Blog Traces History of NYC in Video Games

April 23, 2008 -
Everyone who follows video games knows by now that Liberty City, the setting for the hotly-anticipated Grand Theft Auto IV, is an ultra-realistic depiction of New York.

But the Big Apple has been the setting for many a past video game, according to The Bowery Boys:
The difficult part is actually figuring out, in fact, if a game takes place in New York. For instance, Frogger could take place in New York, if the West Side Highway straddled a Hudson River full of logs and turtles. Pac-Man is certainly a metaphoric representation of the Financial District. If Donkey Kong is an homage to King Kong, wouldn't that mean he's throwing barrels from the Empire State Building?

...In 1984, anxious Atari and Commodore 64 owners got their hands on a more literal tribute to the city -- The Big Apple. In the simple game, a player maneuvers through a traffic free midtown Manhattan... This game looks a bit like a malfunctioning digital watch and was appropriately forgotten.

The Bowery Boys go on to list several old school titles, including Punch Out!!, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project.
The first [game] to make a real attempt at a recognizable New York landscape was probably 1989's Manhunter: New York, a clunky and mostly unexciting action game set in the post-apocalyptic future of 2002. However it did manage to depict city landmarks in ways that were at least recognizable, if primitive...

The excellent write-up also names games such as Duke Nukem: Zero Hour, Deus Ex, Max Payne and XIII, while noting True Crime: New York City as a turning point for its realistic depiction of NYC. It's definitely worth a read.

Comments

Somehow, I doubt that those games will get blamed for half the crimes in NY from now on.

Deus Ex was an awesome game set in NY. Although the crimes against humanity that gould be perpetuated therein were generally on a more cataclysmic scale.

[...] wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptEveryone who follows video games knows by now that Liberty City, the setting for the hotly-anticipated Grand Theft Auto IV, is an ultra-realistic depiction of New York. But the Big Apple has been the setting for many a past video game, according to The Bowery Boys: The difficult part is actually figuring out, in fact, if a game takes place in New York. For instance, Frogger could take place in New York, if the West Side Highway straddled a Hudson River full of logs and turtles. Pac-Man is certainly a metaphoric representation of the Financial District. If Donkey Kong is an homage to King Kong, wouldn’t that mean he’s throwing barrels from the Empire State Building? [...]

Ha ha, "action game." Manhunter was a Sierra Online adventure. For god only knows what reason, several times through the course of any Sierra adventure of the time, you would have to negotiate an arcade sequence. If you lose, you die. If you win, you get to continue. The engine was not up to action sequences, the players did not want them, and they did not fit into their games, but by God, they must be in every game!

Don't forget Crush, Crumble & Chomp, a game I used to play on the Apple II+. In the game, you chose to be a movie monster (Godzilla, The Blog, etc.) and attacked a particular city. I believe you could choose from major cities like D.C., Philly.... and NYC. The best part was that particular buildings were mapped out. So, if you wanted to attack the Empire State Building, you could. You could actually try and take down the White House! It was a simple graphical affair (obviously), with a one-color top-down approach, but yeah, it sees like this type of gameplay would be controversial today.

@Truthiness:

Sounds like an early Rampage, which I think was also set in New York... and I think you could eat people as well as destroy cars and sky scrapers.

And I'm not sure I would call "The Blog" a monster... sure it gets out of hand from time to time...

j/k :P

@Truthiness Advocate

If a game like that were made today it'd be a "terrorism simulator

Ahh, I love that New York considers itself to be the center of everything, ever.

@mogbert

They had like EVERY city in Rampage. That game was so amazing...

In my opinion, the only thing special about New York is how huge it is with lots of diverse things. Other then that it is nothing special, just an over crowded city.

You should check out the SNES game Urban Strike if you wanna see something that would be branded as a terrorist simulator. The game involves piloting a helicopter around fighting terrorists as they invade American cities. Mission 5 is in New York.

Wanna guess what happened to the twin towers? The terrorists blew a hole in the side of one. Ouch.

The digital depiction of NYC will not be complete until they can bring home that hobo-pee-and-garbage smell that permeates the city and outlying area.
 
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Andrew EisenIf you missed the HuffPost segment I guested on, the replay is now embedded in the story.11/21/2014 - 6:05pm
Wonderkarphttps://pbs.twimg.com/media/B2__4yZCcAA9Ytp.jpg these look amazing. Peach is the only one I'm tempted to open cause her packaging is bent. get another nonbent one....man. toycollector me and gamecollector me is fighting11/21/2014 - 5:51pm
WonderkarpJust finalized my Smash Bros free Sound Track Order. Also got 4 amiibos and they look fantastic. I'm afraid to open them. they look spectacular!11/21/2014 - 5:45pm
james_fudgeCan we all agree that Andrew cleans up nicely and can go on any program?11/21/2014 - 5:01pm
Wonderkarpthank you for that line, Andrew. alot of great films fail the bechdel test. Gravity fails it and it has a female lead.11/21/2014 - 4:48pm
Andrew EisenAw, thanks James! Well, now I have to drive back to work!11/21/2014 - 4:45pm
Andrew EisenDidn't have a chance to say this on the HuffPost segment but while the Bechdel test is useful as a broad examination of gender representation in media, it's not at all appropriate as a judgement of quality.11/21/2014 - 4:45pm
james_fudgeAndrew you killed it!11/21/2014 - 4:44pm
WonderkarpMadeline Bergman. second female, they never speak of men, just a computer program. it passes the test11/21/2014 - 4:34pm
E. Zachary KnightDoes Other M have more than one woman in it?11/21/2014 - 4:31pm
Wonderkarpyet Metroid Other M, a game where people cried sexist due to the commanding officers restricting Samus, passes the test....11/21/2014 - 4:21pm
Wonderkarpwait...they are using the bechdel test to determine which games are sexist?.....how does that work with a game like Super Mario Bros when there is no Dialogue? test itself is BS. Alien doesn't pass it11/21/2014 - 4:20pm
james_fudgeAndrew Eisen on Ice! Please join in at 4:23 pm et and support our bestie! http://live.huffingtonpost.com/r/segment/sweden-sexism-video-game/546d41cffe344486d400023711/21/2014 - 4:05pm
Matthew Wilsonthose are the same people that said google should pay to list news sites in their news reader, and than accused google of blackmail when google said no and delisted them.11/21/2014 - 4:03pm
Wonderkarpwait....europe can dismantle a company not founded in europe?11/21/2014 - 3:54pm
NeenekoHrm, that does raise interesting questions about anti-trust laws and transnational corporations.11/21/2014 - 3:54pm
Matthew Wilsonhttp://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/11/europes-parliament-poised-to-call-for-a-break-up-of-google/ what is with Europe? good think they dont have the power to do it. worse comes to worse google can block any European country that tries.11/21/2014 - 3:49pm
Andrew EisenFun Fact: Back when it was new, I was linked to that docket by three separate people in the same day. It was submitted as proof of their claim. In all three cases, the docket didn't even address what they were talking about. Did any of them read it?11/21/2014 - 3:00pm
Wonderkarpits not a piece. its just a press docket. its like a wiki11/21/2014 - 2:52pm
NeenekoAnd for not being about feminism, the piece spends a lot of focus talking about it....11/21/2014 - 2:44pm
 

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