Classic games can still bring us much joy many years later.
In celebration of the 10th anniversary of the first cross-console Legend of Zelda game, Nintendo and Tantalus made the wise decision to trim Twilight Princess down slightly. By removing some of the Tears of Light, and shortening some of the tutorials, it created a leaner adventure that allowed the interaction between Midna and the transforming hero to shine. The addition of Amiibo support, and the knowledge that it would end up carrying in to the next Zelda title, Breath of the Wild, also brought new life and challenge to the sprawling adventure. Even the act of controlling Link is novel, thanks to most players experiencing the original as a launch title for the Wii with its motion controls. The end result: the definitive version of perhaps the most underrated (except by doctors) Zelda game in history. - Donald Theriault
For those who grew up without a NES in their video game library, this year gave those neglected a few a second chance with the NES Classic Edition. Thirty of platform's most memorable games were brought back to life with the new retro system, complete with HDMI support and save states. It may be hard to find this holiday season, but the NES Classic Edition is a terrific reminder that at one time, we were all playing with power. - Bryan Rose
What more can be said about these games that hasn’t been said already? Nintendo, Game Freak, and the Pokémon Company kicked off the series’ 20th anniversary by finally adding the original trio of games to the 3DS Virtual Console. It was the first release in what would be a strong year for the franchise… maybe its best since these games launched in the west back in 1998! In hindsight, this really was the perfect way to get the Poké Ball rolling.
One of the most successful Virtual Console launches in recent memory, Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow were downloaded by thousands of fans across the globe upon launch. Nostalgia and love for the games that started it all were likely the biggest contributor to these sales, as per usual, but these particular Virtual Console releases were a little different than others. First of all, it was announced that players would be able to eventually send their RBY Pokémon to the Pokémon Bank application for storing. Because of the limitations of the original Game Boy hardware, this is something that had previously been impossible, and only Pokémon from the third generation onward could be brought into the current iterations of the series through transfers. While we still haven’t gotten that Pokémon Bank update, it’s coming sometime in 2017. The second thing that was made possible in these Virtual Console versions of the games is wireless trading, as the 3DS doesn’t have a link cable accessory like the Game Boy did. For collectors and competitive players, these two additions to the original games were huge.
Outside of those updates, though, lies a core game that still holds up today. This writer played through each one of these games separately, and cherished every moment of them. It was like stepping into a time capsule, and seeing the roots of a series that has grown in many ways throughout the years. While they can be a little rough around the edges sometimes, training, capturing, and collecting the original 151 Pokémon is just as fun in 2016 as it was in 1998. For these reasons, Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow stand alone as our #1 retro release of 2016.- Matt West