Music of the Month; Major Demon

Whenever I find myself discussing electronic game history and culture, I’m always surprised how much information out there is heavily biased towards the American view. Take the 1984 video game crash for an example. It’s touted as an industry wide destruction that was dooming the whole industry. Rarely you see anyone mention that arcades were doing just fine and neither Europe or Japan (and by that extension, rest of Asia) felt the effects. Nor is it often mentioned that this was the second time the video game industry felt a crash, as the first one was experienced in 1979 with the death of Pong clones. Atari managed to survive that market, but the saturated Pong consoles didn’t experience a smooth transition to the Second Generation as much as it was a truck driven to a wall and whatever could be salvaged was put together and out. Then again, only in the US. Japan had its own thing going on with Cassette Vision and other domestic consoles going around with Atari’s consoles being mostly a niche, a side dish at best. European markets have always been more driven by computer markets rather than consoles, hence why the British and French microcomputers mostly get a glancing mention in US sources based while European memoirs celebrate them. Because of these microcomputers, every console in until the PlayStation had a hard time to penetrate the markets, especially if they were disastrously mismanaged like the NES and its high-cost cartridges. The Sega Master System managed to nab important countries under its belt due to decent marketing and cheaper titles. In the meanwhile, ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64 and similar computers were making strides, alongside later entries like Atari ST and Amiga. The only real place the NES pounced its competition like there was no tomorrow was in the US, as even in Japan Famicom faced serious competition from the PC-Engine.

It’s understandable how a lot of misconceptions about the electronic game market of the 1980’s have come about. Not only it was an era where Japanese economy bubble was rumbling across the world, but also a time when the industry was still brand new and saw its most dramatic high and lows. After those growing pains, electronic game market has been rather stable, though it becoming a behemoth of all entertainment industries has also translated to rising costs across the board. Nevertheless, with the NES striking gold in the US, lot of assumptions and deductions where made based on the local market synergies, as Nintendo was represented somewhat homely device as were its games. One of the reasons why Nintendo saw so much effort to localise certain Japanese big hits, like Dragon Quest, with loads of extra content in the package, as well as their now infamous censorship rules. Due to the sheer separation of markets, the US wouldn’t see the progression of Japanese developed games until the NES hit the shores, effectively skipping many genre’s and NES’ own growing pains, and pretty much all of the classic NEC PC titles, outside some that got ported to MS-DOS at a later date, like Sorcerian. This would lead into old arguments about some games being ripoffs of others or companies copying style and design from others, while the matter might be around. The previous post can be said to be about this to some extent.

Europe of course had all the trickling effects, and Nintendo never even enforced the need to properly convert NTSC 60Hz games to PAL 50Hz. Funny that, it also goes backwards, with some European developed games run unintentionally faster on NTSC systems. Not that Sega cared either, and the industry standard of not doing the necessary conversions stuck. Video games are a business after all, you put limitations and rules what can be in these titles to encourage sales, and flaunt your stances and values in the best ways you can to show the customer how much trust can be put on them.

Not exactly my usual month’s breaker, but I don’t really have much plans. Due to changes in career and job description, my usual work days have become longer and while work in itself might be easier with robots, it is more stressful with its own little issues that I have to learn from the mud. Moving these posts’ release schedule to 16:00 GMT0 have made a significant different in how much time I can put into typing stuff down. Hobbies shouldn’t feel like work, and I’ve removed quite a load with that simple change. I’m not exactly sure if there is a notable difference in quality or amount of text I’ve produced during as of late. With summer heat hitting the streets more and more each day, I’ve found myself wanting to spend more time out, hence there might be times when I’ll just miss a post intentionally. Not that I’ll abuse this decision, breaking a decade long habit is rather difficult. I’m also adamant on returning to make reviews at some point, but that really depends if anything interesting comes at hand. My heart still lies in reviewing controllers, but the sheer lack of need for new ones and nothing peculiar coming my way has thrown a monkey wrench in those gears. Ah well, I can always make those short series introductions.

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