Once again this year we’re kicking off our Game of the Year coverage by asking some of our friends to share their picks for their favorite games of 2019. We’ve been honored to make some great friends over the years and we appreciate them taking the time to share their memories of 2019 with us! Enjoy!
“My personal pick for Game of the Year is Fire Emblem: Three Houses. While the game also won our Nintendo Switch-exclusive category on IGN, it actually wasn’t that easy of a choice to make, even when pitted against just the Switch competition. I could’ve easily seen Super Mario Maker 2 or Luigi’s Mansion 3 up there; both really fantastic games in their own right. While I may be predisposed to like the Fire Emblem series — I’ve played every game in the series and am a big fan of Nintendo’s approach to strategy games — I think Three Houses is a serious step up over Fates and does some things top RPGs with smaller ensemble casts struggle to do.
For starters, you feel like you’re making real choices. The Hogwarts-style setup provides a perfect framework around leveling up characters and gives you time to assemble your favorite team. The mini-games that seemed like distractions at first actually help you build relationships and understand the characters. When you head into battle, every character matters, especially if you have perma-death turned on. Which you should. After Fates trying the Pokemon route of charging fans for multiple editions, it’s really great to see Nintendo respecting its audience and giving us such a full-featured game in one package. Love it.”
“As a long-time Nintendo fan, I’ve grown accustomed to waiting years (and sometimes decades) for the Big N to produce the next entry in my favorite series. There was a solid 12 years between the launch of 2001’s Luigi’s Mansion for the GameCube and it’s handheld sequel on the 3DS. Another six years have passed and a spooky Luigi adventure has finally graced our TV screens once more. Somewhat niche series like Luigi’s Mansion, much like Pikmin, bring me great joy, and I tend to hype them up a bit too much in my mind before they hit store shelves. Luckily, with a hotel full of ghost-slamming action, Luigi’s Mansion 3 on the Switch delivered.
What really stood out to me in Luigi’s Mansion 3 is how creative the development team at Next Level Games got with the game’s different hotel floors. I fixed boilers, inspected fossils, and starred in movies as I quested to higher and higher floors in search of my ghost-napped friends. I’m not a fan of traditional horror games, but Luigi’s Mansion 3 was just the right mix of surprise and humor. There’s something relaxing and satisfying about scouring a room for clues and secrets while you suck up every item in sight. There were plenty of quality AAA and indie games released this year, but none screamed my name louder than Luigi’s Mansion 3. It’s silly, it’s full of spooky puzzles, and it features a pettable ghost dog. What more could I want in a game?”
“I’ve been known to be a bit of a mobile game pusher over the last decade, so it’s only fitting I submit my last recommend in the 10’s the same way I came in. The often-used-as-an-insult term “casual gamer” gives me power; the kind of power you feel when completing all objectives in every level of Grindstone.
Developed by Sword & Sworcery, Below, and Super Time Force creators, Toronto-based Capy Games does it again with this clever little surprise found in the Apple Arcade.
Not just another matching game. You’re there to help guide the barbarian to victory and revenge atop the mountain. He’s seething mad and needs to slice through strings of the same coloured monsters. The longer you stay inside each level slicing and collect gems, the more dangerous those little monsters become. The barbarian survives by the 3 heart system. Lose all of them, lose the level and everything you’ve collected. The game begs the gamer to be smart and weigh options before executing each move.
I realize you might be thinking I’m outside of my mind suggesting a mobile game be game of the year, but it’s MY game of the year ok? Marks for most time spent, most joy had and ease of access …as it is always in my hand.
“I’m not really qualified to produce any kind of comprehensive end-of-year list in 2019 having left too many of the big contenders — Control and Fallen Order to name just two of the biggest ones — unplayed as yet. As all proud gamer dads know only too well, an ever-growing backlog of shame is just one of the features of trying to juggle a gaming schedule with the demands of parental and family life. But of the games I did find time for, my absolute favorite is LUIGI’S MANSION 3, which came right out of left field to surprise and delight me more than anything else I experienced in 2019.
The family was on the fence about whether or not to even get this one since neither of the previous entries in this curious off-shoot series had made much of an impact on us and the little one was worried it might be a tad too spooky for her, but we took the plunge anyway and I’m so glad we did. I cannot overstate this enough — LUIGI’S MANSION 3 is an absolute mini-masterpiece, a beautiful illustration of everything I love and admire about the game-makers’ craft. It’s charming, whimsical, absolutely gorgeous to behold in a way rivaled by only the best animated movies, and is absolutely packed to the rafters with adorable and clever little touches and moments of personality. The puzzles are baked to just right temperature — not too easy, not too hard — and guaranteed to raise a smile and a sense of satisfaction as you crack each one. And the co-op mode (which is how I mostly experienced it with either my wife or daughter) adds so much to the fun. And I’m not kidding when I say that the moment when [SPOILERS] Luigi and Mario are reunited at the end almost brought a tear to my eye; it’s a truly heartfelt moment that totally sells how much these two dumb plumbers love one another.
If you’re looking for a fun game that all the family can enjoy or simply a diverting solo experience LUIGI’S MANSION 3 absolutely delivers. I think it got unfairly overlooked in much of this year’s Game of the Year discussions, maybe because it’s not hip or cool enough, but it’s an absolute delight from beginning to end and a charming reminder of everything we love about video games.”
“2019 was a mess. But you know what wasn’t messy? My whole class of kiddos in the strategy RPG Fire Emblem: Three Houses.
My classroom of about 10 students and my avatar were a coordinated fighting machine (ethics of training child soldiers aside). Everyone was assigned their perfect class paired with skills to boot. It was bliss.
See the appeal of this game and games like it is the illusion of control, very detailed minute control. I spent a lot of time fixating on the many systems involved in teaching my students. But what really hooked me, enough to even start a second playthrough, was how much I loved the characters.
I wasn’t motivated only by progressing in the game but to protect my kiddos. I’ll still be playing this one in 2020.”
“It is an understatement to say that my reactions were mixed when considering the announcement of Jedi Fallen Order. A Star Wars game that follows the Soulsborne formula set in between episodes 3 and 4? The potential brilliance was as bright as the red flags that were raised. Between that uncertainty were the variables of EA as an unsteady publisher and Respawn as a thrice-proven studio, but only in the first-person genre.
Those concerns were laid to rest almost immediately upon release as I ventured into the world with an incredible array of accessibility options that adjusts for players of all skill levels. A pure “story mode” allowed less comfortable players to enjoy the wonderful narrative that Respawn crafted along with the beautiful worlds players could visit. Each planet is ripe with Easter eggs for longtime fans but a contained story lets gamers enjoy pure Star Wars action. Unique yet familiar biomes, fascinating creatures, and weapons that felt appropriately powerful all enhanced the surprisingly immersive story of a Jedi in the dark times of the purge.
For any faults that Fallen Order has, the incredible feel of the lightsaber, impeccable sound design, brilliant voice acting, and adorable droid BD 1, sets Jedi Fallen Order to be one of the best Star Wars games ever made and a must-play title of 2019.”