Contra Articles RSS Feed | GameSkinny.com Contra RSS Feed on GameSkinny.com https://www.gameskinny.com/ en Launch Media Network Will Konami Ever Get Their Sh*t Together? https://www.gameskinny.com/om1wt/will-konami-ever-get-their-sht-together https://www.gameskinny.com/om1wt/will-konami-ever-get-their-sht-together Wed, 28 Feb 2018 00:38:36 -0500 Andrew Krajewski

After a recent rumor about the possibility of MGS HD Collection coming to PS4 was proven false, Konami caught a bit of heat from frustrated fans and gaming journalists. The company's reputation among gamers has steadily declined for a few years now and people are wondering if they'll ever turn things around, especially with the lukewarm reception of Metal Gear Survive. Konami has a lot of work to do if they want to be a top dog in the industry again.

Who is Konami

For the uninitiated, Konami is a Japanese entertainment company known for creating several popular video game franchises like Contra, Castlevania, Frogger, Metal Gear Solid, The Goemon Series (my personal favorite), and even Dance Dance Revolution. Konami is also famously credited for creating the Konami Code, a cheat code that has been featured in hundreds of video games since its discovery. Just about everyone who has played video games knows or has tangentially heard of the code. 

Konami's Fall

More recently, Konami has made several decisions in the gaming space that has left many gamers frustrated. The first decision that really shocked the gaming community was the cancellation of the Silent Hills game in 2015. This title was supposed be the next big game in Konami's critically-acclaimed horror franchise, featuring a collaboration between the mastermind behind the Metal Gear Solid series, Hideo Kojima, and none other than the acclaimed film director Guillermo Del Toro. The cancellation left a bitter taste in everyone's mouths that would lead to further controversy down the line.

Later that year, Konami stopped Hideo Kojima from receiving an award for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain at The Game Awards 2015, prompting his departure from the company a few days later. 

Konami has received further criticism for their apparent withdrawal from the console gaming industry while delving deeper into pachinko machine production (think pinball meets gambling). Right now Konami is best known for Yu-Gi-Oh! cards, Pro Evolution Soccer (PES is FIFA's biggest competitor in gaming), and pachinko -- a far cry from their glory days in the video gaming scene.

An example of a modern pachinko machine.

Konami's Future

As a business, Konami's main goal is to make money. While their stock has taken a slight dip the past few months they have still had their stock rise this past year, just as it has over the past five years.

Konami's future in video games may be dependent on the success of Metal Gear Survive. Unfortunately, Metal Gear Survive doesn't have a lot going for it out of the gate, and impressions of the game's current build are a bit pessimistic. Fans may feel obligated to take a stand against this particular title, given that it's the first Metal Gear game developed since Kojima's departure -- and it shows. Survive's gameplay is unlike what you'd find in a traditional Metal Gear game due to a greater emphasis on "horde mode" and base-building mechanics, instead of focusing on the tactical stealth that the series is so well-known for.

With that in mind it's understandable, though still disappointing, that Konami is considering withdrawing from the console gaming industry to focus on their more profitable ventures in mobile gaming and pachinko. Making AAA games is expensive, and Konami may not want to take that risk anymore.

However, if they want to continue making video games for their fans they should reconsider remastering some of their older IPs. The success of Crash N. Sane Trilogy and Shadow of the Colossus have proven that fans are thirsty for a hit of nostalgia, and Konami could jump on the Switch bandwagon and bring back some of their old Nintendo titles (I'm looking at you Contra and Goemon's Great Adventure).

Besides reviving old franchises, Konami should also consider reaching out to Hideo Kojima. There's no way he is coming back, but a public apology, or at least an explanation might go a long way in the eyes of the gaming community. It'd just be a peace offering or a show of good faith, and good PR is something the company desperately needs right now. Microsoft owned up to their mistakes with the launch of the Xbox One, and since then, they have begun to accumulate a lot of good will from the community. This is Konami's chance to do the same thing.

Alternatively, if Konami decides console games are not for them, they could sell their IPs. Konami's name may be forever tarnished, and while it's unlikely to happen, selling their old, beloved IPs may be a good way to bring fans back by having someone else revive their old franchises.

Ultimately, the choice is Konami's. They have smart people working for them who will try to make the best fiscal decision for the company's future. Whether that future will make video gamers happy is yet to be known. What we do know is that Konami has a lot of work ahead of them if they want to regain the trust of their fans.

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Do you think Konami will ever get their sh*t together? Which of their games would you love to see revived or remastered? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to stick around GameSkinny for all your video game news, reviews and more!

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90s Gaming in Eastern Europe: From Communism to Hyrule https://www.gameskinny.com/uthua/90s-gaming-in-eastern-europe-from-communism-to-hyrule https://www.gameskinny.com/uthua/90s-gaming-in-eastern-europe-from-communism-to-hyrule Thu, 12 Jan 2017 03:00:01 -0500 JediPanda

I was born during the Communist fall of '89 in a little country called Romania. You might know it from that one South Park episode where they compared it to a rectum... but I call it home. Growing up as a gamer in a country that struggled to embrace democracy after 35 years of living in fear and poverty under a mad dictator was not as fun as some of you might think (seriously... does anyone think it was fun?).

But while you were probably rocking out your NES or SEGA systems we were probably outside -- playing with sticks... and stones if we were lucky. Companies like Nintendo, Atari, or Sega were not to interested in selling their products here, and even if they were, people probably had to sell a kidney to afford them based on how low our incomes was.

But the nation's need for gaming was evident and certain consoles started popping out on the market. Thus began my gaming journey in the winter of '94 when my parents surprised me with my first gaming console for Christmas. It looked something like this:

Looks familiar, doesn't it? No, it's not some fancy Atari 2600, it was actually called Rambo, that's right... ol' Sly was the face of the first console you could get your hands on in Romania. It's a 'made in china' clone that you could buy from Russian traders that used to sell stuff in my home town. The best part about it was that if you accidentally broke one of your controllers... which you did... often (made in china, remember?) you had to buy a new console all together because there was no way in hell you could find a joystick sold separately (cool, huh?).

Another fun thing about it is that it didn't use cartridges, instead it had about 30 games on it and when you got bored with those, well, that was it. But who am I kidding? It was the only console around and you were actually lucky to have one back then, so you never got bored. You could enjoy such classics as "throw the brick," "move the brick slightly to the left," and "this brick is a car and you're actually playing a racing game." Jokes aside, I really don't remember the names of the games, but they all involved you moving a square thingy from one edge of the screen to the other.

As for handheld gaming, while kids in the US were busy catching pokemon on their Gameboy handhelds, we had these:

I have no idea where these came from but they were suddenly that one thing you really wanted and couldn't live without. Gaming on the go? Are you kidding? That was like Science Fiction to me and couldn't wait to get my hands on one of these -- it also had 9999 games on it. The only place I've ever seen a GameBoy or a Sega Game Gear was in a commercial on some German channel we could pick up with our TV antena. Well the handheld wasn't all that great.

Now, you're probably thinking "what do you mean? It has 9999 games in 1... what's not to like?" Yes, it did have 9999 games but they were all Tetris. All 9999 of them were the same damn game with only small tweaks so you can tell them apart. I can still hear the Tetris theme song in my subconscious sometimes.

Come 1996 and this happened:

It was called Terminator, and it was glorious. First off, I don't know why these clone systems were named after successful action movies, and frankly I don't give a damn because this console was the bomb. There was not one kid on the block that didn't have one and you literally couldn't walk inside someone's house in Romania -- circa 1996 -- and not see one of these babies right next to their TV. Every kid loved his Terminator -- even when it randomly exploded and needed to be replaced, or when you realized that your system came without a controller.

It wasn't all bad with the Terminator, this thing actually played NES games and boy were they miles better than anything we've experienced with the Rambo console. We finally had Mario, Contra, Kirby, and a bunch of Japanese titles with no translation that nobody knew how to play. This system had cartridges that you could buy from every corner store. The major drawback was that the sticker on the cartridges never matched up with the actual game on the cartridge. I remember one time I saved up for a month to buy Castlevania.

I used to look at the cool artwork on the cartridge every single day for a month until I could afford it, and when I finally had enough money I went on and bought it, ran home full of excitement, stuck it into my console and surprise surprise.. it was actually Super Mario Bros, which I already had. I never knew when to give up so I saved up all my lunch money for another month and bought a copy of Castlevania from a different store... and so I found myself owning three Super Mario cartridges. All drawbacks aside this system was actually fun, and if you were lucky enough you could actually get some quality NES games on it.

Image credit - Andrew Nollan Photobucket

As far as arcades go, my city had one, and not one arcade where you could go with your friends and enjoy sugary drinks and play games all day, one machine. It was one arcade machine, and it was Street Fighter 2 and I had to save up a week's worth of school lunches to play for an hour on it. That didn't matter much to me, it was well worth it and I can still remember seeing those graphics for the first time, especially Dhalsim's flames -- they all seemed so real. We usually would gather up groups of six or seven kids and all chip in so that only one of us could play and the rest could enjoy the show. It goes without saying that the bigger kids always had priority but the rest of us were lucky enough to enjoy the show.

Probably the most memorable moment of my 90s console gaming experience was in '98 when I got an SNES as a gift from a relative -- maybe? -- from Austria. He said he didn't need it anymore because it's old and his (spoiled) son isn't using it anymore. So when the rest of the world was enjoying the Sony Playstation and the Nintendo 64, I got my hands on the SNES. I had four games for it, and luckily enough one of them was Street Fighter 2 so suddenly every kid wanted to be my friend. The other three were Super Mario World, The Adventures of Pinocchio (pretty dull but nice soundtrack) and my favorite of the list The Legend of Zelda : A Link to the Past. I spent my entire summer in Hyrule that year and I have no regrets. The only major drawback of owning an SNES was that you couldn't find games for it, I mean anywhere, and if you did somehow managed to find one, you had to drop your dad's whole month's salary on it.

PC Gaming was totally different thought, while you were playing triple A titles, we were playing DOS games in the early 2000s. But I'll leave that to another story...

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5 Games That Come With Bragging Rights https://www.gameskinny.com/cv6on/5-games-that-come-with-bragging-rights https://www.gameskinny.com/cv6on/5-games-that-come-with-bragging-rights Fri, 25 Nov 2016 15:00:02 -0500 Sckoupe

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Well, that's a wrap folks; my top 5 games that are blindingly difficult, each for a very different and unique reason.

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There are obviously countless games out there that could have earned a spot in this article, I'm sure. Like art or music, how hard a game can be is also totally subjective, so let me know in the comments below the hardest game -- or games -- you have been playing.

"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_360,q_80,w_640/v1/gameskinnyc/2/0/1/20161124200022-a3c42.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_85,q_80,w_97/v1/gameskinnyc/2/0/1/20161124200022-a3c42.jpg","type":"slide","id":"142182","description":"

Super Hexagon

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RIP my beloved spacebar. You will be missed.

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Simple and minimalistic but it will surely have you on your knees in a tearful fit of frustration. Yup, it's Terry Cavanagh whom you have to thank (or blame) for Super Hexagon, the game that broke your spirit. Shhh, it's ok; I won't tell anyone.

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Fast-paced and designed to test not only your patience but your resolve as well, trial and error will quickly become your new best friend. All you have to do is not get hit and squeeze through the openings. It sounds easy enough, right?

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Making your way to the Hyper Hexagonest stage and coming out the other side to witness the end will require quick reflexes and a keen eye. It is a feat truly worthy of song and endless barrels of ale.

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Rest well, noble warrior, for there is a well-deserved place for you among the pantheon of gods for an achievement such as this.

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Contra

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Three continues, two lives, one hit and no Konami code. That's right, NO Konami code; didn't think I'd catch you with your hand in the proverbial cookie jar, did you, hmm?

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Contra, although not all that long when you take a step back and look at the big picture, is nothing to be said for how hard it is to get through those seven short stages. Most of the difficulty, for me at least, came in the form of harsh colours and the tiny, almost invisible particle effects that the enemies use for bullets.

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The majority of the time I didn't even see the projectile that hit me, just the effect it had as I was left in a rage-induced stupor, puzzled and wondering how the hell I had died. Oh, what fond memories.

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Ghosts 'n Goblins

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The only thing more detrimental to your sanity than painstakingly beating one of the hardest games out there is having to do it twice. Ghosts 'n Goblins, with its sadistic sense of humour, forces you to do just that.

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Predetermined jump arches and random enemy generation makes Ghosts 'n Goblins one hell of a tough customer. Not to mention the completely erratic and unpredictable movements of said enemies, it should come as no surprise to frequently get hung up on certain areas. Some of which might be too embarrassing to admit but that's ok, we've all been there.

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With only two hits to spare before becoming nothing more than a bleached pile of bones, it's best to watch your step. It's also important to note, that if you don't keep a sharp eye on your surroundings, it's all too possible to end up with an axe (not so good) or a fireball, arguably the worst weapon in the entire game. If all else fails and the Ghosts 'n Goblins isn't doing you any favours, stick with the javelin or if you're lucky enough, grab the daggers as soon as they appear and don't look back.

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It's not all bad though because once you trudge through for the second time and finally defeat the last boss yet again, the game rewards you with a much needed, gut-wrenching laugh.

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Ahem... yeah. What more can be said... ENJOY!

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Street Fighter X Megaman

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Originally a fan-made game, celebrating the 25th anniversaries of both Capcom's major franchises, Megaman and Street Fighter, Capcom later assisted in the games production. Unlike either franchise standing alone, however, Street Fighter X Megaman has a surprisingly well programmed AI that's better than both. So good in fact, I'm confused as to whether I should hate it or love it. I mean, it took me an hour just to get a leg up on Dhalsim down there.

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If you were thinking this little gem was going to take it easy on you, expecting the usual difficulty curve associated with either franchise individually, then you would be sadly mistaken. You take a beating right from go, as Street Fighter X Megaman pummels you into submission and steals your lunch money, shoes, all your MTG cards and then rubs dirt in your eyes before sauntering off to revel in the spoils.

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The lack of a save option - except an old-school password feature - makes this all the more apparent. Now, because there's no getting off light with this one, what makes things even worse (that's right, worse), is the fact that after you beat the usual 8 levels, there are two more optional bosses that stand in your way, if you've cleared the conditions necessary to face them. 

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Those conditions involve completing and getting a "perfect" on a total of 7 (3 before the teleporter gauntlet to unlock Akuma and 4 after to unlock Sagat) boss fights. If the game wasn't infuriating enough without inflicting this strange combination of ecstasy and rage upon yourself, then by all means, have at it. Just be prepared to lose at least one perfectly good controller to this maddening beast because I sure did and it wasn't even mine...

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Terraria

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Have I lost you already? If you're thinking to yourself, "really... come on, it's only Terraria," then allow me the chance to get back in your good graces. This cunning little devil may act all cute and innocent, but beneath the surface, Terraria is secretly plotting new and excruciating ways to murder you.

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Accidently fall off a platform while fishing in the ocean? No problem, a shark will spawn directly under your feet before you even touch the water, just so you don't have any delusions that you can actually escape.

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Were you on a minecart while getting attacked? Don't worry, you can warp away using a magic mirror or a recall potion, then subsequently fall through a plank and become nothing but a fine red paste at the bottom of a tunnel.

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Did you use a heart container thinking 20 extra health would at least give you a chance? That's ok too because now that you have, there's a chance for slime rain and the Slime King himself to spawn, so don't roll a one on your first night.

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Now, being an open world sandbox with very few limits or inherent objectives, it's up to the player to set their own goals. The masochist in me decided to go with a large world, along with the expert difficulty setting and a hardcore character to top it all off. The restrictions I set on myself, were that I would absolutely not consider the game "finished" until I had defeated all 14 bosses and managed to survive. 

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A few hundred hours of play time and 32 different maps later and guess what I have yet to accomplish? That's right! Terraria is still beating me senseless and the farthest I've yet to sneak by with is killing the Wall of Flesh. If anyone out there has done this with even a hint of ease, then I tip my hat to you.

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Have you ever run up against one of those games that for one reason or another seemed utterly impossible to beat? I think we all have, and can all relate in some small way to this dilemma.

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A game may test your reflexes and hand-eye coordination, have an absurd enemy spawn rate or a smart and aggressively combative AI. Hell, even aesthetic design choices are fair game because there is no cut and dry formula for video game difficulty.

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Some of these games may be blatantly obvious as soon as you boot it up, while others try to fool you with an innocuous facade, keeping quiet and out of sight until it's far too late.

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The list that follows will share my experience with some of these troublesome little buggers, and why I think they deserve a spot on this list.

"}]]]>
A Celebration of Some of the Most Difficult Games in History https://www.gameskinny.com/m6lfq/a-celebration-of-some-of-the-most-difficult-games-in-history https://www.gameskinny.com/m6lfq/a-celebration-of-some-of-the-most-difficult-games-in-history Tue, 30 Jun 2015 07:16:41 -0400 LumpztheClown

Lumpz the Clown Entertainment Presents...Summer Brutality 2015!

100+ degree weather, 10 brutally challenging retro/indie games, 1 clown, ZERO MERCY!

Why "Summer Brutality"?

Simple. I feel that a lot of new games hold the player's hand, inundates them with countless tutorials and rewards them for achieving next to nothing.

I'm that kid who couldn't afford a Nintendo Power subscription or a Game Genie. As a result, I had to learn everything myself and be the best I could be! Further, I was only allowed one rental per week, and I had to make it count!

So what happened when I'd inadvertantly pick a brutally challenging game? I'd have to get better in order to further the experience!

And the best part? I learned to ENJOY the challenge!

Bottom line: A lot of us have forgotten that playing and mastering a difficult game can be fun and rewarding in and of itself! 

And that's the mission of Summer Brutality 2015: a celebration of difficult video games from the past and present!

Event Details

This is a 10-week long event where I take on one specific game and do my damndest to try and beat it in 2 hours! Challenge livestreams occur every Saturday on my Twitch channel, with highlights posted on YouTube within 48-72 hours. 

I've already played Xeodrifter, Super Castlevania IVand Contra, with seven more to come! Check out the Game List to see what else is in the pipeline.

 

Featured games and times are subject to change.

Final announcements for the next game and time are made on my Twitter and Facebook accounts by 7PM EST! 

For and powered by the good folks of the gaming community!

Thanks for stopping by! Lumpz the Clown OUT!

Visit Lumpz the Clown Entertainment for more Clowny Gamer goodness!

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10 Classic Video Games You Can Share with Your Kids https://www.gameskinny.com/bo24z/10-classic-video-games-you-can-share-with-your-kids https://www.gameskinny.com/bo24z/10-classic-video-games-you-can-share-with-your-kids Tue, 09 Jun 2015 10:51:41 -0400 K.W. Colyard

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Do you and your kids enjoy the same kinds of video games? What classic games have you already introduced them to? Let us know in the comments!

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The Sonic the Hedgehog franchise has been ported to many platforms since it debuted on the Sega Genesis back in 1990. You can play it on the 3DS Virtual Console for $4.99.

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Also available: Sonic Labyrinth

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The Sly Cooper franchise may not be getting a prequel on the PlayStation 4, but that doesn't mean you can't still enjoy the trilogy with your kids. Pick up The Sly Collection on PlayStation 3 for about $20.

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The Punch-Out!! franchise got a much-needed reboot on the Wii in 2009, but you can also find the original on the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS Virtual Consoles for $4.99.

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Also available: Super Punch-Out!!

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If there was one game that defined our childhoods, it was The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. At $40, it's by far the most expensive game on this list, but we think you'll agree that the experience is worth it.

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Also available: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

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Xbox 360's Konami Classics Vol. 1 features FroggerCastlevania, and Contra for around $15, or you can jump on the Crossy Road bandwagon and dodge traffic to infinity for free.

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Not much has surfaced regarding the fourth installment in the Earthworm Jim franchise since 2008, but you can play the original on Xbox 360, PS3, and PC for under $20.

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The classic NES title, DuckTales, was remastered in 2013 for Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U, and PC. You can find a copy for around $15 (prices vary).

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I guarantee, your kids will hate that laughing dog as much as you did. Snag Duck Hunt on the Wii U Virtual Console for $4.99.

"},{"image":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/f/c/a/fca12b7bc9e5653abfb5f63fab866a8c.jpg","thumb":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/f/c/a/tiny_fca12b7bc9e5653abfb5f63fab866a8c.jpg","type":"slide","id":"69356","description":"

Whether you're playing on a home console or handheld system, Donkey Kong is ready and waiting for you and your child. Find it on the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS Virtual Consoles for just $4.99.

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Also available: Donkey Kong Country.

"},{"image":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/3/0/0/3008e7be12414fd3aadb67df18d63063.jpg","thumb":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/3/0/0/tiny_3008e7be12414fd3aadb67df18d63063.jpg","type":"slide","id":"69355","description":"

If you've gotten rid of your Nintendo 64, or just don't feel like searching for it in the attic, you can download Banjo-Kazooie from the Xbox Live Arcade for $14.99.

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Also available: Banjo-Tooie.

"},{"image":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/9/6/f/96ff2f088d7726395cb00f51b3ace611.jpg","thumb":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/9/6/f/tiny_96ff2f088d7726395cb00f51b3ace611.jpg","type":"slide","id":"69354","description":"

Aging is hard. No matter how hard you try to stay on top of your game, the younger generations eventually overtake you, because they’ve grown up with technologies you’ve had to adapt to use. Sharing your childhood pastimes and passions with your children can often be difficult. You’re offering them a form of entertainment that’s decades older than the ones they’re used to enjoying, so it’s no small wonder they can see the flaws you were able to ignore: visible wires, boom mics, zippers, and cracks.

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Their children’s rejection of the things they loved can be particularly difficult for gamers, especially those who were forced to give up their hobby in favor of work, education, or familial obligations. These people are now out of touch with the same video game technologies in which their children are fluent. The hurdle, therefore, isn’t just a generation gap; they’re speaking entirely different languages.

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But gamer parents needn’t worry. Manufacturers have been organizing game ports since Pong became Home Pong, and that tradition is showing no signs of stopping. Here are ten classic video games you can share with your kids.

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The 10 Video Game Consoles Worthy of Putting into a Museum https://www.gameskinny.com/6jiis/the-10-video-game-consoles-worthy-of-putting-into-a-museum https://www.gameskinny.com/6jiis/the-10-video-game-consoles-worthy-of-putting-into-a-museum Sun, 21 Sep 2014 20:33:16 -0400 mchiu

Now that the National Videogame History Museum will break ground in January 2015, I thought it might be fun to speculate what would be 10 home video game consoles that absolutely should be on display.

In researching this article, it brought back a lot of childhood nostalgia. I remember spending hours in front of the TV playing many of these games, and it was difficult to really sort out which would truly make it into the top 10. I really couldn't rank these against each other since each one is truly unique and groundbreaking, that there really wouldn't be any objective way to say any one system is "better" than any other.

So in the end, I present you with this list, which is not ranked, but rather, is listed in more or less a chronological order of video game consoles that should be included in any respectable video game museum.

1. Magnavox Odyssey

This console is truly the grandaddy of video game consoles.  Released in August 1972, and pre-dating Atari's Pong arcade game by 3 years, the Odyssey did not have any audio, was powered off 6 "C" batteries, (or A/C adapter sold separately) and used translucent color plastic overlays that players could put on their TV screens to simulate color graphics. (Yes, the games back then were only in two colors) It came with 2 paddles for controllers. For you younger folk, "paddles" were game controllers that were nothing more than just a knob that you twisted back and forth. Basically, in those days, game movement was restricted to just left and and right, or up and down. Later models of paddles included a button as an extra input option.

Notable Games

A total of 27 games were made available for the Odyssey by way of printed circuit boards (that were called "game cards") that were inserted into the system, similarly to game cartridges in later systems. Some of the game cards had multiple games on them, so there were only 12 different game cards that were released.

When it comes to the older generations, just about every game is notable since video games were so new at the time. For the Magnavox Odyssey, most of the games were essentially different variations of Pong, with games such as Table Tennis, Tennis, Volleyball, Soccer, etc.

Why It Should Be in the Museum

I think this one is a no-brainer. This is the console that started it all, and inspired future generations of video game consoles. The machine did not have any brains, however, as it was lacking a CPU. It wouldn't be until 4 years later until a semiconductor company came up with such a console... 

2. Fairchild Channel F

This is a system that I am willing to bet that most people have never heard of. Released in November 1976, this system was put out by Fairchild Semiconductor, which is better known as a company that produces computer chips, and was the pre-cursor to Intel. (A bit boring of a history lesson, but some of the founders of Fairchild went on to start up Intel, AMD, and other semiconductor companies in the Silicon Valley). The system came with an interesting pair of controllers that were like joysticks without bases.

At the top of the controller, was a triangular "cap" that allowed for 8-way directional control, but could also be twisted, so in today's world, it could be viewed as the analog control knobs, but they could also be twisted. This made it so the controllers were both joysticks and paddles simultaneously. As for audio, it made an improvement over the Odyssey, only in that it did have audio, although it came through an internal speaker on the console, and not through the TV speakers.

Notable Games

The system only had 26 games developed for it, and as you might have guessed already, most of the games were variations of Pong. Games on the system included Video Whizball, Bowling, Pro-Football, Video Blackjack, Baseball, etc.

Why It Should Be in the Museum

The Fairchild Channel F is the first video game console to use a dedicated CPU inside, as well as the first video game console to use game cartridges. It was different from the Magnavox Odyssey's "game cards" in that the cartridges contained Read Only Memory (ROM) chips that allowed the games to be programmed by software, versus the game cards which were a series of physical jumpers between pins of the card connector. One other important reason this should be in the museum is that due to the use of the CPU, it was able to produce enough AI for players to play against a computer opponent. All previous consoles required two human players.

The Fairchild F was truly revolutionary, but it never really achieved market success. One other reason it was so important to the video game industry, however, was that it spurred the development of...

3. Atari 2600 (aka Atari Video Computer System)


OK, let me just get the biggest elephant of the room out of the way already. Released in September 1978, the Atari Video Computer System (VCS) basically ate Fairchild's Channel F's lunch, and profited handsomely from it. For mainstream America, this is pretty much where home video game consoles all started. Originally named the Atari Video Computer System, after the introduction of the follow-up Atari 5200, the VCS was renamed to the Atari 2600. It shipped with 2 joystick controllers and a pair paddles. The original units also shipped with the Combat game, however, later models shipped with different game titles. 

Notable Games

In the section below, there will be some discussion of the E.T. game that lead to Atari's demise, but other games notable games on the Atari 2600 include titles such as Breakout, Yar's Revenge, Kaboom!, Adventure, 

Why It Should Be in the Museum

While the Fairchild Channel F was revolutionary as the first console with a dedicated CPU, Atari one-upped them by using a more powerful CPU that was cheaper, and thus, able to offer the Atari VCS as a cheaper alternative. 

Although it was not Atari's intention, it also spawned the market for 3rd party developers. Disgruntled Atari game programmers left the company due to not receiving any recognition for the games they created, nor receiving any kind of compensation for the smash hits they produced, and went on to create their own company that solely made games compatible with the Atari VCS. Atari brought them to court, but in the end, the courts ruled in favor of this new company, Activision. In fact, if you looked at the boxes the Activision game cartridges came in, you will notice that it featured a short bio of the programmer.

At the time, the biggest game in the arcades was Taito's Space Invaders, which Atari had licensed and brought to the 2600. This was the tipping point that brought video games to the forefront of mainstream American society, and Atari continued to license other IP to much success, including Pac-Man. Unfortunately, Atari also licensed the rights to produce a game based on the movie, E.T., and the game did so poorly, that it lead to the video game crash of 1983. 

 

Also, the Atari 2600 version of Pac-Man is also widely criticized as another reason for the downfall. At the time, Pac-Man was a hugely popular game, and  had swept all across America, so the Atari 2600 version of the game was highly anticipated, but was a big letdown when it looked absolutely nothing like the original game. 

In the US, the post-crash hangover lasted until 1985, but when the video game market in the US started to pick up again, Atari was no longer the force it once was, and all the other competitors were nowhere to be found. In fact, it took a Japanese company to revive the video game market in the US...

4. Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)/Famicom

 

Released first in Japan in July 1983 and known as the "Family Computer" or "Famicom" for short, and later in the US in 1985 as the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), this machine featured an 8-bit processor, and used a gamepad similar to the ones that we use today. (albeit, a much simpler version)

Notable Games

The NES was able to bring arcade quality graphics home, which helped bring back gamer's confidence in home video games again. As this is a Nintendo console, the most noticeable game would have to be Super Mario Bros. which shipped initially with every console sold in the US. Other notable titles included The Legend of Zelda, Duck Hunt, (which made use of a light gun) and Kung Fu. (which was the same game as the arcade hit, Kung Fu Fighter)

The NES also had 3rd party titles such as Konami's Contra, which is where we first see the "Konami Code". (up up down down left right left right B A Start) Also interesting to note is that many of the largest video game franchises today all started on the NES. These include games like Final Fantasy, Megaman, Metal Gear, and  Dragon Quest.

Why It Should Be in the Museum

Aside from the fact that the NES resuscitated the then dying US video game market, unlike its predecessors, the NES was able to capture the arcade quality graphics of video games, and bring them home. 

In order to regain consumer confidence in video games, Nintendo had also set up a strict licensing system that allowed it to approve video games for use on its system. Before the 1983 video game crash, there was no quality control, and video game advertising and box art greatly exaggerated the actual graphics of the game, and set up false expectations. Nintendo wanted to have more control over this, and game developers were subjected to a strict approval process that is still used today by all the game console manufacturers, as well as by mobile phone app stores. 

Finally, Nintendo was the first game console to use copy-protection, that made it difficult for pirates to steal developers' IP and resell them without authorization.

Besides, it's fun to have in a museum and to see kids' reactions to what a real NES looks like.

5. NEC TurboGrafx-16/PC Engine

 

The NEC TurboGrafx-16 (PC Engine in Japan) had a bit of a confusing name. This console was released during the era of 16-bit game consoles, yet it used an 8-bit CPU, but did feature dual 16-bit GPUs. The Japanese version, PC Engine, was considered to be the world's smallest game console with the dimensions of 5.5"x5.5"x1.5". This console also featured a gamepad similar to the NES, and used a very thin cartridge that was just slightly thicker than a credit card, that it called "HuCard."

Notable Games

Although not as popular as other game systems of its time, there were some popular game franchises that made their debut on the TurboGrafx/PC Engine platform. The two most notable would be Bomberman and Bonk's Adventure

 Why It Should Be In the Museum

Aside from the fact that it was an extremely compact system, the NEC TurboGrafx-16 was also the first console to feature a CD-ROM peripheral. The CD-ROM also lacked region lock, so US gamers could play CD titles, though the HuCards had different pin assignments between TurboGrafx-16 and PC Engine.


Also, later on, NEC released the TurboExpress, which was a handheld version of the TurboGrafx-16. It featured a 2.6" backlit, active-matrix LCD, stereo sound, and the same CPU, however, it's main draw was the fact that it could play the same HuCards that were used in the home version. 

 6. 3DO


The 3DO Company did not actually manufacture any consoles, but instead, licensed out its hardware design to 3rd parties such as Panasonic, Goldstar, and Sanyo. It featured a 32-bit ARM processor and internal CD-ROM drive. (this was revolutionary in those days) 

Notable Games



Since 3DO did not do very well, part of the reason is that it was missing an exclusive title that warranted someone to want to go out and get the console. Since it was slightly cheaper than buying a full-blown PC at the time, if someone really wanted to play PC titles such as Myst, Star Wars Rebel Assault, Doom, or Alone in the Dark, maybe a 3DO machine made more sense, but obviously, that really didn't happen, or maybe it was too niche of a market to grow out.

Why It Should Be In the Museum

I decided to include 3DO in this list simply because I feel that it should be an example of how not to launch a video game console. While it did generate quite a buzz in its day, it was riding on the "multimedia wave" that was going on in the PC world by providing games on CD-ROM. Unfortunately, due to its business model of licensing out its hardware design to 3rd parties, the price of the consoles were upwards of $599, which were double that of its competitors, namely, the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis.

The company felt that since it had a very advanced system, the public was willing to pay a premium for it, despite the fact that competitors such as the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis already had a strong foothold in the US already. While it was ahead of its time, it wasn't that far ahead, and it was more of its arrogance that lead to its demise.

7. Sega Genesis/MegaDrive


Released in Japan as the MegaDrive in October 1988, and subsequently in the US as the Sega Genesis in November 1990, this console was probably the only successful console from Sega. In Japan, it did not do well against its competitors, Nintendo's Super Famicom and NEC's PC Engine, but it did acheive success in the US and Europe. This console was a 16-bit machine, and like the rest of the consoles at the time, used game cartridges. 

Notable Games


The Sega Genesis had a huge library games for it, with many of them being arcade translations. Some of the best known games include: Sonic the Hedgehog, Altered Beast, Battle Toads, Phantasy Star series, Mortal Kombat, Streets of Rage.

Edit: A friend just informed me that the Phantasy Star series started on the Sega Master System (the predecessor to the Sega Genesis) however, it was also a popular title on the Genesis nonetheless.

Why It Should Be in the Museum

In the US, the Sega Genesis was the main competitor against Nintendo's Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Its marketing was geared towards being like the "older brother" of Nintendo with games that were geared towards a more mature audience. While there was controversy over games such as Mortal Kombat, Sega allowed blood to be shown in the game, while Nintendo went on the more parent-approved version of showing no blood in the game. This eventually lead to the creation of the Videogame Rating Council, which was the predecessor to the ESRB ratings we see today. 

8. Sony PlayStation


Released in Japan in December 1994, and in the US in September 1995, the PlayStation was a CD-ROM based console that also used gamepads, however, the gamepads now featured shoulder buttons and four buttons. Later versions of the gamepad included analog sticks and "Dual Shock" force feedback.

Notable Games



At this point in time, we begin to see that in the market, titles on one platform may also appear on another platform. Certain games are available exclusively only on one platform, which makes the console even more popular. For the PlayStation, here are some titles that were exclusive at the time: Final Fantasy VII, Parasite Eve, Parappa the Rapper, Gran Tourismo, Metal Gear Solid, and Crash Bandicoot. 

Why It Should Be in the Museum


The Sony PlayStation kickstarted the 32-bit revolution, and the modern video games we see out today. It was also the first mainstream console to use optical media to distribute games, compared to the cartridge system used before. With CD-ROMs, and subsequently with DVDs, games could be distributed and stored in a thinner form factor, and contain more data for higher quality graphics and audio. The Dual Shock controllers and analog sticks brought a whole new level of play into the mix, as players could have the feedback in their hands through vibrations for explosions, or when they are doing some right or wrong, as well as having more precise control of movements.

Sega soon after introduced the Sega Saturn which also featured CD-ROM, but this is the classic case of the first-mover advantage, where Sony overtook the market. 

9. Nintendo Wii


The Nintendo Wii was unveiled at the 2006 GDC in San Jose, where it was originally codenamed the "Revolution". This console featured a new type of controller that was not only wireless, but also had a motion sensor to allow players to use gestures to control the action in the game.

Notable Games


The Nintendo Wii shipped with Wii Sports, which showed off the capabilities of the Wii, but unfortunately, it did that so well that for the first few years, sales of other titles did not fare well until the novelty rubbed off. Afterwards, other titles started getting more attention such as: Mario Kart Wii, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Wii Fit, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Epic Mickey, and Metroid Prime 3: Corruption.

Why It Should Be in the Museum

The controller, known as the "WiiMote" brought a whole new dimension to gaming. While Microsoft and Sony were battling it out with their graphics capabilities and pure horsepower with their upcoming Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 consoles, Nintendo realized that it would not be able to compete on this end, and instead, chose to focus on revolutionizing game play. 

At his keynote during GDC 2006, Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata noted that in designing the Wii, they wanted to create a system that a young child could easily pick up and understand how to play, as well as something that would not be foreign to an elderly person. The "WiiMote", as the name implies, was meant to look and feel like a remote control, however, it could be used as an extension of the hand, and with a little imagination, could be viewed as a tennis racquet, a sword, etc. while being waved in the air. 

After its initial release in November 2006, the Wii was constantly sold out, and subsequently caused both Microsoft and Sony to come up with their own gesture-based controllers in the Kinect and the PlayStation Move.

10. All Current Generation Game Consoles


At the time of this writing, the current generation game consoles would include the Nintendo Wii U, the Microsoft Xbox One, and the Sony PlayStation 4. These consoles represent the latest and greatest of gaming technology today with some of the most advanced graphics capabilities, as well as the ability to play and purchase games online.

Why It Should Be in the Museum

The current generation of the game consoles should be featured in any video game museum simply to show how far along we have come along. With each generation of home video game consoles come with it a slew of advancements that set a new standard for all future consoles. 

Only the Top 10? Honorable Mentions:

As I was writing this, I realized that limiting to just the top 10 would be impossible. There are so many great video game consoles that were left out of this list that truly deserved to be showcased in a video game museum. If I could have an infinite number of consoles to feature, here are some of the others that I would also include to showcase in a video game museum:

  • Intellivision
  • ColecoVision
  • Atari 5200
  • Vectrex
  • Sega Master System
  • Neo-Geo
  • Super Nintendo Entertainment System / Super Famicom
  • Atari Jaguar
  • Sega Saturn
  • Nintendo 64
  • Sega Dreamcast
  • Sony PlayStation 2
  • Nintendo Game Cube
  • Microsoft Xbox

... and this is only the beginning. On top of this, there are also the portable consoles and their predecessors in the handheld game genre, which I have been a big fan of, and have been a bit of a collector. Maybe this would be something to write about in the future.

The home video game console market has certainly come a long way since its humble beginnings in the early 1970s. As we now cross into this new generation of consoles, and with the advent of cloud computing and virtual consoles, I wonder what's in store for us 5-10 years down the line. Will game consoles still exist as they do today? Will consoles themselves just turn into brands and apps that we can access on our Smart TVs while all of the computing horsepower is done on the carrier side? Buckle up everyone! I think it's gonna be a wild ride!

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