What we were playing then – Summer 2013

Each month we eagerly anticipate the new crop of  games being released often discarding the last “big thing” in favor of the next “big thing”.

I thought it would be interesting to take a look back and see what you might have been playing at this time of year in chronological increments going back two decades.

Last Year – 2012

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Everyone’s favorite deeply depressed, self deprecating cop-with-a-chip-on-his shoulder, Max Payne was back in Max Payne 3 (June 1, 2012), this time his dreary disposition was played in contrast to the sunny setting of Sao Paulo.

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At this time last year The Secret World (July 3, 2012) had launched to lukewarm reception hoping to make a name for itself with a supernatural MMO in a modern day setting.

Unfortunately the by-the-numbers gameplay, subscription fee and cash shop got in the way.

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Quantum Conundrum (July 10, 2012) had just come out hoping to tap into the Portal crowd’s lust for first person puzzling.

Two Years Ago – 2011

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Indie darling, Bastion (July 20, 2011) was just around the corner, its tight gameplay and unique artstyle were big draws but what people will most remember is the stellar narration by Logan Cunningham.

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The Duke Nukem franchise had changed hands from 3D Realms to Gearbox and Duke Nukem Forever (June 14, 2011) was released as the triumphant culmination of 14+ years of development…and then harsh reality set in.

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Red Faction: Armageddon (June 7, 2011) abandoned the well received open world format of the previous title in order tell a more linear story, it didn’t pay off.

Five Years Ago – 2008

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Too Human (August 19, 2008), built on the Unreal Engine, was about to be released after languishing in development hell for years.

Creators of Too Human, Silicon Knights later tried to sue Epic Megagames for licensing them what they claimed was a broken, unfinished version of the Unreal 3 engine. That same engine would go on to power literally dozens of current generation titles.

Ten Years Ago – 2003

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World of Warcraft was over a year from release but before that Blizzard released an expansion pack for W3 called Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne (July 1, 2003), which introduced players to the Lich King who would return in the seconds WoW expansion. In case you don’t recall this was how people used to play MOBAs.

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The original and highly regarded Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (July 15, 2003) is released putting BioWare on the map.

Fifteen Years Ago – 1997

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The original Final Fantasy Tactics (June 20, 1997) was released a few weeks earlier and for the first time western audiences became enamored with a “Tactics” style game after several other japanese imports failed to find an audience.

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Star Fox 64 (July 1, 1997) came out at the beginning of the month and we were reliving the joys of flying an Arwing over Corneria, begrudgingly saving Slippy and trying to keep cool while tolerating Falco’s abuse.

“At least HE can fly” we’d say justifyingly.

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Total Jerks quickly discovered Oddjob in multiplayer.

A little over a month later, Goldeneye 007 (25 August 1997) was released, forever changing the console FPS landscape.

The innovative use of the N64′s single analog stick, the lengthy campaign rife with replayability and unlockables and of course the endless hours of couch coop. Total Jerks quickly discovered Oddjob in multiplayer.

Twenty Years Ago – 1992

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Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis (June 1992) is released and is considered one of the best point-and-click adventures ever made.

It was called “thought provoking” and “an instant classic”.

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Ecco the Dolphin (July 31, 1992) was released in late July for the Sega Genesis. It was gorgeous and playing it gave you a sort of zen peace of mind. Who knew it was so fun being a dolphin?

Myself being a “Nintendo Kid” had to wait years to play it.

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 Super Mario Kart (September 1, 1992), the original kart racing game is released in late summer.  The gamer’s lifelong phobia of blue turtle shells wouldn’t start till Mario Kart 64 but this Mode 7 masterpiece set the stage.

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