The Games We Played in 2018 – New Favorites and Rediscovered Classics / MY LIFE IN GAMING


TRY: As the sun sets on 2018, it’s time
for us to once again reflect on what we played throughout the year. In 2018 we played everything from the NES,
PC Engine, and Sega Genesis on up to Switch, Xbox One, and PlayStation VR. So as always for us, this is not your typical
Game of the Year list. Mostly we’ll be focusing on our favorite
games that we actually finished in 2018, but there are also a few others we just had to
talk about. So, let’s dig in – these are the games that
we enjoyed in 2018. [MUSIC: ‘Principle’ by Matt McCheskey] COURY: I think its safe to say that time really
got away from me this year. The number of games that I was able to put
a significant amount of time into was way down this year. That said, I did play some incredible games
– some brand new…and others where it was about time that I got around to them. Although I rarely get into any first person
shooters these days, I’d heard a lot of praise for one of last year’s biggest flops,
TitanFall 2. [GAME AUDIO: “Standby for TitanFall”] COURY: I don’t have a lot of interest in
online competitive deathmatch so hearing that the single player was exceptionally great
convinced me to grab it for around 10 dollars. Wow, what an experience! This is perhaps the smoothest first person
shooter I’ve ever played. From wall running to double jumping you feel
like you can do just about anything. The Titans themselves feel like lumbering
beasts but are none the less agile. This certainly makes all other FPSs feel sluggish
in comparison. A relatively breezy 6 hour campaign is all
killer with no filler. From time travel to bounding from spaceship
to spaceship, you’re doing something different on every single level. TitanFall 2 was super fun to play, and exactly
the kind of single player experience I look for these days. Mega Man 11 was a must play from the second
it was announced and it certainly didn’t let me down. At first I was a little nervous about the
addition of the gear system which allow you to slow down time or power up your attacks
because they seemed to deviate from the tried and true Mega Man formula. Thankfully these injected some much needed
spice into the mix after the back to basics of 9 and 10, and felt right at home. There were also some other liberties taken
that help bring the original series into the modern era like longer levels, quality of
life improvements and multi tiered boss battles. Mega Man 11 servies as a base that will hopefully
be expanded upon with an eventual Mega Man 12, leading to a Mega Man 1 to Mega Man 2
style evolution of excellence. Here’s to another 30 years of Mega Man games! Without a doubt the most egregious example
of “its about time I played that” was Sonic Mania. When it released in August of 2017, I decided
to hold off buying it for a little bit because I simply didn’t have an time to play it. While the game drew rave reviews from everyone
who tried it, once the initial release hype passed and I still hadn’t bought it… well,
I decided play it cool and see if a physical release was announced. Nearly a year later, that physical release
arrived in the form of Sonic Mania Plus, which included new DLC on the cart along with tweaks
and refinements to the original game. In anyone else’s hands, this probably would
have been yet another ride on the Sonic Cycle merry-go-round, but the amount of passion
poured into this game is truly inspiring. Although this is a love letter to the original
Sonic games, it was the the little touches that celebrate Sega’s overall history that
really made me smile. Even the package’s reversible Sega Genesis
style cover was designed with care to accuracy… although it would have been best if it was
a Saturn cover. The remixed music tracks are simply fantastic,
but the new tracks stand shoulder to shoulder with them picking up right where Sonic and
Knuckles left off. And I really need to mention the perfect looking
CRT filter, which is likely the best interpretation I’ve ever seen in a game, taking the crown
from last year’s Wild Guns Reloaded. Of course, its not perfect – I felt that the
levels got a bit too long towards the end. So much so that I even ran out of time in
a few instances, which something that never killed me in a previous Sonic game. And I still really, really dislike Blue Sphere. After how amazing and fresh Sonic Mania felt
after over 2 decades of build up, I’m not sure if a perfect storm can ever come together
like this again. Regardless, Sega should let these guys revive
absolutely any dormant franchise in their library, because they’ve pulled off a miracle. This is the best Sonic game ever made and
deserves all of the praise it received. While Sonic Mania relished in the past, it
was a little game by the name of Astro Bot Rescue Mission that took the platformer boldly
into the future with the use of the PlayStation VR. As someone that had little to no interest
in VR previously, this is as much of a surprise to me as it is to you. I was told that this game was a VR’s “Mario
64” moment, and once you try it, this becomes a very apt description. It’s very hard for me to describe and show
you what it’s like. You simply need to play it and experience
it for yourself. TRY: Coury’s excitement over Astro Bot was
a big part of what made me feel like it was finally time to buy into PlayStation VR. And wow… it really does feel like a very
new way to experience a game world. [GAME AUDIO: Wooo!] TRY: Whereas Super Mario 64 introduced many
of us to what 3D platforming could be within the confines of a 2 dimensional viewing surface,
Astro Bot immediately feels like something beyond the 3D that we already know. As you view the world in 360 degrees around
you, you move your body and shift your head to discover secrets and reveal side paths
in a way that simply could not be intuitively done with a conventional camera system. Astro Bot revels in hiding things in places
that just make you smile because these things simply couldn’t be done outside of VR. People typically think of VR as being for
first person experiences, but Astro Bot has me wondering whether third person VR might
actually be better. COURY: What is that? What is… (laughs) Oh jeez! (laughs) TRY: One of my personal top gaming experiences
for 2018… well, you can’t exactly call it a game unto itself, but in a lot of ways
it felt like one. Following the flubbed release of Final Fantasy
XIV 2010 and its shockingly successful rebirth in 2013, the first proper expansion released
in 2015. I had heard it was good, but having finally
played it… Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward blew me away. Of course, there are some barriers of entry
– aside from being part of an MMO, actually playing Heavensward requires the completion
of A Realm Reborn’s main quest, plus an interim storyline that leads up the the events
of the expansion. This summer, I thought I’d finally just
finish those last missions leading up to Heavensward, but as soon as the events unfolded… whew. Wow. Coury and I often talk about “Final Fantasy”
moments. This is among the best. [GAME AUDIO: Tis hardly the first time, and
I’ll be damned if its the last!] TRY: Crazy stuff happens and I could not just
leave it at that! Up to this point, the story of Final Fantasy
XIV had been… fine. Nothing too special, but it was enjoyable
enough. This is one heck of a turning point and it
hardly lets up from there. Heavensward opens up the way to the city of
Ishgard, which was visible in the distance all those years ago in the game’s 1.0 version,
and at last, 8 years later, my character enters… but under circumstances that I very much did
not expect. The expansion also adds the lands north of
Ishgard, along with flying mounts, such as the classic black chocobo. In terms of combat, with the level cap going
from 50 to 60, I was very impressed with the progression, with my character’s Summoner
job receiving some fun abilities along the way that improve the flow of combat without
my hotbar getting too complicated. But I really mean it when I say that Heavensward
is the best Final Fantasy story I’ve experienced since the late 90s. While a few things happened along the way
that I think could’ve been handled differently, the story pacing gave me a feeling that not
many modern RPGs provide – I just binged it, I had to see what was going to happen next
at every turn. [GAME AUDIO: He has fixed his attention on
Ishargard itself, though he knows full well the eye does not reside there.] TRY: Aside from a few dungeons and boss fights
along the way, a majority of the story is best tackled solo, traveling along with an
engaging cast of NPCs that feels very much like a party that could’ve formed in an
SNES or PS1 RPG. It makes me sad to think that most Final Fantasy
fans will never experience Heavenward just because it’s part of an MMO, but if you’re
not completely opposed to trying a relatively fast-moving MMO and miss that old school Final
Fantasy story feel, I think it’s worth investing in. TRY: 2018 was a bit of a Dragon Quest year
for me – obviously, there’s Dragon Quest XI, the long-awaited single player console
successor to Dragon Quest VIII, which was the game that got me so heavily into the series
in the first place. I’m pretty far into into XI, but I just
didn’t have enough time this past fall to finish it yet. It’s very good though, and I’ve recently
hit quite a turning point, so this is a top priority for finishing as soon as possible. I also got a few hours into the first Dragon
Quest Heroes, which I hope to chip away at over the early months of 2019… seems very
fun so far. The one Dragon Quest game I did finish in
2018 though, is Dragon Quest Builders. I decided to wait on the Nintendo Switch version,
which actually plays very nicely, and was handy for playing away from home. In fact, I was actually viewing the game’s
ending minutes before landing at Narita airport on my first-ever trip to Japan, which feels
very appropriate. I’ve never been too huge of a Minecraft
guy, but Dragon Quest Builders really gives me the mission structure that I need to sink
my teeth into a game like this. To beat the game, you complete the quests
for four towns that you build one at a time in their own chapters, each with its own simple
Dragon Quest-type story that unfolds as you save the people from the ills that plague
them in this dark version of Alefgard that the Dragonlord now rules. The Minecraftesque world aesthetic meshes
surprisingly seamlessly with Dragon Quest’s higher polygon characters and monsters. This is certainly no throwaway spin-off, and
it does an excellent job of capturing the sense of adventure that the classic RPGs are
known for. 2018 was a year in which I really got back
into falling block puzzlers. Puyo Puyo Tetris is a clever concept and the
different modes that mix the two games together certainly makes for a lot of fun. It had been so long since I’d played through
the single player adventure or story mode in a game like this, and I honestly just had
a great time doing that. Before Puyo Puyo Tetris, the only Puyo Puyo
variant that I owned was Kirby’s Avalanche, which has always been a favorite of mine. But boy… go to Japan, and you’re just
about tripping over all the Puyos, and they’re mostly all like 5 bucks or less. My curiosity got the better of me and I grabbed
several different versions. In particular I did finish the single player
story in Puyo Puyo Sun on PS1, but I sure wish I knew Japanese so I could play this
cool-looking RPG mode in Puyo Puyo Box. [MUSIC: TETRIS EFFECT] Tetris Effect on PlayStation 4 completely
renewed my respect for the most iconic falling blocks puzzler of all time. As a game from Tetsuya Mizuguchi of Lumines
and Rez fame, I wasn’t sure if the audio-visual aspect would draw me in. But Tetris Effect lets me feel connected to
the music in a way that other music just games can’t do for me. The game blends graphics, music, and even
perfectly tuned DualShock force feedback to create an experience that literally feels
intoxicating. Your eyes are laser-focused on the play field,
while everything else that occurs around you – whether in VR mode or simply on a large
television – sings and dances in your peripheral vision. Tetris Effect is perfectly designed around
the idea of a game that stays in your head hours after you stop playing, and it is indeed
hard to stop. The coolest game that Coury and I were able
to co-op together this year was A Way Out. This game is the result of an indie studio
being given the opportunity to make a polished 3D game with heavy support and funding from
Electronic Arts. [GAME AUDIO: You Guys Seem Familiar. Have I seen you before? Nah, I don’t think so. Hmm, OK. Whatever.] TRY: The catch, as you may know, is that this
is a co-op only experience, no single player mode at all. I really wasn’t really too sure what to
expect at first – early on the story and puzzles seemed pretty standard fare, and overall the
game felt pretty restrictive. But as it continues on it becomes clear that
A Way Out’s strength is the sheer variety it throws your way… you just never quite
know what kind of situation you’ll be in next, and there were lots of gameplay scenarios
in the second half of the game that I was totally not expecting. And these two characters who I didn’t know
if I would care about, turned out to have far more interesting stories than I had initially
realized. [GAME AUDIO: Alright, here we go! Here they come.] COURY: Talk about a surprise! I went into A Way Out with very little knowledge
of what to expect. Up to release, there was a clear focus on
the prison break sequence out that would lead you to believe that almost the entire game
is based around that. But in fact, this is only a tiny portion of
the overall narrative. A Way Out does include an option for online
co-op, but I highly recommend playing this couch co-op style. [STREAM AUDIO: My thumb is like…] COURY: With so many games being added to my
backlog, I still think it’s important to revisit games that I’ve already beaten from
time to time. With the prevalence of remasters this generation,
its easier than ever to mix the new and the old while enjoying some good old fashioned
gaming comfort food. I had no idea that Katamari Damacy REROLL,
an HD remaster of the original PS2 game for the Nintendo Switch was so close to release. But the first game was my favorite in the
series and combined with a GameStop exclusive physical edition, I bought it sooner rather
than later. I hadn’t revisited the game in more than
10 years, and man is this just as fun the first time I played it. There’s no significant changes to the overall
game, but that’s fine. I love the simplicity here and I felt that
at least the second game got bogged down in the gimmicky level objectives. Of course, the HD coat of paint is nice, but
it’s not particularly revelatory due to the graphics being fairly basic in the first
place. I didn’t notice any framerate dips as your
Katamari grew larger, but I’d hope the Switch would be able to handle this. My 6 year old daughter got a real kick out
of it, too. It’s such a weird game, she wasn’t quite
sure what to make of it. [ARIA: Ah! Alligator! Oh!] COURY: It’s a funny game, too – more so that
I remembered it being. But, for some reason, this version removed
the english VO and I’m not quite sure why. Still, if you’ve never played a Katamari
game, this is a perfect place to start. And if you’re like me, you might just get
your fill of the series with this one game. [GAME AUDIO: Speaking Japanese] COURY: Although I’m too good at it these
days, I do love me some Street Fighter – especially Championship Edition. When Capcom announced that Street Fighter
Anniversary Collection was on the way, which included all of arcade revisions of Street
Fighter 1 through Third Strike for a total of 12 games, it was a must buy for me. [GAME AUDIO: Round One. Fight!] COURY: Outside of an actual arcade PCB, this
would be the be all, end all compilation for fans of the series. This collection was developed by Digital Eclipse,
who has seen a bit of a rebirth in recent years after the success of the Mega Man Anniversary
collection. They really took things to the next level
with this collection, with tons of different scaling options, scanlines, training modes
and online play for select games making this one of the most lavish compilations I’ve
seen in a long time. But it’s the museum section that elevates
this beyond the scope of the usual multi-game compilation. There is a ton of extra material here that
is worth the price entry all by itself. A timeline takes you through each of the series
30 year history, with material like artwork, factoids and complete soundtracks. Although some may be disappointed that this
only includes the arcade versions of each game – I mean, home ports would have been
amazing, especially for games like Alpha 3 which had a ton of additional characters – but
I can’t really imagine a SF collection being better. [COMMERCIAL AUDIO: Whoa!] COURY: A few years ago, near the start of
the channel we had an opportunity to make a trailer for an upcoming PC game from Secret
Base called Devil’s Dare. This multiplayer beat em up was a fun homage
to arcade quarter munchers. In early 2018, Devil’s Dare game was ported
to the PS4 and Switch under a new name: Streets of Red. This new version included a number of tweaks
and changes from the original game, in addition to some new characters. From Final Fantasy VI, to Zelda there’s
some really fun nods to games and pop culture throughout. You never know who might show up – including
Try and I in the background of the survival mode. I was NOT expecting that. Streets of Red was super fun to play multiplayer,
and I enjoyed revisiting it with my friend Chris on a whim this past summer. [GAME AUDIO: K.O.!] COURY: February saw the release of the Secret
of Mana remake for the PS4. This version was largely scorned because of
its bare bones look that many felt didn’t recreate the aesthetic of the original game
very accurately. I dunno, maybe these people were right, but
there’s something about its jank and simplicity that that I found endearing…and just flat
out fun to play. I guess that’s a testament to the core mechanics
of the original. I’ve really made it a point to take the
game in for what it is, such as listening to arranged soundtrack, without dismissing
it outright. And you know what, maybe it’s not as good
as the original, but its not that bad either. Some even surpass the original composition. The original sprites are incredible, but there
is an appeal to crisp, simple graphics that make up this new version. I especially love the way that the area map
is represented by the original game’s graphics. [GAME AUDIO] COURY: The voice acting is probably the worst
part, although I can dig the greater focus on each of the three main character’s personalities
and their interactions. I’m still working my way through it, but
this is a game that I’ll pop in when I have a little bit of downtime. Don’t let the word of mouth distract you
too much from this – you might find yourself pleasantly surprised. TRY: I also finished an assortment of games
for much older consoles in 2018. The nice thing about a lot of these is that
even if they are indeed challenging, they are nonetheless short enough to beat in an
evening of streaming. In fact, it was during a January stream that
I marked my first beat of 2018 – Super Mario Bros. 2 – the Japanese Super Mario Bros. 2
for the Famicom Disk System, that is. Unlike the “Lost Levels” version on SNES,
which I’d finished a very long time ago, the FDS original does not have the luxury
of being able to save and continue from the start of every level, so I was always afraid
to play by the original rules, which has you continue from the start of each world instead. But you know what? Even if it’s more vindictive than the other
Mario games, I think it’s possible to get through it with much less effort than plenty
of other infamously difficult NES games, and any fan of classic Mario should make a serious
go at it. But without a doubt, the best game I played
on my Famicom in 2018 was Seirei Densetsu Lickle – the Japanese version of the infamously
expensive Little Samson… which I found in Akihabara for less than 10% of the price of
the American version. Little Samson may not be worth $1500 or whatever
it’s going for these days – what game really could be – but it IS extraordinarily good. Four playable characters equipped with their
own unique abilities and great animations are just the beginning. This really is a top-shelf NES platformer. No matter what method you have to use, I strongly
encourage all fans of 8-bit platformers play through it. One of the best NES cartridges I played this
year was the widely celebrated classic… Karnov. [GAME AUDIO] TRY: OK, in all seriousness, Karnov hardly
beloved, and the character has become something of a joke for us here on My Life in Gaming. The game itself is not exactly great, but
you know what? It’s really not that bad. It plays like a mess, but there is a certain
charm to its clumsiness and with infinite continues at your disposal, it’s not even
that time-consuming to beat. And hey, who could hate a game whose label
art features a dude breathing fire at a T-Rex? Looking back, I’d say that I probably had
the most fun with the PC Engine in 2018 than any other retro console. The first PC Engine / TurboGrafx game that
I beat in 2018 was Legendary Axe – and what a game this is. With great gameplay and a great soundtrack,
Legendary Axe deserves far more attention than it gets. Over the course of the game, you pick up items
to increase your axe’s maximum damage, but similar to games like Secret of Mana, you
have to let your weapon meter fill back up to do the most damage. This creates an interesting pace for a platformer,
making it a somewhat slower and more methodical action game, where rushing forward too quickly
is almost always a bad idea. However, there are also situations where it’s
helpful just hold the attack button and let the turbo function do the work for you. It’s tough, but very satisfying, and one
of my favorite games on the system thus far. Another great one was Valkyrie no Densetsu
– Namco’s Legend of the Valkyrie. It may not have co-op like the arcade release,
but this version is plenty of fun nonetheless – a charming overhead action game similar
to the likes of Pocky and Rocky, littered with hidden magic and plenty of other secrets. The PC Engine CD version of Valis: The Legend
of a Fantasm Soldier is the second game in the series that I’ve played, after the Genesis
version of Valis III. This one far exceeded my expectations. While Yuko is a very slow-moving character,
the game has an excellent set of projectile weapons that can power up to three times each
and are just a lot of fun to use. Yuko also has a quick slide that plays well
in many of the game’s boss fights. The final boss in particular was extremely
intense and beating him on stream was definitely one of my personal favorite gaming moments
of the year. [STREAM AUDIO: My heart is like pounding so
hard.] COURY: Of course I spent time with some classics
this year, although not nearly as many as last. Most of the older games I started on our Sunday
livestream, I never ended up returning to. Guess I should get better at that, huh? I finally got around to Rocket Knight Adventures
this year, which…I know, I know…I should have played this a long time ago. I heard for a long time that it was a pretty
tough game, and that had me procrastinating on it. Turns out it was the absolute perfect difficulty
I even almost finished it on the hardest difficulty immediately after finishing it the first time. You’ve really got to learn how each encounter
of the numerous boss encounters progress…but once you do, its extremely fulfilling. Mastering each of the moves in your repertoire
is important and knowing when to use them is key. I think people get caught up on using the
dash move that they failed to realize that basic sword slashes are actually much more
powerful and versatile. It’s a reasonably long game but each level
offers a completely different experience, which makes it move pretty quick and never
gets old. This is 16-bit era Konami at its most refined
and it is incredible that its never gotten any kind of re-release on download services. Gate of Thunder is a TurboGrafx-16 CD game
that I’ve talked about in the past, but I finished it this year made me settle on
it being my favorite shooter of all time. There’s not a whole lot of frills to it
– weapon power-ups are fairly straight forward – but its such a pure shooter experience that
I find myself being able to come back to it repeatedly. A big allure is the hard rocking’ soundtrack,
which is a nearly perfect mix of wailing guitars and synths. If only the sound balance was a little better… [GAME AUDIO] COURY: But there are hacked versions out there
that fix this up. I love that it’s not insanely difficult
too, which can scare a lot of people off from the playing shooters in the first place. The basic difficulty level is beatable after
enough attempts by anyone with a passing interest in shooters. But if want more of a challenge, you’ll
meet your match by switching to hard mode. While we’re on the subject of the Turbografx
CD-ROM, we gotta talk about FX-UNIT YUKI: The Henshin Engine. This successful kickstarter game is a tribute
to the PC-Engine with levels inspired by Rondo of Blood, Adventure Island and even Magical
Chase. Despite being a backer, I didn’t follow
the development of this too closely, so when it showed up in this past summer, I was pleasantly
surprised. Yuki’s top notch soundtrack roped me, and
combined with its basic, yet fun platforming action There’s a couple of weird graphical glitches
here and there, but it seems to be pushing the hardware in ways that not a lot of games
for the system did. But these should be cleared up in the eventual
Dreamcast port thats on the way. Last year I was exposed to the brilliance
of spanish developer Locomalito with the incredible Ghous ‘n Ghosts-like Cursed Castilla. This year, I had the pleasure to play his
tribute to classic shooting games like Gradius in Super Hydorah thanks to a physical release
by Limited Run Games. [GAME AUDIO] COURY: Like Castilla, Hydorah takes the basic
look and premise of its inspiration and streamlines the heck out of it. While dying in Gradius mean it might be impossible
to finish, Hydorah gives you additional weapons to add to your load out after each level,
allowing you to pick the best gun, bombs and a super weapon for each area. It may be tough as nails, but the level variety
makes for a very fulfilling ride. I really fell in love with Hydorah when I
hit the space armada level, which are usually among my favorite type of level. One of the first games I finished this year
was McDonald’s Treasure Land Adventure, which shouldn’t be confused with the other
McDonalds game, Global Gladiators. Treasure Land Adventure stars creepy old Ronald
McDonald was one of the very first games from Treasure, who had this in development simultaneously
with Gunstar Heroes. Yes, a McDonalds game was one of my favorites
this year, which sounds absolutely crazy to say out loud. But what can I say, the combination of interesting
boss battles, tried and true platorming and Ronald’s bizarre jumping animation was extremely
memorable. TRY: Perhaps the defining characteristic of
the current generation of gaming for me has been physical releases of smaller titles that
in the previous generation would have most likely only been available as digital downloads. And you know, it certainly doesn’t hurt
that a lot of these games don’t take that long to beat, so that’s always nice when
I’m lacking for playtime. One of the most unique games I played through
in the past year was Severed by Drinkbox Studios – the developer behind the excellent Guacamelee,
which I also played this year via the physical release from Vblank Entertainment. Severed was originally released in 2016, I
played the 2018 physical Vita release by Play-Asia. In Severed, you play as a girl trying to save
her family from an extremely twisted alternate dimension. Navigating through an old school first person
dungeon crawler perspective, RPG battles play out with a unique touch-based battle system
where you slash enemies and sever monster parts to collect and spend on character upgrades. While I feel gameplay would be more comfortable
with Wii Remote style pointer controls instead of a touch screen, the battle system is unconventional
in a good way and it works better than you might expect. Severed builds a truly creepy world with such
a simple art style, and the haunting soundtrack becomes more oppressive as the game progresses. So, if you have any room in your heart for
touch input, give it a try on Vita, Wii U, 3DS, Switch, or iOS. Earlier in the year, Limited Run Games did
a PS4 release of Kero Blaster – by the creator of Cave Story, but it’s a very different,
more linear sort of action game. It plays great, sounds great, and of course
has a very charming style, though I don’t think it ever took hold in the collective
gaming consciousness to the extent that Cave Story did. The
long-awaited Owlboy came to Nintendo Switch in 2018, and I thought it was a perfect fit
for the portable screen. This is a surprisingly story-driven little
adventure, less Metroidy than I expected, but full of fun action and great moments. Easily one of the best games I beat in 2018
was Cuphead… but that sadly, was not on a physical copy. Hopefully Microsoft does the right thing in
2019 and gives us a fully patched Xbox One physical disc with the DLC included. In 2018 I tried to start a tradition that
I only about half lived up to – to pick a game that I love, play through it once every
month of the year, and in doing so I would learn it well enough over the course of a
year’s worth of runs to add it to my stable of games that I could in the future pick up
for a casual replay anytime. For 2018, I chose the original Castlevania
for NES… while I only ended up actually playing through it 5 or 6 times instead of
the intended 12, I did manage to get good enough to finish in under 30 minutes without
using any continues. We’ll see if I can retain those skills over
the coming years! The most interesting thing I learned along
the way was that while Dracula is stun locked by holy water, you can just walk straight
through him… thanks to Cephi for dropping the hot tips
in the stream chat! Of course, I played a number of other games
in 2018, but there’s just no way to talk about all of them here… and some, like Kirby
Star Allies, maybe I’ll get a chance to go more in-depth with that in a future episode. There were some disappointments… Life is Strange: Before the Storm told a thoroughly
unexciting prequel story that absolutely did not need to be told… Danganronpa V3 had its moments but sort of
drove the series into the ground by the end… and well, I’ve already talked plenty about
Perfect Dark Zero in its own episode. But on the bright side, Perfect Dark Zero
lead me to rediscover the greatness of TimeSplitters 2. Wow, what a game! So good! COURY: Of course this year was met with its
fair share of disappointments, and probably the biggest for me was Shadow of the Tomb
Raider. I was a huge fan of the first game in this
reboot of the series, playing through it a number of times on both the PS3 and the PS4. I had fun with Rise but ultimately came away
feeling a bit ambivalent about it. Regardless, I was excited for Shadow, starting
it fairly close its release. It was also the first game I played fully
in 4K and with HDR. It starts out pretty great – the atmosphere
and graphics are fantastic in the early parts of the Cozumel section. But then a story beat happens and absolutely
killed my opinion of Lara’s character, which made it tough to really get into the rest
of the narrative. By the end, I didn’t feel any kind of attachment
to the world. I could barely understand what the lead villains
motivation was, but I kinda felt that Lara was just as bad. [GAME AUDIO] COURY: Believe me, this isn’t the kind of
thing that usually bothers me, but she just came across as supremely unlikeable in this
game. [GAME AUDIO] COURY: Shadow takes more of an open world
approach, which is usually a negative for me. The same thing happened with the transition
from Batman Arkham Asylum to Arkham City. But, It didn’t help that the power progression
of equipment and Lara’s skills felt almost entirely useless this time around. It was still a great looking game, with the
HDR stunning. But what a way to fizzle out with the finale
of this reboot series. I have a feeling they’ll need to retool
everything from the ground up for whatever direction Lara heads in next. Firmly in the “what the heck, this is a
mess” column is Arc System’s Double Dragon IV. On paper and in screenshots this is the kind
of throwback I can get behind – taking inspiration from the NES version of Double Dragon 2. In action though, I have no idea what happened
here. The screen tearing here absolutely out of
control and completely destroys whatever potential there was for this being a retro revival on
the same scale of Mega Man 9. I’d heard that the game was rushed out with
no real testing, but it’s insane that this has never been fixed via patch even today! Talk about being sent to die, but also betraying
consumer’s trust… This was such a colossal waste. This next one might ruffle some feathers,
but I didn’t have a lot of fun with Axiom Verge. To be clear, I’m not saying that it’s
a bad game, but it just didn’t resonate with me at all which was disappointing because
I expected to like it a lot more than I did. It has a really interesting plot that goes
in directions I wasn’t expecting, along with some unique power-ups and gameplay mechanics…but… I felt like by the end, every button the controller
did something different and felt over complicated making it especially difficult to play on
the Switch in portable mode. The music and world had atmosphere so thick,
but I dunno, maybe I’m just bored of Metroidvanias now-a-days? But maybe not, because The Messenger was freaking
awesome. What starts out as a homage to Ninja Gaiden
and some of the intense platforming of Super Meat Boy eventually expands into a time traveling
metroidvania with a mix of 8 and 16 bit graphics. I was unsure of the writing at first because
it felt a bit too jokey but the story of the game evolved in such a way that I got really
into it. This is a pretty lengthy adventure too, ending
up being far longer than I ever expected. There’s such a fluidity to the gameplay
in The Messenger that truly makes you feel like you can do anything…and by the end
of the game, you basically can. It doesn’t over complicate things – you
have your entire moveset about a quarter into the game… a stark contrast to Axiom Verge. Now, to see the metroidvania formula perfected
you need only look at what was my most anticipated release of the year. Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom.. … an incredible new entry in the Wonder
Boy series which ended up being both of our favorite game of the year. You know a game is special when you really
start arranging your schedule around playing the game – if a game is good enough, you FIND
time to play it…sometimes at the expense of other things you should be doing. [GAME AUDIO] TRY: What impresses me most about Monster
Boy is that the game is not afraid to challenge you in ways that other games shy away from. The action is perfectly tuned, often demanding
a lot of precision, while still being forgiving enough to let you try and try again. I’m not talking like Meat Boy levels of
ridiculousness or anything, but it’s just the right level of difficulty for fans of
old school platforming. Much more platforming challenge than you might
normally expect to see in Metroidvania style games. COURY: Exactly! And not just that, I felt that Monster Boy
really makes you think in a way that feels all but lost in modern gaming. Puzzle solutions, especially those that lead
to enticing optional upgrades, are typically not at all obvious at a glance. It seems like most games these days don’t
want the player to feel confused for too long, but Monster Boy’s puzzles are such that
you might often have to walk away and come back later, but in the end, the solutions
are very satisfying and make perfect sense. There is something to discover on basically
every single screen and between the two of us, we were able to solve nearly every mystery
in the game before any FAQs or other information was available, which made for a super fulfilling
experience. TRY: Not only is Monster Boy Game of the Year
for both of us, the soundtrack has to easily be the best of the year too. With an all-star music team including Yuzo
Koshiro, Michiru Yamane, and others, the most surprising thing is that even with its excellent
remixes of past Monster World series themes, these are debatably overshadowed by the incredible
original compositions. Is this the best grassy field theme of all
time? ———— COURY: As 2018 closes, I regret that I haven’t
had time to play some of the year’s biggest titles. No, I still haven’t played Spider-Man, God
of War and perhaps most unfortunately, Dragon’s Quest XI. But these games aren’t going anywhere and
won’t be less good when I undoubtedly make time for them in 2019. An important takeaway is that a good game
is a good game, no matter when you play it. And I hope to find many more in the coming
year.

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