Editor’s Note: Scott White is a brand new contributor to IrrationalPassions.com. Look forward to a new column and new pieces from him in the coming weeks!
2017 hit the ground running with the big games and didn’t let up. It seemed like every couple weeks there was a must have game that was coming out that was being touted as a possible game of the year or best xxxxxx of the year. Now that the year is over though, it is time for everyone to reflect back on the year past and put together their list of the best games. In order to make things a bit more exciting and give some other well-deserved titles some spotlight, Breath of the Wild, Mario Odyssey, Nier: Automata, and Horizon Zero Dawn will not be on this list. I loved all those games, but these are my Top 10 Games of 2017 (that aren’t Zelda, Mario, Horizon, or Nier)!
Snipperclips is the one game on this list the genuinely surprised me with how much I enjoyed it. When it was first shown at the Nintendo direct, my interest was piqued, but I wasn’t entirely sold on it. On a whim while my friend was over, I picked this up from the eshop as it was one of the few multiplayer games for the Switch at launch. In a single sitting we went through all of the base content. The charming gameplay and simple-but-deep physic mechanics was a joy to play. We haven’t played through the new levels just yet, but I know they will be as interesting and head-scratching as the other levels!
It was about damn time that we got Cuphead, but man oh man was it worth the wait. There isn’t much to say about Cuphead that hasn’t been said already by thousands of other people. The art style they captured must’ve resulted in a number of sacrificed cuddly animals, the difficulty may have reduced the hair on my head by a few handfuls, and was one of my favorite games to co-op with my buddy. This is a great game that deserves your money, just so long as you don’t mind punishing difficulty. I will say though I hope in Cuphead 2, we get a more balanced platforming to boss fight level experience. More platforming please!
Nioh combined two of my favorite genres in gaming. The action-packed, tense, and difficult Souls like and the compulsive and addicted nature of Loot games. It one of the first tastes we got and hint of the quality of content we could expect from Sony in 2017. Nioh had no right to be as good as it ended up being. Games that go through the ringer like Nioh did, having initially been announced in 2004 with planned release of 2006 but ending up having its developement swapped around, more often than not, don’t end up as gems (cough cough Duke Nukem Forever cough cough). What we ended up getting was a fast and satisfying blend of Dark Souls difficulty and general design, the deep and varied combat of modern Ninja Gaiden titles, and the loot heavy drops of Diablo to create something unique that still stood out from all of titles it took inspiration from. Follow the base game up with great DLC that expanded the story and items, and you have one of the stand-out games of the year.
7) Guilty Gear Xrd Rev 2
My friends and I love our fighters. We have sense we were little with Street Fighter 2 Turbo. We have always marveled and enjoyed the Guilty Gear series, with it’s spot on anime-inspired visuals and interesting characters. We felt let down by the lackluster release that was the launch of Street Fighter V back in 2016, but our sorrow was quickly burned away and replaced with wonder, happiness, and sore thumbs with the release of Guilty Gear Xrd. This year, we got Xrd Rev 2, continuing on and improving the already steller fighting title. The visuals still dumbfound us that what we are seeing are actually 3D models, the characters intigued us, and the fast combat still leaves our thumbs sore. This game continued on with the story that began in the previous games while adding new characters. Arc System fighters are things of beauty, only they could make me fall in love with a girl who pilots an old-japanese-priest-guy-whose-actual-a-robot and make my friends curse her name…So many nights were spent this year playing Guilty Gear, so many nights filled with curses, screams, and victory cheers.
6) Gundam Versus
Bless you Bandai Namco. Bless you for finally hearing the cries of us Western Gundam Fans, crying out for you to bring your glorious games out over here. Gundam Versus is a popular arcade fighter in Japan and also has a strong console following in Japan too. The last game we got that was localized (with exception of Gundam: Extreme VS-Force for Vita which was a slightly different style of game) was Gundam vs. Zeta Gundam on the Playstation 2. I have imported a few of the Playstation 3 games because I find them so enjoyable, but to be able to actually have an actual localized game was such a great feeling. This game is not an easy one to get into, especially if you want to compete online, but with so many different mobile suits (the giant robots) to choose to play as and a fantastic community to ask questions and learn from, this game quickly becomes addictive as you begin to grasp the game’s systems. I may have played over 1,000 online matches within the first week this was out… Yeah, I had a problem.
5) South Park: The Fractured But Whole
Matt Stone and Trey Parker are geniuses. You don’t think so? Fight me! The Fractured But Whole, sequel to South Park: The Stick of Truth, was finally released after a number of delays. The game continues in Stick of Truth’s footsteps with its unapologetic and in-your-face humor right from the get-go with the difficulty slider being your skin color (though all it does is affect how much money you have and not the actual difficulty of the game) But Whole expands and improves on the main shortcoming that people had with Stick, it’s combat system, adopting a new grid based, tactical, party combat system. No more can I rely on the same trick that I could in Stick, causing me to actually have to plan out and consider a character’s position, environmental hazards, and how attacks will position the enemy. The change to superheros from the fantasy realms previously were also handled exceptionally well, with the “origin stories” for your character being one of the most absurd and silly aspects. If you love South Park, get this game right now if you haven’t already!
4) Xenoblade Chronicles 2
I’m going to level with you for a second, I haven’t beaten Xenoblade Chronicles 1. I know I know, I’ve heard nothing but good things about it, and I have it both for Wii and 3DS, but I have started it over a number of times and always burn out around the same spot. Going into XB2, I was nervous that this fatigue would plague me once again, but something about this game has really hooked it’s BLADEs into me (pun intended). While I haven’t beaten it just yet, I have sunk 60 hours into it so far and feel no urge to stop anytime soon. The characters and world have drawn me in, with Rex’s innocent and simple view of the world, the bonds between BLADEs and their Drivers, Zeke referring to himself as the Zekenator, this game just has all sorts of charm to it. I’ve spent more time than I care to admit salvaging and getting loads of money and maxing out all of the different cities ratings.
I’ll concede that the English voice work good use some serious work as some characters have some truly cringe-worthy moments, reminding me of the dark days of video game voice work of the 90s. This hasn’t diminished the pleasure I’ve had learning the combat system, exploring the wide open vistas, awakening new blades, and appreciating some of the the *ahem* character designs. I can see this game keeping me occupied as long as Breath of the Wild did, and hope that we get Switch ports of Xenoblade Chronicles 1 and X as they would be perfect fits for the Switch too!
3) Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age
I’ve always been a fan of Final Fantasy XII with its more mature and darker themes and atmosphere. The world of Ivalice always has felt that it was a living and breathing world and it was fully realized with the realsed of Final Fantasy XII way back when. Eventually, I came to hear about this mysterious version of XII call the “International Zodiac Job System” that changed all sorts of aspects to the game. Characters now could be assigned classes? What do you mean I can CONTROL the espers? Speed…up…function? It cut me deep when the game was never localized by Square for the rest of the world to play. Years later I was able to play a fan-translated version of it but I still always wondered “what if” it had come out here? XII was the last remaining Final Fantasy title that could not be played outside its original hardware but this problem was finally set aside with the fantastic HD port of the IZJS version of Final Fantasy XII with The Zodiac Age. Finally, I could play this game in a official capacity and in gorgeous HD no less! Other welcome features were also added such as letting characters have 2 classes instead of just a single one, and even improving the speed-up function giving you access to an even faster option. It was a long overdo welcome back to the world of Ivalice, and Square once again showed that they know how to do HD remasters. I do wish though they had given players the option to either play the IZJS version of the game or the original vanilla release.
2) Tales of Berseria
I am incredibly biased towards the Tales of series. This series is one of my favorite RPG series alongside Final Fantasy. I get just as excited about a new Tales game as I would for a new Final Fantasy. Tales of Berseria takes a decidedly darker tone from previous Tales games. This is not your father’s “FRIENDSHIP AND LOVE WILL SAVE US ALL” game, no this is all about murder, destruction, revenge, and redemption with just a little bit of friendship and love will save us all. When Berseria was released I had just lost my job and had a lot of time on my hands. I actually did my first full 24 hour livestream marathon with Berseria. Velvet, Eizen, and company really helped me through some rough times at the start of 2017 and will always be grateful for this game and the series I love so much. Berseria is a great entry point for newcomers with some of the best combat the series has to offer and no overly complex gameplay systems. Gone is the deep and powerful (but confusing) equipment fusion system from the previous title Zestiria. Speaking of Zestiria, seeing that Berseria takes place before Zestiria, there were so many fangasm moments sprinkled throughout this title that will make fans of Zestiria jump up and down in their seats with excitement. If you are a fan of action RPGs, you owe it to yourself to play this game, don’t let the anime visuals stop you. This game is dark, and one of the best games I played last year.
1) Persona 5
Have you ever played a game where when you beat it, you are left with a gaping void in your heart and soul? A void that may heal, but will never quite close completely? A void created by the fact that you will never have the pleasure of experiencing something for the first time, ever again? My 115 hour adventure as a Japanese student-by-day , vigilante-by-night, created one of those voids. I was still out of work when this game was released, so I still had a lot of time on my hands to devote to my new life as a Phantom Thief. Persona 5 has set a new benchmark for style and presentation for all games going forward with their menus and interface. I genuinely became invested and found myself caring about my team’s lives and their struggles. You may be playing as a high school student, but many of the themes, situations, and messages that Persona 5 tackles are anything but childish. Rape, coercion, assassination, corruption are just a few of the tough subject matters that you will have to contend with in your 100+ hour time with this game. It’s a game that makes you think, that you can connect with actual events going on in the world today. All of that by itself would make this title a depressing and sad experience to get through, but luckily that is far from the case. There is always the underlying push to do what is right, to strive to make the world and your surroundings a better place. To always press forward and not give in to the pressures around you. Atlus did a magnificent job at creating characters that you hate, you love, characters who are flawed, and those you can disagree but sympathize with. The monster collection aspect that harkens back to the series roots fits beautiful and was just as addictive as any Pokemon game, much more so than Persona 3 or 4 in my opinion. The entire time I was fighting through the final dungeon, the last leg of the game, I was a conflicted mess of jubilation at finally seeing this masterpiece through to its conclusion and a sense of dread that it was almost over. It has been a very long time since a title has made me feel that. Sure, to some extent, all great games I play leave me with a certain bit of sadness when I complete them, but Persona 5 was something else. It was up there with beating Metal Gear Solid 3 for the first time. People will look back on Persona 5 as one of the best titles of this entire generation of consoles. It showed everyone that turned based RPGs could not only still be successful, but be works of art and loved the world over, regardless of the setting of the game itself. A great game is a great game. Period. Persona 5 is a great game. Play Persona 5.
2018 is shaping up already to be another expensive year with great games coming out of the gate. Monster Hunter World, Dragonball FighterZ, and Dissidia NT or just a few weeks away from dropping, with big hitters like Kingdom Hearts 3, Ni No Kuni 2, Crackdown 3, Sea of Thieves, Bloodstained, and Dragon Quest 11 coming later. Not to mention we have no idea what crazy plans Nintendo has up their sleeves for the Switch’s year 2! My wallet weeps and my controllers and charging for what’s to come. It will have a lot to stand up against after the wonderfully exciting year that was 2017.
Disclaimer: There are a number of highly popular games that you may think are missing from my list, such as Hellblade or Edith Finch. Unfortunately, there are a number of titles, smaller and indie titles especially I haven’t gotten around to playing yet. Don’t take their lack of inclusion on this list as though I am saying they are bad games. It’s more I am a bad person and have yet to play these masterpieces!