The year 2000 was certainly a time to live through. We were on the cusp of a new video game generation, and many developers were putting out some of their most memorable titles. After two decades, let’s highlight these 20 games that turned 20 in 2020.
1. The Sims
Release Date: February 4, 2000
Followed up by many expansions and sequels, the original 2000 game The Sims gave us our first glimpses into what a simulated house-building and house-designing game could be. The Sims has become one of the best-selling video game series of all time and gives players low-key access to a sandbox world with few defined goals. It still follows that style today, though sequels have added more defined gameplay elements for those seeking more traditional gameplay.
2. Ridge Racer 64
Release Date: February 14, 2000
Who could forget Ridge Racer 64? Developed by Nintendo Software Technology, this first-party Nintendo 64 game offered console-exclusive tracks and multiplayer capabilities that fit perfectly into the console’s four-player configuration. This is the first game in the series that allowed more than two people to play at a time, and joined a growing list of popular racers on the home console including Diddy Kong Racing, Mario Kart 64, and Wave Race 64, among others. Over 30 unlockable cars added to this game’s replay value as the sun set on the Nintendo 64.
3. Marvel vs. Capcom 2
Release Date: February 24, 2000
Marvel vs. Capcom 2 began its life in arcades in 2000 and was ported to Dreamcast that same year. In 2002, ports of the game would make their way to PlayStation 2 and Xbox. Combining classic Street Fighter arcade mechanics with a well-loved cast of familiar characters, Marvel vs. Capcom 2 was a go-to for many school children playing their way into the new millennium.
4. Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards
Release Date: March 24, 2000
The first side-scrolling Kirby game to use 3D computer graphics, Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards began development shortly before HAL Laboratory released Kirby’s Dream Land 3 for the SNES. Originally, the game was criticized for its short runtime and relatively simplistic graphical style. That being said, the stylized art direction and gameplay make this 2000 Kirby release one fondly remembered by many fans.
5. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
Release Date: April 27, 2000
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask has become a fan favorite in the Zelda community, and for good reason. Led by a creative team including Eiji Aonuma, Yoshiaki Koizumi, and Shigeru Miyamoto, this game was developed reusing assets from 1998’s Ocarina of Time. Majora’s Mask doubled down on time traveling, while intricately weaving dozens of side stories that get played out over and over during a 3-day period. Though we saw a 3DS remake in 2015, few things compare to the 2000 original.
6. Perfect Dark
Release Date: May 22, 2000
The spiritual successor to 1997’s GoldenEye, Perfect Dark became one of the defining games for first-person shooters on the Nintendo 64. Many features couldn’t be accessed without the 4 MB N64 expansion pack, and its diverse array of weapons, single-player stages, and multiplayer modes keep it a fun game to play even 20 years later.
7. StarCraft 64
Release Date: June 13, 2000
A product of the '90s, StarCraft helped introduce many early PC players to RTS gaming. In 2000, Nintendo 64 players got StarCraft 64, a port they could play on their home console (so long as they had the 4 MB expansion pack). Though it sold well, the interface was not optimized for the home console. To date, this is the only console version of StarCraft that has ever been developed.
8. Diablo II
Release Date: June 29, 2000
Diablo II was the follow-up to 1997’s Diablo, and quickly became one of the most popular games of 2000. As online PC gaming continued to find its footing, this game offered a fantasy realm for players to escape into. It built on the most-loved features of the original while offering something new for each player. Diablo II would go on to get a 2001 expansion, but we wouldn’t see Diablo III until 2012.
9. Final Fantasy IX
Release Date: July 7, 2000
Few series are as prolific and well-known as Final Fantasy, and though this year we got to enjoy the Final Fantasy VII Remake on modern consoles, the year 2000 brought us Final Fantasy IX on PlayStation. A fan favorite and critically acclaimed, Final Fantasy IX introduced new features to the series that have influenced development over the past couple decades. This is also the last mainline Final Fantasy game to feature sole music composition by Nobuo Uematsu.
10. Paper Mario
Release Date: August 11, 2000
Though the international release didn’t arrive until 2001, Paper Mario for the Nintendo 64 was released in Japan in 2000. Like many games on this list, it spurred many sequels, including Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door for GameCube, as well as the most recent iteration, Paper Mario: The Origami King on Nintendo Switch. The future of the Mario series would take us to tropical islands and even outer space, but there’s a charm and wit to the Paper Mario series that began on this N64 game 20 years ago.
11. Dino Crisis 2
Release Date: September 13, 2000
Yet another sequel on this list, Dino Crisis 2 was published by Capcom, leaving behind many of the survival horror elements of the original game in favor of a more action adventure style. Players had a wide array of weapons to choose from, and were able to earn Extinction Points that could be used to upgrade their gear. If you had played Resident Evil and thought, “this game would be great if there were fewer zombies and more dinosaurs," then the Dino Crisis series is definitely for you.
12. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2
Release Date: September 19, 2000
It’s difficult to quantify just how influential the Tony Hawk Pro Skater series has been over the past two decades. The original game was released in 1999 and spurred many sequels, as well as a 2020 remake, but Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 managed to capture the physics and fun of the original while bringing you to new locations and adding some fun features. Can you remember a time before stringing combos together with Manuals? Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 introduced those to the series.
13. Army Men: Sarge’s Heroes 2
Release Date: September 27, 2000
This sequel to the original Army Men: Sarge’s Heroes brought even more features and gameplay mechanics to this delightful world. This game continued the saga and gave you new areas to explore as part of a platoon of plastic army men. As we entered the new millennium, kids were able to live out their dreams of bringing toys to life and methodically exploring modern locales like a living room or kitchen while figuring out how to climb furniture and counters. This game combined cute toy combat with fun third-person shooter features, but it still had its horrifying moments. Anyone remember how your character would melt when blasted with a flamethrower? Or the spiders in the walls? Truly terrifying.
14. Microsoft Combat Flight Simulator II: WWII Pacific Theater
Release Date: October 13, 2000
Another flight simulator that we saw in 2000, Microsoft Combat Flight Simulator II: WWII Pacific Theater put you in the cockpit of various World War 2 era planes over the Pacific. Players got to engage in different historic battles as they tried to both take out enemy aircraft while keeping their plane in the sky. This game sold well in 2000, and with the sales we’re seeing of Microsoft Flight Simulator in 2020, there will always be a desire to take to the skies and explore.
15. Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2
Release Date: October 23, 2000
Back when Westwood Studios existed, they were taking the RTS world by storm with Command & Conquer. In 2000 the fan-favorite Command & Conquer Red Alert 2 was released, adding even more build options and units to control on a wide variety of maps. The Allies and Soviets each offered their own advantages, and this game helped bring online RTS gameplay into the new millennium.
Release Date: October 23, 2000
Did any of you pick up TimeSplitters alongside the launch of the PlayStation 2? Like GoldenEye and Perfect Dark before it, this game quickly became a fan favorite among console first-person shooter players. This was the first game put out by Free Radical Design, a studio mostly made up of former Rare employees. The ability to play across different timelines and use a wide variety of guns added to its appeal, earning it two sequels over the next several years. News of a TimeSplitters 4 has been circulating for years, with co-director Steve Eliis confirming in 2019 that the series would continue.
Release Date: November 8, 2000
Nowadays, modern Counter-Strike games are popular in esports arenas with people playing all over the world. It’s easy to forget that this game originally began as a multiplayer Half-Life mod. Eventually, Valve Software participated in the development and bought the rights from the original developers, who went on to accept jobs at Valve themselves. The original Counter-Strike entered beta in 1999, but official retail copies weren’t available until 2000.
18. Hitman: Codename 47
Release Date: November 19, 2000
Fans of the Hitman series of stealth games will remember that the first title, Hitman: Codename 47, was released in 2000. In this game we’re not only introduced to the protagonist Agent 47, but we can see the origins of a series that has survived the test of time. To date the Hitman series has multiple sequels and spin-offs that span several console generations.
Release Date: November 20, 2000
The year 2000 was a popular one for sequels, and Banjo-Kazooie was no exception. Another game on this list that was originally developed by Rare, Banjo-Tooie followed the 1998 original and was released on the Nintendo 64. With a world much larger than its predecessor, Banjo-Tooie gained critical acclaim and sold quite well. Today the game can still be found in the Rare Replay video game compilation and as an Xbox Live Arcade game.
20. Star Wars Episode I: Battle for Naboo
Release Date: December 18, 2000
Star Wars games have had an interesting time striking the right tone over the years. We’ve seen great hits and we’ve seen flops, but the year 2000 followed up Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace film with Star Wars Episode I: Battle for Naboo. A spiritual successor to Rogue Squadron, Battle for Naboo allowed players to control vehicles in the air as well as on land and water. Through a series of missions you play as Gavyn Sykes, a lieutenant in the Naboo Royal Security Forces. The events of the game mirror the first film and give you the opportunity to experience combat while at the helm of a Naboo starfighter. With the 2020 release of Star Wars: Squadrons, it’s nice to see how far we’ve come in space combat simulation.
These are just 20 of some of the amazing games that were released in the year 2000. Gaming has changed in the past 20 years, but our love of exploring fictional worlds is as strong as ever. What were some of your favorites from this era? What games are you still playing today? Comment below!