80’s Game Designs . The Mastermind Behind the Classics

The core principles of video game design were codified between 1978 and 1989. Video games, as a form, go back much farther than that since Pong came out. All of this games had great designers but 1978 it became clear for all of them. They have focused on strong structures, graphic design, and colors. It was time to show all of your creativity.

The Space Invaders Generation

It was in 1978 that Tomohiro Nishikado’s Space Invaders became a worldwide sensation, introducing video games to a whole generation of people who had not played them before. It had a new and engaging difficulty structure.

Because of a small error in the way the machinery of the game was built, the enemies became faster when there were fewer of them on screen. This meant that every level would get progressively more challenging as it neared the end.


“Invaders” by Darruda



Games would become more complex very quickly, however. The next industry-changing evolution toward contemporary games came in 1980 when Pac-Man was released.


“Explosion” by Darruda



“Pac-Man Heart Club” by Darruda


The Mastermind

It was a young designer named Shigeru Miyamoto that made powerups what they are today. Miyamoto’s idea was to treat the power-up as a way of changing the gameplay qualitatively rather than just making it easier or harder.

His first game, Donkey Kong, features a power-up which accomplishes this effectively: the hammer. Donkey Kong is clearly a platformer; most of the game is spent running, jumping and climbing across platforms while avoiding deadly obstacles.


“Donkey Kong” by Shigeru Miyamoto

That was kind of the first discovery: finding the fun in giving you that sense of physical activity, jumping from one place to another to another and kind of connecting those jumps.” said Miyamoto.

The Legend of Zelda

With Nintendo designer Takashi Tezuka, Miyamoto created in 1986 the classic “The Legend of Zelda“, about a boy hero inspired in Disney’s Peter Pan, named Link, on a quest to rescue Princess Zelda from the evil monster Ganon.

Do you know Mario and Zelda were actually developed at the same time?

Miyamoto’s was deciding if a new idea were more of a Mario or Zelda thing. This led to some crossover, such as the firebar, which was created for Zelda, making its way into Mario Bros. It went the other way too though — Mario’s piranha plant enemies ended up in Zelda as the enemies known as “Manhandla”.


“The Legend of Zelda” by Shigeru Miyamoto

Miyamoto’s logic was that making Zelda complex would force kids to share information with their friends and foster a sense of community around the game to solve problems.

The classic 1980s games still inspiring game designers around the world.

What games have most inspired you and your creativity? Let’s share here in the comments!

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Olá, sou Darruda, você é bem vindo! Algumas coisas que você precisa saber sobre mim: Sou designer gráfico e ilustrador no Rio de Janeiro, Brasil. Eu me concentro no valor conceitual das imagens. Eu uso elementos mínimos para criar um logotipo. Eu conto histórias com minhas ilustrações. Eu tenho uma marca de camisetas divertidas chamada Darruda T-shirts. Estou disponível para parcerias e licenciamento de imagens existentes. Não perca minha loja e meu blog.

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