Console Gaming

While current consoles may be a bit more flashy than their predecessors, retro consoles opened up the doors for the future of gaming. Some of these classic consoles many may remember are the Nintendo Entertainment System, Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64, PlayStation 1, Dreamcast, and the original Gameboy. The success of these consoles came from the games that developers released. During this time we saw the rise of the Mario series that saved Nintendo, the origination of the Sonic series, Mortal Kombat, Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda, and much more. Another genre that was popular were casino games and while there are not a lot available on modern consoles, sites such as still make those games available. Not only did these games pave the way for many of the options we have today, but many of these classics have been continued onto newer consoles decades after their original release. Let’s take a trip to the past and check out how these consoles and games managed to find a special place in the hearts of millions of gamers around the world.

Nintendo Entertainment System And The Mario Franchise

Nintendo was sinking fast as they failed to create another hit title since Pac-Man. The goal behind Mario was to create a best-selling game that would bring Nintendo out of the slump they were quickly falling into. Developer Shigeru Miyamoto created the Mario franchise while also working on Donkey Kong, which explains some of the similarities we see between these two titles. Miyamoto’s original intent was to create a video game using the characters Popeye, Bluto, and Olive Oyl from the classic comics and show, but was unable to obtain the licensing rights at the time. Instead, he came out with Jumpman, which we now know to be Mario. Another possible name that was pending for Mario was “Mr. Video”, but Miyamoto has claimed that Mario most likely wouldn’t be around today if they had gone with this less catchy title.

Mario Bros was created to be released on the Nintendo Entertainment System, being the first game in the Mario series to hit a popular gaming console. The graphics available to developers at this time were sub-par, and so creating contrast was an important element of early video games. This is the reason for Mario’s clothing style, in which he wears red clothing with blue overalls so that he is easy to make out from the background as well as each other. Mario was also given a cap for the sole purpose of avoiding having to draw hair and a few facial features. It’s interesting to see some of the techniques used by early developers to cope with the pixelated graphics of the time.

The Nintendo Entertainment System itself was meant to be released as a “family computer” when it was first put out in Japan. This was the first time that third-party developers began to hit the scene. Before now, game developers were only hired by the console creators themselves, and so the games that were available to consumers were very limited and without competition. Being the best selling console of its time, it opened up the way for game development companies to begin to rise up and start releasing new titles to the gaming community.

The Sega Dreamcast

Although the Nintendo Entertainment System was named the single greatest entertainment system back in 2009 by IGN, it falls in second place in PC Magazine’s list as it comes directly behind the Sega Dreamcast. The Sega Dreamcast was Sega’s last console ever released before they left the console industry. Being released in Japan in 1998, it came as a sixth-generation console. This console never got as much hype as was predicted, as it quickly lost its fan base when Sony revealed their concept for the PlayStation 2. After various price cuts, the sales made from the Dreamcast never reached the Sega’s goals and they suffered heavy losses as a result.

Despite this, many believe that the Dreamcast was ahead of its time. Unknown to most, this was the first console that had built-in Internet support and online play, which went heavily unused due to the consoles decline popularity. The Sega Dreamcast had many interesting and unique titles such as Shemue, Sonic Adventures, Crazy Taxi, and much more. Sonic Adventure was actually a major turning point in the Sonic series because this was the first 3D Sonic game in the series.

Introduction of the Super Nintendo

With the great success behind the original Nintendo Entertainment System, it came as no surprise when Nintendo revealed the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. The original Nintendo Entertainment System was an 8-bit unit, while the Super Nintendo was a 16-bit unit. The Super Nintendo was able to introduce new advanced graphics and sound quality that had never been seen before on the market, and this really pushed for its success. It would be known as the best selling console of the 16-bit era, and remained quite prominent when 32-bit consoles came around. It was a success right from the start as Nintendo sold out a record 300,000 units within just a few hours of release, and even caused the Japanese government to submit a formal request that future console releases be done on the weekend due to the massive disruption.

The Super Nintendo started one of the first “console wars” with its Sega competitor. At this time Sega was just releasing the Sega Genesis, and it was being marketed as a cooler console. Sega had made direct attacks against Nintendo in its advertisements, but even then they weren’t able to sweep up a majority of gamers. With Nintendo taking on Street Fighter II a year before Sega as well as many other popular titles, Sega just couldn’t keep up. The Sega Genesis had a massive head start on the Super Nintendo as it already had a large library of games and a lower price, but it still fell behind.

The Super Nintendo also brought about the rise of some pretty strict rules and regulations on third-party developers. For starters, in order to avoid a massive amount of low quality games that were being release, developers were given a limit of five games a year. Low quality high quantity games were quickly ruining the market, so this was perhaps a good move on Nintendo’s part to help fix the market. Each game was also required to go through a review process by Nintendo for quality assurance. To create some competitive diversity, Nintendo also put a restriction on titles that would prevent the developers from releasing these games on another console for two years after they had been released for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. It was during this time that the Interactive Digital Software Association and the Entertainment Software Rating Board would come about, which would give ratings to every game that would hit the market. This would lower the need of censorship that Nintendo was taking on.

Sony Hits The Console Scene – PlayStation 1

The original PlayStation console was released in Japan on December 3, 1994. Although it was just known as PlayStation at the time, it is often referred to as PlayStation 1 due to the consoles that have followed it. The PlayStation 1 was part of the fifth generation of consoles and its main competition was the Nintendo 64 and the Sega Saturn. The PlayStation 1 was the first console to ship over 100 million units, setting a new milestone in the video game industry. The console was often praised due to the 3D graphics of the games that sold with it. A slim version of this console as later released and titled the PSone, although it wasn’t nearly as popular.

The PlayStation 1 had some pretty severe hardware problems with the earlier units. Gamers often complained

about a “ticking” noise that would come from their consoles, which would commonly break. This was eventually found to have been caused due to overheating issues that resulted from a poor ventilation system. There was also an engineering oversight in which a proper signal couldn’t be reached with certain types of televisions. Instead of changing the overall design of the system, PlayStation decided that they would offer a free modchip installation to users that experienced this specific issue.

One of the coolest new features of the PlayStation 1 was the ability to play audio CDs. Since the games that were used by the PlayStation 1 came in a disc format, audio CDs could be placed in the game slot and played. Another interesting aspect about the PlayStation 1 was the memory card capabilities. Rather than store everything on an internal hard drive, players would need to purchase memory cards. This allowed for limitless storage space, and would let gamers play their saved games on other PlayStation consoles.

Nintendo 64

The Nintendo 64 was the third console in the lineup, and was often referred to as N64. Skipping over the 32-bit generation, the Nintendo 64 was a 64-bit console which is the reasoning behind the “64” in the title of the console. This was the last console that used the cartridge system that the Nintendo series had been known for.

Both of the former consoles were both successful, including the last console release which was the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. However, later sales had started to decline for this console due to the Japanese recession, and Nintendo needed an updated system in order to stay competitive and dominant in the current market. At the time, Nintendo’s strict third-party developer policies were also under fire and creating backlash against the company.

The console was originally launched with just two games – Pilotwings 64 and Super Mario 64. Chariman Howard Lincoln emphasized at the time that fewer quality games was more important than a vast amount of bad games. The console was originally set to be priced at $250, but the price was reduced to $199 to remain competitive against other consoles being introduced on the market.

The Nintendo 64 got both positive and negative feedback from critics. While many praised the 3D graphics and enjoyable gameplay, some critics snagged at the lack of games being presented by the console. Most criticss were positive, which included reviews from Time Magazine, Popular Electronics, and the Los Angeles Times.

Within the first three days on the market Nintendo managed to break their previous record by selling 350,000 consoles out of the 500,000 that had been produced for release. By the end of the first year, over 3.6 million units had been sold worldwide.