Naughty or Nice 2017 #5: Anniversaries

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Before we proceed with this year’s penultimate Naughty and Nice lists, let’s take a moment to remember the anniversaries that didn’t make the cut.

20 years ago was a banner year in Anime, as those whose minds weren’t all #@#%&ed up by End of Eva instead got seizures from Pokemon.

30 years ago, Maxis was founded. Unfortunately for them, Electronic Arts was turning 5 that year.

60 years ago, the USSR launched Sputnik, later inspiring a Boy Meets World episode.

80 years ago, the Hindenburg exploded. James Cameron would mark the 60th anniversary of this great transportation vehicle disaster with the release of Titanic.

150 years ago, the land of Canada as we know it today began.

And 500 years ago, Martin Luther had 95 or so things to say that kicked off the Protestant Revolution. James Cameron would mark the 420th anniversary of this with the release of Titanic.

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1. Metal Gear’s 30th Anniversary

If you told me five years ago that Konami would mostly forget about what is (or used to be?) their biggest franchise, I’m not sure if I would have believed you. But here we are, where Konami barely acknowledged the legacy that Metal Gear left in the company’s history and the video game landscape. All they’ve done with the franchise this year is promote Metal Gear Survive, a spinoff with no connection to the main series where players fight zombie-like enemies. There’s no chance that Konami will acknowledge the franchise in the future, either, unless some execs get over their spat with creator Hideo Kojima.

2. Phantasy Star’s 30th Anniversary

Sure, Phantasy Star Online 2 is still being updated, but the company barely acknowledged the 30th anniversary of the overall franchise. It was regarded as one of the best Japanese RPG franchises around in the early-to-mid 90s, and the best in Sega’s arsenal, with the single-player RPG installments being on par with the Final Fantasy series in terms of quality. It’s a shame the series is essentially dead outside online offerings, and given how little Sega has said about the older games, it will likely to stay that way for a while — if not forever.

3. Grandia’s 20th Anniversary

When GungHo Online Entertainment released a fairly good (after some patches) port of Grandia II for PC in mid-2015, I was hoping they had plans to do more with the franchise in the near future. But they sadly did nothing for the 20th anniversary. The Grandia series wasn’t one of the biggest Japanese RPG franchises around, but the mainline games are still remembered as enjoyable experiences. GungHo doesn’t have many franchises, but is still making plenty of cash from Puzzle & Dragons after several years; they could have given this series another shot, but it seems they don’t intend to use this one. At least whoever updates Game Arts’ Twitter account remembered.

4. Final Fantasy VII’s 20th Anniversary

Square Enix acknowledged this game, along with the overall Final Fantasy brand’s 30th anniversary. But they also have a highly anticipated remake of the game coming, and you’re telling me they mind-bogglingly couldn’t provide anything more than a new piece of concept art? They haven’t shown the game in motion in a hair over 2 years, but they could have shown something for the 20th anniversary. This really could be the new Final Fantasy Versus XIII.

5. Contra’s 30th Anniversary

It’s another Konami game, and as previously shown with Metal Gear and several other franchises, they seem embarrassed to remind everyone of how they used to develop a lot of video games at one point. They didn’t completely forget, since they signed off on a live-action movie and TV series that will be produced by Chinese company Starlight Media. Hey, it’s something, which is why it’s last on the list; but is it really what anyone asked for? It’s also humorous that it’s receiving live-action adaptations considering the games already take “inspiration” from several 80s action and sci-fi films.

1. Star Wars’ 40th Anniversary

Disney celebrated Star Wars in style this year. They first commemorated it with a special event in April where the franchise’s legacy was celebrated, and plenty of then-upcoming projects were shown. They also did good with the series by releasing The Last Jedi, which has been critically and commercially acclaimed — though some parts are reportedly divisive (I haven’t seen it yet). You could also make the argument that Rogue One counts as part of this, considering it takes place just before the first 1977 film. Star Wars Battlefront II also features several events and characters from the original trilogy, though it’s a shame about its anti-consumer issues.

2. Mega Man’s 30th Anniversary

When I started making this anniversary list, I fully expected to place Mega Man in the “Naughty” column. Capcom hasn’t done much with the franchise since producer Keiji Inafune left, and they’ve actually taking several small steps to irk the franchise’s already-rabid fanbase. Though they’ve done a good job with providing the Legacy Collections, they celebrated the anniversary in style by announcing the first new game in a while: Mega Man 11. Sure, the game’s around a year off, so there’s no way to tell how it will turn out quality-wise, but the moment they announced it was so enjoyable that it earned a place on this list.

3. Shin Megami Tensei’s 25th Anniversary

The mainline Megaten series is still important for Atlus after all these years, even though spinoff franchise Persona has surpassed it these days. The biggest event Atlus held for the 25th anniversary was the Law Side and Chaos Side concerts that featured several pieces of music from the franchise’s long history. They also released an enhanced port with Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux, and announced the next mainline installment: Shin Megami Tensei V for Switch. It’s a shame they didn’t get longtime artist Kazuma Kaneko to draw anything to help celebrate it, but it was a good effort overall.

4. Street Fighter 30th Anniversary

For a while, it didn’t appear Capcom planned on doing anything too special for Street Fighter’s anniversary this time around. They continued to update Street Fighter V with five new characters and a series of extras. Those extras, however, included outfits provided by original Street Fighter II artist Akiman. They also finished the year by announcing the Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection which includes twelve games for current-gen consoles, which will remarkably include the first official releases of Street Fighter III’s New Generation and Second Impact versions since the Dreamcast. It’s a pity that won’t release until next year, though. Capcom sure likes to wait until the last minute to surprise everyone.

5. Double Dragon’s 30th Anniversary

Arc System Works recently acquired the rights to Double Dragon, and decided to put the IP to serious use this year by making Double Dragon IV to celebrate the anniversary. This title was a direct sequel to the NES games, meaning it used sprites similar to the older games to invoke the feeling of an 8-bit title. It wasn’t on par with the best installments, but it was a respectable effort, and the idea was appreciated.

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1. The Wii Me Too

The Wii U was a console that had a lot of interesting ideas, but suffered from poor execution in numerous ways. It was released in November of 2012 and kicked off the next generation of console gaming. It may have been Nintendo’s first HD console, but it paled in comparison to the power that would be offered by the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Worst, Nintendo failed to properly advertise the machine and many people assumed it was an add-on for the Wii. People also complained that while some (not all) games were playable on the tablet screen, the tablet couldn’t be used long-distance from main console. All around, the Wii U felt like a stopgap and half-measure from Nintendo in their attempt to recapture the success of the Wii. The half-measure showed with Wii U lifetime sales just reaching 13.56 million units sold over 5 years (compared with the PS4 selling 70 million units in just over 4 years) and console production being ended in early in 2017. It’s a shame too, since the Wii U had great games. Perhaps more of them will be ported over to its successful successor, the Switch.

2. Philips CD-i Flops Hard

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Philips CD-i. Perhaps this is history best forgotten, but it wouldn’t be any fun not to kick a bad system again. The CD-i was a partnership between Nintendo, Philips, and Sony in their attempts to create a CD-based console for the Japanese gaming giant. The deal was originally for Sony to create a the hardware for a SNES CD console (which would have been named the PlayStation), while Philips provided the CD technology. Nintendo broke the deal with both companies. So Philips moved forward anyway and took the CD-i to market in 1991. A few Nintendo characters made their way to the system thanks to contracts Philips was able to use. The company positioned itself as a home multimedia platform and released some odd games using Nintendo characters in games such as Hotel Mario, Link: The Faces of Evil, Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon, and Zelda’s Adventure. Of course there were other games, but the Nintendo ones are remembered the most.The console failed hard, with terrible games, a high price point of $1000, and only selling 570,000 units by the time it was discontinued in 1996. The console could be said to be too far ahead of its time if you want to be generous. At least the system and the broken deal with Nintendo paved the way for Sony’s PlayStation in 1994.

3. Elvis Conspiracy Theories Live On

Forty years ago, Elvis Presley died. However, he was such a music sensation that many fans could not believe the King had died at the age of 42. So instead of accepting reality, they insisted that Elvis is alive and he was actually abducted by aliens. It was noted that Elvis often claimed various connections to aliens. Such as when he was born, there was an unexplainable beaming light over the family home, the man himself recalled being telepathically contacted by extraterrestrials at eight-years-old who gave him a vision of his career in music. The King is dead, and has been dead for decades. It’s a pity that the rumor won’t die, too.

1. Three Awesome Decades of Final Fantasy

Yesterday, December 18, Final Fantasy turned 30. At the time creator, Hironobu Sakaguchi, thought the game would be his last video game — thus the title. The first game was a simple RPG in a typical fantasy setting where the Four Warriors of Light must restore balance to the world. Players had four members in their party and had six classes to choose from. The combat consisted of menus with simple commands. The game borrowed many elements from Dungeons and Dragons, but Final Fantasy made them its own. It turned out the Nintendo title was successful and that success led to 30 years of sequels, spin-offs, anime, and movies. Without Final Fantasy it’s hard to imagine what the modern JRPG would look like. Fortunately, SquareEnix has been celebrating the 30th anniversary of its biggest franchise all year.

2. Assassin’s Creed Makes a Mark

The first Assassin’s Creed game was released 10 years ago and has been huge franchise in the modern gaming landscape ever since. The game series mixes fiction and historical events in telling the tale of the Assassins and their struggle against the Templars. While the first game was well received, the franchise’s popularity skyrocketed with the release of Assassin’s Creed II and the Brotherhood series. Since then, the game has seen 19 releases across consoles, handhelds, PC, and mobile thanks to spin-offs and side stories. The series mainline popularity began to wane with Assassin’s Creed III, as the yearly release schedule began to burn fans out (thankfully, Ubisoft decided to take the series off of the yearly schedule). Black Flag did better, and the last entry in the series, Origins has been very well received. Here’s to many more years of Assassin’s Creed — just not every year.

3. A Snapshot of 2002 with a Camera Phone

The very first camera phone’s history is a contested one. Depending on whom you believe, either the first phone was produced by Samsung and released in South Korea in 2000, or it was produced by Sharp and released in Japan in the same year. That said, the first camera phones hit the United States in 2002, or 15 years ago. Early adopters had the choice between the Nokia 7650 or the Sanyo SPC-5300. The first cameras had color displays of 176×208 pixels, which pales in comparison today’s technology. However, these first camera phones partially paved the way to the ubiquitous smartphones carried by millions of people in the United States and billions worldwide. Ironically, the first phones had poor resolution and many people wouldn’t have dreamed of replacing their cameras with them. Now the majority of people solely rely on their phone as a camera. Who knew we’d come this far in a mere 15 years?

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