There have been so many milestone birthdays in video gaming to celebrate recently that all I can do is combine them into one big birthday bash post!
So who are the guests of honor?
In just the past couple weeks:
Sega Saturn (released Nov. 22, 1994 in Japan) AND Sony PlayStation (Dec. 3, 1994 in Japan) turned 25
Completely turning the 16-bit console wars inside out, Sega finally dropped a true follow-up to their heavily-milked Genesis/Mega Drive, while Sony began their plan of sweet revenge against Nintendo for stiffing them on the SNES CD deal, and the era of 32-bit 3D gaming began. I can’t believe it’s been 25 years since I played that Jumping Flash demo about a bazillion times at the store kiosk and at my friend’s house. I personally didn’t get a PlayStation until 1997, when Castlevania: SOTN was released, but I got a Saturn in 1996, after being blown away by Panzer Dragoon.
Favorite Saturn games: Radiant Silvergun, Vampire Savior, Panzer Dragoon Saga
Favorite PlayStation games: Metal Gear Solid, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Silent Hill, Mega Man Legends
NEC SuperGrafx (conflicting release dates of Nov. 30 or Dec. 8, 1989 found online) turned 30
As Sega kicked off the 16-bit era with the Mega Drive and Nintendo started making noise about their upcoming Super Famicom, NEC’s popular PC Engine was actually holding its own, but was still technically only an 8-bit console with 16-bit graphics. In the interest of keeping up with the Joneses, NEC rushed out the SuperGrafx, a true 16-bit console that was backward-compatible with the PCE. Unfortunately, it wasn’t all that much of an improvement, and only 5 games were released for it (with another 2 PCE games that were “enhanced” by playing on the SG). Most notably, its port of Ghouls ‘n’ Ghosts is regularly referenced in its superiority to the Mega Drive version, while a hotly-anticipated port of Strider ended up being scrapped and moved to the PCE Arcade CD format. In the grand scheme of things, the PC Engine is the console that went down in history as the best-remembered and loved of NEC’s consoles, but the SuperGrafx and its small library remains a sought-after addition to any PC Engine fan’s collection.
Favorite SuperGrafx games: 1941, Aldynes
…and Intellivision (test market release in Fresno, California Dec. 3, 1979) turned 40!
Mattel Electronics’ Intellivision can lay claim to many “firsts” in the video game industry: the first 16-bit console (believe it or not), the first speech in a home game console (via the Intellivoice add-on), the first city-building simulation game in Utopia, the first “D-pad” (kinda)…and most importantly, the first true contender to Atari’s VCS in the original console wars. Marketed as a more sophisticated home video console that could do more than just play games (and dammit, that handsome gold and woodgrain finish certainly made it look the part), the Intellivision was many gamers’ first system and brings back lots of warm memories of sitting on the avocado-green shag carpeting in front of the console TV, playing NFL Football, Lock ‘n’ Chase, or SNAFU with your buddies, your siblings, or your folks. I personally am very excited about the new Intellivision Amico console coming in 2020 and can’t wait to see how they continue the legacy.
Favorite Intellivision games: BurgerTime, Beauty and the Beast, Tron Deadly Discs
Amazing milestones all around! Happy birthday to all these memorable, important, and classic game consoles!