Aug 182009

Gaming Greats is a regular column that will take a look back at everything great that makes video games what they are today.

This almost slipped by me. Luckily, I was able to cover it on the podcast. However for those out of the loop on August 14 the Sega Genesis celebrated its 20th anniversary! It was Sega’s 5th console released and is considered to be a 4th generation console. It is also Sega’s most successful system, selling 29 million units.

The Genesis served as the successor to the Master System. In order to bring in players from the Master System, Sega added processors to the Genesis that were very similar to the ones in the Master System. Using a pass-through add-on called the Power Base Converter players were able to play Master System games on the Genesis. The extra processors ran along side the Genesis’ 16-bit processor and were usually used for sound.

Right from the get go Sega showcased the Genesis as the most powerful console on the market; using advertisements that claimed “Genesis does what Nintendo’nt”. To combat Nintendo being able to hold licenses to release many arcade games exclusively, Sega made deals with athletes and celebrities to put out games such as Arnold Palmer Golf, Joe Montana Football, Mario Lemieux Hockey, and Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker. In 1991 Sega stepped up their game and released Sonic the Hedgehog. Sonic, with his more edgy look, was created to make the Genesis to appear more mature and “cool”.

In 1992, as a way to keep the Genesis at the top of gaming technology, Sega released the Sega CD. This was an add-on made to play games on CD-ROM. The Sega CD didn’t do so well in the gaming market due to it high price and weak game library. In 1994, Sega released yet another add-on called the 32X. The 32X was inserted into the cartridge slot on the Genesis and played its own series of cartridges. However, with the Sega Saturn due to be released just a few months later, the 32X was yet another failure on the market.

Deciding to start focusing on the Saturn, Sega pulled the plug on the Genesis and it add-ons in 1997. They then licensed the right to produce the console to Majesco. The Genesis sold 29 million units during its lifetime, serving as Sega most successful systems. 914 games were released with Frogger, being the final official game, released in 1998. The Genesis will always be remembered to be the one system that stood toe to toe with Nintendo during the 16-bit era.

Aug 062009

Gaming Greats is a regular column that will take a look back at everything great that makes video games what they are today.

Hooray! I made it through the first week and to celebrate I present to you the second part of Gaming Firsts. This week will pick up where we left off. Right smack dab in the 70’s.

1976 – First programable game console

Channel F – Using the company’s own invented microchip, Fairchild was able to release a console that had removable cartridges that each had its own game programmed onto it.

1974 – First FPS

Maze War – In this game players wandered through a maze seeking other players. When the players encountered each other they can then shoot at each other. This is all I can really say about this game.

1975 – First adventure game

Colossal Cave Adventure – Initially done as a text based game this game featured a trek through a cave layout similar to the real life Mammoth Cave system. Players would encounter mazes and many fantasy elements such as a dwarf and a magic bridge.

1975 – First RPG

Dungeon – As an unlicensed implementation of Dungeons & Dragons this game was played on many university’s PDP-10 mainframe computers. Players controlled multi-player parties using text commands and top down dungeon maps. It was also the first to employ line of sight graphic displays.

1979 – First third party devloper

Activision – Disgruntled over not getting credit for developing games, four developers left Atari and started their own company. They then started to make games for their former employers consoles. Atari sued and Activision won, thus opening the doors for more companies to form and create the industry we know today.

1980 – First side scrolling game

Defender – Created at Williams back when they were more known for their pinball machines. This game had players controlling a ship from a side view, defending the humans on the ground from being abducted by aliens. Initially the game was deemed to hard to play due to its unique five button control scheme. It later went on to sell 60,000 units.

1980 – First 3-D game

Battlezone – Originally designed for the US Army by Atari. Using a screen viewed through goggles the game is also considered to be the first virtual reality game. The goal of the game was to control a tank and eliminate other enemy tanks.

1980 – First mainstream icon

Pac-man – Most games released up to this point have either been variations of shooters or Pong clones.Due to it uniqueness it wasn’t considered to be able to sell. The public thought otherwise and soon enough Pac-man could be found on t-shirts, lunch boxes, and just about anything else that could possibly hold a picture of the smiling rotund character. Pac-man even had his own Saturday morning cartoon and top 40 song.