As technology advances and consumer expectations change, players in the gaming industry are always trying to keep up. Some of the first commercially sold electronic games were nothing more than monochrome squares and dots accompanied by simple beeps and bloops. However, over the decades games have incorporated more modern elements such as polygonal visuals, CG cutscenes, and high definition screens.
The industry wouldn’t be where it is today if developers and publishers didn’t have the drive to innovate. Over the years of play, some titles have broken technical boundaries and laid the groundwork for how future titles would be enjoyed.
ten Star Fox 64 allowed its Dogfighters to rumble in multiple ways
With Fox McCloud’s third outing in the Arwing, the crew would finally venture into the third dimension with full polygonal 3D graphics in Star Fox 64. Not content with just improving the graphics, Nintendo incorporated a feature that helped to immerse players in the battlefield with the implementation of a peripheral known as the Rumble Pack. By plugging this device into the back of their N64 controllers, players would feel it shaking when hit by enemy fire or performing a successful barrel roll. It didn’t take long for competitor Sony to implement a vibration feature in PlayStation’s DualShock controllers.
9 Monkey Island 2: Lechuck’s Revenge featured a dynamic score courtesy of iMUSE
For a very long time, graphic adventure titles weren’t really appreciated for their sound. Music was often sparse and voiceovers were virtually non-existent. The first two monkey island LucasArts Titles has gone to great lengths to change all that. Monkey Island 2: Lechuck’s Revenge not only featured a more diverse score, but seamlessly transitioned to the next room when the player entered another room. The program that made this possible was iMUSE, which would later be integrated into the company’s future graphics adventures. Special editions of the game even managed to retain iMUSE with the use of live instruments.
8 Sonic The Hedgehog 3 Locked On Additional Content
Sonic 3 and Knuckles form two parts of what was originally supposed to be a big game. However, the impending vacation deadline of 1994 forced them to split it in half. Long before the DLC days, the Blue Blur’s third digital release received additional content in the form of Sonic and Knuckles‘ lock technology. By plugging in a Sonic 3 cartridge above Sonic and Knucklesplayers could play the complete adventure in one go and even play as Knuckles in Sonic 3 steps. Additionally, players could also use their Sonic 2 carts to play and control the aforementioned echidna in this title.
seven Hi-Ten Bomberman brought HD to the gaming world
Years before HDTVs became widely available, Hudson made a bomber bespoke title for them in the form of Hi-Ten Bomberman. Designed by Katsuhiro Nozawa, the game boasted a 16×9 aspect ratio perfect for widescreen TVs. It was shown to the public at the 1993 Super Caravan event and later made playable in 1997 at the NHK Broadcasting Center. Despite this, the game was never released and was considered a lost title for many years. It has been speculated that although the title did not see an official release, it formed the basis of saturn bomber on Sega’s aforementioned console.
6 Autorun allowed players to have fun on the go
Long before the Nintendo DS, Gameboy or even the Game & Watch, Mattel Electronics allowed gamers to take their games on the go with a range of digital handheld titles. 1976 Car race was the first of these releases, and also the very first handheld video game title. The title was developed by George J. Klose after he had the idea of reusing the hardware of a standard calculator for recreational purposes. While the visuals consisted of simple LEDs and the audio consisted of simple beeps and bloops, this paved the way for future portable rigs like the Big N.
5 The Manhole brought CDs to support
Five years before the release of MystCyan Worlds creators Rand and Robyn Miller released a graphic adventure known as The manhole. In it, players discover a giant bean through the eponymous hole. The game was first released on Macintosh computers via floppy disks, but an enhanced version of the game appeared a year later as a CD release.
This release became the first-ever computer game to use CD-ROM technology, which paved the way for more technologically-advanced titles that incorporated Red Book audio and full-screen video. These innovations were instrumental in the PC game that put the Cyan worlds on the map.
4 I Robot ventured into the polygonal game world
In 1984, Atari’s arcade division revolutionized the industry with the very first game to feature 3D polygon graphics. I Robot was a multi-directional shooter that took heavy inspiration from Namco arcade classics such as Galaga and Pac man. While reviewers at the time noted the game’s lack of original mechanics, the groundbreaking visuals earned it praise. Unfortunately, this praise did not lead to commercial success, as the game flopped upon its initial release. The Western Games Crash of 1983 no doubt played a part in the game’s dwindling profits. Approximately, only 1000 units were built, and few remain to this day.
3 OutRunners introduced the online game to the public
Years before the advent of Xbox Live, the Dreamcast or even the first earthquakeGary Tarolli would help take the first steps towards online gaming with SGI Air Combat. However, the game could not be played over the Internet due to the use of only one network segment. This is only Sega’s fourth installment in their arcade racing franchise. Exceed that online games were made available to the public.
OutRunners allowed two separate four-player cabinets to compete through the use of Tokyo’s digital integrated services network. In recent years, online and social games have flourished with titles such as Fall Guys, Among Usand Surveillance.
2 Stratovox was the first game to respond
In 1980, Sunsoft from master blaster and Trip to Sillus fame would bring digitized speech to the realm of gaming with the arcade shooter Stratovox. Players were tasked with shooting down hostile alien ships while rescuing astronauts who called for help. Each of their pleas was voiced entirely in Japanese upon its initial release, then translated into English with worldwide distribution by Taito. Marketed as the first talking video game, Stratovox paved the way for countless other titles to use speech to provide gameplay instructions or help reinforce a game’s narrative.
1 Space Harrier gave players a whole new way to control characters
Analog controls are essential for navigating 3D console games. While mouse and keyboard work well for some genres, the constraints of a d-pad and the inaccuracies of other methods such as a trackball prove inadequate for more modern titles, especially those that prioritize players’ freedom of exploration. It’s from Sega space harrier which gamers have to thank for this innovation, as the arcade shooter was the first title to implement analog controls in the form of a flight stick. While very different from the examples gamers find on their PlayStation or Xbox controllers, it was the first step for 3D gaming and a giant leap for the industry.
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