Pokemon Red/Blue(Gameboy)

Pokemon Blue - Nintendo Gameboy Gameplay Screenshot

This time around we visit the gameboy library to pick out a must have RPG for the memorable handheld. Pokemon Red/Blue(doesn’t matter which version) offered gameplay like no other back in 1998. The goal is simple, create your own dream team of six monsters and battle it out against all who stand in your way. On the way of course, you’ll encounter other challenges like breeding Pokemon as well as collecting badges. Of course, you want to be a Pokemon master so you’ll need the badges anyways.

Pokemon Red - Nintendo Gameboy Box

 

Some of the other factors you have to take account for is the strategy because each Pokemon is weak against a certain type, you’ll need to come up with an strategy against all known Pokemon(151 if I remember right). Catching the same Pokemon more than once is a good strategy since all Pokemon are not the same. You can even start out by catching five Rattatas and leveling them up until you see which one is the most powerful one.

Pokemon Blue - Nintendo Gameboy Box

 

This game can give you months and months of fun. Apart from the story you follow, you can even battle friends via link cable with two gameboys. Of course, it’ll be real hard nowadays to find someone that’s still playing Red or Blue to battle against, but back in 1998, this was what it was all about to us geeks and nerds. I still remember looking at a magazine that had a report on Pokemon and would have photos of kids in the mall linking up their gameboys to play against each other in a good old Pokemon battle. THose days will never return, but new Pokemon games will.

Did you know? Pokemon was released in Japan back in 1996 but we didn’t got the games until 1998? It sure is a long wait for what became a phenomenon….

Sara Wendel-Örtqvist: Paradox Interactive

Paradox Interactive logo
Paradox Interactive logo

Name: Sara Wendel-Örtqvist

Company: Paradox Interactive

Profession: Content Designer (scripting, writing and other)

Favorite Classic Game: Little Big Adventure 2

Quote: I played it when it was released in 1997 and I hadn’t even started to learn English at that time, so my mother helped me understand what the characters said. I remember memorising several lines of dialogue and repeating them to my mother so I could get a translation. It is still the best game I ever played, mostly because of all the great memories I share with my mother.

Bio/Current Event: I studied Games Development – Design at the University of Skövde and graduated in 2009 with a B.A. of Media. I currently live in Uppsala with my boyfriend and commute to Stockholm. It takes about four hours every day so I have plenty of time to listen to music and read good books.

Shaun Norton: Sandbox Strategies

Sandbox Strategies logo
Sandbox Strategies logo

Name: Shaun Norton

Company: Sandbox Strategies

Profession: PR Manager

Favorite Classic Game: Metal Gear Solid

Quote: This game blew my mind the first time I played it, which was via a demo disc in a gaming magazine. It was unlike anything I had played before, a remarkably polished game with an intricate story and incredibly satisfying controls and gameplay. I was hooked the second I popped the disc in, and it was one of the first games where I not only became engrossed in the story and the struggles of the amazing characters and cast, but that I also took hours and hours to replay. I was obsessed with successfully sneaking around unnoticed, which would also trigger just minor changes in dialogue or cut scenes, and I couldn’t stop playing until I unlocked the stealth and the bandana upgrades. This game basically kick started me down the path to becoming the passionate, ‘core’ gamer I am today.


Mark van Diggelen: SkillPod Media

Skillpod Media logo
Skillpod Media logo

Name: Mark van Diggelen

Company: SkillPod Media (Pty) Ltd

Profession: CEO / Chief Gamer

Favorite Classic Game: Larry Lounge Lizard

Quote: It was one of the 1st true strategy RPG games and kept you glued to your 286 PC for hours and hours on end, it’s a legendary game.

I have a lot of great game playing memories from the early to mid-eighties. My best friend, Jose, my brother and I were absolute arcade games addicts and used to take our R1 (roughly Us$12 in today’s money) and walk across to the corner cafe (convenience store). We had an ongoing dilemma and that is that each game cost 20c and our favorite chocolate cost 20c, but we were 3 people and each of us needed to play at least one game, of either Pacman, Asteroids or the latest and greatest release, Space Invaders. What we did was buy 2 chocolates and then share them between the 3 of us, as evenly as we could.

Thereafter it was time for action and sheer determination to achieve the highest score, we were pretty good and used to play for between 30 and 40 minutes per player. Then came the PC and the 1st RPG games, Larry Lounge Lizard, this game had me instantly addicted and turned out to be my favorite game of all time. At the time I was studying and would start playing at around 9pm, after some studying and completion of projects, and invariably only finish after 3am and still need to be up by 6am for college. Larry Lounge Lizard is a legend, even in its simple form.


Bio/Current Event: SkillPod Media is an innovative online gaming and application development business, that’s passionate about the casual gaming market. SkillPod Media  has developed a world class proprietary gaming platform, for online and mobile, which already powers a number of highly successful games sites for some of the top International and South African online portals. We’re currently launching our new platform that includes Power-ups for games, ability for users to customise their games and create and pimp their avatars.

OGS: The NES Show

NES console
NES console

OGS is finally back with a brand new show! This show we tackled the NES from its beginnings, all the great games and accessories for it and much more. We were joined by our newest NES and SNES writer Luis and had OGS regulars Umar Khan and Edgar Median call in and share their experience with the Nintendo Entertainment System.

All in all it was a great time, lots of laughs and we know you will enjoy it. So head on over to the OGS main page to listen or you can download the show using ITunes.

Michael Mota: DreamCatcher Games

Dreamcatcher logo
Dreamcatcher logo

Name: Michael Mota

Company: DreamCatcher Games

Profession: Public Relations

Favorite Classic Game: NHL 95

Quote: “This is the game that got me hooked in the NHL franchise. It was fast paced, exciting, and I had a blast creating my own custom team. My favorite part of this game (and every NHL game after) was the hitting/body checking. When you lay down a good solid body check, you’d hear an awesome “UGH”, followed by cheers or boos from the crowd. I’ll be honest, I still have this game at home on my shelf.”


Rica-Tan: Agatsuma Entertainment

Agatsuma Entertainment logo

Name:Rica-tan

Company: AGATSUMA ENTERATINMENT Co. Ltd.

Profession: Producer/agent between developers and publishers

Favorite Classic Game: Qix/ Q-bert/ RallyX

Quote: Because those are simple, time consuming games!

Info: Rica was a producer of Let’s Draw! A Nintendo DS title released in US/Europe by Majesco/Barnstorm.

Kotaku: A Look Back at Super Mario Bros

25 years of Super Mario Bros
25 years of Super Mario Bros

We are fast approaching the 25th anniversary of Super Mario Bros and Kotaku has put up a cool video looking back on 25 years of our favorite little plumber. You can check out the article and video here.

Mario 25th Anniversary
Mario 25th Anniversary

In attrition here is a cool video that looks back at Mario Bros. as well created by the folks over at That Fellow in the Coat.

Alasdair Evans: Laughing Jackal

Laughing Jackal logo

Name: Alasdair Evans

Company: Laughing Jackal Ltd.

Profession: Senior Producer

Favorite Classic Game: Super Metroid

Quote: I thought long and hard about the answer to this question as I’ve been gaming since about 1983 and struggle with the definition of a ‘classic’ game. Casting my net into the 90s, I am also a huge Street Fighter II (or III or IV, for that matter!) fan. I think, though, that Super Metroid just edges it for me as it probably had a greater impact on me when I first played it. The feeling of being let loose on a huge and deserted alien world was unparalleled at the time. It was the first game that really made me feel something emotionally and was just so well constructed that I still go back and play it today. It also has a maturity and an eeriness that few games of the time did – especially on the SNES. There have been many imitators, including Shadow Complex, the ‘Metroidvania’ games, and the Metroid series’ own new entries in the time since, but for me Super Metroid is the ultimate single player experience and an absolute gem that everyone should try at least once. Still, props to Street Fighter II, if you’d asked me what my favourite multiplayer classic game was I wouldn’t have hesitated! I still play SSFIV on my 360 to this day. If anyone fancies a game, my gamertag is evanac   😉


Jay Boor: Konami

Konami logo

Name: Jay Boor

Company: KONAMI

Profession: Head of Public Relations

Favorite Classic Game: HERZOG ZWEI

Quote: Herzog-Zwei is one of my all-time favorite titles for a number of reasons. It was the first-true real-time strategy game, and it debuted on the SEGA Genesis – it wasn’t even a PC title! At the time, Technosoft probably thought they had just developed a really fun two-player war-action game. Little did they know that they were the first to lay the foundation for all future RTS games to come.


Gabe Gonzales: MoneyPlum Media

monkey plum media logo

Name: Gabe Gonzalez

Profession: CMO of MonkeyPlum Media, and self-appointed leader of the agency revolution

Favorite classic game: Metal Gear Solid (Sony Playstation)

Quote: I never played another game that had the attention to detail, amazing environments, quirky sense of humor, and was able to suck me into another reality like MGS. “Huh!? Who’s footprints are these?” that was awesome.

A game that truly has replay value, even to this day. Even if to just remember and relive my first time with MGS

It’s such a beautifully built game that I want to see its environments everywhere, so I created Shadow Moses Island for L4D and L4D2. Surprisingly the map made it into the pages of PGGamer’s top 10 L4d Mods. I have to finish them, but I seem to have builder’s block. I can assure you the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th maps are progressively (to-the-tenth-power) better than the 1st map…now if I can only focus on finishing them, it will be epic. Thank you Kojima. I heart you…


Kelly Wheelis: Sumo Panda Games

Sumo Panda Games logo

Name: Kelly Wheelis

Company: Dragonsmeet Inc. / Sumo Panda Games

Profession: Publicist

Favorite Classic Game: GoldenEye 007

Quote: I love GoldenEye for N64. It redefined the first-person shooter. Withoutit, there would be no Half-Life, no Halo, no Fallout, all of which I love so dearly. With tons of levels to play through, including scenarios from past James Bond films, the game is never boring. The sheer joy experienced by putting a bullet in some Russian’s head with the sniper rifle, from 200 yards, never gets old, the countless mission objectives spread across 12 different environments and three difficulty levels offers loads of variety in action, along with the death-match option have helped cement this game’s place in gamer’s hearts everywhere.

To this day, I still set up nights to play the multiplayer death-match with friends. Playing the first-person mode presents levels that cover many ranges of play such as Doom-style play (all shooting and no brains), to search-and-destroy missions (requiring more strategy), to a wide range of carefully designed information-acquiring levels; all blending together to create an incredibly satisfying gaming session. Plus, who didn’t love all those super cool Bond gadgets and gizmos? Magnet Attract Watch FTW! Now that a Wii remake of the game is planned, from what I have seen, I’m going to have to purchase the console just so I can try it.  ‘Slappers’ anyone?

Bio: Sumopanda is an online games portal specializing in providing free and fun to play games. Sumopanda’s parent company, Dragonsmeet, was founded on the belief that fun should be accessible to anyone. And with online entertainment increasingly becoming our preferred past-time, SumopandaGames.com was created to make this belief a reality.

Chris Waldron: Cartoon Network Game Studios

Cartoon Network logo

Name: Chris Waldron

Company: Cartoon Network Game Studios

Profession: Game Production

Favorite Classic Game: Barnstorming

Quote: In trying to get all the patches that Activision gave out on their games, this was the one I could never get. I’m not sure it’s so much my favorite, as the game from my childhood that haunts me the most. I tried soooo many times, but could never get the qualifying score for that Flying Aces patch


Jessica Harper: Fallen Earth

Fallen Earth logo

Name: Jessica Harper

Company: Fallen Earth, LLC

Profession: Quality Assurance Lead for Fallen Earth

Favorite Classic Game: Tomb Raider

Quote: I have been playing games since I was really young, but I got hooked on the Tomb Raider series when I was around 11 or 12. I found that I could get into the mechanics of games and found them all interesting as I played through. I became quite good at controlling the camera on the PS2 and that added to the experience for me as I played through the game. The Tomb Raider series of games on the PS2 has to be my favorite game to date since it made me concentrate on the puzzles and the dexterity challenges while providing a lot of fun and entertainment. I loved finding new strategies to move up in the game. I love a good challenge.


Why am I still paying for Xbox Live?

Pool Balls XBL – PSN
Pool Balls XBL – PSN

So, as everyone knows by now, Xbox Live got that wonderful price hike of $10. It’s not too big of a deal I guess, although nobody likes a price hike. It is just $10, but it’s brought up two interesting points for me. People keep saying that Playstation Plus isn’t worth it, and Xbox Live is. This interests me because I am attracted to things that make absolutely no sense whatsoever. For this segment, I will refer to the whole of PSN (as opposed to specific PS+ things) and the whole of XBL. Now with that in mind, the two points I have are, essentially, 1) Why do people think Xbox Live is better than PSN? and 2) Why in God’s name am I still paying for Xbox Live?

I’m not saying Xbox Live isn’t bad, it’s great, if you only have an Xbox. If you have both, ultimately it should come down to where your friends are (most of mine are on PSN, just as a disclaimer) but even for the actual services, what you get is mostly different. So lets look at the new breakdown:

Playstation Plus Logo
Okay, I will admit this peggle-looking ad is a bit much…

PSN(+):

  • $50 a Year or $20 for 3 months
  • Timed 60 min game trials, (option to purchase after)
  • Qore
  • Free PS1 games every 2 weeks (as long as you have it)
  • Free PS Minis every 2 weeks (as long as you have it)
  • Discounts on DLC, Downloadable games, essentially everything but full games
  • Access to Betas that they keep out of the hands of the free customers
  • (Free already) Online multiplayer
  • (Free already) Video Chat

I didn’t make any of that up, it’s everything i’ve gotten so far being a PSN+ member. Maybe because popular opinion is so far in Xbox Live Gold’s direction that they feel that they have to practically spoil PSN+ customers in order to get them to pay (and given the opinion of most so far, it’s probably true) but that is a lot of stuff for $50 a year. With Xbox Live Gold, I get:

Xbox Live
Xbox Live

XBL Gold

  • $60 a year, $10 a month or $25 for 3 months
  • Online Multiplayer
  • Facebook & Twitter
  • Parties/Cross game Chat
  • Last FM
  • ESPN
  • Video Kinect
  • Demos that they keep out of the hands of the free customers

I didn’t bother putting anything about video or Netflix, because they both can do them, and besides anything the Wii can do technologically isn’t up for discussion here. Thats all I can find for both PSN+ and XBL. This list speaks for itself. Essentially it’s more money for less features. If we take the “it’s where my friends are” out of the equation (because it’s circumstantial) the better service is the one with the better features, and honestly, that’s Playstation Plus. There just aren’t many (if there are any at all) discounts of games on XBL, and there’s absolutely nothing free ever unless there’s a large cutoff of Xbox Live, and even then you get a free game like “Diner Dash” that nobody plays anyway.

Be honest, how many times do you use this?

I don’t see this as a rant against XBL so much as I see it a rant against the people who say that Playstation Plus is “not worth it.” Be honest, didn’t you just use Facebook & Twitter that one time just to see if it worked, then never use it again? Of course you did, because you use Facebook and Twitter on your computer and phone, because that’s where it’s easiest to use. And even Facebook on Xbox Live doesn’t work as well as Facebook on PSN. On XBL, you can edit your status and see your friends status updates and all that fun stuff you can already do on your computer, only now with the added frustration of using analog sticks or a keyboard the size of a pack of gum to type it. The Playstation 3 has a web browser if that’s what you’re really into. (Or you could, you know, just use a f**ing computer) So when we see things like the Playstation 3 posting your trophy accomplishments and things you’ve purchased to Facebook in order for your friends to comment on them, that’s what I want to see out Facebook. Give me a reason to use Facebook on my PS3 specifically, not just a game console port of it.

Speaking of that sentiment, there is XBL’s ESPN service, which is exactly what I was just talking about. Now there’s a reason to watch ESPN specifically on your Xbox. Ratings, Video on Demand, all those wonderful things will probably make it a blast to use on XBL, and that’s the point.  It’s better than the service we have now, so it compels users to use the console version rather than the everywhere else on the damn planet version.

Now the last part of this is simple: it’s why I wont be using Xbox Live Gold anymore, because it’s a waste of money for me personally, for several reasons:

First off, my Xbox 360 is not currently connected to the internet. It can be, I just have to run my 100ft ethernet cable from my room all the way to the living room where my computer’s internet connection is, literally on the other side of my house. it barely makes it. Seeing as that’s absolutely ridiculous, I really don’t want to do that every time I turn on my Xbox. It’s obvious that my 20 gig system doesn’t have wifi, otherwise this wouldn’t be a problem. But it is. It’s a huge problem. Honestly, it matters most because I need a bigger hard drive, and since Microsoft only uses proprietary hard drives that are practically Netbook expensive, I figure I might as well combine the two and just get a whole new system. Maybe with that ugly grey controller with the better D-Pad. Another $300 to replace a working system I already have? Sure Microsoft, got that right here for you.

I didn’t want to talk about it in the actual fact based part because it’s so circumstantial, but now that i’m talking about myself I can say I really have no friends on Xbox Live. All but one of my friends are on PSN, and frankly, he’s not worth it. If he was reading this right now, I’d tell him that unless he wants to split the cost of XBL with me, i’m not paying $50 a year to be able to play Modern Warfare 2 with him. Left 4 Dead 2 was the game I played most on online multiplayer, and that came in a whopping 5 times. Why am I still paying for this?

I do of course, buy XBLA-exclusive games, because every so often someone releases a puzzle game that will scare the ever loving hell out of everyone that lives here, and probably some of my neighbors and me in a past life. But I can do that on Silver, which isn’t $60, it’s free. I’ve heard that certain demos or games come out a week later on Silver, but okay I can wait a week for that much money.

Here’s a huge difference. With PSN+, I get a lot of “free” stuff. Yes I know it’s not free, i’m paying $50 a year for it, but as we’ve seen with XBL, they don’t have to give it to me. But they do. And I’ve had a lot of fun with it. Mortal Kombat II was half off, some of the Minis are fantastic (Age of Zombies mostly) and the other discounts make it so that for that $50, I’m getting actual games. It’s allowed me to play things I’d never even consider looking at before, just because my subscription brings them to the forefront.

XBL is $60, and PSN+ is $50. In my opinion, PSN+ does a lot more to warrant my money than XBL does. But tell me, when looking at all the things both services offer, regardless of which console your friends are on, which service would you go for?

Eitan Glinert: Fire Hose Games

Fire Hose Games logo

Name: Eitan Glinert

Company: Fire Hose Games

Profession: Creative Director and Fire Chief

Favorite Classic Game: (Can’t pick just one) Marble Madness and Lemmings

Quote: Marble Madness was one of the best games ever created, and is STILL fun today more than two decades later. I used to play on the Amiga 2000 with my older sister; she preferred the mouse, while I preferred the obviously superior joystick. The game was ridiculously hard, and between the “Silly” 5th level and the “Ultimate” 6th level it taught me the meaning of frustration.


Lemmings was a fantastic time sink; some of the later levels were some of the best designed puzzles I’ve ever seen. I used to stay up late coming up with strategies for how to beat certain levels with my dad (he always had better ideas than me, but hey I was 6!)


John Blain: Dell

Dell-logo-black

Name: John “The Gaming Griefer” Blain

Company: Dell/Alienware

Position: Consumer Public Relations

Street Fighter 2 - Arcade

Favorite Classic Game: Street Fighter 2

Quote: Dhalsim, after winning a fight: “Now you’ve realized the inner mysteries of Yoga!” – I spent enough money on this game in the arcade to put a down payment on a small house. Nothing was more satisfying than having a bunch of people line up to put their quarters down to try and kick you off the cabinet, and playing for an hour or more on 1 quarter.


Jonathan Sabella: Ninth Dimension Studios

Ninth Dimension Studios logo

Name: Jonathan Sabella

Company: Ninth Dimension Studios, LLC

Profession: Co-Founder, Executive Creative Director and Artist

Favorite Classic Game: Blades of Steel

Quote: I just can’t get enough of the fast paced hockey action from the classic NES system, I still love the dynamic of winning fights giving your team an advantage and worked hard to bring influences from classic games like Blades of Steel and Ice Hockey to my design work on The Hockey Experiment.


Are we better gamers?

Pro Gamer shirt
Pro Gamer shirt

If you play MMO’s you will hear a lot of people talk about the experience of being old school. Take for instance a game like World of Warcraft, there are many players who feel if you did not play when the game was brand new you just don’t have the knowledge and experience to be one of the elite. Some go as far as to say that if you did not play an even older game, Everquest for example, then you don’t understand what it is like to play a really hardcore MMO. Since I played both I can understand that going through things in Everquest such as losing experience when you die, losing all your stuff because you could not retrieve your body and never getting to see that endgame boss because another guild was just better than you is something you most likely won’t experience in World of Wacraft.

It got me thinking about gaming in general. For those of us who grew up playing Atari 2600, Commodore 64 and the NES many of the games for those systems offered a very harsh learning curve. Take the first Ninja Gaiden, it was one of those games that could seriously raise your blood pressure. You had to perfectly time your jumps while slashing enemies that would re-spawn if you fell backwards. If you died you would start far away from where you were and you only had a limited amount of continues. Many of the games today you can continue almost exactly where you died and you can continue as many times as you like.

However, the case can be made that there were simpler patterns to games of the past and once you learned them they were just as easy. In Everquest many of the early enemies were defeated in the exact same way so once you knew the pattern it was not too hard to defeat. Today the AI offered can be tweeked to offer more of a challenge and even randomness to the encounters you face. In the end the question is are we only talking about learning a pattern that only takes time to master or are games today actually harder because there are more things to learn overall.

It could be said that if you learned jumping and moving on the fly in Super Mario Bros you could then apply that to Ninja Gaiden. If you were good at one vertical side-scrolling shooter then you could beat them all. Can the same be applied to an adventure game? If you were good at Resident Evil then would you naturally be good at Silent Hill?

Overall our experiences with games in the past be it twenty years ago or one year ago will affect how we play the next game. If your hand eye coordination is high then that alone will give you an advantage on the next new game. I can say from experience that learning to play Quake 2 with the hook and using only the rail gun made me a better player in Counter Strike so it is obvious that the more games you play the better you will become.

An x-factor could be age. If you were ten years old when playing NES games and are now in your thirties then going back and playing them might be a bit more difficult. This could be for many reasons from lowered hand eye coordination to a change in interest to that type of game. Today most gamers would not want to sit in a single room waiting to kill one monster that may not spawn and if it does may not drop the reward you want, that was how it was in Everquest. If that happened in World of Warcraft there would be a revolt. We all have changed over time and in addition new types of games have come on the scene. Women gamers and people over the age of fifty playing games are at an all time high and games have to adapt to the changing demographics.

My verdict is that because of the wide array of games available in the late eighties and early nineties that to be a true well rounded gamer took much more time and skill. There may have been your standard hack and slash games, but there were also many unique and challenging games especially on early computer systems. If you were one to try out every game you could get your hand on you quickly found out how hard some of these games really were and if you were able to beat them you were a much better gamer.

Want to test this out yourself? Load up a game like Battletoads. If there is one game that can test the frustration level of a gamer it is Battletoads. Next try and find a new game that matches that level. Honestly if you can beat Battletoads without flipping out and kicking your dog then you are pretty pro.

Memories of Gaming 1997-2003

3dfx logo - a symbol of quality
3dfx logo – a symbol of quality

Memories of Gaming 1997-2003 by Honorabili

Around the year 1997, I started to go a lot to ebgames to buy a lot of PC games. Rather than go for whatever was the top title that week, I would always check out what games they had for sale in their bargain bin. I did buy hit games like Carmageddon, Fallout 1, Master of Orion 2, and Grand Theft Auto 1 but for the most part from 1997 til about 2003, I stuck to buying cheap games. The bargain bin had a lot of failed games that were either bad or had failed in their marketing and distribution and nobody knew about them or they were simply budget titles that did not have the best graphics but had awesome enough gameplay that they got released.

My criteria for buying these games was that they had to cost usually about $1-10. For me to buy one that was $15, it had to have been highly recommended or praised. This shopping included buying used copies of games as well. I also bought a lot of stuff based on the brands of developers and publishers. Almost anything that got made by Microprose and Interplay was bought for sure. They were my favorite company in those years up until Brian Fargo lost control of the company and Herve Caen destroyed the company. Because I would still play the popular titles at the time but I would also played a ton of obscure and lost titles, I gained a good understanding as to why games and gaming companies fail. As far as Microprose goes, went they got liquidated I remember buying all of their games (multiple copies too) for 25 cents a piece!

Back in 97-03, my life consisted of going to college, hanging out with my friend Bruce and little brother, watching a ton of VHS movies which we usually rented from Future Video or Hollywood video (both are out of business now), playing a ton of video games, and buying video games almost every weekend. Usually Bruce or my brother and I would go and scout out 3-4 stores at a time seeing which ones had the best deals and stock. We would go a lot to The Falls, Miami International Mall, Dadeland, and later Dolphin Mall. I usually had a policy of buying at least one game each time I went into those stores, even if it was a crappy $1-2 game (of which I bought plenty of!). I remember one time that Bruce and I went in to buy what was either Fallout 2 or Carmageddon 2 and we ended up walking out with about $300-400 of cheap games.

After buying a bunch of these games, we would test out a bunch on the crappy LAN we built using our main machines which were initially powered by AMD K6-2’s and our bitch computers usually were a bunch of trade-ins I got from my PC repair/building business that were Celerons or Pentium I’s or 686’s. Sometimes we would just setup multiplayer games of a specific game to see if we could get it to run because maybe the multiplayer component of a game was utter crap.

I remember very well when I tried to run Carmageddon 1 on my AMD 486 DX-4 100 Mhz and the game was a slide-show. Quickly after that I jumped to my AMD K6-2 266 Mhz with 128 MB of RAM and a Diamond Stealth 2000 video card tied to a Creative 3dfx Voodoo 2 with 4 MB of RAM. I got addicted to Glide games quickly… Thanks to my gaming I got a lot of orders for gaming computers which paid for my college and taught me more about the real business world than many classes I took and books I read ever were able to show me.

What I like about 97-03 was that I saw the explosion of graphics acceleration for PCs. We also experienced the graphics acceleration and CPU wars. Some casualties of the graphics acceleration were were 3dfx, S3 and PowerVR. Some victims of the CPU wars were Centaur, Cyrix, and VIA. I remember the race to hit 1 Ghz with AMD hitting it stable with their Athlon and Intel’s 1 Ghz P3 being a complete mess that melted. A lot of hardware that comes to mind of these days are: 3dfx, the TNT 2, Voodoo 2 and 3, AMD K6-2 and K6-3, Pentium 2 & 3, Athlon and Athlon XP, Matrox, ATI vs nVidia, Radeons vs GeForce cards, AMD vs Intel, SDRAM & DDR, PC100 & PC133, introduction of SATA drives, introduction of RAID to gaming PCs.

Around these years we also started to see a differentiation between the kind of gamers that were attracted to PC gaming vs console gaming. I also began to see that for PC gaming some years were good strong years and some years just about nothing good came out.

In these years we also saw a giant growth in the availability of better broadband and the explosion of the internet (and the dot com bubble burst). In terms of gaming this improved multiplayer games and the availability of pirated software and games. We saw stuff like Scour and Napster and WinMX rise and fall. Then came torrents, which are still going strong.

Apart from the usual pirated games, we saw the rise of emulation. Emulation has always been around just about, even in the 60s and 70s with mainframes trying to emulate rival companies operations. Certainly around the time the AMD K6-2 and Intel Pentium II were commonly available we saw a lot of good NES and SNES emulation, as well as Sega Genesis, and even c64 (which doesn’t take much to run) and the Amiga emualators (which took a lot to run when they first came out). Playstation 1 emulators were out, as well as Nintendo 64 but initial performance and availability of these was terrible. Around this time I got to know well sites such as zophar.net. You also saw the growth of MAME and ROMs for all sorts of systems going around.

These years also saw an explosion in video game and computer music remixing. I even took part of this, even killing RKO, the home of c64 remixes. General video game remixing blew up on sites such as OverClocked Remix. I made a lot of good friends at remix64 and micromusic.

Some PC gamers in 1997-2003 were either of the camp that cared only for framerates (FPS junkies) or image quality. Around the late 90s, I felt that 3dfx had the best graphics but lowest frame rates, then came ATI, and with nVidia having highest frame-rates but lower quality renders.

We also saw around these years the rise of the mp3/ogg files. Many games before used proprietary sound formats and also a lot of MOD tracker formats. CD quality audio became a standard for games around this time. Initial games at this time had actual CD audio tracks incorporated into the game CDs.

Other trends include the further increase of popularity of first person shooters in the form of the Doom games, Quake series, Unreal Tournament series, Half-Life, Counterstrike, Medal of Honor and Call of Duty, Far Cry, etc. We saw just about the death of turn based strategy games and the explosion of more real time strategy games. Although Ultima Online was around, then came the explosion of Everquest (which made me a lot of money), and other MMOs.

Conclusion:

These were great times for gaming for my friends and I because back then we had the time to do it. Later on complications such as girlfriends and wives and shitty jobs and children interfered with our hobby. The equivalent of me getting cheap games these days are the Steam sales and the gog.com sales. I have enough old games that I can relive parts of the old days any day I want! (well, except having my old friends to LAN it up with)

Atari Box Art

New series, The Obsolete Gamer can be many things, you could have been a Commodore 64 player or a classic console gamer and of course the DOS gamer. There are many different types of gamers and we all went through different experiences growing up in the gaming revolution. This new series will cover many of them from the mainstream to the obscure.

Today gamers have a wealth of information, at a click of a mouse they can learn almost everything about a game before they buy it and can even rent it to make sure they really want to own it.

Let’s turn back the clock to the Atari 2600 days where you had little information on what was coming out. I am sure there were some publications out there, but for many of us we just went into the store looked at the box and made our decision right there.

The Atari 2600 did have commercials and some did show game footage, but many were simply “By it because” commercials like the one below.

Yes, you buy it because your kid wants it and to be honest I did not know one child who didn’t like their Atari 2600, but let’s move on to the box art.

Art is truly the correct term to use because that’s what they were art, not screenshots. I do not think this was done to mislead the customer, but let’s be honest the artwork and the game almost never matched up. True we should not expect to have seen a game that looked exactly like the box, but let’s face it we were children.

Here’s is the box from the game YARS’ Revenge:

ATARI Yars' Revenge box
ATARI Yars' Revenge box

Pretty sweet, the cool looking alien thing, the simple space background and awesome explosions. Now let’s look at the commercial.

Wow, that’s almost subliminal. You have the family playing, the weird out of place music, a splash of gameplay and the Atari logo saying “Have you played Atari today” what else do you need. This commercial would have sold me as a kid and most likely when I got to the store and saw the box art I would have really been excited.

As kids we did not have such a high expectation of graphics, as long as it was fun we loved it so in the end the box art versus in-game graphics did not matter. Still, there was a higher leap of faith when buying games which had a pretty high price tag even in the 80’s.

Looking back I really liked the work and design they put into the box art which is one reason Atari 2600 boxes are worth a lot in good condition today. Sure, as gamers we did not get too much from the box, but for the most part the game we ended up with became a classic. The same can’t be said for many of the NES titles.

So, gamers from the past, what was some of your favorite Atari 2600 box art and how did it influence your purchase?