July doesn’t have a great reputation when it comes to blockbuster video game releases. This being said, a slew of memorable titles have launched during the month in the past and are celebrating significant milestones soon, including Mario Golf and Star Wars: TIE Fighter. July’s list of major game anniversaries also includes a tactical shooter, a JRPG, and a puzzle title. Each is worth a curious playthrough today while fans shelter themselves from the blistering summer heat.
July 2019 Gaming Anniversaries | Sniper Elite 3 (5th Anniversary)
Rebellion Developments’ Sniper Elite 3 released for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC on July 1, 2014. Set three years prior to V2, the game preserves a lot of the fun mechanics the series is known for, like realistic ballistics and X-ray kill cams, while improving upon the property’s stealth gameplay. In this entry, an eye icon indicates how exposed one is to the enemy. Players must move around constantly, as patrols search every inch of an area in an attempt to trace one’s footsteps.
Points encourage fans to land trick shots on enemy skulls or make quick work of foes from a distance. Watching one’s bullets slice up detailed cardiovascular, skeletal, and muscular systems never gets old. Sniper Elite 3 is as enjoyable as it is intelligent and strikes a balance that few developers achieve today.
July 2019 Gaming Anniversaries | Trine (10th Anniversary)
The original Trine released for PC on July 3, 2009 and melds platforming mechanics and environmental puzzle solving in a way that makes sense. Players must rotate between a thief, a knight, and a wizard in order to navigate through this medieval fantasy world, overcoming obstacles through use of each character’s unique abilities.
The gameplay and narrative seamlessly play into one another, as each cast member plays a pivotal role in breaking the Trine curse that binds their souls together. Each beautifully rendered level encourages exploration via treasure chests and hidden upgrades. It’s no wonder why a fourth iteration is on its way, as developer Frozenbyte has managed to craft a distinct and interesting identity for its flagship series.
July 2019 Gaming Anniversaries | Tales of Symphonia (15th Anniversary)
Despite it being a JRPG, Tales of Symphonia sold over 100,000 copies shortly after its North American release on July 13, 2004. It’s easy to see why this fifth installment in the Tales franchise garnered so much attention, as its fast and fluid real-time battle system is accessible by players who don’t play RPGs often. The cel-shaded art style is also appealing, especially when traversing through the game’s 3D overworld map.
While Symphonia‘s campaign may not hold a candle to Valkyria Chronicles or the Persona series, its likable cast makes skits worthwhile. Seeing Lloyd’s relationships with his party members grow and change is fascinating, as some interactions directly effect the game’s overarching narrative. Fans of the Kingdom Hearts franchise or Final Fantasy 15 who missed out on Tales of Symphonia back in the day may find that it still holds up today.
July 2019 Gaming Anniversaries | Mario Golf (20th Anniversary)
Mario Golf, the second entry in the spin-off series after 1991’s Mario Open Golf, released for Nintendo 64 on July 26, 1999. The game is designed to be played by anyone, as it doesn’t include the real-life intricacies of the PGA or Tiger Woods franchises. Rather, it embraces Mario‘s imaginative side and includes such features as a speed mode, mini golf, and unique character abilities. Additionally, lava pits, Thwomps, Chain Chomps, and Warp Pipes can change the trajectory of a ball if players aren’t careful, a Boo indicates wind strength and direction, and characters trash talk their opponents’ swings.
The series is poised for a comeback sometime soon, as the last main entry released for 3DS in 2014. Here’s hoping that some of its original characters, like Plum, Sonny, and Harry, also make their return.
July 2019 Gaming Anniversaries | Star Wars: TIE Fighter (25th Anniversary)
Star Wars: TIE Fighter released for PC in July 1994. Considered one of LuscasArts’ best games, the title improves upon the first-person flight simulation mechanics found in X-Wing by introducing a targeting system that guides players to enemy ship components and in-game messages that remind fans of mission objectives.
Part of what makes TIE Fighter so immersive is how it gives pilots the ability to prioritize repairs. Just like in the movies, damage to certain parts will directly effect how well players perform in dogfights. For example, hull damage can cause cockpit displays to break and render targeting systems useless. Properly maintaining one’s spacecraft grants players access to better shields, weapons, and components later on in the game.
TIE Fighter‘s story is just as compelling as its gameplay, as it stars an unnamed pilot who hopes to prevent a coup against Emperor Palpatine. While there’s a clear moral distinction between the Rebel Alliance and the Galactic Empire in the original Star Wars film trilogy, this game argues that the Imperial Army strives to maintain peace and order in the universe. Rebels are seen as a threat to the foundation in which the Empire has built, and thus must be quickly dealt with if the galaxy wants to end all conflict. It’s suffice to say that TIE Fighter offers a unique perspective that Star Wars fans everywhere can appreciate.
In the past, publishers avoided releasing anything during July, as most believed games could not sell outside of the holiday season. This trend is shifting today, as hotly anticipated titles like Fire Emblem: Three Houses and Wolfenstein Youngblood are slated to debut next month. The medium is much more accepted now than it ever has been. Its popularity indicates that July won’t have to be devoid of anything worthwhile to play in the future, as video gaming is something people enjoy every month of the year.
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