I have to once again parallel all of this with music. Originality comes with a price, even if I don't think what we are really seeking here is originality. Completely new concepts are usually too erratic, too esoteric, and too...erm, new! At least some degree of familiarity is needed to hook you.
I think what we are really seeking is a fresh spin. Everything is derivative, after all, and we are just recycling. But all we are really asking for is some good old-fashioned imagination tossed into the mix. There is no human element left in games, as eeverything is a calculated formula that takes little or no risks. I simply find it perplexing trying to imagine gamers getting excited seeing FPS after FPS after FPS. And even spending good money on that kind of repitition. Just perplexed! And what do people see in all of that blurry, awkward 3D that is so common now?
No, what made the oldschool Amiga games great was not the fact that they were original. They just felt right. The combination of good hardware, creative teams with imagination and enthusiasm (as opposed to faceless, bloated teams of IT whiz kids doing a 9 to 5 day job), and the clever manipulation of old and new ideas.
Someone mentioned Worms...perfect example of imaginative transformation of old 8-bit game into something new. In today's modern gaming, it would be a simple, predictable decision: use * 3D engine on it, have jerky camera views, blurry textures, overcooked soundtrack, 3D explosions...wrap the whole game in the exact same things all modern games are wrapped in so that at the end of the day, it looks like everything else. Complacency has replaced individual human touches, and now this has pretty much become a requirement from most modern day publishing houses.
Turn on the radio and you will experience the same thing (at least in modern rock). Even hardcore bands like Mudvayne are churning out slick, embellished power ballads in total compliance with the Creed checklist of how to sell 10 million units. Instead of 3D, they use compressors that create a brickwall effect on the vox and guitars. Every new band either sounds like Creed, Nickelback or Pearl Jam. (sigh)
If it wasn't for retro everything, where would we ever find any innovation? How's that for a classic contradiction? The only place to find anything new is the past!