Remasters, remakes, and re-releases aren't uncommon, whether that be because of a new console coming out to give a game another chance to shine (Switch, we're looking at you) or because a classic is reworked to support the release of a coming sequel. Here are some of the re-appearing gems that need some love this year.
4. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze / Retro Studios
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze returned this year on Nintendo Switch, and in doing so Nintendo brought back one of the best platform games of the Wii U era and slapped it onto the hybrid console with a bunch of quality of life improvements. The most obvious tweak is the addition of Funky Kong, who makes this once demanding platformer much more accessible, lessening the difficulty level to more manageable levels so all the family can get involved.
Not only is Tropical Freeze a vibrant game to behold, but it's also an engaging and challenging experience that still stands up in 2018. We're just glad that after the Wii U flopped so hard, many of those classic old-gen games are finally starting to entertain larger audiences more befitting their quality.
3. Shadow of the Colossus / SCE Japan Studio, Team Ico, Bluepoint
Another old-gen classic that got a new lick of paint this year was Shadow of the Colossus, with SCE Japan Studio and Team Ico's PlayStation 2 masterpiece returning earlier this year. Bluepoint was once again put in charge of remastering the original, and the studio did a damn fine job too, fine-tuning the visuals to make them look absolutely stunning on modern 4K screens.
The true strength of Shadow of the Colossus is drawn from the sense of scale (that, and the power of the ending), and you're tasked with battling vast creatures that are found around the world. When you encounter these titular colossi you have to try and climb their bodies and plunge your blade into designated weak spots to take them down. When you're not engaged in these epic battles you're exploring the wider world, and the grandness of the setting can leave you feeling small and isolated. At times it can feel a little empty and there are other areas where the game feels slightly antiquated, but overall this 13-year-old game holds up rather well.
2. Diablo III / Blizzard
Blizzard's action-RPG is one of those games that just won't go away. It has endured on PC, appeared on both old and current-gen consoles, and then this year the whole thing was repackaged once more and released on Nintendo Switch as the Eternal Collection. It's a testament to the quality of the game that it keeps appearing on new platforms, and like Skyrim/Bethesda, we have to assume that Blizzard will stop porting it to new devices when people stop buying it. Or until Diablo IV is released, whenever that may be.
Diablo III: Eternal Collection landed on PS4 and Xbox One last year, and this year it hit the Switch. Taking into account the hardware limitations of Nintendo's hybrid console, it's not the most visually stunning game you'll ever see, but even with a screen full of player-controlled characters and AI-assistants battling hordes of creatures, the slowdown was kept to a minimum and the overall experience felt smooth as butter. On top of that there's a wealth of things for players to explore, and if you've never played this third game in the series, you can rely on being served up dozens of hours of engaging content.
Mark of the Ninja / Klei Entertainment
The game that we were most happy to see return this year was Mark of the Ninja, which was remastered by Klei Entertainment for PS4, Switch, and Xbox One in October. The studio unpackaged the game's original high-res art and thanks to the hardware of the 4K-capable consoles, released the game in all its intended glory. That said, while the graphics are undoubtedly crisp and pleasing to behold, it's the gameplay itself that shines brightest, and we had a great time re-exploring this stealth-based platform adventure.
The great strength of Mark of the Ninja is the way the complexity of the game layers, opening new gameplay possibilities as you explore. This layering of skills means that as your familiarity with the controls increases, so too does your overall potency. That would make this a walk in the park were it not for the steady introduction of new challenges to overcome, and Klei has done a perfect job of empowering the player with various abilities and yet still giving them a challenge that doesn't feel over or undercooked.
Mark of the Ninja gives the player increasing freedom to express themselves via a series of challenging environments filled with guards. The range of abilities means there's not always one way to approach a given situation, and at the end of the day it's up to you how you want to proceed. Throughout the adventure you're given all the intel you need to make informed decisions thanks to some superb visual and audio design, and it's rare to see a game with such cohesion. If you missed it the first time around and you like stealth-based games and platformers in general, it's absolutely worth your attention.
Loading next content