Category Archives: This week in gaming history
The late Eighties and early Nineties in gaming was all about platforming or Action Adventure games, and added bonus was cute animals. With hedgehogs all the rage it seemed strange that Sega pulled a Dolphin out of nowhere, yet it worked.
The 29th July 1992 saw the release of Ecco the Dolphin who is quite fondly remembered by those who have played the game, and rightly so. It was followed by Ecco II: The Tides of Time, Ecco. Jr and Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the future and we’ve not seen our favourite dolphin since the year 2000 but I hold on in hope.
What else happened?
31st July 1980: Nintendo release the game and watch title Fire.
1st August 1992: Mario Paint was released for the SNES in North America (Japan received it on the 14th July and Europe got it in December). I’m hoping for a WiiU sequel.
1st August 1993: For the first time in the Western world the original Super Mario Bros. 2 (AKA the Lost Levels) was released as North America had Super Mario Allstars unleashed on it. In addition to the Lost Levels was a remake of Super Mario 1, 2 and 3. It still looks great today and it was re-released for Wii in December of 2010.
3rd August 1984: Football manager is released for the Commodore 64 in Europe improving from the text only release of the original in 1982. Whilst not the same series as the current Football Manager games it did start the football management simulation games genre.
On the 21st July 1995 Nintendo released a console in Japan that they promised would “Totally immerse players into their own private universe.” The 3D monochrome experience just seemed to give a headache rather than immersion.
The now infamous Virtual Boy is one of the biggest flops in gaming history selling 770,000 units worldwide and didn’t even last a year. The console only had 22 games released (19 in JP and 14 in NA) and it never saw the light of day in Europe.
What else happened?
24th July 2001 Max Payne was released in NA whilst Europe got the game on the 27th. The series has since spawned another two games and a film released in 2008.
25th July 1961 Sir Clive Sinclair founded Sinclair Radionics which was the forerunner of the company that would lead to the ZX Spectrum.
26th July 1984 Monty Mole first made his appearance in Wanted: Monty Mole and resulted in another five games during the 80s. He shouldn’t be confused with Monty Mole from Mario, they share a name but the Nintendo one appeared some years later.
27th July 1990 Dr Mario was released in the NA region and has now caused me to sing the Chill music from the game.
February 14th 2003 – It is known as a day to splash out on your loved one but nothing says ‘I love you’ than delivering a fatality in Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance. Whilst it was released in November of 2002 in the NA regions Europe got it on Valentines day. It has often been argued that without this reboot the series would have died, I could get into that debate but instead I leave you with a joke: What did Johnny Cage hear when he went to Helsinki cathedral? Finnish Hymn!
February 16th 2001 – The Final Fantasy series brings in ‘Active Time Events’ as well as ‘Mognet’ as FFIX is released in Europe for the PSX. For me this is one of my favourites in the series as it mixes the old school FF elements with the more famous VII and VIII.
February 17, 2005 – After 30 reports of defective electrical components which caused damage to either personal belongings or minor injuries Microsoft recalls 14.1million power cords for the original xBox. In Europe, consoles made before January 13, 2004, needed replacement cords. In all other areas, the recall covers consoles manufactured before October 23, 2003. Microsoft quickly learned their lesson on the five year old console to ensure there wouldn’t be any problems at all with their 360 console.
February 19, 1997 – At E3 1997 John Carmack of id software gave away one of his Ferrari’s to the winner of a Quake tournament which was won by famed gamer Dennis ‘Thresh’ Fong. It was on this date that Carmack announced the tournament as he wanted to the car “back to the gamers that brought it to me in the first place.”
Hello once again for a quick look at this week in video games history. January seems a quite month with this week more quiet than most.
January 5th 1985: After 18months of release as the Famicom in Japan Nintendo unveil The Nintendo Entertainment System at the Winter Electronics Consumer Show. It goes on to sell over 60million worldwide.
January 6th 2001: Bill Gates unveils the Xbox at the Electronics Consumer Show. The console went on to bring hard drives to consoles: online gaming to the masses and of course Halo.
January 7th 1984 (Possible 1985, I have conflicting reports): Match Day is released on the Spectrum. This was one of the first football games to have moving corners, throw ins and to dribble.
January 7th 2005: The Legend of Zelda Four Swords Adventure is released on the Gamecube.
This feature will be posted every Wednesday (aside from today) and from next week will return back to its previous format of one main story with a few smaller ones.
If you think I’ve missed anything out, let me know!
The main thing to happen this week in gaming history was on the 16th November 1952 when Shigeru Miyamoto was born. Creating wonderful game franchises as Mario, Zelda, Doonkey Kong, Star Fox, Pikmin and many many more he is without a doubt the most influential person in the game industry. So we wish Miyamoto-san a very happy birthday.
What else happened?
15 November 2001: The Microsoft Xbox is released in North America bringing to the masses such things as DLC, a hard-drive based console and X-Box live.
15 November 2001: Halo was released.
18th November 2001: The Gamecube was released in North America. You can read my ten years of the Gamecube feature here
19th November 2006: The Wii was released. You can read my features such as The best of the franchises as well as a look at the Virtual Console and WiiWare and my speciality Hidden Gems. I also looked at The future of the Wii which was before the summer.
The main thing to happen this week in gaming history was on the 9th November 2006 where a game that mixes Animal Crossing, the Sims and Harvest moon was released. With bright colours and fun addictive gameplay the foundation of this it should shock all that this is actually an XBox360 and nothing to do with Nintendo. Viva Piñata was released after being developed by Rare, it was very well received critically and has spawned three sequels (one for the DS) and a TV series. Not bad at all!
What else happened?
8th November 2004: EverQuest II is released flinging the door wide open and allowing more people to get stuck into the EverQuest universe.
9th November 2006: Blizzard announced that World of Warcraft had 7.6million active users, this seemed huge at the time but this went from strength to strength. This year they have announced that the number is about 10million (which I believe was a decrease from last years number).
10th November 1999: Pokémon: The First Movie is released in the USA. The film made $163,644,662 and has spawned a ton of sequels.
The main thing to happen this week in gaming history was on the 31st October 1996 where teenage boys got a bit excited over Lara Croft. If you’re not European or didn’t have a Saturn you had to wait until the 14th November but the 31st October was the release date of Tomb Raider for the Sega Saturn. The game was one of those that you can revolutionised the industry and that’s not just a sub genre of bad ass gamer girls coming out of nowhere.
What else happened?
31st October 1996: The prequel to Command and Conquer was released. Called Command and Conquer Red Alert.
1st November 1998 – Half-Life was released, selling over 9 Million copies since release with a ton of game of the year awards. I don’t need to go on about the importance of this game do I? Thirteen years on and we still don’t have a Gluon gun.
3rd November 2004 – Nintendo starts taking orders for the Nintendo DS. That day alone 3 Million are sold before the release date of 21st November. Worldwide it has sold 149 Million copies since that day and continues to sell. It’s the best place to get remade RPGs.
1995 was a bad time for handhelds, whilst Nintendo released the Virtual Boy in July Sega decided to hold out for their handheld ‘Project Venus’ until 13th October 1995.
Project Venus was renamed the Nomad and with that the original idea went out the window, the handheld was due to have a touchscreen interface however that would have been far too expensive with estimates at almost $300. Eventually it was decided to be released for $180 as a handheld version of the MegaDrive in an era when the PSX and N64 were running riot and it came with a load of problems. Firstly the battery life was about 2-hours and then there was a lack of a reset button (a couple of games on the MegaDrive required you to reset the game in order to continue). Add onto that poor marketing, timing and all round apathy means this unit sold a million units in its lifetime (for the record the NEC Turbo Express sold 1.5million).
10th October 1994: Doom II is released, meanwhile Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is still at Miami University and (maybe) dreams of starring in a Doom movie. Actually I think his aim was football and wrestling but it’s a nice thought.
11th October 1985: Shadow of the Unicorn is released for the Spectrum which came with a whopping 64K expansion pack but it also had its own joystick interface. It was rather innovative for 1985 and as with a lot of rather innovative games it didn’t sell well.
12th October 1981: Tempest is released in the Arcades by Atari, it has a special place in the hearts of many retro gamers and was originally due to be a 3D version of Space Invaders.
The year 1997 was a year in which there were a number of high-profile deaths. The world mourned as Diana Princess of Wales died on the 31st August, they bowed their head in respect as Mother Teresa died on the 5th September, the world of film lost the great James Stewart on the 2nd July whilst the world of music lost Jeff Buckley on the 29th May. Yet it was the Video games industry who lost a true great on the 4th October 1997 as Gunpei Yokoi was struck by a car and died a few hours later aged 56.
Think of the great minds behind the modern-day industry and quicker than you can say “Miyamoto” someone will say “Yokoi” and I don’t blame them. He was the genius behind Game and Watch as well as the Game Boy, he was also behind the wonderous robot known as ROB. He also was one of the producers for some of the best games ever: Donkey Kong, Metroid, Mario Bros, Kid Icarus, Super Mario Land and Doctor Mario. Oh and he pretty much came up with the D-pad which is not bad at all. Sadly his tenure is marred by the Virtual Boy but I think this quote from Nintendo after his resignation covers it nicely:
“It is reality that Mr. Yokoi has indeed left, but it has absolutely nothing to do with the failure of the Virtual Boy. There’s no doubt that the Virtual Boy was a failure, but the head of the company himself has said that the blame for that rests on the decision to sell it to begin with. The D-pad and Game Boy that Mr. Yokoi developed are incredible. Such a man taking the blame for the 32-bit device and leaving the company is completely made up.”
It stands a testament today that Kid Icarus is returning, ROB has a cult following, Metroid goes from strength to strength and Nintendo is still at the forefront of handheld gaming. RIP Gunpei Yokoi.
4th October 1995 Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island was released in the NA regions, it arrived in Europe on the 6th. Not bad for some crayons is it?
5th October 2001 The Legend of Zelda Oracle of Ages/Seasons is released in Europe. NA had already had it since May but using the time travelling elements of Ages Japan had it on 3rd February 1475
The main story of the week happened on the 29th September 1996 however I will be doing a full feature on that tomorrow (it involves the NA release of a Nintendo console). So what else happened? On the 27th September 1983 the most symbolic thing in gaming history happened. Atari dumped their Fourteen truck loads of games and computer equipment (including millions of copies of ET) in a landfill in Alamogordo, New Mexico.
This was the moment that sums up the Video Game crash of the early 80’s which almost saw the very young industry vanish into thin air. Luckily for us a Carpenter who would become a plumber and a giant ape were just around the corner.
September 30, 1998 – It may have been a commercial failure, but it was received well by critics: Grim Fandango was released.
October 01, 1979 – Activision is founded and has given us everything from Pitfall to Barbie Fashion Show: An eye for style. Such classics!