Summer Games Preview: Sonic, StarCraft and Splatoon


Splatoon 2 looks to improve on its popular WiiU predecessor by improving multi-player integration. Courtesy Photo and Courtesy Photo

“Injustice 2” – PS4, Xbox, PC – May 16

As the sequel to “Injustice: Gods Among Us” (2013), “Injustice 2”will once again feature DC superheroes like Superman and Batman with gameplay reminiscent of the developers’ other series, “Mortal Kombat.” In July, this game will be one of many featured at Evo 2017, which could be one of the largest fighting game tournaments of all time.

“Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia” 3DS  May 19

After “Fire Emblem Awakening” (2013) and “Fates” (2015) helped introduce the long-running strategy RPG series to new audiences, “Echoes” will modernize the Japan-exclusive “Fire Emblem Gaiden” (1992). Like other “Fire Emblem” games, “Echoes” uses a grid-based battle system in which players control an army of swordsmen and mages to save a war-torn continent. However, many features, such as the weapon system and dungeon-crawling segments, are distinct from other games in the series, so “Echoes” will require a slight adjustment.

“Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers” – Switch – May 26

“Ultra Street Fighter II” is an updated version of “Street Fighter II” (1992). Outside of some minor character additions and balance updates, the game is similar to other versions of the classic, making some players question whether its $40 price tag is worth paying.

“Guilty Gear Xrd Rev 2” – PS4, PS3, PC – May 26

As an update to the cult classic “Guilty Gear Xrd” (2014), “Rev 2” will add more characters and updated gameplay balance with a discounted price for owners of previous versions. “Rev 2” will be joining “Injustice 2” at Evo 2017 in Las Vegas.

“Tekken 7” - PS4, Xbox, PC - June 2

“Tekken 7” has been available in Japanese arcades since 2015, but its long-awaited home console release will be the series’ first since the new console era started. “Tekken 7” will be another one of the headliners at Evo 2017.

“Arms” - Switch - June 16

Within the span of 31 days, five different fighting games will be released, though most of them are sequels. “Arms” is the exception. It’s a cartoony arena-style fighter, and Nintendo’s first major exclusive for the Switch. It’s unlikely to be popular as a competitive fighting game, but its unconventional nature could make it a fun purchase for early Switch users. 

“Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy”  PS4  June 30

Neglected since his glory days in the 1990s, Crash Bandicoot is finally getting a chance to appear in high definition. “N. Sane Trilogy” will be a remake of the first three Crash Bandicoot games with updated features and graphics, attempting to revitalize the franchise or at least cash in on some nostalgia. It’s unclear how well this remaster will turn out, but the 3D platformers have been passé for years, and the recent lukewarm reception of “Yooka-Laylee” shows the genre will need an overhaul to stay relevant in 2017.

“Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age”  PS4  July 11

Final Fantasy XII (2006) was a universally well-regarded game that many fans considered tragically overshadowed by other games in the series due to its release near the end of the PS2’s life cycle. This high-definition remake will bring the game to a new audience and also include features from the Japan-exclusive updated version of the game, helping it stay fresh for fans of the original.

“Splatoon 2”  Nintendo Switch  July 21

“Splatoon” (2015) was one of the Wii U’s most popular games and a new take on team-based shooters. Instead of simply trying to take down your opponents, the main goal is to use your ink-based weapons to cover the field in more paint than the opposing team. The game has some interesting mechanics, like the ability to transform into a squid and swim through paint to move faster, that help it flow smoothly. But the game’s reliance on the Wii U hardware limited the forms of multiplayer, making it much harder to play with friends. The sequel looks to rectify that aspect while building upon the original game with more content and features.

“StarCraft: Remastered”  PC, Mac  TBA

Almost 20 years after its release, the original “StarCraft” is still considered a masterpiece that paved the way for modern Esports. As such, Blizzard’s upcoming remaster will keep the gameplay intact and only upgrade the aesthetics of the game. Esports are now bigger than ever with professional “League of Legends” and “Dota 2” players earning tens of thousands of dollars from competitions, but whether or not “StarCraft” can reclaim its throne as the biggest esport remains to be seen. To tie into the remaster, Blizzard also recently made the original game available as a free download.

"Sonic Mania"  PS4, Xbox, Switch, PC  TBA

For decades now, Sega has been trying to recapture the magic of the original “Sonic the Hedgehog” games without much success. Fans have grown jaded and typically keep their expectations low for new titles out of fear of disappointment. “Sonic Mania,” though, with its Genesis-style aesthetic and gameplay, has received high praise by those who have played its early builds. After dozens of botched attempts, this game may finally replicate what old school fans have been searching for.

“Cuphead”  Xbox, PC  TBA

Even at a glance, “Cuphead” distinguishes itself from all other high-profile games. The whole aesthetic of “Cuphead” is a tribute to 1930s cartoons, using similar hand-drawn animation and watercolor backgrounds to create its bizarre world of humanoid mugs and boxing frogs. The gameplay is fast-paced, involving constant running, jumping, and shooting. It’s in the same sort of 2D run-and-gun genre as “Contra” but with a greater focus on boss fights. Given all of the sequels and remakes this summer, the originality of “Cuphead” is especially valuable, so let’s hope for a release date soon.

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