Features Video Games

Nostalgia Ultra: 1998 in Gaming, 20 Years Later – Legend of Zelda, US Pokemon Release

Nov. 21, 1998.

Playstation has been running strong and rumors of a Sega console have been looming. Nintendo’s fifth generation console, the Nintendo 64, had initially done well, but with a lack of strong 3rd party support, it needed a major boost in order to maintain the momentum that Playstation had been carrying since its release in 1995.

Then came the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, the series’ first foray into 3D. After Super Mario 64’s tremendous success at the 64’s time of launch, Nintendo had a lot of work to do to make sure that their new dip into Hyrule lived up to expectations.

It did.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was released to much fanfare with over 500K preorders were placed (more than tripling the previous record), 1 million copies sold within the first week and 2.5 million copies sold by year’s end. Keep in mind that this game came out with 5-6 weeks left in the calendar year.

The game received perfect scores and was lauded for the world it created, the dungeons contained within, its story and finally giving personality and life to Link. Being able to see a range of emotions (even if he didn’t talk) was such a crazy and phenomenal thing to witness.

I personally remember getting this game for Christmas in 1998 and it was simply amazing. Being the youngest of 4 (3 youngest being boys and those 3 in the home), I didn’t really get my crack at the game until later on in 1999 and the Re-Deads used to TERRIFY ME, but I remember being so immersed in the story and all it entailed that I was able to move past it.

Funny enough, I didn’t beat the game first try, I messed around with GameSharks and actually messed up two of the files, giving them full completion status but never completed them. I actually initially got stuck at the Shadow Temple, it wasn’t until around 2003 when my cousin Ollie came to spend a summer with me in Memphis. He and I beat the game within a week, including somehow screwing up the light arrows at the end and having to roll through Ganon’s legs to hit his tail.

OoT was a major highlight in a phenomenal year of gaming. Let’s take a look back at some of the games that came out in 1998 and what it meant for gaming!

  • F-Zero X (July 14)
  • Need for Speed III (March 25)
  • Half-Life (Nov 19)
  • Resident Evil II (Jan. 21)
  • Tom Clancy’s Rainbox Six (August 21)
  • X-Men vs. Street Fighter (June 11)
  • Marvel vs. Campbell (January 12)
  • WWF War Zone (July 14)
  • Banzo-Kazooie (June 29) – Let’s talk about this one. What a PHENOMENAL platformer, it’s such a shame that Rare and Nintendo parted ways before Banjo Threeie could happen. Created such a wonderful, expansive Universe, so much to do and see and so many great worlds inside. Click Clock Wood still >>>>
  • Spyro the Dragon (September 9) – My little cousin had this game and I remember him getting near the end before our other little cousin accidentally deleted his file
  • Crash Bandicoot: Warped (Oct. 31)
  • Yoshi’s Story (March 1) – Too easy and too short, wish we could’ve gotten a proper Yoshi’s Island sequel
  • Sonic Adventure (December 23)


On September 28, 1998, the US versions of Pokemon Red & Blue were released to North American audiences. Yes, I’m aware Pokemon celebrated their 20th anniversary in 2016 (released in Japan in 1996), going as far as to bring Brock and Misty back to the anime for two episodes. But without the reception of North American audiences, Pokemon would’ve been a huge hit in Japan, but the rest of the world likely would’ve never seen it. At least not for years. I remember the day my Mom bought my brother and I Pokemon Red & Blue. I remember playing the utter crap out of that game. I once wrote about the best battles in Pokemon History, and I plan on doing one about the villainous teams in the franchise history soon. While the first generation has a lot of major flaws that have been corrected and fixed in later generations (special stat split, psychic no longer completely broken, etc.), I think a lot of folks on the internet come at “Genwunners” simply because we remember how big of a phenomenon Pokemon was in the U.S. and they don’t realize quite how massive it was.

What was your favorite game on this list? Is there one I missed that you wanted to cover? Comment below or tweet us at @TheKWCBlog


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