I don't remember much about 1998, probably because I was 6 years old, but lately I've been asking myself: what the hell was I doing if I wasn't playing Brood War?
After much soul searching, I had my answer.
I had been playing Small Soldiers Squad Commander.
For those of you who may not know, Small Soldiers was a kids movie released about a year before this game (I think, probably, don't quote me! #PeterKing); in my youth I considered it a masterpiece, and now--though I still regard it as a cool piece of techno-wizardry--I find it campy and pretty hilarious.
This fucking game, on the other hand, was the single bane of my existence (you know, except for my alcoholic father). When you're six and seven years old, beating Squad Commander is the equivalent of circumnavigating the globe or climbing mount Olympus. I played it for three years and never finished it!
But I owe this game a monstrous debt. This is the one. Squad Commander got me into strategy video games, even though it's only a pseudo-rts. Fast forward about twelve or thirteen years and I've never seen a game like it. I never realized how original it was: a squad-based RTS where your units could clone themselves, pick up items, and get weapon upgrades; you could solve puzzles and hunt for extra stuff. In a genre dominated by the resource-collecting likes of C&C and Warcraft, Squad Commander dared to innovate. . . with a kids movie license. If I'm just romanticizing this thing then someone call me out on it, but I don't remember strategy games doing this in '98.
So while Brood War was creating this glorious sensation of esports, Squad Commander actually did many things for the genre. It's unappreciated, in my opinion. I owe it a debt. I vow to beat it.