An exhilarating knock-out…
Nintendo has been knocking it out of the park as of late; through the release of the masterful Breath of the Wild and the forever endearing Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Nintendo welcomes a new addition to the their collection of fantastic IPs and their ever growing lineup of excellent Switch games. I have to be honest with all of you, I was not impressed with ARMS when it was originally revealed back in January. Gimmicky motion-controls have never been my cup of tea, and the questionably marketed reveal trailer showcasing a man in business attire fighting against a Japanese school girl was laughable at best. However, after a few Nintendo Directs showcasing the game’s surprising amount of depth and a plentiful amount of hands-on time with the Global TestPunch, my perception of Nintendo’s newest IP took a sharp 180. The Global TestPunch proved that this bizarre complex fundamentally works and it’s ridiculously fun and addictive. While the TestPunch featured a considerable fraction of content, the final product adds an exceptional bevy of different modes and unlocks to keep this addictive experience vigorous and constantly on your mind. While its single-player portion is rather shallow and is undoubtedly a secondary point of concern, both online and local multiplayer are extremely robust and are the fundamental crux as to why ARMS is such a delight. The nuanced gameplay, robust catalogue and combination of different weaponry – which are called ARMS to little surprise – slew of varying idiosyncratic game modes, and a constant stream of new dedicated content within the coming months, ARMS is an absolute knock-out of a gem and is arguably the best motion controlled game I have ever played.
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The open-world genre has always been a perplexing beast as most titles struggle to find a harmonic balance between the interminable desire for seamless quality and quantity. Most popularized examples simply litter their sandboxes with menial tasks for the sole purpose of longevity, while others have a profound sense of world-building that never appropriately warrants the use of open-world fundamentals. The Legend of Zelda series has always embraced the essential nuts and bolts of the open-world genre, but its explorative world has always felt dissociated from the core innards of the experience. The latest entry in the three-decade long running franchise is said to rethink the conventions of the Zelda series, offering new implementation of player freedom. Breath of the Wild is not only a reinvigorating surge of pulsating energy into the Zelda series, but a masterful reinvention of the open-world genre as a whole, incorporating elements of fundamental realism and meaningful progression that were simply not present in the examples of yesteryear. With a core thematic imprint of discovery, Breath of the Wild’s sense of unadulterated curiosity and exploration is second to none; every minute detail serves a resound purpose and each structured piece of this exceptional puzzle seamlessly blends with the overarching world. Breath of the Wild is simply the most cohesive title in the series and an impeccable example of the aforementioned harmonic balance in the open-world genre. An embodiment of the imperative first steps of a console generation, while simultaneously striking a notable chord as a renowned swan song, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a masterpiece in every meaning of the word.
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The illustrious year of 2017 is upon us and a proper moment of reflection is in order; 2017 will be a bountiful year and hopefully deliver a slew of fantastic new titles ripe with limitless potential. All three major parties – being the Big N, Sony, and Microsoft – have their own particularly unique plans for the New Year, each filled to the brim with their own resounding highs and unfortunate lows. Nintendo has an innovative console/handheld hybrid on the horizon, Sony is assertively pushing their bevy of exclusive content throughout 2017 and beyond, and Microsoft suffered an insurmountable blow with the cancellation of Scalebound, which was my most anticipated Microsoft exclusive of 2017. Let us begin with the most pertinent publishing company of the three shall we?
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As much as I loved my original PlayStation growing up, I can’t help but feel that I truly missed out on some of gaming’s greatest treasures when I skipped out on the Nintendo 64. Seeing as I grew up in the 3D prominence of gaming – with 3D platformers being one of my favourite genres – the N64 had a myriad of golden gems that would cater to my prolific love for jumping and collecting things. The fact that I have just completed Banjo-Kazooie 18 years after its initial release is a sad accomplishment and realization as that should’ve been rectified prior as Banjo-Kazooie, is not only one of my favourite 3D platformers of all time, but is another title that I can slab onto my “favourite video games of all time” list. It’s a nostalgic, yet exquisite, time capsule into a simpler era of gaming that exuded such pristine quality while pursuing new forms of innovation. While its moment to moment gameplay unfortunately shows its age and doesn’t control nearly as well as Nintendo’s iconic plumber, it’s the sum of its parts that stand the test of time and make the titular duo an instant classic.
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The best game of 2014 that I never played
Boy oh boy was I a fool to have neglected what is easily an underrated gem of the current generation. Thanks to the consistent reminders and high recommendation from Wizard Dojo, I eventually decided to give Tropical Freeze a slice of my time. While I extensively enjoyed the Donkey Kong Country series on the Super Nintendo, Diddy’s Kong Quest in particular is quite spectacular, I’ve always felt fairly alienated by its following as for some ineffable reason, I didn’t enjoy them nearly as much as the status quo. They are certainly excellent games, do not get me wrong, but they never beguiled me to the extent of others, and while they most definitely left an imprint, I felt an unsatisfied need for something more. Both a controversial and downright ludicrous opinion am I right? Whatever personal gripe that overstayed its welcome or minute element that felt omitted, Tropical Freeze bombastically rectifies all of my personal uncertainties with the series and rightfully fills the void of understanding Donkey Kong Country’s true brilliance. Not only is it a pristine example of level variety and game design, Tropical Freeze is also the most thrilling and exhilarating platformer I have ever played. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze harmoniously merges the frantic, moment-to-moment nature of reactionary platformers and the strategic and methodical tendencies of Super Mario into a seamless masterclass of gameplay, resulting in what is easily the Wii U’s crowning jewel. Tropical Freeze is the best game of 2014 that I never played and is not only my favourite game on Nintendo’s Wii U, but is also a new personal favourite of mine.
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Building perfection, one question block at a time…
Legacy is a word that is seldom used nowadays; the word has never constructed itself into an oversaturated, pretentious connotation and the vast, vigorous world of gaming haven’t the shortage of premium, quality titles that embody the potential and sheer definition of a legacy. Legacy is a matter of quality and time. Very few series have the pristine ability to kickstart a brave new medium of entertainment, one that is not only presently relevant but also healthier than it has ever been, breathing new, imaginative life into this expansive world. The Super Mario series not only crafted the world of gaming that we know and love today, but it pioneered a beloved genre to perfection and also introduced iconic characters that’ve become synonymous with the entire gaming medium as a whole, with Mario himself becoming the public face of the Big N, which at one point was a renowned playing card and toy company. Thirty years later and Mario has undoubtedly seen his fair share of sequels, successors, spin-offs, and inspirations, arguably taking massive responsibility for the popularity and success of the 2D and 3D realm of gaming. With countless masterpieces under his belt such as Super Mario Galaxy 2, Super Mario Bros 1 & 3, Super Mario 64, and Super Mario World to name a few, Mario has unquestionably become an icon and staple in the gaming community due his unparalleled relevance and punctual ability to deliver a quality gaming experience. For Mario’s thirtieth anniversary, Nintendo have cooked up something special that marks an innovative step towards the series’ evolution; Super Mario Maker gives fans the necessary tools to create a minute, yet idiosyncratic piece of Mario’s very own legacy. Super Mario Maker is essentially two games in one beautiful package: an exquisitely precise 2D platformer that accentuates that iconic responsiveness that is synonymous with the Super Mario series, and a brilliantly intuitive design tool that incomparably outshines all of its respective ilk in nearly every way imaginable. Super Mario Maker somehow managed to find a superlative equilibrium so that fans and newcomers alike can enjoy the experience to its fullest. Fans will undoubtedly bask in all of its nostalgic glory while newcomers, like myself, can perceive the structural template of Super Mario Maker as a small slice of Mario’s history.
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It’s funny how each new Classic Corner I write up results in a classic game becoming one of my favourite experiences of all time. This statement proves factual with Super Mario Bros. 3 and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and it brings me great pleasure to say that Super Metroid is no exception to the rule. Super Metroid is pure exploration gold, pioneering many of the amazing gaming concepts and intricate mechanics that build the very core structure of our favourite games today. It’s atmospherically eerie, immaculately diverse, and its masterful gameplay is second to none. Super Metroid is a bonafide masterpiece that is an absolute essential for those who wish to delve into the renowned history of the medium. The “Metroidvania” genre gained noticeable popularity thanks to Super Metroid’s pristine ability to craft a masterful formula that was equally perplexing as it was addicting, after all, its very name represents half of the iconic genre, a formidable honor no doubt. Very few games have the potential to boast an innovative quality that can even hold a candle to the likes of Super Metroid. Many games have mirrored and/or tweaked the effective formula, which admittedly resulted in some of the greatest games ever created, but sometimes, it’s imperatively essential to experience the beginning of greatness to truly respect and appreciate its legacy.
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Making a mess has never been this much fun…
Splatoon has always been an interesting project ever since its inception in 2013, not in the sense that its obtuse or abstract, but more by the defining manner of how Nintendo rarely ever set their foot in the shooter space of the gaming ecosystem. I’ve never once thought that they were incapable of crafting a competent shooter, it’s just that the idea had honestly never crossed my mine. For better or for worse, Nintendo has constructed a family-friendly persona, ripe with imagination and innovation like no other; shooters are an oversaturated genre that implore the excessive use of violence and are stubborn for their inability to change. These two statements adherently contradict one another, so I never thought the two would ever merge. Splatoon is Nintendo’s take on the traditional genre, adhering to the common standards of the online shooter while simultaneously adding their own flare to spice up the formula, resulting in one of the most original gems to have ever graced the online gaming community. Splatoon’s pleasantly surprising emphasis on team-oriented, objective based gameplay is a shining feat that is not commonly attempted nor explored in the over-arching realm of the online shooter. The game is just oozing with unparalleled charm, a fantastic colour pallet like no other, and its moment to moment gameplay is fast, frantic, and houses an addictive nature that very few shooters have the potential to reach. Just like any new IP or first entry in a series, there are clearly a few kinks that need to be ironed out, and even though Nintendo constantly updates the game with free weapons, maps, and new modes, the game unfortunately feels a bit sparse which is evidently apparent after playing a few online matches. There’s obvious room for improvement with Splatoon, but there’s no denying the fact that it’s one of the most original shooters in recent memory, an addictive joy to just splatter your enemies, and to be accommodated for, what honestly seems to be, vandalism. Splatoon is a reminder that Nintendo are the rightful kings at what they do, creating the most fun and entertaining games that the medium has to offer; Splatoon wholeheartedly continues this legacy of theirs and in doing so, brought life to an aging genre. Simply put, Splatoon is a breath of fresh air and the best online shooter I’ve played in a long, long while.
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Commonly referred to as the greatest 2D platformer of all time, Super Mario Bros. 3 is delightfully challenging, imaginative, and an excellent illustration of stellar game design. Super Mario Bros. 3 crafted a legacy of its own and pioneered many conventions that have become staples of modern game design. Yes many elements of Mario 3 may seem trivial or primitive in comparison to the current standards of gaming, but seeing how its first innovative steps have evolved so immensely is nothing short of amazing. Its true brilliance is craftily hidden within its intricacy and difficulty; despite its vibrant colour palette, the game can be downright unforgiving, in a manner that seems to be a rarity in the Super Mario series. The level design is also immaculate, where every platform, power-up, and enemy is masterfully placed and is effortlessly entwined with the responsive controls. Super Mario Bros. 3 is a timeless, golden piece of software that truly shows that Nintendo are the unparalleled kings of video game design, and whether you’re embarking on a nostalgic trip down memory lane or experiencing its innovations for the first time, Super Mario Bros. 3 is a bona fide classic that’s worth experiencing over and over again.
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Shovel Knight, for the most, has been widely acclaimed by both critics and fans alike, praising its nostalgic 8-Bit graphical approach and its heavy influence from NES games, specifically the Mega Man series and Super Mario Bros 3. Many have addressed their concerns on Shovel Knight’s clear grasp on nostalgia, and how it doesn’t necessarily provide anything new and primarily rides off of the nostalgia alone. As someone who grew up exclusively playing the original PlayStation and have never owned a NES or SNES, I can deliver a warranted slice of perspective. Shovel Knight is not revolutionary by any stretch of the imagination, and most definitely rides off of nostalgia, but none of these are necessarily a bad thing. I, for one, am not playing the game with tinted goggles as I never grew up in the 8 and 16 bit era of gaming, so no nostalgic flashbacks to Mega Man or Castlevania will ever resonate in my obscure mind. Despite all of this, I am happy to report that I absolutely adore Shovel Knight and if I had played it during its original release last year, it would’ve made its mark on my top 10 games of 2014. Shovel Knight is exceptionally charming, wholeheartedly addicting, and reasonably challenging; its 8-bit art style and sound direction are undoubtedly nostalgic, but that doesn’t detract from its overall presentational quality. Regardless of its nostalgic factor, Shovel Knight is a lovely bite-sized experience that shouldn’t be missed.
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