Question about early systems...

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Question about early systems...

Postby Herschie1 » October 3rd, 2014, 4:50 pm

I just turned 33 the other day, and though I did play the Atari 2600 here and there as a kid, I effectively grew up on the NES. I remember being thoroughly psyched to play on the NES, getting pissed because the fat kid was taking forever to get off the bus on the stop before mine, thus cutting into my gaming time, wishing my mom would hurry it up at the store so I could get home to play Bases Loaded, being unable to sit still in school because I heard a tip on how to beat level 6 in Zelda during recess. Even nowadays, I still enjoy the games I played back then, and I could see how I could have spent hours playing them.

This is not the case when it comes to systems like the Atari 2600. I play them, and I enjoy them, but then I quickly get bored after about 15 minutes. Did kids back then spend hours upon hours playing games, or did they just play for a few minutes before going outside to play tag? I ask because on every system I ever played that came out after, there are games that I could play for hours upon hours. 

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Question about early systems...

Postby scotland171 » October 3rd, 2014, 7:22 pm

I like you. Your posts paint playfully pleasant scenes quite nicely.

Did kids back then spend hours playing games, or just a few minutes before going outside to play tag?

First, it was an amazing thing when someone invented 'the ball', and we could do more than play tag...but thats another story for a night when we all have fresh candles and can stay up past sundown.

Kids my age would spend all night playing Risk or D&D or Avalon Hills Squad Leader or Star Fleet Battles, but not video games until after the Atari VCS.

Pong and Breakout were amazing, but you could make a case they were just fads, but computerized toys were not fads, but they were toys. Like your Tiger handheld, I could play my Mattel handheld for a half hour. There were all sorts of computerized toys, and the Atari VCS was one of them. You did play Combat with a buddy for half an hour, then go outside and hunt mammoth.

Then came Space Invaders and Asteroids in the arcade, and that was bigtime. The Atari took its cue and made games that mimic'd the quick twitch gameplay. People then bought and played and replayed those for a month. Then it would go into rotation. I could play hours on my Odyssey 2, but I would play through my library over and over, each game 10 minutes or so. Say what you will, but arcade games have high replay value. The Atari has a richer library, and expanded well beyond twitch. The Odyssey really lacks thinking games. The early consoles all had sports games, usually two player only. Being social games meant longer sessions. I raced around lots of ovals back then, and played a lot of crappy foosball.

Things really changed for me anyway, with the family computers like the Apple IIe's and the Commodore 64. We had thinking games, seemingly infinite unsolveable games, type it in yourself games, and learn to make your own games. Then I could spend hours on one game like Bards Tale...or go back to twitching on Star Wars, or something inbetween like Raid on Bungeling Bay. The libraries were immense, and I tried my hand at making games too (most memorably a Doctor Who game thankfully lost to the Time War).

The NES seems to have brought a lot of that maturation of gaming to the masses, at least in the US. It left behind alot though too, such as the learning, and the feeling of being on the cutting edge of Tomorror Morrow Land. As much as I love my silvery Odyssey, your NES is like Kong to its Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp.

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Question about early systems...

Postby Wallyworld1 » October 3rd, 2014, 10:49 pm

I remember playing combat and missile command for hours on end. Most games that you played hour on end were the competitive games against a friend or family member. If you played single player game it would to beat an established high score for the home.

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Question about early systems...

Postby Sut1 » October 4th, 2014, 3:54 am

It does show that evolutionary step the NES brought to NA (it was more the 8-bit home computers in Europe) in 'completing' games with them having an ending. It was also clever in that once a customer completes a game then he will be more inclined to go and buy another title.
Personally for me to enjoy 1st/2nd Generation games I have to set myself targets to keep engaged as I don't find it particularly appealing to 'play for score'. Atari Anthology and Activision Anthology for example do this well giving predetermined goals and point totals to achieve and rewarding you with unlockables.
I'm sure kids played Atari as much as you did Nintendo (when they could get to the TV) as that was the standard at that point, akin to movies and their limited special effects, people still enjoyed movies.

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Question about early systems...

Postby gleebergloben1 » October 6th, 2014, 10:38 pm

I remember playing my LED Mattel Football handheld for hours. I don't know how my mom didn't smash that game with a hammer because of the annoying sound effect.

Then I played the 2600 for hours and hours on end. And I didn't really swap cartridges out; I would play the same game for at least a couple of hours before moving to the next game.

Then the INTV. My two friends and I would play games like Snafu, Utopia, Dracula, and AD&D, B17 Bomber, Football, Baseball, and Hockey for hours and hours. Same thing when I got the Colecovision.

About 5 years ago, I went back to Pittsburgh to visit family and friends, and my same friend who I played video games with growing up had bought a 2600 with a ton of games for cheap.  While some of the games didn't hold our interest for more than a few minutes, others were a blast to play. Warlords was awesome (my two friends, my son and I had a blast playing 4 player), and we played that for about an hour. Then there was Dodge 'em, and finally Ice Hockey by Activision.

Herschie (Happy Birthday by the way!), I definitely see what you're saying about some of the old games, but if you find the right game, the fun factor and the desire to play it for a short while at least is still there.

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Question about early systems...

Postby ptdebate1 » October 7th, 2014, 2:45 pm

Interesting question, Herschie! Also, happy birthday.

I was born in a year--1990--when gaming was not too dissimilar from what it is today. Gamers were impressed by increasingly detailed visuals, broader, more complex worlds, and more interesting stories. Gaming was something that could occupy anywhere from 30 minutes to hours of time per session. One of the earliest gaming memories I can recall is playing Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest on the SNES with my brother. I must have been about 4 or 5 years old. Despite the fact that Mystic Quest is much shorter than other RPGs of the time, we were unable to complete the game before Super Mario 64 and Goldeneye took over our lives. I had a backlog at age 6.

I too enjoy playing VCS games, but find myself getting bored with most games after 10 or 20 minutes in a session. That doesn't mean that they're bad games! It's just that the core gameplay loop of most early videogames is very short compared to later ones. 

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Question about early systems...

Postby ZetaX1 » October 7th, 2014, 3:40 pm

Video games are a lot like any other form of entertainment.  If you grew up playing Pong, and then the VCS and Intellivision came along, you'd think they were the most amazing things ever.  In your mind, their form of often repetitive, high-score based gameplay was how games were to be played.  You'd sit for hours playing Space Invaders...shooting the same 36 aliens over, and over, and over, because that was all you knew. 

If you grew up playing NES, Genesis, or Playstation, going back to VCS games would be like going from watching some big-budget blockbuster film like "Guardians of the Galaxy" to watching "Lost in Space" (the black and white 60's show, not the movie with Joey from "Friends".)   The old stuff just seems crude and goofy now.

Of course, in thirty years, what's state-of-the-art now will probably seem quaint and silly.  Makes you wonder...

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