21 Essential Sci-Fi And Fantasy Videogames
Final Fantasy VII
1997 • PlayStation, PC • Square/Eidos Interactive
Neither the Final Fantasy series nor the turn-based role-playing format were new to gaming in 1997, but Final Fantasy VII’s the title that really thrust them into the mainstream limelight. It sold 2.3 million copies within the first three days of being on sale in Japan which is perhaps unsurprising due to the format’s historical popularity. It’s the game’s success in the West, which had never been a big market for RPGs previously, that makes it noteworthy. Using a simplified play system that neither relies on complicated stats nor restricts players to having set “classes” in their party (every character can use every spell as well as melee attacks), it remains hugely accessible. Similar games are easily available now on every system, but it was Final Fantasy VII that made that possible. The Final Fantasy franchise now includes anime series and a feature film, 2001′s beautiful but flawed The Spirits Within.
Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time
2003 • PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube, Gameboy Advance, PC • Ubisoft
The 20-year-old Prince Of Persia series has long been a stalwart of gaming, and its leap-and-fight format was one possible inspiration for Lara Croft. But it’s 2003’s The Sands Of Time instalment that shines brightest among the series’ many games. The first to combine the familiar action of the series with an immersive environment ripe for exploration, it also won enormous critical acclaim for its story that incorporated time manipulation. Armed with the Dagger of Time, the Prince is granted the ability to reverse time by up to ten seconds – an ability that has also been used in the acclaimed Braid. And, of course, this release was specifically the one that inspired the flawed big screen version.
The Lords Of Midnight
1984 • ZX Spectrum, C64, Amstrad CPC • Mike Singleton/Beyond Software
At the time, this was the closest you’d get to experiencing a Tolkien-style epic war. This turn-based adventure puts you in charge of multiple characters and you can recruit more armies as you explore the landscape. Fighting trolls, seeking shelter in remote towns, amassing armies and taking on the evil troops of Doomdark is played out over many days and nights of game time, and there are two ways to win – with might on the battlefield, or by finding and destroying the Ice Crown. It’s worth grabbing an emulator program and firing this up on your laptop because it’s not only a genre-defining game (would there be a Skyrim or World Of Warcraft without this?) it also remains a lyrical high fantasy tale in its own right. If you’re an Android user you can get unofficial adaptation The War Of The Solstice to play right now.
Tags: Batman, Elite, Halo, Mass Effect, Monkey Island, Prince Of Persia, Skyrim, Star Wars, Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic, The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, Videogames, World Of Warcraft, Zelda