With the release of Titanfall for the Xbox One, the 8th generation console war is finally heating up. The past few months have seen Sony's PlayStation 4 clearly leading the year in terms of momentum, over Microsoft's Xbox One.
However, neither the Xbox One nor the PlayStation 4 truly had a killer app that differentiates itself from the other. I would argue the Wii U lineup has a more interesting software offering if I'm honest.
But alas, Titanfall is here. I have no intentions of purchasing a PS4 or Xbox One anytime soon, let alone the aforementioned title. My first person shooter skills are stuck back in 2001 and won't likely improve anytime soon.
The release of Titanfall will be an interesting wrinkle into the start of this 8-10 year cycle of gaming consoles. Halo was without a doubt the driving force behind the Xbox brand 13 years ago. I doubt there would be an Xbox One today if Microsoft hadn't purchased Bungee all those years ago.
Titanfall is the Xbox One's "Halo." If the title fails to move systems, we could be witnessing the end of the Xbox brand, and another casualty in the cutthroat world of console gaming.
I have no doubt the story of Titanfall will be an interesting tale a few years down the road. Either as a case study in the importance of securing third party exclusive titles, or how to fail at launching a new game console.
IMPLANTgames is not a website about the present however. So instead I want to take a look back at "format wars" that have personally impacted me through the last 30 years. This won't be a history lesson, but rather the story of my own personal experiences.
Genesis versus Super Nintendo
This is the console war. Nothing before it, or after it, will ever match the excitement of debating the "Sega" (as everyone I knew called it) versus the Super Nintendo. Two hardware power houses that also happened to have some of the best software development teams in the business.
Being just a kid, with no access to gaming magazines, all I knew of these two systems was the games I was able to play. Until the war was over, I had no idea the SNES was the more capable system. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Disney's The Jungle Book looked and sounded just as good, if not better than, anything I had experienced on the superior Super Nintendo. I was certain the Genesis had more power under the hood.
However, I had a love for Mario Kart that could not die. During the spring of 1995 I had a tough choice to make. Spend $90 on a Sega Genesis or spend $100 on a Super Nintendo. I chose the cheaper option and had an extra $10 to spend on games.
I realize I was a bit late to the 16-bit party, but that was life in a low-income household during the 1990's. I didn't know the Saturn existed, and I might not have known about the PlayStation either.
In any case, I could finally play Sonic the Hedgehog titles whenever I wanted, and my loyalty to Sega was solidified at that very moment. I can't help but imagine many gamers of my generation developed their loyalty in a similar fashion.
Sony versus The World
Fast forward to the year 1998. At this point, I've been exposed to the glorious 3D world of the Sony Playstation. I honestly don't remember playing anything other than Road Rash 3D and Cool Boarders 2 prior to Christmas of 1998. It's all a bit fuzzy. Until I sat down to write this article, I always thought I got a PlayStation in Christmas of 1997.
In any case, I received a Sony PlayStation during Christmas 1998 along with Tomb Raider and Gran Turismo. I probably spent more time playing the demo disc that came with the system than my actual games. I vividly remember playing the Metal Gear Solid demo, which had Japanese voice-acting rather than English. I also enjoyed the Spyro the Dragon, MediEvil, and Legacy of Kain 2: Soul Reaver demos.
I still had no idea the Saturn existed at this point in time, and the PlayStation was absolutely cooler than the Nintendo 64 at this time. I don't think I was alone in that assessment, as the PlayStation brand dominated this era of gaming.
Sega's Swan Song
The beginning of 1999 marks my transition from a casual gamer to a gaming enthusiast. I would no longer be getting systems years after their releases, nor would I be completely oblivious to new systems coming out. Somehow I also seemed to have a small amount of disposable income despite not having a job. Allowance perhaps?
In any case, my first real taste of the internet came in 1999 and I finally learned about all these new systems I had never heard of. I was stunned to learn my beloved "Sega" was predated by the Master System, and succeeded by the Saturn.
There were other oddities I had never heard, like the Atari Jaguar, TurboGrafx-16, and Panasonic 3DO. With my eyes wide open and my attention to all things gaming at an all time high, I finally discovered the Dreamcast.
The Dreamcast would be the first of yet another generation of systems and I was determined to be at the cutting edge. Somehow I was able to secure enough money for a Dreamcast and 2 games on 9/9/99. I had a subscription to the magazine, and my own Dreamcast fansite (the original incarnation still exists). Life was good.
Owning a Dreamcast in 1999 was truly a special feeling. On day one I had Tokyo Xtreme Racer and NFL 2K. I knew well before launch day that Tokyo Xtreme Racer would be the first game I would play. After watching the “GT 2000” PlayStation 2 demo, I received great satisfaction in playing something visually similar now, and not having to wait an entire year for similar results.
The Dreamcast launch was a huge success, and the sheer volume and quality of the launch titles has not been matched to this date. Must-haves would trickle in nearly every month. At the time, my favorite genre was racing, and the Dreamcast had no shortage of excellent racing games to keep me entertained.
Unfortunately for Sega, they were never able to get out of the shadow that was the impending PlayStation 2 launch. By Spring of 2001 Sega discontinued the Dreamcast and announced they would be a third-party developer for the Sony PlayStation 2, Nintendo GameCube, and Microsoft Xbox.
Like many fanboys in 2001, it took me a full year to get over my loss. But alas, I purchased an Xbox in the spring of 2002, along with another breathtaking racing game, RalliSport challenge. This marked the end of an era.
The End of the Wars
In November of 2005, I waited in line at the local Walmart for 8 hours and received 1 of the 10 Xboxes they had available (lucky number 7). Again I was drooling over a beautiful racer, this time Bizarre Creation's Project Gotham Racing 3. It did not disappoint!
Within a couple of years however, my taste for the cutting edge had finally died down. I was no longer buying new games each month. Instead, I was starting to fall back in love with all of those systems from the 1990’s. For the most part, all of the games and systems I talked about above, I still owned (and in most cases, still do). My spare bedroom was slowly being turned into a dedicated classic game room.
As my attention shifted back towards the old, I started obtaining Neo Geo CD, Sega 32x, and Super Nintendo games at an alarming rate. For the $60 I would have spent on a single new game, I could get quite a few retro games.
It’s at this point, this very website was born as it is today. My first retro review was published back on January 18, 2009. Time flies.
Well that wraps up my little trip down memory lane. New consoles don’t interest me like they used to, and my days of being a fanboy have long since passed. The console wars of the past certainly shaped my gaming habits today. I am very happy that I still own my original boxed PlayStation, Dreamcast, Xbox, Game Boy Color, and even Xbox 360. I also thoroughly enjoy discovering 20 year old games that I’ve never heard of.
I have little doubt that the teenagers arguing over the superiority of the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One will someday look back at this time in gaming as fondly as I look back at gaming’s past.