T.J.’s Best Game of 1995:
WarCraft II: Tides of Darkness
There are moments in the life of every citizen of Greater Fandom when you know things have changed forever, and there’s no going back. WarCraft II: Tides of Darkness absolutely represents such a moment for me. It was like finding religion. I put it on par with the first time I read The Hobbit, or the day I picked up my first Spider-Man comic. It made me an RTS fan, and instantly turned Warcraft into pillar of my media universe every bit as important as Star Wars or the Buffyverse. The mechanics were refined and expanded from the original. The story was sweeping, detailed, and dramatic. We saw the emergence of Blizzard’s trademark, larger-than-life face characters performing astounding acts of heroism and villainy. But most of all, it made Azeroth a fully-realized world that instantly carved out a large spot in my heart. To this day, I can quote its history and debate the merits and motives of its great power players. I can traverse its expanse effortlessly in my mind’s eye, and vividly recall my participation in its major conflicts. I’ve won Warcraft trivia contests at conventions and even convinced people on a web forum I was an ex-Blizzard employer with insider information on upcoming World of Warcraft expansions due to my deep-abiding affection for the universe and my voracious appetite to experience everything related to it. WarCraft II gave me the gift of a second home in the realms of fantasy. If we were to rank “The Games Most Responsible For Making T.J. The Person He Is Today”, it’s hard to think of what could top Tides of Darkness.
D.M.’s Best Game of 1995:
Inarguably one of the greatest RPGs ever, with a strong claim to the #1 crown. Beautiful animation in the iconic style of Akira Toriyama makes this one of the more visually distinct and attractive games of the era, and a unique battle system makes use of mechanics that still stand out today. The story is simple and understated, yet chock full of powerful, poignant moments that stay in the brain for decades and compel you forward. Chrono Trigger is special. Legendary, even. It’s probably my top selection for game of the decade.