Games of the Years

I've been cranking on a game spreadsheet for a number of years now and it's finally gotten robust enough that I could sort and filter it to show various neat things

I thought it'd be fun to see what my single favorite game of the year was from every year's slate I have play history with and this is what it spit out.

1 game per release year (some of these of these I didn't play till way later), some years have zero if I haven't played anything yet. I tried to stick to first United States release year for platforms I would have had access to (if I was around myself) when there was multiple possible dates. Usually that defaults to US Arcade releases for 80's stuff.

As an aside I don't buy the notion that games are a "young medium" anymore. Maybe they aren't old, but we're what?.... in Decade 5 now?... That's not young either.

List items

  • 1972

    I've only played one videogame from the year 1972 so I can safely say that Pong is the best game I've played from that year

    and honestly Pong, while simple, remains a fun game to this day. Underappreciated

  • 1976

    I'm considering "blockade" to be representative of Tron, Snake and basically all of the variants

    which makes it the only 1976 game I've played and thus my favorite. Also a good simple game! Maybe not as good as Pong tho

  • 1978-

    Stop me if you've heard this one already, but Super Breakout is the only game from 1978 I've played. And you know what that means

  • 1979-

    finally a year where I've played more than 1 game but I can say Space Invaders is the best of the.... *checks notes*... three 1979 releases I've played

  • 1980

    Now we're getting somewhere finally and the first perhaps semi modern gamer type IP

    Pac-man is pretty dang legit, especially when you compare it to what came before (look above). Just a massive improvement in complexity, characterization, gameplay, sound and visuals.

    wasn't the king for long of the gaming world, but it was arguably the first one

  • 1981

    some playing card company named "Nintendo" made this one. I think they are Japanese. Seems like they might have potential to make more very good games!

    honorable mentions: Frogger

  • 1982

    Insert joke about your better half having a better video game. And the best part it's true!

    honorable mentions: Pole Position

  • 1983-

    Hoo boy tough choice this year. Gotta give it to King's Quest due to the incredible for the time open ended nature of the game.

    Runner-up Dragon's Lair was like visually looking at the future tho. A playable cartoon was madness in 1983

    Honorable Mentions - Dragon's Lair

  • 1984

    False Advertising, this game actually came out in 1984 in the Arcades not "1942". Still really good tho. I think I can look past that naming issue

  • 1985

    O Hey those Nintendo people made another one! This "Mario" guy should have brought his fireballs with him to fight that King Kong Ape, would have been a lot easier.

  • 1986

    I've always said that nothing goes together like Dinosaurs and... Bubbles

    Well truthfully nothing else does go together like they do.

  • 1987

    What happened to that Mario guy? I thought he was Nintendo's main guy.

    I guess Mario must be Missing.

    I think I like this Zelda guy a bit more

    Honorable Mentions - Shadowgate, Metroid, 1943

  • 1988

    Oh there he is! He seems...different. Rounder with much bigger eyes and has brought a lot more friends.

    Honorable Mentions - Contra

  • 1989

    The boxart isn't quite as misleading the original MM game and it has one of the most epic chiptune soundtracks of all time. Oh yeah, gameplay is fun

    Honorable Mentions - Quest for Glory: So You Wanna be A Hero, Tetris , Ninja Gaiden, Dragon Warrior, Duck Tales, Faxandu

  • 1990

    This Mario guy really is quite good at this. He's into some weird stuff tho. it's a strange path to go from fighting Apes, to stomping sentient mushrooms, to using living vegetables as projectile weapons to affixing a Raccoon tail to your bottom so you can somehow fly. But he makes it work

    Honorable Mentions - Final Fantasy , TMNT (arcade), Super C

  • 1991

    I heard this was the last one of these, well at least the franchise went out on a bang!

    Honorable Mentions - Super Mario World, F-Zero, Street Fighter II: The World Warrior

  • 1992

    that Zelda fellow is back at it again. Boy Nintendo has a good team here between Mario and Zelda. I see potential in them. Going out on a limb here and gonna say they could make more good games.

  • 1993

    And now for something completely different. Definitely was totally mind blowing to go from 16 bit Sprite to seeing almost live action interactivity. The puzzles were great too

    Honorable Mentions - Mortal Kombat II

  • 1994

    Oh hunh, I guess the series kept going. Well this is probably the last one

    Honorable Mentions - Super Metroid

  • 1995-

    it's absolutely criminal Square let this IP die after merging with Enix. To this day I don't understand it and likely never will.

  • 1996

    You can't understate just how earth shaking it was to play this game when it was new.

  • 1997

    Oh wow they beat the odds again. Alright, alright, well this has to be the last one

    Honorable Mentions - Goldeneye 007

  • 1998

    Same experience as mario 64, but this time it's Zelda

    Honorable Mentions - at least 12 other 1998 releases

  • 1999

    Oh hey there it is again, must be a fluke. Ok well I guess we can see it again one final time.

  • 2000

    Not my favorite Matsuno game but it benefitted from less difficult competition in 2000

    Still one of the more unique games I've played. I'm amazed no indie dev has yet to make a knockoff

    honorable mentions- Diablo II

  • 2001

    ok ok seriously guys, this is the Final time

  • 2002

    I honestly would have never though Metroidvania would translate well to first person, but they made it work incredibly. It might be telling that even in the midst of a Metroidvania renaissance nobody else has even tried tho...

  • 2003

    There's some mod for this game called "DotA" that I hear is pretty good

    Honorable Mentions - Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker

  • 2004

    I wonder what the designer's inspiration for this gem was. A Tumbleweed? dropping gum on the ground in the park? Rolling up lint from the dryer?

    w/e it was, this game and IP is genius

    Just further proof that the simplest ideas can be the best

  • 2005

    I'm a simple guy in some ways who like simple things and while I love that JRPG series that keeps never ending despite the name for always trying new stuff, I also really really appreciate a series with classic sensibilities that tells a great story with great character. And Dragon Quest does that nearly everytime

    Honorable Mentions - Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, Shadow of the Colossus

  • 2006

    I wasn't crazy about this adventure of my guy "Zelda" when it first came out, but it turns out if you skip the wiimote and play it Gamecube style it's a fantastic update on the Ocarina formula

    Honorable Mentions - New Super Mario Brothers, Final Fantasy Xii

  • 2007

    One reason I struggle with getting into CRPGs oftentimes is I prefer authored characters. Geralt is about as well defined a RPG protagonist you can get in a CRPG or a JRPG thanks to his robust source material. And I think it shows even in this janky gem

    Honorable Mentions - Portal

  • 2008

    Kinda a weird one here, very old game that finally made it US shores after a decade + of localization exile. But man does it hold up in this basically remaster. I wish I could have played this in the 90's. I wish the world had, it was so forward thinking. and the story goes places RPGs just don't explore anywhere near enough

    If this pick bothers you, feel free to consider my runner up instead

    you probably haven't heard of it

    some unknown game called

    "Shin Megami Tensei - Persona 4"

    (Or Valkryia Chronicles. Which I actually like better than Persona by a smidge)

  • 2009

    remember how I said I generally don't like CRPGs because of lack of authored characters? Well I guess I'm cool with it if the supporting cast is strong enough.

    very cool with it tbh

    Honorable Mentions - Batman: Arkham Asylum

  • 2010

    Hell, it's about time Starcraft II came out

    Hell it's about time we got a Starcraft III, chew on that for a second.....

    Honorable Mentions - Red Dead Redemption

  • 2011

    I could really go for a lot more detective games like this, but I doubt we get another. Too lavish and expensive and the failure was too high profile. I know it gets ridiculed but I thought the acting and general conceit of its systems were really pretty cool

    Honorable Mentions - Some generic thing called "Dark Souls"

  • 2012

    Lordy is the combat in this game just superb. And I actually really love the rest too. How interactive some of the systems and how hidden they were. The strangeness of it and the surreal-ness. I also don't buy the often stated complaint that it's "generic", it's very clearly Capcom's take on Berserk's world, which I've never heard anyone call generic.

    plus greatest title screen of all time

    The winnnd is pussshhhing Meeeeeeeee

  • 2013

    I've played 2000+ hours of this game. I think it's safe to say I think it's good. very good

    Honorable Mentions - Super Mario 3D World

  • 2014

    No game has as tenuous and day to day hold on its' spot in this list than Shadowrun, but it's a really good game!

    Honorable Mentions - Bayonetta 2, Bravely Default

  • 2015

    I liked this MGS so much it honestly made me question how much I value story vs gameplay in a game haha. Because how you feel about those probably determines how you feel about this

    Honorable Mentions - Witcher III

  • 2016

    Minecraft was never my bag, probably a little too rough and little too freefrom

    but DQB is 100% up my alley, the extra backbone of direction I found very compelling. Doesn't hurt that conceit (rebuilding the world of dragon Quest [Warrior] 1) is a super neat idea too, plus all the usual benefits of being a DQ property (bestiary, lore etc)

    Honorable Mentions - Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE, Hitman, Overwatch

  • 2017

    boy this is a tough year to really nail down, because like 1998 it is just chock full of amazing stuff. But for me I think I gotta give it to Gravity Rush. Rarely does eveything in a game just fit perfectly together as it does in the GR does. The light hearted whimsy with the serious scifantasy story. The surreal floating islands coupled with teh sounds of the French Riveria. A carefree but very caring Kat and her devilmaycare flinging of herself into the air to get around.

    a masterful and action packed serene experience.

    Honorable Mentions - Yakuza 0, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Divinity: Original Sin 2, Persona 5, Utawarerumono: Mask of Truth

  • Also 2017

    Allowing myself an exemption for this because live service games have kinda changed the way things work. PUBG was not my favorite game of 2017 in 2017, but by some point in 2018 after a zillion patches and additions, not sure when, it became my favorite game of the generation

    Would seem dishonest to shoe horn it in somehow

  • 2018

    I'm a simple man who loves him some Dragon Quest and this one is a very welcome return to big budget form. I definitely need more classic JRPG big budget games in my life

  • 2019

    Maybe a little too close to Yakuza's formula to really standout as an elite all time game but it's my favorite of the bunch from 2019. I'm definitely down for detective stuff in Kamurocho

    Honorable Mentions - Control, Undermine

  • 2020

    See I told you it was over. Now they are just remaking these but there aren't any new ones

    I'm sure this is the last one of these remakes too.

    Honorable Mentions - I dunno yet tbh