About half a year ago, Sony and Microsoft started trying to convince people to spend several hundred dollars on powerful new consoles. Generational shifts don’t happen that often in the video games industry, so when they do, it’s natural for people to wonder about the potential of the hardware or how eye-popping the graphics will be.

But things are a little different these days. The best game on the Xbox One right now is the frantic, blocky side-scroller Super Time Force (above), and you could make the same case for TowerFall: Ascension on the PlayStation 4. Both of these use pixel art — the chunky 2D graphical style that harkens back to the ’80s and early ’90s — and the upshot is that it’s okay for new games to look old again.

But why has this happened? Have pixels proved themselves as the building blocks of a legitimate art form, or is it all just a retro fad?