I had one of the 'gray brick' GameBoys when I was young, and I fondly recall playing these three games:
Super Mario Land (1989)
Actually a rather odd Mario title; Princess Daisy is the damsel in distress, not Peach, and Tatanga replaces Bowser as the primary foe. A GameBoy launch title, it was immensely popular, selling over 18 million copies. Wikipedia tells me it had a 'hard mode' that I probably never accessed, most crucial to this article is the fact that it had no save feature.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall of the Foot Clan (1990)
Another simple platformer, with the familiar faces of Leonardo, Michaelangelo, Donatello and Raphael as playable characters. Pizza was health. Slices = 1, pies = full, genius. The game had five stages, and a full ending you could only see after playing all five. Again, an ending I don't think I ever saw.
Kirby's Dreamland (1992)
Kirby, a character I absolutely love, was originally a stand-in. The development team became attached to the puff-ball, indication that their customers would too, I should think. The major difference between the Kirby and Mario/the Ninja Turtles was his ability to fly, which opened the levels up immensely, and was a crucial mechanic in boss battles. Dreamland was a short game (that I did complete), with four main stages, and then a quick revisitation of each boss battle before the final boss battle (against King Dedede, according to Wikipedia).
I mention these games because I am fond of them, but they are meant to illustrate my real topic, and the planned overarching topic of this blog: features. Game features influence how gamers play, and their evolution over time mirrors the evolution of gaming psychology.
The lack of a save feature in these games engendered in me a casual approach to gaming. The instanced nature of gaming sessions without a save feature cut the games' narrative at sessions' end. This is why I most vividly remember three franchises, contexts to which I could immediately relate. As a child, viewing each session as an instance prevented me from realizing that playing "Super Mario Land," or the other games, was a skill. Certainly I did improve with practice, but that improvement was a byproduct of my search for entertainment.
Some part of me wishes I could return to this state of innocence, when I gave no consideration to my gaming performance. Though a competitive approach to gaming makes accomplishment easier to gauge and feel, I feel it also increases the chance and intensity of disappointment, or test friendships. I would hope every young gamer experiences this innocence, as opposed to immediately viewing gaming as competition, though it is less likely given the popularity of multiplayer and online-multiplayer games. In my opinion, childrens' games should not be tasks, they should be recreation.
Each additional game feature has added sophistication to games' storytelling or competitive structure. I plan to discuss many game features, their influence on gamers, and to elucidate this discussion with examples from my gaming history. Hopefully my ambitions for this blog will become realized.
But first, article 1b will be a nod to the equally important discussion of how technology has influenced gaming:
Zatsuga's Fond Memories 1b: Casual Childhood, Technology read