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Five New Retro Game Titles to Watch For

Updated on November 22, 2014

What independent game development is

New retro titles are simply games that are released for older platforms. This is quickly becoming a popular movement, one that fans of bygone systems will enjoy. Some games that fall into this category try to pull inspiration from other titles that were released on the target system. Other new retro game titles shoot for something original, a genre or idea that was not tried (or known to developers) back in the day. Here I present you with five new retro titles that are worth checking out, none are currently available as they are all in development.

First we need to go over what homebrew games are. In the early days of computers there was nothing but homebrew, there were very few people that were working out of actual offices or had businesses built up. Most software in the early days was called shareware- you got the first part of the game for free and then were asked to pay to play the rest. Some large companies started out this way, just a guy or two in a room (usually the garage). Companies such as Apple, id Software (Doom and Quake) and Microsoft (started in a small dorm room). The term homebrew is also nearly interchangeable with the term indie when discussing games development. Homebrew has taken on a slightly negative connotation in recent years due to the quality of the games that were being released being quite a bit less than “decent”.

Chief Chef for the Magnavox Odyssey 2

The Magnavox Odyssey 2 was the second system from Magnavox. Interestingly enough Magnavox was the first company to release a home console with the capability to use “cartridges” that contained the complete game. Magnagvox was also the first console manufacturer to release a direct follow up console. They were held back by lack of software though, people want games to enjoy on their consoles, and Magnavox learned that the hard way.

In the independent scene, the Magnavox has been given a new lease on life (over 30 years after it initially was released). One game that is quite interesting is Chief Chef. This game pulls features from other popular titles such as Kaboom! (level style) and puzzle games (play mechanics). You are tasked with collecting the food that the head chef is throwing off the top of the building. The catch is, you have to catch it in a certain order or it is game over. Chief Chef is a one man creation and will be available in cartridge form for the Magnavox Odyssey 2 sometime in 2015.

Dungeon Hunt Gold for Atari 8-Bit Computers

Atari 8-Bit computers include the Atari 400/800 variations (the Atari ST was a 16-Bit computer). These were interesting computers considering Atari had barely survived the video game crash, these computers were probably why they did.

Dungeon Hunt Gold is a new role playing game that holds true to its roots. Pulling inspiration from classic titles such as Dungeon Master and Alternate Reality: The City and The Dungeon, Dungeon Hunt Gold is in good company. Prepare to battle ghosts, skeletons and more creatures in the dank dungeons. Dungeon Hunt Gold is a one man creation that is currently being shipped to pre-orders on disk format.

Elysian Shadows for the Sega Dreamcast (and other platforms)

The Sega Dreamcast was Sega’s final entry in the console market, much to the dismay of fans the world over. The operating system used for the Dreamcast was very familiar for programmers (it was based on Windows) so independent developers have been able to continue releasing games even more than a decade after Sega ended the platform.

Elysian Shadows is an impressive feat within the independent world, especially on the Sega Dreamcast. Coming out with a role playing game on a platform that is more than a decade out of date is not out of the ordinary (see Dungeon Hunt Gold, above). An RPG as ambitious as Elysian Shadows is unique as this is not just a few dungeons with repeating graphics and little sound effects, this will be an adventure on the level of the classics such as Final Fantasy.

Elysian Shadows is being developed by a small, dedicated, team after it was successfully funded through popular crowdsourcing site, Kickstarter.

Jam It for the Commodore 64

The Commodore 64, like most computers, was never “locked down” like consoles have been sine the Nintendo Entertainment System. Commodore was one of the few companies that understood business applications were not the only thing consumers used their computers for. They understood that games were important and kept that in mind when designing the Commodore 64. While not a powerhouse when it was released, the Commodore 64 was priced significantly cheaper than the Apple IIe, Atari computers and everything that was “IBM compatible”. This led to phenomenal sales and with those sales, games and business programs came.

In the independent world it is like the Commodore 64 never really died. Developers have kept the Commodore 64 alive with regularly released new software, the problem has been getting those pieces of software to consumers. With the Internet that problem has largely been eradicated.

Jam It is a basketball game, a sports title of all things. Sports are not often the subject of independent developers since the complex artificial intelligence is more than most wish to tackle by themselves. Jam It features two on two game play viewed from the half court line. Gamers that remember the classic Jordan vs Bird will be familiar with this angle.

Justice Beaver for the Super Nintendo

The Super Nintendo was the second home console from Nintendo and was their follow up to their hugely popular Nintendo NES. Many parents raised concerns over their children’s costly NES game collections becoming obsolete when the SNES was announced. The concerns were subsided enough to allow the Super Nintendo to go on and bring the 16-Bit generation, against the Sega Genesis, as close to a draw as gaming has ever seen (normally it is a pretty lopsided ending with one significantly more popular platform emerging).

Justice Beaver is an upcoming title from Collectorvision. Anyone that has played many Super Nintendo titles will already recognize the style of Justice Beaver. 2D side scrolling action platformers used to rule the roost in gaming, recently though first person shooters have taken hold. In the independent realm though, action platform titles are holding their own and in many cases, making a slight comeback. Justice Beaver will be going the Kickstarter route to assist with funding requirements (see Elysian Shadows, above).

Collectorvision is a small team of programmers, artists and musicians that work on classic hardware such as the Intellivision, Colecovision and Super Nintenodo.

Conclusion

While these are not the only independent retro games in development, they are the more interesting ones that I know of. Modern consoles actually promote independent game development through the on-line services the manufacturer owns. From Xbox Live to the Playstation Network, it seems that console manufacturers are finally waking up to the fact that independently developed games can bring in more gamers who spend money on other titles, probably commercial, too.

So how about it? What is an independent title that you know of that others need to discover?

Homebrew or Independently Developed

Which term do you prefer for new games for old systems?

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© 2014 Carl Williams

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