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Retro Gaming Roundtable #2: Most Significant Innovation

For the full Retro Gaming Roundtable, head over to our friends at Loud Mouthed Gamers (here).

Our fearless leader, @Nintendo_Legend built the @RetroRoundtable from scratch by collecting a group of interesting retro gamers (and me).


This week’s teaser: “In your opinion, what was the single most significant innovation in gaming?”

My Thoughts

The single biggest innovation is two things.

Confused? It’s ok. Everything is ok. (I will go slowly).

The single biggest innovation in gaming is the dual-analog control setup. So, yes, the “single” innovation is a “dual” thing. Not sold? Here’s a list of things that are NOT possible without a dual control setup:

1. Mario 64
2. Turok (that game is underrated, and the sequel criminally so)
3. Goldeneye 007
4. Halo
5. Call Of Duty/Battlefield/(Other Generic Shooters)



Ok, I admit it. I cheated and just listed a bunch of games that most people are fanatically in love with. I also included a few that are most likely not considered retro. It might be blasphemy for a retro group, but it helps me make my point, and, in the words of Cartman, “I do what I WANT.” (Video Bonus)

Time For Serious Pants

More seriously, the dual control setup is the most significant innovation in gaming. Early consoles dabbled but it was the Nintendo 64–and a few developers’ ingenious use of the C buttons (remember those little yellow buddies?) that advanced the scheme.



Mario 64, in its time, was not just the next Mario game–I’m looking at you Mario Sunshine–it was an evolutionary leap. Games went from amoebas to sentient apes overnight. Where were you the first time you saw it? The first time you played it?

I might not have been the N64 Kid, but I was so excited about the launch that I took two years of EGM Magazines and put Post-It Notes on every page that mentioned the console or any of its games. I was 11 and I was organized.

Looking Around Was Underrated

Do you remember the last time you got stuck in a game? Sure you do and I can probably guess the first thing you did–you probably looked around. Before dual control schemes, that was simply not an option. Control schemes have always evolved gaming–from the six-button Genesis pad to the Super Nintendo’s shoulder buttons to the Wiimote and Kinect. The dual control setup, and specifically the dual analog sticks, were the most significant innovation in gaming.

Excerpts from the Rest of the Roundtable:


Best Analogy: Beta Wizard

“If we saw Mario on the street, he would blend in with the crowd. Nothing special about him. Now that trait, is what brings us further in. In a world where superheros are fake and unapproachable, we have Mario, the Bruce Springsteen of heros. The Everyman.

Mario is our Dad, or our weird uncle or us in disguise. He acted in silent films, who wrote turn of the century poetry in Romania, he is a Turkish king, he works at my local pizza kitchen.”


Most Elegantly Simple Answer: Septicor & Josh Miller


“Saves let the individual keep track of their progress and let them get to the end on their own, without the need to sit there and forcing then to beat it at one go. While most games of the 70?s and early 80?s were measured in minutes of game play, games like Legend of ZeldaDragon Warrior and Final Fantasy provided hours of fun and excitement without having to be there for hours straight.”


“Get to world 5-2 of Super Mario Brothers and now your mom is harping on you to go to sleep? Well, you could pause it and just let it run until you can come back, a tactic I used many times, or, you can turn it off, better luck next time. Too bad it took you like two hours to get that far.”


Most Unique Perspective: Sean Ewington

“Third party publishers was a new idea, and with their talent Activision made it a successful one. Sure other companies like Nintendo and Konami were transitioning their businesses into publishing around the same time, but Activision founders’s decision to split marks an important ripple of competition and innovation.”

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