E3 may have offered us a teasing glimpse of the future of interactive entertainment, but this month’s Play crop offers a much more nostalgic view of things. Summer is a quiet time for games; typically it’s an ideal time for slightly left-of-centre fare to stand out. Yet one look at the list of new releases this month might have you wondering exactly which year we’re in.
In Ever Oasis (p114), we have a cutesy, super-deformed Japanese RPG directed by Koichi Ishii, an industry veteran best known as the director of SNES classic Secret Of Mana. Things have moved on since then, certainly, but Ishii’s signature runs right through Ever Oasis, both for better and worse.
Meanwhile, one look at Valkyria Revolution (p108) and you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d slipped into an alternate timeline where Sega never turned its back on the concept of risk after one lukewarm set of fiscal results too many. Final
Fantasy XIV: Stormblood (p112), meanwhile, calls back to a time before the WOW-inspired MMO loot grind lost its lustre. And, heavens above, what’s that on p119? A new
Micro Machines? Are you sure it’s still 2017? While none of the above are entirely without charm, they are all designed to appeal to a certain type of player, grey about the temples and pining for better bygone times. And the kind smile of nostalgia can excuse all kinds of ills: Revolution’s awful story; Stormblood’s hackneyed questing; Micro Machines’ weirdly corporate veneer. Yet you don’t need to be ancient to appreciate
Nex Machina (p104). Its inspirations may be dated, and obvious, but this lightning-paced, spectacular homage to
Robotron – made in partnership with that game’s creator Eugene Jarvis – would be essential in any era. If only we still had our 1980s reflexes.