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Looking Back: The Top 5 Greatest Achievements From Last Generation


Jordan Haygood

So the newest generation of home console gaming has finally finished arriving, and while the previous generation of home consoles is still on its way out, now“s a good time for us to look back at all the good it brought to our expensive hobby. All generations have their perks, and the generation in question is certainly no exception (try saying that five times fast).

 

We had some pretty awesome technical improvements over the generation prior, whether in the form of experimental controls or a stronger focus on that thing we call “teh internetz,†and we even had some lesser-known developers rise to the challenge and provide us with some rather stellar works of art. And if I were to sit down and create a list of my top 5 favorite achievements from last generation… well, it might (and does) look something like this:

 


 

#5

Motion Controls (When Done Well)

 

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Love it or hate it, motion controls happened. And while plenty of games made it look more like a gimmick and less like something that could actually enhance gameplay in any possible way, there were also games that managed to pull it off beautifully. An easy example would be first-person shooters. Well, some of them. And then there was the Wii port of the critically acclaimed survival horror title Resident Evil 4, which is what I would consider the definitive version of the game. With something as simple as pointing the controller at the screen to aim your guns, even before the days of Wii Motion Plus and PlayStation Move (sorry Kinect), it just worked.

 

But shooters aren“t the only games that pulled off motion controls without ruining everything. Maybe it took a while to see anything truly awe-inspiring, but we were eventually introduced to Wii Motion Plus and PlayStation Move, which finally gave us the ability to swing swords ”n“ such more realistically. This, of course, allowed games like The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword to have the fluid controls they had.

 

…Oh, don“t look at me like that! Those controls worked flawlessly for me, so you can be quiet! Look, the point is that motion controls aren“t all bad. Plenty of games pulled it off very well, which is why I have it on this list.

 


 

#4

Advancement in Online Multiplayer

 

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Ah, I remember the days… sitting around my house playing Mario Party with my brothers as we called each other cheaters when someone else won a minigame… good times. But while playing with multiple people on the same console is loads of fun and all, it“s also very restricting since, well, everyone has to be in the same physical area at the same time to engage in multiplayer.

 

All that changed, however, when some company created an attachment for the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo known as XBAND, and then later when Sega created their NetLink attachment for the Sega Saturn, and then even later when Sega included a built-in modem for the Dreamcast. The PlayStation 2 and Xbox also had online functionality, and there was a modem attachment for the GameCube, though online multiplayer didn“t really take off until the following generation. I“m talking consoles, mind you, so don“t give me that “PC master race†nonsense.

 

And boy, did it take off. Last generation, online multiplayer became so huge that as we“re making the 8th generation transition, always-online DRM is now a problem amongst gamers. If you followed the PS4“s and Xbox One“s earlier announcements, you know what I mean. Of course, when it“s something simple, allowing us all to connect to each other over the net and playing together (with some profanity involved here and there), it“s an amazing thing. And of course it is. Otherwise it wouldn“t be on this list.

 


 

#3

YouTube

 

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With all the YouTube we all watch (don“t kid yourself, you watch it), it“s hard to believe that it didn“t exist prior to February 14th, 2005. Wait, it was founded on Valentine“s Day? Huh… anyway, with its inception, YouTube opened up a new world of possibilities for gamers. Egoraptor, JonTron, PewDiePie… The YouTube gamer celebrities you might know and love were far from where they are today back before the 7th generation began.

 

Did you know that, out of the top 100 YouTube channels, 16 of them are gaming channels? That“s a lot when you eliminate all the VEVO channels and channels that belong to things like NBA, Red Bull, and even YouTube themselves. Hell, PewDiePie alone sits comfortably at #1. Did you get that? The #1 channel on YouTube is currently a gaming channel. Yeah, you can see where I“m coming from.

 

So whenever you watch the newest episode of JonTron, rewatch PokéAwesome for the hundredth time, or watch PewDiePie exaggerate his fear scream at another horror game, remember: none of this was around until the last generation of home consoles arrived. And so on the list you go, YouTube! Even if you are a little out-of-place compared to the others.

 


 

#2

PlayStation 3 (A Little Later in Its Life)

 

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Fanboy or not, there are countless gamers around the world who will tell you about how much they love their PlayStation 3. The games are awesome, the online service is fantastic, its Blu-ray feature is incredibly convenient; there“s a lot of good to be said about Sony“s third home console. Of course, it took some time to get to the level of success it“s at today, but once it finally hit its stride, it became one of the greatest things ever for gamers.

 

Before I get to the good, let“s take a brief look back at how this phoenix handled its earlier life before rising from its ashes. Do you remember? The PS3 was once an overpriced machine with next to nothing to play on it, and it didn“t sell very well at all. In fact, the internet had its fair share of memes dedicated to the console“s lack of games. Needless to say, the magic of the PS2 pretty much vanished once its predecessor was released.

 

Of course, this phoenix indeed rose from all that and Sony found its spark once again. Sure, it never reached PS2 levels of success, but now it has some of the greatest games of the generation, many of which are available via PSN, which is another one of the PS3“s perks. As much as I love Nintendo and tolerate Microsoft, Sony definitely made me happy last generation, which is a valid enough reason to add their creation to this thing you“re reading.

 


 

#1

The Rise of Indie Games

 

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And now we reach the top dog in all this. I thought long and hard about my favorite thing of last generation and, in the end, I couldn“t help but feel that indie games deserved it. We“ve had plenty of indies in the past, but it wasn“t until the 7th generation of home consoles that we were able to play them on the big screen. At least not like we do today. Thanks to the likes of Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA), PlayStation Network (PSN), and WiiWare (no abbreviation), our home consoles received so many fantastic independent games that I just can“t help but consider last generation the “Rise of Indie Games.â€

 

Seriously, have you played any of these indies? Last-gen gave us Journey, Flower, Bastion, Limbo, Braid, Fez, Mark of the Ninja, Spelunky, World of Goo, and so many other great games that were great without being from a triple-A developer/publisher. Many even considered Journey to be their game of the year in 2012. It“s pretty apparent by now that we have tons of extremely talented game developers out in the world who aren“t as well-known as Nintendo, Capcom, Konami, or Square Enix.

 

And you know what? I couldn“t be happier that all this talent are making names for themselves. They deserve success, and it“s great to see that gaming has gotten to the point where creative minds can find success without as many restrictions as we“ve had in the past. And having sites like Kickstarter and Indigogo definitely helps. Indie games deserve my #1 slot of the best things of last generation, hands down. Let“s hope the current generation provides us with even more indie quality.

 

Do you agree with this list? Feel free to let me know in the comments below.

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