The innovation of the Indie Games

It’s common to hear that games from big companies (the so-called “triple A” titles) lack in innovation, and cling to used formulas that once proved successful in the past, and keep beating the dead horse until something really bad happens. And if by this sentence you thought about Assassin’s Creed or Call of Duty, you are right.

In the recent years, a few titles received a lot of praise from the gaming community, specially for bringing innovation, challenge and new approaches to old game styles. Most of these games are from small studios that invested years and about all their money to make a product that they would be proud of. All this breeze of fresh ideas came from the Indie Games, and I’d like to point a few of the most impressive to me so far.


Spelunky is one of my favorite indie games ever created, and the single reason I haven’t sold my PS Vita yet. Simple, straightforward, challenging and 8-bit inspired, every detail of the game must have been carefully constructed to be there for a reason. Every detail can be a reference, every different block can be a secret.

Source: Google Images

Source: Google Images

You assume the role of a spelunker, and must endeavor for 4 different stages to bring back the riches of the Golden Idol, trusting only your whip, your ropes and your bombs. You navigate through mazes of stages in caves, jungles, egyptian scenarios, and even the arctic pole.

Source: Google Images

Source: Google Images

There are secrets everywhere, and most of them can take you to different paths in search for new challenges. You unlock several different characters, and since every stage is randomly generated, there are very few chances you can know exactly where to go.

Source: Google Images

Source: Google Images


Super Meat Boy – Team Meat

Super Meat Boy is an instant classic, released to the XBox Live Arcade in 2010. It combines a simple story line, humor, speed and precise jumping to advance the game in the 6 stages of the game, while searching for Bandage Girl, Meat Boy’s girlfriend.

Source: Google Images

Source: Google Images

This game checks all the box of a good game on its design: combines simple level design with basic controls in the early stages, does not waste time of the player after a fail attempt, and loads every stage quickly to keep the player engaged during the whole game. It also included several secrets, warp zones, unlockable characters, and speed run modes, to every type of player out there.


Source: Google Images

It’s really impressive that a team of 2 enthusiasts was able to produce such a fun and engaging game. In less than 2 year, the game sold more than 1 million copies, and a sequel is currently in development. If you would like to have more details about the process involved in the creation of Super Meat Boy, the documentary Indie Game: The Movie has several stories of games about to be released in 2010, and this game is included there.

Source: Google Images

Source: Google Images


Shovel Knight – Yacht Club Games

One of the best platforming games from 2014, Shovel Knight follows the story of Sir Shovel, a retired hero forced back into action to defeat the Order of No Quarter. Mixing a simple 2D platforming scheme with known pogo and slash attacks, Shovel Knight can be instantly placed in the Best Adventure category, specially when compared to re-used ideas in the genre.

Source: Google Images

Source: Google Images

Funded through a Kickstarter campaign, Shovel Knight was eventually released in several consoles, including different secrets for a few of this platforms (you can battle Kratos, from God of War in the Playstation systems, and one of the Battletoads on the XBox version).

Source: Google Images

Source: Google Images

The game received several praises for its style and gameplay, and a DLC was released shortly after the port to every system, with a new adventure using one of the villains in the game. Including all the version, the Kickstarter backers, and the DLC, Shovel Knight surpassed 1.5 million copies, as of June 2016. An enormous success to a product coming from crowdfunding.

Source: Google Images

Source: Google Images

The late 2000’s in games – 2005 onwards

The second part of the last decade was an interesting place: in 2008, the manufacturer NVidia released the first graphics card of the GeForce 8 series, and started a more advanced type of parallel processing power to the graphics cards, making PC’s the utmost system to play games in the highest resolutions possible; relegated to secondary positions in the years of the Playstation 1 and 2, the PCs now have the most power available for those who search for the most impressive graphics in-game.


Basically, it was the beginning of the PC Master Race bullsh*t. ūüėÄ

BULLY – Rockstar Games

Of course that Rockstar games would not be out of hot water for a long time, and the next subject under criticism was Bully. The simplest form of describing Bully is if you transport the whole atmosphere of borderline-illegal action of the protagonists from the Grand Theft Auto series to a teenage years, and dress it with a layer of High School drama.

Bully Cover


In this game, you assume the role of Jimmy Hopkins, a newcomer to a high school in a fictional city, only to dive in a “society” filled with bullies, while attending school and keeping up your grades.


Source: Google Images

The most interesting fact about this game is the controversy around the title, preemptively launched by the parents and teachers organizations. Based on the track record from Rockstar, an announcement that the next game about bullying by the company could really spark the most absurd ideas in the parents, even before the game was in the public hands.



The game received a good praise from the public, and sold more than 1.5 million copies in the original launch, on the Playstation 2. It was ported later to Xbox and Wii, and re-launched in a special digital edition for the Playstation 4 in 2016.



One of the most original games off all time, Portal was released by Valve in 2007, for PC, PS3 and XBox 360, starting a new genre of first person puzzle-platform.


Source: Steam

In the game, you play as Cell, a test subject in an enrichment center of Aperture Science, performing tests as directed by a voice of an artificial intelligence named GLaDOS (which in turn, stands for Generic Lifeform and Disk Operational System).


Source: Google Images

Starting as a graduation project in the Digipen Institute, in Washington, the original game was showed to a few employees of Valve, including Gabe Newell, that instantly invited the students to join Valve and work in a successor for the same idea. From the original game, a few perks were kept, and the creative producer of the Half Life series suggested placing this new game in the same universe, to allow the use of similar aesthetics and assets.


Source: Google Images

The game was an enormous success critically, and placed GLaDOS in a very distinct hall of memorable characters in games, given its crude and cold personality, that included offense to the player, and promises of cake. It is also recognized as one of the best examples of level design, specially when introducing players to a new type of game.

Source: Google Images

Source: Google Images

It sold more than 4 million copies to date, stapled GLaDOS in the hall of fame, and the most impressive feat yet: it receive ZERO NEGATIVE COMMENTS from the Ben Yahtzee in his famous reviews No Punctuation. You can watch it in this link!


MINECRAFT- Mojang/Microsoft

It’s amazing to think that Minecraft was released almost 10 years ago, and as of today, it’s one of the most popular games in the world. In my view, this is caused¬†by 2 facts

  1. The game is really simple for first-time users, in terms of mechanics and usability, hiding the depths of gameplay for those who decide to dive deeper, widening its audience to every extreme side;
  2. It can be compared to building blocks, one of the most fundamental toys everyone plays with in childhood, and this sparks a lot of nostalgia moments in anyone who decides to play it.
Source: Minecraft Wikia

Source: Minecraft Wiki

The game was originally conceived as a cave exploration game, and the creator, Markus Persson, aimed to build a game where you could use RPG elements in an environment based in Infiniminer.

Source: Google Images

Source: Google Images


To date, Minecraft sold more than 106 million copies worldwide, considering the core game (for PC’s), and a few variations for Playstation consoles and Xbox One. The brand Minecraft (and the studio behind it, Mojang) was purchased by Microsoft in late 2014. It’s one of the best seller games of all times (behind only Tetris), and the most sold PC game of all times.

Games from the early 2000’s

It’s not common to see¬†events happening in real life affecting the media industry, but no place would be the same after what happened on September 11th, 2001. The terrorist attack to the World Trade Center shook the world in a way that everything would change from that point forward.



In movies, some of early blockbusters received a few changes to accommodate this new reality, with Spiderman (from 2002) losing a scene where Spidey traps a helicopter in a giant web between the two towers after a bank robbery. The scene was completely done, with a few adjustments to be fixed in post production, and was completely scrapped (for obvious reasons). There is a new cut on youtube and you can find it here (link: Spiderweb WTC)

It was not very different for the games as well, and one of my favorite games also suffered from the same fate.


Set¬†10¬†years after the original Metal Gear Solid, MGS2: Sons of Liberty takes the player to the “future” of 2009,¬†where a new soldier to the series, codename Raiden, has to infiltrate Big Shell. This gigantic¬†advanced cleaning facility is the environmental response of the government after an incident happened 2 years prior, where a Tanker sank, releasing tons of oil into the New York’s Hudson river.¬†During a presidential visit to the facilities, a terrorist group took control of the place, and is threatening to explode a nuclear device in New York if their demands are not met. It’s your mission to rescue the president and disarm the bomb threat.


Source: Google Images

Being set in the heart of the Manhattan island, not showing the WTC or any building close would be difficult, so the team decided to move some scenarios for different places in NY. One of them includes a big structure hitting Manhattan in the south corner, exactly where the WTC was placed.

Unused MGS2 scene


Regardless, the game was received with acclaim and surprise. According to many fans, it was a cheap trick to replace Solid Snake (the main¬†character from the previous game) for a new soldier with less than half of the original hero’s charisma. However, the game designer Hideo Kojima states that “taking Snake out of the player’s hand was a calculated move, to make the real hero survive its legend”. This way, you have a chance to witness the hero in action, and fight alongside him.


Source: Google Images

It was a bold move by Kojima, but the game falls into the lower positions, when it comes to preference of its audience. Then again, it could also be that Raiden does not handle a candle, when compared to Snake.


After years without any major development in the series, Nintendo released in 2002 the first 3D Metroid game of his history, and created a remarkable game for that. Combining a lot of elements of the original Metroid, with elements that made the lore even bigger, Metroid Prime is almost a masterpiece, specially if you consider the bold changes made to the core game.



The most impacting change can be seen right away in the 3D scenario. For the first time in the series, you are inside the famous helmet, and your first person adventure begins. The second change is the way you aim and use your tools, including a quick escape to the third person perspective while Samus is using the morph ball. And the third impacting change is the size of the scenarios, and the depth each level can get.





The game was received with an initial warm skepticism, but eventually was recognized as one of the best games ever made. As of today, it still occupies one of the highest ranks in the Metacritic website (97 out of 100 for the critics, 93 out of 100 for the general public).


Created based on a tech demo to demonstrate the capabilities of the new NVidia GeForce 3, Far Cry was developed by a small team in the company Crytek, based on the new engine CryEngine. The publisher Ubisoft acquired the right to release the game, and eventually that original idea became one of the most recognized series in the FPS/Adventure genre.



 Set in a mysterious island in the South Pacific area, the game utilizes the full power of the new graphics card to deliver breathtaking scenarios, while engaging the player in a story about mercenaries, genocide and civil war.




Source: Google Images

The success of the series confirmed the release of sequels and remakes to several other consoles and systems, with the most recent being Far Cry Primal, where the player goes back to the caveman settings and have to survive in the jungle, in the unique first person hunting ever made.

Games from late 90’s – 1995 to 1999

This is one of the most prolific eras for the game industry. On this time slot, we have the new console from Nintendo (the formerly called Ultra 64, or Nintendo 64), we have the first PlayStation machine (after a deal with Nintendo fell through), and Sega has the Saturn released in 1994, and later unveils the Dreamcast, a machine beyond its time, in 1999. The best years were yet to come.









At this timeframe, we have a very special year: 1998. Considering the games that came out that year, it’s easy to consider one of the best years in gaming. You can take a quick look at this table to confirm:

1080¬į Snowboarding Metal Gear Solid
Age of Empires: The Rise of Rome Panzer Dragoon Saga
Baldur’s Gate Parasite Eve
Banjo-Kazooie Pokémon Red and Blue
Body Harvest Resident Evil 2
Bomberman World Resident Evil: Director’s Cut
Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines Sonic Adventure
Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped Spyro the Dragon
F-Zero X Star Wars: Rogue Squadron
Fallout 2 StarCraft
Final Fantasy Tactics Tenchu: Stealth Assassins
Gran Turismo The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Grim Fandango Thief: The Dark Project
Half-Life Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six
Heart of Darkness Tomb Raider III: Adventures of Lara Croft
Mario Party Turok 2: Seeds of Evil
Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes Vigilante 8
MediEvil X-Men vs. Street Fighter
Mega Man Legends Xenogears
Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit Yoshi’s Story

And between these great releases, there are 3 that I’d love to talk about!

Resident Evil 2

After the initial success of the original Resident Evil (even with the famous and terrible voice acting on the cutscenes –¬†check some of the best here:¬†, Capcom did not waste a heartbeat to start production on the second installment of the franchise, promised to March 1997. However, close to completion, the game felt way to dislocated from the previous game, considering both main characters were not previously used, nor had any connection to the story so far.



It is also worth mention that the game received a revamp on the graphics, but at the expense of having less zombies on the screen at the same time. Due to this changes, and the history being considered to close-ended, Capcom decided to re-work the game, and release the version above with a re-pack of the original game, on the disc Resident Evil: Director’s Cut. This unfinished version eventually received the nickname Resident Evil 1.5.


Source: Google Images

Source: Google Images

Source: Google Images

Resident Evil 2 came out in 1998, and continued the story for the franchise, allowing more branches to be considered for further installments.

Tenchu: Stealth Assassins

Combining ninja skills and a lot of stealth elements, Tenchu is a action-adventure game where you must seek justice for his clan. The game combines action buttons to hide behind corners and crouching mode to avoid being detected by your enemies.


Source: Google Images

You can resort to a lot of gadgets and ninja-gear to get around or dispatch enemies quietly. You can select between two novice ninjas from the Azuma clan, called Rikimaru and Ayame. You have a few missions to select and must complete the objectives to be graded by your master, once you return.



The game used the same technique to avoid rendering too many objects on-screen at the same time, such as Silent Hill made, but in this case, it was using darkness instead of fog. Considering the time period of the game, it fits perfectly since all places were lit by candlelight at the time.


Source: Deviant Art website

Vigilante 8

Combining racing, combat, explosions and secrets, Vigilant 8 was a simple copy of the original Twisted Metal, but with a more variety of cars and characters to choose initially. The main difference is that each of the 8 characters has a point of view in the ending, making it almost mandatory to finish the game with all of them to have a clear picture of what was happening after all.


Source: Google Images

During the release of the game for the Nintendo 64 (in 1999), one of the ads included a school bus (one of the selectable vehicles from the game) dropping off kids at school in the morning, and returning back later in the day, to drive the kids home, albeit completely destroyed given the car combat system. This ad was pulled off after the Columbine High School massacre, happened in the same year.



The most interesting aspect of this game came from development. It was completely done by 5 people, including the original release (Playstation), and a port for the Nintendo 64. At the time, Sony has priced the dev kit for the Playstation in a very low price point, and the fee for developing for the console was also a ridiculous low amount (around $10 at the time of release of the PS console). It’s incredible how such a small team could port it to the cartridges of the Nintendo 64, given its limitations and complexity.


The Early 90’s – 1990 up to 1994

It was all setup for a new battle: in one side, we have Nintendo, who brought the games back from the brink of extinction; in the other side, the contender Sega, with a good track of arcade releases, promising the same experience in your home with the new consoles, and the early 90 were the battlefield.

From a range of attacks on both sides (with a particular more enthusiastic advance on Sega’s side), each game release would be a stage for new ads on TVs and magazines.

What Nintendon't

At that early years, a few¬†sequels to acclaimed games were released, such as Snake’s Revenge (NES). This game was a sequel from the port of Metal Gear to the NES, made without participation (or consent) from its creator, Hideo Kojima. The true sequel came as Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, on the MSX2, released a few months later. Needless to say that the version created by Mr Kojima is much superior in graphics and gameplay.

Snakes Revenge


Also worth to mention that the Super Nintendo, the 16-bit machine to replace the NES was released in December 1990 in Japan, and it would follow to North América in 1991, packing Super Mario Bros and F-Zero in the release, guaranteeing huge sales on both years for Nintendo.

On Sega’s side, the Genesis was already on the market 2 years prior (released in 1988 in Japan, 1989 in North Am√©rica), and was gaining a cult following with a few good releases, such as Altered Beast, Space Harrier and Alex Kidd in Enchanted Castle.

Sega-Genesis set

I want to talk about some interesting stories about that time,¬†focusing¬†in other games from this period. I won’t be talking about Sonic, Super Mario World and The Legend of Zelda: a LInk to the past here.

John Madden Football

Currently running as one of the longest franchises in history of Games, the first John Madden Football came from a good story. Trip Hawkins, one of the founders of the Electronic Arts, had to take a train ride with the NFL legend John Madden in order to secure the rights to use his name in this franchise, and define the actual gameplay. During the trip, both discussed the use of images and likeness from Madden to the game, and the idea of him coaching the player still stands as of today. Being released by EA Sports since 1988, the Genesis version helped pave a separation between the types of games for each console at the time: sports, racing and fighting (specially Mortal Kombat) received better praises in the Genesis, while RPGs and Adventures were better in the Super Nintendo.



Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

As of today, still the best TMNT game ever released. So good, that even a remake was made for the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2009. Being a simple scrolling beat’em up for up to 4 players, the game has movements and interactions never seen before in a game in the same way, and the fact that you can attack your friends make the game even more interesting.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Turtles in Time (J)

Developed and released by Konami, the game featured music from the original composer of the tv show, and received great praise upon the years. All turtles are there (Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael and Donatello), and the most famous villains (Shredder, Mr Kang, Rocksteady and Bebop).


Super Mario Kart

During the release of the Super Nintendo, Miyamoto was supervising the creation of both packed game for the console, Super Mario World, and F-Zero. Although both games can receive a second player, most of the times they play in separated turns. After releasing those games, Miyamoto was tasked to create a game where two players could participate at the same time, and decided to use F-Zero’s engine to start development.

After a few tryouts, it was clear that the speed the machine could process both player’s information on screen was way slower than the original F-Zero. One developer jokingly associated the speed to the same seen on go-karts, while placing Mario character sprites on them.¬†Miyamoto saw in that change¬†the perfect opportunity to release a new franchise, and convinced the board of directors to go with this new game. It was born Super Mario Kart.


Super Mario Kart became an almost instant classic, with a great use of the Mode 7 graphic ship, to scale the foes at a distance while you approach them. It generated a new sub-genre of games, with several sequels and spin-offs, and a lot of copycats in other companies.

Super Mario Kart


The early 90’s were bringing a lot of franchises and new IPs that would shake the market for years to come. Sega Saturn and the original Sony PlayStation also debuted at this era (both came out in 1994), and the next Nintendo Console was promised to 1994, being released in 1995. More games, more parties at play, and new technologies were getting ready for the next battle: the late section of the 90’s. But that is for my next post!

Games from late 80’s – 1985 to 1989

After the crash of 1983, the market was a strange place. Games were being demonized, the pure mention of the words “game console” would be received with a lot of skepticism, and launching a new system would be considered a real endeavour. Nintendo would be solely responsible for bringing back the trust to the industry, with a roll of nice games, and a smart strategy to avoid the same discredit received from everyone after 1983.


However, it was a new beginning for the gaming industry. A lot of great releases came around at the “end side” of that decade, and¬†things started looking better.

Nintendo released the “Nintendo Entertainment System”, carefully avoiding¬†any mention of “video game consoles”, opting for a “high-tech entertainment device fit for all family”; The company also restricted the release of any titles on its system with a high quality control procedure, where only vetted games could be ported to the NES. With a few simple rules and a short time, the market was confident to bloom again, and the first cycle of “face to face” would appear in the form of the Sega – Nintendo rivalry, that would pertain for years to come.


I can say it was on this spot in time that some of the best games I ever played came out: not to mention some well-known best sellers, such as Super Mario Bros and The Legend of Zelda, an important series of games was born in 1987, and the game that followed me in my childhood was made in 1986.

Alex Kidd in Miracle World (Sega Master System)


This game is amazing. Trying to dethrone Mario as the king of the platforming genre, Alex Kidd is more vibrant, colorful, and brought interesting power ups and secrets to the play, until being surpassed as mascot by Sonic the Hedgehog, a few years later. In this game you travel through 17 stages, defeating regular enemies with his fists, and level bosses with his abilities in “Jan-ken-pon” (the zero-sum game of rock-paper-scissors).


The game has no checkpoint in the stage, and Alex can take only one hit at any point. The power-ups included are in a great selection, such as shockwave rings, flying canes, invincibility powders, special stones to read enemies’ minds, and extra-lives. Most of them can be purchased in stores, or collected through the game.¬†Alex kidd can ride bikes, boats, and a “pedi-copter”, a pedal-operated helicopter to navigate different terrains or defeat enemies.

AKMW level

AKMW water

AKMW Title

This game received a good acclaim from the public, being currently rated between 7 and 9 out of 10 in several sites. It can be purchased in several online game stores (such as PSN and Nintendo e-Shop), alone or in Sega Collections.

Metal Gear (MSX)


The first installment of the famous series Metal Gear, the original game debuted in 1987 in the MSX computer system, and received some good reception from the public for presenting a different idea from the several “Mario-clones” at the time. During the development of the game, the team realized that the processing power of the machine could only render a few enemies at the screen, and it prompted for a change in the approach of the game: instead of action style, Metal Gear would be a stealth game, where avoiding enemies is rewarded, while alerting them takes points away.


With this simple change, Hideo Kojima created one of the best games of its time, and paved a good way into a new series, that would see its latest release in 2015 with Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain.

maxresdefault (1)

Spawning stories since 1987, and chronologically starting in 1964 with the Metal Gear Solid 3 (!), the series “created” the genre¬†stealth action, and it’s widely known for its convoluted story, abundance of characters, and controversial topics in the war theme.


The series today is widely recognized as a huge success, despite some “bad blood” between Kojima and its parent company, Konami. The last installment of the series was released to public amidst an intense¬†battle between creator and publisher, leading to the departure of Kojima from the company. While the future of the series is in the shadows, the past is already sacred.



Combining the mystery around a mythological creature with an action oriented controls, the NES received the first installment of a series that would become famous in the following consoles for generations: in 1986, Castlevania is released to public.


Although short for the time, Castlevania gathered enough followers to confirm 2 direct sequels in the NES (Castlevania II Dracula’s Curse and Castlevania 3 in the following years), and placed itself in the hall of “must-haves” from the NES library.

Mixing several creatures with Dracula himself, you journey into a mysterious castle as Simon Belmont, the next in line for the vampire killer job. Until reaching Dracula, you battle werewolves, giant bats, mummies, Medusa, the Grim Reaper himself, and even Frankenstein Monster, using your trusted whip and a few “throwable” items, such as daggers, crosses and holy water.


Castlevania paved the way for a life-long series, spawning over 20 titles, mostly on Nintendo consoles. One of the most recognized work in the series came from Koji Igarashi, including the phenomenal success in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, on Playstation in the year 1998. However, a few creative differences between the director and the publisher Konami (again), lead to the departure of creator. Regardless of what the future would hold, Castlevania remains today as top 10 games to play on the NES.


Games in 1980’s

The 80’s were a strange decade for the game industry. Something was not right, and all the products that flooded the stores were going to suffer in a few years. The signs were all there. Cheap knock-offs of more recognizable brands, a lot of games with no quality control being released to public, and very few parents willing to put up with another game that would disappoint their kids. The game industry was about to brick, but a few good surprises showed up here and there to keep everything to come down fast.

Here are some games from the 1980’s that are worthy to take a look:



Maybe one of my favourites in the Atari era, Pitfall! could stand out from the crowd for being simple, engaging and different from the massive number of shooters, space wars or race cars around. You assume the role of Pitfall Harry, and must endeavour the jungles in search for gold, diamonds, silver bars… and bags of gold, left there for some reason.


You have to be careful of snakes, scorpions, quicksand pits, tar pits, and rolling logs (also for some reason), while navigate through a series of screens with different dangers ahead of you. There are a total of 32 items to be collected in the game, and from the start you have 20 minutes to do so.


Pitfall was a great step in the right direction, allowing more adventure games to take a new approach to the hardware limitations at the time and provide a satisfying “Indiana Jones” type of play into the Atari 2600 era.



Also a complete change from the trend at the time, 1942, places the player in the Super ace combat plane, while he is on a mission to reach Tokyo and destroy the air fleet in the turmoil of the World War II.


While not one of the most recognizable franchises today, 1942 was the first monumental hit from CAPCOM, topping the charts of Arcade sales for the upcoming years in the 80’s. It would later be replaced as hallmark franchise by memorable brands such as Mega Man and Street Fighter in the history of Capcom.


As of today, 1942 has spawned several sequels, and eventually became a franchise inside CAPCOM, with titles such as 1943: The Battle of Midway. In fact, the series today has almost ten different titles, including remakes of the original 1942 for the XBox Live Arcade (including multiplayer capabilities, and a new version called 1942: First Strike released for the iOS devices in 2010.



Track & Field

If you played this game, chances are you broke a controller. Combining olympic competition with simple controls depending on the repetition of commands, Track & Field became quickly the favourite for friendly arcade competitions, or local multiplayer to emulate the emotions of an Olympic Games.


Developed and released by Konami in 1983, it was a fever in the following year, considering the official 1984 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles, CA.


The game contains 6 different sports of the Athletics department: 100 meter dash, long jump, javelin throw, 100 meter hurdles, hammer throw, and high jump. The basic controls consisted in repeating the same movement in an accelerated motion, which caused failures in the plastic material inside the arcade cabinets.


Later, most cabinets came with a track ball to replace the knobs, but the fame of controller-breaking game was already settled.

The lesser known gems from the 70’s games.

It’s easy to go back in time to refresh your memory (or even learn about the industry back then) when you have contenders like Asteroids, Space Invaders and Galaxian to show how games could be entertaining. But what about the other good games of the time that missed the test of time? Today, I’ll present you 3 gems from the first decade of games.

Star Raiders

Built by a single programmer,¬†Star Raiders is an interesting piece from the pre-historical era, when it comes to graphic. It was considered complex on gameplay, and advanced in graphics, given the state of games at the time. But just check this image and we understand what “advanced graphics” can mean at this time:


Believe it or not, this visual was considered “violent” at the time of release, but the combination of colors and visual effects happening at the same time where widely used to explore the graphical capabilities of the Atari back then.

According to its creator,¬†Doug Neubauer, the intention was to emulate the politics and combat of Star Trek into the game, hence we have the “action screen” above, and the map screen below:


For the time, the game had advanced features, such as the possibility of be attacked while examining the map screen, indicating a “embryo form” of background processing.

The game received overall praise by the computing community, and held its place in the pantheon of memorable games for it’s era.

Lunar Lander

Assuming the role of the captain of a moon expedition, your duty is to safely land the space module in the moon soil, taking into consideration your fuel, your velocity, and the power thrusted into your engines to control your descent.


The game is also made in vector display (as Asteroids), and has an incredible physics simulation attached to it. You can play it for free in Atari’s website (clicking here!).


One of the hardest to find available, Artillery also uses physics into its gameplay. You assume the position of Artillery man, and must destroy your enemy before he does the same to you.


The game started a whole sub-genre with the same premises, which in the future would include the famous Worms, from Microprose, that uses the same mechanics. It was first developed as a BASIC application by a single programmer, Mike Forman, and receives a cult-following after its publication in Creative Computing in 1976. Later, received ports for Apple II and DOS, while some clones appeared in the Commodore PET and Magnavox Odyssey, but with small changes in the aesthetics.Artillery_apple




Galaxian is also from the same time (1979), and takes the formula established in Space Invaders in the previous year. The difference, in this case, relates to the way your enemies attack you, with different and more unpredictable way towards you. It’s a good twist in the same formula, and also attracted more players to the arcades.




Asteroids is also from the same age, and can be played online in several sites. It was a pioneer in using vectors, and you can see a good use when you die, with the pieces of your ship flying away after your destruction.

Asteroids Gif

Asteroids can be played online in several websites. Check it out here!


There are some good places online to try some of these games, like RetroGames, Internet Archive Arcade and Javatari.

The work of Gunpei Yokoi

If you like videogames, you heard about Nintendo. If you like Nintendo games, you probably heard about Shigeru Miyamoto. Creator of all the Mario-related games, plus several franchises that paved the way of Nintendo as a symbol in the game industry, it’s easy to be wondered by his achievements and respect Mr Miyamoto. But Nintendo owns a great deal to another designer from the house. Mr Gunpei Yokoi.


Gunpei Yokoi was hired by Nintendo to oversee a production line for the electronic toys department of the company, and used his free time to exercise his mind creating simple engineered devices, in order to study and develop his skills. During his time in the production line, he developed an extended arm in his free time, that eventually became the famous Ultra Hand (the one in the picture below).


Because of his ingenious ways, Mr Yokoi was invited to participate as one of the first game designers for the new department of the company, and it would lead the new innovative field of arcade cabinets and home consoles, about to hit the market in a few years.


One of the most famous inventions from Mr Yokoi was inspired by the most common problem in the world: boredom in daily commute. Legend has that Mr Yokoi was observing a businessman playing around with a calculator in the train, while waiting to get home, and this little event sparked the idea to create the first successful product from Nintendo in the video-game business: the Game & Watch.


The Game & Watch portable device is well praised in the early development of the industry, and set the tone of Yokoi’s philosophy of “Lateral Thinking with Withered Technology”. Basically, Gumpei always considered the use of well known technology on his creations, but applying a innovative use to make devices that feels fresh, even with “old” technology. The device¬†spawned a series of titles, including some that would later be present in the first console of the company, such as Balloon Fight and Donkey Kong.

Game&Watch Games

A few years later, Gumpei Yokoi revealed his latest invention to the headquarter of Nintendo, and in 1986, the GameBoy was released to the public. Featuring a LCD screen, lightweight and with durable battery life, the GameBoy soon would become the prefered portable device in the market, even competing with better rivals, such as Game Gear and the Atari Lynx. As game designer, Gunpei Yokoi released a few important games to the portable, such as Metroid II РReturn of Samus, Super Mario Land, and Kid Icarus.


The last time Gunpei Yokoi was in the news, unfortunately, was to release the infamous Virtua Boy. Trying to reach into 3D environments, Nintendo asked his R&D team to come up with ideas to turn a game into a 3D virtual reality, and Gunpei Yokoi was appointed as lead designer. After the success of the GameBoy, no one else inside the Big N would have better credentials to do so.


However, in light of the difficulty to create a portable 3D simulator, the project took too long and had to make concessions on the design, to avoid an exorbitant price. The design selected by Nintendo resembled a futuristic microscope, standing on a tripod, with controllers at your hand. Anyone that played one of the 22 released games would complain about headaches, nausea, and in a few extreme cases, desorientation.


It’s not certain why Nintendo decided to go ahead with the design showed to the public, but the backlash of criticism¬†made Nintendo blame Yokoi for the failure in sales of the Virtua Boy. Gunpei Yokoi decided to stay in Nintendo a little longer (he was ready to leave for his own company) and clear his name.

However, on October 4th, 1997, Gunpei Yokoi was hit by a passing car, after leaving his own to check a small collision with a truck, in a busy highway in Japan. Gunpei Yokoi was pronounced dead 2 hours later at a local hospital.

Yokoi obituary

Although he is gone, his legacy is forever cemented in the game industry. The original Game & Watch featured the first Directional Pad (or D-Pad for short) ever made for gaming, and it became a standard for every controller from Nintendo; His accomplishments with the Gameboy are undeniably huge, and his philosophy of cost x technology lives on inside Nintendo as of today; his design for the dual screen model of the Game & Watch would be the basis for the Nintendo DS, released years after his passing; the original R.O.B. toy, that was packaged with the Nintendo Entertainment System and helped pave the way for the games back in the trust of the customers, was also designed by him.

Gunpei Yokoi was one of the founding fathers of this industry, but unfortunately ostracized by one mistake in his otherwise brilliant career. It’s a shame a legend like him is slowly being left behind as one of the greats in the game industry.

A new era for me!

Solid Snake, in the beginning of the game Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, stated that “War has changed”. What he meant at that time was clearly explained in the game. PMC, money war, war economy, all the gears were connected and you could see battle as profit in the near future, according to the game.

MGS4 Solid Snake

To me, life has changed. And quite.

I changed my job, I changed my country, I changed my language, I changed my lifestyle, I’m still getting the hang on a lot of things, but so many aspects of my life has¬†indeed changed.

I always had a child-like fascination for video-games. Ever since I was 6 or 7, maybe, when my father hooked up the Atari in the TV. It was like a magical moment sparking somewhere in my mind that would dominate my underlying thinking for years to come. I need to know more of this magical machines, I need to understand what they do, how they work, where all that comes from.

Kids gaming

I spent years already knowing what I wanted for Christmas, either a new game, or a new system. Whatever I could afford, whatever I was more interested. Even with very limited sources, I was able to play the classics, and learn about them as well.

I chose my systems. I asked for a Master System, and got one in exchange for excellent grades in school. I wanted to upgrade to a Super Nintendo a few years later, but money was tight. Saved up money grandma gave me, saved up change doing errands for mama, scrapped every coin I could find, but it was not enough.  I settled for a Sega Genesis and was really happy with it. My next system would be paid by my own means, and I could buy a Playstation on my own terms, and the 3D games rolled in. It was one of the most prolific times in games, considering how easy and simple it was to develop for the PS. After that, Playstation 2 and 3 also came along, and I never left the idea to work on games behind.


But fate had other plans for me, and I agreed to them at the time. There was no way I could be successful in a field that barely exist today in my homeland, so I trailed another path. Choose engineering. Dedicated time and energy to it. Graduated. Got hired in a big oil company. Enjoyed my job and grew bigger with it. I lived abroad in New Orleans, and earned the recognition of colleagues in the US. I went back home with the sense of mission accomplished. But games were always there, either on my free time, either on my dreams.

Starting in January 20th, 2015, everything would be shaken and out of place. Combining the devastating powers of a worldwide economical crisis, the plummeting of the oil prices, and a very old oilfield that would not yield profit anymore, my former company decided to put the asset for sale. At this point, the most important decision in my life (so far) showed its true colors. Either I take this exit on the highway of life, or see myself dragging another number of years in the same place, waiting for something new to show up.


At this point, my wife was the voice of reason for me. It was her exact words that made me awake. “You always wanted to work with video games! Why not now?”. I communicated my decision to my bosses, and they agreed to part ways with me, sad for my departure, but happy for my new challenges ahead.


Application was made, acceptance letters were received, and on January 20th, 2016, exactly 365 days after everything starting to shake, the new puzzle was laid out in front of me. I’d be attending a new Bachelor’s Degree, in the field I always dreamt to belong, in a city that is proving to be fantastic day by day, with more maturity and understanding of what I’m expected to provide in this new course.

War has changed. My life has changed. But changes can be for a greater good too.