Mega Man X4 is about as close to a perfect Mega Man game as you will ever find. Though the X series was starting to wear a bit thin by the time the fourth entry arrived, Capcom managed to inject some life into the franchise by giving players the option to play as either Mega Man or Zero. Both characters played slightly differently, and offered plenty of variety when it came to tackling the challenging bosses that lie at the end of every level. The old "if it ain't broke" axiom held true here, as at its core, X4 was merely just another better-looking Mega Man adventure. That didn't stop fans from gobbling up every last second.
The adventure that started it all. The infatuation with Lara Croft. The crypt-crawling puzzle solving. The battles with dinosaurs. The myth of the nude code. Angelina Jolie in a skin-tight body suit. The very first Tomb Raider was quite the phenomenon, and trailblazed the 3D action-adventure genre. So many games owe so much to Tomb Raider, it's almost hard to believe the franchise required the drastic reboot it's getting in 2013. While later entries in the series would improve the controls, camera, graphics, and add bigger tombs to raid, none of that would have happened without the smashing success of this game. It's rather rough to play nowadays, but at the time, there were few titles as captivating as Tomb Raider.
Kick, punch, it's all in the mind. A video game soundtrack sticking with you is one thing. A video game based around a soundtrack was virtually unheard of until PaRappa the Rapper dropped some heavy beats on the PlayStation. One of the very first rhythm games, PaRappa had some catchy tracks that to this day many gamers can recite by heart. Some will do it without even being prompted. The game's paper cut-out style and light-heartedness went a long way in keeping PaRappa a constant favorite throughout the years. The genre has changed quite a bit since the early days of the PSX, but to this day, the gameplay holds up well, and still provides hours of enjoyment to anyone still holding onto a copy.
Though some players thought the game's characters looked a bit too childlike after Final Fantasy 7's and 8's more adult visuals, Final Fantasy 9 was one of the great RPGs of the PlayStation era. There were plenty of throwbacks to the very first years of the franchise, including the return of black mages, and the more simple character design. And despite its looks, FF9 had a surprisingly mature and emotional story that even took some familiar tropes and turned them on their heads. It's not often that a series like this sees yearly releases, and it's even less common for each subsequent title to surpass the last, but FF9 does just that with ease.
Games like Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee are incredibly rare. It takes just the right timing and the right system for a game about escaping slavery in a factory to work, but somehow all the factors lined up perfectly for Oddworld Inhabitants. The game's solid soundtrack and sharp graphics and design certainly didn't hurt, but what really kept players coming back repeatedly were the puzzles. Enemies and allies all reacted differently, so trying to make sure Abe and his people were able to make it out of the extremely dangerous complex provided quite the challenge to players. You might be able to get one or two friends to safety, but there was always that one guy who fell to his death when you weren't looking. Saving his life was motivation enough to reload your save time and time again.
Tekken 3 changed everything. Friends became bitter rivals. Bitter rivals became even more bitter rivals. Tekken 3 was the game you played with friends you didn't want to be your friends anymore. The ease with which people who had never played a fighter before were able to learn the controls was only part of the appeal. The smooth animations, the colorful attacks, the miniature dinosaur character you could unlock, and the sweet satisfaction of pummeling your pals with Hwoarang and Law only added to the excitement. There are still people out there who can recall the exact combo maneuvers you needed to take out Jin with Paul without losing any health. Tekken 3 changed everything.
Final Fantasy Tactics was unlike any previous Final Fantasy game Squaresoft had produced, and many longtime fans didn't quite understand the appeal of the strategic RPG. Little did they know they'd be losing out on one of the most brilliant role-playing games ever developed. In addition to yet another exemplary score, Final Fantasy Tactics introduced a wealth of depth to the typically stale formula associated with Final Fantasy games. There were plenty of classes to master, characters to discover, and battles to wage. Plenty of RPGs like this have been released over the years, but few still earn as many replays from devoted fans as FF Tactics does.
There aren't too many games that strike terror into the hearts and minds of men (and women), like Silent Hill. The first game in Konami's long-running survival horror franchise didn't just set out to be a Resident Evil clone. No, Silent Hill was a beast of a different flavor all together. Few games today would let so much gameplay focus on running away, but that's exactly how you survived in the twisted world of Silent Hill. Lead protagonist Harry wasn't some gun-toting bad-ass. He was a man just like any other, and when things got weird, you felt just as terrified as he did. Silent Hill players still get a chill whenever a fog sets in, and that says a lot about the psychological power the game still holds over them.
As real as racing gets ... or, got at the time rather. Gran Turismo 2 pushed the PlayStation in ways gamers never expected, with outstanding attention to detail, and ridiculously great physics. The racing was so intense, it was often hard to remember you were just playing a game. GT2 offered more cars and customization over its predecessor, but it also made everyone who played it into a ridiculous car junkie. Players would trade car tuning specs on memory cards, as they just needed to get that Nissan Skyline fit just right to win those last few races. The fervor surrounding the Gran Turismo series still exists today, but Gran Turismo 2 is what hooked fans for life.
Outshining the first Resident Evil in nearly every aspect, Resident Evil 2 is still considered the benchmark by which all other Resident Evil games are judged. Taking place roughly in the same time frame as the first game, but within the unfriendly confines of Raccoon City, players stepped into the shoes of either Leon Kennedy or Claire Redfield to try and solve the mystery of the zombie outbreak, and to get out of the city alive. The two narratives would cross-over from time to time, but for the most part, Resident Evil 2 was a solitary adventure that set a new bar for what survival horror could be. There's a reason Leon Kennedy is arguably the series' most beloved character. This game is that reason.