Over the years, the videogame industry has seen a lot of different console generations come and go, but I’d argue that none has been as interesting as what is happening now.
To preface this piece, I’d like to mention that I own all three next-generation consoles (the XBox 360, Playstation 3 and Wii), and that all three receive a fair amount of usage in my home. I also owned all three previous generation consoles (XBox, Playstation 2 and GameCube), and have a variety of other consoles around the house (NES, Super NES, Playstation, etc.).
I’ve always been an avid watcher and participant in the videogame industry. From the moment my parents first brought home an Atari 2600 console for Christmas in 1977, I was hooked.
During that generation, the Atari 2600 was the king of the hill. There was no other console on the market with the vast selection of games, and it had hit the mass market price point of $250 with prices falling from there.
A few years later, the Intellivision would come to market with graphics that were a little snazzier and the world’s most bizarre controller. We skipped that one, but did end up getting the Coleco ADAM computer system.
The Coleco played ColecoVision games (including a fantastic port of Donkey Kong, with only three levels, sadly) as well as games which were loaded off a high speed datacassette. We enjoyed that machine easily as much as the earlier Atari 2600, and it served our needs for a few more years.
Then came the great videogame crash. The market crashed, and tons of crappy Atari and ColecoVision cartridges were available in bargain bins everywhere.
The market had crashed because the console systems of the time didn’t require a license to develop for them. Anyone could develop a game, and stick it on store shelves, and anyone did. Atari didn’t help matters with terrible first party titles like E.T., either.
It took a few years for the industry to recover from that debacle, and when it came back, it came back swinging. The new kid on the block was Nintendo, best known at the time for the arcade version of that great ColecoVision game Donkey Kong.
I was a rebel, though. I decided I didn’t want a Nintendo Entertainment System like everyone else, I wanted an Atari 7800. It had great graphics, a bizarre looking controller and it came with a near arcade perfect conversion of Pole Position. Plus, Joust on that console was second only to the arcade version.
The 7800 served me very well for several years, but I had the opportunity to play many NES games at friends’ houses, and even knew someone who owned a Sega Master System (poor bastard).