If we’re going to speak on 2016’s best video games, then we have to delve into the ones that returned for the better.
Remakes and remasters are still a trend in the world of gaming (which is a good/bad thing, depending on who you are). Plenty of past titles that didn’t get the appreciation it deserved upon release have been updated for the better. Collections that featured outstanding experiences spruced up those games for loyal/future fans. And even some of these picks we’re about to recommend added in new content and streamlined the experience for today’s gaming audience. Return to these games (that have gotten a new lease on life) ASAP.
These are our “definitive” picks for 2016’s finest video game remakes and remasters.
Odin Sphere Leifthrasir
Near the late-end of the PS2’s life cycle, a slew of underrated and sadly ignored titles graced the console. The original version of Odin Sphere happens to fall into that category. It was Vanillaware’s passion project, which is why it’s no surprise that the Japanese developer revisited it for modern Sony consoles. Odin Sphere Leifthrasir not only updates the visuals and makes the art pop even more, it also streamlines the game’s problematic mechanics for the better. Characters now have the ability to perform more defending/dodging actions, new enemies/bosses were added and the melee combo action got vastly improved. Fans of Muramasa: The Demon Blade and Dragon’s Crown should make sure to check out this quality remaster.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered
Call of Duty truly morphed into the FPS franchise to beat when Modern Warfare launched in 2007. While some fans have moved on from the more futuristic-centric entries in the series, Activision made sure to bring some fans back with a remaster of its classic entry. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered did an incredible job refining the visuals by enhancing the textures and adding high-range lighting. Besides that, the super memorable campaign is kept intact along with its quality online multiplayer suite. The only caveat to getting this remaster is the fact that it only comes as a part of the Infinite Warfare package (which isn’t all the way bad). Might as well get the latest COD with an even better rendition of Modern Warfare.
Ratchet & Clank
2016’s Ratchet & Clank isn’t so much a remake or a remaster; it’s a “re-imagining.” Ignore the lackluster film based on Insomniac Games’ platforming icons and just play this incredible game. Playing this thing will have everyone around you thinking you’re watching the latest Pixar movie. Yeah, it looks THAT good! Along with the amazing visuals, it throws in the best parts of past installments in the series in order to make this the best way to revisit the very 1st game. There’s a bunch of varied action setpieces, tons of collectibles, new weaponry (the Pixelizer is amazing in action) and the game’s not just some easy cakewalk. Take on the challenge of Ratchet & Clank. You won’t be disappointed.
Gravity Rush Remastered
It’s sad to say this, but this PS Vita original didn’t have much of a huge audience due to its portable exclusivity. When the gaming world learned that it was coming to the PS4, us and everyone else rejoiced. Gravity Rush Remastered brings such a vibrant, action-packed adventure back to life in the best ways possible. Of course the graphics have been spruced up even more. But it also adds in all the DLC that’s been previously released (we’re talking a ton of additional missions) and motion controls that’s powered by DualShock 4. Nothing is lost in translation with this quality remaster.
Valkyria Chronicles Remastered
One of Sega’s most slept-on releases has to be their interesting take on strategy RPG’s – the cult hit known as Valkyria Chronicles. Originally released in 2008, this tactics driven experience brought the best elements of 3rd-person aiming/shooting and strategic movement together. It featured a tightly woven plot that delved into the harsh realities of war. If you happened to miss it beforehand, Sega did you a solid by bringing it back to modern consoles. This remastered take on such a strong RPG features redone visuals, past DLC, English/Japanese vocal audio and the same excellent gameplay it’s known for.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD
One of the more divisive entries in the long-running adventures of Link is the GameCube/Wii entry Twilight Princess. For those who actually enjoyed this darker take on The Legend of Zelda, Nintendo did right by you be re-releasing it for the Wii U. The game’s HD edition features Wii U GamePad compatibility, which makes accessing the map and Link’s expansive inventory a simpler affair. That fancy looking Wolf Link Amiibo that comes with it grants you access to a whole new dungeon (the Cave of Shadows), so there’s a new piece of content there if you’re looking for it. Add in the new difficulty mode and you arrive with the best version of Twilight Princess.
- The Nintendo Entertainment System: NES Classic Edition has the original look and feel, only smaller, sleeker, and pre-loaded with 30 games
- The pre-installed games include: Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda, PAC-MAN, Dr. Mario, Mega Man, Final Fantasy, and dozens more
- Includes a standard HDMI cable
- Comes with one old-school, grey-colored NES Classic Controller and an AC adapter
- Also compatible with Classic Controller and Classic Controller Pro. Additional NES Classic Controllers will be sold separately
After more than a year and a half of speculation, we finally know what Nintendo’s NX project is: the Nintendo Switch. The company revealed the first details today via a three-minute video posted to its website. You can watch it above, and read our breakdown of the trailer here.
The Switch isn’t a surprise to anyone who’s been following rumors surrounding the system. It is, as has been reported, a hybrid device — the console itself is essentially a tablet, yet it’s designed to be hooked up to a TV for home use. The tablet has two controller modules that attach onto the side for regular portable play, and they can be detached for on-the-go multiplayer or attached together to form something that resembles a regular controller.
It is simultaneously low-key and extraordinarily ambitious. Here are a few quick thoughts based on the trailer.
- The name is good! It’s catchy, it conveys the core concept, and it’s altogether new. That’s three points over the Wii U, at least.
- The hardware is… complex. Nintendo has its work cut out explaining how on earth these controllers are going to be used in practice. The video’s scenario of two Switch systems with four split controllers being used to play an NBA game beside an actual basketball court late at night seems impractical, to say the least. And attaching the controllers to the tablet had better be as effortless as the video makes it seem.
- The system isn’t aimed at kids. At least, that’s not how Nintendo wants to position it right now. The trailer is all about how the Switch’s versatility helps it slot into the lives of the types of busy, young, mostly male adults you’d find in a typical tech company’s ads.
- We still know almost nothing about the Switch’s power. The tablet base unit has actual vents, which is unusual for a mobile device and possibly puts the custom Nvidia chip in the ballpark of the Shield Android TV. As for the screen’s resolution or overall quality — or even if it’s touch-sensitive — we’ll have to wait for further announcements. But moving to mobile hardware is probably a smart decision, because Nintendo has been technically outgunned for the past two console generations without having many advantages to show for the low-power approach.
All in all, the Switch looks like a unique product that will no doubt serve as an effective canvas for Nintendo’s frequently dazzling software output over the next few years. It’s a smarter, more flexible realization of the Wii U concept, and I’m going to buy one.
But then I always was, and it’s reasonable to wonder who else will. The Wii U, which was largely a disaster for Nintendo, traded on a similar but less practical hybrid approach where the tablet-style controller only worked inside the home and was used differently across various games. It was mishandled at every level, causing Nintendo to squander the dominant position it attained with the Wii.
Nintendo’s genius with the Wii was to identify and define an untapped userbase, resulting in what was to all intents and purposes a market of one — tens of millions of people bought Wiis that would never have considered an Xbox. But by the time the Wii U launched, that userbase had moved on; the rise of mobile gaming appeared to have captured the same type of customer that would have been interested in a casual console. Or there was the possibility that the Nintendo Wii’s success was more like a novel toy than a game console.
The Wii U was a feeble effort to keep up with the shift of non-traditional gamers to touchscreen gaming, seeing Nintendo losing its nerve and chasing the puck rather than skating to where it was going to be. The system was slow, the tablet hardware was laughable, and the platform was archaic. As a vector for excellent software for Nintendo fans, it was well worth buying; for almost anyone else, it wasn’t. Since its late 2012 launch it’s sold just 13 million units, the lowest figure for any Nintendo home console by some distance.
I don’t know if the Switch can sell any fewer than 13 million units — my suspicion is that that figure isn’t a great deal larger than the absolute baseline of Nintendo fans who will buy every system no matter what. But how many more can it sell?
With the release of the new Playstation VR, I was thinking back on the beginnings of the video game. I came from the generation of the Atari 2600 where there were tennis games like above, pong, centipede and we thought this was amazing. The feeling then of playing video games was something novel it was a totally new industry. No more going to the local arcades to play games, and at the arcades in the 80’s I pretty much stuck with the pinball machines now you barely hear or see anymore about pinball.
I graduated from the Atari 2600 to the commodore 64 because my parents thought it would help me in school with the different programs for math , which I had some difficulty in . I think I had many one math program for the Commodore and a bunch of video games. My favorite game for the Commodore was the WWE Micro League Wrestling.
Now as you can see by the above video, the game was slow as hell compared to today’s WWE 2k17. But it was a real match that was just made digital and I loved every minute of it. This is all we had, so it was great to us, now I played the same game and was like WTF!!!…But there was a wow factor in these games of Commodore and Atari that is not there in today’s world and today’s video games. We have been made to accustomed to technology where even virtual reality is now like EH its good…..whats next??
I wish we could go back to the time when things had that WOW factor . Maybe we need a new technology to come out like holograms or something to give us that WOW factor back. The Atari and Commodore were the front runners of everything you see today. From Frogger, Tennis, Pong, Micro League Wrestling they were all the granddaddy’s of today’s technology. We need the WOW factor back in technology….What will bring that back????
One of the great joys of a new gadget is the ritual unboxing: inside that box containing a smartphone or virtual reality headset is a world of possibilities. And it turns out unboxings can be just as fun when the gadget in question is really old.
As part of a retrospective series on The Legend of Zelda, Nintendo’s Japanese site recently posted a number of photos of the inside of a company storage room. That may not sound all that exciting, but it turns out the room contains a number of virtually untouched Famicom consoles still in their original boxes. (The Famicom is the Japanese version of the NES, which first launched in 1983 — and will soon be available as an adorable plug-and-play mini-console.) It’s joined by a stack of Disk Systems, a Famicom add-on that made it possible to use floppy discs with the console.
Not only is the post a great look at a near-mint-condition 30-year-old console, it ends on the best possible note: it still works! The unseen Nintendo employee manages to hook one of the consoles up to a nearby tube TV to play, what else, some Legend of Zelda.
Whenever a collection of classic games is released, I always find myself picking it up. Despite not usually having nostalgia for these retro packages (as my first console was the Genesis), I enjoy learning more about the medium that I love, and they’re typically a good way to experience games that I missed out on. Unfortunately, a lot of these end up being hit-or-miss; for every one game I end up loving, there are often a handful of titles that are only interesting to look at through a historical lens.
The latest retro video game collection comes in the form of Atari Flashback Classics Volume 1. This $20 collection features 50 games in total, with 9 being arcade games, and 41 Atari 2600-era titles. Since the games are the reason why anyone would pick this up, and there are way too many of them to touch on individually, here’s the full list of arcade titles: Black Widow, Centipede, Liberator, Lunar Lander, Millipede, Pong, Space Duel, Tempest, and Warlords.
Meanwhile, here are the 41 Atari 2600 games: 3-D Tic-Tac-Toe, Air-Sea Battle, Backgammon, Basketball, Black Jack, Bowling, Canyon Bomber, Centipede, Circus Atari, Combat, Combat Two, Desert Falcon, Dodge ‘Em, Fatal Run, Football, Home Run, Human Cannonball, Millipede, Miniature Golf, Pong Sports, Quadrun, Radar Lock, Realsports Boxing, Realsports Football, Realsports Soccer, Realsports Volleyball, Save Mary, Slot Machine, Slot Racers, Sprintmaster, Star Raiders, Steeplechase, Stunt Cycle, Super Baseball, Super Football, Swordquest EarthWorld, Swordquest FireWorld, Swordquest WaterWorld, Tempest, Warlords, and Yars’ Revenge.
As you can see, 50 games is a lot. The biggest name on the list would be arcade hits like Centipede, Pong, Tempest and Warlords, but the Atari 2600 list isn’t too shabby either. Volume 1 features both of the Combat games (although I’d only recommend playing the original, as the iconic tank combat game’s sequel seems like a total step backwards from the simple fun that the original offers), and a lot of sports games. One thing that Atari did a deviously good job at was splitting the must-have titles between Volume 1 and Volume 2, making sure that retro fans would pick up both.
The big issue that past collections have had is properly controlling the games given the change in input devices. A lot of these games used the Atari 2600’s paddle controller, which hasn’t been seen in decades (besides the super rad Nintendo DS accessory Taito put out). Games like Pong and Warlords feel terrible when using an analog stick, as it just doesn’t offer the precision needed for those titles. That’s a problem that Atari Flashback Classics has to tackle, and I feel like they’ve done a pretty solid job even if they didn’t completely solve the issue.
Each paddle game can be played in three ways: A) with the analog stick where it resets to the center after the player lets go of the stick, B) using the D-pad to move the paddle and then holding it there (it doesn’t reset position), and C) using the DualShock 4’s touchpad as a replacement paddle. I found using the touchpad to generally be the best solution (although it varies from game to game), and I actually had a good time playing these titles that are hard to port. It isn’t perfect, but it’s far better than giving players a single option.
Since Atari Flashback Classics is primarily comprised of games from the late ’70s and early ’80s, I was expecting a lot of the games to be dated. That is definitely the case, and quite frankly a lot of the offerings here are titles that I booted up once and never had any desire to play again. That said, while they offer little in the fun department, they do have plenty of historical value and seeing them preserved is great. I’ll never play Black Jack or Slot Machine again, but I’m glad they’re available.
Some of the surprise stand-outs of Volume 1 ended up being Save Mary, a game where I attempted to save a young girl (who I assume is named Mary) from drowning by lowering blocks she could climb, and Fatal Run, a racing game released in 1989 (yes, somehow the 2600 was still getting new games just a few years before I was born). While neither are as good as Tempest or Millipede, they’re games that I would’ve never played if it wasn’t for this collection, and I feel like that’s why these packages are so important.
While there are probably only a dozen games or so that I actually enjoyed playing (such as 3-D Tic-Tac-Toe, a game I’ve put probably 30 rounds into and lost every single time), that’s more than enough for me. This clearly isn’t about playing the latest and greatest games, it’s about taking a look at the history of gaming, and in that aspect, it totally succeeds.
There are also some really nice extras added in on the presentation side. Players can view the manuals for all of the Atari 2600 titles, which is a really cool and thoughtful thing to do. There is one issue, though, as sadly the photo viewer’s instructions can’t be hidden from the screen, so the bottom of the manuals are often obscured when zoomed in. That’s a bummer, but hopefully it’ll get fixed in a patch. Another awesome touch is that the game’s cartridge artwork are shown when selecting each title. It’s the small things that make a collection like this feel like a labor of love, and not a cash grab on nostalgia.
Finally, there are some great modern additions such as online multiplayer for games (you can even play games while you wait for someone to join your online lobby), and online leaderboards for the arcade games. The multiplayer is where I feel like the game really shines because even if Realsports Boxing is terrible in 2016, I still managed to laugh hysterically while playing it with a buddy. It’s also pretty cool to see that I’m apparently the number 6 player of Black Widow in the entire world (despite being terrible at it). While it doesn’t go as far as Microsoft’s Game Room did in allowing players to view the replays of high-score runs, it’s still a great addition.
Obviously, this package won’t be for everyone. But if you’re looking for a solid way to play Tempest and Centipede, or just looking to learn about the Atari 2600, then I easily recommend this solid retro collection.
This review is based on the PS4 version, which we were provided with.