The way we play videogames has evolved radically over time. As technology has whizzed forward at alarming rates, so too has the world of gaming. But it’s thanks to the classic videogames and gaming machines of old that these modern, super advanced gaming experiences exist. Without the Liberty Bell there would be no video slots, if Sonic the Hedgehog had never existed, maybe Crash Bandicoot wouldn’t have either. Certainly, if there had never been a Pokémon game then the Pokémon Go craze couldn’t have come about. Let’s pay homage to the classics that laid the foundations for the great games we play today.
The Liberty Bell
In 1895 Charles Fey invented the first ever slot machine, and in doing so created a key cog in a gambling industry that now rakes in over $159billion each year. The Liberty Bell was the simplest of designs. It had three reels with various fruit symbols on, and all players had to do was shove coins into the slot and pull a lever to spin them. The machine paid out for matching symbols. That basic idea has been adapted constantly over the years up to now, when gamers can visit online casinos and play highly superior video slots.
Modern day slot games are now based on films like The Big Lebowski and Nightmare on Elm Street, TV shows like South Park, and other fun themes like Rainbow Riches. Instead of pulling a lever to spin three reels, players click the mouse to spin five or six. Most games now have cut scenes, side-games, and theme music. Fey’s simple idea has gone on to inspire great heights of casino game engineering.
Sonic the Hedgehog
Sega conceived the first ever Sonic the Hedgehog game in 1991 for the Sega Genesis. The basic idea was to guide the iconic hedgehog along a side-scrolling obstacle course in search of coins, while avoiding pitfalls and enemies like Dr Eggman. The games have sold over 335million units when combining packaged software and mobile downloads. Their popularity has led to a number of sequels and spin-offs including TV shows and films.
Not only did Sonic pave the way for other side-scrolling games like Earthworm Jim and more recently, Angry Birds, it also inspired the massive hit series Crash Bandicoot for PlayStation. The more advanced, open-world console games of today have come a long way since Sonic and friends, but the spiky blue-haired hero got the ball rolling.
Pokémon started as a pair of videogames for Gameboy in 1995. Since then it has led to an enormous global franchise that encompasses trading cards, TV shows, comic books, movies and toys.
Recently, the developers managed to reinvigorate the franchise with an augmented reality app for smartphones called Pokémon Go, which paid tribute to the classic games of old. Now all those people who had fantasised about being a Pokémon trainer could make that dream a reality, as they traversed real-life settings in search of the unique monsters. The AR technology meant that the likes of Squirtle, Pikachu, Charizard, and Bulbasaur could be seen in familiar locations such as the local park, or even in one’s house.
Of course, along with these timeless classics that have been reinvigorated or adapted, there are much more. Recently, the Adam Sandler film, Pixels, paid tribute to Pac-Man, and plans for a Tetris film are underway. Why not fire up the old Sega or whip out your Gameboy and re-experience a couple of the games that started it all?