Friends of the Show - Mike Stoney AKA BulbaMike's Top 5 of 2018 - Japan-based Nintendo Podcasts, Videos & Reviews!


Saturday, December 29, 2018

Friends of the Show - Mike Stoney AKA BulbaMike's Top 5 of 2018

Mike Stoney AKA BulbaMike's Top 5 of 2018
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5. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
Very often in 2D platformers I find there are so many levels that are "throw-away" levels, ones designed with not too much thought, or ones that recycle ideas, to pad the game out a bit. With Tropical Freeze though I found that every single level could stand alone as a very unique and memorable experience. Not to mention the aesthetic approaches some levels take as well, the game is just full of new and interesting ideas throughout. The game doesn't shy away from being difficult either, providing a great challenge to those seeking it. Not much more that can be said that hasn't been said already, I found myself genuinely surprised at how much they pushed new ideas, which was great to see.

4. Hollow Knight
For sure my GotY, this game was the gift that never stopped giving. Bearing in mind I played the Switch version which came with all the DLC, so my perspective may be different to those who played the base game first. In these MetroidVania games I love to explore as much as I can, before inevitably having to move on with the story. And yet, I found on many occasions, my exploration would be rewarded with an entirely new area. And not just a small little section to explore, but a whole new chapter, with either a necessary item towards the end, or a totally optional pick-up. The world felt so huge, but not in a forced way, and it was just an absolute joy to explore. A lot of the game could be played in whatever order you wanted, and this is something I appreciate a lot in games like this. It never felt like I was being guided down a specific path for the majority of the game, nor did it feel like I was being told what to do. Of course there were guidelines here and there, but in general the game basically lets you do what you want. These are obvious but I'll say them anyway, the graphics are charming, the audio is amazingly atmospheric, the characters are really fun and interesting, and the story and lore is super engrossing. An absolute must-play (unless you don't like MetroidVania games, but even then, give it a go).

3. Dragon Quest Builders
I went into this game thinking "oh, I love Dragon Quest, this looks like a cool side-game, could be fun". But, dang, I enjoyed this game WAY more than I anticipated. A lot of it comes down to the creativity that these kinds of games allow, there are specific things you have to do in order to progress, like build a certain house, area, or any other sort of structure, but where you do it is up to you. After you complete these tasks you're free to add or remove things to make it more your own, and that freedom of creativity was the thing that sold me. It reminded me a lot of Black & White (PC), a game where you play God and manage your town. The DQ humour is all there, the music is incredible as it remixes various tracks from the DQ series, and overall it's just a really fun, relaxing experience. The last boss is bad though.

2. Octopath Traveler
I went into this game expecting to absolutely love it, but my expectations were "kind-of" met. The game looks stunning, and it has one of the best OSTs this year, yet, the gimmick of there being 8 characters and 8 stories wasn't realised as well as I'd hoped. Only having 4 in your party was a bit of a bummer to hear, and it was kind of doubled-down on by the fact that characters shared their special skill with another, the only difference being that one you had to be a specific level to interact with certain things, and the other could be done at any level but had a chance of failing. So I ended up choosing my 4 favourites and played the game. So when I tried to do the "true" ending and found you needed to use all 8, I would've had to do a lot of grinding on those I'd abandoned, which was a huge turn-off. Luckily I just looked up the ending online to find that it was essentially a glorified side-quest, so I would've been EXTRA annoyed if I committed time to grinding, only for the pay-off to be as lame as it was. ASIDE FROM THAT, the game's great, definitely one for any Switch owner's collection.

1. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
In all honesty, I haven't put any time into the single-player or casual side of Smash, as I've been working hard to learn the game from a competitive standpoint. But to that I can say, the game is really good! It feels great to move around, the character and play-style variety is great to see, and it's just full of small little details that give it that extra layer of polish. There is a strange buffering system though, which means that inputs are stored for longer than they should be, meaning sometimes things happen that shouldn't really be happening. Ideally this will get fixed in a patch, but if not, the game is still a blast to play, and definitely one I intend to play for the foreseeable future.

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