Hello everyone! If things went as planned and I didn’t die/get sick/something bad happened, we’re making our way through the end of 2022 roundup just fine. Hopefully you saw that yesterday, a followup to the Limprint Report Card went live, done by popular demand and as my compromise to not wanting to really dwell on or make updates on every last thing those companies do. For the foreseeable future, that’ll be the end of Limprint reports here unless something ultra dire happens, so please, don’t treat me as the Limprint gospel.
Today we’re back to usual business here at SFG for our roundup, and that’s the list of the worst and best games of the year! Last year was very mid and not of much importance, with the “worst” of the list being just a dull arcade style game I couldn’t get into. However, this year we have some actually terrible games in the mix, along with a few that I wish were better than they were, and aren’t bad, just underwhelming. Oh well, this year was one of the weakest years in gaming in quite some time (if you aren’t an Elden Ring fan), so let’s see what the ten worst games were, both stuff I reviewed, or played in my own time in 2022.
10: Pokemon Scarlet/Violet (Nintendo Switch)– A curse I keep dealing with whenever I pledge to review a modern Pokemon game for the site is not knowing how to put everything I think about it into words. Last year I got a review out for Shining Pearl I’m rather proud of, and noted that game had a fun twist on the classic Diamond and Pearl games, but suffered from the lack of QOL and an odd amount of bugs.
Legends Arceus would come out earlier this year to follow up BDSP, and I swore off it solely due to it being weird with open world and no multiplayer features, which seemed like the complete opposite of main series Pokemon to me. That and only having around 240 Pokemon was utterly laughable compared to the 400+ we usually get in these games. Thus, I skipped it and hoped the next true Pokemon would take the best elements of everything I liked about BDSP and what fans like about SWSH/Legends and make a huge super game out of it.
Pokemon Violet (the version I picked), is not that game. It is a sad, terribly made excuse of a product that ditches tradition and some aspects that made older Pokemon games fun to pick up and play, and throws a lot of it away to trend chase the Open World craze plaguing a lot of modern gaming. There are no routes, barely any dungeons, and seldom creative locations to explore. Sure hope you like grass, grass, mountains, mountains, and more of both! While Sword and Shield had an open-ended area in both the main game and both DLC packs, I felt that was the perfect size for such a thing, with Isle of Armor feeling like the perfect amount of variety that could be expanded into something more grand and epic, if Game Freak felt willing to do the task, and that led to hope in me that they could make a fun word that’s more open ended, but keeps the soul of Pokemon alive.
Well, it just isn’t. The first day I played this, I felt an extreme rage build up that made me desperate to return the game back to target and hate it more than Pokemon ORAS, the last game to make me feel this way. How I tried to play it as a BOTW-style game and how the game wants you to progress didn’t match, thus leading to a confusing, repetitive mess that didn’t have much of any fun factor at all for me. In fact, if I had a snap judgment and did succeed in refunding on that first day, it would have shot up to 2nd place on this list without hesitation.
Yet I kept playing, and caved in and focused on the main questlines, (after spending the first day trying to goof off and do my own thing, seeing if I could make my own fun. You really can’t!) ignoring the laughable excuses for towns that were beaten in memorability by the towns from the first god damn Ys game (a game with only two tiny towns!), the weird new set of Pokemon designs that didn’t click with me, and the horribly bland world with grass and mountains all over, with none of the classic staples like routes and dungeons that made older game regions a lot more distinct. Somehow, when focusing on the main objectives in the three quest lines, Pokemon Violet finally clicked, as the core gameplay loop of catching pokemon, battling with them, and general quality of life is really top notch! We have some truly amazing fights in these campaigns, some of which became the best in the entire franchise for me, and shockingly enough, this game of all things became the one to have a league that toppled the Hoenn Elite Four as my favorite gauntlet of the franchise!
That is what makes putting this game or reviewing it so incredibly challenging: world and design wise, it’s a buggy, annoying mess and something I wish and pray never is done ever again, with the franchise reverting back to routes and developed towns and dungeons like the old days. Yet somehow despite all that, the main story content you have to enjoy here is really, really damn good, with well designed battles, tons of challenge, and amazing music on top of it all. Once I got into the Titan questline, I was absolutely hooked and had fun with every last battle. The Star fights kept me on the edge of my seat and were shockingly addicting, Dynasty Warriors style, and the Gym quest ended with some of my favorite battles this series had to offer.
The whole rest of the game should have been as brilliantly designed and fleshed out as these great bits, but unfortunately, it was very apparent that Scarlet/Violet needed more time, and a better designed world in general. That’s not even getting into the tech/performance issues this game is plagued with, since even if everything was buttery smooth, that doesn’t fix the deadness of the open world or the boredom of going around grass and mountains over and over again. Alas, this game ended up being a huge step backwards from Sword and Shield in structure, but a big step forward in creative Pokemon boss battle design.
9: Horgihugh and Friends (Nintendo Switch)- Agh, I wanted to like this more, I really did. A cute world, a fun tribute to retro Konami games, and gorgeous pixel art? How could this game possibly be bad? Well, by being grindy and having cheap moments, that’s what. It’s a shame too, since there were moments of fun here, and once upgraded via the Eterday town, the shooting action gets a lot more fun!
Yet even then, this game is just dull and doesn’t do much to be memorable, and still could have benefited from a lot, lot more polish. Not horrible, just incredibly disappointing and mediocre.
8: Taito Milestones (Nintendo Switch)- Wait, didn’t I kinda like this game? Well uh, yeah, kinda! In general, Taito Milestones isn’t bad: it compiles several Arcade Archives titles into one retail package. The problem, is that if you don’t buy this on sale, or without the expectation of something else, then you’ll be pretty disappointed with the value here, since these are literally just the arcade archives versions with nothing extra, with Qix oddly bugged to have inaccurate audio here that is not the case on the ACA download version.
The physical got a limited edition with a bunch of fancy goodies, but as a software compilation, especially compared to other compilations such as the Turrican Anthology or Atari 50, Taito Milestones could have been so, so much more in depth. Just pick up an Egret Mini instead.
7: Wonder Boy Collection (Nintendo Switch)– From a barebones collection of games with no extras, to… A collection that’s kinda incomplete with weird extras and missing aspects? So yeah, Wonder Boy Collection compiles most of the main Monster World series. You got the original Arcade game, the Monster Land sequel, the fantastic Wonder Boy in Monster World, and Monster World IV all in one package, with Monster Land II and Monster Lair completely excluded. What’s so bad about this?
Well, how about the fact it’s just a chopped version of a future compilation due for next year, which has literally everything Wonder Boy related that isn’t Hudson-owned? Yeah, ININ have done this before, but at least with Space Invaders Forever, the curated games there were good picks (and available on PS4, unlike the full set), and Turrican Flashback had all of the trilogy entires. Here, you just have one entry missing from the Monster World side for next to no reason, combined with oddities like a forced border, weird bugs, and most confusing of all, screenshots and art of the home versions that aren’t even included in the set as part of the game select menu.
Of all ININ compilations, this is the most that feels like a pizza piece is missing from the pie, and I’m just stunned that they didn’t even patch this set once to at the very least tweak the border aspect. Good set of games, but with a better set on the way and limited only to the eShop or an online website, this original set from June is just more confusing as the months go by.
6: Astro City Mini V (System)- I honestly struggled to put a game here because the ones I had in mind were better off as honorable mentions or just not on the list at all, and the game I mainly planned to put here (KOFXV) isn’t even really bad now that it’s been patched to fix my launch window gripes, but still one you probably shouldn’t go out and support anyhow. So, I’m bending my “no hardware” rules for these lists to put in a disappointing mini.
So, Sega announced a followup to the cool Astro City mini, and it was to be all shooter focused! Sounds perfect, right? Well, I hope you like input lag, since Sega Toys sure does, and this system is plagued with it. Thankfully, the game I most gravitate toward (Zaxxon) is one of the least bad in this case, but a lot of the super cool games like Batrider, Batsugun, Outzone, and Gunbird are all plagued with very, very bad input lag. Sure, if you hold the auto fire it may be harder to notice, but compared to other ports on Evercade or Switch (or even other mini arcade systems!), this input lag is enough to drive me bonkers, and I am gobsmacked that the response from Sega/Mikado to this unit was to just shrug off the input lag. The OG Astro had it, but it’s doable enough that I didn’t really notice for my sessions with that unit, but this? No, it’s strictly a Zaxxon toy from here on out, which is a huge shame.
Limited Run got a US version with Super Zaxxon as a bonus game, but even they can’t get Sega to put a patch or update out, meaning that it seems like Sega’s content with abandoning this huge missed opportunity of a console. Such a shame due to the quality of the lineup.
5: Ganryu 2 Hakuma Kojiro (Nintendo Switch)– This one is mainly here for the switch version: on other platforms, it would be tolerable as an OK followup to an average Neogeo game, just with some frustrating checkpoints and design choices, but still solid with the combat and flow. Sadly, the Switch version is what I reviewed, and it was a technical mess. Actually, way, way worse of one before I got around to covering it, to the point the framerate would become unbearably bad in later stages, almost single digit tier! As of now, Ganryu 2’s performance is not that level of awful, but it still is incredibly annoying to deal with, and combined with those clunky design choices, just combines to heavily drag and make a mark on an otherwise uninspiring game.
Needless to say, a 2D game should not be suffering from such issues, and I haven’t really gone back to check to see if this port got to a stable framerate since my review went live, but considering the nature of Switch ports in general, I’m doubting it. Nevertheless, compared to the other Neogeo sequel to launch around that time, Ganryu 2 sadly didn’t hit the mark.
4: Valis: The Fantasm Soldier Collection II (Nintendo Switch)– Just, what on earth happened here? The first set was a great value and an absolute must-own, which I enjoyed reviewing last year, but this set is an immense downgrade and disappointment in almost every fashion. You get four games instead of 3 this time, but that causes the MSRP to jump… And one of them is the abysmally horrible Syd of Valis. The other games are decent to good, but then you have the Genesis Valis suffering from horrible FM sound emulation that is still not fixed three months after launch. In fact, they even had the audacity to sell it standalone for over $15 with the FM audio still broken.
I may be a Valis megafan, but even I can tell when a cool set turns into sheer milking, especially when such little care goes into a crucial part of the emulation experience with not one attempt made to properly fix it. Honestly, just buy Valis IV standalone if you picked up the other set. I like MSX Valis for being quirky, but it isn’t worth what will likely be a $50 set when this gets a US launch next year. Absolutely stay away.
3: Sonic Origins (Nintendo Switch)- My god, another botch job! But unlike Valis Collection 2, where it was just one game that suffered (and the whole package already feeling like a bit of a milking trip ahead of time), Sonic Origins had promise. Lots of it. Those who know me will know that I’m not usually a fan of the 16 bit Sonic titles, save for Sonic CD. Sonic CD in particular, got an amazing HD remaster by Christian Whitehead which added so much QOL and tweaks that the 2011 port became my all time favorite Sonic title in history. Needless to say, when a collection of not just that port, but similar ports of the other Sonic games on Genesis were announced, I was hyped!
Then we got closer to launch, and uh, it seemed a bit rocky. A silly Digital Deluxe plan, and necessary changes to the music in the Sonic 3 half of S3K were signs for caution, but even then, a simple/edited compilation is still better than a badly made one, and I saw no reason to doubt that Origins wouldn’t at least end up being a fun way to marathon some classic Sonic action, and I was particularly pumped for the new challenge mode, and how I planned to use my CD 2011 achievement hunting skills for some new takes on the game’s quirky design.
Depressingly, I got Origins on launch day and to say it was a mess would be an understatement. For Sonic mega-fans, it was an utter trainwreck, and for casuals/newcomers, it wasn’t nearly as definitive of a collection as it should have been. Yes, you do get ported versions of all the whitehead versions, including a new one of Sonic 3. The Sonic 3 port is pretty great, and while I don’t think anything could feasibly compare to a fan made version that was in the works for many years more (Sonic 3 A.I.R), it definitely fits in and does justice to the original game. The replaced music is mostly fine, though they oddly use earlier versions of the proto music discovered a few years ago, along with a very unfitting Sonic 4-esque Super theme, and I’d take that over no Sonic 3 ever again.
For me though, who just wanted a fun way to play retro sonic on the go? I’m in the middle of the two camps, and find Origins to be laughably insulting in some parts, and just disappointingly basic in others. The most glaring of issues to me come in the form of several bugs and oddities in the compilation that make no sense whatsoever, and are still not fixed all these months later: four months since the last patch, and six since one of the developers publicly pointed out the execution of the project wasn’t as good as they hoped it would be, and yet Sonic CD still has desynced cutscene audio, and all four games have a forced blur filter that while faint, is enough to irritate nearest-neighbor obsessed pixel fans such as myself. Comparing the CD version here to the 2011 CD port, almost nothing has changed for the better, and now that version is completely unavailable on Steam, so you’re stuck with this if you want to play any of these games in the modern age, save for the Sega Ages and Genesis Mini versions.
Considering how much of a jumbled, disappointing mess Origins turned out to be, along with the sheer neglect in fixing a lot of the issues spotted day one? Yeah, this was definitely one of my biggest upsets of the year, and i’m gobsmacked that Sonic Frontiers is supposedly of better quality than this, since the sheer lack of care for this product and utter abandonment make me convinced that only M2 can do any of these games proper justice, and maybe this would have been better off as an M2 developed package, rather than whoever at Sonic team cobbled this buggy, blurry mess of garbage together.
2: Qubyte Classics, Assorted (Xbox Series X)- Jesus Christ, where to begin. So yeah, one of the things i’ve done almost monthly since the start of the year was cover these retro ports of assorted Piko games from Qubyte, a studio who has put out good stuff before like Vasara Collection. Piko is notorious for just absorbing random IPs and creating crudely hacked ROMs of them, but some of the stuff they did obtain are legitimately fun games, such as 8 Eyes, Jim Power’s NES Demake, Tinhead, Top Racer and Dragon View. The Evercade has a lot of their stuff available in outstanding emulated quality, and I’ll just immediately say you are better off playing these games that way over these ports. Why, you may ask?
Well to keep it simple, and why this line is grouped as a bundle and not per game, is because this emulation wrapper is just horrible, and it hasn’t improved an inch since launch. Random games not loading save states properly, some games having horrific shimmering on Game Boy titles, sound emulation being off, weird button mapping, and the most unforgivable sin, atrocious input lag. Despite how many of my reviews push that these releases could be tolerable or even good if the input lag was at least fixed, Qubyte has not patched any of these to remedy this, and it seems they’re content to keep churning these out in the same low quality wrapper, which feels insulting to the history of these games, especially when they lack historical context.
Oh, and there’s also the fact they bundled two abysmal shovelware bootleg games into one package, one of which is a reskin of a Namco game I’m shocked hasn’t led to legal action. They seem to be making a Top Gear collection next year, and I can only pray these issues are at least fixed in that set…
Advance Wars 1+2 Reboot Camp’s Endless Delay: Hey, it’s my site! I can use this to rant about something incredibly dumb and depressing! So uh yeah, Advance Wars was one of my favorite games I discovered via the Wii U Virtual Console, especially the local multiplayer mode when my friend would come over. Lots and lots of hours were dumped onto that game, and when Nintendo announced a remake of the first two games for Switch, developed by Wayforward of all people, I was hyped and also surprised, mainly because the announcement came fresh off the heels of a very horrific and public attack on Palestinian territory, one that opened my eyes wide to the horrors of that long-standing conflict, so of all times for the Wars series or anything akin to that subject matter to make a comeback, June 2021 was absolutely not the month I’d bet on.
That and also how in general, the world itself is a lot more tense and dangerous than the earlier days of this franchise. (poor timing of the first game in the US nonwithstanding) Still, it was slated for December 2021, and Advance Wars isn’t really too extreme, so I just figured it was a case of poor timing and rolled with it. Before launch, it got delayed to the first bit of 2022, which was unfortunate, but apparently done to make the game even better… And then in the Feb Nintendo Direct, we got a release date for April!
Russia invaded Ukraine weeks later, causing the game to be pulled off the release schedule to an unknown date. In the moment? It begrudgingly makes sense, since after all, Nintendo doesn’t want to be targeted by Fox News or any other sort of reactionary for promoting a War-focused game mere weeks after the start of a fierce conflict. While I still personally believe they could have shifted to pledging money from the game towards Ukranian charities and released it anyhow, a delay made sense, especially with August having an open gap for release that would have fit well, and by that point, the war would fade from the public eye.
It did not come out in August. It likewise, didn’t come out this month, a year after the original release date. As of writing, Advance Wars still has no release date at all. This was literally my most anticipated game coming into 2022, and now it’s likely to be one of many for 2023. Nintendo won’t budge on why it’s taking so long or if it even will make it out in the end, but considering Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II made it out A-OK despite being waaaaay more insensitive, this delay is honestly utterly stupid at this point. There’s literally no benefit to holding it off so long now, and it’s almost certain the minute this does finally hit shelves, the Wars series is over. If every entry can come out or be derailed in the blink of an eye by world events, what’s the point of focusing on an IP themed around war in a cartoony fashion? Nintendo already has Fire Emblem, which is a much safer SRPG IP in that regard, and Konami has Nectaris, which could easily be revived and suffer better conditions than Advance Wars solely due to the nature of the series taking place on the moon.
I think ultimately for me, what makes this the most upsetting/annoying to me is how this appeared to be a glimpse at Wayforward back to remaking classic games with a great new presentation. They did an outstanding job with Ducktales Remastered a decade ago, and this seemed like the next best thing from them. Imagine all the Nintendo/other unused IP that could benefit from high quality remakes! Valis in the Wayforward style? Maybe even Clock Tower, Shinobi, or another Arc System Works game, perhaps a zany take on Block Out? So many wild possibilities, and while I’m certain some could still happen and they’ll still pitch revivals to other parties, without this game out as a testing ground, and possibly opening up to more works with Nintendo? I’m pretty sad that this is likely the end of the big N working with Indie devs to bring back neglected IP, but I do hope Wayforward gets to reboot another game in the same style regardless of if this campaign sees the light of day.
Sony’s Terrible Playstation Plus Premium Tier: OK, now wanna hear about something that did come out and had no right being so bad? Well last year, I grilled the Nintendo 64 Online service for the sheer amount of problems it had at launch, but luckily, almost all of them have been fixed, and I’ve been enjoying my time with a lot of the new games added in 2022. Pokemon Puzzle League, Majora’s Mask, Pilotwings 64? Hell yes!
But late last year, rumors swirled of Sony prepping their own NSO competitior focused on retro games, with one certain insider even speculating they could have over a hundred PS1 titles at launch! While such rumors should always be taken with a grain of salt and were very unlikely to ever be true, it did lead to tons of amazing thoughts in my head of cool obscurities that could be brought back: the PS1 Classics line on PS3 was amazing, especially in Japan where so many obscurities finally saw the light of day again! Harmful Park, Gaia Seed, Mega Man Legends 2, Einhander, Little Ralph, Klonoa, the list goes on and on and on! Even the Playstation Classic had a few fun obscurities, such as Gradius Gaiden and the first Persona title, so my hope was that this rumored PS Plus service would give NSO a bit of competition and offer a fun way to revisit some hidden gems, perhaps even some classics, too?
Well, it launched in June, and with a whimper. Some launch games were OK, like IQ or Hot Shots Golf, and some were excellent, like Wild Arms and Jumping Flash! But the PS2 games were the same old versions as many years ago for PS4, including incompatibility with PS5, leading to Ape Escape 2 being a complete nightmare to look at. PS3 games are streaming only, which makes sense considering the nature of the system, except for the biggest downer that made the service drop a lot for me, and that’s how the streaming quality here is absolutely abysmal. Long loading times, drops going up and down, it just doesn’t feel right, especially compared to playing Xcloud titles where the input lag feels a lot less bad. Don’t even get me started on PSP games, which seem so weirdly ported that some games have blur filters on where they shouldn’t, or textures glitching out. Of course, you can’t forget the comedic fact that there’s a 4:3 screen mode, despite how no PSP games were ever made for 4:3.
PAL region? Oooh sorry, you get the lame 50HZ versions of console games with a bare attempt to provide 60HZ versions later, which still aren’t as smooth as the native NA versions. Of course, this is all not even acknowledging the horrendous release schedule of games on this tier, since most post-launch offerings have been of the PSP variety, oddly enough, ranging wildly in quality. But even gems like Valkyrie Profile and Ridge Racer 2 can’t save the emulaton of the PSP stuff here, and PS2 hasn’t even gotten a single new game since the tier launched! PS1 has next to nothing, mostly sequels to the launch games, such as Syphon Filter 2. Don’t think you can go to the JP store and get import only obscurities or a faster release pace either, since they got the exact same games as we do. Needless to say, for a service that’s obscenely expensive to renew on a yearly basis, I cannot recommend it one bit, and it’s easily the most pissed off I’ve been at a retro reissue series in a long, long while, almost as if Sony wanted to make Nintendo’s Switch Online pace seem as quick as Sonic the Hedgehog.
And now, for the game that I found to be the absolute worst of the year, and not even one that has any sort of redeeming qualities to it…
1: Run Box Run (Switch eShop)- The Qubyte Classics at least had some gems in their lineup, despite the low-effort of the line in general. This game, quite frankly, feels like it has next to none, and the post-review state of this game is just miserable. For those who didn’t see the review, a brief sum of that was how Run Box Run is basically yet another in a line of always online multiplayer games, taking elements from Runbow and Jackbox and mashing them together. RBR goes with elements that are utterly basic and so simple that anyone can join in, which is both a good idea for getting young kids or casuals to play it, and a terrible idea for anyone to play it long term, especially without the lack of any sort of ranking, local, or offline components.
You cannot play with bots, meaning this game relies on other people to keep it afloat or even make it playable, and well, this game sunk like a 20 ton anchor off the eShop charts almost the minute it came out: barely any players on launch day, and the few matches I did get during my review phase was not organic, for they often were started up by the game’s developer on the Atooi Discord server, or through the very small amount of sponsored review code streams that I ended up playing alongside with. Considering how part of this game’s marketing was pushing hard on the boomer humor that they hoped would hook the meme audience in like Among Us did, (and even tagging random celebrities like Elijah Wood begging him to play the game, of all things) and how in the weeks since the review went live, this online game is literally an unplayable ghost town, making this not only the worst game I played this entire year, but probably one of the most hollow, cash grab excuses for a video game I have ever experienced in my life.
Why, you may ask? Because Atooi was formerly on the best of our end of year lists, with Mutant Mudds Super Challenge proudly taking the GOTY award for 2016, and I find that gem to hold up amazingly well even as of last year. This game has zero of the soul or charm of that game, or a lot of the other stuff Atooi has made. Totes the Goat was arguably their last original great gem of a game, and since then they opened up a kickstarter to fund an HD Expansion of Chicken Wiggle, now known as Hatch Tales… Which as of this post, four years after the campaign, is not dated or has much to show off at all. Backers are angry, and in the Atooi discord I’m in, the general consensus is that game dev takes time, which yeah, fine, but when there’s next to no video or photo updates showing progress or even a glimmer of a new ETA, yet a shovelware-tier game like this is churned out in a year… Why wasn’t that year spent on Hatch Tales, or at least showing off more about it to let backers know it’s going well with this as a holdover?
People have pestered me about the game on Twitter wanting me to “investigate” it, and I’m frankly not in the mindset to want to dive down a hole like this, but what I can say as a reviewer who wanted to give Atooi’s new game an honest to god shot, going in blind and hoping for a decent multiplayer game, only to be baffled by how heartless it is, and seemingly is already abandoned, is that Run Box Run screams like nothing more than an attempt to fundraise more money for Hatch Tales, and nothing more. Hoping to catch the lightning that made games like Among Us or Jackbox blow up, with as little effort as possible into making an actually good game or memorable experience, and you have the most depressing game from an eShop developer I used to look up to immensely. Here’s hoping Hatch Tales ends up on the opposite end of my lists next year, but with how little we’ve seen of that, I’m wondering if it even made progress at all…
That sure was 2022 in a nutshell! Yeah, a lot more bad/boring than good. Such is how it is sometimes, and why the glory of retro gaming/backlogs are a blessing in times where new games may not appeal to you. I ended up really digging the XBLA Nectaris for my Advance Wars shaped hole in my heart, so if you’re in my boat, nab that if you’re craving similar action. Next time, we’ll cover the best of the year! …Which was insanely difficult, but I think I found some good gems.