From Coleco Vision To Iphone Games: Some High Water Marks In Video Game Design History - Part 3
Shining in the Darkness (Genesis) - Developed by Climax Entertainment and Sonic! Software Planning, the role-playing-game (RPG) Shining in the Darkness (SiTD) was the first entry in the Shining series. This series of games would eventually include over 20 titles and its very own animated television program. This first entry in the series featured very sharp graphics and high quality audio for its time, but it was the quality of level design that made it a fan favorite and caused the demand for its many sequels.
The standout moment for SiTD comes only a few moments in, when the player heads to the main labyrinth in search of the missing characters. Upon entrance into the labyrinth proper the player learns that the dungeon crawling in SiTD will be done in the first person - a stark contrast to the third person perspective most RPGs had utilized up to that point. By playing the game through the character's viewpoint, the player was immediately immersed in the gameplay environment. Monsters would appear right before the player's eyes, rather than through the typical third person to battle perspective shift. This simple use of fixed perspective created a level of involvement and connection that few console gamers (and even fewer RPG players) had experienced up to that point. Joined with mood appropriate music, plentiful enemy types, a lengthy campaign, a rich item creation system and a surprisingly effective story, this perspective helped deliver one of the more memorable RPG experiences of the Genesis' library. While first person has become the standard perspective for games across many genres, the first person RPG is still, unfortunately, quite the rarity.
The Legend of Zelda (NES) - Coming on a shiny gold (plastic) cartridge and featuring some of the greatest video game music of all time, The Legend of Zelda (TLoZ) for the NES is one of the seminal titles in video game history. Anybody who has played it can tell you how amazingly progressive it was and how it changed - and ultimately defined - the Action-RPG genre. Although it is difficult to point to any one aspect of TLoZ as its singular defining moment, the game's very first screen is as good a place as any to single out.
When beginning a game of TLoZ, the game's main character, Link, is weaponless. He begins on the gameplay map with the choice of travelling North, East, Westâ¬Â¦.or journeying into a cave - a journey which will reward the player with their first sword. Immediately, the player sees the openness of the world in front of them. The option for entering a cave - vital to not only completing the game, but even making incremental progress - is presented and the player rewarded for making that choice. This instills in the player from the outset that exploration is necessary and will be rewarded. While one could easily write a thesis paper detailing the brilliant design choices present throughout TLoZ, it is the way the game design welcomes the player to the world and immediately outlines the crucial aspects of gameplay that makes up this particular point of praise.