Friday, 24 January 2014

Game Over: The Eighties

During the course of my blog I have witnessed the rise and fall of the 8-bit home computer.  There were still games being released for the Commodore 64, Sinclair Spectrum and Amstrad CPC into the early nineties, but their glory days were well and truly over. Their position in the market had gradually been usurped by the 16-bit Commodore Amiga and Atari ST from the middle of the decade.  The PC was also making its way from the office into the home and was becoming a viable games machine as the graphics and sound hardware improved.

After adding a couple of video games for Atari consoles in the early eighties, the NES took up the mantle and dominated the console scene.  This Japanese machine would continue to remain popular for a few years to come.  At the very end of the decade Sega released the Mega Drive/Genesis, nicely taking us into the 16-bit era of the early nineties.

Over the decade I have discovered some gems I had never heard of (eg Below the Root), played games for little known systems (eg Sharp X68000) and seen the birth of franchises that are still going strong today (Mario, Metal Gear, Zelda etc).  I also experienced my first JRPGs and finally completed my nemesis of many years – Ultima IV.

To find my personal crème de la crème for each year, a lot of 'classics' have bitten the dust.  I messed up a little at the beginning by deleting games from my shortlist as I played them but, to put it into perspective, the number of games that got through are listed below against the number I rejected (in brackets).

            1981                3          (??)
            1982                1          (??)
            1983                9          (37)
            1984                16        (58)
            1985                14        (83)
            1986                7          (107)
            1987                13        (117)
            1988                10        (149)
            1989                12        (181)

I have also listed the number of games that got through for each system.  It comes as no surprise to see the Speccy on top.  A machine is only as good as its games and these figures justify my purchase back in the day.  What is a surprise is that the Atari ST features more games than the Commodore Amiga.  This was mainly due to the early ST exclusives and lazy conversions that didn't take advantage of the Amigas better hardware.  This position will certainly reverse as we move into the nineties.  I had expected the PC Engine to have some good arcade conversions, but it was the Sharp X68000 that really impressed me.  Games such Space Harrier (not on the blog) and Gradius were as near as dammit arcade perfect.  If Sharp could have packaged the hardware into console form and distributed it worldwide, who knows what the current gaming scene would have looked like?

 1.   Sinclair Spectrum (24)
 2.   Commodore 64 (18)
 3.   Atari ST (12)
 4.   Nintendo NES (10)
 5.   Commodore Amiga (9)
 6.   Amstrad CPC (6)
 7.   Commodore VIC-20 (5)
 8.   Sharp X68000 (4)
 9.   BBC Micro (3)
 =    NEC PC Engine (3)
11.   NEC TurboGrafx-16 (2)
 =    Atari 2600 (2)
 =    Atari 5200 (2)
 =    PC (MS-DOS) (2)
 =    Sega Master System (2)
16.  MSX (1)
 =    Sega Mega Drive (1)


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