How Arcade Games Created the Video Game Industry
From bulky cabinets to up-to-date portable adventures available on any platform…Arcade games have traveled a long way to their present state, undergoing lots of transformations. But what did the genre look like at its birth and during the golden age? What do we have now?
First Steps, Baby Steps
Legendary Space Invaders (by Taito) and Asteroids (by Atari) went viral in 1978 and 1979. That’s why most fans and specialists call it the beginning of the computer industry. Still, there were earlier versions, but their manufacturing cost was sky-high. Once the developers learned to produce bulky but less expensive models, the market boomed. The Golden Age ended when other genres started to dominate in the 1980s-90s.
What Made Arcade Games a Hit
First of all, it was a novelty. On-screen worlds and stories have only started to win people’s hearts. They had simple mechanics, repetitive actions, and highly hooking content. Shooting, jumping, fighting… Players couldn’t resist traveling from level to level to merry music.
One of such international “viruses” was Galaxian (1979). The fixed shooter can’t boast of having a lot of actions. Moving right and left, you control a starship and avoid getting hit by aliens. As well as try to destroy several rows of hostiles. Each round is more difficult, with stronger enemies and intensive firing.
Later, its sequel Galaga (1981) preserved the concept and added several new features. Such as more powerful and tricky opponents and brighter graphics.
Another popular title – Pac-Man (1980) – offered labyrinths filled with ghosts. One could hone the right timing and perfect reaction skills in this masterpiece. Moving fast, your character eats dots and runs from threatening enemies. Short sessions and a fresh gameplay idea lured many users to come for more.
How Do Modern Analogues Differ from Their Predecessors?
The most important difference lies in their format. No more wardrobe-like machines to run them. Today, they are powered by a PC, console, and other platforms. Besides, many are browser-based (online) and free. Another variant is to pay. And download them from the Internet, Google Play or Apple Store.
For example, Rio Rex. It is available in any modern browser and doesn’t require any payment. Controlling a hungry dinosaur, you devour humans, crush objects and proceed from level to level.
Of course, a qualitative jump in the visuals is obvious, too. Take Hollow Knight: Silksong. It’s a fresh (2021) adventure with top-notch graphics and amazing attention to detail. And a more thought-through plot and cute characters.
As the number of genres grew, they intermixed and complemented one another. Now it is hard to find pure arcade games. But the core remains the same. Such computer games are simple to play, often have side-scrolling mechanics, and are very engaging.