The year was 1999. Sega was nearing the end of its console developing lifespan, and Nintendo was releasing titles left and right, many of which have become huge hits today.
This was an incredible year for the gaming industry. We’re lucky to get one or two new series that really manage to cause waves in the industry nowadays. But in 1999, we had over a half dozen phenomenal series make their start. Fortunately, many of these games continue to dominate the scene today.
Dreams Do Come True
On September 9th, 1999, the Sega Dreamcast began releasing internationally outside of Japan. This began with its US release. While the Dreamcast was the final nail in Sega’s console making life, this was truly a beautiful piece of hardware. It sold well in the US initially, but fell off due to competing with the soon to be released PlayStation 2.
It’s main selling point was being modular. To decrease the initial cost of the console, Sega created components sold separately that would enhance various aspects of the console. It was also the first console to ever include a built in modem for internet features and online play.
Some incredible games that released on the Dreamcast that we won’t be discussing today are:
- Jet Set Radio
- Sonic Adventure
- Skies of Acadia
- Phantasy Star Online
- Crazy Taxi
- Grandia II
The Games of 1999
Super Smash Bros
In January of 1999, Super Smash Bros made its big debut on the Nintendo 64. This series has obviously spread far past this title. Super Smash Bros: Melee is one of the most popular fighting games in the industry’s history, and the recently released Super Smash Bros: Ultimate is set to be one of the fastest selling video games ever.
This all started with the original Super Smash Bros. The first game that allowed you to take multiple Nintendo owned characters and make them beat the crap out of one another. This game was a major spark in countless childhoods. Its multiplayer mode was something rarely seen before, and it holds up so well that there are still tournaments every year for this game.
Another major Nintendo franchise, Mario Party, has spawned over ten sequels since it released. That’s impressive. While the game isn’t a technical marvel, it is an incredibly fun series. It’s an amazing collection of party games that pits you up against your friends or computers. While it originally released in 1998, it wasn’t until 1999 that it released outside of Japan.
Mario Party was a breath of fresh air in the party game scene. It took the form of a traditional board game, with fifty different mini games, and a hidden single player game. It had plenty of content, and direct mindless fun with a competitive motivators.
Soulcalibur is a 3D fighting game with an emphasis on unique weapon based play styles. The game was originally released as arcade hardware in 1998 before being ported to the Dreamcast. It is technically the second game in the franchise (Soul Edge is where the franchise began), but the series adopted the brand of Soulcalibur after the games massive success.
The 1990’s was the decade of fighting games. We’ve seen two major franchises get their start in the year 1999 alone. Soulcalibur is one that still manages to hold up. It was unique in a time where fighting games were incredibly common. It utilized its weapon based combat and 8-directional movement system to create a new experience. Since it released, it has been credited as one of the greatest games ever made, period. It is a very rare occurrence for a home console game to surpass its arcade version graphically, but that’s just one reason why this game so impressive.
Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage!
Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage! was the next entry in the PlayStation’s exclusive series. Spyro is one of the most popular and most critically acclaimed platforming series of all time. This game was no exception to that rule. Who knew that taking an adorable purple dragon and making him hop and bop his way around the world and through enemies would be such an enticing time? Insomniac Games did.
It even managed to diverge from what other popular platforming series were doing at the time. Spyro created an open world that gave the player some choice in deciding how they wanted to tackle it. It also utilized NPCs with optional secondary objectives. The Spyro series slowly became more of an open world, and it may have benefited from stopping before it got too far, but regardless. The series is great.
In 1999 multiplayer gaming was rather niche. Few consoles had the ability to play online, and few games offered support for it. Even on the PC side of things it was rather non-existent. Thankfully, Epic Games, now known for making Fortnite, started the Unreal series over two decades ago.
Unreal Tournament is the second game in the series, but is incredibly important. The game paved the way for the future of online shooters. It was a graphical masterpiece of the time, especially on PC which also had both online and local multiplayer support. This allowed players to compete in arena shooter action. This was pretty huge for the time.
It also had a single-player mode where the player competes in a series of competitive arena matches against bots, aiming to become the Grand Champion. While this mode was good as well, the real reason to admire this game is its multiplayer. The game really was a stepping stone for games like Halo and Call of Duty to become as major as they did.
This game has to be mentioned. It isn’t a particularly amazing game, but it has reached very large levels of influence on the meme side of the gaming industry. Though few people have probably played it, most people who play video games and are invested in the industry has probably heard of this.
You play as Pepsiman…the mascot of Pepsi. Your character runs automatically through various levels as you work to avoid many different types of obstacles. Pepsiman isn’t the game we necessarily need, but its the game we deserve.
While I’m not able to fully discuss every major release of the year 1999, as there were around two dozen of them, these are some more that you should definitely look into if you’re a fan or collector of games from this time.
- Sonic Adventure
- Silent Hill
- Grand Theft Auto 2
- The King of Fighters ’98
- Pokemon Snap
- Chrono Cross (Japan)
- Crash Team Racing
- RollerCoaster Tycoon
- Baldur’s Gate: Tales of the Sword Coast
- Pokemon Stadium
- Mario Party 2 (Japan)
- Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater
- Resident Evil 3: Nemesis
- Rayman 2: The Great Escape
- Gran Turismo 2
- Medal of Honor
- Pokemon Gold (Japan)
- Pokemon Silver (Japan)
- Persona 2: Innocent Sin
- Shenmue (Japan)
- System Shock 2
- Donkey Kong 64
- The Legend of Dragoon (Japan)
- Harvest Moon 64
What are your favorite games of 1999? Let us know in the comments below!
I’ve been involved with the world of video games since I was able to sit in my dad’s lap and watch him. Not long after that I started playing myself, and it’s been a naturally growing passion ever since.