Bit Age Times
#11 - October 2nd 2000
To all the youngsters who thought that
console wars is a new thing, HAH! They have been going on as long as there
has been video game competition. Here is a look at some of the biggest game
console battles that were fought at the stores, on the playgrounds and most
recently on the internet! I put them in chronological order.
1. Atari vs
Intellivision-This was the granddaddy of game system battles! In
one corner you had Atari who was owned by Warner Communications with their
deep pockets, tons of arcade game translations and a head start. In the
other corner you had the more graphically superior Intellivision who was
owned by Mattel. This battle got ugly as their were even negative
commercials on television (good old George Plimpton showing how superior the
Intellivision games were). It was alot like a political race! Atari won the
first game battle.
vs Atari 5200-The battle of the supersystems! Coleco came out
first and really had a nice set of arcade hits like Donkey Kong and Zaxxon!
But the Atari 5200 boasted an all-star lineup of arcade favorites like
Pac-man, Joust, Pole Position and Dig Dug, none of which were available for
the Coleco. While the Coleco won the battle, the video game crash ended any
chance of the Atari making a comeback (not that the buggy joysticks of the
5200 helped matters at all).
3. Nintendo vs
Sega Master System-The first of the Nintendo versus Sega battles,
this one was over before it began. To give you an idea, Nintendo had 95% of
the video game market and Sega and Atari (with the 7800) shared the other
5%, with Sega getting the lion's share of that. Never has one system so
4. Turbo Grafx vs
the Sega Genesis-The battle of the 16 bit systems is what it was
billed as. I still remember how they made their way to fairs and malls to
promote the systems. While I liked the Turbo better, the Sega Genesis won
out. Part of it was due to tremendous marketing! The Sega screams ads were
Also, games like Sonic, Ecco and others and a tremendous selection of sports
games and arcade hits gave it a huge advantage over the poor Turbo, which
was never supported well over here in the states.
5. Gameboy vs
Sega Game Gear vs Atari Lynx-The battle for handheld supremacy
was a bloody battle. While all three systems did fairly well, the black and
white (actually green) system wtih no backlight and the smallest screen won
out. The Gameboy beat the other two technologically superior systems for two
reasons, selection of games and battery life. The Gameboy could get 30 hours
out of a set of batteries, where the other two would have gone through 4
pairs of batteries or more. Also, only the Gameboy came out with Tetris, the
huge hit at the time! Add in Super Mario, Zelda and other Nintendo only
games and you have a winning line-up!
6. Sega Genesis
vs the Super Nintendo-While alot is made of this battle, it
really wasn't as big a battle as indicated. By the time the Super Nintendo
appeared on the market, the Sega Genesis had been around for a few years and
sold most of the units it was going to. The market for the Sega Genesis was
pretty saturated when the the Super Nintendo came along. You have to
remember that the Genesis had already battled out with the 8-Bit Nintendo
and the Turbo Grafx, so this was more like the aged fighter going against
the new up and coming fighter. The Super Nintendo ended up selling more
units, but I don't think you can say it won the battle. Nintendo also kept
it going long after the many people moved onto 32 bit systems.
Playstation vs the Sega Saturn-While there were other systems
that came out before or around this time (Atari Jaguar, 3DO, CDI), it was
really a two horse race and not much of a race to speak of. The Saturn came
out first and took an early lead. But when the Playstation came out, it
quickly passed the Saturn and never looked back. The race was over quickly
and even the last ditch efforts of Sega (3 free games with the system) could
save it. A pity as the Saturn was a very good system.
Playstation vs the Nintendo 64-While the Nintendo made a valiant
charge at the beginning, it had little chance. The cartridges made
programming for it an expensive proposition, so there was never a ton of 3rd
party support like the Playstation enjoyed. Also, it took so long to come
out that the Playstation had such a huge market share that it had no chance
of ever catching up.
Over the years, we’ve seen many systems
come and go. But there have been quite a few systems that changed before
they went. Over the lifespan of the machine, manufacturing techniques and
chip design allowed designers to create a machine with a smaller footprint
than the original. Let’s look back.
The original, woodgrain design of the
Atari 2600 was replaced later in its life by the black and silver Atari 2600
jr. Most recently, the Atari 2600 portable was created (VCSp). You can check
it out at <http://www.geocities.com/funmazer/
The original brown and gold monster was
replaced by the half-sized grey design. Oddly, the INTV III returned the
machine to its larger size.
A tremendous improvement from its original
“I’m-going-to-wear-out-so-you-have-to-blow-on-the-cartridges” to its mini,
top-loading design. The only issue with the smaller designed unit was its
dog bone shaped controllers.
The Sega Master not only became smaller, but they incorporated an Alex Kidd
game into it as well.
Through three iterations of shrinkage, the Genesis probably changed the
most. The first shrink (Genesis 2) left it with full functionality, but made
it look weird when some of the add-ons were attached (like the Power Base
convertor). The Genesis 3, made by Majesco, isn’t much bigger than the case
the cartridges came in. But they removed Sega CD and 32x support. To better
facilitate the Genesis 2, the Sega CD was changed from a bottom mounted unit
to a side mounted. Oddly, this design took up more space. My personal
favorite redesign was the Sega CD/Genesis Combo called the CDX. It was about
the size of your standard portable CD player with a cart slot on the back.
Very nice. And you can’t mention redesigns and shrinkage of the Genesis
without mentioning the portable Genesis, the Nomad.
The Turbografx 16 is the oddball in this discussion. Originally debuting in
Japan as the PC-Engine, the Turbo actually increased in size when it
appeared on US shores. I can only guess that NEC wanted to make it appear
that you were getting as much equipment for your money and the NES and
Genesis. The CD add-on was eventually incorporated into its design and made
a single unit called the Turbo Duo. It really didn’t change in size too
much, but the design certainly looked better. There was also a portable
Turbografx 16, the Turbo Express that was about the size of the Gameboy,
Not that the original design was that big to begin with, the second
generation unit did shrink a little. I miss the eject button though.
The latest machine to go under the shrink ray. This 5 year old system is
thinner, lighter and smaller that its big brother. They should have made it
Red, Blue and Yellow and called it “My First Playstation”.
The “game-machine-that-would-not-die” has gotten smaller and added color
over its 10 year life span. A new design is on the horizon that retains the
name, but will in essence be a brand new machine.
Smaller and squarer.
Should you look to add one of the later
machines to your collection if you already own one ? I’d lean towards
answering yes and here’s why. Over the life of a machine, improvements have
been made to increase the quality of the machine. How many Playstations had
their lens-tracking go away because of heat ? During the life of the
Playstation, there were several internal redesigns to thwart the overheating
problem as well as trying to limit piracy. If you’re like me, smaller
machines take up less shelf space. So it’s easier to get all your systems on
a single entertainment center. Right now, on the entertainment center in my
office, I have 14 different systems set up and ready to go. Many of them are
the smaller resigned units.
(Fred has been playing games for over
25 years and actively collecting them for over 10. The 2400 + games that he
has takes up most of his home office and living room. He lives in Denver, PA
with his understanding wife Jennie, his 4 year-old, button-loving son, Max
and his 1 year old, 4th player, Lynzie. Fred can be reached at
After more than a decade of making comic
book related games, they finally got it right! They have finally been able
to capture the feel of being a superhero and the atmosphere of a comic book.
No, I am not talking about that horrible Superman game for the Nintendo 64,
but rather Spiderman for the Playstation!
If you own a Playstation, then you need to
get this game! You really get a good idea of what it is like to be
Spiderman. You can climb walls, swing from building to building and shoot
different kinds of webs (unlike earlier games that allowed you to shoot a
web or make a shield). This time around, you can shoot a web to swing from,
including a quick shot to the ceiling, cover your hands with webgloves, make
a cocoon to protect you from harm and throw web balls! A big improvement
over earlier versions!
The game is broken into different levels
and each one has an objective. Some involve fighting bad guys like the
Scorpion and Doctor Octopus, who provide quite a challenge! One of the nice
features is that while you are roaming around the city, there is a compass
that helps direct you to where you need to go. This keeps you from wandering
aimlessly around the city.
The graphics are great and there are some
other characters from the Spiderman comics that pops up, including Black Cat
who shows up right off the bat! Proof that the Playstation still has alot of
life left in it! Just makes you wonder why it took so long for someone to
get a comic book related video game right and when will the next one be out?
If there is one thing that the Bit Age
did, it was to turn us from right handed game players to left handed ones.
In the early days of joysticks, look at the fire buttons and you will find
it was usually on the left side, so you could hold the joystick in your
right hand. Since the majority of the world is right handed, go with the
Well, this trend abruptly stopped with the
Nintendo. Now the movement of your character shifted from the right to the
left hand and is never came back. So we all had to learn to become adept
with our left hand. No more having one big macho arm and one small weaker
Of course this is all moot now. With so
many buttons and so many other things, you need three or four hands to have
a fighting chance at these games. So it doesn't matter if you are right
handed or left handed, you are overwhelmed! Guess progress does have a price
to pay, even in video games.
As I looked out at the coming mob, all I
could think of was my beloved. Even with my life only moments from the end,
I kept thinking how could I save her from this horrible wizard? I then
yelled out to the crowd that he was an evil wizard and how he had stolen my
love and how I was on a mission to save her and bring her back to her
father. But they did not hear my pleas, they did not hear a voice of reason.
All they heard was the howls of a wolf, the fearful baying of a mad animal
that had killed many people and intended to kill more. Instead of coming to
my aid, all I did was fill their hearts with fear and increase their
bloodlust. Now more than ever, I was a vicious animal and needed to be dealt
with as quickly as possible.
Before the people could charge forward
with their attack, the wizard raised his hands and motioned for all of them
to halt. He then spoke in a deep and forceful voice. "This creature is too
great for mere mortals to deal with. Stay back and allow me to subdue the
beast, before anymore blood is shed." He then gazed deep into my eyes as he
brought his hands down from above his head. The crowd moved a few feet back
and gave him a wide berth. Nothing like the threat of bloodshed, especially
theirs, to keep them at bay. He then walked forward a few steps and a
devilish smile came across his face. Knowing the danger he presented, I
prepared to lunge forward and tear his throat out. But before I could
execute my ill thought plan, I put his hand in his pocket and pulled out a
handful of powder. He lifted his hand and blew it at me. Within seconds, the
powder had covered my face and went into my mouth and nose and filled my
lungs. At first it just angered me, but in a few seconds, I felt groggy and
my body became quite heavy. I reached forward, towards the wizard, but each
movement was sapping me of my fast depleting strength. Soon my limbs were
too weak to hold up my weight and I fell to the ground and no matter how
hard I tried, I could not bring my arms and legs to lift me up. Soon the mob
was on top of me, beating me with their clubs and fists. Blackness soon
engulfed me and with it, relief from the beating I was taking.
For what felt like an eternity, I slept a
deep sleep. But soon I was awaken by a burning sensation. As my senses were
slowly regained, I realized that I was back in my mortal form and tied to a
stake. Around me, the kindling was burning and the flames had begun to reach
my exposed skin. In the distance, I saw the wizard and my beloved being
married. I struggled to break free, but my tired body would not aid me. I
was stuck to watch the worst possible scenario unfold before my eyes. I
screamed and screamed as the flames came upon me. Then as I felt like
everything was lost, I awoke from a great sleep. I stood up and all around
me was my small cottage. I was in bed and I was not hurt. I rose from the
bed and quickly got dressed.
The village was teeming with excitement.
Many of the young men were lining up, preparing to go forth and save poor
Penelope. As I walked towards the crowd, one of the guys asked me where was
my sword. I just looked at him smiled. Then I walked past all the men with
their visions of glory and love and went up to the unsuspecting Ugnalia and
grabbed her and gave her the biggest and deepest kiss of her life. She may
not be much to look at, but at least I don't have to worry about fighting a
crazed wizard for her.
Here are two
more deserving sites for your surfing pleasures! So head over and enjoy
As the name says, it
is an all Sega site! They have game reviews of the Genesis, Dreamcast and
Saturn. There is interviews, news, trivia and more for the Sega fanatic.
So head over and take a look at a really cool site! Here is the URL:
Otaku World Presents Import Games
If you are like me, then you want to know what games we never got
here in the states. Many great games are not brought over and here is a
site that has news, reviews and cheats of many imports for the Playstation,
Saturn, Nintendo 64 and the Super Famicom (or Super Nintendo as it was
called here). While this list is far from complete, it does have alot of
games on it and it is a nice place to get an idea about some of the import
games available. Here is the URL:
This month I am going to review a football
game. Since football season is in high gear, it seems only appropriate.
The only football game that I know of on the Neo Geo is Football Frenzy, one
of those bash and smash games that are all the rage now. Think of High
Impact Football and you have a decent idea of the game.
One of the first things you
will notice is the interesting names for the teams. With nicknames like the
Hitmen and the Scuds, it seems like the predecessor of the XFL that is
around the corner. As you can tell by the names, the teams are all
(I could make a toasted cheese
sandwich in the time it takes this guy to get down the field)
The gameplay is sorta slow,
compared to today's games, but still fun. It falls somewhere between NFL
Blitz and 10 Yard Fight to give you an idea. Your guys sorta move along in
a leisurely pace like 10 Yard Fight, but the hits and the close up camera
angles of the hard hits are more like Blitz.
There is a decent amount of
plays, but nothing like what is available now. You have your run and pass
plays and kicking plays. Nothing too fancy, just your typical stuff. Like
the Blitz series, there is a fair amount of stomping after plays. I
personally think this detracts from the gameplay, but I guess I am more of a
purist than a violence monger. To each his own, I guess.
(A close-up of the action that is
ready to take place!)
The graphics and sounds are
good, but not great. If you look at the era it came from (it was made in
1992), it is quite good. But, like most sports games, it doesn't stand up
to the test of time. That is one flaw with most sports games, when they get
older, they get very dated and unlike a good shooter or RPG, they just
aren't as appealing. But if you want a fun little football game, it isn't a
bad time waster. Just don't expect to play it too much as you will soon
move onto your newer football games.
I must say that this is probably the final
issue of Bit Age Times. Well, at least for the immediate future. While I
enjoyed it, there has been many changes in my life and I unfortunately don't
have the time that I once did. Plus, I never received the writing support
that I had hoped for. With only one regular writer, it was too much of a
burden for me to keep coming up with stuff. I did not have the luxury that I
have with Retrogaming Times, where I could do a handful of articles one
month and with all the submissions, it didn't matter. So while the
newsletter did well and did have a very solid readership, I am putting it on
hiatus. I hope that down the road, I will get the urge to once again put it
out, but I am making no promises. I hope you enjoyed the run and keep
reading Retrogaming Times as it will continue to come out! Thanks and enjoy
your bit age games!