The Best Games of 2017: Day 1

Posted in Kulturecade by - December 26, 2017
The Best Games of 2017: Day 1

It should surprise absolutely no one that my 2017 year in gaming centered around the gleaming beacon of sun that was the Nintendo Switch and its thankfully successful rookie year. The first console I’ve ever bought on launch day, and the only console I own that really manages to instill any real palpable anticipation within me, the Switch has been almost exactly what I’ve wanted it to be based on what Nintendo promised and has a brighter future at this point than the majority of their past consoles (the ones I still adore and have made me the fanboy I am today).

I’ve still played my PS4 a whole lot this year (and bought enough games for it that I need Santa to bring me a big ol’ hard drive to keep up), but almost always in a “catching up” capacity, or only with games I know won’t be coming to the Switch in any capacity later on. I even tried to play Horizon: Zero Dawn this past week to give it a last-minute opportunity to even things out, but it just hasn’t roped me in enough to warrant a spot. As a result, my personal top 5 might be fairly predictable, but at the same time, it’s really only fair considering our great fortune as gamers (and Nintendo fans) this year to be blessed with not one, but two of the greatest games we might ever play in our lives. Maybe you’ve heard about them:

Super Mario Odyssey

I stated at the end of my Super Mario Odyssey review a few months ago that either Odyssey or Breath of the Wild would be the best game anyone plays this year. What I meant is that if you play just one of them, it may as well be automatic, but if you play both, it’s a matter of choice. And I prefer Mario, simple as that. Mario Odyssey is the rare game for me that is unwaveringly successful on both a level of gameplay and mechanics as well as presentation, attention to detail, and fanservice. I have no qualms about giving an average title extra credit for good story or a fun motif, and sometimes really great games with revolutionary mechanics don’t keep me playing mostly just because they’re not that interesting beyond that. Mario Odyssey doesn’t just have both of these qualities, but it manages to keep up the intrigue way past the point of being great and right into the realm of, basically, perfection. I am as of yet undecided if it is as good as Super Mario 64, but the debate between the two is still very real inside my own mind.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

So much of what I just said about Super Mario Odyssey applies to Breath of the Wild, but with one key difference — whereas Odyssey is the epitome of charm, Breath of the Wild is the epitome of beauty in video games this year. Everything Mario Odyssey does is designed to put a smile on your face, while Zelda prefers to make you stand there for a while and marvel at it. The massive and incredibly diverse map of Hyrule that players were given license to explore here is exactly how I suspect people who pour hundreds of hours into Skyrim and World of Warcraft feel, but the difference is that I actually played this one and enjoyed it all without being overwhelmed. Although I’m still easing my way into Horizon: Zero Dawn, Breath of the Wild may be my gateway drug into this open-world fad that seems to be the hot button topic in gaming these last two generations, but even if it’s not, that might somehow be more impressive, because it’ll still be the only game like it that has ever encapsulated me the way it did.

Resident Evil VII: biohazard

There’s so much to be said about Resident Evil VII’s place in the series. Whether you see it as a return to form because of the way it delivers true horror similar to the series’ roots, or the first step in a wildly new direction, or a little bit of both; whether you think the first-person perspective has rejuvenated the series or betrayed it; whether you think that the distance from the series’ main canon bastardizes the name Resident Evil or you’re willing to accept quality and innovation for the betterment of whatever Capcom deems the franchise to be at this point, it’s hard to deny that stripped of any labeling, RE7 is a complete package of horror gaming. Even if RE7 was built around familiar characters, enemies, and plot points, the most Resident Evil thing about it is still the sense of empowerment that comes over the player over the course of the story. Protagonist Ethan begins the game unarmed, untrained, and unsuspecting, setting up the campaign as an even greater survival horror experience than the PlayStation installments, and yet by the time the game finishes in a hail of gunfire and fury, the grizzled, bloodied action hero that comes out the other side is still the same Ethan, and I was there, looking through his eyes every step of the way, feeling the rage and the power to destroy the Baker family overtake me. I can’t recall ever playing a game that filled me with so much adrenaline because of its characters that I dared respond to the taunts and threats of characters like Jack and Marguerite with actual, vocalized, retaliatory cursing at my TV, but RE7 brought that out of me, and that’s exactly what I mean by a powerful gaming experience.

Golf Story

Right after I did my Golf Story review (and I mean literally right after, like the next time I turned on the game), I ran into a game-breaking glitch that I had to wait for a patch on to play the last 10 percent or so of the game. I checked back for a patch twice a week, but unfortunately, due to the incredibly small size of the development team at SideBar Games, it would be almost two months before that patch finally arrived. The day it finally went up, I put everything else on hold and played it for almost four more hours straight until I was done. The story is delightful, the characters are lovable, the golf mechanics are… well, they’re good enough. It’s an indie darling in every sense of the phrase and somehow still entirely organic as well — even when you’re using golf balls to battle a wizard on a spooky Halloween-themed course so you can play a round. Racking my brain to think of what games I played this year that I thought deserved accolades, Golf Story stood out for me personally, offering an experience that I knew ever since its unveiling I would be extremely interested in, and delivered on my expectations so well that it may very well be one of the most complete experiences available in a $15 indie title, even if it is a bit buggy, sometimes.

Mario Kart 8: Deluxe Edition

This kind of feels like cheating, but with the only other candidates I really felt deserving of the number five spot being remakes or ports as well — Crash Bandicoot: The N. Sane Trilogy and The Binding of Isaac Afterbirth+ — I feel justified in giving the accolade to the rerelease that sets the best example for the remake/remaster fad that I find so fascinating. Mario Kart 8 was already my favorite entry in the series, even before accounting for its phenomenal DLC packs, which boast enough tracks between the two of them to constitute an entire game’s worth. Adding those on to a pretty much straight port of one of the best games on the Wii U made for a fair package, but what made the Deluxe Edition great was the new battle mode. The only flaw in the original game, and something that the series hadn’t really excelled at in a while, the reworked battle mode, again, is enough to warrant a full game by some standards, and does exactly what it should have set out to do, in bringing the weak areas up to the incredible standard set by the rest of the game. It made the best Mario Kart ever even better, making Mario Kart 8 a must-have title for the second generation in a row, and I think that deserves recognition.

This post was written by
He is a video game staff writer and dreamed of being a video game as a young boy. Then somebody told him that you can't really do that, so he compromised by doing a bunch of stuff related to that, playing video games, reading about video games, writing about video games, working at a video game store, and all those good nerdy things. Aside from video games, he's also a dork of all trades, with an interest in heavy metal music, wrestling, sports, and Magic the Gathering.

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