Staff Picks: Johnny’s Top 5 games of 2017

Staff Picks: Johnny’s Top 5 games of 2017

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By: Johnny Big Fudge Marcondes

2017 was easily one of the strongest years in gaming releases we’ve seen in quite some time. From hardware launches like the Nintendo Switch to a slew of surprise announcements made to carry us into the new year there was a lot going on in 2017. Having numerous memorable moments this year when it comes to video games narrowing down a list of some of the best 2017 had to offer is a challenge within itself. With both AAA and indie titles putting forth some of the most compelling and engaging games across all platforms, 2017 will honestly be a hard year to beat in term of quality and quantity. Now before we look towards this year’s exciting line up of games lets take one last look back at 2017 with my personal favorite picks for top games in 2017:

Top 5 Honorable Mentions:

1)  Battle Chef Brigade:

Battle Chef Brigade instantly stole my heart when I first saw it during Pax East. With its hand drawn style and charming characters I was instantly pulled towards this really unique game that combined RPG elements with the cooking genre in games. Basically it’s the love child of Iron Chef meets anime with a little bit of Studio Ghibli charm thrown into it. While not the longest game, this short but sweet indie darling was one of those games that without much effort managed to keep me entertained and wanting more throughout my time with it. Sure it isn’t the perfect or most flashy game but it’s incredibly charming and fun. Puzzle solving cooking gameplay with elements of old school RPG in between meals, Battle Chef Brigade is simple, fun, playful, challenging and daring.

2) Wipeout Omega Collection:

Let’s be honest for a second, Nintendo has no real plans at the moment or at least they haven’t shown any interest yet in a new F-Zero game so fans of the fast paced racing series have to suffer. Well, at least they would if Nintendo were the only company to make anti-gravity fast paced racers, luckily they aren’t and in 2017 fans of the genre didn’t have to suffer too much. Wipeout Omega Collection is a remastered version of the previous two entries in the series running at a gorgeous 1080p and 60fps on the PS4 Pro. For those who haven’t played the Wipout series you’re in for a treat, much like the F-Zero games the Wipout series focuses on great music and fast paced racing in futuristic cars. Visually beautiful with creative tracks and cars that make each race feel more like a spectacle. While I may not be the biggest fan of racing games when it comes to Wipeout’s over the top nature it’s hard to not get immersed in the action.

3) Sonic Mania:

Nostalgia is my kryptonite and no one does Nostalgia like Nintendo and SEGA. Sonic Mania is the perfect trip down memory lane where SEGA perfectly restores some of the best entries in the Sonic series and makes us remember how great the blue blur was back in the day. There’s just so many great times tied to this series for me specifically that I may be a little bias when talking about it but man does Sonic Mania hit all the right spots. SEGA’s stroll down memory lane should be seen as a love letter to fans. Each level looks incredibly beautiful with it’s updated graphics and running smoother than ever you can’t help but fall in love with the series all over again. Sonic has been through a lot over the years often giving us games that were trying too hard or titles that didn’t quite feel like a sonic game. The last time a Sonic game made me smile ear to ear this bad was with Sonic Generations. Sonic Mania is the most polished and charming version of these games and I mean that in the most endearing way.

4) Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle:

I wont lie to you, when this game was first announced I was the first in our team to call it basura(trash). After all how could a game featuring Rabbids be all that good right? Turns out Nintendo must have somehow heard me mock them and put forth a game that’s actually fun, challenging and really charming. I’ll be the first to admit I was wrong for jumping the gun and mocking the Rabbids and Mario crossover idea. Mario + Rabbids is honestly a game that shouldn’t work to be fair but it somehow does. The comedy from the Rabbids perfectly play off the characters from the Mario universe and give us some genuinely funny moments which isn’t something I was expecting. The actual gameplay of the game is also something that when first announced I was a little skeptic about but once I played it I actually loved it. Mario+Rabbids has this great sense of fun meets challenge with turn based gameplay that is basically Nintendo’s XCOM and it’s kind of brilliant. You win this time Rabbids.

5) Super Mario Odyssey:

Before anyone beheads me for putting Mario Odyssey in the honorable mention portion of my article let me explain! Super Mario Odyssey is an amazing game, it was one of the the best titles to come out last year and genuinely was one of the best Super Mario games to hit any console. With that being said, the game was a little on the short side when it comes to narrative and as much as I love Mario it does get overshadowed by a couple of other games that came out that year. The game is filled with a rich  sense of self as we look at familiar landscapes and characters like never before. Mario’s new abilities and companion are just as fun as any other he’s had in his long career and history in video games. Needless to say Super Mario Odyssey is as solid as it comes and it’s filled with fanfare that any Nintendo Fanboy or Fangirl would get lost in. We get to run around as Mario and take on the form of familiar faces to solve puzzles and explore not to mention we get to see new Kingdoms and of course, Mario’s newly acquired little nipples.

Top games of 2017 

1)  Night In The Woods:

Night In The Woods is a special game, it’s the type of game that stays with you long after you put the controller down. When playing Night In The Woods I couldn’t help but think that this was not only one of the strangest games I’ve ever played, it’s also one of the realist. While it falls under the single player adventure genre it’s much more than that, it’s honestly a little hard to really label Night In The Woods as just one thing. There are so many elements in the game that range from platforming, to visual novel type, adventure and horror, it’s the type of game that dabbles in everything and somehow manages to make it work. Night In The Woods has a compelling story filled with some incredibly beautiful artwork that kept me in awe throughout. I’m a sucker for a game with an artistic uniqueness in design and the use of minimalism with pop art like designs in the game really stand out.

Perhaps the most compelling aspect of Night In The Woods is the characters, each character you meet come across as incredibly relatable and grounded. I couldn’t help but find myself drawn to each character as they all had a believable and realistic sense of background, life and issues that made them feel more genuine than just NPC or supporting characters. There’s comedy and subtle tragedy and horror in the game which never feels overwhelming and really helps breathe life into the series like no other game has before. The way I described the game to friends is basically it’s the show Daria but with animals and you play as a more vocal Daria. Night In The Woods is a narrative driven game that depending on the choices you make alter the ending which makes for a really good incentive to play through more than once. With a strong narrative and even stronger character personalities I honestly can’t wait for future DLC so I can once again get lost in that world.

2) Little Nightmares:

Little Nightmares is one of the biggest hidden gems of 2017, a horror puzzle based platformer that looks like the brain child of Tim Burton and Salvador Dali. Little Nightmares is as gorgeous and stunning as it is horrifying, this was honestly one of the biggest surprises of 2017 for me and game that became one of my favorites in quite some time. The puzzles aren’t all that challenging but the elements that surround them are what make them memorable. From haunting hallways to horrific monsters chasing you down the visuals of Little Nightmares are breath taking. While playing Little Nightmares my mind kept going back to the game Limbo which came out a few years ago, Limbo much like Little Nightmares used this horror platform genre and silence during levels to really engage you in the puzzles.

However, unlike Limbo the silence felt in Little Nightmares always came across scarier. Limbo used a minimalist art style to and did a great job capturing horror elements in a subtle way, Little Nightmare on the other hand gives you a more thought out world with fleshed out levels and monsters making the horror feel more real. There are genuinely scary moments in Little Nightmares that I wasn’t expecting, the use of sound and lack of music play a great pare in what makes Little Nightmares so much fun. Unafraid to pull any punches some the horror themes in the game are really gruesome and you genuinely want to protect your little character. There’s this sense of innocence in the main character that leave you with a unsettling feeling when they’re put in some of the harsher levels of the game.

3) Fifa 18:

The Fifa series have been constantly improving and giving fans much more than just the run of the mill soccer/football game. With the introduction of Alex Hunter and The Journey (the games single player story mode)in last years game FIFA 18 continues to add to both the single player and multiplayer aspects of the series. Who would have thought that one of the most compelling single player stories of 2017 would come from a FIFA game? Introducing a single player story mode to the series has been the smartest move EA has ever done as it has completely helped bring new life to the flagship football series. Talking about The Journey alone there’s so many memorable moments in the story and the fact that you’re able to customize the character make decisions that alter the story really make you feel as if you’re on the journey with Alex as opposed to just watching Alex on his journey.

Outside of the story mode there’s an incredible amount of content in the game and the attention to detail on each player and team is beyond impressive. FIFA 18 is smooth, engaging and filled with content as well as some surprises. I really enjoyed my time with FIFA 18, seeing how they’ve shown constant improvement both through the journey and online I can’t wait to see where the series goes from here on. While I may not be the best FIFA player and took a couple of years off from giving the sports franchise the time of day, I can honestly say that thanks to the Journey I’ve been falling for the series all over over again.

4) Guilty Gear XRD REV 2:

Anyone who’s read any of my posts on Pixelated Rampage knows just how much I love fighting games. Fighting games are my everything, when it comes to gaming it’s the one genre that you can find me playing the most of. Guilty Gear XRD was one of the best fighting games I have ever played and the follow up to it XRD REV 2 is no exception. This isn’t just an updated title with character rebalances, it’s a new entry in the series that offers more on the story of the series as well as new characters. Arc System Works knows fighting games, between Guilty Gear, BlazBlue and the upcoming Dragon Ball FighterZ and BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle they’re going to the biggest household name in fighting for quite some time.

Guilty Gear XRD Rev 2 is one of the most beautifully designed fighting games to ever be released. When your game looks like an anime from start to finish you know you have something special in your hand. Each character is unique and has their own set of ups and downs that never give one character an upper hand over a another. Guilty Gear is one of the most well balanced fighting games around where literally any character could beat another no matter what their stats are. Guilty Gear focuses on fast paced fighting and sheer skill, it’s one of the most entertaining, palm sweating and rewarding fighting games you can play today. From beautiful graphics to an in depth training mode, fantastic music, strong online community, and beautiful designed stages there’s almost nothing to complain about the series that’s honestly the best fighting game of 2017.

5) The Legend Of Zelda: Breath of the Wild:

Being a Nintendo fanboy is 2017 has been one of the most rewarding things of all time. There’s not much you can say about Breath of the Wild that hasn’t been said already by the whole world. Nintendo really created something special with the latest Legend of Zelda game. To call it anything other than a master piece would be unfair, Breath of the Wild is not only one of the strongest and best Legend of Zelda games it’s one of the best games to be released. Having a massive open world to explore is one thing but to give that open world such life and charm around every corner is something not every game can do but Breath of the Wild perfects. There’s so much to see and do that a majority of the time I spent playing the game was just running around trying to test my limits and explore. Never have I ever wanted to strain from the main story of a series I love so much more than I did with Breath of the Wild.

Having a huge map is one thing but having a map this huge and filled with numerous puzzles, dungeons, interesting NPCs and enemies to encounter is beyond incredible. There are few moments I can recall in 2017 that made me truly surprised or blew my mind in gaming, Breath of the Wild managed to do that at almost every turn I took. I felt sheer joy and childlike whimsy as I found out I could burn things with a torch and panic when I found out I’d need special armor and food to push through the snowy terrain. Breath of the Wild is not only a strong Zelda game it’s a great survival game that shows the potential any title has to reinvent itself without losing their identity. Even though this list is geared towards my favorite titles of 2017 if I had to pick one for game of the year it would easily go to Breath of the Wild.

 

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