God of War – Game of the Year
My number one draft pick for Game of the Year is God of War. Congratulations to their team for winning from The Game Awards, well deserved. I’ve never played any of the past games, but I couldn’t miss the new God of War after seeing all the teaser trailers. I was hungering over for something similar to Horizon Zero Dawn and Kratos came through with a full course menu. Spectacular graphics, beautiful acoustics and killer voice acting, fluid controls that makes all the mauling feel so satisfying, and a story that keeps you engaged all the way to the very end.
Yakuza 6/Yakuza Kiwami 2
The continued adventures of Kiryu Kazama ends and gets retold and I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into them. Of course with the new Dragon Engine, seamless transitions into battles from walking around makes beating up thugs an exhibition of heat moves and crushed skulls, even if the Dragon Engine has a bit of wonkiness. The many side quests and mini games always tend to be memorable wether it’s going to Sega Arcade to play Virtua Fighter, do a Rizap workout to get in shape, video chat with a porn star, get into gang wars with NJPW wrestlers, or the return of the ever so popular cabaret club with hostesses named after former AKB48 girls, there is just so much to do that you’ll be delaying playing such a great story because you don’t want any of the fun to end! Still play them in order starting with Yakuza 0, these are just refinements to such a great game. Buckle up, and enjoy the ride. Can’t wait for the successor to the Yakuza games, Judge’s Eyes/Judgement starring former SMAP star Kimura Takuya.
Dragon Quest XI: Echos of an Elusive Age
My heart has been aching for another true Dragon Quest game and after my disappointments with other JRPGs, this couldn’t have come out at a better time. Had to play with harder difficulty on after, otherwise it would have been too easy and I wouldn’t have liked the game as much. Beautiful graphics with a cell shaded tinge all behind colorful characters and amazing cities also with their own character. The city with the fighting tournament is called Octagonia! So many great puns throughout the game, I was just missing that Dragon Quest magic. Easily put over 100+ hours and I can even replay it with even more handicaps. Gotta always get them puff puffs!
Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise
What do it get when you take the old Yakuza engine and put an even more over-the-top violent anime skin like Fist of the North Star on top of it? You get Lost Paradise and you get to make ugly anime dude’s heads explode. What feels more like a side story to the main manga and anime, Kenshiro meets up with some familiar faces in a place called Eden to find his girl, Yuria. With so many similarities to Yakuza, any fan of those games can jump right in without having to follow the manga or anime at all. It even has goofy fun mini games within its own spin. You can find old Sega arcade games, Kenshiro also becomes a killer bartender, rhythm healing doctor, and of course manage his own hostess club. If the guests get rowdy, he pretty much kills them! No problems! If the Yakuza games weren’t gory or violent enough for you, Kenshiro has your back in this game.
Super Smash Bros Ultimate
I finally had a legit reason for me to dust off that Switch that has gone pretty much untouched since last year except for playing a bit of Octopath Traveler. Always have been a fan of Smash and the game ever since the N64, not so much the “community” behind it but I always admired Masahiro Sakurai and what he did to make just a super fun game with so many distinct characters. I marked out when I saw the trailer announcing that “Everyone Is Here” and that’s over 70+ fighters.
They jam-packed over 100 stages, 900 pieces of music, upgraded visuals, and even better ways to play local wireless and online. It’s insane what kind of polish Nintendo and his team brought to the table. I’ve seen so many of my coworkers buy Switches in the last month just to play Smash. We are having so much fun trash talking and finding new cool things with different characters, this will probably be the only Switch game many of them play through 2019. With the announcement of Joker from Persona 5 coming as DLC, my favorite JRPG from last year, the rest of the DLC fighters can be anyone. This is beyond a shadow of a doubt the ultimate Smash Bros.
Ni no Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom
Pretty visuals cover and hide such a cake walk of a game with very bland characters that I just couldn’t get behind. Army battles were cute at first, but they ended up being chores that I just didn’t care to play. Fighting system was ok, but when the game’s default difficulty was so easy, even battles seemed like they were on auto-pilot. I probably enjoyed building up my kingdom, it reminded me of playing the old school Suikoden games. I may have spent way too much time trying to find people to recruit for my kingdom because I didn’t really feel the urge to continue the main story. As much as I enjoyed looking at the game, it just didn’t have the staying power or impact of the first game.
I knew I was going to get ensnared by the 16-bit visuals of the game and the fact that people were reviewing it well but ultimately it was a trap for me and I ended up thinking the game was overhyped and disappointing. I never cared for 8 or 16 bit style games, Shovel Knight being the only exception, I just found the trend not to my vibe and I normally avoid them. That being said, I had a JRPG itch that needed scratching, so I gave Octopath a try. The battle system was really good, reminded me that I want a new Bravely Default game. But after 20-25 hours trying to get all the side jobs, I couldn’t find a way to care for any of the characters and continue on. My biggest video game purchase regret was buying Octopath Traveler.
Now take a look at my music jams of 2018…