Console video games

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A console video game is a interactive entertainment computer or electronic device that manipulates the video display signal of a display device (a television, monitor, etc.) to display a game. The term video game console is used to distinguish a machine designed for consumers to buy and use solely for playing video games from a personal computer, which has many other functions, or arcade games, which are designed for businesses that buy and then charge others to play.


History

Magnavox Odyssey (1972)

The Magnavox Odyssey is the first home video game console, released in May 1972, predating the Atari PONG home consoles by three years. The Odyssey was designed by Ralph Baer. Unlike most video game consoles, the Odyssey is analog rather than digital. Also, unlike any conventional console today, this system was powered by batteries. The Odyssey and its variants also lack sound capability.


Atari Pong (1975)

In 1973, after the success of the original PONG coin-op, an Atari engineer by the name of Harold Lee came up with the idea of a home PONG unit. Since the PONG coin-op that Alan Alcorn designed was nothing more than the game board connected to an actual television set, he thought it would be possible to scale it down a bit and modify it for use at home. Released in 1975 in partnership with Sears stores, Sears would sell PONG under it's own specially created Tele-Games label.

Magnavox Odyssey 100 (1975)

The Odyssey 100 was an analog system. It did not use cartridges and played two games: Tennis and Hockey. A switch selected the games, and the system was either powered by six batteries, or by an AC adaptor. The Odyssey 100 was very basic and didn't have the common features of the million-seller PONG systems of the next years.

Magnavox Odyssey 200 (1975)

Magnavox released an improved version of the Odyssey 100: the Odyssey 200. It was same as the Odyssey 100 but with two additional chips from Texas Instruments, which added a third game called SMASH and some on-screen scoring. The Odyssey 200 could be played by two or four players (the first system to offer this feature), and displayed very basic on-screen scoring using small rectangles (it still had the two plastic cursors to record the scores). Each time a player marked a point, his white rectangle would shift on the right. The winner was obviously the first whose rectangle would reach the rightmost position on the screen. Although the scores were not yet digital, the Odyssey 200 remained more advanced than the first home version of Atari PONG because it played three different games for two or four players.

Atari Super Pong (1976)

Super Pong was a variation on the original PONG console that offered four different variations of the original pong concept.

Coleco Telstar (1976)

Telstar was released in 1976 and played only three games with three difficulty levels. It was the first system to use GI's AY-3-8500 chip and was deemed a success: over a million units were sold.

The AY-3-8500 chip played six games with more difficulty levels, and the games could also be played in color. At least 15 different games were released in two years with the only difference between the "pong" systems being the number of games, the addition of difficulty levels, and the type of picture(color or black and white).

Magnavox Odyssey 300 (1976)

Magnavox continued with the Odyssey 300 in 1976, which was one of the first system to use a single game chip containing the major circuitry of a PONG system.

Magnavox Odyssey 400 (1976)

The Magnavox Odyssey 400 played the same games than the Odyssey 200 and used an additional Texas Instruments chip to display digital on-screen scoring (it was the first analog Odyssey system to display digital on-screen scoring). Like the Odyssey 100 and 200, the Odyssey 400 used the same three knobs to move the bats and control the "English" effect on the ball.

Magnavox Odyssey 500 (1976)

The Odyssey 500 was very advanced for that time considering the technology used. The white paddles representing the players in a traditional Pong style game were replaced by simple color graphics: two tennis players with their rackets (TENNIS game), two squash players (SQUASH), or two hockey players holding their sticks (HOCKEY).

Fairchild Channel F (1976)

Fairchild released twenty-six different cartridges for the system, with up to four games on each cartridge. The games included sports, such as Hockey, Tennis and Baseball, educational, such as Math Quizzes, board games, such as Checkers, and shooting games, such as Space War. The cartridges had labels that contained the game instructions on them and each were given a sequential number. In this respect Fairchild started a trend in trying to boost game sales by numbering them and so appealing to consumers who wanted to complete their collection.

Atari Video Pinball (1977)

Video Pinball appeared as another Atari coin-op to stand-alone home console translation by bringing the game Breakout to home players. Bumper controllers on the sides or a dial on the front were used to control the games depending on the game selected. There were three game types - Pinball, Basketball, and Breakout.

Atari Stunt Cycle (1977)

Inspired by Evel Knievel, Stunt Cycle gave the player a first person feel of riding a motorcycle, even though the image on the screen wasn't first person. You could jump cars and buses, if you played with the controls just right you could jump right off the screen, lots of fun!


Atari VCS 2600 (1977)

The Atari 2600, released in 1977, is the first successful video game console to use plug-in cartridges instead of having one or more games built in. It was originally known as the Atari VCS, for Video Computer System, and the name "Atari 2600" (taken from the unit's Atari part number, CX2600) was first used in 1982, after the release of the more advanced Atari 5200. The initial price was $199 with a library of 9 titles.

Coleco Telstar Combat (1977)

Telstar Combat was one of Coleco's attempts to break away from the Pong-clone video game rut. It's certainly unique as no other company manufactured a dedicated console with such elaborate controls. The console plays four variations of a tank battle game, very similar to the Atari 2600 Combat game cartridge.

Magnavox Odyssey 2000 through 4000 (1977)

These Odyssey systems were more elaborate variations of the pong style video game which featured many colors and gameplay modes.

Magnavox Odyssey²(1978)

The Odyssey² was Magnavox first "second generation system, which was significantly different than the various Odyssey PONG systems. It was a computer with BASIC programming, but many people regarded it as a home video game console. It came with two controllers, RF switch with TV box, power supply, and the Speedway, Spinout and Cryptologic game cartridge.

The Odyssey² was the first home video game console to introduce what was to become the standard joystick design of the 1970s and 80s: a moderately sized black joystick unit, held in the left hand, with an eight-direction stick that was manipulated with the right hand. In the upper corner of the joystick was a single 'Action' button.

The area that the Odyssey² is best remembered for its pioneering fusion of board and video games: The Master Strategy Series.

Coleco Telstar Gemini (1978)

The Coleco Telstar Gemini featured offered 2 shooting games along with 4 pinball games. This console featured 2 flipper buttons on either side which simulated playing a real pinball machine. There is also a big red button on top which was used to launch the ball in to the play field. The button simulated a real pinball launcher, a short tap shot the ball out slowly and a long press shot the ball out faster.

Atari 400 (1979)

Designed primarily as a computer for children, the Atari 400 had an "advanced child-proof design featuring pressure-sensitive, wipe-clean keyboard". It featured a single cartridge port under the front cover.

The Atari 400 booted up into "Notepad", the only built-in program. Any other program was run from cassette or cartridge - this included the BASIC programming language.

Mattel Intellivision (1980)

Mattel Electronics released its Intellivision system nationwide in late 1980. Launched with twelve games, better graphics and sound than its competitors, and the promise to release a compatible keyboard that would turn the system into a home computer, the Intellivision faired well in the market, selling out its first 200,000 units.

Atari 5200 (1982)

The Atari 5200 was in essence an Atari 400 computer without a keyboard. The system featured many innovations like the first automatic TV switch box, allowing it to automatically switch from regular TV viewing to the game system signal when the system was activated.

The initial release of the system featured four controller ports, where all other systems of the day had only two ports. The system also featured a new controller with an analog joystick, numeric keypad, two fire buttons on both sides of the controller and game function keys for Start, Pause, and Reset.

Colecovision (1982)

The Colecovision is Coleco's third generation video game console, released in August 1982. It offered arcade-like graphics and controllers, and an initial catalog of 12 titles, with 10 more promised titles on the way. All told, approximately 170 titles were released on plug-in cartridges during its lifetime. The controller was a flat joystick, two side buttons, and a number-pad, which allowed the user to put inserts for customized buttons. The majority of titles in its catalog were conversions from coin-operated arcade games. The ColecoVision introduced two new concepts to the home video game industry - the ability to expand the hardware system, and the ability to play other video game system games.

By Christmas of 1982, Coleco had sold 500,000 units, mainly on the strength of its bundled games. While Atari's fortune had risen on the popularity of Space Invaders, Colecovision was the first console to feature the hit Donkey Kong, by Nintendo. The Colecovision's main competitor in the next-generation console space was the arguably more advanced but less commercially successful Atari 5200.

Nintendo Entertainment System (1985)

Following a series of arcade game successes in the early 1980s, Nintendo made plans to produce its own console hardware that had removable cartridges, a feature not included with the company's earlier Color TV Games product. Designed by Masayuki Uemura and released in Japan on July 15, 1983, the Nintendo Family Computer (Famicom) was slow to gather momentum: during its first year, many criticized the system as unreliable, prone to programming errors and rampant freezing. Following a product recall and a reissue with a new motherboard, the Famicom's popularity soared, becoming the best-selling game console in Japan by the end of 1984. Encouraged by their successes, Nintendo soon turned their attentions to the North American markets.

In June 1985, Nintendo unveiled its American version of the Famicom at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). With a completely redesigned case and a new name, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) proved to be just as popular in America as the Famicom was in Japan, and played a major role in revitalizing interest in the video game industry.

Sega Master Systems (1986)

The SG-1000 and Mark III were available in Japan in the mid-1980s, but when Sega witnessed the early success of the Nintendo Entertainment System, the company knew it wanted a share of the American console market. So, Sega redesigned the Mark III, renamed it the Sega Master System (SMS for short), and released it in 1986, not long after the NES first came out.

Technically, the Master System was superior to the NES, with better graphics and higher quality sound. The original SMS could play both cartridges and the credit card-sized "Sega Cards," which retailed for cheaper prices than carts but had less code.

SNK NEO-GEO (1990)

The Neo Geo AES (Advanced Entertainment System) was a home version of the Neo Geo MVS and played the exact same games as the ones in the arcades. In fact, even memory cards could be switched between the two, allowing players to save their progress on one machine and load it on the other.

The major weakness of the Neo Geo AES was the high price tag on the cartridges. Most games sold for about $200. The console itself was also fairly expensive, retailing at $650. Its arcade-style joystick and excellent arcade ports made it a very attractive console. A Multi-Link cable was released for the Neo Geo AES that allowed two Neo Geos to be connected together and be played on two separate televisions.

Super Nintendo Entertainment System (1991)

The Super Nintendo Entertainment System was Nintendo's second home console, following the Nintendo Entertainment System. Whereas the earlier system had struggled in Europe and large parts of Asia, the SNES proved to be a global success, albeit one that could not match its predecessor's popularity in South East Asia and North America - due in part to increased competition from Sega's Mega Drive console (released in North America as the Genesis). Despite its relatively late start, the SNES became the best selling console of the 16-bit era but only after its competitor Sega had pulled out of the 16-bit market to focus on its 32-bit next generation console. Nintendo released the Super Nintendo Entertainment System which initially sold for a price of $200. The North American package included the game Super Mario World.

NEC TurboDuo (1992)

TTi (Turbo Technologies Inc.) released the TurboDuo, the North American version of the Japanese Duo. The system combined the TurboGrafx-16 and an enhanced version of the CD-ROM drive (the "Super CD-ROM²") into a single unit. The system could play audio CDs, CD+Gs, CD-ROM2 and Super CD games as well as standard HuCards. The Super System Card required for some games when using the original CD add-on as well as some of the Japanese variants of the TurboGrafx was built in to the Duo rather than requiring the card to be inserted at all times when playing CD games. The original pack-in for the Turbo Duo included the system, one control pad, an AC adapter, RCA cables, Ys book I & II a CD-ROM2 title, a Super CD disc including Bonk's Adventure, Bonk's Revenge, Gates of Thunder and a secret version of Bomberman accessible via an easter egg. The system was also packaged with one random HuCard game which varied from system to system

Atari Jaguar (1993)

Competing with Sega and Nintendo's 16-bit consoles, the Jaguar was said to be 64-bit. Back then, bit width was a big deal in the gaming industry, just as polygon-pushing power is today. The Jaguar did not work off of a solitary 64-bit processor, but instead it had a collection of processors with bus widths ranging from 16 to 64 bits.

This system was technically superior to the leading 16-bit consoles at the time. Unfortunately, this last ditch effort by Atari failed. A relatively small number of games were developed for the system, and Atari stopped production in 1996.

Sony Playstation (1995)

Nintendo asked Sony to develop a CD-ROM add-on called "PlayStation" for the SNES. Because Sony wanted 25% of all profits Nintendo earned from sales of this PlayStation and all PlayStation games, after Sony revealed that they were developing it, Nintendo instead went to Philips. This caused Sony to consider abandoning their research, however instead they used what they had developed so far and made it into a full blown console. This led to Nintendo filing a lawsuit claiming breach of contract and attempted, in U.S. federal court, to obtain an injunction against the release of the PlayStation, on the grounds that Nintendo owned the name. The federal judge presiding over the case denied the injunction.

The PlayStation was launched in Japan on December 3, 1994, the USA on September 9, 1995 and Europe on September 29, 1995. In America, Sony enjoyed a very successful launch with titles of almost every genre including Toshinden, Twisted Metal, Warhawk, and Ridge Racer. Almost all of Sony's and Namco's launch titles went on to produce numerous sequels.

Sega Saturn (1995)

Sega's Away Team worked for an entire two years exclusively to make certain that the Sega Saturn was launched with some of the world's best hardware and software. The 27-member Away Team comprises Sega employees from every aspect of hardware engineering, product development, and marketing. Their sole mission was to ensure that Sega Saturn's hardware and design met the precise needs of both the U.S. and Japanese markets.

In May 1995, Sega launched the Saturn in the USA, a full four months ahead of schedule. This was announced at that year's E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) where Sega representatives were engaged in a public relations battle with Sony. This surprise move resulted in very few sales, however. This was due largely to the $399 USD price of the system and the lack of available software at time of launch. Also, Sega chose to ship Saturn units only to four select retailers. This caused a great deal of animosity toward Sega from unselected companies, including Wal-Mart and KB Toys.

Nintendo 64 (1996)

The Nintendo 64, commonly called the N64, is Nintendo's third home video game console. The N64 was released on June 23, 1996 in Japan, September 29, 1996 in North America, 1 March 1997 in Europe/Australia and September 1, 1997 in France. It was released with only two launch games in Japan and North America (Super Mario 64 and PilotWings 64) while Europe had a third launch title in the form of Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire (which was released earlier in the other markets). The Nintendo 64 cost $199 at launch in the United States.

During the developmental stages the N64 was referred to by its code name, Project Reality. The name Project Reality came from the speculation within Nintendo that this console could produce CGI on par with then-current super computers. Once unveiled to the public the name changed to Nintendo Ultra 64, referring to its 64-bit processor, and Nintendo dropped "Ultra" from the name on February 1, 1996, just five months before its Japanese debut.

Sega Dreamcast (1999)

The Dreamcast was released on November 27, 1998 in Japan, on September 9, 1999 in the United States (the date 9/9/99 featured heavily in US promotion) and on October 14, 1999 in Europe. The tag line used to promote the console in the US was "It's thinking", and in Europe "Up to 6 Billion Players".

The Dreamcast was the first console to include a built-in modem and Internet support for on-line gaming. It enjoyed brisk sales in its first season and was one of Sega's most successful hardware units. In the United States alone, a record 200,000 units had been pre-ordered before launch and Sega sold 500,000 consoles in just two weeks (including 225,000 sold on the first 24 hours which became a video game record until the PlayStation 2 launched a year later). In fact, due to brisk sales and hardware shortages, Sega was unable to fulfill all of the advance orders.

Sony Playstation 2 (2000)

The Sony Playstation 2 had a difficult start. Only a few million users had obtained consoles by the end of 2000 due to manufacturing delays. The PlayStation 2 was such a hot item after its release that it was near impossible to find one on store shelves.

The PlayStation brand's strength led to strong third-party support for the system. Although the launch titles for the PS2 weren't extensive in 2000, the holiday season of 2001 saw the release of several best-selling and critically acclaimed games. Those PS2 titles helped the PS2 maintain and extend its lead in the video game console market, despite increased competition from the launches of the Microsoft Xbox and Nintendo GameCube. In several cases, Sony made exclusivity deals with publishers in order to preempt its competitors.

Nintendo Game Cube (2001)

The Nintendo GameCube uses a unique storage medium, the GameCube Optical Disc, a proprietary format based on Matsushita's optical-disc technology; the discs are approximately 8 centimeters (3 1/8 inches) in diameter (considerably smaller than the 12cm CDs or DVDs used in competitors' consoles), and the discs have a capacity of approximately 1.5 gigabytes. The disc is also read from the outer-most edge going inward, the opposite of a standard DVD. This move was mainly intended to prevent piracy of GCN titles, but like most anti-piracy technology, it was eventually cracked.

Microsoft Xbox (2001)

The Microsoft XBox is a sixth generation era video game console first released on November 15, 2001 in North America, then released on February 22, 2002 in Japan, and later on March 14, 2002 in Europe. The XBox was Microsoft's first independent venture into the video game console arena, after having developed the operating system and development tools for the MSX, and having collaborated with Sega in porting Windows CE to the Sega Dreamcast console. Notable launch titles for the console include Amped, Dead or Alive 3, Halo: Combat Evolved, Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee, and Project Gotham Racing.

In November 2002 Microsoft released the Xbox Live on-line gaming service, allowing subscribers to play on-line Xbox games with (or against) other subscribers all around the world and download new content for their games to the hard drive. This on-line service works exclusively with broadband. 250,000 subscribers had signed on in 2 months since Live was launched. In July 2004, Microsoft announced that Xbox Live reached 1 million subscribers, and announced in July 2005 that Live had reached 2 million.

XaviXPORT (2004)

In January at the Consumer Electronics Show 2004 (CES), SSD COMPANY LIMITED debuts their XaviX® technology to the American public. The XaviXPort console was officially released in the US in August of 2004.

XaviXPort is a unique and innovative console that uses peripherals to interact with on screen games. The console contains image recognition and infrared sensors that can detect player movements. These movements are calculated by a proprietary multiprocessor that measures both velocity and angle. The multiprocessor then translates the actions into on screen movement.

Getting players to immerse themselves into games with body movements is not something new. However, this is the first time a console has been dedicated to providing this interactive gaming experience. What makes XaviXPort even more unique is that the console’s multiprocessor is not installed inside the system itself. The multiprocessor can be found in each game cartridge.

Microsoft Xbox 360 (2005)

The Xbox 360 is Microsoft's newest video game console, the successor to their original Xbox. It was released on November 22, 2005 in North America, December 2 in Europe, and December 10 in Japan.

Except in Japan the console is sold in two different configurations: the "Xbox 360" and the "Xbox 360 Core System". The Xbox 360 configuration, often referred to as the "Premium Edition", includes a hard drive (required for backwards compatibility with original Xbox games), a wireless controller, a headset, an Ethernet cable, an Xbox Live silver subscription, and a component HD AV cable (which can also be used on non-HD TVs).

Sony PlayStation 3 (2006)

The PlayStation 3 was released in North America on November 17, 2006. During its first week of release in the United States, PlayStation 3s were being sold on eBay for more than $2300 USD. Reports of violence surrounding the release of the PS3 include a customer shot, campers robbed at gunpoint, customers shot in a drive-by shooting with BB guns, and 60 campers fighting over 10 systems. Two GameStop employees fabricated a robbery to cover up their own theft of several PlayStation 3 and four Xbox 360 consoles.

Nintendo Wii (2006)

The console was known by the codename of "Revolution" until April 27, 2006, when it was renamed Wii, spelled with two "i"s to imply an image of players gathering together, as well as to represent the console's controllers. It is said Wii sounds like 'we' to emphasize that the console is for everyone.

The Wii Remote is a one-handed controller that uses a combination of accelerometers and infrared detection to sense its position in 3D space. This allows users to control the game using physical gestures as well as traditional button presses. The controller connects to the console using Bluetooth, and features force feedback, 4KB non-volatile memory and an internal speaker. It also has a Nunchuk unit, which features an accelerometer and a traditional analog stick with two trigger buttons. In addition, an attachable wrist strap can be used to prevent the player from unintentionally dropping or throwing the device.

Game Delivery Media

Games have been delivered over various mediums over the history of consoles. These mediums include:

  • Built into the console on the chip itself
  • Cartridges
  • Cards
  • Optical Media (ie. CD, DVD, Mini CD, Blu-Ray Disc)
  • Internet Distribution

External Links

A History of Home Video Games


See Also