Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Look to the Past: Games of the Years 1993 - Myst


Myst (PC)

Perhaps the most original winner from the entire list, Myst did what no game had done before. While hit games like Mega Man 6, Link's Awakening and Sonic CD kept rolling out, Myst took a brave move; and it paid off big time. It presented an imaginative world steeped in mystifying mystery and riddled with riddles, creating an unforgettable atmosphere in the process. The story was dark and intriguing, forcing player to takes things very slowly in order to progress. Reading tarnished books with hidden meanings lurking between pages, exploring abandoned worlds locked with complicated puzzles, and deciphering strange mechanisms and buildings were commonplace activities. There was no fighting, no dying, and next to no direction. Instead, the player was given a first-person perspective from an unknown individual and merely dropped-- quite literally-- into the Island of Myst. Clicking on the still frames of rendered scenery and interacting with its objects was more than enough to draw in millions of people.

Do you know how long it took me to figure out the puzzle of the lighthouse? A long time, that's how long!

Visually, Myst was a masterpiece. An archaic masterpiece by today's standards, but a masterpiece all the same. Like all the other elements of the game, it managed to forgo conventions and create a thick atmosphere of surreal creepiness. It really feels like another world in there. The game even used live-action cutscenes to non-laughable effects, which was and still is a wonder. Perhaps the most important achievement of all was that Myst truly proved that video games aren't just for kids, and did so in a truer sense of the word "mature" than did shock factor games like Mortal Kombat and Doom. Difficult, obtuse, and at times confusing, Myst was not an easy game to complete. But the challenge was entirely different than that of its fellow video games, and very few games even today can match its vision. It was certainly ahead of its time in 1993, and its gripping tale is still well worth a look.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Look to the Past: Games of the Years 1992 - The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past


The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES)

I was already moving onto 1993 after quickly deciding on '92's Game of the Year; namely, Sonic the Hedgehog 2! However, I was astounded and flabbergasted to discover that I had overlooked one of the most remarkable games of our lifetimes: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. As hard as it is for me to let one of my favorite platformers of all time slide to the wayside, I couldn't overlook the significance of such an important achievement. In a world of fun albeit simple games such as Super Mario Kart and The Lost Vikings, this landmark installment to the Zelda series was epic in the true sense of the word. The tale began during a raging storm, leading the young hero out from his safe house and into a grand, imposing castle. One endangered princess and several puzzles later, the entirety of Hyrule was at the player's fingertips. The overworld was huge, chock full of battle, secrets, monsters, magic, and a whole lot more. Exploration mixed with real-time combat to create an excellent recipe for adventure, and in 1993, that was pretty much the coolest thing currently on the planet. The dungeons were top-notch too, of course: your brain was as necessary as your wits to make it through in one piece.

Beware the cuccos: they are not your friends.

Easily besting the series' previous two installments, A Link to the Past perfected the formula and brought a slew of classic Zelda trademarks to the table. This game introduced the Master sword to the franchise, along with the hookshot, a bevy of amazing songs, and other such staples. It was also the first game in the series to legitimately hold up to today's games (at least in my opinion), and could certainly be well-received even now after a few touch-ups here and there. It's clear that A Link to the Past made a name for itself with its many innovations and super high quality and has subsequently gone down in video game history as one of the finest. You can be sure that we haven't seen the last of this remarkable series in this Look to the Past, for the future holds installments of even greater power!