PS3 Retro
Image: Push Square

The passage of time. Weird one, init? Never mind the fact I just turned 30 this month and – dodgy knees aside – still feel about 21, there’s something else that’s got me all messed up this week.

While plumbing the depths of the Twitterverse the other night, I stumbled across something that I didn’t particularly want to see. No, not another Hasbulla meme, but one of those little factoids that blows your mind in a sort of mundane way, like realising your tongue is the only part of your reflection you can lick.

And that factoid went thusly – the PS3 is now as old as the SNES was when the PS3 launched.

Yep, dat triple is creeping up on its 17th birthday this year, which means not only is it as old as the SNES was in 2006, but it’ll no doubt be chancing its way into Wetherspoons with a fake ID and ordering three Strikabombs any moment now. More importantly for us though, it raises the question – should we now consider the PS3 to be retro?

There were strong opinions on both sides, but given that it’s Twitter we’re talking about here, they were expressed via the medium of anonymous accounts telling each other to “seethe and cope” while attempting to ratio one another using Bugs Bunny memes.

This low-brow tomfoolery only left me hungry for a proper discussion with an intensely enlightened, amicable, and stunningly handsome group of folk – a group like the Push Square community, of course! Ha ha. Please love me.

Uncharted 2

My Two Cents

So, what do I think? Well, maybe it’s the fact that I was but a wee, spotty teenager at the time, but back in ‘06, the Super Nintendo felt like ancient history – a product from a bygone era, with its bleeps and bloops, and simplistic, grey controller.

At the same age, the PS3 – while certainly knocking on a bit – doesn’t give me that same feeling. It still looks fairly sleek and modern, and I’d be hard pressed to look at something like Uncharted 2: Among Thieves and lump it in the same category as Contra III.

So, it got me thinking – what does ‘retro’ actually mean? Is it defined by something as arbitrary as the number of years that have passed since a thing’s release, or is it more to do with a certain aesthetic or design philosophy?

For me personally, it definitely goes beyond superficial aspects like audiovisual presentation. It’s more to do with the actual design philosophies that were present – or rather, forced – during those early years of home video games, where limited hardware power naturally meant more simplistic experiences.

To me, today’s biggest games often simply feel like (much) more expansive, more refined versions of what we were playing during the sixth generation of consoles. That was the last true paradigm shift in terms of game development and what was actually possible, and so it feels like a natural cut-off.

For that reason, I’d personally struggle to call anything from the PS2 onwards ‘retro’, but it feels very
shortsighted of me to imagine that’ll always be the case. Others would argue that’s just me not wanting to feel like an old git.

PS3 Controller

Your Turn!

But what do you think? Maybe your categorisations are influenced by something else entirely, like the actual styling of the console itself? Systems from the ‘90s certainly had an almost brutalist look to them, what with all those straight lines and grey plastic. Simply looking at a picture of a Game Boy is enough to make the word ‘retro’ appear in my head.

However you feel, there’s definitely an interesting debate to be had here, and we’d love to hear your thoughts! Unless of course you disagree with me, in which case, didn’t ask + seethe + cope + ratio.

Do you consider the PS3 to be a retro console? (1,874 votes)

  1. Absolutely, it's almost 20 years old30%
  2. Not just yet, but give it a few more years28%
  3. It’ll be a long time, but I’m sure I’ll see it as retro one day19%
  4. PS3 game design is too modern to ever be considered truly retro15%
  5. 'Retro' is a largely meaningless term that isn't helpful8%