What Turns 20 in 2018 – Video Games

Four words that everybody hates to hear – “Ready to feel old?”

For many, the 90s may feel like they were just yesterday, but the cold, dark reality is that 1999 was almost 20 years ago. Now, you can be depressed by the passing of time, or you can reflect on the past fondly — we here at The Geekiverse are choosing that second option. With 2018 well underway, we’re taking a look back at what made waves in the entertainment industry 20 years ago. The crew has come together to highlight the movies, television shows, and video games released in the year that was 1998. You might just be surprised to learn what is already two decades old.

Today, we’ve got video games that turn 20 in 2018. We’ve already talked about movies that are celebrating a 20th anniversary this year, as well as the television shows that debuted in 1998. Until then, enjoy a look at what the video game industry was up to back then!

Resident Evil 2

Photo: Retro Collect

Released January 21st, 1998

The original Resident Evil created a fresh new style of horror game based on existing design ideas, combining smart design with horror movie inspiration and an atmosphere thick with dread. It’s sequel, Resident Evil 2, expanded and improved nearly every facet of what made the original great. An ambitious new story mode sees a city-wide crisis unfold from two points of view, two separate campaigns that can be played completely independently of one another. Graphics and gameplay systems are refined, the mythology of the original is expanded, and the storytelling evolves beyond the endearing camp of the original into a more serious and complex tale of desperation and intrigue. Resident Evil 2 was a massive success, selling nearly 5 million copies for the original PlayStation, receiving multiple ports, and even an official remake currently on the way from Capcom.

 

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Photo: Zelda Dungeon

Released November 21st (Japan), November 23rd (North America) 1998

It’s amazing how, 20 years later,  you still find this game at the top of many “Best Video Games of All Time” lists. Two decades have failed to dull this epic’s edge. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was a landmark adventure not simply for the revered franchise that it was released into, but for the video game industry, as a whole. For the first time, the world of Hyrule was created in 3D, offering an open world action/adventure title on home consoles the likes of which had never been seen before. It set the standard for the genre, introducing and popularizing such mechanics like an advanced Z-Targeting system, toggling between first and third person views, a day/night system, horse riding, and its iconic time travel. Even 20 years later, Ocarina of Time’s puzzle-filled dungeons are remarkable achievements in inventive game design, each brimming with atmosphere. Link’s quest to save Hyrule from destruction as Ganondorf, the King of Evil, rose to power is an immortal odyssey for all who have experienced it.

 

Banjo-Kazooie

Photo: Banjo-Kazooie Wiki

Released June 29th, 1998

Mario wasn’t the only franchise to have a pivotal platformer hit the N64 in its early days. Rare firmly put their stamp on the 3D platforming genre with this colorful classic that pushed the N64’s hardware to its limits, with graphics that were about as detailed and as lush as you could get, at the time. This game put some adventure into the genre, with sprawling levels that let you roam wherever you pleased, and were filled with all sorts of different challenges that could  often be completed in whatever order you decided.

 

F-Zero X

Photo: YouTube

Released July 14th (Japan), October 26th (North America) 1998

N64’s 3D capabilities gave the F-Zero series the high-octane boost that 2D sprites just couldn’t quite achieve. F-Zero X was the polar opposite of the goofy fun from Mario Kart 64 and Diddy Kong Racing—this was a fast-faced, high-intensity racer that demanded white-knuckle control and very judicious blinking on the part of the player. The advent of 3D, 64-bit graphics let Nintendo crank up the speed and build even wilder courses that tested every last person to pick up a controller. Along with being the first 3D entry in the series, F-Zero X introduced the “death race” mode for those who wanted to play a futuristic destruction derby, as well as the X Cup, which still has gamers flying off the tracks to this day.

Spyro the Dragon

Photo: IMBD

Released September 9th, 1998

Long before he was taking all of your money for Skylanders figures, Spyro was proving that Sony’s Playstation could have its own platforming mascots to rival Mario and the gang over on the Nintendo 64. Spyro the Dragon was the time for the little guy to shine, as Spyro set off to rescue the bigger, older dragons who had all been crystallized by Gnasty Gnorc. This game pushed the original Playstation’s hardware to the limits, with visuals that were about as crisp as you could get in 1998. The game was a massive success, selling 5 million copies, and kicked off a franchise that would go on to be one of the original Playstation’s most iconic.

 

Metal Gear Solid

Photo: Metal Gear Informer

Released September 3rd (Japan), October 21st (North America) 1998

After branching out with story-based adventure games like Policenauts and Snatcher, Hideo Kojima returned to the series he created back in 1987. This return not only marked the return of Metal Gear, but also a revelation in cinematic storytelling in gaming, a benchmark in polished and thoughtful game design, a hallmark title for Sony’s growing PlayStation platform, and the game that put Hideo Kojima on the map of iconic game designers. Kojima’s landmark sequel brings Solid Snake, as well as a fully voice-acted and filmic story mode, into an exciting, politically-conscious and emotional adventure unlike anything gamers had seen before. Intelligent gameplay design brought stealth gameplay to new frontiers, and an engaging story combined with passionate and unique creative direction, as well as jaw-dropping production values, made Metal Gear Solid a touchstone of this brave new era for video games. Over 6 million copies were sold worldwide, and its legacy has endured as one of the most important releases of its time, and arguably one of the best video games ever made.

 

Turok 2: Seeds of Evil

Photo: Gameranx

Released October 21st, 1998

By 1998, games like Turok: Dinosaur Hunter and Goldeneye 007 had established that quality First Person Shooters could exist on the N64; then came Turok 2: Seeds of Evil to absolutely slam that point home. Seeds of Evil was a technical marvel back in the day, with visuals and game mechanics that still hold up well even two decades later. Its gore effects were gruesome, but undeniably impressive. Seeds of Evil came from an era of FPSs where you could carry as many weapons as wanted, had a static health meter, and featured something that’s been sorely missing from the genre in recent years—boss battles. Short, linear levels were nowhere to be found in this shooter. Seeds of Evil tossed you into enormous maps with a litany of objectives, and little direction for you to find your way aside from your own intuition. Indeed, this was a very different era of FPS.

 

Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped

Photo: Naughty Dog

Released October 31, 1998

Woah! Crash Bandicoot took the world by storm in the mid 90s, becoming the mascot for the newly released Playstation console from Sony and in the process, giving rival Nintendo a run for its money. After a successful debut and subsequent sequel with Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back, famed developer Naughty Dog released what is arguably Crash’s greatest adventure of all time: Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped. The game tried new things, such as adding Crash’s sister Coco as a playable character, adding even more story elements, and a whole slew of new in-game dynamics such as jet skiing, operating a giant mech, and more. The game was just one of a slew of big name hits to lead Sony to the end of the 1990s and into the new century swinging. In 2017, the game got a re-release at the hands of Vicarious Visions, who totally rebuilt the game from the ground up for the PS4, along with its two predecessors in the Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy. Here’s to hoping we get a completely new Crash adventure soon! We’ll also settle for a remake of Crash Team Racing...

 

Baldur’s Gate

Photo: IMBD

Released December 21st, 1998

As just the second game developed by BioWare, the original Baldur’s Gate set the tone for the Canadian studio’s eventual mastery over the RPG genre. It is heralded by many as having rejuvenated the genre on PCs, as well as bringer greater attention to the Dungeon & Dragons franchise. Taking place in the Forgotten Realms, and using a modified version of the Advanced Dungeon & Dragons 2nd Edition rules, Baldur’s Gate sent players along the Sword Coast in a lengthy adventure where you played as your own customizable character. The game’s engine would go on to build other Dungeons & Dragons-based titles, including the Icewind Dale series, and Planescape: Torment.

 

Star Wars: Rogue Squadron

Photo: Polygon

Released December 3rd (PC), December 7th (N64) 1998

When you wanted the chance to take part in a Star Wars dogfight during the late 90s, Rogue Squadron was your go-to. As one of the very first games to utilize the N64’s expansion pack, Rogue Squadron did its best to provide all of the graphical detail necessary to appropriately capture the thrill of aerial combat in the Star Wars saga. Primarily taking placing in between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, the game followed Luke Skywalker and Wedge Antilles across the galaxy as the titular Starfighter group took on the Empire. A planet-hopping campaign took you to large-scale battles on places like Sullust, Taloraan, as well as more familiar locales like Tatooine and Mon Calamari. You could engage in these dogfights piloting a number of iconic Star Wars fighters, including the X-Wing, V-Wing, Y-Wing, but also some secret ships like the Millennium Falcon and the Naboo Starfighter.

 

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