Bringing '80s Gaming Back Through Pop Culture

via Flickr

We all know the '80s aesthetic has taken its grip on the film industry and, thankfully, looks unlikely to let go. The trend was solidified — arguably started, even — by Nicholas Winding Refn back in 2011 when he released Drive, which fittingly had that driving '80s techno soundtrack. Since then, many have followed suit, consistently delivering brilliant send ups to '80s films and television in the form of The Guest and Stranger Things among others. But now we’ve got even more reason to rejoice as the gaming industry continues to follow suit, adopting everything from the aesthetic to the soundtrack.

Of course, the trend really kicked off in earnest in 2012, with the release of indie top-down shooter video game Hotline Miami. That game brought the neon and the driving electronic music to the fore in a retrograde title that felt thoroughly modern. Needless to say, it was received incredibly well by both fans and critics. And while no one would advocate game developers just rehashing old ideas, there are a number of exciting projects coming out, which seem to have taken inspiration from the game itself, or at least from the game’s employment of the '80s look and feel.

Katana Zero is another in the same mold. This 2D samurai game published by TV network Adult Swim’s gaming branch, combines blasts of neon with European-inspired techno music to bring the samurai movie to the '80s. It looks to be an unbelievable exercise in '80s nostalgia, with great graphics, and it seems like one where you could leave the TV screen running just for the neon and the music and transform your living room into an '80s nightclub.


It’s not even just indie games that are latching onto the '80s aesthetic, though. For example, as we read in a review on Real Money Canada, LeoVegas has made the link between the '80s and the modern by giving its Neon Staxx online slot game an '80s vibe. The game, which offers 100% deposit bonuses as well as 30 bonus spins, takes neon and techno to the internet age, playing on the common nostalgia held for old '80s slot machines in the context of 2018.

The game that probably takes you most back to the '80s though is 80’s Style. This game spotted everyone’s desire for the '80s look, but subverted expectations by holding back on the neon and techno. Instead what it delivers, is still shots of cityscapes from the '80s with a 2D style puzzle game projected over them. This is '80s on the next level as it begins to feel like your playing in an old arcade shop, while watching a Michael Mann, or Steven Spielberg, or William Friedkin movie. A delight.

Ultimately, we can be incredibly grateful that our favorite aesthetic is starting to take over another of the creative industries. Not only are the games that are being developed incredibly fun to play, they will also allow us to dive into the world of nostalgia we all so crave in our escapism!