After a month’s break, we are now ready to return to our ongoing tournament judging the best games released in 1998!
We are now getting close to the end, as we enter the semi-final stage. All of the games in this round are legitimately all-time greats, so the choices will be the hardest they have ever been.
Before we get into the match-ups, let us recap how we got here. 16 games released in 1998 to critical acclaim were selected by the Region Free Gamers co-host in a single-elimination tournament. The initial seeding for each game was randomized so that all games were on the same footing.
Furthermore, the games were judged based on the following criteria:
- 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?
Up to this point, all the matches have had 3 hosts in order to prevent any deadlocks. Nevertheless, in order to ensure maximum fairness for each game, we have brought the 5 hosts of the podcast into the final two episodes. This will hopefully minimize, if not necessarily eliminate, perceptions of bias.
With that out of the way, let us look at the two match-ups!
Half-Life v. Gran Turismo
For our first match-up, we have what was once a PC-exclusive going up against what is to this day an exclusive to the Sony PlayStation 1. Half-Life got to this point by defeating Unreal in the first round, proving it was the superior PC FPS of 1998. It then defeated Panzer Dragoon Saga, a beloved RPG that may have punched above its weight.
Gran Turismo surprised many by not only taking down Xenogears in the first round, but also running over Pikachu and co. in the Round of 8. It therefore proved itself quite the RPG slayer. Will the real driving simulator fare as well against Gordon Freeman and his crowbar?
Metal Gear Solid v. Ocarina of Time
To be quite honest, we did not anticipate that this match would take place in the semi-finals. Of course, it only required us to look at how the seeding shaped out in order to spot that this match-up would arrive earlier than expected, but we did not connect the dots until much later in the tournament. Now, the two games that most thought would be the finalists are going up against each other, and boy, it is a match of epic proportions.
Metal Gear Solid got to this point by first facing some unexpected competition going up against Banjo Kazooie, but it then made short work of overachieving Grim Fandango in the Round of 8. Ocarina of Time first took down Resident Evil 2, which was a game that could have had a shot at advancing were it not for the unlucky draw. Ocarina then went up against Baldur’s Gate, which was no match for Link’s legendary tale.
With that, we have our two semi-final match-ups. As was the case in previous rounds, we will let you predict which game you expect to prevail. We have already accumulated the entries from the prior rounds, so that the person with the most accurate predictions will win a yet to be announced prize (trust us, we are working on it, but it will surely be ’98 related).
We look forward to seeing who you will think will advance to the finals. What is certain is that regardless of how these matches shape out, there will surely be disappointments. It is simply an unavoidable reality of these types of tournaments and understandably so, considering how much passion and nostalgia exists for these games. Ultimately, we just hope you enjoy listening to the episodes as much as we enjoyed recording them.
So, let us know, who do you think will advance?