1998 Was An Incredible Year For Games

1998 Was An Incredible Year For Games
Image: Kotaku Australia

When people say the ’90s was the golden age of gaming, they do so with good reason. Especially if you were playing in ’98.

People’s nostalgia always crops up whenever topics like this come up, since the greatest year ultimately depends on when you were born, what your living situation was like and how much money you had at the time. It’s easy to like more games when you can afford all of them, for instance.

But there are some time periods that everyone can look back fondly on. 1998 is one of those: regardless of your platform of choice, there’s a game in there that either started a franchise you still love today, or was just something that was really, really special.

This post has been updated since its original publication.

Wario Land II

What blew me away with Wario Land 2 was just how high quality the animation was. The Gameboy Color version holds up a lot better, but then you could say that for plenty of original Game Boy games.

NFL Blitz

Still better than any version of Madden ever released.

Myth II: Soulblighter

One day I wonder what it would be like if Bungie used their immense talent to make things that weren’t looter shooters. The studio’s crack at tactics games with Myth and Myth II were fantastic for their time, and as seen above, they still hold up pretty well today. (And if you can get this going on an ultrawide, you’re laughing.)


SiN was the byproduct of that late ’90s period where a lot of developers were chasing the Quake / Unreal train. It wasn’t the best shooter clone from that era, and it was cheesy as all hell, but I had a ton of fun with it. The SiN remaster from Night Dive is still due out sometime this year, according to Steam, and it’ll be fun to see how that holds up.

Railroad Tycoon II

Building railroads has never been my thing, and while my heart will always lie with Transport Tycoon and its assembly coded genius, Railroad Tycoon 2 was a true gem of a sim when it dropped. It was a much bigger hit in Europe, where it went to sell over 1.5 million units by 2001, tripling the developers’ expectations.


It’s hard to go past a game filled with so much character and verve that it feels alive. Banjo-Kazooie was really clever about that. Everyone talked. The puzzle pieces were a rad idea. It wasn’t as tight to control as Mario 64, but the world was so much fun to inhabit.

And then there was the game show ending.

Mario Party

You either love or hate Mario Party, but one way or another, you’ve crossed paths with it at some point. I’m still staggered that Nintendo hasn’t done more with Super Mario Party on the Switch given how many millions of copies it sold – seems like a massive waste, really.

Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines

Metal Gear Solid

Journeyman Project 3: Legacy of Time

One of those FMV adventure games that rose up in the wake of Myst‘s massive success. It was nowhere near as good as Myst, Riven, or the supremely underrated Zork Nemesis, but was still a lot of campy fun. The 360 degree CGI tech was funky to see at the time, too.

FIFA Road to World Cup 98

video games released 1998 great year

It’s unbelievable just how much content you got in Road to World Cup 98. It was also the last game to have a deliberate foul button, which everyone naturally used to fly-tackle the opposing goalkeeper at every opportunity. Plus, the game shipped with a 5v5 indoor football mode.

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Army Men

1998 was a great year for the AA or the B-tier of games as well. Case in point: Army Men, an action game all about controlling those plastic toys your parents or grandparents might have played with as kids. Hugely cheesy and a bit inspired by Cannon Fodder, without the brutal difficulty or permadeath elements.

3DO really did publish some bangers back in the day.


A Descent-like game that got a surprise re-release recently, Forsaken was stunning back in the day. Fun fact: the same studio who made this worked on Re-Volt, another all-time classic. LGR on YouTube has a great breakdown of the game back in the day, and how the game differed on PC and consoles.

For reference, the 3D accelerated version was stunning if you had a suitable card. Hell, it’s still worth playing today, especially since the Remastered version includes levels that only shipped on the N64.

Pokemon: Trading Card Game

I’m not even embarrassed to admit that I might have had more fun playing this than Pokemon Yellow back in the day.

Grim Fandango


Almost took 20 years before you could play it again, too.


Esports owes StarCraft an immense debt of gratitude, as does the entire RTS genre.

Thief: The Dark Project

Pokemon Red & Blue


Zelda: Ocarina of Time


F-Zero X

Still waiting for that Switch release, Nintendo.

Fallout 2



Not as great as the Quake campaigns when you look back on it, but it laid the foundation for Unreal Tournament 99, so all is well.

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StarCraft: Brood War

Warcraft 3 is still my favourite arc as far as an RTS story campaign goes, but Brood War really made StarCraft into a more well-rounded, competitive gaming. Lurkers, man.

Falcon 4.0

Got banned in South Korea for a time, I remember, too. Was also a great instance of what the modding community could do even from a very early stage, with the release of Falcon 4.0: Allied Force in 2005.

Star Wars: Rebellion

This game is screaming for a proper mobile remake or something. The board game is great, but it’s huge and there are so many parts to fiddle with.

Battlezone (1998)

Only $US5 on Steam now if you want to see what a hybrid FPS/RTS looked like back in the day. This was a ton of stupid fun, but not great if you had a turd PC.

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six

Siege is great and Ubisoft has done amazing things with that game, but the original is still the best Rainbow Six.

Descent: Freespace — The Great War

It was Freespace 2 that would become the basis for so many amazing mods, but the Descent team laid the platform with The Great War first.

Resident Evil 2

Didn’t come to non-PlayStation platforms until 1999, although PS1 users arguably had the better experience nonetheless.

Oddworld: Abe’s Exoddus

Imagine trying to pitch a game with these kind of voiceovers to a publisher now.

Blood II: The Chosen

Absolutely nowhere near as good as the original Blood, but given the Quake 2-inspired direction people were going with their shooters, it was still a fun romp. And speaking of 1998 shooters…


I could go on for days just on the amazing Half-Life mods alone, not to mention the base game itself. Except for Ricochet. Let’s not talk about that.

Starsiege: Tribes

Best multiplayer game back in the day, if you were fortunate enough to have internet or go to LANs regularly. Hands down.

Championship Manager 97/98

This was released in 1998, instead of being released in 1997, like FIFA and NBA 2K does every year. Amazing for its time, although not quite the juggernaut the series has since become.

Links LS 98

I’m pretty sure some friends of my Dad still play this version.

Crash Bandicoot: Warped

Heretic 2

I loved the original Heretic, don’t get me wrong, but the way the sequel used magic and spells was some Jedi Knight-level stuff.

Gran Turismo

Japan got this in 1997, but the West didn’t get it until the middle of 1998, so I’m counting this one.

Spyro the Dragon

Most kickarse dragon in games.


One of the first stealth games — the first 3D stealth game, if I’m not mistaken — and one that people would probably look a lot more favourably on today, in this post-Dark Souls world.

Like I said, an amazing collection. I’m sure I’ve missed several that meant something to you, but you can mention those in the comments.

What a year. (And in case anyone wants to pull me up on it, Baldur’s Gate released just before Christmas in 1998, although a lot of Australians won’t have gotten it until the following year.)


  • Such great games!
    Fallout 2, Baldur’s Gate and Grim Fandango are the standouts for me.
    Yes, Star Wars Rebellion needs some more love.
    Also, I’m pretty sure that Baldur’s Gate pic is from the newer BGEE, but no biggie.

  • Wow! I played the hell out of so many of those games, especially F-Zero, Zelda and Rainbow Six.

    • The campaigns were never Quake’s strong suit though. The Quake multiplayer was always better though, especially with mods. TF classic still gives me fond memories, or Super Hero Quake 2. ^^

    • Bugger it. I’ll put the trailer in instead. (Thanks, btw!)

      It’s so hard getting reasonable size shots of some of these older games these days *sob*

  • I bought Star Wars Rebellion but was never able to get into it. Felt like playing a spreadsheet. I used to just load it up to listen to the Star Wars music, then shut it down and go play something else 😛

    I was actually going to mention Jagged Alliance 2 here, but when I looked it up it seems it actually came out in 1999. I could have sworn I played it in 1998… Maybe it was a demo or something? Or maybe I’m just so old now that senility has set in.

  • I have to say playing The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time on the Nintendo 64 brings me back so many memories saving the land of Hyrule from the evil Ganondorf and drawing the Master Sword from the Temple of Time to become Adult Link and going back 7 years in the past was fun too.
    Never played Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped on the Playstation but I am going to play Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped when I get my hands on Activision and Vicarious Visions Crash Bandicoot: N-Sane Trilogy for the Nintendo Switch at the end of this week.
    Nintendo and Rare’s Banjo Kazooie for the Nintendo 64 from the creators of Goldeneye 007 and Donkey Kong Country. Well at first I was hoping Banjo and Kazooie would appear in the upcoming Super Smash Bros. game for Nintendo Switch as approved by head of Xbox Phil Spencer. Well now Rare’s Banjo and Kazooie still remains with Microsoft and I’m not happy at all screw you Rare for ending your partnership with Nintendo 30 years ago because you had intellectual licensing issues.
    Moving on I loved Spyro the Dragon on the Playstation I only played Spyro the Dragon and Spyro 3: Year of the Dragon never played Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage otherwise known as Gateway to Glimmer. But as of right now Skylanders developer Toys for Bob doesn’t want to make any further comments on their plans of bringing Spyro: Reignited Trilogy to the Nintendo Switch and PC. So we’re just going to wait till next year to find out if Spyro the Dragon will be gliding his way on to Nintendo Switch and PC.

  • I played the shit out of Tribes, skiing and spamming “Shazbot!” as quick as I could. I was shit at it, but I didn’t care.

  • When I got my PS3, I wanted to see what Gran Turismo looked like on a modern system, but couldn’t find either my copy, or a second hand copy at the time. Once I went looking for the display specs of the PS1, I’m glad I didn’t.

    The video above just killed all those fond recollections of how awesome GT looked back in 1998.after seeing the 364×240 resolution again.

  • Heh, played most of these around a year later being in year 12 at the time, and uni in a completely different city afterwards. Some games have gotten better and some worse over the years.

  • Yeah, but 1995 though:
    – Front Mission
    – Chrono Trigger
    – Descent
    – Full Throttle
    – Mortal Kombat 3
    – Earthbound
    – Command & Conquer
    – Tekken 2
    – Heroes of Might & Magic
    – MechWarrior 2
    – Street Fighter Alpha
    – Rayman
    – TIE Fighter
    – The Dig
    – Marathon 2
    – Time Crisis
    – Worms
    – Suikoden
    – Tactics Ogre
    – Warcraft II

    Also the year the PlayStation launched in the west, the year Bioware formed, the very first E3 was held, and that GameFAQs was launched.

    • note: technically TIE Fighter was 94, but the CD version came out in 1995 with improved graphics, double the resolution, digital voiceovers and the Defender of the Empire expansion included, making it the definitive version that everyone talked about.

    • You can list ANY year from the 1990’s and each year is fucking amazing for videogames, no joke. There’s not one single bad year.

      • @negativezero I’d say 1996 has it beat.

        Super Mario 64
        Mariokart 64
        Diablo (!!!)
        Crash Bandicoot
        Resident Evil
        Tomb Raider
        Duke Nukem 3D
        TES: Daggerfall
        Civilization 2 (!!!)
        C&C: Red Alert
        Metal Slug
        Tekken 2
        Master of Orion 2 (!!!)

        The !!!’s are games in my top 10 of all time.

          • I still claim it. ’95 was when it dropped in arcades, ’96 was when it was ported to Playstation, which was where I (and I’m guessing probably most others) played it.

  • True, and a great list! Although:

    It’s easy to like more games when you can afford all of them, for instance

    I find the opposite to be true. Now that I’m grown up and have a real job and disposable income, I just buy any game that takes my fancy. If I get bored of it 10 minutes in, I switch to a different game. Maybe I had more focus and fewer distractions as a teenager in the ’90s, but if I only had one game to play I sat and played it to death, and loved it too.

    And if that ain’t the most first world problem you’ve heard today, then you have some seriously privileged people in your life!

  • Kinda take umbridge with ‘people would look more favorably upon Tenchu’ 😉

    The original Tenchu is pretty much revered amongst gamers, it’s a legendary game that was brilliant upon release and still holds up now (framerate aside). The sequels were pretty trash, but the original however, is a classic 🙂

    but the original is still the best Rainbow Six.

    You misspelt “Rogue Spear” 😛

  • Even if it was just StarCraft, Ocarina of Time, Pokemon, Fallout 2, Half Life and Resident Evil 2, you’d have one of the best years in gaming.

  • “Tango down”
    Soooo much rainbow six here.

    Not to mention many a late nighter playing Resident Evil 2.

  • Only played these after the fact and I just want to say it’s more than just nostalgia for titles that were big at the time, Half-Life remains my second favourite game of all time and Metal Gear Solid, LoZ: OoT, Banjo Kazooie and the first half of Grim Fandango (those puzzles are so unintuitive, but the atmosphere and writing are so good, one day I’ll finish it) are absolute masterpieces. I’ve long claimed 1998 was the best year for games period, and to date no one has been able to convince me otherwise, even though I played them all a good 10+ years after their original release.

  • I mean I was 11 that year, so I’m definitely in the nostalgia zone. But I think few could deny this. Never agreed with a headline more.

  • This list makes me so happy. I wish they’d port Fallout 2 to Android so I could play it on my phone or tablet wherever I go… or better yet, my switch.

  • As someone who has played many Soccer game I have to say FIFA 98 was TRASH. on PS1 ans PS2 Winning Eleven (later called Pro Evolution Soccer) was king.

  • Man, memory is a funny thing. The moment I saw that Road to Worldcup ’98 screenshot, the line “I get knocked down” from Tubthumping dropped into my brain. The title screen of that game was the first time I had heard that song and I thought it was pretty cool.

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