thing. Time marches on. They are retro systems.
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