A reader looks back at the milestones that justified a new generation of consoles, from stereo sound on the SNES to Red Dead Redemption II.
There was a Hot Topic a few months ago about virtual reality games. I’ve yet to try VR but know it will be one of those moments that make me say: ‘This feels so next gen’. That sensation will probably become rarer as technology advances and we are provided with smaller technological gains but this prompted me to think about those milestone moments from my gaming past.
When I first saw adverts for the Nintendo Game Boy, I thought it was the most stupid idea ever! My young mind wasn’t paying attention to the ads properly and being used to things like Game & Watch and Tomytronic, I didn’t realise you could change the cartridge and thought that if you wanted to play a different game, you had to buy a whole new Game Boy with a different game inside for 80 quid! It wasn’t until my friend had one and showed me Tetris then switched to Super Mario Land that I saw how great it was and really wanted one.
The sound of the SNES
I didn’t have a NES but had played one a few times, so when I got my SNES I could instantly see how much better it was in comparison and spent many hours gaming away on a CRT TV, which I think only had mono speakers. One weekend I took the SNES round to a cousin’s house and she hooked it up to their family’s TV system which used multiple speakers.
I don’t know whether Super Mario World had surround sound but it certainly sounded like it and absolutely blew me away. We were in one of the cave levels and I was amazed as I could hear the water dripping and echoing in the background and other sound effects all around and it really did sound as if I was right there in the middle of the cave with Mario. And at that point the SNES felt really next gen to me.
Super Mario 64
I used to be a frequent visitor to Argos. I collected their catalogues and saved the games pages into a folder. Around the launch of Nintendo 64, I ventured in hoping to get a mini catalogue with all the details and games they’d have but low and behold, sitting by one of the pillars was a cabinet with a Nintendo 64 with Super Mario 64 loaded and a small queue of kids awaiting their turn to play it.
I joined the queue, having never been so excited in my life. Watching the others play, there looked to be a gentleman’s agreement that your go ended when you either got a star or died, then you had to pass it on. My turn arrived and running around that first level was so ground-breaking and I knew this was something that just could not be done on the SNES and felt really ground-breaking.
I had played a few other games on the GameCube, which all looked fairly impressive compared to the previous generation of consoles. Through games magazines I already knew Burnout was also a fun and great looking game to play, with amazing photorealistic graphics (literally as they took actual photos and uploaded them as the scenery), but what made my jaw drop was the first time I played the starting level.
Right after the race begins, as you turn the first corner onto the main motorway and see everything ahead of you. I saw so many onscreen moving objects – the other cars and vans that weren’t just a backdrop; you could actually interact with (i.e. crash into) them. The GameCube was rendering all this without any slowdown and I knew this was not possible on the Nintendo 64, creating that ‘next gen moment’ feeling.
Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
This was the very first game I played on the Xbox 360 and I knew very little about the Call Of Duty series beforehand. The first level at night, flying onto that ship and being led around was very exciting but it was the level Charlie Don’t Surf that felt truly next gen.
Sitting in the Apache helicopter, flying over that Arabian coastal town and being able to pan around the sky seeing all the other Apaches with you, then people start firing at you from the rooftops, then you land and proceed to make your way through the level you’ve just flown over – what blew my mind was that this was all one continuous live sequence. There were no cut scenes involved and no visible signs of any loading and I knew that this wasn’t possible on the GameCube.
When Xbox One was announced and then released, I was one of those people who thought it was too early and that there was plenty of life left in the previous generation console. Apart from Battlefield 4, where you could have 64 players in a match on the new console compared to 24 on the old, I didn’t see any real reason for the new Xbox, it just had shinier graphics which alone I didn’t value.
Now, this may sound silly but one of the things that changed my mind was when looking up Wolfenstein: The New Order on Computer Exchange’s website and I saw that on Xbox 360, it was on four DVDs. Four DVDs! I couldn’t believe how large the game was that it needed four DVDs! I checked the Xbox One version which of course was just one Blu-ray and I realised the signs of the times.
Doing a bit of digging while writing this feature made me reflect on just how far we’ve come in terms of video game sizes and storage media:
On PlayStation 4, Red Dead Redemption II comes on two Blu-Rays and is about 100GB big.
Ignoring the technical infeasibility of the following:
If Red Dead Redemption II was an Xbox 360 game (its media being dual-layer DVDs with a max. capacity of around 9GB) it would require 12 DVDs. Halo Reach was 6.57GB.
If Red Dead Redemption II was a PlayStation game (its media being CDs with a max. capacity of 700MB) it would require 147 CDs. WipEout 3 was about 648MB and most of that was the audio files for the CD quality soundtrack.
If Red Dead Redemption II was a Nintendo 64 game (its media being ROM cartridges with a max capacity of 64MB) it would require 1,600 cartridges.
Super Mario 64 was only 8MB big!
By reader PsillyPseudonym
The reader’s feature does not necessarily represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.
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