Dan Teasdale and Panzer are the dynamic duo that make up independent video game development studio No Goblin, creators of Roundabout and 100 ft Robot Golf. Hit them up on Twitter @deliciousbees and @panzerskank, respectively.
Panzer: We had a baby this year!!
Dan: Our son! Our new big son! He is very large! We took him to the doctor and he is 99th percentile in height, length, and head circumference.
Panzer: My giant boy is growing out of six month clothes before hitting the five month mark.
Dan: At three months, he was wearing diapers that are designed to be worn by babies who can walk!
Panzer: We have been approached by strangers in public multiple times now who just want to tell us how extremely large our son is.
Dan: He big.
Panzer: Anyway we didn’t really have a lot of time to play games this year, what with our big ol’ huge boy tumbling around the house, but here are some games we liked! It’s worth noting that none of these games are as good as our baby, but I’m sure the developers tried.
Best Game We Played An Hour Of And Can’t Wait To Play More Of Sometime In 2022
Dan: Runner up goes to Control. I am a man who loves style, and by style, I mean the official-10-letter-Ys styyyyyyyyyyle. We’ve played up to the first control point and HOT DANG that’s some style! In-world FMV that pretends to be postproc! Genius! Also the gunplay seems completely fine to me, a person who does not play Destiny or Modern Warfare for hundreds of hours a month.
Who knows if it collapses into a State of Emergency-style tire fire after that, but Control is a runner up on this list for that first hour alone.
Panzer: Second runner up is definitely Judgment. We’re a big Yakuza games household over here at No Goblin headquarters, so a game that is essentially Yakuza with a different kind of story and some brand new gameplay mechanics is a guaranteed hit with us. Unfortunately our son is large both in size and in his need for attention, so I can’t be sure the game keeps up with my high expectations past the first hour.
Winner: Our son’s first fifteen seconds. Immediately after entering the world we heard his first cry, followed by a nurse in the room going, “oh, he’s peeing on the doctor”, followed by a long pause, then “he’s still peeing”. Our son made more of an entry and impact in his first 15 seconds than any game can hope to match.
Best Shooting and/or Looting
Panzer: Finally after 100 years of waiting, I get to scream about Borderlands 3 as loud as I can. I’m that fuckin’ person who has played through Borderlands 2 and Pre-Sequel dozens of times, because I don’t value my time and also I have brain worms.
I’ll be honest that this game still has the usual, uh, Borderlands Problems: the writing is not super great, and boy is there ever a lot of it, the UI is still bizarrely difficult to use, my co-op buddy and I are entering hour 35 of Swamp Planet. However! The new vault hunters are really genuinely fun to play! The movement mechanics feel incredible! They’ve made each gun brand feel really truly different, they’ve fixed the drop rates, the gunplay is SATISFYING. Seriously the gameplay is just so goddamn good it would be a crime to not put this game on here.
Dan: Panzer’s usually the authority on schlooting in this household, but I’m throwing in my runner up nomination for Risk of Rain 2. I realise this might go away when it gets out of Early Access, but I love how absolutely broken and busted things can seem to get--and how the game absolutely encourages you to break things so you can be a ridiculous autoshooting sprinter or whatever.
Winner: Our son’s shooting and looting ability. So good at shooting there’s an entire category of man-themed piss blockers for people to try and contain his powerful stream. Also drops loot 8-12 times a day. From his butt. It’s poop.
Best 1993 Game
Dan: At the start of the year, my industry pal FLARB mentioned that he was co-publishing a pinball game called Demon’s Tilt. I have very specific pinball tastes which are exclusively Black Knight 2000 and the Empire Strikes Back table in Pinball FX. Demon’s Tilt is the closest thing to fit into that super specific wheelhouse.
Demon’s Tilt is pinball crossed with a shmup, and styled like a TurboGrafx release. I’d say it’s a good podcast game, but the soundtrack slaps so it’d have to be a really boring podcast. It’s definitely a great runner up in this category.
Panzer: You know what I’m really into right now? Games that I can play from underneath a giant baby and quit out of instantly if I suddenly need to. The Link’s Awakening remake is very good at both of those things! It’s also a remake of one of my favorite Zelda titles that honestly hadn’t aged super well. They modernized the hell out of this charming little title and did an amazing job. The art style is an obvious thing to praise, but honestly my favorite part was the redone music. Really beautifully done, and drags up a lot of nostalgia from the bottom of my brain.
Best Game Not Released in 2019
Dan: My runner up nomination goes to Obra Dinn. I played this over the holiday break last year, and shotgunned the entire thing across three days. Well, I guess that’s more like three large gulps. Anyway, pretend that I put that on last year's list and talked about how great Mac Classic logic puzzles are.
Panzer: This feels like a really weird thing to put on a game of the year list, but the Ocarina of Time Multiplayer Randomizer Mod is some of the most fun I’ve had with video games this year.
Just a quick step back to describe what the hell this is for people who don’t know: the Ocarina of Time Randomizer Mod takes the classic N64 Zelda title and randomizes where items are placed throughout the game using pretty sophisticated logic. It’s extremely cool. The version of this mod I’m talking about goes one step further and introduces real actual online multiplayer co-op play. You can see your other jackoff friends running around and being dicks in real time.
I only used this to play in a two-person session with my bro Kaubocks for a livestream, but I think it can handle up to 16 players which is NUTS. We could split up and look for items in different parts of the map, or have one person check the adult timeline while the other stayed in child. It made the randomizer aspect of the game feel a lot more doable since all players in the session share items. My favorite part was when I messed up trying to get Epona across the tiny plank bridge to Gerudo Valley, then immediately watched Kaubocks do the same thing, because we’re both idiots.
Winner: Our son’s first ultrasound. It happened in December 2018, so it qualifies. He looked like a really fun jellybean!
Most Worlds In Space
Dan: Runner up goes to Outer Worlds! There’s a whole bunch of worlds in that can! It took a bit for me to get into the vibe, but once I got into the “use slowdown all the time, beef up your weapons all the time, and do dumb things in chat” groove, it evoked a whole bunch of those old Fallout feelings. Also, a special callout for avoiding all of the jank you’d usually see in a Fallout game!
Panzer: I don’t have a lot of words to say on Outer Worlds because I’m honestly only a few hours in, but I’m really liking it so far! It nails my trashpunk space person aesthetic. I run around planets and space stations like a nasty little garbage rodent stealing everything in sight.
Dan: A special mention should go to Void Bastards as well. While you think a really fun comic-themed space pirate roguelike by one of the guys behind System Shock 2 and Freedom Force should be a slam dunk for this category, it turns out that you’re boarding an infinite amount of space stations and ships, none of which are worlds. Better luck next time, Jon!
Winner: Our big son’s soft book “A Little Astronaut’s Guide To Counting”. He has a crinkly book about space that he loves. We read it to him at least daily. It’s only six pages long, but I’ve lost count of how many times we’ve pointed out the two different planets that they might be traveling to. Two worlds multiplied by the Sisyphean amount of times we’ll need to read this to him means he wins most worlds.
Dan: Wilmot’s Warehouse has to be my first nomination here. Very square blocks. Also, your character is also a block. Is he Wilmot? Or is he just working for Wilmot in his warehouse? These are dilemmas I hadn’t really considered until writing this list.
When you have a new baby, they advise you to “sleep when the baby sleeps.” I instead played this for 15 minutes at a time, thereby not only ignoring that advice, but also avoided tidying and organizing our actual home in order to tidy and organize what is potentially not even my own damned warehouse now that I think about it.
Panzer: Toward the end of being pregnant, when I was too giant to move off the couch, I fell down a really deep Dragon Quest Builders 2-shaped hole. This game is so, so soothing. There are so many fun blocks to pick up, and they just let you build anything anywhere! It’s like Minecraft with more structure, I guess. Also cute characters and funny writing. I found this game so relaxing I actually played it in the hospital bed right before my son was born.
Dan: I’d also like to nominate Baba Is You, but the blocks are kinda shaky. This is probably why Wikipedia doesn’t list it as a video game that came out in 2019. Also, we shelved it towards the end. You know how when you get to the end of a puzzle game and you get stuck, so you look up the longest GameFAQ for a hint to get through? Well, this is a game where I’d get stuck, look up a playthrough video, watch the solution being executed, and still not be able to finish the level. I’m too old for this kind of disrespect, baba!
Panzer: Yeah I had a really good time with Baba, but I’ll be real: I think I’m too stupid for the upper-levels of games like this now.
Winner: Our Chunky Son. He owns a onesie with the words “CHUNKY HUNK” written on it. He’s now too chunky to fit into it. Confirmed Chunkiest.
Best Game Set In Europe
Panzer: It’s gotta be Pokémon: Sword bay-bee!!! Going apeshit over catching these fun little critters!! Setting the game in Pokémon England has caused some really fun and creative monster designs to show up in this one. My favorite right now is the lil’ apple with a worm in it that turns into an apple pie dragon. There’s also some wild online stuff going on with the multiplayer raids! Shout out to Matt Kessler, America’s Sweetheart, for always joining my game when I need to catch a giant angry bug or whatever.
Dan: I’m nominating Sayonara Wild Hearts for runner up. The great thing about Sayonara Wild Hearts is that it pretends it’s a rhythm action game at first glance, but it’s actually more along the lines of a casual Rez in terms of forgiveness and flow. It only takes an hour to play, but the soundtrack is fantastic and some of the later levels are ridiculously enjoyable to play and figure out.
As for the category qualifications, it opens outside Varnhem’s Falafel, a Malmo establishment. Don’t take my word for it, here’s a promising review in case you’re in the area:
“40 kr för falafel i bröd med dricka. Värt ett besök!”
Winner: Our Son with Commonwealth Lineage. Because Dan is a subject of the Queen’s Commonwealth, it means our son has both #1 Hot Dog America and Commonwealth heritage. Also we have a corgi at home, so we’re basically the Western Buckingham Palace over here.
The Most Video Game Of 2019 According To Panzer’s Play Time
Panzer: I absolutely should not have found time for this, but FFXIV: Shadowbringers is so, so good. I’m very lucky that our big son is also so, so good and goes to sleep every single night at 8pm on the dot, so I’ve been able to wiggle in about an hour per night to play an MMO.
I don’t think I’ve ever actually given a shit about the story in an MMO before. I’ve admittedly played a lot of Final Fantasy XIV, but uh, I’m one of those jerks that skips all the cutscenes. Usually. Shadowbringers has completely changed that for me. The story is exceptionally well written and interesting, plus the cutscenes are superbly acted and directed. It’s one hell of an experience. On top of this, the gameplay is still the best you can get in giant MMOs right now and just keeps getting better. There is just so much to do and see and experience! I’ll probably be stuck in this Final Fantasy sinkhole for a really long time.
Winner: Our son. You can’t beat >99th percentile for “most.”
The Best Video Game Of 2019 According To Dan
Dan: It was a very, very close call, but my runner up nomination goes to the Outer Wilds.
I hate timers. I can’t play Pikmin because I have to stop playing halfway through the day to make sure all my tiny leaf dudes are safe. I’ve never played Majora’s Mask. If your game has a timed segment in it, I’ll probably shelve it.
Outer Wilds is on a 22 minute timer, and the only progression that’s saved is knowledge. It’s so well executed that it didn’t ever trigger my timer anxiety.
Usually when you’re playing a game, you get a sense when you’re pretty close to the end, or when you’ve digested the mainline content and you’re now in the snackable cleanup zone. I think Outer Wilds is probably the first game I’ve played where it felt like a broad, solid meal as I explored the entire solar system, and didn’t stop feeling like that until I got to the final loop--and once I did, I didn’t feel the urge to go and “clean up,” because everything tied up neatly.
It’s such an impressive feat of pacing and worlds/wilds building that even though I bounced off the ending, it’s still the runner up for my GOTY behind our winner. Go play this now before anyone spoils details for you.
Winner: Our Wonderful Son. He’s pretty great.