It’s always important to be grateful for the things we have, especially during the holiday season. The astounding virtual worlds we immerse ourselves in on a daily basis wouldn’t have been imaginable without the hard work of the talented individuals who make up the video game industry. Consider this list of the month’s major game anniversaries a celebration of the meticulous craftsmanship that goes into most titles on the market today.
Game Anniversaries in December 2018 – Dissidia Final Fantasy (10th Anniversary)
Dissidia Final Fantasy is basically the JRPG version of Super Smash Bros. As strange as this is to read, the formula surprisingly works. Originally released on December 18, 2008 in Japan, Square Enix’s Dissidia series has spawned multiple sequels on both PlayStation Portable and PlayStation 4. This long line of entries has enthralled longtime Final Fantasy fans by giving them access to the franchise’s most famed heroes and villains in a gigantic battle of good versus evil.
Characters from the very first entry in the series, like the Warrior of Light, can be used alongside modern faces like Tidus and Gabranth. As with most fighting games, players are tasked with bringing the opponent’s health gauge down to zero. Dissidia‘s twist lies in the unique skills of each participant and the three-dimensional arena they fight in. It’s a novel take on the genre that has yet to be replicated successfully in 2018.
Game Anniversaries in December 2018 – Star Wars: Rogue Squadron (20th Anniversary)
One of the first games to fully utilize the Nintendo 64’s Expansion Pak was Star Wars: Rogue Squadron, an aerial shooter that blew everyone away with its impressive presentation when it released on December 7, 1998. Landscapes, ships, and lighting effects pop off the screen to properly immerse players in the film worlds they probably grew up with. The title’s X-Wings control remarkably well and could be upgraded with features that include proton torpedoes and seeker missiles. Its sound design is still remarkable since it conveys the franchise’s atmosphere quite nicely.
Game Anniversaries in December 2018 – Baldur’s Gate (20th Anniversary)
Baldur’s Gate was credited with revitalizing the computer role-playing genre when it released on December 21, 1998, thanks in part to its inspiration from Dungeons and Dragons. Birthed from the studio that later brought us Mass Effect, Baldur’s Gate‘s branching storylines converge seamlessly into one another. It laid the complex storytelling groundwork for other RPGs to follow and is extremely replayable today given its addictive Diablo-like mechanics and vast customization options. Unsurprisingly, people still regularly play this game 20 years after its launch.
Game Anniversaries in December 2018 – Sonic Adventure (20th Anniversary)
Sonic Adventure marked the hedgehog’s first foray in 3D and released exclusively on Sega’s Dreamcast on December 23, 1998. In it, the mascot and his friends must put a stop to Doctor Robotnik’s plans to collect all seven Chaos Emeralds and revive an ancient evil. Few games were quite as graphically jaw-dropping as Sonic Adventure was for its time and its first level is still one of the more memorable Sonic openers. That’s not to mention the adorable Chao, which are digital pets that scamper around the game looking for a place to call home.
Game Anniversaries in December 2018 – Doom (25th Anniversary)
When Doom released on December 10, 1993, it helped pioneer the popular first-person shooter genre that we all know today. Developed by id Software, the game has players mow down demon hordes across hell using a variety of weapons like chainsaws, rocket launchers, and the infamous BFG9000. Because Doom was so unique at the time of its release, it spurred many fans to seek it out online. In turn, this caused many college campuses and workplaces to ban the game, as it was regularly clogging up their servers and distracted students and staff.
Aside from introducing most players to first-person shooters, Doom popularized online distribution models for video games, crafted an impressive 3D world that was unprecedented at the time, experimented with dedicated networks for multiplayer sessions, and helped develop mod communities. Gaming today owes a lot to Doom, and you owe yourself at least one playthrough of it.
Game Anniversaries in December 2018 – Mega Man X (25th Anniversary)
Mega Man X launched on December 17, 1993 for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in Japan. Though it’s a continuation of Capcom’s original Mega Man series, the game differs most in its noticeably faster gameplay mechanics. Specifically, X has the ability to dash and climb walls—two features that demanded reworking the level design and enemy behavior. Mega Man X and its many sequels are meant for Mega Man fans who prefer fluidity over strategy. Its design remains a hallmark of the 2D platforming shooter genre that many indie games have continued to adopt in 2018.
Game Anniversaries in December 2018 – Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (30th Anniversary)
Zelda II: The Adventure of Link released for the Nintendo Entertainment System in North America in December 1988. Though it’s not the most critically lauded or fan acclaimed game in the series, this sequel is novel in how differently it plays compared to the original. It features side-scrolling areas and gameplay similar to Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest, though does something unique on its own by melding platformer and RPG elements together. Interaction with NPCs helps make Hyrule feel more alive, and an experience system sees Link grow steadily throughout his journey.
Few gameplay mechanics of the title have carried over to modern entries, though The Adventure of Link did provide the foundation for a lot of Zelda‘s lore. This is especially true when considering the characters, locations, and artifacts that have been passed down three decades later.
Even with quality games like Red Dead Redemption 2, God of War, Spider-Man, and more out on store shelves, the titles above are worth looking into to rediscover gaming’s history. Each continues to offer a compelling hook that may keep you invested for longer than expected. Whatever game you decide to play on your system of choice this holiday season, remember to be grateful for the hard work that made it possible. Also, try not to drink too much eggnog.