games / Columns

The 8 Ball: Top 8 Games of 1999 – Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, Super Smash Bros, More

October 17, 2017 | Posted by Marc Morrison
Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask

Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball. This week, I’m talking about the year 1999. The PS1 had been out for 4 years at this point, and the N64 had been out for 3. The Sega Dreamcast launched this year to decent reception but it wasn’t meant to be. As before, I tried to pick games that came out in America in 1999, I’m not interested in Japanese or European release dates. Enjoy:

#8: Super Smash Bros

The idea of a mascot fighter is still a novel one, but Nintendo has the only roster of characters deep enough to pull it off. With a roster of only 12 characters, that might seem small, but it was still filled with some of the biggest characters in all of gaming. The control was pretty simple, one button for grab, one for your shield, one for regular attacks and one for special attacks. Modifiers to moves were based on which way you were holding the stick. You don’t have to learn complicated combos and because of that, it made the game really approachable. Going back to it now, the game runs really slowly, but I almost kind of dig the relaxed pace of it all.

#7: Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask

Majora’s Mask is probably one of the divisive games in all the Zelda franchise. I get it, the structure is really strange, a ton of assets are re-used from Ocarina, and the opening few hours are kind of a slog. However, it’s probably the most ambitious Zelda game, outside of Breath of the Wild. It really isn’t the whole “run into a dungeon, get the item, kill the boss” formula that almost all other Zelda games adhere to. There are only four dungeons in the game sure, but there are generally more intricate than Ocarina’s were. The real crux of Majora’s Mask is that you really have to be invested in the townspeople and their lives. Each is on their own schedule that can be helped along with Link’s help. If you just want a straight Zelda experience, then Majora’s Mask isn’t really for you, but if you want something that is experimental and tried to break the formula, than Majora’s Mask has got your back.

#6: Unreal Tournament

Unreal Tournament is probably the first PC FPS game I really got into. Part of that was because it was on my school’s LAN so computer classes were turned into 15+ people playing it at once. The other part though, was the game was just very well balanced, with good maps, a great server browser and still some of the best weapons in a multiplayer shooter. Maps like DM-Morpheus and CTF-Face are still burned into my memory from my hours of playing the game. There was always a debate over which was better Quake 3 Arena or UT, and I was a UT guy.

#5: Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater

Believe me, later versions of Tony Hawk will make this list, but the first game shouldn’t be ignored. It had a lot of great levels, coupled with a strong soundtrack and good gameplay. “Yeah”, later Tony Hawk games definitely refined the formula, but even the first game hand it down pretty well, letting you grind around rails, perform big tricks in half pipes, or having a bunch of hidden gaps for you to find in the various levels. The first game does get some points off for not having Bam Margera in it, but hey, no game is perfect…except those with Bam Margera in them.

#4: Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver

From a technical perspective, Soul Reaver is some dark magic that was created on the original PlayStation. Once you booted the game up and actually got into it, there was no load times at all as you played. This went a really long way into making Nosgoth feel like an inter-connected world. The music, voice work and graphics were pretty great, with a memorable opening theme from Information Society setting a rightfully gothic mood. The gameplay held up its end also with some decent combat, puzzle solving and exploration for you to guide Raziel on his quest. The later Soul Reaver games were “ok”, but none of them felt as special as the first one did.

#3: Planescape: Torment

I’ve honestly never been into D&D and by association D&D games. It took me a long while to even warm up to Planescape as well, I installed/uninstalled it at least 3 or 4 times before it really clicked with me. There is a pretty long intro to the game and actually getting to the meat of it takes time but you will be ultimately rewarded for your patience. Planescape isn’t about saving the world or slaying the evil baddie, its central goal is for your character (The Nameless One) to figure out how to die. He’s an immortal, and at the start of the game, he wakes up on a mortuary slab with no memories with a floating skull full of insults as your first party member. The game is full of memorable characters, due to the stellar writing, and the D&D-infused gameplay generally upholds its end of the bargain as well.

#2: Soulcalibur

Soulcalibur technically came out in 1998 in arcades, but I’m talking here about the Dreamcast game that was by FAR the best Dreamcast launch game when the system came out. A friend and I foolishly bought Hydro Thunder and multiple copies of Sonic Adventure (the copies wouldn’t even boot right) when we got our Dreamcast’s on launch day. We were idiots. The first Soulcalibur is not only still a great fighting game, it’s still the best game in the “Calibur” franchise, not counting Soul Edge. Every character is distinct, with different moves, strengths/weaknesses and weapons. Ivy has the classic sword-whip but her moves require precision & planning, while Tali can jump around the stage to confuse players, or someone like Nightmare can just remove a chunk of health with one hit from his massive sword. The Dreamcast version was far better than its arcade origins with vastly upgraded visuals, as well as more modes to make it not just a carbon-copy of an arcade game but something more worthy of a $50 price tag.

#1: Suikoden 2

It may not be a wildly held opinion but I firmly believe that Suikoden 2 is the best RPG on the PlayStation. It may not be the most graphically impressive game in the world, but that’s not really the point of the game. The point is to have a cast of interesting and diverse characters up against a despicably evil character. The crux of the conflict though isn’t your character vs. Luca Blight, but your character vs. his childhood friend Jowy and how the game manages to craft a story from two best friends into two enemies leading armies against one another. If you add in dozens of mini-games from a cooking competition, to gambling, to investigating the various characters, and you can see why the game is so beloved by certain fans. Here’s a quick bit of trivia, I own a Japanese copy of MGS 1 and it included a demo disk of Suikoden 2. That should tell you how much stock Konami put into the game.

For comments, list which 1999 games you liked and why.

Next Issue
Top 8 Games of 2000

article topics :

The 8 Ball (Games), Marc Morrison