Game On – part 2

***NOTE: If you are looking for “Game On 2.0 – in Launceston Tasmania” you need to follow these links.
This page here, is about Game On 1.0 in Melbourne/Brisbane. ***

Yesterday was day 1 in the life of Just One More Game.
Thanks for all the nice comments in forums. 🙂

Yesterday also saw “part 1” of our Game On walkthrough, taking us from mainframes to the arcade.

(Much, much more after the jump…)

Today, we see games moving out of arcades and into the home, with a display of the “Top Ten” home computers and consoles. From the Magnavox Odyssey to the Nintendo Famicom (NES). From the Commodore 64 to the original Playstation.
And yes, they’re all playable.

Rarer pleasures to be enjoyed include at Game On include a CDROM-equipped PC Engine, and an Atari Jaguar running Tempest 2000. All display the original hardware, however two systems use emulation to overcome reliability/loading issues – the Spectrum & the Commodore 64.

As we move forward into the exhibition, there’s a large area devoted to “games families”. Bodman explains the thinking behind this. “We all know there are a number of different genres.. simulation games, sports games, fighting games, and so on. What we’ve tried to do, is to group them up, and explain to the public what these games are really about.”

It’s a chance to explore the development of platformers, from Bubble Bobble to Mario 64. Or adventures… from Hitchhikers Guide to Secret of Monkey Island. Even genres you’ve previously avoided, are more tempting when you can see how they’ve evolved, and choose “where in time” to try them out. Oh, and speaking of Monkey Island, fans will be very excited to see original concept artwork displayed next to the game itself.

Moving deeper into Game On we see zones dedicated to “kids games” and handheld game units. Sure, there’s the usual suspects… Game & Watch Donkey Kong, the Gameboy, the Game Gear. But there’s also the forgotten heroes, or rare treasures, like Simon, the Sony Pocketstation or the old Coleco desktop games.

Conrad smiles as he explains the response so far. “We’ve just had a primary school group come through.. it’s amazing how compelling the young people find the handhelds… Hmm, not bad for games released when the US president’s name was “Reagan” rather than “Bush” or “Obama”.

The next area of Game On is dedicated to “films versus gaming”. If you’re patient, you too can “use the force” in an original Star Wars cabinet. While you’re waiting, try the rather unique “Discs of Tron” which heavily inspired one of the levels in the Commodore 64 classic Raid Over Moscow. Another treat (sadly unplayable) is a very rare Man Eater cabinet, which is shaped like a shark jumping out of water. It came out in 1975. Hmm, wasn’t there a famous shark film that year? Cheeky.

Moving on, we come to the section “sound in gaming” showing just how much it’s role has changed and expanded. You can listen to remixed Commodore 64 soundtracks from the 80’s, which were really just a background to the visuals. And bringing us right up to date – is Guitar Hero 3, where the music is the main attraction.

If Game On is about the joy of rediscovering old friends, it’s also about making new ones. My pleasing discovery in this section, is a game unlike any you’ve seen. Because it’s a game – you don’t “see”. Chillingham was designed for players who are blind or have a visual impairment. It’s an adventure game, where you move around a village, solve puzzles & try to stay alive, using only a keyboard, and a set of headphones.

It’s a game my guide is eager to discuss. “I think that increasingly, society is beginning to acknowledge that games can be a positive force … Some of the strands we look at in Game On, is that games
can be educational, they can help us think about the environment in which we live, & provide entertainment for people who don’t have the ability to see or hear.

Next up, we enter a zone dedicated to videogames from around the world. Europe is represented by titles like Lego Star Wars & Outrun 2006 Coast to Coast. America gets games like Metroid Prime & Prince of Persia – Sands of Time. Eastern Europe is represented by an incredibly rare Poly Play cabinet. One of 3 in the world!

Then, there’s Japan. Japanese games have a very graphical style, to those produced anywhere else in the
world.” Bodman explains. “ very much relates to the kind of Manga book graphics and design, runs through into animated material in Japan, and games as well.
” Playable games to try include recent favourite Katamari Damacy, PC shooter Warning Forever (a personal fave), Suburban train simulation Go By Train 3,
and the utterly over-the-top Steel Battalion which features 2 control sticks & forty (40) buttons.  (I couldn’t even work out how to start my mech, let alone shoot anything.)

Early videogames like Spacewar & Pong were multiplayer by necessity: the hardware just wasn’t powerful enough to drive AI opponents. Now, we have gaming “bots” that challenge humans in complicated 3D battles. Yet despite the giant leaps in processing speed and complexity, gaming with a friend has stayed popular. In fact, in these days of “party starter” games, social gaming is bigger than ever. Game On’s next section is dedicated to all games multiplayer. There’s a 4 player Atari 2600 Warlords, a 4 player networked Halo 3, and a glorious 6 player Bomberman on a Sega Saturn.

“It can actually handle more players, but we don’t have enough controllers.” Bodman explains. Perhaps you could help out.  Know anyone with a Saturn controller they could lend the exhibition? If so, please contact the State Library of Queensland, and leave a message for the “Game On technicians”.

Tomorrow on Just One More Game, we’ll wrap up our Game On walkthrough (part 3).

Game On walkthrough – part 3.

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