Friday, 2 November 2007

Week 3: A History of computer games 1980s-1990s

So after seeing Atari formed, and pong born in the 70s, we move onto the 1980s. Just after a home version of space invaders was released for the VCS (or the Atari 2600), there was seen to be a bit of a crash in the games market. Magnavox released a game called K.C. Munchkin, which Atari thought was to 'similar' to pac-man and so sued them (as you do in America) and won.

Atari then released the highly anticipated version of Pac-Man for the 2600, which didnt represent the original arcade game at all! Together with the dissapointing E.T, the companies sales plumited like a plane with no wings and as a result, massive numbers of Atari's games ended up in a landfill in New Mexico (I wonder if they'd still work if we dug them up).

1983 saw the release of the Commodore 64, which outperforms any video games console to date, but with too many products on the shelves from a multitude of publishers, many third-party companies go out of business.

Next comes Alexey Pajitnov, with his mighty game Tetris in 1985. Tetris comes from the Greek root tetra-, meaning four, and Alexeys favourite sport, Tennis.

In 1986 the great war between nintendo and sega started with of the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) and the Sega Master System. This part of the war was won by Nintendo with massive sales, crowding out Sega and Atari.

Then the market for Tetris explodes, and great contraversy is created by who owned the rights. There is a very interesting program made by BBC4 on this, which I suggest you check out if You get the chance. That with the release of the Gameboy, the Sega Genasis, the TurboGrafx-16 and Atari's handheld 'Lynx' was as busy year for all 4 companies.

Then in 1991 comes the release of the awesome SNES (so what if im a bit biased) and the iconic Sonic (see what I did there).
But even the release of Donkey Kong Country in 1994 can only just help Nintendo Catch up to the might of the sega Genasis.

Now that the Gaming Industry is starting to kick off Sony decide to jump on the bandwagon with their 32-bit Playstion, and chuck Sega off. Now Nintendo see this and decide to make a 64-bit machine, the N64. (Honestly, it's all about a bunch of blokes trying to prove who has the biggest CPU)

Whilst Sony and Nintendo battle it out, Sega try several atempts to jump back on the wagon with the Sega Saturn and the Dreamcast but never prevailing as the Saturn is never able to compete with the popularity of the PS and N64, and Sony releasing the PS2, which was just more powerful.

So we've seen Graphics advance from Pac-Man to Mario 64 in these 20 years, which I find astonishing when looking back at the previous 20 years. The advances where happening even faster and to a better quality, which was a good sign of things to come.

Continuing with my history we find me still on my SNES, and increasing my collection with the likes of Jungle Strike, Super Mario Kart and Jurassic Park(which is probably the hardest game I've ever played since there are NO save points in it!) Going back to Mario Kart, I can see that that was another big game in my gaming history, and probably because it was something I used to play with my dad a lot. We would battle it out in the mushroom, flower and star cups, and he was pretty damn good at it.

Then one birthday I got a playstation. This was probably in 1996 or 1997 im a bit foggy on the date, but none the less it was brilliant. Proper 3D environments! CD Quality audio! But I think that one of the things that was most exciting about my first game Air Combat, was that the pilot cursed every time your missed a shot! Ok so the extent of it was him saying 'JESUS MISSED!' but I was young and that sort of thing would create gasps and 'ummmm's amongst 8 year olds.

Games like Command and Conquer and Final Fantasy IIV (which you may have read from my profile is my favourite game ever) started to appear in my collection, which I think turned me from a casual gamer into a semi-hardcore gamer, starting to get involved with the stories rather that gaining quick thrills. Also issues of morality seemed to matter more, for example, not wanting to let you npc team mate die, and being able to choose which historical monument to destroy with the Ion Cannon when you complete the NOD campaign in Command and Conquer. You could pick from the White House, Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower and the Brandenburg Gate. I have to say, it was the French every time.

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