2017 Game of the Year
Some people would say it is the greatest time to be playing video games, and I would tend to agree with that. This was extremely solid, and there were so many great games coming out that I couldn't find time to get to them all. That's why things like Persona 5, Horizon, and Nier are missing from this list. But what I did play were a ton of fun, and I've compiled a list of my ten favorites.
10. Star Trek: Bridge Crew
Star Trek: Bridge Crew was the moment where I played a VR game and it finally all made sense. This game has you take on one of four roles on the bridge of a starship with three other online players where you work together to complete missions. Seeing the avatars of these other people move around working their panels while I was doing my own thing and communicating to solve problems is an incredible feeling and finally felt like a real gaming experience that could only be done in VR (though they just put out a patch to let it be played outside of VR, but I can't see it being nearly as good). If you have a headset I cannot recommend this game enough.
I think I need to first point out that I have not finished Cuphead, because THIS GAME IS REALLY DIFFICULT. But it still makes my Top 10 because it is a game with amazing style, tight controls, and handles the difficulty so that it's impossible to beat but you don't feel like it's unfair. I do regret that I don't have someone to play this game in co-op, but I will take on the burden that this is my own personal hell. And I'm extremely okay with it.
8. Splatoon 2
I really enjoyed the first Splatoon, and this game is just more Splatoon but on a platform people actually play on. I got really into this game for a while, participating in all the Splatfests and getting friends on Discord to get matches together, but eventually I fell off since I had run out of things to do outside of collecting more clothing and waiting for updates. Other limitations of the game also hurt it, including setting specific times to play Salmon Run -the game's Horde Mode - which is easily the best part of the entire game. I had a blast during that time I was playing it though, but setting these unnecessary barriers keep me from playing it as often now.
7. Crash Bandicoot: The N. Sane Trilogy
Some of my favorite gaming moments on the PS1 were playing Crash Bandicoot. Before I had my own console I would go to my cousin's house to play Crash 1 and a friend's house to play Crash 2. It wasn't until Crash 3 that I got my own PS1 and fully fell in love with the series. I'm guessing that's why I 100%'d first and had the most fun with Crash 3 in this collection, but I also completed the other two games and had a nostalgia blast playing them. The updated visuals are gorgeous, and the slightly altered physics in these versions presented a now layer of challenge that I didn't really have too much of a problem with.
One of my favorite 3D platformers is Banjo-Kazooie, and it helped shape my love for collectathons growing up. So when the makers of that game put up a Kickstarter to make a spiritual successor to it, I didn't hesitate for a second to contribute. What I ended up getting was exactly what I wanted, for better and for worse. It had all the charming visuals, fun platforming, silly transformations, and bad camera controls of one of these games. The only reason this didn't rank higher is that it launched with some pretty nasty bugs (one that made me have to delete my save) and some of the worlds were so big that it made backtracking a huge pain. But I'm still very happy this game exists and I would like more, please.
5. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
I did not grow up a big fan of The Legend of Zelda, but that's because my first Nintendo console was the Nintendo 64. I loved Ocarina of Time, not only because it was my first Zelda game, but because it's an all-time great. However I haven't really had a big connection to any of the games afterwards. Wind Waker was fun but tedious with the sailing, and I believe Twilight Princess was the one to get me off the wagon. When the Switch came out, Breath of the Wild was pretty much the one big game at launch so I decided to check it out. This new take on a Zelda game was refreshing and exciting, as it gives the player a gigantic area to explore however you want in any order you want. The stamina and breakable weapons/shields are annoying, but at least it forces you to experiment with your gear.
4. Picross S
I love me some Picross, whether it's 2D or 3D. When they put out a version for the Switch with hundreds of puzzles, I was wary at first since there were no touch controls. However, playing Picross with a D-Pad and buttons is totally fine and didn't detract from the game at all. I ended up putting in around 100 hours into the game, though a bunch of it was idling between working on different things since this was the perfect game to play in small bursts. I ended up 100%ing the game, and enjoyed every second of it. Picross is still very good.
3. Destiny 2
This game is very polarizing, but I still really enjoy playing Destiny. Hell, I'm the fool who put the first game as my GOTY when it came out. Destiny 2 is a big improvement from the original, with systems and mechanics that actually make sense and a bit less of a grind to get the gear you want. The cutscenes and story (yes, there's actually a story) are fantastic and the old characters now feel like they have memorable personalities. The new characters are also a lot of fun, with Failsafe being a standout star.
But the best part about Destiny is being able to play with friends. Just rolling around on patrols or strikes with friends shooting shit while shooting the shit is a lot of fun, and the shooting in this game is very good. I also really had fun with the raid and Nightfall, and while they were difficult and very punishing, the feeling when you finally succeeded was some of the best moments I've had in gaming this year. I expect to continue to play this for quite a while longer as long as I have friends to join me in the fight.
2. Super Mario Odyssey
In the year we get the best 2D Sonic game, we also possibly got the best 3D Mario games. This game feels like a celebration of Mario and the evolution of 3D platforming, mixed with some classic charm and new surprises. This game takes a lot of influence from Super Mario 64 without being bogged down with too much baggage from the way games were back then, and blows it up into a gigantic adventure. The capture mechanic is extremely creative and adds new ways of solving puzzles, the movement with bouncing off Cappy feels perfect, and the levels are chock full of things to do without ever feeling overwhelming and getting me lost. I 100% completed this game and there wasn't a second along the way that I wasn't having a great time.
1. Sonic Mania
Sonic 3 & Knuckles has been my favorite video game of all time for 23 years and the best game in my favorite video game franchise growing up. I remember waking up on Christmas and unwrapping Sonic & Knuckles in its shitty cardboard game box. I took it out, locked it on to Sonic 3, and had my world changed forever. I still have those original cartridges attached to this day and I'm never separating them.
2017 finally brought me a game to dethrone Sonic 3 & Knuckles, and it just so happens to be a direct sequel to it. When I played the demo of this game at PAX East earlier in the year, I actually teared up when I finished because it brought me back to when I would sit on the floor in the living room way too close to the TV playing hours and hours of Sonic. I bought the Collector's Edition in the airport on my way back from Boston because I was so excited for this game. As the game got closer to release, I had made a checklist for what I needed for this to become my favorite game.
- It plays exactly like the Genesis Sonic games
- It has the elemental shields that work exactly as they should
- You can go back and play any levels as Super Sonic when you have all the emeralds
- You can have Tails with you and grab him to fly around
- Blue Sphere
- Hydrocity Zone
This game somehow ticked every single one of these items, and despite having 100% cleared it I still find myself going back to play a few levels every now and then. This is the greatest Sonic game ever made, and it's all I've wanted out of a video game in over two decades.