www.Retro-Grades.com
features detailed reviews, information, tips, strategies, secrets and media on several popular video games from back-in-the-day, on a number of earlier generation gaming systems.



If there are any more terms or definitions that can be added here or better explained, please e-mail us or send us a Tweet!





And don't forget to check out our new Pinterest account!

Glossary of Video Game Terms

www.Retro-Grades.com utilizes a special vernacular, or jargon, that many gamers of these newer generation systems understand—while some of us, 8- and 16-bitters may not be able to compute. So, below, there is an alphabetical listing that we hope will help ease the transition a little more:




    Collapse all | Expand all
  • anime

  • A special, stylized art or illustration, popularized by Japanese artists, that sometimes, features large eyes and mouths, and high, spiked hairdos [see Capcom's Strider or Tecmo's Ninja Gaiden series].

    [RETURN TO TOP]

  • arcade

  • A large table or tall cabinet/console that contains a video game or games, that is/are displayed on a large monitor and controlled with a joystick, rolling ball and/or buttons. The arcade games usually took quarters or tokens to play and to continue. Several games that were popular as arcade titles were reprogrammed (or "ported") and sold as cartridges for home, video game systems. 2) A popular gathering place or hang-out that contained a number of arcade game machines.

    [RETURN TO TOP]

  • artificial intelligence, also referred to as AI

  • The level of realistic "thinking" that the game's developers have programmed, either into enemies that the player encounters, or into the game itself, when the player battles the computer (CPU) (most commonly, in sports games and role-playing games).

    [RETURN TO TOP]

  • auto-scrolling

  • A video game or area/level in a video game that has an automatic, forced movement that causes the player to keep his character/ship in constant movement to avoid perishing. This motion helps to dictate game play and speed of play.

    [RETURN TO TOP]

  • canon

  • The generally-accepted (and usually, officially-approved) storyline, back story, history, rules/conventions of a game series. Some longer-standing game series may deviate from the canon of the series to add a fresh perspective. This may happen when a series strays away from its creator's/s' original ideas, and those ideas are passed on to another team of developers (as in the cases of the series for Metal Gear, Ninja Gaiden, The Legend Of Zelda, inferior Contra titles, etc.). Sometimes, long-standing series are re-imagined, as time passes and newer generations and technology emerge, resulting in updates that may loosely resemble the original (Ninja Gaiden, Rygar and Bionic Commando are examples).

    [RETURN TO TOP]

  • CEL-shading

  • A stylized, graphical rendering/game art that produces a faux-3D, cartoonish/comic book look or appearance (The Legend Of Zelda: The Windwaker and Viewtiful Joe are prime examples.). Cel comes from celluloid — the clear, plastic-like layers used in animation.

    [RETURN TO TOP]

  • Chibi

  • A special, stylized art or illustration, popularized by Japanese artists, that sometimes, features large eyes; small, child-like bodies with larger heads; and a "cuteness" quality [see Tecmo's Ninja Gaiden II Sound Test graphics].

    [RETURN TO TOP]

  • chiptune, also referred to as chip music and/or 8-Bit music

  • Loosely-defined as music, composed of special synth and electronic sounds, that was created and generated on sound chips/processors in earlier video game systems, especially the Nintendo. The sounds, programmed as synthesized waves that produced low drones, beeps, shrills and other tones, helped define an era in sound, but continues to thrive today with music enthusiasts and performers. Plugins can be downloaded and added to audio software to playback "chiptune" soundtracks from video games. Some of the most popular video game audio file formats are: .nsf (Nintendo sound format), .vgm (sound format across various systems, including Sega's and more) and .spc (Super Nintendo sound format) to name a few.

    [RETURN TO TOP]

  • downloadable content, also referred to as DLC

  • Bonus material, features, etc. of a game that can usually be purchased and downloaded onto the newer generation game consoles via the internet. Sometimes, this newer content allows for game developers to expand on a game and add additional features that may have been left off the original release due to scheduling deadlines, etc.

    [RETURN TO TOP]

  • easter egg

  • A secret item, power-up, message, etc. hidden within a game's code that, upon accomplishing a certain feat or maneuver, or entering a code or sequence of controller/button commands, can be discovered by the gamer. Some game developers/coders stash these special treats/surprises as a special nod to something or someone, or as a kind of special acknowledgement or thank you to the gamer.

    [RETURN TO TOP]

  • 8-Bit

  • Referring to the third generation, or wave, of gaming systems (most noteworthy, the Nintendo Entertainment System and Sega Master System [approximately from early to mid 1980's through early to mid 1990's]). 8-bit systems were upgrades on prior systems, providing better graphics (more colors and shading, animated sprites, background scenery, etc.) that helped spawn the foundation of strong video game design with such innovations and improvements, as introduction of directional controller with buttons (changing gameplay forever by removing the joystick and adding more buttons for game designers to utilize in different ways); story, character and plot development, and sequels to further build upon; skillfully-composed soundtracks and audio effects; new styles and genres of gameplay; creative and imaginative ideas in level design; the introduction of peripheral items (like Nintendo's Zapper Gun, R.O.B. the Robot, the Power Glove, NES Max controller [with slow-motion and turbo shot options], NES Advantage [joystick-controller similar to arcade experience], NES Power Pad [to exercise on, transforming a large vinyl sheet into a controller for your feet, in effect], etc.) to widen the game playing experience; the porting of arcade games that more resembled the actual look and sound of those games, thus beginning the shift from dominance of arcades towards the emergence of the home console market, etc.

    [RETURN TO TOP]

  • emulator

  • Computer software or a program that can play (or emulate) exact copies of a video game (more precisely, the game's data condensed into a computer file, better known as a ROM), without using the original game cartridge/disc or cartridge's/disc's gaming system.

    [RETURN TO TOP]

  • first-person shooter, also referred to as FPS

  • A game, in which the perspective is shown from the main protagonist's viewpoint, as if the gamer is actually submersed within the gaming environment and is, indeed, in the actual video game for a pseudo-realistic feel. FPS's usually involve gunplay and/or elements of stealth, hide-and-seek and hunting, within a three-dimensional setting or a multiplayer, competitive arena. GoldenEye 007 helped popularize this genre.

    [RETURN TO TOP]

  • frame rate

  • The number of slides that are shown per second in an animation or film. The higher the frame rate, the more natural, realistic and smooth the animation looks. At lower frame rates, choppiness occurs.

    [RETURN TO TOP]

  • game engine

  • The programming, or software framework, from which a video game is built. It includes much of the basic parameters (internal rules, physics, graphics rendering, sound, artificial intelligence, etc.) for development of a game, and is fleshed out into an actual game when developers and designers add the game's content (in the form of graphics, characters, scripts, etc.).

    [RETURN TO TOP]

  • glitch

  • A breakdown, or technical problem, in a video game, caused by any number of factors (usually, physical issues, like a cartridge being touched or bumped while being played, or extreme temperatures, or the presence of scratches, dust or some other foreign substance interfering with the connection between the game and system itself; and sometimes, software issues that were not debugged and fixed by the game's developers — for instance, if a certain maneuver is performed by the player that the game was not programmed to detect or interact with or fix). Sometimes, glitches in the game can be to the benefit of the player, but oftentimes, the glitch will cause game failure and frustration.

    [RETURN TO TOP]

  • high-resolution, also referred to as hi-res

  • Used to describe a graphic or audio aspect of a game, when there is a wide range of color, depth, channels and/or detail present. Often, used in comparing later generation game details to earlier generation game details.

    [RETURN TO TOP]

  • hit box

  • An invisible border (not always in the shape of a square, but in older 8-bit games, more pixelated/boxy-shaped) that surrounds a video game character. Once that unseen area comes into contact with, or collides with, an enemy or object deemed harmful or bad, damage or death afflicts the player's character.

    [RETURN TO TOP]

  • hit detection, also related to hit box

  • The quality and consistency of a character's perceived contact or collision with an enemy or harmful or bad area. In poorly-programmed games, the hit detection can fluctuate and does cause a high level of frustration for players.

    [RETURN TO TOP]

  • joystick

  • A special controller that consists of a stick or rod, sometimes capped with a ball or top, that can be manipulated by hand to control the character onscreen. Several arcade machines used a joystick for video game movement. They were featured in earlier video gaming systems, predominately, and began to fade in popularity with the 8-Bit systems' emergence (the NES' D-Pad [directional cross] was a major divergence from joystick usage). Joysticks were still produced as optional peripheral controllers for some systems, and to help replicate the true arcade feeling associated with some games.

    [RETURN TO TOP]

  • Konami code, also referred to as Contra code

  • The world-famous code that the developers at Konami placed within the game, Contra, to grant secret access to 30 bonus players as opposed to the standard 3 that the game usually began with. The code is: UP, UP, DOWN, DOWN, LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT, RIGHT, B, A, START. This code has been programmed into other Konami titles, and interestingly enough, some outside companies have stored the code within their games.

    [RETURN TO TOP]

  • lag

  • A slowed-down, delayed response in the movement of action on the screen of older generation games, caused when several sprites are in the screen at the same time; older processors didn't have the power to prevent or overcome the stalled action.

    [RETURN TO TOP]

  • loading, also referred to as a load time or preload

  • A delay or pause in game play that occurs when data on the game disc/cartridge takes time to be processed. Diversions may be created, such as flashing messages, animation sequences, etc., to distract the player while the game's disc loads.

    [RETURN TO TOP]

  • localization

  • The process of repackaging, translating, re-editing and transporting a game to a new locale or country. Games created in a specific country and marketed in other regions of the world must undergo changes to overcome language barriers, cultural differences (taboos, etc.), censorship, legal and copyright issues, programming/technological differences in hardware and electrical code, etc. Localization results in games that are essentially identical, but with subtle differences depending on their regions. A prime example is Capcom's Rockman in Japan and Mega Man in the United States. Sometimes, localization resulted in mistranslations and loss of intended messages of local idioms, customs, themes, etc. for gamers outside of the original market.

    [RETURN TO TOP]

  • low-resolution, also referred to as low-res

  • Used to describe a graphic or audio aspect of a game, when there is a lower range of, or lack of attention to the quality of color, depth and/or detail present. Often, used in comparing earlier generation game details to later generation game details, or inferior efforts of one game's details to another's.

    [RETURN TO TOP]

  • metroidvania

  • A style of game that utilizes a large map and strong elements of exploration, discovery and level-building, popularized by Nintendo's Metroid series and Konami's Castlevania series (culminating in Metroid, Super Metroid and Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night).

    [RETURN TO TOP]

  • mini-game, also referred to as a side quest

  • A side-plot or diversionary option, sometimes, irrelevent to propelling the game's main storyline forward, but oftentimes, very helpful or even necessary towards completion of a game. Mini-games, or side quests, may entail playing an additional game (sometimes, a gamble, a game of skill or game of chance) to accomplish a task or favor for another character, or to gain bonus items to aid in completion of the game.

    [RETURN TO TOP]

  • next-generation, also known as next-gen

  • The newest or next wave of gaming systems that are usually technologically-superior to the hardware and software capabilities of the prior or past generations.

    [RETURN TO TOP]

  • non-playable character, also known as NPC

  • Any character in a video game with whom the player interacts with or whom serves a crucial role that helps progress the plot. These characters usually engage in conversation, provide clues or items and/or show up in varying manners throughout the game.

    [RETURN TO TOP]

  • parallax

  • An animation technique that gives the viewer a perceived sense of depth and the illusion of motion. Usually, a landscape is divided into sections. The foreground moves by at one speed, while another mid-range section may move at a slightly different speed, and the background moves independently of both at yet a different speed. When used to strong effect, the viewer feels as though a realistic movement is taking place before his/her eyes. Tecmo's Ninja Gaiden series, Capcom's Mega Man 2 and HAL Laboratories' Kirby's Adventure use prime examples.

    [RETURN TO TOP]

  • pixel

  • The smallest unit, or pinpoint, of color and light that makes up a televison screen or monitor; pixels are used to illustrate graphics in video games. Sometimes, when game developers fail to fully utilize blends of color and details in their graphics, images came across as "boxy" or pixelated.

    [RETURN TO TOP]

  • platformer

  • A genre of game that is, typically, action or adventure-based, in which the player finds success by progressing through different stages, levels or areas (usually that increase in difficulty the further the player gets). Some popular examples include: Nintendo's Super Mario Bros., Sega's Sonic The Hedgehog, Konami's Contra and Castlevania.

    [RETURN TO TOP]

  • point-and-click

  • A genre of game that is, essentially, a form of role-playing game. Point-and-click games are, typically, played in first-person perspective and usually includes some layer of interaction, in which the player moves a cursor and clicks on certain items on the screen and selects certain commands and actions to perform. Many of these games seem to have origins as computer-based games. Popular titles include: Shadowgate, Déjà Vu, Uninvited and Maniac Mansion.

    [RETURN TO TOP]

  • port

  • A term used to describe when a title is created on one console/system/platform or as an arcade title, and then, released across various systems; perhaps "port" is short for transport. Sometimes, games that are ported may lose some of their original quality or lose something in translation, when they go to other systems that may not share the same amount of processing power or that may be inferior machines.

    [RETURN TO TOP]

  • role playing game, also referred to as RPG

  • A term used to classify a specific style or genre of game that generally, has most, if not all of the following characteristics: narrative-driven (heavy usage of dialogue/conversation between characters to advance the plot and tell story); turn-based attacks, usually with little controller action by gamer (character(s) is/are confronted by enemies, and the game takes turn with attacks between character(s) and enemy/enemies [also referred to as turn-based] - not for the impatient or action-genre fan); a party of diverse characters of varying strengths and weaknesses is usually selected for gameplay; towns with inns and shops that serve as safe havens where equipment, weapons and energy can be obtained; an emphasis in building up various levels, especially experience, and usually money, attack, defense, magic, intelligence, luck, evasion/evasiveness, confuse/confusion, etc., usually through repetitive or monotonous confrontations, usually by chance encounters; etc. Some prime examples are Final Fantasy, Dragon Warrior and Crystalis, while prevalent elements of RPG's can be found in Zelda II - The Adventures Of Link, Simon's Quest - Castlevania 2 and Gargoyle's Quest.

    [RETURN TO TOP]

  • ROM

  • In computer talk, ROM stands for Read-Only Memory, and refers to data that only can be read and not changed. ROM's, in video gaming, refer to files that contain the coding to video games — in essence, an exact copy of a video game cartridge or disc, that has been extracted and placed in a computer file, and that can be played on a computer or other device (one that the game would not have normally been designed to be played on) through a program or software called an emulator.

    [RETURN TO TOP]

  • scroll

  • (verb) To slowly tap the controller in one direction, to slowly inch or edge the screen forward; a technique used to, either, slowly reveal an area or foe, or to make some object or foe disappear.

    [RETURN TO TOP]

  • shoot 'em up, sometimes abbreviated as SHMUP's

  • A style of action game, in which the player engages in combating various arrays of foes by utilizing quick reflexes, dodging and accurate shooting. Shoot 'em ups can be designed in a number of ways — the most common ones being war- or combat-like (Capcom's Commando and Konami's Contra come to mind) or flight and/or space-based (Capcom's 1942 or Legendary Wings, or Konami's Gradius or Life Force).

    [RETURN TO TOP]

  • side-scroller

  • A game, in which, the primary gameplay or orientation moves from left-to-right or horizontally.

    [RETURN TO TOP]

  • 16-Bit

  • Referring to the fourth generation, or wave, of gaming systems (most noteworthy, the Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo and NEC TurboGrafx-16 [late 1980's through early to mid 1990's]). Advancements in the systems' hardware and higher processing rates made way for such upgrades, as higher resolution graphics and sprites with more colors and detail; digitized sprites that included animated movements of photographed models(Prime examples were Mortal Kombat and NBA Jam.); a wider audio spectrum of sounds (with numerous MIDI-based instrument timbres and some vocalizations, going well beyond the beeps, tinkles, white noise static and bassy drones of earlier systems); "pseudo-3D" scrolling effects (known as Mode 7 by Nintendo) that allowed for zooming, scaling and rotation of the backgrounds; the true beginnings of polygonal models (basically, baby steps towards 3D environments and games); and faster motion of play (made famous by Sega's Sonic The Hedgehog).

    [RETURN TO TOP]

  • spawning, also respawn

  • The act or animation of a character, enemy or item on a video game screen being created or regenerated. Respawning can be a very frustrating issue that affects many games, when a player either intentionally or unintentionally retraces his/her steps in a game or leaves an area and returns again or sometimes, even, scrolls a screen one direction, then the next. However, respawning, at times, can be used to accumulate extra points, 1UPs or power-ups.

    [RETURN TO TOP]

  • sprite

  • An animated instance of a graphic on the screen. Too many sprites on older generation systems (like 8-Bit machines, in particular) would result in lag in action, due to older processors not having the power to seamlessly process all of the movements onscreen quickly enough.

    [RETURN TO TOP]

  • unlockable

  • A hidden feature, ability or secret item that is granted once a game is defeated in a particular manner. The emergence of unlockables became more prevalent on later generation systems (16-Bit and up), with companies like Capcom (especially in its Street Fighter and Resident Evil series) and Midway (NBA Jam and Mortal Kombat).

    [RETURN TO TOP]

  • warp

  • To find a shortcut to a more advanced or later stage or area in a game. Super Mario Bros. helped to popularize this on a grand scale, while instances could be found in a number of other titles ranging from Battletoads to Gradius.

[RETURN TO TOP]

 

FUTURE ADVERTISEMENT PLACEHOLDER.
This area will feature a rotating banner for advertisements.


www.Retro-Grades.com - your return to retro video game reviews and more

If you'd like to advertise on our site, please contact us here. Think big, dream bigger!

CONTACT & SOCIAL MEDIA.
We are interested in what our visitors have to say. Please click here to share/e-mail any comments,
suggestions or feedback.


http://www.facebook.com/retrograders http://www.twitter.com/retro_graders https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXLOpLqzFqMUJPZrVl43rZw http://www.pinterest.com/retrogradescom


Being the social butterfly that we are, you can like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Pinterest, and watch our video list on YouTube! (Soon, we'll be adding a blog with polls.)

www.Retro-Grades.com - your return to retro video game reviews and more