This Week in Awesome History Vol. 5

Video game releases and one of the most iconic speeches in American history.

Nash Herringtonby Nash Herrington

August 23, 1997: GoldenEye 007 is split-screen paradise

On August 23rd, 1997, GoldenEye is released for the Nintendo 64. Revisiting this classic FPS may reveal that it has not withstood the test of time as well as we may have hoped, but back in ’96 there was no other cartridge that spent more time in your console. Although today’s multiplayer shooters are all about balance and competitiveness, GoldenEye blissfully championed the good ol’ fashioned split-screen mayhem, big head mode and all.

Met with overwhelming critical praise and commercial success, Goldeneye is considered to be one of the most influential videogames of all time, and spawned a number of imitators such as Perfect Dark and the acclaimed TimeSplitters series, whose developers Free Radical Design consisted of a number of former Rare employees who had worked on the James Bond FPS.

A semi-successful remake was released in 2010 for the Wii, which replaced Pierce Brosnan’s Bond with Daniel Craig’s and included a pretty terrible online mode, which proved that “if it ain’t broke, you should at least improve on it a decade later”.


August 24, 79 AD: Mount Vesuvius Erupts

After laying dormant for centuries, Mount Vesuvius finally erupted on this day in 79 AD, killing thousands and burying the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum in the process. The eruption lasted for 12 hours forcing the citizens of Pompeii to flee in terror, although an estimated 2,000 stayed in the city and holed themselves up in shelter attempting to wait out the onslaught of molten lava.

Although a westerly wind protected Herculaneum initially it eventually succumbed, with a giant cloud of hot ash and gas burning or asphyxiating those living in the city. Both Pompeii and Herculaneum would remain unexcavated for many centuries until it was rediscovered in the 18th century, with archaeologists finding the shockingly preserved remains of citizens killed in the natural disaster.


August 25, 1994: Robert Plant and Jimmy Page reunite

Robert Plant and Jimmy Page Video

After retiring from Led Zeppelin 14 years prior following the death of drummer John Bonham, guitarist Jimmy Page and singer Robert Plant reunited onstage for an MTV special entitled “UnLedded”, playing a selection of classic and acoustic tunes from their back catalogue that were later compiled in the accompanying live album “No Quarter”.


August 27, 1992: Super Mario Kart is released for the SNES

This week in history saw the release of not one, but TWO classic Nintendo multiplayer titles, as Super Mario Kart for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System made its way onto shelves in Japan on this day in 1992.

Although it has seen many sequels of increasing popularity spanning across almost all of Nintendo’s consoles, this one still stand out to many (perhaps through rose-tinted spectacles) as the series highlight.

Boasting eight of your favourite Ninty characters, a cool selection of weaponry, memorable courses and the world’s most unnecessary map screen, SMK was perhaps the defining multiplayer experience of its generation, and the Mario Kart series has continued to elevate that high standard ever since.

My personal favourite? Double Dash. Two characters, one Kart, hours upon hours of fun with your friends.


August 28, 1963: Martin Luther King, Jr. delivers ‘I Have a Dream’ Speech

Martin Luther King Jr. Video

On this day in 1963, American clergyman and civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his infamous ‘I Have a Dream’ speech to an audience of over 200,000 supporters gathered before the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The speech, originally titled “Normalcy, Never Again”, pushed for racial equality and an end to the racial discrimination that was so prevalent in that era.

The 17-minute speech pressurised the Kennedy administration to advance civil rights legislation in Congress, and earned King the Time Magazine Man of the Year award and the Nobel Peace Prize, being the youngest individual to have done so.