I have really fond memories of Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, the first game in the Mario RPG side-series of games. It was a spiritual successor to the previous Mario RPG titles, Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars and Paper Mario. What set this game apart from the previous titles was the wacky dialogue and gag-filled humor, elements which made it quite the refreshing take on the turn-based JRPG genre.
Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions on the 3DS is a remaster that feels a little strange to me. While it looks beautiful–easily on par with its contemporary iterations Dream Team and Paper Jam–the gameplay feels exactly like it did back in 2003. As a JRPG, Superstar Saga on the 3DS can be refreshing in its simplicity, while simultaneously feeling quite a bit dated in some respects.
There was a level in Metroid: Samus Returns where you constantly have to wade around in water, which limits your jumps and slows you down. It was really annoying, and removed the mobility that really defines this Metroid game. Then, partway through, I find the Gravity Suit upgrade, which lets you move around in water unhindered. Now, I felt powerful. The rooms that were giving me trouble previously were now a piece of cake. This is the positive feedback loop that is the mark of a great Metroid title.
Samus Returns,–a remake/reimagining of the second game in the series, Metroid II: Return of Samus–is a monster of a game. It’s been more than a decade since the release of the last side-scrolling Metroid, and I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I got my hands on this game. I’ll admit that when it was first announced, I was a little bummed that this game was coming to the 3DS and not the Switch, but if I have to pull out my 3DS again, at least it’s for a damn good game.
Fire Emblem Gaiden is considered by many to be the “black sheep” of Nintendo’s turn-based strategy franchise. When it was released on the NES in 1992, the game touted many changes to the underlying mechanics, much like with some other NES sequels of the time, like Zelda II, for example. Gaiden introduced an explorable world, dungeons and more complex character progression. Like Zelda II, Nintendo ultimately back pedaled when it came time to make the third entry, returning to the roots of the first Fire Emblem game. Since then, the Fire Emblem series has progressed in other forms, ultimately reaching its own excellence in games such as Fire Emblem 7 on the GBA (The first game in the series to be released in the west), and Fire Emblem Awakening on the 3DS.
Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia is a full remake of this NES game that does not attempt to hide the quirks of the original, nor impose the mechanics of the newer games. The series’ staple rock-paper-scissors weapons triangle? Nowhere to be found. Marriages and love? Look elsewhere. Instead, Echoes sets out to take the mechanics of the original game and improve on them in order to make them the best that they can be.
Yoshi’s Wooly World is a Wii U game that I never played. At the time, I was kind of frustrated with Nintendo’s Wii U offerings, and was burnt out of 2D side-scrollers from Nintendo, even if Wooly World‘s art style was absolutely gorgeous. I’m glad Nintendo chose to have the game ported to the 3DS, since I got the chance to go back and play this version of the game. Especially so, since this game is a true joy, and is easily the best Yoshi game since Yoshi’s Island on the Super Nintendo.
The original Yoshi’s Island on the SNES was a masterclass in platforming. It eschewed the structure of the typical Mario game, where the levels behave like obstacle courses, and instead gave us levels that felt more like fun playgrounds that you can explore. The mechanics of “eating” enemies to create eggs and to then use them as weapons was a ton of fun. And then, there’s the visual art style. Yoshi’s Island was, and still is, a visual feast, employing a hand-drawn art-style that pushed what was possible with a 2D game.
What better way to pass the time during the particularly painful drag of waiting for a brand new Zelda game than by replaying the classics? I’ve been playing multiple of my old favorites simultaneously this past week while waiting for the release of Breath of the Wild this Friday, and the first one I’ve beaten is the last single-player Zelda adventure, A Link Between Worlds. This wonderful 3DS game had a lot to live up to. Taking its name from the SNES classic, A Link to the Past, this game is a wonderful exploration of what made the classic Zelda games so great, while at the same time looking forward by introducing brand new game mechanics and fixing some of the problems that have been plaguing the Zelda games since Ocarina of Time.
A Link Between Worlds is billed as a sequel to 1991’s A Link to the Past, in that this game takes place in a similar version of Hyrule, not too long after the events of the SNES original. You play as an apprentice blacksmith who is caught in the middle of a new crisis after learning that a wizard by the name of Yuga has been kidnapping the descendants of the sages of old for a mysterious purpose. After speaking to Princess Zelda, our hero is sent on a familar quest to retrieve the legendary Master Sword in order to stop the evil wizard.
Don’t eat me alive, but I’ve never beaten a Dragon Quest game. Before this, my only experience with this series is playing several hours of the Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen remake on the Nintendo DS years ago. I didn’t stop playing it because I disliked the game, but rather because playing a DS game on an emulator as I was at the time just doesn’t feel quite right. Now, roll time forward a bit and we’ve just gotten Dragon Quest VII on the 3DS, and I’m prepared to give the series a real shot now. So, as a newcomer to the series, what do I think?
There will be spoilers about the structure and exposition of the plot to help explain the gameplay, so you’ve been warned.
So, with all the hubbub about our Zelda and our Mario Odyssey, let’s remember the fact that there are not one, not two, not three new Fire Emblem games, but four. Nintendo is obviously considering this franchise as one of their flagship titles, standing on par with Kirby or Pokemon. That’s crazy to think about, considering that at this time 10 to 15 years ago, Fire Emblem was still just a niche Nintendo franchise in the States.