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Release Date: July 20, 2011

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Instant Classics

Posted on September 4, 2011 AT 06:06am

5 new-school games with old-school flavor.

There’s no two ways about it: what’s old is new again. From the major consoles to our smart mobile devices, every gaming platform now plays host to a wide array of offerings that promise a return to a bygone age of gameplay concepts, graphical styles, or audio technology. The children of the 8- and 16-bit eras have grown up to become the ones with the power to program, and be it out of a love for nostalgia or just a longing for the days when gaming was simpler and more innocent, they’ve never been more in love with making games that wrap present-day design concepts with experiences you’d swear could have existed on long-gone platforms.

So, we decided to take a look at some of our favorite retro-inspired releases from recent years—games that, while conceived and designed during the 21st century, pay homage to their forefathers in one way or another:

Bastion (Xbox Live Arcade)

PLAYS LIKE: Diablo, Legend of Oasis
THROWBACK CRED: Bastion plays like something out of the Sega Saturn era. It’s perhaps a bit of an esoteric callback to more fantastical gaming times, but there really is a spirit to its action-RPG inspirations that feels delightfully old school while existing perfectly well alongside even the most modern games. Lots of collecting and bashing and a clever narrative device that will certainly be ripped by more games to come. – Brady Fiechter

Shadow Complex (Xbox Live Arcade)

PLAYS LIKE: Metroid, Castlevania
THROWBACK CRED: An admittedly open love letter to the likes of Symphony of the Night, Chair Entertainment’s Shadow Complex helped the upstart developer raise its blossoming profile, sporting a welcome combination of exploration and character advancement rarely seen in an XBLA title. Plus, the killer visuals and an enticing story penned by sci-fi legend Orson Scott Card make it one of the most compelling bargains on the service to date. – Brandon Justice

L.A. Noire (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3)

PLAYS LIKE: Gabriel Knight, Police Quest
THROWBACK CRED: Sure, Rockstar’s latest open-world adventure got pub for its hard-boiled, street-by-street re-creation of 1940s Los Angeles, but that’s just retro window dressing. L.A. Noire’s real old-school influences are Sierra On-Line’s classic ’80s and ’90s PC adventures like Police Quest, which also featured a gruff detective prowling the streets of a California city. And, just like those classic capers of old, L.A. Noire’s baffling mysteries require sometimes-illogical solutions. – Andrew Fitch

Pac-Man: Championship Edition (Xbox Live Arcade)

PLAYS LIKE: Pac-Man (on drugs)
THROWBACK CRED: After a long line of so-so follow-ups to Namco’s legendary gaming juggernaut, original Pac-Man creator Toru Iwatani returned to craft Pac-Man: Championship Edition. The game succeeded where so many previous Pac-Man titles had failed because it retained that simple, core gameplay of the original arcade release while updating it with a few fresh new concepts and elements of visual flair. – Eric L. Patterson

LaserCat (Xbox Indies)

PLAYS LIKE: Swordquest, Dark Tower
THROWBACK CRED: While the go-to design direction for indie gaming is very often 8-bit, LaserCat goes even further back, feeling like something I would’ve played on my Atari 2600 or Apple //e. It does this while also crafting an absolutely enjoyable game—one which blends the “I have no idea what I’m doing here” mystique of that era with the spot-on control and precision of a modern-day platformer. -Eric L. Patterson

Alright, people. We’ve dropped our list, now what about you? Let us know you favorite Instant Classic in the comments below!

Source: EGMi, Issue 251-1

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