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2011/12/06

2011: Full of Video Game Anniversaries

In the latest issue of NAG magazine, I had a rare read of Miktar’s column. In addition to being a columnist and overseas correspondent (East coast of the USA), he is also a former moderator on the NAG Online forum – although was shunted out of the job, probably because he was a massive troll, according to some. It was bad for business.

But he brought up an interesting conversation piece. 2011 is chock full of anniversaries relating to video games. Landmark, revolutionary titles that paved the way for all the games you play today.

Let’s have a look at those he listed:

30th Anniversary: Ultima, Castle Wolfenstein, Frogger, Ms. Pacman

25th Anniversary: The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Castelvania

20th Anniversary: Street Fighter II, Sonic the Hedgehog, Civilization

15th Anniversary: Resident Evil, Pokémon, Diablo, Tomb Raider, Crash Bandicoot

10th Anniversary: Grand Theft Auto III, Halo, Devil May Cry

The ones I care about most here are probably Castle Wolfenstein (without it we wouldn’t have had Wolf 3D, RTCW, and every other game that followed in that series); Frogger (played it a hell of a lot as a child); Street Fighter II (hailed as one of the best fighting games of all time – the measuring stick to which all other fighters to this day are compared); Sonic the Hedgehog (come on…); Resident Evil (made survival horror the popular genre that it is – or was, anyway); Tomb Raider (without it, you probably wouldn’t have Uncharted, maybe even Assassin’s Creed either); Crash Bandicoot (played this a lot as a kid, too); Grand Theft Auto III (one of the best games ever).

But suspiciously there were a few left off the list at some point. I think most of the games he mentioned were released in November or December (I know because I looked them up). So there was some sort of trend he was adhering to.

I’d add in Duke Nukem 3D. It’s the last truly great game in that series, which even DNF failed to topple this year. Released at a time when people still used the term “Doom Clone”, it proved that it wasn’t just another rip-off title – it was THE rip-off title; the undisputed king of rip-offs, taking “inspiration” from several films and other games, as well as pop culture. But it had enough going for it to make it pound for pound the best FPS I’ve played to date, honestly.

Quake wasn’t brought up either. Major oversight there. Also released in 1996 like DN3D, it was the first fully 3D FPS, and debuted the Quake engine. Without this engine, we might not have had every other id Tech engine released to date, and probably every other id game released to date, either. Every Doom, Quake, and even Wolfenstein title to follow used a version of the id Tech engine. Many, many games from other developers to date have used id Tech engines as well. You wouldn’t even have Call of Duty, seeing as all CoD games to date have used snippets of id Tech code in the engines that power them.

Final Doom. All right, so it was a glorified double expansion pack for Doom II: Hell on Earth – but what expansion packs at that!

The Plutonia Experiment was particularly challenging. Created by the Casali brothers, it made Doom and Doom II seem like child’s play for the most part. TNT: Evilution wasn’t that spectacular, but it did see one of the most beloved guys at id get hired – and that man is Tim Willits, who still serves as creative director at id today. He started off as just a mapper, and fan of the original games.

If anything, Final Doom showed that fans could make a decent game, filled with challenging maps and maybe tad innovation that impressed developers so much that they hired them and put them on the payroll. This trend has continued to this day, with modders and mappers being picked from the modding community and given jobs. You often see this with companies such as Valve – Valve is predominantly made of former modders.

So anyway, 2011: what a year – for new games and old!


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