Traditionally, the last week of December is a slow time for new releases. Not long ago, the end of the calendar year had a near-absence of titles. But this week, with games like Puzzle Bobble, Donkey Kong Jr, and Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Complete Edition, there’s a few ports that might be worth caring about. Instead of our customary picks of the week, this time out Robert, Matt, Ryan, and Jay, offer contentious choices for their favorite title. Are there any we are overlooking?
Header image: Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Complete Edition, Switch
ACA NeoGeo Puzzle Bobble (digital, $7.99)
Arcade Archives – Donkey Kong Jr. (digital, $7.99)
Diggerman (digital, $4.49)
Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Complete Edition (digital, $39.99)
Jewel Fever 2 (digital, $4.99)
Mech Rage (digital, $9.99)
Revenge of the Bird King (digital, $4.99)
Xenon Valkyrie+ (digital, $9.99)
Bewitched Game ($2.69)
Doka 2: Guts Out Ninja ($0.49)
Forgotten Gifts ($2.39)
Love Shoot ($TBA)
Magic Realm Online ($TBA)
Paintball Chibis ($2.99)
Rikki & Vikki ($7.99)
VR Cricket ($TBA)
Robert’s Pick: This week, Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends is the only new game worthy of consideration, but I’m meticulous about my musou, so I’ll play it on PC where I don’t have to worry about lag when I’m recklessly pursuing Lu Bu. Instead, I think it would be interesting if we named our favorite game of 2018. Not, technical achievements or masterful storylines, just the title we most enjoyed playing.
For me, that that was Octopath Traveler. A lot of RPGs have tried to recreate the sublime allure of the sixteen-bit era. And while a few have triumphed, it was the release of this Square-Enix/Acquire collaboration that really was able to channel the charm. Immediately noticeably were the game’s HD-2D visuals. Extending a pixelated world build from polygons, with plenty of picturesque lighting and depth-of-field effects, Octopath pampered retinas. Meanwhile the turn-based battles built around Boost System blended simplicity with just enough nuance to keep you engaged across the long game.
Variety was built into the title through the incorporation of eight playable characters. Typically, when a game attempts to build a story around an ensemble, there are one or two leads that don’t interest me. While not all of Octopath’s protagonists are uniformly interesting, there are no obvious duds in the cast. The clincher for me was the absence of superfluous DLC. ‘Season passes’ have become a vulgar and shamefully ubiquitous practice. It’s refreshing to see a full story with nothing else to buy. Miyauchi-san and team, thank you for filling my commute with delight.
Matt’s Pick (Editor, DigitallyDownloaded): I’m a big fan of having one of the best Dynasty Warriors of all time on my Switch, on the go, so I highly recommend Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends this week. I’m loving the quality of the port overall, and with all the DLC included, there’s a lot to get stuck into.
Following on from Robert and picking a personal favourite game of the year… There’s been a lot this year. SoulCalibur VI gave us a great, fanservicey fighter. Civilization VI on the Nintendo Switch is one of the best strategy game experiences ever on the go, and the Nobunaga’s Ambition that was released on PlayStation 4 this year was a really good one too. Atelier Lydie & Suelle is one of the sweetest things, and Earth Defense Force 5 is gloriously B-grade action. We’ve been well serviced with JRPGs this year, too, thanks to the likes of Octopath Traveler, Yakuza 6, Labyrinth of Refrain and Valkyria Chronicles 4.
But I’m going to go with Dynasty Warriors 9. Yes. I know it’s a controversial game that a lot of people didn’t enjoy. I’ve been called everything from “bought off” to “fake fan” for daring to like a game that other “fans” did not. But screw it, I loved it. I play Dynasty Warriors because I want a video game adaptation of the historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and as far as I’m concerned, the vision of ancient China and action that Dynasty Warriors 9 offered was the best adaptation of that book that this series has offered to date. As a fan of history, I found Dynasty Warriors 9 to be the most memorable game of the year.
Ryan’s Pick: Dynasty Warriors 8 on the Switch is my pick as well this week. With all of the DLC included and the ability to play it on the go, you really cannot go wrong with this game. I am willing to forego some FPS if I can capture some enemy territories while being chauffeured around on a rickshaw. This is the most choice and recommended mode of transport while playing a Dynasty Warriors game on the Switch.
Looking back at a lot of my picks this year, I chose a lot of indie games for the Switch. But, I must not forget my roots. My favorite this year was Dragon Quest XI. In an age of active aoe battle areas and flip-the-man-into-the-pan menu mechanics to make RPG battles feel more engaging, DQXI went back to basics and I really appreciated it. From the static menus, to textbook turn-based play, it just felt very pure and comfortable. My wife and I played it together, and we came to a disagreement when it came to her decision to play one quarter of the game in the Mardi Garb which caused our main character “Madao” to endlessly wave at enemies before fighting them on the battlefield. Just running around everywhere, waving into infinity. One last interesting thing I noted was about the level design. The areas were beautiful and a you absolutely can tell the designers are true RPG fans, as some of the areas resemble areas from other franchises like the Cathedral of the Deep in DS3 and the Blasted Lands from WoW to name just a few. The game felt immersive, it looked great, and provided plenty of content even after the final boss was slain. All of this, and the gambling, and puff, puff, puff!
Jay’s Pick: I love Dynasty Warriors 8, I sure hope nobody else made it their pick this wee… oh.
Thankfully, we are also talking about a game that released any time in 2018 and I’m going well outside the box with this commendation; it’s not a GOTY contender, it isn’t a big budget AAA game nor a charming indie title but it stole a piece of my heart this year.
Metal Max Xeno is a low budget JRPG sold at a low price but that doesn’t stop it from being one of the most addictive games I’ve played all year. Talented developers created this hidden gem, and while sacrifices were made on environments and story, they damn sure made up for it with an incredibly more-ish gameplay loop, stunning character designs and enemy variety, and a surprisingly deep tank customising system.
Yes, I said tank. Metal Max Xeno is all about building a squad of tanks to fight the evil mech robots that have taken over the planet in post-apocalyptic Japan. Only getting to customise tanks when the enemy gets amazing looking mechs seems like a bit of a downer at first but let me tell you… fitting 12 shock cannons, 2 rocket launchers, and a sonic sound blaster to a spider tank that walks on legs instead of treads is nothing short of orgasmic.
P.S The in-game soundtrack is pretty good but Kadokawa Games made a professional music track and music video based on one of the songs from the game called “Unforedoomed”. I’ve replayed the hell out of this song for the last couple of months, it’s so damn good.