Top 10 Video Games 2019 (That I Actually Played)

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What a great year to be a gamer

I had a better year for Video Games than I initially thought. I didn’t realise I spent a lot more time on one platform more than the others, and by a fair margin.

Spoiler, but for the first time in a VERY long time, I haven’t really played a game on PC. It makes sense. Usually when I sit in front of the computer I am getting ready to work, and if I am playing on the PC I always have work in the back of my mind. That will change in 2020 as well πŸ™‚

Similar to my Board Game list, I have added a couple of cheat entries. Well, I call them cheats, becuase I haven’t finished them yet! They are weighted down thr lidy becuase of this, but the small amount of play I had still put them over other entries.

Enough explaining – on to the list!

Number 10 – Astral Chain (Switch)

PlatinumGames are evil. Here I am, a mid-40’s grumpy old man that can’t play twitch reflex games like he used to. Somehow though they manage to pull me back in to play another one.

I am enjoying the world-building of Astral Chain, and the story exploration is enough without being too grindy. Well, up to Chapter 5, where I am. And that is where I got up to.

I think it was PAX Aus prep after the site redesign that derailed me on this one? I am not sure. But if you like action games at all, you need to check out Astral Chain. It’s only number 10 because I haven’t finished it.

Oh, and if you want to play on the move, the Hori Split Pad Pro controller will do nicely πŸ˜€

Astral Chain

Number 9 – Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (Switch)

A classic game remade. I skipped a lot of the Nintendo consoles, with the original Gameboy being my only console until the DS a couple of years ago. Because of this, I missed a lot of classic NES gaming, including the Legend of Zelda series.

Now before a lot of people go berserk that Link’s Awakening is at the bottom of my list, I have two reasons. Firstly, I haven’t finished it. So it’s in my top 10 unfinished. Secondly, even though it’s my first time through the game, at its core, the game is 25 years old!

I am genuinely enjoying Link’s Awakening, and now that I have finished Pokemon Shield I intend to go back and finish it. But the older gameplay mechanics that drive the game, even though they hold up, keep it lower down on my list, most likely even if I had finished it.

Links Awakening

Number 8 – Fire Emblem: Three Houses (Switch)

Fire Emblem on the DS was terrific. Huge story to explore, character interactions, permadeath – it was a turn-based RPG geeks dream. Fire Emblem on the DS was like Valkyria Chronicles for me on PlayStation – I can’t get enough!

And on a work trip, I got just far enough into it to know I didn’t have the time to invest in it just yet. I knew that the world was involved and you had to keep on top of what was happening. But in the DS version, you only had to worry about that at particular times. Quests were manually triggered, so you soon knew when to close it.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses will let you play this way, but only to an extent by what I have tasted. The between battle interactions are on track to take up 40-60 hours on their own!

If you enjoy turn-based strategy, pick up Fire Emblem: Three Houses for yourself. The casual mode will let you pick up and play no problem, and is still quite a challenge.

Fire Emblem Three Houses

Number 7 – The Jackbox Party Pack 6 (Switch)

Yes, it’s a collection of silly mini-games. It also let me run and join in for a games night with zero prep time.

For those that don’t know, the Jackbox Party games are just general games where the audience votes on winners. You can be designing T-Shirts, redefining the English language, or finding evil alien stowaways!

Buying the pack on a console (or PC, Apple TV, Pretty much anything) lets you host the game, and everyone uses their own devices with a web browser to join in. Then you follow the prompts!

Setup is easy, fun is great, and there is plenty of variety, so replayability is there. If you have groups of people that appear, this is an excellent standby as a group activity.

Jackbox Party 6

Number 6 – Untitled Goose Game (Switch)

Proof that gameplay trumps graphics πŸ˜€ Untitled Goose Game came out last year on PC, but not they are on consoles the game’s popularity has soared, and the Switch is where I got to enjoy it πŸ™‚

Like any great simple game, from the description, it doesn’t sound great. Be a goose and do tasks that appear on the screen. They can be anything from finding a flower, all the way to terrorise a child enough to hide in a phone booth.

And it’s hilarious.

I played it in small bouts while travelling and needed something I could turn off without consequence. I thought it would be perfect. Word to the wise – losing progress bites :p

If you haven’t seen it, play someone’s copy now. I am sure they will let you. Twenty minutes later, try to give them back their Switch/Controller without honking at them – I dare you :p

Untitled Goose Game

Number 5 – Pokemon Sword and Shield (Switch)

So missing a lot of the Nintendo early consoles, I only played a few Pokemon games. Yellow, Ruby, Moon, Let’s Go and now Shield.

A lot of fans are annoyed and vocal. Competitive play has already banned Dynamaxing, a new battle mechanic. Apparently, DS assets like sounds and models have been reused, which people feel ‘cheated’ by.

I had fun with it. The story isn’t really anything amazing (nothing new there). The battles are fun, and I enjoyed cooking a meal for my Pokemon. The inclusion of the Wild Area I thought was fun. Yes, online has issues, but I also didn’t need it to complete the game.

If you enjoy Pokemon, to me Sword and Shield are excellent additions to the series. If you are new to Pokemon but want more than the Let’s Go series ‘simple’ gameplay, it’s all here and more. And because Pokemon were cut, there is also the benefit of not having so many Pokemon to learn, so your learning curve is only steep instead of a vertical wall πŸ™‚

Pokemon Sword and Shield

Number 4 – Kingdom Hearts 3 (PS4)

How long have I waited for Kingdom Hearts 3? And was it worth it? Mostly πŸ˜€

I love the series, but the timelines and retcons are crazy. Basically, I tell anyone trying to play the game to go with it, it’s much more manageable. What kind of timeline shenanigans are we talking about? Well at the start of 2019, the first Kingdom Hearts game is about the sixth in chronological order. It also includes movies, games, browser games and even concerts as authoritative entries.

That is not including most entries have been released and re-released with changes and story updates at least once. Usually as a full-priced game.

Bottom line though, I loved Kingdom Hearts 3. I would come home from work and work some more before going to bed just so I could get a solid 8-10 hours on Saturdays.

Everyone can play it, very few can understand it all, but a lot of fun no matter how you look at it.

Kingdom Hearts 3

Number 3 – Tetris 99 (Switch)

Well, talk about left field. Nintendo introduced one of my all-time favourite games and added Battle Royale. I thought they were mad. I thought it wouldn’t work.

Yeah, I was wrong.

With new play modes and little Grand Prix events always adding a bit of a carrot to come back, Tetris 99 still manages to be in the first few tiles of my Switch menu.

If you don’t know about Tetris 99 by now, check out my review. Better yet, if you have Switch Online, just jump on and play it. Really.

Tetris 99

Number 2 – The Outer Worlds (Xbox One)

So my first ever platinum trophy was Fallout 3. This was after voicing concern to my gaming group at the time that I was worried about bringing back Fallout and in a new game style to boot. In my defence, the previous couple of spin-offs weren’t great. Doesn’t mean I wasn’t wrong, though.

Flash forward to the next game from Obsidian Entertainment called Fallout: New Vegas. I was playing on PC, but that is putting it kindly. New Vegas was a bug-riddled mess of frustration. A year later, and after a lot of coaxing from friends, I said hello to my favourite Fallout game of all time.

Yep, the same team that made Fallout: New Vegas made a Fallout like game in space, and it’s fantastic. The multi-branching story, unforeseen consequences, and a relevant overarching story arc make The Outer Worlds a game I basically hoovered down. And it’s on Game Pass (hint, hint).

Playing it through the first two weeks, it wasn’t perfect. But it was far from an unplayable mess. The most significant bugs I met were apparently I was supposed to be given some more quest options. Still, I didn’t notice they were missing – the story made sense, and I could continue on.

Seriously, if you have Game Pass, put this on your drive (PC or Xbox). If you don’t, play it anyway. And apparently, it’s coming to Switch this year!

The Outer Worlds

Number 1 – Resident Evil 2 Remake (PS4)

Usually, as you can see with Link’s Awakening earlier in this list, I put a big negative in terms of weight for remasters and sequels. But then you get a remake that changes almost everything about the game, and for the better. This year, that game was Resident Evil 2.

You have the same characters, with some tweaks. The A/B Scenario system remains in place. And of course, item management and puzzles are still a concern.

Oh, and you still have good old Racoon City, the most magnificent collection of disasters of a city that never was.

Pretty much everything else is different though. Camera styles, combat, AI direction, even the Tyrant/Mr X – if you think you can use the same old tricks, be ready to reload your save.

I still remember playing this during the year, sitting on the couch with Rabbit reading/playing with her phone next to me. Hearing Mr X’s footsteps, she looks up to see what is making the noise. Then she sees him come through a door and lock on to me. “What the f#!* is that!” she yelled out, and it was at that point I knew just how well Capcom had nailed the remake.

If you haven’t played Resident Evil 2, then grab the new demo from your digital store of choice. That’s right – the ‘new’ demo. Capcom has started baking in Resident Evil 3 easter eggs into RE2, which is impressive in itself. Can’t wait for that to come out this year!

Resident Evil 2

Honorable Mentions

Tie – Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (PS4)/Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order (PS4)

So here are two very different games that share one thing in common – I played them enough that I can’t put them on the ‘I wish I played’ lists, but didn’t play enough to fairly put higher on the list.

Both games are graphically impressive (personally, Sekiro more than Fallen Order but it’s not a huge difference). Both have a control system that requires practice and gaining skill (again, Sekiro more than Fallen Order). And both games have been raved about since release.

I have played enough of both to know I want to play more. I have also played enough of both (about 3-4 hours each) to realise I need to be playing when I am fully alert. And when my joints don’t already betray me.

I honestly think at least one of these games would have pipped Link’s Awakening for number 10 except for one thing – I can’t just pick either of them after 6 months and know the timing. The controls are not brutal, but the nuances are.

So while I think I will love both of these games, when you don’t see them on my ‘I Wish I Played’ list don’t think it’s because I don’t like them. On the contrary, at least one will appear in another article soon.

If you have any interest in either pick it up. Yes, you will need to practice and ‘Git Gud’, but no one has said otherwise. All I can say is from what I have seen, I think it will be worth it.

What do you think? I couldn’t believe how much the Switch dominated my gaming this year. But with the portable nature of the console, it does make sense.

What about your favourite games of 2019? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming – January 13th, 2020

Pokemon Shield

MORE GAMES PLEASE 2020!

So it’s been a big 5-6 weeks here. Rabbit and I have moved, end of year work crunch, all the fun stuff has been happening.

That said, I did get some gaming in – including finishing a couple of video games! I even got a platinum. Yay!

So considering the huge welcome back article earlier today, let’s jump straight into what I played.

The Tokyo Series (and indeed most Jordan Draper games I back) are games I love, but always have trouble pitching to others why they excite me. The come in plain boxes, have small components, and usually can be multiple games in one box.

Michael Fox (no, not that one) and Jordan Draper have collaborated on expanding Tokyo Jutaku, a dexterity game in the Tokyo Series. The fruits of this collaboration is MegaCity: Oceania. It also doesn’t hurt that thematically it’s played just off the Gold Coast πŸ˜€

MegaCity: Oceania
Combining stategy with dexterity sounds strange, but this was so fun to play!

There is a dexterity component of building up your city on a tile according to a random plan. Then, you have to move your completed section into the central MegaCity, all while trying to maximise points.

It sounds like two genres that shouldn’t work together, but it did. MegaCity: Oceania was fun while having deep stratagies hidden away. Building your city is fun, and you can take your time to a degree. Moving your city without anything collapsing is tense, without being frustrating. Give it a look if you get the chance.

I think this will be a great way to get people to look at other Jordan Draper games I own

Deep Blue

Days of Wonder knows how to present games well. Best known for the Ticket to Ride series, Days of Wonder publishes a staggering amount of well-known games. For example, Memoir 44, one of the most popular tabletop war games, is also a Days of Wonder game.

Deep Blue is a push your luck game crossed with hand management/deck building. That can sound daunting, but like Ticket to Ride a wide range of gamers can jump straight in.

I didn’t think about it at the time, but on reflection I definitely got a ‘Quacks of Quedlinburg lite’ feeling about Deep Blue. I think the games are different enough, but a lot of those base ‘do I or don’t I?’ moments dominate both games.

What can I say? I am just going to have to pull more people in for some more games and really give Deep Blue a workout πŸ™‚

Deep Blue
Deep Blue is a Days of Wonder game. The components are so fun to play with!

I have talked about Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time before. You can see my review of it here. A puzzle in a board game, with a lot of replayability – sounds good to me!

While taking a break from starting to catalogue the library, Alpal and I sat down for a game. And for some reason, absolutely smashed it. I can’t see anything we did wrong, and we didn’t use an optimised team – we just did really well.

So now I suppose I am just going to have to track down the expansion. Professor Evil and the Architects of Magic adds new characters, powers and objectives. It even adds time portals, meaning the Professor himself can take multiple turns in a row if you aren’t careful!

Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time
It's been too long since I played this. And an expansion is coming!

I didn’t know what to expect when Alpal showed me Atlantis Rising. I had heard mostly good things about it in the past, but I didn’t realise it had a revised edition.

Playing three players, we dove into the cooperative worker placement game. The idea is simple – Atlantis is sinking, and the players must work together to build a cosmic gate (cough stargate) to escape.

During setup, I joked that we should pay on Forbidden Island to get used to it. Turns out, I was kinda right. The board sections get flipped when they sink, and player powers can bring them back.

Atlantis Rising
Atlantis Rising was a lot more stressful than I thought it would be!

The other similarity is that lovely ‘have your turn, now deal with bad things’ mechanic. If you don’t like games like Pandemic or Forbidden Island, Atlantis Rising won’t be for you.

If you are a fan of these sorts of games though, give Atlantis Rising a try. I will need to try it at different player counts, but I can feel a full review coming at a later stage.

Pyramid of Pengqueen

On paper, Pyramid of Pengqueen sounds like a lot of fun. One player takes the role of the Pengqueen/Mummy, and the other players have to steal the treasures.

This plays out on a two-sided magnetic board, with the Pengqueen on one side and everyone else on the other. The Pengqueen can’t see where the player pieces are, but the players can all see where the Pengqueen is.

It’s cute, and the theming with the Icecool isn’t terrible. Feels a little like a wannabe Ducktales comparison, but that might be my age talking.

Pyramid of Pengqueen
An entry level one vs all, but a little lacking in gameplay

While this is aimed at younger players, I would say to the older person watching the young ones play to be prepared for fights. The Pengqueen has most of the advantages, and there is going to be inadvertent cheating by everyone.

I am going to review Pyramid of Pengqueen very soon, watch out next week to get my full thoughts.

Pokemon Shield – Switch

I FINISHED POKEMON SHIELD! I AM CHAMPION!

And that’s about as far as I think I am going to take it. I am not really interested in the usual post-game cleanup to fill my Pokedex. The battle system sounds interesting, but I am not really invested in that either.

What I did have was a fun time playing through the story. There is a lot of love and hate for the new entry in the series. Like any opinion, both sides have fair points. But I wouldn’t go so far as to say one side is right.

Pokemon Shield
I beat the unbeatable Champion! OK, almost everyone will. But it is where I call the story ended.

Pokemon has excelled for me as a light RPG experience. Pokemon Shield lived up to this for me. Yes, I would have liked some story holes filled in, but I can say that for any of game in the series. Bottom line is I had fun, I enjoyed the experience, and you will see my full thoughts in a couple of weeks πŸ™‚

And, since I wrote all this, it looks like I’m not done with Shield. Friday, Nintendo and Game Freak announced the first ever Pokemon DLC – there will be more story later this year!

Terminator: Resistance – PS4

My first Platinum trophy since Kingdom Hearts III in February 2019. Well, that’s not technically true. I finished Access Denied in March, but I don’t count that Platinum Trophy. Why not? You will have to wait a couple of weeks for that tidbit πŸ˜€

Enough teasing, I finished Terminator: Resistance. The two and a bit weeks of no gaming with the move didn’t diminish the experience a jot.

Now, Terminator: Resistance is not what I call a shooter – at least at easy or normal difficulties. You shoot at things sure, but this isn’t a twitch shooter like Call of Duty. Conversely, while there are stealth elements, this isn’t a Metal Gear Solid either. You have a lot of freedoms when it comes to the machines recognising you.

The story itself isn’t exactly groundbreaking either. But it did make me want to keep playing it and explore the world. Terminator: Resistance is fan service done well, in my opinion. Set characters, set events, but a unique story that enhances the whole.

For more, you will have to wait until Friday for my review.

Terminator Resistance
Exploring the post-Judgement Day world shows the love this game was developed with.

Final Fantasy XV – PS4

Oh, I have wanted to play this for years now. Open-world RPGs are games I love to play when I can really sit back and take my time with them. Hence, a massive backlog of 80+ hour games waiting to be played!

I started a while ago not too long after the initial release, then had a bad thing happen during my first play. It took almost four years for that annoyance to stop creeping in as I loaded the game! But now I am happily working my way through it.

I have probably spent almost 10 of the 30ish hours played just letting the Regalia drive me around. This doesn’t sound very good, but it is how I have been playing. When I could lie back on the couch, do a few hunts or explore an area, then kick back and relax and watch AP build up – why not? The point of a break is to have a break after all. Final Fantasy XV has let me do that.

Final Fantasy XV
It's not news anymore, but just watching how beautiful the world is bringing me much joy.

I am only up to Chapter 7 for people that have already played through it. Seriously, I am taking my time. So this will probably pop up as my video game for the next few weeks, especially on PlayStation. So sorry in advance for lots of pictures of bros in a car πŸ˜€

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order – PS4

So one of my favourite YouTubers is Jirard Khalil, aka The Completionist. I had already heard mostly good things about Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, but his review convinced me to get it that night.

And I had fun with it. Playing on easy, I died multiple times in the start/tutorial section of the game. This didn’t put me off playing though, as I loved the world and the pace of the story setup.

I finished the beginning section, then played long enough to open up flying to another world of my choice. By now, most of the controls were in muscle memory. I had a feel for the rhythm of the gameplay. I wanted to sit and really get into it. Only one thing stopped me.

I am one of those gamers that hates significant actions being assigned to L3/R3. Clicking a stick does not come naturally to me, and R3 all but replaces X in Fallen Order.

I have a plan though. I have already preordered one of the newly announced Dualshock 4 Back Button attachments. Come mid-February, I will be able to play Fallen Order and use those buttons mapped to L3 and R3.

Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order
Umm, hello. Nothing to see here. Well, that's not true. This isn't a cut scene, so it gives you an idea of how beautiful the world is.

Victory is Mine! Well, hopefully it will be :p

What about you?Β  I hope you got some great games in.Β  Or are you looking forward to a new one?

Let me know!Β  Shout out in the comments below, on FacebookΒ or @JohnHQLD me onΒ Twitter!

Until tomorrow,

JohnHQLD