Some changes we have seen – Gaming from 1984 to 2021

I am going to go through the most important changes that have happened inside gaming from my birthday to this day. Back in 1984 we had already NES in some gamer’s living rooms. This wasn’t the first gaming device that I ever played. That place was conquered by PC. Computer games in the 80s might have had black and white or eight color graphics. Some games might have had 16 colors from which the graphics would be presented. The resolution was much lower than what we are used to today.

For games’ sounds there was only this horrible noise that was produced by the computers own speaker. In the 90s it was possible to buy a sound card for your PC and some gaming consoles, like Mega Drive, offered a better quality of sound. We were still far from a CD quality of sound effects and background and theme music. The quality of sound progressed as more and more and better consoles became available and as the technology advanced.

Getting the input from player has progressed. From keyboards, joysticks and simple controllers to game pads like Dual Sense and Xbox Elite. We have seen the beginning of real virtual experience. If you compare the controller that is seen in the related picture to the latest Dual Shock you really can see the difference. When the NES controller has only axis buttons and four other buttons my Dual Shock 4 has way more buttons. You really cannot compare these two in the means of human engineering.

What else has progressed? Designing games has taken major steps forward. Consider for example how much games like Doom and Diablo have influenced almost all types of video games. Besides bringing more technical advancements these games brought us some improvements in pure game design. Many games today have taken influences from role playing games. These features include developing and choosing a role or abilities to develop inside the game. You can gather experience and rare items that are able to be gathered by the player.

We have also seen how social media and internet have both made an impact. Did you at some time go to LAN parties? Well, I did. Haven’t been in those kinds of happenings in a while and this is also the trend as connectivity has increased so that you can get online almost everywhere in the world. Also the size of computers, mobile phones and consoles has been getting smaller all the time.

So if you would travel back to 80s you would see a different world. I think today we are dealing with lots of devices and activities that require more and more these skills that can probably be called something like “digital skills”. These skills include using social media and even marketing and using your visibility in your own advance and in collaboration with your friends and people also that you work with. We are all connected together and there is huge amount of data moving in these networks all the time. As some of us have combined sport activities to the new digital world I think that the amount spent exercising has decreased in overall.

Time will show in what direction we are moving. It has become clear that skills with internet, mobile devices, laptop and desktop computers and different kinds of networks are required. And so are also skills in teaching and providing a decent support for the final users of this technology. Big data has already made it’s impact on games that are actually gathering all kinds of data from within the game as the player makes its moves and progresses in the game.

Importance of Nintendo to Console Gaming

Nintendo was founded in 1889. It was originally named as Nintendo Karuta. As you can probably conclude – the end of 1800s wasn’t yet the time for this company to develop a gaming console to be played at thousands of living rooms worldwide. But it was the same company that brought NES or Nintendo Entertainment System to markets in 1983.

NES wasn’t the first video game console that was introduced to consumers. Atari brought their very popular console to the markets at the end of 1970s. It was very popular device but it got into real problems as the quality of games that were released did drop. These games included a game that was well-known and often named as the worst game ever made. It was a game based on Steven Spielbergs movie “E.T.” . This and many other games were buried to wasteland. And this is a true story. When Nintendo released NES the industry started to get over this crisis of games that didn’t have a good quality. Nintendo was making sure that only good and playable games would be released to the system.

If you have to name one game console you probably get your mind to NES. I remember clearly that it also was the first gaming device that I remember seeing ever. In the 1980s we had Commodore 64 but what Nintendo offered was something that revolutionized gaming.

Nintendo had to compete with Sega and later with such big names like Microsoft and Sony. Nintendo has been in gaming industry for a long time. Somehow Nintendo kind of missed mobile gaming and approached handheld gaming by bringing new handheld consoles to the market. Lately there was introduced a new handheld device and this device is the one I acquired very recently – Nintendo Switch Lite. Thinking about this makes me puzzled. I bought this for about 220 euros. A new smart phones price is from about 150 to 400 euros. Would you buy a handheld device for gaming if you have your smart phone already? This is something to think about. Although I have been very satisfied with my purchase this far.

So Nintendo was the company that brought 8-bit gaming to our living rooms. It might not have been the first but in my opinion it had the strongest impact on this culture that was already starting to rise it’s head. This brings out the question – Why are games so popular? I think Nintendo has come up with the answer and they are, after all these years, still coming up with new innovative devices and games to gamers worldwide. So the impact to the whole industry is undisputed.

 

Sega vs Nintendo – What was it all about?

Nintendo released a maximum mega hit gaming console back in the 80’s. It was called NES or Nintendo Entertainment System. Atari had released gaming consoles targeted to use inside customers living rooms. It was about the time when arcades were quickly challenged by these kinds of devices you could easily set up inside your own home. The trend was there. Personal computers, PCs, were becoming more and more popular also.

While Sega Master System wasn’t a very bad console it couldn’t fully challenge NES. Sega knew they had to release a better, more powerful, gaming console to compete with Nintendo. Mega Drive, or Genesis as it was called in the USA, was released at the end of 1980’s and in Europe right at the beginning of 90’s.

I remember clearly the commercial of Mega Drive. It was a promise to bring arcades to homes. It delivered graphics and sound at 16-bit quality instead of earlier gaming consoles 8-bits. If Master System didn’t have so many hit games Sega promised also to bring good quality software in the form of great games. Sonic The Hedgehog and Golden Axe II were some of the most popular titles back then with not forgetting some greatness that was brought to paying customers by games like Splatterhouse, Streets Of Rage and for example Kid Chameleon.

Nintendo had Super Mario. Can someone say seriously that Super Mario wasn’t a great game? I think no one would say or think that way. So he was the mascot of the whole NES and also Nintendo. The battle for the gamers hearts (and money) was ultimately bloody and sweaty. You can have, if you wish, a great debate about which console had better games then the other.

As the battle continued Nintendo seemed to take in consideration how violent some games were. They started to deliver fighting games with no blood, hockey games without fights and cute characters that might seem to appeal to younger audience. Sega instead was reaching for customers that wanted this kind of rawness in their games. They didn’t remove the blood or the violence. You have to remember that things were a bit different back then since games in general weren’t so realistic. Sega was also paying more attention to the packaging of their games since Master Systems games were catching critic on that issue.

So who won the battle? You can definitely say that both consoles and companies were doing great. Sega was successful and so was Nintendo. Later, Sega made some bad decisions and started to be in trouble. The last console that was released was Dreamcast. Nintendo instead has been bringing gaming consoles up to this day as Switch is their latest console. Dreamcast was released in the end of 90’s and Switch was released 2017.

 

Solution for playing games on a smart phone

Smart phones are today very powerful devices. They are able to run many applications and it’s common to view video material and also to play games on these devices. There still do exist some problems. The touch screen of any modern mobile device including tablets is not the best way to control for example the main character of a platformer. There is a solution and I am going to introduce it to you my dear readers.

iPega is a chinese company that has brought an innovative solution for playing games on mobile devices available for consumers world wide. It is basically a small gamepad that uses Bluetooth technology to transfer players inputs and commands to the device. It has a battery included that can be charged with basic micro-USB charger. The battery lasts for long enough and if you want to make sure that it doesn’t shut down in a vital moment you can plug your gamepad to charger. You can do this to your phone also if you are conserned about how long will its battery last.

This gamepads model is PG 9017 S. There are many different models available. They don’t cost so much. I remember buying my gamepad for just under 30 euros. It uses Bluetooth, so you have to pair it with your phone and also connect to it. This happens by pressing two buttons for couple of seconds. There are different modes so you might have to test which mode to use for the connection. The gamepad has nice amount of buttons. It has axis-button, X, Y, A, B buttons and select and start buttons and two shoulder buttons on left and right. It also has two thumb buttons. It can signal the user when battery is starting to run low. The user can attach this controller with some kind of a clip. So the phone goes on top of this mechanical system placed horizontally. The clip is strong and it doesn’t allow the phone to slip out or move at all.

I haven’t any serious issues with this product. It’s a cool gamepad that you can take on a trip too as its battery doesn’t require so much power. You can install some emulators and transfer some ROMs to your device. Be aware of your phones memory capacity as ROMs can take some space. You can even buy a memory card if your phone is compatible. Just remember the thumb rule – if you don’t own the game don’t copy it. That’s illegal. But you can really have fun with this kind of a setup. You can for example play games of consoles like NES, SNES, Mega Drive or even Nintendo DS. Earlier gaming consoles don’t require so much from your hardware but when we are talking about more modern systems, such as PSP emulators, there might be some system requirements that you will have to take in consideration.

Service Games – The Rise and Fall Of SEGA (Book review)

Sam Pettus wrote a book about “the rise and fall” of Sega. This book was published in 2013. Sega has been releasing some games but the latest console was DreamCast. And it was released in 1998. So the book is some years old but if you think of this subject, how Sega conquered and commanded the markets first with Mega Drive and later with other consoles, you find out that this content is not outdated. It might be currently relevant as being part of console gaming history. And in my opinion – this is something that every gamer should know about. So what was and is Sega and what kind of an impact it made on gaming and how it can be seen even today?

This book begins the journey to Segas history from the beginning to the fall. The first console released was SG-1000. I have never seen this console. The breakthrough for Sega came as Master System, a well-known gaming system, was released. This was the beginning of console war between mainly Sega and Nintendo. This happened in 80s as there first appeared to be two greatly popular gaming consoles on the same market. Atari 2600 was already considered older console and it was replaced with these newer consoles. Atari had its consoles but they couldn’t compete with Sega and Nintendo.

Sega was active and brought many machines to use in arcades. As Mega Drive was released at the end of 80s Sega promised to bring, finally, arcade quality gaming to mainstream consumers homes. The war raged on and the battle continued. Nintendo brought SNES to markets a few years later. These systems all failed to compete with PlayStation that conquered home gaming console markets from the middle of nineties to the end of the decade. But that’s enough of 3D gaming and PlayStation. Let’s get back to what happened inside gaming world in late 80s and 90s.

So Sega had Mega Drive, that was called also Sega Genesis in some parts of the world, and Nintendo had to compete with its NES that was not as powerful as Mega Drive. NES challenged Sega by making some quality games as Super Mario was the main character to lead Nintendos effort to beat Sega. Sega later came up with Sonic that was the main character and represented Sega in this battle. Nintendo tried to make games that were more propriate for children. Their main focus was to bring high quality games and make them be as non-violent as can be. And in some way they succeeded in this. Sega released games also that had violence in them.

Sega had its success with Mega Drive. They had a bad strategy with pricey products that consumers weren’t so interested in. So there was SNES released by Nintendo. Sega released 32X and Sega CD that both failed to gain popularity. After that Sega came up with Saturn that had a tough job to compete with PlayStation. And after that Sega gave its very strong effort to bring to the markets potentially the best console ever made. And some definite fans of Sega are saying that they accomplished just that.

DreamCast did sell but it didn’t sell enough as Nintendo had released N64 and PlayStation 2 was on it’s way. DreamCast ended up selling “only” 9 million consoles worldwide. For a comparison I can tell that PS2 sold more than 100 million consoles. So PS2 sold more than ten times more. So it clearly was a failure for Sega. They ended manufacturing the console as it had only been in the market for just a few years. At the same time PS2 sold steadily and continued in producing. There are many reasons why Sega failed. And many of them were not that they made mistakes but in fact the case was that they had to compete with some very good console manufacturers like Sony and also Microsoft that released also their console at the beginning of the century.

This book is very good. I had fun reading it. It tells you the whole story of Sega as a company and opens up some ideas of how they succeeded and finally failed badly and left the gaming console industry. If you are a Sega fan this is an important piece of gaming history. I am myself a big Mega Drive fan beginning from games and music that was made with and for it. This is not, I repeat, a paid or other type of commercial but more like a recommendation for gaming and Sega fans around the world reading this blog. We will be back, soon, with the next article.

What exactly is chiptune music?

What means chiptune? Chip reminds of electronic component while tune brings in mind a simple musical melody. This even now popular genre became known when game developers, back in 80s, needed music and sound effects for their games. First very popular system that had decent music was Commodore 64 which came to markets in 1982. It had a chip called SID (“Sound Interface Device”) that was responsible for producing the sound for this system.

You can find chiptune also on NES (“Nintendo Entertainment System”), that was released in 1983. 16-bit systems that were later released also could produce music that would be categorized as chiptune althought they were of higher quality as systems moved from 8-bit to 16-bit. First very popular console that had sound quality very close to CDs was the first Sony PlayStation. You can argue for hours about which has better sound – vinyl or CD, but we are not going to go there. So chiptune was originally popular in video games from 1980s to, I think, 1995.

Today chiptune is still very popular. You can find artists that have been strongly influenced by this type of music. Usually chiptune is strongly associated with retro games or the games that originally had chiptune as their background music. As retro gaming is popular chiptune is alive even today. Some artists are producing chiptune with modern tools such as software synthesizers that are just basically virtual instruments with some presets and the ability to create various sounds, your own presets, and can run inside any kind of DAW (“Digital Audio Workstation”) you can imagine.

Since I started with this topic I have to write also more about so called tracker music that first made its way to home musicians sometime in 1980s. So tracker is simple application that runs on computer that allows you to make music. Amigas computers were first devices that made this functionality available for music production. Inside tracker you can define your songs tempo, basically just how fast the track is flowing, and add drum sounds and melodies that are created using small digital samples of audio. Trackers are used also today but they are not as powerful as music applications such as FL Studio for example. Some now popular trackers are Renoise, a very good one, Mad Tracker and OpenMPT. Some older ones are Scream Tracker, Fast Tracker and Impulse Tracker. You can find many great trackers and please comment and let us know if you have a suggestion for readers of this blog.

You can listen to some chiptune songs for example here:

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