Retro games that made a comeback

5 Retro game franchises that made a comeback: hedgehogs, heroes and hidden gems

Retro is in. So in. Soooo in. Ahem.

Ok, so can you remember a time when retro wasn’t in? There’s always some aspect of the past that’s intrinsically cool. Today we’re looking specifically at video games, so grab your magic sword, call your flying sidekick and come with us on a journey through 5 Retro Games that made a comeback.

1) Sonic Mania

Years of ill advised and clumsily executed 3D games had Sega’s Blue Blur down on his luck...but then came along 2017’s Sonic Mania (and it’s 2018 expansion Sonic Mania Plus). 

Retro games that made a comeback
Even the title screen just feels right. Image source: Sega

Released on PS4, Switch, Xbox One and Windows PC, Sonic Mania was clearly a labour of love, with Sega bringing in developers known for their work on Sonic fan games and ports of the original titles. The results are apparent - Mania plays like a greatest hits of Sonic and friend’s early outings, and perfectly captures the magic that appears to have been missing from the franchise since the 90’s. Here’s hoping for more Mania style games down the line…

Retro games that made a comeback
Waiting for that follow up. Image source: Sega

2) Advance Wars/Wargroove

Who remembers the much loved Advance Wars series? Itself a continuation of the Wars franchise that started with the Japan only title Famicom Wars, 2001’s Advance Wars was the first title to land in North America and Europe via the Game Boy Advance. Although there have been more recent outings from this franchise on the Nintendo GameCube and Wii, the handheld titles sit on their own pedestal.

Retro games that made a comeback
Big GBA vibes. Image source: Nintendo

Which brings us neatly onto spiritual successor Wargroove. Released by indie developer Chucklefish in 2019 across all current gen consoles , Wargrove more than deserves its own spot on said pedestal. Although it carries its own distinct fantasy flavour, Wargroove will feel instantly familiar to fans of Advance Wars. You take control of a commander and an army of troops, as you march across surprisingly large maps on your campaign to become the victorious faction.

Retro games that made a comeback
Heal up! Image source: Nintendo

Even with the (flattering) comparisons to Advance Wars, this doesn’t mean that Wargroove isn’t it’s own game, with its own unique features. Look no further than the puzzle mode that forces the player to complete a mission in a single turn, a campaign editor where you can create your own maps, and of course the inclusion of adorable armoured Battlepups.

Retro games that made a comeback
Who’s a good boy? Image source: Nintendo

3) Tetris 99

Everyones knows Tetris. The quintessential puzzle game, Tetris laid the way for the dozens, if not hundreds, of shape or colour matching games that followed. So why is this a comeback? Because Japanese developers Arika took this tried and tested formula and made something that was both brand new and instantly recognisable, 35 years after the release of the original.

Retro games that made a comeback
Hail to the King. Image source: Giphy

Tetris 99 (released on Nintendo Switch in 2019) is a unique experience. Normally the words “stressful” and “manic” don’t appear when describing something enjoyable, but this might be the exception.

Each game of Tetris 99 pits 99 players against each other, all playing their own game of classic Tetris simultaneously. As the game proceeds, more and more players are knocked out. It’s the usual gameplay loop - fail to keep up with the falling tetriminos and it’s game over. However, making things more interesting is the other players, who can send junk (their cleared blocks) over to your play area, clogging it up and making things infinitely more difficult.

Retro Games that made a comeback
Noooo, leave us alone! Image source: Nintendo

There’s a frenzied, panicked feel, as the 99 are slowly whittled down, and the junk blocks start to pile up. Tetris has never been so brutal. This is Tetris Battle Royale style, and it's fantastic.

Retro games that made a comeback
99 enter, 1 leaves! Image source: Nintendo

4) Doom

We know Wolfenstein 3D came first, but id Software’s Doom is arguably the granddaddy of all first person shooters. A staunch classic, this franchise hit a slight speed bump when it reentered the fray with 2004’s Doom 3. Although critically acclaimed, many fans felt this newest instalment was lacking a certain something.

Retro games that made a comeback
Don’t tell me you can’t hear that iconic soundtrack. Image source: MobyGames

Well, you can’t say that id didn’t listen. With publisher Bethesda on board, the 2016 release simply titled Doom, let you loose to fight through the hordes of hell, in what can only be described as a playable version of every 80’s metal album cover ever.

Retro games that made a comeback
Sure there’s Demons to slay, but look at this cute collectable. Image source: Giphy

And now, in the far flung future of 2020, id and Bethesda are at it again with Doom Eternal. Due to be released in March, early impressions seem to be that Eternal takes what made Doom 2016 so great, and makes it even more, well, Doomier.

Retro games that made a comeback
Here we go again...Image source: Bethesda

5) Wonder Boy/Monster Boy

That last one was a bit of a departure from all the colourful characters we’d been looking at. Don’t worry, we’re back on track now, as the hand drawn graphics of Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap are not only bright and playful, but also undeniably gorgeous.

Retro games that made a comeback
It’s seriously pretty. Image source: MobyGames

Part remake, part reboot, all charm, 2017’s Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap was reversed engineered from the 1989 Sega Master System gem Wonder Boy III: The Dragon’s Trap. Players take on the role of the titular Wonder Boy (or new character Wonder Girl), who is on a quest to break a curse that’s turned them into the strangely adorable Lizard-Man. What follows is a vibrant Metroidvania style adventure, where our hero takes on 5 different animal forms, as they defeat monsters in the hopes of returning to their human selves.

Retro games that made a comeback
Sure, you might be a Lizard now, but you’ve still got standards right? Image source: MobyGames

Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap was so successful, that a spiritual sequel Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom was released in 2018. Once again, you take on the role of a hero that can change into different animal forms. Although Monster Boy has a different art style, we can confirm it’s every bit just as charming.

Retro games that made a comeback
I’m sure he just wants to be friends. Image source: Giphy


Feeling the need to tackle any of these retro or re-imagined titles? Did we convince you to check out a franchise you’ve not considered before?

If the answer’s “Yes” then great! If it’s a “No,” then we’re going to go ahead and assume it’s because you’ve already played at least one game from each of these entries. This, of course, means you have impeccable taste and a responsibility to share this article with someone who’s maybe looking for a new game or two.

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