Classic Gaming- Spyro Year of the Dragon: (2000)

When the original Spyro the Dragon game was released in 1998 many people fans and critics alike were impressed by various features included in this title.  The original Spyro game included a basic plot amazing levels and nice 3D gameplay. Shortly, after the release of the original Spyro game many people were eager for a sequel to this title. During the fall of 2000, Spyro: Year of the Dragon was released for the Sony PlayStation.  The second installment of the Spyro series featured various improvements from the original title including more playable characters.  Along with playing as Spyro people get to utilize other characters including Sparx, Sheila, Sergeant Byrd, Bentley, and Cheetah who provides you with assistance dealing with in-game mechanics.

The plot for Spyro: Year of the Dragon is also a bit more complex than the original because the main antagonist of this game devised to carry out her motives.  The main antagonist of the original Spyro game captured other dragons because he was insulted.  In Year of the Dragon Spyro and his friends must stop the Sorceress and her army in order to retrieve stolen dragon eggs.  Year of the Dragon provides players with brand new settings in the form of realms such as Evening Lake, Midday Gardens, Midnight Mountain, and Sunrise Spring. Along with the addition of new characters and realms Year of the Dragon featured  improved gameplay, graphics along with mini-games which made this title more enjoyable than the original.  Looking back at the time frame Year of the Dragon was released some people might scratch their heads and wonder why it was not ported for the PlayStation 2.

After all, the PlayStation 2 did make its debut late in the year 2000.  Despite, not being released for the PlayStation 2 people were still able to play it on that console since it was conveniently backwards compatible with the PS1.   Shortly after its release GameSpot scored the game in eight out of ten while IGN gave it a nine.   Since this title made its debut in 2000 it has sold over 2 million units worldwide and continues to be recognized one of the best platform games released for the original Sony PlayStation.

Classic Gaming- Spyro the Dragon: (1998)

There were many great games that were released for the original PlayStation during the mid to late 90’s. It was also a time period where the genre of platform gaming started evolving from 2D side scrolling action into 3D landscapes and adventures. While there were many games that were very popular in the 90’s Spyro the Dragon was definitely one of the best PlayStation had to offer.  Spyro the Dragon was developed by Insomniac Games and published by Sony Computer in 1998.  The idea and concept for this game was original because the setting for this title occurs in a fictional realm known as the Artisan Realm which is one of the five in the Dragon Kingdom.

The game starts with a live broadcast in the Artisan Realm were a dragon is interviewed.  However, the dragon insults the main antagonist Gnasty Gnorc who lives in a seperate realm by himself.  Gnorc gets offended and uses a magic spell and captures most of the dragons in the realm with the exception of Spyro.  In this game the player is charged with the task of rescuing the other dragons and restoring the realm back to normal.  The idea that Gnorc lives in a sixth realm by himself would indicate that he was a threat not only to the Artisan Realm but also the Peace Keepers, Magic Crafters, Beast Makers, and the Dream Weaver realm as well.

Just like platform titles the plot is very basic and does not involve a devious plot from a villain who is focused on world domination.  Some people may argue that Gnorc motives revolved mainly around revenge when in reality he felt resented. Either way, the developers was able to create an adventurous title that featured excellent gameplay and a basic plot that allows players to easily understand the game itself. Shortly after its initial release GameSpot scored Spyro the Dragon in the eight point bracket out of ten.  Also, IGN scored the game in the nine point bracket due to many factors including its creativity and innovative gameplay.  As good as this title was the series would improve during the release of the second installment entitled “Spyro Year of the Dragon”  in the year 2000.

Gaming Consoles- TurboGrafx-16: (1987)

There were many classic game consoles that were popular during the 80’s and the 90’s including Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo, PlayStation, and the Neo Geo.  Such game systems are generally known by most people as some of the best consoles to be released in international markets worldwide prior to the 2000’s.  However, when most of us think about game systems there are usually some consoles that we often forget about.  An example of such as console would included the PC Engine also known as the TurboGrafx-16 developed by NEC Home Electronics and released in Japan during 1987.  The graphics of the Turbografx-16 were great for its time and could definitely challenge the likes of the Nintendo Entertainment System  in terms of gameplay.

The TurboGrafx-16 was unique because it was a cross between 8-bit gameplay and 16-bit color design which arguably in some ways make the games for this console appealing.  Despite, being a game system with potential to rival the NES the TurboGrafx-16 was released a year before the Sega Master System made its debut in fall of 1988.   While the graphics for the TurboGrafx-16 games resembled a refined version of many NES titles the Sega Master System provided innovative 16-bit graphics and gameplay with popular titles such as the Phantasy Star series.  As many of us know the TurboGrafx-16 did not perform as well in terms of sales especially in countries such as the United States.  One of the problems was the fact that the TurboGrafx-16 was released a few years to late.   Ever since the Nintendo Entertainment System was released in the summer of 1983  8-bit gaming was very popular in arcades worldwide.  The early to mid 80’s was the time period where people  had become well acquainted with 8-bit games such as the Mario, Megaman, and Zelda series.

The NES had a three plus year advantage in sales over the TurboGrafx-16 following its release along with the fact that the gaming industry was evolving.   As we progressed into the late 80’s and early 90’s 16-bit gaming became popular and the TurboGrafx-16 found itself competing with the likes of Sega Genesis and the NES.  Even though the TurboGrafx-16 had impressive graphics for its time the original price for the console was $199.  The TurboGrafx-16 was had the same price the NES had during its initial release a few years earlier.  Almost a year after the TurboGrafx-16 was released the Sega Genesis was priced for approximately $189.  Some people would probably argue that if the TurboGrafx-16 was released between 1983-1984 it could have sold much more internationally.  Despite, not selling as much as the NES the TurboGrafx-16 managed to sell at least 10 million units worldwide which was great considering the amount of competition that both Nintendo and Sega provided in the late 80’s and early 90’s.

 

 

Gaming Consoles- 3DO Interactive Multiplayer: (1993)

As most of us know there were a variety of consoles available in the 90’s that made gaming exciting such as Sega, Nintendo, PlayStation and many others that everyone loved.  There were also other consoles that don’t receive as much mention as some of main consoles of the 90’s such as 3Do Interactive Multiplayer.  The 3Do Interactive Multiplayer was released in 1993 and was manufactured by Panasonic along with two other companies known as Sayno and Goldstar.  When this fifth generation console was released in American markets the price averaged for approximately $700.  The original cost for 3Do Interactive Multiplayer was twice the amount of consoles such as PS1 and the Neo Geo CD.  Similar to the likes of PS1 the 3Do included a 32-bit CPU which allowed many people good quality 2D and 3D gameplay for various titles released for this system.

The 3Do included some popular 2D classics such as: Samurai Showdown and Super Street Fighter II Turbo which were available for multiple consoles.  Some of the games also included decent 3D graphics such as Cyberia which could rival 3D games for the PS1 such as  Gran Turismo.   There were also popular games for other consoles such as FIFA International Soccer with Sega CD that was just as exciting for the 3Do due to added features.  Speaking of Sega the control pad for the 3Do looked similar to that of the Genesis except for the fact that utilized CD-ROM’s rather than cartridges.  Even though, 3Do was short lived and did not have too many games one of the best titles released for this system was Gex.  Many people would argue that if 3Do was still around that Gex would probably be its mascot since the game sold over one million units and becoming the best selling title for that console.

While the Gex sold over one million copies the 3Do reportedly sold over two million units worldwide which may come as a shock to some people considering how expensive the game system was.  Another incredible feature about the 3Do was the inclusion of an add-on entitled the 3Do Blaster made by Creative Labs which was utilized mainly for Windows PC games.  Shortly after its release the 3Do was discontinued and plans to create a succeeding game console called Panasonic M2 was abandoned. If the Panasonic M2 wasn’t cancelled when it was we could have witnessed sequels to some of the top games that defined the 3Do as a console.  It was around the mid 90’s when console such as PlayStation and Nintendo 64 became very popular in gaming markets following the release of Sega Dreamcast in 1998.  During the mid to late 90’s those mainstream household consoles had lower prices and were usually advertised more than than anything 3Do related which was more expensive.  However, anyone who has or currently owns a 3Do can truly understand how valuable the console is considering how expensive was during its initial release in 1993.

Gaming Consoles- Neo Geo CD: (1994)

There  were many great game systems during the 90’s including Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis and PlayStation.  There are also many game consoles that were great but don’t get mentioned as much.  During the same year that Sony released the original PlayStation console SNK corporation released the Neo Geo CD in 1994.  This fourth generation console was released in Japan during the later part of 1994 and not available in  American markets until 1995.  Prior to the release of the Neo Geo CD the developers had made some unique changes to their hardware from their preceding console Neo Geo AES.  One of the main changes included the use of CD-ROM’s  along with the ability to play audio CD’s on the console.   An additional change for the Neo Geo CD includes changing the handheld joystick for a control pad.  Many people would argue that the control pad for the Neo Geo CD heavily resembled that of the Sega Genesis.  Others would probably argue that the joystick used for Neo Geo AES was better because it made gamers feel that they were playing at an actual arcade center.

Along with having great features there were also many memorable titles released for this game system such as: Super Sengoku 2, Samurai Showdown, Bust a Move, Pleasure Goal, King of Fighters 96′ and Real Bout Fatal Fury Special.  Along with those classic titles there were also rare games released exclusively in Japan such as the Samurai Showdown RPG known as “Shinsetsu Samurai Spirits Bushido Retsuden”.    Samurai Showdown was  probably one of the few arcade fighting games of the 90’s  to have its own RPG title. Along with the inclusion of arcade quality games the Neo Geo CD utilized the Motorola 68000 as the system’s main CPU which provided a spectacular gaming experience for many people.   When the Neo Geo CD was first released it was originally priced for approximately $400 similar to the Sega Saturn.  However, when the original PlayStation game system was released it was only priced for $300 while the Nintendo 64 averaged around $200.    While the Neo Geo CD seemed promising it was not advertised to the same extent as its competitors in North America but remained popular in Japan.

Despite how expensive the Neo Geo CD was it managed to sell over half a million units after its release.  While consoles such as PlayStation and Nintendo 64 hit over one million units  in sales it must be noted that the Neo Geo CD was discontinued shortly after its release in 1997.  If the Neo Geo CD was discontinued a few years later or released more titles for the console some could make the argument that it would of sold more units.  Either way the Neo Geo CD along with its top titles would be considered very rare and valuable to old school gamers outside of Japan who grew up in the 16 & 32 bit era gaming.

 

 

 

Gaming Consoles- Neo Geo AES: (1990)

When we think about some of the top game consoles of the 90’s the first thing that comes to mind includes Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo, PlayStation along with many other consoles.  But there are also some game consoles that many people thought was great but it doesn’t get as much recognition.  The Neo-Geo would probably be an example of such a game system because despite how innovative the console was its not mentioned in the same light in comparison as Sony or Nintendo products. When the Neo Geo made its debut in 1990 it provided many great features such as awesome 2D graphics and groundbreaking gameplay that would get players glued to their screen for hours.  After the Neo Geo was released by SNK many people thought the multi video system was very unique because it included multiple games in each cabinet instead of having one game for each machine.

The Neo Geo home console known as the Advanced Entertainment System not only provided spectacular 2D gameplay and graphics but in some ways was ahead of its time.  The Neo Geo AES was the first game console to include the use of memory cards to save game data.  The use of memory cards did not become prominent until the mid-90’s following the release of game consoles such as Nintendo 64 and PlayStation.  The Neo Geo AES also had a great sound chip known as the “YM2612” produced by Yamaha.  The Neo Geo soundtracks were great because of its creativity and for the fact that it added life to most of its games. There were various classic titles produced for the Neo Geo that many people remember such as Samurai Showdown II, Fatal Fury Special, The Last Blade, and World Heroes which included great soundtracks that made their gaming experience unforgettable.

Despite making its debut the same year as the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in Japanese markets the sales for the Neo Geo AES were relatively low.  The Neo Geo was very high in value and was priced for approximately $650 while the SNES averaged around $200.   The cost for the Neo Geo AES ranged around $650 following its release and was twice as expensive than Sega Genesis and the SNES.  Many people would argue that the Neo Geo AES is one of the most underrated 2D game consoles of the 90’s while others may disagree.  Either way, the Neo Geo AES was probably one of the best 2D consoles released during the 90’s decade prior to its ultimate discontinuation in 2004.

Gaming Consoles- Sony PlayStation: (1994)

We all remember how great 2D gaming was throughout the 90’s decade.  Many of us got to witness the evolution of gaming as technology became more advanced with  the release of each console.  While 2D gaming was becoming more refined in terms of graphics and gameplay the focus started to shift towards producing realistic 3D titles that would provide a fantastic experience for many people worldwide.  Around the same time period Sega Saturn made its debut in Japan in late 1994 Sony had released the orginal PlayStation console.  Even though, both consoles were originally released in 1994 they would not be made available to countries such as America and the United Kingdom until 1995. The original PlayStation system was among the few that had a huge impact on the landscape of gaming.  Since its inception the PS1 had produced many memorable titles such as: Gran Turismo I & II, Final Fantasy VII, Yu-Gi-Oh Forbidden Memories, Crash Bandicoot Warped, Spyro the Dragon, and the Tomb Raider series.

Along with inclusion of many great gaming titles the PS1 was the  first home based console to have the original Dance Dance Revolution title which was very popular in most arcade centers in the late 90’s.   The PS1 was a console that gave us a glimpse into the future of gaming.   The replay value of many PS1 games were high due to the amount of in game content included.  Also, there were various titles that contained awesome BGM with highly refined 2D gameplay or realistic 3D action.  The CPU used for the PS1 known as the R3000 was incredible because it seemed like it was ahead of its time.  When MIPS Technologies, Inc developed the R3000 in the late 80’s  it was viewed as a ground-breaking creation because of its advanced microprocessing ability along with the R2000.

As most of us know when the PS1 was released Sony utilized CD-ROM’s instead of cartridges for their games similar to Sega-CD.  It was obvious that cartridges along with other 16-bit consoles lack the capacity to produce high quality 3D gameplay.  The change in gaming media was something that was also very cool because CD-ROM’s felt more advanced.  While playing old games on cartridges was exciting in the late 80’s-early 90’s the landscape of gaming was evolving.  Even though, the N64 continued to utilize cartridges Sony decided to utilize CD-ROM’s.  Some of us know that Sony had worked on a project known as SNES-CD along with Nintendo prior to the release of The PS1.  The SNES-CD system was a console that was created to play CD-ROM’s which was never released.   After the SNES-CD console was scrapped both Sony and Nintendo went their own separate ways and released their own consoles.  The development of the Sony PlayStation produced more competition for entities such as: Sega, Nintendo, and Neo Geo.  Since its release the PS1 has sold over 102 million units worldwide prior to its discontinuation in 2005.  The best selling game on the PS1 was Gran Turismo which sold over 10 million units worldwide.  When many people think about PS1 thoughts of nostalgia comes to mind not only because it included many classic titles but the console itself helped change the landscape of gaming in mid to late 90’s.