What makes a game stand out against its peers? Honestly? Often it’s because if how it resonates with the person more than how it may compare in a by the numbers game.
Continuing on our two week gush fest to celebrate Chalgyr’s Game Room’s 10th anniversary, here are other types of experiences that may not exactly fit neatly into other categories.
Super Mario Maker
Look, the Wii U had a pretty rough reception, but there were a handful of games that stood out on the platform. Perhaps none made better use of the touchscreen technology, however, than Super Mario Maker, which blended platform action and creative world-building beautifully. I have spent oodles of hours with game-maker software in the past, but without a doubt, this was the smoothest console game maker made to date. Considering the massive community that evolved around this game to lend its incredible life after its release, I think it is safe to say that this was one of the most unique and compelling game offerings of the last decade.
Sega Genesis Classics
This doesn’t fit in a singular box, because it is a compilation of some of my favorite games of all time. There was a Sonic collection back on the prior generation of consoles, and there were a couple of things about that collection I liked just a smidge better than this one, but by and large, this 2018 release did many things better. More than 50 games to choose from, a wide variety of formats and some great quality of life additions make this a must-have for Genesis fans such as myself.
Guitar Hero: Metallica
Just barely making the cut as a 2009 game, Guitar Hero: Metallica was (along with Guitar Hero III and Aerosmith) among my favorites in the oversaturated series. Worth noting due to the huge, if brief, popularity spike Guitar Hero (and to a lesser extent, Rock Band) had on the video game rhythm genre. Metallica took one of my favorite bands and allowed me to play along with their music. Unfortunately, the period after this release saw the downfall of the Guitar Hero series as well.
Danganrompa 1-2 Reload
How… does one even describe this? Battle Royal meets a visual novel / murder mystery? Other than being bat shit crazy, Danganrompa plays host to the excellent dialog, great narrative gameplay, who done it jury trials and a crazy assed bipolar bear who would kill everyone just because they decided to test him. Having played 1-2 and Ultra Despair Girls (2.5), the only thing left is to finally go into Danganrompa 3 and see if it holds up to the first as I wonder if all the surprises have been let out of the bag.
Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles
I have never relaxed so much to a game like I have to Yonder. Zero combat, just exploration and side quests on a relaxing island, this is a cute little adventure that everyone should experience as the only emotions short of awwwww are the feeling of zen as you explore and solve the mystery of the island that you have found yourself on.
Harvest Moon farming? Check. Dungeon Crawler? Check. Animal Crossing friendships? Check. Stardew Valley for a 16-bit inspired and looking adventure had it all and it was so easy to lose hours upon hours to it even before the updates and the inclusion of multiplayer. How you decide to run your farm and go about your days? That’s entirely up to you!
Forza Horizon 2
The best game I’ve ever played took me a really long time to get through. It is called Antichamber and my god did it break my brain for a long while. Antichamber is the sort of game where many people have played it and not everyone found certain rooms on the map (which, by the way, isn’t exactly a linear map.) There are puzzles that require you to walk backwards or look away from something in order to get into other rooms. And throughout the game, players are seeking different gun upgrades that allow for other types of manipulation of matter. While I loved this game in its entirety, the only thing that I would caution players on is the brightness of the game. My eyes do not like all-white spaces, and at the time I wasn’t using f.lux or gunners or anything like that. Anyways, it is top on my list for walking simulator/escher-like games.
Another walking simulator style of puzzle game on my list is none other than The Witness. Unlike many players of this game, I actually made sense of the game. It is abstract and relies on players to learn puzzle solutions from ‘learning boards’ and observation. Much like with Antichamber, the game requires players to carefully observe their environment to complete various puzzles like the trees or the shadow puzzles. It is also a game that has a couple of different endings. One of those endings reveals a cut scene of Jonathon Blow getting up from his couch. I’m not going to go into details about that cut scene, and will only say that it made perfect sense to me – despite the fact that Jonathon Blow mentioned something about the game not having a greater purpose and that players read too much into the game. Moreover, it may be a small detail but in one of the movie theater rooms was a clip from a TV show that I used to watch when I was younger. The moment the guy appeared on the screen and started talking, I was immediately enthralled. I knew this man. Anyways, The Witness is a game that is truly interesting for puzzle nerds and people that enjoy abstract concepts, so it is obviously on my list as a runner up.
Return of Obra Dinn
My second runner up game, which is also a puzzle game, is the Return of Obra Dinn. Not only was I fascinated by the art style, but I loved the idea of seeing a few seconds of events that occurred right before a person died in order to solve what happened. Everyone on the ship is dead, and your objective is to look at the people around, listen to the hints given in a flashback, and put the pieces together regarding who is who. It’s a unique game where players cannot get their clues from other characters because everyone is dead. Obra Dinn requires observation and detective skills to find out the truth about what happened, and I absolutely love it. Obra Dinn is such a unique game that it has to go on my list of all-time favorite games of the decade.
Crypt of the Necrodancer
Came for the music, stayed for the music, was pleased with the gameplay, might be the best description I can offer here. If you’ve been living under a rock, Crypt of the Necrodancer is an awesome Rhythm game with a soundtrack that you’d buy in a heartbeat, smooth rhythm-based gameplay, and a roguelike dungeon spawning that makes each delve into the crypt a little different from the last. You can bop to the beating of your undead heart either alone or with a friend, and I had so much fun playing this, despite my awful skill level.
This…thing, was a free game on PSPlus a while back. I and my roommate picked it up. It was the longest 4 hours we ever spent. I believe we walked away from this game looking at each other and saying, quite literally “what the heck did we just do”, and to this day I still can’t answer that question. In a game where you die to your friends more often than the enemies, and being called “bathrobed ones” at every turn, I don’t know what I expected from Magika 2, but nothing could have prepared me for what I experienced.
Rock of Ages 2
Tower defense meets bowling with the art and comedy stylings of Monty Python. That’s what Rock of Ages 2 is, and yes that’s a confusing concept to get your head around. With co-op modes available on consoles other than the switch, rock of ages 2 is the weirdest, kookiest, yet most adorably entertaining game I’ve probably ever played that I can’t rightly put in any category at all. The previous 2 entries can be thrown into “rhythm” and “adventure” technically, but this? I don’t even know. What I do know is that it was more fun than it had any right to be.
*friend come over* “Hey, ever heard of this game? No? Well, if you like anime tropes, murder and puzzle-solving then you’ll love this game.” LORD OF THE FLIES… I really loved this game. The fact that I gotta find a murderer, in a sealed school, full of ultimately talented students via death trials… hot!
Professor Layton and the Unwound Future
Ok, so, let’s make a long story short… a friend told me to play this series. God bless that friend. The Layton series is one of my go-to brain teasers. I love solving puzzles, it scratches the perfect itch. However, out of the many titles, this series has produced my all-time favorite is the 3rd game. Unwound Future just took everything the 1st and 2nd game had and made the perfect, saddest, funniest sandwich I have ever tasted. Thanks, Level 5!