Nick Wiger (rhymes with "tiger") is a TV writer and former game designer who lives in Santa Monica, California. He co-hosts the chain restaurant review podcast Doughboys.
One of the many reasons aging sucks is having less time for gaming. Actually, it’s probably the main reason.
I think the games I wanted to play, but didn’t get around to, would make a more interesting list than what’s below. Like, I’m confident 15-year-old me would’ve sunk 200 hours into Divinity: Original Sin II, instead of leaving it purchased but unplayed in my Steam library.
Still, during a truly hellish year for earth, I did experience some good as hell games. So, here are my five favorite 2017 releases. (I should note, I had my friend Matty Smith look this over, and his only comment was, “Hollow Knight is the best game of the year so this whole list is wack”, so there’s that caveat.)
The best Zelda ever. Both the spiritual successor to the NES original, and a highly evolved iteration of the modern 3D Zeldas. Ambitious, exhilarating, stunning. Plus Prince Sidon ?
My favorite 3D Mario and one of the best platformers of all time. New Donk City’s Traditional Festival is among the most joyous sequences I’ve ever experienced. The Cappy mechanic is insanely fun and explored to its full potential--especially in a perfectly constructed final act of gameplay.
3. Sonic Mania
Pure, distilled nostalgia. The frenetic level design of the new and remixed zones zeroes in on what’s magical about the best 2D Sonics. Would it have been even better with many hours of Big the Cat fishing quests? Sure, but that’s my only complaint.
Honestly the most fun I had playing a game this year. Both the A-story of dating every available neighborhood dad and the B-story of patching up the relationship with your daughter are funny, sweet, and narratively satisfying. Plus Joseph ?
Not its fault it sparked a profoundly annoying debate over whether game critics must be able to speedrun Ikaruga. Beautiful art, animation, and score--and that throwback difficulty? A great match for its aesthetic! Like, wouldn’t a hypothetical 1930s arcade game be hard? (I mean, not for me obviously, I found it insanely easy; they should call it Cakewalk instead of Cuphead.)
Addendum: 2016 Releases I Got Around To In 2017
No game occupied more of my time in 2017. I don’t have enough imagination left in my pile of dessicated wet wipes brain to be engaged by something as abstract as Minecraft, but the charm, character, and story of ConcernedApe’s one man band act made SV my obsession.
Cruel in the best way. The psychological toll of losing a character you’ve grinded up to a high level is brutal, especially when it’s the result of your own greed. Its bleak, Lovecraft derived artstyle is fitting for a world where a major setback is your Leper contracting syphilis.
Thanks, be sure to get mad at me at @nickwiger!