May 2019 gaming anniversaries | From Wolfenstein to Ape Escape

It’s hard to sit back and appreciate the hard work that developers pour into their craft with so many exciting new games releasing each month. But as titles like Rage 2, Team Sonic Racing, and Total War Three Kingdoms finally see the light of day, it’s important to to appreciate the medium’s progress since the early 1970s. The following list of the May major game anniversaries indicates that the industry is forward-thinking and always open to new ideas. Join us as we explore the origins of some of gaming’s most respected franchises.

May 2019 gaming anniversaries | Wolfenstein: The New Order (5th Anniversary)

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Bethesda’s popular Wolfenstein series made the jump to modern consoles when Wolfenstein: The New Order released on May 20, 2014 for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and PC. It once again stars B.J. Blazkowicz as he attempts to usurp global Nazi rule with a vast array of real and fictional weapons. While the title’s first-person shooter gameplay doesn’t significantly diverge from its peers, what makes The New Order memorable is its emphasis on narrative and character development. Without giving too much away, Blazkowicz feels more human in this entry than he has in the past. There’s a lot more at stake for the hero this time around, as he’s emotionally motivated to save someone he loves.

May 2019 gaming anniversaries | Transistor (5th Anniversary)

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Supergiant Games’ second game, Transistor, had a lot of excitement surrounding it following the critical and commercial success of Bastion. Needless to say, while the title didn’t grab everyone, it did do well when it released on May 20, 2014 for PlayStation 4 and PC. While Red’s fight against a robotic force named the Process is engaging on its own, a lot of the game’s charm lies in the futuristic city of Cloudbank. The narrative is neatly interwoven into environments and players are constantly reminded of the destructive consequences that will occur if the titular Transistor falls into the wrong hands.

Gameplay preserves some elements from Bastion, but encourages players to switch up their play styles to keep each enemy encounter fresh. Though some may find the game’s contextual storytelling a bit too esoteric, Transistor is certainly a game that isn’t afraid to be different.

May 2019 gaming anniversaries | Mario Kart 8 (5th Anniversary)

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It wouldn’t be hyperbole to say that Mario Kart is a cultural phenomenon. Mario Kart 8 represents the pinnacle of the series, as its original version is the best-selling title on Wii U and its enhanced port, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, is the best-selling title on Switch. It’s hard to fathom how the kart racer managed to amass a total of over 20 million copies sold in just five years, though critics and fans would argue that it’s simply a blast to play.

Familiar gameplay mechanics like items and speed boosts return alongside new features like the ability to drive on walls. Players can race as characters like The Legend of Zelda‘s Link and Splatoon‘s Inklings if they’ve already grown used to the series’ iconic cast. New tracks, new vehicles, and Amiibo support round out this overwhelming package. Though Mario Kart 8 released on May 29, 2014, its still too good to pass up today, especially for Switch owners.

May 2019 gaming anniversaries | Infamous (10th Anniversary)

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The developer once typically known for its work on the original Sly Cooper games, Sucker Punch, decided to craft something radically different once Sony’s PlayStation 3 arrived on the scene. Infamous released for the console on May 26, 2009, introducing the Sony community to a mature take on the superhero genre. That’s not to say that the game isn’t fun, as protagonist Cole MacGrath uses both his parkour skills and his newfound electricity powers to skate along power lines, race atop buildings, and blow up dangerous caravans. While Infamous‘ morality choices are a bit rudimentary by today’s standards, it’s hard not to enjoy watching one’s evil karma meter grow as innocent pedestrians are electrocuted for no reason.

May 2019 gaming anniversaries | Red Dead Revolver (15th Anniversary)

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The next time someone says all games with troubled development cycles are doomed to fail, point him or her to Red Dead Revolver. Before this Western action adventure title released on May 4, 2004 for PlayStation 2 and the original Xbox, it was designed to be a spiritual successor to Capcom’s 1985 arcade hit Gun.Smoke. When developer Angel Studios was bought out by Rockstar in 2002 and failed to deliver a playable version of the game by E3 2003, Capcom cancelled the project. Rockstar acquired the rights to the property that December, however, believing Red Dead Revolver was a title worth hanging on to.

This proved to be a wise decision, as the game helped spawn the company’s most profitable franchise outside of Grand Theft Auto. Red Dead Revolver itself is noteworthy in how well it manages to portray a moral gray area where doing the right thing may not always be legal. Protagonist Red Harlow makes decisions that players may not always agree with on his quest to avenge his parents’ murder. While Revolver may not be as technically impressive as its sequels, it’s just as rife with moral dilemmas.

May 2019 gaming anniversaries | Ape Escape (20th Anniversary)

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Originally released for the first PlayStation on May 31, 1999, Ape Escape seems unsophisticated on the surface. As a kid named Spike, players must travel through time in order to prevent an army of apes from rewriting history. Despite its looks, the game is actually one of the first titles to make excellent use of the PlayStation’s signature dual analog controls. The left stick can be used for navigation while the right stick can be used to control any one of Spike’s gadgets.

As a result, the platformer is easy to play but hard to master. The simians themselves are intelligent and alert each other to Spike’s presence if detected. Some apes have weapons that can kill players in one hit if they aren’t careful. Collectible Specter Coins yield hidden locations and mini-games should fans be lucky enough to find them. Ape Escape is a franchise that many in the PlayStation community hope would return soon. Who wouldn’t want to catch apes with the PlayStation 5’s 8K resolution?

While Ape Escape may come to mind sooner when discussing video game classics, modern gems like Wolfenstein: The New OrderTransistor, and Mario Kart 8 are worthy of the distinction despite each being only five years old. Ultimately, every game on this list is still fun to play today. Though it may be hard to convince oneself to hold off on latest Kingdom Hearts or Devil May Cry game, going through one’s backlog and/or discovering titles one may have missed out on as a kid may be worth it. If anything, it certainly gives one an excuse to reorganize his or her apartment.