Useful Notes: The 8-bit Era of Console Video Games
The 8-bit era, or Third Generation, started when The Great Video Game Crash of 1983
ended. During the crash, console video games fell in popularity, due to several factors such as no sense of censorship or quality control, leading to a lack of effort in certain high-profile games. Nintendo
, having found success in the arcades with Donkey Kong
, wanted to break into the console game business, but couldn't do it outright given the lingering backlash against video games. This led them to disguise the console as a toy using the peripheral called the Famicom Robot, which would later be released worldwide as R.O.B. (Robotic Operating Buddy). While the peripheral itself was not well-received, they did succeed in getting the console to the market. Once that was done, they released Super Mario Bros. 1
, reestablishing video games as an acceptable form of entertainment.
Soon afterward, a few other companies entered the video game console market with its newfound prominence, like Sega
with the Sega Master System
with the Atari 7800
, though (barring the Master System in Europe
) none of them would achieve the worldwide prominence of the NES.
This era introduced a revolutionary aspect of game design, the scroll. Throughout The Golden Age of Video Games
, games either only had a single screen or flip-screen
gameplay, which created, respectively, a constraint in the size of a level and a disruption in the flow of the game. Scrolling graphics was a big leap in game design in that levels could now be much longer and flow a lot better than in the Golden Age.
Also, compared to the Golden Age, sprites started to actually look like real objects, or at least cartoon objects. More colorful sprites were much more prevalent than the usually monochrome sprites in older games. Also, the backgrounds got much more colorful, whereas Golden Age games would usually have black backgrounds with little-to-no detail.
Near the end of the 8-bit era, instead of most of the plot being described in the manual, games began adding explaining
the plot in game. They already did this somewhat at the beginning, but it was often just a simple dialogue, then you were off on your adventure! Basic Narrative Devices
such as chase scenes
and different endings
were starting to take root in the industry. However, because of the limited hardware at the time, full cinematics couldn't be taken advantage of just yet
Many of the most commercially successful video game franchises of all time debuted as part of this era, with recognizable names like Mario
, Final Fantasy
, and Mega Man
Consoles of this era
New franchises on these consoles