Iain Plays
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Peak Web

Peek at Peak, ah… #

“On this day 22 years ago, Nintendo released the Game Boy Advance console, and Nintendo’s web design was so great back then.”
@Web Design Museum Tweet from 3:55pm Jun 11, 2023.

This is it. The peak of web-design is in this image: Nintendo.com Homepage from June 2001, served by Archive.org

You can even click here to visit the June 2001 Nintendo homepage, served by Internet Archive (archive.org) via their wonderful Wayback Machine (web.archive.org).

June 2001 Versus June 2023. #

Now compare 2001’s fun, information-rich, dense, fluffy, brioche of a mind-map (with Mario in action, explaining each section of the main navbar) to 2023’s bland monstrosity; churned out by machines and committees 22 years later: A Zelda ad, dull, boring text haunting a top navbar. Every single part of the site de-emphasised to funnel you into buying Zelda. Nothing else. Go buy Zelda. 10/10. I agree. Zelda is 10/10, but your website is 0/10 fun to explore and play with now.

Nintendo.com Homepage from June 2023

Peak Discussion #

Mike: This design reminds me of Console, which shares the same fun spirit.

Iain: How far we’ve fallen since.

Iain: Peak web-design must’ve been around then.

Iain: Artists still experimenting and more focus on UI and aesthetics than A/B testing, workflows, and sales pipelines.

Mike: We’re the artists now, and we’re still experimenting within constraints we set ourselves to encourage creativity.

Mike: We’re among the last of a dying breed: a small cohort who, through circumstance and experience, truly understand and love the web as both a platform and a playground. We lived through its evolution, experimented and learned, and carried forward what we’d learned.

Flash! Wah-oh! #

The web’s creative symbiote was a janky behemoth of a program called Flash. Made by a company called Macromedia (later bought by Adobe, another behemoth suite-maker). It was murdered by no less of a man than Steve Jobs, who signed its death warrant via an open letter called Thoughts on Flash.

Now, Nintendo’s 2001 site didn’t use Flash at its core, but there were some downloadable games you could play with another Macromedia app: Shockwave Player. Another decrepit and defunct technology. Such a massive slice of world culture, inaccessible through obsolescence.

Thankfully, there’s another way to experience Flash animations and games. A heroic non-profit project called BlueMaxima’s Flashpoint preserves these treasures for us to watch and play today.