I should stress that this is in no specific order.
I would also like to point out a couple of games that didn’t make the list but are still very good, or I haven’t finished yet:
Downwell Undertale Bayonetta 2 Threes Hitman Go Nidhogg Firewatch
With that out of the way…
Football with RC cars! What a wonderfully dumb idea, and one that pays off so well that I finally have my answer to FIFA – a game I can pick up, kick back, play a few rounds and move on. It’s by far the best game for day one patches. If I’m judging this list solely on value for money, Rocket League wins by a country mile. FREE and I’m still playing it well over a year later. A must have for anyone – and it’s better than FIFA. And with the inclusion of extra arenas, plus the basketball mode – Rocket League is doing Destiny better than Destiny.
Mario Kart 8
The Mario Kart series has always, even at worse, been solid. The sixth (Wii) instalment felt a little… uninspired, and my worst fears that the series was starting to tail off seemed like a possibility. Mario Kart 7 for the DS revitalised Mario’s weekend hobby with excellent level design and several new features. Mario Kart 8 is an extension of 7, but the courses are even grander in scale with Wario Mountain being the standout, and the added characters, along with the DLC including characters from outside of the Mario universe, have left fans with the tantalising prospect of getting a ‘Smash Bros’ style Kart game somewhere down the line. With that said, Nintendo’s ability to consistently fuck up the multiplayer mode since MK64 is infuriating and at this stage of the game is inexcusable. With that said, the inclusion of the 200cc mode adds an added level of difficulty for hardened players and adds plenty of replay value.
Mortal Kombat X
Look, the original Mortal Kombat games are kinda terrible. I enjoyed them as a child, but comparing them with Street Fighter II is laughable. So along came MK9 to breath life into a franchise that had been somewhat painful to endure this side of the millennium. MKX – like Mario Kart 8 – is an extension of its predecessor, with a tight control system, stunning graphics and movement, and at times some very funny dialogue. There was also the inclusion of several new characters that fit into the universe superbly. If you add the different fighting styles that have been added to each character; you now have a fighting game that sits naturally alongside the competition at events like EVO.
I haven’t played Hitman. I’ve only sat by and watched Dave make his way through this brilliant reboot of Agent 47. What could have been a disaster, between the not-so-well-received piecemeal content structure, and the rather clunky beta, turned out to be what will most likely on many people’s GOTY list come the end of 2016. Splitting the missions up into monthly (or there about) releases means people are more incentivised to explore the environments. And IO Interactive rewards you for your exploration: giving the player a plethora of ways to eliminate the target – some more ludicrous than others. Though stealth games are not my forte, there is no possible way I could leave this off the list.
No one, NO ONE was expecting this: Nintendo to make a compelling, competitive, enjoyable third-person multiplayer shooter? Madness. Using an original IP on a console that people have either given up on or weren’t all that fussed about in the first place? Nonsense. The Wii U is such a weird console, and the general consensus will be that it was a failure. But when this generation comes to an end, there’s a good chance that it’ll have had more solid bangers than either the PS4 or the Xbox One – and Splatoon is on that list. It’s also a case for how to have a good business mode for a game: with a small amount of content to begin with, as gamers got themselves use to the mechanics. Over time, Nintendo have steamrolled out (FREE) content to make Splatoon one of the success stories of this generation.
Super Mario Maker
You can make your own Mario levels – and it actually works. The only complaints the game continues to receive are to do with things Nintendo simply haven’t put in yet. And they have been continuously adding content since the game’s release, from new sprites for items that only appeared in particular Mario game, to the members of Babymetal as playable characters, and thankfully the community has resisted the urge to make a flood of dick levels; instead coming up with some of the most creative, ingenious levels I have seen in a Mario game, or elsewhere.
If you have not had the pleasure yet of playing this genius puzzle/platform game for iOS and Android, I would highly recommend you stop reading this and download it now. The mechanics, the character design, the interface – they have all been constructed with elegance and a keen eye. Using optical illusions and the work of M.C. Escher as influence, Monument Valley will fool you and your sense of direction. You will constantly have to wrap your head around where your character can and can’t go. Even with the challenge in the puzzles, it has warmth and welcomes you in with open arms. It also manages to hit the ‘whimsical’ tone without ever drowning in self-indulgence.
Fucking hell. Between the poor reception to the multiplayer beta and the lack of review copies sent out before release, no one was expecting this. DOOM manages to take the spirit of the original and bring it screaming into the 21st century in a way that makes DOOM3 look ancient by comparison. The cheap shock tactics and barely lit corridors have been swapped for intense action and vibrant landscapes on the surface of Mars. Demons are bastard hard and do not fuck about with trying to end your existence. Doom Guy is nonplussed by any of this nonsense and just seems to be annoyed about being woken up. Equal parts a labor of love to the original, and a massive middle finger to the conventions that seem to be awash within the first-person genre. DOOM
Oh hey, a game that has the look, feel, tone and difficulty of the original Mega Man series is in Mark’s top ten, WHODATHUNKIT. Shovel Knight is brilliant. Easily one of the best 2D platform games to come along in forever, and at the top of the gargantuan pile of retro-style, pixel art games that has been building over the past five years or so, though Shovel Knight may be the best looking one of the lot. But the genius in our shoveling hero is that while the game is clearly influenced by the blue bomber, he isn’t indebted to him. Shovel Knight swaps a firing mechanic in favour of whacking your opponents in the face, or bouncing on their heads, which with one simple mechanic, opens up a whole new way the game acts as a platformer.
I lost about 100 hours in the span of two weeks to this one. A farming simulator with the added component of throwing real life emotions and struggles into the mix, just to keep you juggling over what objectives to complete on any particular day. A small village plays host to different characters who have their own personalities and backstories; growing crops and nurturing animals to help grow your farm; a cave with skeletons and the spirits from beyond – Stardew Valley has it all. And when you think you’ve finally made it to the end, the game only just starts to open up with what is possible.