Check your watches. That's right, 2018 is almost over and that means it's time to reflect on this year's gaming content. First, how did Nintendo do? Can you believe that the 3DS still sold and actually had some stellar games? It's crazy considering the Switch also sold tremendously well. Its game output, while good, was very strange. The Switch’s first year was outstanding what with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey. What year wouldn't be good with both a new Mario and a new Zelda core title? There was a lot of other great stuff as well like Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and Splatoon 2. However, there was a big question on everyone's minds though. Could Nintendo keep up the momentum in 2018? Well, the answer is complicated.
While they did indeed have a strong and steady set of releases, again mostly good, a lot of them were also ports. There's nothing wrong with that as the Switch's motto might as well be "put everything on me." Everything is just better on the Switch. Well, some things. I found myself not in love with big console ports like DOOM, but Indies thrive on it like Hollow Knight, which I’ll get into later. Well, the point is, whether they were ports, or not, 2018 was still a great year for Switch games along with the 3DS as well. It's not as stellar as last year, but again, strong. So let's see what was great and what was lame for our 2018 roundup of Nintendo.
30 Lame: Octopath Traveler
I wanted to love Octopath Traveler so bad! It looked like a call back to the golden age of SNES RPGs. I even bought my Switch last September when the first demo dropped. That's how excited I was. When I got the final version I liked it for a time, but it wears thin quick. It does a lot of things right, but the grind, and I mean the GRIND, is not a welcome comeback to games in 2018 and neither is random battles. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. I could go on, but it would probably take half this article.
29 Lame: Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate
If you told me that Monster Hunter World was going to be a contender for my personal Game of the Year back when it was revealed at E3 2017, I would have called you crazy. I tried so many times to get into the series but to no avail. It's clunky and archaic to be blunt. That said, Monster Hunter World changes things for the better. I thought I could get into an older style game in the series now so I checked out Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate on Switch. Phew, big mistake. There's just no going back.
28 Best: Super Mario Party
The Mario Party series can be fun like Monopoly can be fun. For the first fifteen minutes that is, then both of these things seem to drag on. This franchise, in particular, has been in a rut lately.
Mario brings the party back.
Well color me surprised, but Super Mario Party was so much fun, I decided to buy it. If that isn't a good enough testament to the game’s quality, I don't know what is. It's not perfect, but the charm is definitely back.
27 Lame: Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition
Final Fantasy XV has released a lot of spinoffs since its 2016 debut. Too many I would argue. One of the strangest is Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition, which is basically the whole game, but in chibi form and shrunken down for phones. It came out last year for iOS and Android phones and this year for consoles. As strange as it is I liked the aesthetic so I checked it out and boy, it may be buggier and slower than the original. How and just, why?
26 Lame: Mega Man 11
If you don't count the fan game, Street Fighter x Mega Man, or the various collections, the last game to come out of this franchise was Mega Man 10 in 2010. So yeah, it was about time for a comeback. I feel like this is Capcom's answer to Mighty No. 9 flopping, but even though this is the official license, it's almost just as bad. My main hitch is the music and visuals, two things that should be stellar in a Mega Man game. It's not awful, just average, and a letdown at that.
25 Best: Diablo III Eternal Collection
Diablo 3 was the first game in the series I dove into via the PS3 version. It was good, but I didn't fall crazy in love with it like I feel that I should have. The general consensus was that it was indeed good, but not as great as its predecessor.
Fast-forward to this Switch port and I love every second of it. Diablo 3 feels so much better as a portable. The grind for loot was made for this.
24 Lame: Mario Tennis Aces
Is it just me, or is every sports excursion from the Mario franchise never as good as golf, or go-karting? I love those two spinoff series, but there's just something about the tennis, or soccer games that rub me the wrong way. Everything about this iteration just feels so clustered around how you progress in the "story" or whatever you want to call it. The game was enjoyable for a brief time, but I think we all moved on quickly as the package didn't have that lasting power.
23 Lame: Just Dance 2019
I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm a huge fan of the Just Dance games. Lately, though, the packages have felt more and more shallow with this year's iteration being the worst in a while. The in-game songs aren't that great. While true it does have Just Dance Unlimited integrated into the game with a collection of the series' best, you have to pay to play them. So that’s $40, for a shell of a game, with a subscription on top of that. No thank you.
22 Best: Dead Cells
I heard a lot of craze about the beta for Dead Cells last year, but I decided to wait it out for the final release. Well, that and my computer isn't really game ready.
The rogue is strong with this one.
While I don't think the roguelike aspects are as good as my first love, Rogue Legacy, it's still an excellent game that I'm still having fun with months later. It's the game that keeps on giving. I will perfect you yet, Dead Cells!
21 Lame: Pokémon Quest
Pokémon Quest is almost too obvious of a game to put on this list. I don't think it was ever meant to be good. It was made to be good enough and free to entice people to sink some money into their Switches, as if the Pokémon franchise isn't making enough billions already. The worst part about it is the obvious Minecraft art style they ripped off. I never thought there could be such a thing as an ugly Pikachu, but here we are.
20 Lame: My Hero One's Justice
I've always been into anime, but my interest has dipped the past few years. That is until My Hero Academia appeared and rejuvenated my interest in the art form. I'm not that big on fighting games, but because My Hero One's Justice was a tie-in to an amazing show, well, I had to try it. As a fighting game, it is good and the visuals match the show's well. However, the list of heroes, villains, and stages included is pretty laughable.
19 Best: Valkyria Chronicles 4
Valkyria Chronicles has had a rough lifespan. The first game was groundbreaking; the second released on the poorly supported PSP, and the third never made it outside of Japan. Then the series was pretty much nonexistent for six years until the action spinoff, Valkyria Revolution, launched with less than stellar reviews last year.
So I didn't have high hopes for this even though there was a "4" in the title. Well, it may not be as groundbreaking as the first, but it's a return to form and that warmed my heart.
18 Lame: Lego The Incredibles
The Incredibles 2 film was actually pretty good. Not what I expected from a sequel over ten years in the making, but it was a lot better than I thought. The same can't be said about this lame LEGO movie tie-in. I liked LEGO Star Wars, but the LEGO phenomenon just kept on going with diminishing returns. These games just look and play so poorly. They're pushed out just as fast and poorly as the dredge of movie tie-ins we used to get only now with a cuter, LEGO shell.
17 Lame: Next Up Hero
What is Next Up Hero? Good question. The only reason it was on my radar was because ex-developers that worked on Scribblenauts were doing this. Those first couple Scribblenauts games were pretty tight and the idea of a roguelike where you could call in friends sounded fun with the initial reveal. However, its real launch sort of came out of nowhere like they were ashamed of it and that's perfectly understandable because it looks like a Facebook game. That may okay for your grandma, but not me.
16 Best: Hollow Knight
In 2016 I made a video on my YouTube channel about the best Metroidvanias that aren't related to Metroid, or Castlevania. It's actually done quite well, but the one thing that annoys me in the comments, and there are many, is that I didn't include games like Hollow Knight.
The opposite of hollow.
A game that came out AFTER my video. Hah, the Internet can be tasking sometimes. Anyway if you were one of these people, don't worry. I have now played and enjoyed the heck out of it on Switch. Your lives are now fulfilled?
15 Lame: Adventure Time: Pirates Of The Enchiridion
It goes without saying that one of Cartoon Network's biggest success stories has had a lot of tie-in games. Unfortunately, they're mostly bad. Even though that may be the norm, I was interested in Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion since it was a pirate-based RPG. It looked like Final Fantasy and The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker had a baby. The reality is that this baby should have stayed in the womb a bit longer, or you know, have been canceled.
14 Lame: Nickelodeon Kart Racers
I know what you're thinking and you're right. I was foolish to get excited for Nickelodeon Kart Racers. I mean, what could possibly top Mario Kart 8 Deluxe? With that in mind, I still hoped for a good racer with classic characters from the 90s cartoons I grew up with. Well, this game isn't that. It has a few throwbacks, but it's a lot of new stuff. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are in this, which just feels wrong. It also looks like an alpha build so yeah, pretty bad
13 Best: Yoku's Island Express
Another Metroidvania that was awesome this year was Yoku's Island Express. It mashed up pinball with the genre, which I thought sounded weird, but it works so well. It doesn't matter if it makes sense for an island to have bumpers all over the place because it's just a good time.
Somebody got their Metroidvania in my pinball.
The music is chill, the art is gorgeous, and your little bug is just a carefree, happy guy. It's the ultimate feel-good game of 2018. I dare you not to smile.
12 Lame: Sushi Striker: The Way Of Sushido
Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido came out at a weird time and on a weird platform. That is to say, everything about Sushi Striker feels like a mobile game. One with a higher-than-average production level, but a mobile game all the same. There just wasn't enough there besides the whacky concept of flinging sushi around in ninja combat to really keep me engaged for more than the first few stages. That could be me though because puzzle games just aren't my thing.
11 Lame: Lost Sphere
I Am Setsuna was the first game from Square Enix’s newly formed Tokyo RPG Factory. It was a promise to make smaller RPGs reminiscent of the good old days. While I Am Setsuna was flawed, it was a worthwhile spiritual successor to Chrono Trigger. That's why their next project, Lost Sphere, had me excited. Unfortunately, it's a regression in most instances. The mechanic of restoring the world’s memories is cool, but they didn't really improve anything from the last game. It feels like an expensive expansion with an interesting gimmick and that's it.
10 Best: Detective Pikachu
I wasn't a fan of Pokémon Quest and the two Pokémon: Let's Go games aren't really doing it for me either. They’re not lame enough to be on this list though. What I'm getting at was there was one great Pokémon game this year seemingly everyone forgot about: Detective Pikachu.
Look out for Pikapool in 2019.
That's right, before the movie trailer wowed us, there was the game that started it all. It's crazy to think a movie got greenlit and is far along now that it released a full-on trailer. I can’t wait!
9 Lame: Fear Effect Sedna
Fear Effect Sedna may be both the biggest surprise and the biggest disappointment of the year. The last game, of the two, that released in this series was back on the PS1 in 2001. Seventeen years to wait for a sequel is a long time. Unfortunately it would have been better off staying frozen. It reinvents the once horror-themed spy thriller into a type of strategy RPG. It's bizarre is what it is, but not in a good way.
8 Lame: Scribblenauts Showdown
The last Scribblenauts game came out in 2013. By that point, we were all feeling the fatigue. It was charming at first, but they just kept pumping them out. That's why I was shocked to see Scribblenauts Showdown announced in January and released just two months later in March. That's a risky bit of strategy, but if the game was good it wouldn't have mattered. Well, guess what? The game isn't good. It's a really bad Mario Party ripoff. Of all the ways to revive this brand, why this?
7 Best: Dragon Ball FighterZ
There have been at least a hundred games based on the Dragon Ball Z franchise. A lot of them have been fighting games. So it came as a surprise that not only was Dragon Ball FighterZ good, it was THE fighting game of 2018. I shouldn't have doubted the power of Arc System Works.
They make phenomenal fighters that look excellent like Guilty Gear, BlazBlue, and my favorite, Persona 4 Arena. It was great on the big consoles and got even better with this Switch port.
6 Lame: Attack On Titan 2
If you didn't play the first Attack on Titan game then maybe this would be interesting. As I did play the first game on PS4, and loved it, this then felt like an expansion pack. No wait, it's worse than that. It's fan fiction. You create your own character and go through that game's story again but through a new perspective. The whole time I was playing it I just asked myself why. Again, it's not awful for newcomers, but it is lame for old fans.
5 Best: The World Ends With You Final Remix
The World Ends with You: Final Remix is one heck of a name and it stands to reason that this should be one heck of a game, right? Well, it mostly is. This almost made it on the lame list though. While the original content is just as fun as ever, playing it on the TV means you have to use motion controls, which aren't great. As a handheld game, it's still really good though. Just be wary that this is not a great TV port.
4 Lame: Shaq Fu A Legend Reborn
The original Shaq Fu released on the SNES, Game Boy, Sega Genesis, Game Gear, and Amiga in 1994. It was a terrible fighting game, but funny in concept. Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn then is way past the point of relevance.
More like Shaq pee-ew!
It tries too hard to be goofy like it wants to be in on the joke, but unfortunately, it is the joke. It's also kind of racist and misogynistic. It is probably, without a doubt, not just lame but also one of 2018's worst.
3 Best: The Messenger
I never got into the original Ninja Gaiden series or the reboot that started on the original Xbox. So I have no nostalgia for it. That said, I do miss the days where ninja games were everywhere and not just about Naruto. The Messenger is a call back to those good old days, is tough, but strikes a better balance. I liken it akin to Shovel Knight. It has crisp pixel art, an amazing soundtrack, and just the right amount of challenge. Plus it has some very surprising secrets. If you haven't watched any trailers, that is.
2 Lame: Gal*Gun 2
When I first heard about the first Gal*Gun game, I was intrigued. It was about a Cupid angel that accidentally strikes a young man making women flock to him like bears to honey. It was an on-rails shooter that was, yes, off-putting and pretty boring after the initial concept rubbed off. That said, I hoped better for Gal*Gun 2, but it was just more of the same. Part of me is glad these whacky games exist, but another part just feels awkward.
1 Best: Celeste
There's a reason why Celeste, out of all the indie games in 2018, made it onto the nominees for Game of the Year at this year's Game Awards. It's right next to Red Dead Redemption II and God of War so yeah, that's saying something.
At first glance, you could just call this another puzzle platformer with a high difficulty akin to Super Meat Boy, but it's more than that. Who knew a deep story could be hidden in something like this?