1997 was a momentous year in the sense that it full of momentous events that changed the history of the world as many know it such as the release of Titanic, the seven hour long movie about a ship sinking, and the death of America’s sweetheart Biggie Smalls. While an entire editorial could most likely be made about the former, it would undoubtedly end in the termination of at least one employee at the site despite his best intentions. So, without further ado it is time to get into the games of 1997 starting off with none other than the instant classic: PaRappa the Rapper.
Yes, the rappin’ fool came to the PlayStation in the year 1997 to positive reception only for the remaster 20 years later to fall flatter than he already is. Jokes aside, 1997 was a magnificent time for gamers as it seemed like another amazing game was coming out every month. The PlayStation also had the gift of titles such as the very first game in the “Grand Theft Auto” franchise aptly named the same, along with Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee which was also the first in the “Oddworld” series of games the most recent one being a remake of the very first. Of course, it would not be 1997 for the PlayStation without the two most memorable releases for the console, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, and Final Fantasy VII. Interestingly enough, while both games were very well-recieved at the time and continue to be, there was a stark contrast as to how both games were marketed in the United States. While Castlevania: Symphony of the Night was given what some might consider bare-bones advertising in the West, Final Fantasy VII‘s release was an event to say the least. The marketing budget for the franchise’s push into the third-dimension was practically unheard of at the time, and the budget for development was no small matter either. Both games ended up doing extremely well for themselves in terms of both reception and sales, although Castlevania: Symphony of the Night had a slower start in the west due to less advertising, but quickly picked up steam over time once all the exceptional reviews began to pour in. Meanwhile, on the Nintendo side of the world, the Nintendo 64 was host to games such as Mario Kart 64, Star Fox 64, and also Bomberman 64. There was certainly a theme to these releases, as many well-known franchises were making their first foray into 3D gaming, but only time can tell if that was for the best. Away from the hub-ub of console gaming, Fallout was also released in 1997 for the PC along with The Curse of Monkey Island, both of which known for their dialogue though in vastly different ways.
Now it is time for the hardware of 1997 which is ultimately pretty lackluster compared to previous years as the biggest thing to note is Tiger’s Game.com which was definitely a piece of video game hardware that at least one person bought at some point in time. It sold under 300,000 units throughout its short lifetime and was the first portable game console to connect to the internet. Believe it or not, but Castlevania: Symphony of the Night was at one point even planned to come out for this ill-fated handheld. Other than that the SNES got a redesign which was applauded by everyone, the President of the United States even made a statement to show how much he cared about Nintendo’s thoughtful approach to the redesign and wished them great luck in the future. On a less upbeat note though, 1997 also marked the year that the Mega Drive and the Game Gear were discontinued as Sega sent them off with a viking funeral. Besides, who would dare to release a new console when the PlayStation was doing so well for itself? It would be like trying to start from the beginning 30 minutes into a marathon, or attempting to make similes in a paragraph about video game hardware released in the year 1997.
So here comes the time in which death does this editorial part as it goes down the new companies that were born unto the video gaming populace in 1997. First up is Crave Entertainment which developed hit games like Baby Pals for the Nintendo DS and Napoleon Dynamite: The Game for the PS2 along with a medley of other shovelware games that no one with common sense probably purchased. The company dissolved in 2012 due to bankruptcy which proved to be a huge shock to someone at some point possibly. Next is Human Head Studios which is known for developing Prey, just not the recent Prey but instead the Prey that released in 2006 which was not received nearly as positively as the Prey released in 2017. Now known as 2K Czech, Illusion Softworks also saw their origins in 1997 and is known for developing games in the “Mafia” franchise the most recent one being Mafia III which was set in New Orleans and received pretty middling reception over all. Last but not least is Irrational Games known for creating the first Bioshock along with Bioshock Infinite, although now they are known as Ghost Story Games due to rebranding and only time will tell where that leads them. Good luck out there Ken Levine, may your relation to Adam bring you no ill will.
So that is that for this week’s editorial all about 1997! Was there enough information or do you still crave more knowledge regarding the wonderful year it was? Make sure to leave a comment below to let us know what you think!