I’ve played a lot of fantastic games this year, including Super Smash Bros. Ultimate which is a great Super Smash Bros. title, but I expected that. Instead, the game I want to focus on is a port of a game that, for the longest time, I did not like. Okami HD came out on the Nintendo Switch this year (so it counts in my eyes) and I finally saw why so many people love it so much. When I first played it on the Wii I hated the controls and the visual fidelity of the game but in HD, the art style really flourishes and the controls are very responsive and fluid. The reason it’s my game of the year, however, is because of how addicted I got to it. After putting off playing it for a while I eventually decided to pick it up as a time-killer until Pokemon Let’s Go arrived and in the end I was having so much fun I actively put off playing the latest Pokemon title so that I could go back and play Okami. When it takes up my mind like that, you know for sure that it is a good game.
My Game of the Year, would be Super Smash Bros. Ultimate… if it wasn’t such a mess in terms of online and if it had come out earlier. So, instead, I’m going between two games: Gal*Gun 2 and BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle (BBTAG).Gal*Gun 2 is a very fun and explicit 3D shooter where you save the girls of the high school by shooting the demons out of them. However, I enjoyed the game more for the deep connections that you can build with characters.
As for BBTAG, this game’s main issue was its DLC. Otherwise, BBTAG is an extremely fun and fast-paced 2v2 fighting game on the Switch, PS4, and PC. Its very fun being able to play a BlazBlue game with controls that actually make sense, a fighting game with Persona 4 characters, and two other franchises I’ve never given a damn about. But, with UNDER NIGHT being involved, I’ve actually grown pretty interested in that series as well…
We’re in sort of a golden era of older shooters coming back and it’s kinda great. We got new iterations of Doom, Wolfenstein, and Quake. Old but gold classics like System Shock and Blood are getting updated ports and are being revisited. Plus, we’ve seen plenty of new games bringing back the ironsight-less, arena gunplay of older shooters like Overwatch, Paladins, Immortal Redneck, Ion Maiden, etc. But then there’s DUSK. And DUSK is something, really special.
DUSK is made by more or less the same gaggle of people who did the 2013 remake of 1993’s Rise of the Triad (ROTT). ROTT got extremely mixed reviews when it came out because reviewers felt that it emulated being a game from 1993 a little too well. Which if you’re a fan of these types of games, isn’t a problem in the slightest. DUSK isn’t a remake or re-imagining of any particular classic shooter like ROTT was but is instead sort of an amalgamation of a handful of shooters from the mid-90s. The main inspiration is Quake but there’s plenty of bits of Blood, Redneck Rampage, and Doom thrown in there as well. The end result is an extremely faithful (even in terms of graphics) throwback that is incredibly fun to play. With three campaign “episodes”, an endless mode, and multiplayer; you get a lot for your $20. The game is currently only out on PC but the guys behind it have announced a Switch port is in the works.
I’m in the unfortunate position of only being a Switch owner, not having the most optimized PC for gaming, and being unable to buy every single game that interests me. That means I’ve missed out on a lot of games that could feasibly challenge Super Smash Bros. Ultimate for this spot. So while the latter is going to be my personal GOTY, I’ll talk another game (or rather, a port) that has held my attention. Call it my pseudo-GOTY, if you will.
The Switch port of 2013’s Warframe was something I immediately became interested in when news broke that it was being ported. I always dug the game’s aesthetic, but my PCs over the years limited my ability to play it. Given the chance, I downloaded Warframe when it released last November and it’s become one of my most played Switch games now. There’s a ridiculous amount of stuff to do, and given the fact it’s an ongoing game, I’ll probably get a lot of mileage out of it in the foreseeable future. Oh, and the fact it runs competently on Switch hardware is a testament to the sheer talent behind Panic Button as a studio, who also ported DOOM to the Switch (another shooter that I very much enjoyed). And it’s free.
I’m feeling rather confident in saying that my personal Game of the Year is Marvel’s Spider-Man on the PS4. I very strongly feel that this game perfectly encapsulates what a game about Spider-Man should be. The game is packed with content, and that’s not even counting its DLC. Swinging around New York City fighting crime never felt so satisfying. The plot of the game also kept me invested, and I never wanted to stop playing. Being originally from New York, I also greatly appreciate every detail that went into recreating the city and making it feel just as alive as it does in real life. Beyond just being a great Spider-Man game, it has fantastic visuals and graphics, its people looking so life-like. The UI in the game is also handled very nicely, acting as if it’s more tech of the suit and reacting appropriately when taking different types of damage. While this year was filled with fantastic games, I really don’t feel many hold up as highly, at least to me, as Marvel’s Spider-Man.
I don’t feel quite so well about adding this as I only played about three games that released in 2018. But Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is my favorite amongst those, and a deeply satisfying experience. Maybe it’s the music that sells it; there’s so much to its bloated, amazing score that’s bizarre or unexpected. Or maybe it’s the way so many of the spirit battles feel so perfect, like the team was bursting with energy to outdo each other in fun, frenetic fights. It’s also gotta be partially the roster, whose size and comprehensiveness deserves so many otherwise cheap superlatives. Whatever the case, it’s a game that, for all its pandering to nostalgia for Smash Bros.’ nineteen-year history, does refuse to rest on its laurels. It’s filled with wild ideas, many of them good to great, and it is a great example of how works that look back can and should look forward, as well.