Old Made New: The Best of the new-school retro platformers
by Robert Workman, shacknews.com, Jun 27, 2014 12:00PM PDT
We're seeing a strange new art form as of late: platformers that have a conventional play style to them, but harken back to an old-school style when it comes to décor and design. It's a trend that's working for the better, and something we're seeing more common in games. This serves a great benefit, providing consoles with some great titles to play, while at the same time, inspiring gamers to seek out older releases that have a similar style. Because of these, someone might find a good Mega Man game after playing through Shovel Knight…
For our not-so-usual Old Made New entry for Friday, we've decided to look at games that defy conventional game design, going back to a more old-school style while keeping their gameplay firmly in check. We definitely recommend giving these a download, and seeing just what kind of nostalgia they drum up for you. Who knows, you might just rush out and buy a RetroN 5 as a result.
Shovel Knight (Yacht Club Games)
A clear contender for one of the biggest surprise releases of 2014, Shovel Knight, which got its start as a KickStarter project, has become the next big thing in old-school gaming. Emulating a style similar to the Mega Man/DuckTales games from Capcom in the late 80's, the game features challenging platforming sections, as well as gameplay that'll really put your shovel to work. Whether you're digging up piles of dirt for gems or pogo-hopping off of the head of a griffin, you'll find plenty to enjoy out of this retro release. It's $14.99 for each version (PC, Wii U and 3DS), but it's one of those games that will make you an instant fan. You'll, ahem, "dig it."
Mutant Mudds Deluxe (Renegade Kid)
Before Yacht Club Games was able to get Shovel Knight out the door, Renegade Kid introduced its own 8-bit style platforming game with Mutant Mudds Deluxe, which was originally released for the Nintendo 3DS and made proper use of the device's 3D screen, with the heroic kid character jumping back and forth between foreground and background. The title was such a hit that Renegade Kid returned with special versions for Wii U, PlayStation 3 and PS Vita, expanding its audience and introducing even more people to retro goodness. The plan certainly worked for the developer, as it's already confirmed that you'll be able to shoot more aliens in the months ahead with Mutant Mudds 2. Who says a water gun isn't useful?!
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Video Game (Ubisoft)
Even though it wasn't a boffo blockbuster hit at the box office, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World created a cult phenomenon, and solidified Edgar Wright as one of this generation's better directors. Likewise, Ubisoft's entertaining Scott Pilgrim beat-em-up has become a cult favorite in its own right, emulating the classic four-player brawlers of old from the arcade games. With charming visuals, a tough challenge that even devoted groups of friends will need to work together to overcome, and a rock-solid soundtrack by the folks at Anamanaguchi, it's still a winner all these years later. Plus, Ubi really did the fans a favor by recently adding online multiplayer. Now that's a fight worth celebrating.
Hotline Miami (Devolver Digital)
One of Devolver Digital's most popular games since the debut of the Serious Sam saga, Hotline Miami is a ridiculously difficult, yet wildly entertaining, top-down action game. Playing as a hooded thug, you'll be given a variety of missions where you'll brutally need to take down armed felons using whatever you can get your hands on. It sounds easy, but we can assure you, these guys mean business. One shot and you're dead, so make sure you watch your step and bludgeon like a bandit. Using an 8-bit art style and an inspired soundtrack, this is easily a retro favorite for a new generation. And we're not done yet, as Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number will brutalize PC, PlayStation 4 and PS Vita over the next few months.
Retro City Rampage (Vblank Entertainment
Imagine if someone took the Grand Theft Auto franchise and sunk it down to an 8-bit level, while keeping all the joyous, grandeur violence, car thefts and crazy fun completely intact. Well, that's exactly what Retro City Rampage is. The game features accessible gameplay that makes it a hit for seasoned GTA fans and newcomers alike, and comes peppered with enough cultural reference to make it a widely appreciated effort for kids that grew up in the 80's and 90's of gaming. Throw in some great map designs and a variety of chiptunes from contributing artists, and you have a blast from the past on today's gaming terms.
Broforce (Devolver Digital
Because Amurica. That's why Broforce was made. Well, that and Devolver Digital wanted to produce a side-scrolling affair with insanely fun shoot-em-up action and a variety of characters taken straight from the film lexicon of the 80's and 90's. Blade look-alike? Yep, he's in there. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rambo? They're present and accounted for, too. What's more, Broforce is a great game to play along with friends, or fellow Bros if you prefer, as they can help you clear missions, then race for the chopper to get out in one piece. The game's currently available for PC, but good news, bros. We'll have it on PS4 and PS Vita before year's end. BROOOOOOOOS!
Even though a lot of negativity has surfaced from this game, mainly due to producer Phil Fish's decision to cancel the sequel before it was ever given a chance, that doesn't change the fact that Fez is still an innovative (and wonderful) game in its own right. You guide a cute little hero around a world that can be revolved in 360-degree fashion, so you can get around obstacles and discover new doorways, as well as secrets that will eventually help you fix your world. Plus, we can't help but adore the little fella's cute little Fez hat. How it stays on after long drops is beyond us. Super glue?
Super Time Force (Capybara Games)
Last but definitely not least, we come to Super Time Force, an awesome little side-scrolling shooter from Capybara Games that's ideal for gaming on PC and Xbox consoles. The game features an abundance of characters to choose from, but its main gimmick is being able to rewind time, so you can utilize the maximum firepower of characters that were killed, while still charging forward on the mission. You'll need to learn a few techniques and avoid heavy blasts in the process, but once you nail down how the game works, it's a fun shooter along the same lines as Contra and Metal Slug. Enjoy!