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Did anyone have any inkling of how good 2017 would be for video games before the year started? Even knowing full well that Breath of the Wild would likely be amazing, I think this year took most people by surprise. Honestly, we haven’t had a year full of titles this amazing since… 2011, at least. Or maybe even 2007 (Bioshock, Portal, Super Mario Galaxy). Heck, some would argue 1998 (Ocarina of Time, Metal Gear Solid, Half-Life). There was something for everyone this year, and arguably even too much of it. 2018 will be a busy year for sure; not only will we be playing all of the newest releases, we’ll be using whatever free time is left to catch up on our backlog of amazing games from 2017. Seriously. With that said, let’s take a look at the titles that surprised and delighted me the most this year. Honorable Mention Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy True story: The debut of Katrielle Layton – the famous Professor Hershel Layton’s daughter – is probably the least best (I dare not say ‘worst’) entry in the Layton series to date. This is because the story takes an episodic approach, the puzzles are fairly easy, most cases are generally non-consequential in nature, and many of the mysteries’ answers are telegraphed before completing them. And yet, none of that really mattered by the time the final scene aired. Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy is easily the most charming game I’ve played all year long. The new cast, along with the supporting characters you come to know are what really make the game special in the end. With everything happening in the real world this year, I just wanted to disappear into Layton’s positive and whimsical take on London, following the adventures of Katrielle, Ernest, and their dog ‘Sherl’ as they crack case after case. Not all of the cases are winners, but there are a few that are incredibly touching and make the game worth playing in the end. 10. Metroid: Samus Returns The Metroid series returned with a bang this year, first with the announcement of Metroid Prime 4 being in development and then with the surprise announcement and subsequent release of Metroid: Samus Returns – the long-awaited remake of the Game Boy-only Metroid II: Return of Samus. While it doesn’t do a lot to propel the series forward in a gameplay sense, this is true, classic, 2D Metroid gameplay at its finest. Featuring revamped controls that give you more flexibility and a new melee dodge attack that can parry enemies when timed right, Samus Returns adds just enough to improve the old experience while totally overhauling most of the outdated level design and mechanics of the original game. The encounters with different Metroid evolutions are some of the best moments in the game, adding a real and rare sense of threat and danger to what has usually been a more atmospheric, exploratory game. Also, there just might be a new addition or two to the game’s story to shake things up in the same way Metroid Zero Mission did nearly a decade and a half ago. 9. Cosmic Star Heroine I’d been aware of Zeboyd Games’ previous titles (Cthulhu Save the World, Breath of Death VII etc.), but they’d never appealed to me until Cosmic Star Heroine released this year. Zeboyd Games created perhaps the best homage to both Chrono Trigger and Phantasy Star that I’ve seen yet with Cosmic Star Heroine. The battles wisely move away from the “select strongest attack until your MP is depleted” approach and instead injects more strategy by way of introducing cooldowns for each attack and focusing on when you should use them. The story is interesting and well done, if a bit cliched, and moves at a brisk pace, even if it’s somewhat lacking in the character-building department. Cosmic Star Heroine’s universe is also pretty fascinating; Zeboyd did an excellent job of designing a wide variety of alien creatures and strange worlds, not to mention its eclectic cast of characters. Also, the music is a pretty rad take on ‘80s and ‘90s sci-fi soundtracks (think Babylon 5). 8. World to the West Rain Games is a developer that has been on my radar ever since I played their excellent Metroidvania title Teslagrad from a few years back. Their brilliant, hand-painted visuals combined with thought-provoking puzzles made me super enthused for their next title, World to the West. Set in the same world as Teslagrad, World to the West eschews the 2D platforming of its predecessor and opts for an isometric Zelda-like approach. The result is a game with great, cartoon-like visuals; an interesting story set one generation after the former game and which focuses on four unique characters who come from significantly different backgrounds, and action-puzzle gameplay that splits the focus between said four characters’ special abilities. It’s one of the few games I’ve played in which the world is cleverly designed so that you’ll need to use all four characters to explore and open it up with each one's own skills. 7. SteamWorld Dig 2 The first SteamWorld Dig was an excellent surprise hit when it released a few years back, so I was both super excited and hesitant at the thought of SteamWorld Dig 2. Why? I didn’t know what developer Image & Form would be able to do that would keep it from feeling like a complete rehash. Luckily for us, Image & Form saw this issue coming, and they did something smart. They cast Dot -- a minor character from the first game -- as the protagonist in this one and created a whole new mystery: What happened to Rusty, the original protagonist? The truth of the matter will take you through twists and turns, and it’s pulled off incredibly well. New items and machine parts help differentiate the core gameplay cycle, which is the same as the first game’s but with a more interesting world and better-designed caverns to navigate and solve. Excellent gameplay aside, what really made an impact on me with SteamWorld Dig 2 is how the plot plays with your expectations, and completely shatters them in the end. 6. Sonic Mania When it was first announced, I wasn’t that interested in Sonic Mania. It had been some time since I’d last played a 2D Sonic title, and the prospect of “going back” to the old classic style just didn’t seem like progress to me. Little did I know that it’s exactly what the series needed, especially since the newer games have grown creatively stagnant over the last decade (or two). Sonic Mania injects just enough retro levels to keep it from feeling like a “best hits collection” and wisely introduces remixed versions of old levels along with entirely new ones that stand up with the very best the series has to offer. It manages to nail that feeling where it plays like you imagined it played way back when, but in reality is so much better than what Sonic 1 had to offer. Topped off with a brilliant soundtrack, Sonic Mania is what I consider to be the best Sonic game to date. I did not expect to be as blown away by it as I currently am. Welcome back, Sonic. Stick around for a while. 5. Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia Shadows of Valentia proves that Intelligent Systems is only getting better at making Fire Emblem games, and I was thrilled to discover just how good it was. Being a remake of the NES-only Fire Emblem Gaiden, the second game in the series which never made it out of Japan, Shadows of Valentia stays true to its retro roots by keeping the different battle rules from the original game (no weapons triangle, magic depletes health, etc.) while adding brand new elements in the way of third-person dungeon crawling and exploring different areas of towns and forts. While the latter addition isn’t always used to great effect, it’s fun to finally control a Fire Emblem character firsthand and helps to break up the pace between battles. Ultimately, Shadows of Valentia offers a surprisingly strong story (which is equally surprisingly dark in certain moments) that tackles themes of classism, war, and sacrifice – culminating in a grand finale that pays off in a big way at the very end. Fire Emblem has rarely been as good as Echoes gets, and I hope to see most of the new systems and mechanics used here in the new Fire Emblem title for Switch next year. 4. Splatoon 2 There was a point this year, perhaps around August or September, where I was certain Splatoon 2 would be my game of the year, if not for three other incredible games (one of which I had to do some more reflecting back on). With over 265 hours invested, Splatoon 2 is by far my most-played game of the year and the one I had the most fun with on a consistent basis. Some would say it’s not really a sequel; that it’s a 1.5 version of the game. Even if that’s true, it’s heads and shoulders above the first game, with a solid, diverse grouping of Ranked match games, tons of new hairstyles, weapons, specials, and ways to modify your character. And let’s not forget about Salmon Run, the new horde mode that might just be “mode of the year”. I’ve spent countless hours taking out Salmonids, collecting golden eggs, and having a general blast with @barrel, @Rissake, @YukiKairi, @Venom, and others. No other game has given me that “just one more game feeling” quite like Splatoon 2 has, and that’s a testament to just how good it is. 3. Super Mario Odyssey If you know me, you might be surprised to see this game “only” placing third on my list. That’s mainly because this was an exceptional year with amazing games, but don’t let the lack of GOTY status fool you. This is a Mario title we haven’t seen in quite some time, and boy did it feel good to be running around and exploring each level at your own pace. Super Mario Galaxy 1 and 2 had moments of this, even if they were still largely linear affairs, but Odyssey’s wide open levels were so out of the norm for the past 15 years that they actually recalled elements of this year’s Breath of the Wild. What I appreciated most about Odyssey is that it really does feel like Mario is embarking on a great journey. Nintendo’s Tokyo studio also spared no effort to make every level feel as unique and original as possible, getting away from the standard lava world, ice world, and jungle world. Instead, you’ll find a level based on New York City, a food-based world, a desert world with ice-elements and an underground temple, and a forest with a tower that’s occupied by robots, just to name a few. It’s super imaginative, not to mention super inspired, due to the cap-throwing mechanic where you can capture and control different enemies. Due to all this and more (that soundtrack!), Super Mario Odyssey is far and away the most creative game I’ve played this year. 2. Horizon Zero Dawn Horizon Zero Dawn is far and away the biggest surprise of 2017 for me. It always looked fantastic in previews, but I didn’t realize just how much I would fall down the rabbit hole with it until I played it late this year. First off, it’s the most graphically impressive game I’ve played in 2017; stunning vistas, vast gorges, tree-lined forests, and populated towns and civilizations – it has it all. It also has the best narrative I’ve experienced all year; Aloy’s journey from shunned outcast to legendary warrior in the eyes of the people is an experience I’ll not forget, and there’s a deep amount of lore to the world, not to mention the many mysteries behind the plot are all well-thought out and have satisfying answers to them. What really puts the game over the top for me is how good its machine-hunting combat is. At first, it’s incredibly daunting and seems complex (and really, it is), but after you learn the intricacies of how to hunt each machine (especially the large ones), the game really takes off. There are so many ways you can take them down, from using a rope gun to tie them down to disable them to setting traps, tripwires, and shooting off weapons, modules, and weak spots with your arrows. Each encounter is incredibly dynamic and life-like, with each machine actually mimicking and behaving like the natural animal/creature it’s designed after. It’s a thrilling experience every time you’re involved in a hunt with larger machines because the danger feels incredibly real for Aloy, and it makes each victory all the sweeter when you eventually do take them down. Horizon was a powerful experience for me -- one of those rare games that completely drown out real life and make you invested in the world within, and one I'll not forget anytime soon. 1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Breath of the Wild is a game that many Zelda fans have been waiting a long time for. While I wasn’t one of the ones hankering for a return to Zelda 1 mechanics (the go-anywhere approach), I’ll never forget the feeling of being dropped in this massive world and being in awe at how much there is to do and see. I’ve heard many ask what Breath of the Wild does for open worlds that is so amazing. The answer has to do with interactivity – the world in BotW is so intricate in how you can interact with it and how it reacts to what you do. Horizon and other games have worlds that are impressive in size and scope, but there’s little you can do to it except traverse it and interact with specially designed areas and characters. In BotW, you can climb nearly everything, decide how you want to approach a certain location, chop trees down to cross large ravines, set grass on fire and then ride the updraft the smoke creates, move almost any object that’s not attached to the ground with magnetism, and much more. In short, the world is alive, and never has a title for a game been more appropriate. The plot itself, while not my favorite of the series, is still fairly good, and the individual story arcs and moments are well-done; especially those that involve the four champions. I also really enjoyed the Divine Beasts; even though we didn’t get traditional dungeons, these were fairly close in approximation them, and one of the Divine Beasts might just be one of my top 10 dungeons in the whole series. In the end, Breath of the Wild will be remembered for letting players play the way they want to. There are definitely things that can be improved, but by and large, this is a landmark title that broke barriers and will shape games for years to come.
Jason Clement posted a article in SonyIf you're into RPGs, you'll want to pay close attention to Cosmic Star Heroine, the upcoming game from Zeboyd Games (the developer behind such games as Breath of Death VII and Cthulhu Saves The World). Similar to other upcoming games like I Am Setsuna, Cosmic Star Heroine derives some inspiration from classic RPG, Chrono Trigger -- something you can tell right away from its visuals and the way battles unfold. The good news is you won't have to wait long to play it. Zeboyd Games revealed that the game is planned for release this Summer on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita for $14.99. Also in the works is a limited physical copy run via Limited Run Games. Check out the trailer for the game below, and for more impressions on Cosmic Star Heroine, be sure to check out Jonathan's hands-on piece from PAX Prime 2015. Source: PlayStation Blog Will you be checking out Cosmic Star Heroine when it releases?
Conventions like PAX Prime are remarkable places, because you can do something like... go looking for food, then come across a game you“ve never heard before that happens to not have a line, and it draws you in with its sense of style alone. Cosmic Star Heroine was one of those games. I had no idea developer Zeboyd Games (Cthulhu Saves the World, Breath of Death VII) was even behind this one, much less what it was. But by the end of the demo I played... I want to know more, and I want to tell the world about it. Few indie RPGs are ambitious enough to take up Chrono Trigger“s mantle, but this one has to be the closest I“ve seen. I“ll get into art style and ambiance momentarily, but I think the battle system is going to be what catches people“s eye at PAX Prime and beyond. Cosmic Star Heroine is a turn-based RPG that doesn“t have to fade in or out and take its battles to another screen. Taking a page from Square-Enix and action RPGs, the battle starts from right where you“re standing upon initiating contact with the enemy. Alyssa, Chahn and Dave don“t just power through foes to win, either. The demo introduces â€œStyleâ€ very early on. The more style you have (a percentage value that can go over 100), the higher damage you do. Oftentimes, when I fought a group of enemies, I would have one character attack while the other two defended and built up Style to increase their overall damage output in the battle. Furthermore, most commands can only be used once before needing to defend and recharge. Manipulating the structure of turn-based battles in this way forces folks to be more strategic versus the â€œpress Attack/Ultra Magic Spell to winâ€ fare most RPG veterans are used to. I found myself actually using my team strategically, which is more than I can say for most of the games Cosmic Star Heroine“s visuals will remind you of. An example: I would start off by having Alyssa give Chahn an extra burst of strength for three turns, and attack subsequently with both Chahn and Dave. Then Alyssa would attack while Chahn used an ability that allowed her gun-based attacks to hit all foes the next turn while Dave healed up. And all three allies would dispatch the entire group of foes handily by the end of the third turn. There“s actual strategy involved here! I think all your allies will need to work together to topple further areas in the game. The battle system is a little more complex to keep the party on their toes, but it“s not so complex that anyone should be turned away. The developer has even said the game will have dual-techs, like Chrono Trigger! When I say the game is extremely reminiscent of Chrono Trigger, I“m not messing around. Just based on the personality and charm of the demo and press kit, I predict Cosmic Star Heroine will maintain a perfect blend of seriousness and whimsy. The demo drops you off at the start of a covert mission unknown to anyone (even Alyssa“s allies are in the dark, at first), but before long the game had me actually giggling to myself. Environments are colorful and full of life (until you get to a dark, abandoned facility and are separated from your group at the end of the demo), music is memorable, and the various bells and whistles that tie everything together sound off perfectly like something that ought remind you of the SNES era, but not leave you bogged down by â€œretroâ€ mechanics that age poorly. I“m so happy I came across this experience on the show floor. Neither Cosmic Star Heroine nor developer Zeboyd Games were on my radar before this weekend, but now I“m hesitating to call this one my "Game of the Show." Its potential, and the fact that I actually wracked my brain a little to make an otherwise traditional combat style work, has me super excited to see what comes next. Its release date is still TBA, but be sure to check out the official website for more information!
gaiages posted a article in Industry NewsHaving just finished up Penny Arcade: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 4, Zeboyd Games has already announced their new project! This new title is called Cosmic Star Heroine, and here's what Zeboyd Games said about the game's plot thus far: Alyssa L“Salle is one of the galactic government“s top agents and always manages to save the day! But when she accidentally uncovers a dark conspiracy, her own government outs her as a legendary spy and the people“s champion! Sure, now she has hordes of adoring fans but every villainous organization she“s ever crossed in her career knows who she is and is out for her blood! Can she save the day once more while she faces her greatest challengeâ€¦ Everyone!? Cosmic Star Heroine will keep in line with Zeboyd's previous games graphically, featuring retro styled 16-bit graphics. However, while still turn-based, combat will not occur in a separate screen--instead, exploration and battling will occur in the same environment, much like Chrono Trigger. Also, while Zeboyd Games points out that this game is not a parody like Breath of Death VII or Cthulhu Saves the World, there still will be plenty of humor! Zeboyd Games also states in their announcement that they will launch a Kickstarter for the game later, and that they will be open about this title's development process than with past titles. You can read the entirety of Cosmic Star Heroine's reveal here. Have you played any of Zeboyd Games' titles in the past? Does this new project interest you?