The new consoles kept coming, with a focus on taking them on the go. Arcade machines got bigger and their games became more intricate, while the animation in a new home computer game made gamers gape in awe…
Starting life on the Apple II computer, a game called Prince of Persia by Karateka creator Jordan Mechner first hit home, and set the jaws of the few who then saw it dropping at its incredible rotoscoped animation. While story-wise it was pretty standard fare – unnamed protagonist must defeat a big bad and save the princess – once PoP made its way onto formats such as the PC word spread quickly, and it became a franchise that continues to this day.
Nintendo led the way in changing how we gamed, with the release of their handheld Game Boy. That it only had a monochrome screen with no backlighting didn’t slow sales down, as the machine – cannily sold with Russian puzzle addiction Tetris included – became the must-have accessory of the year. Later in 1989 Atari released their Lynx handheld unit. Despite boasting a backlit colour screen and a cool range of arcade hits, it never quite took off.
Atari boasted that their new racing game Hard Drivin’ was “The industry’s first real driving simulator”, and few took time to argue as they pumped machines the world over full of coins. The secret to the game’s realistic (for the time) graphics was the use of polygons, with the experience benefitting from a force feedback steering wheel, gearstick and three pedals. The first-person view was also quite novel, as players went for speed and pulling off successful stunts.