Gaming History 101

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24 Hour Live Stream Videos

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Here you go, the entire playlist of all 18 hours (Fred passed out early) of the 24 hour live stream.  We want to thank everyone who donated, joined us, and have ever enjoyed any of the content from Gaming History 101.  Below is the playlist in order starting with the first video, but you can also click this link to go directly to the list and pick your favorite video.

Please note: Due to a copyright claim involving the music in a certain video, our Shadows of the Empire stream has been taken down.  We tried to remove the Hoth theme from the video but it ended up with a video that was only 4 minutes long and you couldn’t make sense of it.  It is possible to view this stream for a short time on our Twitch channel.

How Product Design has Transformed the Amusement Industry

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The term “arcade game” these days conjures up images of cutting-edge graphics and sound, combined with innovative and interactive technology that can bring any concept to life.  However, good graphics and interactivity have not always been a necessity for a game that is both enjoyable and addictive. I dread to mention the recent phenomenon of the Flappy Bird app but it is an example of an outrageously faulty and basic game becoming extremely popular. This has been seen in the past with games like Space Invaders, Pac Man, Tetris and Asteroids following very basic concepts and graphics, but still being addictive and rewarding when completed.

The Really Early Days

The first arcade games kicked off at amusement parks and are still present at fairs and theme parks, but there’s nothing particularly sophisticated about them. Ring toss, throwing balls at stacked cans, shooting targets, and other simple challenges have been doing the rounds for hundreds of years and can still draw in the punters to this day. Just don’t go expecting an easy win. Perhaps this is what is indicative of a good game – making it appear simple whilst making it actually fiendishly difficult to win. Make it too hard, however ,and you are left with Zelda II.

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Podcast: The Final Countdown – Part 3

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We continue our Final Countdown series that swaps the wonderful stories associated with some of the most beloved games of all time.  We still couldn’t quite wrap it up, but we crank through games 39-10 and break down some of the biggest titles ever released.  This time around Fred from Gaming History 101 is joined by Trees from EZ Mode Unlocked and Jake/Jacob from Gameranx.


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Day 7

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On the seventh day of Christmas my memories gave to me…

Mode 7 Graphics!

Mode 7 is a complicated process that is oh so easy to explain, the most notorious user of this graphical style being the SNES.  It was impossible to not notice Nintendo’s push to boast mode 7 graphics in its advertising and even if you were able to ignore it, the launch games for Christmas 1991 and beyond.  Basically the SNES was capable of seven different graphical modes, some adding multiple layers (up to 4) and others allowing you to manipulate and rotate a single layer (mode 7).  It was a way to fake 3D and depth in early games and while Nintendo wasn’t alone, consoles like 3DO were expensive and the Genesis required the Sega CD add-on to feature graphics like mode 7.  If that was all jargon to you, it was the ability to make the screen rotate and zoom on pixels.

When you played Pilotwings, your character wasn’t actually falling into a perceived depth, the world that was created below was just zooming and rotating as you pressed d-pad buttons.  If you pay attention you’ll notice your character stays fixed in the middle of the screen, like an early arcade racer.  Pilotwings wasn’t alone either, almost every early SNES game had mode 7 graphics as some sort of flashy show-off gimmick.  When Bowser flew at the screen in Super Mario World or a foot soldier was tossed toward you in Turtles in Time, these were mode 7 graphics at work.  When the logo of Actraiser did a dance across the screen mode 7 was responsible.  Most notably was the ability to see racers both close and off in the distance with a sense of realism in Super Mario Kart, especially with that technically stunning opening sweep of each racer from Lakitu’s camera perspective.

As for me, when I finally got a SNES in 1994, the first game I wanted to play was none other than Super Castlevania IV.  As an avid fan of the Castlevania series I had thoroughly played the first three games to their challenging conclusions.  Even in early Nintendo Power issues I had been dazzled by the high-end graphical style of Castlevania IV and it remained a game I couldn’t wait to play.  Not only did this title seem more manageable – the multi-directional whip made killing annoying enemies much easier, if not the entire game as a whole – but thanks to mode 7 every trick in the book was utilized.  The world would turn upside down, the screen would rotate, Konami even had some tricks that created the crazy “in the barrel” effect that you see in the screenshot.  One of the biggest trademarks of consoles were that software manufacturers made them do things they were never intended to do, from Atari to SNES and beyond.  Mode 7, on the other hand, was specifically designed into the Super Nintendo and no title showed off all the crazy things that hardware could do better than Super Castlevania IV.  If you still have an SNES and have not touched this technical gem, you owe it to yourself to see mode 7 in all its glory.

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Written by Fred Rojas

December 20, 2011 at 9:25 am