The console gaming scene has a term, which is fairly new it looks to me, since I follow these things here and there, called "neo-retro." A neo-retro game is a game designed to mimic the play style and aesthetic, or graphics, of earlier games, especially 8-bit game systems like the NES. This term is used both for a new retro-style Megaman game, but also for entirely new games designed with this aesthetic.
There seem to be a number of parallels to the retro-gaming scene in console and p-n-p gaming. One parallel is the urge to get back to a simpler time, with less time investment (whether real or perceived) and in general just good old fashioned fun without the baggage of rule/game bloat and in the case of console and p-n-p games, to get back to games that are easy to just pick up and play.
It strikes me how similar the idea is on one hand for neo-retro console games to mimic the "inferior" aesthetic of 8-bit gaming, and on the other hand for p-n-p publishers, and not just those publishing retro products, like to have a retro presentation of art and layout.
Before I go too far afield, what I'm proposing is that we call games like Mutant Future, BFRPG, Castles & Crusades, and Mazes & Minotaurs "neo-retro" games, while leaving the term "retro-clone" as a more specific instance of a neo-retro game that seeks to emulate a specific game as closely as possible. I've been inspired by some of jrients's funky graphics in the past, so allow me to present one here...oh wait I almost messed up. Since Jeff likes "three-fold" models, here's my three-fold retro p-n-p model...
I'll let the picture speak for itself to some extent. My reasoning with the near-clones is that they borrow a lot from previous games, but implement things in a slightly different way or combination to create a neo-retro game that has "clone-like" properties.
So, what do we make of the parallels between retro console gaming and retro pencil-and-paper gaming? I don't want to play amateur sociologist, but based on previous discussions in the old-school online community I wonder if one component is a general alienation to modern games, and the glut/bloat that happens with this drive by game publishers for ultra-commercialization. The drive for games to be more EXTREME!, as well as an over-polished look and intense complexity may be invading on the fun factor. I'm not going to deny that nostalgia plays at least some role, but I don't think admitting that is a flaw to the old-school renaissance. We all play games to have fun, no matter what kind of game you like or why. "Nostalgia" does not necessarily need to connote "blind admiration." People who prefer D&D 4e today, even though it is shiny and new, may go on to always prefer it and feel nostalgia toward when they first discovered it. That doesn't subtract any from the credibility of old-school gaming as relevant today and just as valid of a play aesthetic into the future.