Welcome to my year in review and game awards!
2018 was full of massive changes for me. I completed internships, got my Master’s Degree, moved across states, and started my career. My job has been a roller coaster, and not one of those kiddie ones. It’s been more stressful than school ever was, but it’s also been incredibly rewarding.
I understand how some people feel like Nintendo had a less than stellar 2018, and to some extent I agree with them. But my year was very fun all the same! Games were a great place for me to relax, experience amazing stories / works of art, and challenge myself in new ways. And best of all, it was a way for me to keep in touch with several of my family and friends.
My Habits in 2018
Platform-wise, portability was king for me. I do a lot of traveling and commuting, so this should come as no surprise. I played mostly on my 3DS, my phone, and of course, my Switch. I still used my Wii and PC, but they always played second fiddle to anything I was holding in my hands.
Genre-wise, I started the year on a massive platformer / Metroidvania kick, thanks to Super Mario Odyssey and Metroid: Samus Returns arriving at the end of 2017. This phase ended with Hollow Knight, which was an amazing game, but it left me burnt out on the genre for now. Then I played Octopath Traveler and Fire Emblem Echoes, and I got interested in JRPGs again. So expect me to be on a big RPG kick going into 2019. Square Enix putting their Final Fantasy games on Switch couldn’t have come at a better time.
For those interested, I’ve made some charts of playing stats that I think you would find interesting. Well… I find them interesting.
Total Games Finished: 44
Total Games 100% Completed: 4
Total Game Hours Logged: 887.5
And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for: my awards for 2018!
Best Unique Idea: Dandara
It’s hard to make a truly innovative platformer, but Dandara got me thinking about movement in a whole new way. And for the most part, the level design is a good dancing partner that lets its no-gravity mechanic shine. More thoughts on Dandara here.
Best Explorable World: Hollow Knight
It’s hard to conceive that a game with 2D level design could be more immersive than a 3D game, but Hollow Knight pulls it off amazingly. Every single room has weight and purpose. The sound, color, and sets all convey a world with a dark history that I definitely do not want to live in, but love to visit safely through my Switch’s screen. More thoughts on Hollow Knight here.
Most Pleasant Surprise: Florence
I’ve learned now that given the right treatment mobile games can be just as impactful as any console or PC game. I sure hope Florence will inspire a new generation of smart phone games that are more narrative-driven than profit-driven. More thoughts on Florence here.
Best Evidence that Games are Art: Rime
Technical issues aside, Rime gave me layers of symbolism to break apart and sift through, much to the delight of my literature-loving mind. I want video games to be respected at the same level as film or books, and with games like this coming out, it’s only a matter of time before the rest of our culture catches up. More thoughts on Rime here.
Best Retro Catch-Up: Okami HD
Speaking of catching up, Okami may be the best example of how old games are just as worth your time as the newest releases. It has only gotten better with age, though it is best when you have a bit of familiarity with Japanese culture first. More thoughts on Okami HD here.
Wife’s Game of the Year: Super Mario Party
My wife has long adored the Mario Party series, so this game already had a head start, but it also helps that it was a good Mario Party as well. In her own words: “The minigames are the best part! The partner board is a fun new mode, too. It’s great to beat computers together. However… it’s more fun to beat husband.” Her biggest complaint is the lack of online features (surprise, surprise, a Nintendo game with subpar online). More thoughts on Super Mario Party here.
Runner-Up of the Year: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
This was the hardest award to give. At first I put Starlink in this spot, then I gave it to Octopath Traveler, but in the end Smash took it. The game references made me smile, even if I didn’t get them, and The Spirit Board / World of Light modes were rabbit holes that I kept diving back into during the lulls of my holiday break. I know I will spend a lot of 2019 trying to 100% complete Smash Ultimate.
Game of the Year: Celeste
Yes, that’s right, an indie game beat out AAA productions as my game of the year. This was the most difficult game I’ve ever played, and yet the struggle made me connect with the main character all the more. For this reason and many more, Celeste is my game of the year. More thoughts on Celeste here.
And there you have it! If you read all the way to the end let me say thank you by showing some passable fan art of my favorite indie games of the year.
And thank you for sticking with this little blog. I’m very excited for what’s to come in 2019. I hope you join me for the journey!