In what seems obligatory for anyone with a gaming-related channel or site, I’ve finally created my list of ten favorite games of 2019. After what seemed like hours of discussion and lists, not to mention the countless hours of playing research, I was able to devise a definitive list of favorites released in 2019…until I change my mind anyway. I know of many out there that felt underwhelmed with the year’s offering of games, but I feel this year has still been a great one. No, we didn’t get near masterpieces like in 2017 with Breath of the Wild or Mario Odyssey or with God of War and Red Dead Redemption 2 in 2018, but there’s still been a sizable crop of quality games. What I have found so interesting this year is the fact there hasn’t been the one game held above all the others as the unanimous choice for Game of the Year. If you were to read/watch/listen to any one of the vast sea of GOTY pieces online, you would be hard-pressed to find anything remotely close to a consensus on which game was “best”. Each and every game nominated for end of the year awards has its own set of strengths and weaknesses, which I find fascinating as some of the most memorable games may be the ones whose flaws merely add to their uniqueness and charm. Someone may favor a game like Control, while the next person found a game like The Outer Worlds to be the most engrossing experience this year; a third individual may have generated their greatest enjoyment of the year in the created chaos of Untitled Goose Game. I’d also like to point out before beginning that while lists like this are fun for the sake of discussion, they are completely subjective with no right or wrong answers. My list contains the games that have provided either a completely memorable experience, pure gameplay joy, or a mix of both. First off, I have a few games that for me fell just outside of my ten favorites, but greatly enjoyed nonetheless.
My 5 Runners-up
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
Super Mario Maker 2
Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair
My Friend Pedro
And now my 10 favorite games of 2019….
10. Tetris 99
9. Ape Out
8. The Outer Worlds
7. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
5. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
4. Luigi’s Mansion 3
3. Fire Emblem: Three Houses
2. Resident Evil 2
And there we have it, my 10 favorite games of 2019. What are your favorites from 2019? Let me know in the comments or provide feedback as to how my list could have been better. We’re in the final few days of what was a pretty productive year and I still have just a little bit more to accomplish blog-wise before celebrating the new year. I plan on following up my games of the year post with another collection of some of my gaming memories from the past year as well as all the games I played for the first time throughout 2019. Thanks for reading!
The Link’s Awakening remake has been out for nearly a day and a half and I felt compelled to write out some of my thoughts on the game so far, it being far easier to express as a blog post than a rambling series of tweets. I have only played for a few hours and through a couple dungeons, but I can already tell this remake is something special.
Ever since Nintendo announced they were remaking The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening during the February Direct I knew I was going to play this game(bold proclamation, I know). I was cautiously optimistic after seeing the announcement video showing a shipwrecked Link on the shores of Koholint Island; the animation style they decided to use which shows the environments and character models as glossy, cartoony, and look as though they are made from plastic. After watching more gameplay coverage as we approached release date I went from thinking, “I’m sure I’ll play it” to “I’m gonna buy it IMMEDIATELY” as I became more and more hyped for what could be dismissed as simply a remake of a 26-year old Game Boy game. In the meantime I played through the original Game Boy version of the game in anticipation as I had never played through the game before and wrote a blog post of my thoughts after completing if you care to read. I found myself really enjoying the original Game Boy version so much it made me even more excited to see what Nintendo would do in the remake.
I am thoroughly impressed with the work by Nintendo’s team and especially with that of developer Grezzo, who has helped in developing the solid 3D remasters of Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask for the 3DS. The game is pretty faithful to the original version, but added in some modern conveniences such as no longer spending much of your time going between actually playing the game and pressing the Start button to manage your inventory(as you could only carry two items at the same time) or the seemingly complicated way of saving your progress( pressing B, A, Start, and Select at the SAME TIME), whereas now you simply open up your inventory screen and select Save, nearly identical to Breath of the Wild.
If you’ve read anything about Link’s Awakening in the past few months, I’m sure a significant portion of it is about the visual style of the game, whether the animation style or the interesting camera angle being used in the game. You have also been inundated by descriptions of the game using the words ADORABLE, CHARM, or DIORAMA, and while the game is all of those things(it’s soooo cute!) I will simply say that this game looks, really, really good! Everything from the texture of the grass and trees to the shimmery sparkle of the water on Koholint Island is great. I walked past a tree that had three apples hanging from it and didn’t even realize I tried to shake the tree to pick up the apples as if it was an Animal Crossing game, there’s my assessment of the game I guess – “Zelda meets Animal Crossing!” Another interesting feature of the game is how it appears as if it’s being viewed through a camera lens with the focus always on Link and around the outer edges of the screen it appears to be a slightly blurred out-of-focus effect. This certainly adds to the unique charm(damn! I said it) and almost gives the perspective of the game being viewed through a set of nostalgia goggles, which I find ironic and clever, given the game series and company behind it 😉
The music of the game perfectly compliments the visual style and overall mood of the game, the music is taken directly from the original game but the updated orchestral overtures greatly enhance the whimsical feeling of the game. While playing, the music provides both a sense of adventure as well as feeling of calmness and relaxation that really reminds me of old Nick Jr. shows like Little Bear or Max and Ruby – I’m surely not the ONLY one to remember those old cartoons, right?
The game mechanics are as fluid and responsive as ever and improved by having dedicated sword and shield buttons. I picked up Roc’s Feather already and excited to try it out in combination with the Pegasus Boots so I can jump over distances that had previously shown just a bit too far, there’s still Bomb Arrows and a Hookshot to have fun with too! I feel obligated to mention probably my favorite mini-game in Zelda games(or most others) – fishing. The fishing was super enjoyable in the original and is looking to be just as relaxing. One of the biggest surprises after bringing home Link’s Awakening was the fact that I was able to pop the nasty tasting little cartridge into my Switch and I was able to play the game IMMEDIATELY without any sort of patch or update first….cuz’ back in my day(angrily shakes cane)….
I know many have had issues with the frame rate dropping a little bit when progressing between screens, but I haven’t had anything happen yet, or just not noticeable enough. I guess maybe it could be that I haven’t come across the Pegasus Boots yet, so when attempting to move a bit quicker it can start to affect the frame rate(?). I guess I’ll have to keep an eye out for that. Another issue I’ve seen a few bring up on Twitter is the fact that Nintendo is charging a full $60 for a remake, and of probably the shortest Zelda title at that. That seems to be the only real drawbacks to the game I’m aware of for anyone still on the fence about buying the game. I do very highly recommend it as the definitive version of the game to play if you have the chance. I’m really really enjoying the Link’s Awakening remake so far and may end up as one of the favorite games of 2019. That’s about all for now, what are your thoughts on Link’s Awakening from what you’ve seen or played so far? Let me know in the comments below. I’m gonna go do some fishing and….”acquire” myself a bow and arrows from the shopkeeper’s store 😉
I don’t usually get a chance to write any new posts during the week, but had a few thoughts about Nintendo’s announcement and figured I could stand to “Switch” things up a bit…<crickets chirping>…anywho…Today Nintendo confirmed the rumors circulating that they had been working on a newer model of their mega-successful hybrid console by announcing the Nintendo Switch Lite, which releases in a mere seventy days on September 20, 2019 for $200. The newest version of the Switch is indeed a more compact version to be played exclusively in handheld mode. The Switch Lite will be a smaller all-in-one handheld system featuring built-in Joycon controllers as well as an improved battery Nintendo claims will last 20-30% longer than its bigger brother. Other notable changes to the Switch Lite include:
A 5.5 inch screen versus 6.2 inches
Not dock compatible, charges via USB-C cable
Does not have HD Rumble or IR Motion Sensors
D-pad positioned on left Joycon
Longer lasting battery – the example used by Nintendo was four hours of playing Breath of the Wild with the new battery versus three hours on the current model
Available in three different colors, including a Pokemon Sword/Shield Zacian and Zamazenta Special Edition announced as well ( looks sweet!)
I woke up this morning to read Nintendo had finally confirmed they are releasing a newer model of the Switch and spent the majority of the day reading about it, as well as perusing Twitter to see others reactions. I am genuinely excited about a new and improved(?) version of the Switch coming in September and have a few thoughts about it.
Is the price tag worth the trade-off? – Obviously this completely subjective and depends on your needs and preferences. For someone that plays the Switch primarily in handheld mode as I know many do, as well as those with children this will be a great purchase; the Switch is perfect for commuting from work or school and surely worth the $200 price tag. Features like the HD Rumble, motion sensors, kickstand, and detachable Joycons I find myself not typically using a great deal, so other than not having the option to “dock” the console for charging purposes I think it’s justified. Hell, just the fact you have a legit d-pad to use for games like Tetris 99 seems appealing enough.
What about games you can’t play in handheld mode? – I don’t believe the list of games that you are simply unable to play in handheld mode is a very long list, with the biggest titles being games like Mario Party or 1-2 Switch. Nintendo has stated that for games such as these you will be able to connect additional Joycons to play….but…if you need additional Joycons to play games on a HANDHELD console….how do you HOLD the console? The Switch Lite does not have the built-in kickstand so there is no tabletop mode along with docked. Another game I thought of was during Mario Odyssey each level upon has specific power moons that you will need to detect the rumble on the controller to know where to ground pound to get the power moon, how will that work? I admit these probably aren’t huge deal-breakers, but it was something I thought of this afternoon.
What about the 3DS? Will we get a Switch “Pro” – Nintendo already set the precedent of making differing models of their handhelds to best fit customer needs, but with the Switch Lite being exclusively a handheld console, what does that mean for the 3DS? The 3DS was incredibly successful but is getting on in years after seeing several different versions including both XL and 2DS versions; does Nintendo plan on finally putting the little guy out to pasture? The 3DS has been home to some great games over the years and Nintendo has been committed to having both home console as well as handheld supported at any given time, but with the Switch being a hybrid of both it will be interesting to see what happens next. Also, with unveiling of the Lite, does that mean that Nintendo will be releasing a beefed-up “Pro” model of the Switch? Something with a little more horsepower( if possible) and possibly an improvement to the dock that would include an ethernet port for the “hardcore gamers” like me 😉 that spend most of their time playing in docked mode ( translation: NEVER leave home) and would like a little more stability in using a wired connection? I would love for Nintendo to bring something like that to life, but for now I still love my regular old Switch.
How is it a Switch if it doesn’t “switch”? – I came across more of these comments than I can count today? While I agree Nintendo kind of painted themselves into a corner with the name branding, I don’t think it’s a big enough concern to warrant a lengthy response, smart guy.
How great does the rest of the year look for Nintendo? – This was my biggest question this afternoon after realizing Nintendo launched the Switch on the same day as Breath of the Wild, and will be releasing the Switch Lite on September 20 – the SAME DAY as the much anticipated Link’s Awakening remake….coincidence? The Switch Lite is releasing right alongside a Zelda game, right before new Pokemon and a few months before a new Animal Crossing; Nintendo is looking to have a huge remainder of 2019 and into 2020. Here is some of the exclusives coming out for the Switch in the upcoming months –
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order – July 19
Fire Emblem: Three Houses – July 26
Astral Chain – August 30
Daemon X Machina – September 13
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening – September 20
Pokemon Sword/Shield – November 15
Luigi’s Mansion 3 – November 2019
That about does it for now, what do you think of the Switch Lite?( they couldn’t have called it a “Lite Switch” huh? 😉 ) What games are you looking forward in the upcoming months? It’s a great time for video games!
To the finder… The Isle of Koholint is but an illusion… Human, monster, sea, sky… A scene on the lid of a sleeper’s eye… Awake the dreamer, and Koholint will vanish much like a bubble on a needle… Cast-away, you should know the truth!
These cryptic words are etched into a wall in the back of the Southern Face Shrine. Link, our shipwrecked hero finds them after gaining access to the Face Shrine – one of the latter dungeons in The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening.
I will begin by stating my quest was to play through Link’s Awakening for the very first time, which I completed very recently. I sheepishly admit I had never actually played the game even though it had been on my list for quite some time. I am even more ashamed to admit I have only completed a handful of the 16 Legend of Zelda games as I begin far more games than I fully complete(I counted the Oracle games as 1, and am not counting the Phillips CD-i games at all…). I decided to set my sights on Link’s Awakening as I knew very little about this particular Zelda game and also the fact it was recently announced from Nintendo that a remastered version for the Switch will be released in the near future, so it seemed a good place to start. There is also the fact that I have been playing more original Game Boy and Game Boy Color games that I had missed out on. I had played Tetris and few other games on a friend’s Game Boy, but didn’t get a Game Boy Color of my own until after Poke-mania had swept across the country and I begged my parents for one.
Link’s Awakening was originally released for the Game Boy in August 1993 and Link’s Awakening DX was released for the Game Boy Color in December 1998. I played through the original version as I haven’t come across many copies of the DX version on the past. The differences in the two versions are minor, the DX version has an extra dungeon – the Color Dungeon which incorporates the fact that it’s….in color as well as the picture mode in the game which you could then use the Game Boy Printer to print out copies of the in game pictures.
The game takes place after the events in A Link to the Past and the opening of the game shows Link sailing over the ocean on a mission to recruit others in the fight against evil but is caught in a fierce storm and ends up shipwrecked on the beach of the strange island of Koholint. Link then comes across a mysterious owl( A different one – Kaepora Gaebora isn’t introduced until Ocarina of Time)who informs him that the island is being terrorized by nightmare creatures and tasks Link with waking the mythical spirit – The Wind Fish who sleeps in a giant egg atop Mt. Tamaranch. The owl tells Link to find the 8 Instruments of the Sirens found in dungeons throughout the island which will wake the Wind Fish and dispel the nightmares from the island. It is in the latter stages of the game you read the above verse and discover that the island itself along with its inhabitants are merely a dream manifested from the Wind Fish’s slumber.
I was impressed with how well the controls worked, given the limitations of the Game Boy(s) having only a D-pad, A, B, Start, and Select buttons. You have an inventory item assigned to each button which can seemingly make for a lot of pressing the Start button to pause the game and assign different items. This can mean switching items over your 2 buttons every few screens. You can have your sword equipped with A and your shield with the B button and go up a screen or two and then will need to press Start to assign bombs or your bow to a different button. There are also items that you can use by pressing A and B simultaneously like the Pegasus Boots and Roc’s Feather which allows you to dash jump over greater distances or if you have your bow and bombs equipped to A and B you can press both at the same time to shoot bomb arrows which I found interesting. The saving mechanic for the game(in the original GB version at least) is….interesting however. You need to press the A and B buttons along with Select and Start at the same time with will prompt you to save and quit the game, this proved the be a minor inconvenience though.
The items are all the typical items we’ve come to expect to see in a Legend of Zelda game. You find your sword and shield and then will eventually acquire more items like the hookshot and bombs, as well as the wonderfully overpowered boomerang. The game has the distinction of having absolutely no mention of Princess Zelda(other than titular) or image of a Tri-Force. Another anomaly is multiple crossover characters from other Nintendo franchises are present on Koholint Island. There are goombas and bloopers along with a small round enemy that tries to inhale you known as an Anti-Kirby. You come across a Yoshi doll in a multiple item trading sequence through the game, during one of these trades you bring a letter from the character Christine the Goat who is an actual goat to her pen pal Mr Write who then proceeds to show you the enclosed picture of his pen pal which has an image of Princess Peach. My personal favorite though, is the island denizen Madame MeowMeow who asks you to walk her “dog” – a giant chain-chomp named BowWow.
The dungeons I found interesting; each getting less linear and more complex in design as the game progresses, with some having multiple levels to navigate. From the first dungeon, the straight forward Tail Cave to the labryinthian Turtle Rock. Each dungeon has a Nightmare Boss defending one of the 8 Instruments of the Sirens, along with a mini-boss(sometimes two). The final dungeon Turtle Rock was one of the highlights of the game for me. A dungeon of 4 floors culminating with a battle against the Evil Eagle on top of the mountain. After collecting all 8 instruments you play “Ballad of the Wind Fish” on your ocarina(another game mechanic that is further expanded in Ocarina of Time) to break open the giant egg and stumble down into the maze below. You then battle the Shadow Nightmare which takes the shape or shadow, rather of some familiar foes including Moldorm, Agahnim, and Ganon before transforming into the cycloptic creature Dethl, who you must slay in order to wake the Wind Fish.
The game design I found was interesting and really enjoyed the general “strangeness” of this particular Zelda game. This has a more lighthearted, whimsical tone to it, whereas other later entries have a decidedly darker feel. There is however, still a lingering feel of something sinister lurking within the island. Game Director Takashi Tezuka has stated his intent was to create something akin to the tv show Twin Peaks. You are washed ashore on an island with very odd, quirky inhabitants and full of monsters which you are throughout the game questioning what is actually real, if anything at all. The Owl admits during your quest that even he himself didn’t believe you are real at first. After you recover the 8 instruments, you discover the Owl is actually the spirit of the Wind Fish guiding you along. I do very highly recommend this game as it was a great experience. I am now planning on playing through the Oracle game(s) on the Game Boy Color next. I am truly glad I was able to experience this entry into the Legend of Zelda timeline and this makes me EVEN MORE excited to play the remake on the Nintendo Switch…whenever that is.