By MocBucket62 0 Comments
What a year 2017 was for video games. Many are drawing comparisons between 2017 to 1998 and 2007 as people are seeing it as one of the best years for video games ever. It’s honestly been such a good year for video games that it even got me to get way more invested in video games again. In case of anyone is wondering what I mean by my last sentence; I’ll admit that I haven’t really been super active in playing video games in this generation. I’ve been a faithful Giant Bomb follower since 2011 and by the time it reached 2014, I started to slowly move away from actively playing video games. I’d still go on the website a watch quick looks and watch premium videos because I love Giant Bomb and I still wanted to get caught up on video game news. However, I never felt super compelled to buy an XBOX One or PS4. Last year however, I decided to finally get a Steam account and purchase a couple of games that I felt like I’ve been missing out on. Also in November, I finally decided to say screw it and bought a Nintendo Switch.
This year to me felt like a re-awakening in my interest in video games. This year is being championed as being one of the best years in video games and honestly I wasn't going to miss out. Full Disclosure, my top 6 games and top old games were played on either the Nintendo Switch, Macbook or IPhone. So don’t expect any major game releases on the PS4, XBOX One and/or PC on here such as PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Cuphead, Resident Evil 7, Nier Automata, Persona 5, Horizon Zero Dawn and Wolfenstein II The New Colossus (I’m eyeing that Switch version though). Actually, don’t expect many AAA titles to be listed. All that said, I still adored my time playing the games I got to play and have no regrets buying any of the listed titles. Without further ado, here are the lists. I’ll start with a list in no order of old games that stood out to me and then get to the tiered list of my Top 6 games of 2017.
Some Old Gems:
Contradiction: Spot the Liar:
I don’t I need to add much to this game, right? I mean, we all saw what was effectively a Contradiction Endurance Run (Or Let’s Play) back in 2015 when Vinny played through all of the game through the quick looks and Premium videos with Alex and Austin by his side. OK, for those who aren’t in the know, Contradiction: Spot the Liar is an all-video Adventure game where you play as Inspector Jenks, a British Detective who is assigned to investigate a death of a college student, Kate Vine. The murder site is a small village and Jenks has to interview a list of suspects in order to solve the mystery.
Ever since I saw Vinny play through Contradiction, I have long desired to play the game myself. Certainly one of the reasons was the games’ charm with the game using FMV for teh cutscenes and gameplay. Ever performance the actor brings to the story is over the top, but also incredibly endearing. Contradiction is also like most point and click adventure games in that you can can collect items that can be used to access new areas or used during interviews. But another reason I wanted to play this was to test out the Contradiction mechanic, something that isn’t really seen in most adventure games with the possible exception of the Ace Attorney games. Honestly, this mechanic is way more satisfying than I expected. Being able to look back at your past responses while interviewing suspects just to call out your suspect for inconsistent answers feels gratifying. One Contradiction can get you closer to solving a murder mystery and seeing the reactions can not only get you more evidence, but the performances by the actors when they’re called out for lying is the icing on the cake. Seeing characters like Ryan and Paul Rand, the family in charge of the village’s business college program called Atlas, react nervously to you pointing out their fallacies is one of my favorite moments of video game dialogue. Even if you’ve only seen the Giant Bomb videos for this game, I still recommend playing it to experience solving the mystery on your own.
Grim Fandango: Remastered:
I bought this game when it was 75% on Steam and man, I totally see why Grim Fandango is such a beloved adventure gem. It tells the compelling tale of Manny Calavera, who leaves his travel agency job to find a former client who accidentally got a bad package in a 4 year journey to the Aztec underworld while also discovering the corruption tied to his old job. Artistically there really is no other game like Grim Fandango as it masterfully blends the style of Film Noir with the Aztec belief in Afterlife. The game also has some of the best audio in any game I’ve ever heard. From the soundtrack that contains South American folk music and big band music to what might be the best voice acting in any video game (Sorry Uncharted) Grim Fandango is a delight for your ears. Because I played this on my Mac, I only played this in the Original Graphic Mode so it could run at a steady 60 FPS, but its nice playing the game as it looked back in 1998. The gameplay itself is also pretty fun as its always super rewarding to figure out a puzzle that moves the story forward. Though I’ll admit some puzzles were too infuriating to the point that I had to look up videos to solve them. Still, I enjoyed Manny’s venture and understand why many people point to this as one of the reasons why 1998 was the best year in gaming.
Medieval II: Total War:
Again, I own a Mac, not a PC. There was a time when the Total War game series was maybe my favorite game series out there. I sadly don’t have the desire to put the money into getting or building a strong gaming PC to play the Warhammer: Total War games, but I’m fine playing the old Total Wars on Mac. Rome TW is one of my favorite games of all time as I absolutely loved finding ways to conquer different settlements to expand the Roman Empire and it also made me much more interested in Ancient History. I didn’t play as much of Medieval II, but I wanted to revisit it on Steam and you know what, if you have the patience to play a Total War game you’ll love it. Normally with any Total War, the big draw is the campaign where it combines Civ-like Turn based strategy by moving armies, diplomats and other units across the map to achieve specific missions while combining real time battles. But for me, the fun I had was simply with its Custom Battle mode, where I could create any insane Medieval Battle I wanted. That mode is like the Strategy equivalent of Super Mario Maker. You want to see who’d win in a fight between English Knights and Aztec Jaguar Warriors in Egypt covered in snow? Sure. What about a battle that’s strictly between Moor Camel Gunners and Timurid Elephants in a Castle siege? That’s possible. Being able to create your own alternate historical battles to me is one of the reasons that I not only enjoy Medieval II: TW, but why the I believe Total War series rules.
Freedom Planet is a tremendous love letter to Sega Genesis games. The sprite work is certainly inspired by games like Sonic the Hedgehog, even though I believe the game use 32 bit sprites rather than 16 bit. The music itself doesn’t sound like a Genesis game, but is still super catchy in its own right. The gameplay also takes some cues from Sonic having loops and jump pads, but also blends into combat elements of Treasure action games like Gunstar Heroes. FP’s levels might be too long for some, but they are still extremely well made that include different gimmicks. One level might have you run around in a casino/mall hybrid full of slot machines and dance floors and the next might have you board 3 enemy airships to stop a bombardment on your vessel. FP encourages the player to either speed run the level or let the player take his/her time to explore the level and find multiple paths to progress as well as finding secrets. Also it has great replay value since you have 3 distinct playable characters. Lilac is great for those who want to speed run the game, but there’s Carol whose a motorcycle driving cat that can ride up walls and ladders and there’s Milla who throws green blocks like they’re SMB2 turnips. All of these characters allow you to approach levels a little differently and their move sets are incredibly fun to use, especially for the fierce boss fights. This game is so good even the swimming controls are pleasant. If you’re interested in playing FP, I recommend Classic Mode to strictly play the levels. There is an Adventure Mode that adds a story and fully voiced cut scenes in between the levels, but don’t expect Grim Fandango quality from FP’s cinematics. The only benefits I can think of for Adventure Mode is that you can cause bloopers in the cut scenes and characters have different idle animations in the levels. Freedom Planet is an excellent 2D platformer and now I eagerly await its sequel in 2018.
Rocket League (Switch):
I thought about including this onto my best of 2017 list because for the Switch, this is a 2017 release. However, Rocket League debuted on other systems in 2015 and because it’s a port of a 2-year-old game, it belongs in the old game section. Still, I have finally exposed myself to the exciting, mobile ball handling greatness that is Rocket League! Panic Button ported RL on the Switch and did a decent job porting it over. In handheld mode the graphics look a bit muddy, but it still runs at 60 FPS and the controls feel very tight. If you ask me, Rocket League looks light years better in docked mode. It’s also nice to see this version have the various play modes besides such as Hoops, Hockey and other modes that spice up the package. But the core mode of Soccer is addicting and is the main draw of the game for good reason. Playing against computer A.I. is good practice to get used to the controls. It’s also great if you want to take all the glory and try to hit that ball into the goal and then get promptly rewarded with the ball exploding. There’s a wondrous feeling when you accelerate towards the ball, get the first touch and jump at the right angle to knock in a perfect goal within 2 seconds. But honestly, Rocket League stands out for the multiplayer and my brother and I have been constantly competing with each other in one-on-one games. The last time I recall having hotly contested matches in a local multiplayer game w/ my brother was in Super Smash Bros Brawl. Rocket League is without a doubt one of the best sports games of this generation and as a Switch owner, I’m happy w/ the port.
6. HQ Trivia (IPhone):
Should this game count? I think so. Its an app where you and countless other app users play an online trivia game hosted by none other than the Scott-ster, the Scott-2018 New Year’s baby, the Scott Rob Roy at 9 pm, Scott Rogowsky. It’s a pretty simple game where you try to get 12 questions right in a row to win an amount of money depending on who else got all the questions correct. Do the best you can on the trivia, but the key reason to play is for Scott himself. He’s incredibly charismatic and adds so much character to the show that even if you get eliminated, its fun to see Scott present the questions and go over the answers. The other hosts are fine, but Scott is HQ Trivia. This little app is pretty basic, but its fun to go in and see how many questions you can get right.
5. Thimbleweed Park (Mac):
As you can probably tell, me playing Contradiction and Grim Fandango got me much more fascinated in point and click adventure games. I’ve honestly haven’t been this interested in the genre since I was young and played Putt-Putt. Also Thimbleweed Park is the only 2017 game that ran incredibly well on my Macbook. Thimbleweed Park is an adventure game where a murder occurs in a town and two FBI working together to find the murderer. There's also plenty of other strange things that are happening in the town of Thimbleweed Park as you have 3 other playable characters that have their own mysteries to solve. This was a game crowd funded on Kickstarter back in 2014 and was developed by Terrible Toybox, led by adventure game veterans Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick. TP is both a solid homage to classic LucasArts adventure games as well as a fresh gaming experience. The game looks like a natural evolution from Maniac Mansion as the character designs take inspiration from the said game but with a more polished look. TP also brings in a very quirky sense of humor that both makes fun of the 1980’s and has some fun 4th wall jokes thrown in too. As a game, it manages to make an old system like the SCUMM inventory system new again by letting you hold an infinite amount of items and perform actions from talking to NPC’s to using items to solve puzzles. There are also some contemporary game design decisions that allow TP to be more accessible for those who don’t play many Adventure games. These include a map to let you fast travel and an objective notepad to keep in track on what puzzles and goals you’re suppose to accomplish. If you are fan of the genre and/or have a soft spot for classic LucasArts adventure games, I highly recommend Thimbleweed Park.
4. Battle Chef Brigade (Switch):
This was a game that sort of came out of nowhere for me. I saw Ben play it on UPF and seeing that it combined 2D Brawler combat with Match 3 puzzles seemed really interesting. Plus by concept, the core game is a fantasy themed version of the Iron Chef TV show but you have to hunt monsters and forge plants to create a meal to impress a line of judges. Battle Chef Brigade was a game I never knew I wanted, but it turned out to be an amusing and unique hybrid of genres. There’s a story mode where you play as a girl named Mina Han, a chef who leaves her family’s restaurant job to pursue her dream to join the Battle Chef Brigade. The Brigade defends their world from monsters and hunt for their ingredients to create cuisine that feeds the society. Plus the dialogue is pretty lighthearted as you meet a bunch of characters that for the most part, act like good sports when you defeat them and some become your best friends (Ziggy’s rad). The combat itself lets you land melee combos on the monsters as well as using magic projectile attacks to fight from afar. The puzzle aspect is more intense as you put your ingredients in a pot and each ingredient has a mix of Earth, Fire and/or Water gems and you have to line up 3 similar gems to improve your dish. Perhaps my favorite part is seeing what your dish looks like, as seeing you win with a a dish like a BBQ Dragon Shank feels fantastic. There are some light RPG elements with not only the items and combat skills you can buy, but the side jobs you take in between matches in order to make more money. Pro tip, get the Slow Cooker if you want a high scoring dish! BCB also has additional modes like Break the Dishes, a time trial mode where you bash a # of dishes as fast as possible and a puzzle mode where you have to arrange the gems in a certain order. The mode I’ve been going back to is the Daily Cook Off, where you are challenged to cook a dish with a random assortment of items and skills and make the best dish w/ what you’re given. Overall BCB is absolutely worth a try as it surprising blends two widely different genres in Beat-em ups and puzzles into one satisfying title.
3. Golf Story (Switch):
I was maybe one of the few people who knew something about this game before it released. I saw the first trailer to Golf Story back in May and it truly looked like a sequel to Mario Golf for the GBA in which it had a Golf/RPG hybrid campaign. Golf Story definitely delivers on the premise where you play as an unnamed protagonist who has a childhood dream of becoming a professional golfer. He gets away from his personal issues in life such as a divorce and goes on a fun yet zany path to fulfill his dream. How zany is it? Well what other golf game lets you fight an army of skeleton minions by hitting golf balls at them? You can also play golf in a snow-covered course. That’s how wacky this game gets. The golfing itself is relatively simple as it uses the Mario Golf two button system, with the first button for distance and the second for the aim. You can also have precision shots to aim at a particular part of the course. Even with basic mechanics it feels exhilarating whenever you get a very rare Albatross or Hole In One. Plus the RPG progression feels rewarding as you level up, you can improve your power, accuracy and slice and earn cash to buy new clubs. But one of the main draws of Golf Story is the plot and dialogue as its an over the top comedy. There’s a moment where you’re helping your coach with a date by distracting his guests with herb picking while your coach overcooks a roast in a microwave because he doesn’t know how to cook and tries too hard to impress. Gold Story is the type of Sport/RPG mixture that aren’t often released these days and for a first game by Sidebar Games, its nails the combination of genres.
2. Steamworld Dig 2 (Switch):
I have never played the first Steamworld Dig nor have I been much of a Metroidvania type of person. I was deciding between this or Sonic Mania as the next Switch game to purchase. Ultimately I chose Steamworld Dig 2 because it was on sale and heard that this is a better Metroid than Metroid Samus Returns. Turns out I made the right decision because man this is one well-designed video game. Steamworld Dig 2 has Metroid style exploration but blends in elements of Dig Dug as you are finding yourself digging deeper and deeper into different mines to collect ores and clearing objectives. It’s an oddly relaxing yet amusing experience as you dig for collectables. You play as Dorothy, who’s on a quest to find her friend and protagonist from the first game, Rusty. As Dorothy searches for her pal, she can explore the mines to again, collect ore to sell and earn some money. You can even go into secret rooms to find artifacts and cogs. Artifacts can help you unlock potential perks you can choose to upgrade while the cogs activate those perks whenever you are digging. There’s a really strong balance between you collecting ores and being rewarded with cash and using it to get the upgrades you believe will serve you best. The main story is pretty short as I beat the story missions in 6 ½ hours, but there’s still some many places to explore to find secrets that its worth going back to 100% the game. You also find different weapons and tools in a Metroid style room and these utilities ranging from the sticky bomb to the jet pack all felt simultaneously enjoyable and handy to use. Steamworld Dig 2 certainly made me a fan of the franchise and has me intrigued with Image and Form’s other titles.
1. Super Mario Odyssey (Switch):
What essentially became the reason I bought a Nintendo Switch. I love this game so much that I bought it twice; first time for myself and the second time were to give as a Christmas gift. Super Mario Odyssey is a masterfully crafted 3D platformer that utilizes the focus on exploration to its fullest. In every kingdom you go to, there are countless secrets to find where you can find more moons. Its an extremely rewarding game that awards the player for seeking out all the nooks and crannies in the kingdoms with a moon. Plus all the kingdoms have a ton of personality ranging from the Metro Kingdom that’s inhabited by photo realistic humans to the Seaside Kingdom, which contains a sea filled with Sparkling Water. Some moons may be a little too easy to obtain, but there are still lots of challenging tasks just to get one moon. Plus the capture ability is a real game changer letting Mario control enemies, inanimate objects and NPC’s. You can capture Cheep Cheeps to make swimming in the game the opposite of a drag. You can become a slab of meat and jump around while maintaining Mario's trademark hat and mustache. You can, yes, capture the mind of a human for the sole purpose to direct an RC Car. The captures also add to the exploration of Odyssey as they can permit Mario to access new areas to get a moon. Though don’t think the captures are the only elements that stand out as the core platforming is as good, if not better, than the best 3D Mario games.
Not to mention the game pays fun tributes to Mario’s history. The 2D sections add a nice change of pace that applies OG SMB art and mechanics to collect more moons or get to different points of the kingdom. There’s also appearances from Mario characters that haven’t been utilized in past Mario games in years. Bringing Pauline from Donkey Kong back as the Mayor of New Donk City is really clever and considering how many times Bowser has kidnapped Peach, Pauline knows security MUCH better than Peach. She’s canonically the lead voice for the best video game song of 2017 too! Going further on the music, the soundtrack has a great mix of new original songs and remixes of classic Mario Tunes. Ben's right though, Steam Gardens has superb music!
Though one mode that I had too much fun with was the photo. From the filters to all the different camera angles, there’s a lot of mileage in taking really dumb yet amusing pictures. I have over 200 photos in my Switch album and the grand majority of those pictures come from Odyssey.
Super Mario Odyssey is the best 3D Mario I’ve played and could be tied with Super Mario World as my favorite Mario game. The game is joy incarnate and it oozes with charm ranging from those captures to dressing Mario up in any outfit you want. There's no doubt in my mind that when we look back at video games in 2017, Super Mario Odyssey will be one of the prime examples that defined 2017 as one of the best years in games ever. Now I need to go get Zelda and other quality exclusives since I'll admit I'm still a little behind.