Best of 2017

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

A rare example of successful AAA storytelling, Wolfenstein II bests its murky predecessor with fantastic focus on telling a story relevant to modern day America. It’s cliche to dump “Trump’s America” into a conversation anymore, but it’s an absolute in a year of Charlottesville Nazi rallies. Wolfenstein II is about good people who do something.

Golf Story

Wacky and strange. Golf Story jumps around between oddball side stories and the core tale of a young golfer reaching for destiny. It’s a mixture of old – pixel art and location themed stages – and new – broader story attention, a reduction of complications. It works, blowing up with miles of charm and witty humor. Golf Story knows when to quit, never running out of gas.

Everybody’s Golf

For a fourth generation, Hot Shots Golf/Everybody’s Golf becomes a game for a full console lifespan. There’s so much life and vibrancy to Everybody’s Golf, kooky and weird (wander the course, race karts, go fishing) but an affectionate game of golf too. The satisfaction of the three-click swing system will never get old, particularly when a swarm of fans surround your golfer. Everything takes place on an island here. Everyone is friendly. They cheer you. They welcome you. It’s all-inclusive and free from demeaning attitudes.

Crazy Taxi Gazillionaire

Tap people and pick them up. That’s it for this Crazy Taxi spin-off, a clicker with a slew of personality. It’s a tale of capitalism, struck with the snide side-eye of millennial bias. Draw your own conclusions, but Gazillionaire certainly takes pot shots at the old ways of doing things, ribbing the taxi industry and its inability to produce results in an era of Uber and Lyft. It’s clever and colorful.

Nier Automata

The cynical, anti-human story at the center of Nier: Automata is told with the eccentricities of its creator, flourishing inside a powerful sci-fi parable. In-between some droning dialog lies a powerful look at intelligence and consciousness, released the same year at HBO’s Westworld. The two explore similar thematic elements, but it’s Nier that has room to expand on its ideas.

Hidden Folks

Flick a bird. Annoy a neighbor. Just watch or just play. Hidden Folks’ delight is in its ambiance and joy. Hidden Folks exists in an aesthetic bliss, ever charming. There’s no color, only outlines, but the miniature world comes alive with a voyeuristic draw.

Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap

The art style in Wonder Boy is grand enough to be viewed theatrically. Although the underlying gameplay is locked to a somewhat stubborn Master System original, the daydream-like aesthetic is enough of a joy to push through some muddy level design. Wonder Boy’s art is next level material, suggesting what videogames might have become had they never discovered the polygon.

Forza Horizon 3: Hot Wheels

Boys and their toys, matched up here in a flourish of color, power, and risk-taking track design. How Forza Horizon matches the impossible physics of this expansion is a mystery to all aside from the design team. This Hot Wheels spin-off plays along with the absurdity through radio dialog, throwing away simulation for the sake of nauseating loop-de-loops and dangerous figure eights. This driven on by actual Hot Wheels cars, or real world muscle cars. No limits – that fits the open world ideals.

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