The First Games From Famed Video Game Studios

The video game industry is a billion dollar a year monster that puts all other forms of entertainment to shame. Most people know the big studios, but very few people (let alone anyone under the age of 20) know how far some of these studios have come. With that said we look back at 10 major video game studios/developers that had some pretty humble beginnings before turning into massive animals that release focused tested drivel.


Ubisoft - Zombi - 1986

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Zombi for the Amstrad CPC is an icon-driven arcade adventure video game and was Ubisoft Entertainment Software's first published title. 

Drawing inspiration from the George A. Romero film Dawn of the Dead; the player controls four protagonists exploring a zombie-filled shopping mall. If a character's health is depleted, he turns into a zombie, which then roams the room they died in. 

Ubisoft would LATER bring the series back as a remake for the launch of the Wii U just as the zombie craze was coming back into style.


Electronic Arts - Hard Hat Mack - 1983

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EA has a lot of issues for a lot of reasons, thanks in no small part to being so massive. But back in 1983 they were a very small upstart that just wanted to make fun games instead of churning out Madden and Fifa games. 

In 1983 they released five games all around the same time, but EA themselves specifically call 'Hard Hat Mack' for the Apple II as "EA's first game." If you think the game looks a lot like Donkey Koing, well, you would be right. 

The player guides a construction worker through a series of goals, making use of open paths, springboards, conveyor belts, and elevators, taking care not to run out of time. Assuming the role of the titular Hard Hat Mack, the player has three lives to get a high-score.


Squaresoft - The Death Trap - 1984

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The Death Trap is a text adventure video game and the first game developed and published by Square for the NEC PC-8801, NEC PC-9801, and Fujitsu FM-7. If you don't know those consoles don't worry, as they were all Japan exclusive. 

The game is a text adventure which relies on simple command lines from the user's input to progress through the game. As opposed to most other text adventures with only text as output, The Death Trap provides graphical feedback using some neat still pictures.

This was the first game developed by Square, who at the time was a computer game software branch of the Den-Yū-Sha Electric Company. The Death Trap is a long way from Final Fantasy but you can see the seeds of that future adventure RPG series.


Enix - Door Door - 1983

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Door Door is a puzzle-platformer and Enix's debut title before eventually merging years later into Square Enix. Door Door was first released in 1983 for the NEC PC-8801 and was subsequently converted for other Japanese computers.

Door Door's blend of puzzle and platform game elements requires strategy, anticipation, and dexterity. Players control Chun, a small, spherical animal outfitted with a baseball cap. Chun is relentlessly pursued by a quartet of game AI aliens traveling in unique deterministic algorithm paths.

Enix took a then unique approach as a game company that has now become something standard—contracting talent for game development, then publishing the games themselves.


Blizzard Entertainment - RPM Racing - 1991

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RPM Racing (short for the very 90s named Radical Psycho Machine Racing) is a racing game for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System developed by Silicon & Synapse (now known as Blizzard Entertainment) under contract from Interplay who also served as the games publisher.

In the game, players can race in a regular season, a single race, or create their own course. The courses can be straight and oval, curvy and or hilly and unpredictable. The winner gets money and a chance to score their initials for the fastest time.


Epic Games - ZZT - 1991

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ZZT is an ANSI character-based video game, created in 1991 by Tim Sweeney of Potomac Computer Systems, which later became Epic Games, the developer and publiser of the Unreal and Gears of War series.

Although visually outdated at the time of its release, ZZT became fairly popular because of its integration of an object-oriented scripting language known as ZZT-OOP. The language allowed community involvement that extended beyond simply creating level terrain with the built-in editor.

Sweeney encouraged registered users to make their own worlds and submit them to him. The best material from these was released in The Best of ZZT. We all have ZZT to thank paving the way for us to get Fortnite, so that's something, I guess.


Bungie - Operation: Desert Storm - 1991

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Operation: Desert Storm is a top-down tank shooter for the Macintosh and was the first commercial game released by Bungie. The game was based on Operation Desert Storm, a conflict in the Middle East that was going on at the time.

The game featured twenty levels, culminating in the city of Baghdad with the final enemy being a giant Saddam Hussein head, because of course it was. It was 1991 after all.

It also came with a glossary of military terms and trivia which was needed in order to bypass the copy-protection in the game, as well as authentic maps of the Kuwaiti Theater of Operations.


Rockstar Games - Menace - 1989

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Menace is a side-scrolling shooter video game developed by DMA Design (who would later become Rockstar Games) and published by Psygnosis.

Players control a powerful alien space fighter, moving through six stages on the planet of Draconia to advance through the game. Players use the ship's weaponry—lasers and cannons—to attack all advancing enemies,[1] and defeat the level's boss: a guardian of Draconia.

The game was commercially successful, selling over 20,000 copies and helped set the grounwork for the future of Rockstar Games.


LucasArts - Rescue on Fractalus! - 1984

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Rescue On Fractalus! is a computer game and one of the first two products from the fledgling Lucasfilm Computer Division Games Group (later LucasArts). It was originally released for the Atari 8-bit family and the Atari 5200 games console.

The game uses fractal technology to create the craggy mountains of an alien planet, where the visibility was drastically reduced by the dense atmosphere.

The player controls a fictional "Valkyrie" space fighter (converted for search and rescue duty) from a first-person view, attempting to land and pick up downed Ethercorps pilots.


Crystal Dynamics - Crash N Burn - 1993

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Crash 'n Burn is a futuristic racing/shooter video game and the first game developed by Crystal Dynamics and released exclusively for the failed 3DO console in 1993 as a launch title.

Players assume the role of any one of six cyberpunks, each equipped with a unique car and a deadly supply of weapons. Full-motion videos of the racers are accessible in between races, in which each character flaunt their skills and insult their opponents with death threats.

Because of the way the game is built cars can't get into crashes and the game did very little to sell the nearly $600 3DO console. Good thing they had Tomb Raider to fall back on!