The year after the Famicom came to the US as the Nintendo Entertainment System, the American video game industry finally started to heat up again. Here are all of their efforts.
Following the success of Super Mario Bros. in 1985/86, there was an explosion of games in the US, especially for the NES. Most of these, I must confess, were awful. But among the fields of thorns there were quite a few roses. These are the ones that almost made it into the bouquet, but had to be pruned off for the benefit of the fair recipient (that would be you).
The Japanese obsession with all things cute continues! Let’s join the little bubble dragons Bub and Bob as they explore a world of bubbles, food, and secrets to collect. What’s not to love?
Following in the footsteps of Pole Position, Sega’s racing game Hang-On gave the player a high-speed over-the-shoulder (or more accurately, behind-the-car) racing game with sharp turns and endless AI opponents. Hang-On added something new to the mix, though. The player sat on a motorcycle-shaped seat that they had to tilt to the left or right in order to steer in-game.
Did you ever play with marbles as a child? I did, but one day I lost all my marbles, and now I write about video games on the internet. Anyway, I’m going to show you Marble Madness today, as you no doubt surmised by the title of this article. Atari had a really good year in 1984, pumping out tons of instant classics such as Paper Boy; I, Robot; and many others. If only such innovation had come in 1982 or ’83….
1983 may have been the year of the second video game crash, but as we saw from the Appreciation articles, there was still quite a bit of innovation left in the industry. 1983 was, after all, the year of the Challenger space shuttle, Microsoft Word, and phones with touchscreens. Let’s take a look at the titles that brought a lot to the table, but fell just short of earning their own appreciation article.
It’s taken for granted that Mario and Luigi are household names, a staple of our culture. But every legend has a beginning, and the beginning of this plumbing family was back in 1983. Let’s take a look at the Mario game that defined how we see this pudgy carpent– er, I mean plumber.
1983 was a ripe time for racers. The genre had always been pushing for more realism and in 1982 Namco’s Pole Position set the de facto standard for racing titles. Even after Pole Position II was released in 1983, the original continued to enjoy success and continued to be the influential title for others. The bad news is that Pole Position was more influential than it was good, and there was a lot of room for improvement. The good news is that this improvement came from a developer named Tatsumi, with TX-1.
Looking back, it’s amazing to think of just how many games had a downright wacky premise compared to the somber and “safe” franchises you’ll see nowadays. Outside of the odd, or in some cases, very odd indie game, you’ll usually end up stepping into the shoes of a tortured, yet endlessly bland, blank slate and go on a bunch of sidequests.
When you have a brand new entertainment medium, there are no rules and the possibilities for innovation are endless. It’s amazing how many innovative titles there were in the second generation–especially in the early 80s! Following the establishment of Activision, the first third-party developer, we saw a huge influx of new and exciting titles up until the crash of 1983. I wanted to showcase some of the titles that weren’t quite excellent enough to warrant their own appreciation article, but are still worthy of being remembered today. From now on I’ll have a showcase for each year (1983, 1984, and so on) but since this is my first one, I’ll include all of the second generation (1977-1982).
So without further ado, here are some of the best and most interesting games of the second generation! Continue reading