PlayStation 4 just launched and the Xbox One is just about to. We are being assaulted at all sides by product demonstrations, news stories, television commercials, banner ads, and more. Both sides are confident that they have the most awesome video game entertainment system of all time. The height of technology. The future has arrived.
So did everyone else who ever launched a console. Continue reading “This Week in Video Game History – Failure to Launch: The consoles that flopped” »
We’ve arrived. The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are in full marketing blast as the launch dates for each finally hit.
Despite how big video gaming is today, marketing new gaming consoles to the mainstream consumer has always been a major part of launches going all the way back to the very, very beginning as the Magnavox Odyssey hit store shelves in 1972.
Continue reading “This Week in Video Game History: Console Launch TV Commercials” »
There has been a lot of online chatter as of late about the PlayStation 4 games running in a higher resolution than the Xbox One titles. This topic has sparked a ton of debate, continuing a debate that has actually existed in video gaming going all the way back to the late 1970s. Continue reading “This Week in Video Game History: The eternal “better graphics” debate…” »
The video arcade was a staple of life in the early 1980s, so it was no surprise when filmmakers began filming scenes in video arcades whenever possible during that era.
This week, we explore the locations and some trivia from scenes in three classics: The Karate Kid, Wargames and Rocky III. All three locations are actually based near the Los Angeles area despite the films basing two them in other areas of the country. In fact, two of these locations are still in business today. You can actually go play video games in them right after reading this if you like.
To learn the locations of other arcades you may have seen in your favorite 80s movies, check out http://www.patrickscottpatterson.com/Locations.
A lot of things bug me every time the mainstream media and politicians attack certain video games for having “violent and sexual content”, including the fact that they aren’t being made for kids in the first place.
Perhaps the biggest thing that bugs me, however, are those that don’t even know their history here. Some claim that the “debate” on these types of games began with Doom… others claim it started with Mortal Kombat.
It started in 1976 with Death Race, and continued through the 70s and 80s with a variety of video game titles. Certainly not a “recent” development in the video game industry.
This week we take a look back at just some of the early examples of sex and violence in video games as the “debate” over such content continues.
October 18, 1985 goes down as the day that forever changed video gaming in North America.
Still reeling from a total industry crash in the States, the term “video game” was a bad word to American retailers. It was also the reason why Nintendo was still struggling to break their 1983 Famicom console into the region. Finally, by making deals to buy back unsold stock and marketing the system as a “robot and gun” toy and “entertainment system”, they finally pushed it for a small test run in New York City.
While the odds are that someone, if not Nintendo, would have brought the video game back to the States, the entire industry would be different today had they not. For a time, the Nintendo Entertainment System was the most dominant video game console in American history, holding more than 90 percent of the market share for a number of years. Every console hooked up to American televisions today was somehow set in motion by Nintendo’s success during the NES days and the products that followed it.
Take a look back this week at the earliest NES commercials and some of the media reaction of the time, along with various other historical tidbits on the console that changed everything.
Most gamers these days know Activision, but few seem to know the full history of the longtime video game brand.
Activision was formed on October 1, 1979. It was the first-ever third party video game publisher. A group of Atari programmers grew weary of seeing their games make money and fame for only their employer, but Atari denied the idea of giving them credit and extra money for top sellers… so they left.
It didn’t take long for Activision to make their mark, as almost every game they put out onto market proved popular due to a unique style in both gameplay and advertising. The Activision programmers became royalty in the video game scene as did the gamers themselves as the company began sending free items to those who mailed in photos of their high scores on the Activision game library.
The company struck true gold with the 1982 release Pitfall!, one of many hits by still-active programmer David Crane. The game proved so popular that it was one of the video game titles featured on CBS cartoon series Saturday Supercade. It was the only console title to be included in the video game cartoon shorts series, sharing time with titles such as Donkey Kong, Frogger and Q*bert.
While the brand later had it’s highs and lows and shifts in ownership and style, the earliest days of the company were just as important to video game industry history as the many hit titles it publishes today.
Licensing mainstream entertainment within video games has been going on for ages, ever since Sega licensed Happy Days‘ Fonzie for a motorcycle arcade game in the 1970s. Continue reading “This Week in Video Game History: Gaming & Musicians Collide” »
New consoles coming out an a truckload of consoles and devices that play video games in homes everywhere.
A lot of features and gadgets considered to be products of the most recent and/or upcoming gaming generations are probably a lot older than a lot of people think, though.
This week’s vid touches on that. Take a good long look at examples of “modern” video game concepts that came along way before most people seem to realize, from digital downloads to portables with internet capabilities.
For the older crowd… how much of this stuff did you already buy the first time around?
With so much talk about modern day consoles and devices that merge video games with other forms of existing electronic entertainment…. you’d think that hadn’t already happened before.
Following the mid-1980s video game industry crash and the rise of the VCR, a number of companies began to cross the genres. The results were a number of VCR games, ranging from the Action Max, which brought graphics to games that were impossible for consoles or computers of the time, to board games that added a video element video videocassette (some of which were really bad ideas, as you’ll see in the video).
Another popular concept at the time came the ability to make a television show INTO the video game. Captain Power allowed viewers to interact with the show and for the show to interact with the viewer. Mattel, the toy company that had previously made the Intellivision video game console, did well with the concept… but, as with any kind of video game or children’s television show that is anything more than rainbows and fuzzy puppets… there was “controversy” (also, as shown).
Did any of you ever have one of these games? If so, tell us about it below.
It already started last week after an 8-year-old kid shot his grandmother after playing Grand Theft Auto IV. Rather than ask why the kid had access to a loaded gun, they blamed the video game. With Grand Theft Auto V coming up quick, we are primed for more of the same recycled and over dramatic media drivel in coming weeks as we’ve had for years… decades.
No commentary needed this week… no highlight pop ups required. Listen and watch and tell me if you don’t hear this EXACT same kinda tripe on the “news” in coming weeks.
All the same… same as it ever was. People as qualified to talk about video games as I am to tell you what it’s like to give birth on our television, acting like video games are still kids toys and are going to be the downfall of society while parents don’t know what’s going on.
A common thing heard from video game communities are complaints that annual releases of new games in the Call of Duty, Madden and Skylanders series is “too much” and “too often” to many.
Obviously, those who say so weren’t around in the heyday of Pac-Man. The 1980 arcade smash was so successful that it was said that the “only thing that can match Pac-Man is another Pac-Man” game.
The result? Not one… not two… not three or four but EIGHT sequels and follow-ups to Pac-Man between January 1982 to mid-1984.
Yes, that’s EIGHT in two-and-a-half years… without even mentioning all the home versions, bootlegs and clones put out there over the same time period.
From that point of view, once a year ain’t bad. Take a look through the Pac-Man sequel mania from back in the day.
Ms. Pac-Man (1982)
Super Pac-Man (1982)
Pac-Man Plus (1982)
Baby Pac-Man (1982)
Pac & Pal (1983 – Japan only)
Professor Pac-Man (1983)
With WWE 2K14 nearing release, the internet is going nuts with the typical “this game isn’t good enough” speak that seems to plague any and all longstanding video game franchises.
While the current series certainly has it’s flaws and sometimes over-the-top glitches, I can’t help but feel grateful for what we have. I’ve been gaming for more than three decades… and I remember when the very first wrestling games came out.
Holy crap were some of them bad. Here’s a look through just some of them, most pre-dating NES titles such as Pro Wrestling and WWF WrestleMania. Continue reading “This Week in Video Game History: The Earliest Pro Wrestling Games” »
In the early 80s, Atari was the clear king. Rivals such as Mattel’s Intellivision and Magnavox’s Odyssey 2 couldn’t really make a dent in the domination of the Atari 2600/VCS, which had all of the arcade hits of the time under exclusive license.
Enter the ColecoVision in August of 1982. Swooping the rights to Donkey Kong out from under Atari, the ColecoVision was the first console to truly release home versions of arcade hits that were reasonably close in quality. They also managed to swoon a number of other video arcade companies that Atari had missed, bringing top notch versions of huge arcade hits such as Turbo, Zaxxon and Mr. Do! to the ColecoVision first.
The console sold 2 million units in just it’s first couple of years, but a titanic industry crash and the failure of other Coleco ventures such as the ADAM personal computer brought down the ColecoVision with it. It was officially discontinued in October 1985… ironically exiting the “forever dead” North American video game industry just as Nintendo, a company who played a large part in the early ColecoVision success, brought the NES to North America.
Check out a series of old ColecoVision commercials, including ads for the Atari 2600 clone that Coleco drove their rival crazy with and much more.
Another video game history lesson is coming your way next Monday.
Japan was the release of the Nintendo Family Computer (Famicom) on July 15, 1983. 30 years later, this could be called the most significant console launch of all time.
As the Famicom hit overseas, the video game industry was crashing in North America. The media made video games into the new hula hoop, proclaiming it to be a fad that had now run it’s course. Most major retailers blew out remaining video game product on clearance as numerous studios closed their doors.
Due to the crash, Nintendo had a difficult time selling the Famicom stateside. For over two years they continued to try, ranging from nearly signing the distribution rights away to Atari to various rebranding attempts at trade shows. Eventually, they managed to get their Nintendo Entertainment System into a test marketing run in New York City.
The NES became a huge hit, bringing the North American video game market back to life almost single handed.
It is hard to imagine the modern video game industry without the Famicom breaking into the U.S. market as the NES. The PlayStation originally started as an add-on unit for the Super NES console while the Xbox was created to help Microsoft keep Sony from stealing it’s developers. The Game Boy and DS handheld consoles are a staple of road trips and poolside video gaming nationwide for multiple generations today.
It all started with that oddly colored Nintendo console in Japan 30 years ago. Look at your console collection and reflect on the importance of this day.
A more serious tone with this week’s history lesson.
Despite the Supreme Court ruling a couple of years ago that states video games are protected as free speech, there are still politicians and parents groups that are trying to regulate it in some way. Unable to pass laws that restrict video games with an age limit, many are now attempting to tax the hell out of them.
What many out there don’t seem to note is that this has all happened before. During the original video game boom the focus was on the coin-op arcade machines that literally popped up everywhere across the country. Many cities and governments attempted to slap age restrictions on who could play the arcade machines while others tried to license and tax them to death. Continue reading “This Week in Gaming History: Early Video Game Controversies” »
In 1981, Nintendo of America almost died. Facing bankruptcy, a game with the super silly name of Donkey Kong was their only hope, when it was released on July 9th.
Not only did the oddly named game in the generic blue arcade cabinet save NoA, but it also spawned Mario, the most iconic video game character in history.
Nintendo of America would later return the favor by literally bringing the North American video game industry back to life by force feeding the Nintendo Entertainment System into U.S. retailers. If not for Nintendo, who knows when or if the video game industry would have been revived on this side of the pond. Continue reading “This Week in Gaming History: Happy Birthday Donkey Kong!” »
Sony’s Mark Cerny is a video game veteran who easily has one of the most impactful resumes in gaming history. He currently is now the “architect” of the Playstation 4.
Well before “Share” buttons and talk of DRM battles at E3, Cerny’s creations were thrilling arcade gamers and fans of early Sega, Nintendo and Sony consoles. Here is a select list to name a few:
Ratchet and Clank
Spyro The Dragon
In honor of the upcoming PS4 rollout, this week’s history video takes a look at some of Cerny’s game creations. How many of the games in this video have YOU played?
Pac is Back.
The folks at NamcoBandai have released a new Pac-Man cartoon on Disney XD entitled Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures marking the first time in over 30 years that the classic video game character has appeared in animated television form.
The 1982 Pac-Man series was the first cartoon to ever be based on a video game, but was far from the last. This week, we take a look back at some of the earliest video game based ‘toons from both 1980s boom periods.
The 2013 E3 Expo is pretty dern close. So as the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 hype machine gets ready to roll, This Week in Gaming History takes a short look back at some of the earliest E3 events, starting with a look at the event in 1995 and going up to 2001.
Included within this vid are looks at the Atari Jaguar, Nintendo 64, Dreamcast and more… even Adam Sessler with a full head of hair.
Stay tuned to the end to see the E3 2001 reveal of Duke Nukem Forever, the first time the public had seen the game in three years!
What are your early E3 memories?