These are my best moments – but they might be yours as well. What makes them best moments isn’t so much the game itself, as the timing – each of these were new innovations at a time when we were almost getting bored with gaming technology. They also act like little milestones, a way to chart the evolution of gaming. And, I’d like to point out, I haven’t seen any new moments like these in the past five years or so. Maybe because gaming is finally stagnating?
Tron – We’d seen movies about video games before, but never this stylish. This Disney classic was so under-rated in 1982 that it should be re-released. This year, the movie celebrates its 25th anniversary, and people are still talking about it. This movie is what happens when there is no safe template to follow and you have to strike out on your own and create something new. Pity we don’t see more of that today.
Sim City – The classic original, wa-a-ay back in 1989. It was nothing but 2-D tiles, and seemed too simple. Somebody showed up with a floppy – some game we’d never heard of. We played it. We looked up. The whole day had gone by! This was the first time we had an engaging game that wasn’t just about shooting something or running through a maze or jumping through a series of platforms.
Doom – We’d had 3D shooters before, but Doom was something special. Doom was smoother, looked better, sounded better, and was also the first time that the first-person shooter game did not apologize for itself. Even Wolfenstein was about defeating Nazis on some noble mission, and didn’t have much gore at all. Doom was about splattering gore while mowing down savage beasts, and that was all that it needed to be!
Tetris – You have to fit blocks together to make lines disappear, before they fill up the play area. How dumb. If you’d never seen Tetris before and just heard the idea, you would never have thought people would want it. So, why are we still playing it on 100 cloned games 20 years later?
The NES – The original Nintendo Entertainment System brought something new to home gaming consoles, and it wasn’t in particular graphics or other technical innovation. It was the games! Before this, most consoles launched with about six must-have titles and then there was nothing else but junk. With the NES, you kept getting game after game, and they were all different, and they were all good. Super Mario Brothers and Zelda were born on this platform, and Nintendo is still clinging to them today.
Quake II – This was the next landmark in FPS after Doom. Yes, Quake was amazing, but Quake II took that amazing true-3D game concept and put the polish on it. A lot of polish! Pretty much all the leaps of progress you see with 3D gaming today started on Quake II. After that, it’s just about rendering more polygons.
- The Quest for Quake
- Vintage Gaming – part three: other Adventure Games, ScummVM, and ID Software
- the Gaming Console Market of 2006/2007 – who’s winning or losing?
- A Revisit to Classic DOS Games
- Vintage Gaming – part two: Sierra Games and DOSbox