Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Video Game History Part Deux : 1980's-1990's

After giving my brain a week’s rest from writing, I return to continue the story of video games history.
The 1980’s was when the “golden age of arcade games” finally reached its pinnacle. This age has resulted in many innovative, technological and genre-defining games. The Legend of Zelda, created in 1986, established the genre “Action-Adventure”. It was the first game to combine elements of from different genres and use new innovations like back up saving. If it wasn’t for this invention, 26 years later we would have to complete our games in one go. One death would result in starting the game from the beginning and I doubt people would have interest in such realistic games; I mean look at the success of Call of Duty.

Ah the old kill cam
As well as combining existing genres new genres spawned during the decade. One of my favourite genres, beat-em up’s, started with “Karateka” which was created in 1984. It paved the way for future side scrolling beat-em up’s. So in essence I have that game to thank for modern day kick-ass fighters like “Mortal Kombat”. That wasn’t the only good genre to appear, “Donkey Kong ” is considered the first platform game  and that was created in 1980. Who would have thought that in the space of 24 years platform games would evolve to the unique and innovative quality of games like “little big planet”.
Karateka Cover Art

Games have a way of evolving and changing in unpredictable ways. For me it has always been fun to play on your own and to immerse yourself but I personally enjoy the satisfaction of owning someone online. The 1980’s was the time when Dial-Up systems were created. They were still around when I was a child because I remember the ol’ dial-up noise and the screeching you would hear when picking up the phone. Maze War is considered one the first network games written. I’ve never heard of it before now but it seems like an early precursor to the modern online FPS game. 
                                          >>>>A Link To The Famous Dial-Up Noise <<<<

The Nintendo DS’s great, great, great granddad was also created in the 1980’s called the Game & Watch. It looks effectively the same as the DS just less powerful and has no 3D aspect. But that little box of joy spurred many other companies to make their own portable games. The Game Boy Color didn’t come out until a good few years later but that was my first gaming console. That little cartridge playing wonder started me on my journey towards game artist. So you can see the impact that game history has to this day. Despite my inspiration the Nintendo Game & Watch wasn’t the first handheld game, that was the Microvision. The handheld was released in 1979 but unlike the Game & Watch, it didn’t survive very long. This was due to lack of games, poor design and the video game crash of 1983.
                                                           The Nintendo Game&Watch

Speaking of which, the video game industry experienced a second crash at the end of 1983. This resulted in the bankruptcy of several companies that produced home computers and video games consoles. It also brought what was considered to be the second generation of console video gaming to an end.  The crash is believed to have been mainly caused by poorly designed games, amongst other things.

As we cross into the 1990’s the shift from the arcade to the home starts to occur. Gaming consoles were now reaching 16-bit and 32-bit processors. The level of graphics seen in arcade games was now matched at home. This meant that players started waiting for the arcade games to come to consoles rather than going out to play them. This is the times when the legendary third and fourth generation consoles were created. The NES and its successor the SNES are names that still resonate with the gamers of my generation. Raster graphics transitioned over to 3D graphics. Game publishers grew, design teams enlarged and the budget of games increased. Even mobile gaming started up in the 1990’s.

                                                                                      The SNES
These developments completely contrast the slow beginnings of the 1950’s. In the progress from 1980’ to the 1990’s, the industry grew to become a mainstream form of entertainment as opposed to the underground subculture it was. The games industry at this time was starting to bloom.

That’s it for my blog this week, until then. “To the Batmobile , let’s go”!

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