By: Chris Hodges, editor-in-chief
Even though there are literally dozens of notable games celebrating milestone anniversaries each year, it seems like only a couple get any real attention. In 2016, the 25th anniversaries of Street Fighter II and Sonic the Hedgehog will probably be the only ones that get any sort of significant coverage, which is unfair given how many other landmark releases will also be celebrating that milestone this year. Here is my list of the ones that I feel are deserving of some kind of birthday celebration.
Before DMA Design (which evolved into Rockstar North) became mostly just the developer of Grand Theft Auto, they made all sorts of quirky and creative games. Their first big hit was Lemmings, a game that is one of the most-ported of all time–appearing on over 20 different platforms–with sales across all platforms exceeding 15 million units. Those numbers, along with Lemmings being cited as one of the predecessors of the real-time strategy genre, make it a game worthy of celebration.
While SFII gets all the attention for turning 25 this year, one of the most obvious flip-sides to that is the lack of recognition that Fatal Fury will get for reaching the same milestone. Created by the creator of the original Street Fighter, FF may have never reached the monstrous popularity or commercial success of its closest rival, but then again, what game did? SNK nonetheless developed a reputation for being the only company to make fighting games that came anywhere close to challenging Capcom’s, and that all started with this first entry in their very first fighting game franchise. Give credit where credit is due.
Maybe Rare and/or Microsoft have something up their sleeves to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Rare’s most iconic game that doesn’t star a British secret agent. They did just add Rash to the roster of the newest Killer Instinct, and last year’s Rare Replay suggests that the companies are finally taking Rare’s extensive back catalog seriously. Here’s hoping that in the next few months – E3 perhaps? – something gets announced in the way of paying homage to the milestone birthday of this classic action game.
In case you’re confused, there are actually two different games with the title “Neverwinter Nights”: the 2002 BioWare RPG, and the 1991 MMO. I’m obviously referring to the latter, which was actually the very first graphical online RPG (meaning the first one that wasn’t entirely text-based). Considering how many people don’t think of the “MMO era” really starting until the days of Everquest, this one predates it by an impressive 8 years. With the proliferation of the genre in the last 10-15 years and the fact that the concept of an “massively multiplayer online game” is so common it doesn’t phase us anymore, I’d say we owe it to the genre’s earliest pioneer to recognize its birthday.
Streets of Rage
To be sure, the only anniversary Sega is going to bother giving much attention to this year is that of its longtime blue-skinned mascot. That isn’t to say that Sonic doesn’t deserve it, but Sega hasn’t been the best at remembering that there were a lot of other games that it owed its success to, and one of its most unfortunately ignored franchises is Streets of Rage. My personal vote for how to celebrate its 25th anniversary and do right by the SoR fans Sega has been ignoring for over 2o years? Officially support and commercially release the 2011 fan-made Streets of Rage Remake. Nothing scores more points among the gaming community than when a company gets behind a fan-developed project.
It seems too perfect that the newest round of virtual reality video game machines are going to be commercially available the very same year that marks the 25th anniversary of the first VR game that was ever anything remotely close to being a household name. There are already unofficial remakes of Dactyl Nightmare for Oculus Rift, but it would be such a wasted opportunity not to officially celebrate the game’s 25th birthday in some way that coincides with all the new VR devices that are hitting this year.
Sure, why not? As long as people are charging/paying absolutely absurd prices for this broken mess of a game just because of its rarity, we might as well “celebrate” it turning 25 this year. Any excuse to artificially jack up the price another 20 bucks, eh resellers?
How about you? Any 1991 releases that you feel should be celebrated this year that probably won’t be? Talk about it in the comments!