Editorial: Gaming in 1998

1998 marked the year that Seinfeld ended after almost ten years of being on the air as well as the beginning of Google when it was just an innocent search engine and not the precursor to Skynet many know and love today. This faithful year, like many other years during the very same decade, was beholden to many video games for fans to either buy or rent so often that it would have actually made more sense just to buy the game. So, with no ifs, ands, or buts it is time to dive deep into the world of video games in the year 1998.

But very few people actually exit, aside from exiting the mortal plane.

Two partners enter, about seventeen thousand zombies also enter. Some bullets enter the zombies, some zombies enter the people, a lot of entering happens.

After seeing how well 1997 did in terms of new video game releases, the sentient being known as the year 1998 took this as a challenge and really cranked out some hit titles all in the space of 365 days. One of the first big releases of the year being Resident Evil 2 for the PlayStation (although it was later ported to other systems at the time such as the Nintendo 64 and the Dreamcast) which released to critical acclaim and extremely high sales figures even when compared to last year’s hit titles. Just a week later, Final Fantasy Tactics was also released in North America and although the title did not have as an eventful of a launch, it has continued to remain popular in niche groups many years after its release. Also released in 1998 was the original StarCraft which is set to be remastered this year after Blizzard released the original game along with its expansion for free in April of 2017. 1998 also saw the release of one of the most popular RPGs of its time along with one of the most popular Saturn titles of all time, this mysterious game being none other than Panzer Dragoon Saga which marked the series departure from its previous standard of being an on-rails shooter into the magical world of role-playing games. The PlayStation was undoubtedly proving its worth in the late 90’s with releases such as Gran Turismo, Mega Man Legends, Spyro the Dragon and the always popular Metal Gear Solid. Though, 1998 also marked some notable releases for the PlayStation’s competitor, the Nintendo 64 with games such as The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Banjo-Kazooie, both of which were seen extremely favorably at the time but have since been put through the tests of time to find that they may not have aged as well as others might have thought. Not to forget that the always important PC also had some popular exclusives, one of the most popular being Half-Life which took players into sunny New Mexico and eventually the terrifying planet Xen. Fallout 2, Baldur’s Gate and Grim Fandango also made their way onto the PC in 1998, each game being welcomed at the time by reviewers but the sales numbers for the latter told a different story. Of course, 1998 would not have been the magical year many know it to be without the long awaited gift of Pokemon Red and Pokemon Blue in the United States, giving millions of kids Pokemon catching fever!

If Atari can make a new console in 2017 then Neo Geo can make a new portable console.

May you sleep well, tiny prince.

Next up comes the hardware of 1998 starting off with the untimely demise of the Sega Saturn. It feels like just last year that the Sega Saturn was released, when it reality it was closer to four and a half years depending on the region one was in at the time of the Saturn’s death. Though, North America had yet to have the Saturn’s successor bestowed upon it as not until 1999 that the Dreamcast made its way onto the scene for everyone outside of Japan. So, for a couple painful months gamers in America had a dearth of new Sega gaming goodness. But, North American regions were lucky enough to receive the Game Boy Color which was backwards compatible unlike most handhelds released at the time, thus giving the Game Boy Color an obvious advantage to other available handheld consoles on the market with an increased games catalogue. The Game Boy Color was also backed up by the Game Boy Camera which released in North America in June of 1998 and went on to be awarded with a world record for being the smallest digital camera at the time. Unfortunately, the other handheld console released in 1998 did not come over to the states, and instead the Neo Geo Pocket stayed in Japan where it was created and went on to be discontinued in 1999 with only about 2 million units sold by the end of its lifetime.

But he is ultimately a failure who no one loves, sorry Aero.

Aero did his best, in a way.

Last up is none other than new businesses that made their way onto the market in 1998 along with some notable events as well. One of these new businesses being BreakAway Games which was first known for their strategy games but is now known for developing video games for the U.S. military and the U.S. Department of Justice along with other organizations. Also new to the scene in 1998 was Metro3D, Inc which was known for games such as Aero the Acro-Bat and Zero the Kamikaze Squirrel, both attempting to join in on the mascots with attitude trend that Sonic the Hedgehog was so famous for. Rockstar Games also made their way into the market in December of 1998 after the 1997 release of Grand Theft Auto by DMA Design Limited which is now known as Rockstar North Limited and has since then made millions upon millions of dollars. The developer of the cult classic, Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines Troika Games also started business in 1998 only to unfortunately close down a year after the game’s release in 2005. Crystal Dynamics, Inc was acquired by Eidos Interactive in 1998 and has since then worked on games in the “Tomb Raider” franchise including the most recent title, Rise of the Tomb Raider. All in all, a pretty eventful year for video game enthusiasts who like to pay attention to acquisitions and blossoming businesses.

Only one week left, what could possibly happen for the grand finale? Did you know all of this information or was all of it brand new? Did you own a Neo Geo Pocket instead of a Game Boy Color? Whatever the case may be, make sure to leave a comment below and let us know what you think!

6 Comments

  1. Lusipurr
    Posted 2017.07.05 at 20:13 | Permalink

    Sega Saturn. That’s what you chose to write about for 1998. The Saturn.

  2. Adeki
    Posted 2017.07.05 at 22:32 | Permalink

    @Lusipurr: RIP SEGA SATURN GONE 2 SOON POUR 1 OUT 4 DA FAM.

  3. S.T.
    Posted 2017.07.08 at 19:06 | Permalink

    When I look back, if I had to choose a year that I believed was the absolute best in gaming history, I think 1998 takes the cake. I find it difficult finding a genre that didn’t have a high-quality profile release that year. There was a new, must-have game coming out practically every month!

    A few standouts that I enjoyed from that year:

    -Panzer Dragoon Saga (Saturn): Adeki did reference this game in his article, but I’m bringing it up here because I believe this game showed that with the right team, the Saturn could push the edge on 3D graphics. It may not have been the system’s strong suit, but given the proper team and tools, there were plenty of imaginative and interesting games that took advantage of the power there. I don’t think we’ll ever see a RPG quite like this game again, because the Moebius-inspired locales and themes of the series were designed around the limitations of the system. This was back when great developers used every ounce of power they had at their disposal to make something creative and artistic. Fun fact for everyone: Sega lost the source code for this title after Team Andromeda, the developers of the Panzer Dragoon series, were disbanded in 2004, which means we probably will never see a remake of this gem.

    -Radiant Silvergun (Saturn): The Saturn’s “holy grail”. If there was any dispute as to what system delivered in quality in the form of 2D shoot-em-ups, this game put that argument to rest. This vertical shooting game took advantage of 2D screen with multiple 3D effects in the form of bullets, enemies, and ship graphics. The art style was inherently ‘90s anime-esque, with fantastic cutscenes and voice acting. Yet another excellent title from Treasure. If you like shoot-em-ups (especially challenging ones), check this title out. You won’t be disappointed. (Fun fact: This game also received a “spiritual sequel” of sorts in the form of Ikaruga for the Dreamcast in 2001)

    -Xenogears (PlayStation): Ever since I was a young lad, I’ve always had a deep rooted love for giant robots, particularly those in Japanese mecha anime. Believe you me, when I found out at 11 years old that the same people behind Final Fantasy VII were making an RPG with giant anime robots, I damn near lost my mind. Now granted, the game may not have been entirely played in a giant mech, (frankly most of it wasn’t), but I enjoyed the art style and story of this title as well, even if I was miffed I wasn’t in a giant mech the entire game.

    -Shining Force III (Saturn): I absolutely love this game. The strategic battles, the epic soundtrack, the fact that the story spans 3 games (Scenario 1-3), the funny dialogue and characters, this is the game I wish Sega would return to as an inspiration in their further efforts in the Shining series of games. Fun fact, the first scenario was the only one released for the Saturn in the US and Europe back in the 90s (which sucked because it ends on freaking cliff-hanger!), but you can find fully translated versions of Scenario 2 and 3 online now. Hopefully when Sega Forever starts releasing Saturn titles, this will be one of the first to be released.

    -Pokémon Red (GameBoy): Need I say more? I bought a Game Boy Color because of this game. Every one and their brother was playing Pokémon in the late 90s, and yes, Red was my version of choice and yes, I caught all 150.

    On the hardware side, the Dreamcast did get launched in November 1998 in Japan, but I’ll be saving my Dreamcast story for next week…..

    S.T. out, looking forward to “Gaming in 1999”!

  4. Tanzenmatt
    Posted 2017.07.09 at 18:12 | Permalink

    You missed one of the best games on the N64, Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon!

  5. Adeki
    Posted 2017.07.09 at 23:51 | Permalink

    @S.T.: It’s a shame that Panzer Dragoon Saga will probably never be remade, I think that is is definitely a game that could still do well today in spite of other companies claims of what they think might be popular such as Final Fantasy XV. Also, I didn’t know that Ikaruga was a spiritual successor! I’ll definitely have to check out Radiant Silvergun.

    @Tanzenmatt: I’m sorry. ;_; That being said though, after looking it up I did not realize that the N64 game and the Game Boy game were released in the exact same month, I think that says a lot about their confidence about how much people would like Goemon, haha.

  6. S.T.
    Posted 2017.07.12 at 12:00 | Permalink

    Ikaruga is like an “easy-mode” for Radiant Silvergun. Different bullet types for different enemies, the ship designs are basically the same, etc. The soundtrack for Ikaruga is also very derivative of Radiant Silvergun’s. The big difference is the bullet-dodging mechanic in Ikaruga isn’t in RS. In Ikaruga, if the bullets match your ship color they won’t damage your ship. In RS however, it doesn’t matter what bullets hit you, you get hit, you blow up. Simple as that.

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