7 Video Games That Looked Totally Realistic in 1999

A screenshot from the 1999 video game 'The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time'

In 1999, we faced a technological apex. The millennium was upon us, and we thought our Sega Dreamcasts, Nintendo 64s, and Sony Playstations looked just like real life. How wrong we were.

With many of you reading this still tired from staying up all night immersed in your brand new state-of-the-art, next generation PS4s and X-Box Ones, playing Call of Duty: Ghosts, and strung out on Mountain Dew Code Red, it may be humbling to take a moment to remember what you thought real life looked like in 1999.  

1. Final Fantasy VIII


According to this 1999 critic,"Just squint a little and you could almost swear you're watching real, live actors ...There are scenes ... that rival anything you've ever seen in a feature film for scope, detail, and emotional impact. You will be amazed."

This epic RPG game had some serious realism going on with its graphics — mainly because it was the first of the Final Fantasy series to use proportionally sized characters (woo-hoo!).

2. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time


IGN said players would be "amazed at the detail" of the surroundings. And this review called its system, the Nintendo 64, a "3-D workhorse."

A game with one of the most recognizable musical themes of any video game to date, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is one of the most important games of all time. Still, it didn't exactly look like reality.

3. Metal Gear Solid


This single-player game of stealthy espionage and giant robots felt like being transported into the fantasy world of some surrealist Japanese James Bond knock-off.

With creepy, dark warehouse lighting so realistic it made us forget about Goldeneye, MGS was without a doubt one of the most influential titles ever released. Just look at the backwards crawling and the gradient on these ladders. Behold.

4. Perfect Dark


A first-person shooter game that raised the bar even higher than Goldeneye, Perfect Dark was set in 2023 during an interstellar, alien war involving clones, the NSA, and pistol whipping. Game Revolution called its graphics "top-notch." I can't say for certain, but I'm fairly sure that 2023 won't look like this.

5. Super Mario 64


Calling this title a classic is an understatement; it remains the best selling Nintendo game of all time. Super Mario 64 was a serious game changer, both for its game play and graphics system. Its worlds were massively expansive, so much so that they seemed never-ending. And those liquid mirrors you had to jump through to start a level were just too cool.  

Still, Mario's mustache looks like duct tape.

Also, remember that wintry level with the penguins that bumped you off the cliff? I hated that level. 

6. SoulCalibur


A fighting game in the vein of Tekken and Mortal Kombat, but centered around absurdly large swords and elaborately-detailed and interactive environments, SoulCalibur was named the number one game for the Dreamcast by Game Informer magazine, with its "gorgeous graphics."

7. Silent Hill


This one is actually pretty legitimate. Back in 1999, this survivor horror game (made into an ongoing movie series today) owed much of its fear-inducing power to its strong graphics. With settings shrouded in darkness and fog, and an in-depth plot line that included five alternative endings depending on the player's choices throughout the game, Silent Hill is a game deserving of some recognition. Its minimalist visuals — the dark, foggy locales — made for some seriously disturbing realism