Best of 2019

List items

  • I loved Fire Emblem, until I thought I didn't. The series sadly slipped away from me during the last few entries. More and more I felt that these games weren't the odd anime strategy games I once adored on the GBA, but instead more involved romance sims that used strategy simply as a backdrop. When Three Houses was first revealed I was hopeful, but assumed the added Professor/Student mechanics were another way to layer in romance and relationships. I was wrong. What had felt so at odds to me for so long suddenly felt right. The game had finally achieved the balance it might've been searching for all this time. Relationships, battles, and skills now all intertwined in ways that made them all engaging and meaningful. Now creating a bond meant more motivation, which means better skills, which means a more powerful warrior, which is better on the battlefield. Everything was married into one happy package. This was what all those games, even the ones I love, should've been. This didn't feel like a rehashing of an existing genre or game, this felt like something new only capable of being real in 2019.

  • Honk.

  • I don't go crazy for every Pokemon entry, never have. It seems every 3rd or 4th generation hooks me back in ways I didn't expect. Sword was that hook. The new designs and the small quality of life improvements still has me booting the game up for more. Now to finished off those final 50 or so Pokemon and finish my first Pokedex.

  • Last year I needed a distraction. A low impact game that kept my attention but didn't constantly need it either. Since then I've put nearly 150 hours into Slay the Spire. I was afraid that maybe, after it had officially released, coming back to it would remind me of an unhappy time. Thankfully the game was still waiting for me. Still the nice little distraction. Still the nice little game that I needed.

  • When Minecraft updated to add villagers my imagination ran away with itself. I thought of kitchens and inns, stores and towns full of activity. I got none of it. DQB 2 takes the original and just stuffs it full of more content, more blocks, more rooms, more NPCs, and more ways to just goof off in a block filled world. Whereas Minecraft kept its eye on the survival aspect of crafting, DQB2 comes from an alternative timeline where all I want to do is build my friends a toilet.

  • Somehow Control manages that fine line between outright creepy or scary and downright gleeful and silly. It's silly to run around in an Escher painting of a building with twisting maps and creepy monsters only to talk to a janitor. However, Control manages that fine line perfectly. If time and adult responsibilities hadn't prevented me from playing it more, this might've been higher.

  • Before a certain game was released I was still the old man yelling at young whippersnappers that old Fire Emblem was best Fire Emblem. None of this anime or digital love making. Wargroove is one of those 2D strategy games that is exactly what I needed. Bringing truckloads of its own character and style to the genre, Wargroove accomplished what others can't. It recaptured the old while presenting it like a 2019 game.

  • I'm a sucker for the Starred Wars. Thankfully this wasn't another title with the prerequisite laser swords and hokey religions. Despite the numerous bugs and hiccups you could feel the white-hot nerd passion radiating off this game. It didn't seem like fan pandering from a forgone era where Star Wars could do no wrong. It felt like a modern game with that same, nostalgic Star Wars aura.

  • I remembered I had played Link's Awakening, but until I put my hands on the remake I didn't recall just how much joy this game could bring. It's Zelda all over again, but with dashes of whimsy and charm spread all over. The puzzles were still a bit obtuse, but it cannot be denied how enchanting this side-game could be.

  • I nabbed The Show on a whim just because I wanted a good baseball game to play. Years of never touching The Show paid off because, by all accounts, this year's was a return to form. It's not quite the tour de force some NBA 2K games have been, but for baseball fans this is a wonderful package of history, fantasy, and delusions of baseball grandeur we all secretly love.