Game Evolution

The Evolution Of Handheld Electronic Games.


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Sega’s already given its seal of approval to a few Genesis / Mega Drive-based handhelds, but never one like this new “Retro Gen” device from Innex, which makes use of actual, dust-collecting cartridges instead of just some mere on-board memory. Of course, not everyone has a stack of Genesis carts at their disposal (a sad state, indeed), so the handheld also apparently comes pre-loaded with 20 unspecified games, and you’ll supposedly even be able to eventually load some “licensed ROMs” onto an SD card using a special cart.

Defender - Entex handheld/tabletop

Entex Defender Handheld Electronic Game

(Entex Industries - 1982)


This sleek handheld Defender game is a little on the large side, more like a tabletop game. It is extremely playable and surprisingly true to the original Williams Defender stand-up arcade game. The VFD screen of this electronic game is bright and responsive with enough definition to differentiate between enemy vessels. One great addition to this game it the game speed control knob; which allows you to adjust the speed of gsameplay to your level, making it more playable and a better gaming experience. Design wise I just have to give this sleek little system two thumbs up and for playability I do the same. So if you want some awesome retro fun, this rendition of Defender will keep you smiling. thanks to:Erik Schubachand Geek Vintage

Let’s Shed Some Light On Things.


Rumours circulated in specialist magazines as early as 1996, with news of a 32-bit handheld that would perfectly replicate the experience of playing SNES games on the move.
The Game Boy Advance (let’s call it the GBA from now on) was eventually launched in 2001 to great fanfare. The machine featured a design that called for the user to hold it horizontally, which made things easier for those gamers with huge hands that had struggled to get a grip on the old Game Boy’s ‘portrait’ format factor.

The full colour TFT LCD screen was undoubtedly the biggest talking point and rightly so: it generated gorgeous, blur-free visuals that had hitherto been unseen in the video game arena.

The only issue was that the display relied solely on external light sources, which meant that it either had to be played in direct sunlight or beneath some kind of artificial illumination.

This irksome issue caused serious headaches for purchases of some of the early titles: true to form, Konami’s Castlevania: Circle of the Moon featured some suitably moody gothic locations, but these were almost illegible unless you happened to be standing under a particularly bright flood light.

Despite this, the machine was a massive success. Backwards capability with existing Game Boy and Game Boy Color software allowed users to effortlessly make the technological step up without rendering their entire games libraries obsolete and a steady flow of AAA titles - including the inevitable Pokémon entries - ensured that demand for the new console was sky-high.

The complete lack of a rival machine on store shelves also helped: Nintendo literally had the market to itself.

Damien McFerran

Not that old skool…but still old kool.


Eat & Run (Pac Man - Coleco 1981)


Pac-Man (1981)
This is the one that started it all. Pac-Man has that distinctive black and yellow cabinet with decals to match the arcade game. It’s commendable how Coleco managed to fit the Pac-Man maze on such a small screen, complete with the “secret passages” on each side. Even more striking is how similar this plays to the arcade game. The ghosts are fiercely competitive even on skill level 1. The images of Pac-Man have alternating open and closed mouths, so when you move him around the maze he appears to be eating. The ghosts require a bit more imagination to make out. They’re the right shape, but have two dots and a Pac-Man image embedded inside of them. The screen colors are primarily red and yellow, with the maze being red. Why didn’t they use blue so it would look more like the arcade? Other differences include a lack of fruit bonuses and ghost values that run from 100 to 800 points instead of 200 to 1600. The high score is retained in memory until you turn the unit off, and it’s displayed between games. There are two skill levels and three game variations: normal Pac-Man, Eat & Run, and Head To Head Pac-Man. Eat & Run is pretty lame, but Head To Head Pac-Man is a blast. Two players compete at the same time, and the game keeps track of the difference in scores, with an arrow pointing to the player who’s ahead. It’s a nifty idea that I’ve never seen in any other Pac-Man game. The only problem is that both players need to crowd the machine to see the screen and work the tiny joysticks, which can be uncomfortable with two straight guys playing. Another issue is the game’s incessant, whiney sound effects. You can’t adjust the volume or turn them off, and they really do get on your nerves after a while. At least the little jingles that play at the beginning and end of each game sound nice. Finally, I wish you didn’t have to use the left joystick in the one-player game. Still, this Pac-Man game is a classic that set the bar high for the other games in the series.
1 or 2 players


Ms. Pac-Man (1992)
This was a major step up from Pac-Man, with changing mazes, improved sound effects, and even wandering fruit bonuses. Ms. Pac-Man’s maze changes are subtle but definitely make the game more fun and less repetitive. The wandering “fruit” bonus is signified by a blinking dot moving around the screen, with a “close-up” picture of the fruit shown above the maze. Sound cues indicate when the fruit appears or has been consumed, and since they sound similar to the “death” sound effect, these can be disconcerting at times. Unlike Pac-Man, the maze is yellow in color and the right joystick is used to play the one-player game (thank you!). Ms. Pac-Man herself is quite detailed. In addition to her tiny red bow, she has a nice pair of big red lips as well! The music is noticeably improved, and the droning background noise is far more tolerable than the first Pac-Man. Ms. Pac-Man features two skill levels and a Head To Head mode. Apparently Coleco learned some lessons the first time around, and put them to good use is this terrific sequel.
1 or 2 players

reviewed by game critic

History of original arcade machine

The game was developed primarily by a young Namco employee named Tōru Iwatani over the course of a year, beginning in April 1979, employing a nine-man team. It was based on the concept of eating, and the original Japanese title was Pakkuman, inspired by the Japanese onomatopoeic slang phrase paku-paku taberu, where paku-paku describes (the sound of) the mouth movement when widely opened and then closed in succession.
Although Iwatani has repeatedly stated that the character’s shape was inspired by a pizza missing a slice,[10] he admitted in a 1986 interview that this was a half-truth and the character design also came from simplifying and rounding out the Japanese character for mouth, kuchi. Iwatani attempted to appeal to a wider audience—beyond the typical demographics of young boys and teenagers. This led him to add elements of a maze, as well as cute ghost enemy characters. The result was a game he named Puck Man.

Later in 1980, the game was picked up for manufacture in the United States by Bally division Midway, which changed the game’s name from Puck Man to Pac-Man in an effort to avoid vandalism to the letter ‘P’. The cabinet artwork was also changed.


Taken from Electronic Games (Reese Publishing Inc./1982)

At his talk at GDC Online in Austin, Atari founder Nolan Bushnell talked about a wide variety of things, among which was Apple founder Steve Jobs, who he hired back in 1974.

Atari Lynx The World’s First Color Handheld


The Atari Lynx was the world’s first color handheld portable videogame system. Released in 1989, the Lynx offered multi-player functionality, 3D graphic capabilities, reversible controls, and a backlit color LCD screen. The Lynx features a strong library of games and technical abilities beyond that of its contemporaries. Unfortunately, the Lynx was ultimately unsuccessful due to Atari’s inability to persuade developers to write enough high profile games for the system.
The Lynx was originally conceived by engineers at Epyx in 1987, where it was called the Handy. Dave Needle and R.J. Mical, two of the Handy’s creators, were also members of the original Amiga design team. Epyx first showed the system to industry insiders at the Winter CES in January of 1989, and the audience was impressed. However, Epyx ran into financial problems and it became apparent that they would not be able to produce the Handy on their own. They needed to find a partner, and sent out invitations to several potential candidates. One of the invitees was Nintendo, who passed on the project. Another invitee was Atari, who was eager to reassert their market dominance of the early 80’s. Atari and Epyx reached an agreement where Atari would handle the production and marketing of the system, and Epyx would handle the software development. Atari subsequently showed the system off to the press at the Summer 1989 CES with the working title Portable Color Entertainment System.
Also announced in 1989 was the Nintendo GameBoy. Comparisons were quickly drawn between the two: the Lynx had more powerful hardware and a backlit color screen, but the GameBoy was lighter, smaller, and used less battery power. The Lynx was also set to retail at $199 versus Nintendo’s cheaper $109 GameBoy. Towards the end of the year, Atari finally released the Lynx in limited quantities, but not enough to prevent shortages around the country. The GameBoy was readily available and quickly became the holiday winner. The Lynx would have to wait until next year to challenge the GameBoy.
1990 saw only moderate success for the Lynx. For $199, gamers received a deluxe package that consisted of the system, a carrying case, a ComLynx cable, an AC adaptor, and California Games. Unfortunately Atari didn’t have any killer-app titles to go with their system, and Nintendo continued to gain market share with popular licenses from their NES console. Atari also had a poor reputation with retailers at this point, and some simply declined to carry the Lynx. However Atari stepped up its marketing campaign, and 1991 saw much improved sales over the previous year. Later in the year, Atari offered another package - for $99 gamers could buy a Lynx without accessories. This helped to boost Lynx sales again, but they were still losing badly to Nintendo.
In May of 1991, Sega released the Game Gear to the detriment of Lynx sales. The Lynx was no longer the only color portable on the market, and Sega had more marquee titles scheduled for their system. Eventually the Lynx was squeezed out of the picture and the handheld market was dominated by the Nintendo GameBoy with the Sega Game Gear a distant second.
Although it ultimately failed to reach its commercial goals, the Lynx has some fantastic games in its library. There are accurate arcade translations such as Joust, Rampart, and Klax. Quality original titles such as Chip’s Challenge, Warbirds, and Gates of Zendocon showed what the Lynx was capable of. Unfortunately Atari could not attract enough third party developers to continue supporting the Lynx, and by 1993 they ceased marketing it and focused on their new console, the Jaguar.
Today, there is still a thriving Lynx community. Fans and collectors still play and discuss the system, and developers such as Songbird are releasing new games as well as completing unfinished games from Atari’s past. Most Lynx games and the system can be found for a reasonable price, so if you want to see what you missed out on it won’t set you back too much. For a taste of what the Lynx can do, download the Handy emulator and some game ROMs and play them on your PC.

- Processor: two 16-bit custom CMOS chips running at 16MHz

- Memory: 64K RAM
- Sound: 4 channel sound 8-bit DAC for each channel

- Color: 4096 color palette, 16 simultaneous colors from palette per scan line

- Resolution: 160 x 102 (16,320 addressable pixels)

- Screen Size: 3.5” diagonal (approximately 3.25” x 1.88”)


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