Friday Flashback Five: Week of August 19, 2001

It’s the end of the week, friends, which means it’s time for another Friday Flashback Five!  Each week, we take a look back, looking at five random games that came out this week in our hobby’s history.  Some games were well beloved, some—weren’t—and some were met with a lukewarm reaction.  All of them are part of gaming history.  This week, we stroll back to the week of August Nineteenth, ‘Oh-One.

A good few handfuls of games came out this week, though not many made a lasting impression on the “gamer consciousness”.  Still, there were few gems, titles that will be remembered to this day—if not for what they, themselves, offered, then at the least for the franchises they either helped make popular or continued to make popular.

Now, as usual, this isn’t a “top” or “bottom” list; it’s just a look back at five random games, and the titles are listed in no particular order.  Also, where possible I’ve included links to Let’s Plays, with the warning that some, many, or all might well be infused with profanity, so be warned that, in some cases, every third word out of a Let’s Player’s mouth might be something that would be bleeped on network television.

That said, let’s get this party started!

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2
The first Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater made the sub-genre of “extreme” sports popular, and it did so by handing the player large environments, easily accessible controls, then allowed the player to just go have some fun.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 proved that sequels can sometimes be better than the original—even when ported to another system.  In this case, the Nintendo 64 version infinitely better.  Bigger levels and more of them, more tricks, more characters, you could create your own skater, and you could create your own skate park.  The first one created a sensation, and the second one proved that lightning sometimes can strike twice.

Watch the instructional-ish Let’s Play of it right here.

Armored Core 2: Another Age
We’ve talked before about the Armored Core series, which is one series I think is better (in some ways) than its small measure of popularity suggests.  While there was notable stagnation of controls and plot, the series always offered something interesting.  Whether it was the failing necessary to get special abilities, the interesting way to obtain hidden items, or whatever else.  Those sorts of things kept fans coming back.

Armored Core 2: Another Age took everything its predecessors did and tweaked them—it didn’t redo much of anything, but then it didn’t have to.  The previous games were great in their own right—all Another Age did was finesse things like reducing slow-down from the number of objects the processor is displaying at one time, providing better-designed levels to make exploring more interesting, and fine-tuning the branching mission system to give the player a better over-all feel of the setting.

A decent Let’s Play of it can be found here.  The first video doesn’t have any sound, and though English isn’t the Let’s Player’s first language, he doesn’t do too badly.

Resident Evil Code: Veronica X
Who doesn’t know the Resident Evil series?  Even if you aren’t really into the survival-horror genre, the franchise has become incredibly popular, so much so that four films were made based on the setting.

The PlayStation 2 version of Code: Veronica was a port of the Dreamcast version, recreated quite faithfully for Sony’s platform.  The game itself was a bit of an improvement over its predecessors, primarily in the camera control.  What tweaks were made seem minor, but had an incredible impact.  While still viewed from still positions as the protagonist races around, the game world itself was a polygonal environment, and the camera would sometimes shift a bit to let you see around corners.  Considering the franchise in question, that was an incredibly welcome addition.

A humorous Let’s Play of it can be found here, and it’s a blind run, which means the Let’s Player hasn’t played it before.  With that and the humor, it’s definitely worth the watch even if the game isn’t one you would normally play.

Independence War 2: Edge of Chaos
The space sim genre is another of those that not a lot of people have really delved into too deeply.  To be fair, it’s not the easiest setting to code for, either, unless you throw things like Newtonian physics right out the window—things like inertia, gravity, and so on.  If you’re piloting a starship, cut the engines, and the thing coasts to a stop, it’s difficult to call it really a “space sim”, since it isn’t really, well, simulating space.

Independence War 2: Edge of Chaos, like its predecessor, strove for a good balance of realistic physics, but fun game play.  There are some fictional elements like various means of traveling faster than light, and gravity isn’t an issue, but that last is hardly noticed.  The combat requires different tactics, which was just one of the things that made it an interesting and fun game.

A rather informative Let’s Play can be found here.

Sega Bass Fishing 2
Ah, the Dreamcast.  It still incites the passions of gamers; though it’s long since left this world, it will never be forgotten.  The Dreamcast saw many interesting titles and many even-more-interesting accessories—like the fishing rod, seen here, around three quarters of the way down the page.

That accessory was designed specifically for games like this one, Sega Bass Fishing 2.  As in other titles on this list, this was a sequel that went above and beyond what the original did.  You could choose between different fishermen and -women to have as your avatar, there were more modes to play through, and so much more.  It capitalized on the interest the fishing sub-genre had enjoyed, and did so quite well—though it’s a shame it couldn’t do anything to save the console.

You can see some game play footage of the Free Fishing mode here.

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That’s all this time around.  See you Monday, and have a good weekend!


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