Friday The 13th The game launches on May 26th
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.
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?
2D Sonic is back in an all-new adventure! The classic Sonic experience returns with brand new twists. Play as Sonic, Tails, & Knuckles as you race through all-new Zones and fully re-imagined classics, each filled with exciting surprises and powerful bosses. Harness Sonic’s new Drop Dash, Tails’ flight, and Knuckles’ climbing abilities to overcome the evil Dr. Eggman’s robots. Discover a myriad of never-before-seen hidden paths and secrets! This all-new experience celebrates the best of Classic Sonic, pushing the envelope forward with stunning 60 FPS gameplay and pixel-perfect physics. Welcome to the next level for the world’s fastest blue hedgehog.
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Though we may not recognize it now, American animation during the dawn of the 20th century dramatically changed how people across the world view entertainment forever. Anthropomorphic object and exaggerated facial expressions were by no means new to the world of cartoons, but were given new life through frame-by-frame animated shorts by studios like Fleischer Studios. Many of these cartoons would later influence Japanese anime, upon which many modern video games draw for their own visual stylings.
Yet the earlier heydays of cartoonery are rarely explored by contemporary video games (save, perhaps, for Peacock from Lab Zero’s Skullgirls). Studio MDHR plans to do just that, though, with their upcoming run-and-gun platformer,Cuphead in Don’t Deal With the Devil. The project, which began in 2010, blends the surrealism of 1930s animation and the mayhem of classic arcade platformers like Metal Slug to create a game that stands out from the rest of the indie pack.
Cuphead’s premise is simple: the titular Cuphead and his friend Mugman lose a bet with the Devil. They must pay off that debt by giving the game’s bosses the ol’ one-two. The game focuses mainly around these boss fights, as well as platforming sections, swarms of regular enemies, a weapons and ultimate ability mechanic, and secret area exploration.
As for those boss fights, Studio MDHR has stated that they plan to implement over 30 of them. If they reach that number, Cuphead will have surpassed Treasure’s Alien Soldier for the Guiness record of “most boss fights in a run-and-gun game.” Niche record, sure, but notable nonetheless.
Cuphead footage from E3 (via YouTube user Etalyx) gives us a glimpse into one of those boss fights, as well as some of its regular gameplay:
Studio MDHR is also committed to keeping the core fundamentals of both retro animation and retro gaming close toCuphead’s heart. The Mouldenhauer brothers of Studio MDHR have imbued Cuphead with the mechanical nuances and system esoterica that give old arcade games their rich texture. The game’s animations and music, meanwhile,attempt to replicate the same meticulous processes practiced by animators and composers nearly 100 years ago.
In amongst its frantic combat, slick parkour, and outrageous action choreography, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End achieves something wonderful: maturity. This is less a breezy lad’s tale revelling in fortune and glory and more a story about the lads when they’re all grown up, bolstered by an equally developed graphics engine and career-high performances from its cast. A surprisingly assured set of multiplayer modes ices the cake.
What lets it down, however, is an uninspired and overly long third act which slows down its pace considerably with curiously repetitive gameplay. Uncharted 4 consequently falls short of the greatness achieved by some of developer Naughty Dog’s leaner, more inventive predecessors.
Its 15-hour experience kicks off with focus. Uncharted 4’s story is established in a compelling handful of chapters that weave their way through different time periods with tightly directed cinematic flair. While its setup is overly familiar – Nathan Drake and Elena Fisher are attempting to retire from action-heroism and live a normal life until Nate’s presumed-dead brother turns up with an offer he can’t refuse – a strong emotional throughline is born from the characters’ struggle to reconcile their adult responsibilities with the promise of excitement they secretly crave. Uncharted 4 does a terrific job of exploring a more world-weary group of adventurers, with their concerns and musings layered throughout its quieter moments.
These incidental conversations are a marvel. It’s here that we see characters bristle and soften, brought slowly to life with considered writing and a peerless voice cast. Performances from series veterans Nolan North (Nathan Drake), Emily Rose (Elena Fisher), and Richard McGonagle (Victor Sullivan) are as big-hearted as ever, while newcomers Troy Baker (Samuel Drake), Laura Bailey (Nadine Ross), and Warren Kole (Rafe Adler) are nicely understated in more enigmatic roles.
Uncharted 4’s companion characters never break the spell in more frantic or tense sections, either. If you choose to play stealthily, they’ll crouch down in the long grass beside you (and unlike Ellie in The Last of Us, they do an excellent job of staying out of enemy sightlines). If they’re in your way while climbing, they’ll let you clamber over them. They’re competent in gun fights, helpful in traversal, and typically witty throughout. They feel vital.
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At long last, it seems Hollywood has pushed the reset button on its approach to video game adaptations.
From the reviled 1993 live-action rendition of “Super Mario Bros.” to last year’s loathed arcade-inspired “Pixels,” big-screen interpretations of games have almost always failed to score with critics and audiences. With four films based on popular interactive series set for release in 2016, could this finally be the year video game movies win over filmgoers?
After decades of commercial and critical pitfalls when attempting to turn games into movies, Hollywood is trying out a few bold new strategies in an effort to tap the interactive medium for the latest hit movie franchise, including hiring A-list talent and collaborating more closely with game makers to rework their immersive creations for movie theaters
“Ratchet & Clank”
The first to launch is an animated film now in theaters that’s based on Insomniac Games’ zany platforming series for Sony’s PlayStation systems, starring wise-cracking alien tinkerer Ratchet and his witty robot sidekick Clank. The game creators didn’t simply foist their 14-year-old franchise onto filmmakers. They insisted on joining forces.
“Ratchet & Clank” features several of the interactive series’ original voice actors with a story by former Insomniac Games senior writer T.J. Fixman. The game studio also outsourced a few of their own artists to work with the film’s animators to guarantee their intergalactic romp looked and stayed true to what made the game franchise a victory.
“It’s crucial for anyone who works with the worlds and characters that we created to fully understand them,” said Ted Price, CEO of Insomniac Games. “We had lots of open conversations with everyone working on the project. As game creators, we always want to tell more stories. This was just another way to do that for an audience that’s hungry for it.”
Over the past 20 years, game publishers have typically handed over movie rights to Hollywood with little to no creative control. While the results have sometimes hit the mark (“Tomb Raider,” ”Resident Evil”), they’re usually unsuccessful undertakings that veer way off course from the originals (“Doom,” ”Double Dragon.”)
Shawn Layden, president of Sony Interactive Entertainment America, said he’s been working with Rainmaker Entertainment and Blockade Entertainment to faithfully adapt “Ratchet & Clank” and silly stealth series “Sly Cooper” into animated films, as well with his colleagues at Sony Pictures to craft live-action versions of treasure-hunting adventure “Uncharted” and post-apocalyptic saga “The Last of Us.”
“I’m old enough to remember a time when people thought it was crazy to make movies out of comic books,” said Layden. “That’s certainly changed over the last decade. The really great games now have narratives featuring all sorts of age-old storytelling tropes. It’s become another great fountain of content that can be applied across other media.