Hiyo, everyone! Today, I’m gonna talk about my favorite games I first experienced over the past year. I should tell you up front that there’s a little caveat there – this list is technically not my top five games of 2018 because it considers games I played starting on December 25th, 2017 – I don’t wanna exclude some awesome games I played mostly in 2018 just because I got them for Christmas! Aside from that, this should be pretty straightforward. Of course, the list reflects only my opinions – yours may vary!
5. Super Mario Odyssey
This list is gonna have a whole lot of Switch games on it, ’cause I got that system for Christmas last year – and we’re starting off with the latest entry in Nintendo’s flagship franchise! Super Mario Odyssey has what you’d expect of a 3D Mario game – excellent platforming, an engaging world full of things to interact with, and top-notch aesthetics. As usual, the story is rather shallow, but Odyssey’s charm makes up for it. I found myself spending hours searching for power moons! The game’s biggest downfalls are a few particularly obnoxious challenges and the fact that you can’t play the game fully with the system in handheld mode. However, the good vastly outweighs the bad here, and based on its placement on my list, it’s clear that I recommend it to any fan of 3D platformers!
Iconoclasts is a Metroidvania-style game featuring a diverse cast of characters, an engaging combat system, and a fascinating story and world. Since this game is the last thing I reviewed, I’m not going to delve too deeply into it again, but what I will add is that I played blindly on stream, which made the experience extra fun! Iconoclasts offers a wide array of challenges, some of which are incredibly amusing. In fact, the game has a really good sense of humor – there were times when I couldn’t help but laugh! Iconoclasts offers many of the things I seek in a game and does so with a lot of polish and personality. I highly recommend checking it out!
3. Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee
I was a little bit skeptical about these games going into them, and now I can confidently say my worries were for nothing! I played the Eevee version of the game, and it stole my attention right from the outset – I’m now planning to get the Pikachu version as well! These games revitalized my interest in a series I was slowly growing apart from. Despite playing through Pokemon Red, Blue, Yellow, Fire Red, and Leaf Green many times in the past, this experience felt completely fresh to me. Seeing the Pokemon in a zone as you traverse it rather than as random encounters makes the world feel especially vibrant, and the shift to catching them Pokemon Go style encouraged me to catch as many as I could. Honestly, going forward, I hope the series sticks to this method of wild Pokemon encounters.
There’s so much positive to say about these games that there’s no way I’ll cover it all in this post. I feel they’re almost perfect. If I had to select a fault related to these games, I would say it’s locking Mew (as of the writing of this post) behind an overpriced and underwhelming Pokeball controller, but that’s really more of a business practice issue than an ingame flaw. My second biggest complaint is that the Poke Flute can no longer be used to wake up Pokemon in combat. Seriously. My gripes are that minor.
Instead of spending ages extolling the virtues of Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee, I’ll just say that if you have a Switch and have any kind of nostalgia for this series, give it a try. Oh, and each user account on your Switch has its own save data for these games – meaning that, for the first time, you can have multiple save files on a single cartridge. Enjoy.
2. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Another wonderful Nintendo game! At this point, it’s no secret that Breath of the Wild is breathtaking. The world is massive, immersive, and both familiar and new at the same time. I spent over 120 hours on a single playthrough of this game, and that was with guides to help me figure stuff out. Without that, it would have taken much longer. Hyrule is so vast in its Breath of the Wild iteration. The graphics, music, gameplay, and even the story were all wonderfully compelling. This is a game I couldn’t put down.
It isn’t flawless, of course. At the beginning of the game, I had some difficulty adjusting to having to repeatedly replace my weapon, and I got killed in one hit for wandering off in the wrong direction more times than I care to admit. But all of that was because I played with expectations set by previous games. Breath of the Wild feels distinctly different from other iconic Legend of Zelda titles. That’s not a bad thing – if anything, it feels like a new way to experience an old series. While I would like to see a more traditional Zelda game for the Switch, I’d also love to play more games like this. I feel like there’s now room for another type of Zelda game, and it’s amazing. Again, I don’t wanna spend all day gushing, especially since you’ve probably heard a lot of praise for Breath of the Wild already. So, instead of babbling on, I’ll just say this game is wonderful.
1. Hollow Knight
When I first reviewed this game, I gave it a 4.8/5. After playing it again a couple times and experiencing the DLC, I have to say I was too harsh on the game in my initial review, probably due to some frustration regarding difficulty and being unable to beat the true final boss. Now that I’ve delved more deeply into Hollow Knight’s cryptic lore and bested all of the bosses (except a few from the most recent DLC pack, Godmaster) I’ve gotta change my score to a perfect 5/5. Hollow Knight has become my favorite Metroidvania.
There’s so much to do in the world of Hallownest! Fierce enemies to kill, NPCs whose words and thoughts lend insight into this dark world’s past, and vibrant zones, some of which contain frightfully difficulty platforming challenges. Usually, I’m the kind of person who finds too much difficulty in a game to be more trouble than it’s worth, but overcoming Hollow Knight’s challenges feels so rewarding it has me second-guessing my usual way of thinking! Team Cherry, the game’s developer, shows staggering promise with Hollow Knight under their belts as a first published title. They’ve also proven their generosity by offering so much free DLC. There will also be further paid DLC for Hollow Knight, and I can’t wait to throw my credit card at it. I actually ended up having this game on both Steam and the Switch because I enjoy it so much and felt the developers deserved to be paid twice. (Actually, they deserve to be paid a few more times over.) I’ll be keeping my eye on anything Team Cherry develops going forward, because now that I’ve embraced the difficulty and decided to ‘git gud’, I see Hollow Knight for the masterpiece it is.
Aaanyway, that’s all for my list! What did you guys think of my picks? Which games did you most enjoy over the past year? Please let me know in the comments below! I hope you all thoroughly enjoy the coming weeks, however you choose to celebrate them! (Or not to!)