Bit Age Times 
The Newsletter for the Second Generation and Beyond!
Issue #9 - July 2000

   8 Bit  -  16 Bit  -  32 Bit  -  64 Bit  -  8 Bit  -  16 Bit  -  32 Bit  -  64 Bit  

Table of Contents
01. The Top 50 Games of the Bit Age
02.  The Greatest Battle Revisited
03. Computer or Console?
04. Sites of the Month
05. Neo Geo Review
06.  Don't Blame Me
07. I Was a Teenage Altered Beast
08. Conclusion

 

The Top 50 Games of the Bit Age (and beyond)!

 Here is the conclusion to the controversial list! These are the cream of the crop, the upper tier of gaming. Each of these games not only were great games, but they also were extremely influential in their genres. They are the ones that brought gamers by the droves to certain systems and were cloned to death. Most everyone who is a real gamer has played most, if not all the games on this list.

10. Civilization-Sid Meier is one of the greatest geniuses of video games and the Civilization series is his Magnus Opus. These games are the ones that really put the exploration games on the map. With the resources and the management of them, the branching technology and all the other fine things that we have become so accustomed to in this genre.

09. Double Dragon-One of the biggest crazes in the video game market during the 1980's to early 1990's was the side scrolling beat-em ups. This is the game that really started the whole craze. It was one of the early games that allowed two players to play at once as you went across the landscape, looking for thugs to beat up. It had numerous sequels and a ton of imitators!

08. Populous-This game added a new genre to video games and a whole new term, God games as it allowed you to take the role of a God and shape the world. You controlled the people, could alter the landscape and even show them the hand of destruction! The genre of God games became immensely popular and you still see incarnations of them.

07. Sonic the Hedgehog-Sega was trying to take the Nintendo market with the Genesis and needed a killer game to do battle. While the Genesis had a series of hits like Altered Beast, Golden Axe and other arcade conversions, it still needed something to draw the masses. Enter the spiked hair hedgehog named Sonic. With blinding speed, immense attitude and just altogether great gameplay, it was an instant hit and inspired a series of sequels. Plus Sonic added a feature that almost all games of this genre have, the animations when the game is not being played. It was here that Sonic started this with his tapping his foot in disgust as he waited for you to begin playing again.

What this game meant to the success of the Genesis and Sega as a company are immense and who knows how much of Sega's ability to still be a player in the game market is attributed to this blue hedgehog?

06. Sim City-This game has become the staple of the entire Maxis company with their seemingly endless line of sequels. While there were games of this genre before (Fortune Builder for the Colecovision), this was the one that brought city building to the masses. The whole concept of starting a city from scratch and building it into the city of your dreams was something everyone could relate to. With the added pressure of natural disasters, angry citizens and urban problems like traffic congestion, pollution and crime, you received a good dose of what a mayor of a big city faces.

05. Legend of Zelda Series-While Dragon Warrior and Final Fantasy were converting people to RPGs, it was Zelda that brought in the most. With the simple controls and the blending of arcade action and RPG elements, you had a wonderful game and a monster hit! The Zelda series has continued to come out and help move Nintendo systems (and even some ill fated CDI's). Look at how much of an impact the newest version of Zelda had on the Nintendo 64 and you can see that the importance of this franchise is still as great today as it was during the 8 Bit era.

04. Street Fighter II-Each of the next four games are the most popular and most influential of their genre. With the case of Street Fighter II, you had the lightning rod for the fighting game genre. All the excitement this series created helped to catapult the genre to one of the biggest and most profitable in the bit age and beyond. The characters became household names to gaming fans and soon it seemed like everyone was learning the moves.

The impact of Street Fighter II, one of the few sequels to have a greater impact than the original, is immense. Look at how many incarnations of the series there are from the seemingly endless number of Street Fighter IIs (we all wondered if 3 was absent from Capcom's vocabulary), to the Street Fighter Alphas and beyond. Plus, the number of other franchises that became two dimensional fighters like the Mortal Kombat, the Marvel Superheroes and others. It seemed like any pop culture phenomenon had a fighting game (even such series as Jurassic Park and Star Wars).

03. Doom-No game sold more computers than Doom. No game had a greater impact on computer gaming than Doom. While it followed Wolfenstein 3D, it surpassed it in every way. It played better, it looked better and it sold a ton more! The game showed people how much more exciting a 3D world could be. After Doom, there was no turning back to a 2D world. People saw the difference and soon everyone was working on a first person shooter.

While the number of clones that Doom spawned is in itself impressive, the effect that Doom had on the computer market from a marketing standpoint was even greater! While other games have done the try before you buy method (including the forerunner to Doom, Wolfenstein 3D), it was Doom that brought the concept to the masses. It also showed the world that this format could work and be very profitable. It also turned ID into a household name and made both ID and GT very, very rich.

02. Super Mario Series-Alot of you will be shocked at this series being the #2 on my list, but don't let this underscore the importance this series had on the industry. Nintendo took a bit character from the Donkey Kong series and made him into the most known character in the history of video games! Mario is to video games what Mickey Mouse is to cartoon animation or what Superman is to comic books. Every kid and most adults know Mario, whether it be from the series of games, the tons of merchandise or even the Milk commercials. You would be hard pressed to escape him as he is everywhere!

The Super Mario game, the first one, was one the most important games in the history of Nintendo. You could endlessly debate on which would be more important, Donkey Kong or Super Mario Bros (some would say you couldn't have Super Mario Bros without Donkey Kong). But you cannot debate how much this game meant to the success of Nintendo as a game company and more importantly as a hardware company. Super Mario and the sequels sold tons of systems for Nintendo and the Super Mario World helped sell the Super Nes and the Mario 64 almost single-handedly sold the Nintendo 64. That is something that no other game can claim.

Besides the Super Mario games, the series also spawned sequels. Not since Happy Days, has one franchise spawned so many others (for the record, the TV series, Happy Days, spawned Laverne and Shirley, Mork and Mindy and Jonie Loves Chachie, but no series is perfect). Besides the Super Mario games, you also have the Yoshii games, the Mario Karts, the Mario Party and the Wario games. Any game publisher would give their right arm and leg to have a franchise like this.

01. Tetris-Possibly the simplest game on the list, yet this game has had a bigger impact than anyone could ever imagine. The simple puzzle game from Russia not only sold millions of copies, but it spawned millions of clones. It helped to build the puzzle market, single handily. Plus, it is one of the few games that both men and women, adults and children love and play. People who don't play video games have played Tetris.

This game was and still is so popular that is helped to make the Gameboy the biggest selling handheld of all time (actually it is the biggest selling system of any kind of all time). No game was more vital in the success of the Gameboy than Tetris. But it wasn't only on the handheld that it made an impact. It was also huge on the computer market and in the 8 Bit market, so big that it caused a lawsuit between Nintendo and Tengen (a subsidiary of Atari) over the rights of the game for the Nintendo 8-Bit system.

Besides being a huge selling game, it showed the industry that women could be interested in games. It showed that you didn't need great graphics and all the bells and whistles that many games offer to be great. It proved that gameplay is the most important aspect of any game. It also has become the game that most first time game makers do. As most new guitar players learn to play "Smoke on the Water", so do most wanna be programmers do a version of Tetris. And it will continue to be a vital stepping stone for future generations as they learn the basics of game development. Tetris will continue to be played as long as there are computers.

The Greatest Battle Revisited

I have had so much feedback from people on the article I wrote back in Issue #,7 that I decided to delve a little deeper into my reasoning for my decisions. I have had tons of emails asking me to give more detail on why I thought each system would fall where it did. I have been accused of selling out, of being a visionary and of being way off base. I have been complimented, criticized and called a few choice words. So I will once again give my reasons for why I feel each system will finish where it does.

#5-Project X-I have been informed that this now has a new name, which escapes me. I personally don't think it matters what you call this system as it will not make a difference. This system is doomed right here and now and nothing short of a miracle could save it.

Every system has a window of opportunity to where it can make the biggest impact on the market. This window is very small and comes very fast. The window for the Project X or whatever they call it now has come and gone. The biggest selling point this system had is that it was a DVD based system at a time when CD systems were all the rage. It offered an exciting prospect of a system that could play DVD movies and play video games! But instead of coming out and capitalizing on this, it dragged its feet and since then the Playstation 2 has come out and is the first with this distinction. And since there still is no real release date for it, it will be hard pressed to even get noticed by the time it reaches the market, if it ever does.

Besides not having the DVD market to itself, it also has the handicap of not having any killer software to sell it. Look at the demos and what do you see? A revamped version of Tempest 2000. Sure it is pretty, but not exactly a system seller. As good a game as Tempest 2000 was, it couldn't save the Jaguar and it will not do that for this company either.

If that isn't enough, you have a company that will be done by numerous companies, ala 3DO. While there is only one example of this in game history and that isn't enough data to condemn this, the fact that no one else has tried it since is enough to make me leery. Everyone knows that the money to be made in the console market is the licensing fee placed on each game sold. That is the reason that Sony sells their hardware at a loss. They know they will recoup their money and a ton more in the licensing fee and the more systems that are sold, the more publishers who will be willing to make games for the platform.

#4-Sega Dreamcast-Sure it is a nice system and it does have some very nice software out for it and there is alot of great games coming down the pipe, but it still isn't enough to help them win this battle. I will continue to harp on the point that you cannot win the battle of today with yesterday's technology. No way, no how. People want what is new and now and the Dreamcast cannot offer that. Sure they can add a DVD drive, but that will do nothing but fragment the market for game publishers and confuse consumers. If you are a game publisher, do you make a game for the DVD drive where you have almost no restrictions in size or do you stick with the giga discs that everyone has access to?

I have read in magazines that NFL 2K almost fill the entire CD. If one of your first generation games can nearly maximize your allotted space, what does this say for your future? Sure you can make it a two disc game, but disc swapping is not something that most gamers want to deal with. But disc swapping is not the only problem of not having DVD. From the get go, a Playstation 2 or any DVD based system will have 4-5 times as much space available on their games than the Dreamcast. That is alot and will show as the programmers come to grips with the systems. As more and more programmers begin to use this vast resource, the difference will become more and more apparent.

Another problem for the Dreamcast is that the Playstation 2 has the ability to play DVD movies and this gives it added value. The Dreamcast will be a game system and a game system only. Kids will more easily be able to talk their parents into another system because of the DVD capability and that will loom large this Christmas as the DVD format becomes more and more accepted.

As I mentioned in my original article, I felt the Dreamcast missed the boat on the online gaming option. The fact that they are still trying to get it up and running is a joke. The fact that it will not be fully operational until September is just sad. Nothing could have changed Sega's fortunes more than having that online option up and running from day one. To ship a system with a feature that is for the most part worthless is just absurd. Why did they bother putting a modem in there?

When I heard about Sega's plan on giving you a system for free if you signed up for their online service for a certain amount of time, I just laughed. Is this the best they can come up with? I could go sign up for Microsoft Network for the same amount of time and get a Dreamcast and $200.00 worth of games at Best Buy and be guaranteed of a decent online server. Come on Sega, you gotta do better than that. You want to make an impact this Christmas? Take a page from your Saturn days and add a nice package of software with the system. Drop the price of the Dreamcast to $99.00 and toss in NFL 2K, Sonic Adventures and either a fighter or a driving game. Want to make parents think, then make the package so appealing that they will have to rethink that Playstation 2 purchase. At a third the price and with three good games, you will get a fair share of the Christmas money and will be in a better position for the new year.

#3-Nintendo Dolphin-The problem with the Dolphin is that it is the most unknown of the new systems. Nintendo is infamous for limiting the amount of information that leaks out on a system. No other company holds their cards closer to their chest than Nintendo. For this reason it is hard to speculate on this system. It may be a world beater and may win the race. Or it can be like their last system and do well but not be anywhere near the dominant platform that its predecessors were. I don't think that any system will ever dominate as much as the Nintendo 8-Bit did. Sure the Playstation was huge, but it didn't own 95% of the market like the original Nintendo.

Alot of Nintendo's success will depend on when it comes out. There is no doubt that the hardware will be impressive. There is no doubt that the first party software will be equally impressive. But if Nintendo drags its feet like it has done with the past two systems, it may find itself deep in third place and possibly stuck in fourth. Timeliness is much more vital in this battle than ever before.

The one big advantage that Nintendo will have in the coming race is they have the franchises that sell systems. Mario, Zelda, Pokemon and others are the games that people, especially kids want to play. Nintendo also knows how to make great games. They learned long ago to be able to take a proven franchise and be able to reinvent it on a new platform and not lose a step. They have the programmers to insure they will have incredible games, ones that will only be available for the Dolphin. Plus there is the brand name. Parents are familiar with Nintendo products. They know them and can rely on good family games from the company. Nintendo has a niche and is very good at catering to this niche.

So it is much more a question of what will the Dolphin have and when it will come out. We know it will be a DVD based system and it will have the latest technology. We know a Mario and Zelda game are imminent. What we don't know is anything else. What will the controllers be like and who will be making games for it? These are the kind of questions that will decide the final outcome of the system. This is what makes the Dolphin the most important system of the next era.

#2-Microsoft XBox-While the Nintendo Dolphin may surpass it, right now the X-Box shows the most promise. With the breakup of the company put on hold for the next year, that will give them some relief from the legal battles and they can focus on winning the console war. While they are the newcomers to this race, they have what it takes to win it all. They have the money, the desire, the contacts and the people. That is a deadly combination and makes them a formidable foe.

The first thing that Microsoft has brought to the table is to incorporate something that should have been done years ago. They are adding a hard drive to a game console. While this may not seem like much to the average consumer, it can really make a difference. Besides speeding up gameplay by storing the next room on the hard drive, it also allows the ability to add on new levels, new players in sports games and countless other things. This can revolutionize the whole game market! While it is still too early to see how much of an effect this will have on the game market, it is something that excites me.

In the past article, I mentioned that Microsoft has the advantage because they have done online games and can have a whole online gaming universe ready from day one! They will not be getting their feet wet like Sony and Sega, they have been doing it. They don't need to hire someone else to build a site for them, they have the people already in place. So while the others are fumbling to get theirs going, Microsoft will be ready and kicking butt!

Microsoft is already doing what I said they would do, they are buying up game companies. They just bought Bungie who made games like Marathon and Myth. While this isn't a huge move, it gives them another software house working for them. Watch for more acquisitions in the coming months.

Microsoft also has the advantage of already having a gaming department in place. As I said before, they have been making games for over a decade. They have done almost every genre imaginable, with varying degrees of success. So they can make the games and have them ready for their system. Plus, they are offering smaller royalty fees for producing games for their system, some reports say it is as low as a third of what Sony charges. This will entice more companies to give them a try.

Microsoft also has the advantage of already having their products in all the major software and department stores. Go to any Babbages or Toys R Us or Walmart and you will see Microsoft products. They have all the distribution channels already open and they have been successful so it is much easier for them to convince stores to carry their products. Plus, they plan on spending more money on advertising the X-Box than they did on Windows 95. Plus, since they are such a well known company and have been in the news so much, the amount of exposure they will get from the news will be phenomenal. People will take notice and follow the story.

#1-Playstation 2-Sony has the advantage this time and they will exploit it to the max. While they will have stiffer competition this time around, they have all the aces and unless they do something really stupid, they should easily win the war. They will be the first DVD system out there and with backwards compatibility, it will be the biggest value of the Christmas season. Much easier to talk your parents/spouse/whoever to upgrade when you have the argument that it can double as a DVD player and you can play all your old Playstation games without having to buy a special adapter! This makes the $299.00 price seem much more palatable.

The biggest advantage that Sony has right now is that they are entering the US market a good 6 months ahead of Microsoft and Nintendo, possibly even longer. This means their only competition this Christmas is the Dreamcast. And with 3 million units already sold in Japan, they are already a success and the software houses are scrambling to get more game done and adding more to their list of future games. Look for a monster and I mean monster launch lineup when the Playstation 2 debuts in America in October.

Another big advantage is that the hottest software for the next year will be on the Playstation 2. With a new Final Fantasy, a sequel to Metal Gear Solid, another Resident Evil game and more coming out, there will be no shortage of great games for the system. As the sales climb and as the other new systems come out, more and more of the software houses will be moving their programmers from Dreamcast projects to Playstation 2, X-Box and Dolphin games.

A big bonus with the Playstation 2 is still the joystick. With the analog buttons and the potential it can add to a video game, you are looking at really improving the gameplay. While the early Playstation 2 games haven't taken advantage of this feature, look for more and more of the later games to incorporate this into their gameplay. While the other companies will probably just borrow the idea for their systems, right now this is only available on the Playstation 2.

While they still do not have their online plans figured out and they are still figuring out how to counter Microsoft's announcement of having a hard drive attached, they do seem to be the most together. Their system is out in Japan and despite a lackluster launch lineup and a few glitches, it is doing incredible business and getting rave reviews! And as more and more games come out, more and more of the system's potential is being shown. Unless Sony screws up in a big way, they should easily win this round. But it may be quite different for the next round.

Computer or Game System?

All over you see magazines talking about should you buy a computer or a game console for your game playing. But this article is different. Instead of deciding on hardware, we are looking at software. For the sake of this argument, we will assume that you own both a computer and a game console. Both will be CD Rom machines so it can be equal. It is the same game for each system, in this case we will use Sammy Sosa High Heat Baseball 2001 for the PC and Playstation. The question is which version do you buy, the one for the PC computer or the one for the game machine? Well, here is some of the arguments for each side.

The Computer Version
One of the biggest advantages of buying the computer version is that once you load it onto your hard drive, the load time is much shorter. As long as you have the space for the maximum load, you can have a quicker game, in regards of load time. Plus, you have the advantage that you can save all the games you want without having to buy memory cards. This is nice when you want to play several teams.

The second advantage of the computer version is price. Games for the Playstation and most console games start off more expensive and maintain a higher price for a longer period of time. Sales are infrequent and when they do have them, it is usually only $5.00 off. To give you an idea, High Heat 2001 started out on the Computer at around $39.95, the same as the Playstation. Within a few weeks of release, the computer version could be found for as low as $19.95 on sale where the Playstation version was still at the initial release price of $39.95.

Besides a lower price for the computer version, you also get online capability, something that is in works for console games but right now is not available. The Playstation has no online gaming capabilities and the Dreamcast is building theirs, so if you cannot find someone to play with, you can go online and find a person to play against.

Another nice feature with the computer version is that you can find online sites that offer add-ons. For the High Heat version, you can download updated stadiums with actual billboards and more (no more Joe's Cola, now you see a billboard for Pepsi). The ability to add more faces to players, new uniforms and other features adds to the value of the game. This is the same with other games where you can add new levels and skins to the games.

The Console Version
While the console version is a what you see is what you get kind of proposition, you get a more stable product. While the ability to download more levels or stadiums is not a possibility at this moment, what you do get is a game that is specifically designed for one machine and one machine only. Where computer games are made for many different kinds of computers and dozens of different sound cards and video cards, a game made for a Playstation is made for just a Playstation. This allows the programmers to eliminate all or nearly all the bugs in the games, so you don't need to download patches to get the game to work on your computer. It is nice to know you can open a game and be able to play without any problems.

Not only is having a single platform nice for developing for, but it also ensures that the newest game for your Playstation will still work on that system you bought 5 years ago (assuming yours still works). Try that with a computer. Nothing is worse that going to a computer store and seeing that your computer doesn't meet the minimum requirements or it just makes it, but when you get it home the game runs terribly due to your antiquated system. This is something that you do not have to deal with on consoles.

While the games do cost more from the start than computer games, you can find used games for low prices and used game stores are plentiful. The same cannot be said for computer games that drop in price faster than a used car and have almost no resale value. Plus, you are usually stuck trying to sell them online as very few stores will buy used computer games. You may pay more for a video game, but you can also get more for it when it comes time to trade it in.

Another advantage with console games is that you can rent them from the local video store. For a few dollars, you can try the game and see if you really like it or not. This is something that you cannot do with computers. Sure, you can download a demo of most games, but unless you have a good online connection, this can be a very lengthy process. It is much easier to just stick the CD in and be ready to go!

The last advantage for console games is that unlike a computer, you can have a ton of games and not need to keep getting a larger hard drive or tons of zip disks. Since console games are all stored on the CD, you don't have to go through the trouble of worrying about hard drive space and which version to download (do you want the smaller one that has more load time or the full version that takes up half your hard drive, but almost no load time). Plus, if you hard drive crashes, you have to start all over again and all your saved games are lost. With a console, if it dies, you go buy another one and just put the game back in with your memory card and you haven't missed a step.

The Final Verdict
So which one is the best? I personally prefer computers because of the online play, the lower cost of games and the extras you can download. But I must admit that I like the simplicity of the consoles and the instant compatibility. It comes down to how much money you have and what you are looking for. If you can afford a good computer with a large hard drive, then the computer is the way to go! Unlike the consoles, the PC platform is here to stay. But if you are just into playing games and like the thought of quick playing with no work, then the consoles are for you.

Sites of the Month

Here are two sites that can aid in your video game playing, especially if you are a fan of games like me. I must admit that both are for computers as opposed to consoles, but still they are worth checking out!

Computer RPG World
If you like computer role playing games (and who doesn't?), they this site is a must. It currently has 80 games for download, with tons of the greatest role playing games of all time! You have the Bard's Tale series, the Wizardry series, Ultima's, Dungeon Master, Eye of the Beholder and a whole lot more! There is enough gaming here to keep anyone busy!

Here is the URL for the site:

http://web.ukonline.co.uk/mdpontiac/

High Heat Ballpark
This is the site for High Heat fans! From here you can download a ton of stuff to make your High Heat gaming a better experience! First off, you have improved stadiums. Most are just the same stadiums, but with accurate billboards, but they add to the realism of the game. There are also alternate uniforms you can download, more player pictures, updated minor leagues and even new leagues based around key years of baseball and even the Negro Leagues.

One nice feature that has recently been added to the site is "How To" sections for putting in these new features. They also have a forum for you to discuss High Heat baseball and what a great game it is. All in all, a wonderful site and one that I frequent on a weekly basis.

Here is the URL for the site:

http://www.wewp.com/ballpark/

Neo Geo Review

After not doing it for a few months, it is time once again to do another Neo Geo game review! This time I chose the cutesy title called Blue's Journey. So sit back and enjoy!


(How utterly adorable!)

Blue's Journey
The first thing you will notice about this game is how sickeningly cute it is. The colors are as bright as the wallpaper in a baby's nursery. Lots of pink and powder blue. It is enough to make you gag or put some Barney music in the background. But if you can get past the color scheme, you have a pretty good game.


(Attack of the Killer McNuggets!)

Blue's Journey (with no relation to Blue's Clue, except in the cute factor) is a typical side scroller where you have to go from left to right to finish a level. There are your customary villains, with a wide assortment of beasties including dinosaurs and some creatures that look like giant chicken nuggets. Honest! I didn't know if I should hit them or dip them in some sweet and sour sauce. One neat feature is that once you whack a bad guy, you can then pick them up and toss them at other bad guys.


(Is that a pink dinosaur?  You have got to be joking!)

Want to know how cute this game is? You start off hitting the bad guys with a flower. Really! Flower power at its best! You later get some more manly bombs, but that is after alot of pansy pummeling.

As is the case with many side scrollers, there is the shop where you can buy stuff to aid you in your journey. You can get tougher flowers, things to heal and containers to hold all your pretty weapons. Of course, you pay by picking up flowers which seem to be the currency. My guess is that FTD would be the richest company in this world. That would make Merlin Olson some kind of deity, a very scary thought .

There are also the usual end of level bad guys, who need alot of hits to defeat. They are also quite cute, which makes beating them up all the harder. Give me a tough bad guy, not some cutesy tootsie. Don't let them looks fool you as they pack a wallop and will hurt you bad. So don't giggle at them, instead start battling as they will not stop for a chuckle.

So if you like side scrollers and don't mind bright colors and fighting with flowers, this is a pretty good game. It has a ton of challenges and keeps you on your toes. So go ahead and download it, but make sure you wear some manly clothes to offset all the cuteness.

Donít Blame Me

By Fred Wagaman

What did I say ? What did I do ? Less than two weeks after I sang the praises of the Neo Geo Pocket, SNK announced that it was withdrawing its products from the US and Europe. Electronics Boutique and other retailers were asked to return their inventories to SNK. I know that EB has complied. According to published reports, SNK will reprogram the carts and repackage the machines for sale in Japan.

The main reason cited was that SNKís target market share of the handheld market was never reached. SNKís target was 10%. They never even reached 2%. SNK had been purchased by a pachinko machine manufacturer a few months ago and they apparently didnít want to continue to incur the costs of dealing overseas.

R.I.P NGP.

Several titles that were supposed to come out in the US never will. Ogre Battle and Cotton are the two that I was looking forward to.

OK. Post mortem time. Who killed the Neo Geo Pocket ?

Before I reveal the perpetrator, I must list itís other victims.

Turbo Express

Atari Lynx

Sega Game Gear

Sega Nomad

If you havenít already guessed, Iím talking about the Gameboy. That eye-straining, little chunk of plastic. The number one selling game system of all time.

Each of those victims had something against it from the start. One foot in the grave if you will. But the Gameboy pushed them in.

Turbo Express - too high of an initial price ($299)

Atari Lynx - lack of third party software

Sega Game Gear - lack of software

Sega Nomad - too late in the Genesisí life cycle

Nintendo established itself by packaging the Gameboy with the most addictive game of all, Tetris. The ball started rolling in 1989, it has been going non-stop ever since.

Nintendo has extended the life cycle of its machine by evolving it, not replacing it.

The Gameboy went from the original pea-green, eye killer to a smaller, sharper, clearer machine. Then to a multi hued, color machine.

The next evolution is the Gameboy Advanced. A RISC-based 32-bit, backwards-compatible handheld. We wonít see it here until 2001, but itís coming. And heaven better charge some batteries for any handheld that tries to get in itís way.

 

Fred has been playing games for over 25 years and actively collecting them for over 10. The 2400+ games in his collection 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 names Pokemon as an accessory in the death of the NGP.

I Was a Teenage Altered Beast
Chapter Five

Once I fashioned a bark shirt and a tunic of leaves, I was ready to head out towards the wizards castle.  I knew that I would have to get some better clothes if I was to fight the wizard.  These leaves were already coming loose and were itching my skin something awful.  I wonder if any other heroes ever had problems like these.  

About an hour down the trail, I came across a dying man.  He was lying there with a large gash in his chest.  It looked like teeth marks along his chest.  He reached out to me and said "They were all over us.  The swamp....the swamp." was the last words he said.  As I stood there and pondered what he meant, I pulled out my map (don't even ask where I put it) and looked at it.  I noticed that my journey would take me through the swamp.  So I did the only thing I could with the dead man, I stole his clothes.  I know I should have buried him or something, but I didn't have time for that.  Plus, I figured his dead body would keep the creatures of the forest busy and they may leave me alone.

As I entered the swamp, the first thing I noticed was the stench.  It was horrible, the stench of decay.  It permeated the air and overwhelmed you.  But as I sloshed through the bog, I knew there was more to worry about than the stink of the swamp.  Whatever killed that man was in this swamp and I may have to face it.  So I pulled out my sword and kept my eyes open.  The one problem with a swamp is that you are surrounded by sound.  Birds are chirping everywhere.  There is the sound of frogs croaking and bugs buzzing.  If something wanted to sneak up on you, it wouldn't be too hard.  

Up ahead, I heard a large splashing sound.  At first, I thought it may be a crocodile or something equally large.  As the sound came nearer, I held my sword steady.  Then from the fog, emerged three very large frogs.  I am talking frogs so big that their legs would feed an entire family!  They looked quite hungry and I knew it wasn't for bugs.  They were coming for me.  I went to run, but the swamp slowed me down.  It only took moments for the leaping frogs to be upon me.  I knew that I had to fight it out.  

The first one jumped upon me and swallowed me whole.  One nice thing about frogs is that they swallowed their prey whole.  Inside the frog, I used my sword to give this beast a terrible belly ache.  I shoved my sword right through it and ripped it open.  Then I pulled the sword up and tore a major hole into the stinking amphibian.  Then I took my hands and ripped it hard to open a hole for me to climb out of.  As I dove out of the belly of the beast and into the murky swamp, I looked back and saw the creature squirming in pain.  I knew it was going to die soon.  But before I could enjoy my victory, another frog was upon me.  It dove at me, but this time I was ready.  I quickly moved aside, as it received a mouthful of swamp water.  I then rose to my feet and took my sword and stuck it deep into the beast's side.  It screamed out in pain and jumped off, taking my sword with it.  The last frog then made its move as it jumped right in front of me and sent a wave of murky water into my face.  But I was ready for the slimy beast.  Instead of trying to avoid the water coming at me, I dove forward and punched blindly at the frog.  I hit with the first fist and now that I knew where it was, I kept punching and punching until I heard the sickening sound of bones cracking.  Wiping the water from my face, I looked at the frog and realized that I smashed its skull in with my bare hands.  I really was one tough dude!

As I took a rest, I heard something stir.  Once again, I looked up to see another of those stupid white wolves.  This one was watching me, looking to see how weak I was.  It wanted to feast on the fallen frogs, but waited to see if I posed a threat.  One thing I knew is that these animals gave me power and I craved more power.  I wanted to be as strong as possible to take on the wizard and this was a sure way to get more power!

Before the animal had a chance, I dove at it and grabbed the white demon and knocked it to the ground, where I pounded it to its death.  Part of me felt pity for the poor beast, but I knew it was for the love of a woman and I used that to justify my brutal actions.  As the all too familiar sphere rose from the breast of the beast.  I once again grabbed it and pulled it to my chest, feeling the surge of fire and power.  This time something was different.  Instead of just growing bigger and stronger, I felt different.  The world suddenly turned black and white.  All the colors ceased to exist.  But that wasn't the only change.  Instead of having rational thoughts, I felt the animal instinct taking over.  For the first time, the desire to eat was greater than anything else.  I looked at the fallen frogs and hunger overwhelmed me.  I dove upon them and started tearing the flesh from their bones and devouring it.  I ate until my stomach was near bursting.  Then I looked in a puddle next to the frog and saw my reflection.  I was no longer the man, but a beast.  I pulled back and looked at my limbs, all covered in fur and blood.  I had become the very creatures that I have killed.  What form of trickery and deceit was this?  Was this the wizards doing or was there some greater magic at work here?  I looked up to the sun that was coming through the trees and howled.  I tried to yell out a curse at all that was evil in the world, but all I could do was howl.  What has become of me?

Conclusion

The heat of summer is upon us and so is the ever famous vacation time.  The reason for the delay in this newsletter was the ever famous family vacation.  But I came back and put the nose to the grindstone and got it finished.  

You may notice that there is more coverage of the newer games and systems, but that is only temporary.  I do plan on doing more coverage of the Bit Age systems.  I just enjoy talking about the newer games as much and will put some coverage of newer games in there as well.  

Tom Zjaba

(As I finish this newsletter, I am listening to "Wet Dreams" and wondering what ever happened to Kip Addota (or however you spell his name)?