True to form, I played a lot of games last year. I didn’t quite carry through on my goal to play the classics primarily but I’m super glad I had the chance to play some of these gems from this year!
Honorable Mention in 2019
Gato Roboto: A short, sweet, highly-enjoyable Metroidvania that knows exactly what it wants to be and does it super well.
Pokemon: Sword / Shield: It’s new Pokémon! On a good system! With new Pokémon! And the cutest art style yet!Yeah it’s the same boring and repetitive game design and plodding story, but that’s not exactly surprising. I love it anyways, and this one introduces enough new and smile-inducing stuff that I enjoyed it.
Cadence of Hyrule: Best Zelda music arrangements ever. Really amazing mashup of a game, even if the core game has a bit of a steep learning curve. I didn’t sink much time into it, but I hope I can go back eventually and really give this what it deserves.
Dark Souls 3: If I’m being honest, I had more fun playing DS3 than any other game this year. Bloodborne and Sekiro are both on my list now, and I’ll probably even dip into Dark Souls 2 at some point.
My Favorites of 2019
PC, PS4, Xbox One (Played) | Third-Person Shooter / Action-Adventure
I played Control in the middle of a black, empty living room as we were torn between two homes. I was hesitant to start it without a ton of time to devote, but the love and care that went into the opening several minutes blew me away.
Control is the culmination of over a decade’s experiments. Control is the game Remedy’s been trying to make since at least Alan Wake, or maybe since the studio was founded, integrating lessons learned from each project along the way. Control is the game that might get people to stop asking for an Alan Wake 2. Control is so damn good.
3. Super Mario Maker 2
Switch | Platformer, Level Editor
Finally, Mario Maker comes to a system that all my friends have AND can bring to my house! The results speak for themselves.
Super Mario Maker 2 is the most accessible game design tool ever created, and that core is just one part of a greater whole. I spent hours building levels, testing them, and starting over again, and I feel like I’ve only barely scratched the surface of what’s possible. […] Super Mario Maker 2 affords so much freedom in how you play, how you make, and even how you learn, it’s astonishing how incredibly well it’s all held together in one cohesive package.
2. Horizon Chase Turbo
PC, PS4 (Played), Xbox One, Switch | Arcade Racer
Technically released in 2018, Horizon Chase Turbo came to PlayStation Plus in July. One lazy Sunday morning I downloaded and popped it open and was quickly and delightfully into the modern take on Top Gear-style arcade racing. The more I played it the more it felt like Top Gear until I realized the soundtrack was literally remixes of Top Gear tracks. It kept me happy for many hours, made appearances at multiple parties, and kept me company during plenty work-from-home meetings.
I had a hell of a time with Horizon Chase Turbo. Of all of the retro revival games that have come out over the past few years, it is near the top of my personal list of favourites. I can’t get enough of it.
I’m sure I’ll grind out the last few trophies eventually—it feels that good to keep playing. And it’s on Switch now! No excuses.
1. Outer Wilds
PC, PS4, Xbox One (Played) | Action-Adventure / Puzzle / Platformer?
It really wasn’t even close. After hearing the buzz about this game via podcasts and discovering it was included in Xbox Game Pass, I set aside a night to get started with the lights out and Rob and my’s undivided attention. While we stretched the game over many afternoons and late nights, we ended up dragging the One S along to Indianapolis to finish off the final sequences in our hotel room at GenCon. It has its hooks in us good.
Outer Wilds is easily my game of the year thus far, and continues to move up the list of my personal favorite games of all time. It’s an experience I genuinely cannot stop thinking about, managing to encompass everything I love about the adventure gaming genre and the smart sci-fi musings of my all-time favorite authors. The few negatives brought on by the time loop at the game’s core are universally outweighed by the pioneering spirit cultivated throughout. I urge you to seek out Outer Wilds if you can, if only to try out what is surely one of the greatest adventure games ever created.
If this sounds anything like something you’d enjoy, please play the game with someone you love. Especially now, before the year takes off. You’ll really be glad you did.
A few games did kind of bum me out this year:
Fire Emblem: Three Houses: The mix of Persona and strategy gameplay just didn’t connect with me. Replace the Persona aspects with snappy cutscenes entirely and I think I would have preferred it, but ugh I just don’t have the patience to run around the same map 100 times.
Zelda: Link’s Awakening (2019): Being a favorite of Rob’s I was excited to give this one a go. And it was pretty good! But the rough edges of Game Boy game design from the 90s cut too deep for me to stay interested throughout. It was enjoyable to play with Rob, receiving lots of help and hints along the way, but it was a bit of a bummer that the 2019 update didn’t bring more quality-of-life updates to newer players.
Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD: I played this back on the Wii and discovered it was a motion-controlled-only mess. Fast-forward to this year and now it’s in HD and no motion controls! Ah yes, but there’s a jump…and all the mini-games are terrible…yeah, it’s still not good. Bummer!
To the Backlog™️
- Resident Evil 2
- Kind Words
- Slay the Spire
- Gears 5
- A Short Hike
Games of the Decade
In the spirit of the “end of the decade”, I threw together a favorites list by year of my most memorable experiences in gaming over the last decade. I’d love to hear some of yours! Hit me up on the Tele. 🦝
- 2010: Alan Wake, DJ Hero 2, Green Day: Rock Band, Limbo
- 2011: Fez, Dark Souls, Skyrim, L.A. Noire
- 2012: FTL, Persona 4 Golden, Halo 4, Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward
- 2013: Spelunky HD, Super Mario 3D World, Antichamber, Guacamelee
- 2014: Halo: The Master Chief Collection (300+ hours and counting), Risk of Rain, Shovel Knight, Destiny
- 2015: Downwell, Undertale, Ori and the Blind Forest, Nom Nom Galaxy
- 2016: Dark Souls 3, The Witness, INSIDE, Forza Horizon 3, Doom
- 2017: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, Enter the Gungeon, Night in the Woods
- 2018: Celeste, Return of the Obra Dinn, Horizon Chase Turbo
- 2019: Outer Wilds, Super Mario Maker 2, Control
With 2020 bringing a whirlwind of change, hope and anxiety, here’s hoping that gaming continues to be as fulfilling as ever. Cheers! 🐾