January 15, 2017


New Retro

In recent years there has been a trend towards retro 80s/early-90s style media. Stylistically and thematically it resembles the style of that time, tapping into a nostalgia for those who grew up in that time, while also adding a modern spin, so it becomes popular across generations.

In TV/Films

Netflix's huge hit Stranger Things is a great example of the popularity of retro-80s-themed entertainment. Other recent mainstream films such as Drive, It Follows and The Guest feature movie references, soundtracks and elements that you would expect in films from that earlier time period. All of those classic genre's (horror, sci-fi, action) are available to be exploited for nostalgia's sake. Some examples are a little on the campy/satirical side such as Kung Fury and Turbo Kid but are entertaining in their own right. The authenticity of these films is aided by their retro soundtracks.

In Music

Speaking of music … It's amazing and awesome how much retro music is out there from aspiring artists. It's really overwhelming the amount of new content available. Technology now makes it a lot easier for creators to generate and share their work. In music this genre is sometimes refered to New Retro, or New Retro Wave, Synthwave, Retrowave, or Chiptune.

Using services such as Bandcamp, indie musicians can distribute their own work online. Bandcamp is a great place to find new artists. Here are some of the retro artists/production groups I've discovered:

Note: the band SURVIVE created the soundtrack for Stranger Things.

In Video Games

The appeal of retro can be found in video games as well. The New Super Mario Brothers, and Legend of Zelda A Link Between Worlds are great examples from Nintendo of going back to their roots. It's hard to argue that video games weren't a big part of the nostalgia from the 80s and 90s.

Indie developers have also produced quite a lot of great retro-style video games in recent years. Titles such as Cave Story (check out their devloper's awesome site), Downwell and Pixel People feature a visual style that feels right at home plugged into an Atari in your best friend's basement in the 80s. This commercial for Fruit Loops even takes advantage of the nostalgic appeal of video games.


With technologies like Glitch, there are opportunities to develop retro styled web designs. This cool site tests your retro knowledge. This web design conference features a very retro look.

BTW, the book Ready Player One dives deeply into all of these forms of retro nostaligia, with a futuristic spin. It's a perfect example of literary New Retro. I'm looking forward to Spielberg's version hitting the big screen next year.

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