Console Clones

Spanner | 25 Oct 2005 08:00
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Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo are ostentatiously dangling the carrot of seventh generation video game consoles, but how many more technologically advanced vegetables can the donkey be force fed? If the current retro revival trend sustains itself, I'm willing to bet the midnight queues on the release dates will be reduced to small, friendly gatherings of tech collectors and their kids.

It doesn't take a psychology student to figure out that I am firmly encamped in the "classic gaming" trenches, so I'm just going to go ahead and say it: Players don't care about hardware, and corporations don't care about software. Deciding which of these "amazing" new systems will best provide your personal gaming experience now seems impossible. The boundaries have been deliberately blurred in a cross-corporate attempt to convince players that the best option for everyone involved is to buy all the available hardware, then pick at the limited selection of software until third party developers take up the slack.

The market leaders are suddenly and desperately trying to slap either a price tag or a jail sentence on the emulation scene, as it has risen quickly to pose a legitimate threat to the next generation of consoles. We, the gamers, are in a position right now to take a lead from a region of players who have kept the corporations at arm's length since the beginning, and, for their refusal to comply, have been rewarded with one of the largest active video game back catalogues in the world.

Brazil is a country of seasoned, passionate players that have chosen a different path to video game enlightenment. But the whole of South America represents about 2% of the world video game industry, which is hardly going to capture the interest of avaricious conglomerates. Market reports and industry analysts quickly and efficiently sweep this gaping hole under the rug by blaming the region's slow economic growth, under investment in the ICT infrastructure and the stereotyped assumption that everyone who lives there is on the breadline.

This just isn't true. Brazilians have always been devoted gamers, sustaining many a failing system while we, the "first" world, binned them on our way to buy the next next big thing in video game technology. The successor to the original Magnavox Odyssey (the first ever video game console) was a massive hit in Brazil, living on far beyond the limited reaction it gained in its country of origin.

Philips, Magnavox's parent company, released the Odyssey console (known as the Odyssey 2 in the States) to the astonished Brazilian populace around 1981 and it thrived well into 1987, some four years after Philips had abandoned the system and Magnavox had pulled out of the video game race completely. Due to a delayed release of the system, Brazil's first experience of gaming delights was already backed up by a considerable catalogue of great games and was the only country in the world to be graced with the entire Odyssey game library, with a few titles released there exclusively.

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