Even though it sure feels as though some of the games that we enjoyed when we were kids were released just a few years ago, the nostalgia goggles are at fault on that point, and as we've just jumped into a new decade, we thought we'd take a trip down memory lane and remember so of the games that are celebrating big anniversaries in 2020. In the first half of this two-parter, we focused on the 5 through 20-year celebrations and so this time, we'll be going back even further. Ready to find out which of your favourite games are turning 40 this year? Keep on reading.
1995 - 25th Anniversary
Panzer Dragoon - March 10 JP / March 11 US / August 30 EU - This on-rails shooter managed to defy the harsh hardware limitations with astonishing visuals fille with seas, deserts, caves and so on. The fairly bleak tale of a shining hope through an apocalypse elevated the experience too, as if the achingly beautiful orchestrated soundtrack somehow wasn't enough.
Chrono Trigger - March 11 JP / August 11 US - There aren't many 'Best RPGs' lists that don't have Chrono Trigger somewhere on it for a lot of damn good reasons. Made by the dream team of Hironobu Sakaguchi, Yuji Horii and Akira Toriyama, this landmark JRPG is one for the ages due to its flawless execution. Few games have such a vividly original world or a well-crafted story, integrating time travel with its gameplay for 15 different endings in addition to breaking standard JRPG conventions like defying random encounters.
Worms (DOS) - June 1 EU / October 31 US - If some games are to be believed as the truth, then there's currently a massive military conflict taking place under our feet between multiple scheming groups of... worms. At least according to Team17 who developed this turn-based artillery game with a cheeky dose of British humour for a large variety of platforms. The best moments in Worms are during heated multiplayer battles, where exploding sheep and banana bombs are used to devastating effect.
Wipeout (PlayStation) - 29 September EU - Playing a PS1 in a crowded, noisy club seems like a daft idea but thanks to the thumping techno house music of Wipeout this made perfect sense in 1995. Giving the console the unquestionable edge, "wipeE'out" excited European players thanks to those shiny polygonal 3D graphics that added deeper immersion into an exciting futuristic race.
Rayman (Atari Jaguar) - September 1 - Every publisher needed a reliable mascot in the nineties and for Ubisoft, the stars aligned with Rayman. Standing out with a unique cartoon look, this platformer piled on the wackiness with beautifully smooth animations (for the time), smart design and top-notch audio too. Perhaps surprisingly, Rayman is also the highest-selling PS1 game in the UK with 5 million copies sold. Whether anyone who bought this game actually managed to beat it is a different story on the other hand, since it's extremely tough.
Command & Conquer (DOS) - September 26 - Inspired by the events of the ongoing Gulf War, Westwood Studios decided to design a real-time strategy game based on modern warfare. The result was Command & Conquer, a smash hit RTS that ended up defining a genre. That's not even mentioning the amusing alternate history story of two factions (who you can both play as) fighting over a valuable alien resource, depicted by gameplay and those glorious FMV cutscenes that are still ripe with hammy acting and silly writing.
1990 - 30th Anniversary
The Secret of Monkey Island - October 15 - At the beginning of the '90s, there was an endless sea of platformers and action titles. That's partly what led to the quirky point and click adventure game genre, the most iconic of which is unquestionably LucasArt's The Secret of Monkey Island. This tale of an inane lad hoping to become a swashbuckling rogue had a ton of amusing puzzles in addition to some timeless, witty humour.
Wing Commander (MS-DOS) - September 26 - Dreaming of massive conflicts is a worrying thing indeed, but when it's taking place in space you can be easily forgiven for enjoying yourself. Not only were the graphics in Wing Commander literally out of this world for the time but the music and crew interactivity all built up the illusion of exciting intergalactic dogfights that set the standard for the industry.
Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse - November 20 US / November 21 JP / March 1991 EU - There was only a year to go until Sega's blue blur rolled onto the scene to compete head to head with the beloved red plumber, but until then Castle of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse managed to fill the void with a damn fine platformer that was reminiscent of Mario's best outings.
F-Zero - November 21 JP / August 23, 1991 US / April 11, 1992 EU
For some baffling reason, Nintendo seems to have forgotten about this series (unless Smash Bros. counts - which it doesn't). Before it fell into neglect, F-Zero was a perfect launch title for the SNES as it showcased the impressive capabilities of the system through Mode 7 graphics, simulating the look of a 3D high-speed futuristic race. Blisteringly fast and phenomenal for the time, F-Zero inspired a new kind of exhilarating racing experience.
Super Mario World - November 21 JP / August 13 1991 US / April 12 1992 EU - One of the very best entries in Nintendo's iconic series is Super Mario World; an incredible game with the best controls you'll ever find in any platformer on top of all the secrets, engaging level design and stupendously unforgettable theme tune. The 16-bit debut of Mario was nothing short of legendary, and it's aged like fine wine to boot.
1985 - 35th Anniversary
Super Mario Bros. - September 13 JP / Q4 US / May 15 1987 EU - Has it really been 35 years since this corpulent Italian plumber first jumped onto our CRT screens with that irresistibly catchy jingle? As a true classic, there's barely anyone alive today who doesn't know the music, iconography, or the character. Donkey Kong and Game and Watch put Nintendo on the map but Super Mario Bros. turned them into titans, establishing the platformer genre and bringing video games as a whole back from the brink.
The Oregon Trail (Apple II) - 1985 - Educational games usually get a bad reputation for being the least fun you could possibly have, but this generalisation doesn't apply to the best history game ever: The Oregon Trail. Based on the pilgrimage of the same name, this choice-based classic was all about thinking three steps ahead as you prepared and travelled across Western America whilst trying to survive all sorts of horrible diseases and misfortunes.
Gauntlet - November 1985 - What do you get when you smash together Dungeons & Dragons and Dandy? As designer Ed Logg discovered, the answer is a lawsuit and a really endearing arcade game. Gauntlet focused on a fast and fresh multiplayer experience, where up to four players worked together to defeat hordes of fantasy enemies and get to the next layer of the dungeon.
Commodore Amiga 1000 - July 23 - After the video game market crash of 1982, there were only a handful of systems in America where players could enjoy and develop titles. The UK never had this setback, however, allowing the promising dev-scene to prosper thanks to the graphical capabilities of the Commodore Amiga 1000. Whilst nowhere close to the magnitude of the famous 500 model due to a few issues, this system was still the calling card of a brighter future with a host of innovative and exciting games that started a ton of legendary reputations.
1980 - 40th Anniversary
Pac-Man - May 22 JP / October 10 US - Picturing the 80s without Pac-Man in it is impossible. That's not just because this arcade classic became the most successful of all time or the addictive gameplay that still entertains audiences to this day, but also due to the cornucopia of new features that were nothing short of revolutionary.
Missile Command (Arcade) - July - Based upon the relatable nightmares of an impending nuclear apocalypse, it's no wonder Missile Command became a beloved classic from the golden age of arcades. Suitably named and filled with smart decisions, it's quite a feat that it managed to replicate the nail-biting tension of the real deal through gameplay, simple 8-bit graphics and those crunchy explosion sounds.
Rogue - 1980 - If you've dipped your toes into enough genres, you've probably seen the terms 'Roguelike' and 'Roguelite' before. These are games that usually place you in a sprawling dungeon with randomly generated levels featuring turn-based combat and permanent death. There's plenty of them nowadays yet each of them shares the same 40-year old DNA from the original Rogue, which had all these aspects represented with just ASCII text characters.
Game and Watch Series - April 28 - After spotting a bored man playing with his calculator, the soon to be legendary Gunpei Yokoi conceived the very first handheld gaming system. Specifically, Game and Watch was a digital clock along with a simple game designed to kill time, with over 59 different models made. 40 years is a long time, but even now you can see the remnants of Game and Watch everywhere you look.
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