Welcome to This Week in Gaming, where we take a look back at some of the most newsworthy events in gaming history from last year to even decades ago that happened this very week. Take a gander at some of the highlights and see which spark nostalgia and which may still be news to you.
Use Your Words
December 9, 1993
After seeing a tremendous amount of sales for Mortal Kombat on the Sega Genesis over the Super Nintendo, politicians in the United States took notice. Because the game featured blood, dismemberment and gore, it was considered too violent. Children, who don’t understand the reality it attempts to portray, thought it was the greatest. The more violence, the better — in their eyes. On this date, a Congressional hearing was held in order to investigate violent video games being marketed to kids. U.S. Senators Herb Kohl and Joe Lieberman led the fight for tougher restrictions on products. As a result of the hearings, the Entertainment Software Rating Board was created to give video games strict guidelines. It shows which titles are suitable for certain age groups. The system served as a blueprint for its European and Japanese counterparts. Whenever you see the big black box on the cover of a game, you can thank December 9th for that.
King of the Iron Fist
December 9, 1994
You probably needed some iron-clad gloves to keep from earning those joystick caused blisters — but then you couldn’t show off your cool battle scars. Tekken hit the arcade scene at a time when those huge cabinets were on the way out. However, it was first released in Japan by Namco where they’re still all the rage. The game was a success for its simple yet dark storyline and realistic fighting styles. As a child, Kazuya Mishima was thrown off a mountain to his death by his own father. He was saved by Devil and spent the next twenty-one years training himself to defeat his father. In the King of the Iron Fist Tournament, Kazuya wins the contest by tossing his father off that same mountain. Because of its popularity, Tekken was an even bigger success when it came to the PlayStation. The series has been such a huge franchise its own museum was opened in Osaka, Japan. Admission to the museum is free and even hosts tournaments for its guests. Tekken has been around for nearly 20 years and will keep on fighting.
Something Fragging Evil
December 10, 1993
In Doom, you are the only survivor on Phobos and must exterminate monsters throughout Mars, its moons and Hell to keep them from attacking Earth. Wield a pistol or even a chainsaw in this groundbreaking first-person shooter. Doom became the pioneer for the genre with nicely rendered 3D graphics and, of course, the amount of violent action. There was a bit of controversy over the inclusion of Satanic imagery at the time that nowadays would be considered normal. Developers included WAD files, allowing users to build their own levels complete with sounds, levels and music. This was the first game to include such data for editing and became a staple for future titles. Since its release, Doom has been rewarded with such prestigious titles as fifth best video game of all time (1996), number one game of all time (2001) and number one “breakthrough PC game” (2009). Doom has spawned numerous copies, sequels and even a movie.
Happy Birthday to Poo
December 14, 1965
Recognizable from its appearances in video game credits, the man behind “Poo” is Noritaka Funamizu. Involved with the video game industry since 1985, he has contributed to some of Capcom’s biggest titles. He designed and co-designed several arcade games, including Super Street Fighter II and X-Men: Children of Atom. After spending years in the design department, he was promoted to General Manager of Production Studio 1. With this new job, he produced The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages and installments in Capcom’s most popular franchises with Resident Evil 2 and Devil May Cry 2. In 2004, he and fellow Capcom producer, Yoshihiro Sudo, left the company to form their own. Crafts & Meister have produced six games to date, most of them based on popular anime and manga series’ including, Dragonball Ball Z and Code Geass. Their most recent game, Earth Seeker, was released for the Wii in 2011. Who knew a man nicknamed Poo would have contributed so much to the video game industry.
December 14, 2000
As always, Japan gets all the cool Pokémon stuff first. Released seven months before it came to America, Pokémon Crystal was an upgraded version of Gold and Silver. This was the first Pokémon game to feature a female playable character. Different Pokémon were added while others were removed, sprites were animated for the first time and new plotlines were included. There are even localization differences. The Japanese version allowed players to catch a legendary Pokémon not available to other areas except through promotional events. A Game Boy Mobile Adapter let Japanese players trade and battle Pokémon with compatible cellular phones. There was also a machine letting trainers list which Pokémon they wish to obtain via trade from people all over Japan—in future generations the entire world could participate. Pokémon Crystal was met with critical acclaim and because of the popular Pokémon Suicune on the cover, fans had to catch this version when it came to America.