How To Create A Retro Style Video Game As A Mobile App

There is a lot to love about those retro style games from back in the day. For Generation X it’s all about nostalgia. For Generation Z that were born long after the heyday of Sega games like Altered Beast, Ghosts ‘N Ghouls and Road Rash, they are simple and fun to play even without the nostalgia aspect.

The best mobile game apps are classic time waster games that can get you through a long wait at the dentist office without getting too invested in it.

With that in mind, if you are looking to break into the world of mobile gaming apps, then making a retro, old school style game is a good way to go. You’ll need some decent coding chops and then read a guide on mobile app marketing to actually make some money, but the process should be pretty fun even as a hobby.

In this article, I will go over several ideas to keep in mind when you want to break into the world of gaming apps.

Pick a pixel size

Big, chunky pixels are what will give your game that retro look that people are expecting. You’ll have to design specifically to get that look since today’s pixels are so small that they are barely visible.

The level of scaling you will need to do is going to depend on how you want the game to play and how much you will want to have within the frame. If there is a lot going on in each frame, then you’ll need to keep your scale down accordingly. Use a bigger multiple if you want the main character to take up more of the screen.

A good way to go about this is to let the game engine scale it up for you. Keep your scale at 100% and it will use a smaller file size and help keep load times down.

Also, make sure to keep the pixel sizes consistent throughout the game. It is annoying to have it vary as it impacts the visual appeal.

Get creative with the limitations

One of the funnest things about creating an old school style game is using the limitations. Back in the day, those game developers had no choice in how to design as the graphics were as basic as it gets. Yet, they were able to create iconic characters that we still recognize today.

When you are illustrating, think less is more and you will have an idea of how to make things work. Working in cubes will make it a challenge to give your characters defining features, but the fun is finding the ways to make it work. All you have to think about is the mustache from the Mario character to understand how this works. With only around 5 pixels there is a well defined mustache right under his nose.

Make it addictively simple

A great retro game not only looks like it was designed back in the 80’s, it should play like it, too. One of the reasons those games work is because of the simple mechanics of it and there isn’t a complicated strategy. When you keep the quest simple, yet hard enough to be a challenge then people will want to keep playing it.

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