Monday, June 30, 2014

Generations: Jet Fighters and Home Consoles Part 3

Gen 5 Gaming and Gen 3 Fighters

Gen 5 is the era of 64-bits, and a great time of change in the world of home consoles. Some would argue that this is the generation retro gaming died in, while others will tell you this is the era modern gaming started in. Both sides have a convincing argument, since gen 5 would see the last cartridge based big name system, but would also see the first Playstation. The gap between gen 4 and gen 5 left a lot of bodies in its wake, like the Sega CD, Sega 32x, and Atari Jaguar, but the ultimate battle was of the CD over the cartridge.

For jet fighters in gen 3 like consoles in gen 5 there is an argument that gen 3 started the era of the first modern fighters. Super-sonic afterburning twin engines and sleek designs, coupled with advanced radar, avionics, and weapons systems certainly backed that argument.


Pic F-4 Phantom II and PlayStation

The McDonnell-Douglas F-4 Phantom II defined gen 3. It was the primary air superiority fighter and multi-role aircraft for both the USAF and US Navy and saw a ton of action in Vietnam. It achieved worldwide acclaim, and still serves in the air forces of many other countries worldwide. With advanced avionics, radar, multi-weather capability, and Mach-2 afterburners it was jet fighter for the modern world. However, time tells us a different story about the Phantom II. Its early models where gun less relying only on missiles, which were terrible in that era for air combat encounters, on top of that it was a gas guzzler, using most of its fuel just getting off the ground, and was a nightmare for her maintenance crews.


The PlayStation (1), like the F-4, was the epitome of its generation. It had great graphics, smooth CD visuals and music, awesome controllers, and a huge library. It was an international and almost instant success. It was the start of something new for both Sony and gamers, that would leave a legacy. But, our beloved PlayStation had its issues too, like slow disc loading times, and somewhat janky control.


Pic F-105 and N64

The Republic F-105 Thunderchief, the “Thud” had its roots in Gen 2’s Century Series, but was much more of aGen 3 fighter. Afterburner, Vulcan 20, missiles and all the F-105 like the F-4 was a Vietnam workhorse, but sadly was often relegated to being a fighter/bomber with heavy emphasis on the “bomber” part. The F-105 served long and venerably into the conflict eventually becoming the first aircraft to work as “Wild Weasels”.

The N64 like the F-105 was its generations workhorse. Clearly it belonged in Gen 5’s 64-bit world but its cartridge was a reminder of its Gen 4 roots. The N64 is still a crowd pleaser, and has even become the system to own amongst those who weren’t even born or still in infancy when it arrived on the scene.


Pic Mig-25 and Sega Saturn

The Mig-25 was on paper a visionary concept. Mach 3 speeds, and high altitude capability should have made it a nightmare for the Mach 3 Bombers the USAF had imagined with the XB-70 Valkyrie. Sadly, the ultra-cool XB-70 program fall apart on the USAF, leaving the Soviets holding the bag with the limited roll Mig-25.  The USAF went to the still supersonic B-58 Hustler, a bomber that with advanced avionics hugged the ground mitigating the Mig-25 capabilities even more. The Mig-25 which is still in service around the world, will be remembered for being innovative, but still somewhat useless. 
Like the Mig-25 the Sega Saturn was impressive on paper, and its capabilities top notch. But, with the Sega 32x, being very quickly followed on the scene by the Sega Saturn, many consumers and retailers felt their heads spinning. Even Sega seemed to have their heads spinning as the Saturn arrived with virtually no fan fair or announcement. The Saturn fall flat on its face, and Sega now felt the burden of the PlayStation on their backs. Today the Saturn is still not very well known, but collectors love it.

 Gen 6 Gaming and Gen 4 Fighters

Generation 6 consoles are a sensitive topic amongst retro gamers. Most retro gamers will staunchly fight any idea of Gen 6 being retro, stating the PS2 and Xbox make this the modern era. Others point out that  Gen 6’s corded controllers and offline gaming, make it the last generation of retro consoles, but sadly they are a minority.

Gen 4 is the era of the greatest jet fighters of all time at least in my opinion. This is the generation when everything comes together. After gen 4 though much like after gen 6 in gaming it becomes a slightly different world, as drones take there place.


Pic F-14 and PS2

The F-14 Tomcat is an icon! The star of Top Gun, the fleet defender, and the awesome swing wing Mach-2+ carrier fighter of the US Navy. The F-14 is no longer in service but when anyone says Top Gun or carrier fighter to you try not imagining this bad boy. The F-14 was built to intercept enemy bombers and missiles inbound for the carrier task force. The F-14 was almost purely used as a fighter, armed with its medium range Phoenix missiles, Vulcan 20, and Sidewinders, but saw some action in the Gulf War as a fighter bomber.

The PS2 defined gen 6! I don’t care if you’re a Nintendo, XBOX, or Sega fanboy, you have to admit Gen 6 was PS2’s bitch. It was the first ever entertainment platform console, it was a video game console, a DVD player, and could go online to game. It was and is still one of the best-selling, and longest living video game consoles to have ever been made. Great graphics and excellent control seemed to define it.

 Pic F-117 and XBOX

The F-117 Stealth Fighter is technically not a fighter even though it is designated as one. Its fighter designation actually comes from its predecessor program the F-19 which was an experimental flirtation with a stealth fighter. The F-117 had no guns (those are IR sensors on the front not guns), and although it could carry air-to-air missiles in its bomb bay never did. The F-117 would actually be an attack aircraft or A-117 but “a rose by any other name” right? The F-117 was filled to the brim with cool stuff, and would show up at airshows with armed guards around. We loved it because it looked cool, and like it was from the future.

 The Xbox like the F-117 seemed to just kind of appear. When we were told Microsoft was working on a console we just kind of shrugged it off, “Microsoft made PC stuff, and games for PC they wouldn’t enter the console market!”.  Well they did! Boy did they! The Xbox was a huge success and took the number 2 spot after the PS2 in Gen 6 for sales and popularity. The Xbox like the PS2 was a multimedia platform, and performed comparably to the PS2.


Pic Tornado and Gamecube

The Tornado was a multirole, multinational aircraft developed in Europe, but its primary user was Great Brittan’s RAF.  The Tornado had swing wings, and some truly awesome radar and avionics that allowed it to fly its missions only feet (we are talking double digits) off the ground. As cool and as awesome of a warhawk the Tornado is, its looks gave it more of a generation 3 look, harkening back to the Mig-23, or F-111 Aardvark.

 The Gamecube like the Tornado was cool and had some great capabilities, ranging from its mini-discs, to its GBA support, to its portability. But, in a generation of multimedia platforms the Gamecube looked like it was a generation behind, having been Nintendo’s true entry into Gen 5 gaming.


Pic Mig-29 and Sega Dreamcast

The Mig-29 was the USSR’s first true entrant into Generation 4. This thing was built to go head to head with the likes of the F-16 and F-15. For the USSR though the entry was a little late in the game. The Mig-29 is still a world class air superiority fighter that can go toe to toe with its American counterparts.
The Dreamcast came to Gen 6 ready to compete with great graphics on par with the PS2 and Xbox, online gaming capability, low profile design, and unique controllers. The Dreamcast was a true competitor had the potential to be a force to be reckoned with in Gen 6. The only problem was that Dreamcast still lacked the kind of multimedia capability that PS2 and Xbox possessed losing its bang for the buck factor right away. The Dreamcast would be Sega’s swan song and it’s exit (most liely) from the console market.





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