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.
Start Getting Kinected
June 16, 2011
Microsoft announced a revolutionary way of playing games with the Xbox Kinect. But you can’t play anything without the games being produced. And you can’t produce them if you don’t have the software development kit. The SDK was officially released for non-commercial use on this day. More than 350 companies, including big names like Ubisoft, Konami and Harmonix, all began developing unique content for the new device. The kit included a Windows 7 compatible drive, depth sensor, noise suppression and more features that could put the Wii’s motion sensors to shame. However, the hardware just isn’t enough to keep fans interested. The Kinect’s titles have been quite lackluster and whatever these companies are doing with the kits ain’t connecting with the hardcore gamers.
Enter the Lair
June 19, 1983
The ’80s are filled with memories of acid wash jeans and Bon Jovi, but there’s something us video game enthusiasts will remember. Dragon’s Lair, a fantasy adventure game, broke the mold when it comes to graphics. Arcade games at the time were low quality, pixelated messes. Dragon’s Lair featured gorgeous cinematic quality animation. With former Disney animator Don Bluth designing the scenes and tapping into the power of laserdiscs and the classic story of a knight rescuing a fair maiden, this was an all-out blockbuster of a game. It was the number arcade game for a good portion of the year and highly influential to the future of video games. This is why, along with two other games, Dragon’s Lair has been placed in the Smithsonian. Without this game, there would be no high quality cutscenes or gameplay in our modern games.
Microsoft Seeks New Thrills
June 19, 2000
In light of current disappointments surrounding the Xbox One, this is a look back on simpler times. As Microsoft began their journey into video games they knew Halo would be a hit before anybody else, which is why they acquired Bungie Software. The team behind Halo was renamed Bungie Studios and became a member of Microsoft Game Division. Before teaming up, other companies were interested in making a move, but Bungie knew they wanted to collaborate with dedicated members of the industry. Halo sold over 6 million copies which allowed for production of a few sequels. After such a successful partnership, Bungie Studios split from Microsoft to continue a successful franchise on their own.
Sparking the Series
June 22, 1989
Wrestling is basically a national pastime in Japan, so much so that a franchise started called Fire Pro Wrestling. It began as just a small ember in the genre of wrestling games but blew up into a full-fledged wildfire. The first game released was Fire Pro Wrestling Combination Tag, featuring an innovative grappling system that required timed button presses to perform. A much more strategic mode of play compared to the hard-hitting, American style of wrestling. Fire Pro has more finesse. The game also held an array of playable characters all based on real wrestlers. Over the years, the series has stayed alive on multiple platforms. Only a couple of games have been available in North America; perhaps it is mostly exclusive to Japan because they know longtime fans will forever fuel its flames.
June 22, 1996
Doom was a big hit, but id Software had something else that would revolutionize the industry. With more advanced graphics than its predecessor, Quake was the second high profile game released by the company. But what it is better known for is the inclusion of multiplayer capabilities against live players. This is one of the first games that developed a way to play with others on their own computers as long as they were all connected to the same server. Its deathmatches and Capture the Flag scenarios allowed for easy transition to tournament competitions. Quake received near-perfect scores and been praised for its gameplay, animation and, of course, innovation.