What were we playing then? Early 2016

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”.

Lets take a look back and see what you might have been playing at this time of year in chronological increments going back three decades.

1 year ago – Early 2015

Saints Row: Gat out of Hell_20150119113647Saints Row: Gat out of Hell (Volition, High Voltage Software) – January 20, 2015
Released with little fanfare, the latest in the Saints Row series continues to be a loony satire of the Grand Theft Auto series, which is in itself a satire of popular culture, so… double meta? The humor is usual self aware and hilarious and the feature set with each new release continues to grow with reckless abandon. oriOri and the Blind Forest (Moon Studios) – March 11, 2015
A gorgeous MetroidVania with a heart wrenching opening and buttery smooth controls. Be warned it just might soften that cold stone heart of yours whilst providing hours of gameplay excellence.battlefield-hardline-3Battlefield Hardline – March 17, 2015
A merging of cops and robbers and an established multimillion dollar franchise, entirely forgettable.

5 years ago – Early 2011

ghost-trick-characterGhost Trick: Phantom Detective (Jupiter, Capcom) – January 11, 2011
A treat to anyone who was still rocking the DS this late in its run. The premise was confusing to say the least: You’ve been murdered and have awoken with no memory of who you are (because of course) and the ability to posses inanimate objects in order to solve cute and clever puzzles whilst attempting to solve the existential question we all ask ourselves in the sleepless wee hours of the morning: “Who am I?”deadspace2Dead Space 2 (Visceral Games) – January 25, 2011
The last game in the Dead Space series –hmm? You say there was a sequel? With Co-op? And Microstransactions? …in a horror game? Are you sure?magicka_120__1Magicka (Paradox Interactive) – January 25, 2011
I played it once with an experienced caster who promptly tore my wizardly robes to shreds. He was tossing “Armageddon Plasma Storms” and I was all like: “Wet Towel”, “Dry Lips”, “Leaky Faucet”…I never played it again.bulletstorm_gc_3-ukBulletstorm (People Can Fly) – February 22, 2011
A game about shooting baddies styaliztically, at the time I took it for granted but I recently went back to play this gem and to my unpleasant surprise it can no longer be played due to it’s required Games For Windows DRM…nice.riftRift (Trion Worlds) – March 1, 2011
The first major attempt at a WoW killer, this MMO had spectacular graphics and a really interesting progression system where your toon’s class a combination of three different sub classes allowing you to build really diverse characters. Unfortunately the game did little to differentiate itself from WOW, even going so far as to emulate its $15 monthly subscription fee. It’s now available in a Free2Play format.crysis2_239233bCrysis 2 (CryTek, Free Radical Design) – March 22, 2011
This is an excellent single player experience. Gone is the vast GPU crushing jungle of the original, replaced with more focus on game mechanics and presenting a New York City in the midst of a full scale alien invasion. The Nanosuit’s interface has been streamlined by allowing activation of various abilities through dedicated buttons rather than frantic selection from a radial menu.nintendo-3ds3DS (Nintendo) – March 27, 2011
Many of us thought this one was going to be a gimmick. And for the first year of it’s life that seemed to be the case, but eventually the third party software started catching up to the potential of the system and the 3DS in its various incarnations has become a beloved portable gaming system.

10 years ago – Early 2006

dd-stormreachDungeons & Dragons Online: Stormreach (Turbine) – February 28, 2006
This was a great game, and still is in it’s Free2Play format, what differentiated it from other MMOs was its dungeon exploring mechanics, each member of the party served tertiary purposes outside of combat. Clever thieves could disarm traps or unlock secret passages, powerful Warriors or Paladins could smash through barricades and scholarly wizards, sorcerers and clerics could decipher arcane messages which provided clues on how to circumnavigate the deadliest dangers hidden in dozens of uniquely devised dungeons.

The-Elder-Scrolls-IV-Oblivion-XBOX-360The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (Bethesda) – March 20, 2006
A game where you could buy horse armor for $5.
blazingangels_soww2_3Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII (Ubisoft Romania) – March 28, 2006
This was a exceptionally entertaining dog fighting sim with a really unique control style. While holding a dedicated button down, your view would rotate to focus on your targeted enemy while keeping your plane at the center, you could then adjust your yaw, pitch and roll in order to maneuver your sights back into alignment with the enemy, this allowed for greater situational awareness than any other plane/space sim I had played previously.

15 years ago – Early 2001

Oni-05Oni (Bungie) – January 29, 2001
Before Bungie became the powerhouse developer of the Halo series and then later Destiny, they created a really unique Ghost in the Shell/John Woo inspired brawler/shooter hybrid called Oni. It was vibrant and entertaining and I wish there were at least 3 more and a reboot by now.clive_barkers_undying_illus3Clive Barker’s Undying (DreamWorks Interactive) – February 7, 2001
This was an incredible game, not only was it graphically cutting edge but it managed to tell a surprisingly deep and disturbing tale of a family oodles more ookie than the Addams while providing strong character progression and satisfying combat.

Final Fantasy IX (Squaresoft) – February 16, 2001
This was the last Final Fantasy game to be released on the Playstation 1 and it hearkened back to the mentality of some of the older games in the franchise. Later that year Square would be consumed by angsty jPop teens with improbable hairstyles and the franchise would never again be the same. It was just recently announced that the game would be re-released for PC, iOS and Android in 2016.
utUnreal Tournament (Epic MegaGames) – March 13, 2001
A ground breaking multiplayer game whose influences can still be felt in the competitive FPS arena to this day. I can not begin to fathom how many hours I spent playing this game. It also has the honor of containing one of the finest weapons in all of video game history: the Flak Cannon.ssSerious Sam: The First Encounter (Croteam) – March 21, 2001
With Doom style bombastic fighting and an ancient Egyptian theme, Serious Sam was a thrilling retro throwback to the days of olde where you had to mentally track a dozen different enemies oat once; constant circle strafing is a survival requirement.blackandwhiteBlack & White (Lionhead Studios) – March 25
The game that taught an entire generation the joy of tossing your devout worshipers into the open ocean for fun and raining down swift merciless hellfire the second anyone stopped paying you tribute. Also you could rub a giant bipedal tiger’s belly, but stay away from his no-no zone!

20 years ago – 1996

dukenukem3dDuke Nukem 3D (3D Realms) – January 29, 1996
This was a monumental game in my life. Not only did it have an enormously satisfying single player campaign (3 actually, with a 4th added to the Atomic Edition) with a diverse range of cool weaponry, powerful enemies and locker room humor to delight it’s 13 year old boy target audience but it also kept our telephone line tied up for the better part of a year as I played multiplayer over the 56k modem with friends. Not only that but the gameplay was built atop a scripting language and came packaged with the BUILD level editor so that users could create partial or total conversions of franchises like Aliens or Wolfenstein 3D.zorknemesisZork: Nemesis (Activision, Zombie Studios) – Febuary 29, 1996
This was an attempt at updating a beloved text adventure series into the apparent Myst clone future of point and click adventure games, unfortunately it didn’t have the humor and heart of it’s predecessor, Return to Zork and was little more than an interactive slideshow presentation.supermariorpgSuper Mario RPG (Square/Nintendo) – March 9, 1996
This was the offspring of two gaming superpowers that everyone at the time thought was impossible: Nintendo and Square together. The result was an incredibly satisfying RPG experience which went on to spawn the Paper Mario and then Mario & Luigi series of RPGs; both of which are going strong to this day.resisdentevilResident Evil (Capcom) – March 22, 1996
This was the first game I got for Playstation 1 on Christmas Day, unfortunately my parents hadn’t bought a memory card so there was no way to save the game. For weeks I simply restarted the game and tried to get as far as I could, which almost always meant meeting my demise at the end of an infamous hallway where two zombie dogs come crashing through the windows.

30 years ago – 1986

zeldaThe Legend of Zelda (Nintendo) – February 21, 1986
This one was about an elf boy, I guess, who could shoots lasers out of his sword; it also had some nazi symbolism, I think. It never really took off.