For a change of pace this year, I decided to forgo the typical Eternal Memories Countdown for the Best/Worst games of 2019, and instead stick with writing you guys an article on which games I liked the most in 2019. No Worst of list this year, since I honestly didn’t find many games I hated, and the few I did were all from the same publisher, so I don’t feel that a list of just one company’s games would really be fair to write. So, here’s a text list of games I reviewed/played this year, and which games I considered to be the best!
Per the rules from my videos, I don’t count rereleases that launched this year, if it’s a game I played previously in some form. Likewise, basic retro ports like Arcade Archives don’t count either, but compilations or enhanced remasters/upgrades do.
With that out of the way, onto my list of my ten favorite games from 2019!
10: Yooka Laylee and The Impossible Lair (Switch). A game I don’t have any plans on reviewing, nor one I even planned to buy… But dang it, the pre-order bonus of a N64 skin was really nifty! Giving this a reluctant shot after the mediocrity of the original Yooka Laylee (Alongside a botched 30FPS port), this sequel blows the original out of the water in every possible way: The game runs in a smooth 60FPS even on Switch, the level design is absolutely outstanding, and the overworld puzzles were really clever, even offering the ability to change up entire levels!
Some of the music sounds great too, thanks to David Wise, but another bit of the soundtrack reeked of the same “horn abuse” mediocrity that the first game was drowning in, which is a bit of a shame considering how solid the rest of the game was. Definitely a 2D platformer to add to your must-buy list if you’re looking for a new one.
9: Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist LINK EVOLUTION (Switch) A game I imported from Japan for a darn good reason: Last year, I got hooked on Yugioh Duel Links, but I always wished for some sort of Switch version of the TCG, and one that would maybe teach me how to use those darn white, black, and blue cards that came out of nowhere! Thankfully, Link Evolution does just that, offering itself as a great guide to newcomers to the card game, while offering dozens upon dozens of hours of content via the game’s story mode campaign and tricky Duelist Challenges, alongside some fun online multiplayer! Definitely a great Yugioh game, which is nice to see after years upon years of mediocre ones.
8: Pokemon Sword (Switch). A bit of a spoiler for my future review of this game, but Pokemon Sword is easily my favorite of the “main pairs” of Pokemon games. Offering a bunch of handy quality of life improvements, one of the best soundtracks in the series, and great pacing, this is easily a good start for the Pokemon franchise on consoles. Let’s just hope 2020 is a much-needed gap year for the main series so that the next game is even better than ever!
7: Shakedown Hawaii (Switch)– The long awaited sequel to Retro City Rampage was well worth the wait, bringing a great 16-Bit visual upgrade to the mix and the same sort of addicting challenges that the first game offered! While it did lack a bit of that retro charm from the first game, this open-world action game was a blast to play, and ended up being a game I preferred a lot more over the original game.
6: Little Town Hero (Switch). A charming RPG from Game Freak that got criminally underlooked due to its high pricepoint and complex battle system, this one ended up sticking out for me in quite a few ways. For starters, it’s easily the hardest game that Game Freak has developed during the entire decade, requiring quite a bit of strategy that led to a lot of fun for me, since it was a bit unusual for that developer to be bold with a game like this.
Another nice thing was that the Town’s compact size made it quick and easy to know what to do next, which cut out a bunch of the fat and filler aspects from a typical RPG. I kinda wish the battles were a lot speedier though, since that’s another big turnoff for people, but if you can get past that, I feel you’ll truly get one of the most entertaining RPGs of the year.
5: Blazing Chrome (Steam). In a year where Contra returned with a disappointing, clunky 3D game, it was bewildering to see a 2D tribute to the series outdo the actual franchise, and Blazing Chrome is an absolute gem of a game. Containing bits from both Metal Slug and Contra, this is a sidescroller that’s definitely worth playing, and is the ultimate game from the company Joymasher, who previously made a few average throwbacks to Ninja Gaiden and Castlevania before this. What an improvement in the studio’s quality, which truly does show their passion for these kinds of games. I loved this game so much, I didn’t hesitate to buy the physical Switch version from Limited Run Games a few months back.
4: Psyvariar Delta (Switch) A compilation of an early 2000s vertical shooter, this gem from Dispatch Games impressed me way more than I expected it to be. Not only did it include two versions of a great shooter that introduced me to Psyvariar, but the new Delta mode offers a lot of fancy additions that made Psyvariar one of the most replayable score-chasers of the entire year, making it a must-own for Flip Grip owners and vertical shooter fans! Definitely makes me want to see the sequel remastered in the future, too!
3: Timespinner (Xbox Windows 10). The absolute glory of Game Pass is that it may let you try out a game you aren’t sure if you’d fully like or not… And I’m absolutely thrilled I did. Timespinner launched this summer for Xbox platforms and Switch, and this game was a Metroidvania with some elements akin to Symphony of The Night, with a time travel theme that made it feel a tiny bit like Guacamelee’s world swap mechanic. With great controls, a compelling narrative, and a world that’s a joy to explore, this was definitely the best “zero expectations” game I played this year, and I’m glad I gave it a shot.
2: The Alliance Alive HD (Switch). Made as a tribute to the SaGa series, (Which also got a new entry this year) The Alliance Alive was neglected by plenty of people, including myself when it launched on the 3DS late in 2018. However, with this HD remaster, I was able to give this a spin for a review, and it ended up becoming the best RPG of the entire year for me!
An RPG with remarkable pacing, great combat, and excellent music, this was a hidden gem I didn’t see coming, and I really enjoyed my time with it during the review session, and I plan to play this to 100% completion on my 2020 backlog and beyond! The story may not be much special, but the great gameplay loop more than makes up for it, leading to the best pick-up and play RPG of the year.
Penguin Wars (Switch). A remake of the UPL Arcade classic, this technically launched in 2018 in Japan only, and in US retailers, but the digital game and the DLC didn’t launch until earlier this summer, which is when I played it. Thus, I’ll count it here, and it’s a darn good multiplayer game. Easy to pick up and play, as a game for anyone to get into!
Sega AGES: Shinobi (Switch). Because this counts under my no-port rule, it didn’t get on the list, but it’s easily the best retro rerelease I’ve played during the entire year, and it’s not even in the US yet! The definitive version of the original Arcade Shinobi, this is a score chaser worth playing, and shows exactly how you can perfect an old retro game for the modern age, leading this to be a must buy the moment it goes live in the west.
And finally, last but not least…
1: Aggelos (Switch) This was reviewed earlier this year, and it seems weird to have the same kind of game as my personal GOTY two years in a row… But to be honest, Aggelos just blew me away with the sheer accuracy of it all. From level design that worked a bit better than Monster Boy, to a SMS tribute that felt like it was truly made by the most diehard fans of the system, it’s pretty easy to say that this metroidvania ended up being the one game from 2019 to stick with me the most throughout the entire year!
And depressingly, I’ve heard barely anyone talk about this, so like with Elena Temple from last year, this is another Metroidvania that seems to have fallen under the radar, but if you like SMS games, or metroidvanias, then you owe it to yourselves to play this magnificent tribute to the Master System.
In the end, 2019 was a rough year for me personally. I already mentioned that in other posts, but if there’s one thing that kept me happy during the roughest moments, it was amazing games like these. In fact, Link Evolution was my hospital game as I waited and hoped for my grandfather to improve, and Aggelos pulled me through a rough spot after the loss of a best friend. Nevertheless, these are my picks for the best of 2019. What were your favorites from the year? Let me know in the comments, or on Twitter and whatnot, and see you for more reviews in the 2020s!