Tuesday, 2 November 2010

The Evolution of Awesome... Level 2


So we started our conquest into the golden ages of video games last time with the humble first steps of the then tiny video game. Now we come to my favourite eras - the 80's and 90's! A time of Pacman and Mario...ringlets and grunge looks...Rick Astley and a little girl group called The Spice girls...(I gotta ask what were we doing to ourselves with this ear vomit?) Anyway, enough nostalgia... let's get right to it...starting with the 80's.

'Where we're going we don't need roads...'

“The Golden age of video arcade games reached its zenith in the 1980’s” – (Wikipedia, http://en.wiki.org/wikipedia/history_of_video_games accessed 2/11/2010)

Throughout the 1980’s-1990’s where gaming grew majorly. Publishing houses appeared such as Electronic Arts (which has lasted 20years) and the low publishing cost of computer games allowed for bold, unique games – a legacy that has continued to this day. This age produced many technically creative and genre defining games such as:

·         Mystery house (1980)
·         Pacman (1980)
·         Donkey Kong (1981)
·         Mario Bros. (1983)
·         Dragon’s lair (1983)
·         Street Fighter (1987)
·         Alone in the dark (1992)

So keeping this in mind I thought I'd review a game that stole many of my days and nights way back when (and even now when I get the NES out the attic). So where is the mushroom loving Italian plumber when the mushroom kingdom is in need? Enter Mario!

Mario Bros.

Mario is obviously one of the most influential characters in gaming today; therefore I had to include the origins of this series.

Mario’s first outing might have been in the form of jumpman in Donkey Kong (1981) but by 1983 he had his debut in Mario Bros. This game portrayed the character as an Italian American plumber with his younger brother Luigi, who have to defeat creatures in the sewers of New York.

Mario was one of the triumphs of the 1980’s and it shows, as he is still Nintendo’s main mascot today. Over the years he has been in many inclinations as follows:

·         1981 – 1989 - Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong jnr, Mario Bros, Super Mario Bros (1,2,3)
·         1989 – 1995 – Super Mario Land, Super Mario world (2),
·         1996 – 2002 – Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine
·         2002 – present – New Super Mario Bros, Mario Galaxy, Paper Mario, New super Mario (Wii)

1980’s consoles

The primary gaming computers of the 1980’s emerged in 1981 & 1982: the Commodore 64, ZX spectrum and the Amstrad CPC. In 1984 the gaming market took over from the console market, following the crash of that year; computers offered equal gaming ability and simple design.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eY2gK1MPgh8 - video mash up of 100 Commodore 64 games in 10 minutes....(Yay! - visual aid :) ) 

The Commodore 64 was released to the public in 1982 and was very popular. It had a BASIC programming environment and advanced graphic and sound capabilities for its time, similar to the Colecovision. It would become the most popular console of its day in the USA and many countries and the best selling computer console of all time.

The Arrival of the Atari ST and Commodore Amiga in 1985 saw the entrance of a new era of 16 bit machines. Also, the VGA standard developed for IBM’s new PS/2 line in 1987 gave the PC the potential for 256 colour graphics. In 1980 Nintendo also launched it’s Game and Watch line, the first LED hand held system. Tiger borrowed this concept of videogaming with cheap, affordable handsets and still produces games in this model to the present day.

In 1985 Nintendo released one of the most popular gaming consoles of all time – the Nintendo Entertainment System or NES. The Nes dominated the USA market until the rise of the next generation consoles in the early 1990’s and used large cartridges.The gamepad design of a directional pad and with 2 or more buttons became the standard. Looking at the NES today, it is clear that it embodied a number of Nintendo’s guiding principles: its unfussy construction, pale colour and lack of detail somehow hinted at a kind of family entertainment and proved that simplicity is definitely effective.

The 1990’s

'Pikachu I choose you'

“The 1990’s were a decade of marked innovation in video gaming” - (Wikipedia, http://en.wiki.org/wikipedia/history_of_video_games accessed 30/4/2010)

Obviously the best decade ever...(I'm not saying why... just that a certain little game artist finally entered the world at this point). Moreover, this is the decade where video games finally got a bit tasty! video games became more realistic and you could finally class them into definitive genres. 

The 90’s was a decade of transition from pixels into full-fledged 3D graphics and gave rise to several genres of video game including the popular 1st person shooter. Handheld gaming became more popular due to the production of the Game Boy and home consoles became more common. Major developments in the 1990’s included the beginning of a larger consolidation of publishers, high budget games and bigger production teams.

Technology-wise the 90’s excelled with the rise of 3D graphics and multimedia capabilities through sound cards and CD-ROMs. Early 3D games began with flat shaded graphics (Starglider) and simple texture mapping. In 1991, Sonic the Hedgehog was introduced and gave Sega their mascot to rival Nintendo’s Mario.

The 90’s also saw the decline of arcade systems as with the arrival of 16 and 32 bit consoles, home video games became more advanced graphically than arcade systems.

Along with the NES and later its successor SNES (Super Nintendo Entertainment System) there were many competitors including:

·         The Sega Mega drive
·         The TurboGrafx – 16
·         The Atari Jaguar
·         The Playstation and the Nintendo 64

 Alone In the Dark

Along with Silent Hill, this is probably one of the only games that made me actually poo my pants...eek! Although for what it did for computer games i think it deserves it's place in GA history, or at least my blog....enjoy!

Alone in the Dark (1992) developed by Infogrames, planted the seeds of what would become known as the survival horror genre today. It established the formula that would on CD Rom based consoles with games such as Resident Evil and Silent Hill.

Items and characters in Alone in the Dark are three- dimensional, rendered upon a two-dimensional fixed background. Mixing polygons and 2D pre-rendered background images required a fixed camera angle, which designers used to their advantage to create dramatic scenes appropriate for a horror themed game.

The Game produced several sequels including:

·         Jack in the Dark (1993)
·         Alone in the Dark 2 (1993)
·         Alone in the Dark 3 (1994)
·         Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare (2001)
·         Alone in the Dark (2008) 

In 1994 the Sony Playstation marked the point when computer gaming went mainstream. The Playstation sold 50 million units and their success can be attributed to a number of factors. The games were always credible, its timing was perfect – when consoles were rivalling the graphic capabilities of the arcade versions and Sony also lined up a stack of developers for the machine and ensured impressive titles available from the offset. Sony quickly became the most popular console of the decade outselling rivals like the Nintendo and poorly supported Sega Saturn.

“The Playstation may well be a beautiful machine, but by god doesn’t it know it.” – Railton, 2005
This generation ended with the discontinuation of the Playstation in 2006 (sob sob).
 So there you go! The history of computer games circa 1980/1990. Yeah there were some stinkers...Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde (NES) anyone? Or maybe Atari porn? oh yeah....there was Atari porn! (http://www.cinemassacre.com/2007/08/22/atari-porn/ - seriously check out this guy's reviews they are quite awesome). But we Also got Mario, Sonic and Zelda to name a few...as well as my personal favourite; Battletoads Double dragon! Ultimately if it wasn't for this booming era we wouldn't be where we are today...Also just think where we'll be soon...games are still growing, I mean they're still a baby really.

Truth is where we're going with game design...we really don't need roads :)


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