Early on in A Link Between Worlds, the travelling merchant Ravio takes up shop in your house, lines it with the franchises complement of items and offers to rent Link each and every one. This event single-handedly eradicates the suffocatingly linear item-based progression that had reached its logical conclusion even before Twilight Princess put its staggering deficiencies on display. A Link Between Worlds is in many ways an alternate take on an old story, one that reveals its true ambitions at the beginning of the second act as Link squeezes through a tear in the fabric of Hyrule and discovers that every inch of the world and its seven palaces are accessible with the right tool in hand.
The Japanese ad for The Saint’s Flow Energy Drink shows Pierce, the hip and youthful face of the Third Street Saints brand division, being mercilessly beaten on a basketball court by armed punks. The situation looks bleak, until an anthropomorphized purple can of Saints Flow descends from heaven and gives him the strength to throw off his attackers, unleash a savage volley of fists, kicks and a clothesline before shooting a Ryu-style fireball from his hands and closing out the performance by atomic dunking a basketball that appeared out of nowhere to a shower of neon stars. The Third Streets Saint’s lifestyle has been canned and is ready to be swallowed.
Super Mario World starts at Yoshi’s House and gives the pudgy Italian plumber the freedom to explore the overworld to the left or right. To the left is Yoshi’s Island 1, a bright and colorful place with tank top-wearing koopa’s, small purple dinosaurs and giant goddamn bullet bills. Beat it and the area around will come alive underfoot. The path dead ends at the Yellow Switch Palace sitting on top of a cliff and the large button that causes matching boxes to fill in throughout the world. With this one action, large scale change has swept across Dinosaur Land. It will never be the same.
For all their merits, traditional JRPG’s haven’t exactly positioned themselves as videogames most cohesive narrative experience. One reason is foundational to the genre: the separation of world exploration and menu-based combat breaks player immersion from the story and characters. The other reason is true for the majority of games period: they all know how to implement a story but few understand how to exist as one. While still very much a traditional JRPG, Mother 3’s story takes root at its core, finding ways to incorporate all its elements into a whole that is surprising and emotional.
For a decade across the 8 and 16-bit generations, Mega Man had been an action-packed dynamo, but after some twenty odd games, his aging framework was in need of some vital upgrades. Powered by the PlayStation hardware, Keiji Inafune and his crew of robot masters successfully forged a new Blue Bomber, translating his action concepts onto a three-dimensional world.
The new 32 bit tech gave the series a chance to break away from the techno-future aesthetic found in both the Classic and X series with their cities dependent on robots for manual labor. Mega Man Legends is an adventure in a world covered in endless water where diggers explore the ruins of a lost civilization amongst the scattered land masses for Zenny and treasure.
For anyone who used to make believe with a box full of Tonka Trucks and action figures, Rare’s Blast Corps is a special kind of game, one that takes you back to the timeless parts of your childhood that don’t fade just because you’re now an adult. It allows you to relive the freedom that comes from the act of playing and the simple joys that come from pretending that you’re taking control of a roughneck crew out to save the world through demolition.
Mega Man 9 fixed Mega Man by distilling the Blue Bomber’s staid gameplay to its essentials: moving and shooting. By striving to limit itself to the restrictions of twenty year old hardware, Inti Creates game highlights how bogged down with its own design the series core gameplay had become over its evolution. What they made is a long lost NES game.
The story immediately sets the tone in sprites full of personality. Having again been defeated by our blue hero, Dr. Wily swears off his evil ways. But its not long before the residents of Monsteropolis are in danger from a collection on renegade robots again. But its Wily that steps up to protect the city, claiming innocence and insisting the robots were created by the good-natured Dr. Light. To clear his name, Mega Man heads out.
Go immediately left from at the start of Metroid: Zero Mission and you’ll find the Morph Ball upgrade exactly where it was in the original Metroid. The remake modernizes the first adventure of galactic bounty hunter Samus Aran, bringing it to the standards set by one of the greatest games of all time: Super Metroid.
The game from there applies the legendary SNES classics structure as Samus navigates the depths of the planet Zebes, finding new weapons that allow her to go further, tearing through the Space Pirate armada before encountering the parasitic Metroid life forms and the evil Mother Brain. You’ll be collecting items and abilities including the Super Missiles, Power Bombs and Speed Boosters, moves that became staples with the third game. The design fleshes out a game that was more ambitious than the tech of the time would allow, implementing enough new content to ramp up the pace without padding the adventure.
A child’s eyes see a simple world. For centuries, fairy tales have been tools to give those eyes a view on the world they might not see on their own. They are a means of teaching lessons and giving metaphors, to see villainy and sorrow overcome by heroism and bravery. In Bastion, Supergiant Games has crafted a new fairy tale in videogame form, one that allows you to revisit your youth while celebrating the games you loved when you were small and the world was big.
Videogames attempts to marry gameplay to music have long suffered from a case of ‘this’ or ‘that’. Narrative or pure mechanics, simon says memorization or notes on cue. Music rhythm games have been largely forced to pigeonhole themselves into working with a single mechanic with little flexibility. None of those games are Rhythm Heaven Fever.