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Nintendo Ruined Video Games


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#1 pacman000 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 6, 2018 9:12 PM

https://www.gamasutr...cant_go_on_.php

Tried searching for the thread's title, & found this via Yandex.

"Before Nintendo came around to rescue video games, the industry was well on its way to becoming just the sort of general-purpose mass medium today's developers and critics like to think they are inventing anew. Ironically, many of those creators are too young to know what came before, and thus see themselves as saviors contributing to a long-withheld maturity, not realizing that such effort is only necessary thanks to their childhood video game idol."

#2 Kosmic Stardust OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 6, 2018 9:33 PM

I disagree. Nintendo saved gaming...

#3 jaybird3rd ONLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 6, 2018 9:50 PM

Nintendo gets a lot of undeserved credit for "saving" video games (which is not to say that Nintendo deserves no credit).  Usually, it's from people who take the popular view that the entire pre-crash era was merely the time of the early failed experiments and evolutionary dead-ends of the video game industry, a time worth revisiting only for the purpose of considering the necessary mistakes which lead to the NES, the pinnacle of classic gaming.  Nintendo made an important contribution, true enough, but it came at a price.
 
I've often wondered what video games would be like today if Nintendo had not dominated the market so completely after the crash (I'm specifically referring here to the American market).  There was still plenty of demand for the kinds of video games that were being produced circa 1983; it was the glut of product that caused the crash.  I can only speculate, but I think the market would eventually have corrected itself, and a new crop of companies—including the strongest of the pre-crash industry leaders—would have learned the lessons of the crash and recovered.  But instead, companies like Nintendo and Sega swept in to fill the void, bringing with them a cultural shift from American consoles to Japanese.  I'm sure that contributed in part to the game design aesthetic that the article discusses.
 
AtariAge user "mos6507" has also written about this:
 

I hated the NES because of what it represented. It represented a cultural shift from American consoles to Japanese. I was really too old to be enthralled by Super Mario Brothers. So the whole side scroller fascination was kind of lost on me. All I knew was the consoles I associated with the home gaming universe were being swept aside and the NES and SMS were taking their place. The NES much more than the SMS felt Japanese, and I mean Japanese in a 1970s Datsun sort of way. And I just didn't go for it. I didn't like the color palette or the cutesiness or the joypads that emphasized the left thumb over the right hand. And I resented the fact that the Generation Y was falling for this stuff hook line and sinker. Nintendo Power magazine, The Glove, the emphasis on "megabits" and all the stuff that really signified the switch between classic gaming and the modern era of disposable, sequelitis gaming.

So the NES to me was like rap/hip-hop in the music world, the dividing line on the generation gap.

IMHO, the NES succeeded because of the videogame crash opening up the market to any and all competitors and the generational transition between Gen X and Gen Y. Gen X moved on to home computers and didn't look back. Gen Y cut their teeth on the NES because that's all that was out there. The actual NES hardware was nothing special by mid 80s standards. The only reason it looked like a big upgrade vs. earlier systems was the lower cost of ROM at the time, enabling bigger banked ROM games.

Generation-X and Generation-Y pretty much split right on the videogame crash, with X being the Atari generation and Y being the Nintendo generation. X upgraded to 8-bit home computers and Y latched onto the NES and the Japanese aesthetic. That's how I see it. It's a generational or fashion-trend split. Much is made of the "improvement" with NES gaming but it wasn't so much better as just different.


I saw this transition, too, and the "generation gap" formulation was definitely applicable to my family.  I was seven years old in late 1983, old enough to have been enjoying games in the pre-crash era for a few years, but my younger siblings ranged in age from four to newborn.  By the time they were old enough to become gamers themselves, the NES had taken over everything, whereas I had made the transition to the Atari 800 (while also holding on to the 2600).  I had fun with the NES, too, but I usually found the games that I was enjoying on the Atari side to be more diverse and interesting and nuanced than the typical NES fare.  But, because that's what my siblings (and the majority of the market with them) had become accustomed to, "my" games just didn't interest them.  I thought that "my" kinds of games still had a lot of potential, and I would have preferred to see more of them, but the market wasn't there for them anymore.



#4 spacecadet OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 6, 2018 10:38 PM

Nintendo gets way too much credit. They were in the right place in the right time. There was still plenty of demand for video games; it was just a question of what format and platform people were going to buy them on. In 1983/84, they were buying them on computers. Without Nintendo, the console industry would have been "saved" by somebody else - probably Sega, because they were the only other relatively healthy company with an arcade lineage making consoles at that time. But it could have also just as easily been Atari. It would have been somebody. It just happened to be Nintendo because they timed it right and had some good launch games.

 

I dislike some of the Nintendo fans who act like there was no console industry before Nintendo, or like what there was was irrelevant. The Famicom and NES were just another in a long line of consoles that had existed before. It was a continuous lineage that started in the 1970's. The crash was real, but it was also temporary (and it seems less and less relevant as time goes on), and it would have been temporary regardless of whether Nintendo showed up or not.

 

Nintendo should get credit for taking advantage of the vacuum that existed because of the crash. They did a great job of that. But they didn't "save gaming". They didn't create anything that didn't already exist, or bring anything back from the dead. They saw an opportunity that existed because other companies had dropped out, and they took it. Any other company could have done the same and in fact did, but Nintendo had their system ready first and that made the difference.

 

What Nintendo did is not all that dissimilar from what Sony did in the 32 bit era with the original PlayStation, or what Atari did with the original 2600. These systems were just the first to hit all the right buttons and satisfy pent-up demand that was already there. That's not to say they weren't good products that were marketed well, but none of them "saved" anything. They were just good products in the ongoing lineage of consoles that sold well. That's it.



#5 Pixelboy OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 7, 2018 4:02 AM

Nintendo should get credit for taking advantage of the vacuum that existed because of the crash. They did a great job of that. But they didn't "save gaming". They didn't create anything that didn't already exist, or bring anything back from the dead. They saw an opportunity that existed because other companies had dropped out, and they took it. Any other company could have done the same and in fact did, but Nintendo had their system ready first and that made the difference.
 
What Nintendo did is not all that dissimilar from what Sony did in the 32 bit era with the original PlayStation, or what Atari did with the original 2600. These systems were just the first to hit all the right buttons and satisfy pent-up demand that was already there. That's not to say they weren't good products that were marketed well, but none of them "saved" anything. They were just good products in the ongoing lineage of consoles that sold well. That's it.


Um... No. I can't agree with those last few statements. Nintendo did more than just introduce a new gaming console at the right time, it brought something new to the table. You had to be a kid back in the 80s to truly understand and appreciate the difference between what the NES offered and what was offered by the previous consoles.

It's true that Sega could have possibly pulled it off if Nintendo hadn't stepped in at the right moment, but still, there's an entire aspect you're neglecting: Nintendo, thanks to flagship titles like the pack-in game Super Mario Bros, forced retailers to look at video game consoles again. At the time the NES arrived, all the remaining stocks of cartridge-based video games were sitting in the bargain bins, and retailers were not immediately ready to devote actual shelf space to video game consoles again, not with computer gaming gaining more and more steam. If they gave the NES (and later the SMS) a chance, it's because all the kids just had to have Super Mario Bros after holding the NES controller in their hands and playing the game demoed in shopping malls (or after playing the VS version in the arcades) and they begged their parents to get them an NES for Christmas. I was a kid at the time, and I witnessed just how much SMB was the talk of the town in my school, and how you were just a clueless kid if you hadn't tried the game at least once. And SMB was just the start, later games like Metroid and Zelda (and third-party stuff like Mega Man and Castlevania) only served to give the video game console comeback more momentum, and retailers could no longer ignore it. It didn't happen overnight, but retailers slowly gave dedicated video games consoles a chance again, and the kids just kept on begging their parents to get the latest games (Dragon Warrior, Contra, Mike Tyson's Punch Out, etc.).

The fact that the music and sprites of Super Mario Bros are still recognized by just about everyone today is a testament to the wide cultural phenomenon Super Mario Bros was for kids in the second half of the 80s. I'm not sure Sega's Alex Kidd would have had the same lasting impact, but I suppose it's possible. In any case, I don't believe Nintendo saved gaming, but it did save console gaming, by showing retailers that it was worth it to give shelf space to video games, and after that point, the retailers were always happy to welcome the new consoles (16-bit, then PlayStation/Saturn/N64, etc.) with the "kid hype" never really going down.

#6 Lost Dragon ONLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 7, 2018 5:42 AM

As a kid in the UK back in the 80's, i wasn't aware of the NES until the press at the time started to cover it and the MS and the 7800.

Gaming hadn't needed saving, it was progressing as we had expected.

The old 8 bit consoles we had been given as young kids..The VCS and Colecovision etc had been replaced in our homes by more powerful 8 bit micros.

These in turn were going to be replaced by more powerful 16 bit micros.

All the new console dawn really did was mean you needed both a micro and a console to get the best of both worlds.

So whilst Nintendo fully deserve full credit for their success in the USA and Japan, i have always seen it as an exaggeration that they saved gaming.

But i guess it's region specific to a degree.

#7 Flojomojo OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 7, 2018 5:58 AM

Headline is click-bait sensationalism. "Ruined" and "saved" are a bit thick for me.

How about "stole?" Their monopolistic practices were insanely evil -- but insanely profitable and went a long way towards shoring up the industry, in my opinion.

Bogost makes a living writing stuff like this, it's sometimes entertaining, but we don't need to accept his view of things as gospel. He starts out by saying games on the VCS were so diverse and interesting, and NES was juvenile, which is absurd on its face. There was nothing inherently "kiddie" about the NES in my opinion, except maybe the ROB robot toy.

What do you make of the fact that video games were sold in toy stores? Did that infantalize them? I never thought so, personally.

#8 mr_me OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 7, 2018 7:17 AM

In the late 1980s Nintendo did do harm to the video game industry. There was the price fixing that cost consumers millions of dollars. But more so was the stifling of creativity of developers. Developers were limited, by Nintendo, in the number of titles they could release and were forced to release the safest choices to ensure the best return. Gamers missed out on some diverse games that never came to be. Fortunately, some of that creativity was seen in the computer games released in the late 1980s and early 1990s. There's some terrific stuff there.

The cultural phenomenon that Nintendo became was meaningless to video games. Was it as big as the Pac-man phenomenon a few years prior, which was very annoying to anyone who liked video games at the time.

In the early 1980s video games were not seen as a toy. Mattel may have been the largest toy company in the world but every Intellivision had a sticker saying "this is not a toy". Was it really necessary for Nintendo to market the NES as a toy in the US? No, but Nintendo was a toy company and it was likely the best way to get parents to give them their money. It was a good business decision. Was the childlike graphics coming out of Nintendo to market to children or was it just the way they did things in Japan. Either way the NES looked like it was designed for children. Still true video gamers rightly saw it as a solid video game platform, but many others left video games altogether.

As far as technology, Nintendo took the safe route although smart design opened it up to future expansion. Nothing revolutionary in the NES which was based on 1979 TI sprite technology. Not replaced until 1990 when Sega forced Nintendo's hand. There was some cartridge enhancements, however technology in consoles stagnated for several years. (Not unlike what Atari did in the early 1980s). Prior to the NES we had analog controllers. It would be many, many years for advanced hand controls to return to console video games.

Edited by mr_me, Sat Apr 7, 2018 7:34 AM.


#9 pacman000 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 7, 2018 7:33 AM

 

And not updated until 1990, fortunately Sega forced their hand.

And NEC/Hudson. Can't forget about the PC Engine.



#10 Flojomojo OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 7, 2018 8:00 AM

Did Nintendo pioneer the "walled garden" approach to closed platforms? I think they might have, which is the real legacy of their "Seal of Quality," which Bogost seems to miss.

#11 pacman000 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 7, 2018 8:02 AM

Wasn't Atari already planning to use some sort of lockout device on the 7800, to keep other companies from using the system's more advanced features?



#12 godslabrat ONLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 7, 2018 8:03 AM

I always roll my eyes at the argument that Sega would have made a platformer like SMB if Nintendo hadn't.

Alex Kidd came out a full year AFTER SMB. Even with Mario to use as a template and blatantly steal from, Sega couldn't pull it off. How in the world could they do it in a history where Nintendo didn't exist at all?

#13 pacman000 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 7, 2018 8:15 AM

Sega did make an adaption of Pitfall for arcades.

 

Most of Nintendo's games were evolutionary, not revolutionary; they were expansions of earlier platforming & adventure games. Super Mario Bros was an expansion of concepts explored in Pitfall. Zelda was an expansion of concepts explored in earlier Japaneses RPGs and action games.



#14 Flojomojo OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 7, 2018 8:26 AM

They don't have to be first to offer a superior product with *significantly* more polish. Microsoft was early to handheld computing, wearables, tablets, and more, for example. We aren't still playing Odyssey machines.

#15 pacman000 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 7, 2018 8:33 AM

Point being Nintendo didn't need to make their games for gaming to progress beyond simple one-screen action games. :)

 

The world would look different w/o Nintendo for sure, but even without them someone would've provided games w/similar levels of polish. Competition would force companies to make better games; they already knew you couldn't release just anything thanks to the crash. We'd have adventure platformers, hopefully w/o someone abusing monopoly power.



#16 mr_me OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 7, 2018 8:59 AM

A world with fewer side scrolling platformers wouldn't be a bad thing. Namco had a couple in 1984 that might have given Nintendo some inspiration.

#17 Flojomojo OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 7, 2018 9:25 AM

A world with fewer side scrolling platformers wouldn't be a bad thing.

That's certainly a thought I had in the height of NES/Genesis/SNES days. I guess it's a case of, "if the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail." Side-scrolling platformers ran well on that hardware. 



#18 mr_me OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 7, 2018 9:33 AM

And the dpad was well suited for the limited movement they require.

#19 mbd30 ONLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 7, 2018 9:44 AM

I hated the NES because of what it represented. It represented a cultural shift from American consoles to Japanese. I was really too old to be enthralled by Super Mario Brothers. So the whole side scroller fascination was kind of lost on me. All I knew was the consoles I associated with the home gaming universe were being swept aside and the NES and SMS were taking their place. The NES much more than the SMS felt Japanese, and I mean Japanese in a 1970s Datsun sort of way. And I just didn't go for it. I didn't like the color palette or the cutesiness or the joypads that emphasized the left thumb over the right hand. And I resented the fact that the Generation Y was falling for this stuff hook line and sinker. Nintendo Power magazine, The Glove, the emphasis on "megabits" and all the stuff that really signified the switch between classic gaming and the modern era of disposable, sequelitis gaming.

So the NES to me was like rap/hip-hop in the music world, the dividing line on the generation gap.

 

IMHO, the NES succeeded because of the videogame crash opening up the market to any and all competitors and the generational transition between Gen X and Gen Y. Gen X moved on to home computers and didn't look back. Gen Y cut their teeth on the NES because that's all that was out

there. The actual NES hardware was nothing special by mid 80s standards. The only reason it looked like a big upgrade vs. earlier systems was the lower cost of ROM at the time, enabling bigger banked ROM games."

 

Good old anti-Nintendo and anti-Japanese Atari fanboy bias.

 

You're never too old to appreciate Super Mario Bros. Anyway, it's not as if the NES only has cutesy platformers.There's a wide variety of arcade games, shooters, racers, sports games, puzzles, action games, adventure games, strategy games, etc. Almost every genre is well represented. The Famicom/NES has much better graphics than any consoles that came before it, limited color palette non withstanding.

 

 

The NES hardware looks like a big upgrade over earlier systems because it is. For example, the NES has better sprites and smoother scrolling than any previous consoles, as well as better sound, none of which has to do with "bigger banked ROM games." It was most powerful console until the Sega Master System and Turbografx.



#20 Flojomojo OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 7, 2018 9:48 AM

That's certainly what drew me to it -- better sprites, smoother scrolling, lots of arcade ports, better resolution (the Konami font in particular was pleasingly familiar), fun games ... 

 

People say, "but computers!" 

 

Where I lived, the very limited 8-bits were on the way out, and their successors were very expensive. NES was cheap and fun, and you could even rent games to play.

 

Plus that Zapper light gun! Whee!



#21 mr_me OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 7, 2018 10:05 AM

No question the NES/famicom had the best console hardware in 1983. That's one reason it dominated Sega in Japan, the other reason being Donkey Kong. The NES/famicom designers had great foresight to extend the graphics bus to the cartridge, making it cheap in 1983 and allowing for expansion. However, the 8-way controllers were a step back, especially for things like sports games or any open field games. By the mid 1980s we were seeing far more advanced graphics technology that unfortunately didn't make it to consoles for many years. What you saw in the Amiga would have been Atari technology had they been a properly functioning company. Even Mattel a had more advanced console in the works well before they gave up in 1983.

Intellivision had smooth diagonal scrolling native in it's 1979 hardware. I think the NES depended on cartridge ram to do smooth diagonal scrolling, which is fine that's how they planned it. It was a smart design. Coleco and Atari basically took 1979 technology as is for their 1982 consoles. Nintendo took the same technology and improved on it at about the same time and deserve credit.

Edited by mr_me, Sat Apr 7, 2018 10:34 AM.


#22 Seob OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 7, 2018 12:00 PM

Nintendo didnt save anything, at least here in the Netherlands. I was a kid back in the day and i didnt hear of the NES years later after it hit the market. Why, we where all talking about homecomputers over here. They where the smarter buy, you could use it for other things then gaming. Although most never got used for something other then gaming. So the whole Nintendo saved gaming is heavily over exaggerated looking from a European stand point.

#23 mbd30 ONLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 7, 2018 12:05 PM

Nintendo didnt save anything, at least here in the Netherlands. I was a kid back in the day and i didnt hear of the NES years later after it hit the market. Why, we where all talking about homecomputers over here. They where the smarter buy, you could use it for other things then gaming. Although most never got used for something other then gaming. So the whole Nintendo saved gaming is heavily over exaggerated looking from a European stand point.

 

Exactly.

 

Nintendo specifically revived the console video game industry in North America. This doesn't apply to Europe.



#24 The Usotsuki OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 7, 2018 5:51 PM

Look to the C64 to see what would have happened with games had the NES not been so successful.



#25 pacman000 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 7, 2018 6:29 PM

Gotta wonder, if the NES didn't come out, might've 8-bit computers have had a longer life in the US as cheap game machines or kids computers?




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