The past year has been exciting for video game fans. From highly anticipated blockbuster releases to the launch of two new consoles, the Xbox Series X and the PlayStation 5, every month in 2020 had something worth paying attention to. While it may be easy to take modern technology for granted, it’s important to reflect on how the industry has evolved to its place today. The following are December 2020 gaming anniversaries worth celebrating.
1. Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege (5th Anniversary)
When Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege launched for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on December 1, 2015, the title lacked enough content to warrant a purchase at full price. Despite mediocre initial sales figures, publisher Ubisoft remained committed to the title, eventually improving the experience by adding a host of new features and removing online bugs. As a result, the game surged in popularity, surpassing 45 million registered players last year and showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
2. Kingdom Hearts 2 (15th Anniversary)
Kingdom Hearts 2 launched exclusively for PlayStation 2 systems in Japan on December 22, 2005. It arrived in North America a few months later on March 28, 2006. The sequel improved upon the original’s graphics, voice acting, and camera controls and overhauled the series’ fast-paced, action-oriented gameplay via the Drive Gauge. The Disney worlds included in this title are arguably the best the franchise has had to date, as characters from The Lion King, Pirates of the Caribbean, Beauty and the Beast, Mulan, and Steamboat Willie are included.
3. Dark Cloud (20th Anniversary)
Dark Cloud released exclusively for Japanese PlayStation 2 consoles on December 14, 2000. It made its way to North America the following year on May 29, 2001. Developer Level-5’s title took risks in combining two distinct genres: city-builders and action role-playing games. The result is a cult classic among PlayStation fans, the likes of which continue to praise how well the game offers something for everyone, no matter their gaming preference. It’s a shame that a third iteration hasn’t been made, though hopefully Sony will have something to offer fans soon.
4. Phantasy Star Online (20th Anniversary)
Phantasy Star Online launched for PC on December 20, 2001, then made its way to the Dreamcast in Japan the following day. The title is considered one of the most influential online role-playing console games ever made, as it introduced the industry to the potential of multiplayer dungeon crawlers on home machines. It also served as the foundation for franchises such as Monster Hunter, which continue to mesmerize millions of online players around the world today.
5. Time Crisis (25th Anniversary)
If you’ve ever been to a movie theater or arcade, there’s a great chance you know what a Time Crisis cabinet looks like. The first Time Crisis appeared in arcades during December 1995 as Namco’s answer to Sega’s popular Virtua Cop. The game distinguished itself from its competitor by introducing a ducking mechanic and a countdown timer, thus revolutionizing the genre and changing the way video game fans played light-gun shooters from that point forward.
As we head into 2021, video game fans interested in the medium’s history should take time to revisit some of the classics they may have missed out on years ago. While many modern titles on Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 are certainly impressive, rediscovering any of the games above may be just as worthwhile.