I want to dedicate this thread to an era of gaming that seems oddly underappreciated on this forum: the second generation of video gaming.
For the uninitiated, the second generation of gaming falls squarely between the first (Magnavox Odyssey, Pong systems) and third (NES, Sega Master System, Atari 7800) generations. It's generally accepted that this era began in 1976 and began to wind down considerably around 1984 as the third generation began to gain steam. A small selection of games continued to trickle into the market in the late 80s and early 90s, and a robust homebrew scene can be found today.
Onto the specifics. The second generation contains the following...Early (mostly cartridge-based) video game consoles:
The Fairchild Channel F kicked things off with its chunky yellow cartridges, most of which contained several minigames based on "real life" pursuits like sports, card games, driving, etc. The big daddy of the second gen, the Atari 2600, followed one year later with its iconic one-button joystick and absolutely huge library of games. Atari managed to squeeze in another system this gen - the 5200, which boasted excellent graphics but is best known for its faulty joysticks. Also of note are the Matell Intellivision and Coleco ColecoVision, both of which utilized controllers with numerical keypads and controller overlays. Other consoles include the RCA Studio II, Bally Astrocade, Magnavox Odyssey², Emerson Arcadia 2001, Vectrex, Epoch Cassette Vision (Japan-only), and Starpath Supercharger (an Atari 2600 peripheral). Sega's SG-1000 is also debatably a member of this generation. It was released on the same day as the Famicom in Japan (July 15, 1983), but while the Famicom/NES became an international success the SG-1000 quickly faded into obscurity and was effectively replaced by the Master System.The Golden Age of arcade games:
You know these. The classics. The games Billy Mitchell is really good at. Space Invaders, Galaxian, Asteroids, Berzerk, Centipede, Missile Command, Pac-Man, Defender, Tempest, Donkey Kong, Frogger, BurgerTime, Dig Dug, Joust, Pengo, Xevious, Zaxxon, the list goes on and on... Virtually all of these were almost immediately ported to home consoles and computers - many times with mixed results. Today you can find them emulated on retro game compilations.Early home computers:
Placing computers into video game generations is a bit tricky given their lengthy retail lifespans and advanced technological capabilities. Take the Commodore 64 for example - it was on store shelves from 1982 to 1994, launched with the types of one-screen looping games you'd find on ColecoVision, but ended its life with versions of Street Fighter II, Final Fight, and Ultima VI! For the purposes of this thread let's say any old 8-bit computer is fair game. This includes the Commodore VIC-20 and C64, TRS-80 Color Computer, Atari 8-bit line, TI-99/4A, and many others. Most of these old computers utilized game cartridges as well as floppy disks and cassettes. They were also designed to hook up to standard television sets as well as monitors. Early handheld systems:
These aren't extraordinarily popular but are certainly worth a look. Many of the first handheld systems contained a single standalone game. Most notable is the Game & Watch line by Nintendo, which was recently resurrected by Club Nintendo with the "Ball" remake. In 1979 the Milton Bradley Company released the Microvision, which actually used swappable cartridges but was known to contain faulty hardware.
Personally speaking, this generation is a favorite of mine. I love the experimentation and innovation, obscenely huge library of games and consoles, creative control schemes, groundbreaking arcade originals (and their sometimes questionable ports), and general affordability of games. It's such a fun era to explore and I still feel as if I'm just scratching the surface. At the time of this writing I own the Atari 2600 & 5200, Channel F, Odyssey², Intellivision, ColecoVision, Vectrex, Commodore VIC-20 and C64, TI-99/4A, TRS-80 Color Computer (Models 2 & 3), Atari 600XL, and a handful of old Game & Watch and standalone handhelds. I also frequently play Golden Age arcade classics on the various compilations by Taito, Konami, Midway, etc. I have a long-term goal of obtaining some of the more obscure hardware as well as building my second gen game library. As a ports junkie I love comparing different variants of the same game as they appear on the Atari 2600, Intellivision, ColecoVision, and so on... Best of all is simply playing
these old games: they're a blast.
Any second gen discussion is welcome in this thread. Talk about your favorite games, collecting, the homebrew scene, emulation, high scores, whatever. Overwhelmed by all the choices and want to know where to get started? Feel free to ask!
Hope to see a few folks in here.