MerixGames

May 28, 2014

/ design & content

From video arcade to social media. The advertising value of side-scrolling shooters.

Tomasz Kaczmarek

One needs to be aware, video games are not only the biggest and most expensive projects, which require ultra-efficient graphic card, abundant quantity of RAM memory and super-fast CPU. Gamers enjoy a bit simpler games too. Games, which are playable on smartphones or tablets, which rules are easy and swift to learn, where user can immerse in, just play and have fun instantly. A great example of such uncomplicated games are scrolling shooters.

Scrolling shooters – what is that?

1. Interesting fact – it is really hard to find exact translation in polish, and those which exist sound hilarious, so in Poland we actually use “scrolling shooters” expression as well.

2. To be brief – a scrolling shooter is a kind of computer game, where user takes control of some object (like space or air craft). The mission: to exterminate countless hordes of enemies, by shooting them of course.

How did it all start?

Like in many similar cases, it is very hard to point out the one and only progenitor - the source of the genre. Undoubtedly two absolute classics mentioned below influenced it significantly; those games just cannot be overlooked.

Spacewar! 

Released in 1962 on paper tape (sic!), inspired by interstellar space battles from E.E. Smith’s novels („Skylark” and „Lensman”). The game shows battle of two starships, while both are caught in gravity well of a star, which makes the gameplay significantly more challenging. Player’s goal is (of course) utter destruction of the enemy. It is one of the first computer games ever created.

Spacewar!
[source: Wikipedia]

[source: Youtube]

Space Invaders 

This game was released in 1978, after almost a year of development work by one-manned team -Tomohiro Nishikado. An oft-quoted urban legend states that there was a shortage of 100-yen coins in Japan attributed to the game. Player takes control over a lone cannon, the goal is to exterminate countless hordes of space invaders. General gameplay concept is one of the most widely used inspiration to other computer games (along with Pong and Tetris ideas).

Space Invaders
[source: Wikipedia]

[source: Youtube]

Defender

Considered to be the first side scrolling shooter game. Released in 1980, displayed in 256 color palette with dynamically animated background. Player’s goal is to exterminate countless hordes of space invaders, which not only want to shoots us, but also to kidnap fellow astronauts from the surface of defended planet. Along with Pac-Man and Donkey Kong, Defender is considered to be one of the most popular games in video arcades in the 80s.

defender
[source: Wikipedia]

[source: Youtube]

Shooters available to every Tom, Dick and Harry

The end of last century was the beginning of the end for video arcades. Personal computers and game consoles became more and more popular. More and more people were able to exterminate countless hordes of enemies under roofs of their houses.

River Raid

Released in 1982, very popular in Poland in early 90s. Game breaks sci-fi approach, known from previous games. Player pilots a plane, seen from a top-down perspective and shoots different kind of quite plain enemies, like jets, balloons, helicopters and ships. Game was designed and developed by Carol Shaw, who is considered to be the first female video game designer.

[source: Wikipedia]

[source: Youtube]

Polish contribution

The popularity of side scrolling shooters did not omit our polish developers. Futuristic Katharsis was released by Metropolis Software House (part of CD Project nowadays) in 1997. Plot was based on well-known idea: as usual we are defending our Earth against countless hordes of space enemies. However, in opposite to other games, Katharsis story was surprisingly deep, complex and mysterious. When released, the game graphics was astonishing: combined 2d and 3d elements, smooth animations and unforgettable explosions.

katharsis[source: Internet Archive]

[source: Youtube]

Tyrian

One of the most famous scrolling shooters; released by Epic MegaGames in 1995. Story was based on a concept of big bad corporations and conspiracy theories, very popular concepts in 90s. So, this big and bad corporation MicroSol killed our friend, because he knew too much. Now our main protagonist is next target on their list. We need to run, so we take control over a small fighter and try to survive attack of countless hordes of space corporate enemies. In 1999, Tyrian was re-released as Tyrian 2000, with additional fifth episode and included and some bug fixes. Now available as free gift on GOG.com.

tyrian[source: Wikipedia]

[source: Youtube]

Platypus

One of the newest games in the article, published in 2003. To be consistent, let’s take a look at the plot. This time, a big bad city grew so much that it needed to expand its boundaries. To do so the city invades other countries. We are the pilot of F-27 Platypus and defend our land against countless hordes of space big-city enemies. To produce game graphics, unusual approach was used, so called claymation – all objects were first made in clay and then transferred to digital graphics (similar technique was used in adventure game The Neverhood and Wallace and Gromit movie).

platypus[source: http://www.officialplatypusgame.co.uk]

[source: Youtube]

New hero is born

Here in Merixstudio, we are computer gamers to the bone. We love good entertainment. We are very proficient in the newest technologies. It was only a matter of time, to come up with an idea of creating a scrolling shooter of our own. We wanted to pay tribute to this certain genre (well-known from our childhood) and show our skill in complex and advanced front-end development. Combining HTML5 Canvas and JavaScript, we created 2D shooter browser game. We gave you Skytte.

Skytte

Play! - click here

Case study - click here 

Back to business

Despite the entertainment part, the advertising value of browser game is noteworthy. Engaging our users, social media followers or potential customers in a kind of interactive fun is one of many ways to reach our target client.

As Merixstudio, we will gladly create an interesting game for visitors of your Facebook fanpage. We can prepare involving and entertaining competition to promote your brand. We are able to produce educational tool to play and teach your children. We can even create some amazing solution to gather gamers email addresses.

There are some great examples of using game to promote brand, like Mentos game available on Facebook, which involved 90k players. The other great example is fruciaki.pl prepared for polish brand Bakoma, which gathered 300k players.

There are vast number of possibilities how to utilize game concept in order to gain additional business value. We keep our mind open to your ideas and are not afraid of challenges. Check our game development division and feel free to contact us – Merixgames.

 

 

 

Sources:

wikipedia.org
thedoteaters.com
about.com
gry-online.pl
gog.com
nowymarketing.pl

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