Go back to the 80’s with Retrocade: DataStream Y2K600

Review of Retrocade: DataStream Y2K600 on XBLIG: Try
Atari 2600-style graphics make this take on Frogger a blast from the past.

It may not look it at first, but Retrocade: DataStream Y2K600 is, at its heart, Frogger. Developer QuimbyRBG has taken those basic gameplay elements—a lone player crossing a series of moving streams of objects—and created four different variants, as well as recreating the original.

In most variations, the basic game mechanics are collecting data nodes and opening or closing streams. The goal of Arcade mode is keeping streams open; the goal of Corruption is closing them down. Waypoint is a race against the clock, and collecting data nodes increases the timer. Glitcher and Flow Rider return to the original goal of Frogger—crossing from one side of the screen to the other.

I found controls to be touchy on occasion. I sometimes died unexpectedly when moving against a stream or trying to squeeze into a narrow gap. It’s not easy to judge collisions with the naked eye with objects moving in opposite directions, so I found the best strategy was to go with the flow as much as possible. In addition, moving up and down through the data streams requires more precision than the thumbstick or the (notoriously imprecise) D-pad can provide—an unintentional slip of the thumb often sent me into a different stream, usually right into the path of an obstacle.

I’m impressed by inventive game design. I wouldn’t have recognized the gameplay as Frogger had the developer not specifically mentioned it. It’s easy to see the comparison after it was pointed out; the four new game modes are unique enough that their inspiration is not instantly recognizable. It also helped that the developer took the Frogger concept completely out of its original context and created a new theme (computer data streams) that still fits with the original mechanic.

While the gameplay is certainly inventive, the graphics are a matter of debate. I recognized the chunky, solid-color blocks as a throwback to Atari 2600, so I was able to look past the simplistic graphics. In fact, I felt they served the game well, expanding and shrinking as streams opened and closed without being distracting. However, Mike thought it was too simplistic for the Atari 2600 reference and read it as another case of “bad graphics as retro.”

I give Retrocade: DataStream Y2K600 a Try. Initially, I found the diversity of game modes fun. But if you don’t like retro or chasing the high score, you’ll likely get tired of it quickly.

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