Video gaming has taken a huge backseat in my life as of late. The creation of a new and adorable human on this Earth has sucked away the free time I usually put aside for my bad gaming habits. Add to that that I’ve moved across the world, have a wife who lives in an entirely new country for the first time, and am not altogether happy with the state of modern gaming, I’ve decided to keep my options limited in 2018.
So far in 2018, the most I’ve done is double-dipped into a few indie favorites, and from what I can tell by my list, I intend to mostly keep it this way. Safe purchases of games I already love, franchises I am loyal to, and styles of games I will never be tired of. That defines the rest of my 2018.
No epic Western open-world experiences. No cinematic AAA blockbusters. My PlayStation 4 did not survive my trip back to the United States, and the Nintendo Switch is the only modern console currently in my possession. I have enough new adventures on my plate with the thought of raising a human, not to mention I have to help the person I’m sharing this quest with, so I am severely limiting myself to a few sentimental favorites that tingle the old-soul gamer that I’ve become.
As a new dad, these are the games I’m going to buy and probably play sparingly for the rest of 2018.
The game of my dreams. From the second I saw this title’s reveal trailer during the Nintendo Switch debut trailer, I knew that Octopath Traveler had to be mine.
Now, we’ve had many RPGs over the years that tried to capture the spirit of classic 16 and 32-bit JRPGs in glorious HD, but none have gone so far as to capture the look. Octopath Traveler not only feels old-school, it looks old-school to boot, capturing the essence and style of Final Fantasy VI, Chrono Trigger, and most noticeably, Romancing SaGa 3.
At the same time, I’ve played the demo, and Octopath Traveler doesn’t strictly adhere to classic JRPG formulas either. Unlike the simplistic battle systems of Final Fantasy VI and Chrono Trigger, Octopath Traveler operates like a modern JRPG, like an Etrian Odyssey, Bravely, or a Persona game. Battles require smarts to beat, not simply spanning your best moves. Character buffs are a must, and coordinating turns and aligning powerful attacks boost damage to bring down big enemies quickly.
This is a thinking man’s JRPG, and with eight characters telling eight different stories, you’ll have plenty adventures waiting for you to bust its mechanics wide open. Don’t worry if you don’t want to beat all eight in one sitting. Like all classic JRPGs, this one will be open to multiple replays. Not because of some industry calculated replay value, but because you’ll just genuinely want to go back and see all that the adventures have to offer again and again.
That’s the magic that classic JRPGs have that many genres simply lack anymore.
Valkyria Chronicles 4
In the world of video games over the last ten years, I have three standouts that are able to crack my all-time favorites lists: Mass Effect 2, Super Mario Odyssey, and the last one being SEGA’s gorgeous strategy RPG, Valkyria Chronicles. Sadly, we are nearing the point where I can’t list it though since ten years are nearly up!
Perfect timing for the sequel we’ve been asking for nearly a decade. After a few lighthearted sequels on the PSP and an ill-advised action RPG spin-off that came to us last year in the form of Valkyria Revolution, SEGA is getting back to business and finally bringing it all back to its roots.
Every reason we loved Valkyria Chronicles appears to be set in place. Serious storytelling with light-hearted moments, those beautiful anime graphics, and a plucky squad of everyday people trying to pose as a militia.
Of course, Valkyria Chronicles 4 can’t simply be a recreation of the first game. SEGA must find ways to improve on the decade-old formula and bring us new thrills as well. Expectations are through the roof from a fanbase hungry for a worthy follow-up.
Hyper Light Drifter
An indie game I’ve followed and believed in since day-1. I pushed Hyper Light Drifter on Kickstarter when it first showed up, I donated a few bucks, I followed along as development proceeded, I played the game upon release. However, the only thing I did not do was beat the game.
Hyper Light Drifter fell into my lap at a time when I starting to feel drained by gaming on a television or a computer screen. The PS Vita and Nintendo 3DS dominated my play cycles, and because of this shift in my gaming habits, Heart Machine’s indie-sensation game remains incomplete on my Steam account.
Never fear! While I’ve never felt further removed from gaming on a television, I now have a viable option for a console that doesn’t require me to be tied down: the Nintendo Switch.
With the Switch, I can pick up and play the classically stylized action adventure game and take it with me everywhere I go. And I have nothing to fear about it being an unworthy purchase because, guess what, I already know its nothing shy of a masterpiece!
Hyper Light Drifter always felt like the Super Nintendo hit I never played as a kid, and now that it is on a Nintendo console, it feels like it’s coming home.
Mega Man 11
I mean… how can I not buy this? I’ve nagged Capcom for it for nearly a decade, and now that it’s here, there isn’t a force on Earth that could get me to just walk away.
I’ll admit, I was a bit nervous about the reveal. I wasn’t really into the new graphical look, and I’m worried about how the series will make the leap into HD when it’s not back up by faux 8-bit sprites. However, after it received positive reception from Mega Man fans at E3 2018, my fears have been somewhat subsided.
You see, Mega Man is more than just classic platforming and boss pattern memorization. Mega Man is one of the franchises that all of video gaming is built on! Third-party franchises wouldn’t have stood a chance in the 8-bit days if the Blue Bomber hadn’t put his foot down and stood in the way of Nintendo’s dominance back in the late 80s.
Gaming soundtracks wouldn’t have evolved to the point we find them now without Mega Man injecting unique personality into each tune and stage Capcom put him through.
And now that Capcom has found a new outlet for him to survive in, that being the retro gaming style his games inspired in the first place, there is simply no way any good fan or gamer can look the other way. This is a celebration of 30 years of gaming right here, and we should be happy we get to witness it.
And if all else fails, maybe I can play it in front of my infant son’s eyes to leave an early impression on him. Mega Man for life!