SNES Classic is Coming!

As if 2017 weren’t jam packed already with insane video game goodness, Nintendo decides to pile it on with the announcement of the SNES Classic, coming this fall.

I absolutely have an affinity for the 8-bit era games, but to me the 16-bit period hits me much harder in the nostalgia feels.

The SNES Classic doesn’t disappoint with an incredible lineup of games, some of which are still considered all-time bests. Super Mario World, Super Metroid, Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Donkey Kong Country, Final Fantasy III (or VI for accuracy), and Secret of Mana are all must-play games for any gamer.

The 16-bit games really had that sweet spot between technical advancements but still limited enough to require the creators to find innovative solutions to craft the experiences they wanted to make.

The SNES editions of Mario, Zelda and Metroid are essentially re-dos of the originals, but more finely polished and thought-out.

All this is just to say that I REALLY want a SNES Classic. The original NES Classic was notoriously hard to find and everyone anticipates that Nintendo will continue their track record of horrible supply chains.

Honestly, I’d much rather have a Virtual Console on the Switch so that I won’t need yet another console, and I can take these games on the go. I managed to find a Switch and there are only a few games on it that I want to play. Metroid Prime 4 and Mario Odyssey are coming, but having some of these classic games would really make the Switch feel like a worthwhile purchase.

Here’s hoping that Nintendo figures logistics out on their end.

Final Fantasy XV Review

One of the first opening screens for latest installment of Square Enix’s long-running franchise states “A Final Fantasy for fans and newcomers alike.”

The decision to flash that message every time the game boots up seems like an odd marketing ploy; even odder considering anyone who sees it has probably purchased the game already.

But does the game fulfill that promise to satisfy loyal fans as well as invite those who are curious about the storied series?

My verdict is mostly no.

As a person who was a huge fan of Final Fantasy IV and VI on the SNES, as well as VII and VIII once the series jumped to Playstation 1, I’ve always had a soft spot because these games provided an epic scope of story and characterization that was unparalleled in video games at the time.

The following years though, I strayed from the series and gaming in general, so was not quite familiar with how the series has tried to evolve as video games overall became more epic and cinematic.

So, in a way, I felt like I was both a fan and a newcomer. (Well, I did play XIII but no one likes to think about or consider that game at all.)

Back on topic to FF XV, I immediately felt lost and uncomfortable. The game boasts an initially complex and daunting series of systems, from how to fight to how to level up to how to manage magic. I just couldn’t fathom how any casual gamer would be patient enough to learn these mechanics. I think I was at Hour 5 or 6 before I felt like I had a good grasp of everything.

Not only that but nothing in the game felt to me like a “real” Final Fantasy: the American West-esque setting, the cartoonishly overdone Southern accents, driving around in a CAR. The Jap-pop design of the main characters was off-putting but at least it seemed appropriate for a FF game.

I did end up enjoying the game. In fact, I ended up platinuming it on the PS4. The camaraderie between the four protagonists has been universally cited as a strong point and I tend to agree.

However, another hallmark of Final Fantasy games in my opinion is how a rag-tag group of people from completely different backgrounds always manages to come together to save the world. FF XV never really allows for anyone else to join the party, and players only ever control Noctis.

I also realized around the halfway point during a cinematic scene that I had virtually no idea what was going on in the story.

My band of travelers was on a roadtrip to go meet Noctis’ fiance in another city. However there was some sort of strife back in home with the king and some other people but I generally had no idea with whom or why.

I eventually pieced together the plot but none of the motivations ever got illuminated in a meaningful way.

I think that was the most disappointing aspect of playing this latest Final Fantasy. The story didn’t seem epic or worldly like other past installments. It’s hard to feel like there are any stakes to the conflict when you’re allowed to just cruise around in your vehicle with your buddies.

Which was another issue I had with the game. I got to the point where I’d set my destination and then walk off to grab a drink or check my phone. Huge swaths of time were devoted to just sitting there waiting for the auto-pilot to get to the next place. There is a fast travel option but the loading screen seemed to take just as long and didn’t provide any AP bonus points.

The more I write, the more clarity I get on how disappointed I actually was in the game. It’s by no means the disaster that XIII was. But this game was in development hell for ten years. The fact that it got released at all is probably an achievement.

The end result makes me want to boot up FFVI Advanced on my old Nintendo DS, but it makes me a bit nervous about the likelihood that Square Enix will bungle the FFVII Remake.

Most Anticipated Upcoming Games

Final Fantasy XV (Sept 30, 2016)

I was a die-hard fan back in the days of IV, VI and VII but have fallen off the wagon since. I bought XIII but was less than impressed.

I haven’t kept up with every detail about this game so will probably wait for the reviews to come in before committing to this one. But I’m hoping SquareEnix can recapture the magic.

 

Persona 5 (Feb 14, 2017)

I actually haven’t played any previous Persona game (and am still debating over whether or not to buy a Vita just to play P4) but everything I’ve seen of Persona 5 looks like it will be amazing.

The anime aspect, the Tokyo setting, and the bold design style are piquing my interest big time.

I got to play Catherine on last-gen and thought it was a great mix of puzzle platformer and character-heavy story.

 

Mass Effect Andromeda (March 2017)

Easily my most anticipated game.

The Mass Effect trilogy was the highlight of my Xbox 360 gaming experience. I played the crap out of those games multiple times.

The games had major flaws and plotholes, but the Star Wars-esque setting and the interesting characters are what kept me coming back for more.

I’m hoping for more of the same in Andromeda.

 

Other games that I’ll probably end up checking out:

The Last Guardian, just to see what the hype is all about
Watchdogs 2, initially excited about the first one but reality of it kept me from even playing it
Rise of the Tomb Raider, my enthusiasm dulled after having waited so long for it to show up on the PS4

What do you guys think?

Also, I want to do a Let’s Play soon but most of these games on my list are RPGs which aren’t exactly conducive to focused recorded gameplay. I’m thinking I’ll try recording a couple of episodes of Persona 5 and see how it goes. But I’m open to anyone’s opinions.