While we were building our Game of the Year lists here at TechnoBuffalo, I was, without much thought, crossing off anything that had been released on other platforms previously. And there’s a good reason for that: we like rewarding originality and newness.
Is Okami HD a game from 2012? You could argue it either way. Regardless, some of those re-releases definitely shouldn’t be overlooked.
Here are some games that hit new platforms in 2012 that deserve a second (or first) glance.
Okami HD – PlayStation 3
Okami, from Capcom’s now-defunct Clover studio, was one of true classics from the previous generation of consoles, deserving just about every bit of praise thrown at it. Like Psychonauts before it, though, it was under-marketed and sold terribly. I mean, sure, sweeping Japanese epic super-myth isn’t exactly an easy way to draw a crowd over here, but it did even worse over in Japan, somehow.
Okami covers just about every inch of Japanese mythology from Princess Kaguya to Hakkenden and everything in between, and manages to do it with more flair and style than any one game ought to have even tried. The sumi-e art style brings Japanese art to life in ways I would’ve never guessed possible.
Then they had to go and release it in HD. I won’t argue that every game deserves an HD re-release, but Okami HD makes a great case for the cause. If we’re going to call games art, the best ones need to be preserved as long as possible so that fans can continue playing and admiring them, and Capcom made a good decision to bring this one to the masses again.
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings – Xbox 360
Originally released for PC in 2011, Witcher 2 hit to critical acclaim and quite solid sales considering its lack of DRM. Running on CD Projekt Red’s own custom engine, rather than a modified Neverwinter Nights engine like the first game, Witcher 2 is still one of the better-looking PC games around.
Witcher 2 for Xbox 360 is important for a few reasons. Primarily, it is proof that CD Projekt Red can handle multiple platforms despite being a relatively small developer, and that they can design a game that appeals strongly to both console and PC gamers. The game managed the leap with few noticeable changes and looked good to boot, which could be good news for console gaming fans looking forward to CD Projekt’s next effort, Cyberpunk 2077.
While playing the first Witcher game will certainly help, it’s not required. But the five year-old Witcher: Enhanced Edition is just $10 on Steam when not on sale and can run on just about any PC these days, so catching up isn’t impossible, either.
If you missed Witcher 2 the first time around, the Xbox 360 is a great place to pick it up. It’s a game so nice I had to buy it twice.
Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition – PC
In the reverse direction from Witcher 2, Dark Souls made the jump from consoles to PC this fall. While Witcher 2 is a PC game with controls suited to a console, Dark Souls is a console game with a difficulty curve suited to PC gamers.
The brutal, cruel world of Dark Souls is one of the best out there if the intense difficulty isn’t immediately off-putting. It’s proof-positive that Japan still has something meaningful to contribute to gaming and needs to be in front of as many gamers as possible. Even accounting for Games for Windows Live’s poor implementation, awkward porting issues and a hard limit on resolution that can only be circumvented by a fan-created patch, Dark Souls is still an absolute must-play. Unless you’re scared to die, that is.
Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition – iOS
While Witcher 2 and Dark Souls may have been released just a year after their counterparts, Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition comes 14 years after the original, almost down to the day.
Releasing on the PC and the iPad, with Mac and Android editions to come later, BG:EE updates the graphics of the original, while including gameplay improvements and content from expansions and sequels, along with some new characters and other original content.
It’s worth noting that the original Baldur’s Gate is easily available on PC already, and for cheaper – just $9.99 on GOG.com, versus $19.99 for the Enhanced Edition. The huge number of fan-created patches available makes the PC version of BG:EE a bit less appealing. I’d argue, though, that the tablet version of BG:EE is probably the flagship; the first shot fired by Beamdog to say, “we can make real games work on the iPad, we know how to use this thing.”
It isn’t perfect—some reviewers report touch sensitivity issues and occasional crashes, for example—though most of the problems could easily be fixed in later patches.
BG:EE’s iPad version matches the GOG.com price of $9.99 for the original, along with the added content, in a new format, making it an interesting buy for old fans and a must-play for RPG fans that might’ve missed it the first time around. Baldur’s Gate is a part of our history and very much worth a look.