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Gamer's Life: From the Archives

(all articles written by T. Rob Brown, aka Chokra Broodslayer)


Gamer’s Life
Originally published Friday, Dec. 11, 1998, in the Branson (Mo.) Tri-Lakes Daily News

Home video game system trivia brings back fond memories

By T. Rob Brown
(aka Chokra Broodslayer)

Recently, a gaming friend and I were looking through one of the popular trade magazines covering the modern home video game systems and came across a chronological list of every home gaming system created so far.

Wow.

To think back on some of these gaming systems really brings back a lot of memories. Oh, the long hours I would sit up playing on my Atari 2600 (1977), Nintendo Entertainment System (NES, 1985), and Sega Genesis (1989).

Can anyone guess what the very first home video game system was?

I think I heard someone say “Pong,” wrong! Although Atari Pong (1974) is a common answer, the very first home gaming system was in fact the Magnavox Odyssey 100, which was released in 1972. Amazing – 1972, just a year after I was born. I am truly a member of the video game generation.

I even remember my first moments at the arcade playing Pac Man and Space Invaders. And to think, at that time, those graphics were considered to be great, but are stick figures when compared to today’s leading front runners Sony Playstation (1995) and Nintendo 64 (1996) being played on your home TV.

In the United States, I am certain we have seen the decline of the arcade. Home video game systems and computer games have far surpassed what the stand-up or sit-down video games are capable of (or maybe it’s just they are better than what video game makers want to make them capable of).

Another good video game trivia question is, what was the first handheld video game with interchangeable cartridges?

I think I heard someone say “Nintendo Gameboy” (1989). Wrong.

The first handheld game of that type was the Vectrex by Milton Bradley, released in 1982. I remember this game, because I had one. My dad and I had breakout, bowling, baseball, a naval sea battle game and Star Trek cartridges for it. We used to play those games a lot.

My dad always beat me in the sea battle game, but I was really good at the bowling game – I remember I got the timing down just right to make several 300 games in a row. Sure wish I could do that in real bowling. If I was able to, I could bottle that up because it would be sweeter than Yoohoo.

Here’s another trivia question: Which video game system was the first to incorporate CDs as an add-on to their existing chip-based game system?

I’m quite sure I heard someone say “Sega Geneses’ Sega CD,” which was released in two different forms. Wrong.

A system, which quickly died out, known as the Turbographix 16 by NEC Electronics (1989) had the first CD machine you could add on.

I know this, because I was an electronics salesman for Toys ‘R’ Us in Joplin, Mo., while I was in college. At Christmas time I was a game demonstrator and would actually set up the games in the store and show people all the options available.

Turbographix’s CD player came with Sherlock Holmes game that was also included in the tray-loading early version of the Sega CD. The later version of the Sega CD was top-loading and came with a game called “Sewer Shark.”

For you, my faithful readers, I will pass on my best word of advice for those wishing to purchase any type of home video game system – a good think to keep in mind if you are out and about this Christmas trying to find a video game system for your children or friends. This is the cardinal rule that all video game systems live and die by.

It’s not about who has the fastest processor, who has the best color, who has the fastest loading games or who has the most bits on their processor – it’s all about the games.

The system is just a machine that runs games. What’s important is which system offers you the games you want to play. Right now, you will hear people argue over which has better graphics, Sony PlayStation or Nintendo 64.

News flash – they’re both very comparable, so look at the games available. Playstation has CD-quality sound and video and motion animation cinema-style clips, because it’s a CD-based system. Nintendo 64 has faster loading games and a contrasting color scheme because it’s chip-based (uses electronic cartridges).

I believe you’ll find, based on the types of games offered, the Sony PlayStation is more geared toward people ages 20 to 30. Nintendo, which is known for it’s children’s titles, is geared toward a much younger audience, extending up to about age 23 or so.

The key is to play what you like, not what you think is the coolest.

I have many friends who still play on their Sega Genesis, because they prefer the game play on those older systems. I, myself, still own my Sega Genesis with Sega CD and 32X. Mostly, I keep it around for the memories. I kind of regret having sold off my old Nintendo Entertainment System – it served me well.

My parents still have our old Atari 2600. It still works and most of the cartridges still work. Recently, I was at a shop in Springfield that specializes in used games an noticed they probably have several hundred cartridges for that Atari system. I was amazed.

In upcoming columns, I hope to tell you about the new visions of the future of home gaming – Sega Dreamcast and Sony PlayStation 2. For the third time in a row since the release of the original Nintendo Entertainment System, Nintendo is going to wait on a new release until its competitors already have a good chunk of games on the market with their new systems.

Is this the wisest move? We shall see.

Hasta la vista.

GamingNews

[Editor's Note: Edits for grammar, punctuation, artifacts, and syntax made to press releases by GamingNews Editor T. Rob Brown, http://t-rob.com]

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