Well, it's 1999. Time to reflect upon what was a great year for RPGs and gaming in general. Like a great novel, the year had many climaxes and plot twists, some for better, some for worse. We saw the death of the Saturn, the domination of the PSX, and the Zelda- induced comeback of the N64.
Time to pay our last respects 1998:
The Surprise of the Year:
Klonoa: The Door to Phantomile
The years best side scrolling platformer, also the years most underrated game. Namco pleases old school gamers with great playability, stand out graphics, a great plot, and the most loveable characters this side of anything!
The Let Down of the Year:
Good-Bye Saturn. The Saturn passed before it's time. Lack of hype behind it's games, and an apparent lack of Sega really giving a damn led to the Saturn's fall. Games like NiGHTS, Panzer Dragoon Saga, Grandia, MKR, and innovative beauties like Mr. Bones are what this system should be remembered for.
Ironically, some of the last games for the system showcase it's power the best: products like Panzer Dragoon Saga, Magic Knight Rayearth, and Shining Force III are all great reasons to hunt down a price reduced Saturn, if you don't already have one.
Top 3 Games of 1998
Before I get to the big top 3, let me give some honourable mentions the credit they deserve: Metal Gear Solid, Tenchu, Gran Turismo, Grandia, Shining Force 3, Kartia: Word of Fate and Magic Knight Rayearth.
Now, without further ado *drumroll*:
Second Runner Up:
Panzer Dragoon Saga
Talk about going out with a bang! The Saturn was host to this title, one of the best games ever created, filled to the brim with atmosphere. Sporting some of the top graphics achieved on the Saturn, and astounding music, along with a storyline to remember. This game deserves to be top 3.
First Runner Up:
What's not to say about Xenogears? Square pulls another rabbit out of their hat with this one. Arguably the best rpg ever, with an enthralling story, intricate graphics and one of the most beautiful soundtracks of all time, Xenogears will go down as one of the all time classics.
The Best Game of '98 is...
The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time
Nintendo solidifies their system with what may be considered the single greatest achievement in the field of video games, ever. What would Miyamoto do without the use of fmv? Use beautiful real time cutscenes with the best use of camera I've seen in a long, long while. This game is epic, have fun in Hyrule.
Now, what about the consoles you play all these great titles on? They deserve a moment of fame, so I'll give it to them, here are, in my view, the console rankings!
Second Runner Up:
Sega's now departed Saturn gets 3rd place on my list, only because of the severe lack of games in it's final year, 1998. This, however, by no means says there was a lack of quality in what little software did see the light of day. Anyway, it's over now. Let's all welcome the Dreamcast with open arms and hope the same fate doesn't await it, because of the DC dies, Sega's screwed.
First Runner Up:
The N64 comes in second, though still without an rpg of any recognizable quality.. Nintendo has Banjo Kazooie, F-Zero X, Turok 2, Star Wars: Rouge Squadron, and the grandslam Zelda. 1999 looks just as good with Perfect Dark, Ogre Battle 3, Star Craft, Pokemon Stadium, a groovy little thing called Donkey Kong, and many more sure fire hits. Although for the most part Nintendo has been handling the N64 like they have their heads firmly placed in their behinds, it seems to have a bright future.
My words of advice to Nintendo:
A) first and foremost, get as many quality rpgs out there as you possibly can. Quest 64 isn't cutting it. Zelda isn't really an rpg. Mario RPG 2 isn't impressing anyone. Remember all the snes classics? Do it again!
B) One word: Metroid.
The Best Console of '98 is...
Sony's PSX takes this honour, but not as compfortably as they would've had this been mid-way through the year, 'the big N' is catching up, and fast. Sony dominated much of the year with smash hits like Metal Gear Solid, Gran Turismo, Spyro the Dragon, Metal Gear Solid, Tenchu, Final Fantasy Tactics, Kartia, Brigandine, Breath of Fire III, Alundra, Thunderforce V, plus all those high selling sports games I won't even mention 'cause they don't deserve the free advertising, all in all the psx had one heck of a year, and things look bright for '99 with Final Fantasy VIII and Lunar on the way.
The problem for Sony now is to stay on top, with Nintendo coming on strong and having so much more experience, and with the other veteran Sega anxious to succeed with their DC.. it should be a good amount of competition come the second half of '99.
The Best Developer of the Year:
Best game-makers of 1998... well.. it's a very, very hard choice to single out but one company, I could go with old favorites like Square for their efforts with Xenogears and Einhander, or I could choose somewhat of a newcomer in Atlus, a company that really seems to cater to the fans. Well, I've made my choice and I must say Atlus had the best year!
Thank you Atlus, for Kartia, Tactics Ogre, Trap Gunner, Ogre Battle, Brigandine, and Guilty Gear- a pretty impressive line up considerring Thousand Arms has been confirmed for US release for summer '99 and the fact that though these are all great games, they aren't all guaranteed money makers.
If you're a corporate dude, do you want to risk it with Kartia.. or play it safe with some Sports/Fighting game?
Thanks again, Atlus.
Written by your friendly neighborhood ff