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What the hell were we thinking?!?!

Over on RottenTomatoes.com, the unfortunately named Ludwig II intoned, "1993 1994...what about 1995?! The best RPG of all time (Chrono Trigger) and the best adventure game of all time (Full Throttle ) in the same year! In other genres... original Command & Conquer and the first Dark Forces. Oh yea, and something called the Sony Playstaion ONE."

1995 was a transitional year for gaming and, therefore, a crowded and perhaps forgotten one. It shouldn’t be. While no less than ten systems were already fighting for our attentions and wallets, it was two brand new consoles - the Sega Saturn and the Sony PlayStation - that ushered in the next generation of interactive entertainment.

The PS1 emerged at the top of the electronic heap by launching three franchises still successful to this day. In 1995, we first hugged the curves of Ridge Racer and kissed gravity goodbye in Wipeout. We first blew up a massive airship in Warhawk, followed by a demonic ice cream truck in Twisted Metal.

The Saturn was no slouch, countering with ports of mega-popular arcade hits Virtua Fighter (which, admittedly, wasn't remotely as good as the VF 2 port would be), Daytona USA and Sega Rally Championship. And by simply adding dragons to the tried and true shooter genre, the cult series Panzer Dragoon was born.

The best games, however, were still showing up on the familiar platforms. Fighting ruled the arcades with Street Fighter Alpha and Marvel Super Heroes, though we couldn’t throw them together yet. Sequels dominated the 16-bit landscape, but most of them were actually pretty great... sometimes better than the originals. Earthworm Jim 2, Mortal Kombat 3, Donkey Kong Country 2, and Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island all made us happy to revisit their characters and universes.

Make no mistake, we saw plenty of innovation too. We met a peculiar creature with no appendages named Rayman, led an army of dirty invertebrates in Worms and caught ourselves cursing at adorably colored bubbles in Bust-A-Move. Yeah, it was a weird year.

But 1995 is perhaps most memorable for the games that perfected their genre - or took it to the next level. The SNES showcased two of the finest RPG’s ever made - Earthbound and Chrono Trigger. Hell, some people would argue that the latter is the greatest game ever produced...

On the PC, Command & Conquer and WarCraft II introduced real-time strategy to the masses while Descent and Terminal Velocity made flight combat seem new again. Giant robot building was finally accessible in MechWarrior 2 and first person shooting was more exhilarating than ever in Star Wars: Dark Forces.

Finally, there was adventure. Although 1995 marked the birth of systems and franchises that would carry us into the future, it was also the beginning of the end for the genre that brought many people to gaming in the first place - the classic point-and-click adventure. At least they had their swan song -The Beast Within, Full Throttle, The Dark Eye, The Dig, Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, Space Quest VI, King’s Quest VII, The 11th Hour. You either haven’t even heard of any of those… or they’re some of your favorite games of all time.

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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