Friday, August 13, 2010

John's Gaming History Tour

John Marine | 8/13/2010 05:57:00 AM | | |
(UPDATED: September 16, 2014)

We live in a time of high-definition visuals and amazing audio quality. We have a push for 3D visuals. We have high-speed online connections. But back then, most of these were far-fetched concepts. In fact, there was a time where the best gaming experiences were at arcade places. Home consoles have since overtaken and ran circles around arcades. Why are you here in this blog entry? This blog entry concerns old-school gaming on consoles that are long outdated. Okay, maybe I'll also feature previous-generation consoles as well. This is a joint effort on John's Blog Space and on my alternative blog on John's Shop Space. I want to help point you towards and get some insight on past consoles.

This blog entry is my own massive tour through gaming history. I will provide my own commentary on each system as well as provide some extra stuff I know on each console. I even use Wikipedia to better explain some of my points. This is not, and I repeat... NOT a total and complete tour of gaming history. I may completely neglect consoles or games that I haven't played or seen before. This is NOT a complete history on gaming. If you want a complete history on gaming, look elsewhere than John's Blog Space. Without much delay, let's begin this blog entry! You're going for a gaming history tour with yours truly, John Marine! So strap in... you're going for a ride! :D


SEP 16 2014 - made several edits and updates; added more to "Personal Note"

PERSONAL NOTE: This post has been around since August 2010. Thanks to all of you for still keeping this post relevant! Please be sure to enjoy this massive post! (added: Sep. 16, 2014) This entire blog post has been made over in loving support of those of you who found this post.

--- Table of Contents ---

Here is a timeline of consoles I will feature in a part-by-part basis:

• Atari 2600
• the 8-bit realm (NES and Master System)
• early 1990s (SNES, Genesis/Megadrive, Turbografx 16/PC Engine, 3DO)
• 64 or More (Jaguar, Nintendo 64, and PlayStation)
• Sega's Rise and Fall (Sega CD, Saturn, 32X)
• Eyes to the Future (Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, GameCube, GameCube)

• earlier times (Game Boy and Game Gear)
• other challengers (TurboExpress, Lynx, Super Game Boy, Virtual Boy)
• Nintendo's further glory (Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS)

--- "Why Should I Care About Some Old Consoles?" ---

Ahh, the classical question. Sorry to sound like an old man, but some of today's finest gaming consoles are only great because of what we've endured in the past. Technologies and times change. Many people had pagers back then; now, we have cellular phones and a handful of smartphones. Many people had 8-Tracks and cassettes. Now, we have CDs and MP3s.

So what am I getting at here? Simple- if you're a gaming fan, it's best you care about how far we've come along as gamers. Most of the consoles I will discuss in this blog entry are pretty much outdated in various respects. The point of this blog entry is for me to discuss past gaming consoles and any memories (granted I have any) that I want to share on each one.

My Mission to This Blog Entry.

The mission here is to educate and entertain my audience on past gaming consoles and some of the various memories I have for each. I know there are a number of people who couldn't care less about any console that doesn't have 3D graphics, online play capabilities, 7.1 audio support, and more. The thing that angers me most is how people can call themselves fans of gaming, but couldn't give a damn about any past console or any past games that helped pave the way for some of today's hottest games. I really wish people would stop being like this, but what can I do about it?

I hope to gain support from various gaming fans the world over. This will NOT, however, be a complete and total history of every past console there ever was. Instead, it will just be a number of various consoles that I can recall and give relevant contributions to.

--- Old-School Gaming Memories: Consoles (Part 1 of 6) ---

~~~ Remembering the Atari 2600 ~~~

I have basically structured this blog entry like the NES is king. Before the NES, however, there was a device called the Atari 2600. A paddle joystick was the device of choice before the D-Pad came along. That will fuel the focus for this entire section as it's call about the Atari 2600.

Atari 2600.

Atari 2600
^ from: - the Atari 2600. Perhaps the oldest console I've ever played games on.

Before I was born in 1983, the Atari 2600 was the best console money can buy. In fact, gaming wasn't even much a successful industry then (MUCH different compared to now). In fact, I don't even remember certain Atari games having an introductory screen. At most, what you got was the Atari 2600 logo at the bottom-left of the screen. The game I remember most was Pitfall in 1982. Maybe not a lot of playing memories, but Pitfall was definitely one of the hottest titles for the 2600. I didn't know of Pitfall 2 until watching a YouTube video on it. MUCH more advanced for a game made in 1984.

A lot of other people know many more games for the Atari 2600. The only other one I seldom remember was Decathlon. I also remember one of the hardest racing/driving games in history- Night Driver. Many others just know of classic titles like Centipede, Millipede, Missile Command, and games like that.

I would have discussed the Intellivision, but I have no memories of games or playing that system.

--- Old-School Gaming Memories: Consoles (Part 2 of 6) ---

~~~ The 8-Bit Wars ~~~

Technology gets improved and starts offering some exceptional titles to blow away the Atari 2600 and Intellivision. This is an age where 8-bit gaming reigns supreme.

--- Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) ---
Nintendo Entertainment System - original
^ from: - the very first NES.

Nintendo Entertainment System - top loader
^ from: - the NES top-loader as released in the 1990s. I own this model now, but still tend to miss the '80s NES unit.

These were the days! I remember having to blow into cartridges just to get them to work. I even remember my cousin putting games in a freezer just to clean them out. Tell you what... never mind the consoles and games of today. This is just old school, no compromise gaming!

When you take into account more ways to enjoy gaming with the NES, you appreciate the versatility and diversity of gaming for the NES. Think about the certain devices that went with this game system. The Zapper...

Nintendo Zapper
^ from: - the Nintendo Zapper.

...was among one of the many devices. It allowed you to play light gun games like Duck Hunt and Hogan's Alley, and among others. There was also THIS...

Nintendo Power Pad
^ from: - Can you guess what this is before reading the next line?

...the Power Pad. The Power Pad consisted of a 4x3 arrangement of buttons. Six blue pads were on the left and six red pads on the right. The most popular game for this pad was one of my all-time favorite sports games- World Class Track Meet. It was also used for a less-popular title called Dance Aerobics.

There were also a fair share of other devices for the NES including (but not limited to) R.O.B. the Robot, the Power Glove, the infamous Game Genie, and the NES Advantage, pictured below:

NES Advantage Controller
^ from: - the NES Advantage controller, complete with dozens of controls to literally give you the edge in your NES gaming. It was good even for alternating 2-player games (like Super Mario Bros., for example).

Sweet memories, eh? :)

Gaming Memories.

These are just random thoughts on certain select games for the the NES:

• I remember Super Mario Bros. the best. I once went from Level 1-1 to 5-2 without using a Warp and... without dying.

• I still regard Super Mario Bros. 3 as the best Mario game of all time.

• The Legend of Zelda was a game I've beaten several times in both quests. It is always timeless.

• Ninja Gaiden was fun... until I got frustrated trying to beat Act 6-4 (the final level). If you get killed fighting the boss in any Act, you must start the previous stage again. If you get killed fighting the boss of the game's final Act, you must start Act 6 ALL OVER AGAIN.

• I remember playing Metroid a lot before being killed often going into the third world. It's a game I probably wouldn't mind playing from start to finish today.

--- Sega Master System (SMS) ---
Sega Master System
^ from: - the Sega Master System was a virtual unknown in the United States.

Completely unknown to most people in the United States, the Master System was a challenger to the NES. Not many people know of it's existence because it just didn't do well since being released in 1986 to the United States. There were a number of games released for the SMS including (but not limited to) Hang-On, Golden Axe, Wonder Boy, Shinobi, Space Harrier, Ninja Gaiden, and more.

This concludes this section. It's time to add a few more bits of power to the equation in the next section!

--- Old-School Gaming Memories: Consoles (Part 3 of 6) ---

~~~ Sweet Sixteen and Early 1990s ~~~

It was time to step up the graphics appeal. Two game consoles that led the charge were the Super Nintendo and the Sega Genesis/Megadrive. This was especially where Mario and Sonic would develop a rivalry. The two best platformers for either system would be in a console rivalry that would last for almost two decades since both joined the 16-bit revolution. In addition to these times, other challengers would step up to try to take the spotlight away from Nintendo and Sega... with mixed results. I'd say this was the best time in gaming history since so many challengers stepped up to offer various consoles and games.

--- Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) ---

Super Nintendo Entertainment System (or SNES)
^ from: - the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.

When Nintendo joined the 16-bit action in the early 1990s, the SNES wanted to show everyone the new wave of gaming. It has done so for a number of years with hundreds of games available. I remember going to Wal-Mart (nowadays Walmart) stores to see and play Super Mario World. I would later play and own games like "The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past" and "SimCity (or Sim City)."

Ahead of Its Time?

BS-X Satellaview
^ from: - the Satellaview, as attached to the Super Famicom, the Super Nintendo's Japanese sibling.

Back in Japan, Nintendo released a system called Satellaview (or BS-X, to mean "Broadcast Satellite Unknown"), which allowed for satellite gaming with Japan's Super Famicom. It was a satellite modem that also contained a memory pak for larger games. The satellite modem connected to St.GIGA for the handling of online connections and server maintenance. And how about this for Nintendo being ahead of their time: there were downloadable games for the BS-X. Nintendo and St.GIGA depended on each other until tensions arose between the two in 1999. It also had a system similar to today's podcasting for the BS-X. This concept was NEVER released outside of Japan

I made a special blog entry about my all-time favorite Super Nintendo games. Check it out here: "John's All-Time Favorite SNES Games" here on John's Blog Space .

--- Sega Genesis/Megadrive ---

Sega Genesis or Sega Megadrive
^ from: - Super Nintendo had a long-standing rivalry with the Sega Genesis/Megadrive.

I am a Nintendo person and never once been tempted to get a Genesis. In case you're wondering, the Genesis is the Megadrive in Japan, which is why I included both terms. While the Super Nintendo had their best and worst games, the Genesis/Megadrive had a fair share of great games. The Sonic the Hedgehog series had games and capabilities that blew away even the best SNES titles at the time. One look at even the very first Sonic the Hedgehog game shows the depth in graphics and how fast everything moves (literally).

Other games would come along to spice the experience a bit more. Unlike the Super Nintendo (and even the NES), there wasn't a great deal of devices to enhance the experience for some games.

Then, the competition that tried, and failed to last long enough to sustain themselves or make any significant noise...

Read more about these systems by clicking after this Jump Break (or disregard this line of text if reading the full blog entry)!

--- Neo Geo ---

Neo Geo AVS
^ from: - How many of your friends owned a Neo Geo back in the early 1990s? Its price tag back then might be a reason why hardly anyone owned one. The Neo Geo AVS is featured here.

Neo Geo MVS
^ from: - the Neo Geo (MVS version).

New Geo has some great and memorable games. If you wanted to take home the action, you had to fork over some money to buy a Neo Geo console in the early 1990s. You were enjoying your Neo Geo because you paid almost $650 USD for one back in the day while everyone else stuck to the SNES and Genesis/Megadrive. Some of the best-looking games you'll see with stunning sound and visual quality made these games incredible. Many people who were unable to buy a Neo Geo for home (like, almost the entire world) had to settle for arcade playing of Neo Geo games. The games would translate perfectly for home use because they basically were seemingly perfect home translations. Then again (according to Wikipedia), the Neo Geo was mostly sold to commercial establishments rather than to the general mainstream. The Neo Geo has been an outstanding machine for producing amazing-quality games. Even those that dislike Capcom fighting games found something to love with series like Art of Fighting series, King of Fighters series, and the Fatal Fury series. Considering it was born in 1990 with the final-ever game released in 2004 (the last console game was "Samurai Showdown V Special"), Neo Geo has realistically outlasted a number of home consoles. But still, the fact that only a select few could really enjoy this console for HOME use makes the Neo Geo seem like a failed console. What you got for the exorbitant price tag was an incredibly solid console could blow away most games of its time. You think a PlayStation 3 costs a lot? A Neo Geo (especially when it was released) sold for just about as much as a PS3 now. Only difference is... the PS3 was sold to the mainstream (and people bought it) while the Neo Geo was for a select few who could actually afford the system and the games.

There would be the Neo Geo MVS and the Neo Geo CD.

--- TurboGrafx 16/PC Engine ---

TurboGrafx 16 or PC Engine
^ from: - meet the TurboGrafx 16.

Something I didn't know about the Turbografx 16 was that this was America's version of Japan's PC Engine. Rather than games installed on cartridges, you input these cards into the system to play that game. Games like Ys and the Bonk's Adventure series helped define the TurboGrafx 16. The only game I can remember playing was China Warrior.

This section still talks about consoles, so I will not mention the TurboExpress until I discuss portable consoles.

--- 3DO Interactive Multiplayer ---

3DO Interactive Multiplayer
^ from: - the 3D0 Interactive Multiplayer, or just the 3DO.

High expectations were abound for the 3DO to be a revolutionary system. There was even marks as for this being "Product of the Year" by Time Magazine in 1994 before it was even released. What was eventually released was the 3DO- a hot gaming mess for the low price of $699 USD. This console had no serious identity as the majority of its titles were based on ports of already-released marques and titles. This system lasted only two or three years, and I have pretty much never played a single game for it.

(ADDED: January 21, 2012) As if this post couldn't get any more massive, I have added a Jump Break to somewhat improve performance of this post. There is a lot more for me to discuss in this post, so if you're not reading the full post, please click on "Read More" to see more of this massive blog post!

--- Old-School Gaming Memories: Consoles (Part 4 of 6) ---

~~~ Riding the Genesis Wave; To Saturn and Beyond! ~~~

This section is exclusive to Sega and the many ways to dress up the Genesis/Megadrive with new titles and new ways to play. This eventually ended up leading to Sega's downfall in trying to make these other systems become relevant successes. I am almost tempted to say that paying more money just to have glorified add-ons to make the Genesis/Megadrive more powerful and more capable than it is just makes Sega's effort a total fail. Credit Sega for trying, but you could only push the envelope only so far until the Genesis/Megadrive was simply better than when they tried to find new ways to make an old console better. You didn't need a completely new console- just keep your Genesis and add some high-priced add-ons to enhance your experience! Then in the mid-1990s, they made their first true console apart from the Geneis/Megadrive, but its shelf life and success were nowhere compared to the Genesis/Megadrive.

--- Part 1 of 2: Riding the Genesis Wave ---
All you need is a Genesis/Megadrive. Then, just buy a device to attach to the Genesis/Megadrive to enjoy playing more games. Did it work for both systems? No (Sega/Mega CD) and hell no (32X).

Sega/Mega CD.

Sega CD or Mega CD
^ from: - attach this to the bottom of your Genesis/Megadrive to play Sega CD games.

One of the ways to give the Genesis/Megadrive new life was to come along with the Sega/Mega CD. This allowed gamers to play games on CDs to make for playing very enhanced games. Some games released for the Sega/Mega CD were mostly regular titles with some extra content (shovelware). Hardly anyone wanted to really develop games for the system, and not many series were really profitable and/or successful. I have no recollection of playing any Sega CD games.

--- Sega 32X ---
Sega 32X
^ from: - stick this cartridge into your Genesis/Megadrive to play 32X games.

Rather than stick something to the bottom of your Genesis/Megadrive, insert this device into where you'd normally play your Genesis/Megadrive games. You can now play more advanced 32-bit games without needing a new Sega console. But again- the Geneis/Megadrive basically got another high-priced add-on just to play a bunch more games than what a standard Genesis/Megadrive could handle. I've never played a 32X game, and there were so few 32X games. Plans for the so-called Sega Neptune also got scrapped.

--- Part 2 of 2: To Saturn and Beyond! ---
Then in 1994, their first real system since the Genesis/Megadrive was released to contend with 32-bit consoles in its time.

Sega Saturn.

SEGA Saturn
^ from: - Sega's foray into CD-Rom gaming began with the Saturn.

CD-playing power was the name of the game with the Sega Saturn. That, and a host of game titles (MANY more than the 32X). I think I've once played NiGHTS into Dreams at a Toys 'R Us once, and I think I remember playing Panzer Dragoon at a Blockbuster, but no gaming memories. This console was lagging behind others in the 32-bit realm of gaming. Sadly, the Saturn didn't last long enough to really be of any good. Sega's last hurrah wouldn't come until they came along with a project called Katana... that would later become the Dreamcast.

Credit Sega for trying new things rather than making brand new consoles that would only be true embarrassments.

--- Old-School Gaming Memories: Consoles (Part 5 of 6) ---

~~~ A Future With 64 or More ~~~

This section pertains to old consoles that entered the 64-bit wars. It is even a look at a console from Sony that would try to take control of the gaming world.

--- Atari Jaguar ---
Atari Jaguar
^ from: - the Atari Jaguar and its unusual-looking gamepad.

64 bits of power is always better than 32, right? You know what you're talking about with Atari and the success they've had with their past consoles. However, there is an old saying- past success does not guarantee future performance. Atari failed to dominate and captivate with the Jaguar (and its portable compliment, the Lynx (explained later)). It has one of the most unusual controllers for any game system. The controller comes with basic buttons for basic gameplay, but it also has a numeric keypad. I have no game playing experience with the Jaguar, but this system was an epic fail for the most part. This was basically Atari's version of the Sega Saturn in terms of a last hurrah. An IGN segment online named the Jaguar's keypad as the worst game controller ever designed.

--- Nintendo 64 ---
Nintendo 64
^ from: - the Nintendo 64.

Now on to a system that actually LASTED and had less complex. I still own a Nintendo 64, but there are two problems- AC adapter trouble and no games to play (they were stolen). The Nintendo 64 took Nintendo fans into the 64-bit realm with amazing graphics and memorable gameplay. It was great that a cartridge-based system could make games with such amazing quality both with visuals and sound. Some games required you to have a Memory Pak. I knew I needed one when I played games like Mario Kart 64 and Quest 64. It also helps that you could have four-player action with this console. The four-player action is always incredible for good games (like Mario Kart 64).

My fondest N64 memories were with Super Mario 64 and Mario Kart 64. I remember having an extensive rivalry with my cousin in Mario Kart 64. I then remember playing "F-1 World Grand Prix." That was my gateway into Formula One. I wouldn't have cared for Formula 1 had it not been for this game. And yes... I LOVED Goldeneye. I'd even go back to playing that game right now if I still had it. Who needs a Call of Duty or HALO game when you can enjoy the N64 version of Goldeneye?

I also own the Memory Expansion Pak that was needed for games like Perfect Dark and Turok 2 among others. Not sure if it is even usable anymore since it has collected so much dust in my room. Simply put, the Nintendo 64 was the end of an era for consoles- at least, for cartridge games.

As good as the Nintendo 64 is for its capabilities, there are still a number of qualities where it would fall short compared to a little console from Sony released in the mid-1990s. It's time I bring this console to light:

--- Sony PlayStation ---
Sony PlayStation 1 or PSX or PS1
^ from: - the very first PlayStation console.

I began thinking about what the PlayStation has to offer as opposed to the Nintendo 64 as I began playing it more. I loved how the Nintendo 64 had next to no loading times for most of its content. I loved that the graphics were quite amazing for what they were. However, I had to get used to loading times with the PlayStation. All the games for the PlayStation 1 are all on black-bottom CDs. Believe it or not, as dark as the bottoms were to games for the PS1, it is still very slightly translucent (meaning light shines through it). Another advantage to the N64 compared to the PlayStation- you don't need a bunch of CDs just to play one game. Some games are just too big for just one CD, which I can understand. I had to get adjusted to the PlayStation and how it handles games.

I remember buying my PlayStation 1 at a pawn shop for about $60 USD back around 1998. The first-game I bought was Gran Turismo (you already know this if you're my Gran Turismo fans). The PlayStation actually delivers some wonderful quality playing games. Maybe the games weren't supremely fast, but they were still lots of fun to play. I played my favorite PlayStation games on there, but also some of the worst. My all-time least favorite racing game- Thunder Truck Rally for the PS1. When the PlayStation would utilize the dual analog sticks, not many games could support it. Those analog sticks would become commonplace for Sony consoles in the future.

So I've transitioned well from the Nintendo 64 to the Sony PlayStation. I was also starting to realize that you could store more data onto a CD as opposed to on a cartridge. A cool bonus is that some games have music on them that you can play in a CD player. The PlayStation even has its own native CD player system. Just put in a music CD and let the PlayStation play back your music.

This section marks some of the best from the past. But as time goes on, one must look to the future. The next section pertains to a look at fairly recent consoles.

--- Old-School Gaming Memories: Consoles (Part 6 of 6) ---

~~~ Eyes to the Future ~~~

Technologies of the past were becoming severely outdated. Looking to the future meant that you have to deliver new and current technologies to keep pace. So was the challenge for four different consoles and the four respective makers involved. I share my thoughts and memories on four previous-generation systems.

--- Sega Dreamcast ---
Sega Dreamcast
^ from: - the Sega Dreamcast.

The first challenger in the 21st Century gaming wars was from Sega. After having been a laughing stock of many in the gaming industry, Sega decided to come along with a console VASTLY improved from its past consoles while learning from their mistakes with their past consoles. The Dreamcast lasted for quite some time before eventually fizzling out. It did have a great variety of games to choose from. Even Sonic had himself some fun. However, many missed the old days of Sonic (most STILL do). The Dreamcast had something its rival PlayStation didn't- online play. It had a built-in modem to allow for multiplayer gaming. This would add a brand-new dimension to actual multiplayer action and would set the tone for future consoles. It had a VMU (visual memory unit) that had little mini games to play while also storing valuable game data.

--- Sony PlayStation 2 ---
Sony PlayStation 2 or PS2
^ from: - the Sony PlayStation 2 as it was when first released.

Many still play the PlayStation 2- I STILL do! It's been surpassed by the PlayStation 3, but games are still made for this console. The initial PS2 did not feature a modem. That would change as the Network Adapter was made available for the PlayStation 2. Later versions of the PS2 did away with the failed iLink system. I think the newer slim PS2s have network adapters. Unlike any of the consoles mentioned (or to be be mentioned), you could only play up to two players (unless you had a Multitap).

I don't care if I'm stuck in the past playing on a PS2 while most other Sony types are enjoying their PS3s. I want a PS3, but I haven't made any strides to get one. I only want a PS3 if I had money for one or if I won one in a legitimate contest. I still think the PS2 is more than enough for gameplay and enjoying gaming. I am not at all bothered that I could be playing much more advanced games than what the PS3 provides. I am not an online gamer, so I cannot say that I want to challenge anybody on PlayStation Network any time soon.

I have too many memories of gaming with the PlayStation 2 to discuss in their entirety. Everything from racing games to certain action and sports games have been sheer joy to play.

--- Nintendo Gamecube ---
Nintendo Gamecube
^ from: - the Nintendo Gamecube (I couldn't find a good one in its base Atomic Purple color).

For many people, the Nintendo Gamecube was a failure. It didn't fail as miserably as Sega's consoles after the Genesis/Megadrive, but not as many people found the Gamecube to really be viable and visible compared to other offerings from other companies. The only reason to play the Gamecube is for the Mario games. I do remember playing "MegaMan: Network Transmission." It was a hard game, but I managed to beat it.

The Gamecube was succeeded by the Nintendo Wii. Good news is that if you already own a Gamecube and also have a Wii, you can use your Gamecube controller to insert into the Wii to play certain classic games.

--- Microsoft XBOX ---
Microsoft XBOX
^ from: - Microsoft flipped the script on gaming entirely with the arrival of the XBOX.

No one know what the world would come to when Microsoft wanted to unveil their own console. The rest was history as the XBOX entered the 21st Century fray. The XBOX represented four-player action along with some intense gameplay. One aspect makes the XBOX seemingly invincible- XBOX Live. Microsoft was (and still is) Sony's best competition as the PlayStation 2 was gaining steam. I even criticized in the past that XBOX games look like PC games for the console. I wasn't sold on the XBOX for some time. I even hated their answer to Gran Turismo (Forza Motorsport) until I eventually grew fond of Forza.

The signature franchise for the XBOX consoles is HALO. I was never really a HALO person. I had played it only once back in 2002 with a few friends when I was in college. I'm just not crazy over HALO like a lot of other people are. If I DID have a reason to play the previous XBOX, it would be for the racing games. I always wanted to play through the Project Gotham Racing series and play Forza Motorsport a lot longer. I may even challenge the Rallisport Challenge games. Some multi-platform games were even considered better on the XBOX than some others. I was never really into the XBOX for reasons other than racing games. And as far as XBOX Live is concerned, I'm still quite old-fashioned. I don't feel required to play against human opponents. Remember- I'm not an online gamer.

Many of the XBOX games are reverse-compatible on the XBOX 360. While I despise Microsoft's XBOX, I will admit- this is a solid alternative for any PlayStation fan. Sony vs. Microsoft is today's SNES vs. Genesis/Megadrive.

This concludes the Console portion of this blog entry. Up next... portable gaming!

--- Old-School Gaming Memories: Portables (Part 1 of 4) ---

~~~ The First Portable Rivalry ~~~

original Game Boy
^ from: - the original Game Boy.

Let's get one thing straight- I've ALWAYS wanted a Game Boy! This system represents on-the-go gaming that would be fun and enjoyable. I even entered a contest for Nintendo Power Magazine to get a Game Boy. I would want to play the heck out of Tetris. The only other game I've played was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for the Game Boy. Over time, I would notice just how small the cartridges were for the Game Boy. They are still ludicrously small by today's standards.

This was basically the handheld that got away for me.

--- Sega Game Gear ---
Sega Game Gear
^ from: - the Sega Game Gear.

The Game Boy provided great gaming and classic gameplay. However, the monochromatic style of graphics left a lot to be desired. Sega's response was the Game Gear. Unlike the Game Boy, Sega's Game Gear offered up colorful graphics and games. It even had a TV tuner that you could buy so you could enjoy a little TV action. This portable gaming device lasted longer than the Sega CD, 32X, and Saturn combined!

I was never compelled to get a Game Gear except to play Columns.

These two would set the stage for a portable gaming battle unlike any other.

--- Old-School Gaming Memories: Portables (Part 2 of 4) ---

~~~ Nintendo, Sega, ...and Everybody Else ~~~

The Game Boy and Game Gear set the bar for everyone else to try to beat. Many had their say, and failed (including Nintendo).

--- TurboExpress/PC Engine-GT (Game Tank) ---
TurboExpress or PC Engine Game Tank
^ from: - the TurboExpress, the portable compliment to the TurboGrafx 16.

Take your TG16/PC Engine games on the go with the TurboExpress. That is, if you had about $300 USD to burn (its US price was initially $249.99)! The device included a TV tuner to enjoy some TV or use as a monitor. This just didn't fare well at all, failing to steal the thunder of Nintendo and Sega.

--- Atari Lynx ---
Atari Lynx
^ from: - both versions of the Atari Lynx.

Even before the Sega Game Gear came along, the Lynx was the very first portable gaming device with an LCD color display. It was even more expensive at the time than the Game Gear, The popularity of Nintendo and Sega basically made the Lynx insignificant despite some good marks for it. I've never played a single game for the Lynx.

--- Super Game Boy ---
Super Game Boy
^ from: - no Game Boy? No problem! Just stick this into your SNES and play your Game Boy games away... and in color too!

Nintendo shown Sega how it's done when you have the Super Game Boy. I'm including this under the Portable section because this plays portable games. You just slide in a Game Boy game in this cartridge-looking device and play away from your SNES. This gave Game Boy games color. Unlike the Genesis/Megadrive, the Game Boy was actually successful, so putting in games and adding this relatively inexpensive adapter cartridge for the SNES made these games fun and playable. Some Game Boy games were even made better through extra enhancements to visuals and audio. Never played with the Super Game Boy, nor do have I even owned any Game Boy cartridges then (or even now).

--- Virtual Boy ---
Virtual Boy
^ from: - the Virtual Boy was Nintendo's only portable screw-up.

Nintendo has done a lot to innovate itself and make its mark as a gaming giant. The Virtual Boy was NOT one of them. I'm a bit queasy mentioning the Virtual Boy because... I WANTED ONE! Much like the first Game Boy had a monochromatic color style to their games, the Virtual Boy only had two colors- black and red. Trying to see through it all could hurt your eyes a bit. The ONLY game I've played was that Wario Land, which I thought was fun. It was Nintendo's effort to bring in 3D experiences for a portable gaming device. It lasted only one year. This was just one screw-up from Nintendo as opposed to countless other companies that made devices and failed to last for three years or more. And again... I wanted one! Guilty as charged!

This marks the end of most of the portable also-rans.

--- Old-School Gaming Memories: Portables (Part 3 of 4) ---

~~~ Nintendo's Continued Portable Success ~~~

"Keep on keeping on" was what Nintendo did (and still does to this day) in the handheld gaming market. Nintendo's only portable competition is Sony's PSP. This section looks back on the Game Boy models that followed including a radical new (at the time) concept.

--- Game Boy Color ---
Game Boy Color
^ from: - the Game Boy Color.

One could say the Super Game Boy was merely a precursor to the Game Boy Color. You needed a Super Nintendo along with the Super Game Boy cartridge to play Game Boy games in color. Now, you don't have to! The Game Boy Color even came in a variety of colors (including a transparent one) to push gaming all the further. That is... until something bigger and better came along...

--- Game Boy Advance and GBA Advance SP ---
Game Boy Advance
^ from: - the Game Boy Advance.

The Game Boy Advance was a solid gaming device that really caught on with old-style gamers. Its visuals were quite incredible. The Game Boy Advance boasted two new trigger buttons to its design. I've played GBA games before at various kiosks. I would really enjoy old school gaming with classic games for the GBA. They even my two favorite RPGs of all-time: Final Fantasy 3 (FF6 in Japan) and Chrono Trigger.

The Game Boy Advance SP only made the original GBA better. I haven't any true experience with the SP, but the device is as solid as its predecessor.

Since this is about older consoles and handheld gaming devices, I will NOT mention the Nintendo DS. I will, however, make Honorable Mention...

--- Old-School Gaming Memories: Portables (Part 4 of 4) ---

~~~ Honorable Mention to N-Gage ~~~

--- Nokia N-Gage (Honorable Mention!) ---
Nokia N-Gage
^ from: - Nokia's N-Gage.

I will be giving Honorable Mention to Nokia and their N-Gage in this post. Nokia attempted to bring together mobile phones and handheld gaming into the N-Gage. This made about as much sense as trying to make a handheld device with a numeric keypad (like the Atari Jaguar). It just didn't work. Don't know how else to put it. I am not much a mobile phone person anyways, so it was unlikely I'd be hooked to it.

--- What to Take Away from This Blog Entry ---

Now on to the moral of this blog entry...

The moral is: respect your gaming elders. We've come a long way in technology and in culture. Some people just have no respect for classic gaming. I think if you want to call yourself a true gaming fan, you appreciate games even five to ten years older than today's games to be just as enjoyable as today's games. You appreciate consoles and handhelds even five to ten years old. I've played or seen all of or most of these systems in person or in videos or pictures. There are only people who love today's games when there are plenty of past games that are just as fun (if not more so) than today's games. Many people feel that most of today's games are too much about Hollywood-style theatrics while lacking most of the bare-bones material that makes games fun to play and enjoyable for years to come.

There are people who even frown upon those still stuck with older gaming systems when they could be playing on the latest consoles. Again, what difference does it make? Maybe some past game consoles and past games are worlds better than even today's titles. I've even heard of some games (like Okami or Metal Gear Solid 4) that have very long introductory videos. There were times when gameplay was simpler. Granted companies needed to evolve games to be much more than what they were in the past, you always respect your gaming elders. I've knocked a bunch of consoles in this blog entry. Aren't they still a part of gaming history despite the fact they've failed? Absolutely. If anything, the Game Boy Advance series and Nintendo DS are perfect examples of keeping old-style gaming relevant while still selling thousands to millions (and maybe billions) of copies of games. No doubt the Sony PlayStation Portable is a great handheld (that also serves as a glorified controller for some PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3 games). However, some still care for simpler times and concepts for games. I hope to focus more on the previous sentence in a future blog entry.

Did I ever state that this was a complete and thorough history of games? Absolutely not. This was simply my look back at gaming history. I've neglected a lot of systems and games. This blog post was meant as a way of looking back at gaming history using systems and games I am familiar with. My own commentary was supplemented based on personal ideas along with help from reading around on Wikipedia.

To all of my gaming fans and loyal blog readers, thank you very much for your continued support and for reading this blog entry! I hope you've found this blog post to be enjoyable. Thank you for reading!

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