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Warrior’s Video Games of 2017 & Game of the Year

January 7, 2018

7 January 2018

2017 will definitely be known as year of Nintendo. Not only was the phenomenal Nintendo Switch released, it was accompanied by a line-up of stunning games. Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Splatoon 2 and Mario + Rabbids Kindgom Battle, not to forget a constant stream of smaller downloadable games on the e-shop. Then there was the 3DS still going strong, particularly with Metroid: Samus Returns a huge highlight. The Super Nintendo Classic Mini arrived during the year, and even the NES Classic Mini trickled in during April for those that missed out in 2016 and could quickly snap one up (yay!). Let’s break it down.

Nintendo Switch

Zelda: Breath of the Wild won just about every conceivable gaming award for 2017, and for obvious good reasons. It’s a stellar title – possibly the best in the series ever – and has been supported with excellent extra content too. The only complaint: I haven’t finished it yet! I’ve been so busy, and then other games came out. Mostly on the Switch I’ve played Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, FAST RMX (an F-Zero style of racing game), Blaster Master Zero (an excellent remake of an NES classic) and little bit of Super Mario Odyssey.

Nintendo Switch – Hardware Review

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Review – Pros & Cons

3DS

Metroid: Samus Returns 3DS box

Metroid: Samus Returns. Nothing more to say. With Metroid my favourite game series ever, Samus Returns was a salivating release this year. It came out of nowhere too. Announced middle of the year for a September release, I was frothing at the mouth as I rode to the local shopping centre (no helmet naturally) to purchase it on its release day. Strangely, I thought it wise to shop around for the best price. Checking first that JB Hi Fi had some on the shelves, I then went to Big W and Target, which are usually cheaper. Neither had it so back to JB only to see none on the shelves anymore. I was furious! I thought I’d ask at the counter as they don’t display all inventory, and yes, I got one, and a JB-exclusive poster that I never knew about. Bonus! After picking up the special edition Samus Returns 3DS system on pre-order at EB Games (which will become my spare), I rode home and played Samus Returns for several hours non-stop, then a few more over the weekend. Suffice to say I’ve not finished it either. Although, I’ve made much more progress than with Zelda.

From the 3DS Activity Log

Pokemon Shuffle was against the most played game of the year at almost 280 hours. The year before that was 275 hours and before that 199 hours. Almost 750 hours all up is a ridiculous amount for a free title. While I have purchased gems a couple of times during this period, which help you proceed through the game when impatient, it’s only been occasions when 6 bonus ones are offered if you buy 6 or more, which I’ve done twice, and mostly to reward the developers for all the hours I’ve played. I never needed them. Only once have I needed a gem, and it was only after I just failed to beat a Pokemon after using a bucket load of coins and had leftover funds in my account. The gem allowed 5 more moves and increased the catch rate for remaining moves (I only needed one move and caught the Pokemon). Total money spent on Pokemon Shuffle is under $15. I wish I could say I’d get that value from all games.

Pokemon Shuffle 3DS Charizard

Then there’s my old, small 3DS, where I have Pokemon Shuffle running too. Time logged is 207:19 hours for 2017, for a total of almost 470 hours for the past 3 years. So that’s over 1200 hours for one game. The only game I know that rivals such time invested is Audio Surf on PC at almost 800 hours.

Metroid: Samus Returns is next most played at 14:37 hours, followed by StreetPass Mii Plaza at 10:48, Super Smash Bros at 2:35, 80’s Overdrive (a game bought late December) at 2:03 and Mario Kart 7 at 1:50. I really must get back into Mario Kart 7. The year before I didn’t play it all. Unacceptable! After Mario Kart DS, MK7 would be my second favourite version, followed by MK8 Deluxe on the Switch.

Mii Plaza has really dropped off compared to 22 hours last year and 127 hours in 2015 and 33 hours in 2014. I’m simply done or bored with the mini games, so much so I rarely carry the 3DS around anymore to accumulate StreetPass hits required for the mini games. Total steps is 180,586, compared to 1.1 million in 2014, 521,117 in 2015 and 221,171 last year. Most of the steps this year are from trips overseas to Europe/USA in May/June for 45608 and 32852 steps, and then to Japan in November for 58,895 steps. It’s worth taking the 3DS overseas because international hits fill in national maps on your system, and that’s fun.

Super NES Classic Mini

After the debacle with the NES Mini, I didn’t take the chance and decided to pre-order the SNES version. As it turned out, I could have walked in and bought one on the day. Nintendo kept their promise of plenty of stock. Indeed, there were several lying around at the JB Hi Fi near my office during the week of its release, and I’ve seen at other times too. Note that supplies do often run out quickly, and during a 2 week visit to Japan in November, I never saw a local one anywhere, so it’s clear Nintendo could sell more if they could have increased production even further.

Super NES Classic Mini

First game to play on the SNES Mini was Star Fox (originally Star Wing in PAL territories) so I could unlock the bonus Star Fox 2. The mixed reviews of that proved true: it’s a bit of a clunky game and would have been far better sticking to the original on-rails formula, not free roaming. I’ve dived into most of the other games since, and I’m pleased with the collection. My only gripe would be there’s too many RPGs on it, and do we really need a Street Fighter 2? While it’s obviously a “Nintendo classic”, it’s been on everything else for the past 20 years. Also, why not Super Street Fighter 2: The New Challengers – the one with the four extra characters that Japan got? While Turbo could be argued as the purest Street Fighter 2 experience, it’s not the definitive one.

The five RPGs on the SNES Mini are Zelda: A Link to the Past, Earthbound, Final Fantasy 3 (FF6 in Japan), Super Mario RPG and Secret of Mana. We easily could have done without Secret of Mana, and possibly Super Mario RPG. There’s also two Kirby games on it, which is at least one too many. Glaringly missing is a shooter or two, and some sports games. UN Squadron (Area 88 in Japan) would be the obvious inclusion, with Axelay another option. International Superstar Soccer Deluxe (Fighting Eleven in Japan) is the obvious sports game required, while another could be Super Tennis. NBA Jam would also be good.

A conventional driving game would have been good to sit with Super Mario Kart, with Top Gear probably the best option. While sequels Top Gear 2 and Top Gear 3000 are no doubt superior, Top Gear is the more familiar one to most people. Plus, it’s a classic! Instead of Street Fighter 2, how about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 4: Turtles in Time? Adding some of these games also would have boosted the system’s multi-player capabilities. Or, given there’s no technical limitation to restrict the total of games at 21, why not just add all these games anyway? Maybe Nintendo didn’t want it to make the NES Classic Mini seem second rate. Speaking of which…

NES Classic Mini

Arguably there’s not really any obvious omissions on this system, only suggestions that would improve it. Games like Balloon Fight and Ice Climbers are really old school, while who has heard of Star Tropics? Curiously they have Super C and Double Dragon 2 instead of the original Contra and Double Dragon, yet persisted with Tecmo Bowl, Gradius, Ninja Gaiden and Castlevania ahead of the clearly superior sequels of Tecmo Super Bowl, Life Force Salamander, Ninja Gaiden 2 (there was also a third) and Castlevania 3: Dracula’s Curse. Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest is also on the system, and while it could be argued as the weakest of the three, since it’s an RPG style of Castlevania, it definitely deserves its place. Besides, where else can you pay the ferryman? It is a tricky decision. You really need the first game for its “classic” status, and you don’t really need three, so the two selected are probably right. If you missed out on the NES Mini, Nintendo will resume production middle of 2018.

NES Classic Mini

SNES vs NES – Classic Battle

Overall, you will get more out of the games on the SNES despite nine fewer than the NES. Those RPGs will take eons, while Super Metroid is a long game and Super Ghouls & Ghosts is really hard. Even I struggled despite beating it at the time. Newbies to the Castlevania series will find Castlevania 4 a bit tough. Plus, if you’ve never played Street Fighter 2 before and get hooked, that is endless hours learning all the characters.

The other benefit of the SNES is two controllers in the box. Cables are also much longer than the NES, though, not long enough to station the system too far away from the couch. Personally I use a HDMI extension lead and keep the systems near me, because the other shortcoming in both is the reset is via a button on the box. There’s no controller shortcut. The SNES controllers are also much nicer to hold, and the bonus is they work on the NES. So if you require extra cable length or need an extra NES controller, your problem is solved with the SNES Mini.

In terms of interface, both are the same, and support 4 save-states for each game. Be aware some SNES games had battery back-up too, so if you use that function within the game itself, make sure it’s at a later point in the game than your save-state in the system, or only use the one save system. Otherwise you will confuse yourself! The SNES also has several themed borders to make the 4:3 ratio of games look better on modern wide-screen TVs, which is nicer than the black bars of the NES, and are good for your plasma TV, if you still have one like me.

Graphically, the NES games actually look much better than the SNES ones. This is all to do with pixels, and with the NES using much more blockier pixels, they expand much cleaner than the more detailed ones on the SNES. It is quite a shock when first playing a SNES Mini game that it’s so pixelated. You barely notice this on the NES Mini.

Elsewhere

While I do have a PlayStation 4, it’s been a bit quiet there other than for some favourite series like Gran Turismo Sport and Wipeout Omega Collection. Both are superb games, especially Wipeout. It’s the quintessential collection. Sony keep adding stuff to Gran Turismo, so there’s far more to it now in single player mode. Curiously when I bought that at JB, they were selling GT-themed controllers for only $40 extra. It’s been a year of the bonus too. Bonus!

Game of the Year

Simply because it’s so damn good, it’s part of my favourite game series, and it’s been 15 excruciating years since the last one of its type, it must be Metroid: Samus Returns.

Warrior’s Video Games of 2016 & Nintendo Switch Preview

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