Friday, 6 November 2009


The 1990’s filtered out all the unsuccessful and weak console manufacturers and set way for the top performers we still know today. In 1994 Sony released the Playstation, a state of the art home console that redefined gaming. For the first time this console used disks to play and was much more efficient for storage. The Playstation was an instant hit and new releases were flying off shelves. In 1996 Nintendo, an already well established company as of 1989 released its rival console to Sonys creation, the N64 was popular but no where near the sales figures of the PSX. Remember that the N64 still used cartridge based games. Sega, having been out of the competition for some time decided to release their 90’s console in 1998, the console surpassed all before it but was short lived as game veterans Sony were ready to release another console onto the market. The Playstation 2 was released in 2000 and was the start of Generation 2 consoles, by this point graphics and technology were really exploding. The PS2 wiped out Dreamcast competition with its completely new design, the console could play network games, DVDs and all the other PS1 titles making it an instant success with most PS1 fans converting straight away. In 2001 companies released the Nintendo Gamecube and the Microsoft XBOX. (This was Microsoft’s first attempt at a console but they already had years of experience with computer games for PC. By this point companies were beginning to get followers who would stay loyal to their consoles, so innovation had to be strong enough to win over fans. Even though XBOX entered on 2nd Generation level it still did very well in the gaming market due to Mirosofts knowledge of games and hardware.

Now the leading companies and consoles are Sonys Playstation, Nintendo Wii and Microsofts XBOX. Each have now entered the 3rd generation, initiating in 2005 with the release of the XBOX 360 and the start of HD gaming. XBOX 360 and PS3 competed for sales over the last few years and there have been problems with each as part of the struggle. XBOX tried to beat the competition with a quicker release and practically threw the 360 together meaning it was hardly tested and full of hardware issues and cooling problems. The unit was filled with holes just to keep air circulating and encountered the ‘ring of death issue’ where by a computer error causes the console to crash leading to possible permanent damage. On the other side of it, Playstation tried to get ahead of the game by introducing new high definition Blu-ray video technology, but this ground breaking hardware was costing Sony more than the PS3 was retailed for. Both are now stable and are heading for the next generation.

The hand held was released by Nintendo in the form of Gameboy in the 90’s and was an instant hit, to this day many have rivaled Nintendos success but have all seemed to be lacking in one form or another. The latest battle of handhelds was between the Playstation Portable and the Nintendo DS. The PSP attempted to bring a handheld for serious gamers onto the market, and did so in a successful manner but the DS kept its quirky and simple pick up and play qualities, ideal for a handheld and inevitably outselling the PSP by the millions.

(Playstation have developed a habbit of milking consoles for all they are worth, each generation they released had a alternate ‘slim’ version that was available later on to boost sales figures on the same platform.)

Thursday, 5 November 2009


Computer games were, by this point becoming more and more commercial and the industry began to explode into a vast collection of publishing houses, some of these would stand strong through the next 20 years ( Atari, Sega and Electronic Arts). Some of the earliest 80’s games were spin-offs and clones of earlier titles but with the dawn of personal consoles came a new genre of computer game.

Adventure games and storylines could be introduced to home consoles as the player could return to the game and continue to play, this made the target audience grow rapidly with people now being able to follow a character through a story like you would a film. Portopia Renzoku Satsuiin Jiken was released in 1983 and was the first visual novel and one of the earliest ‘graphic novel games’. The game is played in first person, one of the first of its kind, paving the way for more and eventually FPS(first person shooter)’s.

The racing title Pole Position pioneered the rear view racer format where the players view was from the outside of the car, this style still remains today even after 3D graphics became standard. Another important point of the 1980s was that it was the dawn of the point and click interface thanks to LucasArts building the SCUMM system.