Video games have become an integral part of our lives that we tend to forget their beginnings. They have been around for way longer than most people would think – the first precursor of the modern-day video games was Tennis for Two programmed as a proof of concept in 1958 by physicist William Higinbotham (it ran on an analog computer, using an oscilloscope as a display). Video games slowly crawled out of the shadows and into our living rooms, and later into our pockets thanks to the spread of smartphones.
Some of the games we play today – not the retro games, mind you, but new releases – are part of franchises that were around for decades, though. They are an integral part of the history of gaming – and it’s good to see that they’re still alive and kicking in 2021.
Tomb Raider (25 years)
Back in the day, Tomb Raider was the proof that pixels and polygons can be sexy. Its protagonist, the fearless British archaeologist Lara Croft, captured the hearts and imaginations of countless gamers over the years, even attracting criticism because of her sex appeal.
The Tomb Raider franchise started with the initial release – Tomb Raider – in 1996. Since then, 18 more entries in the franchise were released (some of them were reboots), and it inspired novels, comic books, several movies, and even a slot machine that you can try at your favourite casino online. Online slots have not been around for too long – it says a lot that the slot machine version of Tomb Raider is itself dated.
Now, Emerald City Games and Square Enix have released the latest entry in the franchise: Tomb Raider Reloaded, an action-arcade game for smartphones. Let’s hope it lives up to the name.
Elite (37 years) Dangerous Odyssey
There were quite a few evolutionary jumps in the history of video games – Elite was one of them. The game was a massive success upon its original release in 1984 – the initial release on BBC Micro and Acorn Electron was ported to pretty much every home computer imaginable, and even the NES.
The franchise spawned several entries, each of them more advanced than their predecessors. The franchise was then revived in 2012 as a result of a successful crowdfunding campaign, and this sequel has been alive ever since.
Moreover, it’s still releasing expansions. The upcoming Elite Dangerous Odyssey expansion is once again mixing things up: it will add on-foot planetary exploration, first-person fighting, diplomacy, and various other goodies.
Mario (38 years) Golf: Super Rush
Mario has started his career as a video game protagonist in 1981 in Donkey Kong but only received his first starring role in a game in 1985 – and he has been the mascot of Nintendo ever since. The Mario franchise has dozens of games, many of them having the Italian plumber do everything from driving carts, playing sports, and destroying baddies with his superpowers (which only appear, mind you, if he eats mushrooms).
His latest gig takes him, once again, to the golf course – Mario Golf: Super Rush is set to be released this summer. On Switch, of course.
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