After a brief break to discuss the Final Fantasy VII Remake demo, we are now back with our King of Games 98 tournament, as we enter the Round of 8. The Round of 16 was quite exciting, with some of the winners surprising even ourselves. More importantly, the tournament got off to a resounding successful start, with our listeners greatly enjoying our takes on the many great games that came out in 1998.
But now we get one step closer to the goal line, and the games in this round are going to have a tough battle ahead of them. To be quite frank, most of the times we have gone into one of the episodes, it has been unclear what game will come out on top and advance to the next round. Nevertheless, our mission has been to remain objective through it all, not letting one factor overtake another without looking at the big picture and purpose of the tournament.
Let us then recap the rules of the tournament:
- Every other Thursday in which we do not release a regular episode, we will be releasing an episode in which we match up one game that came out in 1998 against another.
- The Round of 8 will have four match-ups in total based on the bracket that each game found itself in on the first round and from where it advanced. The initial seeding was randomized.
- We are using the North American release date. Yes, we know, we are region free, but in this particular case we had to stick with a region and go with it. Considering how erratic the PAL territories can be, the North American release date was the best bet.
- Each episode has 3 hosts to avoid a tie.
Furthermore, here is the criteria used to judge each game:
- Public Reception: How did each of these games do critically and commercially?
- Personal Attachment: What is our experience with or personal attachment to these games?
- Legacy: Was this game genre defining or did it leave a mark in the video game world?
- Lasting Appeal: Which of these games would we rather play today?
With that said, let us look at the corresponding match-ups for this round:
Baldur’s Gate v. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Not many doubted that Ocarina of Time would advance into the next round, but it faced off against one of the games that could have had a chance against it in Resident Evil 2. Of course, the juggernaut that is Link’s maiden outing on the Nintendo 64 was simply too much for Claire and Leon to take down.
Link is now facing off against Bioware’s seminal RPG, Baldur’s Gate. Baldur’s Gate previously faced off against Tekken 3, a match that we initially thought would go without incidence to Tekken 3 merely on the power of nostalgia. Alas, our adherence to scientific integrity and objectivity means that Baldur’s Gate advanced despite our limited nostalgic affection for Baldur’s Gate. We will now see how it fares off against Nintendo’s colossus.
Gran Turismo v. Pokemon Red/Blue
Gran Turismo is in a weird place, in that it is undoubtedly one of the best games of 1998, yet one that is nowadays geared towards a very particular audience. That may explain the backlash we received when Xenogears, a beloved RPG with one of the best soundtracks of all time, failed to advance against “The Real Driving Simulator.”
It will be interesting to see how Gran Turismo fares against Pokemon Red/Blue, another Nintendo property that is steeped so heavily in nostalgia and is such a cultural phenomenon, that it is hard to see it being toppled. Last time, Pokemon decimated Thief: The Dark Project, despite Paul’s stern dislike for everything Pokemon and Butterfree. So, can Butterfree and pals take down the Nissans and Hondas of Gran Turismo?
Grim Fandango v. Metal Gear Solid
We have beaten this horse to death, but it is not controversial to say that the most surprising upset of last round was Grim Fandango prevailing over Starcraft. Not that Grim Fandango did not deserve the win, but anyone not named Arnaldo did not see Grim Fandango taking down Blizzard’s influential strategy game. Yet here we are.
It is kind of poetic that it is facing off against Metal Gear Solid, as Grim Fandango’s success in the last round was most likely a backlash from Arnie when he decided not to let Banjo Kazooie advance against Metal Gear Solid. Even though Banjo Kazooie is a good game in its own rights, there are few who would argue that the wrong choice was made. Now, two games which Arnie had the final say in advancing get to square off against each other…without his participation.
Panzer Dragoon Saga v. Half Life
In a tale of two dragons, Panzer Dragoon Saga took down Insomniac’s Games’ lovable mascot, Spyro the Dragon. Although we tried to give Spyro a fair shot, it ultimately lacked sufficient weight to take down Sega’s mythical RPG. The latter is now matched up with a PC classic that redefined first person shooters.
Half Life previously took down another PC heavyweight in the form of Unreal. Despite being very impressive at the time due to its impressive graphics, age was not kind to Unreal, with the game being fairly unimpressive after the graphics have lost their luster. We will now get to see whether Half Life can advance to the semi-finals.
So that constitutes the four match-ups. As we did the last time, we will let you predict which game you expect to prevail. We have already accumulated the entries from the last round, so that the person with the most accurate predictions will win a yet to be announced prize.
Let us know, who do you think will win: