[PS3 version reviewed]
It is telling, our state of post-post-meta-modernism, when a game like Deus Ex: Human Revolution seems slightly old-fashioned. Cyberpunk. I mean, how long ago was it that you read Neuromancer and Snow Crash? Or played Syndicate? What was once a cutting-edge science fiction trope now seems almost old hat. We’ve since moved on to looking for whatever comes after nanotechnology.
That’s what makes the setting of DXHR, in 2011, so interesting. When we were first introduced in the late 80s and 90s to the idea of cybernetic implants, and well, Deus Ex* and cyborgs in general, the technology seemed feasible but not exactly on the close horizon. It was easy to imagine humans with interface implants and extra-strong limbs and organs in the future – surely, someday, obviously, right? But, today… today much of what is portrayed in the game, a mere 16 years hence, suddenly seems that much closer. We’ve seen nimble robots. We’ve seen the rise of the global internet, fabrication technology, huge leaps in computer power, artificial materials with new properties already.
This new perspective on cyberpunk makes DXHR that much more interesting, and disturbing. Now it’s near-sci fi.
It’s amazing to think about how long I’ve been playing games. I was 3 when the Atari 2600 came out and I’ve never stopped. I’m right on the cusp of saying that I’ve been playing my entire life, and the videogame industry started when I did.
It’s quite comical to a few of my friends that I have my Atari hooked up to my 1080p HDTV but to be honest the picture looks great, and the low-res pixels aged much better than the NES/Genesis/Etc. that relied a bit on the low-res TV’s to hide their imperfections. As I glance at the year I can’t help but do the quick math in my head and it dawns on me that Kaboom! came out in 1981, 30 years ago this year. That’s both amazing and sad to me, just another notch in the “I’m getting old” belt.
I figure it’s the perfect time to pay some reverence to this classic and aged title, and revisit it again with a proper review. So, after all this time how does it fare?
-Space Invaders -Spy Hunter -Gauntlet -Joust -Tempest -Donkey Kong… Recognize them? Can you see them in your mind’s eye? Then you’ll understand what I’m trying to say.
High Score. THE High Score. Ahh the bragging rights of getting those 3 letters on the high score list. It was the pinnacle for any arcade player. It was like a calling card, a flag to proudly plant in newly attained territory. Getting on that list multiple times? Now you’re just flaunting it. DRZ was my flag. Just the 3 simple letters carried such weight back then. It was the only real measure of success in arcade games. Each player’s was unique. Posting a high score and watching other players try to best it, that was the pastime. That and taking a run at someone else’s score. (There was an entire episode of Seinfeld about it.)
We spent our young lives in dark arcades, spending so much time there we knew every seam in the carpet, every cigarette burn in the cabinets. We knew which machines needed to have that damn fire button that always seem to get stuck at the worst possible time fixed. We knew which machines rejected your quarter while also giving you a credit.
To grow up during what is now referred to as the “Golden Age of Video Games” was a special thing indeed.
I love the shows where we cover a lot of ground, and we definitely do that this week. Infamous 2 covers the video games, Conquest of Nerath the boardgames. Chew gets us into comics and Super 8 + Xmen First Class handle the movies. If it’s nerdy it’s here people!
We’d also always love to hear from you guys if you want us to cover something specific. Hit us up!
Listen and enjoy!
Here’s the link to give Perpetual Geek Machine: Show #00028 a listen!
The name Jerry Lawson might now ring any bells to most video game players out there, he’s never been a household name. Even amongst us old schoolers he was never as famous as Ralph Baer or Nolan Bushnell. Heck, I only know his name because I’ve read so many books about the history of video games.
So, who is Jerry Lawson?
Well, he’s the man that for all intents and purposes invented the video game cartridge. Hack in the 70’s he worked on the Fairchild Channel F, which while never super popular was the first game system to include interchangeable ROM game carts (up until then the games available to play on a system were the ones built in). Maybe you’re young enough to remember a game system with carts, even if only in a handheld game system format. But back in the day it changed everything, and paved the way for Atari and Nintendo and all the rest.
It’s a shame that we as gamer community have yet to really embrace the people that built the foundation for the wonderful games we get to enjoy today. Some of us have, Chris Kohler has a wonder write up over at Wired about Jerry. We’re in a unique position because the creators of video games are for the most part still alive, though that’s not going to be true forever. I think we owe it to ourselves and them to learn about their contributions while we still can.
So in that vein I’m including video of a talk Jerry did a few years back about his time working on games, it’s both informative and funny. If you like it there are a few more parts available from the talk.
R.I.P. Jerry, we lost one of the really good ones this week.