We’re kicking off our celebration of the best of 2017 with… well, games from before 2017 that found a new life through the care and attention of dev teams. These games took well-deserved curtain calls this year, with editions that were more than simple ports.
The best encore release of 2017: Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Mario Kart 8 is a fantastic game; let’s be clear about that. It is just that Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is better in every way. The five different kinds of matches and multiple maps make battle mode something you would actually want to play. Item management is more interesting, since you can have two at a time. All the DLC is there. There are new characters to use. (Howdy, Inklings!) It is more well-rounded, which is exactly what you want the second time around. – Jenni
An improved battle mode patched up the biggest deficiency in a game that was stellar even in its initial Wii U release. There are now more ways to play with friends, and each is a nice little break between racing sessions. And hey, being on the Switch can’t hurt its availability and convenience.– Graham
Runner-up: Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age
Final Fantasy XII is one of those entries that definitely has garnered plenty of acclaim, but does not seem to inspire the same fervor as Final Fantasy IV, Final Fantasy VI and Final Fantasy VII. If Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age had been the one we originally received, maybe things would have been different. 10 years after its Japanese release, an updated version has appeared worldwide, vastly improving the experience with a strategic Zodiac Job System, a Trial Mode that lets you go through a gauntlet of enemies in exchange for various rewards and New Game + Weak and Strong Modes to make the game easier or more difficult. These additions are accompanied by rebalancing and the ability to speed up otherwise tedious battles and gameplay with a push of a button. It is more enjoyable the second time around. – Jenni
For many, the PS4/Vita re-release of arcade classic Windjammers was the first time they could actually own it, having released in a few formats but mostly staying obscured behind a cloud of uncertain licenses. It doesn’t do too much to enhance the experience for modern audiences (there’s online multiplayer, but it’s not particularly reliable or robust), but its simple existence is an improvement for a game that deserved more play and attention. – Graham