Video Game History: On This Day July 20th

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On This Day: July 20

Capcom releases the platform game Bionic Commando for the Famicom in Japan.  The game is the sequel to the hit 1987 arcade game of the same name.  In it, players are cast as Nathan “Rad” Spencer, a commando who must prevent a group of imperialist Nazis (the Nazz) from resurrecting Adolf Hitler.  The game’s claim to fame is that it is among the few platform games of the era in which a player cannot jump.  Instead the main character is equipped with a bionic arm that features a grappling gun which players must use to climb or swing across the game’s many ledges and pits.  The game will be released in North America in December.

The Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Hasbro Inc., John O’Neill, announces that the company has discontinued the development of their much-publicized Virtual Reality game following three years and US$59 million in research and development.  O’Neill explains that the projected cost of the system to the consumer would exceed the company’s target price of US$300.  Hasbro’s stock subsequently drops by US$.50 to US$30.25.
Acclaim Entertainment releases the 3D first-person shooter (FPS) Alien Trilogy for MS-DOS, the PlayStation, and Sega Saturn in the US.  The game is based on the first three movies in the Alien film series.  ESRB: M (Mature)
Interplay releases the expansion pack Baldur’s Gate II: Throne of Bhaal for the roleplaying game (RPG) Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn for personal computers.  It is the final entry in the Baldur’s Gate series.  The expansion includes Watcher’s Keep, a large bonus area, and tells the conclusion of the series' plotline.  A novelization of the expansion will be released in September.  ELSPA: 15+ ESRB: T (Teen) USK: 12+

Microsoft Game Studios releases the Microsoft Train Simulator for Windows in Europe.  ESRB: E (Everyone)
Reuters news service reports that global personal computer sales have fallen for the first time in fifteen years (since 1986) and that Dell is the only major US computer manufacturer to have shown any sales growth over the past year.

The Sam Goody Center hosts the Twin Galaxies‘ Videogame Festival July 20 through Sunday, July 22 at the Mall of America in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Sega announces that it will transfer subscribers to the SegaNet service to EarthLink, which is based in Atlanta, Georgia.
Sony Computer Entertainment, Inc. (SCEI) releases the racing game Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec for the PlayStation 2 in Europe.  PEGI: 3+

DreamCatcher releases the interactive mystery game The Secret of Shadow Ranch, based on the fifth book of the Nancy Drew series for Windows.  It is the tenth computer game in the series.  ESRB: E (Everyone)

Electronic Arts releases Catwoman, based on the considerably unpopular film of the same title starring Halle Berry, for the Game Boy Advance, GameCube, PlayStation 2, Windows, and Xbox in the US.  The game will later be dubbed one of the top 10 worst movie games, claiming that “This game will make you want to drown kittens.”  ESRB: E (Everyone)  

Namco releases the puzzle game Puyo Pop Fever for the GameCube in the US.  ESRB: E (Everyone)

Ubisoft releases Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow for the GameCube in the US.  It is the second game in the Splinter Cell series of stealth-based games.  ESRB: T (Teen)

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas becomes the first widely released console game in US history to be re-rated.  It’s rating is restricted to Adults Only 18+ (AO) from its previous rating of Mature (M).  The re-rating is implimented by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) after the sexually explicit minigame mod “Hot Coffee” raises a controversy in the media and draw heavy criticism from Congress members, most notably democrat Hillary Clinton.  The minigame features the game’s main character having sexual intercourse with his girlfriend.  It is accessible only through a mod distributed separately through the internet.  Rockstar Games, the developer and publisher of the game, will subsequently offer distributors the option of applying an Adults Only ESRB rating sticker to the game or returning them to be replaced new versions that don’t feature the “Hot Coffee” content.

KOEI releases the hybrid fighting and roleplaying game (RPG) Colosseum: Road to Freedom for the PlayStation 2 in North America.  The game is vaguely based on the history of the Roman Empire.  ESRB: M (Mature)

Sony announces that the PlayStation 2 video game system has sold 91.62 million units worldwide to date.

In Entropia, the MMORPG with a real cash economy, Jon “NEVERDIE” Jacobs, the owner of the Virtual Space Resort Club NEVERDIE, purchases a unique virtual egg for the equivalent of US$10,000 real world dollars. The “Unique Green Atrox Queen Egg” was the final prize in a multi-part story quest, in which tens of thousands of gamers participated. The actual function of the Egg is a mystery, but there is a great deal of speculation as to its true purpose and value. “The absurdity of paying $10,000 USD for a virtual egg is not lost on me,” said NEVERDIE, “but in fact I’m confident it will prove to be a great investment. Club NEVERDIE is already the #1 privately owned entertainment venue in virtual reality. Whatever hatches out of this thing is sure to prove a big draw to the Club.”

2K Games releases the first-person shooter (FPS) The Darkness for the PlayStation 3 in Europe. It is based on the comic book The Darkness.  PEGI: 18+

Activision releases Transformers: The Game, based on the 2007 live action film “Transformers,” for personal computers, the PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Wii, and Xbox 360 in Europe.  PEGI: 12+

Nintendo releases the educational puzzle game Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree as “Big Brain Academy for Wii” for the Wii in Europe.   PEGI: 3+