For me the first computer consol I ever encountered was on a Sega megadrive at a very young age. The Mega Drive is a fourth-generation video game console released by Sega in 1988. The Mega Drive is Sega’s most successful console. There are also several developers continuing to produce games for the console. Many games have been re-released in compilations for newer consoles. Sega was huge for me as a kid, absorbing me completely.
Game Boy Colour created by Gunpei Yokoi, was the next step for me. As with the original Game Boy, it has an 8-bit processor. The Game Boy and Game Boy Colour combined have sold 118.69 million units worldwide. My Favourite titles on the Game Boy are:
Pokemon Version Red and Blue, role playing games developed by Game Freak and published by Nintendo for the Game Boy. Red and Blue received strong reviews, critics praised the multiplayer options, especially the concept of trading. The games releases marked the beginning of what would become a multi billion dollar franchise, selling millions of copies worldwide, “Best selling RPG of all time”. Pokemon was an unstoppable craze sweeping the country, similar to Tamagotchi or even yoyos’ there was peer pressure to play it!
Another game that kept me glued to the game boy was Mario bros. As Nintendo’s mascot, Mario is arguably the most famous character in video game history, and his image is commonly associated with video games. Mario games, as a whole, have sold more than 210 million units, making the Mario series the best-selling video game series of all time. I read an article about Mr Nintendo, designer Shingeru Miyamoto in the Sunday times magazine last weekend. I quote “Miyamoto, the man who gave us Donky Kong, Mario Bros and The Legend of Zelda, In terms of sheer eyeball terms, may be the most influential man of the last twenty years”. An interesting point brought up in this interview with Miyamoto, is how the games industry is split into two. “Expansion, and absorption”. Nintendo’s Wii and DS have being trying to expand peoples idea of games by trying to make games that are increasingly communal, and in their brain-body improving forms, they do refer and world beyond the game. Other companies are catching on to this idea, such as the Xbox Kinect, but the majority of games are still popular for their absorbing, virtual reality element.
The PlayStation Officially abbreviated as PS is a 32 bit, fifth-generation console released by Sony Computer Entertainment, 1994. The PlayStation was the first “computer entertainment platform” to ship 100 million units. This is where gaming for me became much more interesting:
Final Fantasy VII is a role-playing video game developed by Square (now Square Enix) and published by Sony Computer Entertainment as the seventh instalment in the Final Fantasy series, released in 1997. The game is the first in the series to use 3D computer graphics, featuring fully rendered characters on pre-rendered backgrounds, and was the first game in the series to be released in Europe. The game was originally intended for release on the SNES, but it was later moved to the Nintendo 64. A disaster for me as I had brought a Play Station over the Nintendo 64! However, since the Nintendo 64’s cartridges lacked the required storage capacity, Square decided to release the game for the PlayStation instead! FF 7 completely consumed me, for the first time the story line was running through my head even when I wasn’t playing. I was addicted and had to complete the four disk game as quickly as possible. When the ending credits came up I felt slightly sad, as if a era was over. This to me is the sign of a great game and one which will stick with you. A clear example of what Miyamoto would call an absorption game.
Tomb Raider, another early example of the 3D genre, uses third-person shooter mechanics. The player’s camera follows her, usually over her shoulder or from behind. Until Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness, the game’s environments were largely orthogonal, as a result of the creators’ decision to extend the 2D platform game genre to a 3D world. This is shown through Tomb Raider’s game play, which is very reminiscent of older platform games like Prince of Persia and Flashback that had a heavy focus on timed jumping interspersed with combat. Lara Croft has been recognised as the “Most Successful Human Videogame Heroine”. Six games in the series and two movies have been produced starring American actress Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft. Since the release in 1996, the series has developed into a lucrative franchise of related media, and Lara went on to become a major icon of the video game industry. My main memory of the Tomb Raider games is how much they used to scare me. Looking back now it seems silly how such a game could cause so much fear, but again this to me is a sign of how intense these fast action games can be as a child.
Spyro the Dragon is a platform game developed by Insomniac Games for the PlayStation. It stars the title character, a young purple dragon named Spyro and his dragonfly friend, Sparx, and is the first game in the Spyro the Dragon series. The first game was massively popular at its initial release and Spyro would later become one of the most recognizable, popular and respected gaming icons for the PlayStation. When I think back to Spyro, I realise how well designed a game it was. All the landscapes and characters were very fanciful, colourful, and cliché. Yet it worked, everything was slightly cartoon, quirky and above all fun!
The Nintendo GameCube was Nintendo’s fourth home video game console and was part of the sixth generation console era. It was the successor to the Nintendo 64 and predecessor to the Wii. When the console was released in 2001 I brought one for the game Super Smash Bros Melee, a 4player game that me and my three best friends for years couldn’t put down. Super Smash Bros Melee received a generally positive reception from the media, as well as awards and acknowledgements from gaming publications. It achieved strong sales upon release, and is the GameCube’s best-selling game, with more than seven-million copies sold as of 2008.
The PlayStation 2 is a sixth-generation video game console manufactured by Sony. Its primary competitors were Sega’s Dreamcast, Microsoft’s Xbox, and Nintendo’s GameCube. The PS2 is the best-selling console to date, having reached over 140 million units sold. In late 2009, developers are still creating new games and the console still selling steadily almost a decade after its original release, Sony stated that the life cycle of the PlayStation 2 will continue until demand ceases.
Grand Theft Auto Vice City is a sandbox-style action-adventure computer and video game designed by Rockstar North (formerly DMA Design) and published by Rockstar Games. Vice City draws much of its inspiration from 1980s American culture. Set in 1986 in Vice City, a fictional city modelled after Miami, the story revolves around Mafia hit man Tommy Vercetti, who was recently released from prison. The game uses a tweaked version of the game engine used in Grand Theft Auto III and similarly presents a huge cityscape, fully populated with buildings, vehicles, and people. Like other games in the series, Vice City has elements from driving games and third-person shooters, and features “open-world” game play that gives the player more control over their playing experience. Vice City is, in the American market, the best-selling PlayStation 2 game of all time. For me at the time it felt like a more mature game. Well certainly more mature than I was, and being under the age of the certificate, GTA seemed like I was getting away with all the crimes I could only watch in films. Another absorbing game, that really didn’t run out of play time.
World of Warcraft, often referred to as WoW, is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game by Blizzard Entertainment. With more than 12 million subscribers as of 2010, World of Warcraft is currently the world’s most-subscribed MMORPG. World of Warcraft is estimated to hold 62 percent of the MMORPG subscription market. World of Warcraft won several awards from critics upon release, including Editor’s Choice awards. In addition, it won several annual awards from the media, being described as the best game in the role-playing and MMORPG genres. The graphics and audio were also praised in the annual awards, with the cartoonish style, and overall sound makeup being noted. I spent many years of my life away from consoles on my PC playing this game. The problem with having a laptop with World of Warcraft is that it is accessible anywhere you have an internet connection. Combined with the whole creation and development of a sophisticated fully customisable character, and an extremely addictive, peer pressured levelling process, makes this game horribly consuming. The amount of days play time on that game saddens me now, as a waste.
The Xbox 360 is the second video game console produced by Microsoft, and the successor to the Xbox. The Xbox 360 competes with Sony’s PlayStation 3 and Nintendo’s Wii as part of the seventh generation of video game consoles. Some major features of the Xbox 360 are its integrated Xbox Live service that allows players to compete online, download arcade games, game demos, trailers, TV shows, music and movies. I brought an Xbox 360 for the new release of Halo 3. At this time I had stopped playing games all together for about half a year after finishing with World of Warcraft (that’s what it does to you!). I had played the other Halo campaigns on other people’s consoles. I now wanted my own consol again, and with a worthy storyline to play on it. Halo is a science fiction video game franchise created by Bungie and owned and published by Microsoft Game Studios. The Halo franchise has been highly successful commercially and critically. During the two months following Halo: Combat Evolved’s release, it sold alongside more than fifty percent of Xbox consoles and sold a million units by 2002. Halo 2’s sales generated $125 million on its premiere day, making it the fastest selling United States media product in history up to that time. Combined with Halo’s sales, the two games sold 14.8 million units before Halo 3’s release. GameSpot reported 4.2 million units of Halo 3 were in retail outlets on September 2007, a day before official release a world record volume. Halo 3 broke the previous record for the highest grossing opening day in entertainment history, making $170 million in its first twenty-four hours! The whole development of the Halo storyline is very well written. I am aware it is such a mainstream game and a first person shooter by genre, however I will still say all characters, landscapes and especially artwork is remarkable. A great campaign, a unbeatable multiplayer online feature and a unforgettable game.