15 Years Later, November 2004 Might Still Be One Of The Best Months In Video Game History

Total RecallTotal RecallTotal Recall is a look back at the history of video games through their characters, franchises, developers and trends.

Today is the 15th anniversary of the release of Half-Life 2. A big game for sure, but it was just one of many huge and popular games that were all released in November 2004. Those weeks in late 2004 saw the release of World Of Warcraft, Half-Life 2, Metroid Prime 2, Metal Gear Solid 3 and Halo 2, just to name a few.

The end of the year is usually when some of the biggest and most anticipated games of the year finally release. So it isn’t unusual for a month like November or October to have two or even three blockbuster games dropping all in the same week. It happens.

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But November 2004 had a lot more than just two or three great games. By my count, there were 15.

November 2004 started off with a bang with Counter-Strike: Source released on the 1st day of the month and the following day saw the release of the wonderful Rollercoaster Tycoon 3. On the PlayStation 2, Killzone was released. I don’t necessarily count this as a good game, but it was important to Sony and would become more important as a franchise later on. So worth mentioning.

A few days later, on November 4th, The Legend Of Zelda The Minish Cap was released and received a lot of praise from critics at the time. Gamespot gave it a 9.1, praising its visuals and music. The very next day, Bejeweled 2 was released for PC. This is a bonafide classic in my book and is still one of the best puzzle games out there.

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Three days later, Everquest II was released on PC. 15 years later, Everquest II is still alive and still getting new expansions, with a big one planned for next month. Over on the Gamecube, a totally different type of game was also released on November 8th, Mario Power Tennis.

24 hours later, on November 9, Halo 2 was released on the original Xbox after months and months of hype and teasing. It was a huge success, though its ending was a giant disappointment. On the PlayStation 2, Jak 3 was released. A darker and more serious installment in the Jak And Daxter franchise, Jak 3 was also the end of the trilogy.

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The next week, on November 15, Metroid Prime 2 was released for the Gamecube. The follow-up to the extremely popular Metroid Prime, the sequel was heavily praised by critics and fans and is considered a classic today. Though that week I was playing something else. That same day saw the release of Need For Speed: Underground 2, which was a game that most kids in my middle school and later my high school were obsessed with for years. To this day, Underground 2 is still a game NFS fans mention whenever a new NFS game is announced. It also contained one of the weirdest and most confusing remixes.

November 16 was the day a lot of people had been waiting for. After numerous delays and leaks, Half-Life 2 was finally released. I remember a friend bought the game at Walmart a few days after release and was angry they had to have an internet connection. Something called Steam was needed to play it. He was annoyed.

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The next day, November 17th, was the day we got arguably the best Metal Gear Solid game, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. The camo system was great and the boss fights are some of the best in the series.

Three days later, on November 21st, the Nintendo DS was released and launched with Mario 64 DS. The DS would later go on to become one of the most successful consoles of all time.

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November 23 saw the release of another MMORPG, this time it was the launch of World of Warcraft. Just a few weeks after Everquest 2, WoW launched and suffered some technical issues. Eventually, things started working and 15 years later, WoW is still around and still one of the most popular MMORPGs available.

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That was only some of the games that came out in November. Wikipedia has a great list of everything. And what’s wild is just before November, in October 2004, some other big games were released including GTA San Andreas, Ace Combat 5 and Tony Hawk’s Underground 2.

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There have been some great months in gaming, but November 2004 might still be one of the best. The month had a little something for everyone, including the launch of a new Nintendo console and TWO big MMO releases. Many wallets and bank accounts were drained that month. And a lot of parents had an expensive Christmas.

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About the author

Zack Zwiezen

Kotaku Weekend Editor | Zack Zwiezen is a writer living in Kansas. He has written for Gamecritics, USgamer, Killscreen and Entertainment Fuse.