Cubed3 Staff Game Awards 2018

By Az Elias 29.12.2018 6

Last year saw Super Mario Odyssey shape-shift its way to the top of Cubed3's best of 2017 pile, followed close behind by new-look Legend of Zelda title Breath of the Wild. A slew of strong action adventures and RPGs have entertained us throughout this year, so have any of them done enough to impress the team and keep Nintendo's much-hyped smash 'em up fighting game from claiming the podium? Read on for Cubed3's 2018 game awards!

Honourable Mentions

Before we begin, a quick shout out to the games that didn't quite make the cut in our list of 25. These are all titles worth playing, so don't discount them!

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire, Wreckfest, Celeste, Starlink: Battle for Atlas, Bayonetta 1 + 2, Guacamelee! 2, Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux, Moonlighter, Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology, Slime-san: Sheeple's Sequel, Pokemon: Let's Go, Pikachu! / Eevee!, A Way Out, Into the Breach, Mega Man 11, Far Cry 5, Divinity: Original Sin 2 - Definitive Edition, KORG Gadget, The Alliance Alive, War Stone, Subnautica, Just Shapes and Beats, Youropa, Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate, Wizard of Legend, The Banner Saga 3, Little Nightmares Complete Edition, Unavowed, Toki Tori 2+, SteamWorld Heist: Ultimate Edition, Kirby Star Allies, Last Day of June, Moss, Death Mark, Yoku's Island Express, Sid Meier's Civilization VI, The Golf Club 2019, Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom, Super Mario Party, Hitman 2, Shadow of the Colossus.

25. Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana (Switch/PC)

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Some minor technical limitations aside, gamers are in the presence of what is one of the most compelling JRPG stories the Nintendo Switch has seen, easily on par with Xenoblade Chronicles 2's, and, admittedly for lack of competition at this level of polish, is the absolute and unquestionably best action JRPG on the system. Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana does have some light frustrating moments that await the pure completionists out there, but that comes with the territory. It is a fully realised artistic masterpiece, both visually and even more so in the audio department, and deserves a place in any serious Switch player's collection. To crown it all, everything is tightly packed into one cohesive package that, at retail, requires no additional download and even comes with some neat little bonuses.
- Rudy

Read Rudy's review

24. Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition

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It might have taken a couple of tries to get the formula right, but Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition is exemplary. Much can be said about the absurd amount of content, but what really takes this game to the next level are the various refinements. The item card shop alone makes a world of difference for dedicated adventurers. There's also the enhanced frame rate, which lends a better sense of control and situational awareness to the player. They are better equipped to notice those subtle changes in enemy behaviour, or realise when a massive attack is coming. Aside from a few nit-picks, there's hardly a reason to pass on this fantastic title.
- Gabriel

Read Gabriel's review

23. Sonic Mania Plus

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Sonic Mania released to huge fanfare in 2017, but 2018's bumper upgrade put the finishing touches on to make this nothing short of excellent. Extra characters, modes and a few new emerald courses, along with new animations, transitions and the fact that SEGA finally listened to the fans by delivering a physical copy, all sealed the deal for what truly is the best Sonic game of all time. This should be at the top of the list for anyone looking for a 1990s nostalgia trip!
- Neil

Read Neil's review

22. Assassin's Creed Odyssey

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Easily the best Assassin's Creed title to date, Assassin's Creed Odyssey takes everything Origins overhauled and improves on it, adding in fan favourite gameplay elements, introducing an amazing, huge world, and, most importantly, it's a heck of a good time… but… the shadow that hangs over it cannot be ignored. Ubisoft has purposefully handicapped the gameplay, tuning it to be slow and, at points, making the grind horrendous, all to try and sell a micro-transaction - and that is absolutely revolting.
- Drew

Read Drew's review

21. Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon

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As far as throwbacks go, Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon is a worthwhile venture. It captures the essence of yesteryear's classics, while offering numerous options to comfort an audience that might be unfamiliar with that time period. The game is also entertaining, and the replay value is quite high. Still, it is not possible to shake the feeling that something is missing. It's as if the developer decided the safe choice was the right one, and left all of the risk taking up to the player. Will this game be remembered in thirty years? Only time will tell.
- Gabriel

Read Gabriel's review

20. Astro Bot: Rescue Mission

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It's almost impossible to play through Astro Bot: Rescue Mission without sporting a huge grin on your face for the entire duration of the experience. This constantly inventive PSVR title is an absolute joy from start to finish, and it succeeds in taking the platform genre in directions that are just plain impossible on a regular TV screen. As unlikely as it might sound, it'll have you craning your neck behind your chair attempting to locate stragglers one moment, then peering down a non-existent 20-foot pit in the middle of your living room floor the next... all in the name of liberating those stranded little droids.
- Gareth

19. Dragon Ball FighterZ

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Dragon Ball FighterZ is a marvellous work of love from the developer to bring to life in the HD world a massively fun game to play for fans and non-fans of the franchise alike. The fact that it ties in with a resurgence in popularity of the franchise after Dragon Ball Super aired around the globe shows it is probably no coincidence (although it's no mere cash-in, either), but it is one of the best fighting games to be played on the Nintendo Switch so far, and arguably the one that plays online the best to date. It is a complete success on a pure technical level in terms of performance on the hybrid console, but the user experience could have been slightly better thought out when it comes to the implementation of the always-online functionality. Finally, the lack of more fighters to choose from, with much of the roster relegated to being paid DLC, will leave people with an impression that the publisher felt a bit too greedy.
- Rudy

Creating a title that is based on a non-gaming franchise can be tough, but Dragon Ball FighterZ pays great homage to the source material it draws from. Not only does it portray itself as an excellent representation of the art style, but it delivers an easy-to-pick-up elaborate fighting game that surpasses anything before it. A high point for the fighting genre that can be played by all!
- Neil

Read Rudy's review
Read Neil's review

18. Frostpunk

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Frostpunk isn't perfect, but it doesn't really matter, as this is playing a different kind of ball game that has a unique charm of its own. It engrosses players into its frozen post-apocalyptic world, and lets them do more than just design a city; it lets them really fear failing, and it lets them feel immense joy for every small victory. It's a survival strategy game at its best.
- Ofisil

Read Ofisil's review

17. Spyro Reignited Trilogy

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A consistent triple whammy of 3D collectathon platforming remade with extreme care and faithfulness to the original material. Spyro Reignited Trilogy plays well, looks fantastic, and is rarely an overwhelming or difficult set of adventures, with small worlds that are simple to conquer and ideal for a younger audience. By the time of the third game, things are a little more gimmicky, and there is a repetitive nature about the constant running around and collecting, but these colourful platformers still manage to deliver real delight if you try not to blast through each game one after the other.
- Az

Read Az's review

16. Valkyria Chronicles 4

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With few major changes from the core formula, fans of the series will feel right at home with Valkyria Chronicles 4. The game changes enough for the better and offers some degree of fresh air to the experience even after four entries. Any flaws that were present in previous titles still exist to some extent, holding it back from true greatness, but the general formula is more than solid enough and stays fresh despite the "4" in the title.
- Eric

It is more of the same for Valkyria Chronicles 4 - and that's no bad thing. Going back to what SEGA did best with this series following the awful Revolution was really all that was necessary, even if it might feel too familiar if coming off of playing the first game recently. Comic book visuals, a story based on World War II, appealing anime-like characters, a mix of overhead and third-person strategic and real-time gameplay - there are so many crazy ideas melded together, and yet it all comes off so well. There still isn't a series much like it.
- Az

Read Eric's review
Read Az's review

15. Iconoclasts

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If you have ever been turned off Metroidvanias for their tendency to prove too confusing or challenging, or pined for a larger focus on plot, Iconoclasts is the answer. By relegating the heavy exploration side of the popular genre in favour of driving a captivating narrative and characters to the forefront, Joakim Sandberg has crafted a 2D adventure that comes out as one of the most entertaining of the year, and certainly in the genre as a whole. Don't sleep on this.
- Az

Don't let first impressions fool you. Beneath the bright colours and initially sunny disposition of Iconoclasts lies a game that is going to challenge you in a variety of ways. It will force the best from your quick-twitch skills, with fast-paced and frenetic combat. It will strain your brain with tricky puzzles and unique boss encounters, and it will also present a world whose obstacles and solutions may even challenge your own ideals and world view. This is an experience that cannot be missed by fans of 2D action platformers or those seeking a greater level of mental and ideological engagement.
- Wes

Read Az's review
Read Wes's review

14. Yakuza 6: The Song of Life

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Kiryu's final chapter is a beautiful one that has its heart in the right place, but feels slightly let down quite likely due to the new engine not allowing the developers the time they required to flesh out other areas such as the battle system and sections of Kamurocho. Despite slipping in parts, though, Yakuza 6 recovers with a compelling and intricately woven narrative featuring an appealing cast, rounded off with the side distractions expected of an entry in this series. This is an emotional sayonara to Kazuma Kiryu that may not have been all it could have been, but serves up a fine game befitting the Yakuza name.
- Az

Read Az's review

13. Dark Souls Remastered

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Dark Souls Remastered on Nintendo Switch may be lacking in the same bells and whistles as its current gen counterparts, but that is hardly a bad thing. As a result of the Switch port taking a more reserved approach, due to technical limitations or otherwise, Dark Souls' visual identity has been kept intact. Audio compression does plague the port, but the main game itself is virtually untouched. While this may not result in a definitive version, the Switch port makes for an excellent return, or even first visit, to Lordran. Dark Souls remains a magnificently designed title with a strong visual and narrative sense of self. There was no reason to fix what wasn't broken, and Dark Souls Remastered on Switch understands that perfectly.
- Renan

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12. Okami HD

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Okami is a truly beautiful game and it's in its best possible form with this absolutely stunning 4K remaster. Okami HD is something truly special; the sort of game that is still remembered fondly years later by those who play it, and wonderful in every aspect. While remasters often get a bad rap, classics like this deserve the chance to get more sales - especially if it increases the chance of a sequel - not to mention more players get to experience an amazing and memorable adventure. Combine this quality with the low asking price here and this is a no-brainer. Buy this game. Love this game.
- Drew

Marking its first outing on a handheld device, Okami HD retains all of the elegance and charisma from even its non-HD days, packing it all into an epic adventure with a budget price and intuitive control inputs. There is a degree of repetition involved with certain battles and events, but even this takes little away from the tale that unfolds.
- Shane

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Read Shane's review

11. Destiny 2: Forsaken

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This Forsaken expansion has made Destiny 2 a journey worth returning to. The daily grind feels a lot more manageable, with more chances to obtain end-game gear. There are some exciting new modes to dip into, and the new bounties system really encourages players to dig deep into the world. Destiny 2 is still an end-game grind, but with all the new and interesting ways to obtain your favourite gear, it's a much more rewarding experience than before.
- Brandon

Bungie's history with Destiny has been as turbulent as the game's in-flight loading screens, but with Forsaken, they've hit their mark. The tragic loss of the series' most beloved character coupled with various improvements to gameplay have made it one of the best seasons of the franchise's history.
- David

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10. SoulCalibur VI

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SoulCalibur VI certainly has plenty of issues, like a lack of extra modes, a few visuals blemishes, the somewhat unimpressive Reverse Edge move, and the usual greedy attitude towards DLC. Nevertheless, it's also a highly entertaining, high-octane fighter that can be enjoyed by greenhorns and veterans alike, as well as being a more than decent revival of the franchise.
- Ofisil

Read Ofisil's review

9. Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age

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One day, Dragon Quest may succumb and drop turn-based combat. Thankfully, that is not today. Echoes of an Elusive Age may play it very safe, but the carefully balanced combat and wealth of ways to build the characters keeps things from getting boring. The sheer density of content in the main quest means it will take a staggering amount of time to complete. Compounded with some entertaining and charmingly written side-quests, this journey breaks the 100-hour mark easily. There can be a few too many instances of catering to the lowest common denominator that even the hard mode modifiers can't fix, but if it means more people can enjoy this amazing game, then so be it. The only thing holding back what could be almost a masterpiece for the genre is its terrible soundtrack.
- Al

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8. Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna - The Golden Country

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With refined combat, a far tighter script, and an infinitely more likable cast, Torna - The Golden Country manages to address almost all of Xenoblade Chronicles 2's core problems without ever straying too far from its source. The DLC does still suffer from a few of XC2's flaws, particularly in how it paces its story and handles tone, but Torna is nonetheless a fantastic prequel that helps to fill in the blanks without ever feeling pandering or relying too much on fan service. This expansion is a net positive for the series, showing that Monolith Soft is willing to address criticism in earnest. In many respects, Torna - The Golden Country is the game Xenoblade Chronicles 2 should have been.
- Renan

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7. Monster Hunter: World

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Monster Hunter: World still has all the complexity expected from this series, but it dishes it out in much more palatable chunks than usual. It's still got a frightening amount of depth, but it feels manageable in a way that few in the series have pulled off before. Players may still feel a little lost from time to time, but a little guidance from series vets or other friends can drastically reduce the growing pains new players will likely experience. On top of all that, this is one of the best-feeling titles the series has had to date - so saddle up with some friends, and explore all the New World has to offer.
- Brandon

Monster Hunter: World is a vastly complex action-adventure game littered with plenty of menus that customise the various weapons and armour pieces, while gathering useful resources to assist the hunter in taking down the next big monster. The gameplay loop of hunt-upgrade-hunt-upgrade is an addictive one that rarely stumbles into "grinding" territory, although some may see the whole game as a grind. Fans of the long-running series will find plenty to love with this latest edition, although newcomers will have an accessible title with which to dip their toes into. Do not be fooled, though, as this is not an easy game that sugarcoats the experience. Monster Hunter: World is hard, but it is satisfying to do the homework on each monster, preparing well for them before dishing out some hunting justice and slaying them for their materials. While the battle system can be mechanically clunky, and issues will surely arise in every fight, this is by no measure a deal breaker, as the majestic monsters and beautiful locations with the addictive gameplay loop and complex systems more than make up for it.
- Josh

When Monster Hunter: World was first announced, many fans were apprehensive that the game would bring about too many unwanted changes. These fears were quickly crushed upon its release, and instead we've been given one of the best Monster Hunter games to date.
- David

Read Brandon's review
Read Josh's review

6. Hollow Knight (Switch/PS4/Xbox One)

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Hollow Knight in its original PC form was exemplary, but now it has landed on Nintendo Switch, complete with all the bells and whistles that have been laden upon the gorgeous adventure since launch, as well as fresh post-release content. This proves to be the perfect antidote for those suffering from Super Metroid withdrawal symptoms. Team Cherry's ode to Nintendo's great may well have edged past its original inspiration. It truly is the game that just keeps on giving; absolutely sublime, in every sense of the word.
- Adam

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5. Octopath Traveler

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Octopath Traveler is an extremely satisfying storytelling experience vastly different from other traditional JRPGs out there. The eight stories followed over the course of the game are all compelling in different ways, and each is engrossing in different ways. The combat is simple, yet nuanced, and building party compositions never stops being a fun exercise as the adventure presents each new challenge. The pacing does have some small missteps here and there, especially as the world opens up between each major act, but it's a tiny hurdle in an otherwise magnificent experience.
- Brandon

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4. Marvel's Spider-Man

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Spider-Man isn't perfect, but it is the best Spider-Man game since 2004's Spider-Man 2, with a beauty, wit, and charm that reminds us why we love Marvel's web-slinging superhero so much in the first place.
- David

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3. God of War

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God of War is an exceptionally solid action game that delivers the epic scope the series is known for, but in a new way. While many of the plot elements are a bit forced at times, the characters themselves are well written and performed very naturally. Don't expect to feel for Kratos much, no matter how hard the game tries, because he is just too much of a monster. The real star is the fluid combat, realistic visuals, and the rousing set-pieces. It is unclear how far the PlayStation 4's architecture is being pushed, but it wouldn't be surprising if God of War is pushing it to its absolute limit because there is never a moment when it does not look stunning. There is so much to like that the weaker aspects get drowned out and are easily ignored - and pulling that off is no easy feat.
- Al

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2. Red Dead Redemption II

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The first collaborative project between all of Rockstar Games' studios is something truly special. While no single element of Red Dead Redemption II is revolutionary, due to its ambitious scope, it's greater than the sum of its parts. Few single-player experiences excel simultaneously at telling a deep and poignant story, whilst also providing the player with such a huge extent of freedom and possibility. The universe is exceedingly broad, varied, and beautiful, not to mention overflowing with interesting characters, wildlife, and things to do. The sense of polish and finer details really bring things together, along with the excellent musical score, fantastic voice acting and the title's intense and visceral cinematic qualities. Fans of the original Red Dead Redemption will be enamoured by the sequel. It doesn't just accentuate the West, but animates it on a new level, with a greater sense of life, community, and narrative. It's epic.
- Tomas

Rockstar Games has created a vast, staggeringly detailed world for Red Dead Redemption II, complete with a flourishing ecosystem and filled with peril at every turn. At times, the day-to-day minutiae involved in being a cowboy can be almost overwhelming, but the option to deviate from the script and canter off in any direction in search of fresh adventure is its greatest strength. Life in Rockstar's Wild West can move at a glacial pace if you let it, but it's a beautifully realised slice of frontier life that deserves to be savoured. The video game equivalent of a Cormac McCarthy novel.
- Gareth

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1. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

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Nintendo's crossover mega-hit continues to beat out the competition, with Super Smash Bros. Ultimate being arguably the definitive Smash Bros experience of the modern age. Fighters from all previous games--as well as from across the industry--meet up to duke it out on some of gaming's most famous stages, to gaming's most famous tunes, in unforgettable 1-8 player matches.
- David

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The hype train going into Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has been surreal. With character leaks and speculation rife, it is finally great to have the all-star fighter on the Nintendo Switch. Ultimate has subtle nuances that help it stand out, including harder hitting attacks that really feel like damage has been inflicted, let alone a whole host of modes, features and lore from gaming history which keeps the entertainment factor at an all-time high. The roster from both a first and third party perspective is incredible, and with the potential of future DLC characters in 2019, there is no reason to stop "smashing" any time soon.
- Neil

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With the previous game feeling less than appealing to the solo player, there was worry that Super Smash Bros. Ultimate would not be as entertaining as past stand-out entries if it focused only on multiplayer. Amazingly, and thankfully, Sakurai and his team have put together a case for the best in the franchise to date, with a compelling single-player adventure mode that features hundreds of unique battles, clever throwbacks in the 70+ character Classic Mode runs, the collecting of over a thousand fighter-enhancing Spirits, and, of course, the potential for tons more hours of fun through battling friends online and locally. This really is the love letter to gaming it is cracked up to be.
- Az

Read Az's review

It arrived right at the end of the year, but Nintendo's all-star fighter in the form of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was worth the wait and takes the crown for the Cubed3 team's favourite game of 2018. There seems to be a good bit of variety in this year's list, with a welcome tinge of RPG mixing it up with the major action adventure games. Fingers crossed 2019 will bring continued greatness and a few surprises along the way as we enter the final stages of some consoles' lives. Sound off below with your personal favourite titles of the year.

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Comments

Some amazing games on there! More people need to try Hollow Knight now it's on Switch, and there are lots I need to try out when my schedule calms down a bit. Thanks for putting this together, Az! Fantastic work Smilie

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Watch Adam on the BBC! | K-Pop Korner FB Page | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

So glad I dipped on Hollow Knight in Switch sales a few months back. I had to use a guide to help me through it, but it didn't detract from how awesome it was and the amount of fun I had.

For me, Iconoclasts was the standout game of the year of the ones I played. Much more linear and story-driven than Hollow Knight (which is far more of a punishing and open Metroidvania), but the characters and narrative really stuck with me, so I didn't mind the constant stops in play for cutscenes. If you prefer your Metroidvanias along the lines of Hollow Knight (i.e. with lack of cutscenes and pure freedom of exploration), then Iconoclasts might not be for you, but I loved both for their own accomplishments.

Octopath Traveler is £30 in Switch sales atm too... and even tho I'm so tempted, I might just hold off till it's 50% off. I have a few too many games I want to try and get cleared before buying too many more!

As for the rest of the list here that I haven't played, I don't think there's too much I really want to get round to trying. RDR2 sounds too time consuming, and I can't be bothered with Rockstar games these days (I skipped GTA5). God of War might be the standout potential one I may possibly try one day, but... there are still plenty of others from past years that I have yet to catch up on!

( Edited 30.12.2018 00:35 by Azuardo )

Ainsley Harriot (guest) 30.12.2018#3

Best games I played this year were Yoku's Island Express and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze.

Going strictly off of time played, KORG Gadget is my game of the year.
I've put over 160 hours into it.

Great article.

only criticism I have is the frequent inclusion of older ports that got released in 2018.

i adore Okami and Dark Souls, but lumping them with the likes of Red dead 2 or MH World just does not feel honest or fair to me.

Insanoflex said:
Great article.

only criticism I have is the frequent inclusion of older ports that got released in 2018.

i adore Okami and Dark Souls, but lumping them with the likes of Red dead 2 or MH World just does not feel honest or fair to me.


I know. It's whether we try to draw a line or not when deciding which ones deserve to be included. It's like "how old is too old?" I have mixed feelings on it too, but I feel the easiest way is to just allow all games to be included, and then it's really up to the staff to vote for what really deserves to be in. I dunno, on the other hand, there are still people that haven't played Okami and Dark Souls, and people a bit newer to games thanks to Switch might only take notice of them now, for example. I think in general, it balances out when we get to the top end of the list. If more staff had issues with it, I might look to alter it, but I think most of the time, people just go with it and we still end up getting things pretty fair in the end.

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