2017 Year in Review



2017 is in the books and what a wild ride it's been. The big video gaming systems went VR and Ultra 4K HD, while interest in gaming expanded into the e-sport realm. VR made a comeback in grand fashion. Yet, despite the trends towards more powerful technology than ever in gaming, 2017 looks to ultimately belong to some old friends.

All of the recent standards of the modern systems came out with new titles, including Call of Duty and Assassin's Creed. Yet the old school franchises like Street Fighter and Tekken catapulted the e-sport genre straight to the mainstream. Rocket League (what looks like soccer with cars) became the undisputed king of the e-sport games.

Indeed you can turn on your TV in the 1990s and some cable channel at 3 AM would show something video game related. US television channel G4, long since dead, was an early stab at broadcasting games to a wider audience. Video game competitions were nothing new and were actually the basis of a lot of Nintendo legendary players and high scores back in the late 80s and early 90s. Blockbuster Video took over in the mid 1990s. Video game magazines covered it and sometimes you'd see an obscure channel showing something video gaming related. But in 2017, you could turn on primetime ESPN and watch a Street Fighter V Tournament. People claimed video game player as a profession and competition went mainstream. Tekken 7 and Rocket League tournaments soon followed. E-Sports went mainstream.

2017 also belonged to retro gaming. Despite all the acclaim of the big systems, Nintendo's Switch ruled the roost in 2017. Indeed Breath of the Wild was hailed as one of the year's best releases. Super Mario Odyssey soon followed and Switch re-releases of games like Shovel Knight and Super Meat Boy gave Nintendo's newest system a rabid and loyal following. The portability of the system, the price, and the fact that Nintendo takes extreme care in creating their software has given the hottest system trophy easily to the Switch this year.

Nintendo was also taken to task for it's handling of the NES Classic. By making so few at launch and then discontinuing the system, it drove the cost of these systems on the secondary market sky high. And it looked like Nintendo was going to do the same thing to the SNES Classic. However, Nintendo came to their senses and launched en masse the retro system, and promised more NES Classics in the future. By the middle of this year, it should be ridiculously easy to snag one from a regular store and not have to spend a fortune paying someone online for what may or may not be a bootleg.

Retro-styled gaming wasn't limited to just Nintendo systems in 2017, however. Shovel Knight creators Yacht Club Games announced a small crossover level with Battletoads, a new expansion to their money-making franchise, and a Switch port. Words of a sequel, however, may be saved until 2018.

Speaking of sequels, Mega Man has been very quiet this entire decade aside from a few reissues and some Mega Man like games (Mighty No. 9 and 20XX, looking at you). Fans were getting a little peeved that the most the franchise has done was reissue the old games in 2 separate Legacy collections, but Capcom hit us with a bombshell trailer and Mega Man 11 was announced in all it's 2.5D glory. Not to mention the announcement the X series was getting the Legacy reissue treatment as well. The announcement made Mega Man's 30th anniversary (held on modern streaming platform Twitch) way more then just a simple milestone and a "what if" conversation.

Surprise game of the year was Cuphead. A side-scroller designed as a 1920s cartoon, it made it's way to Xbox and PC and became one of the most addicting games released in 2017. Borrowing from classics like Vectorman and Ghosts and Goblins, the retro-styled game featured a wide assortment of boss battles and power-ups that would have felt right at home on a PS1 or Sega Saturn (minus the awesome graphic effects like the grainy video). Also feeling right at home on a retro system was the amazing Sonic Mania, a re-imaging of some Sonic 1-3 levels as well as a host of new ones in a game that was a Genesis Sonic fanatic's dream. Everything you may have felt would be amazing back as a kid playing these games on Genesis was put into this amazing game and retro gamers (and a lot of newer Sonic fanatics in the making) ate it up.

2017 was definitely a banner year for those that love the retro gaming scene. The success of the Nintendo Switch, an amazing batch of retro-styled releases on modern systems, and the success of old franchises like Street Fighter V and Tekken 7 on E-Sport broadcasts prove sometimes the classics make for some of the best gaming out there, and make sure we'll be talking again about retro-styled games in 2018 and long after.

-Metallic Joe-
 
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