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What the hell were we thinking?!?!

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Kotaku commenter bassbeast countered, "1994, baby. It was both rockin' and important for gaming."

Excellent point. Not only did the Saturn and PlayStation hit Japan, but in the US, 16-bit consoles were stronger than ever.

Genesis gamers had plenty to chew on, what with the high-speed chaos of Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Sonic & Knuckles bookending the year. Publisher Konami rocked the system with Castlevania: Bloodlines and Contra: Hard Corps, and Phantasy Star IV and Shining Force II wowed role-playing and strategy fans.

Hideo Kojima's Snatcher arrived on Sega CD, as did the best version of Eternal Champions, Sega's answer to Street Fighter. 1994 also saw the 32X, a failed 32-bit add-on whose only real saving grace was the stellar Star Wars Arcade.

For Sega's then-rival Nintendo, this was the "Play it Loud" year, the year the Super NES peaked. 1994 saw the release of Super Metroid (still considered one of the best console games ever made), while Super Punch-Out!! delivered rapid-fire boxing action and Donkey Kong Country floored gamers with 3D-rendered graphics and Mario-style gameplay. Earthworm Jim rolled out slick action and sick comedy, and Final Fantasy III (Japan's FFVI), Breath of Fire and Illusion of Gaia made the SNES an RPG powerhouse.

New competitors also brought their "A" game in '94, with the 3DO sporting Road Rash, Need for Speed and John Madden Football, and the Atari Jaguar earning acclaim with the rapid-fire Tempest 2000 and then-revolutionary shooter Aliens vs Predator.

Around the same time, Killer Instinct - Nintendo's answer to Mortal Kombat - hit arcades with unprecedented 3D-rendered visuals. Speaking of Mortal Kombat, the mega-popular MK II hit consoles, marking the end of Nintendo's no-blood policy. Not to be outdone, King of Fighters '94 founded an arcade dynasty, and Samurai Shodown II simply became one of the greatest 2D fighters in history. '94 also saw the births of light-gun shooter Virtua Cop, racer Daytona USA and a little game called Tekken.

PCs came on strong as well; Star Wars: TIE Fighter kicked combat flight simulators into high gear, and strategy fans got a one-two punch in the form of X-Com: UFO Defense and WarCraft. '94 also saw the release of The Elder Scrolls: Arena, a free-roaming epic that laid the groundwork for Daggerfall, Morrowind and Oblivion. Meanwhile, Doom II rocketed onto the scene, bringing with it a horde of imitators - including Bungie's incredible, Mac-only Marathon, the precursor to Halo.

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4 comments

  • xDxP - March 28, 2011 8:32 a.m.

    I can't believe the vast number of these games I've played through. Thanks for the memories guys, beautiful.
  • garnsr - March 27, 2011 5:50 p.m.

    Has there ever really been a bad year in games? 1984, I guess, but twelve months is a long time, and several great games always make it out in that much time.
  • chilarome - March 27, 2011 5:23 p.m.

    Oh controversy... I love you, because that means I can read more articles!
  • ruben9700 - January 25, 2009 12:49 a.m.

    First

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