When the hell are they?
While Im sure that plenty of my personal information has been compiled by Google, Facebook, and whatever Heartbleed hackers found elsewhere, its nice to be able to hide earlier online transgressions. That embarrassing MySpace profile? Deleted. Drunken escapades on Facebook? Untagged. Not every corporation can be as lucky as me.
Larger game publishers and developers are often equally expeditious about scrubbing their earliest game websites, but a few relics from the last 20 years still remain online, perhaps due to a lack of oversight, minimal hosting costs, or in a few rare cases, companies that actually want to preserve their history. Nonetheless, these sites reflect the many different fads that swept the web design world during the 90s and early 2000s. Keep reading to check them out you dont even need to enter any AOL Keywords!
Advent Rising (2005)
The game: Advent Rising was a sci-fi shooter that attempted to ride the Halo wave and had similarly ambitious plans for an expanded universe, with a trilogy in the works before the game even hit the market.
The site: AdventTrilogy.com is the Official Advent Rising Home Page, offering up plenty of choice downloads for 2005s discerning game audience. 48x48-pixel avatars for use on message boards and desktop wallpapers that max out at 1280 are nice, but true Advent Rising fans will want to download a fan site kit to really give their Geocities page some flavor.
The broken link: Unfortunately, the forums have been nuked, so Advent Rising 2 script ideas will have to be pitched elsewhere.
Auto Modellista (2002)
The game: Remember when every publisher was putting out a racing game? Remember when every developer was using cel-shading? Capcom remembers. At least this was better than Cel Damage!
The site: Capcom.com/am/index.html is pretty understated as far as dormant websites go. Theres a splash page with specs (including a reference the PlayStation 2s rarely-utilized Network Adaptor to go online) and two galleries; one for cars, and one for screenshots of cars.
The broken link: A note at the bottom of the page exclaims Now on sale for the low price of $39.95!, but alas, there are no more Auto Modellistas (or is it Autos Modellista?) in Capcoms store.
The Bouncer (2000)
The game: While the world secretly pined for a new Final Fantasy, any early PlayStation 2 adopter was anxiously awaiting The Bouncer, Squares launch window brawler. Look, youd be hyped too if all you had was Fantavision and Kessen
The site: At TheBouncer-Game.com, where theres a choice between (equally functional) HTML and Flash versions, a staggering amount of info exists for the ultimately shallow beat-em-up. Want to learn the ins and outs of combat? Its in there. Want to hear audio clips for the main cast in both English and Japanese? Theres MP3s everywhere! Want to see some gameplay? Download some sweet Realplayer clips!
The broken link: There used to be a minigame housed on the site, but I couldnt get it to function, even with my Shockwave Player updated!
The game: From the original creator of Tomb Raider comes another game where you raid tombs, except this time youre a dude, and you control like the Warthog from Halo. Its actually better than it sounds, I swear!
The site: Like the game it serves, Atlus.com/galleon/index.html is both outrageously dated while being somewhat ahead of its time. The smoothly-animating flash background belies the kinda-dull template design of just about every section. Though we do have to applaud the relentless inter-site linking going on. Thatll get SEO up!
The broken link: The News section notes Copy to be dynamically created here, with a sidebar saying the copy was to be placed here by Olaf with link to news page. Olaf. Dude. You blew it.
The game: Did you know that Rockstar and Bungie worked on the same game the same year that both Grand Theft Auto 3 and Halo came out? For some reason (quality), Oni never lived up to the legacy of those two releases.
The site: Rockstargames.com/oni/main.html looks listen. Its a bit unfair to say that time has forgotten any of Rockstars sites. Heck, Rockstar still links to them with pride, going all the way back to Wild Metal! Even though the older sites are flash-laden, theyre still made with a certain style that makes them memorable. If I had to choose one that doesnt quite work, Id say Onis epilepsy-inducing animations would be the trigger.
The broken link: Again, Rockstars level of organization tends to keep their stuff timeless. Actually, the only defunct link I could find was for the design company that crafted the website. RIP, The OFP.
Samurai Western (2005)
The game: In between entries of the slightly-popular Way of the Samurai series, Acquire tried to make a more American-friendly hack-and-slasher with Samurai Western.
The site: Winds gust over the barren western plain as you enter Atlus.com/samurai_western/samurai.html... and they never stop (thanks, Flash). Once you turn down your computers volume, you can peruse this new frontier of game websites, scanning the two-sentence bios for five different characters, or checking out a screenshot gallery with images that expand to a whopping 400 pixels tall!
The broken link: Once again, I cant hop on the forums to posit the theory that Quentin Tarantino got the idea for Django Unchained from this game. Why hath you forsaken us, Yuku?!
Under the Skin (2004)
The game: Feh, forget about Scarlett Johanssons recently-released erotic sci-fi thriller. In our book, this is the true Under the Skin. Both are about weird alien escapades, but only one lets you prank humans for coins and take the form of Resident Evils Nemesis!
The site: Normally Id refrain from including Japanese sites like Capcom.co.jp/panic/english.html, but this fully-translated Flash masterpiece deserves credit. Clicking the center bar opens up a menu that promises info on various facets of this offbeat game. True to form, navigating this site is just as tricky as the game itself. My Flash navigation skills have gotten rusty since Homestar Runner had non-April Fools Day updates, so flipping through multiple slideshows in various panels really got under my well, you know.
The broken link: In the Download section, the Mischief Invasion clip stalls at 18%, and Im guessing Capcom wont be updating the ??? panel at the bottom of that section.
Wade Hixton's Counter-Punch (2004)
The game: Long before the Wiis Punch-Out revival was a thing, Nintendophiles were desperate for arcade boxing. This GBA hit all of the right targets; it has a possessive and a boxing term in the title, and is cartoony as heck.
The site: While 3DS games obviously dont look super-snazzy outside of their native format, the GBAs miniscule resolution was tough to work around even a decade ago. Wadehixton.com does its best to cover up the weakness, but youd need a magnifying glass to get much out of the screens and videos hyping this title.
The broken link: While Wade remains on his feet, the link to publisher Inferno Games site is gone alongside the company itself, making us think this site has been lost in internet space without anyone noticing, praying for the oxygen to finally run out as it WADES through the abyss. Eh?
The X-Files Game (1998)
The game: 1998 was a hot time for The X-Files. The movie just came out, the series was still delivering six seasons in, and a Virtual Cinema seven-disc point-and-click experience was released in the form of The X-Files Game.
The site: For a company with a name like Hyperbole.com, youd expect extravagance, but the few frames that pop up alongside the sweet ever-present flashlight gif are just text dumps. The entire credits, a collection of three fan emails, and a batch of X-Facts (did you know if the engine code was printed out on paper and stacked, itd be 22 inches high?!) are all at your perusal. If youre searching for postage-stamp-sized videos and screens, youre sadly out of luck.
The broken link: With few downloads, this 15-year-old site is pretty much functional. However, none of the review links work (Im nagging the folks at PC Gamer to get theirs up and running again). The biggest shock? The X-Files game developers site outlived X-Files.com.
Seek More Sites?
Are there any other old-school game sites you've found? Really, you found some? Why were you even looking for such a thing, weirdo! Anywho, post your findings in the comments below and it might just get added... alongside a shoutout, of course.