In no particular order
For the past few years on Destructoid, I’ve listed my top games of every year just like everyone else. It was a way for me to try and organize my thoughts in a manner that I figured everyone wanted to read. Truth be told, I’m not so sure how much I even agree with my lists. For instance, I called PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds my #3 for 2017 and now the game is a laughing stock.
So instead of ordering things by number, I’m just going to talk about either my favorite picks for a particular category or some of the worst things I saw this year. 2018 had so many good moments that game of the year lists can be wildly different from person to person. I also missed out on a lot of the bigger releases (God of War, Red Dead Redemption 2, etc) because my tastes have changed as I’ve grown older. Why not honor the things I thought were cool instead of saying they are better than things I haven’t tried?
Without further delay, here are the things I thought were cool and the things that really sucked in 2018!
Best Game with Penises: Genital Jousting
You’d be surprised how large of a category this might be, but I’m pretty confident in saying Genital Jousting is the best game to feature a playable penis. Not only does it have a wild party mode, but a surprisingly deep story about finding yourself in this wacky world. I suppose it also lets you dress up your penis in funny hats, which is always worth a chuckle.
I’m mostly just surprised that someone came up with the idea for a campaign mode and didn’t make it an endless string of masturbation jokes. The devs over at Free Lives have done some great things with both BroForce and Genital Jousting and I can’t wait to see what they cook up next. Maybe we can get a crossover in the form of Penis Force next!
Comedy of Errors Award: Fallout 76
To be fair, I haven’t actually played Fallout 76, but this award is more about the string of bad luck Bethesda has had with the title. Even if you were rooting for Fallout 76 to be good, Bethesda continuously shot itself in the foot with the promotion behind the game. From skimping out on the cost of producing canvas bags to leaking personal customer information, it seemed each new week brought some kind of horrible Fallout 76 related news.
For me, what really sucks is I no longer trust Bethesda with anything. I was already a bit iffy on its in-house games, preferring the output from id Software and Machine Games, but now I’m worried its corporate overlords are going to screw up everything they get their hands on. Who’s to say Doom Eternal won’t come out locked to Bethesda’s PC launcher and pumped full of microtransactions and shoddy always-online requirements?
So even without putting a single minute into Fallout 76, I can tell you that it was a complete joke. My heart goes out to the people that worked on this and have had their effort tarnished by crappy business decisions. I just hope 2019 is better for this particular title.
Best Retro Platformer: La-Mulana 2
La-Mulana 2 is a game I don’t see a lot of people talking about. Taking nearly five years to come out after a successful Kickstarter, I would say the sequel to the brutally difficult La-Mulana was well worth the wait. It has everything that made the original such a frustratingly gripping experience and then some. It also has an absolutely stunning soundtrack that is a must listen.
It also took me way longer than I expected to finish it. I was scared when I took on the review because I knew how long La-Mulana could be. I ended up not being able to finish it before it was time to publish, but I didn’t shelf the game and call it done. I kept pushing myself until after 40 total hours I was at the conclusion and sweating from excitement. I still wanted more despite spending almost two full days traversing its obtuse corridors.
I still agree with everything I said in my review. If you hate games that don’t guide you much, La-Mulana 2 will be your worst nightmare. If you’re tired of games leading you by the nose, though, then La-Mulana 2 is an absolute masterpiece. Just get ready to see “GAME OVER” more times than you’re used to.
Worst Use of DLC: Street Fighter V
With this category, I’m mostly talking about the absolutely hideous “In-Game Advertising” Capcom thought was a smart move. I am fully aware that companies like Capcom are a business and exist to make money, but Street Fighter used to have integrity. It used to be about strong competition, fighting spirit, and pushing yourself to your limits. I never thought I’d see the day where Akuma was plastered with a disgusting sponsorship logo on his back.
One look at the in-game store, though, and you’ll find a list of costumes so extensive that there is a filter to list them under specific categories. There are so many extra DLC options in Street Fighter V that I don’t understand why the game isn’t free-to-play. I know costumes are purely cosmetic and Capcom has provided different methods of unlocking them, by why does Ryu have alternate attire where he is decked out like Jamie Kennedy in Malibu’s Most Wanted? Why do all of the women have skimpy pajama outfits? Why are the classic costumes for characters only available with premium currency?
The actual mechanics of Street Fighter V may have improved since launch, but the marketing schemes by Capcom have basically destroyed its reputation for series fans. I kept telling myself I would eventually grab the game, but I can’t in good faith support what Capcom has done to Street Fighter.
Best Fighting Game: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
So instead of Street Fighter, why not talk about the complete opposite end of the spectrum? I’ve always been a big fan of Super Smash Bros., but I think Sakurai and his team have ruined me for other fighters. Not everything about Ultimate is a slam dunk (the online mode is sad), but from a value standpoint, you can’t beat Nintendo’s premier fighter.
Why would I ever consider dropping $60 on a fighting game that doesn’t even include its previous cast? If Nintendo could somehow go through negotiation hell to get literally every Smash veteran into the latest entry, is there any good excuse why series like Tekken, Soulcalibur, and Street Fighter aren’t launching new iterations with fan-favorite characters? That isn’t to say developers and publishers should be forced to bring back everyone, but the value proposition has gone down considerably for fighting games in recent years. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate proves that a company can exist to be a corporate entity and still give fans the things they want.
I’m not even angry there is a $25 season pass because I’m more than content with the 74 included characters. Nintendo could have dumped the game out in the wild and moved on and I’d still be happy. The core fighting is excellent, the singleplayer modes are extensive and the level of polish is through the roof. There also aren’t any egregious advertisements! It really is just a miracle!
Most Disappointing Game: Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise
I must first clarify that I don’t think Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise is a bad game. It can be entertaining, in spurts, and contains some of the charms of the Yakuza series. Coming from developer Ryu Ga Gotoku Studios, I just expected better. Fist of the North Star and Yakuza are two series that make perfect sense on paper, but the execution was just severely lacking.
The substories are highly repetitive, the game’s plotline is super thin and even the mini-games feel stripped back from past Yakuza titles. Maybe I went in with the wrong idea, but I figured this would be Yakuza with a Fist of the North Star skin. Instead, this felt more like a tech demo for what Ryu Ga Gotoku Studios could do with the popular ’80s manga series instead of a full game.
At least the boss fights were killer and the graphical style was a solid representation of the manga it was based on. I just wish the game took the time to let you soak in the atmosphere and combat like Yakuza does instead of ferrying you from plot point to plot point without much context.
Best Remake: Shadow of the Colossus
In Destructoid’s most anticipated games list for 2018, I had written, “Yeah, Shadow of the Colossus is great, but I can already play that game on two different systems.” I guess I forgot how damn great the game is because I was somehow blown away again. I knew all the tricks and quirks of Team ICO’s magnum opus, but I couldn’t put down my controller. I just kept playing and having my jaw dropped at how well Bluepoint adapted the late-era PS2 classic to modern hardware.
It doesn’t hurt that playing on a PS4 Pro gives you access to a 60 FPS option, which completely changes how the game feels. It runs perfectly fine on a regular PS4, but that added fluidity makes those lumbering colossi feel extra imposing. I’ve never seen them move so fast and yet felt so empowered at the same time.
I still don’t necessarily think that Shadow of the Colossus needed another port, but you can’t complain about the quality that Bluepoint brought to the game. If you’re going to remake an all-time classic, this is how it should be done.
My Overall Worst Game: Dynasty Warriors 9
I’m not going to sit here and try to preach that Dynasty Warriors is a misunderstood franchise. Omega Force has been churning out so many games under the Warriors banner for the last 18 years with little variation that I can absolutely see the criticisms people lobby against it. This is a ridiculously simple game about smashing an attack button and watching enemies fall over.
That still doesn’t explain why Dynasty Warriors 9 ended up as bad as it did. From a pointless open-world to a misguided change of combat, nothing DW9 brings to the series feels like a compromise worth indulging in. Was Dynasty Warriors really lacking radio towers that players could climb? Did the series truly need a hunting mechanics with brain-dead animal AI? Was there any point in spacing out towns and outputs if the merchants were just going to sell you the exact same things?
The worst sin, though, is that the game doesn’t even perform well. From the horrible console ports to the absolutely abysmal PC version, this is a far cry from the days when Dynasty Warriors would run at 60 FPS. I could maybe chalk up the gameplay differences to Omega Force being out of its league, but at least make sure the game is responsive for the player.
I want to love Dynasty Warriors, as a series, but titles like 9 make me sad that I ever believed in Omega Force. It had a good thing going with Dynasty Warriors 8 and Hyrule Warriors, but I guess taking on too many projects resulted in the quality getting sidelined. Here’s hoping that whatever form Xtreme Legends takes for 9 greatly improves the experience.
My Overall Favorite Game: DUSK
Maybe I’m a bit biased in that DUSK is based on the games I grew up loving, but I really do think it was the best game of 2018. It did everything classic FPS titles were known for, just better. It has tight level design, incredible atmosphere, great weapons, and an excellent soundtrack. It even has an online multiplayer option to frag your friends!
This is FPS nirvana and is now the highest rated review I’ve written for Destructoid. If you know anything about me, it should be that I’m pretty tough on games. If I can be blown away by something like DUSK, that should speak to the quality of David Szymanski’s modern classic.
Best Streamers on Twitch: Game Attack
I couldn’t end my list of 2018 highlights without talking about my friends over at Game Attack. Twitch streaming might be seen as a fad by a lot of people, but the community that Game Attack has cultivated is one of the best places on the internet. This is an environment where you can come in a complete stranger and start getting shoutouts from the streamers like you’re family within seconds.
Craig, Bolen, and Greyson are just a bunch of fun loving guys that want to help entertain you when you’re down and out. They want to lift you up and inspire you to do better. They also love to discuss things with their community in an open manner, priding themselves on their full transparency with behind-the-scenes happenings. If something isn’t working for you, you don’t need to feel scared about bringing it to their attention.
Maybe watching streamers isn’t for you and I understand that. Still, it has become a big part of modern gaming and I’m happy a place like Game Attack exists. It lets me experience titles I may have otherwise written off because they don’t appeal to me. It reminds me that anything is possible if I put my mind to it. Most importantly, though: it’s just a fun place to be.
Maybe you agree with my picks or maybe you don’t. Thing is, I can’t definitively claim any one title in 2018 is better than another. In a year that saw more perfect scores than I can remember, it seems like each developer was bringing out their A-game again. We got God of War redefined as a parable on fatherhood, for God’s sake!
There were a lot of great games to go around and I’m constantly reminded at how spoiled gaming enthusiasts are. We really are living in one of the best periods for gaming ever. Certain triple-A devs may be trying to ruin that, but as long as passionate teams with strong visions exist, we’ll always have something excellent to play with no strings attached.
And wouldn’t you know it, 2019 looks even better!