Earlier today, Spyro Reignited Trilogy’s website was updated to include a message about Spyro 2 and 3 requiring a separate download. This bothered fans who want to own a physical collection of the three games or people who just weren’t happy about having to download games they wanted to leap into immediately.

We reached out to Activision to ask if this meant that the latter two games would just be entirely downloaded or it meant an update.

“The global launch date of Spyro Reignited Trilogy is Sept. 21; and we’re excited for fans to play all three reignited games on that day,” Activision told us. “As with most games today, downloading an update after purchase is quite common. The language on packaging and on the web is to let players know the requirements for Spyro Reignited Trilogy.”

While that is not definitive, some kind of download for Spyro will be required for the latter two games. It’s just not clear how big of one. Spyro Reignited Trilogy releases on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on September 21.

 

I don’t believe this is a situation where a download code is in the box for the two other games, but it seems like they’ll need an update to be playable. Maybe they’re just not completely finished as of going gold or there are necessary tweaks.

It’s a little on the late side, but the National Purchase Diary has released the sales rankings for video games for the month of June 2018. 

In terms of software, Mario Tennis Aces topped the charts for the month for all platforms. While many publishers report digital sales to the NPD, Nintendo does not, meaning Mario Tennis hit the first spot solely on physical retail copies alone. This makes Mario Tennis the best debut for a tennis video game in the U.S. period, which has to be thrilling Nintendo, which recently reported that the Switch is on the edge of 20 million units sold worldwide.

Standing tall behind Mario Tennis is God of War, which sticks strong at the second spot since its April release. In a recent report from research organization SuperData, it was revealed that Kratos’ latest adventure had driven $131 million in digital revenue alone.

The rest of the list is mostly predictable, with the unflappable Grand Theft Auto continuing to place highly directly behind God of War.  The Crew 2 debuted fairly high, as well, cementing Ubisoft as the most successful third party so far in 2018.

One particular note is Vampyr, the new game from Life is Strange developers Dontnod and published by Focus Home Interactive. The title came out just days after the NPD started tracking for the month and debuted fairly far down the list at number 18. It is extremely likely, however, that the bulk of Vampyr’s sales were digital, which are not counted in this instance.

It is also notable that Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus for the Switch is nowhere to be seen. Similarly, despite releasing on multiple platforms, BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle makes no appearance in the top 20 games sold.

The top 20 software list follows:

Mario Tennis Aces*   1
God of War 2018   2
Grand Theft Auto V   3
The Crew 2   4
Far Cry 5   5
Mario Kart 8*   6
LEGO Incredibles   7
FIFA 18^   8
Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy   9
Detroit: Become Human   10
Super Mario Odyssey*   11
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild*   12
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege   13
NBA 2K18   14
Call of Duty: WWII   15
MLB 18: The Show   16
Assassin’s Creed: Origins   17
Vampyr*   18
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze*   19
State of Decay 2   20

(Titles marked with * do not count digital sales.)

In terms of hardware, the NES Classic actually ended up selling the most units of any console in the month of June, likely due to Nintendo manufacturing the minconsole again due to demand. The PlayStation 4 sold the most of traditional consoles, but all three major platforms including the Switch and Xbox One experienced year-over-year growth from last June.

Sony announced this week that the company has shipped 83 million PlayStation 4 consoles worldwide, besting the PlayStation 3 by two years.

For next month’s NPD, we will learn how games like Octopath Traveler, Sonic Mania Plus, No Man’s Sky, and more performed in the month of July.

Since the first Banner Saga’s release in 2014, developer Stoic has strived to create an epic adventure set in a snowy world inspired by Viking mythology. In the first two games, a dark storm impressing itself upon the world forces a group of humans and giants to work together for survival. They strike out to find sanctuary and hold out against the darkness – and the army of stone soldiers its brought in its wake. Both games required players to make tough choices during the The Oregon Trail-inspired journey where a stranger on the road could be a new hero to use in battle, or a scout for bandits waiting to slit the throats of your clansmen. The third Banner Saga successfully concludes an odyssey that’s always been about holding players accountable for their choices, but the ride is still bumpy as the end of the road approaches.

Picking up immediately after the end of Banner Saga 2, this installment splits our time between two protagonists. The first group spends their time holding out in a fortress at the end of the world as enemies descend and supplies dwindle. Meanwhile, in the belly of the planet, a small group of warriors leads a suicide mission at the core of the darkness in the hope of killing it. Both sides of the tale are compelling, and you must make smart choices for survival in different ways. The fortress segments have you negotiating politics, like who will lead the kingdom assuming you survive this onslaught, and managing supplies for various factions in order to keep the peace. The suicide mission segments require you to settle petty disputes and manage the egos of your party as you undertake this dangerous task.

In a smart, topsy-turvy design decision, Banner Saga 3 upends the series’ signature counter at the top of the screen. In the previous games, this counter kept track of the days you had traveled, giving a clear sense of the breadth of your journey. Now the counter has become a countdown, tracking how long until your fortress breaks against the waves of darkness at the gate. This takes into account all the choices you’ve made throughout the series, factoring in your supplies and how many clansmen you’ve kept alive.  You’re not screwed if you’ve made poor choices throughout the series (you just have to engage in more battles), but it’s a strong feature that really makes you feel the echo of all your decisions throughout Banner Saga as a whole.

The battle system is essentially unchanged from the first two games. A new mechanic has characters earning titles to receive various stat bonuses once they hit level 11 – like Death’s Messenger making your units’ attack power stronger – but everything else is familiar. You’re still moving on a tile-based battlefield, using your units to take out the enemy opposition. Sometimes you have to accomplish a special objective, like clearing out multiple waves of enemies or attacking road blocks so the caravan can proceed its journey, but your mission is usually to clear the board of foes. I spent most of the battles wanting to barrel through them to get back to the story. The battles aren’t a chore, but they also don’t stand out next to genre siblings like Fire Emblem and XCOM. Luckily the narrative is the main drive here.

The Banner Saga 3 stays true to the series’ bleak ethos of crushing consequences for difficult choices. You don’t have as many decisions to make in this entry, since it is focused on holding you accountable for your previous actions, but the occasional choices all have devastating consequences that shape the endgame in dramatic ways, like losing a prominent character or shaping the world in certain ways. My only complaint on the narrative side of things is that the characters don’t get enough time to shine. The previous two entries were good about taking a minute so you could talk with people in your party and get to know them. The fast pace of the story in The Banner Saga 3, constantly pushing you toward the end, means that character development is often eschewed. Sometimes I’d lose a character to a bad choice and shrug my shoulders, because I felt like The Banner Saga hadn’t done the legwork to make me care for them. However, most losses, especially for the characters who have been with the caravan since the first game, are appropriately heart-rending.

As a standalone game, The Banner Saga 3 is the weakest of the bunch. As a conclusion, it does its job well, marrying beauty to melancholy and making me think long and hard about what sacrifices I was willing to make for the good of the world. Though I left my time with my caravan wishing I had been given more opportunities to get to know them better, I still felt my long trek through blood and snow was worth having, and Stoic’s somber adventure has lived up to its exhausting ambitions.

For more on Banner Saga, be sure to read our reviews for the first and second games.

 

Warner Bros. has announced that 2017’s Middle-earth: Shadow of War, the sequel to Shadow of Mordor, will be getting a definitive edition at the end of the month. Titled simply Middle-earth: Shadow of War Definitive Edition, the comprehensive collection of all of the game’s content both at and since release.

The Definitive Edition includes the main game, the two Nemesis expansions Slaughter Tribe and Outlaw Tribe, and the two story expansions Blade of Galadriel and Desolation of Mordor. Combined with the recent update that removed the marketplace and microtransactions from the game, the Definitive Edition seems to be WB’s hopes for a relaunch for a game dragged down by a controversial nemesis model.

You can read our review of Shadow of War right here, as well as our impressions of Blade of Galadriel and impressions of Desolation of Mordor. Middle-earth: Shadow of War Definitive Edition releases on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on August 31.

On May 26, anonymous user “@__” sent an encrypted file with a limit of 20 downloads to the Pokémon Reverse Engineering Tools (PRET) Discord.

“i heard you like protos,” @__ wrote.

The file was something of a legend among the Pokémon reverse-engineering community: a demo version of Pokémon Gold and Silver, originally playable at the Nintendo Space World trade show in 1997. Since Gold and Silver didn’t release until two years after Space World 1997, this demo supposedly contained significant differences from the final game – including strange, unused Pokémon designs. Until @__’s Discord post, however, little tangible evidence of these differences actually existed outside of rumors and snippets of promotional art.

“btw this is the proto I would have given a kidney for,” another user, Sanqui, added after exchanging a few messages with @__, “so thanks.”

Driven by an obsession with preservation for preservation’s sake, reverse-engineering communities like PRET exist to pick apart old games in order to understand them. These hackers work to disassemble games and document their elements, hoping to gain knowledge of past programming methods. Some seek to reverse-engineer game code for modification or bug fixing, but the PRET members who rushed to disassemble the Space World demo simply wanted to uncover its long-lost secrets.

Old Discoveries

 

Sanqui was one of the 20 PRET users to secure a download of the demo.

“I was like ‘Holy s—, this is the real thing,’” says Sanqui, who wishes to remain anonymous. “When I first saw it, I was thinking, ‘Yeah, this would take somebody like me maybe three months of sustained work to fake.’ … And now I’m not even sure if I could make it.”

The demo’s leak and subsequent deconstruction by the PRET community brought the work of video game reverse-engineering enthusiasts to the attention of gaming publications across the internet. Sanqui knew the unused Pokémon and other potential secrets within the demo would be significant to the gaming community. “This is major and going to hit gaming press so we need a little coordination,” he told the Discord channel. Still, Sanqui and the others who worked on the disassembly would likely have done so regardless of the potential impact.

“It’s sort of this interest in what makes it tick,” Sanqui says. “It’s a window into the developer’s mind. You can see what decisions they made, how they implemented the game, … what they perhaps intended to do, but never got around [to] it, or changed it, or removed it. It’s not just reverse-engineering – it’s just documentation of what’s behind what you see on the screen.”

Within a few hours of the leak of the Pokémon Gold and Silver demo, Sanqui set up a separate Discord and asked anyone who secured a copy of the demo before it auto-deleted after 20 downloads to contact him. He formed Team Spaceworld.

“I basically put together a team of the best Pokémon reverse-engineers, translators, prototype researchers that I know,” Sanqui says. “I knew that if I don’t really do this – if I don’t make the team, and put the people in one place, and sort of spearhead it – then it’s gonna be a huge mess. … It wouldn’t have been organized at all.”

Sanqui and Team Spaceworld wanted to control the demo’s release, keeping it a secret as they worked. The aim was to disassemble the demo in order to find and document all of the differences between it and the final game. In addition, the team wanted to produce a full English translation, fix bugs, and the remove barriers that kept player exploration restricted to the demo area in order to make the demo more accessible to players not savvy with tech or fluent in Japanese.

That secrecy didn’t last long. The Wednesday after @__ leaked the demo to PRET, it found its way out into the wider internet. With the demo’s existence no longer a secret, Team Spaceworld decided to release the work it had done so far, even though it was far from complete.

“In those four days, we did an amazing amount of work,” Sanqui says. “Everybody sort of got together and, especially since we were all around the world, we really worked around the clock. Like, you woke up in the morning, and there’s eight hours of work done … a lot of new discoveries and knowledge.”

Since the members of Team Spaceworld had experience disassembling Pokémon games in the past, they were well prepared for the demo’s unexpected release. The code was similar enough to Pokémon Red and Blue’s and to the retail version of Pokémon Gold and Silver’s that the team was able to jump right in and extract what they knew people would want to see most.

“We basically didn’t start from zero,” says Samuel “obskyr” Messner, a disassembler, translator, and Team Spaceworld’s “third in command.” “We started from ‘We know approximately how it’s gonna look.’ Then from that, it’s basically ‘First of all, get the thing everyone’s interested in: the Pokémon. The sprites. The images.’”

The team found 40 entirely original, unused Pokémon designs and 32 early designs for existing Pokémon, Messner says. These include oddities like three Neopets-esque early designs for the legendary beasts and what looks like an early design for Sharpedo with an anchor for a tail. Artist Rachel Briggs has drawn all the Generation II designs in the style of Ken Sugimori, illustrator of the original 151 Pokémon, which Team Spaceworld plans to release along with the translation patch.

“Normally, the Pokémon community would go nuts over just a single early sprite,” Messner says. “Just a single, slight difference. Like, ‘Oh, this was what they meant with this Pokémon originally, huh?’ But now we have that times a hundred!”

Beyond the new sprites, the team also found answers to questions it’d had since digging through the code of the final game.

“We have found the same data in the final ROM, and we didn’t previously know the purpose of it,” Sanqui says. “But we do now: It’s just leftovers from Space World, which is something that also further validates the authenticity.”

The demo’s world map is also wildly different from what players saw in the final game. Pokémon Gold and Silver’s Johto region is based on the Kansai region of Japan, but the demo’s Johto is based on the entirety of Japan.

“There are snowy forests; there are palm tree-covered beaches,” Messner says. “There are so many things that were completely stripped out for the final version.”

All of these differences, no matter how minor, are significant to Team Spaceworld and are the very reason Sanqui and Messner devote so much time to disassembling games.

“Everything is history and deserves to be preserved,” Messner says. “There’s so much to say about this demo. … It’s a historical occasion. And we’re all extremely happy it came out and that the world gets to see it.”

The Pursuit Of Playability

GalaXyHaXz reverse engineered Diablo’s source code, allowing for the easy addition of features like a framerate display.

GalaXyHaXz, another reverse engineer, recently completely reconstructed the source code of the original Diablo.

“[B]eing unemployed, I was able to dedicate 12-14 hours a days working on the project,” says GalaXyHaXz, who also wishes to remain anonymous. “I started plugging in the numbers, jumping through the debugger, then finally! About 1,200 hours and four months later the disassembly would re-assemble a working version of the game.”

After quitting a blue collar job a few years after graduating high school, GalaXyHaXz stumbled upon a Diablo forum and quickly befriended the others there. Some of them expressed interest in playing through the original Diablo together, but they had trouble getting the game to run right.

GalaXyHaXz started looking into mods to fix the game’s problems. They couldn’t find any that worked as well as they wanted, so GalaXyHaXz decided to fix the issues on their own.

“I quickly learned that everything was hardcoded and modding was extremely tedious,” GalaXyHaXz says. “So I thought ‘Why not try reversing the game?’”

GalaXyHaXz began working to reverse-engineer the game in January. The goal was to reconstruct the game’s original code, bugs and all, in order to make it easier to mod and update. GalaXyHaXz called the project “Devilution.”

“You know that nice car you just bought?” GalaXyHaXz says. “After years pass and it begins to need maintenance, what do you do? You take it to a mechanic, and they take it apart to find out what the problem is. The problem is that they might not always be familiar with older cars, or the manufacturer who made parts is long out of business. So what did I do? I just gave the manufacturer’s blueprints of the car to the mechanic.”

GalaXyHaXz’s reverse-engineered source code allows modders to make changes to the game more easily. Rather than working with only the hardcoded game files previously accessible to the public, modders can now directly edit the game’s source code, meaning these “mechanics” can make the old car usable again.

“If people wanted to update the resolution, this involved changing the number of pixels drawn to the screen, which is affected by thousands of different pieces of code,” GalaXyHaXz explains. “This means it would be difficult/almost impossible to expand as it would require extensive ‘patching’ of the entire game basically. But with the source code we can safely … change these things with a mere one line of code.”

GalaXyHaXz says the process of reverse engineering Diablo’s source code was slow at first, but they were able to speed things up once they discovered some symbolic information accidentally left on the Japanese PlayStation port of Diablo. This information contained “file names, functions, structures, variables, and more,” which allowed GalaXyHaXz to more easily decipher Diablo’s code.

The end product was the fully preserved source code of a 1996 game, accessible online for everyone. Despite the fact that the game is no longer available for official purchase, accessing a playable version of Diablo with the mods and fixes made possible by GalaXyHaXz’s source code still requires owning a copy of the original PC game disk. “Devilution just replaces the game executable (i.e. the actual code/engine)” with modifiable code, GalaXyHaXz says, so players still need the game disk to access the graphics, music and sound effects in order to actually do anything with that engine. That said, GalaXyHaXz says the code could potentially allow players who only have access to non-PC devices to play the game.

“It would be pretty easy to make a Linux/Mac version,” GalaXyHaXz says. “With slightly more effort, it also wouldn’t be hard to port to PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, etc. … There’s already some people … talking about a Nintendo 3DS port.”

GalaXyHaXz hopes their reverse-engineered code allows more people to experience Diablo as in its “gothic 640×480 glory.”

“We already have modern re-implementations floating around but they don’t exactly work like the original,” GalaXyHaXz says. “I wanted to see things down to the exact line numbers and CPU cycles. … Remakes don’t always cut it, they fix everything and kill a lot of nostalgia; sometimes it’s the mistake that sweetened the cake. Many people from the younger generation (including me) missed out playing Diablo in its heyday, and a few levels slapped into Diablo 3 isn’t the same.”

GalaXyHaXz is proud of the project’s significance, but they wouldn’t recommend others to do something like this.

“I probably wouldn’t do it again,” GalaXyHaXz says. “However, many said it couldn’t be done, or that it would require a whole team. But I did it and it works, right?”

In the FAQ section of Devilution’s GitHub page, GalaXyHaXz responds with the following to those wondering if GalaXyHaXz is interested in working with them on more reverse engineering:

“Sorry, but no. This project is time consuming enough as it is, and it’s just a hobby.”

It may be just a hobby for GalaXyHaXz, but they still hope to use the things they’ve learned from Devilution.

“I’ve used reverse-engineering as a bottom-up learning method for a long time and plan on using it down the road,” GalaXyHaXz says. “I want to use similar methods to help further our current understanding of physics and extend deep-space research.

“Hopefully one day, we’ll be playing Diablo a million light years away…”

Digital Dig Sites

GalaXyHaXz was also able to easily change Diablo’s store inventory from text-based to image-based, like in Diablo II.

It’ll likely be quite a while until humans are doing anything a million light years away, but the work of GalaXyHaXz and other reverse engineers makes it a little more likely that games like Diablo will still be around to be played.

GalaXyHaXz was motivated to reverse engineer Diablo out of a desire to make the game playable again, but many reverse engineers enjoy the hobby purely for archival and historical reasons.

But what does this actually get us? Messner says the knowledge gained from producing readable code is something reverse engineers can build upon.

“Only with disassembly can we really know how games work – it’s an unrivaled form of digital preservation,” Messner says. “Without disassembly, we’d never know how Super Mario 64’s parallel universes work, [or] that Super Mario Bros. 3 has 17 unused levels. … Disassembly is often just the beginning, too. With it, you can create ROM hacks, figure out speedrun tricks, and find unused assets you never would’ve known about otherwise.”

Whether it’s on a demo of a 20-year-old game or a neglected Blizzard RPG, reverse engineers do their work in the hopes that it will one day be relevant to someone – someone like them.

“I like to call myself a digital archaeologist,” Sanqui says. “It feels like, in 100 years, maybe somebody interested will be digging through all this and will be thankful that people have saved it.”

 

For more on gaming’s past, check out this brief history of unused Pokémon designs and Ben Reeves’ 2015 gaming preservation feature.

Team Ninja and IGN have revealed a new character for Dead or Alive 6, a pugilistic street fighter named Diego. From New York City, Diego is the king of back alley fighting with headbutts and sucker-punches, and is fighting for his mother. He’s also the first newcomer announced for Dead or Alive 6 since the game’s reveal earlier this year.

In addition, taekwando fighter Rig is returning from Dead or Alive 5. At the end of the previous game’s story mode, Rig was revealed to be series antagonist Donovan’s son and had been feigning ignorance on the greater machinations concerning Kasumi’s clones. Presumably he will be involved in the story again, as it seems unlikely that this plot point will be dropped.

You can find the first trailer of Diego and Rig in Dead or Alive 6 at IGN right here. The game was announced slightly before E3, giving us a chance to play Dead or Alive 6 at the show and talked to the director about how the newest game in the series is de-emphasizing its infamous sex factor.

The Top 10 Games On Switch

Compared to Nintendo’s previous console generation (and most generations, frankly), the Switch has come out of the gate incredibly strong. It’s only been on the market for a relatively short time, but it already has a solid library of games with plenty worth recommending. For our 10 absolute favorite games, however, you can check out the list below. It’s a list we will be updating as often as games worthy of inclusion release. We will kick games off and add new ones as the Switch’s library grows.

Please note that while the list below contains 10 entries, we aren’t actually ranking them – if a game has made it this far (and managed to stay here), it’s a must-play, period. As such, we’ll be listing entries in chronological order. Also, you’ll find rundown of previous entries at the bottom of the list. While those titles have gotten bumped for bigger and better experiences, they are still all great games in their own right and worth exploring if you’re already caught up on the latest hits.

Here are Game Informer’s picks for the top 10 games on the Switch.

Fortnite

Release: June 12, 2018

It’s hard to avoid the phenomenon that is Fortnite. If for some strange reason you’re not familiar with the concept, the game’s battle royale mode pits 100 players against one another in a mad dash to scavenge resources, shoot opponents, build buildings, and be the last one standing. The Switch version version of the game actually pares down the experience by focusing entirely on battle royale, and that’s fine. The game is available on every modern platform, but the Switch version is easily the best mobile version of the game.

Click here for our review of the non-Switch versions of the game.

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

Release: May 4, 2018

Tropical Freeze originally released on Wii U in 2014, and it was great! But it was on the Wii U, which meant it was sadly underplayed. The Switch version adds Funky Kong as a playable character, but otherwise the experience is mostly unchanged from its original release, and that’s not a problem. It’s one of the best, most challenging platformers of the last decade, and an excellent soundtrack makes it all the better.

Click here for our review.

Celeste

Release: January 25, 2018

Developer Matt Thorson made a name for himself with the simple, but undeniably fun multiplayer experience, TowerFall. Celeste is his follow-up, and both the games share precise controls and a nostalgic pixel-art style. Playing as Madeline, players must make their way to the top of a mountain using dash and double-jump abilities. The game is as challenging as it is satisfying while delivering a heartfelt story about overcoming challenges in the face of adversity.

Click here for our review.

Super Mario Odyssey

Release: October 27, 2017

Every Nintendo console has to have at least one fantastic Mario platformer, and the Switch is no exception. Mario Odyssey released a few months after the launch of the console and it hits all the Mario checkboxes necessary to be considered a classic, plus a few surprising new ones. It’s whimsical, has perfect controls, tons to discover, and features a city level where all the humans have normal proportions while Mario runs around as his short, cartoony self. It’s a strange adventure, and a must-have for Switch owners.

Click here for our review.

Stardew Valley

Release: October 5, 2017

The future of Harvest Moon is unclear and its recent past is underwhelming. Thankfully, Stardew Valley exists and improves on nearly every mechanic that series popularized. Managing a farm may sound like a chore, but in Stardew Valley it’s a joy. Watching your crops grow over time and selling them for profit while getting to know the townspeople creates an experience that is difficult to put down. Adding the portability of the Switch only makes the experience better.

Click here for our review of the PC version of the game.

Golf Story

Release: September 28, 2017

True consoles exclusives from third-party developers are becoming more and more rare, but they haven’t disappeared entirely yet. Golf Story is only playable on Switch and it merges the pixel-art RPG with the retro golf genre for a bizarre adventure that places you to the past to play golf against cavemen, explore cities in the clouds, and even take part in a rap contest. Golf Story is a true original and is absolutely worthy of the paltry storage space needed to play the game on your Switch.

Click here for our review.

Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle

Release: August 29, 2017

Kingdom Battle is one of the biggest surprises to come out of the Switch. Combining XCOM, Mario, and video games’ most annoying mascots all into one game seemed like an awful idea… but it actually works. Kingdom Battle stands on its own as a totally engaging strategy game, and is only buoyed by the interactions between the Mario family of characters and the Rabbids. Like an expert stand-up comedian, it will make you laugh, and it will make you think.

Click here for our review.

Splatoon 2

Release: July 21, 2017

Splatoon was a hit on Wii U, despite the console’s small install base, and its sequel improves on the experience. The multiplayer mode – a shooter that tasks you with shooting paint instead of bullets – is highly replayable, but there is also a full campaign mode with awesome bosses, and a cooperative online mode. It may not look like your typical shooter, but Splatoon 2 inspires the same kind of excitement you get from something like a Call of Duty.

Click here for our review.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Release: April 28, 2017

Far more than a simple port of the excellent Mario Kart 8 for Wii U, Deluxe includes all the game’s DLC (extra tracks, racers, and cars), and Battle Mode, which was curiously absent from the original release. Playing split-screen Mario Kart is always a hit, and having a version of the game with two controllers you can take anywhere makes it the perfect showcase for the Switch.

Click here for our review.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Release: March 3, 2017

We’re not exaggerating when we say The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is one of the best games ever made. We gave it the rare 10/10 in our review and gave it our 2017 Game of the Year award as it sets a new high standard for open-world video games. Being able to go anywhere you can see on the map has never been more true than it is in Breath of the Wild and it is also filled with the kind of excellent puzzle-design you expect from a Zelda experience. It’s a journey you won’t soon forget and the optional DLC packs add additional challenge and new items worth pursuing to the overworld.

Click here for our review.

The games considered for this list that didn’t make the cut: The Switch ports of Doom, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, Sonic Mania, Bayonetta and Bayonetta 2, and recent classics that have been ported, Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove, Inside, and Axiom Verge. They’re all still great games, so give them a try, too!

 

To read comparable lists for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, follow the links!

Of all the games that emulate the Dark Souls series, Lords of the Fallen is certainly one of them. While we praised its more user-friendly systems and new take on the Souls style, it never built a following in the same way other spinoffs like Nioh did. In an effort to differentiate the sequel from its original inspirations, Lords of the Fallen 2’s new developers say it isn’t using any of the previous work done by the game’s former studio, according to an interview with Eurogamer.

In June, the series’ publisher, CI Games, announced that Defiant Studios would be taking the reigns from the game’s original developers, Deck 13. Lords of the Fallen 2 had been in pre-production with Deck 13 for a couple years, but speaking with Eurogamer, it’s clear Defiant intends to steer the series in a new direction.

While still using much of the Souls formula, the studio is excited to push different systems and hopefully lure players in who were scared off by the intimidating reputation of From Software’s series. As such, they’re scrapping the previous design work of Deck 13 and starting fresh. 

[Source: Eurogamer]

 

Our Take
As From moves away from their classic formula with Sekiro, the playing field is opened up for more studios to try their own takes on a Souls-like. Deck 13’s second attempt, The Surge, was certainly better than Lords of the Fallen, but a take from an ambitious new developer is exciting as well.

Valve has announced that Artifact, their trading card game based on Dota 2, will be playable at PAX West in Seattle at the end of this month. Additionally, they’ve also revealed that the game will release on November 28 for $20 on Steam, with mobile versions coming in 2019.

Valve announced the card game during their International Dota 2 tournament last year, which makes one of the faster turnarounds for Valve-announced games. While we got a chance to check the game out earlier this year, the PAX West showing is the first time the public will get a chance to test it out.

It would not be surprising if we also see a bit more of Artifact at The International 2018 when it takes place later this month, but fans who want to get hands-on will have to try it out at PAX in Seattle on August 31. For everyone else, November 28 is not that far away.

Ian Curran

Ian Curran, who worked for THQ for more than a decade in various managerial positions, has been appointed chief operating officer and president of Sega America. Prior to his new role at Sega, Curran was CEO of Gioteck, an electronic accessories company, and also worked for Acclaim.

The press release detailing the news explains his role saying, “In his role, Ian will be responsible for utilizing all resources available to maximize the profitability of the publishing and Sonic business units within the Americas and EMEA, serving also on the board of Atlus U.S.A., Inc. He will report directly to the CEO of SEGA West, Tatsuyuki Miyazaki and will work with employees in SEGA’s offices located in Irvine, Burbank and London.”

Additionally, in the press release, Atlus’ CEO and president Naoto Hiraoka and Tatsuyuki Miyazaki outline ambiguous growth plans for Sega and speak optimistically about the future. “Coming off the success of Persona 5, Sonic Forces, Sonic Mania Plus, and the Yakuza series, and with so much more on the horizon, including Valkyria Chronicles 4, it is an incredible time to join the team. As part of the SEGA family, we are inheritors of an expansive body of work and opportunity which I plan to help reach its full potential,” Curran writes.

Curran officially takes on his new role today, August 1, 2018.

 

Our Take
With games like Sonic Mania and Yakuza and Persona 5 coming from the Atlus side of the partnership, Sega seems to be on an upswing. The 3D Sonic games are still consistently disappointing, but I am optimistic about Sega’s future. Being associated with THQ might not be the greatest bullet point on Curran’s resume considering its collapse, but he seems like he could be a good fit. Time will tell, I suppose.