Let's begin the list by going back to the 1970s. Disco was the choice music, bell-bottoms and elevator shoes were in style, long hair was trendy, Hanna-Barbara ruled 85% of all televised cartoons and video games were as into their infancy as you could imagine. If you watch some episodes of The Angry Video Game Nerd, you can get a feeling for how primitive home consoles were at the time. But I digress. The landmark I'm here to focus on is how the difficulty spike in video games originated from this arcade classic developed in the 1970s by Taito employee Tomohiro Nishikado. Because your run-of-the-mill computers back then weren't powerful enough for what Nishikada had in mind, he had to build his own and even then, it wasn't powerful enough to make the enemies move as fast as he wanted.
However, as the player destroyed more enemies, Nishikada noticed that they would move faster and faster as the screen became less populated. This was because it was freeing up memory on the computer so it could make the enemies move faster. Therefore, the game would get harder as you progress. This fluke would be the cornerstone for all difficulty spikes in video games, for better and worse.
There's no denying the importance of Street Fighter II: The World Warrior. This arcade fighter took the world by storm when it was released in 1991. People will remember the iconic fighters and their signature moves like Ken and Ryu's Hadoken and Guile's Sonicboom. It was even featured in the Baywatch episode "Pier Pressure". It also gave way to the infamous mistranslated line; "You must defeat Sheng Long to stand a chance." But another time for that. One of the main mechanics of the game was the combo system where players to chain together a series of attacks that do more damage than usual. However, this wasn't intended in the final build of the game.
While testing the game for bugs, lead producer Noritaka Funamizu noticed a glitch in the game while doing the car smashing bonus round where the player could pull off two punches in a row and it would be considered as one, smooth attack. Because Funamizu felt that this would be too difficult to pull off, he decided to leave it in the final build of the game. But he soon found out how wrong he was and combos have been a staple ever since not just in fighting games, but video games in general.
When it comes to iconic theme songs, the Legend of Zelda series ranks among the best. There have been soundtracks and even entire orchestras dedicated to the songs that helped invoke all kinds of emotions and feelings throughout the installments. And the theme song that plays at the title and in the overworld of various games throughout the series is recognizable to even the most casual of players. But did you know we almost didn't get this iconic piece?
In fact, Shigeru Miyamoto wanted to use "Ravel's Bolero" as the title theme because he felt that it fit the opening crawl perfectly. However, he ran into a legal dilemma. The song he wanted to use was still under copyright protection. In Japan, most music legally enters public domain 50 years after the death of the composer. Even though the copyright would expire in one month, Miyamoto felt that the team couldn't make anymore delays so Koji Kondo had to stay up all night to compose an alternative. You read right. One of the most iconic songs was an all-nighter rush job. But what's really scary here is that we were only one month away from losing a classic forever.
It's hard to believe, but a game based on Batman is considered as one of the greatest video games of all time. While there have been good Batman games in the past, none of them felt like they used the full potential of their hardware to give the Caped Crusader the game he deserved. Mainly because a lot of them were under some kind of deadline to cash in on the popularity of either the latest cartoon or movie, while other developers didn't know what to do with the franchise. That is, until Rocksteady Studios came along and set the groundwork for many superhero games that wanted to aspire for greatness. However, this wouldn't have happened if Pandemic Studios was able to please Electronic Arts.
When Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight" was released in theatres on July 18th, 2008, there was suppose to be a video game adaptation to be released alongside the film and Electronic Arts, who bought out Pandemic Studios, charged them with the arduous task of developing the movie tie-in. However, Pandemic Studios was nowhere near finished by the time the movie hit theatres. This lead to EA losing $100 000 000 loss in revenue, 1000 employees losing their jobs, and the eventual closure of Pandemic Studios. Because of this failure, Eidos was given freedom to give the license to whoever they saw fit. They gave it to Rocksteady Studios who only produced one game at a time which got okay scores. And even though the team behind the game was had only 40 people to start and 60 when they finished, they had a key element that the other studios lacked; passion. In fact, one developer spent two years on Batman's cape alone. And the results were one of the best games of the 7th generation.
Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start.
How many readers have this code memorized by heart? Considering how difficult many NES games by Konami were, I imagine quite a bit. This is the code that started it all, the Konami Code. It's used in a wide variety of games such as Contra to give the player 30 lives, show the location of certain bosses in Metal Gear Solid 3 and 4 and, of course, access to almost every power up in Gradius. It even cemented itself in pop-culture such as the Family Guy episode "Space Cadet" and even makes an appearance in Walt Disney's Wreck-it Ralph. But even though Kazuhisa Hashimoto put it in the NES version of Gradius on purpose, it was just so he could make testing the game easier.
He intended to remove the code before the game went gold (ready to publish) but forgot about it until someone discovered it. Ever since then, the game has been featured in various games both inside Konami and outside. Even though Hashimoto passed away on February 25th, 2020, his legacy will live on as long as video games do.
Hideo Kojima is one of the most unpredictable developers in video games. From Psycho Mantis reading your memory card in Metal Gear Solid to the Fission Mailed scene in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, you never know what kind of trick he's going to pull. And it all started back with the first entry in the Metal Gear series. But did you know that this wasn't suppose to be a game about stealth and avoiding detection? It was suppose to allow players to battle numerous enemies at once Chuck Norris style. However, the MSX2 wasn't powerful enough to do what Kojima wanted the game to do.
The solution? Have the player avoid enemy detection. Taking inspiration from the book "The Great Escape" written by Paul Brickhill, Kojima helped design the game so that players had to avoid all manner of detection such as being spotted by soldiers and surveillance cameras. It also gave birth to the iconic cardboard box disguise. Can you imagine Metal Gear icons such as Solid Snake and Big Boss going in with guns ablazing? I most certainly can't.
The Grand Theft Auto series is one of the most profitable franchises in gaming history. It has shipped more than 280 000 000 copies throughout the series and netted Rockstar games over $9 000 000 000 in revenue. It even took the genre to the old west with the Red Dead Redemption games which further increased Rockstar's revenue. And all this was thanks to a freak bug during the development of a game called "Race and Chase". When it was under development from 1995-1996 under DMA (which would then become Rockstar North), it was being developed as a cops and robbers type of game where players could take turns being the police to try and catch the robbers and playing as the robbers who would try to evade the police.
However, the initial build of the game was quite unstable and the A.I. controlled police would act like total maniacs by ramming the player. In fact, embracing this idea is what saved the game from getting axed because BMG, the company charged with publishing the game, didn't like how it was turning out. But Gary Penn embraced the idea and decided to get rid of the mechanic that allowed players to play as the police. In his own words; The game was cops and robbers and then that evolved fairly quickly—nobody wants to be the cop, it's more fun to be bad. And then that evolved into Grand Theft Auto. So next time you decide to pursue the American Dream with Niko Belic or go rampaging through Los Santos with Trevor Phillips, remember how it was all possible because of a freak glitch.
When Resident Evil was released in 1996, it helped popularize the genre of survival horror with its limited supplies, jump scares and a deep lore. In 1999, Konami decided to take a crack at it with its psychological survival horror Silent Hill about an everyday man searching a mysterious ghost town for his foster daughter. The fog really gives you a sense of dread and foreboding as you explore the town because you don't know what you're going to run into. And what you might not know is that the fog wasn't suppose to be there in the first place.
When designing the game, Team Silent found out that the PlayStation could only render the environment a few feet in front of the player. Therefore, they added the fog to mask what wasn't there. This, along with the game's grainy texture, were a perfect fit. In fact, if you're able to steel yourself and play the Silent Hill HD Collection, you'll notice how the fog is absent from the game and how it just doesn't feel right. So in this case, the PlayStation's technological shortcomings definitely were a blessing in disguise.
In the 1990s, First-Person Shooters were all the rage. We had iconic games like Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Goldeneye 007, Half-Life and, of course, the Quake series. When Quake was released, it incorporated the then new Quake engine. It introduced true 3D real-time rendering that decreased complexity to allow for some fast-paced shooting matches. But it wasn't long before players were able to use this engine to their advantage in a way id Software didn't intend, and that was the art of Rocket Jumping.
While Doom was technically the first game that featured getting knocked back by explosion from your own rockets, it was very hard to rocket jump because it didn't knock you back too much and you couldn't look up or down like in later FPS without some kind of mod. With the release of Quake, it opened up a whole new way to play that has been incorporated in many First Person Shooters since its release.
And now we come to how one of the most iconic figures in video games came into existence and it was because of Three things. First of all, when Shigeru Miyamoto was trying to create a game to rival the success of Pac-Man, he wanted to make a game starring the cast from Popeye the Sailor Man created by Elzie Crisler Segar. But he couldn't secure the license to do so until 1982 so he had to create brand new characters. This led him to create Donkey Kong, the lady known as Pauline and the unknown player who would later be known as Mr. Video, then Jumpman and finally Mario.
Secondly, the reason for Mario's now iconic mustache and plumber attire was because of how arcade machines were primitive back in the 1980s. Miyamoto couldn't do much with the color pallet at the time, so he chose to give the playable character a blue shirt with red overalls to contrast his arms from the rest of the body, a cap to avoid animating hair, and a mustache and large nose to avoid drawing a mouth.
And finally, how this character got his iconic name Mario. He was named after Nintendo of America's warehouse landlord Mario Segale after he barged in during a meeting between then president Minoru Arakawa and his employees demanding overdue rent. After assuring that he would get paid, the employees agreed to name the protagonist Mario. And it's because of all these bizarre twists of fate that we now have a video game icon that's actually more recognizable than Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse.
And with that, here are a few honorable mentions:
Team Fortress's Spy Class was the result of a bug that made players look like their opponents.
Final Fantasy and its popularity was the result of Squaresoft using all of their resources to finish the game.
Lara Croft's breasts from the first Tomb Raider game were as big as they were because of Toby Gard's accidental slip of the hand.
Kirby was a quickly drawn placeholder that Masahiro Sakurai wanted to replace later.
And with that, there are times when freak accidents produce more results than months, or even years, of brainstorming. In the words of the late painter Bob Ross: "We don't make mistakes. We just have happy little accidents." So with that said, don't be afraid to try something new because those that don't make mistakes usually don't make anything. Cheers.
List by Raidramon0 (03/18/2021)
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