Gaming History 101

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Posts Tagged ‘pacman

Podcast: 2017 on the 5s and 10s

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In what has become an annual tradition, Jam and Fred delve into the past in 5 and 10 year intervals.  In 2017 that means any decade in gaming history that ends in either a “7” or a “2”.  There’s a great deal to be had and the time flies far too fast, but we guarantee you’ll learn something you didn’t already know.

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Movie Review: Pixels

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Authors Note: The circumstances surrounding my having seen this movie early and my review having been written months ago are explained at the end of this review.

Here we go again, another video game movie.  That’s all I seem to think about whenever I see anything like Pixels advertised, so needless to say I went into my initial screening with very low hopes.  Couple that with the fact that the starring roles belong to Adam Sandler and Kevin James, two actors of which I despise most of their work, and you basically have a formula for what I assumed would be a disaster.  Thanks to some lighthearted implementation of some of gaming’s first arcade titles (Pac-Man, Centepede, Donkey Kong, etc.) and the assistance of great supporting cast members Josh Gad and Peter Dinklage, this 80s nostalgia flick just became yet another in a sea of big dumb fun summer blockbusters.  If you over think it, this movie falls apart, but if you just go in with zero expectations and want to enjoy two hours, you might be pleasantly surprised.

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Written by Fred Rojas

July 23, 2015 at 11:00 am

Review: Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures

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pacman_boxNormally I wouldn’t see myself even taking a second glance at a title like this. Thanks to the re-invention of shovelware on the Wii and subsequent titles of its ilk, it’s not a good day to be a 3D rendition of a classic game. Couple that with Chip’s lackluster impressions of the multiplayer – which were spot on – and I did not go into Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures with high expectations. To my surprise this title is a rock solid 3D platformer that can almost serve as a pseudo Kameo 2, borrowing most of its gameplay elements from that title, but there just isn’t enough here to justify even the budget price associated with it.

Pac-Man has never done well as a platformer. Whether it’s with the 16-bit era titles in the Pac-Land series or really anything Namco has done with him other than re-creating the original game, there just doesn’t seem to be anything there to differentiate these games from all the rest, until now. Pac-Man’s world has changed quite a bit. He’s back in high school (and apparently appropriate age despite being older than I am), the four ghosts that plagued him in the original arcade title are now his friends, and he loves to wear different hats that grant him special powers. None of this begins to define a worthwhile game until you start playing the initial levels and using early hats like the frost beam or the iguana that have grounded but useful applications. Then you realize the level design compliments these powers well and a bit of Mario nostalgia sneaks in. Pac-Man retains the eating ghosts mechanic and can even use a “scare” power to turn them blue and devour them old school style. Before you know it you’re having a blast traversing the game’s six worlds, all borrowed from video game tropes of old, and you don’t want to stop playing.

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Written by Fred Rojas

November 11, 2013 at 7:10 pm

Storytelling: How Shigeru Miyamoto Saved NOA

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When Nintendo decided to move over to America, it wasn’t to begin the world of the NES but rather to establish a market for arcade games.  Nintendo of America (NOA) had struggled ever since it migrated to the United States, complete with difficulty finding a home base in both New York and New Jersey, eventually staying for good in the Seattle area.  At the time Nintendo’s owner, a gruff businessman by the name of Hiroshi Yamauchi, had inherited the company and vowed to make it into the powerhouse it eventually became.  Yamauchi recently warmed up to his son-in-law, Minoru Arakawa, and decided to make him in charge of Nintendo’s American migration thanks to his free-spirited nature, familiarity with the country and ability to overwork himself.  Now Arakawa was attempting to find the big arcade game that would put NOA on the map like Space Invaders had done for Taito.  That game was to be a linear space shooter called Radarscope.

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Written by Fred Rojas

January 27, 2012 at 2:44 pm

Generation Gap Pt. 1

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It’s difficult to understand and discern the various console generations that have existed, so here’s a brief overview of each one and the consoles that spawned in North America during these generations.  Please note that these posts cover home consoles only (and goes into broad detail on specific larger market share, not every console that released) – while arcades and PCs were a signficant part of gaming in the respective 80s and 90s, they will be covered in different posts.

First Generation (1972 – 1983)

Magnavox Odyssey – Launch Price: $75-$100 (retail dependent) – Released: 1972
Designer Ralph Baer’s team started working on the console, codenamed “brown box”, in 1966 and completed a prototype in 1968.  I wasn’t even remotely alive when the Odyssey was on the market, so my experience with the console is limited to a few brief and clumsy plays of Ski at various Midwest Gaming Classic conventions.

The Odyssey had interchangeable cartridges that were purchased individually, much like more modern consoles, and also included an overlay for the television.  Since it was unable to generate graphics necessary for the games itself, it would instead use the TV overlay to create the playfield and dots or lines would be the only true visual created by the console.  Each cartridge would trigger jumpers in the console to generate the desired images or items on the screen.  Some games would also include dice and various other items, creating a virtual board game of sorts.  One of the most popular among the Odyssey titles was of course Pong, which was actually named Tennis on the console.  Unfamiliarity with a device of this sort and co-branding with Magnavox stores created a public perception that the Odyssey would only work with Magnavox televisions, which wasn’t true.

Click to see a list of Odyssey games

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Written by Fred Rojas

October 20, 2011 at 10:52 am