This Day in Video Game History: August 11

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Michigan State University drop-out James Dallas Egbert III, age 18, commits suicide by shooting himself in the head. He’ll die at Grandview Hospital on August 16, almost a year to the day after his very public disappearance from campus on August 14, 1979. The sixteen year old child prodigy’s disappearance lead to a widespread urban myth involving roleplayers dying in the steam tunnels beneath their campus. The myths, and the tragic death of the young man will lead to a national media frenzy in which games, table top and electronic alike, are vilified. William C. Dear will document the entire story in his book “Dungeon Master: The Disappearance of James Dallas Egbert III”.


SNK releases the versus fighting game Samurai Shodown for the Neo Geo. It is the first installment in the Samurai Shodown series set in eighteenth century Japan.


Square Soft releases the single-player roleplaying game (RPG) Chrono Trigger for the Super NES in North America. In it, a group of adventurers must travel through time to prevent a future in which the world is destroyed. The game represents an enormous step forward in the evolution of RPG gameplay. It brings a number of innovations to the genre, including extensive character development, player-determined multiple endings, sidequests, and an exciting new battle system that strongly influences future RPGs produced in Japan. ESRB: K-A (Kids to Adults)


Nintendo releases the Tetris-variant Tetrisphere for the Nintendo 64. Following the general premis of Tetris, players must stack blocks across a sphere in this take on Nintendo’s classic puzzle game. ESRB: KA (Kids to Adults)


Acclaim Entertainment begins shipping WWF War Zone for the Nintendo 64 and PlayStation in the US. (ESRB: T)

Sega releases the trivia game Quiz: Ah! My Goddess for the Sega Dreamcast.


Electronic Arts releases the cyber-punk-themed first-person shooter (FPS) System Shock 2 for Windows in North America. The game will receive praise from critics and even be cited as one of the best games ever released, but its sales figures will fail to live up to the hype and the game will ultimately be a commercial failure. (ESRB: M)

Rumors circulate that Bernie Stolar, president of Sega of America, was fired mid-day, just days before the release the company’s Dreamcast video game console in the US. Although the rumors come as no surprise to industry insiders who have watched as Sega’s profits slowly nosedived even as video game industry revenues soared, many analysts question the wisdom of such a move on the eve of a major launch. After business hours, an official announcement is made by the company, but it comes to late to quell the rampant speculation over what the move will mean for the company. Toshiro Kezuka is named the new vice-chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), and Sega declines further comment on Stolar’s dismissal.


Nintendo releases the role-playing game Paper Mario for the Nintendo 64 in Japan. It is the first game in Nintendo’s Paper Mario series, which pick up the Mario franchise where Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars for the Super NES left off.


Retrodesign releases two hundred illegal copies of the prototype of Combat Two for the Atari 2600 game system at the Classic Gaming Expo 2001 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The original game had been recovered nearly twenty years after its initial release was cancelled during the great video game crash of 1983. Due the the publicity generated by the illegal release, it will receive wide distribution as one of the games bundled into the Atari Flashback 2 dedicated console in 2005.


Microsoft Game Studios releases the simulation game Zoo Tycoon for Windows in Europe and the US. (ESRB: E)


Gameloft releases the expansion Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Jungle Storm for the tactical shooting game Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon for the Nokia N-Gage in the US. The expansion includes all of the levels and missions of Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Island Thunder plus eight new single-player missions. (ESRB: T)


Activision releases Madagascar, based on the animated movie of the same name, for the Game Boy Advance, GameCube, Nintendo DS, PlayStation 2, Windows, and Xbox in Japan.


Electronic Arts (EA) modifies the terms of service agreement for Ultima Online to make the use of server emulators a violation of Ultima’s license. The change is a response to the rapidly increasing number of players use emulators that have been reverse engineered from the game’s official servers to create independent pirate networks.

JoWood Productions releases the vehicular combat game Panzer Elite Action: Fields of Glory for the Xbox in Europe. (PEGI 12+)