12 biggest video game franchises then and now – the interesting comparisons of graphical upscaling


6) Civilization (started in 1991) –

The primary tagline in Sid Meier’s Civilization box-art is both simple and grand – “Build an empire to stand the test of time”. The turn-based “4X”-type strategy franchise has surely stood the test of time in the realm of PC video games, with the first Civilization (or Civ) making its debut in 1991. Originally released for DOS (with a size of just 2.6 MB), there are many revised versions of the revered game tailored to platforms like Windows Macintosh, Amiga, Super Nintendo and even PlayStation. And of course, one shouldn’t forget the Sid Meier’s CivNet, a multiplayer remake released in 1995.


Civilization (Civ 1) Released In 1991.


Civilization III Released In 2001.


Civilization: Beyond Earth Released In 2014.

The latest game in the 4X series is Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth (released in 2014), and it was touted as the spiritual successor to science-fiction inspired Alpha Centauri. And interestingly, in spite of Sid Meier’s name in almost every Civilization game, many talented game designers have contributed to the series, and have even gone onto form their own successful video game franchises – including Bruce Shelley (Age of Empires), Brian Reynolds (Rise of Nations) and Soren Johnson (Spore).

5) Madden NFL (started in 1988) –

A video game series that has sold over 100 million copies in its lifetime and generated sales revenues upwards of $4 billion for EA, started out its life in 1988 as the John Madden Football. The only Madden game that was released for Commodore and the Apple II, the version did not include any actual NFL team due to lack of licenses from the National Football League. However, by 1993, the Madden NFL ’94 acquired a NFL license, and became the first game in the series to flaunt its ‘NFL’ logo. Interestingly, it also became the first video game in EA’s history to use the famous audio tagline of “EA Sports – It’s in the Game”.


Madden NFL ’94 Released In 1993.


Madden NFL 2004 Released In 2003.


Madden NFL 15 Released In 2014.

The latest iteration of the franchise is the Madden NFL 15, which was released in August, 2014 for both seventh and eighth generation consoles of Sony and Microsoft. And while the game surely won over many critics, some of its features were lambasted by the fans – namely the removal of online team play that limited players to only 1v1 games on seventh generation consoles (Xbox 360 and PS3).

4) Final Fantasy (started in 1987) –

Pretty much being the franchise cornerstone of Square Enix, the Final Fantasy series alludes to the success of the video game industry in all its gritty glory. To that end, the first Final Fantasy game was developed and released (in 1987) as a last ditch effort to save Square from bankruptcy. But what was designed as a face-saving measure, turned out be an incredible commercial and critical success that went on to popularize the very genre of RPGs in consoles.


Final Fantasy (Original) Released In 1987.


Final Fantasy VII Released In 1997.


Final Fantasy XV Expected To Be Released By 2015.

Suffice it to say, the original Final Fantasy spawned many sequels and their spin-offs, with the most notable one being the Final Fantasy VII released in 1997 – that came with its fully 3D rendered graphics and a whopping $145 million budget. This game will also have an upcoming high definition remake – according to an official confirmation at E3 2015, As for the series’ latest iteration, the Final Fantasy XV (the fifteenth main installment in the Final Fantasy series) is currently under development after long years of being branded as just ‘vaporware’.

3) Metal Gear (started in 1987)-

Konami’s flagship series of Metal Gear had always upped the ante when it comes to the rare breed of stealth-based action-adventure games. But it would surprise many to know that the great ‘Solid Snake’ made his sneaky debut way back in 1987 in the eponymous title of Metal Gear (or MG 1), with the game being developed for the MSX2 home computer system. Of course, the titular ‘Metal Gear’ also made its debut in the same game, in the form of a bipedal walking tank that can launch nuclear weaponry.



Metal Gear (Original) Released In 1987.


Metal Gear Solid 2 Released In 2001.


Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain To Be Released In 2015.

The pioneering stealth-based series continued on its merry way, with the apical Metal Gear Solid in 1998 – a title widely considered to be among one of the greatest and most crucial games of all time. As of now, the year 2015 is all set to welcome the latest title – Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, with ‘Big Boss’ taking the center stage in his revengeful quest across the world.

 2) The Legend of Zelda (started in 1986)-

Developed and published by Nintendo, The Legend of Zelda is one of the longest running video game series of all time, with its first title (the eponymous The Legend of Zelda) released way back in 1986 for NES. These action-adventure games bolstered by their high-fantasy settings, have since sold over an astronomical 67 million copies – with the very first title setting the bar high with over 6.5 million copies sold.


The Legend of Zelda Released In 1986.


The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Released In 1998 (Screenshot From Modded Version).


The Legend of Zelda (New) To Be Released In 2016 (Image Credit: Nintendo).

As a result, this franchise have had an immense impact on its fan-base – so much so that heated discussions and debates still hold strong in numerous forums over the ‘best’ Legend of Zelda game. The chosen titles generally oscillate between the Ocarina of Time (1998),  A Link to the Past (1992) and The Wind Waker (2003). In any case, enthusiasts should also be looking forward to the ever-elusive nineteenth main installment in the series – The Legend of Zelda (2016), the first original Zelda game to be developed in HD graphics.

1) Wolfenstein (started in 1981)-

Probably being one of the lesser-known facts in the gaming realm, the first Wolfenstein game was NOT actually the renowned Wolfenstein 3D (or Wolf 3D), but rather pertains to a video game named Castle Wolfenstein released way back in 1981. To that end, this was probably also the very first video game that used World War II as a setting; and it was developed for Apple II and Commodore 64. Of course, in terms of popularity, Castle Wolfenstein (and its sequel in 1984) was overshadowed by the Wolfenstein 3D. Developed by id Software, and released in 1992, this game set the action-oriented trope of run-and-gun – thus defining first person shooters for years to come.


Castle Wolfenstein Released In 1981.


Wolfenstein 3D Released In 1992.


Wolfenstein: The New Order Released In 2014.

And after 22 long years have passed since the great Wolf 3D, the franchise made its way back into ‘old school’ consciousness with the release of Wolfenstein: The New Order in 2014, and its expansion prequel Wolfenstein: The Old Blood in 2015. Suffice it to say, the boisterous William “B.J.” Blazkowicz surely earned his war-veteran status over the decades.

Lastly, in case you are interested in more groovy video game-oriented stuff, you can always take a gander at the 10 biggest open-world video games and 10 video games produced with highest budgets.

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4 Comments on "12 biggest video game franchises then and now – the interesting comparisons of graphical upscaling"

  1. The Tomb Raider screenshot is actually a screenshot from Tomb Raider 3 which was released in 1998, and the Zelda: Ocarina of Time on N64 is a modded version with updated graphics, played through an emulator.

    Nice comparison compilation though!

  2. The screenshot for Metal Gear Solid is actually from MGS2 (2001) or more likely, the Twin Snakes remake (2004)

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