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Found 9 results

  1. If you needed any more proof that the Nintendo Switch is a bonafide hit, look no further than the company's first quarter results for the fiscal year 2018, which have just been released. The big news is that the Switch has sold nearly 20 million units (specifically 19.67 million) in the first 16 months since its release in March 2017. For comparison, Sony's PlayStation 4 sold 20 million units in its first 16 months as well but had the benefit of two holiday seasons to do it whereas the Switch has had one. Switch software sales have hit 83.93 million units with Super Mario Odyssey leading as the top-selling title with 11.7 million units sold. Following that, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe has hit just under that with 10.35 million units, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild sits in third with 9.32 million units, fourth goes to Splatoon with a respectable 6.76 million units, and 1-2 Switch manages to nab the fifth spot with 2.45 units. It's also worth noting that ARMS has finally broken 2 million units (2.01 million units, specifically), sitting just under 1-2 Switch on the chart. Nintendo is aiming for Switch to sell nearly 40 million units by the end of fiscal 2018, which will end on March 31, 2019. Source: IGN What are your thoughts on Nintendo Switch's sales so far? Let us know below!
  2. Jason Clement

    Game of the Year 2017: Jason's Picks

    Did anyone have any inkling of how good 2017 would be for video games before the year started? Even knowing full well that Breath of the Wild would likely be amazing, I think this year took most people by surprise. Honestly, we haven’t had a year full of titles this amazing since… 2011, at least. Or maybe even 2007 (Bioshock, Portal, Super Mario Galaxy). Heck, some would argue 1998 (Ocarina of Time, Metal Gear Solid, Half-Life). There was something for everyone this year, and arguably even too much of it. 2018 will be a busy year for sure; not only will we be playing all of the newest releases, we’ll be using whatever free time is left to catch up on our backlog of amazing games from 2017. Seriously. With that said, let’s take a look at the titles that surprised and delighted me the most this year. Honorable Mention Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy True story: The debut of Katrielle Layton – the famous Professor Hershel Layton’s daughter – is probably the least best (I dare not say ‘worst’) entry in the Layton series to date. This is because the story takes an episodic approach, the puzzles are fairly easy, most cases are generally non-consequential in nature, and many of the mysteries’ answers are telegraphed before completing them. And yet, none of that really mattered by the time the final scene aired. Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy is easily the most charming game I’ve played all year long. The new cast, along with the supporting characters you come to know are what really make the game special in the end. With everything happening in the real world this year, I just wanted to disappear into Layton’s positive and whimsical take on London, following the adventures of Katrielle, Ernest, and their dog ‘Sherl’ as they crack case after case. Not all of the cases are winners, but there are a few that are incredibly touching and make the game worth playing in the end. 10. Metroid: Samus Returns The Metroid series returned with a bang this year, first with the announcement of Metroid Prime 4 being in development and then with the surprise announcement and subsequent release of Metroid: Samus Returns – the long-awaited remake of the Game Boy-only Metroid II: Return of Samus. While it doesn’t do a lot to propel the series forward in a gameplay sense, this is true, classic, 2D Metroid gameplay at its finest. Featuring revamped controls that give you more flexibility and a new melee dodge attack that can parry enemies when timed right, Samus Returns adds just enough to improve the old experience while totally overhauling most of the outdated level design and mechanics of the original game. The encounters with different Metroid evolutions are some of the best moments in the game, adding a real and rare sense of threat and danger to what has usually been a more atmospheric, exploratory game. Also, there just might be a new addition or two to the game’s story to shake things up in the same way Metroid Zero Mission did nearly a decade and a half ago. 9. Cosmic Star Heroine I’d been aware of Zeboyd Games’ previous titles (Cthulhu Save the World, Breath of Death VII etc.), but they’d never appealed to me until Cosmic Star Heroine released this year. Zeboyd Games created perhaps the best homage to both Chrono Trigger and Phantasy Star that I’ve seen yet with Cosmic Star Heroine. The battles wisely move away from the “select strongest attack until your MP is depleted” approach and instead injects more strategy by way of introducing cooldowns for each attack and focusing on when you should use them. The story is interesting and well done, if a bit cliched, and moves at a brisk pace, even if it’s somewhat lacking in the character-building department. Cosmic Star Heroine’s universe is also pretty fascinating; Zeboyd did an excellent job of designing a wide variety of alien creatures and strange worlds, not to mention its eclectic cast of characters. Also, the music is a pretty rad take on ‘80s and ‘90s sci-fi soundtracks (think Babylon 5). 8. World to the West Rain Games is a developer that has been on my radar ever since I played their excellent Metroidvania title Teslagrad from a few years back. Their brilliant, hand-painted visuals combined with thought-provoking puzzles made me super enthused for their next title, World to the West. Set in the same world as Teslagrad, World to the West eschews the 2D platforming of its predecessor and opts for an isometric Zelda-like approach. The result is a game with great, cartoon-like visuals; an interesting story set one generation after the former game and which focuses on four unique characters who come from significantly different backgrounds, and action-puzzle gameplay that splits the focus between said four characters’ special abilities. It’s one of the few games I’ve played in which the world is cleverly designed so that you’ll need to use all four characters to explore and open it up with each one's own skills. 7. SteamWorld Dig 2 The first SteamWorld Dig was an excellent surprise hit when it released a few years back, so I was both super excited and hesitant at the thought of SteamWorld Dig 2. Why? I didn’t know what developer Image & Form would be able to do that would keep it from feeling like a complete rehash. Luckily for us, Image & Form saw this issue coming, and they did something smart. They cast Dot -- a minor character from the first game -- as the protagonist in this one and created a whole new mystery: What happened to Rusty, the original protagonist? The truth of the matter will take you through twists and turns, and it’s pulled off incredibly well. New items and machine parts help differentiate the core gameplay cycle, which is the same as the first game’s but with a more interesting world and better-designed caverns to navigate and solve. Excellent gameplay aside, what really made an impact on me with SteamWorld Dig 2 is how the plot plays with your expectations, and completely shatters them in the end. 6. Sonic Mania When it was first announced, I wasn’t that interested in Sonic Mania. It had been some time since I’d last played a 2D Sonic title, and the prospect of “going back” to the old classic style just didn’t seem like progress to me. Little did I know that it’s exactly what the series needed, especially since the newer games have grown creatively stagnant over the last decade (or two). Sonic Mania injects just enough retro levels to keep it from feeling like a “best hits collection” and wisely introduces remixed versions of old levels along with entirely new ones that stand up with the very best the series has to offer. It manages to nail that feeling where it plays like you imagined it played way back when, but in reality is so much better than what Sonic 1 had to offer. Topped off with a brilliant soundtrack, Sonic Mania is what I consider to be the best Sonic game to date. I did not expect to be as blown away by it as I currently am. Welcome back, Sonic. Stick around for a while. 5. Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia Shadows of Valentia proves that Intelligent Systems is only getting better at making Fire Emblem games, and I was thrilled to discover just how good it was. Being a remake of the NES-only Fire Emblem Gaiden, the second game in the series which never made it out of Japan, Shadows of Valentia stays true to its retro roots by keeping the different battle rules from the original game (no weapons triangle, magic depletes health, etc.) while adding brand new elements in the way of third-person dungeon crawling and exploring different areas of towns and forts. While the latter addition isn’t always used to great effect, it’s fun to finally control a Fire Emblem character firsthand and helps to break up the pace between battles. Ultimately, Shadows of Valentia offers a surprisingly strong story (which is equally surprisingly dark in certain moments) that tackles themes of classism, war, and sacrifice – culminating in a grand finale that pays off in a big way at the very end. Fire Emblem has rarely been as good as Echoes gets, and I hope to see most of the new systems and mechanics used here in the new Fire Emblem title for Switch next year. 4. Splatoon 2 There was a point this year, perhaps around August or September, where I was certain Splatoon 2 would be my game of the year, if not for three other incredible games (one of which I had to do some more reflecting back on). With over 265 hours invested, Splatoon 2 is by far my most-played game of the year and the one I had the most fun with on a consistent basis. Some would say it’s not really a sequel; that it’s a 1.5 version of the game. Even if that’s true, it’s heads and shoulders above the first game, with a solid, diverse grouping of Ranked match games, tons of new hairstyles, weapons, specials, and ways to modify your character. And let’s not forget about Salmon Run, the new horde mode that might just be “mode of the year”. I’ve spent countless hours taking out Salmonids, collecting golden eggs, and having a general blast with @barrel, @Rissake, @YukiKairi, @Venom, and others. No other game has given me that “just one more game feeling” quite like Splatoon 2 has, and that’s a testament to just how good it is. 3. Super Mario Odyssey If you know me, you might be surprised to see this game “only” placing third on my list. That’s mainly because this was an exceptional year with amazing games, but don’t let the lack of GOTY status fool you. This is a Mario title we haven’t seen in quite some time, and boy did it feel good to be running around and exploring each level at your own pace. Super Mario Galaxy 1 and 2 had moments of this, even if they were still largely linear affairs, but Odyssey’s wide open levels were so out of the norm for the past 15 years that they actually recalled elements of this year’s Breath of the Wild. What I appreciated most about Odyssey is that it really does feel like Mario is embarking on a great journey. Nintendo’s Tokyo studio also spared no effort to make every level feel as unique and original as possible, getting away from the standard lava world, ice world, and jungle world. Instead, you’ll find a level based on New York City, a food-based world, a desert world with ice-elements and an underground temple, and a forest with a tower that’s occupied by robots, just to name a few. It’s super imaginative, not to mention super inspired, due to the cap-throwing mechanic where you can capture and control different enemies. Due to all this and more (that soundtrack!), Super Mario Odyssey is far and away the most creative game I’ve played this year. 2. Horizon Zero Dawn Horizon Zero Dawn is far and away the biggest surprise of 2017 for me. It always looked fantastic in previews, but I didn’t realize just how much I would fall down the rabbit hole with it until I played it late this year. First off, it’s the most graphically impressive game I’ve played in 2017; stunning vistas, vast gorges, tree-lined forests, and populated towns and civilizations – it has it all. It also has the best narrative I’ve experienced all year; Aloy’s journey from shunned outcast to legendary warrior in the eyes of the people is an experience I’ll not forget, and there’s a deep amount of lore to the world, not to mention the many mysteries behind the plot are all well-thought out and have satisfying answers to them. What really puts the game over the top for me is how good its machine-hunting combat is. At first, it’s incredibly daunting and seems complex (and really, it is), but after you learn the intricacies of how to hunt each machine (especially the large ones), the game really takes off. There are so many ways you can take them down, from using a rope gun to tie them down to disable them to setting traps, tripwires, and shooting off weapons, modules, and weak spots with your arrows. Each encounter is incredibly dynamic and life-like, with each machine actually mimicking and behaving like the natural animal/creature it’s designed after. It’s a thrilling experience every time you’re involved in a hunt with larger machines because the danger feels incredibly real for Aloy, and it makes each victory all the sweeter when you eventually do take them down. Horizon was a powerful experience for me -- one of those rare games that completely drown out real life and make you invested in the world within, and one I'll not forget anytime soon. 1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Breath of the Wild is a game that many Zelda fans have been waiting a long time for. While I wasn’t one of the ones hankering for a return to Zelda 1 mechanics (the go-anywhere approach), I’ll never forget the feeling of being dropped in this massive world and being in awe at how much there is to do and see. I’ve heard many ask what Breath of the Wild does for open worlds that is so amazing. The answer has to do with interactivity – the world in BotW is so intricate in how you can interact with it and how it reacts to what you do. Horizon and other games have worlds that are impressive in size and scope, but there’s little you can do to it except traverse it and interact with specially designed areas and characters. In BotW, you can climb nearly everything, decide how you want to approach a certain location, chop trees down to cross large ravines, set grass on fire and then ride the updraft the smoke creates, move almost any object that’s not attached to the ground with magnetism, and much more. In short, the world is alive, and never has a title for a game been more appropriate. The plot itself, while not my favorite of the series, is still fairly good, and the individual story arcs and moments are well-done; especially those that involve the four champions. I also really enjoyed the Divine Beasts; even though we didn’t get traditional dungeons, these were fairly close in approximation them, and one of the Divine Beasts might just be one of my top 10 dungeons in the whole series. In the end, Breath of the Wild will be remembered for letting players play the way they want to. There are definitely things that can be improved, but by and large, this is a landmark title that broke barriers and will shape games for years to come.
  3. This past year was easily one of the worst in my entire life. Without even going into the hellscape that is the current political climate I was also forced to deal with many far more personal concerns that made sure my mental fortitude was being only kept intact by the narrowest string at times. Irrespective of the time or seasons that the hardships of life decided to unfurl before me, 2017 in gaming brightly illuminated even amongst the darkest moments of my life. If anything, it's one of the very few things that kept me sane with reasoning to look forward to each new day. Maybe that intro was a bit too much of a downer, but what I am trying to say is that if 2017 was not such a strong year for gaming I would very likely still be in a terrible mental state. People have been arguing that 2017 is on the level of being on the caliber of 1998 in gaming -- and I'd be inclined to agree with them for the most part. You may notice a recurring theme as my 2017 list goes on where I'm actually putting a bigger emphasis on storytelling than gameplay like I would normally in previous years. Because there is no shortage of excellent games with great gameplay in 2017, the ones that also hit an emotional focal point through either their storytelling or writing were more likely to click with me. Without further ado, here are my personal favorite games of 2017. 10) Super Mario Odyssey Super Mario Odyssey is probably the closest thing in my mind to 3D platforming perfection. Masterful controls, top-notch level design, a constant satisfying loop with collectibles, a dapper-looking Bowser, and even the catchy "Jump Up, Super Star!" theme is sung by none other than the seemingly long-forgotten Pauline. Perhaps the biggest criticism I could truly level against Mario Odyssey is that it simply did not stick in my memory quite as much as other games this year after the initial credits rolled despite how much I enjoyed playing it in the heat of the moment. 9) Nier Automata Like most Yoko Taro games I find myself strongly respecting but am also equally frustrated at what Nier Automata attempts to achieve. Part of that was the unfair expectation was thinking it'd be a Platinum game with a Nier touch. And let me tell ya, I LOVE Platinum character-action games (Bayonetta 2 <3). What I got, however, was a Nier game with a Platinum touch, which conceives of all of the bizarre, yet fascinating quirks of a Yoko Taro game without the shoe-string budget and generally terrible gameplay he was known to be saddled with back at Square-Enix (*cough* the entire Drakengard series *cough*). Because of this, I was fighting between conflicting emotions of it not quite grabbing me as the storytelling/cast of characters in the original Nier did, nor the gameplay of Platinum in their prime. But like any game by the eccentric director, it likes to play upon expectations over time. Everything from a Metal Gear Solid 2-styled mantle pass, phenomenal dynamic soundtrack, twisted storytelling, and a highly evocative ending sequence that could only be executed within the medium of video games made the whole experience better than the sum of its clunky parts for myself. 8) Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn continues to be far and away the best thing bearing the Final Fantasy name in nearly a decade. Unlike the prior expansion that is more noteworthy for its storytelling, Stormblood is generally more impressive for its dramatic gameplay overhaul (not to say the story isn't compelling in Stormblood, though). Apparently, all it took was the noble sacrifice of the PS3 version. In which case I'll just say: why didn't they just throw the PS3 version into the sun earlier? [says this as someone who played FFXIV on PS3 for nearly 2 years] While I hardly consider myself a hardcore player I was more than swept into the fires of war that is Stormblood for months. With a campaign that is better than most RPGs this year (I've played a lot of RPGs this year), it features exciting bosses, creative dungeons, an English story localization that nearly rivals the quality of FFXII, two incredibly fun new classes, and entirely revamped gameplay mechanics that also happened to give my precious Astrologian class lovely buffs to help bring the Ala Mhigan war effort that much closer to home. To justify my occasionally dangerous addiction that much further I even made some new friends in real life during the course of playing it as well. All of this was almost enough to make people like myself forget the nightmare that was the early access launch. Almost... 7) The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky The 3rd I would've been perfectly okay if Trails in the Sky simply ended with the second entry. I mean, the extremely endearing Estelle Bright had her story arc pretty thoroughly resolved by the end of the Trails in the Sky SC after all. Still, despite initially coming off as a somewhat unnecessary fanservice game, Trails in the Sky: The 3rd tugged at my heartstrings in many surprising ways. I grew to greatly appreciate the distinctly different yet engrossing new lead cast members (Kevin especially) and radically changed-up gameplay structure present in The 3rd. It played the gamut of emotions from giving beloved supporting characters a stronger foundation/resolution, to also revealing deeply unsettling parts of ones you didn't know quite as well as you thought you did, all up until its tear-worthy conclusion that eventually wormed its way overall into being my favorite game in the would-be trilogy. 6) The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild It's tempting to make the obvious play on the title like: "The newest Legend of Zelda was a breath of fresh air!" or something like that. But... that's just it. Breath of the Wild truly was a fresh contrast for not only the series becoming notoriously stagnant with its formulaic design but open world games at large. In a year where I dipped my toes into games such as Horizon: Zero Dawn or Assassin's Creed: Origins, I learned that I wasn't actually totally done with the entire open world subgenre, but rather ones that refused to challenge their gameplay norm. So, apparently, I was just bored of open world games not made by Nintendo, I guess. Breath of the Wild brought back a sense of genuine wonderment to not only the once decaying series but its homogenized modern open world contemporaries. It successfully evoked the sense of mystique during exploration and respected the player's own ability at discovering unorthodox solutions at nearly every turn we haven't seen since basically the very first Zelda game. I may not adore every facet of its design, such as weapon degradation, but I could not be more pleased with how Nintendo (of all companies) deliberately chose to be so fascinatingly different in a time where every other company tried to stay the course with open world games. 5) Night in the Woods It seems to me that Night in the Woods is highly likely to resonate with a very specific age demographic than others. As it turns out, I happen to be one of them within that age group. So I saw more than a bit of myself in Mae and her group of friends with their day to day troubles even if they were all animal... people... that stood on two feet. Shelving the existential animal question for now, both the writing and characters really struck a chord with me. The fact that I also happened to unintentionally play the game mostly concurrent with the late October themed narrative helped it be that much more immersive. Admittedly there are some elements that don't entirely ring with me in the game; predominately the weird psychedelic/supernatural elements that seep their way into what should've otherwise felt like a surprisingly grounded main narrative. But the moments where it felt so very human made me forgive such shortcomings the game had... even though they were technically animals. 4) Yakuza 0 Click here to read GP's official review The Yakuza series has always been one I liked much more conceptually than actually playing. Well, until Yakuza 0 that is. Turns out all they needed was a playable Majima!.. in a game that wasn't Yakuza Dead Souls. But seriously, I extolled the many virtues of Yakuza 0 through the course of my review. But the cliff notes version of my fondness for it had a lot to do with how expertly it balanced very serious, engaging storytelling and hilarious (though, occasionally heartwarming), as well as insanely abundant, side content complemented by the expert localization. Most impressive of all is that it is a prequel that retroactively makes all of its predecessors better by the reverence it pays to them as well as being the best game in the series. 3) Xenoblade Chronicles 2 There have been a lot of knee-jerk reactions towards Xenoblade Chronicles 2 in it simply existing. Some justified, some not. What I will say is that even though Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is likely the least cohesive game in the entire series, it is also far and away the one that I had the most fun actually playing. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 may not be the game that I myself and many others expected, but it was also one I did not know I wanted as much as I did. For as many technical rough spots and unnecessary anime fanservice/trope moments it presents at the forefront, I was also blown by just how much heart and depth it had buried beneath for both its gameplay systems and storytelling. It has been a while since I felt like a game so regularly went "And here's one more cool new thing!" via some gameplay mechanic or an exciting story beat. Couple it further with a masterful soundtrack, an impeccable world design, very rewarding battle system, and a surprisingly endearing main cast made my expansive journey and my absurd current playtime within more than worth it (...100+ hours). I am certainly looking forward to the additions to it via various updates in 2018, such as the added story content too. 2) Persona 5 As someone who would easily put Persona 3 & 4 high in the bracket of my all-time favorite video games, to say that I was hungry for Persona 5's eventual release would be a major understatement. Turns out that "Winter 2014" was much further away than anyone had imagined. So impatient was I to finally play it that I literally bought the game two times just because I could not wait an extra day for my limited edition to arrive via mail. Even though I was frothing at the mouth to finally play it I would say my expectations were actually pretty reasonable for what P5 actually ended up being. I wanted a game to NOT just feel like Persona 4 all over again by assuming a strong identity of its own and, of course, improve upon many enjoyable gameplay systems of prior entries. And it did just that. Actually, it did MUCH more than that. Persona 5 challenges much of the fundamental ideology of its two predecessors from the relationship dynamic between characters to the dark underpinnings of its storytelling, causing it to be rather divisive amongst fans on that front alone. It is also the most Shin Megami Tensei-y the series has felt since the original two Persona games (...technically, three.) with the return of demons, negotiation mechanics, and an oddly high default difficulty. On that pretense, I had a blast playing Persona 5. Its countless quality of life improvements to an already addictive RPG/school life formula, some insane late game narrative twists, jazzy soundtrack, and basically being the most stylish video game in existence (with people still swooning over its UI) more than solidified its place in my mind. It may not be my favorite Persona game (that honor goes to Persona 4 Golden), and I certainly have a criticism or two against specific story elements, but it didn't need to be for me to consider it an amazing RPG experience. 1) Utawarerumono: Mask of Truth Click here to read GP's official review Ever have that one game in which you adore but also can't really recommend it to anyone? Yet, at the same time, you also desperately want to talk to someone about how amazing it was? Yeah, that's kind of how it was for me while playing Utawarerumono: Mask of Truth. Unfortunately, most people will be unable to get past either its' odd gameplay hybrid of both visual novel/strategy-RPG OR the basically required-to-enjoy predecessor called Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception (released just four months prior), which is not nearly as good as Mask of Truth, and I can't really blame them. Much like Xenoblade Chronicles 2, there are also more than a few problematic "anime" fanservice elements that become a really tough aspect to ask most people to overlook. Again, can't easily recommend it to anyone... But, in a year where everyone is rooting for incredibly depressed robots trying to act like humans (Nier Automata) -- I and maybe like two other people were tested by the plight of the equally, if not possibly more so, emotionally scarred protagonists in the brilliant narrative conclusion to the Utawarerumono trilogy in Mask of Truth. Wrapping up so many story threads through amazing character development and riveting wartime storytelling, a deeply fascinating world/lore with a shockingly stellar localization to punctuate the experience, and perhaps an instance or two of salt flying into my eyes to trigger the waterworks did more than a number on me story-wise alone. Add all of this to my favorite subgenre of role-playing game (good ol' turn-based SRPGs!) and it somehow it snuck its way into my favorite of the year in such fierce competition. It is definitely a game most are unlikely to get around to appreciating, and again, I don't blame them in the slightest, though I know that I could not have been gladder to have played it as my Game of 2017.
  4. YukiKairi

    Game of the Year 2017: Kairi's Picks

    Editor's Note: Kairi is our second new guest writer for our Game of the Year 2017 feature this year! She's a passionate gamer and RPG fan who plays quite a lot of games throughout the year and works on the retail side of the gaming industry. You can follow her at @YukiKairi on Twitter. Let me begin by saying that this was probably one of my favorite starts to any gaming year in history. 2017 started off with some great releases in the first 3 months that I haven’t seen in years. First, we had Resident Evil 7: Biohazard which was fully playable in VR, and if you don’t know me -- which I’m sure some of you may not -- I cannot play horror, but boy do I enjoy watching others get scared playing these games and watching the story unfold. Sadly, this game didn’t make my personal list, but it’s a worthy nominee since it brought faith back in the series and genre of horror. Sony took me by surprise with releasing so many exclusives this year and having a majority of them come out right at the start. Nintendo released their new system -- the Switch -- fairly early as well, gaining amazing support from many game developers. In the latter half of this year, Nintendo came out with their next classic system, the SNES, which included a never before released title: Star Fox 2. Sadly, Microsoft was a major disappointment for me this year. They started off by canceling Scalebound; a title that I was really anticipating. On the plus side, there was one title that caught my eye which I’ve been eagerly waiting to play and that’s Cuphead. Cuphead is one of those gems that eats at my core due to the art style, gameplay, and music soundtrack. The best way for me to describe it is old-school Disney (back when Steamboat Willie came out) met with Looney Tunes and decided to have a baby, which became this game. The fact that this game is completely hand-drawn just blows me away. There are honestly so many titles that I would love to gush over and talk more about, but I just can’t get to them all this year. That’s how busy this gaming year has been for me. I think I’ve played more as well as looked into more games than previous years combined. I wish I got to play more of my backlog (including some that I just recently acquired) so I could consider them on this year’s list as well. It’s been one eventful year for gaming and I can’t wait to see what 2018 brings. With that said, it’s been very challenging for me to compile this list together, but somehow I’ve nailed it down to these ten intriguing and unique gems that I’m anxious to talk more about in depth. 10. Sonic Mania I’ve been looking forward to this release since being instructed to check it out. The last Sonic title I played personally was Sonic Colors for the Wii. I haven’t seen a Sonic title I wanted to delve into until this caught my eye. Once I started playing it, I instantly got classic Sonic vibes. The music and controls were just as familiar to me as I was playing it back in the day with some new moves included. The updated graphics still look like classic Sonic but are refreshing to see in this day in age. I really enjoyed playing some of the classic levels as well as the newly designed levels. I never thought I’d get to enjoy a Sonic game again. This game was definitely every Sonic fan dreams and then some. 9. Splatoon 2 As someone who played the first title towards the end of the Wii U’s cycle, I wasn’t expecting to pick this title up for quite some time. What the single-player lacks is where it shines in its multiplayer, which I put way too many hours into. I played way more of this installment than the first might I add. The new maps and the new weapons really add more to this title than the first. Splatfest is still a whole lot of fun and continues to have a unique way for picking teams. But the game's new mode, called “Salmon Run”, is definitely one of the best modes I’ve played in any multiplayer to date and made me enjoy it so much more. This title just had to ink its way unto my list for how much of a joy it has been to play. Who wouldn’t want to be a squid instead of kid? 8. Mario + Rabbids: Kingdoms Battle When I first heard of a Mario and Rabbid collaboration, I thought: "Was this a joke? It sounds like a terrible idea and there was no way it could ever work or be good." Boy, am I eating my words right now. What makes this title so great is not just the humor of the Rabbids, but it’s actually quite a challenging strategic game. It’s very much an X-COM rip-off in gameplay style where it has a similar cover system and grid system, but it takes it a step more with character design. Each character has their own set of abilities for you to choose from and two different weapon sets which you are able to pick which weapon to use. And the level design was really on par with other Mario titles. This was definitely my top pick for "most surprising game of the year". I secretly hope there’s a sequel in the works because I’d love to see the Mario cast team up with the Rabbids again with some new faces added as well. 7. Fire Emblem Warriors Truthfully, if I had to choose one Fire Emblem title to consider on this list I’d probably pick this one. As excited as I was for Echoes earlier this year, I sadly didn’t have a chance to play it due to time spent on other titles and Fire Emblem Heroes on my phone, but I was equally excited for this installment as well. Fire Emblem Warriors is a fantastic collaboration with Fire Emblem and Dynasty Warriors' gameplay. It really utilized all my favorite parts of FE, except it isn’t grid-based; instead, you can completely roam the battlefield, which is a blast. The music is still fantastic as ever. The story is still interesting and enjoyable enough. The voice-acting isn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but I still enjoy the Japanese voice-acting a bit more. My one complaint I have about it is the characters involved in the game are heavily from Awakening and Fates. There are so many more characters from the series overall I would have included. I’m still secretly hoping for either more DLC to include more characters from other titles or perhaps a sequel, which would still be up my alley since I really have enjoyed pretty much every FE title since being recommended to play this series. Currently, I’m really looking forward to playing more DLC that starts arriving soon with the first character pack on December 21. 6. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild This was a title that I’ve been tossing back and forth while trying to figure out the best spot to include it on my list. I’ve been eagerly awaiting the next Zelda every time a new one comes out. This one did not disappoint, to say the least. In fact, this title was the very reason I bought a Switch on day one. However, what I didn’t expect was how frustrating this installment in the series this one would be. It’s got adventure for sure; the whole map is huge and full of exploration. I definitely give it that since this was one of my favorite features. The story is fantastic and really tears at the heart as far as friendships with loyalty for any Zelda tale, but in order to appreciate it, you need to find the locations of certain memories and then some to fully understand it. One new feature that I really enjoyed and probably spent way too much time doing was the cooking aspect. It was just loads of fun exploring and mixing new ingredients. Lastly, the one detail that really took my breath away was the visuals and character design. This really showcased the Switch in a good light right off the bat. As far as criticism goes, one of the main reasons why I placed it here was the battle system. It feels too much like Dark Souls (I love the Souls series, don’t get me wrong, but for certain games like Zelda it’s just off-putting). Personally, I don’t mind weapon durability since that brings a challenge in and of itself, but I feel like weapons are too easy to break, especially when you have a weapon at level 20 that will still break in 3 hits after using it. Now, one key improvement that would fix this issue would be a Blacksmith, just like Skyrim where you would go to fix your weapons. One core weapon they completely ruined was the Master Sword, which is a legendary and key component to any Zelda. There’s a key reason as to why it’s the Master Sword; it shouldn’t take 13 hours to recharge in order to use it. Another major reason for its ranking here on the list is any time you decide to climb a mountain, somehow it would start to rain, and in order to continue your climb you will have to wait 20 min in real time. I don’t even know how many times it rained, but boy was it so annoying. Other reasons include the dungeons or bosses not being as challenging or unique enough. The most annoying enemy are the guardians. Whether they were the Stalker variety or not they could instantly kill you. Heavens forbid if you weren’t equipped with the right gear or weapons and stumbled across one or many of these. You were just doomed to death. I felt the puzzles were pretty lackluster as well. In one of them, I flipped the maze tablet over and then once more to complete the challenge instead of doing the maze puzzle. Lastly, the voice-acting was just awful. I really was not impressed with the English cast at all. In fact, I muted it every time there was dialogue. I wish they decided not to do voice-overs after all. Honestly, I really wanted to enjoy this title so much, but there are many other Zelda titles that just have greater gameplay and replay value to me. That said, this title is still worth checking out due to story and visuals alone, but I feel younger audiences will have such a hard time appreciating it since it’s quite challenging at times. 5. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 To say I’ve been a fan of this series since the first one released on the Wii would be correct since I did take part in a certain fan campaign. When this title was unveiled in January of this year, I didn’t expect to see it at all this year since it just seemed to good to be true, but I’m glad it actually came out and at such a great time, I might add. I’ve always appreciated titles such a these where I’m able to explore the open world and soak in the surrounding environment. If I could live amongst the clouds in a vivid setting such as this, I believe I would never want to step foot off of it. I really enjoy this gameplay style since the combat feels so much like Final Fantasy XII, but it tweaks it just a bit to make it its own unique addictive combat system. I’m always willing and ready to delve hours upon hours into JRPGs such as this since I enjoy the storyline and being able to have the choice for sidequests. One small complaint I have would be the mini-map since you can get lost here and there if you’re not careful, but I’m glad to hear that there’s a new patch coming that seems to fix this feature. What makes this title worth my while even more was the fact that the soundtrack transported me to a new world which made me feel like I was a part of it. It’s such a joy to hear since it’s by one of my favorite composers Yasunori Mitsuda, whose work never ceases to amaze me. The blade designs are all very unique since each rare blade was made by a different artist that usually works on different titles. I was intrigued when Nintendo unraveled the new designs each week leading up to launch since it sparked more excitement and gave me an insight into the artist's work on this title. There are some designs which may be questionable since they don’t have the look and appeal to the series overall, but I honestly feel like it's a breath of fresh air since I got to see a new artist take on character design that I myself was never familiar with. I was really impressed with how well everything about this title meshed together. I’m grateful to say that towards the end of 2017 we have another standout JRPG that every fan should check out. I’m certainly curious what the new story content will bring and what the new rare blade will be seeing as that won’t be out till next year, but thankful that I have more to look forward to. 4. Horizon Zero Dawn Having never truly played a game by Guerilla Games before, I was willing to try this out based on the many previews I saw and the fact that it had a strong female lead. This was another title that featured a key aspect that I really enjoy in quite a few games: having a beautifully crafted post-apocalyptic open world where I could explore anywhere. However, this is one where as a player you need to be careful of your surroundings since it's inhabited by robotic creatures called 'machines,' which some are peaceful and others will attack. The combat was challenging in that you needed to be strategic with certain enemies to pinpoint their weaknesses and compelling since it made me feel like a hunter out in the woods wanting to pick up a bow myself. I really appreciated the stealth aspect of this game as well since I’m such a sucker for being stealthy and laying low like in the Assassin’s Creed series. Hands down my favorite performance by any actor this year was Ashly Burch who definitely delivered an amazing performance as Aloy. I’m looking forward to trying out the Frozen Wilds expansion since it just recently came out last month and I’ve been delving into so many other titles as of late. 3. Super Mario Odyssey To say this is probably one of my favorite Mario games to date would be highly correct. When I first saw gameplay footage of this, I was a bit skeptical; not to say I wasn’t a fan of a hat named “Cappy” which allowed Mario to become literally anything he tossed it at. I actually really enjoyed this aspect of the title, but I was not a fan of one particular kingdom at first. New Donk City, which is part of the Metro Kingdom, just seemed rather out of place for a Mario game to me since Mario was running around a city largely based on New York City itself with humans. I soon realized that was pretty foolish of me since that was only one of the many kingdoms to explore and enjoy. With that out of the way, I must say the color palette of this Mario blows all other Mario titles out of the water. It’s been such a joy to visit other kingdoms and roam around such a breathtaking backdrop. The gameplay really reminds me of Mario 64 and Sunshine style combined with more key Mario elements. Lastly, the music had one of the best theme songs ever this year since it was super catchy and a blast to hear. This was by far my favorite title to launch on the Switch this year and is a title that everyone can enjoy and appreciate for years to come. Also, who wouldn’t want a sidekick like Cappy on their team to overcome Bowser’s plot to marry Peach? 2. NieR: Automata This was by far my hardest choice to make because it very easily could have been my top pick, especially since this was my most anticipated title to come out this year. Ever since catching a glimpse of it briefly being shown at E3 in 2015 to showcase its artwork, I instantly fell in love with the character design and setting. Also, this was by far my favorite of the different installments in the series. I’ve always been an avid fan of Yoko Taro’s work. His style is truly remarkable and I really admire it. This style really eats at my core due to the dark, unusual post-apocalyptic backdrop. I never thought I’d have a chance to play a game that required several gameplays to fully understand the depth of the story and it honestly changed my life for the better. A game that made me have so many feelings for androids I never believed would be possible. While the story and character design is what makes me appreciate this title the most, it has a great fast-paced action and a combat system that was a joy to play. Its music soundtrack is highly desirable as well with it being my favorite from any title this year. Honestly, I can’t wait to see the next installment if in fact there is one, or even a new IP from Taro. Before mentioning my number one pick I want to take some time to briefly list some honorable mentions that could have made my list. In no particular order here they are: Life is Strange: Before the Storm, Destiny 2, Layton’s Mystery Journey, Injustice 2, and Tales of Berseria. 1. Persona 5 A title that honestly deserves this spot and 'Best JRPG' for the year. A game that was first announced in 2013, then got delayed from its original release in 2014 to improve the quality to finally release in 2016 in Japan, and then finally a worldwide release at the start of this year. It’s been a title that many Persona fans have been waiting for since 4 came out in 2008. Even though I’m a newer fan of this series, I’m not sure why I didn’t delve into it much earlier. This was my first Persona title even though Persona 4 Golden is in my backlog. However, I am not new to Atlus titles; they always know how to make brilliant and fascinating games (with Catherine being my favorite; I’m still holding out for a sequel!). The story in Persona 5 is so well put together and enjoyable. I was impressed right out of the gate when it started off as a flashback sequence. I enjoyed the overall theme behind it and how it used a high school setting. It was a joy to play as a Phantom Thief. It’s not every day you get to go incognito with a different persona in another realm to steal someone’s heart that has an ill will. Not going to spoil anything, but the major twist was so satisfying. The voice cast was one of the best works for a team altogether. The character design is one I can always get behind since I enjoy artwork such as this. I really appreciated the turn-based combat system much more because it gave you the option to 'Hold Up' the enemy, which allowed you to do a number set of options as well. The dungeons were actually a lot of fun to explore as well. I can’t wait to see how the next one will compare since this was such a pleasure to delve into. It’s been a delight to share my favorites for this year with all of you. Now, here are some titles I’m highly anticipating to enjoy next year: Code Vein, Vampyr, Detroit Become Human, Ni No Kuni II, God of War, Insomniac's Spider-Man, Project Octopath Traveler, Lost Sphear, Far Cry 5, and the new Fire Emblem title.
  5. Jordan Haygood

    Game of the Year 2017: Jordan's Picks

    2017 has been quite the year for us gamers. Not only did Nintendo release the insanely successful Switch, but there have been a lot of quality games released as well, on Switch and just about anything that plays games. Even mobile devices have seen a few really fun games. But with so many quality titles coming out left and right, it was actually pretty overwhelming, and I simply couldn’t keep up. So, since there are still plenty of games I haven’t gotten around to playing yet, I’ve decided to make a less traditional Game of the Year list. Sort of like an award show, if you will. Anyway, enough stalling. Let’s get to it already… Most Addicting Mobile Game Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp I normally don’t put mobile games on my Game of the Year lists, but Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp felt deserving of that honor. It’s a simple mobile game, yet it has the same level of quality you would find in an official game released on Nintendo’s own consoles. And just like when Animal Crossing: New Leaf was first released, I just… can't seem to go a day without playing it at least a little… Best Spiritual Successor to Banjo-Kazooie Yooka-Laylee I’ve been a huge fan of the Banjo-Kazooie games since the day I played the original for the first time. So, when I heard that several members of the original team got together to create a sort of spiritual successor to the series (since, you know, new Rare doesn’t really seem to care much for the IP), you better believe I was excited. And I gotta say, Yooka-Laylee is pretty much exactly what I hoped it would be. I mean, it does have its fair share of flaws, but it’s still a really fun platformer for fans of the Banjo-Kazooie series (well, the first two, anyway), and it definitely satisfied my itch. Of course, Grant Kirkhope’s amazing soundtrack certainly helps. I still have a bit of an itch, though, so hopefully, Playtonic announces Tooka-Laylee soon enough… Best RPG I Still Need to Beat Xenoblade Chronicles 2 I know what you’re thinking, but hear me out. I may not have beaten Xenoblade Chronicles 2 yet, but I’ve definitely played enough to think it’s a really damn good game. Which is awesome, because the original was my favorite game of 2012 and it’s cool to see that the numbered sequel (Xenoblade Chronicles X was more of a spinoff, I guess) is also top-notch. It’s a great RPG with a beautiful world, an engrossing story, and an amazing soundtrack. Really, what more could you want? Most Terrifying Game I've Played All Year Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (VR) Oh man, this game. After all the complaints about the Resident Evil series seemingly forgetting its horror roots in favor of more cinematic gameplay, Capcom did an amazing job giving us an entry that was scary. And Resident Evil 7 is scary as hell. And not only is it a terrifying game in its own right; when you don the PlayStation VR headset? I lost count of how many heart attacks I had during my playthrough… Most Splatastic Shooter Splatoon 2 If you’ve played the first Splatoon, you’ll pretty much know what to expect from Splatoon 2. Not that that’s a bad thing by any means. The original Splatoon is an amazing game, and Splatoon 2 is basically a better version with more features and …probably more people playing, or at least soon enough since the Switch is selling like hotcakes (I still don’t know why that’s a saying). So, don’t you even worry if you haven’t played the original; if you have a Switch, get this game. It’s fun. Biggest Nostalgia Overload Sonic Mania Click here to read GP's official review It’s crazy how satisfied I was with Sonic Mania. Sonic 3 & Knuckles was always up there for me as one of my favorite games ever, so a game so incredibly similar, with stages not only from that particular game, but from other classic Sonic adventures, and with some original levels to boot, is exactly what I needed in my life. You can read my detailed thoughts in my review, but just know that this game is now up there right alongside Sonic 3 & Knuckles as one of my favorite games ever. Nostalgia is a powerful thing, isn’t it? Game I Didn't Expect to Be So Good Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle Like many people, I didn’t know how to feel when a Mario and Rabbids crossover was leaked. I just never really liked Rabbids. I always thought they were a little too annoying for my taste. But I felt hopeful once I actually saw what kind of game Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle was. And when I actually played it for myself, I was way more satisfied than I thought I would be. It’s insanely fun, and it even made me hate Rabbids a lot less. Seriously, it’s fantastic. Of course, Grant Kirkhope’s amazing soundtrack certainly helps. Wait, why do I feel déjà vu…? Best Game You Should Not Let Your Kids Play South Park: The Fractured but Whole I’ve been a fan of South Park since I was a child, even though I wasn’t supposed to be (so feel free to disregard this entry’s heading). I also enjoyed the games growing up, even though they weren’t exactly top-notch. But man, when South Park: The Stick of Truth came out, I was impressed by how much it seemed like I was playing the show. Not only that, but it was a really great game in general. And now we have a sequel in South Park: The Fractured but Whole (giggle). Which, wouldn’t you know it, is also a really great game. It has a different gameplay style to fit with the superhero theme, which I actually had a lot of fun with, and the humor is just as funny as you would expect. If you like the show, there really isn’t any reason you wouldn’t enjoy this game. Most Fun Globe-Trotting Adventure Super Mario Odyssey Ever since I was a kid, I’ve enjoyed just about every Mario game immensely. So, I never feel like I’ll ever be disappointed when a new one comes out. And one thing I love is when a Mario game demolishes my expectations. Super Mario Odyssey is one such game. I knew I’d end up having a lot of fun with it, but once I played the game myself, I was blown away by how good it is. Super Mario Odyssey basically takes everything I love about the series, adds a brand-new mechanic, and gives me one of the most fun experiences I’ve ever had. Seriously, I can think of so few negative things to say about this game, it’s crazy. Best Game of 2017 (That I've Played) The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Of all the games I’ve played this year, you’d think it would have been tough narrowing down which game I felt deserved the honor of my favorite game of 2017. But to be honest, it really wasn’t. I mean, it was kind of hard not choosing Super Mario Odyssey, since I had so much fun with it, but in the end, I just had to go with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. As the series’ first foray into the open world realm, Nintendo did an amazing job. Seriously, there were so many times when I meant to go to a specific place but ended up either getting lost or just getting distracted by a cool place I haven’t seen before. Or I’d find a shrine and feel obligated to check it out. Honestly, even though the series changed quite a bit from what we’re used to, I firmly believe that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a perfect example of what it means to be an “adventure game,” and a very fitting evolution of the original The Legend of Zelda adventure.
  6. Editor's note: Marissa (aka 'Rissa') is our first new contributor to our Game of the Year feature this year! She's a friend from Twitter who loves gaming and occasionally cosplays at different coventions throughout the year. You can find follow her at @Rissake on Twitter and find more of her writing on Medium. It didn’t take long before the games came rolling out in 2017. Not only were there an incredible selection of games, we were also bestowed with the release of the Nintendo Switch! With a new system rolling out, and many other great games following, 2017 was, in my opinion, one of the best years in gaming. I am a loyal Nintendo gamer, so you will find that all of my selections were exclusively for the Switch or Nintendo 3DS. They definitely kept me busy this year. 9. ARMS Nintendo’s clever take on boxing was one of the most intriguing games for me this year, and I was highly anticipating it. I’m not one for fighting games, but the unique rapid fighting style and artwork had me completely captivated. Each fighter comes with a choice of arms which range from boxing gloves to giant hammers, missile cannons and other unique choices. The combo you choose will determine how your character fights. As much as I enjoyed this game, I am guilty of not playing nearly enough of it. However, I have been able to play different modes such as single player, multiplayer and online play. It takes a while to grasp the fighting style, and using the joycons is a definite challenge in itself. Overall, a unique take on a fighting game that I would love to get back into. 8. Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King 3DS By no means is this a “new” game, but cor blimey, the 3DS remake of Journey of the Cursed King was one of my highlights in 2017! After playing the original on the PS2 years ago, I was incredibly happy to welcome an old friend to the comfort of my 3DS. As upsetting as it was to not hear the beautifully orchestrated music we had heard on the PS2 version, the new content makes up what our ears lack. Having Red and Morrie joining in on your adventures made the battles all the more interesting! No more random battles, & new side quests, new dungeons and even a whole new take on the ending makes this 3DS remake everything you need and more! Reliving one of my favorite games brought me an immense amount of joy. 7. Fire Emblem Warriors As someone who has never played a Dynasty Warriors game and didn’t care all that much for Hyrule Warriors, Fire Emblem Warriors has been a thrill to play! The Kingdom of Aytolis is falling, and it is up to Princess Lianna and Prince Rowan to rally troops and restore peace to their nation. If you’re a fan of hack and slash games and Fire Emblem Awakening/Fates, then this is the game for you. The missions were fun, yet challenging, and the story kept me interested in progressing through the game more & more. Plus, the amusing support conversations gave the game an extra charm. Multiplayer is a blast and I highly recommend you play this with a friend. It makes everything more enjoyable (and maybe a little easier). 6. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Because Switch ports make everything better. Mario Kart 8 is by far my favorite in the Mario Kart franchise, and I was thrilled to have it on the Switch! With better graphics, new characters, new courses and even an improved Battle mode, this game has easily made its way into my top picks this year. Plus, the Smart Steering was a nice touch for those who are new or inexperienced with Mario Kart (it made playing with my family a lot more entertaining). 5. Layton's Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires' Conspiracy Little known fact: the Professor Layton series is one of my all-time favorite gaming franchises. Not only did we get a new Layton game, but we get a new (adorable) protagonist: Katrielle Layton. The daughter of the esteemed Professor Layton begins her career as a detective and opens up her own agency, solving numerous cases and puzzles on her way. As expected with any Layton game, the music is wonderful, characters are charming and the story is light-hearted with many intricate puzzles. Being able to customize your office and dress up Katrielle as you wish made the game all the more unique. While it kept similar features from previous games, it was definitely a different take on the Layton series. However, change can be good and I found it very refreshing to be greeted with different cases and new characters to grow close to. It may not have been the “perfect” Layton game, but I’m excited to see where LEVEL-5 will be taking us on our Layton Journey. 4. Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia For the past 4 years, Fire Emblem has easily made its way onto my list of favorite gaming series. Each one I have played has been a wonderful experience, and Shadow of Valentia gave my love for this series a major boost. Echoes offered not only your classic Fire Emblem gameplay but some new features that gave it a whole new feeling. I particularly enjoyed exploring through temples and dungeons for endless amounts of loot and gaining extra experience. It was a nice break from the narrative of the game. I’m guilty of not playing the original version, Fire Emblem Gaiden, but I know without a doubt this remake was a faithful successor. With its captivating character artwork, strategic gameplay and a beautiful story, this was an easy choice for my top 2017 games! 3. Splatoon 2 Of all the games I was looking forward to the most this year, Splatoon 2 was the one. I fell in love with the first one back in 2015 and I devoted over 200 hours of blissful gameplay into it. Needless to say, I fell in love with this series all over again. Splatoon 2 is vibrant, quirky and nothing short of amazing. With a plethora of returning features to see, we are also lavished with so many new weapons, stages, music and clothing (not to mention hairstyles)! Salmon Run is a brand-new co-op mode featured in Splatoon 2 and is definitely one you’ll want to try. It may take playing a few rounds to get used to the horde environment, but I found it easily addictive and a blast to play online with friends! We may not have our lovely Squid Sisters this time around, but Pearl and Marina are extremely likable and give Splatfest a whole new groove. No doubt this game is off the hook and one of the highlights of my year. 2. Super Mario Odyssey The man wears many hats, and that’s one of the beauties of this game. He’s more than just a plumber, he’s anything you want him to be. Super Mario Odyssey absolutely blew me away in every single aspect. It’s breath-taking, charming and heartwarmingly nostalgic for most gamers familiar with the Mario series. It’s genuinely a fun game! There are so many Power Moons to find and places to explore that you will never grow tired of playing. Super Mario Odyssey is gorgeous, & I can gush over the aesthetic elements of this game forever. Regardless if I’m playing on my 4K HD TV or my Switch screen, the vivid colors make this game pure eye candy! Of course, the soundtrack is not to be forgotten. The music is catchy, orchestrated beautifully and creates a perfect atmosphere throughout the game. Honestly, I can never get enough of 'Jump Up, Super Star'. Playing this game was an absolute joy, and brought out the small child in me who grew up playing Mario games. Tears may have been present with admiration and nostalgia, & that is why I know it truly means so much to me. It is such a phenomenal game that is not only a top pick for 2017, but a top pick for my personal favorites. 1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild The funny thing about this being my number one pick for 2017 is that I was very skeptical about it prior to release. Don’t get me wrong, I was excited, but seeing how different it was going to be from previous Zelda games had me worried. After playing this game for a short amount of time proved I had nothing to worry about. Breath of the Wild was everything I wanted and more. The moment I realized this might be the best game I’ve ever played was alarming. Yes, it’s different, yes, it’s new, but that’s what makes it so fascinating. You literally can do anything you want right from the start. You can climb any surface, swim in any body of water and pick up almost any object you see. Breath of the Wild allows you to explore until your heart's content. What I love most about this game is not only Link’s development throughout the game, but also yours as the player. You obtain better items to fight powerful enemies, better equipment to tread through various climate changes and even more courage to face menacing foes. I was completely unable to fight against a Guardian until I was at least 50+ hours in and by then I had plenty of practice with the shield parry. After years of playing video games, Breath of the Wild brought forth a completely new experience of gaming to me. It was not like anything ever played in all my years. There were days I’d play for hours and did not accomplish anything except exploring new areas and admiring views. Everything about this game won me over, and I will never forget the moment I first started playing or all the Divine Beasts I conquered. I caught myself grinning like a child as I played this game. This may be the reason it has triumphed over all others.
  7. Jordan Haygood

    Super Mario Odyssey

    From the album: Kaptain's Gallery

    © Nintendo

  8. Last Thursday was a day of unbridled excitement for Nintendo fans and heightened curiosity for mostly everyone else. It's been quite some time since I've last seen anticipation from people who were previously down on Nintendo due to its more casual-oriented focus with Wii and the failure of its successor. But leading up to Thursday's event, even people who were staunch critics of Nintendo for the last 10 years or so were pretty bullish on the Switch's prospects. Would this be the console that would turn things around for them and their outlook on Nintendo? I remember distinctly listening to an episode of the Kinda Funny Gamecast sometime in the last month, and both Greg Miller and Colin Moriarty were talking about how interested and excited they were for the Switch, but Colin made a mention of something about how it all seemed too good to be true and that he was "waiting for the other shoe to drop." And he was right. Thursday's Nintendo Switch Presentation was not perfect by any means, and it was a pertinent reminder as to why the company is now opting for Nintendo Direct videos instead, and -- frankly -- why they're much better off doing the latter. For starters, let's start off with what went wrong- Lost in Translation There's a reason why international press conferences aren't done a whole lot in the game industry, or at least not in Japanese -- essentially, the rest of the world (that doesn't know Japanese) were left to watch a presentation that was awkwardly translated and paced. Beyond that, the first two games that were shown displayed a Wii-like casual focus, something that was a bit scary to see for many that were watching. I remember one person on Twitter saying that it was like they were focusing on the Wii concept all over again, and I kind of had a similar dread about that as well. Waggle is definitely not the way to go (in the case of ARMS), but I was happy to learn that it wouldn't be the only method of control in that game. Failure to Launch? No doubt about it -- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild will be a great game to have at launch, not to mention the key reason people will be buying a Switch at all on day one. But one game will not carry an entire launch (and in the rare case that it does, it's because it has exceptional word of mouth, such as Wii Sports). At the very minimum, there needs to be at least one big game to get people excited and 2-4 noteworthy supporting games that may not be quite as big but still get people interested in playing. Let's compare this to PlayStation 4's launch for a minute. Now, PS4's launch lineup wasn't amazing (no launch usually is) but it did roughly meet those fundamental requirements. Depending on your interest, Killzone: Shadow Fall and Knack were interchangeable as the big game in the lineup, with one or the other also serving as the next best thing in addition to Resogun and third-party games that were launching day and date with other platforms such as Call of Duty: Ghosts, Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, and a few others. It was a solid lineup, if unremarkable for many, yet it got the job done. Think about it this way -- in a football game, a successful play is pulled off when the quarterback is well-supported by the linemen, running backs, and wide receivers. Let's say the quarterback represents the console (or the console manufacturer, in a sense) and the wide receiver represents the launch lineup's best game. The killer app, in a sense, which in this case represents Breath of the Wild. Since that title is largely the only notable game in the launch lineup, it's almost as if this figurative football game is being played just with the quarterback and wide receiver. So when the play begins, quarterback Switch has no choice but to throw to the wide receiver (Breath of the Wild) and hope beyond hopes that he can break through the other team's defensive line and -- at the very least -- score a first-down, if not a touch down (which, in this case is a successful launch with great sales, great momentum beyond just the first month, people buzzing, etc.). Now, if there were at least 2-5 other notable games launching beside Breath of the Wild, they would be able to help support the play and make sure the wide receiver can get as far as he needs to go. The chances of success increase. But without them, the wide receiver's chances of success are greatly reduced. This is exactly where Switch is at with its launch at the moment. The other shoe drops - Price Inconsistencies The launch lineup, as dismal as it is right now, is just one part of the equation. The part where "the other shoe drops" is with the price of extra controllers and such. Namely, a Switch Pro controller will run you $70. Two extra Joy-Cons will run you a cool $80. If you opt for just one Joy-Con? Not $40, but $50 (what??). Now, I can understand why the Joy-Cons cost as much as they do, especially with the new HD Rumble functionality that's probably not too cheap to implement; there's a decent amount of tech in those controllers. Still, that isn't much of a comfort to anyone who has to spend close to one third of the price of the console just for extra controllers. So why is the Switch Pro controller $70? I can only imagine it's because they want to profit heavily on people wanting a traditional controller, much like how Sony wanted to profit on Vita memory cards by charging much higher than other companies would for similar cards (like SDHC). I mean, the Wii U Pro Controller was $50 initially (even less now) -- what is it about the Switch version that merits an extra $20? Western third-parties are still very much a question mark One important thing that I was hoping would be addressed that totally wasn't is the acceptance of Western third-parties. Nintendo had all of two Western third parties say something at the press conference: Bethesda's Todd Howard confirming Skyrim on Switch, and EA's Patrick Soderlund confirming FIFA. What other western publishers that were previously announced seemed to be showing token support so far, with Take-Two and 2K bringing only NBA 2K17, Activision bringing Skylanders Imaginators, and Ubisoft with Just Dance 2017 for now (though the latter has other rumored stuff in the works). I can understand why any Western third party would be cautious about working with Nintendo after the Wii U, but so far the future does not look good for Switch and Western AAA games -- something that many hoped would change with this new generation. It's too early to say for sure, though, but the early outlook isn't promising. I'm more optimistic than I was with Wii U because Nintendo getting Todd Howard aboard isn't an easy feat and it at least shows that they're trying this time around. However, it does look like most third-party support will be from Japanese publishers unless the install base really takes off, along with support from indies. But here's the good news... First-Party Lineup is incredibly promising Despite an auspicious start, the Switch's first party lineup from now until the end of the year and beyond is looking incredibly good. Mario Kart 8: Deluxe Edition may be a port, but it will sell and people will want it especially as a multiplayer experience when there will be few others available at that time. Xenoblade Chronicles 2, if it makes 2017 as planned, will be a welcome title for RPG fans and hardcore gamers alike. Super Mario Odyssey looks like it could be the most influential Mario game since Super Mario Galaxy, and it's the game people are most excited about other than Breath of the Wild. I've seen many people on Twitter and elsewhere who haven't been into Nintendo for a while that are pretty excited for this one and have voiced their interest in getting a Switch to play it. We'll hear more about Fire Emblem Warriors in just a few days, but it is also another big reason to be excited about this year's lineup, especially after how well Hyrule Warriors turned out. ARMS looks like goofy fun yet could be a deeper experience with how the mechanics work, leading to a game that could potentially be a new, breakout hit. And Splatoon 2 looks like it'll help kick off Switch's multiplayer in a big way. There are also a number of big games that have already been leaked but haven't been talked about officially just yet. Pikmin 4, the Mario x Rabbids RPG by Ubisoft, rumblings of a Metroid game which may be Retro's next project or even an internal Nintendo team, and even the upcoming Super Smash Bros. port, which will likely contain extra content. And that's not counting other games we don't know about that might also be announced at E3. It'll be a fairly good first year for Switch as far as first-party games go once we pass through the dull launch period. Virtual Console and eShop news is still coming Easily one of my most anticipated features that will still have yet to hear about is the Switch eShop and rumored Gamecube Virtual Console games. Fans have been wanting Gamecube VC games for the longest time now, and the mere thought that we'll be able to play those games on the go is incredibly exciting. But even excluding the Gamecube, it's exciting to think we'll be able to take any VC game on the go now (aside from Game Boy/NES/SNES with New 3DS). And hopefully they'll begin putting various SEGA titles back on the eShop this time around; we'll see. The Tech is intriguing Despite the overall horsepower being purportedly lower than a PS4 and Xbox One, I'm looking forward to seeing what developers do with the Switch overall. While it may have sounded uninteresting or gimmicky at first, the HD motion capabilities do seem pretty clever after dwelling on some of the possibilities. Someone on Twitter gave a great example, saying that a new Metroid Prime game could benefit from this by providing different sensations as you select different types of beams -- the sound/sensation of ice tensing up with the ice beam, a sort of pulse sensation as you fire off the wave beam, and so on. I'm also interested to try the Joy-Cons as individual controllers and see if the 2-player holds up with them. While it probably won't be a preferred way of playing, I could see myself casually playing with one or more people on the Switch tablet at certain times, provided that the game works with the multiplayer feature. And like I mentioned in the section above, playing console games on the go is going to be a fantastic choice to have. Switching things Up In any case, I would have to sum up my thoughts by saying that Switch has a rough short-term and a potentially great long-term ahead of it. We'll know a lot more about to what to expect in regards to third-party support and how often it'll get games by E3, but in the meantime, I'm looking forward to the few main games that will be coming out beforehand. Nintendo definitely has some kinks to work out in regards to the pricing of various things (and the decision not to bundle in a game), but I'm hoping they'll come their senses and fix what's not working over time. If anything, I'll probably be mostly lost in the splendor of Breath of the Wild instead of getting upset at why there aren't more games out in the first month or two anyhow. What do you guys think about the Switch, both in the short-term and long-term?
  9. Nintendo unveiled a bevy of game announcements during last night's Switch presentation, and while ports were to be expected, there were also a number of pretty big surprises, both from Nintendo and third-parties alike. Here's a rundown of some of the biggest games that were announced for the Switch, in addition to everything else that has been announced and confirmed thus far. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild - Releasing March 3 - Ending the presentation with a bang, Breath of the Wild looks absolutely stunning with its latest trailer, this time focused on the plot of the game. We had previously heard that the villain in this game would be Calamity Ganon (which appears to be an incarnation of the series eponymous villain), but we finally get a good look at the evil being unleashed on this Hyrule in addition to loads of supporting characters, and yes, even Zelda herself. This one can't come soon enough, and you won't have to wait long enough either -- it'll be one of the first Switch games releasing at launch on March 3. Super Mario Odyssey - Releasing Holiday 2017 - Ever since its initial tease in the Nintendo Switch trailer that released last Fall, fans have been wondering what exactly what Mario has been up to in his latest game, and now we finally got to find out. Super Mario Odyssey looks to be the series' biggest game yet, with large, open sandbox levels for players to explore. Even some of the themes appear to be very different this time around, including a fiesta-themed level and even one based on the real world. Unfortunately, this game won't be out until later in the year, but it looks like it'll be worth the wait. Splatoon 2 - Releases Summer 2017 - We had previously known that Splatoon would show up as part of the Switch lineup, but it was rumored to be an port of the Wii U game from a few years back. Needless to say, it took fans by surprise when it was announced that this one would be a brand new sequel. Splatoon 2 expands upon the first game's addicting gameplay by adding brand new levels, characters, weapons, and more. Unfortunately, this one won't make launch either, but you'll be playing it before long; it comes out this Summer. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=POsTR5iy_TI Fire Emblem Warriors - Releasing TBD - When Hyrule Warriors initially released, many fans wondered what other Nintendo series could become a musou spinoff. Fire Emblem was naturally one of the very first series that people thought of, and it seems Koei Tecmo had the same idea. While we got a short teaser for the game, it would seem this one is early in development since there's no gameplay footage yet. Time will tell if this is a 2018 or beyond title, but for now let's just be glad we're getting a Fire Emblem Warriors game! ARMS - Releasing Spring 2017 - Quirky name aside, ARMS is one of Nintendo's new IPs and essentially combines boxing with... um, long arms. It's a unique idea, and banks on the motion control scheme for the Switch with each player utilizing both Joy-Con to act as your fists. Is this the spiritual successor to Punch-Out? It certainly looks like it, and we'll find out if this game has what it takes to become a new classic when it releases this Spring. Mario Kart 8: Deluxe Edition - Releasing April 28 - An enhanced port of Wii U's Mario Kart 8, this deluxe edition collects the entire original game with the 16 DLC tracks that came out and adds five new characters (Inkling Boy, Inkling Girl, King Boo, Dry Bones, and Bowser Jr.), three new vehicles (two inspired by Splatoon), and brand new battle courses (which also include returning battle courses from previous games). 1, 2, Switch - Releasing March 3 - Another new IP from Nintendo, this one is a party game where you'll look directly at your opponent instead of the screen as you participate in games like a Wild West faceoff, copycat dance-off, cow-milking contest, and more. Sounds pretty zany, but this could end up being a surprise hit at parties so we'll see what it's like when it releases at launch! Other Surprises Xenoblade Chronicles 2 - Release TBD - New Shin Megami Tensei title - Release TBD - Dragon Quest X and XI - Release TBD - Dragon Quest Heroes 1 & 2 - Release TBD - Project Octopath Traveler - Release TBD - New No More Heroes Title - Release TBD - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f98ZwgzYyig Super Bomberman R - Release TBD - Tentative list of confirmed upcoming games (still being updated) Also Releasing in March Has Been Heroes - Frozenbyte Super Bomberman R - Konami Just Dance 2017 - Ubisoft Snipperclips: Cut it out, together! - Nintendo I Am Setsuna - Square Enix Releasing in Spring 2017 Sonic Mania - SEGA LEGO City Undercover - Warner Bros. TBD The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Bethesda Shovel Knight - Yacht Club Games FIFA - EA Ultra Street Fighter V: The Final Challengers - Capcom Disgaea 5 Complete - NISA Arcade Archives - HAMSTER, Co. Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 - Bandai Namco Farming Simulator - Focus Home Interactive Fast RMX - Shin'en Minecraft: Story Mode - The Complete Adventure - Telltale Games Minecraft: Switch Edition - Mojang AB Puyo Puyo Tetris - SEGA Rayman Legends Definitive Edition - Ubisoft Rime - Tequila Works, Grey Box Skylanders Imaginators - Activision Steep - Ubisoft Syberia 3 - Anuman Interactive NBA 2K17 - 2K Games Sonic Mania - SEGA Project Sonic 2017 - SEGA The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth - Nicalis Redout - Nicalis What are your thoughts on the games coming out for Switch so far?
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