- The PlayStation 2 is pretty much a vanilla Games/Movies/Music system, usually now Sunset Consoles (Wii Mini, PS3 3G, Xbox 360 3G) are 'Lite Hardware', The PS2 keeps it simple.
- GameCube is as basic as you can get with a unique disc media and a few (10/10) flagship titles
- Microsoft's first Xbox is still considered a very social system - and it is. There are LAN'ers who frequent Halo to this very day.
- Nintendo's Game Boy Advanced is 'retro' by design
- Mattel's WonderSwan still has a faithful community
- Nuon is like the 2000's CD-I except capitalizing on enhanced multimedia and a richer quality in games
Interesting question. I remember seeing PS1 games in the classic section of Game Informer some ten/fifteen years ago, and not being able to believe my eyes. Back then, I imagined "retro" as 16-bit and earlier. Now, that's obviously not the case.
It's a blurry line. I consider games like Wind Waker and Double Dash as retro now. PS3 games aren't quite there yet. There is no standard definition for this. I suppose if you're looking for one, ask yourself if Gamestop still sells it.
Ah, the good 'ol days when Funcoland was selling Nintendo games for seventy-five cents.
Up for discussion, here are some thoughts. Also, things can be in multiple categories, as some things are discussing the technology used (like vintage) but others the popularity or gameplay (like classic).
Retro: Something modern but consciously looking back. Shovel Knight is a modern game making the choice to look like it could have been made 25 years ago. You could also consider the Flashbacks and the Retron consoles as retro consoles. Old things do not simply become retro over time. Happy Days is not a retro show because it was made in the 70s, instead its retro because it was made in the 70s looking back to the 50s. Retro is basically neo-classical.
Antique: A relic from the video game stone age. ENIAC to the original Odyssey. Pre microprocessor. May not even be thought of as video game equipment. Museum pieces to collect but not to play.
Venerable: The grandfathers of things to come. Really old, but recognizable as video game equipment of some sort. The Pong machines, the Breakout and Tank machines, and including early microprocessors like the Altair 8800 kit built home computer up to maybe the original TRS-80. Fundamental, even playable to some extent, but really basic (BASIC). Not necessarily desirable. Any game you type in from a book or magazine into your computer is venerable.
Vintage: Bespeaking of a different age of gaming. Things using technology that is not used at all anymore. Microprocessor machines using magnetic (floppy disc or tape) or ROM cartridges and lacking hard drives. Things that would make younger people confused about its operation. Thus the N64 is vintage but the PS1 is not.
Classical: Belonging to the fundamental period. For video games, this is basically the 8 and 16 bit era of consoles and computers and the games played on them. This is the time when most of the genres and tropes developed, and from which other things are referenced.
Modern: Belonging to contemporary times. Things that are available for retail purchase today would be modern.
Classic: A long standing staple. The gaming equivalent of the little black dress. First person shooters and driving games are classic games. 2D platformers are now classic games, but only having come out of the ghetto of being dated. Possibly the Atari 2600 is a classic console, not by virtue of being old, but because it still has active game players and game makers decades after its introduction.
Dated / Out of Date / Old: A well worn video game path no longer with declining or very low popularity and lacking new innovations. May have once been very popular, or not. Text adventures. Single page defense against ranks of 2D descending aliens. The PS1s graphics are usually considered dated. The PS2 is a dated console not for its graphics, but due to its obsolescence and low popularity (in retail). Windows 95 is a dated operating system compared to Windows 7. These are neither classical nor modern.
Old School / Old Skool / Back in the Day: Dated but with some element of cool remaining, possibly because of difficulty or charm or massive popularity. Defender, Robotron 2084, Missile Command are old skool cool for difficulty. Pac Man is old skool cool for its charm and popularity, but KC Munchkin might just be dated. Doom is old skook cool where Doom clones might simply be dated. The Atari 2600 and the NES and the SNES are old skool cool for their charm, popularity and for the NES in particular, its library of difficult games, while the Sega Master System might just be dated.
Just thoughts, but the main point is that 'retro' is not about old and cool, but new and looking back.
For me...I think the last set of retro consoles was the PS1/N64/Saturn era. Basically I look at that era...most of those gamers who were 5-10 years old are now somewhere between 20-35. They look back at those games from when they were a kid and have the same nostalgia and reverence as we did looking back at the 2600/NES and others.
That's just my thought process on it. It's not quite perfect because I think if you grew up with a PS1...technically until the PS4 came out your collection of PS1 games never became obsolete. You could continue to play them easily just by upgrading your system. I believe that part of the charm of playing older games is tracking them down at your parents house or digging them out of your closet. Hooking up the system and just being like, "yeah, this is what gaming was like when I was a kid". It's a combination of nostalgia and appreciation of still genuinely enjoying something even though it's horribly outdated.
I think part of that classic/retro feeling is the yearning to play something older or something that just isn't in vogue anymore. It's gotta have that "they don't make em like they used to anymore" feeling.
As for classic games, I think there needs to be a certain degree of popularity to qualify for that. I don't think many obscure or poorly received games earn that label.
I think that "retro" should refer to either a game that mimicks the style of an older generation of gaming, or to the act of playing and collecting games from the past (retrogaming). Using it for the old games themselves doesn't make sense to me; Mozart isn't "retro", he's a Classical/classical composer.
For me, the "classic" era cuts off with the Dreamcast, and the PS2 and XBox mark the real beginning of the "modern" era. You could argue that the Dreamcast was a transitional console; I see it as the last console that really tried to bring the (contemporaneous) arcade experience home. Either way, as soon as online play and 21st-century aesthetics started to take over, I lost interest in most modern gaming.
If someone asks, I say I like older 2D games, and early 3D games -- or I just say that I prefer 20th-century games.