(The Newsletter for the Second
Top 50 Video Games of the Bit
02 What Will We Do?
Championship Manager, the Best Game you Never Played!
04 Dragon Warrior
05 Prose Story - I Was a Teenage Altered Beast
06 Pigskin Progress
Top 50 Video Games of the Bit
I decided to break this into
sections. Each month for the next five months, I will be giving ten of the
most influential games of the Bit Age. I decided to start at the bottom and
work my way to the top. So this month, we will be giving you #50-#41! This
way you have time to give more feedback and we also can keep the suspense
going as we get down to the final 10!
The games here are based upon their
significance to the video and computer game industry. These are not
necessarily the most popular or the most enjoyable games made. While many of
the games here are great fun and classics in their own right, there are some
that you may argue with, but the importance, whether it be good or bad, that
they had on the market cannot be argued. I did lump a few games together,
because either they are part of a series or because combined, they had a
greater impact than they would have individually. So without any further
adieu, here is the first batch!
50. Championship Manager-If
video and computer games were an American only market, then this game would
have little to no importance and probably not make the list. But since the
game market is universal, then the impact of this game cannot be overlooked!
Championship Manager was one of the first and one of the most successful
sports games that went against the grain and offered you the chance to own a
sports franchise and manage it. While the Maddens and Triple Plays of the
world allowed you to be the player, Championship Manager allowed you to be
You may not have heard of the original that
came out in 1992 on the Atari ST or the sequels that are coming out to this
very day, but ask any soccer fan and they probably heard of it. There have
been numerous other programs that tried to mimic Championship Manager, both
in soccer and also in other sports. Even some of the action orientated
series have implemented General Manager modes into their games to cash in on
the growing legion of people who want to play sports from a business
For a more detailed description of the game,
check out my spotlight game of the month, in this issue. There you will find
more information about the game.
49. Wing Commander-Since early
in the days of video games, programmers have tried to simulate space combat.
Early games like Star Raiders and Tailgunner were among many that tried to
do this. With the popularity of Star Wars, the desire was far greater. Enter
Wing Commander! This was one of the most successful of the space combat
games and went one step further, by adding a developing storyline to the
game. It tried to blend a movie and a video game into one product and to
some it succeeded and to others it wasn't even close.
But Wing Commander's importance wasn't so
much the game, which spawned numerous sequels, but rather the impact it had
on the industry. One of the most legendary things about the Wing Commander
games is the budgets they had! Almost each sequel set a new record for the
amount of money spent on a game, with the budget being into the millions.
This was one of the first series of games that took game development from a
small team effort on a fixed budget, to a very big team of programmers,
artists, sound and more and expanded the budget of video games to the higher
level that is the norm today. It also took the cut scenes to the next level
and helped to sell the CD as a medium.
48. Joe Montana Sports Talk Football-While
the gameplay was typical for the era and even though Joe is a Hall of Fame
quarterback, the real reason this game makes the list is because it was the
first or one of the first sports games to add commentary. While this may not
seem like a big deal to you, it added a whole new dimension of realism to
sports games. Not only could you watch the action unfold, but you could also
hear it! Almost every sports game since then has adopted this feature and it
has become an integral part of sports games.
47. Lemmings-While there are
many puzzle games out there, Lemming has been one of the most popular and
spawned numerous sequels. It showed that great gameplay will sell a game. It
featured decent graphics and the sound was nothing spectacular. But the
gameplay was so challenging that it made you want to come back again and
again. While it is a game like no other, there have been other games that
are similar to it. A true original!
46. Sewer Shark/Night Trap-I
put these two games together for a reason. Neither one is very good and
would never make a list on sheer gameplay. But they were the first
introduction to CD Rom games to many gamers and showed the potential that
the medium had.
Sewer Shark was most gamer's first CD game.
Mainly because it was bundled with the Sega CD. It showed many gamers their
first glimpse of Full Motion Video, something that is the norm now in games.
While Sewer Shark was the first game many
people played, Night Trap was the reason that alot of Sega CDs were sold. A
total Full Motion Game was unheard of a few years earlier and while we all
realize it is a flawed medium now, back then we all dreamed of actually
being part of a movie. Add in the press this game received and how they try
to ban it and you can see how it helped to sell the systems and get the new
technology into the hands of many people.
45. Lethal Enforcers-Another
game that helped push a new medium in video games. This time it was gun
games and this was one of the main reasons for the early success of gun
games. While the genre has never become as huge as fighting games or racing
games, it has remained a steady market with a devoted following. The Virtual
Cop series and even the House of the Dead series owe homage to this and some
of the other early gun games.
44. Wolfenstein 3D-This game
was the messenger for 3D games. Sure it was the first one, but it paved the
way for the success of Doom and ID in general. Like many groundbreaking
games, this one only scratched the surface on the potential of 3D First
While developing a whole genre was one of the
things that Wolfenstein 3D did, it also showed the enormous potential that
the shareware market had and helped build the "Try Before You Buy" policy
that is so prevalent, even to this day.
43. Defender of the Crown-The
flagship title from the once popular, Cinemaware, was the start of a
meteoric rise to the top and then just as fast crash. The game itself was a
basic strategy game that added subgames, cut scenes and other stuff to make
it more like a movie. Unlike many war games and other strategy based games
of the era, this one had a definite end and a cinematic ending at that. You
weren't merely defending your crown as much as you were becoming part of a
story. This cinematic approach that Cinemaware took, was later felt in many
games including the Wing Commander series and even games as new as Metal
42. Punchout-With its fast
action and over the top characters, Punchout was a big hit! It took boxing
games and sports games in general and showed that there was a market for
sports games that weren't serious and didn't try to be simulations of the
real thing. Instead, it took the popular elements of the sport and turbo
charged them to make the game more fun. Later games like NBA Jam and High
Impact Football were the result of the popularity of the Punchout series.
41. Dragon Warrior Series-While
there are many great video game series during the Bit Age, the Dragon
Warrior series was the doorway for many first time adventurers. Since it was
given away free with a subscription to Nintendo Power, a great many copies
found their way into gamers hands. This introduction to role playing games,
helped pave the way for other series like Final Fantasy and Phantasy Star.
While it was far from the first series (the Ultimas, Bard's Tales and others
preceded it on the computers), it was one of the first true RGPs on the home
consoles. Unlike some of the earlier ones, like the Dungeon & Dragons series
on the Intellivision, this one offered you a chance to build your character
and to save your game. These were features not normally found in earlier
While the series did not achieve as much
success over here as did other series, it continued to thrive over in Japan
where the series is highly regarded. Success aside, it did have four games
released here, each one bigger and better than the predecessor. But it was
the first one that really paved the way. Without the ingenious marketing
plan on Nintendo's part, who knows if RPGs would be as popular today?
Tune in next month for choices #40-#31. You
still have time to send in your suggestions and help to shape this list. I
do consider each submission and do tally the votes to help determine
inclusion and placement. So let yourself be heard!
What Will We Do ?
One of the greatest innovations of the bit
age is the capability to stop playing at certain points and save your game.
Several different options were offered that allowed this.
First was the password. And the password was
good. Write down the secret combination of letters, numbers and symbols.
When you want to pick up where you left off, enter that same combination and
you were in business. If you had patience to burn, you could try to develop
your own passwords for starting the game at higher levels, or with more
things, or with different capabilities. Some of the earliest games that used
this were on the NES. Megaman and Castlevania come to mind.
Second was the in-system save capability. And
it was better. Your game could be saved in an onboard memory area. The
Turbografx-16 added this capability with its Turbo Booster Plus and its CD
add on. This basically saved your password in memory. One thing you had to
remember to do was to turn your system on once and a while. Otherwise the
capacitor that kept the save games alive would lose power and poof, there
went your games. The Saturn and 3DO also offered on-board memory for game
saves. A variation on this is the memory card for the Playstation.
Third was the on cart save. NES, Sega Master,
Genesis and Super Nintendo games used this method. This method was great
because it made your save games portable. You could play a game on your
Nomad while traveling and pick up on it when you got home on your Genesis.
These carts basically have a battery on them that keeps your game alive even
when it isnít in your system and turned on. This is going to be a problem.
Already, you may have experienced buying an
older game that works, but doesnít save your game. Iíve heard that many
people have had problems with the NES Zelda series and the Sega Master
Phantasy Star. Both of these games take hours upon hours to play and without
a reliable save, you are basically out of luck.
What can be done ? Can the batteries be
Well, thatís the problem isnít it ?
To open up many of the carts, you need either
a special screwdriver or make one yourself. Some carts, like the ones for
the Genesis, place the screws behind a label. So you might have to destroy
the label to even get the darn thing open. Then you have to be able to find
the battery and replace it with a similar one. Many of the early carts used
a barrel battery (not unlike many of the early PCs) that was soldered right
on the board. Maybe youíll be lucky and it will be a watch or hearing-aide
style battery. Then you put the thing all back together and youíre in
business. Maybe. And if you make the modification before the battery dies,
youíll lose any save games that previously existed.
What do you do ?
There is at least one solution for SNES
players. Itís a device called ďGame SaverĒ. This unit plugs into your
cartridge slot and has another slot for you to plug your game into. It takes
(I believe) ďDĒ size batteries and will save your game at any point. You
just pause the game and youíre set. One nice thing about this is that it
works with any SNES game. Even those without a save feature. It does this by
basically making the cart think it hasnít been removed from the machine and
that the power is still on. If you remove the cart from the Game Saver, you
lose your save, but that is a price you pay. These units have been spotted
So overall, I guess weíre left with two
choices. Risk damaging our carts or learn to live with starting over. What
will you do ?
(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 newly acquired 4th player, Lynzie. He acknowledges that things
arenít as bad with our carts as it is with the Capcom CPS-II Arcade boards
(like X-Men vs. Street Fighter). When their batteries die, you lose the
entire game rom. Yikes ! He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:email@example.com>)
Championship Manager, One of the Best Games You Never Played
I'm still not sure what
inspired me to order this game for my Atari ST, so many years ago. While I
played soccer some in high school, I wasn't a big fan of it. But I saw an ad
in the computer magazine for Championship Manager and something about it
caught my eye. So I took a chance on it. I remember getting a check
converted to pounds and sending out the order. What I didn't know is how
addicting this game would be.
First thing to know about Championship
Manager is that it is a soccer simulation (or a Football Simulation if you
are on the other side of the pond). You do not play soccer in the way you
would with a game like FIFA. Instead, you are the general manager of a team
and it is your job to build the best team possible as well as show a profit.
This is much easier said than done and this game does a splendid job of
creating the illusion that you really do own a team. No other sports game
that I have played to this very day has been as enthralling as Championship
While many games allow you a chance to buy
free agents and deal with salary caps and such, no game gave the players a
voice. In CM, you cannot just go and grab whatever free agent you want.
Depending on the quality of the player, you may be in a bidding war with
numerous other clubs for the rights of the player. How bad do you want the
player? Not only are you bidding with other teams, but the player himself
has to want to play for you. If your club is terrible, the player may choose
not to want to play for you and there is nothing you can do. But if the
player does want to play for you and you are the top bidder, then you also
have to negotiate a contract. How long will it be for and for how much?
Sometimes you can get a player to accept less over a longer contract. This
makes the game so exciting! You really feel that you are battling it out
with other teams and these guys are actual people, instead of just names on
Buying players isn't the only aspect of the
game. You also have to set your lineup. Things get interesting here too. If
a player thinks he is a starter and you sit him for too long, he will demand
that you release him. When it comes time to renegotiate his contract, you
may find that he has no desire to play for you. There are also fines you can
levy on a player for various reasons and this too can cause a player to
rebel against you. These soccer lads are quite temperamental, so you need to
handle them with care.
While dealing with players is quite a job,
there are more pressing matters. Your club needs to show improvement and not
lose money or after a few years, you can get sacked. One nice feature is
that you can apply for a job with another club. So if you think you are
headed for a fall, you may want to see what openings are out there.
Another nice feature is the ability to hire
and fire coaches and scouts. If the coach is too laid back, dump him and get
a more aggressive one. Scouts giving you bad info? Send them packing and
bring in a new batch. Nothing like the feeling of power!
The games themselves are like a highlight
film. You see some of the best plays of the game and can cheer your team on.
At the halftime break, you can make changes. Take out those high scorers and
put in the best defensive guys to preserve that lead or vice versa. While
you have no control over the team, you cannot help but find yourself
One of the goals is that you start off in
Division 4 with the goal of reaching Division 1. At the end of the season,
the top two teams move up and the bottom two teams in a division move down.
Besides winning the division and moving up to bigger and better things,
there are cup games. These allow you to win different cups and get lots of
extra revenue and glory. They also draw larger crowds, so you can pull in
All in all, this is one of the most enjoyable
games to ever come out. The best part is that it is still coming out to this
day, with a new version, Championship Manager 1999-2000, just out. You may
have some trouble finding the game over here in the states, but it is
available overseas, if you are willing to wait a bit. An overall great game
and one that I cannot recommend enough!
For a good site about Championship Manager,
follow this URL. Here they have both links for a fan site and the official
site of the programmers, with downloadable demos.
This game, in my humble opinion, is the game
that brought RPG's to the home consoles. Some might argue that Zelda, or
even games from the classic era like Quest for the Rings or Adventure were
the firsts, but these games didn't have the true RPG quality that is found
on so many RPG's today. Traits such as naming your character, hit points,
experience points, level-advancing, magic spells, and of course the spirit
of chance are just some of the many traits that give RPG's that unique
quality of gaming. Chance is definitely the one characteristic that got me
hooked on these games. In games like Zelda the player must perform an action
such as shooting an arrow, or thrusting a sword to defeat an enemy. This
kind of action requires timing and coordination. To defeat an enemy in an
RPG like Dragon Warrior you need only choose the attack option and chance
takes care of the rest.
I remember the excitement of playing RPG's
with people like Dungeons & Dragons, where the outcome of battle was
determined by the roll of a die. This concept of chance wasn't implemented
into any adventure game on the home consoles before Dragon Warrior. I'll
never forget the excitement I had when I first brought Dragon Warrior home
with me from Toys 'R' Us. Now I was able to capture those D&D moments on TV!
Well, today Dragon Warrior is a pretty boring game. I popped it into my NES
a year or two ago and didn't get much out of it besides a little bit of
nostalgia. The game itself is quite simple. You control one dude through a
world filled with peril and treasure. (yes treasure, an RPG dream!) What's
more exciting than getting to the bottom of the deepest, darkest dungeon and
after defeating the nastiest red dragon you've ever faced discovering a
Although Dragon Warrior itself is simple it
has brought us a whole plethora of RPG's. Games like the Final Fantasy
series (how many of those are there now, 8?), 3 more Dragon Warriors, the
Phantasy Star series, all can be rooted in Dragon Warrior. Even games from
the Ultima series which were popular on home computers weren't ported to the
home consoles until after Dragon Warrior. This game set the stage for the
popular RPG's we have now. Look at the current Final Fantasy games for
example. Although quite advanced relative to Dragon Warrior, you'll find
that they all share the same basic characteristics that Dragon Warrior
introduced to the home consoles over 10 years ago.
(Doug Saxon is a long time game fan who
has been a regular contributor to both Retrogaming Times and Bit Age Times.
He can be reached at DJ7695@aol.com.
For a good Dragon Warrior Site, check out the Dragon Warrior Guild at the
In my other video game newsletter, Retrogaming Times, I have done a number
of prose stories. These are stories that deals with a certain video game.
They have been well received, so I thought that I would try my hand at doing
a Bit Age story. So here is my attempt at one. Let me know what you think.
I Was a Teenage Altered Beast
People are always saying that life was better back then. Well, from someone
who lived back then, it wasn't. Life was one long series of dangers, life
threatening dangers. And this was just to get a date! So I am here to tell
you my tale of woe, so you may not fall in this same mode of thinking that
we had it easy.
It was sometime BC and I was like most the
young lads in my village, heads over heels in love with Penelope. She was
the most beautiful woman you ever laid eyes on. She wasn't like the other
girls in the vicinity, no she came from a well to do family. She bathed
weekly and had all her teeth, a major feat for a person back then. And she
had the voice of a siren. To hear her sing was to fall instantly in love.
When she sang, even the Satyrs would quit playing their flutes and listen. I
tell you, she was one Hades of a woman!
But I was just a lowly stable hand. My job
was to clean the stables and keep the horses clean. While it was honest
work, I would stink afterwards. Sometimes I would stink so bad, I would give
in and even take two baths in a week. But for Penelope, I would take a bath
a day, something that no sane person would ever consider. That much bathing
would wash away your very being and make you vulnerable to diseases.
Enough about me, lets get back to my favorite
subject, Penelope. Her father had decided to wed her by the next harvest and
all the eligible bachelors were to bring him gifts to show their true
intentions. Back then, a father needed to know that a man could take care of
his daughter and the best way to show this was to bring him tribute. Well, I
have been scraping up my earnings to buy something expensive to give to the
guy. But I know that there is no way I could compete with the other men. So
I had to make do with my meager savings and my own skills.
Well, the day came when all the men of the
village and neighboring villages came to win her hand. Each of us lined up,
dressed in our best tunics and carrying our best tribute. Some brought
animals, while others brought fine clothes and others brought baskets full
of wine and meats. I brought a bust that was carved out of stone. I spent my
money on the tools and did it myself. While I am no expert, I think I did a
pretty fine job. Sure, one eye was larger than the other and part of his
nose was missing, but it was like looking in a pond and seeing ones
reflection, only somewhat distorted. But it was the thought that counted or
so I suspect someone said once. I think it was the half crazed scholar,
Hallmarkus, who first coined the phrase, but I could be mistaken.
As we waited in line to present our gift, a
great and dark cloud swept overhead. Suddenly, there was a flash of lighting
that hit the very spot upon which lovely Penelope was standing and instead
of killing her, like lightning usually does, it pulled her up to the cloud.
A great head appeared. It was the head of Maximillion the Mad, a very
powerful, but extremely insane wizard. He laughed and said "Sorry to spoil
your fun, but I claim the fair maiden for myself. If any of you brave souls
wish to get her back, feel free to try. But know that the path to my lair is
filled with immense dangers and great peril. You will surely die a horrible
death." He then began to laugh as the head slowly rose up into the cloud.
The cloud then rolled away across the sky.
All of the men began to run. No one seemed
interested in trying to save the fair maiden from such a powerful foe. Her
father stood there with his head in his hands and cried out "Is no one brave
enough to save my daughter from such a foe?" As I watched the men, one by
one, run off to their homes, I realized that this was my golden opportunity.
Sure I would probably die. Sure some evil creature would most likely devour
me whole or rip my innards out and feast on them, while I watched in agony.
But I had to save Penelope! Not for her father, not for the village, but for
me. If I was to ever marry such a gorgeous woman, I knew this was the only
way. Sure it was alot to attempt for the love of a woman, but it was that or
settle for Ugnalia, the most horrible looking female you ever set eyes upon.
She was not only frightfully horrible to gaze upon, but she was also the
only other eligible female in our village. So it was almost certain death in
a most gruesome way or a life of misery, married to a woman that even the
centaurs ran from. And they don't run from much.
Tune in next month for the next chapter of
With this newsletter being released on
Super Bowl Sunday (Go Rams!), I thought this would be a good time to look at
the changes in football games from the classic era to the Bit Age. Sports
games in general saw some of the greatest advances of any genre. This was
most obvious in the football realm, where innovations were both spectacular
During the classic era, most football games
consisted of Team A playing Team B. They were usually the same, except for
being a different color. One team was usually red and the other blue. They
were typically named "Home" and "Visitor." The players were all the same and
each game was a season in itself. There was no continuing, unless you kept
track of it yourself. Stats were also not kept. Quite simply, football was
pretty generic. The Bit Age changed that.
While there were many early football games, like 10 Yard Fight and others,
the first significant one was Tecmo Bowl. This game was one of the early
ones to let you play with real players! The teams were made up, but the
players were named after actual NFL players! While this may seem trivial
now, it was a big deal back then. Soon, most of the football games went out
and secured the rights to player's names as well as team names.
Another innovation that Tecmo Bowl brought were cut scenes. These little
animations added a certain amount of character to the game. Nothing like
scoring a touchdown on your buddy and seeing a cool animation to rub it in!
The next big innovation was found on the Sega Genesis. Here you had Sports
Talk Football (mentioned in the Top 50 games), which brought commentary to
sports games. Now you didn't just see the play unfold, you also heard it.
While the early games were limited and after a few games, you heard alot of
repetition, it started the ball rolling for more and more innovations.
While I am unsure which game started the
consecutive seasons and keeping track of stats, these were important
developments in sports games. Now instead of just playing a game and that
being it, you could play out a whole season and see if you could take your
team to the Superbowl! Plus, you could see how many stats you could rack up
with your favorite player.
One of the biggest reasons there was so much
innovation during this era is because two companies were in constant battle
to one up the other. Sega with the line of football games and Electronic
Arts with the Madden series were constantly trying to win the hearts and
dollars of the video game public. This led to every innovation imaginable
being added to their game. Soon we saw pictures of players before the games.
The ability to trade players soon came. Many more features were also added,
like all-time teams, career modes and more. The football games at the end of
the bit era were eons ahead of the ones from a few years earlier, in
features and realism.
Today, gamers are still reaping the benefit
of this great spurt of growth. Not only are modern football games better,
but also many of the other sports games have added many of these features.
You would be hard pressed to find a sports games that didn't have
commentary, continuous seasons or the ability to trade players. These are
now expected features that we take for granted. If you don't believe how
important they are to a football game, then go back and play one of the
early games. After awhile, you will see just how far football games have
Hope you enjoyed this larger
issue of Bit Age Times! We took a few different directions and changed
things around a bit. Look for us to continue and tinker with it, until we
find the exact format we like. Will it be more serious or have a more
humorous slant? Only time and your feedback can decide that. But rest
assured that it will be out each month and continue to cover the classic
systems. So tune in next month on the 29th (a day early, due to being
February) to read the next issue of Bit Age Times!