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A minor Renaissance of design sensibilities

The eShop Platform? wha? ���

Since the interactive medium of gaming began, our sensibilities as gamers or creators have changed over time. When you survey the styles and genres of older gaming generations, it becomes clear that the development, execution, expectations and interpretations of video games have rapidly developed. I speak of the shifts from games as toys, to games as culture. Shifts from 2D to 3D gaming environments. Shifts from local to online multiplayer experiences. From your gaming friends, to your friend list of gamers. These are radical changes in the way we understand games, and the way developers create them. But sometimes, change happens so quickly, the industry becomes so enamored with pushing the boundaries of technology that some game genres, some peculiar forms of presentation, get abandoned for the sake of what's next. From the mid '90's until the mid 2000's, styles of game development were halted which were heavily informed by the 8 and 16-bit generations. Side-scrolling won't sell. Your story must have choices. You need quick-time-events. Make sure you include multiplayer.

���� And then indies, download platforms, and crowd funding became active, became viable. The market landscape has changed dramatically in the last ten years. To paraphrase Xaro Xhoan Daxos, sometimes those in the center must make room for those on the margins. The very people who grew up on those 8 and 16-bit play styles were now beginning to make the games that they wanted to play from that era. A kind of nostalgic homage. Make the games they remembered playing, only modern. Push the boundaries of applicable game design, experimenting with a neglected approach to gaming.
���� I call this a minor renaissance. While the term might not adhere to the strictest definition, we are seeing the rebirth of an era of cultural expression. A whole generation of game developers who were informed by a gaming era, are now reviving those sensibilities in some incredible ways. This has been building for some time, but now we are entering an era where they are indispensable.

I give you my Top 10 List (in not particular order) of Games That Make Me Feel Like It's 1994: And that kicks ass.

Shovel Knight

Publisher/Developer: Yacht Club Games. Release Date: Q1 2014. Originally a Kickstarter: 14,749 backers. raised $311,502.

���� Mash up Mega Man, Castlevania, the Zelda 2 down+A and A KNIGHT WITH A SHOVEL! YES! Also worth noting that Jake "virt" Kaufman and Manami Matsumae are both contributing to this one.

Child of Light

Publisher/Developer: Ubisoft Montreal. Release Date: April 30th, 2014.

���� A stunning aesthetic to behold. An engrossing environment and an intelligent battle system. It's said to be inspired by Studio Ghibli and Yoshitaka Amano in its art style, and in presentation similar to games like Vagrant Story, Final Fantasy VIII and LIMBO. Ever played Grandia? Well you should before you pick up this game.

Hyper Light Drifter

Developer: Heart Machine. Release Date: late 2014. Originally a Kickstarter: 24,150 backers, raised $645,158.

���� Informed by A Link to the Past and Diablo. Also check out Y's before this one hits, Oath in Felghana and Y's 7 are my recommendations. But wow. This is a hauntingly ambient world. The mystery. The suspense! The Hyper Light Drifter!

Pier Solar and the Great Architects HD

Publisher/Developer: Watermelon. Release Date: March 2014. Re-release is a Kickstarter: 3,518 backers, raised $231,370.

���� This curio of a game was first released for the Sega Genesis (or Mega Drive) in 2010. That is not a typo. Beginning in 2004, a community at the website Eidolon's Inn began collectively tinkering with Sega Genesis homebrew games. This eventually grew into the community (focused and headed by a smaller group of mod-ers) that created an original Genesis RPG. This game is a gem, and very difficult to find. Huzzah Kickstarter! Also check out Lunar: Silver Star Story, Lunar 2: Eternal Blue or any of the early Suikoden before this hits!


Developer: Phoboslab. Release Date: Q1 2014 (UK/EU?). Originally a HTML5 browser game, involving Impact Engine.

���� Gradius. Life Force. R-Type!I-KA-RU-GAAAAA!!!!!


Developer: BeautiFun Games. Release Date: March 2014. Originally iOS

���� Born was created from the absolute nothingness: The Void. But somehow he separates himself from the black emptiness and appears in the world. An existential crisis..... I'm gonna go watch The Crow now.
���� This one sort of reminds me of the classic Prince of Persia games, or Blizzard's Blackthorn. Hopefully it will use the GamePad effectively.

NES Remix 2

Publisher/Developer: Nintendo/Nintendo EAD Tokyo and indieszero. Release Date: April 25th 2014.

���� From the genius men and women that brought us Retro Game Challenge and NES Remix. This fits into the list because, let's face it, everyone drags out their old systems from time to time, even when they have the new hotness... even in 1994.

Shantae: Half Genie Hero

Publisher/Developer: WayForward. Release Date: October 2014. Originally a Kickstarter: 18,558 backers, raised $776,084 (plus additional PayPal donations)

���� WayForward is a solid company. If you haven't checked out any of their titles yet, try to do so. They will deliver a polished game. Their wheel-house is fairly narrow, but puzzle platformers are something that they know. Also considering that this game is WayForwards labor of love, I think they will take care.

Mighty No.9

Publisher/Developer: Comcept and Inti Creates. Release Date: April 2015 (estimated). Originally a Kickstarter: 67,226 backers, raised $3,845,170

���� Mighty No. 18809 here! This one is still a long way off, but man does it have the potential to be something special! Inafune: Perfect!

���� But wait, that's only nine games! I know, I know. Here's the deal, you choose the 10th game! What is the next game coming out that forces those old nostalgia goggles on? What other download platforms are you excited about?
���� Are these games reminiscent of some other games to you?
�� Is the eShop crawling back? Is Playstation Plus kicking ass and taking names? Is Steam essential to all gamers? Either way, it's a good time to be a gamer.
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About Thumb Scarone of us since 11:57 AM on 02.25.2014

Been gaming since the NES days. I remember computers, before the internet. My motivation to learn how to read was to play Final Fantasy. Games have, wonderfully, helped shape my life. I love games, history, writing and discussion. Pursuing that is the goal.

I've played games on Nintendo consoles for most of my life, but branched out into PC gaming and Playstation by the mid-90's. Current platforms: Wii U, 3DS, Steam. Typically playing: 5e D&D, tabletop games, and a backlog of retro games.

We live in interesting times. I can't wait to see where the industry goes next.