Developer Salute – WayForward
The first time I really sat up and took notice of WayForward was when I reviewed Contra 4 back in 2007. I was blown away by its faithful dedication to the classic NES/SNES games while still pushing things in new directions. The controls felt perfectly tuned, bosses were suitably ridiculous, and little touches like letting you play the Europe-only probotectors (a censoring tactic that swapped Bill and Lance for robots) showed full commitment to research.
This sent me on a quest to see what else these guys had been up to. I realized that I enjoyed Sigma Star Saga on Game Boy Advance and remembered hearing Nintendo Power gush about how good Shantae was on Game Boy Color. Much if the rest of its catalog consisted of games based on children's properties that I never tried, but it seemed to have given the team some time to hone their skills and pay the bills.
What made me a WayForward fan for life was the reboot of A Boy and His Blob on Wii in 2009. I knew very little about the original NES game, but the remake stunned me with amazing animation, clever puzzles and gameplay, and plenty of heart using only minimal storytelling. The hug command is probably in the top ten most adorable things in all of video games.
WayForward proved its skills in licensed adaptations, but it also backs that up with several original property gems. The Mighty series lit up the mostly dreary DSiWare store with Mighty Flip Champs and Mighty Milky Way and later released the Mighty Switch Force games to 3DS and Wii U. Shantae: Risky's Revenge served as a great 16-bit-style followup to the original 2002 metroidvania game.
In the last year the studio put out an update to one of my favorite all-time series in Double Dragon Neon (seen in the top image) and DuckTales: Remastered, a deftly realized take on Capcom NES classic. On the horizon I'm very much looking forward to Shantae and the Pirate's Curse on 3DS and whatever other secret projects WayForward has in the garage. Even though not everything WayForward touches is gold (BloodRayne: Betrayal wasn't my favorite), I still can't help but get excited about whatever project it's attached to.