Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Video Games: 80's The Golden Age

The explosion of Video Games to the masses with “coin op’s” was here, PONG had started it and now “Space Invaders” had come to take over the throne. When Space Invaders was released in Japan riots are nearly caused as well as being responsible for a nation wide coin shortage. Shop owners clear out their stock and turn their stores into Space Invader arcades overnight. Creators “Midway” find themselves with the biggest arcade video game to hit America since videogames had been created, with their game being played in department stores, restaurants and other popular social attractions.

A domino effect occurred from the success of Space Invaders and lead to the fast spread and progression of video games. Along came everyone’s favourite yellow, sort of circular friend “Pac-Man” from creators “Namco”. This game brought more colour and new exciting bleeps and buzzes instead of the scary droning march of Space Invaders. The brains behind it all Moru Iwatani wanted to produce a game that was appealing to men and women as well as being more cartoon like, as he was bored of the generic “shoot-em-ups” that started to litter the arcades. Pac-man was an instant success in Japan and created another coin shortage! It’s also the first videogame to cash in with merchandising from lunchboxes to t-shirts and even cereal. In ’82 Midway get hands on with a sequel to Pac-Man, which obviously wanted to attract women to the games world by introducing ‘Ms. Pac-Man’. Not forgetting to mention “Defender” and in ‘81 “Donkey Kong” created by Nintendo, which spawned the birth of “Mario” and the first simultaneous co-operative videogame “Super Mario Bros.” in 1983.

Fast-forward to 1986 and famous games such as “Metroid” and “The Legend of Zelda” series are leading the modern expansion of the games industry. Then “Capcom” created the still popular “Street Fighter” in ’87. It’s up to the 4th in the series, though numerous versions have come in between with ridiculously long titles such as something like ‘Street Fighter: Super Mega Gold Turbo 3D Ultimate Hyper HD Edition’, ok I exaggerate a little, but still its popular. Hideo Kojima bursts on to the scene with his ongoing “Metal Gear” series in 1987 introducing the first stealth game within an action adventure framework. 

Finally one of the last games to end an era in 1989 was the first cinematic platformer “Prince of Persia” originally released on the “Apple 2”. It was the first game where a developer had looked at real life movements and tried to emulate them in a game, this or me is where games started to become a higher level of entertainment instead of the purely fun button mashing and joystick twiddling games that had come before.