Sunday, 29 December 2013

The 12 Generations of Gaming - Gen 4

On the 4th gen of gaming,
Sega sent to me,
Mega Drive, and Soni-ic.

On the 4th gen of gaming,
Nintendo sent to me,
A world of Mari-o

On the 4th gen of gaming,

The World sent to me,

Nintendo and Sega rivalry.

The Fourth Generation – 1988 - 99

Mega Drive/Sega Genesis
TurboGrafX/ PC Engine
SNES/Super Famicon
Neo Geo

Popular Games: 
Sonic the Hedgehog
Super Mario World
Samurai Showdown
Bonk's Adventure

And so, the 8-bit era ended only to bring around the 16-bit era of gaming bringing with it the SNES and Sega Mega Drive as well as a few more consoles and lots of games including IP's like Sonic the Hedgehog and Starfox. It was also the first time when several companies started to take notice of the gaming industry and start to make plans to release consoles in the future. Once again, Nintendo led the crowd but this time was closely followed by Sega. Let the rivalries commence.

Once again, I am going to talk about both some of the consoles as well as a few of the more important games.


SNES/Super Famicon:
The sequel to the highly popular and successful NES was released in Japan in 1990, North America in 1991 and Europe and Australia in 1992. Once again, the Japanese version was called the Super Famicon and the North American/Europe the SNES whereas the South Korean one was called the Super Comboy and was distributed by Hyundai Electronics. The SNES was the best-selling console of the 16-bit era as well as ushering in proper 3D graphics into the video game market. The SNES was released rather late into the 4th gen era as Nintendo developers felt no rush to make a new console dew to Sega's Mega Drive having a slow start. However, this all changed as soon as they saw their dominance in the video game market slipping. The SNES was designed by Masayuki Uemura who was the original designer of the NES. When the console was released in Japan it was an instant success with the original 300,000 units being sold out within hours. This lead the Japanese government to pass a law that all console releases would be on a weekend (the SNES was released on a Wednesday). It also attracted the attention of the Yakuza (a Japanese organised crime group) which led to Nintendo shipping the orders at night so as to avoid robbery. The legacy of the SNES was that many developers and gamers thought that there was no need for 32 bit consoles when the SNES did all that they could do so well and all though it didn't beat the NES in terms of sales (something that seems to repeat itself cough 'Wii U' cough) it was still a great console.

Sega Mega Drive/Genesis:
The next Sega home console was that of the Mega Drive (anywhere but North America) /Genesis (named so in North America due to Trademark issues). In South Korea, it was known as the Super Gam* Boy and later the Super Aladdin Boy and was distributed by Samsung. It was released world-wide in 1997 and while it didn't sell well compared to the SNES in Japan it did in America and Europe. In the first year, the Mega Drive sold 400,000 units which, when compared to the SNES sales of 300,000 on the first day didn't seem like a lot. When the console was released, it had Nintendo overshadowing it as Super Mario Bros. 3 had been released just a week earlier. When Sega wished to release the console into the North American market they would normally have asked Tonka to distribute it as they had done with the Master System but they were disappointed with Tonka's performance and so asked Atari to distribute it. However, Atari disagreed and so Sega had to release the console by itself with no foothold in the American market. Its legacy was such that many Indie developers continue to release games for it even to this day.   

TurboGrafx-16 Entertainment SuperSystem/ PC Engine:
The TurboGrafx-16 Entertainment SuperSystem (wow, that's a long name) was the first console of the fourth generation and therefore the first one in the 16-bit era (even though it used an 8-bit CPU!) It was made to contend with the NES but instead found itself competing against the SNES and Sega Mega Drive. One thing it has to its name though is the record of being the smallest video games console ever made! It was made by a collaborative effort of Hudson Soft and NEC due to NEC's interests in entering the video game market coinciding with Hudson Soft's failed attempt to sell graphic chip designs to Nintendo and was released in Japan on the 30th October 1987, America on the 19th of August 1989 and Europe in 1990. The console sold 10 million units and had many different versions such as SuperGrafx and PC Engine Duo.

Neo Geo:
The Neo Geo was released on the 31st January 1990 by SNK Playmore, a Japanese company. Originally the Neo Geo was an arcade machine and was only able to rent in establishments such as restaurants and hotels but when customer response showed that some gamers would be willing to spend $650 for a console SNK created a home version. The legacy of the Neo Geo was that it lasted a massive 14 years (the last software produced for it was Samurai Showdown V Special in 2004) a reign so long that it managed to outlast more popular games consoles such as the Sega Mega Drive. The main reason for this is the game library of which the Neo Geo's was massive.


Sonic the Hedgehog:
Sonic the Hedgehog is a name that is synonymous with fast paced 2D platforming as well as being the rival of Mario. But this is about the game rather than the character (although a Video Game Character of the Month may be coming soon...) so let's get on with that. Released on June 23rd, 1991 by Sega on the Sega Mega Drive, this game redefined the platforming genre. The aim of the game is to go through six zones each with three acts inside them (and then a final, boss fight one) while collecting rings (these act as Sonic's protection against death with them scattering after a hit). If you don't have at least one ring and get hit you lose a life) and defeating enemies. At the end of each third act you have to battle the evil Dr Robotnik who wants to enslave the inhabitants of South Island as well as collecting the Chaos Emeralds. To stop his plan Sonic must destroy the metal shells of the animals that Dr Robotnik has enslaved (the enemies) as well as collecting the chaos emeralds for himself. To collect the Chaos Emeralds the player must complete act 1 or 2 from any zone with at least 50 rings and enter through the special gate that appears. Sonic is then stuck in spin mode (his dash a attack) and must bounce off of the bouncers (technical term) so as to collect the rings and Chaos Emeralds and dodge the goal gates. Sonic's legacy is that his games is still being played (as are the rest of them in the series) as well redefining the platforming genre.

The first game in the Starfox series was actually called Starwing in Europe due to an Atari 2600 game of the same name having been released. It was released on the 21st of February, 1993 in Japan, North America got it on the 23rd of march 1993 and finally Europe got it on June 3rd 1993 for the SNES. It was developed by Nintendo EAD together with Argonaut Software and was the second 3D game that Nintendo developed after the 1992 game X. The main designers were Shigeru Miyamoto (again) and Katsuya Eguchi. The game is a 1st and 3rd person rail shooter. The player must navigate Fox's ship, the Arwing, through a series of obstacles and enemies while collecting power ups and shooting said enemies. At the end of each level the player has to defeat a boss before being given a score based on how well the player had defended his/her team mates and how many enemies they had killed. There are a few things that set Starfox apart from other shooters of the time, one of which is the ability to speed up and slow down. Another thing is that rather than dying as soon as an obstacle is run into the player has a certain amount of shield energy before they die. Finally, rather than being able to choose their difficulty setting as per usual, the player has to choose one of three routes through the Lylat System which corresponds to the usual difficulty settings of easy, medium and hard. However, these different routes also have unique stages thereby making the player complete the game three times to 100% it. The game met with critical appraisal and set the path for another 4 games to be developed in its series.  

Goodbye for now, Harry

And the blog's collective knowledge

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