Thursday, January 25, 2018

SuperPhillip Central Best of 2017 Awards - Top Five Digital Downloads

There are just too many excellent digital games from last year to put on a top five list for my favorites at the SuperPhillip Central Best of 2017 Awards. That's a good problem to have in general, but when you have to just pick five out of dozens of memorable titles, you're definitely going to leave way too many out that deserve some recognition. But, name five, I must! These are SuperPhillip Central's choices for the Top Five Digital Downloads.

5) Snipperclips: Cut it out, together! (NSW)

A launch title for the Nintendo Switch, Snipperclips: Cut it out, together! is a mostly cooperative effort between up to four players. The goal is to use your character's body to cross over other players' bodies and snip a section of them off to perform an assortment of tasks. Whether it's teaming up to pack yourselves into a shape that doesn't flow over the dotted line, cutting a chunk off your partner to turn them into a hook to grab onto a high up lever, or turn each other into baskets to carefully bring a ball from one side of the screen to the other to clear the level, Snipperclips has a lot of chaotic multiplayer fun on offer. There are also single player challenges as well, but the overall game is best played in a group or party setting. From embarrassment for messing up a level at the last moment to yelling at a bud for doing the same, Snipperclips: Cut it out, together! was a tremendous start to the Nintendo Switch's online marketplace of games.

4) Blaster Master Zero (NSW, 3DS)

Taking the NES cult classic Blaster Master and reshaping and remodeling it for new, modern audiences, developer Inti Creates (Mega Man Zero, Mega Man ZX, Azure Striker Gunvolt) put forward a terrific and unique 2D platformer. Well, that's actually just part of the game. Your character gets in and out of its robotic tank and enters in to compounds where overhead action without the aid of his tank. Angry enemies, ruthless bosses, and climactic encounters punctuate the most high octane moments of Blaster Master Zero, while the pace slows down for exploration -- finding secret weapons and upgrades in a somewhat Metroid-style way. Both the 2D action-platforming and the over-the-head running and gunning make Blaster Master Zero on the whole a terrific indie charmer.

3) Mighty Gunvolt Burst (NSW, 3DS)

Inti Creates didn't just have one of my favorite digital delights from 2017 -- they had two! Despite the Mighty No. 9 franchise being a bit toxic after a turbulent (to say the least) Kickstarter campaign and subsequent handing out rewards (then there's the quality of the actual game), Inti Creates brought a much needed boost to Mighty No. 9's Beck. This time, he was starring with Gunvolt of the Azure Striker Gunvolt series in a followup to Mighty Gunvolt (a game that was available on the Nintendo 3DS and Steam). This sequel was Mighty Gunvolt Burst for the Nintendo Switch and 3DS. Similar to a Mega Man game and having the same cast of bosses as Mighty No. 9, the dev team went further, designing well crafted levels that encouraged multiple playthroughs to uncover secrets and get higher scores. An upgrade system meant you could customize Beck or Gunvolt by equipping found chips to do a number of enhancements. From air dashes, to adding elemental capabilities to weapons, to making bullets fire in different arcs and directions, the amount of customization was incredible. While we wait for Mega Man 11 later this year, why not check out Mighty Gunvolt Burst if you haven't already?

2) SteamWorld Dig 2 (PS4, NSW, Vita, PC)

We saw this game already earlier in the evening, and it's for good reason. SteamWorld Dig 2 is just a wonderful game made by an exceptionally talented team in Image & Form. Further expanding on the now-basic gameplay of the original SteamWorld Dig, the sequel brought forth expertly created level design as opposed to the randomly generated worlds seen in Image & Form's first chapter of the SteamWorld saga. This meant a more cleverly crafted world could be built, offering man-made challenges instead of leaving things up to the whims of the AI's design. It made finding treasure and completing the many challenge rooms within the game particularly rewarding and not something that felt like simple luck. The options in the player character's mobility further exemplified the lessons learned by the dev team, giving players more ways to get from point A to point B, and have lots of fun doing them. SteamWorld Dig 2 is an addicting, quality, treasure of a game that thankfully you don't have to discover miles under ground to play and enjoy.

1) Sonic Mania (PS4, XB1, NSW, PC)

Speaking of seeing games earlier this evening, it's once again time for SuperPhillip Central's pick for the top digital download of 2017, Sonic Mania! The days of me sinking a lot of time into a game, beating it multiple times, and after thinking I was exhausted with it, going back to play it some more seemed long gone. After all, usually when I beat a game nowadays I have to move on to my next for review purposes to keep a steady stream of relevant game coverage going. With Sonic Mania, I must have gone through the game with all seven Chaos Emeralds at least three times. The zones are colorful and full of interesting gimmicks and obstacles, the controls are as solid and smooth as the Genesis classics, and the overall presentation nails the '90s aesthetic from over two decades ago. As cynical and sarcastic as I often can get, games like Sonic Mania bring back the kid in me, and they remind me why I love gaming so much.

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