-Sega Did It First (or someone did anyway)-
With all the hype going on about the next generation of systems, I’d like to take the time to address a few things you should really keep in mind before you lose your cool.
The WiiU is obviously not the first system with a screen on the controller, or even the first to let you take your games with you. It was the Sega Dreamcast with the VMU. The small memory device in the controller had a screen that would not only show you things related to the game you were playing while connected to the system, but it also allowed you to install and play mini-games on the go. The most famous of these was Chao Adventure that accompanied the Sonic Adventure series.
Also, if you think this generation’s systems were the first to be high def and internet capable… well… Again, those honors go to Sega in some way. The Sega Genesis (model 1) proclaimed itself to have “High Definition Graphics” in the 16-bit era, and competing with the 8-bit NES, one can easily see why. However, the first true high def game was Hi-Ten Bomberman in 1993. Japan had the technology before it was widely available, so Hudson Soft Gaming Caravan made the game for it’s short-lived PC-FX console. The game was then later ported to the Sega Saturn (though it lost it’s true high-def capabilities in the process). Then later, the Sega Dreamcast had an adapter that allowed you to convert it to VGA out, so the system of firsts takes on the mantle of true in-home high-def as well.
As for the internet, the Dreamcast again takes that honor. It came, out-of-the-box, with built-in modem and internet abilities for online play. You could even get browser software and a keyboard and mouse for it. The keyboard even had it’s own game you could use it for with Typing of the Dead. And you thought Opera was cool.
So how about those wireless controllers which are so all the rage nowadays? There’s no way we had the technology back in the day. Well, again sir, you’d be wrong if you thought that. Back in the days when home gaming was young and unproven, all sorts of things could happen. Just looking around the shop, there’s a couple friends here who would love to get your attention. First off, there’s the Supersonic the Joystick for the NES. That’s right. The NES had wireless controllers beyond the no-touch capabilities of the ridiculousness that was the U-Force. It works by IR sensors. One is attached to the system and there’s one on the joystick itself. But wait, one came before that even! The Atari had wireless controllers. Indeed, they were essentially remote controllers more similar to you typical RC car, but they still set you free from a wired connection.
Oh, and remember how I labelled this “Sega Did It First”? Guess who had the first motion controller. Yep, it was the Sega Dreamcast. While Atari had the Joyboard which can best be analogued to the WiiFit board, the handheld motion controller as you know it is closest found in the Sega Fishing Controller. You could even use it to play Virtua Tennis. Pretty neat, eh?
So maybe wireless controllers aren’t that new, and maybe the whole screen on the controller wasn’t that original, that’s no reason to give up hope yet, right? You can still enjoy your new 3D TV knowing that games hadn’t made the leap to good 3D effects till now…
Oh the folly’s of youth. Of course someone else did that first! And no, I’m not talking about red-cyan glasses you had to wear at some theme park ride, or even the Nintendo’s Virtual Boy with it’s crazy red screens. No, about 10 years prior to the Virtual Boy, there was the Sega Master System. On that system, they released a set of LCD shutter glasses. They took advantage of old CRT television’s interlaced video output. By alternating images on the screen and shuttering lenses in the glasses it produced a stereoscopic effect, which, from personal experience, is pretty impressive. And through use of the Power Base Adapter, you can play all the 3D and normal Master System games on the Genesis. Now there’s some true backwards compatability!
So now that you’re a bit more informed on the history of gaming, don’t feel sad that not everything out there is as new as companies would have you believe. It’s okay. Go forth and rejoice in your new-found knowledge. Remember, you live in a time when it’s normal to love video games! Have fun out there! Just remember, Sega did it first!