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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SleakerThe Bar-Arcade however did have a lot of good pinball machines, they were however always taken as the place was packed..08/20/2014 - 1:17pm
Sleakerso I've been to an Arcade-Bar, not that great of a place has some okay machines, but generally over-packed. And then all the kid-friendly ones have is ticket-games nothing actually good unfortunately :(08/20/2014 - 1:14pm
Andrew EisenIf it has an area dedicated to arcade machines, I'd say it counts. Arcade machine in your house though, nope.08/20/2014 - 12:16pm
ZenDoes it count if you have actual arcade machines in your house?08/20/2014 - 12:01pm
E. Zachary KnightWith the current poll, I guess it all depends on how one defines "arcade". If Chuck E Cheese or similar multipurpose businesses count, then that is a yes for me.08/20/2014 - 11:59am
ZenLet the ax fall Sleaker...lessons MUST be learned...08/20/2014 - 11:44am
Andrew EisenNote to Shout boxers: if it's not a current GP story or something currently being discussed in the Shout box, please provide a link to what you're referring to or at least some context so we know what you're talking about and can discuss it with you.08/20/2014 - 11:44am
Sleaker*prepares fluffy kitten for execution as no link has been forthcoming*08/20/2014 - 11:14am
ZenMasked, guessing you are talking about the Wii game which was later ported to 360/PS3. I never played it..but I did grab the sweet gold Classic Controller from it to finish my Gold Wii controller set lol.08/20/2014 - 11:06am
Andrew EisenOnce again, MaskedPixelante, I have no idea what the hell you're talking about. Are you talking about the Wii remake in 2010? The PS3/360 enhanced port of the remake in 2011? Something new? Please, for the love of fluffy kittens, provide a damn link.08/20/2014 - 9:57am
MaskedPixelanteSo, if I finish this game Activision claims is the GoldenEye remake, but looks suspiciously like a rejected CoD game, do I get the REAL GoldenEye remake?08/20/2014 - 8:37am
Papa MidnightWii U Games finding Solidarity with PC Gamers :(08/19/2014 - 6:09pm
Zenbuy all of the bad DLC before they even showed the main content everyone was waiting for. I paid for it, I wanted it, and I got tossed aside.08/19/2014 - 4:10pm
ZenIanC: Yep, both Call of Duty games did the same thing holding back all DLC and then releasing the day one map 2 YEARS later out of the blue. Why play what they won't support. Warner Bros canceled their DLC after promising it because Wii U owners didn't08/19/2014 - 4:09pm
Andrew EisenShe's the developer of Depression Quest. It's an interesting game (although I wouldn't call it fun) and you can check it out for free at depressionquest.com.08/19/2014 - 2:48pm
Sleakerwhat's all this Zoe quinn stuff all over and should I even bother looking it up?08/19/2014 - 2:37pm
IanCExactly Zen. The third one had random delays to the DLC and they just came out seemingly at random with no warning, and the 4th they didn't even bother.08/19/2014 - 2:31pm
ZenI may have bought both AC games on Wii U, but WHY would anyone be expected to get the game when they came out MONTHS before release that they were skipping DLC and ignoring the game? They poisoned the market on themselves then blamed Nintendo players.08/19/2014 - 1:27pm
Papa MidnightIn review, that's fair, Andrew. I just tend to take Gawker articles with a lot of salt, and skepticism.08/19/2014 - 12:07pm
 

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