This is one of the most prolific eras for the game industry. On this time slot, we have the new console from Nintendo (the formerly called Ultra 64, or Nintendo 64), we have the first PlayStation machine (after a deal with Nintendo fell through), and Sega has the Saturn released in 1994, and later unveils the Dreamcast, a machine beyond its time, in 1999. The best years were yet to come.
At this timeframe, we have a very special year: 1998. Considering the games that came out that year, it’s easy to consider one of the best years in gaming. You can take a quick look at this table to confirm:
|1080° Snowboarding||Metal Gear Solid|
|Age of Empires: The Rise of Rome||Panzer Dragoon Saga|
|Baldur’s Gate||Parasite Eve|
|Banjo-Kazooie||Pokémon Red and Blue|
|Body Harvest||Resident Evil 2|
|Bomberman World||Resident Evil: Director’s Cut|
|Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines||Sonic Adventure|
|Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped||Spyro the Dragon|
|F-Zero X||Star Wars: Rogue Squadron|
|Final Fantasy Tactics||Tenchu: Stealth Assassins|
|Gran Turismo||The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time|
|Grim Fandango||Thief: The Dark Project|
|Half-Life||Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six|
|Heart of Darkness||Tomb Raider III: Adventures of Lara Croft|
|Mario Party||Turok 2: Seeds of Evil|
|Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes||Vigilante 8|
|MediEvil||X-Men vs. Street Fighter|
|Mega Man Legends||Xenogears|
|Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit||Yoshi’s Story|
And between these great releases, there are 3 that I’d love to talk about!
Resident Evil 2
After the initial success of the original Resident Evil (even with the famous and terrible voice acting on the cutscenes – check some of the best here: https://youtu.be/pVyOCssIXgQ), Capcom did not waste a heartbeat to start production on the second installment of the franchise, promised to March 1997. However, close to completion, the game felt way to dislocated from the previous game, considering both main characters were not previously used, nor had any connection to the story so far.
It is also worth mention that the game received a revamp on the graphics, but at the expense of having less zombies on the screen at the same time. Due to this changes, and the history being considered to close-ended, Capcom decided to re-work the game, and release the version above with a re-pack of the original game, on the disc Resident Evil: Director’s Cut. This unfinished version eventually received the nickname Resident Evil 1.5.
Resident Evil 2 came out in 1998, and continued the story for the franchise, allowing more branches to be considered for further installments.
Tenchu: Stealth Assassins
Combining ninja skills and a lot of stealth elements, Tenchu is a action-adventure game where you must seek justice for his clan. The game combines action buttons to hide behind corners and crouching mode to avoid being detected by your enemies.
You can resort to a lot of gadgets and ninja-gear to get around or dispatch enemies quietly. You can select between two novice ninjas from the Azuma clan, called Rikimaru and Ayame. You have a few missions to select and must complete the objectives to be graded by your master, once you return.
The game used the same technique to avoid rendering too many objects on-screen at the same time, such as Silent Hill made, but in this case, it was using darkness instead of fog. Considering the time period of the game, it fits perfectly since all places were lit by candlelight at the time.
Combining racing, combat, explosions and secrets, Vigilant 8 was a simple copy of the original Twisted Metal, but with a more variety of cars and characters to choose initially. The main difference is that each of the 8 characters has a point of view in the ending, making it almost mandatory to finish the game with all of them to have a clear picture of what was happening after all.
During the release of the game for the Nintendo 64 (in 1999), one of the ads included a school bus (one of the selectable vehicles from the game) dropping off kids at school in the morning, and returning back later in the day, to drive the kids home, albeit completely destroyed given the car combat system. This ad was pulled off after the Columbine High School massacre, happened in the same year.
The most interesting aspect of this game came from development. It was completely done by 5 people, including the original release (Playstation), and a port for the Nintendo 64. At the time, Sony has priced the dev kit for the Playstation in a very low price point, and the fee for developing for the console was also a ridiculous low amount (around $10 at the time of release of the PS console). It’s incredible how such a small team could port it to the cartridges of the Nintendo 64, given its limitations and complexity.