By Lisa Henderson
If the phrase “Its-a me, Mario!” was a staple during the course of your childhood, you may be missing the 1990’s a bit. For most people our age, the chubby Italian plumber became a household name early on, a name that when mentioned conjures some of the best memories.
Characters that may rouse similar feelings include Link from the Legend of Zelda series, Sega’s Sonic the super-quick Hedgehog, Final Fantasy’s Tidus, Metroid’s Samus Aran and Mortal Kombat’s Sub-Zero.
Since the passing of days of shooting a plastic gun at a wild flock of birds only to have a pesky dog laugh hysterically at your failure, the face of video-gaming has evolved considerably. But why? What exactly has changed?
This question can be addressed in a number of ways. For starters, society has certainly changed us as gamers. We are now so desensitized to gore and violence that a game just won’t sell unless it’s flooded with blood.
Of course the idea of violence in video games is not a new concept by any means, but graphics have become so much more realistic in the games of today and the violence much more human-like.
“Right now I play Madden 2012, the Call of Duty games, and fighting games like DragonballZ Tenkaichi, Mortal Kombat, and Soul Calibur,” senior Mickey Martin said. “I do feel that video games have changed a lot since the ‘90s. The storylines have become more real and the graphics have improved 100-fold.”
The Playstation console, released in America in 1995, was among our first looks at a higher caliber of graphics. We took a step back from the one-dimensional feel of the Nintendo Entertainment System and the Gameboy that we’d grown accustomed to and were introduced to new and exciting characters with even more human-like mannerisms.
Crash Bandicoot, the blue-jean wielding wombat, was quickly considered competition for characters like Super Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog. He was agile, tough, and interesting to watch.
It wasn’t until the release of the Nintendo 64 console that Mario, who is often revered as the most popular video game character of all time, made a comeback into the digital era. He appeared in bright colors with a 2D, almost 3D feel in Super Mario 64, the console’s first release.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time wasn’t released until 1998, yet quickly rose to fame. It has been rated the Most Popular Nintendo 64 Game by Gamespot.com and number one on the “Top 25 N64 Games of All Time” list by the Imagine Games Network.
“Ocarina of Time is a classic,” senior Brittany Phillips said. “It had a variety of different elements of game play and it was unique. Now, I play Gears of War and other games that are generally all about action.”
Popularity in video gaming has shifted from more fantasy-oriented games to first-person shooter games. Halo, a series created for the Xbox console and a largely successful franchise, has become so popular in recent years that its millions of fans world-wide are referred to as members of the “Halo Nation.”
Call of Duty, a shooter game released in 2003 for just about every console available, is a game based on the premise of World War II and later the Cold War that has also received much praise.
“My favorite games are Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2,” senior Rachel Montisano said. “The graphics are great. I love killing zombies and you actually get to be the zombies, too. There are different missions on every level but the general idea is to complete tasks and get to the rescue vehicle with all of the survivors.”
Released in 2008, the Left 4 Dead series follows in the footsteps of the first-person shooter format.
Not unlike much of today’s American entertainment, Nintendo has decided to re-release a good amount of their most popular old-school games in 3D format for their newest console, the Nintendo 3DS. Among those re-released are The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Super Mario 64, and Starfox 64.
“I think that if Nintendo is releasing the same games in 3D then you could call it a cop-out,” sophomore Evan Hawthorne said. “But Nintendo hasn’t put anything out in a long time, so I have no idea what they would bring out anyway.”
Are these 3D re-releases the product of a lack of creativity? Is Nintendo stalling for time and taking the easy way out? It’s up to you to make the call.
Our generation was certainly lucky to be exposed to the gaming phenomenons of the 1990s’ and early-to-mid 2000’s, but it’s quite possible that those days full of innovative new ideas may be reaching their conclusion. Hopefully that is not the case and the glorious days of our childhood years will come full-circle.