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.
Naka From Osaka
September 17, 1965
Yuji Naka, one of gaming’s most well-known programmers, was born on this day in Osaka, Japan. In his early days, Yuji learned by trial and error how to program games from magazine prints. He would replicate, debug and write his own codes based on his readings. Yuji applied for a job with Sega and began work on a game called Girl’s Garden as a training exercise with his colleagues. Their supervisor was impressed with their work that the game was published and released. After developing groundbreaking 3D effects for Phantasy Star, Yuji began work on Sonic the Hedgehog. He was the programmer of Sonic’s first big adventure and after its success formed Sonic Team who would be responsible for creating new games to the series. While with Sega he oversaw and contributed to other titles such as Nights Into Dreams… and Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg. He has since left the company to form his own, Prope. Yuji continues creating new games and stays in touch with his old pal Sonic.
Scaring the Pants Off You
September 19, 1985
Running around beating demons and monsters doesn’t sound too scary, especially for a game that came out in the ’80s. But it was absolutely terrifying for Sir Arthur, star of Ghosts’n Goblins. He had to make his way through graveyards in order to defeat the king of the Demon World and rescue Princess Prin Prin. After getting hit twice, you die, making this one of the hardest games to defeat. Arthur would even have to fight in his underwear. You even have to beat the game twice in order to receive the “good” ending. Ghosts’n Goblins first came out in arcades but was then ported to various home consoles. In 1986 it was a Golden Joystick Award runner-up for Arcade-Style Game of the Year. It was the first game in its series and became one of Capcom’s highest-grossing franchises.
Something Strange in the Neighborhood
September 19, 1997
Oh, it’s just Abe, a slave working inside a factory in Oddworld. In Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee, you play as the heroic Abe who’s on a mission to escape the chains of slavery and free his fellow Mudokons. This is a platforming game first made available on the PlayStation. During its development it was known that an executive of the publishing company tried to sabotage the game because they didn’t like it. That person’s boss enjoyed the game and believed it would help people feel better about something instead of just winning a game. However, production was never hindered by this incident and continued as scheduled. It received positive reviews especially for character design, graphics, animation and more. Oddworld won many awards, including Best Director, E3 Showstopper of 1997 and Outstanding Achievement in Sound and Music.
Best of the Best
September 20, 1984
Many great games from back in the day never relied on fancy graphics and a million dollar budget. All they needed was some strategy and good old fashioned creativity. Elite is one of those titles and was created by David Braben, the founder of Frontier Studios and Ian Bell. The player’s goal is to reach the highest level possible– Elite. It is a space trading and combat game which set a precedent for many future titles such as EVE Online. Elite was known to have created a number of technical innovations. The game’s programmers used an algorithm to determine each planet’s location and details instead of using up memory. It was named one of the most influential games of all time and ranks near the top for Best PC Game. It’s been rewarded with Game of the Year and the Golden Joystick Award.
Gotta Go Fast
September 20, 1994
Sorry for the misleading title, but this one isn’t about Sonic. Out Run is an arcade “driving” game as described by its designer, Yu Suzuki. The goal is to reach the end of the stage as quickly as possible, not compete against other cars. In the arcade version you get to control the vehicle like you’re really driving because there’s a steering wheel, stick shift and a brake pedal. You could even choose different music to listen to like your own radio. You can’t do all that in the Game Gear port. It was an instant hit in arcades upon its release. It’s been met with high scores and numerous awards including the Golden Joystick (so many this week). There have been loads of sequels released for various platforms but none could catch up to the success of Out Run.