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2018 Staff Game of the Year

January 7, 2019
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2018 has come and gone and with it, many, many great games that released that not only fulfilled us with tons of gaming memories but also did a number on our backlogs!  The Nintendo Playroom staff has taken the time to put together each of our “game of the year” and an honorable mention.  Let’s dive in!

HautDeForme: 

There really isn’t a contest this year. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Nintendo had a fairly good line up of games, but Smash tends to dwarf anything around it (See: Katamari Reroll). But the beauty in Smash isn’t the hype that does most of the dwarfing. It is the fact that Smash, each and every time, deserves that hype. It is a special time when a new one comes out, like the Olympics are to athletics, or the legal adult age is to life. It just doesn’t feel right saying Nintendo put a more important game out this year. No matter what your opinion on the game is in comparison to other games in the series, you can tell how much time, love and effort went into every frame of this game. That’s worthy of being game of the year.

Honorable Mention:
Super Mario Party

Super Mario Party could have overshadowed any multiplayer game in a year without Smash. It felt nice to get into a classic Mario Party experience that felt just the right amount of hectic. It doesn’t feel as asinine as some of the older ones could get, with board elements that went too random or games lasting longer than the average anime season. It’s the perfect multiplayer game to play with the family on Switch, and I find myself going back to it more than any Mario Party I’ve ever owned.

PayDayPirate:

For me, it has to be Smash Bros. Ultimate.  It’s been one of my most anticipated titles since I knew that I was buying a Switch.  So far, this newest installment hasn’t disappointed.

Truth be told I’ve yet to beat World of Light.  With games I really love I try to prolong the journey.  Eventually I’ll get to a point where I’ve completed most of the single-player experience and then my enjoyment will move on to the completion and mastering phases.  I know I’ll have even more fun watching strategy videos and learning secrets I never knew. The level of experimentation with characters, stages and items is near limitless!

Do I think it’s a perfect game by any means?  No. The single-player experience, while keeping me entertained right now, will still likely be its weakest point.  The spirits, while numerous, quickly show a repetitive nature and less variety than I would have liked.  But you have to remember what kind of game this is. It’s a multiplayer fighting game, and as such, the greatest replayability will likely come from how much enjoyment you can get out of couch play with friends/family or online matches.  

While it has some shortcomings, Super Smash Bros Ultimate is undeniably a true labor of love by the development team and I have no doubts this iteration will be played and talked about positively for years to come.

Honorable Mention:

Hollow Knight

Yes, Hollow Knight was a 2017 PC release, but it didn’t come to consoles and the Nintendo Switch until 2018.  This Metroidvania action-adventure style game has grabbed the hearts of many and will likely suck you in too. It seems to set itself apart through its visuals and the characters and enemies you meet.  

Hollow Knight is currently $15 USD on the eShop and worth every penny!

TheLostHylian:

2018 started slow but finished with a bang for the Nintendo Switch. Where 2017 was the year of big titles 2018 belonged to the Indies.  With that being said several titles large and small caught my eye and snagged my rupees.  Three of those titles rose to the top, however like the movie Highlander, “there can be only one.”
Before we get to that “one”, a quick nod to the two runners up:
Second runner up was Mega Man 11.  It was a grand new experience that dared to stray away from the jump shoot formula. Yes I’m talking about with the Double Gear with the Speed Gear and the Power Gear.  That is a huge gamble as most franchises can’t handle such dramatic shifts without losing the essence of what made it great to begin with. I am proud to say Mega Man 11 is the exception.  The Double Gear system enhances the game play and  spurred developer creativity This resulted in the new mechanics feeling like a natural evolution rather than an “add on”.   This game essentially has breathed new life into one of Capcom’s greatest franchises.
My “Almost” Game of the Year was Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. What’s not to love? Tons of characters plus even more characters.  Every map you could want as well as the best solo play I’ve ever had on a fighting game.  So why not game of the year? Perhaps I’m just suffering from hype fatigue, perhaps too much eggnog during the holiday rattled my mind.  Yet I can not dispute that the innovation and the creativity did not match my expectation for game of the Year. For example: If I order a double cheeseburger instead of a single, that doesn’t necessarily revolutionize the burger.  It’s just more burger.  Yes Smash did everything we asked for (except Waluigi), and in doing so appeased the beast within us all.  They did so by playing it safe, by just giving us more.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s splendid, it’s wonderful, and without a doubt the best Smash game I’ve ever played.  It’s just not my game of the year, (witness protection program here I come).
So what is my Game of the Year? Celeste. You heard right, in a world filled with big name juggernauts I find this little platformer climbing – or leaping rather – to the top. Celeste downloaded onto my memory and into my heart with little over 1.2 gb of file size.  Yes that tiny chunk of pixilated magic has set the bar high for any who dare to follow its platforming footsteps. It takes the in depth story telling  of today and couples it with at times ruthless level play, which while hard is fair. Just as quick to end you as to make you feel good for a challenge accomplished. In Celeste insta-death isn’t demoralizing, it’s addictive, making you want to try again. Madeleine the protagonist, despite the throw back graphical style, is endearing. It is her storied of inner struggle that calls out to you as you play. The game itself contains a surprising amount of content adding replay value with the “side b” cassette tapes that can be found in each chapter of the story.   These offer a more difficult version of the Chapter, and I am still attempting several as they are challenging.  The music and level design are harmonious to the game play, never distracting only enhancing. Put this all together and you have a game that I believe can stand the test of time. It’s a truly wonderful masterpiece, and that is why Celeste is my choice for Switch Game of the Year.

John Smith:

Well, despite Reggie’s promise that droughts would be a thing of the past, 2018 was not a particularly strong year for first party releases, at least in terms of quantity. 2018 has, however, seen a fair number of releases for the Switch, which other than the superlative Super Smash Bros Ultimate, have been mostly indie titles and ports of older games. The obvious game of the year for me is Smash – as it likely will be for most Switch users. It would be entirely redundant to go into the reasons why I give Smash the gong, so I won’t.

Runner up: Grim Fandango – Remastered.

Yes, it’s a twenty year old game. Yes, it’s sixteen bit and, yes, the “remaster” didn’t really update the graphics at all. So why is it my runner up? It was a game that I had heard about and always wanted to play and thought that I would finally get the chance when the remaster was first floated in 2014. To my annoyance and despite the platform being more than able to run the game, LucasArts decided to hop over the WiiU due to its poor sales. So naturally it came as a complete, though welcome, surprise that it was released for the Switch – to almost no fanfare – in November 2018, and quickly discounted during the black Friday sales. Needless to say I nabbed it the moment I became aware, and thankfully at less than the full release day price.

For those unfamiliar, Grim Fandango is a point and click adventure game originally released at a time when that genre was particularly popular. You play as Manny Calavera, an afterlife travel agent of sorts working in the land of the dead to pay off his spiritual debts so as to be able to finally travel to the ninth underworld, the final resting place of the soul. The game borrows heavily from the Film Noir genre and day of the dead mythology while it leads you through Manny’s four year journey to his fate. Although the graphics are dated and consist largely of static pre-rendered still screens in which your character interacts, for first timers the game involves some fairly witty dialog and some intuitive puzzles to solve in order to progress. My only gripe is that the game isn’t particularly well suited to docked mode as a number of the clues needed to progress are more readily understood through click interaction with the touch screen, which doesn’t have the resolution necessary to assist you to locate the clues. Pick it up on the Nintendo eShop for $14.99.

SourceCode:

There were many great games that came out in 2018 so it really goes without saying that narrowing it down to just one game of the year is quite difficult.  With games like Civilization VI, Dead Cells, Celeste, Super Mario Party, Super Smash Bros Ultimate, Overcooked 2, and Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate topping my list I really had to take a moment and seriously ponder which one I loved the most.  Where most sites gauge their game of the year on how well a game scored over the others, I like to take in many factors like what did I spend the most time on and which ones did my family enjoy as well.  So, with that said, my overall game of the year is most certainly Super Mario Party.

Why Super Mario Party?  Sure the game had somewhat less content as compared to previous entries but me and my family has spend hours playing it and it ultimately created some fun memories that I will hold near and dear for a very long time.  Games that can build moments like that are truly special and really, family and friends are what life is all about, right?  This is also a title that will have a lot of replayability for the foreseeable future (at least till another installment comes out).

As for my runner up?  To be honest, Smash Ultimate was almost my top pick so understandably it is my “honorable mention”.  As long as we are being honest, it really kinda ties with Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate as my runner up.  I have sank just as much time in MHGU as I have Smash Ultimate and I’ve had equal amounts of fun playing both.  I have been playing many great games from this year, however, like Everspace, Starlink: Battle for Atlas, Bendy and the Ink Machine (new to the Switch last year) and many more.  Matter of fact I still have quite a few on my backlog.  In addition I have also been playing tons of titles from 2017 still like Splatoon 2, Doom and every once in awhile Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (I just can’t get enough of that gem).

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So, what was your game of the year?  Let us know in the comments below and definitely be sure to check out our Community forums and strike up a conversation!  Here is to many more great games for 2019!!!  Happy New Year everyone!

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