Yesterday I was feeling nostalgic, so I decided to count down the top 15 movies of 1999. Today I’m feeling much the same way, so I thought I’d give it a try with video games. And just like there were a ton of classic movies that came out a decade ago, the same is true for games. Many classic series got their starts this year, and you might have a laugh at what we thought used to be “cutting edge” and “graphically stunning.”
But even with technological advancements, there are some games on this list that have retained their playability to this very day.
10) Mario Party
Today, as this year Mario Party 8 has been released for the Wii, it can be safe to say that we’re exhausted of the Mario Party series. However, when the original came out for Nintendo 64 in 1999, we loved it because four player gaming was still a relatively new concept, and there were only a handful of games for the system that really took advantage of the opportunity. The original Mario Party was a good time, especially if you didn’t yet have any idea that seven nearly identical sequels were on the horizon.
9) Soul Calibur
Not much in the graphics department, but the original Soul Calibur set the stage for one of the best fighting franchises ever. It improved upon it’s predecessor Soul Blade with new characters and moves. Unfortunately, this was before a complete boob-bouncing engine was developed for game systems, so we had to use our imaginations when we played with Taki.
8 ) Quake III Arena
Quake III was innovative in the sense that it mostly abandoned single player to focus solely on multiplayer action. It was minimalist, but an insane amount of fun, and ahead of its time, as allegedly the first game to invent “strafe-jumping.”
7) Final Fantasy VIII
Of course nothing short of the second coming of Christ would have topped Final Fantasy VII, but VIII was a great game as well, even if it is constantly overshadowed by its older brother. For it’s time, it had absolutely stunning graphics, as is tradition for each new installment in the series, and coined one of the coolest terms in video games, the “gunblade.”
6) Unreal Tournament
The original Unreal Tournament was met with bouqets of roses from almost every gaming magazine in existence upon its release. It’s graphics, gameplay and maps set it even above Quake, according to some. The game currently has an aggregated 94% rating, which makes it the eighth highest reviewed PC game of all time. Not too shabby for a decade ago.
5) Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater
I will credit this game for making me buy a skateboard, realizing that it was way, way harder in real life, and promptly putting it in my attic for the next ten years. But THPS was simply a blast when it was released, and although the tricks and maps seem limited now, at the time you would grow to know every detail of the game like the back of your hand. I could draw you an exact scale map of the Warehouse to this day.
A decade before World of Warcraft owned 10 million people’s lives, Everquest started MMO on a smaller scale. A widesweeping fantasy epic, the game was addicting to the point where players started calling it “Evercrack.”
Counterstrike will always remain a legend among tactical team shooters. It was one of the first online shooters to require a great deal of strategy and coordination to win a game, rather than just relying on who had the quickest trigger finger. Although that certainly helped.
2) Silent Hill
Alright, so as you can see the graphics weren’t astonishing, even for the time, but that didn’t mean the original Silent Hill wasn’t terrifying. One of the first games to rely heavily on both story and suspense, the result was a horror game that was so much more than running around shooting zombie. It was cerebral, smart and you would never, ever play it with the lights off.
1) Super Smash Bros.
What does it say about a game that I still play it with my friends on a Saturday evening before we go head out to the bars. The original Super Smash Bros. has perhaps the most replay value of any game ever made. Before the series added a deluge of characters and items, the original existed as an almost perfect entity, with each of its characters able to be perfected by someone with the necessary skill. Though it’s sequels have been among the best games for their respective systems, nothing will ever be able to touch the original, and that’s probably the way it should be.