When I was a young inexperienced gamer in the mid 80's to early 90's graphics were one of the first things that I looked for in a game.
Maybe that's a superficial mindset but you have to remember that I was only 8 years old and having been brought up on Spectrum, Commodore 64 and Atari visuals that were hit n miss in terms of quality, any advancement in graphics were always met with an open mouthed disbelief as I witnessed either the latest hardware blowing my mind or maybe an example of someone being ultra clever and resourceful with the current hardware of the time.
Maybe an explanation for my preoccupation with graphics was the fact that back then when games were reviewed scores were broken down into components.
For example Mean Machines Magazine used things like Presentation, Graphics, Sound, Playability, Lastability followed by an Overall score percentage.
Graphics 100% and Overall at 100% were always my dream but I'm not sure that ever happened.
In the playground many a conversation was held about graphics as that is all you had to go on before you played it.
"Check Out The Graphics On Magic Land Dizzy" would be the chat after you had read your copy of Zzap64!
Magazine. Back then, if I was buying a game and hadn't read a review on it then all I had to go on was the cassette case illustration and the 3 screenshots on the back of the box, Naturally this led to much weight being put onto the graphics of a game.
The Playing Field
Nowadays the graphics playing field is pretty even and that in my opinion has made graphics less important and gameplay far more important which is the key thing right?
Some of my favourite games of the last few years haven't had stunning graphics but often these games use the graphics in a clever way.
I immediately think of Limbo, Valiant Hearts, Braid, The Walking Dead Season 1 & 2, Fez, Super Meat Boy and the upcoming awesome looking Thimbleweed Park.
These games draw gamers in with beautiful but functional graphics rather than just trying to blow our heads off with in your face set piece and pieces of graphic wonder.
That's not to say that I don't enjoy the Triple A visuals from video games like the Uncharted series, Bioshock, The Last Of Us, Metal Gear Solid IV and Fallout 3 because those games do have beautiful looking settings with amazing visuals, but I just place less emphasis on that aspect of a game now and concentrate on what really matters and that's the experience that this game is going to give me.
The Top 5
After talking about graphics in this article I started to cast my mind back to the days when 8 Bit and 16 Bit Graphics would blow my mind.
These are my mind blowers from the time of the 8 &16 Bit legends of the time and do you know what, they still look awesome to this day.
5. Streets Of Rage 2 (Megadrive/Genesis)
Beautifully drawn backgrounds and awesome instantly recognisable characters.
4.Street Fighter 2 (SNES)
At the time it felt like I was playing the actual arcade-game.
£64 well spent.
3. The Legend of Zelda A Link To The Past (SNES)
Simply beautiful, Nintendo used the SNES colour palette to perfection and achieved a stunning outcome.
Link Looking lovely (maybe the best looking Link EVER!?)
2. Last Ninja 2 (C64)
When I saw that the C64 was capable of this I was gobsmacked. It changed my view of what was possible with 8 Bits and set the bar for others to follow in System 3's wake.
Nice Ninja Naughtiness.
1. Monkey Island 2 (Amiga)
Beautiful Looking. Beautiful Sounding. The complete package. I'd happily sit down and play this today and still be in awe of its beauty.
Lucas Arts Loveliest Looker.
Having gawped at my top 5, why don't you let me know what your top 5 mind blowers of all time are!
(one rule: nothing beyond the 4th Gen of consoles can be considered)
Let Me Know Your 5 Picks In The Comments Box Below