Sega’s last attempt at hardware, and arguably their best, was the Dreamcast. Released in 1999 (in Australia at least), and discontinued (in Australia again) in 2002, it just didn’t have the legs to compete with the BEHEMOTH that was PlayStation 2… Sega dropped out of the hardware race to focus on the games themselves – potentially something that worked out for them in the long run, but sad, considering how great the Dreamcast was…
Even given its short lifespan, the Dreamcast still enjoys a cult following – games such as Crazy Taxi, Jet Grind Radio, and Shenmue are considered some of the best titles ever released on a retro console (I said SOME OF, not THE best, so keep your opinion to yourself, people!)… Soul Calibur is such a good conversion it’s considered by many to be the best game released on the Dreamcast. It was really that good, and the quality of the titles is evident from the second you run up the machine.
Beyond that? It was the first machine to have an inbuilt modem, and the first to connect to an online network for gaming (and as such, a precursor to services such as Xbox Live). It had a fairly revolutionary controller for the time, with a very interesting memory card – it was itself a kind of game controller. And if that’s not enough to convince you of how awesome it was, there are STILL some independent developers making games for it (not so many these days, but it is a much-loved machine). I simply HAD to get one. Continue reading
Well… What can you say about Nintendo’s Game Boy that people don’t already know? Nothing, I guess… Released in 1989 (yeah, I know), Game Boy was extremely well recieved. Even though, by today’s standards, it’s big, has a small monochrome LCD screen (which is not backlit, so it was impossible to play unless in perfect lighting conditions), kinda heavy, and took batteries, back then it was the right product at the right price, and it was released at the right time.
Intended to take the wind out of Atari’s sails (Atari also released the Lynx in 1989), Game Boy came with a copy of Tetris, and to this day this version would most likely top most people’s “best version of tetris” lists (generalising, I know). Game Boy became so damned popular that everyone seemed to have one, and this is where Nintendo started their now very common practice of simply updating handhelds from year-to-year as opposed to releasing a completely new system every other year (if you get my drift – and drift I did). It worked in their favour, and while there were no real standout classics on the original system (this is my opinion – I just can’t think of a single game I simply MUST have… suggestions welcome), it sold bucketloads, had a million titles released for it (not quite literally, but close), and the name “Game Boy” even replaced the common vernacular for ‘handheld gaming system’ for many years to come… Continue reading
Back in 1993, Nintendo thought they had a super idea – Virtual Reality. 3D. Gaming. All in a portable device. The problem is, back in 1993, the technology didn’t REALLY exist in such a manner that would be economically and ergonomically viable. So they unleashed the Virtual Boy (such an unfortunate name) onto an unsuspecting – and unwilling – world.
Claimed by some to be the biggest commercial mistake (embarrassment?) in the videogame industry, Nintendo discontinued the Virtual Boy just a year after it’s release, and only 25 games were ever released for it… Sad.
Then again, perhaps not. The Virtual Boy headset is heavy, and comes with a stand to prop it up on a table. From there, you can stick your face in it to play games. The controller plugs in to the bottom of the headset, and actually provides the power, strangely (the system shipped with a battery pack – which used 6 AA batteries! – that clicked into the back of the controller). This lead to an understandably uncomfortable experience (and on top of this, there was apparently a notification built in to the system to instruct gamers to take a break every 15 minutes although I never noticed this myself).
Then there was the actual experience of the games themselves… The system used red LCDs, dual eyepieces, and mirrors to display very simple images in a simple kind of 3D. The effect worked, and I guess Nintendo was likely banking on the success of the Game Boy (which was monotone) as a means to justify the single colour – or perhaps it’s just because the red LCDs were cheapest. Click through to watch a video for a bit of context. Continue reading
Atari’s last foray into the console market was with the Jaguar, a system they aggressively marketed as 64-bit, which generated a whole lot of criticism. To this day there are still people squabbling over whether or not it was a true 64-bit system, but I think there should come a time when it no longer matters. Fifteen years should be well and truly past this time… Anyway, let’s take a look! Continue reading