It’s no secret that we love retro games here at Macho Nacho. Between the nostalgia of pixel art, the satisfaction of simple but challenging gameplay, and the inherent old-school charm, there’s a lot to love about games from decades past. That said, there are still tons of developers making new, retro-inspired games, designed to hit the same gaming sweet spots of years gone by.
In 2023, there were quite a few retro style games that caught our fancy and kept us gaming for hours and hours. As the year comes to an end, let’s take a look at some of the best retro style games of 2023 (listed in no particular order) and celebrate the developers who continue to keep things old school!
The Best Retro Style Games of 2023
4. Double Dragon Gaiden: Rise of the Dragons
In the world of beat ’em ups, Double Dragon has long stood as a titan of the genre. Kicking off in 1987 with the release of the original, Double Dragon has continued with sequels and spin-offs for the past few decades, but the series recently went through a short identity crisis. Double Dragon Gaiden: Rise of the Dragons takes the franchise back to its roots, offering a gleefully easy-to-learn beat ’em up that infuses roguelite elements, leading to hefty replayability.
After picking one of the many playable characters, you must battle through four stages (playable in any order), punching your way through waves of enemies before beating down the final boss. It’s retro style beat ’em up fun at its very best, requiring multiple playthroughs to see everything the game has to offer.
3. Invasion of the Buffet Snatchers
Retro style games are relatively frequent nowadays, but it’s pretty rare to see a straightforward arcade-style game inspired by classics from the 1980s. However, that’s exactly what developer Digital Eclipse set out to create with Invasion of the Buffet Snatchers. Together with their other recent release, the Halloween-themed Candy Creeps, Invasion of the Buffet Snatchers transports players back to the neon-carpeted arcades of their youth with charming style.
Similar in concept to games like Diner Dash, Invasion of the Buffet Snatchers sees you managing an all-you-can-eat buffet that’s been commandeered by aliens. Playing as the head chef, you must collect ingredients and chuck them at the invasive aliens, satiating their hunger while simultaneously saving your restaurant. Whether you’re chasing a high score or just kicking back and spamming plates, Invasion of the Buffet Snatchers is simply one of the best retro style games of 2023.
2. Blasphemous II
The first Blasphemous game bravely asked the question, “What happens if you take Metroid and combine it with Dark Souls?”. Turns out, you get an exceptionally violent and macabre adventure that’s just as fun as its inspirations. Four years later, the creators at The Game Kitchen decided to whip up a sequel, and luckily, it’s even better than the first.
In this sequel, players once again control the deadly knight known as The Penitent One, who must travel across the cruel world of Cvstodia to prevent a curse from taking over the land. Blasphemous II builds on its predecessor by adding more weapons, customizable spells and abilities, and plenty of crazy new bosses. Despite being grotesque and disturbing, Blasphemous II is an excellent sequel that’s a pleasure to play, and undoubtedly one of the best retro style games of 2023.
1. Sea of Stars
If you love classic 16-bit role playing games like Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana, or Super Mario RPG, then Sea of Stars should be the next game on your wishlist. Created by Sabotage Studios, the same developers of The Messenger, Sea of Stars is a beautiful homage to turn-based JRPGs of the SNES/Genesis era. The game is ripe with beautiful pixel art, engaging combat, and accessibility options that make it approachable for all players, regardless of their skill.
Earlier in the year, we took a closer look at Sea of Stars and celebrated just how amazing it was on launch, and as 2023 comes to an end, few games have managed to come close to its quality. Sure, RPG fans will eat the game up, but Sea of Stars is more than just a nostalgia bomb. I’ve personally watched RPG newbies become enamored with the genre after playing Sea of Stars, and in my opinion, that’s a sign of a truly special game.