As of this writing, it is now January 19th, 2019 which means it’s now well past time for retrospectives on the year that was 2018. Oh well, let’s do it anyways!
Inspired by Stephen Totillo’s yearly write-ups, I started tracking which games I’ve played over the course of a year and jotting down a few thoughts on each. Like his list, not all of these games were released in 2018: they’re just the games I played last year regardless of release date. I also left off anything I played for shorter than an hour as there were a few things I booted up and played very briefly and didn’t feel like keeping track of such as the NES games that come with Nintendo’s online service.
And now, roughly in chronological order, are the 34 games I played in 2018.
- Worms WMD (PC): I picked this up for a LAN party since we had fun playing Worms Revolution previously. Personally, I prefer Revolution because the wind messes with your shot way too much in this game. Otherwise it’s still a good time with friends.
- Sonic and All Stars Racing Transformed (PC): I also picked this up for the same LAN party, but I had previously got it back when I got my Wii U in 2013. It’s the best non-Mario Kart kart racer featuring really exciting track design. The transforming mechanic is excellent as well. However, it lacks the super tight controls of Mario Kart and is a bit glitchy at times. I still recommend it though as I ended up playing more of it outside of that party thanks to its fun single player mode.
- Overwatch (PC): I picked this up in early 2017 again for a LAN party but didn’t really get into it until this year. The game is a blast to play with friends and you’re practically guaranteed to find a bunch of heroes that are fun to play. However, the community is indeed annoying and having some jackass yelling in text chat is a given in every play session. I still highly recommend it though if you’ve got friends to play with because it can be an absolute blast.
- Hey, Pikmin! (3DS): I got this for Christmas in 2017 but held off on playing it until later in 2018. I avoided this one at launch because it seemed like removing the strategy element of Pikmin and shoving it into 2D would make it just an extremely dull platformer. I gave up on it after the first two worlds because it turns out removing the strategy element of Pikmin and shoving it into 2D makes it an extremely dull platformer.
- Kirby Star Allies (Switch): It’s a pretty good Kirby game, but the main adventure is too short and easy even by Kirby standards. I actually had more fun with the Guest Star mode where you play as other characters than the main game, but not enough to keep up with the game’s various updates. I’ve heard they make the game better, but I really don’t like the idea of releasing a half baked game and then filling in the blanks later even if it is for free. I’d rant more, but this list is going to be long enough as is. If you like Kirby pick it up, but not for full price.
- Driveclub VR (PS4-PSVR): I picked this up for $6 in a sale last year and played it some then, but put in some more time this year when I got hungry for more VR stuff. The visuals are very blurry even by PSVR standards, but the racing is decent enough that it’s certainly worth picking up when it’s on sale like that again.
- Vermintide (PC): I got this entirely for another LAN party. It seems like an ok time with friends, but it was too repetitive for my tastes.
- Magicka 2 (PC): Again, picked it up for a LAN party. The combat system combined with friendly fire made it fun for an hour with friends, but I imagine I’d learn to hate the friendly fire if I were to try to get through the whole game.
- Wipeout Omega Collection (PS4-PSVR): I didn’t really intend on getting this until the reviews for the VR patch released earlier this year were extremely glowing, so I picked it up. I’m so glad I did, this is absolutely my favorite PSVR game to date. I enjoyed it so much I wrote an article on it, but the jist of it is the VR actively makes a well designed game better. A must own game if you have the headset.
- Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (Switch): I think I’ve played a bit of Mario Kart 8 every year since it originally came out on Wii U and love it so much I double dipped at got the Switch version to play with friends who skipped the original version. It’s the absolute best Mario Kart game and possibly one of my top 10 favorite games ever. I’d be ok if they skipped on making a Mario Kart 9 for a while and just kept making DLC for this.
- Robo Recall (PC-Oculus Rift): Wipeout Omega Collection did an excellent job of reminding me of how good VR can be. It did such a good job that it convinced me to buy a Rift so I could see the best of what PCVR had to offer as well. Robo Recall comes with the headset and while it’s a fun introduction to VR with great visuals and arcade action, the lack of full locomotion killed my enjoyment too much.
- Lucky’s Tale (PC-Oculus Rift): A third person VR platformer that really really wants to be a Mario game but fails. It’s got decent physics and a couple of fun levels, but it lacks the originality in the level design that separates great platformers from the rest. It’s free though so you might as well check it out if you’ve got the headset.
- To The Top (PC-Oculus Rift): A first person VR plaformer/parkour game that I guess I would best liken to Mirror’s Edge, but with one big difference: you can only move by grabbing and propelling yourself off of colored objects (so no running). I didn’t realize this before I picked it up on sale and it kind of ruins the game for me. It also makes you grind previous levels to unlock ones and once I hit the first real frustrating level after 2 hours of gameplay, I gave it up.
- Sairento VR (PC-Oculus Rift): A first person action game where you’re given ninja skills and weapons along with guns. The action is great on paper, but the Steam version runs much more poorly than it should given my rig and I frequently ran into bugs that required restarting missions. An enjoyable game, but probably one you should get on sale.
- Splatoon 2 + Octo Expansion (Switch): I returned to Splatoon 2 for the Octo Expansion which is an absolute blast. It was much lengthier and more involved than I expected and makes positively brilliant use of the game’s mechanics. Honestly, with this new campaign plus the original single player campaign, I’d say Splatoon 2 is as good as a single player game as it is multiplayer.
- Knockout League (PC-Oculus Rift): This game is effectively VR Punch Out!! which is great on paper and for the first few fights is fun in practice. However, the 4th fight was such a massively frustrating difficulty spike that I ended up refunding the game since I was still well in the 2 hour window. I figured if I was having that much frustration well before the halfway point in the game, it wasn’t going to get much better from there.
- Beat Saber (PC-Oculus Rift): The world’s most popular VR game! However, I just don’t care for it that much. The game is fun, but the extreme lack of songs in the base game kills it and most custom songs are just too hard or poorly constructed for my taste. I also find hard mode to be much too easy but expert to be much too hard.
- L.A. Noire: The VR Case Files (PC-Oculus Rift): Given the bad things I’d heard about this I expected the worst, but honestly I thought this was an extremely well done VR implementation of a traditional game. However, the fact that it’s only a few cases and that shootouts aren’t great hurts it. Still though, the interrogations absolutely sing in VR: it’s supremely easy to tell if somebody is avoiding looking you in the eye when they’re physically there in front of you avoiding your eyes. If you find it on sale for $20 like I did, it’s worth it but know that it spoils the full game’s plot if you care about that.
- Lone Echo (PC-Oculus Rift): Probably the closest thing VR has to the production values of a AAA game. When it’s trying to just be a VR experience, it’s outstanding. The story is interesting, the way you interact with the world is incredible, and the graphics are superb. However, there’s a stretch in the second half where the game effectively abandons all of this and becomes a 2 hour game of Operation which is still fun but long outstays its welcome. I’d say it’s the best immersive experience in VR, but not the best game, if that makes sense.
- Echo Arena (PC-Oculus Rift): The free to play multiplayer component of Lone Echo, it’s sort of like zero g soccer with a frisbee. An excellent idea on paper, the community absolutely murders this game. Your first few games are fun beginner games, but after that the game matches you up with pros who belittle you. It’s a catch 22 problem: the game lacks enough players who aren’t beginners and aren’t pros so it matches you with pros who scare you away...ensuring there’s less players in that very same middle range. There’s also a $10 add on Echo Combat that adds more Overwatchy/TF2y “escort the payload” gameplay but given people were just yelling at each other and being jerks during the open beta I didn’t bother buying it even if the gameplay was fun. Boy, online gaming communities can really suck.
- Marvel Powers United VR (PC-Oculus Rift): A game that started as a leisurely arcade beat-em-up like experience where you fight enemies as superheroes that morphed into a touch as nails frustrating mess. For more details, here’s an article I wrote on the mess, but the tl;dr of it is it’s only worth it if you have a group of friends who are up for the challenge.
- Sonic Adventure DX (PC): I had a sudden urge to replay this and was too lazy to go to my parents’ house to pick up my Gamecube copy or my Dreamcast, so I just bought it again on Steam. This still may be my most nostalgic game simply because I very much enjoy playing it even though it’s extremely clear it’s aged pretty terribly, unlike the 2nd game where my enjoyment has faded over time.
- Moss (PC-Oculus Rift): I put off buying this on PSVR because Wipeout Omega Collection had taken over my life for a couple months which ended up working out because the superior PC version came out in the interim. It’s a nice third person VR adventure with tight controls and some neat puzzles where you use your hands to physically interact with the world, but the length is just way too short. There are some great games that last less than 3 hours, but they’re usually paced well enough where Moss feels like it ends much too soon. It’s still a good game, but I’d wait until it’s under $20.
- Mighty No 9 (PS4): I actually gave $5 to the Kickstarter for this but held off buying it for ages. I also held off playing it even when it was free on PS+ until now. The short of it is it sucks big time. The level design seems like it was made by a masochist but not in a fun Super Meat Boy kind of way. No, one that things it’s perfectly ok to require the player to use a skill they didn’t know they had for the first time to dodge an instant death trap that requires pixel perfect accuracy. Mega Man games are generally challenging but fair. This game is just bullshit.
- Rayman Legends (PS4): I also picked this one up when it was free on PS+ but put off on playing it for a while. It’s a decent platformer with neat level ideas, but the controls were too floaty for my taste: when I play a platformer, the tightness of the controls and physics is one of the absolute most important things. As such, even with some neat ideas, it didn’t hold my attention for much longer than about 2 hours of play. Maybe I’ll come back to it at some point though.
- Mega Man 11 (Switch): A neat followup in the Mega Man series. The double gear system is a great idea, the graphics are great, and the gameplay is mostly great, but the level design can be a bit too irritating at points. Torch Man’s stage feels like a Mighty No 9 stage it’s so full of instant death, and Bounce Man’s stage is plagued by bouncy platforms with misleading hitboxes. Still, it’s probably in the top half of classic Mega Man games but not quite up with the best.
- Super Mario Party (Switch): The only game on here I actually don’t own, but I played enough to form a solid opinion. The minigames in here seem like some of the very best in Mario Party history. The new character dice are a neat addition, but the boards could be more interesting and stars and items are too cheap. Partner Party, however, is the surprise star mode and is by far the best way to play Mario Party now. I’d have picked this up if I didn’t already have several friends with it.
- Hitman (2016) (PC): I absolutely hate stealth in video games outside of the Batman Arkham games so I had no interest in this until I randomly came across a bunch of Giant Bomb’s videos on it. As luck would have it, that same week it went on sale for $17 on Steam so I picked it up. This game absolutely nails the concept of stealth and being sneaky. It’s a joy to plan your hit and your escape route and watch that plan unfold exactly as planned or fail in hilarious ways. The game knows exactly how much leniency to give the player for maximum enjoyment. My only problem with it though is I’m not the type of guy who normally replays games so soon after the initial playthrough and given the entire point of this game is to replay it, I ended up only replaying the first three missions a few times before I got tired and moved on so it didn’t command my attention for very long. Still, I highly recommend this one. I’m actually playing the sequel now (which is partly why this recap is longer than the rest so far), but given this is a 2018 list, it’ll have to wait until the 2019 recap.
- Minecraft (PC-Oculus Rift): A friend started a multiplayer server and since it had been ages since I’d last played Minecraft and I hadn’t played multiplayer before, I jumped back in. Turns out it’s still a great time. I also fooled around a bit with both the official VR port and the Vivecraft mod for the java version. Both have their benefits and drawbacks, but I didn’t get to play as much as I wanted to in VR because it didn’t work on the server I was playing on.
- Super Smash Bros. for Wii U (Wii U): I played this to prepare for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. I like the character roster and the physics of the game, but a lot of the stages in this version sucked and the single player modes left a lot to be desired.
- Super Smash Bros. for 3DS (3DS): Again, played this in anticipation of Ultimate. I actually slightly prefer the 3DS version because what it lacks in a good controller it makes up for with more fun modes and less annoying stages.
- Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Switch): I’ve never been the biggest Smash fan, but boy did this game shatter my expectations. I absolutely love this game. It plays well, the roster is tons of fun, the reworked classic mode is outstanding, and I’m even in the camp that loves the Adventure mode. Its only real flaw is the slightly-less-terrible-than-at-launch-but-still-terrible online mode. I wrote a novel on this game already with my full thoughts, but this is unquestionably my game of the year.
- Astro Bot Rescue Mission (PS4-PSVR): A delightful third person VR platformer. The developers here really have a grasp both on how to make a third person game incorporate VR in fun and interesting ways and how to make a solid platformer. Really, the only area it falls short in is length: it’s not painfully short like Moss, but it could use one or two more worlds than it has. Still, it’s another must own for PSVR.
- Spider-Man (PS4): This is a weird situation because technically, I did start this two days before the end of the year. However, I really only played like 2 hours in 2018 before finishing the rest of the game in 2019. So, rather than fully elaborate on the game in this write-up, I’ll instead save my full thoughts as an exciting cliffhanger for 2019's write-up I’ll never do and nobody will care about.
And so, that was the year that was 2018. As a whole, while I didn’t find it quite as mind-bogglingly awesome as my 2017 was, it was still another great year filled with a wide variety of fun games. There were a few surprises in there like Wipeout and Hitman along with games I expected to enjoy like Splatoon 2's expansion. So, what were your favorite games of the year? Did you play any of the games on this list and if so what were your thoughts on them?