09 Jul 2019 The YEar So far
When I started these posts not too long ago, I wanted to stray free of lists, reviews, and other normal pieces that we see and read every day. Even my blogs that took a look at E3 conferences were designed to be a way for me to express my thoughts about gaming and my personal account of the event. It wasn’t about news and these posts still do not seek to report or review or rank. I may feel inclined at some point to post a review or something similar, but that’s not where I am right now. I’m just a little tired of writing reviews, lists, and whatnot. If you want my thoughts on a particular game or series, reach out to me. I’m mostly on Facebook, but I should get more into using my Twitter for quick bites of reviews. You can always check in with me @The_Mike_Staub.
So what’s the introduction for? This borders on territory I don’t seek to cover on this blog. That being stated, taking a look at a year-in-review is a healthy way to address the medium. It allows me to take a look back and see where we are, where we’re going, and what the medium is up to. We’re a little more than halfway through 2019 and so far it’s been a fairly slow year for video games. It’s hard to compete with 2017 which saw Breath of the Wild and Horizon: Zero Dawn in its first quarter. 2018 was no slouch either with God of War releasing in April. We have no true front runner this year at this point and that’s fully ok. Nintendo is promising a pretty huge summer/fall/winter. As for Sony and Microsoft it’s clear that this is the final push for the current generation of consoles and we’ll most likely get much more information about PS5 and Xbox Scarlett by the end of this year.
Luckily the industry has made it incredibly easy for indie game developers to create and distribute content across all platforms and they’ve helped bridged the gaps between big releases. My Switch is currently loaded up with dozens of amazing indie games that despite the size of their budget can easily hang with the best of the AAA games. So what’s been good in 2019 and what can we expect?
Resident Evil 2 Is the Best Remake Ever
In my last post I talked a lot about what makes a remake a good and talked a bit about the quality of the Resident Evil 2 (Remake). Capcom is following their tradition of remaking classic RE games with fully overhauled mechanics, systems, and graphics. RE2 elevates the series once again and brings the 1998 classic into the modern generation as what I consider to be the best remake ever.. I was so surprised at how much I enjoyed RE2 earlier this year and it’s everything I wanted it to be. It takes many a note from Resident Evil 2 and 4 but, modernizes the gameplay to tell the RE2 story. A great remake needs to embrace what the original gave us while not being afraid to embrace the future. RE2 does that and then some.
I hope that Square Enix has looked to Resident Evil 2’s remake when recreating Final Fantasy VII for PS4. Capcom has been on a tear as of late, with RE2 it feels that they went back and relearned what made the original Resident Evil games so great and fully recreated that ambiance. I love a good horror game, but RE2 outdid even itself. I consider this game to be at the tops of the Resident Evil games and at this moment, it is my Game of the Year for 2019.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice – I died much more
I have never spent time with the Dark Souls games. They were always just a bit too obtuse for me and too difficult. But When FromSoftware developed a new “soulslike” that takes place in feudal Japan I had to give it a shot. This is everything you’d expect from a Dark Souls game: crippling difficulty, unforgiving controls, and a healthy dose of blood and guts. I grew very attached to Sekiro in the Spring of 2019 and I’m happy that I played it. I’m still not very good at these types of games, but they do bring something to the table that’s been lost for so long.
Video games in some degree have migrated away from the boss fight. I like boss fights and I enjoy having to figure out how to master each unique encounter. This may come from my history as a Mega Man maniac, but I enjoy fighting a tougher enemy at the end of a stage or area. Sekiro doubles down on this idea as the bosses are often too hard for me…that is too hard for me to not die 20 times before I figure it out.
If you’re interested in this genre I suggest starting here as it’s SLIGHTLY more forgiving since you have two “lives” before a game over. Ookami, the lead character, is a shinobi so his moveset is rather unique when compared to other games in this genre. This style of game has breathed fresh breath into the industry and has become the genre to talk about. I know many people may be tired of hearing about Dark Souls (or souls-likes) but Sekiro is great and one of the best of the year so far.
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night Delivers Exactly What You’d Expect..Thankfully
I just finished Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night in time to write this piece. I got excited about this title years ago when it was first shown as a kickstarter campaign. A new game from the creator of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night? I was in from day one until I started seeing some gameplay videos and the progress of development. The game did not look like it was going in a good direction and it reminded me of Mighty No. 9, which was a huge let down. I had written this game off at that point and was more excited to play it’s 8-bit prologue, Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon, which released in 2018. Curse of the Moon proved to be an amazing 2D platformer and worth the ten bucks you’ll pay to play it.
Ritual of the night was pushed back multiple times and things did not look good. Bad news came from Pax East 2019, that the game didn’t play correctly and something was off about the art design. A few weeks later 505 games released a trailer with the director Koji Igarashi addressing all the problems that were highlighted by fans and press. Instead of continuing forward, they gave the game a complete and total overhaul, making it look more stylized and……much better.
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night was released in June of this year and was met with a significant amount of critical praise. I decided that they must have made the right calls and picked the game up on Steam. I was floored, it’s quite good. I’ve wanted to play a proper Metroidvania for a while now and Bloodstained delivered! While it’s essentially NO different than Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, it’s a competent clone with some new twists thrown into the mix. It’s as though Iga combined all of his Castlevania games into one. The only issue that makes me feel a little lukewarm is that there’s almost nothing new. It’s essentially Symphony of the Night for better or worse. Bloodstained: Ritual of the night has been one of my favorite games of the year so far! I almost never binge play a video game, but I made an exception for Bloodstained.
I’ve never been a Tetris player. I never fully understood how it worked and I never invested the time in learning it. Earlier in 2019 Nintendo announced that a “free” Tetris Battle Royale was coming to Switch for anyone who has a Nintendo Switch Online account. I have one, obviously, so I decided to download Tetris 99. I then finally learned to love Tetris. I was taught the basics on how to play Tetris efficiently and spent a good portion of the winter and early spring playing countless rounds of online Battle Royale Tetris. It’s truly addicting and I love every second of it. My palms are getting sweaty just writing about it. I’ve got the Tetris itch….
Nintendo also released an offline version/update to the game in an expansion pack in the Spring of 2019. It’s a blast to play Tetris wherever. I’ve played it on planes, on the beach, in my backyard, and anywhere else the Switch will take me. While I would have bought Nintendo Switch Online regardless, it was awesome to have such a great pack-in game. It also contains one of the best remixes of the classic Tetris theme. I suggest this game to everyone, because it’s fun, addictive, and quick. Tetris 99 made me a Tetris fan and that says a lot!
What’s Yet to Come
2019 Is only half over and while the aforementioned three games are quite good and at the top of my list, it’s likely that they’ll have some stiff competition as we move forward. While it still doesn’t look to be as good as 2017 or 2018, 2019 still has some great stuff coming out before year’s end. These are some of my most anticipated titles.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order – I love a good superhero Diablo-like! – July 12
Fire Emblem: The Three Houses – I’m in need of a great SRPG, and this will be it – July 19
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening – This remake looks perfect. – September 20
Dragon Quest XI (Switch Version) – I’ve waited a year to play this on Switch.. – September 27
The Outer Worlds – A funnier Fallout in space? Yes, please, and thank you – October 25
Death Stranding – What!? The more I see the less I understand, Still playing it. – November 8
Pokemon Sword – I’m all in on this new Pokemon, GROOKEY FOR LIFE – November 15
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order – Part Uncharted, Part Metroid, All Star Wars? IN – November 15
Doom Eternal – I was taken by surprise with Doom 2016. I’m playing this. – November 22
Luigi’s Mansion 3 – This game looks incredible! I love this series!!! – TBA
We’ll see where we land when the dust settles in December. This list looks great, but I think Resident Evil 2 may be able to take the cake for 2019 just as Resident Evil 4 won in 2005. What are you most excited about? What are your favorites for the year? Let me know!