These old timers wowed us once again in 2018.
Remakes, re-releases, and ports are things that we get a lot of every year, of games that are years old, or games that might be a bit more recent but get touched up and brought over to modern consoles for newer audiences. Like all other games, though, these come in many forms, both good and bad. With some remasters or remakes, the developers go out of their way to modernize the experience in the best way possible, to do justice to the source material. There were several such releases in 2018, and here, we’re going to pick out ten of the very best.
NOTE: The nominees and winner were decided by an internal vote held among the entire GamingBolt staff.
THE NOMINEES ARE…
DARK SOULS REMASTERED
Dark Souls is the perfect argument in favour of the adage “good game design never ages”. FromSoftware’s giant took the industry by storm when it first launched in 2011, building on the success of Demon’s Souls and then going on to pretty much create and entire genre. A game with that sort of a legacy would be a masterpiece no matter how old it is, but 2018’s remaster did just enough to make it that much better. Higher resolution and better performance made for a smoother and more visually arresting experience than ever, while fixes made to some egregious errors, such as Blighttown, of course, smoothed out the entire experience to make it even more consistent and memorable. “Dark Souls, but on current gen systems” might not sound like much on paper, but that is actually very high praise indeed.
SHENMUE I & II
Barring a few eternal optimists, fans had all but given up hope that Sega’s ambitious Shenmue series would ever see the light of day again. In 2015, creative genius Yu Suzuki stole the show at Sony’s E3 press event when he announced that he story of Ryo would indeed be completed, and this year, in anticipation of the upcoming Shenmue 3, Sega released HD ports of the two original Dreamcast titles. Rather than trying to modernize the experience, these ports simply touched up the visuals, and brought the two games onto modern systems as is- and it was glorious. Shenmue isn’t for everyone, but for those who’ve been steadfast fans of the series since the days of its inception, getting the chance to experience these classics once again was nothing short of a dream come true.
HYRULE WARRIORS: DEFINITIVE EDITION
Hyrule Warriors was not an essential The Legend of Zelda game when it first launched, and it’s not one now. It is, however, an incredibly enjoyable hack and slash title that combines the Zelda property with the tried and tested and extremely popular design style of the Warriors games. The Definitive Edition on the Switch is all of that, but on top of it all, it’s also a great package, especially for those who haven’t tried the game yet, because not only does it bring the original game to the Switch with improved technical aspects, it also combines all the content related to the game on both the 3DS and Wii U versions to deliver a truly definitive experience.
SPYRO REIGNITED TRILOGY
Crash and Spyro were Sony’s two platforming icons back in the golden days of the PS1- last year, we got treated to beautiful, ground-up remakes of the original Crash Bandicoot trilogy, and in 2018, it was Spyro’s turn to receive the same treatment. Toys for Bob showed immense love and respect for the iconic purple dragon, keeping the entire experience intact, exactly as we remembering it, but recreating it from the ground up to also make it a treat for the eyes. On top of all that, the fact that the entire package, for two-thirds of the price of a regular release, contained all three Spyro games made by Insomniac on the PS1, made it an absolutely irresistible package.
POKEMON LET’S GO, PIKACHU! AND LET’S GO, EEVEE!
This isn’t the first time Game Freak has revisited Kanto to remake the very first generation of Pokemon, and even outside of remakes, Kanto is a place we’ve revisited quite often. But Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Eevee! were shaping up to be controversial games in the build up to their launch, removing some core aspects of the Pokemon experience, and making decisions that veteran fans balked at. Skepticism was high, but when Let’s Go finally launched, all of that was swept aside. Pokemon Let’s Go isn’t ambitious by any means, but it’s a jolly, charming experience that successfully delivers on some of its most controversial decisions, while also being a compelling experience thanks to heavy doses of nostalgia. If nothing else, it’s at least enough to whet our appetites until Pokemon 8 rolls around next year.
THE WORLD ENDS WITH YOU: FINAL REMIX
The World Ends With You was a veritable classic when it launched on the DS originally, being an imaginative, innovating RPG with a beautiful aesthetic and some excellent ideas that it actually executed very well. There’s been a lot of demand for a sequel for over about a decade now, and though we didn’t get that, we got the next best thing. The World Ends With You: Final Remix was the perfect opportunity for Switch owners to try out an excellent game- those who’d played it and wanted to get back into the instant classic again, and those who hadn’t but, by all accounts, should have. Here’s hoping sooner or later Square Enix finally greenlights a sequel.
MEGA MAN X LEGACY COLLECTION 1 AND 2
Capcom have done some incredible work to satisfy Mega Man fans over the last few years. This year, notably, they released Mega Man 11 as they looked ahead to the series’ future, but they also looked to its past to bring back a few beloved classics. Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1 and 2 brought back the beloved reinvention of the franchise to modern systems. All games had great emulation and loads of cool content for long time fans, as well as concessions made to newcomers that didn’t compromise the experience. Best of all, it was all Mega Man X games in one single package- that’s incredible value for money.
SHADOW OF THE COLOSSUS
Shadow of the Colossus is widely considered as one of the greatest games ever created, so the fact that its remake, developed by Bluepoint, managed to live up to those incredibly lofty expectations – and then some – is extremely impressive. The vast, desolate world of the Forbidden Land was recreated with stunning beauty in the remake, while all the unique and sombre strengths of the original were kept perfectly intact as well. Some of the biggest flaws that the PS2 classic had – such as its finicky camera and controls – were also fixed to a great extent, making for an experience that was, impossibly, just as breathtaking as the original.
YAKUZA KIWAMI 2
The Yakuza series hit the mainstream outside of Japan for the first time with Yakuza 0 last year, and since then, it’s only gone from strength to strength. Including Yakuza 0, we’ve had four incredible Yakuza games in the past two years, but Yakuza Kiwami 2 is probably the best this series has ever been. With a story full of grim intrigue and memorable characters, powered by the same addictive and flashy combat that the series is known for, Kiwami 2 is the peak of everything that the series tries to do. Every second of the experience is pure bliss, while the Dragon Engine is also put to great use to deliver a visually stunning experience as well.
DONKEY KONG COUNTRY TROPICAL FREEZE
Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze is platforming perfection. It’s not the most revolutionary game you’ll ever play, and it doesn’t have a lot of ideas that will knock the wind out of you, but it takes the core tenets of what makes for a great platformer and executes them with perfection. Excellent level design, balanced but challenging difficulty, beautiful visuals, an amazing soundtrack- Tropical Freeze is a combination of a variety of amazing elements all coming together to deliver what was, in 2014, one of the Wii U’s best games, and in 2018, is one of the Switch’s best as well.
AND THE WINNER IS…
YAKUZA KIWAMI 2
Given the amount of incredible Yakuza games we’ve played in the past couple of years, especially Yakuza 0, the fact that Kiwami 2 is perhaps the best this series has been in years is no easy feat. And yet it is something that the remake does with great confidence. Yakuza 2 is regarded as one of the best stories in the series, which is made even stronger in Kiwami 2 thanks to changes and additions made to writing and voicework, but the game also takes into account all the improvements the series has made over the years. Whether it’s in terms of combat, or world building, or side missions, or mini games, Kiwami 2 is just peak Yakuza in every way possible. It’s not only the best remake/remaster of the year, it’s also one of the best games of 2018, period.