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I'm teaching the history of videogames.


BlinkyBear
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So my job just got a bit more fun; from September I'll be setting up a History of Videogames unit at School for the media studies course I teach.

This basically means that I need to buy one of every major console and have games for each of them. Not sure on what my budget will be so far, but I'm restricted to no more than 3 games per system because of time constraints, but am asking for about 5 so that I can whittle it down.

I need your help to decide though, so for each system listed, what 5 games would you consider to be absolutely integral to the development of videogames?

Things to bear in mind: this is a mainstream course aimed at kids aged 14-18, many of who might be doing the course as a less academical pathway through school, or as a way into more academic subjects. Imports are a no-go and the games need to be really, really important and have been influential in some way. Finally, I am working to a budget, so keep suggestions for games as viable as possible.

Consoles are as following:

Atari 2600 (possibility of changing for another Atari system)

NES

Game Boy

Game Boy Advance

SNES

Mega Drive

SNES

PS1

Dreamcast

PS2

N64

GameCube

Xbox

I'll add my possible lists later on to see how they compare.

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I'll use my inaugural post here to chuck out a few quick suggestions for you...

For the Gameboy, I'd say that you'd definitely need Tetris and Super Mario Land in there. Both were vital launch titles for the machine, with Tetris being pretty much the quintessential Gameboy game. Maybe the third title could be Mario Land 2, to demonstrate how the platform developed once developers had acquired more experience with the platform.

SNES: Easy, it's got to be Super Mario World, Streetfighter 2 and Starwing. All 3 were absolutely huge games in their time, with Starwing being one of the first truly mainstream games to demonstrate 3D polygonal graphics.

PS1: I'd maybe go with Wipeout or Wipeout 2097 to demonstrate how devlopers and publishers were trying to target a less nerdy audience with their games... one of the FIFAs would probably help demonstrate this too. Ridge Racer is of course the launch title most people think of, with RR4 being the most polished in the series for PS1. I'd definitely look at chucking Final Fantasy VII in there too.

N64: Got to have Super Mario 64 and GoldenEye in there, shirley? The former being one of the most accomplished adaptations of a 2D genre into the new 3D technology and the latter being the first real evidence that FPS games could work on console as well as PC. Both also not only ushered in the new 3D era, but also the era of analogue, rather than digital, controls.

Megadrive: You need the first or second Sonic games, both of which demonstrate the Megadrive's only real trump card over the SNES, that being it's processing speed.

Them's a few to get you going, at any rate.

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Atari 2600 (possibility of changing for another Atari system)

NES

Game Boy Tetris, super mario world

Game Boy Advance final fantasy tactics,

SNES

Mega Drive

SNES

PS1

Dreamcast shenmue, sega rally, sonic adventure,

PS2

N64 mario 64,

GameCube super monkey ball

Xbox halo

a few ideas

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For the GBA, CV:CotM isn't the best of the GBA Castlevanias, but it was staggering at the time that they were able to take SotN and translate its gameplay to a portable. It really showed that handhelds were capable of "proper console" gameplay beyond the SNES ports that cluttered the launch.

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Are you UK-based? It's a shame that you're including the Atari 2600 and the NES, neither of which were particularly significant over here, while neglecting machines like the Spectrum, the Commodore 64 and the Amiga that were hugely popular and influential.

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You should put in something about the bedroom coding stuff. I was never around for it, but have always found it charming to learn about.

You don't really need to know much about Xbox other than Halo and Halo 2.

Also totally show them Body Harvest for the N64, and put it next to some screenshots of GTA IV and RDR for lolz.

Guitar Hero and Frequency.

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I agree about the NES, but the Atari 2600? That was huge.

True, but his point about the importance of the home computers for the (european) games industry is very good. Wouldn´t it be more practical to install emulators anyway? you can have some consoles as objects and might run some games, but it must be a nightmare to connect all in a teaching environment. Using emulators you can also show microcomputers and arcade games which were huge and dictated what consoles were aiming at for a long time

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Are you UK-based? It's a shame that you're including the Atari 2600 and the NES, neither of which were particularly significant over here, while neglecting machines like the Spectrum, the Commodore 64 and the Amiga that were hugely popular and influential.

It's what the specification for the course says, rather than what I would teach. First thing to teach is Atari and Space Invaders.

Couple of excellent shouts already that I'd forgotten about, like Shenmue, Ridge Racer and Sega Rally.

Here is what I have so far:

GameBoy and Advance Tetris, Mario, Mario Kart,

Megadrive Sonic 1, Aladdin(?) NBA Jam,

SNES Mario World, Zelda to Past, Mario Kart, StarFox, Street Fighter 2

Xbox Halo 1, Project Gotham, Call of Duty (first console appearance)

PS1 Tomb Raider, WipeOut, Gran Turismo, Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil 2

N64 GoldenEye, Mario 64: Zelda, Ocarina

GameCube Mario Sunshine, Mario Kart 64 (?) Zelda Wind Waker

Ps2 GTA, Rez/ICO (cost?) FF7, Gran Turismo 4, MGS3

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Thanks Reynard! Been meaning to join in here for ages.

If this is a UK-based thing, what about the Sega Master System? I'd have said that was a much more important 8-bit console than the NES over here. Not so much globally, obviously.

Dreamcast suggestions also: Soul Calibur, Shenmue, Rez and Crazy Taxi are all stand-out games for various reasons. Less obviously, maybe Chu Chu Rocket for being a major kickstart to online console play and Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation demonstrated how the addition of the DC's support for Windows CE made porting PC games relatively easy (IIRC, no more than 3 months passed from the end of Sony's exclusivity on Tomb Raider titles to this being released on DC, and it was a pretty blatant port of the PC version).

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Wouldn´t it be more practical to install emulators anyway? you can have some consoles as objects and might run some games, but it must be a nightmare to connect all in a teaching environment. Using emulators you can also show microcomputers and arcade games which were huge and dictated what consoles were aiming at for a long time

It would be much more practical, but also a lot more illegal. Maybe.

Plus they need to have hands on experience of the actual gaming experience, ie, using the specific controllers etc.

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Nes: Mario 3, Contra, Excitabike, Metroid? Duck Hunt? (Especially with the way consoles are going these days with all their peripherals)

Also, instead of Project Gotham on the Xbox, why not MSR on the Dreamcast?

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NES - Super Mario Bros, Duckhunt

Game Boy - Pokemon, Tetris

Game Boy Advance - Warioware

Mega Drive - Sonic the Hedgehog

SNES - Super Mario Kart, Street Fighter II, Starfox

PS1 - Metal Sear Solid, Gran Turismo

Dreamcast - Shenmue

PS2 - Grand Theft Auto III

N64 - Mario 64, Ocarina of Time, Goldeneye

GameCube - Resident Evil 4, Animal Crossing

Xbox - Halo

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NES Super Mario Bros, Legend of Zelda

Game Boy Tetris, Prince of Persia

Game Boy Advance Mario Kart, Advance Wars

SNES Mario Kart, Super Mario World, F-Zero, Pilotwings

Mega Drive Sonic The Hedgehog, Streets of Rage

PS1 Wipeout, Ridge Racer, Final Fantasy VII, Tekken

Dreamcast

PS2 Tekken 2, Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, EDIT: GTA 3 - how could I forget

N64 Super Mario 64, Goldeneye, Ocarina of Time,

GameCube Metroid Prime, Rogue Squadron, Wind Waker, EDIT: RE4 - how could I forget

Xbox Halo

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Leaving out PC games is a bit odd.

You can't do a history of videogames without Counter-Strike and StarCraft. They just changed everything.

Another game you need to do: Wolfenstein 3D. Or you could do DOOM really because Wolfenstein is actually just a load of turquoise doors and Robo-Hitler.

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So my job just got a bit more fun; from September I'll be setting up a History of Videogames unit at School for the media studies course I teach.

My tuppence...

Speaking as someone who had a module called "History of Videogames" as part of my university degree, we didn't play a single console game. We played PC games in the style of - Jazz Jackrabbit, for instance but whilst studying there I never touched a joypad. Ignoring the fact you're going to have to get a pile of second hand consoles electric-safety inspected, you're going to lose loads of teaching time waiting for 30 kids are waiting to take turns on Shenmue...and for very little gain.

Make YouTube your main resource, not the consoles themselves. Then you've got more time to spend explaining the importance of games (so you can cover more, too) and if you need to have people playing games, use a PC.

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Should that 2nd SNES in your opening list be Saturn?

If so I'd recommend Exhumed. It absolutley shifted for 3D title on a machine really built for 2D (see Lobotomoy Software's tremendous Quake and Duke Nukem 3D ports too). Plus I reckon it pipped Metroid Prime for achieving the First Person Adventure (FPA) style AND there's the Easter Egg of hidden sarcophagi with digitised faces of the developers!

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Bring in a Spectrum and really emphasise that this is how long it actually took to load games and that sort of thing. But leave it on another telly in the background as you slog through about 10 games on other machines.

For the SNES, get a game that emphasizes the Mode 7 feature, e.g. Pilotwings. For the Megadrive, get some of the Arcade game conversions that it was so pushed for, e.g. Altered Beast or Golden Axe.

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Oughtn't you decide what you want to cover with each console and then work towards games that support/ disprove such? I wouldn't beggar discussing the technological advances of the SNES without rolling in the competition garnered with Sega as well but the PlayStation has much more significance to be presented in a standalone lesson.

History of computer games (as well as the replacement of the term "computer games" with video games) should include PC gaming and its very British upbringing.

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Incidentally: read Tristan Donovan's Replay, if you haven't already. Aside from being the best 'history of video games' I've ever read, it's also the first one to properly tackle a proper global outlook, rather than just the US/Japan perspectives.

And, as already mentioned - the NES? Really? You can't tell them to shove off and put something actually relevant in there (like, say, the ZX Spectrum)?

Will you also be covering the PC for your course?

And finally - does it have to be three games per console? I mean, some consoles simply were (and/or had more games that were) more important than others. The PS1 has a raft of important developments on it - the Gamecube, less so.

Er, enough questions, here's some suggestions:

Don't use Rez for PS2. If you do use it, you might as well stick it on the DC - as much as I love the DC (and Rez), the sheer breadth of the PS2 library will make it harder to justify on that system.

Similarly, don't use PGR for Xbox - Metropolis Street Racer on DC would be the more logical choice here, surely?

PS1 - Parappa. Seriously - it's the founding father of the Rhythm Action genre, you can't leave it out.

Gamecube - Super Monkey Ball. Screw Mario Kart and Sunshine, seriously.

Dreamcast - Soul Calibur, Shenmue and Phantasy Star Online (along with Rez and MSR, as mentioned above).

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