Retro Gaming Nostalgia: Pixel Art & Game Designs
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 7 min read


Explore Pixel Art History

  • Birth of Pixel Art in Retro Games
  • Influential Pixel Art Games
  • Evolution and Resurgence

Analyze Retro Game Design Elements

  • Iconic Game Characters
  • Gameplay Mechanics
  • Sound and Music in Retro Games

Create Your Own Pixel Art

  • Tools for Pixel Art Creation
  • Steps in Making a Pixel Art
  • Pixel Art Tips and Tricks

Design Your Own Retro Game

  • Retro Game Design Software
  • Game Design Process
  • Design Tips for Retro Games

Share and Market Your Game

  • Platforms to Share Your Game
  • Marketing Strategies for Indie Games
  • Building a Community Around Your Game

Stepping into the realm of retro gaming art is like opening a time capsule; it's an exploration of nostalgia, creativity, and simplicity. The vibrant world of pixel art and game-inspired artwork brings back fond memories of simpler gaming times, while also inspiring a whole new generation of artists and game designers. If you've ever been intrigued by retro gaming art, how it revives nostalgia through pixel art, and game-inspired artwork, you're in for a treat. Let's embark on a journey through the pixelated past and into the creative future of this unique art form.

Explore Pixel Art History

Pixel art's history is deeply intertwined with the evolution of video games. It's an art form that has left an indelible impact on the world of gaming. Let's take a closer look at the birth of pixel art in retro games, influential pixel art games, and its evolution and resurgence.

Birth of Pixel Art in Retro Games

Pixel art was born out of necessity during the early days of video games. Back in the 70s and 80s, game consoles and computers had limited graphical power. Developers had to create art with minimal resources, leading to the creation of pixel art. Each pixel mattered, and artists had to use them wisely to create recognizable characters and environments. The likes of Pac-Man and Space Invaders stand testimony to the creativity of these early pioneers, who managed to create iconic and immersive gaming experiences within these constraints.

Influential Pixel Art Games

Several retro games have left a lasting impact in the realm of pixel art. Super Mario Bros, with its iconic characters and colorful levels, set new standards in game design and art. The Legend of Zelda introduced intricate pixel art landscapes, and games like Mega Man and Pokémon utilized pixel art to bring their unique characters to life. These games not only expanded the boundaries of what pixel art could achieve, but they also cemented their place in the annals of gaming history.

Evolution and Resurgence

Even as technology advanced, allowing for more detailed and realistic graphics, pixel art didn't fade away. Instead, it evolved and experienced a resurgence. Modern indie games like Stardew Valley, Shovel Knight, and Celeste, have embraced pixel art, using it to create visually stunning and nostalgic gaming experiences. Today, pixel art continues to captivate gamers, serving as a bridge between the past and the present, and proving that sometimes, less is indeed more.

Analyze Retro Game Design Elements

Understanding the elements that make retro games so captivating helps us appreciate the art and work put into designing them. Let's analyze these elements, focusing on iconic game characters, gameplay mechanics, and the role of sound and music in retro games.

Iconic Game Characters

Think about the first character that comes to mind when you hear "retro gaming". Is it the mustachioed plumber Mario, or the pixelated space invader? Maybe it's the mischievous Pac-Man or the legendary Link from Zelda. These characters are iconic not just because they were part of successful games, but because their designs were simple, effective, and unforgettable. Their pixel art designs proved that you don't need high-definition graphics to create characters that resonate with players. It's all about using what you have creatively.

Gameplay Mechanics

Gameplay mechanics of retro games were often simple but addictive. Take Tetris, for instance. The game's concept is simple: line up falling blocks to create complete lines. Yet, it's one of the most popular and enduring games in history. This was the magic of retro games. They didn't rely on complex mechanics or flashy graphics; they focused on creating engaging and enjoyable experiences that kept players coming back for more.

Sound and Music in Retro Games

Who can forget the catchy tunes of Super Mario Bros. or the iconic "waka-waka" sound of Pac-Man eating dots? Sound and music played a pivotal role in retro games. They helped set the mood, build tension, and immerse players in the game world. Imagine playing Tetris without its hypnotic theme song or Space Invaders without the increasing tempo as the aliens approach. Sounds and music turned good games into great ones, and they're a crucial element of retro game design that continues to inspire game developers today.

Create Your Own Pixel Art

Now that we've explored the elements of retro gaming art, why not try your hand at creating your own pixel art? It's a fun way to express your creativity and bring back that sense of nostalgia. Here are some tools you can use, steps to follow, and tips and tricks to keep in mind.

Tools for Pixel Art Creation

Before you get started, you'll need the right tools. There are many pixel art creation tools out there, but some popular ones include Aseprite, Pyxel Edit, and Pixel Studio. These tools offer a variety of features like layering, color palettes, and animation options, making it easier for you to create pixel art. But remember, the tool doesn't make the artist; it's all about how you use it!

Steps in Making a Pixel Art

Creating pixel art can seem daunting at first, but by breaking it down into steps, you'll find it's not as hard as it looks. Start by sketching out a rough idea of what you want to create. Then, pick your colors and start filling in the pixels. Don't worry about making it perfect on the first try; part of the fun is experimenting and tweaking your design. Once you're happy with your work, you can save it and share it with the world!

Pixel Art Tips and Tricks

Now, here are some tips to help you create great pixel art. First, keep it simple. Start with small, simple designs before moving on to more complex ones. Second, use a limited color palette. This will help you create a cohesive look and feel for your art. Third, don't be afraid to use references. Looking at other pixel art can give you ideas and inspiration for your own work. Lastly, remember that practice makes perfect. The more pixel art you create, the better you'll get at it.

Design Your Own Retro Game

Having your own pixel art is great, but what if you could bring that art to life in a game? Designing your own retro game can be a rewarding experience, and it's another way to dive deeper into the world of retro gaming art. Let's take a look at some software you can use, the process of game design, and a few tips to make your game a hit.

Retro Game Design Software

There are several retro game design software options available, including GameMaker Studio, Unity, and RPG Maker. These platforms cater to a range of skill levels. For example, GameMaker Studio is user-friendly and great for beginners, while Unity offers more advanced features for experienced game developers. But remember, your creativity is the key here, not the complexity of the software.

Game Design Process

Designing a game involves a few key steps. First, you'll want to brainstorm and sketch out your game concept. Think about the story, the characters, and the world you want to create. Next, you'll start to design the gameplay mechanics, using your pixel art to bring your game to life. Testing is a vital stage of the process — it allows you to identify any issues and fine-tune your game for the best player experience. Finally, once you're satisfied with your game, it's time to share it with others and gather feedback.

Design Tips for Retro Games

As for tips, keeping the player's experience in mind should be your top priority. Make sure your game is fun to play and offers a good balance of challenge and reward. Experiment with different gameplay mechanics to keep things interesting. And of course, don't forget to infuse your game with that nostalgic retro gaming art style — that's what will truly set it apart and capture players' hearts.

Share and Market Your Game

Once you've created your own pixel art-inspired retro game, the next step is to share it with the world, and perhaps even turn it into a successful indie game. Here's where you can share your game, how to market it effectively, and how to build a community around it to keep players coming back for more.

Platforms to Share Your Game

There are several platforms where you can share your retro gaming art masterpiece. Websites like are a haven for indie games, allowing you to upload and distribute your game for free or at a price you set. Steam is another popular platform, although getting your game listed there can be a bit more challenging. Social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram can also be effective for sharing your game and attracting players.

Marketing Strategies for Indie Games

Marketing a game can seem daunting, but there are a few strategies that can help you get the word out. First, create a compelling trailer for your game that showcases its unique art style and gameplay. Next, reach out to gaming influencers and ask them to play your game or feature it on their channels. Finally, consider participating in gaming conventions or indie game showcases — these can be tremendous opportunities to gain exposure and network with other developers and players.

Building a Community Around Your Game

Building a community around your game can really help sustain its success. Engage with your players, ask for their feedback, and listen to their suggestions. Platforms like Discord can be great for this, allowing you to create a dedicated space for your game where players can chat, share their experiences, and even contribute their own ideas for future updates or sequels. It's all about fostering that sense of nostalgia and shared love for retro gaming art. Because in the end, it's the players who breathe life into your game.

If you're fascinated by the aesthetics of retro gaming and want to explore more art styles inspired by the era, don't miss the workshop 'How To Make Glitch Art' by Tom Glendinning. This workshop will teach you how to create your own unique glitch art, adding a modern twist to the nostalgic pixel art and game designs of the past.