As the year is coming to a close and no big hits are coming in December – looking at you, Doom Eternal – let’s have a look at all the games that have made an impression on me this year.
By the way, writing this article would have been a lot easier if the Switch had anything like the activity log of the 3DS. Get your act together and release this for the Switch, Nintendo. (And while you’re at it, folders would be nice to have as well!)
Games enjoyed together with the family
This list is short and sweet. Apart of Yoshi’s Crafted World and Mario Kart 8 deluxe, the only games we played together were indies. The lovely Pode made us scratch our heads quite often, but three other games promised even more fun. First of those was Astro Bears which is like Tron, but on spheres and with bears not motorcycles. It’s tremendously funny! Pirates: All Aboard from the same publisher is nice as well, but the controls aren’t that suited for younger gamers. Cream of the crop turned out to be Runbow, in which both my daughters delighted in seeing me fail more than win a round.
Games I could’t get into
There are some very good games in this section, but some of them just weren’t made for me. Let’s start with Fortnite. Installed immediately after becoming available to see what all the craze was about, I removed it nearly as quick. Can’t tell for sure why, but it just didn’t click with me.
The same happened with Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen. It’s a nice game and was probably made to win over the westeners to a Monster Hunter like game. Problem is that I already love Monster Hunter, so Capcom’s offer was quickly discarded.
2019 was also the year in which I discovered that management and/or building games are not really for me. Both Dragon Quest Builders and Nelke & The legendary Alchemists were started but turned out to be a bore.
I was so hyped for Fire Emblem: Three Houses this year. I’ve played the hell out of previous entries of the series on 3DS, especially The Awakening. I was so hyped to play this game that I even stopped playing Wargroove and Mutant Year Zero as well as SteamWorld Quest. The idea to be a teacher was compelling at first, but then most of my time was caught up in running around the school and trying to motivate students or befriend them. That’s a big too close to home as I play video games to get some distance to my job. In the end, I was too bored to continue, even if the missions and story itself were interesting.
Glad to have them (again)
Doom was the first shareware game I actually bought and I still have those magical three 3.5′ disks somewhere in the attic. Naturally, I was excited when Doom, Doom 2 and Doom 3 were announced for the Switch and I got them all day one. It’s just a good feeling to be able to play those games again, especially now that Doom Eternal was postponed into 2020 if you want to play it on Nintendo’s awesome device.
Another game that I’m glad to have is Oninaki, by Square Enix. It’s a rather depressing action RPG with Diablo-like elements that’s fun to play, even if the story is rather depressing.
Super Smash Bro. Ultimate also belongs into this section. It was my first Smash Bros. and I liked it immensely, but I suck too much at it to enjoy the online matches (Who wants to lose each and every time?). Also, the single player story mode gets too tedious after a while.
A lot of you will shake their heads now, but I’ll still say it: Super Mario Maker 2 is nice to have, but not more. It’s probably because I have no real desire nor creativity to create awesome 2D Mario levels. I’ll freely admit that. It’s still nice to have around just in case one of my daughters wants to give it a spin. They’ll probably be better at platformers soon anyway.
Time sinks of 2019
Let’s come to the most important section: the games that I really enjoyed playing. And when I look at them, I realise what a good year this has been for me.
I got my RPG fill with Xenoblade Chronicles 2, which I haven’t finished yet. Do you know the feeling that you don’t want a game to end? That’s exactly what stopped me during the last chapter. It was just too good.
Then there was Dragon Quest XI S, which just sucks you into the world in need of saving and sucks up all your free time as well. Just exploring the world is so much fun that even the grind before some of the later bosses is enjoyable.
In action terms, I was happy to finally fight my way through Bayonetta. Let’s see if I manage to finish Bayonetta 2 before the next one is released.
This wasn’t the only action game I enjoyed. The toy-to-life failure of Starlink was a very well thought out game when played as a Starfox title. I can’t remember ever using a pilot different from the iconic space fox throughout my playthrough. Not that I even cared for the other pilots or for the plastic models in the first place. I do admit that I lost interest with the second DLC, though.
Luckily, some other game captured my interest quickly: Senran Kagura Peach Ball. You might remember the series as a series of fighting games. This entry however is a pinball game which is, if you blend out the ridiculously stupid story and apparent sexism, a quite a good pinball game. You just don’t want to play it docked on a Saturday morning with the family around.
Yoshi’s Crafted World was better suited to Saturday mornings and I enjoyed collecting all the gems. The platformer is easy enough to be enjoyable for smaller kids, too, and is so adoringly cute that you might want to brush your teeth regularly as a precaution against its sugary sweetness.
Wolfenstein: Youngblood was my game for the Saturday evenings. B.J. made way for his twin-daughters and said daughters laid waste to Nazi-occupied Paris under my command. Apart from a lack of interesting locations, Paris is nice, but a little bit of variety would have been nicer, it was an enjoyable game.
Also very brutal, but not as bloody, Warframe burst onto the Switch this year. The 3rd-person shooter has a strong following and is overwhelmingly grindy unless you are willing to cough up some dimes to speed up manufacturing items. Still, if you want action for free, you could do a lot worse.
There was another pinball game I immensely enjoyed: Yoku’s Island Express, a platformer in which you move a post delivering bug around a 2D island consisting of, well, pinball machines. It sounds crazy, but it is one of the most creative metroidvanias you could think of.
You’re probably waiting to read about Pokemon, right? Well, As I started my Let’s Go, Pikachu journey on Christmas morning 2018, I had a lot to do this year. I’m still not happy with the mechanics and didn’t manage to complete my Pokedex like the ones for Sun and UltraSun, but it was an enjoyable trip that left me hyped up for Sword and Shield. Alas, as is tradition in this family, I won’t get to play that entry until Christmas.
Saving the best for last, Halloween brought me Luigi’s Mansion 3 which I’m savouring every minute of. I’ve played Dark Moon on the 3DS and was quite happy with it, but the more open format of the current game is so much better. You can wander through the hotel at your leisure, collect gold bars or just enjoy sucking in ghosts.
Oh, let’s not forget a game that I didn’t expect to arrive on the Switch. Also I didn’t expect it to be so good: Overwatch. I normally suck at shooters, but Overwatch does a good job in keeping me interested nonetheless. I expect to play a lot more of this game even if I usually end up as cannon fodder. Rolling around as a hamster in a robot is just too ludicrous to pass.