Though August has never seen the release of a Call of Duty game, plenty of long-running franchises have debuted during the month (and some have the chance to this month, too). Modern sensations like P.T. and beloved classics like Earthworm Jim, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, and The Need for Speed all managed to garner a lot of attention during the hottest 31 days of the year. A fighting game, a first-person thriller, and a superhero title can also be found on the following list of the August 2019 gaming anniversaries.
August 2019 Gaming Anniversaries | P.T. (5th Anniversary)
P.T. set the internet on fire when it released exclusively for PlayStation 4 on August 12, 2014. From the minds of Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima and acclaimed director Guillermo del Toro, the “playable teaser” served to introduce video game fans to the newest installment in the Silent Hill franchise. Players have to find clues hidden in a corridor filled with gargantuan ghosts and crying fetus-like creatures in order to break a terrifying, continuous loop and escape to the world outside.
Fans have no weapons to defend themselves with and the demo offers no hints on how to progress. Unfortunately, people who don’t have P.T. downloaded onto their PlayStation 4 systems have to watch a playthrough on YouTube, as Konami removed the title from the PlayStation Store in April 2015.
August 2019 Gaming Anniversaries | Batman: Arkham Asylum (10th Anniversary)
Batman: Arkham Asylum was hailed by some to be the greatest comic book game ever made when it released for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on August 25, 2009. Inspired by Grant Morrison’s graphic novel of the same name, the title has players take on the role of the Dark Knight as he attempts to foil Joker’s scheme to take over Arkham Asylum and free villains like Bane, Poison Ivy, and Killer Croc.
Its combat system is the game’s most innovative aspect, which has fans chain attacks with Batman’s fists and gadgets while avoiding damage. Players can also take down foes stealthily using tools like the grappling hook and explosive gel. Various other titles such as Captain America: Super Soldier and Mad Max tried to ape Arkham Asylum‘s mechanics but none got close to the Bat’s Rocksteady debut, proving how thoroughly the studio nailed the mechanics. Arkham Asylum is a title truly made for fans of the caped crusader. Superhero aficionados who have yet to play it should do so as soon as possible. Masks and capes are optional, but they do help elevate the experience.
August 2019 Gaming Anniversaries | Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver (20th Anniversary)
The sequel to Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, released for the original PlayStation on August 16, 1999. Written by the esteemed Amy Hennig of Uncharted fame, the game has players help a vampire-wraith named Raziel hack and slash his way through the material and spectral realms in order to enact revenge on his lord, Kain.
Soul Reaver‘s best qualities lie in its impressive narrative, convincing voice acting, and an unobtrusive camera. At times it’s hard to believe that the game debuted in the 1990s, as its environments are detailed and transitions between cutscenes and gameplay are seamless. This second entry in the Kain universe is just as brooding as it is technically impressive. Fans of atmospheric action games may find Soul Reaver worth looking into even all these years later.
August 2019 Gaming Anniversaries | System Shock 2 (20th Anniversary)
System Shock 2 is considered to be one of the most influential RPGs of all time, as its character classes, thought-provoking combat sequences, and chilling sound design changed the definition of first-person shooters and survival horror games when it released for PC on August 11, 1999. Set aboard a starship in the year 2114, players must try to contain an outbreak caused in part by a devious artificial intelligence called SHODAN.
Similarly to its spiritual successor BioShock, System Shock 2 encourages fans to think before they act lest they’re murdered by a group of protocol droids in between save points. The marine, navy officer, and OSA agent classes have unique strengths and weaknesses, and different weapons and sections are available to each of them. It’s impossible not to notice how meticulously designed System Shock 2 is and see Ken Levine’s fingerprints all over the project.
August 2019 Gaming Anniversaries | Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater (20th Anniversary)
As its name suggests, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater has skateboard fans ollie, grab, slide, and flip through 3D environments while a well-curated punk rock soundtrack blares in the background. Aside from athletes like Tony Hawk, Bob Burnquist, Kareem Campbell, and Elissa Steamer, one of the title’s biggest draws is how well it translates the sport. Believable physics, easy to learn controls, and a smooth framerate make fans feel like they’re the famous skater onscreen. It’s no surprise that the game spawned a massive franchise for developer Neversoft after it released for the original PlayStation on August 31, 1999.
August 2019 Gaming Anniversaries | Earthworm Jim (25th Anniversary)
Though the Sega Genesis is popularly known for Sonic the Hedgehog, another one of its beloved mascots is Earthworm Jim. The character’s first game released for the console on August 2, 1994. While the title doesn’t exactly revolutionize the platforming genre, its fluid animations, long levels, and challenging difficulty sets it apart from its contemporaries.
Earthworm Jim isn’t afraid to poke fun at its ridiculous premise, which sees the titular character don a mechanical suit and rescue Princess What’s-Her-Name from a series of one-note villains. The game’s success in the 1990s helped create a massive franchise that includes sequels, toys, and comic books. While Jim may not be around today and is a little controversial given the bigoted comments from his creator, his legacy continues to live on.
August 2019 Gaming Anniversaries | The King of Fighters (25th Anniversary)
The King of Fighters, otherwise known as The King of Fighters ’94, released in Japanese arcades on August 25, 1994. Similarly to Nintendo’s Smash Bros. series, the game has SNK mascots from franchises like Fatal Fury, Art of Fighting, Ikari Warriors, and Psycho Solider duke it out to see who will be the last man or woman standing.
Each one of the title’s teams consist of three fighters that rotate into battle when one companion is knocked out. This innovative mechanic both extends the length of matches and introduces a new source of tension, as there’s no telling when an opponent will be able to stage a comeback. It’s obvious that the 3-on-3 feature had a profound impact on the genre, as it can be found in modern fighters like Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and Dragon Ball FighterZ.
August 2019 Gaming Anniversaries | The Need for Speed (25th Anniversary)
The Need for Speed was made entirely with car enthusiasts in mind. EA teamed up with automotive magazine Road and Track to carefully recreate colors, sounds, gears, and levers in-game. The title even includes video clips highlighting each car’s exterior and interior components. Of course, people who just want to race can appreciate how well each vehicle handles and how expertly designed each track is. The Need for Speed spawned one of EA’s most successful franchises when it launched for the 3DO on August 31, 1994. While the series has gone through rough patches and some hiatuses, there is still probably some fondness for it, given that it gets the right game.
It’s safe to say that summer video game droughts don’t exist. The list above proves that August has always been a great month to release software in, as products are given some opportunity to shine before an onslaught of games floods the market in the fall. With highly anticipated titles like Remedy’s Control and Platinum Games’ Astral Chain slated to release within the next few weeks, it doesn’t seem like the month has lost its luster yet.