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Why the sixth generation era was the peak of gaming?

An online writer who is also an avid geek to automotive, video games, and anime. Have a soft spot for racing games

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The gaming scene entered a new age in the fifth generation. This was the era where transition from pixel-based graphics ones to 3D polygons happened, video game companies switching from cartridges to CDs, and Playstation broke into the gaming industry. The era had redefined how a video game is made and how it was played.

The peak of gaming, however, was the sixth generation which happened to take a place near the millennium. This was in parallel with technological advancement happening in the era. The new technology introduced, in turn, helped reshape the gaming industry.

The sixth-generation era had introduced many breakthroughs in the gaming scene. They would later be carried and improved in succeeding generations.

The New Level Of Online Gaming

Near the millennium, the use of internet became widespread. Here, online multiplayer entered the new level.

While online play had been a common PC feature before, Sega Dreamcast revolutionized such a thing as it brought online experience to consoles as the standard. Sega did it by featuring Dreamcast with Internet capable specifications. The console also introduced several online-focused games such as Phantasy Star Online. Sega’s move was later followed by other console makers.

Online gaming services, enabling the aforementioned online play and downloadable content, were also introduced. Example is Microsoft’s Xbox Live that came in with the first installment of Xbox console.

Believe it or not, crossplay also already existed in this era. Example of game supporting cross playability is Capcom vs SNK 2, a crossover fighting game that enables PS2 and Dreamcast players to battle each other online.

The Revamped Handheld Gaming

The sixth-generation era also saw significant development in handheld gaming department. First, we got Playstation Portable (PSP), the first handheld console made by Sony. PSP was Sony’s answer to Nintendo; a portable console that was a worthy competitor to Nintendo’s line.

The console had features that gave Nintendo DS a run for their money such as better processor and the utilization of UMD discs. While it failed to beat Nintendo DS in terms of sales, it was still a huge success with 81,9 million units sold, proving that other company can make handheld as successful as Nintendo’s. Sony's venture in handheld gaming would later be continued by Playstation Vita.

The Nokia N-Gage line marked the start of the integration of handheld gaming into mobile devices

The Nokia N-Gage line marked the start of the integration of handheld gaming into mobile devices

Another company that entered the market was Nokia. In 2003, Nokia created the N-Gage lineup of mobile phones that doubled as handheld game console. While the N-Gage line was a commercial failure, it managed to kickstart the integration of handheld gaming into mobile phone devices.

Jet Set Radio pionnered the use of cel-shading in video games

Jet Set Radio pionnered the use of cel-shading in video games

The Introduction Of Cel-Shaded Games

As pixel-based sprites transitioned into 3D polygons, a new graphical approach appeared combining 2D and 3D aesthetics. The use of cel-shading in video games became prominent in this era, kicked off by Sega’s Jet Set Radio.

By utilizing the approach, video game makers can create breathtaking visuals without relying with photorealistic representation. Such visuals, accompanied with cartoony flair, still can amplify cinematic actions player is subjected to.

Cel-shaded games somewhat became an icon of the 2000s as many video game companies released games presented in cartoony visuals. Aside from Jet Set Radio, notable games that utilized cel-shading were Auto Modellista, Viewtiful Joe, Okami, and Naruto: Ultimate Ninja.

Switching from top-down 2D to 3D graphics, Grand Theft Auto III is credited for defining wide-open sandbox.

Switching from top-down 2D to 3D graphics, Grand Theft Auto III is credited for defining wide-open sandbox.

The Turning Point Of Video Game Series

Some game franchises experienced a significant turning point in this generation. This could be attributed to several factors, including new consoles being more capable of running games allowing video game developers to optimize the sequel.

Grand Theft Auto III, released in 2001, embraced the capabilities of sixth-gen consoles. Switching from top-down 2D to fully-pledged 3D graphics, the game pioneered the wide-open sandbox genre. The success of Grand Theft Auto III would later create GTA alike games like True Crime and Saints Row as well as be succeeded by Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

Not all games relied on technology when it comes to major overhaul of the entire series though. Need For Speed Underground sequels, for example, has changed the Need For Speed franchise in its way. The first game introduced in-depth customization while Need For Speed Underground 2 introduced free roam that was heavily featured in succeeding installments.

© 2021 Muhammad Azka Prasetya

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