When we think of retro games, a select number of classic titles often come immediately to mind. Pac Man, Zelda, Taxi Driver, Super Mario, and Doom are classics of the genre, games that instantly evoke that strong feeling of nostalgia that draws us to retro games in the first place.
However, one genre that is often overlooked in discussions of retro games is the casino slot genre. The first slot machines were launched in San Francisco in 1895, and, while technology has allowed such games to develop leaps and bounds since then, the fundamentals of the game remain remarkably unchanged.
What’s more, many of the most widely played slot games today still capitalize heavily on the ‘retro’ features that made them so popular in the first place. One could even argue that, with the arrival of video slots in 1976, slot machines are the original video game. Let’s take a closer look at how the modern genre of online slot games remains strongly rooted in its decidedly retro origins.
1. A Brief History of Slot Games
As mentioned, the first-ever slot games were invented in the late 19th century, but they didn’t really catch on among casino goers until the postwar period when Las Vegas was gaining ascendancy as the gambling capital of the world. With the rollout of video slot machines in the 1970s, slots began to take on the appearance of a precursor to some of the retro arcade games we know and love today.
The cheerful, chiptune music that is ubiquitous with slot games strongly resembles the nostalgia-inducing soundtracks of arcade games such as Super Mario Bros. and Tetris, whilst the devilishly simplistic control system of both slots and video games remained in place for decades.
Whilst other video games have become increasingly complex, slot games remain straightforward to this day, with only a few control options for most titles. This simplicity is a huge part of the appeal for retro gaming fans around the world.
2. Slot Games and the Retro Factor Today
Today, the majority of slot activity has moved into the online realm, which makes popular slot titles more accessible to retro gamers. What is interesting is how many of these slot games lean in heavily on their retro origins, rather than going all-out with 4K graphics and over-the-top production.
In a cheeky nod to retro gaming fans, popular slots like Attack on Retro explicitly acknowledge the old-school nature of the genre, with the icons on the slot reels featuring lookalikes of iconic 1980s video game characters. In addition, many modern slot titles continue to make use of the retro soundtracks that they have employed since the 1970s and 80s.
Some studies have concluded that the vintage soundtrack for slot games is a huge part of their appeal, as they invoke a kind of comforting ‘nostalgia factor’ that draws players to the game. Anyone who has ever fired up an old version of Zelda or Sonic will completely understand this sentiment.
Slot games have a lengthy and rich historical pedigree, so it’s no surprise that the producers of slot games continue to trade in on this when releasing new titles. It’s clear that, more so than many console franchises, slot games are staying true to their roots.