It’s the last Sunday of the month, so that means it is time to bring you another instalment of RGM Gaming History and this month we’re looking back at May 1998.
May 1998 was quite the monumental month in the world, with riots shaking Indonesia aimed at Indonesians of Chinese descent resulting in the eventual resignation of their President, not that the President of the United States got away scot-free as a federal judge ruled that US Secret Service agents could be compelled to testify before a grand jury with regards to the Monica Lewinsky scandal. In their pre-Xbox days, Microsoft were involved in an antitrust case with the US Department of Justice and May 1998 also saw the last ever episode of the hit sitcom Seinfeld. But enough about all of that, it was also a pretty sweet month as far as gaming was concerned.
To start with, the 4th annual E3 event was held in Atlanta, Georgia and it was the first to have Games Critics Awards for that year, with the winners being:
- Best Console Game: Metal Gear Solid (PS1)
- Best PC Game: Half Life
- Best Peripheral/Hardware: Microsoft Sidewinder Freestyle Pro
- Best Action Game: Half Life (PC)
- Best Action/Adventure Game: Grim Fandango (PC)#
- Best RPG: Baldur’s Gate (PC)
- Best Racing Game: Need for Speed 3 (PC and PS1)
- Best Sports Game: Madden NFL 99 (PC, N64 and PS1)
- Best Fighting Game: Tekken 3 (PS1)
- Best Strategy Game (Real-Time or Turn Based): Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri (PC)
- Best Social/Casual/Puzzle/Family Game: Sentinel Returns (PC and PS1)
- Best Online Multiplayer: Everquest (PC)
- Best Simulation Game: Railroad Tycoon 2 (PC)
- Best Promising New Game: Homeworld (PC)
May 1998 also saw the release of a small handful of games that I’ll go through now.
Trailer courtesy of Gameboy Tester on YouTube. Einhänder was a side-scrolling shoot ’em up game from Squaresoft which was based around a future war between the Earth and the Moon and was very well received by games critics in North America with constant scores of around 8-9 out of 10. The intense action and “2.5D graphics” were hailed as key positives for the game, while it consistently appears in top 10 lists of side scrolling space shooter games to this day.
Gran Turismo (PS1)
Gran Turismo Intro courtesy of AlexZmp1992 on YouTube. Labelled as “The Real Driving Simulator”, Gran Turismo was an absolute revolution as far as racing games went. Although released in Japan a year previously, Gran Turismo arrived in North America and Europe in May 1998 after 5 years of development. When you consider the monumental changes in graphics and gameplay from 1992-1997 this is some feat and Gran Turismo was critically and publicly well-received with overall scores of 9-10 out of 10 and a Metacritic score of 96 making it level on the site with other great games such as Half-Life, Half-Life 2, GoldenEye 007, BioShock and Mass Effect 2 as well as making Gran Turismo the highest rated racing game of all time (at the time of writing) according to the review aggregator site.
Trailer courtesy of Synaesthetics on YouTube. It’s been 18 years since the original Unreal game was released on PC, bringing with it the first Unreal engine and a new era in high-end graphical gaming. An FPS to rival id Software’s grip on the genre, with their Doom and Quake games being the market leaders, you play as Prisoner 849 aboard a prison ship that crash lands on an unknown planet called Na Pali and forced to fight for your survival against the evil Skaarj who would prove to be the antagonists of future Unreal games. Developed by Epic MegaGames (who are now known simply as Epic Games – creators of Gears of War), Unreal was notable not only for it’s single player but also it’s multiplayer side – even if the 56k modems at the time were ill equipped to handle it.
There we have it, May 1998 in a conveniently wrapped article. How fondly do you remember the games released that month? Or the games that won at E3 1998? Let us know in the comments below, the RGM Forums or on Twitter. If you like what you’ve read then feel free to share this article on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pintrest or Reddit using the buttons available!