This year has overall been a load of hot garbage. The one shining beacon of hope for me so far has been in video gaming. The quality of new games (and remakes!) this year has been extremely high, even if there were a few major disappointments. Most of the games on this list will come as no surprise to people that know me at all. With that said, here is my list of the best games of 2017, and it is very Nintendo-heavy. I’ve again stuck with 7 games. I figured that sometimes tradition can be fun, so this is my very own. We also made a supplemental Seasonal Anime Checkup OVA episode talking about our choices, and you can listen to that here.
Without further ado…AL’s 2017 Games of the Year!
7.) Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle (Switch)
This is not a game I ever thought would be on my list when I first saw the marketing. In fact, I was appalled that Mario was getting crossed with Rabbids, of all things. Seeing Princess Peach marketed as “badass” now seemed ridiculous. 1 Once E3 rolled around and we saw gameplay, everybody stopped. XCom gameplay?? I was intrigued. When the game finally came out, I was blown away. It was good. The gameplay was really fun and challenging, the Rabbids humor was actually quite funny at times, especially with fun surprises such as Bwaluigi and Bwario, and the design felt unique and beautiful. It was one of the biggest surprises of the year for me, and it shows that maybe Nintendo can trust others with their IP after the disaster that was Philips CD-i Zelda.
6.) Zero Escape: The Nonary Games (PS4)
Specifically, I want to give credit to the upgraded version of 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors. The first game was released originally in 2010. In the bundle, 999 feels like a completely new game. One of the most notable features is that for the first time, it features voice acting. When the game originally came out, it had little blips as character voices. Now, all your favorite characters speak–and the English dub is fantastic. My shining star of this dub is Evan Smith as Junpei. He honestly brings Junpei more characterization than ever before, and as someone who loves the sass, Evan Smith brings it. The entire cast is great, but I was immensely impressed by his work. The game has also been HD’ified. The sprites look amazing, and with the addition of the new clean look and the voices, a lot of the emotional impact of the game hits harder than it did before. One thing that I feared is that one of the major story points relied on the two screens of the DS. With this remake, there are two separate modes for storytelling to retain the twist in Novel and Adventure modes, and there is even a flowchart like the other game on this release–Virtue’s Last Reward. I loved 999 game the first time, and I felt that enough and been changed and upgraded to warrant it making my list this year.
5.) Fire Emblem Warriors (Switch)
This should come as no surprise to anyone that knows me. I am well known for my musou game love. You might also know from last year that I am a fan of Fire Emblem games, too. Smoosh them together and get a happy AL! After the great success (in my eyes) that was Hyrule Warriors, I almost lost my mind when this one was announced, and Fire Emblem Warriors delivered. The game is fun. Like, a lot of fun. The original story was traditional Fire Emblem in almost every way, but the new characters worked very well with the returning series characters too. There is also a history mode where you can explore the stories of the FE characters. One bonus about this game that I really appreciated was the maintaining of social aspects from the recent FE games, as it was a neat little mechanic that made leveling your skills more fun. I will knock it for not having some of my favorite recent Fire Emblem characters, but that’s just because I like them. Maybe in the future DLC! That said, Matt Mercer was in this twice, and thus it is perfection.
4.) Collar X Malice (PS Vita)
My otome of the year! Collar X Malice is by far the best otome release of 2017, and there have been several. The protagonist is actually a capable woman who cares about her family and gets to shoot stuff while also being adorable. It’s also worth noting that everyone here is an adult, which is rare for Japanese games. She gets caught up in X Day investigations with a poison collar around her neck, and so she has to work with 5 different detectives 2 to solve the mysteries. Depending on who you pick, you’ll be tasked with solving different months of the terrorist X Day crimes. I will say that most of the guys in this are extremely likable, except for the tsundere. He is the worst, and unfortunately the sexiest stuff happens with him. Okazaki is by far my favorite, but Enomoto and Yanagi are also extremely solid choices. It’s cute, it’s fun, it’s got good romance, it’s got a great story that keeps you guessing, and the twist is fantastic.
3.) Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (Switch)
Xenobladeeeeeeeee. So, I will say I adored the first game. Absolutely was in love with it. I played Cross, and I thought it was okay. However, hearing that Nintendo was going back to the style of the original got me jazzed. This game delivered for me. Yes, it does have texture issues and sometimes things just don’t load at all, the gachapon rare blade system was sorta poopy, and the overt sexualization was out of hand, but the story and gameplay made up for it in my eyes. This game is fun! I put nearly 160 hours into it, and as with the first one, I constantly quest. All the time. I love getting to know the world, the stories, and the characters. Speaking of characters, they’re fantastic. Seriously, Zeke is one of my favorite JRPG characters in a long time. I was invested in Rex and Pyra, Nia was my sass machine, and Poppi is legit one of the best characters of the game. Despite its few problems, I was skipping sleep in order to play this game, and that says a lot in terms of how much I enjoyed playing it. It’s also worth mentioning that the twist that ties it into the first game was so unexpected and welcome that I literally squealed from happiness.
2.) Super Mario Odyssey (Switch)
Mario Odyssey. When they first showed trailers for it, I was hype for a new 3D Mario game. It looked like a solid mix of Mario 64 and the Galaxy games, and I was here for that. What I got was even better. It’s like a huge love letter for the entire series. It mixes the best parts of all the previous games, including NES style sections of levels, to make something entirely new and fun. The worlds were huge and alive, and they had phenomenal music fitting for each level. They also are extremely different! You have a vibrant city, a desolate castle, a forest/logging area, snow, a samurai showdown, prehistoric introductions, a couple water levels, an area that looks straight out of a Tim Burton movie,
the moon, Mushroom Kingdom, and one kingdom that made me almost swear off food. One of the most mind-blowing moments of this year in gaming was the New Donk City Festival, which I do not want to spoil here. I will say that I regularly still listen to “Jump Up, Superstar!” I also was stunned at how hilarious the final boss and scenes after were. While this game is phenomenal, there are bits that are impossibly hard for no good reason, and I haven’t had much of a motivation to go back to it. That said, it’s still one of the best games of the year, and I had a blast playing it.
1.) Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch)
This. This is a perfect game. Literally nobody is surprised that I picked this, but I did for a good reason beyond just “It’s Zelda.” It’s not the Zelda I grew up with, and that’s part of what makes it so damn good. It breaks conventions, it tries new things, and it works in every single way. I have not really been much for exploration worlds, 3 but BotW made me want to explore everything. I enjoyed the fact that I had to think about where I was going, how I was going to fight, what items I had, how I was going to cook, and dressing up Link was fun.
One criticism I’ve seen of this game is the music, and I couldn’t disagree more. It’s perfection. You’re literally experiencing a form of Hyrulean dystopia, and the fragmented and ambient music that often remixed old Zelda music fit in a way I never would have considered. The music felt like post-Calamity Hyrule, and that’s what I loved about it. However, they still succeeded at amping you up when needed, such as the Guardian theme and the Hyrule Castle theme. If you want a jam, that last one is it.
This game plays wonderfully, it sounds amazing, the story is beautiful and not linear, and I felt that it worked to have the smaller shrines and four big dungeons. This Link is also some of the most personality we’ve ever gotten from one 4, and the real tragedy is that the English translation didn’t get the first person perspective of the quest journal that the original Japanese game got. I will always lament that loss. This game also has the best iteration of Zelda. Ever. She feels extremely human, and you can sympathize with her struggles. She can be bratty, but she also has the weight of the world on her shoulders, and she is the only one who can’t do their duty. She suffers, she misses, she loves, she fights, and she questions. This Zelda is by far my favorite of the princesses, and her design is also top notch. 5
A Link to the Past has been my favorite Zelda game since 1992. I can’t guarantee that Breath of the Wild will stay at the top in a few years, but as of right now, a new Zelda game has finally surpassed LttP, and it is BotW. Once Link stepped out of that cave to see the world of Breath of the Wild, I was floored. I have found it impossible to stop thinking about the characters and the world, and I think that in and of itself is a good reason to name it as my game of the year.
I hope we have had fun with my list this year, my dudes! I’ve enjoyed playing all of these games, and there are more games I played this year that either didn’t make the cut and are still good or are utter disappointments and came nowhere near the list. Nothing can be as disappointing as the year of 2017 itself, but I will say that I am glad that we had such a solid year of video gaming to make up for it.
Happy New Year, y’all. And with that, AL out.