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.
June 5, 1995
Usually, a role-playing game involves a Medieval-fantasy story involving swords, shields, beasts and magic. When Nintendo released EarthBound it gave the genre a fresh perspective. You play as Ness, a boy with psychic abilities as he sets out on a quest to defeat the alien, Giygas. Ness and his friends travel through a modern world complete with baseball bats, frying pans and a knockoff version of the Blues Brothers. The overworld map is not seen top down like it is in other games. EarthBound has a 2-D approach allowing you to explore the land. There are also no random encounters with enemies, this time you have to make physical contact with them in order for battle to ensue. EarthBound became a cult classic due to great gameplay, but had poor sales in North America. It has been regarded as one of the top 100 video games and RPGs of all time. Ness has since appeared in sequels and as a playable fighter in the Super Smash Bros. series.
June 6, 1984
The Rubik’s Cube may have been the most popular puzzle of the ’80s, but Tetris comes at a close second. The game was created by Alexy Pajitnov in the Soviet Union. The game started out on a computer and quickly gained popularity around Moscow. From there it wound up in other countries such as Hungary and England. After years of legal disputes over its rights, Tetris made a grand debut with Nintendo as it was bundled with every Game Boy system. We’ve all probably played it and kept playing because it was so addictive. And who didn’t love the satisfaction of finally getting the long piece to clear out entire rows. Over the years the game evolved, gaining multiple sequels and crazy spin-offs like Tetris Attack. It’s also been ported onto various devices including iPods. Tetris has been given high scores and a few awards, but perhaps because of it appearing in the midst of the Cold War and having international appeal, it should be rewarded even more. It’s definitely lasted longer than the dumb rainbow cube…still can’t solve that thing.
Rise and Shine
June 6, 1993
In The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, the brave warrior has shipwrecked on Koholint Island. After being cared for by a lady named Marin, Link sets out on a journey to retrieve the eight instruments of the Sirens and awaken the Wind Fish so he may return home. This game is unique in that it is one of the few in the series to take place outside of Hyrule. Link’s Awakening contains many easter eggs and surprises that can keep the most dedicated gamers interested. One of the coolest tricks is the “Screen Skip,” allowing you to instantly teleport from one side of the screen to the beginning of the next side. It may result in being trapped in a room with no way out but to restart the Game Boy. Or you could constantly drown in deep water. But other than those, it could help you defeat the game in new ways. Link’s Awakening was awarded Best Game Boy game of the year and gave the handheld console a huge boost in sales.
A New Lease on Life
June 6, 2011
Sony’s handheld division had been sort of slacking in the years of the PSP, but their new system was announced on this day to give the company a second chance. With the name Vita, meaning life, there were high hopes of rejuvenation. The new PlayStation Vita boasted a new way to game by introducing augmented reality scenarios in some of its titles. More interaction with your social circles was also an added plus. The biggest draw for the console was the cross-game instances allowed by certain games. This gave you the ability to play on the go on your Vita then pick right back where you left off using your PS3. After it was announced, the Vita became available in February of the next year here in North America.
Going for the Gold
June 7, 2007
From the Halls of Moctezuma comes the legend of the Gold of Juarez. In the Xbox 360 game Call of Juarez, you follow the story of Billy, a young man on the run after discovering his family had been killed. It also follows Ray, who witnessed Billy standing over the bodies and believed he is the one responsible. Throughout the game, Ray gives chase to catch Billy until he learns the truth. A man named Juarez is the true murderer and Billy’s father. The game is an action-Western with shoot-outs and gunslingers. The Xbox version received average ratings, with negatives including long loading times and poor physics. After a couple of years, a sequel and threequel that takes place in more modern times were released before the well-received XBLA game. The game didn’t hit gold but sure is pretty to look at.