We are having a nostalgic day at the Lab today as it’s ‘Video Game Day’, and that’sthe inspiration for this blog! We were reminiscing about back in the day when we didn’t have the amazing PS4 and Xbox One, but we had humble consoles with cartridges and / or tapes. Yes, we’re talking about the Sega Mega Drive / Master System, the NES / SNES and the Commodore 64 / Amiga. They would absorb hours of our lives and we were astounded by the quality of graphics and the type of games developed. These games were on another level to Pac-Man, Pong, Q-Bert and Pole Position, and on another level too to the old school computers – like the ZX Spectrum and the Commodore 64. I had a Commodore 64, with its games on tapes. Classics such as the ‘Dizzy’ series making these computers a hit.
The epic and addictive games started with a scrolling 2D platform set-up, where 1 or 2 players could play co-operatively (3 or 4 if you were lucky enough to have the necessary controllers and adapters!). Such examples are Golden Axe, Streets of Rage and one of my personal favourites – Two Crude Dudes. Many games followed these criteria – as they worked – so why risk anything else? But then a new visual dynamic was explored, instead of a 2D approach, whether it be viewed from behind, above or the side, a revolution was on the horizon. The introduction of such games as Cannon Fodder, Desert / Jungle and Urban Strike and the beginnings of what in my opinion is the best football game franchise ever – FIFA International Soccer took gaming to a new level by adding a dynamic gaming perspective – an isometric view. Now games started to have an added layer of depth. This was applied to all sorts of game genres, one of my all time favourite games being ‘ToeJam & Earl’ (the first one!) ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Racing’ and ‘Zombies Ate My Neighbors’. These games all took on a new element of 3D rather than the overused 2D approach. These developments now allowed for genres of games to exploit this new dynamic feel to gaming, and push their efforts even further, making games more visually appealing and more immersive than ever. There were always game developers who wanted to create a revolutionary game by both being so unbelievably obvious and so simple. What am I on about? Sensible Soccer, and although no quite as retro but a good example of the point I am trying to make – GTA on the PlayStation. 2 games, using a simple bird’s eye view, and 2 of the most brilliant games I’ve ever played. Although Sensible Soccer is no FIFA, it is what it is – and that is brilliantly simple and hellishly addictive! Just look at how GTA developed from its humble beginnings on the PS to where it is now on the PS3. I must admit though, my personal favourites from the GTA series are GTA III and GTA: Vice City. Just brilliant. More recently GTA V got me hooked again, evolving the story by adding multiple characters, including the charismatic Trevor! Although I liked the iconic Sonic and Mario Bros. series, I never really fully immersed myself in the games. Yeah they were cool, without a doubt, but there were better games in my opinion. Never really bothered to play either of the franchises on other platform other than the Mega Drive and the NES. Did think that Mario Kart on the SNES was one hell of a great game though, but both series have been milked to death now I feel, but companies are doing all they can to rinse them and make that little more cash from another spin off. My appreciation lies with the originals, But that’s just me. As some franchises continually improve and add more their games, in my eyes a respectful enhancement as they were not solely thinking about making money from their existing fans, but rather give the fans something more each time. FIFA was guilty of this in my opinion – I’m a huge fan of the series, but they got complacent and there were a few years where they’d almost release the same game as last year but with new teams. When Konami threw Pro Evolution Soccer into the mix, FIFA had to up its game. Fortunately EA rose to the challenge, which was unfortunate as Konami showed how a proper soccer game should be. This made FIFA improve dramatically. Although was never a fan of the Pro Evo series, we have to praise their efforts as if it wasn’t for them, FIFA 14 would not be the game it is today in my opinion. Same goes for Medal Of Honour. I was a die hard fan, preferring this to the early Call Of Duty games. Always, again in my opinion, playing second best to EA’s efforts – until the release of Modern Warfare. This killed the Medal Of Honour series, and just got better and better with every release. From a gaming fan’s point of view – there are only advantages from a bit of healthy competition between games developers. Unfornately there is only a positive side to it from a gamer’s point of view, but it’s win or lose with games developers. Gone off on a bit of a tangeant there, sorry!
Enjoy video Games Day, we will be celebrating by indulging in a few rounds of Conquest on Battlefield 4 later!