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The Fifth Generation

After trying something a little different for the Xbox 20th Anniversary, I thought I’d go back to my comfort zone of writing this week… not like my writing is particularly good or anything but, oh well. As usual, I will only be covering consoles that I’ve played. There’s an extra one this time but I’m missing the likes of the Atari Jaguar. If you want to watch something regarding the Atari Jaguar, I recommend checking out MAZ Mondays episode 2 here. Also, same as before I will be lumping series together to try and save space. One last thing to point out will be the discrepancy in number of games across each console. The original PlayStation is a system I have well over a hundred games for and I have a healthy number of Nintendo 64 games too. Sadly, my Sega Saturn collection is lacking. I did cover the reason behind this over here but just a heads up, that section will be short. Without further ado, let’s talk about the Fifth Generation.

The Fifth Generation kicked off in 1993 in North America with the arrival of the 3DO in October and the Atari Jaguar in November. The 3DO Company, founded by former EA founder Trip Hawkins, attempted something a little different. Instead of building a console and licensing games, it attempted to license the console manufacturer, first to Panasonic and later GoldStar. It’s high price point and the competitive home console market would push the 3DO out, with the system being discontinued in 1996. The Atari Jaguar had a strong marketing campaign, most famous for its “Do the Math” adverts. However, its lack of sales and poor third-party support would doom the console. It did attempt to prolong the life of the system by introducing a CD add on but by 1996, the writing was on the wall. The first of the big three, the Sega Saturn, would debut in Japan in November 1994, followed quickly by new comer Sony and their PlayStation. Nintendo wouldn’t enter the Fifth Generation until 1996, with the release of the Nintendo 64. While the Saturn and PlayStation had opted for a CD-ROM, the Nintendo 64 stuck with Cartridges, allowing Nintendo to control the sale and distribution of the software, similar to how they had done with the NES and SNES. The Fifth Generation would attempt to bring in 3D environments and characters, voice acting and more dynamic gameplay that would come before. As a result, a lot of games would not age well. The 3D graphics, short draw distances and stiff controls would all contribute to aging the games rapidly. Some systems had their own issues too, such as texture warping. Still, this is probably my favourite generation of gaming. It caught my interest quickly and introduced me to a host of new genres. Even now, I still love heading back to these games.

Sega Saturn

Keeping in line with the previous entries, I thought I’d start with the Saturn first. Sega’s entry into the Fifth Generation would occur in 1994 in Japan and 1995 worldwide. Much has been made of its North American launch, especially its E3 showcase in 1995. Long story short, Sega wanted to get out ahead of the PlayStation so they announced that the Saturn was available to purchase from select retailers straight after their presentation. This would go on to annoy several retail chains who weren’t included and they would refuse to stock the console or its games. To add salt to the wounds, Sony would announce a price of “$299”, a hundred dollars cheaper than the Saturn, at their E3 presentation. This rush would of course also annoy video game developers who weren’t quite prepared to launch their games yet. This is a very American view but I believe it may have had an impact on my local market too but who knows. The Saturn would fail to reach the heights of the Mega Drive in the West but would sell well in its native land. As a result, the Japanese market received several games that would never be released in the West, some of which are the best on the system. There have been efforts to translate these games and release them to the West by fans but there are many, many more that still haven’t left the land of the Rising Sun. Of course, many of these can be played without a translation and there are ways to bypass the Saturn’s region locks. For example, I use a Pseudo Saturn Kai. It’s a system with a lot of potential.

Policenauts

My absolute favourite game on the system (so far), Policenauts comes from the mind of Hideo Kojima. Originally released in 1994, it would never see an international release. However, the community has done a great job translating this graphic adventure game. Set in the mid-21st century, mankind has finally begun to colonise space with the Beyond Coast space station. During the test of a new space suit, Jonathan Ingram is involved in an accident and lost to space for 25 years.  When he is found, everything and every one has moved on. Setting up a detective agency in Old Los Angeles, he is visited by his ex-wife, whose husband has disappeared. From there, Jonathan is pulled into a conspiracy involving corruption, organ trafficking and political conspiracy. The gameplay is point and click, with you investigating areas for clues and interacting with characters. There are some moments where you’ll be involved in a shootout and you can either use the light-gun or the controller for these. It’s an engrossing story that comes with many twists and turns and is a must have for fans of the point-and-click adventure series. I managed to acquire a reproduction copy and I adored every minute of it, despite not being the biggest graphic adventure game fan. The game looks stunning on the Saturn and even holds up well today. There are ports available on different consoles, such as the PlayStation, if you wanted to try and grab one of those.

Sega Rally Championship

For many, the Sega Saturn is most notable for its wonderful 2D graphics. However, the system was more than capable of pulling off astounding 3D ones too. Released in 1994 in arcades, Sega Rally Championship would eventually be ported to the Sega Saturn. It brought with it the series’ traditional high-speed gameplay. At the time when arcade games still looked significantly better than their home console counterparts, Sega Rally Championship really closed the gap and showed off the Saturn’s true potential. The game featured two cars from the start, with a third one to be unlocked. It also had four courses, varying in difficulty. While not as wide a range as other rally games, its arcade action and tight timer kept you coming back for more. It also allowed you to select either a manual or automatic transmission, depending on how comfortable you were with the gears. This was one of the games I got with my Sega Saturn and I just love its gameplay. It brings me back to when I used to visit the local bowling alley and they had the Sega Rally arcade cabinets. I might not be able to enjoy it in four-player but it is still a cracking game.

Die Hard Arcade

During this generation, some genres began to see a decline. The beat’em up genre, so prevalent in the Fourth Generation thanks to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Final Fight and Streets of Rage began to drop off in the Fifth Generation. A combination of more complex games, the camera not working well within a 3D environment and developers moving onto other genres didn’t help. That doesn’t mean we didn’t get beat’em ups. Games like Fighting Force attempted to give us a 3D beat’em up with mixed result. Die Hard Arcade would show that a beat’em up during this generation could be good. Releasing in 1997 on the Sega Saturn, Die Hard Arcade places you in the shoes of John McClane or his partner Kris Thompsen. Originally a Dynamite Deka game, Sega would acquire the Die Hard license. The premise is simple, you’re dropped in to save the President’s daughter. It’s a fun game that’s very over the top. It features a range of moves to pull off, two-player co-op play and it’s broken up by some quick time events. These QTEs can help you progress faster through the game but miss one and you’ll have to fight the opponent you were supposed to take out. It gets around the 3D camera issue of other games by having the camera remain static in regular fighting scenes and dynamic (controlled by the computer) in QTE moments. It’s a strange game to attach a license to, especially since it doesn’t follow the plot of any movie, but it works well thanks to its fluid gameplay and impressive graphical presentation. It can be a bit challenging but it features a mini-game where you can gain extra lives.

Nintendo 64

Despite being the last system released this generation, I wanted to keep the trend of Sega, Nintendo and then a new competitor. Releasing in 1996 in Japan and 1997 in Europe, the Nintendo 64 brought with it 3D graphics, analogue controls and one of the weirdest controllers ever made. It also removed the RGB output, much to my annoyance. Its decision to stick with cartridges would hinder the systems third-party support, with a number of franchises jumping to the PlayStation. However, the cartridges could pull off impressive graphics, as demonstrated by Super Mario 64, and it helped to reduce load times. The system would be remembered fondly for its first-party titles as well as games from associated studios, like RARE. The Nintendo 64 would be discontinued in 2002 after selling over 32 million units worldwide. My first experience with a Nintendo 64 was swapping my PlayStation with a friend so I could play Lylat Wars (Star Fox 64). I would rent one every now and again to play games like Mario Kart 64 and Diddy Kong Racing. I would eventually get my own console, from the Funtastic collection, and with it I would get Super Smash Bros., WWF Wrestlemania 2000 and Twisted Edge Extreme Snowboarding. Thanks to a second-hand book store in Wexford, I would expand my collection.

Mario Kart 64

Often, there’s a game people will buy a console for. For many, it was Super Mario 64, for me it was Mario Kart 64. To say I love this game is a bit of an understatement (notice how I said “love” and not “loved”).  Released in 1996, Mario Kart 64 would feature fully 3D-rendered race tracks with pre-rendered racers. There were eight characters to choose from, with Donkey Kong replacing Donkey Kong Jr. and Wario replacing Koopa Troopa. The game featured four cups, each with their own four races. These included classics such as Luigi Raceway, Toad’s Turnpike, Bowser’s Castle and Royal Raceway. It also featured battle mode, with balloon-popping action returning once again. The game could now be played with up to three friends thanks to the four controller ports on the Nintendo 64. It introduced new items (including that cursed Blue Shell) as well as stage hazards. These took the form of traffic in Toad’s Turnpike, a Giant Egg in Yoshi Valley and Choc Boulders in Choco Mountain. Its 3D racetracks were wonderful to race around and some even held secrets and shortcuts. The game did feature the most boring Rainbow Road but you can’t win them all. I rented this game constantly, and I mean constantly. I wouldn’t actually own a copy until the R.A.G.E. opened up in Dublin. I’m so glad I have one now as its probably my favourite in the entire series, based on pure nostalgia alone.

GoldenEye 007

Few games can have such an impact that developers are still trying to recapture the success a few decades later. GoldenEye 007 was a massive achievement. I had mentioned before how it was a licensed game, released well after the property it was based on was in cinemas, and that it was a first-person shooter on a console. RARE absolutely pulled it out of the bag with this one. At the time, FPS had existed on consoles but they had failed to live up to their PC counterparts. The PC felt like the natural home of FPS thanks to the mouse and keyboard. Games like Wolfenstein 3D, DOOM, Quake and Duke Nukem showed how great FPS could be. In 1997, RARE released GoldenEye 007 and made full use of the Nintendo 64’s hardware and controller layout. The analogue stick gave players greater freedom of movement. We still had to rely on the C-Buttons as Dual Stick controls for FPS wouldn’t arrive until much later. The game looked great for the time and the enemy AI was fantastic, reacting to where you shot them. The game also featured scaled objectives, with higher difficulty settings having more objectives to complete. The only downside was the infamous N64 “fog” that would plague some of the outdoor sections. The biggest draw was undoubtedly the multiplayer modes. Here, you could play Deathmatch, Golden Gun or even make up your own games like “Robocop”. There were several arenas to play in and a tonne of unlockable characters, including the absolute bastard, Oddjob. I spent so many hours during my school holidays playing this with friends.

WWF No Mercy

During this generation, we saw some of the best wrestling games ever made. Yukes gave us the SmackDown! Series while the AKI Corporation gave us WCW vs. now: World Tour, WCW/now Revenge, WWF Wrestlemania 2000 and WWF No Mercy. Out of all of these, my favourite is WWF No Mercy. Released in 2000, it featured 74 wrestlers (some unlockable), several different match types (including Ladder, Cage and Backstage Brawls) and a Championship mode. The Championship mode was where you would compete for belts in several WWF storylines, with different options leading to different stories. For example, fail to win a match and you may find yourself facing off against Shawn Michaels. This was where you unlocked the wrestlers. There was also an extensive Create-A-Wrestler mode, brought over from WWF Wrestlemania 2000. Its four-player matches were hectic, thanks to its momentum system, with players able to recover from a beating early on. On more than one occasion, I managed to turn around a match against friends despite receiving a finisher or two. The grappling system was easy to get to grips with (get it) and the finishers were a joy to pull off. This game is so loved that people are still modding it to this day, with updated rosters and arenas.

Conker’s Bad Fur Day

RARE was a bit of a powerhouse during the Nintendo 64 days, pumping out classics such as GoldenEye 007, Perfect Dark, Banjo Kazooie, Banjo Tooie, Diddy Kong Racing and Donkey Kong 64. One of their specialties were collectathons; games where you could explore vast levels, collecting a range of items from puzzle pieces to Jiggys. The worst offender for this, in my opinion, was Donkey Kong 64. It had so much to collect. In 2001, RARE would release something a little different. Originally Twelve Tales: Conker 64, RARE would throw out the cute and cuddly collectathon setting for something ruder. Much ruder. Conker’s Bad Fur Day would be more linear than RARE’s other releases on the system, and a lot more adult too! While on his way home from the pub, Conker gets dragged into all sorts of shenanigans. The Panther King, the ruler of the land Conker has found himself in, has an issue with his throne side table. As a result, he needs a stuffed squirrel to stop it falling over and sends his minions to find one. Unfortunately for Conker, he happens to fit the bill. Full of wacky hijinks, swears and a giant singing poo, its certainly a unique game. Its bright visuals betray its crude humour. The game does take a stab at several popular topics of the day, including The Matrix. It has a variety of gameplay styles, from platforming to shooting and even some racing. Released late in the console’s life, it’s become somewhat an expensive game to obtain. Thankfully, its available as part of Rare Replay on the Xbox One.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

If you were to look up the highest rated games on Metacritic, there’s one game that sits on top with a score of 99. For many, it is the pinnacle of gaming, for others it’s a benchmark of the generation. For me, its an enjoyable adventure game. Hey, I’m not the biggest fan of the series, what did you expect. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time burst onto the scene in late 1998 to thunderous applause. Set in Hyrule (aren’t they all?), the game follows a young Link as he sets off to discover his destiny. Along the way he’ll encounter a rogue’s gallery of enemies, a hidden secret and the devilish cuckoos. The games open world was a joy to behold the first time you entered Hyrule Field. The world felt so big and yet, you were only starting out o your journey. You’ll meet many different races on your way to uncover the secret of Hyrule and stop Ganondorf. The games different settings all mesh together wonderfully. The innocent lands of Young Links adventure contrast starkly to the ravaged lands of Adult Links odyssey. It’s a game that puts its gameplay first and foremost, with the player never really struggling with the controls, an excellent feat in early 3D gaming. Its use of “Z-targeting” helps the player immensely in combat, dealing with the issue of combat that other games faced. Its an odyssey that you won’t soon forget.

Super Smash Bros.

There are few games that can take multiple characters from different games, put then in a new genre they’ve never been in before and make it a roaring success. Yet, HAL Laboratory pulled this off with ease. In fact, its so successful, it spawned a massive series with a huge following and it all started with a game released in 1999. Super Smash Bros. is one of those games that’s hard to describe. It features some of Nintendo’s popular characters, such as Mario, Link, Pikachu and Kirby, in a fighting game. But not just any old fighting game, no, one with a twist. Here, you have to knock your opponent off the screen. You’ll battle in arenas based off of several Nintendo franchise with up to three opponents. Here, you’ll have to increase your opponents damage meter to improve your chances of knocking them flying. It’s a strange concept that works wonderfully. Outside the eight characters you start off with, another four can be unlocked. The game features a “Classic Mode” where you’ll face off against opponents as well as compete in mini-games, such as “Break the Targets”. The game’s combat focuses more on hectic combat than combo driven moves, with special moves being pulled off by pressing a button. It was one of the games I got with my Nintendo 64 and I adored it. The series has gotten better since then, with better combat, more characters and improved graphics, but its nice to see where it all began.

PlayStation

After a deal with Nintendo fell through, Sony decided to take its learnings and create their own console. The PlayStation would be Sony’s entry into the console market but it faced stiff competition from veterans such as Nintendo, Sega and Atari. Its strong marketing campaign, CD-ROM based software and massive exclusive line-up helped to launch this console into the stratosphere. It would eventually sell over 102 million units, making it one of the most successful consoles of all time and cementing Sony’s place in the console market. The PlayStation had something for everyone thanks to the likes of Final Fantasy, Resident Evil, Crash Bandicoot, Gran Tursimo, PaRappa the Rapper and Broken Sword, although many of these didn’t start on the PlayStation nor were all of them exclusive to the system. Of all my consoles, this is probably my favourite. I have so many fond memories of playing some of these games and although they haven’t aged well graphically, I still love them.

Final Fantasy

Let’s get the most obvious one out of the way, not like I named my blog after a Limit Break from Final Fantasy VII. Final Fantasy would be one of the series to jump from the Super Nintendo to the PlayStation. Making use of the PlayStation’s CD-ROM, Final Fantasy VII would use three discs to tell its epic story. Released in 1997, the story follows Cloud and Avalanche as they attempt to stop Shinra from destroying the planet. Their world gets turned upside down when Sephiroth is introduced and they set out to stop him. The first few hours are set in Midgar but it won’t be long before you set off exploring the world, meeting new characters, finding new equipment and levelling up your materia. The materia system is how casting spells work in Final Fantasy VII. These range from support spells to offensive spells as well as summons. Depending on your equipment, you can equipment a certain amount of materia and these can be levelled up to unlock more powerful spells. It gives you a range of customisable options over your party set-up. The game also used FMVs to tell its story, a first in the series. Its graphics may have aged the worst out of the three original Final Fantasy game son the system but it still holds a place in many people’s heart. Final Fantasy VIII would follow in 1999. At the time, Square were working on several different projects. Final Fantasy VIII would improve the graphics and FMVs as well as changing the combat system. Materia was gone, replaced by the draw system, a controversial decision. The draw system can be easily exploited by skilled players to boost their characters’ stats. Summons return again, requiring them to be junctioned. By doing this, you can assign certain magic to stats as well as unlock synthesising techniques, which will be useful later in the game. The game was spread across four discs this time, with an epic time compression tale, fill of twists and turns. Players wouldn’t have to wait long for the third and final entry on the PlayStation, Final Fantasy IX. This foregoes the realistic look of the previous entry as well as the futuristic settings for a Medieval one, harking back to the series past. To me, this is the most graphically impressive game on the system. It looks stunning. The junction system is gone, this time each character has their own role. They can learn abilities by equipping items and these can be toggled on and off once mastered. It adds a new dynamic to the combat, with some abilities making certain battles much easier. The game is once again spread across four discs, with the key narrative being life and death (among others). Its an epic tale of love, loss, hope and misery packaged in a beautiful setting.

Metal Gear Solid

Hideo Kojima would bring his epic Metal Gear series to the PlayStation in 1998. Snake has been called out of retirement to investigate Shadow Moses, a military base that has been captured by FOXHOUND. He is sent in alone with nothing but a packet of cigarettes (which he snuck in). The game is based primarily around stealth, with the player using several distraction tactics to sneak by guards unnoticed, such as cardboard boxes, knocking on walls and even using footprints in the snow. The game is presented in a top-down view and the story is told through Codec messages and beautifully rendered cutscenes. While the game has a heavy emphasis on stealth, Snake can pick up a range of weapons to assist in his mission. With an unforgettable host of villains, an epic twist and some wonderful voice acting, Metal Gear Solid is one of the best games ever made. This was a game I wanted for months. I spotted it in a magazine, where the preview gave it glowing praise. I hounded my poor mother for months for it but it wouldn’t be released here until my birthday in 1999. My mother went up to our local game shop early so I could have it when I woke up that morning. I love this game and I’m long overdue another playthrough.

Resident Evil

You’re probably wondering why I only have pictures of Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3: Nemesis accompanying this section. Well, I haven’t actually played Resident Evil so I can’t exactly comment on it. Anyway, Resident Evil 2 would be released in 1998 and came on two discs. Each disc would have a different character; Disc 1 was Leon and Disc 2 was Claire. Depending on which disc you inserted, you would play through that character’s A scenario (or B scenario if you had a completed save file from the other disc). The game once again used 3D characters against a pre-rendered background. The setting this time was Raccoon City Police Department and the sewers below. The RCPD was a beautiful setting, full of puzzles to solve and zombies to avoid. The RCPD was previously a museum and this can be seen throughout. The game also introduced a new enemy in the form of Lickers as well as the formidable Mr. X, who would haunt you in the B Scenario. The game utilised a “zapping” mechanic, where certain actions taken in the A scenario would affect the other characters B scenario. Also, in order to fully complete the game, you would have to play through both scenarios. The game also featured two more unlockable scenarios, Hunk and Tofu, where you have to escape the sewers and make your way to the roof of the RCPD. It’s a horrifying game that holds up well, despite having tank controls. A year later, Capcom would give us Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. This was set before, during and after the events of Resident Evil 2. Jill Valentine returns and she must escape Raccoon City once and for all. This game does away with the two-scenario system of the previous game, instead having choices pop up than can affect what items you find, what areas you’ll explore and what ending you get. The city is now your playground as you move your way through it to safety. The game captures the carnage of the city during a zombie outbreak perfectly. Jill is a lot more versatile than before, with a dodge button helping you out in tight situations, even if it is a bit hit and miss. The game is a little bit more action focused that the previous entries but that doesn’t mean item conservation isn’t a must, especially with the Nemesis hunting you down.

Ridge Racer Type 4

Namco would release four Ridge Racer games on the PlayStation but my pick of the bunch has to be Ridge Racer Type 4. Arriving on the system in 1998 in Japan and 1999 everywhere else, Ridge Racer Type 4 is pure arcade racing adrenaline. The game features two types of driving modes, Drift and Grip. These do exactly what they say on the tin, with Drift having you drifting around corners and Grip keeping you stuck to the track. The game features Time Attack, VS. Battle and Grand Prix to sink your teeth into. You’ll probably spend most of your time in Grand Prix mode as this is where you can unlock new cars and there’s a lot of them to unlock. Grand Prix mode is presented as a story, with you picking a team to race for (these act as a difficulty setting) and one of four manufacturers (this acts as your Drift or Grip setting). Then you’ll race through several rounds all to qualify for the final race on New Year’s Eve. With 321 cars to unlock, you’ll be coming back for more! The game using fully rendered 3D tracks and cars. The gameplay depends on your choice of driving mode but there is something for everyone to enjoy. Its fast, its fun and its well worth picking up a copy, even today.

Chase the Express

If I don’t mention this one, Shane will probably never let me hear the end of it. Anyway, it’s a good game that I enjoy, so it makes the list. Chase the Express (Covert Ops: Nuclear Dawn in the US) was developed by Sugar & Rockets and released in 2000. Its an action game that utilises tank controls. Set onboard a high-speed NATO train, Jack Morton is a sole survivor of a NATO team as a terrorist group takes control of the train and takes the French Ambassador and his family hostage. Jack must rescue the hostages before the train reaches Paris. While confined to the train, the game makes good use of its setting to provide variety in its train cars and boss fights. It also features multiple endings depending on the actions you take. Like many tank-control games of the era, there are puzzles to solve and the game mixes up its action-based gameplay with some stealthier moments. There are also a range of weapons to find, as well as hand to hand combat if you find yourself in a sticky situation. I enjoyed the games combat, particularly its lock-on mechanic when using a gun. Its graphics looked impressive for the time but don’t hold up as well now. However, its still a fun distraction for a Saturday afternoon.

Grandia

Originally a Sega Saturn game, Grandia would get its Western release on the PlayStation. It uses 3D environments, with full camera control, and sprites for its characters. Its an epic adventure spread across two discs. Grandia does an excellent job moving you forward, as you explore some of the forgotten regions of the world. The story follows Justin, a young wannabe adventurer, as he sets out to discover the mysteries of the ancient Angelou Civilization. Along the way he’ll encounter several party members who will assist him at certain points, each with their own set of skills to use in combat. Combat is where this game really shines. Your party and the enemy have an action bar. If you can hit the enemy as they are readying an attack, you can interrupt their action. The game’s experience system is also a welcome change. The party can gain regular experience to increase their HP and stats but new abilities and spells are acquired by doing certain actions in combat, such as casting a healing spell or attacking with a sword. These can also be used to unlock abilities that use a combination of magic types or fighting styles. The games graphics have held up well but its voice acting hasn’t. Still, the music is fantastic and will probably be stuck in your head for hours. Its one of the greatest JRPGs ever made, let alone for the PlayStation.

Crash Bandicoot

Crash Bandicoot would see three platforming releases on the PlayStation between 1996 and 1998. Developed by Naughty Dog, Crash Bandicoot became sort of a mascot for the system. The first game sees Crash trying to rescue his girlfriend, the second has his trying to stop Dr. Neo Cortex’ plan again and the third has him travelling through time. Not deep but fun. The first game is certainly the most challenging out of the three. It lacks the level select system of the other games, has a strange save system and ramps up the difficulty quickly. The second tries to balance the difficulty a bit more, while looking sharper, having better sound quality, and a healthy variety of levels. The third game is the easiest in the trilogy, with great level design and a fun mix of different stages including racing motor bikes and shooting down planes. The games utilise 3D graphics but the structure is far mor linear than games like Super Mario 64. The camera is mostly following Crash (or in front of him at certain levels) and can’t be controlled by the player. This helps the series overcome an issue that some early 3D platformers struggled with. Each game also has slightly tweaked controls, an issue that would pop up in Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy. If you’re looking to play these today, its probably best to stick with the remaster, especially for the first game.

Twisted Metal

Oh man, do I love me some vehicular combat games and probably the pinnacle of these is the Twisted Metal series. The original arrived on the system in 1995 and brought all sorts of carnage with it. Here, you could select from one of twelve characters as you tried to be the last one standing. Set across different areas of Los Angeles, the player would compete with other cars to be the last one standing, using a variety of machine guns, land mines and rocket launchers. The arenas look bare today but it’s the carnage that keeps you coming back for more. A year later, SingleTrac would give us Twisted Metal: World Tour. It added in new contestants and new arenas based all across the globe. The arenas themselves would have more detail than the first. The games fourteen contestants have their own endings to unlock (the original game had FMV ending cut) and there are two hidden characters you can play as by using cheat codes (remember them). Twisted Metal: World Tour was bigger, badder and more deranged than the first game and that’s why I loved it. Sadly, Europe wouldn’t see another Twisted Metal until Twisted Metal Black on the PlayStation 2.

Klonoa: Door to Phantomile

Probably the most criminally underrated game on this list, Klonoa: Door to Phantomile is a charming 2.5D platformer from Namco. Phantomile is a world fuelled by dreams but an airship suddenly throws Klonoa and his world into chaos. From there, Klonoa must travel across a variety of levels in order to understand the mysteries of Phantomile. It doesn’t seem like a deep narrative but just wait until you play it. The game’s 2.5D style helped it to stand out at the time when games were pushing for 3D environments. It features a wonderful range of colours, from the blue skies and green fields of early levels to the cacophony of colour in the fantastical Cress. The gameplay uses a grab mechanic, where Klonoa can grab enemies and use them to propel himself to higher ground. This can be used to find secrets in each level and, in later levels, its mastery required to progress. Its sweet music accompanies each level perfectly. Sadly, this one has gotten expensive recently but if you do have the chance to try it, do. I promise, you won’t regret it.

I could probably go on and on about this generation, if I being honest. I know I’m missing some games but there are some I own but haven’t played. These include Suikoden, Guardian Heroes, Paper Mario, Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, Shining Force III, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and many, many more. What were some of your favourite games from this generation? Do you have any fond memories of the early days of 3D? Do you still play games from this time?

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