5 Favourite Retro Gaming Genres

Different retro gaming genres

There are many different gaming genres. Some people are into FPS (First Person Shooters) so prefer games like Call of Duty, DOOM, etc. Others prefer sports titles such as FIFA, or NBA Jam.

Most gaming genres cover the retro era. I’ve listed my five favourite retro gaming genres below, in no particular order.

1. Fighting games

There are two types of fighting games in the genre: 2D and 3D.

In the old days of gaming, fighting games were very similar until the arrival of Street Fighter 2 changed the genre. It’s one of my favourite retro gaming genres because you could play against a friend. Serious fighting gamers take their skills to the next level and participate in fighting championships games such as Evo. Who could ever forget this famous Evo moment?

The fighting genre was dominated by Japanese developers, who continued to innovating with a variety of hardware and software enhancements to suit both new and experience players alike. But US developers offered their fair share of its fighting games, such as Mortal Kombat which introduced gore and fatality as shock values.

2. Beat-em-ups

Ever felt like beating up the bad guys and be victorious? Then this genre is for you: The beat-’em-ups.

Unlike fighting games, this game genre involves taking on a large number of enemies in waves, before eventually fighting a boss on each stage. In some games, the last stage features the boss rush where players will have to fight them again before meeting the final boss.

Locations vary on this retro gaming genre from fantasy to urban setting. I really like beat-em-ups because despite the simplicity, the games never bore me. Popular examples include licensed games like X-Men, TMNT, etc., which are very popular. The bosses are also some of favorite beat-’em-up challenges because you need to have a strategy to beat the boss while dealing with the enemies as well.

Recent years have also seen a rise of beat-em-ups like the Rise of Shredder and Final Vendetta (2022) which proves that the genre will continue to thrive for the following years. Heck, there are so many beat-em-up games which are yet to be discovered. You’ll find plenty that you missed in Go Straight: The Ultimate Guide to Side-Scrolling Beat-’Em-Ups.

3. Arcade racers

During the 90s, the arcade racing was one of the hot genres in the arcades and consoles. Games like Out Run, Daytona USA, Burnout, etc., placed great emphasis on speed and fun.

Arcade racing is one of my favorite retro gaming genres. Rather than focusing on slowing down on corners and avoiding the cars to overtake to avoid receiving  penalties, arcade racing allows you to drift through corners, collide with cars without any consequences and even come back from a crash without retiring.

This is what really made arcade racing fun. In some cases, you can use power-ups as well to gain advantage over your opponents.

4. Light gun shooters

Light gun shooter games are arcade games with a light gun to point at the screen and shoot enemies with.

On retro consoles, light guns were available for around the same price as an additional controller. Light gun shooters is one of my favourite genres because it’s simply fun to shoot down bad guys on the screen. Later games in the genre extended to dealing with zombies and monsters.

Even today, light gun genres are popular, though confined to the arcade. Companies bring new features to its genre like Time Crisis where you have the pedal system that you can use to hide from the enemy attacks. The obvious ones are House of the Dead and Time Crisis as stated but there are others as well such as Virtua Cop series, Point Blank, Gunblade NY, etc.

5. Arcade Sports

By arcade sports, I mean sports such as soccer, baseball, etc with some extra spice on it to make the game enjoyable. Consider Arch Rivals (where fouls are actually allowed!), Mutant League Football, Punch-Out, etc. They make it more fun to play compared to the more modern sports simulations where you have to follow the rules to (unless there is the option to change the settings).

Many involve power-ups which can give the advantage towards your side. Add in multiplayer and the genre can be a blast to play when you can witness all the craziness that the sports teams can do to each other in that genre. Even though FIFA and NBA sims are really popular today, some indie developers still make arcade sports games which are fun to play like Pixel Cup Soccer and Windjammers 2.

Those are my favorurite retro gaming genres – what are yours?