Everyone has to start out at the bottom of the food chain at work. That's why they call it  the career ladder. You grab onto the bottom rung, and then spend years working your way up. And superstar game developers are no exception.

They might be household names now, and sell games in Hollywood-embarrassing numbers, but every big designer had to start off somewhere a lot less glamourous. So we've had a poke around and dug out the earliest games by the modern industry's brightest and best. What did David Jaffe do before God of War? You might be very surprised.

Hideo Kojima

Famous for: The Metal Gear series

But started out on: Penguin Adventure, a pseudo 3D, over-the-shoulder platformer of sorts, released on the MSX console in 1986. It was a good looking game for the hardware it was running on, and was also the origin of Pentarou, the flying, gun-toting penguin from Parodius.

Any early signs of future greatness? Penguin Adventure was technically impressive and added a lot more complexity over its predecessor, 1983's Antarctic Adventure. There were now boss fights, RPG elements, and NPCs to trade and interact with, as well as a lot of player freedom. So in a way, it was quite proto-Koj, yes.

Peter Molyneux

Famous for: The Fable series, the Black and White series, Populous, Theme Park

But started out on: A homemade, text-based business simulation game called The Entrepreneur. He published it himself by making hundreds of copies manually on a tape recorder, and sold it via a magazine advert.

Above: No screens from The Entrepreneur, alas, so here's a nice pic from Fable III. Because being king of Albion is the ultimate entrepreneurship 

Any early signs of future greatness? The game sold two copies. Though being a Molyneux game, the simulation was pretty deep, and apparently pretty similar to what eventually turned up in Fable II's economy system. No word on the presence of any acorns though.

Cliff Bleszinski

Famous for: The Gears of War series

But started out on: A couple of early point and click adventure games called Palace of Deceit and Dare to Dream. DtD in particular is noteworthy for its batshit plot regarding a disturbed 10 year-old boy exploring his troubled dreamscape in the form of a city. And fairly crazy/awful writing.

Above: Dare to Dream - A dramatic reading

Any early signs of future greatness? Although radically different from the games Cliff became famous for, the intro for Dare to Dream does contain the immortal line 'Blood, oh so much redness. Chains, skeletons, pain! Help me!'. So the clues were sort of there from the start.

David Jaffe

Famous for: God of War, Twisted Metal

But started out on: Mickey Mania, a rather excellent Mickey Mouse-licensed platformer on the SNES and Mega Drive. It followed Mickey through his whole career to date at the time, starting with a black and white level based upon his animated short debut in Steamboat Willie.

Any early signs of future greatness? There were some cool environmental set-pieces, but obviously nothing on the scale of God of War. But the bit where Mickey uses a bird as a stepping stone in the first level was obviously the inspiration for the GoW's Harpies, and there's a strong rumour that the game originally ended with Mickey tearing Goofy in half and shitting in his ribcage.

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  • Shigeruken - December 24, 2013 8:47 p.m.

    Was this article really from 2010? Doesn't seem like so long ago that I read this one.
  • shawksta - December 23, 2013 12:13 p.m.

    Aw jeez, its GR before the Reply button was invented
  • Cyberninja - December 23, 2013 12:41 p.m.

    You say that like the Reply button works well it does make things confusing sometimes
  • J-Fid - December 23, 2013 1:38 p.m.

    Yeah, GR should fix it so we know EXACTLY who replies to whom.
  • Frieza - December 23, 2013 6:44 p.m.

    They should also add an edit button...
  • admufc81 - June 11, 2010 10:30 a.m.

    @Gunslinger you're wrong sorry mate. Here in the "UK", we had Mickey Mania on both SNES and Mega Drive. So you've never had it. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. It was a good game in it's time though. particulary the bit when you were being chased by the huge moose.
  • reaperman22 - June 11, 2010 10:01 a.m.

    a micky mouse game where you rip goofy in half would be awesome
  • dibber - June 10, 2010 10:08 p.m.

    Excellent music in Penguin Adventure! And I particularly enjoyed the dialog from the pushy salesman: "Won't you buy something? Wait! Damn it!!!"
  • philipshaw - June 10, 2010 10:49 a.m.

    Interesting article,where I thought most of these designers started was wrong. Thanks for the info Dave H
  • GG Gabby - June 10, 2010 9:58 a.m.

    *Thumbs up for this article* @ Gunslinger: Yeah I remember I also had that nice game for PS1. XD Never finished it though, It was really hard for me to play it while I was still young. It's gone now. :((( Some of my relatives threw away all my PS1 games. XP Still Mickey's Wild Adventures FTW! XD
  • 8bitBaby - June 10, 2010 3:53 a.m.

    nice article. i never knew where some of these guys started. oh an btw, Mickey's first appearance... Plane Crazy not that anyone really cares, i just had to hear a lot of history and facts from my animation professor, who used to work at disney.
  • Darkhawk - June 10, 2010 1:41 a.m.

    When PSM gave GoW Game of the Year, Jaffe is quoted in the article comparing the final fight against Zeus with the finale from Mickey Mania. Apparently, at the time "Mickey" came out, he had the novel idea of having the characters talk back-and-forth during the battle (which is something that would repeat in GoW).
  • GoodGuyWithACrappyJob - June 10, 2010 12:01 a.m.

    Everyone must start somewhere. Some beginnings are phenomenal, some rather rocky. It occasionally leads to fame. The sad thing about fame is in its sudden arrival and brief departure. The candle that burns twice as bright, only burns half as long, with only the wax and shadows of light to remember it by. For now, must of these candles are still glowing.
  • getlefty - June 9, 2010 10:39 p.m.

    The guys from Hoopy Entertainment (not pop cap games) need to make another ARC game -
  • taterboob - June 9, 2010 8:45 p.m.

    Wow. Was there a SNES version of Mickey Mania with loading screens? I played the Sega CD version, but that music sounded like SNES.
  • JackSkellingtonsSkin - June 9, 2010 7:07 p.m.

    DAVID JAFFE MADE MICKEY MANIA!!!!!!!! Fucking hell I LOVED that game. I prefer it to GoW and Twisted Metal. Jaffe was always a fantatic game developer so, his name should have been known as soon as Mickey Mania was released, that's incredible. ReCaptcha: perish imports (I'd be worried)
  • Unoriginal - June 9, 2010 6:52 p.m.

    All developers pale in comparison to him when it comes to creativity.
  • LBD_Nytetrayn - June 9, 2010 3:08 p.m.

    Suda 51 just gained a few more points of awesome in my book, and he wasn't really lacking in them at this point to begin with.
  • ihopethisisnotantistasblood - June 9, 2010 2:46 p.m.

    @Gunslinger is he more awesome than a bee-dodging nicolas cage?
  • bettylove24 - June 9, 2010 2:28 p.m.

    Who cares!!! My boyfriend thinks the same with me. He- is eight years older than me, lol. We met online at an age gap dating site[ S E E K C O U G A R *c-o-m_]---a nice and free place for Younger- Women and Older Men, or Older Women and Younger Men, to interact with each other. Maybe you wanna check out or- tell your friends

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