2007 was a great year ... and not just because of Puzzle Quest!
It's true, 2007 was a great year to be a video gamer. In all of my years playing games I have never seen a year more jam-packed with amazing games than 2007, for awhile there it felt like every week there would be another two or three must-have games. It didn't matter what kind of game you were looking for, 2007 had great games in all sorts of different genres. Looking for a good first-person shooter? You had games like Call of Duty 4, The Orange Box, Halo 3 and Crysis to keep you busy. And what about unique puzzle games? Don't forget about Puzzle Quest, Crush and Portal). It seems like the only people that could possibly be disappointed with 2007 are those who were only interested in Grand Theft Auto, Metal Gear Solid or Killzone.
Now that we've seen all there is to see and played all there is to play, it's easy for us to look back at 2007 and figure out who had the best year. Would it be the shooter fans and their pile of quality FPS games? Would it be the Mario fans who finally got a 3D game that can rival Super Mario 64? Is it the pretend rockers who had not one, but two great games to choose from? Nope. There's one group and one
The Orange Box (featuring Half-Life 2, shown) is just one of the many amazing first-person shooters released in 2007!
group alone that is having the best year ever ... those expecting our companies to remember the past! That's right; fan service is having the best year ever!
From the very start of the year it was clear that 2007 was going to be the year that everybody started to remember the past. Thanks to the popularity of the Virtual Console and appeal of compilations, classic video games were starting to make a comeback. But last year everything broke loose, thanks in large part to companies like Sega, Capcom, Konami and Nintendo delivering their fair share of fan service. In January we knew that 2007 was going to be good, but I doubt anybody really knew how good it was going to be.
When I say "fan service" I don't mean just any old game that is connected to something old and forgotten about. When I say "fan service"
After talking about this game for six years on Defunct Games I can't believe it's finally out, hopefully all of you Defunct Gamers ran out and bought a copy of Rondo of Blood!
I mean a game or event that really shows that the company was thinking of their fans, going back and doing the project the right way. Like Castlevania: Dracula X Chronicles, for example. Now here is a game that American gamers have been talking about for more than a decade, yet for whatever reason Konami refused to release this PC Engine game in the U.S. That is, until now. In 2007 Konami not only re-released Dracula X: Rondo of Blood, but they offered both a completely remade version (complete with 3D graphics) and the original 2D sprite version. Better yet, they also offered a slightly remixed version of Symphony of the Night in with the same package, all for a $30 price point. That's what I mean when I say "fan service."
And Castlevania wasn't alone, Square also decided to remake one of their most beloved games. Taking a break from announcing lame sequels to all of their best games, Square Enix did the smart thing and remade Final Fantasy Tactics, the popular tactical RPG for the original PlayStation. Square could have just given us a straight port and called it a day, but they decided to do the one thing fans have been asking them to do for more than a decade: Redo
Final Fantasy Tactics isn't going to change anybody's mind, but at least it's nice to have a copy that doesn't have a bunch of spelling errors!
the localization. The original Final Fantasy Tactics is infamous for its crummy writing and spelling, so it was a relief to finally be able to play a version of the game that didn't make me want to pull my hair out. To sweeten the deal, Square Enix decided to create amazing new cinema sequences, lengthen the story and tie the series in to other recent Final Fantasy games.
Speaking of fan service, Sega managed to impress everybody by finally releasing a sequel to NiGHTS into Dreams. Now here's a game Sega didn't have to make, outside of a few vocal Saturn fans there was really nobody clamoring for this platformer. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure there are more than a few gamers who read Defunct Games that got excited when Sega announced this long-awaited sequel, but we're the minority when it comes to gamers. Most gamers these days don't even know what NiGHTS is, they never played the original Saturn game and don't have any connection to the character. But Sega didn't care; they released a game that kind of feels like it was released right
It's not just the drawing, NiGHTS is one of the most colorful games you will ever see!
after the first game. With its sugar sweet music, crazy 3D levels and familiar gameplay, this is the NiGHTS sequel fans have been waiting for. Unfortunately it's only going to appeal to those of us who remember holding the Saturn's analog control for the first time.
2007 was also the year that Tempest was reborn. All year long Jeff Minter kept us old school gamers informed about his new game, a Tempest-like action game called Space Giraffe. This Xbox Live Arcade game looked like the next step after Tempest 2000, one of the best games released on the Atari Jaguar. Although some were disappointed by Spage Giraffe's end result, it was nice to finally have somebody giving us Tempest fans a little love. And just to sweeten the pot, a few weeks later Atari released their updated version of Tempest.
I can only wonder what Cammy will look like modeled in 3D!
When it comes to fan service very few companies do it as well as Capcom. In 2007 alone Capcom released a Resident Evil light gun shooter, several PSP compilations (Crazy Taxi, Capcom Puzzle World, etc.) and Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo HD Remix. But it's not the games Capcom released in 2007 that make us take notice, it's what they announced was coming in 2008. In 2008 Capcom performed what some consider the ultimate fan service by announcing sequels to both Bionic Commando and Street Fighter. No matter if you were a fan of swinging on your robotic arm or throwing fireballs, Capcom's announcement was enough to make old school gamers as giddy as an eight year old boy.
When it comes to Street Fighter IV most figured it was only a matter of time, Street Fighter II was such a massive success that it seemed
They may not release a lot of games a year, but Nintendo sure does know how to provide quality fan service!
clear that Capcom would eventually continue the franchise in one way or another. But nobody saw Bionic Commando coming. Now here's a game that Capcom didn't need to release, it's a 20 year old action game that only Americans seem to remember. The game didn't sell particularly well in Japan and Europe, and the game's outrageous story hasn't held up well. But Capcom looked past that and let GRIN (Bandits: Phoenix Rising, Ballistics, etc.) have a crack at it. Whether or not this game will live up to our lofty expectations is anybody's guess, but it's nice to see that Capcom is thinking of us 8-bit fans.
Not to be outdone by Capcom, Nintendo had their own bought with fan service in 2007. Nintendo is always known for giving their fans what they want, but in 2007 they went out of their way to reference old games that rarely get any love. Both Super Mario Galaxy and Super Paper Mario featured obscure references to old school Mario games, while Wario Wares was nice enough to remind us about the rest of Nintendo's history. Unfortunately it wasn't all good news for Nintendo's fan service; late in 2007 the company broke the news that Super Smash Bros. Brawl would be delayed until Q1 of 2008. While this was disappointing news, their setback is more than made up for by the release of Japanese games like Sin & Punishment and Super Mario Bros. 2: The Lost Levels on the Virtual Console.