1998 was the Best Year in the History of Gaming
Posted by Ben Zeigler on February 26, 2009
Discussions of “The Best” whatever come up constantly, and I usually have a hard time making a decision because it always seems so subjective and personal. However, when it comes to figuring out the best/most important year in the history of video gaming, I can make a definitive judgment: 1998. You can try to come up with a year that had more awesome and influential games, but you will fail. All of these games were released in the same 12 month period (some in Japan or arcades), which is just ridiculous:
- 1080 Snowboarding: The first actually good snowboarding game
- Baldur’s Gate: Reinvigorated RPGs and launched BioWare
- Banjo-Kazooie: Huge selling 3d platformer
- Battlezone: The first First Person-RTS Hybrid I am aware of
- Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped: Probably the best platformer for the playstation.
- Dance Dance Revolution: The first arcade release
- Descent FreeSpace: One of the last awesome space fighters (and lead to the better FreeSpace 2 the next year)
- Die by the Sword: Extremely innovative swordfighting game, and launched Treyarch.
- Falcon 4.0: Long awaited update to a key flight simulation series.
- Fallout 2: It’s awesome.
- Gran Turismo: Brought realistic car racing to consoles
- Grand Prix Legends: One of the most realistic racing games ever.
- Grim Fandango: Last of the LucasArts classics.
- Guilty Gear: First in a very successful series of fighting games.
- Half-Life: I hope I don’t have to explain this one.
- Jurassic Park: Trespasser: Not exactly a GOOD game, but way ahead of it’s time technically.
- The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: Arguably the single best 3d action-adventure game.
- Lineage: Launched the gaming culture of an entire COUNTRY.
- Mario Party: Ah Nintendo’s live of mini game collections. I sort of wish this game didn’t exist.
- Metal Gear Solid: Created the Stealth Action genre.
- Panzer Dragoon Saga: The Saturn’s last great game.
- Pokemon Red and Blue: US start of the monumental franchise.
- Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Took tactical shooters to a new level, and launched the Tom Clancy gaming brand
- Resident Evil 2: Best-selling game in the series
- Shogo: Mobile armor Division: MECHS.
- Soulcalibur: Who doesn’t love Soulcalibur?
- Sonic Adventure: Considered by many to be the height of the Sonic series.
- Star Wars: Rogue Squadron: Made Factor 5 the king of casual space shooters.
- StarCraft: STILL the most played RTS game.
- Starsiege: Tribes: The first (and still one of the best) massive FPS.
- Suikoden II: One of my absolute favorite RPGs.
- Tekken 3: Arguable height of the Tekken series.
- Thief: The Dark Project: The OTHER game that created the Stealth Action genre.
- Unreal: Made Epic the graphical force they are today.
- Xenogears: The height of pretentious yet still sort of awesome Japanese RPGs.
Why was 1998 so awesome? On the Playstation and the N64, it was when developers had really figured out the hardware and were able to truly innovate. On the PC the success of Windows 95 and DirectX lead to massive technical jumps. Finally, at the end of the year the Dreamcast launched in Japan, which was the real start of the Playstation 2/XBox generation. It featured the climax of fading genres (space and flight simulation, traditional adventure games), and the rise exciting new ones (dance games, stealth action, FPS hybrids). It launched Valve, Epic, Bioware, Pokemon (without which Nintendo would never have made it to the Wii), and the entire country of Korea. Oh, and if that list doesn’t include at least 2 or 3 of your top 10 games, you’re either really young or confused.