Since the video game crash of 1983, home console gaming has come such a long way. From the Nintendo Entertainment System to the present day consoles such as the PS4 and Xbox One, I have witnessed console gaming advance in ways I would have never imagined. If you had told me when I was 8 years old, that someday we would be able to play video games against friends and not even have to be in the same room, I’d of thought you were crazy.

It’s easy to forget the roots of console gaming with all of today’s technological advances thanks to the internet. Gamers today have been known to sound extremely spoiled and entitled because of being able to voice their opinions and complaints using the internet and social media. I’m sure most of us can admit we find ourselves complaining if a game has too many patches or if we are unable to send messages to friends fast enough over our console’s network. We forget that in the beginning, we didn’t complain about these features because they weren’t yet possible! We forget where gaming was before the internet so I decided to remind us! This is what console gaming was like before the internet innovated it.

No Online Multiplayer

If we wanted to play multiplayer, we had to go to a friends house or have them come to ours. This meant we had to have friends! Luckily, I had family members such as my uncle and cousins who were into gaming so I had people to play with at family functions but when it came to friends, that’s where it got tricky. It was hard to find friends as passionate about gaming as I was. I would sometimes end up playing video games with my best friends little brother because he was the only one that wanted to play Contra III on the SNES with me and I really wanted to beat it on hard. Back then, you had to seek out people to play with and make it a gaming date or else you were playing single player games alone. Back then, gaming innovations such as the Gameboy game link cable were seen as revolutionary! I remember hooking that up for the first time to play someone on Tetris and I thought to my kid self; this is the future!
If I only knew...

If I only knew…

No Downloadable Content

Sure, we complain about DLC being too pricy or as being cash grabs by publishers and developers these days but when I really think about it, how cool is it to be able to download games and extra content straight to our consoles? If we really wanted to, we could never step into a Walmart or Gamestop ever again and just download our games straight to our consoles and play them. Back in the day, this was unheard of. We couldn’t download games. Heck, we couldn’t even download demos to try games out; we had to go rent them. When we bought games, we were stuck with them for better or worse. There were no patches to fix glitches, there were no downloadable maps for multiplayer and there were no day one updates. The game you bought, was the game you bought and that was it.

No Youtube or Online Strategy Guides

Be honest, how many times have you been stuck on a game and went to Youtube or google for help? Imagine all of the frustration we would have avoided if we had these helpful tools in the 80’s and early 90’s? Not that I’m complaining! I personally wear that frustration and games I beat as badges of honor but just how did we get help when we were stuck on a videogame back then? One thing that I did was call my uncle for help. During the Nintendo 64 era, we played a lot of the same games and if I was stuck or curious which part he was on, I would call him. I specifically remember calling him about Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time asking for his advice on one of the temples (probably the Water Temple). Another thing I would do if I was stuck was write to Nintendo Power. Yep, you read that right. I would send Nintendo Power questions and draw artwork on the envelopes I sent them in. I remember writing to them when Super Smash Brothers was first out because I didn’t know how to unlock Ness. Nintendo was cool enough to answer back 2 weeks later and I got my Ness.


No Message Boards, Social Media, or Comment Sections

Basically, no networking. If we had an opinion or question about something gaming related, we had only ourselves and our families and real life friends to talk about it. There were no message boards where we can go relate to other gamers and discuss any gaming related topic. There was no Youtube to record gaming commentaries and network with other people, building out social circle. Our networking was done at school or at work, and we had to really put ourselves out there to find those who related to us. Our “console wars” were done on the school playgrounds and in our living rooms. I can just imagine how extreme the Super Nintendo vs. Sega Genesis war would have been if we had the internet back then.

No Hard Drives or On Console Saves

So the internet isn’t exactly necessary for this (unless we count the cloud) but back in the day, we had no on console saves. This meant if we played a cartridge game for example, our save file would be on the game itself and not the console. Memory cards were necessary, especially if we rented games! I remember not having a memory card for my Nintendo 64 so when I was renting Banjo Kazooie over and over from one rental place, I would cross my fingers each time that my save file would still be on the game. Luckily it was and I was able to beat it. Not having memory cards came back to bite me plenty of times as my save files had been accidently deleted a few times. Once I had let a family member borrow my N64 and it came back with my Jet Force Gemini file deleted after I had just beat it. Another time this happened was on my Gamecube when a kid my sister babysat, deleted my Star Wars: Rogue Leader file as I stood looking from the other room. That one hurt! But hey, it helped us appreciate our save files so much. We almost don’t even think about it now.

These are just a few of the major technological advancements we are able to enjoy in console gaming now, that we lacked back in the 80s and 90s. I’m sure most of us are very nostalgic of the past and wouldn’t trade it for anything but it is interesting to look back on console gaming then and compare it to now. It really has come a long way and I can’t wait to see how far it goes during my lifetime.