game of the year

Pixelkin’s 2017 Game of the Year

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Sometimes our favorite game of the year comes as a complete surprise. Not this year. We proudly declare The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild as Pixelkin’s 2017 Game of the Year.

Breath of the Wild was one of the most anticipated games of the year. Not only was it the first 3D Zelda since 2011’s Skyward Sword on the Wii, but it was also a launch title for the Nintendo Switch, which has become a huge success for Nintendo.

The story reinforces themes of failure and redemption. Link wakes up to a bleak Hyrule where he was defeated a century ago, guided by the spirits and voices of the past. Monsters roam free, and a malevolent force, Ganon, swirls ominously around the ruins of Hyrule Castle. You could head there right after acquiring the glider and completing the wonderfully crafted opening hours atop the plateau, or strike off in any direction and explore.

Most open world games feature post-apocalyptic hellscapes, mature writing, and violent action. But this is Nintendo. Breath of the Wild features tropical beaches, staggering cliffs, dense jungles, and dangerous volcanoes. The world still feels like Hyrule, yet it reaches that perfect compromise between expansive and densely packed with hidden secrets and treasures.

Breath of the Wild boldly breaks many of the standard Zelda conventions, most notably the dungeon design. Instead of a steady progression of marquee dungeon crawls, Link can find over 100 shrines scattered around the world. These shrines cleverly employ challenging physics-based puzzles akin to levels in Portal using the several excellent tools you have at your disposal, such as magnetizing blocks and freezing water.

Completing shrines unlocks additional health and stamina, making it an important and fun side activity and a great excuse to explore a world stuffed with things to do. Shield surf down cliffs, hunt gigantic dragons, search for ingredients to upgrade your gear, discover hundreds (!) of Korok seeds to expand your inventory, take selfies in front of shooting stars, and tackle the mini-dungeons within the four Divine Beasts to weaken Ganon’s hold.

Nintendo Switch

Breath of the Wild was the vanguard for one of Nintendo’s best years in recent memory. It’s not every year we get a new Nintendo console, new Mario, and new Zelda, not to mention well-received sequels for Splatoon and Xenoblade Chronicles.

After some very lackluster console cycles in the Wii and Wii U, Nintendo has come roaring back, and that’s good for gaming, and especially gaming families. Breath of the Wild is single-player only, but remains a wonderfully enjoyable game for the family to gather around, between the cartoony art and creature designs, the physical combat system, and the story of courage and perseverance. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is destined to enter the pantheon of all-time greatest games, and easily warrants our Game of the Year for 2017.

SNES Classic Edition

Ranking All 21 Games of the SNES Classic Edition

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In lieu of a traditional review I’m going to do something a bit different with the SNES Classic Edition. I’m going to rank all 21 games included in the retro 90s emulator.

The SNES Classic Edition is a great little product that nails the original design of the console and controllers. It’s not without flaws: the short cord range (about 5 ft) can be a big annoyance, and in order to change games and use the rewind and save-state features, you have to physically push a button on the console. But those features also add a lot of modern convenience to classic games, greatly improving accessibility.

As the front-runner for greatest console of all time, the Super Nintendo had some pretty good games. The SNES Classic Edition does a near-perfect job of drawing from a wide variety of genres and gameplay styles to represent some (though not all) of the best games of the era.

Nostalgia can always play a major role. It’s impossible to ignore if you grew up as an impressionable gaming kid in the early 90s, as I did. I played almost all of these titles over two decades ago. Now I’m ranking these games based on how well they hold up today. Intuitive gameplay and controls, aging graphics, and integrated multiplayer will all be a factor. Read More

super nes classic

Super Nintendo Classic Edition Is Out Today

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The highly anticipated Super NES Classic Edition hits stores today with a retail price tag of $79.99. The retro console comes in at a teeny miniature replica size, two controllers, and 21 games, including the never-before-released Starfox 2.

“Super NES Classic Edition is perfect for any Nintendo fan, retro gamer or anyone who just wants to play some really fun video games,” said Doug Bowser, Nintendo of America’s Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing. “And at a reasonable price, the system will be a great addition to any holiday shopping list.”

The Super NES Classic Edition includes an HDMI cable, USB charging cable with AC adapter, and two wired controllers.

The library of included games is very impressive, drawing from huge classic games and series like Mario, Zelda, Metroid, Mega Man, and Final Fantasy. The library includes 13 of the top 14 games I listed in my wishlist for the retro console before they were announced. You can see all the included games in the handy pic below.

All games are available from the start with the exception of Star Fox 2. You’ll need to beat the first level of Star Fox to unlock it.

Super Nintendo

The SNES Classic comes with a few modern features as well. A Rewind feature lets you reverse about a minute of game time to retry particularly challenging sections. You can create up to four suspend points to save your games any time. You can also wrap different borders around the old games to help fill in the widescreen discrepancy.

Nintendo made waves last year with the excitement – then disappointment over the NES Classic Edition. The little retro console came bundled with 30 games, but Nintendo failed to keep up with the incredible demand.

This year Nintendo pledged to deliver more SNES Classic Editions on launch day than were shipped all last year for the NES Classic. I can already personally attest to the difference. I walked into a Target ten minutes after they opened this morning and was able to pick one up after their line of 20 or so people had already gone through.

The NES Classic Edition will also resume production sometime in 2018.