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2017 saw the release of a lot of great games, but the year wasn’t just about the biggest and newest. It was a huge year for retro gaming.
We got collections of classics, exciting announcements, and another fantastic, nostalgic machine from Nintendo. And even some of the best new games of the year took their inspiration from the past.
So, before the year comes to an end, let’s look back at the biggest retro gaming events of 2017.
Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap
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Wonder Boy III: The Dragon’s Trap was a Metroidvania before anyone had invented that term. The non-linear side-scroller came out in 1989 for more obscure consoles in the U.S., like the Sega Master System and the TurboGrafx-16. There’s a pretty good chance you were never able to play it, but this beautiful remake makes the classic accessible on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.
The Dragon’s Trap isn’t just a perfect port. It replaces the original, blocky sprites with beautiful 2D art that makes the game look like a cartoon. But you can press a button to switch between the original and updated looks. The two versions are so identical that you can even split the screen and have both showing at the same time.
The Disney Afternoon Collection
Capcom made some incredible NES games based on Disney’s classic cartoons from the late ’80s and early ’90s. The Disney Afternoon Collection from Digital Eclipse brings faithful ports of them to modern systems, specifically the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. It also includes rare games like DuckTales 2 and Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers 2.
The only bummer is that it’s not available on the Switch.
Sonic Mania is technically a new game, but it takes inspiration from the series’ early days on the Genesis. You know, back when Sonic was fantastic. But Sonic Mania isn’t just a tribute. It manages to actually match the quality of Sonic’s best platformers, while giving fans plenty of nostalgic moments to smile about.
Also, the Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine fight is one of the greatest boss battles ever.
The SNES Classic Edition
Last year’s NES Classic Edition was a great machine (if you could manage to find one). The SNES Classic Edition is even better. Although it has fewer games (21 compared to 30), its library contains more consistently quality titles. You have masterpieces like Super Metroid, Mega Man X, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, and more.
But the SNES Classic also gave us Star Fox 2, the first official release for an SNES game that Nintendo abandoned when it was practically finished. Having a lost, genuine 16-bit Nintendo game appear as a new title in 2017 was bizarre and wonderful.
The Ataribox isn’t out yet, but its announcement in 2017 was still a big moment for retro gaming. The Atari brand is releasing its first console in decades, and it’ll be part retro machine with packed-in games and part console for new indie titles.
I’m not sure if I’m sold on the idea of Atari nostalgia, but this device will be one of the most interesting retro projects to watch out for in 2018.
Mega Man 11
We won’t be able to play Mega Man 11 until it comes out in late 2018, but its announcement as part of the franchise’s 30th anniversary was a big deal. Capcom hasn’t been doing much with the Blue Bomber this decade, so it’s awesome to see them make a big deal out of a new game.
And Mega Man 11 looks great. The 3D art captures the spirit of the original games, while the jumping-and-shooting action looks faithful.
The RetroBeat is a weekly column that looks at gaming’s past, diving into classics, new retro titles, or looking at how old favorites — and their design techniques — inspire today’s market and experiences. If you have any retro-themed projects or scoops you’d like to send my way, please contact me.
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