Lose Your Illusion

If I’m going to be honest, I was inspired to make this article because of a recurring topic SNES Master KI and I have discussed at length on several occasions. When it comes to modern video game reviews, there is a concept that bothers KI to no end. It goes by many names: charm, magic, heart, soul. It doesn’t matter what you call it, they all mean the same exact thing. They’re nothing but euphemisms for rose-colored visions of nostalgia, giving reviewers and gamers in general expectations no game (modern or classic) could ever live up to.

I can actually relate with KI in this regard. I too have a similar phrase that drives me up a wall. “Recapture the magic”. You generally hear it with regards to sequels, and when it comes to video games, it always has a negative connotation. It’s not uncommon to hear reviewers bemoan that a new entry in a series, whether it’s classic or fairly recent, “fails to recapture the magic of earlier games in the series”. Maybe not every time, but it’s so common, it just gets on my nerves.

These two terms may seem similar on the surface, but they have slightly different connotations. Soul/charm/etc. is generally used in reference to games in general. It’s a more generic term that can be levied as a general criticism of any game. It is generally used in reference to games that are in long-running popular series (modern Nintendo games commonly evoke this criticism), but it’s also a criticism of games in genres that were popular in earlier generations. Hell, no game is safe from it: I’ve even heard people criticize games like Madden and Call of Duty for having no soul.

Moreover, soul (et al.) tends refers to certain intangible qualities from earlier generations, usually corresponding with games from the childhood of whoever makes the criticism. Recapturing the magic is a criticism that transcends generations: even later entries in series that started within the current generation can be unable to recapture the magic that made earlier games in the series so compelling. I’ve seen people claim that series like Dead Space have already lost “the magic” and that series has only seen releases within a single console generation at this point.

 A lot of what makes the whole idea that games need to “recapture the magic” infuriating is the fact that it’s generally used as a response to sequels that don’t exceed an earlier installment in the series in every possible way, shape or form. If even one aspect of the game is inferior or just “too different”, regardless of how insignificant that change might really be, that’s all you need: it’s nothing but a disappointment and needs to “recapture the magic”. Even the most minor of slip-ups aren’t immune from that stupid term.

Worse still is when it gets thrown at games that are actually good: some games that are actually on par or even superior to the most popular games in a franchise can still be considered unable to “recapture the magic”, simply because they can’t erase less popular entries out of existence. A good example of this would have to be the Sonic the Hedgehog series. Despite the fact that we’ve gotten some great Sonic games lately (and I’m including Lost World), it will never be able to escape the venerated status of the Genesis games. Even more damaging, however, are the reputations of the weaker games in the series, like Sonic ’06. Hell, many people even argue that every game in the series since 3D Blast has been unable to recapture the magic. No matter how good any new release in that series manages to be, it will never be able to truly escape the perceived taint of earlier entries. Fortunately, Sega’s dropped their obsession with trying to achieve Genesis-era levels of popularity, but it’s a disgusting sentiment all the same.

There is a loophole to getting away from the taint of “losing the magic”: ditching the series itself and going with a spiritual successor. I’ve talked in the past about the benefits of taking existing gameplay and incorporating it into an entirely new franchise in the past, but that’s one point I didn’t think of when I was writing that article. By starting from scratch with a new intellectual property, one can generally sidestep the bad reputations disappointing earlier entries in a series can garner to a well-made sequel. Unfortunately, this isn’t a perfect solution: to this day, I still hear some people gripe about how much better the System Shock games were than the original Bioshock, which was both a best-seller and critically-acclaimed.

Of course, the reason that the whole obsession people have with recapturing the magic of the best game in a particular series bugs me the most is probably due to my own opinions. Generally, my favorite game in a particular series isn’t considered the best, even by me. I’ll acknowledge that Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World were better games, but that doesn’t keep SMB2 (the American version, “Lost Levels” is just awful) from being my favorite 2D mainline Mario game of all time. Going back to Sonic, Sonic 2 (for the Genesis, of course) is generally considered the best game in entire series, but even with regards to that era, I preferred Sonic CD. Even with the Classic MegaMan series, everyone considered the second game to be the best game in the entire series, but even before MM10 came out, I always preferred MM3. None of these games were bad, but fortunately due to their age (and thus, built-in nostalgia), they’re able to exist outside of the scope of the “recapture the magic” concept. If these games had come out today, they would probably all be despised: actually, for a long time, SMB2 WAS despised, especially by people who knew it was different from the Japanese SMB2, which was nothing but an overglorified level pack for the original.

In the end, all the concept of “recapturing the magic” accomplishes is creating insurmountable expectations for games in a series. It’s a pointless concept that should be entirely trashed. While the whole idea of soul (or whatever you’d prefer to call it) is just a way to justify reminiscing about “the way things used to be, back in the good ol’ days”, implying that there is a magic that needs to be regained is just useless in the long run. It doesn’t achieve anything, it’s just pointless griping over the fact that a sequel to a game you liked just doesn’t give you the same level of sensations as its forebear or because it didn’t expand to the extent or in the fashion you personally wanted it to. Sequels should be judged by their own merits, not based on some esoteric ideal set in motion by the most popular entry in their series.

Advertisements

Retronaissance’s Most Anticipated Games of 2014

2013’s come to an end and it’s time to look forward to the glory waiting for us this year. I’m Professor Icepick and welcome to Retronaissance’s Most Anticipated Games of 2014. I asked each of my fellow writers for the Retronaissance blog to come up with a top 10 list of the games they’re most looking forward to seeing this year. So, without further ado, here are the lists:

Shellshock

10. South Park: The Stick of Truth (PC/360/PS3)

I was always a South Park fan, and I’ll be honest, I never got to play any of the video games back in the late 90’s/early 2000’s. When I first saw footage of this game in 2012, I was surprised at how good it looked, considering it looked exactly like an episode of the show. The gameplay looks similar to that of the Paper Mario series, which is cool, since that series is awesome. After switching publishers and constant delays, it’s still not stopping me from picking this game up. Whenever it comes out, I’m ready to play Stick of Truth!

9. Shantae: Half-Genie Hero (Wii U/PS3/PS4/etc.)

This was one of the games that I backed money on a Kickstarter campaign. The Shantae series is pretty cool, and from how good Half-Genie Hero looks, it’s definitely something I’m looking forward to. Also, WayForward knows how to put a lot of time and effort into their games when given the opportunity to, so I definitely know they’ll prove to everyone that this game will be as fun as it can be.

8. Shantae and The Pirate’s Curse (3DS)

After two games, WayForward announced a third game in 2012. Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse is the direct sequel to Shantae: Risky’s Revenge for DSiWare, and I couldn’t ask for more from WayForward than a new 3DS Shantae game. It still has the Metroid-esque style settings in terms of hidden paths and a map, but it also has the same level style and gameplay from the other games that anyone can enjoy.

7. Bravely Default (3DS)

I like some old school RPG’s when I was a kid, especially the Final Fantasy games from Squaresoft (Before they were Square Enix). Square Enix released Final Fantasy: Four Warriors of Light for the Nintendo DS in 2010, and Bravely Default looks like a spiritual successor to that game. This game goes back to the old school RPG route, with such features as a turn-Based Combat and Multi-Hit combos, as well as a job system. I was hyped for this when I first saw it on a Japanese 3DS Conference back in 2011, and I couldn’t wait for this game to come out.

6. Shovel Knight (Wii U/3DS/PC)

What do you get when you have a game that takes elements from Metroid, Castlevania, Mega Man, and Ducktales put together? You would get a game like Shovel Knight. Shovel Knight is an 8-bit Adventure/Platformer from Yacht Club Games, a team of former WayForward Technologies employees, which captures an 8-bit style to resemble NES games. It was another game that was part of a Kickstarter campaign, where it reached past its goal and raised over $300,000. In this game, you control a blue knight that has a shovel as a weapon, which you can use to dig up treasures, destroy barriers, and attack enemies. I got to try this game out at New York Comic Con 2013 at the Nintendo Lounge, and this game justified my Kickstarter backing.

5. Mario Kart 8 (Wii U)

For every new generation Nintendo console or handheld, there is a guarantee that there will be a new Mario Kart game. I was always a fan of the Mario Kart games, and I enjoyed DS and 7 the most in the series, and I got to try out Mario Kart 8 at Nintendo World during E3 week, and the gamepad controls are natural for me, since I am used to the DS/3DS style. The visuals were outstanding, from every detail of the characters and setting, to the lighting, were all top notch. It is definitely one game on the Wii U that will keep me busy for a while, at least until when Smash Bros. comes out.

4. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (Wii U)

When the Wii U was announced, I was long hoping for a sequel to Donkey Kong Country Returns on the platform, as I loved that game very much. When Nintendo announced Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, I was ecstatic, and couldn’t wait to play it during E3 week. When I gave the game a try, I really liked what they did with this game, and loved how big the levels were. I expected Dixie Kong to make her return in this game, but Cranky Kong as a playable character took me by surprise. Tropical Freeze looks promising, and I’m ready and waiting for my time to play this game!

3. Monolith Soft’s X (Wii U)

I’ll be very honest here, as of this writing, I have yet to start Xenoblade Chronicles for the Wii. I know, I know, I will eventually get to it, but in spite of that, Monolith Soft’s X looks visually stunning, and also looks like I will get a lot out of this game. I really liked the landscapes within the game, and make no mistake about it, I really want to play an adventure as epic as this.

2. Bayonetta 2 (Wii U)

Platinum Games is one of my favorite developers, and I enjoyed Bayonetta (I still have to beat it though, but I will this year), but Bayonetta 2 surprised me when it was revealed back at the 2012 September conference. I got to play the demo at New York Comic Con 2013, and it instantly sold me the minute I started the game. They really improved on every aspect of the original, and I must say, this is definitely worth buying a Wii U for.

1. Super Smash Bros. for 3DS & Wii U (3DS/Wii U)

If there is any reason to be hyped for a Nintendo home console, it’s the fact that a Super Smash Bros. game is guaranteed to appear. This time, however, there is a handheld version of the game on the Nintendo 3DS, with its own unique stages based on the handheld Nintendo games, while the Wii U version will have stages based on the console games. What made me really excited for this game the most was that Mega Man is in this game as one of the guest characters. Watching the match between Mario vs. Mega Man at E3 2013, I witnessed the game being a lot faster than Brawl, which is a step up, as well as the characters getting knocked down/knocked out easily in comparison. I am definitely getting both games and play nonstop Smash Bros. for as long as I can.

SNES Master KI

10.  “Yarn Yoshi” (Wii U)

As minimal as the information surrounding this game is, Good Feel has not only proven themselves capable of making great platformers, the ones they’ve made have felt more like Yoshi’s Island than the franchises they were using.  Whether Year of Yoshi is real or not, I will definitely get Yarn Yoshi when it arrives

9.  Professor Layton X Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (3DS)

While I haven’t sought much information on this game (it was announced during the heartbreak over Ace Attorney Investigations 2 time period), I love both series and will definitely be picking it up whenever Nintendo of America gets around to releasing it

8.  Infamous: Second Son (PS4)

While I sadly will not be able to play this at launch, maybe not even in 2014 (Sony, you can rectify this if you have Naughty Dog make a platformer), Second Son still looks great.  The Infamous series does everything about sandbox games perfectly, and this one even lets me explore my home city.  If I wasn’t purposefully not focusing on it due to not having a PS4 in the near future, it might be even higher.

7.  Mario Kart 8 (Wii U)

With great looking levels (that SMG stage…) and what will probably be the best online support in a Mario Kart to date, Mario Kart 8 may not be radically different from previous entries.  That doesn’t matter though, MK8 is both a great technical showcase for Wii U and sure to give hours of racing chaos and fun.

6.  Kirby Triple Deluxe (3DS)

After 15 years of unsuccessful attempts, Nintendo finally captured the magic of Kirby Super Star in the Wii’s Kirby’s Return to Dreamland.  Kirby Triple Deluxe seems to have the same deep power system and lively level design that Kirby was missing for quite a while, as well as some great looking mini-games.  With Nintendo’s far stronger first party quality on 3DS than previous portables, I have high expectation for Triple Deluxe.

5.  Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 (PS3/360/PC)

Even if it played like God of War (and copying another franchise is something the METROIDvanias would clearly NEVER do), Lords of Shadow was the best console Castlevania in generations and a reasonably faithful vision of how the classic series would work in 3D.  Arguably the best part was the trailer for the sequel at the end, however, and in 2014 we will finally get it.  It isn’t clear how much of the game will be the futuristic playable Dracula versus Satan battle we were teased with, but either way it should be a great action game.

4.  Monolith Soft’s “X” (Wii U)

Xenoblade somehow managed to live up to the hype it was given when it wasn’t confirmed for a North American release, and it was successful enough to get a sequel which was immediately confirmed for worldwide release.  While not much is known about X, Monolith Soft has definitely earned trust that it will be fantastic and fill a gap not only in Nintendo’s library, but home consoles in general.

3.  Bayonetta 2 (Wii U)

One of the most unexpected and awesome things Nintendo has done recently is saving the Bayonetta franchise.  Filling a gap Nintendo desperately needs while giving Platinum the funding they need, Bayonetta 2 is a win for everybody.  But most of all it is a win for gamers, a sequel to one of the best action games of all time given the attention it deserves even if a lot of that is from disgruntled Nintendo haters.

2.  Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze (Wii U)

After the amazing Donkey Kong Country Returns, no one but EAD Tokyo can make a platformer that excites me as much as Retro.  With some of the aesthetics people wouldn’t shut up about DKCR missing, Tropical Freeze should make February feel as warm as Christmas.

1.  Super Smash Bros for Wii U and 3DS (Wii U/3DS)

Even with so many things we don’t know about it, there are two factors that skyrocket my hype.  One is Mega Man, my holy grail of desired characters ever since Snake was announced for Brawl.  After all he’s been through, Mega Man being invited to a tournament of Nintendo legends could not have come at a better time for maximum emotional impact.

The second is online play.  Smash Bros. with a competent online system has been one of my most desired games for over a decade, and the time seems to have finally come.

Honorable Mentions

  • Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes (PS3/PS4/360/XBO): The Metal Gear series hasn’t been the same for me since Metal Gear Solid 3, but I’ll always hold out hope that something (besides the completely different Revengeance) will return it to what I loved.  At only $30, Ground Zeroes will be a fairly painless risk.
  • Shovel Knight (Wii U/3DS/PC): While I have trouble getting excited about download games until we have an exact date (I still hate the Meat Boy developers), Shovel Knight looks great as a tribute to old-school platformers.
  • Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z (PS3/360/PC): As confusing as this game’s announcement was, an Inafune-led action game is definitely something I’m willing to look into.

Negative Hippie

10. Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse (3DS)/Half-Genie Hero (PC/Wii U/etc.)

It’s so nice to see Shantae going from a constantly limboed series to a rather healthy one. After a rather good show with Risky’s Revenge for the Nintendo DS, WayForward is working on Half-Genie Hero and the Pirate’s Curse, both of which look rather fantastic.

9. South Park: The Stick of Truth (PS3/360/PC)

I wasn’t really paying attention to this title up until just recently when I saw a gameplay trailer, which hooked me almost instantly. The animation was spot-on, the writing was funny, and it reminded me of Paper Mario. Plus, Princess Kenny.

8. Kirby: Triple Deluxe (3DS)

Icepick may decry Kirby Super Star sequels, but quite frankly, duck him in the butt (it’s where put a duckbill in between his butt cheeks). The reason why Kirby games often emulate this one is because to this day it still has the best of everything. Despite this, Triple Deluxe perhaps does a better job of being a Super Star sequel while also having enough new ideas to spare.

7. The Witness (PC/PS4/iOS)

Icepick may decry art games, but quite frankly he needs to go bear his butt (it’s where you get mauled only in the butt, but not necessarily by a bear). After the solid puzzle-solving game that Braid was and still is, I have nothing but utter anticipation for this game. Plus, there’s like more than 1000 different foot step sound effects!

6. A Hat in Time (PC/WiiU?)

Icepick m– *smack* sorry. Anyway, A Hat in Time is not only an indie title – and I’ll admit to bias toward supporting fresh indie faces – especially when they make a game visually inspired by The Wind Waker and mechanically by Banjo-Kazooie. All I’ve seen of A Hat in Time makes me think that it will be a real return to form in an industry where a collection-based adventure platform game is a dinosaur.

5. Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number (PC/PS4/Vita)

Now we’re getting into the big leagues. Before this entry, the games – all of which I’m sure I’ll love and all of which will probably be great – pale in comparison to the top five here. Hotline Miami was one of my favourite games from last year. Literally everything about it was a positive for me (aside from the fact that I couldn’t play it at max settings), and I’m sure that this one is going to excite me just as much.

4. The Walking Dead: Season 2 – Episodes 2-4 (PC/360/PS3/etc.)

While the first episode was released in 2013, I couldn’t justify considering it as a game of that year as only a fifth of the actual game had come out this year. I was also originally going to feature The Wolf Among Us’ remaining episodes, but to fit more games, I chose this only. Anyway, Episode 1 made a pretty strong impression on me, so I suppose it’s almost unfair to give it inclusion since it has such a good advantage against its competitors. Clementine is a dear, and I just want to make sure that she’s all safe and sound. Unfortunately this is a zombie game famous for inducing feels, so…

3. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U/Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS (Wii U/3DS)

Really, unless you really hate Smash Bros. and/or Nintendo, I can’t see why you would not have this somewhere on your list. The characters revealed so far have been great, and there’s very little that can be done to dampen my interests. Even if it’s as disappointing as Brawl was, I’m sure we’ll get a Project Project M! The only thing that could kill my interest would be if they didn’t include Little Mac. Sakurai wouldn’t do anything like that… right? Right?

2. The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth (PC/PS4/Vita)

The Binding of Isaac is probably in my top 10 most-played games ever. It’s super addictive and encourages constant replays. Unfortunately, it’s held back by a pretty faulty engine. Tons of bugs, weird mechanics, and unbalanced characters (looking at you Samson, you weak piece of shit). Most importantly, it’s a huge pain to find a computer that something that seems so imple can run on. Not only is Rebirth going to fix all of that, it’s adding tons of new content and an awesome 16-bit art style. Hopefully the people who were wary of its flaws will pick this one up.

1. Professor Layton X Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (3DS)

This is a bit of a fanboy entry. It’s probably not legitimately this high – even for me – but I simply cannot put it anywhere else but number one. The puzzles of Professor Layton, the trials of Ace Attorney, and most importantly, Maya’s first appearance in the series in the past seven years! I absolutely can’t wait for this awesome game.

Professor Icepick

10. Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (3DS)

Even though they’ve been done to death in everything from movies and video games, I still love a good crossover.  When they first announced this game, I was incredibly excited, as I’m a huge fan of both the Professor Layton and the Ace Attorney series. At the same time, however, I was a bit skeptical over the game getting a North American release. Nevertheless, after a few years of waiting, it’s finally hitting North America and Europe. Unfortunately, the fact that it took so long is what puts it at number 10.

9. Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z (360/PS3/PC)

What happens when you take Ninja Gaiden, zombies and Keiji Inafune and mix them all together into one project? You get Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z, a spinoff from the modern hack-and-slash incarnation of the Ninja Gaiden which also borrows a few aspects from Inafune’s earlier work, Dead Rising. Factor in the extra throwback mode which turns the game into an old-school arcade beat-‘em-up, some unlockable costumes (including Beck, from another Inafune project Mighty No. 9), a storyline that doesn’t take itself too seriously and stylish designs, and you’ve got a prime contender for best action game of 2014.

8. Ultra Street Fighter 4 (360/PS3/PC)

Sure, it’s just another update to 2008’s Street Fighter 4, but this looks to be an even bigger game changer than the original Super update. Adding in entirely new fighting mechanics, new modes like online training and an enhanced team battle mode, and throwing in 5 “new characters”: Hugo, Poison, Elena and Rolento from Street Fighter X Tekken and an as of yet unknown 5th challenger who is said to be making their first playable appearance in a fighting game, USF4 is a far bigger expansion than the previous Arcade Edition and AE ver. 2012 updates. Better still, it’s going to be available as both a digital update and a physical package.

7.  Cryamore (PC/Wii U/PS3/360)

The first independent game on my list, Cryamore is an action-RPG that takes inspiration from games like The Legend of Zelda, MegaMan Legends and Brave Fencer Musashi and it’s a game I personally helped crowdfund. With beautiful 2D animation, endearing characters, an amazing soundtrack and truly interesting combat and puzzle mechanics relying on the titular material, Cryamore is really shaping up to be something special.

6. Blazblue Chronophantasma (PS3)

I’ll be completely honest here: Blazblue was the first fighting game Arc System Works made that I actually enjoyed (let’s just say I had some bad first experiences with the Guilty Gear series). So I’m really looking to the next entry in the series, due to the continuation of the storyline and the new fighting game mechanics. Most importantly, my favorite NPC in the entire series is finally becoming a playable character: the perpetually-cranky scientist catgirl, Kokonoe.

5. Shantae: Half-Genie Hero (PC/Wii U/etc.)

I’ve known about the Shantae series from the beginning, and although I’ve only played a bit of the first, I’ve fallen in love with the series. Effectively one of the best “Metroid-like” exploration games out there, WayForward is finally bringing Shantae to consoles and with gorgeous high-definition graphics. It’s another game I contributed to on Kickstarter, and they’re still taking pledges via PayPal in order to make for an even bigger, better game.

4. Shovel Knight (PC/Wii U/3DS)

Yet another of my Kickstarter darlings and made by some ex-WayForward developers, Shovel Knight is a blast from the past, inspired by classics like MegaMan, Castlevania and Ducktales. I’m really looking forward to this, especially since it was originally intended to drop this year. Still, Yacht Club Games clearly realizes that a delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad, and given all the game’s additional content, I’m sure it will be worth the wait.

3. Bayonetta 2 (Wii U)

The original Bayonetta was one of the best action games I played last generation. With an interesting story, endearing characters and extremely solid gameplay, it was the total package and made me fall in love with Platinum Games as a developer. So when Nintendo announced that they were financing a sequel as a Wii U exclusive, I was ecstatic, though many fans did not share my enthusiasm. While 2014 is a speculative date, it’s the only real one I’ve seen regarding Bayo2. Here’s hoping it’s real.

2. Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze (Wii U)

The Donkey Kong Country games on the Super Nintendo are among my favorite old-school games from the 16-bit era, so when they finally returned on the Wii, courtesy of Retro Studios back in 2010, I was ecstatic. Finding out at E3 2013 that Retro was working on a sequel just made me that much happier. So many aspects from the old games that I missed are returning: David Wise providing the soundtrack, water levels and Dixie Kong. Better yet is the new stuff, the ability to attack while swimming, throwing mechanics akin to those from SMB2 (well, the game’s producer did work on Doki Doki Panic) and Cranky Kong makes his playable debut in a mainline DKC game with pogo cane skills that would even make Scrooge McDuck jealous. There’s only one thing dampening my excitement for this game, and it was the fact that it originally set to be released back in November.

1.  “Super Smash Bros. 4” (Wii U/3DS)

Oh come on, it was obvious. I mean, they put MegaMan on the roster, they brought back Sonic and Sakurai has promised a balance between the tournament-friendly style of Melee and the fun of Brawl. Not to mention the fact that this time around, Nintendo has a far better handle on online multiplayer, so we’ll finally be getting a Smash Bros. with real online, instead of the laggy abomination that was Brawl.  Namco Bandai and Masahiro Sakurai are teaming up to bring us this game and frankly I can’t wait to see how it turns out. Did I mention MegaMan and Sonic were in it?

Honorable Mentions

  • Strider (PS3/360/PC): This game just barely missed out on the list, but considering how well the latest Killer Instinct was received, this could end up being the game that puts Double Helix on the map.
  • A Hat in Time (PC): A collect-a-thon that evokes classics like Banjo-Kazooie and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, and yet another game I supported on Kickstarter.
  • South Park: The Stick of Truth (360/PS3/PC): I love South Park and I love the Paper Mario series. So of course I’m gonna love it when you mix the two of them together. I just think I would’ve loved it more if it had come out this year like it was supposed to.
  • Watch_Dogs (PC/XBO/etc.): Well, it’s a new IP and a sandbox game that actually looks pretty interesting. Of course, it was originally supposed to be out this year, but it got delayed due to some issues with the next-gen versions.
  • Freedom Planet (PC): This is probably the most obscure game I’ll mention, but it’s another indie game I helped to crowdfund. Long story short: it’s Sonic the Hedgehog meets Gunstar Heroes. Fun, fun stuff.

10 Games I Want Ported to PC

If there’s one thing console gamers have grown accustomed to over the past few generations, it’s been backwards compatibility. Sure, it wasn’t always perfect and it’s only been implemented well in few cases, but it’s still something that was taken for granted. Unfortunately, to those of us who like playing our old games on our classic systems, whether to save physical space or for ease of use, it seems like the days of backward compatibility being a killer app are nearing an end. Neither the PS4 nor the Xbox One are capable of playing their predecessors’ games natively: though Sony has recently announced their “PlayStation Now” streaming service and Microsoft has offered the insulting suggestion to “just hook your 360 into your Xbox One”. While the Wii U is still capable of playing disc-based and digital Wii games via an on-board emulator, we lost the ability to play GameCube games in the process and the Wii U’s Virtual Console library is pathetically small compared to the original, both in terms of game libraries and consoles supported. Worse yet, we’re even beginning to see various licensed titles get pulled off of digital distribution platforms, bringing the future viability of such games into question. Couple that with the several games from previous generations that have been lost to the ages for one reason or another and it’s clear that there are some problems with the way the industry has been heading.

Of course, there is another option. Compared to dedicated video game consoles, PCs have a much higher rate of backwards compatibility with older programs on newer OSes. While not always a perfect solution, in cases where games no longer function properly on newer computers, either official or community-led initiatives have been spearheaded to fix these games. With such emulation software as DOSBox and SCUMMVM, classic PC games that once seemed to be lost to future gamers forever were playable once again. Furthermore, in a stunning reversal of the negative opinion regarding DRM, specific ones, including Valve’s Steam, allow users to be able to download previously-purchased games on newer machines, regardless of whether they remain on the marketplace or not, much like the case with XBLA and PSN. Couple this with the fact that many companies have started doing late PC ports of games from the previous generation and it seems like there’s a new avenue for these games to maintain their existence for years to come.

Of course, in order to keep this list fair, I’ve decided to implement a few rules. First of all, I’m only going to look at third-party games for the most part (Microsoft being the exception, due to the fact that they’ve released previous console exclusives on PC down the line anyway), and there will be a significant lean towards companies that have already released games on PC. The games can’t have been released any earlier than the seventh (PS3/X360/Wii) generation, though this means that eighth-gen games are fair game as well. There will be only one game per company on this list, to make things fair and more challenging. Finally, games from the same series that were released on the same platform CAN be packaged together. So with that, let’s get started!

Lollipop Chainsaw – WB Games/Grasshopper Manufacture (360/PS3)

I thought this game didn’t get enough love from the mainstream gaming media, which dismissed it for its shallow story, simple arcade-style gameplay and short length. But they were just blind to the truth of the matter: it was a great little throwback to the hack-and-slash games of old and it didn’t bother taking itself seriously. Sure, the game didn’t perform as well as WB probably expected, but I’d love to see a PC port anyway. Just don’t have High Voltage Software handle the port: MK9 and Injustice’s ports were fairly buggy at launch and still suffer from lingering issues at present.

MegaMan 9/10 – Capcom (Wii/360/PS3)

This should have been a really obvious pick to anyone who saw my MegaMan wishlist last month. Considering they’re both fairly small games, it only seems fair to put them together in a double-pack, hopefully with all of the DLC included in the base package. Though that last bit seems fairly unlikely, as long as Capcom prices these games reasonably, I could see myself buying it again.

Tekken Tag Tournament 2 – Namco Bandai (AC/360/PS3/WiiU)

People have been harassing Tekken series producer Katsuhiro Harada about putting an entry of the World’s most popular fighting game on PCs, but until fairly recently, he’s said he hasn’t seen much of a point, despite being an avid PC gamer himself. Given the recent successes of other fighting games on the platform, however, he has softened his view on releasing a Namco fighter on PC. While the free-to-play Tekken Revolution seems like the most likely choice, especially given Namco Bandai’s previous F2P releases on PC, I’d prefer it if we got the previous game in the series: Tekken Tag Tournament 2. Both games were built on the same engine, but TTT2 is pretty much the complete package, including various match types, a fuller roster and even a customizable character mode. I would absolutely love to see this game hit PCs with an excellent port.

Bayonetta – Sega/Platinum Games (360/PS3)

Well, considering the fact that Kamiya’s been talking about porting the original Bayonetta to the Wii U, it only seems fair that they should also consider a PC port as well. After all, with the recent PC release of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance on PC via Steam, Platinum Games will finally have one of their titles on the platform. Given the fact that Sega’s incredibly pro-PC, it seems likely that they would sign off on a PC port as well. Just use the 360 version as a base for both ports, okay Platinum?

UPDATE (1/24/2014): There’s even a petition to get Bayonetta (as well as VF5 and Vanquish) ported to PC.

The King of Fighters ’98 Ultimate Match/2002 Unlimited Match – SNK Playmore (360)

These two games were actually rumored to be coming to Steam for some time. When King of Fighters 13 was found listed on Steam’s backend, there were also listings for ’98 Ultimate Match and 2002 Unlimited Match as well. Considering both of these games were released on the Xbox 360, KoF13 Steam Edition used the 360 version as part of its base and SNK Playmore has expressed interest in releasing more games on PC, these two seem like an obvious pick. Use that awesome netcode from KoF13’s PC version though.

Double Dragon Neon* – Majesco (360/PS3)

Well, technically, this shouldn’t even be on here anymore, considering it’s already been confirmed to be coming out on Steam sometime this year. With the addition of Online Co-Op, I’m eagerly anticipating this game’s release. Still, I came up with this list last month before the recent announcement. So, as I don’t feel like coming up with a last-minute replacement, DD Neon remains on my list. Can’t wait for this one to hit.

Catherine – Atlus (360/PS3)

One of my favorite puzzle games of the past few years, Catherine meshed amazing gameplay with elements from the visual novel and dating sim genres in order to deliver a much more interactive and engrossing story, similar to what they’ve done to JRPGs in the Persona series. Considering that Atlus was recently bought out by Sega, seeing this classic ported to PC may be a lot more plausible than ever, but Atlus has had a few releases on PC themselves, including Rock of Ages and God Mode.

Guilty Gear Xrd – Arc System Works (AC/PS3/PS4)

Okay, I’ll be clear up front with this one. Arc System Works doesn’t exactly have the best history with supporting PC gaming, but they did manage to get an early version of Guilty Gear XX and the original Blazblue on PC, problematic as both of these ports ended up being. Both games were woefully out-of-date upon release, Blazblue didn’t even hit PC until after the second game had hit consoles. Still, there have been some rumblings over online petitions for getting the game on Wii U and PC, as Arc System Works has already all but deconfirmed releases on either Xbox. So I’m hoping that if ASW manages to pull through this time, they manage to give the game some real support.

Konami’s “ReBirth” Games (Castlevania: The Adventure/Contra/Gradius) – Konami (Wii)

I love me some classic Konami games. While I’ve only played Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth, I loved the game so much. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like these games got enough love, being exclusive to WiiWare. Maybe if they were re-released on a platform with much more lasting appeal, they might perform better.

Killer Instinct (2013) – Microsoft Studios (XBO)

You know how I made a big deal about making an inclusion for Microsoft in this article? Yeah, this is why. Considering the fact that Microsoft has a history of porting their first-party Xbox games to PC and Phil Spencer’s recent proclamation that Microsoft Game Studios is going to begin focusing on bringing core gaming experiences to PC, this pretty much seems like a slam dunk. Now, I’m not going to expect anything in the near future, because clearly the Xbox One still needs some time to grow a userbase. But hopefully, maybe by the time the as-of-yet pseudo-confirmed Season 2 wraps up, Microsoft will see it fitting to consider a PC port.

All of those games hitting PC at some point in the future would be a nice little birthday surprise for yours truly. While many of these games may have little chance of actually receiving PC ports down the line (with one glaring exception), it was actually pretty fun to speculate about games I’d like to see revived on the platform. To be honest, this isn’t the only list I’ve written on the subject thus far, so I’ve decided to turn this into a recurring segment. What crazy choices do I have in store for Part 2? You’ll just have to wait until March to see.

Sum of Its Parts: 2D Sonic Sequel

Ever since I was a child, I’ve dabbled in the idea of imagining perfect sequels to some of my favorite games. Back before the real one even existed (and damaged the series’ reputation), a childhood friend and I came up with our own version of Mortal Kombat 4 (with the addition of several new palette-swap ninjas!). We scribbled on wooden blocks, pretending they were a game system, two controllers, the cartridge and even the screen as we had many imaginary battles with one another. A fun little childhood memory, but even to this day, I still look at old games I loved growing up and try to figure out just how to give them new life in the modern video game industry. Hell, you could probably tell that if you’ve read “Turn It Up To Eleven”, one of my Megaman Anniversary Rants from last year.

I know it’s pretty arrogant to believe that an outsider like myself could ever hope to run circles around the employees when it comes to handling games that I have nostalgic feelings for, even to this day. After all, that’s part of the reason I’m not employed in game development in any capacity. Then something like the ill-fated 2010 reboot of Rocket Knight happens and my arrogance just starts swelling up: what an insult to the memory of an obscure game that still holds up even to this day! Fortunately, the point of this article isn’t telling the world how much better games would be if I were left in charge. Instead of just dictating what proper sequels would entail, this series is meant to simply build hypothetical sequels in existing series by using elements and aspects of earlier games in the series. Only on rare occasions will I make an entirely original suggestion for new directions. Of course, leaving my own personal biases for new ideas out of the equation will be part of the fun of writing these.

Which brings us to today’s topic: a brand-new 2D Sonic sequel. Listen, I understand why Sega’s been focusing more on 3D Sonic games lately: they finally achieved something great with Sonic Colors and have continued to refine their efforts with Generations and even Lost World (yes, I liked Lost World. Deal with it.). However, I recently replayed Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II and I had forgotten just how fun the game was, especially compared to its mediocre predecessor. Sure, the more recent 3D Sonics have incorporated several 2D platforming segments into their gameplay, but at the same time, Sonic 4 Episode 2 (or Sonic 4-2, for short) reminded me that we haven’t really had a good 2D Sonic in a very long time. Even taking Episode Metal into account, Sonic 4-2 (Episode 1 was really flawed, don’t let the reviews fool you) just wasn’t long enough to satisfy my then-unknown urge for a new, entirely 2D Sonic adventure. Sure, there are plenty of fan games that attempt to recapture that magic, but there’s just something unique to Sega’s releases that even the most polished fan project just can’t match. To make things interesting, I’m not going to even bother mentioning the revered Genesis trilogy (I count Sonic 3 & Knuckles as a single game, deal with it) or their counterpart, Sonic CD. Because, let’s be honest, as good as they were, there were other games in the series that had their good qualities and relying strictly on nostalgia is so passé.

Starting off, let’s discuss the backbone of the entire game: the engine itself. Frankly, while there has been a shaky start, Sega has finally gotten Sonic’s physics working on modern platforms for the most part. So if they take the engine from either the 2D “Classic Sonic” segments from Generations or Sonic 4 Episode 2 (and I specify Episode 2 for good reason), Sega will be off to a good start on that front.

A more important aspect would be Sonic’s set of abilities. First of all, keep Boost out of these games, it’s pointless. Sega’s dropped the boost in more recent Sonic games like Sonic 4-2 and Sonic Lost World, and I think that’s a good thing. I’ve honestly always felt that boost was a tacked-on ability, even in 3D Sonic games where it actually works to some degree. It places more emphasis on mindless speed segments than level design, which was one of the cornerstones of the deified Genesis-era Sonic games. Use the spin dash instead, it’s far more versatile. Homing attacks, on the other hand, I think should stay, mainly because there was really nothing inherently wrong with them being in 2D Sonic in the first place. Hell, it’s literally a necessity in the 3D games, just due to the fact that in Sonic games, you literally attack enemies by somersaulting into them. Recent 2D Sonic segments have done a far better job of balancing the homing attack by adding hit invulnerability to boss fights and actually turning it into a platforming tool through clever enemy placement. Hell, Lost World even revamped the homing attack itself, giving it a new charge property that allows Sonic to do more damage based on how long you lock onto your target while in the air. Plus there’s that new homing kick attack, which allows you to kill multiple enemies in one strike. Speaking of Lost World, bring back the double-jump and bounce jump from that as well. Just toss out the run/parkour button.

Next, let’s look at the relatively risky question of playable characters. After a few years of solo adventures, I think we’re about ready for Sonic to team up once again. Of course, we should probably start things slow: why not just start with someone who never went away entirely? That’s right, I think that Miles “Tails” Prower should make his playable solo return in a new 2D Sonic game. Ideally, there would be three potential options: Sonic alone, Tails alone and Sonic w/ Tails (with the potential for co-op), just like in the good ol’ days…of Sonic 4-2. Give Tails’ his traditional set of abilities: flight, the corresponding ability to swim through water and maybe that kick-ass tail slash he had in the Advance games. Maybe give him some new attacks as well, to keep up with Sonic’s homing attack. This would also of course mean improving the level design to the point of providing unique paths for both characters, but I think Sega’s at the point where they can handle an undertaking of that caliber. Also, with Sonic/Tails mode, retain the team-up moves from Sonic 4-2, but reduce the start-up time on them, that was the only thing that made them awkward in my opinion. Of course, bringing in any of Sonic’s other friends without first testing the waters would be suicidal, but seeing Knuckles and possibly Amy come back in future games would be most appreciated. Just start by easing players back into the idea of playing as someone besides Sonic or some clone of him.

I’ve always felt that one of the most important aspects of any Sonic game would be the quality of the boss fights. That was one of the areas that Sonic 4-2 really shined in, especially when compared to the hit (Metal Sonic, Silver, Egg Dragoon) or miss (Shadow, Time Eater) bosses found in Generations. Lost World also had some pretty good 2D boss fights, like the second bosses in Silent Forest and Sky Road or the game’s penultimate boss fight. Seems like some of the best boss fights I’ve encountered have a few common attributes: there are usually patterns at certain points that somewhat resemble a puzzle, they tend to deviate from the traditional “8 hits and you’re dead” formula commonly seen in Sonic bosses and they tend to put measure in place to prevent spamming attacks to kill the boss in seconds. Keep these design elements in mind when designing 2D Sonic bosses in general, Sega.

Of course, the most important part of any platformer would be the levels themselves. Don’t worry, I’m not really going to go into great detail here, as long as there’s a plethora of stage themes (as opposed to mostly just city themes, looking at you again Generations) and Sega keeps up their emphasis on real platforming over mindless boost “hold right to win” segments, I’m sure they’ll be fine. I’m more worried about the breakdown of each Zone (or Level/World/etc., I call ‘em Zones). One of the things I didn’t really like about Colors was the breakdown of levels: sure, they had 7 Acts per zone, but some of them were pathetically short. Stick to the distribution of either the Sonic 4 games (3 Level Acts, followed by 1 Boss “Act”) or preferably, the Wii U version of Sonic Lost World (4 Level Acts, two of which have boss fights at the end).  Of course, extra levels wouldn’t hurt: just bring back either Colors’ Game Land stages, Generations’ mission mode or Lost World’s unlockable bonus acts.

Finally, here’s a few miscellaneous suggestions for the gameplay itself. First of all, I’d like to divulge a theory that my fellow writer SNES Master KI has regarding the Red Star Rings in the recent Sonic games. They first appeared in Sonic Colors, which we both consider a great game, and we’ve both loved every game they’ve appeared in since: Generations, Sonic 4 Episode 2 and Lost World; I loved them all. So I would suggest bringing them back, even if just due to superstition. Sonic 4-2’s method of hiding one in each level would probably work the best. Speaking of the red star rings, I think that as with Colors and Lost World, collecting them all should unlock Super Sonic, as opposed to the traditional “collect 7 Chaos Emeralds in special stages” method. Also, I don’t care how many people whined about it: bring back the rail-grinding stages from Lost World. They were like superior versions of the mine cart levels from Donkey Kong Country and I loved those. Also, bring back the competitive multiplayer race mode from Colors and Lost World and do some free DLC stages like Lost World is currently doing.

So with gameplay out of the way, let’s move onto some less important but still necessary aspects this new 2D Sonic should also include. First up, the game’s storyline: I’d like something a little more substantial than the pantomime “Genesisesque” story we got in the Sonic 4 games. I’ll be honest, there was a time where I would’ve been okay with this. From the time the original Sonic Adventure came out, I had nothing but disdain for the voice acting in Sonic games (“I’d better get going!” comes quickly to mind) until Sonic Colors came along and fixed most of my major problems with it. I’d like a more substantial story that stays somewhat comedic and episodic, not unlike the stories from Colors, Generations and Lost World. Trying to turn Sonic the Hedgehog’s story into a serious, grimdark epic rarely works out well, even when done in jest. Aim for a Saturday Morning cartoon atmosphere, put cutscenes between stages and make them skippable.

The graphics, I honestly don’t care that much about. Keeping it 2.5D should be fine, but what would really be amazing would be if you tried for some 2D high-definition graphics, not unlike those in Rayman Origins or Legends. Sure, this is pretty much just shooting the moon, but seeing more classic series attempt this type of graphical style would be nice. At the very least, it would help to set it apart from most modern 2D games, which tend to prefer 3D models used on a two-dimensional plane. It would also allow for the designers to have a little more fun with various characters’ designs, which have, with a few notable changes, remained fairly stagnant since the Dreamcast days.

And what’s a Sonic game without a good soundtrack? Even the worst of Sonic’s outings have shined in the music department. While Jun Senoue handled the soundtracks for both episodes of Sonic 4, I have some other people in mind for this one, both of whom I think deserve a shot acting as main composer for one of the Blue Blur’s adventures: Richard Jacques and Fumie Kumatani. Richard Jacques composed the amazing Sega Saturn soundtrack for the otherwise mediocre Sonic 3D Blast and recently worked on Sonic Generations and Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, while Kumatani has been providing some of my favorite Sonic songs since the original Sonic Adventure, going for more of a jazzy style compared to her contemporaries. As far as I can tell, both still work for Sega. Whether either of them work on it or they both do, I’d love to hear their takes on a full Sonic soundtrack. Also, please don’t use the synths from the Sonic 4 games in any capacity ever again. They were so awful that they managed to completely obscure the quality of the compositions from those games and I’ve heard some rearrangements that can prove it.  Either use something close to the Genesis’s actual sound chip (if not the original thing itself) or the instrumentation you’ve used in the 3D games. A combination of the two would work pretty well too.

In the end, I can kind of see why Sega has sort of forsaken development of 2D Sonic games in favor of focusing solely on 3D. The Sonic 4 series, despite undergoing significant improvement in its second episode, proved to be a dead end due to its unpopularity, leading to future episodes missing out on being greenlit. Meanwhile, Sega has finally found success with 3D iterations of the franchise, ironically enough by incorporating well-designed 2D segments that resemble the best parts of the games of old with sections in 3D that attempt to recreate the same feeling. In spite of the 3D games’ newfound popularity and success, I feel that 2D Sonic games still have a place in the industry. If Mario can occupy both styles, there’s no reason Mr. Needlemouse can’t do the same.

A Tough Act to Follow

Over the years, there were tons of video games that are universally liked by critics and gamers alike, and there were sequels that had much more praise than their predecessors. However, even among the most critically acclaimed game series there are games that other entries can’t come close to. What I’ve decided to do was to make a list and narrow down specific games that meet this criteria. There were ten different choices I have made for this list, and with that, I present to you the ten games that are a Tough Act to Follow.

Street Fighter II: The World Warrior – Arcade (1991)

The original Street Fighter hit the arcades in 1987 with lukewarm responses, but when Street Fighter II was released in 1991, the game became an instant hit. It was so popular that Capcom made an updated version of it a year later, followed by three more subsequent updates ending with Super Street Fighter II Turbo. People were getting tired of the updates, as they were waiting for Street Fighter III. A new game was announced in 1995, but it wasn’t Street Fighter III; it was Street Fighter Alpha. While the game was popular, as were Street Fighter Alpha 2 and 3, they never reached the same success as Street Fighter II. When Street Fighter III was released, it did not catch on due to the lack of classic characters save for Ryu, Ken, Akuma, and Chun-Li (granted, Chun-Li only appeared in Third Strike, while Akuma did not appear in New Generation). While Street Fighter IV (and its subsequent updates) was successful, the original game was criticized for balance issues (mainly with Sagat being overpowered, which was proven to be unfair). Still, its popularity couldn’t match the same type of popularity that Street Fighter II had.

Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles – Genesis (1994)

After two successful games in the series, Sonic the Hedgehog became a pop culture phenomenon in the early 1990’s. To capitalize on the success, Sega released Sonic the Hedgehog 3 on what was dubbed as “Hedgehog Day”, which happened on Groundhog Day of 1994. Sonic the Hedgehog 3 introduced a save feature, a new character, new ways to get into special stages, bonus stages through checkpoint lamp posts, and new power ups. There are greater distinction of levels per zone (including the music), as well as differentiation of characters in regards to their skill (such as Tails being able to fly or swim). While Sonic 1 and 2 had in game cutscenes, it was fleshed out more in Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles to show what’s going to happen next. The game’s reception was a lot more critically acclaimed in comparison to its predecessors in spite of the fact that Sonic 3 and Sonic and Knuckles were released separately within a span of eight months.

Super Metroid – SNES (1994)

The original Metroid introduced exploration in a side-scrolling adventure game in a non-linear world. Metroid II introduced save points, which eliminated the need for passwords. Both of those games were popular in their own rights, and were both well received; granted, Metroid II wasn’t as well received as the first one, but was still popular enough. When Super Metroid was released, it introduced many new elements to the series, such as a map, more expansive areas, eight-way directional shooting, and new weapon and item upgrades. It is exponentially better than the original Metroid, and has done a lot more than what the original Metroid has offered. There have been many other Metroid games that came afterwards, but none of them have reached the same critical acclaim that Super Metroid had, although Metroid Prime came close to it. Since Super Metroid is held to a high standard, every Metroid game that came after it would always be judged in comparison.

Super Mario 64 – N64 (1996)/Super Mario Galaxy 2 – Wii (2010)

After many years of 2D Mario platformers, with the last ones being Super Mario World and Yoshi’s Island on Super Nintendo, and Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins for Game Boy, the next step was to bring Mario into a new world: The Third Dimension. The goal was to bring Mario into a 3D World where he can explore new areas like never before, and Super Mario 64 accomplished that. While the Nintendo 64 was not as successful as the Sony Playstation, Super Mario 64 was very popular, and to this day, is still highly regarded as one of, if not, the best platformers of all time. Super Mario Sunshine tried to capitalize on it with more expansive worlds, and a new mechanic, the F.L.U.D.D., specifically made for this game. Unfortunately, it didn’t reach the same critical and commercial success that Super Mario 64 had.

Super Mario Galaxy changed things up, and Super Mario Galaxy 2 takes it into another level. The gameplay is similar to the original Super Mario Galaxy, where it has a new physics engine, which allows each and every celestial object to have its own gravitational force, which lets players circumnavigate rounded or irregular planetoids, walking upside down, or sideways, for a matter of giving the game a feel of going through galaxies. There are new unique stages with excellent level design, as well as a new Hub World, the Starship Mario. You collect 120 Power Stars, 120 Green Stars, and 2 special Power Stars, bringing it up to a total of 242 Stars. The game received critical praise that matches Super Mario Galaxy, with many of the critics citing that this game is better than the original. There have been debates on the Galaxy games (specifically Galaxy 2) and 64 as to which is the best in the 3D Mario series, and with Super Mario 3D World out now, only time will tell if it will match or surpass the praise of these games.

Final Fantasy VII – PS1 (1997)

While past Final Fantasy games were popular amongst dedicated gamers, Final Fantasy VII was the first Japanese RPG to have a mainstream presence in the western market. The gameplay hasn’t changed much from the previous Final Fantasy games, but it was the first game in the series in 3D. The pre-rendered backgrounds and the breathtaking FMV cutscenes wowed people to the point that an entire market opened up to JRPG’s. Final Fantasy VII for many gamers was an introduction to Japanese RPG’s, and the story was a lot more complex than what gamers had seen, and was a one of the first console based games to have more openly adult themes in western markets.

Final Fantasy VII was well received, and sold really well, and it cemented Sony’s dominance in the fifth generation console wars. While some later Final Fantasy games, such as IX, and in between X and XII, had dedicated fanbases, none of them matched the mainstream impact that VII had. To this day, people still demand a remake of Final Fantasy VII, but all Final Fantasy VII fans received were spinoff games and a movie.

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night – PS1 (1997)

Castlevania has always been a popular series ever since it made its debut on the NES back in 1987. While it had a lot of hits with games such as Dracula’s Curse, Super Castlevania IV, and even the Japanese TurboGrafx-CD game Rondo of Blood, it wasn’t until the series made the jump on the Playstation with Symphony of the Night. This game was a complete departure from other Castlevania games, and adopted a Metroid-esque style with RPG elements, allowing you to explore Dracula’s Castle in its entirety. The popularity of this game led to more games in the series, as well as other games to adopt this style, dubbed as “Metroidvania” due to their similarities with Super Metroid with the map and structure with the game. There have been other Castlevania sequels to come out after this game, and while some of them couldn’t match the popuarity, others just fell flat. No matter what Castlevania game comes out, people will always make the claim that Symphony of the Night is the best game in the series.

Resident Evil 2 – PS1 (1998)/Resident Evil 4 – GCN (2005)

While Resident Evil 1 and 3 have their respective fanbases, Resident Evil 2 was the most popular game of the original trilogy. The controls were refined, the ammo wasn’t as limited, and when you draw your gun, you face towards the nearest enemy. It made better use of having two playable characters, giving the game continuity between the character’s stories, and having rewards for beating the game with the second character. This game was well received, with fans wanting a remake of this game.

By the time Resident Evil 4 had been released, the initial Resident Evil Formula was considered stale due to the awkward fixed camera and controls, as well as it being a newer generation at the time, so it felt much like an early 3D game. Therefore, Capcom capped Shinji Mikami to reimagine the Survival Horror genre. While many prototypes became other Capcom games, the final product was significantly different from the Resident Evil of old. The game now resembles a Third-Person Shooter, but still stayed true to the series’ Survival Horror roots. You don’t have to find a specific item to save anymore, which removes the limitation of saving. It got really good critical reception, it received good reviews on release and has won Game of the Year on multiple publications. This game is also a fan favorite, with fans claiming that it was arguably the best game in the series. After Resident Evil 4, fans argued that the games in the mainline series focused more on action gameplay, as a detriment to the series. Other games in the series that had the Survival Horror gameplay either didn’t succeed financially, or did not give the Survival Horror experience that longtime fans had hoped for.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – N64 (1998)

Like Super Mario 64, Nintendo wanted to bring The Legend of Zelda to a new world. They did so by changing the top-down overworld seen in past Zelda games into a more dynamic 3D environment. It is the first Zelda game in the series to introduce free-roaming, context-sensitive actions, and Z-targeting. There is a method where you can change the setting to seven years in the future, where Link becomes an adult, and must rescue the rest of the seven sages. While the Ocarina has appeared in past Zelda games, Ocarina of Time lets you learn twelve different melodies for solving puzzles and teleporting to locations you already visited within the game.

When Ocarina of Time was released, the critical acclaim was exceptional, and even to this day, it’s always at least in a close struggle for the highest game in Gamerankings and Metacritic. It is not only claimed by fans and critics to be the best Zelda game of all time, it is also claimed to be the best game of all time. There have been other games in the series that rivaled the popularity, but Ocarina of Time is the last Legend of Zelda you can praise without the fanbase attacking you. It was even remade in 2011 for the Nintendo 3DS, which many people enjoyed just as much as the original, if not, more.

Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door – GCN (2004)

Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door is much like its predecessor, only better in every way. Timed moves and the Partner system were improved: with the partners now having their own Heart Points, as well as having more abilities. The battles are staged and audience participation can have an impact on the battle, and as you level up, it increases the audience size. Save for Game Informer’s infamous 6.75 score, the game was well received, and it sold well for a Gamecube game. The reason that many Paper Mario fans don’t like Super Paper Mario or Sticker Star is because it deviates too much from the formula that The Thousand Year Door perfected. Beta footage of Sticker Star implied that it was going to be a direct sequel, but as development time went on, it changed to a completely different game.

Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening – PS2 (2005)

While Devil May Cry was a genre trendsetter, Devil May Cry 3 felt more like a modern action game. It fixed the problem Devil May Cry 2 had, which was that the game was a lot easier. It added different styles for Dante to use that dramatically changed the gameplay. After gamers grew attached to Dante’s cocky and aggressive attitude in Devil May Cry, his emotionless performance in Devil May Cry 2 disappointed many. Devil May Cry 3 completely reverses this with Dante being even cockier, and the game had more over the top cheese than ever. After the negative reception of Devil May Cry 2, Devil May Cry 3 redeemed the series for many gamers and reviewers. Devil May Cry 4’s reception was lukewarm from fans and reviewers, and DmC had a massive fan backlash.

Honorable Mentions:

Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest – SNES (1995)
It gave the series its own identity after the original borrowed elements heavily from Super Mario World. The level design really hit its stride with its cleverly hidden secrets. The game is held at a high regard where arguably not even the other games in the series would match its popularity.

Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 – Arcade (1995)
While Mortal Kombat 2 may arguably be better, Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 was ultimately considered to be the last great Mortal Kombat game in the series until Mortal Kombat 9.

Mega Man 2 – NES (1989)
Mega Man 2 was initially well received and even considered to be the best in the series. Even Keiji Inafune considers this game to be his favorite Mega Man game that he has worked on.

And there you have it, ten different games that set the standards of the video game industry, with sequels unable to match the sales success or popularity. These games will always be looked upon as some of the best games of all time, and it shows when you look at retrospectives and top 10 lists. Many fans argue about what happened with these respective series after the specific game gets high praise, and many argue about which game is really better in their series. Regardless, there will always be games that are a Tough Act to Follow.

Challenge From The Future

All things considered, it hasn’t really been the worst of years for the Blue Bomber. Sure, we got nothing in terms of announcements for new games and the only re-releases we managed to receive in North America were the same damn NES games that keep getting trotted out every time Nintendo relaunches their Virtual Console service on yet another console, starting from scratch each time for no discernible reason (but that’s a gripe for another day). Capcom USA announced earlier this year that we’d finally see the rest of the Game Boy and Game Boy Color MegaMan games hit the 3DS’s VC soon, but thus far, that’s only been happening in Japan, with all 5 Rockman World games already released and Rockman X: Cyber Mission (better known as MegaMan Xtreme in the West) on the way, while North America and Europe are left in the cold yet again.

That’s not to say it was all doom and gloom: there was that neat Capcom-funded fan game Street Fighter X MegaMan, Rock made it into Nintendo’s upcoming Smash Bros game with a sleek redesign, the Archie Comics series recently wrapped up its crossover with the long-running Sonic the Hedgehog comic and several 25th anniversary fan albums have been released throughout the year. But given the fact that the most exciting video game news we’ve heard regarding the MegaMan series came in the form of ex-Capcom employee (and Megaman’s biggest fan) Keiji Inafune’s Mighty No. 9 Kickstarter campaign raking up over $4 Million for a game that’s not even due out until 2015, clearly something isn’t right with this picture. Hopefully, Capcom isn’t just resting on their laurels and is coming up with something worthy of fan acclaim after effectively pissing away MM’s 25th Anniversary.

So you’re probably wondering what this next article is going to be about, considering I actually put some effort into the title for a change. It’s pretty simple honestly: this is a top 10 wishlist of things I would like to see Capcom do with the MegaMan franchise in the near future. They don’t have to do any of these by next year, and in some cases, some of my choices are pretty much impossible. But hey, that’s what a wishlist literally is, right? A list of wishes.

Before we get started, I have an Honorable Mention. Please Capcom, come clean about the circumstances behind the MML3 cancellation. I’m not saying release the prototype, I’m not asking you to make the game, I’m just asking you to explain why you ditched a functional prototype that was ready for release and probably would’ve ended up being the final nail in the Legends 3 coffin, given the fact that the audience certainly wasn’t big enough for your sales aspirations for the entire MML3 Project. Instead, you just threw it away and cancelled the game with little fanfare. Dick move, Capcom. Dick move. Given the contrast between the transparency promised when the project was first announced and the total secrecy regarding the circumstances of its cancellation, the fanbase is completely justified in assuming the worst. So, with that out of the way, onto the real list:

10. Old PC ports on GOG

And I’m not talking about those crappy original DOS games made by Hi-Tech Expressions and Rozner Labs. Believe it or not, quite a few console MegaMan games actually got PC ports in the past. The original MMX, MMX3-7, and even the main two games in the Legends series got PC ports. In fact, Gamestop was selling a digital download of the PC version of MegaMan Legends on their online store until fairly recently. Sure, some of these games clearly have rights issues, but how about the original MMX? Just put that sucker up on GOG, apparently it’s in (mild) demand on their community wishlist page.

9. More Re-releases

As I said before, Capcom Unity has assured us that eventually we’ll be seeing the rest of the Game Boy MegaMans hit the 3DS Virtual Console at some point in the future, in addition to the Xtreme series. Likewise, I’m sure that eventually, the Wii U’s assortment of NES games will be completed in the future, and I’m sure eventually North American will get their hands on MMX2. Still, I want more. I want to see games that haven’t seen re-releases in some time. I want to see MegaMan 7, Rockman & Forte and MegaMan X3 hit the Wii U’s Virtual Console. Hell, if the Wii U Virtual Console ever decides to expand on its system line-up, give us The Wily Wars too. Furthermore, Sony, you’ve got to finish up the Complete Works series on PSone Classics. I mean come on, it’s ridiculous that you just dropped the ball after Rockman 4. Release Rockman 5 and 6 already and complete those works!

8. MegaMan X9

Not exactly my first choice for a new MegaMan game, but even someone who hates this sub-series as much as I do has to admit that it’s got such a major following, Capcom could do far worse than throwing them a bone. As I mentioned in an earlier article, I’m not sure if the best way to do it would be continuing from X8’s story or just doing some kind of a reboot from an earlier game, but whatever they do, I’m sure it’ll be better received than that cancelled Maverick Hunter FPS that got leaked a while back.

7. MegaMan ZX3

Ah, much better. Now here’s something I can get behind. Considering ZX Advent did better than its predecessor (not exactly a Herculean feat by any means) and the game left us with a massive cliffhanger that seemed to be leading to a climactic conclusion, it pained me to see the duology left incomplete, when all we really needed was one more game to finish this up. I’m a really huge fan of all of Inti Creates’ work with the series, and while the original ZX was derivative of the Zero series, I don’t think Advent got a fair shake. At the very least, this would finish up another MegaMan spinoff and possibly provide even more backstory for the Legends games.

6. A New Cartoon

Yeah, not gonna lie, considering my complaints earlier about all of the big MegaMan events this year having nothing to do with games, it’s a bit hypocritical to be asking for even more ancillary media. On the other hand, shut up. Considering the fact that Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures is already airing on Disney XD and there’s the upcoming “Sonic Boom” cartoon, now seems like the perfect time to bring MegaMan back to airwaves…with hopefully something that isn’t just a poorly-dubbed anime. I stand by my opinion that the Ruby-Spears MegaMan cartoon from the 90’s has the dubious honor of being the best cartoon based on a video game, but hopefully a new MM cartoon would manage to be even better.

5. A Game Starring Bad Box Art MegaMan

The worst part is, I’m not even trolling. Despite being considered a colossal insult by the majority of rabid MM fans when he was announced as a playable character in SFxT, I always loved BBAMM. Frankly, I thought it was pretty cool that he was going to be a playable character in the ill-fated MegaMan Universe, and seeing him becoming even sillier in a fighting game was great. I did mention in the past that I wanted to see a BBAMM game, possibly in the style of a Legendsesque third-person shooter/RPG hybrid, and I’m sticking by that statement. Say it with me, guys: “THIS IS…MY DESTINY!

4. Remakes of MM8 and MMX4

Yeah, this one’s going to require some context. A couple years back, Sega made a re-release of Sonic CD that was actually a complete recreation of the original game developed by Christian “Taxman” Whitehead, utilizing his “Retro Engine”. I’d like to see Capcom do something similar with both the eighth Classic MegaMan game and the fourth MMX game. MM8, because while I liked some of the concept of the original game, I thought the gameplay felt a bit off. X4, on the other hand, was my favorite X game by far, and frankly, I’d love to see it further improved. Use the original art assets, music, cutscenes and, if possible, voice acting – better yet, redub it anyway and include both versions. Just rebalance and improve the gameplay. Better yet, in the case of MM8, you could even include the extra bonuses from the Saturn version without having to figure out how to emulate a Saturn game. In the end, it beats just getting standard re-releases on PSone Classics or tracking down the Anniversary Collections for PS2 or Gamecube.

3. Port MM9 and MM10 to Steam, et al.

Gonna just come clean here, I’d be happy if Capcom just decided to do ports of the ninth and tenth MegaMan games to PC and put them on Steamworks. But given the fact that only one of the current-gen consoles can even play these games (and only because of a wondrous backwards compatibility loophole), clearly we’ve got to get it on more than just PC. Put it on 3DS, Xbox One, PS4, and yes even the Vita. Hell, do an iOS and an Android re-release. And don’t just put it on Windows PCs, make it work on Mac and Linux OSes too. Come on, Capcom, don’t let these awesome games become lost to the ages.

2.  A MegaMan game developed by WayForward

Yep, another callback to that crummy video that led to the birth of these MegaRants in the first place. They did a good job with Contra 4 and a radical job on Double Dragon Neon. Do it Capcom. Complete the trifecta. Even if their last game (Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I DON’T KNOW!) was mediocre at best, WayForward Technologies has built up more than enough good will to justify getting a chance to work on a MegaMan game. Especially considering their previous collaborations with Capcom: Capcom published the original Shantae and Wayforward developed Capcom’s Ducktales Remastered. Besides, WF’s own Mighty Switch Force games prove that they can recreate the precision platforming and jump-and-shoot action necessary to build an excellent MegaMan game perfectly.

1. MegaMan 11

Oh, don’t look so shocked, this was obviously going to be number one. When it comes right down to it, I want more games from the Classic series above the others. Whether it’s MM11, Rockman World 6, The Wily Wars 2, Powered Up 2 or something else entirely, as long as it stars the original MegaMan and it’s got quality gameplay, I’m gonna be happy with it.

In the end, I feel that I should reflect on the Megarants themselves. They were an interesting experiment. They helped me transition from stinking up Youtube with long-winded rant videos to stinking up WordPress with long-winded rant articles. More importantly, reflecting on the past of one of Capcom’s most popular franchises and bemoaning its current fate was, at the very least, a therapeutic experience. It’s also led me to consider doing more recurring article series in the future. In fact, if you look closely, one of the Megarants itself has inspired an article series I’m planning to start next year. Which one, you ask? Well, you’re just going to have to wait and see. But I’ve gotten off-topic. Hopefully, 2014 will treat MegaMan better, but for now, let’s just wait for the day he’s able to once again fight…for everlasting peace.

Preferable Choice

Recently, SNESMasterKI wrote up an article detailing why he felt that despite all of the doom and gloom surrounding the previous generation of consoles basically being outdated, gimped PCs, consoles still had a place in the video game market. What a difference a month makes. The PS4 managed to sell a million units on its first day and the future of console gaming is assured for at least another generation. Much to my utter disappointment.

You see, last generation, I came to a realization: the consoles I knew growing up, the things that made them unique and necessary, were either completely gone or quickly fading. The HD twins from last generation were proof positive that the very qualities that made me love consoles in prior generations were gone. Plug and play? Sure, that’s still there …after you download the latest system update and any and all patches for whatever game you’re trying to play. Console exclusives? More and more games that aren’t paid exclusives or first-party titles are getting PC ports, even older games that the PC missed out on during their initial releases are getting re-releases on PC. It’s gotten to the point where Japanese developers, who generally consider PC ports a waste of money due to the lack of popularity of the platform in their own domestic markets, are starting to see the power of PC, mainly via Valve’s Steam platform. Add that to the fact that the heavy-hitters of the upcoming generation run on standard x86 architecture, rather than the custom-built processors of the past few generations, and PC ports are guaranteed to become more ubiquitous in the coming years.

But what advantages do PCs still hold over the next generation of consoles? Clearly, all PC gamers can brag about are their higher-quality graphics and high resolutions. It’s not like there are any other real advantages that PCs hold over their console counterparts, considering they’ve finally bridged the hardware gap…well, for the next six months anyway. I submit for your approval, five major (yet unsung) advantages that PCs will have over consoles for the foreseeable future.

5. It’s an Open Platform

One key advantage that PC gaming has always had over its console brethren is the fact that it is an open platform, which means that anyone can program and distribute games on PC, without the need of any special development kits or licenses from the various console manufacturers. Some will argue that the licenses are in place to prevent the system from getting flooded with inferior games, but given the sheer amount of shovelware we’ve seen since the NES days, that’s clearly not the case. Compare that to all of those promising Kickstarters, Indiegogos and other crowdfunding projects that have come into existence in the last couple of years. Most (if not all) of them have PC confirmed in the basic funding, while console releases are stretch goals. Sure, no one pays for special consideration for PC releases, but the fact that you don’t have to pay to play is a definite plus.

How Long Will It Last?

There’s a reason this one is number five. Sure, consoles will never surpass the openness of PC by their very nature. But lately, console manufacturers have made significant leaps and bounds courting indie developers. Sony and Nintendo are actively courting indie games as console exclusives. Even Microsoft is getting in on the act, claiming that every Xbox One sold can double as a devkit.

4. It Does All Genres

There’s a common misconception regarding PCs: they’re only capable of handling specific genres that are tailored to their unique advantages. This just simply isn’t the case. Even back in the 90s, PC had games in a wide variety of genres, even those that no one would’ve expected. Sure, nowadays when fighting games and platformers are released on PCs, people act like it’s a big deal. To anyone familiar with PC games of old, you’ll understand why this isn’t such a big deal. The PC had classic platformers like the Commander Keen games, the first two Duke Nukem games (which were totally different from the FPSes most gamers associate with the franchise) and Jazz Jackrabbit, to name a few. Fighting games weren’t represented quite as well, but there were PC ports of arcade classics such as the first 3 Mortal Kombat games, Street Fighter II: The World Warrior, Super Street Fighter II Turbo, Virtua Fighter 2 and X-Men: Children of the Atom, all of which varied in quality. There were also original fighting games, such as the One Must Fall series, the Body Blows series, Pray for Death, Sango Fighter and Fight ‘N’ Jokes, but these were more proofs of concept that fighters could work on PCs than anything else. Quite frankly, PCs can do any genre consoles can handle. The opposite isn’t true.

How Long Will It Last?

The only systems that have really made any headway with this disadvantage would be the Wii U, 3DS and PlayStation Vita, due to their implementations of touch-screen and other unorthodox non-controller input methods.  Controllers, motion controls and camera recognition peripherals just don’t provide the tactile input methods that genres like strategy games and first-person shooters need, which is why games of those specific genres tend to be watered-down when they’re designed with a console (and by extension, a controller) in mind.

3. Quick Patches

As loathe as I am to admit it, the ability to patch video games has become incredibly important. Sure, the ability leads developers to be far less willing to make sure a game works at launch, but being able to fix games on the fly is fairly important. Consider how many old games from previous generations could’ve been fixed if they were able to be patched. Think about games that had to be re-released (at full cost) with minor difficulty fixes. Games that got fixed when they were released in other territories, while leaving the initial releases in a more flawed state. Patches have done far more good than bad for the industry as a whole, but PC has them best of all. Not only is there less bureaucracy between a fix and gamers compared to consoles, but due to the PC’s status as an open platform, skilled fans can create their own patches and bug fixes for games when they discover these issues in the first place. Sure, it’s not perfect, but it’s better than the alternative.

How Long Will It Last?

I don’t see this advantage dropping any time soon. Consoles, by their very nature as closed platforms, frown upon independent tinkering. Also, the red tape that consoles put in place has a purpose: to quash any new bugs that may have emerged in the process of fixing the current ones. In other words, don’t expect consoles to catch up on this one any time soon.

2. Competitive Pricing

Some of you out there who game exclusively on consoles may have heard rumblings about Steam sales. Magical times of year where games can go for as low as 85% of their typical value. Yes, Steam sales are awesome, but they’re really only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the savings PC gaming offers you. A lot of that has to do with the fact that PC game retailers are allowed to compete. Sure, Steam’s presence is king, but did you know that there are sites out there that sell you Steam keys (or rather, codes that can be redeemed for games on Steam) at a significant discount? Most brick-and-mortar retailers can’t do that with console games, but with Steam, getting a whole lot for a little is entirely possible.

How Long Will It Last?

I really doubt that consoles are ever going to be able to catch up in this area, considering that prices stay high on new copies of games in most physical storefronts due to the manipulation of Gamestop. There’s also the fact that Nintendo never really considers price drops on their games to be necessary (as they believe it would devalue them) and none of the big 3 really make any major efforts to give discounts on their digital offerings. Aside from Amazon’s incredible discounts (which also apply to PC games), there’s just no push on any end to make pricing even remotely competitive.

1. Backwards Compatibility

Here’s the big one. Something I got used to in previous generations was the fact that newer consoles were able to play games from their predecessors. Sure, this practice wasn’t really implemented all that often on consoles, but the PS2 could play PS1 games, early incarnations of the PS3 could play both PS1 and PS2 games, the Xbox 360 was capable of playing certain games from the original Xbox and both the Wii and Wii U were compatible with their predecessors. However, both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One have ditched this practice. On the other hand, even Windows 8 is remarkably backwards compatible with games built for earlier OSes. Even in cases where native backwards compatibility isn’t possible, there are emulators (such as DOSbox) and stores (Good Old Games.com) who are willing to provide a quick fix. Even Steam has begun re-releasing classic PC games on their storefront.

How Long Will It Last?

Even though Sony and Microsoft’s latest consoles boast an x86 architecture which would make emulation easier on future consoles, both Sony and Microsoft have gone on record to say that they don’t consider backwards compatibility important. Considering Sony’s implementation of Gaikai to stream old games and Microsoft’s suggestion to “just leave your Xbox 360 set up”, it’s safe to say that backwards compatibility is dead and buried on non-Nintendo consoles. After all, no one ever profited from letting you play old games on new platforms…unless of course, they can charge you for it all over again.

Of course, in the end, there’s clearly still a place for console-style gaming. Unfortunately, aside from Nintendo, the current console manufacturers don’t really justify their continued existence. At least Nintendo vindicates their existence simply due to their quality first-party titles. Sony and Microsoft pretty much just deliver a weaker strain of the PC gaming experience these days. So much so, that Valve’s upcoming Steam Machines are probably a better choice in the long run. In fact, back before Microsoft announced the XBO, I was really hoping that Microsoft would’ve decided to compete with a gaming-centric living room PC that would’ve been able to play PC games, rather than their own exclusive titles. Alas, they decided to just go with another combination console/entertainment center, just like what the 360 evolved into by the end of its lifespan. What a waste. Oh well, Phil Spencer did mention that Microsoft Studios would be focusing more on PC gaming in the future. So hopefully that means PC ports of XBO games down the line. Regardless, I’m still hoping that Steam Machines end up with a significant market share. It would be for the good of gaming.

The Reboots are Revolting

This one’s been a long time coming. I’ve been alluding to this article since before this blog was even started. Back when Retronaissance was just starting up, I mentioned having ideas for a reboot treatment for the MegaMan series. I’ve made references to being receptive to a reboot in one of my earlier other MegaRants. Well, wait no longer, because it’s finally here: the reboot article. As if the title didn’t already give that away.

You’re probably asking, “Hey Icepick, why reboot MegaMan at all?” After all, we’ve already got several MegaMan series as it is, adding another one to the mix would be a redundant disaster. The answer’s simple: the fact that we have too many MegaMan franchises is why we NEED a reboot. The fanbase is inconceivably splintered, so starting from scratch may just be the best thing to do with the franchise. Furthermore, the big guns in the franchise are already far too overspent at this point: the Classic series is at a whopping 10 numbered games, while the beloved X series has a whopping 8. If you want a real disc-based title in the franchise, 11 and 9 are not the best numbers to start from. Besides, one could probably make the argument that Mario, Sonic and even Pac-Man have gone through reboots recently, the only underlying issue holding our beloved Blue Bomber back is the fact that he’s got an inkling of a storyline in all of his games.

The funny thing about that is that I’ve got a pretty good way around that: this new MegaMan incarnation would utilize mythology from the existing series in order to create something both familiar and new. Think of the Doctor Who reboot that started back in 2005. Better yet, think of some of the more recent Transformers cartoons: Animated and Prime. For my treatment, we’d be using the Classic universe as a base, picking and choosing various elements from other franchises in order to further expand on that world and then adding original elements to give it an entirely unique spin. Of course, for the purposes of this article, I won’t be adding any specific characters – after all, this article is more of a call to arms for Capcom to put some effort into reinvigorating the brand, not a ham-fisted excuse to post a whole bunch of “ORIGINAL CHARACTERS, DO NOT STEAL”. Still, I guess I could throw in some examples from other media to give examples of characters that would be welcome additions to this new universe.

So, of course, since we’re using Classic as a base, this new franchise would take place in the recognizable year of 20XX. After all, that’s still technically futuristic. Blend the optimistic Astro Boy-esque future aesthetic from the Classic games with the futuristic take on modern society from Battle Network’s 20XX to make something a bit more unique. Avoid the darker tones of MMX’s 21XX, the bleak setting of MMZ and the post-apocalyptic Waterworld shown in Legends. However, do feel free to utilize elements from MMZX’s futuristic utopia and Star Force’s 22XX, if you want to make things look even more futuristic. Ditching “Monsteropolis” would be a good idea regardless of the potential for nostalgia, but fake city names wouldn’t be a bad idea.

This brings us to the characters. Let’s start with the three major characters in the series. Regarding MegaMan (Rock) and Roll, I’d keep them fairly similar to their typical incarnations, except I would probably age them up a bit, from 8-10 years of age to about 13-15. I never really got the point of making them so young in later incarnations, but the Ruby-Spears series may have had something to do with that. Personality-wise, Rock should stay similar to both his Powered Up and Archie Comics incarnations, he should be fairly innocent and maintain his strong sense of justice. All-in-all, just a normal kid who just happens to be a super-fighting robot. As for Roll, I’ve always been a fan of the persona Western media has given her: snarky and upset over not being upgraded, but still loves her family. She’d be a little more “street smart” than her older brother and working as Dr. Light’s assistant. Dr. Light, of course, would also be present in his standard form: kindly old scientist with dreams of peace through technology. All in all, no major deviations from the norm for these characters.

But what’s a good story without villains? First up is an obvious choice, Dr. Albert W. Wily. As with Rock, Roll and Light, Wily wouldn’t be far off from his typical Classic appearance: a hammy cartoonish villain. Of course, one of the Classic series’ shortcomings was the lack of diversity when it comes to villains: even when Wily’s not behind it, well…Wily’s behind it. Meanwhile, the other games have some pretty good villains, so let’s just transplant a few, shall we? Take, Sigma, for example. He’s supposed to be the personification of a computer virus, so why not just make him a sort of sentient virus with aspirations for human genocide? Way better than just being some bald schmo dressed in rags saying “ZELOOOOOO”, right? The Bonne Siblings could be another good transplant, maybe not as major villains, but as comedic relief minor villains. Maybe make them thieves, despite being pirates, burglary was their main crime in the Legends series anyway. Vile might be another good contender, but considering his nature he’d require some modifications. Instead of a Reploid, make him a cyborg mercenary (explaining his absolute free will, while other robots would be bound by the laws of robotics), with a vendetta against robots. Perhaps he originally had an aversion to robots made worse when an accident involving one led him to become the cyborg he is presently. Just a thought.

One must also consider the secondary characters. An obvious choice would be Rock’s big bro, the enigmatic ProtoMan. Use the classic origin story, Dr. Light’s first creation gone missing, repaired by Wily with a brand-new energy supply, etc. The only real question would be what to do for his weaponry. His arm cannon is fairly unique and its fluctuating strength gives evidence of his unstable power core, but on the other hand, other incarnations of the character (MMBN, the cover art for MM10) have given him a sword to go with his shield, which could justify using Zero’s gameplay style without actually putting Zero in. Personally, I think either choice is acceptable. I’d bring back the Cossack family as well, and give them a much more expanded role. I always thought it was kind of lame that they just sort of disappeared after MM5, I thought they had some potential as characters, even if Classic MegaMan’s storyline has always been sparse. Something I’d like to see transplanted from other media would be the revival of the Robot Masters after being defeated. A few games and both the Archie comic and Hitoshi Ariga’s mangas have made use of that plot element. Either way, it’d definitely be cool to see Rock and Roll hang out with their younger siblings or see Wily’s earlier creations putter around Skull Castle. Also, definitely bring back the support units: Rush, Eddie, Beat and Tango.

I’d also want to see Auto brought back. While I never really cared for him that much in the games, his characterization in the aforementioned mangas and comic has changed my opinion of him. I’d definitely want to introduce him earlier in the series though, maybe as a precursor assistant to Dr. Light before Rock and Roll were finished. Bass would be another character to bring back, but I’d probably approach him differently. When he was first introduced in MM7, he fooled MegaMan by pretending to also be after Wily. Unfortunately, that plot point lasted for half a game, at the most. In this reboot, I’d introduce Bass earlier on and exploit that plot point to a much greater extent. Changing his origin could work as well, perhaps make him the creation of Dr. Cossack or another scientist who starts off on the side of good but eventually becomes obsessed with defeating MegaMan. Speaking of which, the Archie comic has led me to the conclusion that we need more scientists in the franchise. Transplanting scientists from other series might work, but this would probably be a good place to start implementing original characters. Robotics shouldn’t be a field limited to just Light, Wily and to a far lesser extent, Cossack. Some kind of a police force or a para-military group might be a good addition as well. Again, populate whichever you decide to use with OCs and transplants from other games.

The game’s tone would be light and episodic, not unlike a Saturday morning cartoon of old. Of course, there could also be some overarching plotlines between “episodes”, but keeping continuity minimal would be in the series’ best interest. As for content per game, at the very least, a full-on disc-based title would probably require the equivalent of at least 3 Classic games, not unlike the Wily Wars. So the first game would more or less retell the first three games in the series, while adding their own twists to the story. That way, iconic characters could be reintroduced more quickly than before and the games themselves could be larger without having to worry about balancing more than 8 weapons per scenario. Better yet, even if Capcom doesn’t decide to go for a full budget release, each scenario could just be released in an episodic format, perhaps including some bonus content if you buy all of the episodes in a given season.

Gameplay itself, on the other hand, is a more difficult issue. Ideally, Capcom would go the route of other 2D platformer revivals, like the New Super Mario Bros. games or the last two Rayman games, but let’s face it, that may not be enough to attract  a large enough audience to make this new MegaMan a success. MegaMan games traditionally underperform. But would reimagining the series in 3D work? After all, we remember the trainwreck that was X7. Still, many 3D reimaginings of 2D franchises from the fifth and sixth generations of video games were far different animals than they are today. Maybe Capcom could recreate the twitchy yet precise MegaMan gameplay of yore in 3D. Then again, I really doubt it. I’d err for sticking to the basics personally, but a new franchise would be the best opportunity to experiment. That’s how we got Legends and Battle Network/Star Force, after all.

A well-made reboot for the MegaMan series would clearly take the best aspects from the games of old, while incorporating entirely new elements and avoiding any missteps from earlier games. Considering Capcom’s track record with reboots, it may seem in their best interest to avoid one. However, catering to the old school crowds alone do our beloved Blue Bomber a disservice. If Capcom can put in as much effort as Nintendo did with the Super Mario Galaxy games or Sega with Sonic Colors and Generations, I’m sure the results would please old fans and spark an interest in a new generation of gamers, leading MegaMan to at least another 25 years of memories. Of course, this is just my take on what an ideal reboot for the series would look like. Stay tuned for SNESMasterKI’s opinion.

Of Mice and Multitaps

Thinking back to my childhood, back when the only gaming devices I owned were my Game Gear and the family PC, I always remembered having a specific issue with my PC games. No matter how many joysticks or gamepads I bought, I could never get any of them to work. Plug them into the proper printer port, trying to program the controls in the settings menu, nothing really helped. So I had to suck it up and use old reliable: the keyboard for those games. This was especially rough on the fighting games I owned for PC when I was a kid: the only special moves I could ever pull off on that thing were Shoryukens and Spinning Lariats back in those days, it literally took me years to learn the proper motions for simple stuff like Hadoukens reliably on keyboards. Thankfully the tyranny of printer ports is over and USB ports have made using all kinds of controllers on PC so much easier. That’s not to say that keyboards made everything impossible, but there are just some genres where controllers are superior and others where mouse and keyboard set-ups are necessary. But which are which?

When I began planning out this article, I had some difficulty determining the format. I was originally going to split it into two articles, with each paragraph delving into a control scheme’s advantages and disadvantages in each genre. However, fellow writer SNES Master KI pointed out that there would be certain cases where advantages and disadvantages wouldn’t exist for specific genre/control combinations. So I decided to trim it down to a single article. I’m going to looking at 10 different genres, naming the superior control method for each genre and delving into the advantages, disadvantages and in some cases, maybe even some subversions if they exist. Also, for the sake of this article, I’m sticking to first-party pack-in controllers only. In most cases, I will be making my decisions based on the characteristics of modern traditional controllers, seen with the Dual Shock 3, the Xbox 360 controller and even the Wii U’s Pro Controller: two analog sticks, one d-pad, four face buttons, two shoulder buttons, two triggers and the good ol’ Start and Select/Back buttons.

Platformer: Controller

Well, let’s start with an obvious choice. As much as I may have been completely happy playing games like Commander Keen and Duke Nukem (the original!) on a keyboard, let’s face it: controller is king when it comes to platformers, regardless of what my childhood tried to teach me. Controlling your character with the D-Pad, having all the buttons you need within thumb’s reach, it’s something we take for granted nowadays. Platformers rely more on reflexes than anything else and it’s easier to control two thumbs over the five or six fingers you’d need to properly control a platformer on your keyboard. So that’s 1-0, controller.

First-Person Shooter: Keyboard/Mouse

Another obvious choice. Don’t let Call of Duty or Halo fanboys fool you: nothing tops the precision a mouse gives you in an FPS, least of all an analog stick. In its purest form, the FPS is the anti-thesis of the platformer in terms of control: having the fastest reflexes in an FPS doesn’t mean anything if you’re not able to aim well. Many connoisseurs of the genre scoff at how entering the console market has really dumbed down the once-mighty FPS and one of their major concerns is dumbing down controls for use on consoles. Put a keyboard/mouse user up against a controller user in a deathmatch, and 9 times out of 10, the guy who’s going to be dominating is the one with the mouse.  So that’s a tie, 1-1.

Fighting: Controller*

No, that asterisk is not a typo. When it comes right down to it, I consider keyboards and the DS3 et al. to be terrible when it comes to most fighting games. Being forced to choose between using analog sticks and a crappy D-Pad (yes, the Dual Shock’s D-Pad sucks and it’s always sucked. Deal with it.) is equally as bad as using a keyboard’s arrow keys or WASD. So, in most cases, they would tie by default. Except there’s one little loophole that allows the controller to take this: I said that ANY first-party pack-in controller for a video game system counts and as it just so happens, there’s one that fits the bill: that of the Sega Saturn, a model so perfect for the genre, it serves as the basis for so-called “fightpads” to this day. So if you really want to enjoy a fighting game, take my advice: save up for a fightpad or an arcade stick. You’ll thank me later.

Real-Time Strategy: Keyboard/Mouse

Another obvious answer, it’s considered almost blasphemous to imply that an RTS could even be produced with a controller in mind without severely dumbing down the control scheme. While turn-based strategy games can easily be handled by controllers, their real-time counterparts rely on the ability to sift through menus with the speed only a mouse and keyboard can offer (at this point in time, anyway). You’d be lucky to make it to the actual game using an analog stick. And don’t get me started on multiplayer: you’d get eaten alive.

“Action”: Controller

Again, not a typo. I’ve always hated using “Action” as the genre for a video game, almost as much as I hate “Adventure”, but the only other suggestion I got was “Character Action”. So yeah, for the purposes of this article, I’m talking about games like Devil May Cry, God of War, Bayonetta, God Hand, you know, those games that are effectively the modern-day equivalents of the classic beat-‘em-ups from the arcade era. Same basic idea as fighting games when it comes to controls here, with the added benefit of not needing a competently designed D-Pad to perform special moves and not having nearly as many attack buttons. While keyboard’s not really a slouch here, controllers just have the advantage overall.

Racing: Controller

For the most part, this is a wash. I always had a preference towards using the arcade-style steering wheel/pedals, which is kind of funny, considering I’ve never felt comfortable driving. I did like go-karting when I was a kid. Anyway, I’ve kind of gone off-topic. The point is, this decision boils down to personal preference: I’m sure that many people like using their mouse or keyboard to play racing games, but me? I like the feel of the analog stick and triggers. Just feels right to me, especially when the triggers are pressure-sensitive.

Puzzle: Tie

In this case, I’m talking about tile-matching puzzle games. You know, Tetris, Puyo Puyo, Magical Drop, that kind of thing. In this case, there really isn’t an advantage in either case. You just need something to move the blocks (D-Pad/arrow keys) and a button or two to manipulate the blocks. A controller, a keyboard, even a damn mouse can handle that on its own.

Turn-Based RPGs: Keyboard/Mouse

This one might be a little controversial, but I stand by it. 99% of the gameplay in turn-based RPGs are menu-based. There’s no reason why any PC versions of turn-based RPGs shouldn’t take advantage of this and code in mouse support. Even in cases where there’s some kind of reflex motion (like Paper Mario, Costume Quest or the upcoming South Park: The Stick of Truth) in battles, it’s rarely more complex than timing a button press, mashing a button or manipulating the analog stick. Sure, in some cases the controller gestures feel a bit more natural, but it’s a fair trade for mouse support in a genre where the majority of gameplay is handled via menus.

Rhythm: Tie

This is one of those cases where it really depends on the games. I mean, in some cases, rhythm games require their own unique controllers. Dance Dance Revolution has the dance pad, Guitar Hero and Rock Band have those various instrument controllers. Then again, there have been quite a few DDR clones for PC that people play exclusively on keyboards, so who knows. Excluding those, it’s usually just hitting the correct button in sync to music, so it doesn’t really require that much. There typically aren’t many buttons to push, so a controller can handle it.  Honestly, anything can handle it. Elite Beat Agents was played entirely on a touchscreen and there’s a PC clone of that as well, which I believe is played using the mouse. You can pretty much literally use any input device imaginable to make a proper rhythm game, so there’s no single winner here. Everybody’s a winner.

Shoot-‘em-ups: Tie

Another one of those cases where personal preference is the only thing that matters. I mean, I think using a mouse to play shmups is disaster-prone, just due to the movement controls being far too responsive. But with regards to keyboards, yeah, it’s workable. I’ve played many a shmup on my PC with my keyboard and for the most part, it’s been alright. The controller’s the same way. Even touchscreens are workable, albeit I find those to have the same degree of success as mouse-controlled shmups.

Of course, this list is by no means comprehensive. I didn’t even touch on sports (mainly because I can’t stand sports games if they’re not arcade-style), but there are some patterns when it comes to which control methods are better for specific genres. Reflex-based games do far better with controllers, while more precision-based pursuits do better with the keyboard and mouse. More importantly, today we have even more viable control options than ever before. Every major platform has their own form of motion controls (even PC!), touchscreens are becoming far more ubiquitous via tablets and smartphones and Valve is working on a new style of controller, which boasts the functionality of the keyboard/mouse combination in genres never thought possible. If the Steam Controller can deliver on these promises, who knows what other amazing peripherals we may see in the future.