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What is a Video Game?

Video: How to Play Video Games

Well to put it quite simply, a video game is any interactive electronic entertainment device that displays to you the results of your actions and decisions.  Not quite as simple as just saying "it's a Nintendo" or "it's a Playstation" or "it's an Xbox" now is it?

But while those are very popular names by today's standards each with their own unique strengths that make each of them awesome in their own unique way, were you aware that it took around seven decades of hard work, dedication, learning from mistakes, and several very close calls to video games being lost forever for the gaming geniuses to get to this level of awesomeness that we enjoy today?

How Video Games Got Started From World War II

No, some dude who was shooting at the Nazis did not just suddenly stop and think to himself, "it would be so cool if I could make a game about this using that wonderful new invention called electricity, and I shall name my masterpiece Call of Duty!" and meanwhile the Nazis are shooting back at the idiot while he's just standing there talking to himself like a weirdo.

However, World War II is still very important to mention because it was during this conflict that the computer was invented for the purpose of helping with the war effort.  The Colossus and the ENIAC computers helped the Allies fight against the Axis Powers during the war.

After the war, the computer became available to the general public.  And upon discovering that they could be programmed to do all kinds of neat things, people began experimenting with their new electronic toy, leading directly into the birth of the video game.

Video Games In The 1950s

The very first video games ran into a major problem almost right away, the early computers were not up to the task.  Suffering from lack of storage, lack of speed, and lack of availability, the first computers were only used for "serious" things.  They felt they could not waste any time and resources on "frivolous" things like entertainment.

So the first video games were forced to take on the role of training simulators, educational programs, and all of that other jazz.  Yeah, I hear you and I agree, BORING!

So they were video games in name only.  With one exception, a video game called Tennis For Two.  Now this was the first video game that was made for the purpose of entertainment, or the first real video game.

However, with the invention of the transistor, computers got a huge upgrade.  Not only could they now be built much cheaper and much smaller, but they could now be much more widely available to the general public.  And this lead to the development of the very first truly video game machine ever, the world famous computer, at the time of course, known as the PDP.

Video Games In The 1960s

Now I've no idea what in the heck PDP stands for, but as the first computer to incorporate a point plotting monitor, which was replaced by the cathode ray tube monitor by the end of the 1960s, it accelerated the growth of the first widespread video game ever, Spacewar.

While Tennis For Two was clearly the first two player game (and you thought that honor went to the Super Mario Bros. didn't you), Spacewar had the players controlling spaceships and shooting at each other, making it also the very first shooter game (sorry Halo).

And it was the popularity of Spacewar that made the PDP really shine as the video game machine of the decade.  Soon everyone wanted to experiment with the computer, resulting in the 1960s being the decade in which video games have officially arrived.

But while the 1960s exploded with all the video game genre firsts, they still had the major problem that video games could only be made on computers.  But as computer technology continued to improve causing the prices of the hardware to continually drop, the problem soon fixed itself by the time afros and bell bottoms became the hottest new style.

Video Games In The 1970s

You most likely already know what's coming next.  The arcades had already been around for quite some time, but it wasn't until the 70's when they had finally finished figuring out how to remake Spacewar for them that the arcades really exploded with popularity.

And it was during this period that most of the big names that we know today first got started, including Namco, Atari, and yes even Sega and Nintendo!  And before you ask, no Mario and Luigi did not start off with afros and bell bottoms!

But with everyone so hooked on running to the arcades with piles of quarters trying to best their own high scores,  they were unaware that a whole new development that had gotten started at the end of the 60s was also coming to fruition during the Disco Fever Decade.

Television engineers had also been experimenting with redesigning Spacewar to work with televisions.  But it wasn't until the 70s when the diode transistor logic circuit was created, that they finally had exactly what they needed to make it a reality.  And after securing a deal with Magnavox, the first home video game console was born, the Magnavox Odyssey!

The 70s also marked the release of perhaps the most popular video game in history.  Pong was such a big time smash hit that even today there are people who where not even born yet at the time who are familiar with the name.

But check this out, Pong was actually one of those accidental discoveries.  When Atari made Pong, their intent was for it to simply serve as a training tool to get newly hired employees familiar with what a video game is.  But after discovering that it was way too much fun to put down, they released it as their next video game.

The First Video Game Crash

Because of Pong's almost instantaneous success, every other gaming company had to have their own Pong - like game to keep from being ignored by gamers.  In fact you can even find Nintendo's version of Mario Pong right now on their Eshop.

However this resulted in the beginning of the first video game crash.  The arcades were now flooded with too many games that were all essentially the same thing, which caused them to start losing customers at an alarming rate.

The bigger names were forced to have to bring the other genres to the arcades to try and address this, and they were greatly helped out when arcades began making appearances in shopping malls under the name of Aladdin's Castle.

Although the real reason for moving to shopping malls was to finish eliminating the image of arcades as hangouts for drug dealing gangbangers. which the inclusion of video games had already started chipping away at.

But despite all of their best efforts, they only delayed the inevitable.  And by the end of the 70s, the full on crash of the gaming industry had finally been confirmed when the pinball machine got an upgrade that made it more appealing than the video game.

The First Generation Of Home Video Game Consoles

It was also not very helpful that the home video game market was making virtually no progress at all.  One of the Odyssey's biggest obstacles was that people were not understanding how it worked.  Also because every one of the TV commercials showed it with a Magnavox TV, people were tricked into thinking that it'll only work with a Magnavox TV.

With advances in technology continuing, Magnavox was able to remake the Odyssey to bring pong like games to the home market.

And other companies joined in on the home consoles market as well, such as Coelco with their TelStar console, the Atari Sears TeleGames, the Epoch Electrotennis, the Binatone TV Master, and the Nintendo Color TV Games (The real "regular" Nintendo!).  This made up the first generation of home video game consoles.

But with the home console market doing even worse than the arcades, it should come as no surprise that the first generation was forced to end prematurely with the first video game crash.  However Atari finally found the answer to the problem with one of my favorite games to play, Space Invaders!

The Video Game Invasion Of The Invaders

The biggest thing that made Space Invaders different from Pong clone Breakout was that the ball and paddle was replaced with a gunship and the bricks were replaced with aliens shooting back.

Space Invaders was also the game that introduced the idea of gameplay being regulated by extra lives rather than high scores or timers, and was also the game that introduced the concept of background music while you're playing.

So considering all of these innovations, it should come as no surprise that Space Invaders was huge and moved over 60,000 arcade cabinets.  And like Pong, it also had a number of clones of it's own.  I loved playing Galaga, and Galaxian was another of my favorites.  There was also Defender, Tempest, and Missile Command.

And in 1980, Pac Man,which is another of my favorites that I still play today every chance I get, started the first wave of video games to use an identifiable character.  This included Donkey Kong in 1981, which is another of my favorites that can keep me totally hooked, and Q*bert in 1982.

The Second Generation Of Home Video Game Consoles

For the second generation of home video game consoles, the focus was on programmable systems where the games came in the form of ROM based cartridges.

Joining in on the fun were newcomers Fairchild, who led the charge with their Channel F console, toy company Mattel with their Intellivision console, Bailey Technologies with their Astrocade console, radio company Emerson with their Arcadia 2001 console (Pretty misleading considering it was not made in the year 2001.), and General Consumer Electric teamed up with board game manufacturer Milton Bradley to bring out the Vectrex console.

Returning manufacturers were Atari with their 2600 console, and for some reason Atari wasn't satisfied with the 2600, so they later on released another console called the 5200, and I recently saw a 7200 in my local Disc Replay store, Magnavox with their Odyssey 2 console, and Coelco with their CoelcoVision console.

Naturally, it was Atari that was the PlayStation of this generation thanks to the popularity of their Space Invaders game.

However the second generation was also when the handheld market got started, and Nintendo decided that they wanted to check this out instead with their Game & Watch handheld.

Naturally they were up against Milton Bradley who kick started the handheld market with their Microvision handheld, and Epoch with their Game Pocket Computer handheld.

But it was Nintendo who dominated and became the, well, Nintendo of the first handheld market.  The Game & Watch was the 3DS of the day, so it'll make more sense.

Video Games On The First Home Computers

The home computer market got started during the end of Disco, but it would not be until the 80s that they would start getting improvements.

They would eventually be improved so that the popular arcade games could start being played on them, such as Space Invaders, my first favorite game Frogger, Pac Man, and Donkey Kong.

The way that they would work is that you would type in the programming code yourself to make the computer start the game you want to play.

Of course I can't remember everything verbatim now, but it was something like this.  Read, Drive C, something else, something else and then Load, Space Invaders, Run!

That's about the best I can remember it since it was a really long time ago since I last typed in that programming code.  Later on, the games would come in the form of floppys, cassettes, and ROM cartridges.

There were dozens of computer manufacturers who raised awareness of computers and video games with all of their competing advertising, but the one that would dominate would be the Commodore 64.

It used the BASIC programming code and had the same ports as the Atari 2600 allowing Atari 2600 gamers to use their console controllers to play the computer games.  (So that's where Microsoft got that idea from with their Xbox consoles.)

These computers had the same equal gaming capability and were just as easy and simple to play video games with as the consoles.

And I should know this very well because my parents still had their Commodore 64 when I got old enough to remember anything.  (For those of you who've been pondering all this time how in the heck I could've played all of those games that were clearly before my time.)

Unfortunately, the good times were not to last.

The Second Video Game Crash

1983 is the one year in video game history if nothing else that should never ever be forgotten as this is the year that video games literally knocked on Heaven's door, met the grim reaper, and stared death in the face.

First off, the gaming market became flooded with so many low quality games, that the great games ended up drowning.

Second, the comeback of the computer gaming market and becoming the superior market took away from all of the other markets and made things stretch too thin.

And finally, was the failure of several of Atari's biggest and most important 2600 games.

This is why Atari did not have an answer to the problem this time around.  And without Atari, there was nothing for the gaming industry to stand on.

Almost every one of the gaming companies of the time was forced into either bankruptcy or out of business permanently.  All of the non gaming companies had to cut their losses to avoid going down with the sinking ship.

There was no light at the end of the tunnel to be found anywhere.  There was no sign of any recovery, no turning back whatsoever.  This was it.  This is where video games was now dead and gone, lost to us forever.

That is, until one gaming company had enough.  They put their foot down and gamed up.  They were determined to never back down and fight this final boss to the last breath.

And as a result, it was solely because of their actions, their sweat, and their blood that every one of us who enjoys video games today have the ability to even touch a controller at all.

So who was this hero of the gaming industry that all of us gamers of today owe a huge debt of gratitude to?  That hero company was none other than the big N.

The Jumpstart That Video Games Got From Jumpman

Nintendo was damn determined that they would not be swayed, no matter how many times they were told to give it up and let the industry die.  After several failed attempts to kickstart the third generation of gaming consoles with their newest platform the Nintendo Entertainment System, they realized where the problem was.

After experiencing two crashes back to back like they did, people were burnt out with video games and would not play them no matter how good the console may be.

After taking several more attempts to be told to give it up, Nintendo continued to search for any way they could find.  And they soon came to the realization that the only shot left for the industry would not come from current gamers, but from future gamers.

Of course Nintendo absolutely hated the idea of lowering themselves down to a kiddie company, but they knew that if video games was going to have any kind of future at all, somebody had to do it and they were somebody.

So they developed the toy accessory known as the ROB to package together with the NES and then marketed the entire thing as a very cool toy for children to play with, entrusting them with the future of video games.

And amid the continual barrage of being told to give it up, Nintendo made a vow that they will never allow another video game crash to happen ever again if things would just work out.  And all of those naysayers were shut up when Nintendo's plan came together before their eyes, and they saw the gaming industry slowly but surely come back to life.

The Third Generation Of Home Video Game Consoles

Because of their heroic actions of saving the gaming industry from the jaws of death, Nintendo rightfully earned the right to now be the dominant console manufacturer.  But this did not stop Sega from jumping into the console market and attempting to compete.

Their first attempt, the SG - 1000, failed against the NES so spectacularly that I never even heard of it's existence until I started doing my research to write this page of my website!

Naturally they had to quickly replace that thing with their Master System, which did a lot better than the SG - 1000 but still could not even come close to being able to compete with the NES.

Sega was originally trying to compete using technology, but after seeing that Nintendo's approach of creating long lasting video game staple franchises was far more effective, they changed their tactics to using the same approach.

This made the third generation mark the beginning of many of the hugely popular and high profile cash cow franchises that we still enjoy today such as The Legend of Zelda, Phantasy Star, Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy, Metroid, and of course the Mario Bros.

This is also the generation where joysticks, paddles, and keypads were replaced with the gamepad that we still use today as the standard gaming controller.

Now even though the arcades and computers were still around, they pretty much just stayed static with nothing really majorly happening with them.  So I'm going to focus solely on the consoles from here on since that's where the action was at.

The Fourth Generation Of Home Video Game Consoles

The fourth console generation got started in the late 1980s with the release of the TurboGrafx - 16 in 1987.  This was followed by the Sega Genesis in 1988, the SNK Neo Geo, and the Super Nintendo Entertainment System both in 1990.

The TurboGrafx - 16 became a failure unfortunately because Hudson Soft had very harsh distribution restrictions, causing the console to end up with a very small library of games.

The Neo Geo would meet with the same fate because SNK built the console with the same hardware as their arcade cabinets.  And while this most certainly made the Neo Geo the best of all the consoles in terms of the quality of the games, it also made it so expensive that no one could afford to buy it.

After it became clear that Nintendo was going to continue being the dominant console manufacturer, Sega decided to step up their attempts to dethrone the king.

They first got rid of their current mascot, Alex Kidd, and replaced him with a new mascot fresh off their drawing board who they felt would do a much better job at challenging Super Mario.

And once it was official that the "blue dude with the tude," as they so put it, was their new mascot, Sega declared all out war on Nintendo.  It was Super Mario vs Sonic the Hedgehog, the fastest thing alive vs the highest thing alive I guess (In that Mario is the world's highest jumper, not drugs.).

However, they did a lot more than just replace their mascot with someone they felt would be badass enough to be a challenge to Super Mario.  I remember reading somewhere where Sega themselves actually stated that the whole entire reason they came up with Phantasy Star was to give themselves an answer to Final Fantasy, which Nintendo had at the time.

But anyone who pays close attention can see that there was more than just Phantasy Star.  Vectorman was clearly Sega's answer to Metroid, I'll bet you anything that Panzer Dragoon was Sega's answer to Starfox, and you'd have to be bananas to not see that Super Monkey Ball is Sega's answer to Donkey Kong.

I've always been very big on Zelda, so it was way too obvious to me when I got the chance to play it a while back that Sword of Vermillion was Sega's answer to The Legend of Zelda, you'd have to be completely blind to not see that Columns is Sega's answer to Tetris, and it's going to take a hell of a lot of convincing to get me to believe that those Chao creatures are not Sega's answer to Pok√©mon.

And while this still wasn't enough take Nintendo's crown, they did put up a very good fight and ended the generation in a very, very close second.

This was also the generation that revived the handheld market.  And just like before, it was Nintendo who dominated the handheld market with their Game Boy.  Obviously, their biggest competitor was the Sega Game Gear.  There was also the Atari Lynx and the NEC Turbo Express.

And despite everyone's complaints about the Game Boy not being in color, this was actually it's biggest selling point.  By the others being in color and pushing higher graphics and all that, they drained batteries so much faster that they were dead paperweights long before you ever got to finish a level.

So Nintendo played it very smart by having the Game Boy be the only one that avoided committing battery suicide.  Of course it also helped that the Game Boy had over a thousand games released for it, whereas the other handhelds had very small libraries.

One last thing to mention before closing out this generation is that, unlike the golden age of anime, I did not miss out on the golden age of video games.  I was born early enough that the 16 bit era was still ongoing by the time I was old enough to remember anything.

After it was finally time to retire that Commodore 64, I remember how I wanted a Sega Genesis so badly.  Not because I had anything against Nintendo or anything else like that, but because the Genesis was the first and only one that I knew about.  But some kind of way, my parents got it mixed up and I ended up with a Super Nintendo instead.

And considering what happened to Sega, which will be coming up soon enough, boy am I glad that I was too nice to complain.  This is why I remain so curious about what are all of those hardcore Sega fans doing right now to stay loyal to Sega, because I came so close to being one of them.

It was just a simple matter of choosing to keep quiet and give this Super Nintendo thing a chance rather than objecting so it'll get taken back to the store and replaced with a Sega Genesis.  And for the record, I do have a Sega Genesis now.

However, I am very disappointed in Wikipedia because they totally forgot to mention anything about the GameCom, which was another handheld that also competed with the Game Boy and the Game Gear.

It was another huge failure of course, but this is the handheld that came up with the idea of a stylus and touchscreen which Nintendo uses right now with the 3DS and the Wii U.

The Fifth Generation Of Home Video Game Consoles

The fifth generation officially got started in 1993 when Atari attempted to make a comeback with their Jaguar console.  Panasonic also attempted to join in on the fun in that same year with their 3DO console.  But despite all the hype around them and how highly promoted they were, neither console had any kind of success at all.  So both consoles turned into big disappointing failures.

I remember reading about the Atari Jaguar in an old Gamefan magazine that my older cousin still held on to and eventually gave to me after he finally didn't want it anymore, and talk about making a huge deal about it.

"Atari is back baby, and they're ready to kick some ass!  So you young whippersnappers had better watch out!"  Well ok those weren't their exact words, but you get the idea.

Apparently, the console was supposedly something that you wore on your head and you could just look up to see missiles coming at you.  Of course I don't remember half of those outrageous claims.

There might've even been one where you can stand on your head butt naked while doing a split with your thumb up your ass all at the same time (Don't think I want to see anyone attempting that one anytime soon.)!

I had a classmate who got the 3DO, I think it was for his birthday if I remember correctly.  And all I ever heard from this dude was how the games where "pieces of shit," as he so colorfully put it.

So considering how both consoles failed, I'm guessing the Jaguar games were "drops of urine?"  So despite me never getting a chance to play either one, I still found out a great deal about these two consoles.

In 1994 came the Sega Saturn and the Sony PlayStation, and I remember clearly like it was yesterday when I picked up my Nintendo 64 from GameStop in 1998, which I think was still called Funcoland back then if I remember correctly.  I know Wikipedia says 1996, but I'm guessing they're talking about in Japan.

And I think I must've bought the one that did not come with a game because I remember my first game being Starfox 64, not Super Mario 64 which was the only game that was ever prepackaged with it.  And I remember buying Super Mario 64 sometime later after I had already been playing Starfox 64 for a while.

Now I didn't know what was going on with Sega at this time.  I only knew that, starting with this generation, the only time I would hear anything about Sega was when they would bring out a new console.  But I didn't really think anything of it at the time.

I just assumed that was because of the PS being so popular, although it's popularity never surpassed that of the Super Nintendo, that I couldn't hear about anything else.  And I was only hearing about Nintendo because I was a Nintendo gamer.

And considering what a force to be reckoned with that they were against Nintendo, I just knew that Sega was putting up just as much of a fight against Sony as they did against Nintendo and there was nothing to worry about.  Boy was I about to be proven wrong!

I would find out later on that what made the PS so popular was that every third party had abandoned everybody else to make games for PS exclusively.

I didn't know it then, but I did find out later on that what the third parties did not like about the Saturn was that Sega made it very hard to make Saturn games because of the way they built it.  Something about two chips instead of only one, and I seriously doubt they were talking about Pringles.

And what they did not like about the N64 was that Nintendo decided to stick with cartridges, and for a very good reason ironically.  You see, the whole thing about putting games on discs was Nintendo's idea in the first place.

During the portion of the 16 bit era that was before my time, Nintendo had already attempted this.  Nintendo came up with something called the CDI, and of course Sega answered back with the Sega CD.  Both ended up being huge failures however.

So then why was putting games on discs working now that Sony is doing it but it did not work back when Nintendo was doing the same exact thing?  Well there was only one logical conclusion that anyone could come up with.

Gamers had no interest and did not want their games on discs back then.  And unlike Sega apparently, Nintendo learned this lesson and made sure to stick with cartridges just like gamers wanted.  So basically, Nintendo was simply too early.

Obviously knowing that they could never bring out as many N64 games as PS games, Nintendo instead decided to partner with Rare and compete by making it into a contest of quality vs quantity.

Which was a very smart idea considering that the N64 was technologically superior to the PS.  And I would be very surprised if I found out that Sega did not come up with a similar idea since the Saturn was also technologically superior to the PS.

And the results were pretty amazing!  While the PS console did outsell the N64 console solely because of it's popularity, the N64 games ironically outsold the PS games.

Strange, isn't it?  If so many more people were buying PS games, you'd think it'd be PS games that would be selling better, but instead it was N64 games?  Guess that goes to show the power of higher quality.

Even now I am still blown away whenever I fire up my N64 and find that every single one of my games has not only stood the test of time, but has aced it with a perfect 100% paper.  The same cannot be said about my PS games, even FFVII comes nowhere near close.

I was still a kid at this time so it was my parents who were buying my consoles and games and all that, but I did go back and buy the non - Nintendo consoles I missed out on once I was old enough to buy them myself.

And because Nintendo and Rare were doing such awesome work, I noticed that there were a number of third parties who came back to Nintendo toward the end of the generation.  The biggest one that kind of took me by surprise though was when I picked up Capcom's Resident Evil 2.

Of course I did not understand at all what that huge letter M was about at that time, but I was quite intrigued about Nintendo acknowledging their older fans when I did find out later on.

One thing about this generation that I'll never forget is the Game of the Year award.  Everybody was just so sure that a PS game was going to get it.  I think it was a Final Fantasy game if I remember correctly.  The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time came out on N64 during this period.

But even then, everyone was so sure that this PS game was going to win it.  They just KNEW it was going to happen, with no worries at all.  Then it came time to announce the Game of the Year, and the winner was, (Insert drumroll here.), The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time!

Needless to say, everybody was PISSED!  Except for me of course, who was celebrating.  I'll bet if they could, they would've gotten on the first plane to Redmond, Washington just to find Shigeru Miyamoto and punch him.

I even read somewhere where someone said how an angry Cloud Strife would throw a Limit Break on Link's ass.  And someone almost immediately answered that it wouldn't put a single scratch on that Hylian shield, and good luck surviving Link's Spinning Blade Attack with no shield at all!

Now as for the handhelds, I'm going to have to go off my own recollection exclusively here because Wikipedia seriously disappointed by having nothing at all about the handhelds of this generation.  (Dammit Wikipedia, what's going on with you man?)

Nintendo finally delivered the portable that everyone had been demanding, a Game Boy in color literally named the Game Boy Color.  But that wasn't the only new feature, the GBC was also backward compatible with the original Game Boy!

Of course, Sega had no intention of letting Nintendo go unchallenged.  So they brought out a portable Genesis in the form of the Nomad.

But according to reviews that I've read about it, Sega still didn't learn their battery draining lesson and made the Nomad so much worse at it, that the only way it was even playable at all was to use an AC adapter.  Which defeats the whole entire point of buying a portable machine in the first place.

The Sixth Generation Of Home Video Game Consoles

Sega kickstarted the sixth console generation with their Dreamcast in 1998.  This was followed by the PlayStation 2 in 2000, and the GameCube and Xbox both in 2001.

Sega brought back an old idea that Nintendo originally came up with back in the days of the NES, but was once again a failure for the sole reason that Nintendo was too early.  The DC featured a modem allowing internet connectivity directly from the console.

Back in the days of the NES, the only type of people who had any interest in the internet at all were those overweight nerdy geeks with triple thick coke bottle glasses (At least according to my grandmother. Once again, before my time.).

This resulted in one of the best Phantasy Star games ever made, Phantasy Star Online!  No one really knew where in the storyline PSO takes place, if it even takes place in the storyline at all.  But I have heard someone say that if it does, it's most likely those refugee ships from Palma in PSIII.

So you're probably wondering how in the heck do I know all of this about Phantasy Star when I was a Nintendo gamer, aren't you?  Well come on in, sit down and have yourself a nice cup of cocoa young man, because have I got a story to tell!

I'll never forget this one as long as I live.  I woke up one morning and my mom told me that my next issue of Nintendo Power had just came.  So after breakfast, I went looking for it but couldn't find it anywhere.  Not because it wasn't where it was supposed to be, but because I didn't recognize it.

I walked right past it over and over while looking for it because I didn't recognize the front cover as an issue of NP.  When I finally told her I couldn't find it and my mom pointed it out to me, that's when I literally turned into a looney toon.

My jaw dropped all the way to the floor and my eyes popped out of my head by about three miles (Bugs Bunny would've been so very proud.).  WTF!!!!!!!  (Had to get Keijo!!!!!!! with it.)

No matter how many times I looked it up and down, my brain just could not compute what my eyes were showing me.  The words at the top were clearly saying Nintendo Power, but why in the heck was the character on the front cover ... (Wait for it!) ... Sonic the Hedgehog?!

I looked up, Nintendo Power.  I looked down, Sonic the Hedgehog.  Nintendo Power, Sonic the Hedgehog.  Nintendo Power, Sonic the Hedgehog.  Nintendo Power, Sonic the Hedgehog.  Nintendo Power, Sonic the Hedgehog.  But I was finally able to gain some acceptance of it by reaching the only conclusion that had some form of logic to it.

They must've hired a new magazine editor, and this guy must've been some mental case who was dropped on his head as a baby worse than Goku, is a drunkard who just had five bottles of beer, wine, and whiskey all in one sitting, a drug addict who was high on everything there is to get high on and constipated sitting on the toilet trying to squeeze a dump out all at the same time when he made this cover.  There is no other way that someone could have possibly made this caliber of a mistake!

So I was finally able to get myself past the front cover, only to now have my mind triple doubly blown to find out that there were no mistakes.  Sega really will be making Nintendo games!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  (Had to go double Keijo!!!!!!! on that one.)

After waking up to my parents fanning me and wondering what blew my mind with so many multiple nuclear explosions that I passed out on the floor, I learned that their first game would be Sonic Adventure 2 Battle.

But while it was great that I could now play both Nintendo and Sega games on my GCN, I was still pondering why did Sega decide to do this.  I would learn later on that they did not have a choice.  Sega could no longer compete with the other console manufacturers and had to admit defeat.

A few months later, I was finally old enough to buy my own consoles and I bought the DC first because I was very curious to know what happened to Sega.  And to my surprise, the DC was incredible!

Still had a ways to go before it was up there with the GCN, but I found it so awesome that I still search out games to play on it today!  And this failed?!  (Of course I made sure to grab a Sega Genesis next since that was the console I wanted in the first place, and I'm still having trouble finding a Saturn.)

But I would eventually find out the story behind it.  Despite Sony and Microsoft's claim of "We kicked Sega's ass!" and "Whoo hoo, hooray for us!" and "We're the man!" and all of that other tough guy shit, no one deserves the credit.  Sega unintentionally committed suicide.

The way I understand it, Sega made a simple mistake during the Saturn era, which is perfectly understandable considering these companies are run by human beings.  And we all know that there has never been such a thing as a perfect human being with the sole exception of Jesus Christ.

I've seen Nintendo make mistakes (Virtual Boy), Sony make mistakes and Microsoft make mistakes as well (will be talking about soon enough), but I've had no problem with forgiving them and moving on.  But apparently Sega gamers would never forgive Sega.

So it made no difference what they did to try and correct it or make up for it or anything, Sega was never given a second chance.  So the DC being so much better of a console than the PS2 and the Xbox meant nothing.

Except for their old rival Nintendo.  If anything that's always been my only problem with Nintendo, they're too generous and kindhearted.  No matter how Sega, Sony and Microsoft badmouth them, they never say or do anything to fight back.  But then again, I suppose it could be that Nintendo is too strong to sink down to their level.

So now that I was armed with this knowledge, it came as no surprise that Nintendo would have no hard feelings and no grudges held toward Sega.  Nintendo welcomed Sega with open arms, and based on everything I've seen, gave Sega full permission to turn the GCN into their DC2.

It was around the time when .hack was released when I finally got around to getting a PS2, because that was my very first PS2 game.  Thanks to Sony using Nintendo's idea of backward compatibility, I had no need to get a PS.

Of course the ability to play DVDs and CDs was a nice touch, but those were meaningless extras that had nothing whatsoever to do with playing the games.  So I do not factor them into how good of a gaming console it is.

Besides I already had a DVD player and a CD player, so I don't need that in a console.  The only thing I need for my console to do is play the games.

Naturally, considering how hugely popular this thing was, I was expecting to be completely and totally blown away by some of the greatest game playing I have ever experienced in my life.

I expected it to be so awesome that I would turn into a total PS addict!  "PlayStation rules!"  "Sony's the man!"  "No Play is better than the Station!"  "Gotta  Play my Station!"  "Leggo my Sony!"  And all of that.

Only to find myself waking up a hour later from having literally been put to sleep by pure boredom.  I was totally blown away alright, by some of the greatest suckiness I have ever experienced!

Wait a minute, huh?  THIS is the great and almighty PlayStation (Now double checking that it was the PS2 that controller in my hands was connected to.)?!  Ok, hold on, wait.  Let's not be too quick to judge.  Maybe it was just that one game.

So I continued to buy PS2 games, and even made sure to grab some of the big ones to make sure I was getting the best of PlayStation.  But the best that the PS2 ever got was, "Hey this brand new game is pretty nice."  But once the whole thing about it being brand new wore off, "Please give me some Fire Emblem to stop the torture!"

Don't get me wrong now, the games were certainly very pretty and it was certainly better than having nothing at all to play, but I was expecting so much better.

But I did eventually find better, when I got around to buying PS games.  I'm sorry Naruto, but I couldn't believe it!  The PS is better than the PS2?!  Did I miss something?  At least now I know how to cure my insomnia!

About a month later, I got around to buying an Xbox, and right away one of my very first games was Sega's Panzer Dragoon Orta.  And it included the original Panzer Dragoon, giving me a taste of some Saturn gaming.  So this certainly put the Xbox on much better footing with me than the PS2.  Orta herself was also kind of cute.

Sometime later, I picked up a game called Crimson Sea.  And when I got around to the second level, it was so much fun that I was intentionally restarting the game without saving just so I could replay it over and over.  This normally only happens with a Nintendo game!

But I found this to be the biggest highlight of all, when I picked up a game called Steel Battalion!  It came with a really awesome controller making the game cost way more than normal games, so I had to do quite a bit of saving up.  But it was worth every penny because this was the coolest Xbox game ever!

I had this huge console in front of me, with all of these switches to flip up and down to make this work and make that operational.  When the enemy mechs show up, I would swing the right joystick to turn my mech and then squeeze the button under the left joystick to return fire.

It felt just like I was actually inside the cockpit of the mech itself, not at home on my couch playing a video game!  This was it! This was the kind of coolness and awesomeness that I was expecting from "the great and almighty PlayStation!"

But unfortunately, those kind of awesome Xbox games only came around once in a blue moon.  The rest of the time, the Xbox was no different from the PS2.  And over time, Microsoft would drop the ball entirely.

Now as far as the handhelds go, Nintendo's Game Boy Advance dominated because with Sega as a third party, it had no real competition.  Unless you count the N - Gage as "competition."

Now that they knew that gamers changed their minds and do now want their games on discs, Nintendo could finally do what they wanted to do and bring out a disc based console in the form of the Gamecube.  And there's a very pressing reason why I deliberately saved the GCN for last.

Now as I mentioned earlier, Nintendo gave Sega full permission to turn the GCN into their DC2.  And Sega took them up on this offer as they went "hog - wild" on the GCN.  There were so many Sonic the Hedgehog games coming out back to back at one point, that I was almost seeing blue blurs in my sleep (SEGA!).

But Sega didn't stop with just the fastest thing alive.  They also brought us the entire Phantasy Star saga allowing us to catch up on the series after gaming together online in PSO.  And I absolutely loved Skies of Arcadia.  Now I have an idea about what it'd have been like to have been a Sega gamer like I originally wanted.

One very cool thing that Nintendo did with the GCN that I'm pretty sure is an idea that came from the way Sega used their DC memory cards was the way they utilized the GBA in giving it all kinds of connections with the GCN.  It started out with Sonic Advance and Sonic Adventure 2: Battle exchanging Chao data.

But then later on they developed it into a full blown four way game playing experience giving us our very first four player Zelda and four player Final Fantasy.  This was a huge advantage exclusive to Nintendo as no one else had a handheld.

Nintendo even took a lesson on accessories when they brought us the bongos for use with Donkey Konga, Donkey Konga 2, and Donkey Kong Jungle Beat.  And later on, they had us getting our groove on with that dance mat accessory for use with Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix.

I also noticed that there were a lot more M rated games.  Almost the entire Resident Evil series was released on the console.  But they didn't stop there, they almost went a little overboard.

Some of my personal favorites were Bloodrayne, Prince of Persia: Warrior Within, and I found Gun to be loads of fun!  Remember Nintendo never wanted to be a kiddie company and only did so because video games would not exist at all period today if they didn't, so this is them finally being able to do what they really wanted.

However, one thing that I did kind of agree with is that Nintendo should have done more with the GCN, and I found out later on that they could have but they purposefully chose to intentionally hold back and not make the GCN as awesome as they could have.  But why would they do this?

Because there was another matter that came to their attention, a matter that was far more of a priority than being concerned with who's ahead in the console wars.  The gaming industry needed it's hero to step up once again.

The Third Video Game Crash

As the only console manufacturer of the day who was old enough to have been around back when the first two happened, no one but Nintendo could recognize the signs and knew what terrible event was about to happen.  So Nintendo began preparing to keep that vow that they made to us gamers.

After studying and researching the situation, Nintendo found several things that the industry was doing wrong.  First off, everyone was focusing exclusively on the hardcore gamer and completely ignoring trying to welcome beginners who are on the fence about whether or not they want to get into playing video games.

Second was that no one was trying to reach out to the casual gamers.  By focusing solely on the hardcore gamers, they were making things too complicated and intimidating for someone who is not really a gamer but still wants something fun to do.

And finally was a very big one.  Things were getting dull and repetitive again just like what caused the first crash to happen, because the format for how games are played has not changed at all since Nintendo introduced it back with the original NES.  The person sits on a couch pressing buttons on a controller that is connected to a machine that is connected to a TV.

So Nintendo clearly had their work cut out for them to save the gaming industry.  But they were forward thinking enough to be acting early enough that no one was feeling the effects of the coming crash just yet, affording themselves plenty of extra time.

This means that Nintendo had already started developing their next console on the very same day that they released the GCN.  By giving themselves so much extra time, they were able to take their time and keep all of these problems in mind so they could build the perfect machine that would be the panacea to all of the gaming industry's ills.

They wanted a console that would scream "Welcome" to beginners, simple with no intimidation whatsoever to casual gamers, and most importantly, to do away with the traditional format of game playing to give gamers something new, different, fresh, exciting, (Did I leave anything out?), to break up the monotony of doing the same exact thing over and over and over.

But because they did not put any effort in trying to compete in the console wars, Nintendo did not expect it to be a big seller.  But they were more than willing to accept last place as long as it meant protecting the industry from another crash.

And because of this, even Nintendo themselves were taken completely by surprise when this baby not only did become a huge seller, but actually soared right past every other console on the market (finally giving us a console that surpassed the Super Nintendo) to put Nintendo back on top by taking first place!

And that's in addition to stopping the third video game crash long before anyone could feel any of it's effects.  I believe the gang bangers came up with the perfect phrase for this kind of situation, "And 1!"

The Video Game Revolution of the Wii

Although I personally still think that Revolution would've been a much better name, the Wii completely took the gaming industry by storm because it threw out the window everything we knew about video games up to that point and totally reinvented the wheel from the ground up.  The reason being was motion control!

No longer do you swing a baseball bat by pressing a button, you now swing the bat by swinging the bat!  No longer do you shoot a basketball by pressing a button, you shoot the ball by shooting the ball!  No longer do you roll a bowling ball by pressing a button, you roll the ball by rolling the ball!

The Wii had no HD graphics, was the least technologically advanced of the seventh generation consoles, and had virtually no improvements over the GCN because of how early Nintendo started working on it.  It was for these reasons that Nintendo did not think it would do well in the console wars.

As a result, they were constantly selling out at all of the stores across the country.  And it was here that Nintendo gamers got their reputation for being orderly and civilized because no one was doing anything crazy when they could not get a Wii.

Unlike PlayStation gamers who were fighting and shooting and rioting and all of those other forms of temper tantrums whenever they couldn't get a PS3 (Guess we know now who the real children are!).  One guy was even showing off his homemade bullet proof vest.

So naturally, I was able to grab my Wii without any problems at all.  And playing Zelda with motion control was triple awesome!  The whole thing about swinging my sword by swinging the sword was just all kinds of cool!  That whole motion control aspect really turned Twilight Princess and Link's Crossbow Training up to 11!

One thing that I really liked was how the Wii was backward compatible with the GCN, a first for Nintendo's consoles.  In addition, the Wii introduced the Virtual Console service which effectively made the Wii also backward compatible with N64, SNES, and NES.

Though I've no idea why they didn't keep on going to include the Color TV Games from the first generation.  Would've been nice to see what Nintendo was like back in the CTG era.

And naturally, the Wii was also the DC3 for Sega as they brought us even more blue blur goodness.  But they also brought us the number one reason for why I've been looking for a Saturn, Nights!

And don't think for a second that Sega was going to miss out on the motion control, as they contributed to Nintendo's continually growing library of M rated games with their House of the Dead first person shooter franchise.  As Overkill's Issac Washington so colorfully puts it, "Mother Fucker!"

In addition, the Genesis and the Master System were also included in the Virtual Console service.  This effectively made the Wii backward compatible with even non - Nintendo consoles, especially when you also factor in TurboGrafx - 16 and Commodore 64.

Considering it was before my time, this was my first time being able to play TurboGrafx - 16.  While most of the games didn't look like they'd be at all interesting, one game that just caught my attention and wouldn't let go was Lords of Thunder.

Now this baby was just too awesome to believe that it came from a failed console and for me, it became the very game that comes to mind when I think of TurboGrafx - 16.  If nothing else, Lords of Thunder is the one game on this console that deserves a sequel.  Too bad Hudson Soft screwed this console over.

Of course Sega was hardly the only one to bring out first person shooters or even M rated games.  Some of my personal favorites were DeadSpace, the Resident Evils, Reload, the Red Steels, and of course the Metroids.

It seems that Nintendo was also bitten by the meaningless extras bug, but at least they were smart enough to not let it interfere with the important task of being totally awesome at playing the games, unlike a certain other console manufacturer I know.  The PS is better than the PS2, what the hell Sony?

The Seventh Generation Of Home Video Game Consoles

Now as for the rest of the seventh console generation, I made sure I was strapped up in my bullet proof vest and was pulling some 007 moves when I went out to get my PS3 (The name's Savvy, James Savvy.).  As usual, they went totally overboard with the meaningless extras.

But as far as the games go, I actually noticed a bit of an improvement this time.  There were a couple of games that actually held my interest for quite a while after they were no longer brand new.  Still nowhere near PS level, but the PS3 was certainly doing better than the PS2.

I guess someone at Sony HQ must've grown enough of a brain to figure out that maybe when talking about gaming consoles, the important part is the whole thing about how good it is at PLAYING THE GAMES?!  You know, just a thought.  After all, I can always buy a Blu - ray player, a CD player, and a smart TV, so what's the only thing left that I have to have a console for?  I'll let you think about that one.

The very same thing must've happened at Microsoft HQ as the Xbox 360 was a lot better than the Xbox, unless you're talking about those very rare super awesome games like Panzer Dragoon Orta, Crimson Sea, and Steel Battalion, in which case the 360 doesn't come anywhere close to the Xbox.  Keep in mind that this is including things like PlayStation Move and Xbox Kinnect.

Now as for the portables Nintendo was still dominant with their Nintendo Dual Screen, though I still don't understand why they didn't keep their Game Boy brand and simply name the new portable the Game Boy DS.  This of course means that Sony failed in their little "mission" to try and take down Nintendo's handheld dominance with their PlayStation Portable.

But ironically, it was because of this little determination of theirs that the PSP was actually a whole lot better than anything I've seen from the PS3!  There were several PSP games that not only kept my interest after they were no longer brand new, but all the way to the very end with me still desiring more to play.  A feat that I've never seen in any non - Nintendo console since Microsoft dropped the ball!

Now that's more like it Sony, this is what you guys should've been doing all along.  And ironically, the PSP did not have anywhere near as many meaningless extras as the PS3.  Am I the only one seeing a pattern here?  Less meaningless extras equals better gameplay.

Video Games Today

And that finally brings us up to the present day, where we're currently enjoying the Eighth console generation.  At the moment I only have a Wii U and 3DS because I've been seriously thinking about going back to being only a Nintendo gamer lately.

PlayStation and Xbox have both been huge disappointments that did not live up to their hypes or deserve their popularities.  As one of those smart kids in school, this doesn't come anywhere close to my first time seeing that the crowd is not always right.  In fact the crowd is dead wrong the overwhelming majority of the time.  This is why I quickly learned to check things out for myself with my own two eyes rather than just blindly going by popularity, but even then this is ridiculous!

Sure they had their moments, but it gets really frustrating spending all that money on machines that mostly just sit there collecting dust.  And now Sony and Microsoft have gone completely off the deep end asking for such huge price points for machines that, at their peaks, are worth less than a quarter of what Nintendo is charging for the Wii U($599 are you out of your mind?!).

I could understand if Nintendo was asking for that much because they are worth it, and yet Nintendo is always the cheapest out of everyone.  But if I do decide to continue with PlayStation and Xbox, it'll be after those prices come down so I won't feel like I'm wasting my money.

As for Nintendo, the Wii U continues to be totally awesome.  It completely surpasses the Wii and has even included HD graphics.  And it's doing an awesome job of being the console version of the DS like it was always intended to be.  And while it does have it's meaningless extras, it has not deviated at all from the important task of being totally great and awesome at playing the games.  Ditto for the 3DS.

And of course the whole thing about me being able to watch Adult Swim while playing a console game at the same time because the Wii U does not require a TV is totally incredible.  Definitely one way of killing two birds with one stone.

And with the upcoming release of the Switch console, Nintendo is continuing to prove to us that by keeping things always changing, always new, always fresh, and always exciting, that they have every intention of keeping their vow that for as long as they can exist as a company, there will NEVER be another video game crash ever again.

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