Before Nintendo released the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1985, the video game industry crashed. Hard! Atari had allowed the market to be flooded with too many games, and the straw that broke the camel’s back was the release of E.T. The game was hastily put together by a rushed programmer who wasn’t able to put the necessary polish on the finished product, and consumers couldn’t return the game fast enough.
For roughly two years, people had thought the home video game market had left almost as quickly as it had arrived.
These would’ve been dark times for a gamer such as myself. No new games to look forward to, no new hardware every few years… it sends shivers down my spine.
During Atari’s time taking the first steps at starting the home console industry, a Japanese playing card company decided to hire an artist named Shigeru Miyamoto to design arcade video games. One of the games he designed was called Donkey Kong, a game where you controlled a plumber that had to jump over obstacles in order to save a woman from a large ape.
The game is still revered as one of the best arcade games – or games in general – ever made. The player controlled character – Jumpman – would prove to be the most important character to ever be created for the video game industry. A few years after Donkey Kong released, Nintendo released Super Mario Bros.
The game was an instant hit. It was so innovative, with secret areas, ways to complete the game faster, a killer soundtrack, and visuals never seen before.
Say what you will about Nintendo’s strict business practices – that can sometimes get them in trouble – but without Mario, I’m not sure I would have my PS4 today. It could’ve possibly been a much harder road to come back for video games in the home.
Sony and Microsoft may have never risked so much of their business to put their hats in the ring and attempt to contribute to the medium of entertainment that we all love and enjoy so much.
Now that the industry has been around so long, we have parents playing video games with their young children (myself included) in order to share the joy that they had growing up with games.
I believe we owe all of it to Miyamoto and Mario. Without his innovation, who knows what the video game landscape would look like today.