Pixels: a minute area of illumination on a display screen, one of many from which an image is composed.
We hardly notice them with the high resolution screens we now use, where every image is smoothened and hyper-realistic. The games we now play have incredible AI (artificial intelligence), such as F.E.A.R’s enemy’s intelligence, and superb atmospheric backgrounds. But that doesn’t mean we forget the beginnings from whence these high-tech and advanced games come from, because every new game is built from a single pixel.
Old School: refers to anything that is from an earlier era or anything that may be considered old-fashioned.
Our new-age games are evolutions of its prehistoric ancestors, the 3-dimensional versions that link many abbreviations into a single game — MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role playing game), FPS (first person shooter). But remember the times when the first PlayStation came out, or when controllable-moving pixels were a thing of the future? Those were the seeds to which our current favourites evolved from, the seeds which we will dig up and rediscover, as new versions of these games cloud the memory of a distant past we should not forget. The old school games.
Boot up: to turn on one’s computer
The first PlayStation (PS1)
I don’t know if you remember the grey box that sits in front of you as you plug in — yes there were wires! — your controller to play. Boot up the system and put in the disk as the game whirrs to life.
- Final Fantasy VII
Probably one of the most legendary names in gaming history, this was what Final Fantasy VII looked like in the beginning. It was the game that probably popularised Japanese role playing games to the rest of the world, with the graphics, music, plot and gameplay receiving numerous praise.
When computer graphics and digital art were not as refined or advanced, you could see how the characters were made chunky and their features were more simplified shapes rather than the life-like resemblance we see today in the Final Fantasy VII Remake.
- Grand Theft Auto I
In the same grand scheme of things, one of the other popular games on the PlayStation is Grand Theft Auto (GTA). Even now, Grand Theft Auto remains one of the best selling games in the world, with the latest GTA V emerging as the first best seller in United Kingdom’s charts.
The storyline follows a band of robbers, which the users roleplay as, as they attempt to complete their criminal missions. Today’s GTA is a three dimensional game with superb graphics and a dizzying array of weapons players can use. However, do you recall the classic bird’s-eye-view style that GTA originally started out with, and how the start-up screen will shout out its classic ‘GRAND THEFT AUTO!’?
With the funky electronic music in the background, GTA of the past was less realistic in terms of gore and hence more adorable in a way that you can’t help but reminisce.
Avatar: a playable character that may or may not be customisable by the user.
The Super Nintendo
The console that has secured Nintendo’s position as one of the top gaming companies in the world. This 16-bit home video game console took the world by storm back in the 1990s. Compared to its predecessors and comrades around at that time, the Super Nintendo had an advanced sound and graphics system, making it one of the ‘must-haves’ for every gamer, and probably every boy then.
- Super Mario Kart
Super Mario is probably the world’s most iconic video game, with his tagline “ It’s me, Mario!”, popping into your head in heavily-accented Italian. The popular Wii game Super Mario Kart is a favourite, especially with the younger ones, and it is a great game to play with friends as you zoom through race courses and see who finishes first.
The avatars like Mario, Luigi, Yoshi (just to name a few) are bright and colourful, making the game that much more attractive. The first Super Mario Kart in 1992 was extremely pixelated, given the capacity of the old Super Nintendo, and the images were more 2-dimensional. The mechanics of the game is similar to the one we are familiar with now, but we can see how far the graphics have improved since then.
- Donkey Kong Country
Completed in 1994, Donkey Kong Country was originally a side-scrolling adventure game, in which players have to complete 40 levels. Dodging enemies and collecting bananas and balloons, the players take the form of Donkey Kong or Diddy Kong as they run through exciting levels.
Through the years, the characters developed more character and graphics became more 3-dimensional. There is also a spin-off game called Donkey Kong Jet Race for the Wii console, where players vigorously swing their Wii consoles up and down to make Donkey Kong move forward. This tiring game is a race between either you and the computer or you and your friends in the multiplayer mode. It’s amazing how different consoles can spin off variations of the same game, and make it so different from what it originally was.
In a good way.
Lag: delays in client and server communication, but now also used to refer to slow framerates.
Ah, the big boxy ones. It was the age when your computers came with a rectangular box called an external CPU (central processing unit) and produced choking noises as it powered on. Those were the days, man.
Doom was pretty popular in 1993, although it has been overshadowed by newer counterparts such as Counter Strike and Overwatch. But did you know that it was one of the pioneering 3-dimensional first person shooter games of its time?
Battling through Hell, killing demons and the undead, it made the game popular amongst the guys. The most current remake of the game in 2016 has gotten rid of the retro style pixel art and replaced it with high definition realism. The controls are smoother too. But we all can’t forget the ancestor that has sparked off so many other 3-dimensional first person shooter games that we know of today.
Once again dealing with otherworldly realms, Diablo is a game between heaven and hell, where the hero has to fight through the many monsters and restore order over the town. A real-time role playing game, Diablo started out pretty advanced for its time and the graphics were not too bad. Comparing Diablo 1 and Diablo 3, it is not a game that changed much, save for the improvements in graphics and character design. Nevertheless, it is nice to take a trip down memory lane and enjoy a time in life when simplicity is enough, compared to the advanced, action-packed games of today.
Autosave: A process whereby a function in a computer or video game saves your current changes or progress, to avoid loss of data in case of a crash.
The handheld device that, for once, allowed the users to play on the go. With this device, it spurred on so many other handheld gaming devices such as the Nintendo DS, the PlayStation Portable and so on. With the screen directly in front of you, you could now play anywhere and whenever. Recall the excitement of your first gameboy, as you load up the cartridges and the Gameboy logo appears on the screen. And when the game hangs, we believed that blowing the cartridge slot would help from some reason.
- Legend of Zelda
Legend of Zelda is a pixel role playing game that may remind you of Pokemon. The graphics, playables and style are bubbly and colourful, with the story following the main character Link.
While still retaining its RPG format, the newer versions of Legend of Zelda now is a 3-dimensional immersive game, where you move the characters through the terrain and feel as if you are the one walking the grounds yourself. The monsters and characters got an upgrade too, with more details added to the avatars. That being said, whether or not you prefer the older versions or the newer ones depends on you.
Sometimes, old is gold.
- Pokemon Red & Blue
Just as every other colour starts from a mixture of primary colours, Pokemon started with Red and Blue, a game that is still driving trends and hype till today. Before Pokemon Go, Pokemon Sun and Moon, Pokemon Silver and Gold, Red and Blue was the first instalment to this Pokemon series. The cute monsters immediately gained popularity and the concept of trading was very well received.
Even in recent times, Pokemon is still crowned the ‘best selling RPG of all time’ and the ‘best selling RPG on the gameboy’ in the Guinness Book of World Records. Look at how we have progressed, with Pokemon Go making virtual reality come to life where the little monsters seem to be right in front of you. You can battle with other players in real time and the whole world became the very map we used to play in on the gameboy.
Shut down: a controlled removal of the power to the computer’s main components.
Even as we boot up our newer gadgets and discard our older models, some of us still reminisce about an oft-forgotten past, when pixel art and simple controls were the modern technology. Not everything done up by computer graphics is better, and you might enjoy moving a single avatar through a side-scrolling game instead of getting interrupted by many cutscenes and having a complicated myriad of maps to finish. Some may even relish the fact that their games lag due to the antiquity of it and lose all their progress due to the absence of the autosave button that we rely heavily on nowadays. But whether you prefer the old-school games or the newer ones, shutting down our consoles does not mean forgetting them.