Last year, I celebrated 2017’s best game releases and moments that highlighted the industry’s more old-school side. Now it’s time to give that same treatment to 2018, which was just as exciting and fun a year for retro gaming fans.
Spyro Reignited Trilogy
After Crash Bandicoot got the remake treatment in 2017, it was Spyro’s turn this year. And just like how Crash N. Sane Trilogy made three classic PlayStation platforms as pretty as any modern game, Reignited Trilogy took Spyro’s firth three adventures and turned them into some of the most beautiful kid-friendly games I’ve ever seen.
Aside from the new graphics, all three Spyros hold up as great 3D platformers. I only dabbled in them when they debuted during the original PlayStation era, so I’m thankful this collection gave me a chance to fully appreciate this franchise.
Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon
Curse of the Moon is just a Kickstarter stretch goal for another game, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. But it’s the greatest stretch goal ever. While Ritual of the Night takes inspiration from Castlevania’s nonlinear 2D entries (aka the Metroidvanias), Curse of the Moon is an homage to earlier entries in the Castlevania series, specifically Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse.
It has some of the best pixel art I’ve seen in a modern retro (enjoy that oxymoron) game, and Curse of the Moon manages to capture the spirit and feel of those classic, linear Castlevania adventures. I’m not sure if Ritual of the Night can match its quality.
SNK 40th Anniversary Collection
Digital Eclipse has done fantastic work porting classic games to modern systems. Just look at its efforts on Mega Man Legacy Collection and The Disney Afternoon Collection. SNK 40th Anniversary Collection is another successful package of classics.
While many think of ’90s fighting games like Fatal Fury and arcade titles like Metal Slug when they hear SNK, this collection celebrates the company’s older titles (mostly from the ’80s). It’s a fantastic opportunity to play the history of one of gaming’s greatest arcade developers.
Poor PlayStation Classic. I seem to be the only person who has anything nice to say about this retro console. Sure, it doesn’t have a library as good as what we’ve seen from Nintendo’s mini-console offerings. And it sucks that some of the included games run off of the European PAL versions, meaning they run slower than they should.
But I still have fun with the machine. Maybe it’s because I got a chance to experience games I never thought much of before, like Ridge Racer Type 4. Maybe it’s because of the overwhelming flood of nostalgia that hit me when I booted up Battle Arena Toshinden for the first time since 1995. Whatever the reason, I can’t bring myself to hate the PlayStation Classic.
Mega Man 11
Mega Man 11 was on this list last year, just because I was so excited about its announcement. Well, we got to actually play the game in 2018, and it was awesome.
Although it has fancier, more modern graphics, Mega Man 11 is a retro game at heart. It has the same precise jumping and shooting that made the classic Mega Man games so fantastic, and its arsenal of weapons and bosses are some of the most memorable we’ve ever seen from the series. It’s a fantastic blend of old and new, and Mega Man 11 stands out as my favorite retro experience of 2018.
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.