When I was a youngster, re-playing games I loved from previous generations was a real ordeal. You typically had to haul out old systems, disconnect your current machine and hook up the oldie. Then you had to actually find the game you wanted to play, which was a struggle in itself.
I sheepishly admit I didn't take care of my games as well as I should've. I wrote swear words in my NES instruction booklets. I threw out boxes, except when I cut up my box for Final Fantasy III SNES as part of a school project. I stashed older games in damp places, or set them adrift in my younger brother's toybox. I put PlayStation discs in the wrong cases (I somehow wound up with two copies of Chrono Cross' first disc, and none of the second. I have no idea how that happened).
All that said, I doubt I'm the only old timer who rarely retreated to classic games until the Virtual Console (and, ahem, emulators in general) made it a stupidly easy ordeal. But look at us now; we're drowning in retro goodness. The NES Classic and the SNES Classic provide simple, cost-effective ways to re-visit the very best of each system's library. That's tantalizing enough, but the deluge of remakes and ports of older games is also impossible to ignore.
The Nintendo Switch is ground zero for mouth-watering re-releases, and if the recent Nintendo Direct is anything to go by, there's more where that came from. I vowed 2018 is going to be the year I break out of my gaming comfort zone and try new things. We're two weeks into the year, and I spent the weekend playing the Dragon Quest Builders demo for the Nintendo Switch. When the full game comes out, I'll snatch it up in an instant even though I beat Dragon Quest Builders on the PlayStation 4 back in 2016. I can't even bring myself to feel badly about my life choices, because going back to Builders—a portable version of Builders that's not hamstrung by a PS Vita-sized screen—felt very nice.
And maybe I'm just making excuses at this point, but look at the world around us. When we're indoors, there's noise and fury belching from Twitter and Facebook like plumes of Malboro breath. When we're outdoors, there's impenetrable winter dark and booger-freezing cold. We all need something that makes us feel warm, happy, and welcomed.
The Switch isn't the only machine dishing out huge helpings of game nostalgia, either. Another remake of Okami just hit the PlayStation 4, and Lord knows the trend isn't going to taper off in 2018 or beyond. We can expect remakes, re-releases, and revisions of Shadow of the Colossus, Secret of Mana, The World Ends with You, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, and Ys VIII. That's just off the top of my head. I plan to play all these (even though I was terrible at Shadow of the Colossus on PlayStation 2, and I doubt the PlayStation 4 version of the game will show me mercy, either).
Obviously, every time a re-release occurs, it's someone's first time playing a classic. Kat got to play through Chrono Trigger for the first time last year thanks to the Nintendo DS remake of the game. Last week, I also pointed out how Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze's arrival on the Nintendo Switch means a lot of people will be playing the game for the first time.
But then you have dumb schmucks like myself who look at a game they've played to death and say "Oh, but it's got a new hat!" and pour their life and soul into an old, safe experience instead of investing that time and effort into striking out for new digital lands.
And what I want to know is, "Should I feel bad about it?"
Looking Ahead to the Rest of the Week
We're still a week away from January's biggest releases. But if you look hard enough, there are a bunch of under-the-radar games that may be of interest.
- Street Fighter V Arcade Edition [January 16]: Street Fighter V gets a boost with codes for all the Season 1 and 2 DLC characters, new interface grpahics, two new gameplay modes, and additional V-Triggers. It will be available either as a standalone retail game or as a free update for owners of the existing game.
- Darkest Dungeon [January 18]: The acclaimed dungeon crawler makes its way to the Nintendo Switch on January 18. It should be a great fit for the platform thanks to its touchscreen; and even better, it will include the Crimson Court DLC (unlike the iPad version). Darkest Dungeon comes strongly recommended if you like your RPGs with a side of pain.
- Kirby Battle Royale [January 19]: While it's not likely to garner much attention given that most people have moved onto the Switch, Kirby is getting another spinoff on the 3DS. This one is a top-down brawler featuring the various Kirby cast members and power-ups. It wasn't well-received when it launched in Europe last year, but Kirby fans may find a home for it in their hearts.
Nadia's Note Block Beat Box: Shadow of the Lowlands (Day) from Xenoblade Chronicles 2
As I noted above, it sure is winter out there, isn't it? We enjoyed a brief thaw, but it was right back to the screaming northerly winds and the bits of snow that slash at your face. Winter is beautiful when you don't have to endure it for months at a time.
But winter isn't forever … unless you live in the country of Tantal from Xenoblade Chronicles 2. The people of this closed-off kingdom are forced to deal with endless cold, snow, darkness, and hunger. On the rare occasion the snow eases up, an icy fog envelopes the land and deep-sea horrors invade, looking for victims. Tantal is truly the Disneyland of Alrest.
The people of Tantal are fully aware their lot sucks, but they're a strong and proud people. That much is conveyed through the song that plays when you visit the kingdom, "Shadow of the Lowlands." This melancholy piece was born of some very interesting cultural cross-pollination: It's written by Chrono Trigger composer Yasunori Mitsuda, and the vocals are provided by the Irish choir ANÚNA. There's a version for the city's daytime hours (posted here), and a version for nighttime hours that Nintendo published an accompanying music video for.
So we have a song for a JRPG that's written by a Japanese composer and performed by an Irish choir. These are cool times we live in. Not all the time, but sometimes.
Mike's Media Minute
Jumanji continues to make absurd money. With a total of $27 million for the calendar weekend and an estimated $34 million for the four-day, Jumanji is seeing a 24 percent drop weekend to weekend. Those are frankly great numbers and puts the film at $291 million.
As I said before, Sony has only released five films that have done over $300 million domestic. Four of them are Spider-Man films and the last one is a James Bond film, Skyfall. Jumanji could conceivably knock Spider-Man: Homecoming from the #5 slot on the 2017 domestic chart: Homecoming made $334 million, meaning Jumanji has $43 million to go.
That doesn't seem out of the question as Jumanji has absolutely no competition until Black Panther drops on February 16.
Speaking of Black Panther, the analysts at Box Office Pro were originally calling for a conservative opening weekend of $90 million, with a domestic take of $275 million. They updated those estimates recently in response to the brisk ticket sales, pushing those numbers to $120 million and $335 million. Yeah, Black Panther could land ahead of Spider-Man. And like Jumanji, the road after Black Panther is pretty open.
This Week's News and Notes
Miracle at the Met. Minneapolis Miracle. Miracle at the Bank. What a moment I have a witnessed. I thought we were done. But we did it! Holy moly!!!! Bring on the Eagles!!!! #skol !!!!!!!!!!!!— Kat Bailey (@The_Katbot) January 15, 2018
- Kat: Before the Vikings' game against the Saints on Sunday, I likened the NFL playoffs to a video game that takes four months to beat and only offers you one life. As the second ticked away, I thought to myself, "They blew it again." But somehow the Vikings managed to pull it off. I'm truthfully still in shock. This is why you watch the games.
- News that Quantic Dream is fostering a toxic workplace exploded in the French media over the weekend, with some 15 current and former employees coming forward about Photoshopped images showing employees in "degrading" positions. The reports come as another blow to the prestige of David Cage, whose latest project has been criticized for its portrayal of domestic abuse, among other issues. Game studios have long struggled with inhospitable workplaces, but the allegations against Quantic Dream would seem to take it to a new level.
- Reports have also emerged that Le Monde journalist William Audureau has been blacklisted by Sony for his report. While these reports fall firmly under the category of "hearsay," they would be deeply unfortunate if true.
- Caty had a pretty interesting perspective on how Assassin's Creed Origins sheds the usual rooftop jumping in favor of something a little more grounded, and how it connects the protagonist with the people. Worth a read for sure.
- Despite being less than a year old, Gravity Rush 2's online servers are on the verge of being taken down. Just goes to show how transitory online gaming can be in this day and age.
- That Nintendo Direct wasn't quite as everyone hoped, but it did bring with it plenty of welcome announcements: The World Ends With You, Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze, Dark Souls Remastered are all making their way to the dynamic little platform, and more ports look to be on the way. This is what success looks like, folks.
- In case you missed it, freelancer Piotr Bajda has a pretty neat look at the rise and fall of EA Sports BIG as told by the creator of SSX. If you have any kind of love for EA's classic sports games (we do), then you should check it out.
- And finally, we're still a week from the first big releases of 2018, which means there's plenty of time dive into our backlog. We've been revisiting a bunch of the biggest games from 2017, with articles on Persona 5 and Super Mario Odyssey due later this week, and a Witcher 3 article on the way for good measure. How's your backlog coming along? We'd love to know!