So that Well Red Mage sure is a nice chap! He and his team are constantly putting out substantial content both in written and audio form. Maybe go check their stuff out! Recently they posted a list of one game for every year they’d been alive. I toyed with the idea of not doing this because it seemed like actual work. Then I decided that I have no qualms with copying someone else’s idea and knuckled down to writing and looking at historical releases! So here is the definitive list of games from 1983 to 2018. None of them are wrong.
1983 – Mario Bros.
Not many games came out this year that I would have played, having limited motor control mand all. But looking at the release lists for the year, I have played the arcade version of Mario Bros. in a couple of places over the years. It does not hold up well by today’s standards.
1984 – Marble Madness
I still love this game. And also hate it. I think I only ever finished it once because it’s so damn hard at times. But it’s so easy to start another game and go again, slightly improving. It’s a marble themed rogue-like. Again, I didn’t play it at the time. I was 1.
1985 – Space Harrier
I had to pick this out as it’s the only game I think I’ve played from the year, and even then it was only via Shenmue.
1986 – The Legend of Zelda
I know it’s the Japanese release, but I’m still counting it! I still have the cartridge for this, although I didn’t get it until I was 8. That overworld theme still gives me shivers. There’s no faulting it as it still holds up well.
1987 – Operation Wolf
Getting a bit trickier here as I struggled to decide between this and Maniac Mansion. It came down to which game would I want to play right now, and you can’t beat a light gun game.
1988 – Super Mario Bros. 2
No you shut up! I like this regardless of whether or not it’s a reskin of another game. It’s quirky, and introduced some now iconic characters to the Mario universe. Plus that Birdo…
1989 – Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles
Yes, the UK version. I’m just so British. I know it’s flawed and it’s insanely hard at various points, but I played this game so much. Donatello is my personal half-shell hero. Raphael sucks.
1990 – Super Mario Bros. 3
I think this was the year I got my first console in the form of a NES. The fact that Mario 3 is often regarded as one of the greatest games ever made makes it a sure bet for 1990. It still plays brilliantly too.
1991 – Mega Man 4
Yes it’s the Japanese release but I’m still bcounting it because I can. This was my first Mega Man game, so it has to be my favourite (it’s the law). The robot masters were silly but I always enjoyed going back to play it again. The music from Toad Man’s (seriously…Toad Man?) stage was quite memorable.
1992 – Dune II
Pretty much the first modern RTS. Near on every RTS since owes something to Dune 2. Base building, move & attack, resource management, it was a complete package. With 3 factions to play as, there was a fair bit to do (each one had unique units) over the course of the campaigns. Ordos forever!
1993 – X-Wing
My sister got this for Christmas for our first proper PC. I don’t think she played it nearly half as much as I did. And thus my love affair with space sims was born. Consider that this is the year that Doom, Day of the Tentacle, Syndicate, Aladdin, Sam & Max, and Mega Man X came out and you’ve got a recipe for one of history’s most influential gaming years.
1994 – UFO: Enemy Unknown
I started by writing about how much I love Sonic 3. But this. This was one of my favourite games for a long, long time. Hard as all hell, with a massive campaign, that you could lose over and over again before figuring out how to win (on the easiest setting obviously). I have this on Steam and like to dip back into the classic from time to time.
1995 – Command & Conquer
It was tough to choose between this and Warcraft 2. I played the demo for this over and over again before eventually getting the full game. A lot of people preferred the Red Alert series, but I was always hooked on the near future military aspect. All hail NOD!
1996 – Civilisation 2
Literally nothing else needed to exist once I started on this. I think my sister and I competed for who got to use the computer so we could play this on it.
1997 – Quake 2
Christ what a year for games. There was a lot to love here, but I spent so much time playing Quake 2 both online and off. The maps, the mods, the weapons. I know it was a fair bit slower than a lot of other online shooters, but I enjoyed this one the most, and the most often.
1998 – Half-Life
How can you select just one game from one of the most significant years in gaming? With great difficulty. It was between Half-Life and Metal Gear Solid in the end, and it came down to the fact that I played the PC version of MGS which didn’t work quite as well as the console version (swapping ports when playing on a keyboard was a pain). Half-life was quite a revelation for me in terms of first person shooters at the time. The story it told without telling you anything was something I hadn’t seem before and I played this repeatedly to find out more. What a game.
1999 – X-Wing: Alliance
There was a full on campaign that ended with you flying through the Death Star at the end of Return of the Jedi. There was a multiplayer suite with tons of customisation (that I was also pretty good at by all accounts). There was an incredibly solid space combat system in place that was as complicated as you needed it to be. Whilst everyone was still talking about how great Rogue Squadron was, I was playing the real Star Wars ship combat experience.
2000 – Crazy Taxi
Ya Ya Ya Ya Ya! There are tons of games I could pick this year (overlooking Skies of Arcadia hurts me deeply), but I don’t think I played any nearly as much as Crazy Taxi. I credit my lowest GCSE exam result to this game arriving in the post the day before my Physics exam.
2001 – Baldur’s Gate 2
My favourite game of all time. Enough said.
2002 – Gitaroo Man
The best rhythm game ever. Enough said. In fact, no! That isn’t enough! This game was utterly insane! A pet that turns out to be a robot dog that gives you a guitar that turns you into a musical superhero that fights J-Pop UFOs with the power of rock?! HOW IS THIS NOT THE BEST GAME OF ALL TIME?! Plus the soundtrack was incredible and varied. I even imported the music CD so I could keep it forever. This needs to make a come back some day. And yes, I picked this over Wind Waker.
2003 – Warcraft III: Thr Frozen Throne
An expansion pack? Yes! One of the best, in fact. You take the fantastically well made Warcraft 3, along with its campaign, then add more campaign, more multiplayer, more awesome. I flat out sucked at the multplayer, but there were so many mods that it meant there was always something I could access.
2004 – Half-Life 2
2005 – Trauma Center
I’ve played very few games from 2005 it would seem, so I picked one that stood out to me. This was a really cool concept for a game that made great use of the DS touch screen.
2006 – Guitar Hero 2
Yep, I sure do love those rhythm games. So much so that I’d throw money at plastic toys to play them. They’re still fun to play to this day. It was hard to pick this over Gears of War to be honest though.
2007 – World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade
Yes, it’s another expansion. Yes, it was brilliant. Leaving Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms to venture into another dimension was great. I missed the initial launch of WoW, so seeing everyone crowding around the Dark Portal to venture into a new world at midnight was like launch day for me. The new lands were varied and had plenty of pig arse collection quests, along with some great new instances.
2008 – Dead Space
Before EA managed started milking yet another franchise, they allowed one of their teams to create somthing that could be considered a risk. A story driven, sci-fi survival horror game that managed to be scary. The birth and death of this franchise happened over the course of only a few years, but this is where it started, and it was one hell of a start.
2009 – Batman: Arkham Asylum
The begining of the Arkham series is still, in my opinion, the best. Open world, but only in the same way a Metroid-vania game is, it locked off areas until you had the kit you needed, and each area of the asylum had puzzles and confrontations based on that equipment. It also used the strike and counter combat system so well that it became known as the Arkham combat system for years to come.
2010 – Alan Wake
I loved this. I still love this. I own it 3 times. The atmosphere is just fantastic, and that scene through the lumber mill still creeps me out. Yes, the story is convoluted and Alan himself is bland, but there’s something about it that comes together for me as a great package. Now if only there was a proper sequel.
2011 – Dark Souls
Mmmmm. Yes, give me more Dark Souls. A Switch remaster? I’ll take that.
2012 – XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Perfection. Then the Enemy Within expansion came out and perfection was perfected.
2013 – Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
Some genuinely significant releases this year. And I didn’t play most of them. But I did play the one with the stupidest name. And by god was it worth every second. Platinum Games put together a tough-as-nail a Metal Gear hack n’ slash game featuring a cyborg ninja, a super powered congressman, constant metal music, and NANOMACHINES, SON! This is the best game.
2014 – Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls
The Ultimate Evil version of Diablo 3 launched this year, and I still play it now because it’s great. More content constantly gets released so it’s forever fresh!
2015 – Bloodborne
Souls plus! Basically extra fast Dark Souls in a gothic European environment is pretty much everything I could ask for. The design of everything in this game is right up my street, with Lovecraftian monsters, brutal looking weapons, and twisted environments all wrapped up with a bizarre story (that, be honest, you had to look up). I’d love a sequel to this.
2016 – DOOM
It was a hard choice between this and Inside when I did my game of the year for 2016. I went for this because it’s the one I’m most ready to go back to at any time. It’s insanely good. Fast, brutal, and a throwback to games where movement was more important than hiding behind a wall until the bullet wounds got better. Great music, great weapons, and surprisingly good characterisation for a silent protagonist (every interaction he has with another character boilsdown to himgiving absolutely zero shits). One of history’s greatest reboots.
2017 – Mario Odyssey
Another hard one here. It was either this or Nier Automata and Iagain went with the one I’m most ready to play again. Mario Odyssey is basically distilled joy. There were few moments in which I wasn’t grinning whilst playing this, right up to the final boss encounter in the main story. And then there’s so much content to explore after that. A genuinely wonderful game.
2018 – Darkest Dungeon
Yes it’s a re-release. But it’s on Switch so I’m damn well counting it. That and the fact that I’ve only played a couple of releases from this year. Darkest Dungeon is brilliant. It’s tough but fair, with an art style and theme that really works for me. The theme works really well, as the idea of Eldrich horrors driving heroes to madness makes a great deal of sense. I still haven’t finished it after many hours and deaths of powerful heroes. But I will persevere!
And that’s it. Many, many years of existence summed up in a number of entertainment products. That may sound a little sad, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. What about your games? What would you assign to each year of your life so far? Are there some years that are tougher than others? Tell me I’m wrong to include C&C over Warcraft 2!
Oh hi! I see you made it to the end of the post. Well done you for surviving through all that nonsense! I hate to ask, but there’s a charity event going on in the UK in a few weeks called Gameblast that raises money for the charity Special Effect. Maybe you’d like to donate to them. I’d be absolutely humbled if you were to do so, and I bet you’d feel great about yourself too! Thanks for taking a look.