Now that 2017 has come to a close, it’s time to go over the best games released. Here are my arbitrary rules:
- It has to have been released in 2017
- I have to own it, which could be either physical or digital
- Nintendo Switch is off limits as I’m doing a “Year of the Switch 2017” as there have been a ton of great games released for the system.
Honorable Mention: Jeffrey Wittenhagen’s Black Box Challenge (NES)
It wouldn’t feel right including a game that I published in my own Top 10 list, so I’ll just mention it here as Sly Dog Studios truly created what I consider one of the greatest NES homebrew games of all time! In this unique take on a RPG, you collect the classic NES Black Box games that are used to unlock abilities within the game. The gameplay mechanics are refined and offer little nuances that really make this game fun to play. To add icing on the cake you get to play minigames based on all the classic NES games!
10: Friday the 13th: The Game (Xbox One/PS4)
I had really high hopes for this game being my top of the year, but unfortunately due to a lot of the features still not being completed it prevents it from being anywhere near the top. The multiplayer aspects are fun, especially when playing as Jason on smaller maps. However, without a dedicated single player mode or even bots the experience is much too limited for me. Luckily there is enough here as a Friday the 13th fan to keep me coming back.
9: Tailgate Party (NES)
Tailgate Party is a really unique game since it is the first game to utilize the NES PowerPad! It uses the accessory in a brand new way as you throw bean bags at the PowerPad, which registers your points based on where they land. It’s like cornhole on crack! To add to the greatness of this release, there is even a story mode. So much content here that really show’s the programmer’s talent for deep game creation.
8: Stranger Things: The Game (IOS)
I don’t think I’ve ever included an IOS game on my Top 10 of the year before but Stranger Things is definitely one of the best phone games I’ve ever played! It has a Legend of Zelda feel where you touch on the screen where you want to go. The attacking works great and the puzzles are very fun to figure out. Playing as multiple players from the series is also really cool and allows you to get fully immersed in the lore of the show.
7: Double Dragon IV (PS4)
While many people may have not understood what made Double Dragon IV such a great game, the simple fact that Kyle and I play Double Dragon II on the NES religiously makes this game a huge nostalgic trip for us. The controls are simplified to appeal to casual games, but added moves and the ability to play as the freaking Shadow Boss from Double Dragon II through the main game makes this an amazing throwback to NES beat’em ups that I really enjoyed.
6: Cowlitz Gamers’ 2nd Adventure (NES)
Just playing this game near the tail end of the year, this game is the sequel to one of my favorite games from last year and holy shit does it up the ante in almost every way! The graphics are beautifully refined and compare to licensed games released on the NES. The controls are very responsive and there are a lot of new patterns and enemies to figure out. While I enjoyed the first game, this sequel makes it feel like a mini-game in comparison. That is a huge testament to how enjoyable the Cowlitz Gamers’ 2nd Adventure is.
5: Cuphead (Xbox One)
I have been waiting to play Cuphead since the first time I saw the E3 demo many many moons ago and wow are the animations and cartoon graphics neat (yes I said neat). The gameplay itself, in most levels, is a bullet hell shooter where you must figure out the patterns of each boss, who typically has multiple forms. These are fun and intuitive to do and if you just keep at them, you will eventually squeak by. There are also some platforming levels, which are also fun and break up the chaos from the boss rushes nicely. While this game is ridiculously difficult in spots, I found it extremely satisfying to beat levels.
4: Justice Duel (NES)
I first played Justice Duel, by Mega Cat Studios, at TooManyGames this year and it can be described as Joust on crack! You play as robotically modified Presidents, like Lincoln, Roosevelt and Grant, along with Confederate General Lee, who all ride upon flying birds. There is a really awesome story mode where you progress through stages and take out all of your opponents on the level. There is also a multiplayer mode where you can play cooperatively with up to four players! Add in achievements to the mix (yes on a NES game!) and this game is really the ultimate version of the classic Joust formula. I now have the limited Retro Game Con V edition, which will be joining my “Top 18 NES Homebrew” games list soon!
3: A Hat in Time (PC)
A Hat in Time is an amazing 3D platformer that showed up out of nowhere, as it wasn’t on my radar at all. My buddy AntDude did a review of it and I knew I had to check it out. Playing through the game it really feels like a tribute to Super Mario 64, but with lots of different hats and abilities. It’s scary how close this comes to Super Mario Odyssey, but the games are completely different experiences. Each world has an energy to it that really sets it apart from the others and the characters have a quirkiness to them that I like. Here’s to hoping that this game comes out on the Switch on the future, as I will definitely double dip to play this game again!
2: Horizon Zero Dawn (PS4)
All I have to say about Horizon Zero Dawn is holy shit! I did not expect a brand new IP to pop up out of nowhere and be so amazing. The graphics are stunning and the whole world feels alive and new. It’s crazy and the only reason why it is not #1 for the year for me is that I didn’t play it more (due to my wife hogging the PS4… haha). The game is simply amazing and it’s crazy to think that this game and Zelda game out months apart. It truly shows that great things come in pairs.
1: Metroid II: Samus Returns (3DS)
While I am not including Switch games, Metroid II: Samus Returns was the one 3DS game that actually had me pull my portable out of retirement and fire it up! I took it on the train commute to work and plowed my way through Metroid scum. The game is definitely impressive and the little nuances that they changed were just enough to make things play fresh. While AM2R (the fan made version of Metroid II on the PC) was great, Samus Return really has that Nintendo polish on the level design and gameplay mechanics. I can’t wait to see what the next installment in the series has to offer and hopefully Nintendo continues down the 2D path as well in the future!
That’s it for 2017, and I know I missed a few heavy hitters out there like Resident Evil 7 which I’ve been meaning to buy. Are there any games you think I should have included here?
My “Year of the Switch” article will be out soon!