In lieu of a traditional review I’m going to do something a bit different with the SNES Classic Edition. I’m going to rank all 21 games included in the retro 90s emulator.
The SNES Classic Edition is a great little product that nails the original design of the console and controllers. It’s not without flaws: the short cord range (about 5 ft) can be a big annoyance, and in order to change games and use the rewind and save-state features, you have to physically push a button on the console. But those features also add a lot of modern convenience to classic games, greatly improving accessibility.
As the front-runner for greatest console of all time, the Super Nintendo had some pretty good games. The SNES Classic Edition does a near-perfect job of drawing from a wide variety of genres and gameplay styles to represent some (though not all) of the best games of the era.
Last year Disney abruptly announced they were ending Disney Infinity after three years. Earlier this year Activision gave the foreboding announcement that they would not release a new Skylanders game this year– for the first time in six years. This week Warner Bros. confirmed that they’re ceasing development on LEGO Dimensions (though online support will remain).
At this point there are more discontinued (or on hiatus) toys-to-life games than ongoing. In the span of a year we went from most major game publishers wanting a piece of the surging toys-to-life pie, to suddenly being left with a grim outlook for the future of the genre.
Battle Chasers: Nightwar tackles the tedium of traditional JRPG turn-based combat by turning every fight into a tense interplay of meaningful tactics. Despite some frustrating elements and balancing issues, Nightwar provides some of the most satisfying RPG battles I’ve experienced all year—and looks nice doing it.
THQ’s demise in 2013 left a number of game developers displaced, including Vigil Games, creators of the Darksiders series. Two studios spun out of the ashes of Vigil Games: Gunfire Games, who are making Darksiders 3, and Airship Syndicate, whose first game, Battle Chasers: Nightwar, launched last week. It’s a combination dungeon crawler and JRPG, featuring turn-based combat, randomized dungeons, and a striking art style based on a late ’90s comic series.
Over Skype I spoke with Joe Madureira, Airship Syndicate’s creative director and CEO (as well as writer and penciller of the Battle Chasers comic), and Steve Madureira, the lead designer and animator for Battle Chasers: Nightwar—two brothers who have been making comics and games since they were teenagers.
Many of my favorite games stick with me over the years not because of finely-honed combat systems or impressive visual effects. Often it’s the story and characters that remain the most memorable aspects of the those cherished gaming experiences.
Masquerada: Songs and Shadows has one of the best stories I’ve experienced in years. It’s an epic tale about heroic sacrifice, forbidden love, political betrayal, and self discovery set within a richly realized world of urban renaissance and ancient mystery. Masquerada’s tactical combat is serviceable, but it’s the story and characters that demand you experience this unique RPG.
The Metroid series is held in high esteem. It helped jump start an entirely new genre born out of platforming and exploration. Super Metroid (1994) is considered one of the best games ever made, yet Nintendo has been painfully quiet on any Metroid news or games over the last decade – until now.
Metroid: Samus Returns isn’t quite the new 2D Metroid game we were hoping for; it’s a remake of the second game in the series, 1991’s Metroid II: Return of Samus for the Game Boy. A lot of impressive went work into updating the old monochrome visuals into stunning 3D models and animated backgrounds, while the core gameplay of exploring a labyrinthine world full of secrets and power-ups remains just as compelling all these years later.
All eyes are on the Nintendo Switch this year, as well they should be. Nintendo has been in a weird place with home consoles over the last decade. The Wii exploded onto the scene as a gimmicky toy, then quickly collected dust in everyone’s closest. The Wii U failed to capture an audience at all, reaching only 10% of the sales of its predecessor. Launching earlier this year, the Switch is faring much better, including a killer app like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and featuring full portability.
It’s the portability that had me worried about my favorite Nintendo product of this century: the Nintendo 3DS. With the announcement and launch of the Switch, I had concerns over how Nintendo’s handheld-only console would fare when stacked up with a device that could do both.
Turns out my concerns were completely unfounded. The six-year old Nintendo 3DS is having its best year ever in 2017.