E3 2013 has almost run its course and given us some unforgettable imagery. But it’s all so swish and hi-tech. The games of today are unrecognisable compared to the tech of 30 years ago. Which got us to thinking: What would it have been like if the event had played out in 1983?
Let’s take a look at how that might have looked…
Microsoft shows off Xbox-1
Bill Gates takes to the stage and attempts to divert attention away from the fact that his new machine will not function unless you find a word in the machine’s instruction manual based on an on-screen prompt and type it in every time you turn it on. He later ill-advisedly suggests those who don’t want to do this could always buy an IBM device. It is immediately and viciously satirised by the media, most notably by Spitting Image the following year.
It’s compounded the already unpopular anti-piracy measures like the way Xbox-1 erases floppy diskettes as it loads them, storing the program in RAM until you’ve finished playing it, upon which it re-writes the game back to the floppy with a console-locked security code written into the program, locking the floppy to the machine. Everyone is up in arms at the ridiculous measures.
The Crew is shown
An embryonic Reflections Interactive demonstrate their first game: A sprawling, top-down driving game by the name of The Crew. With levels set in famous locations across the USA, the freedom of exploration is unprecedented.
The game is said to be 20 hours long, although a significant portion of that time will be spent waiting for the game to load. Especially as you have to put the cassette back in to load the next city.
Battlefield 4’s falling skyscraper is astonishing
Newly-formed Electronic Arts is up next. Trip Hawkins walks out onto the stage to demonstrate Battlefield 4’s breakthrough multiplayer mode, running on a ZX Spectrum as the Xbox-1 and PS4 are still in the final stages of production. With two players able to play on one keyboard, Battlefield features incredible multi-screen gameplay and phenomenal background detail. Just look at it.
The show-stopping moment comes when a skyscraper is destroyed and comes tumbling down in an incredible three different frames of animation. The crowd goes berserk. But the vibrations from their jumping up and down cause the Spectrum to crash before the demo’s over. No matter, it immediately becomes the stuff of legend.
PlayStation 4 is everything the people wanted
Norio Ohga takes centre stage to show off the PlayStation 4. And it’s everything the competition isn’t. Not only does it feature a ridiculous 20 colour graphics palette, it uses cassette tapes as a storage media, which can be copied freely using a twin cassette deck ghettoblaster.
However, it’s not all good news. Multiplayer gaming will require an additional joystick, which will cost $50 a year in replacements because they break so easily. There are a few grumbles, but Ohga’s presentation is so convincing, the new machine’s pre-orders go through the roof.
Crimson Dragon reappears as as an Xbox-1 game
After briefly appearing as a demonstration version on Your Sinclair’s cover cassette before disappearing completely, Crimson Dragon is re-announced for Microsoft’s Xbox-1. However, despite an extra colour or two in the palette and the new option to play with background music switched on (thanks to the extra RAM), the game looks pretty much the same as it did on the 48k demo, which disappoints many fans.
At least the game now supports keyboard input, as the game had previously been a Kempston Joystick-only title.
Mirrors Edge II is revealed
One of the biggest surprises of the show comes as Mirrors Edge II is announced. It’ll be coming to Xbox-1 and PS4 for $3.99/2.99. Not only that, but it will feature a first-person 3D viewpoint. It’s all sprite animation designed to look like 3D, but the audience goes wild nonetheless. “It’s so realistic,” says one industry insider. “It’s like you’re actually there, in the game world.”
The game is said to be ‘an open-world action adventure’, although much of it appears to take place in corridors. Excitement is dulled a little more with the admission that it will be released ‘when it’s ready’, leading many to suspect that these graphics are too good to be true.
Nintendo covers the usual ground
Nintendo opts not to go with a full press conference, instead distributing a betamax cassette to showgoers, on which footage of its new games is recorded, along with a commentary from Gunpei Yokoi. However, the games shown don’t really push any of the company’s IPs forward. Another Mario Bros arcade game is detailed, looking identical to the previous game, only with a special ‘cat’ suit being the only visual difference (pictured).
The company’s new home computer entertainment system, the Wii U, is present at the event, although its 16k memory is just a fraction of that of the competition and looks likely to be left behind, especially with its asking price remaining comparatively high. Naysayers give the machine until the end of the year before Nintendo needs to consider abandoning it.
The loading screen for Kingdom Hearts 3 is shown
Square show off their Disney crossover game. Or at least, the loading screen of it. Everyone agrees it’s a very pretty loading screen but had hoped to see more, especially as it’s the first anyone has seen of the new title.
Still, Sora is back, as are The Heartless, although whether any hardware can really draw ‘tens’ of them is debatable. Even on a 128kb powerhouse. Everyone leaves E3 hoping the reality can be as wonderful as the promises of the past few days would suggest. Someone says one day game size will be measured in megabytes. Everyone laughs.
But what do you think?
What do you think might have happened if the press conferences had shown 30-year-old tech? What would Killzone have played like if it ran on a Sinclair ZX Spectrum? Let us know in the comments.
And if you’re looking for more, check out Objects PS34 and Xbox One could easily be mistaken for and 8 ways it could be worse for Xbox chief Don Mattrick.