Thursday 11 June 2015

3 of my Favourites from the '90s

GoldenEye N64
Multiplayer mayhem!
GoldenEye 007 (N64, 1997)

When I was a young boy, I wanted to be like James Bond. Now that may sound a little crazy, but I couldn't have been the only one with aspirations to one day become a top secret agent.

Unfortunately, back in 1997, I didn't know a licence to kill was just a novelist invention, or that my chances of being needed for MI6 field operations were slim to none. Nevertheless, courtesy of developer Rare, and publisher Nintendo, I could at least pretend I was a spy with GoldenEye oo7.

Indeed, it wasn't long after I popped the cartridge into my N64 for the first time that I realised just how special GoldenEye was. After I had ruthlessly finished off a guard with my AK 47, and as the blood soaked through each layer of his uniform, I instantly felt a certain boyish glee overcome me.

Back then, I was a big fan of first-person shooters and with GoldenEye; I'd never experienced a shooter quite as realistic. The graphics were outstanding, as was the soundtrack, both of which were complemented by sleekly produced sound effects. It was exciting, and it was as close to being a secret agent as I could ever become.

Though the chance to don 007's attire in the single-player campaign was captivating; GoldenEye was all about the multiplayer. At the time of its release, it surpassed any other multiplayer game I had experienced, mainly due to its split-screen option which accommodated up to four players per match.

GoldenEye 007 ranks at number three in the all-time 'best-selling' category for the N64, (behind Super Mario 64 and Mario Kart 64). Thus, its place in video gaming history is firmly secured. Granted, GoldenEye is not much to look at now, but in 1997, this was a game changer.

Shenmue (Dreamcast, 1999)

Ryo Hazuki Shenmue Dreamcast
I cannot recall a game absorbing me into its world as Shenmue did back in 1999. Developed by Sega AM2, and the brainchild of Yu Suzuki, you played the role of Ryo Hazuki as he seeks vengeance on those who murdered his father.

Set in Japan’s Yokosuka, what set this game apart from any open-world game before it, was the amount of freedom on offer. Not only were there day and night scenarios where you had to make it home before dark; Shenmue also featured a comprehensive weather system, which was not only exceptionally well crafted but also ahead of its time.

There were towns populated by different characters, all of which you could fully interact with as you began the investigation into your father's death. Additionally, buses ran to timetables, and shops opened and closed. All of these elements helped add to the overall realism of Shenmue's universe.

Maybe some above mentioned seem like nothing groundbreaking by this generation's standards, but back in 1999, Shenmue was something special. Therefore, I cannot recommend this game enough to any age of gamer. If you still have your Dreamcast locked away somewhere in the attic, or hidden in a box, get it now, dust it off, and get yourself a copy of this beautiful game. You won’t regret it.

Championship Manager (PC, 1995)

Championship Manager
To this day, I’m still trying to figure out how a wall of text and the occasional flashing box saying "GOAL!" could be so addictive.

If you were a fan of football and fancied yourself as a bit of a masterful tactician, then nothing got you closer to the manager's seat of your favourite team quite like the Championship Manager series did.

Everything you needed was there to make a winning team. Tactics, formations, set-piece routines, individual instructions, and training drills were all available to tweak and perfect. You had to deal with selfish players who demand more than their worth, and you even had training ground bust-ups to sort out correctly, or you’d alienate your entire team.

The series has always been freakishly accurate with its scouting networks; I would obsess about certain players I needed for specific positions for days on end. Can I get a cheaper right-back in the French market? What gems are available in the lower leagues? The game almost took over my life!

I have no idea how long I spent as a virtual coach, but I'd guess that I could have achieved something useful, like learn to play the saxophone (is that useful?), if I applied the hours I clocked in playing Championship Manager to something more productive.

One problem I had with the game wasn't really with the game itself; it was more to do with my personality. I hate losing, and nothing wound me up more than this game when my team failed to perform after I had thoroughly researched my opponent's strengths and weaknesses. However, that was also one of the best aspects of the franchise as it showcased football's unpredictability, albeit in ruthless fashion.

The Championship Manager (Now Football Manager) franchise really is a must for any football fan who fancies themselves as a bit of a José Mourinho. You won’t get the fame or glory like the “special one”, but you’ll have an enjoyable experience nonetheless.