With the end of 2017 rapidly approaching, now seems like a fitting time to look back at the various video games I have played and choose ten of the best.
For this list, only games released during 2017 are up for consideration. Also, this may be a given, but I have to have played them as well.
There will also be some honourable mentions throughout the list.
Without further ado, I present my top ten video games of 2017.
Number 10: Dragon Ball Fusions
There were two Dragon Ball games released for Nintendo consoles this year: Dragon Ball Fusions for the 3DS, and Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 for Nintendo Switch. I like both a lot, so picking between them is tough. I decided to go with Fusions, though, as there will be plenty of Switch representation on this list.
Much as the title of the game implies, fusion is a key part of Dragon Ball Fusions – merging two characters into one more powerful being. There’s a huge roster of familiar faces to recruit in the game, ranging from throughout all of Dragon Ball‘s history – and your custom avatar can fuse with any one of them.
Fusions is a fun Dragon Ball RPG, and sits right up there next to Xenoverse 2 as one of my favourite Dragon Ball games.
Number 9: Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King
I’m always up for a Dragon Quest game, and that was certainly true when the eighth title in the series was ported to 3DS earlier this year. When it comes to RPGs, you don’t get much more classic than Dragon Quest – gameplay will feel familiar if you’ve ever played any other Dragon Quest game.
The story focuses on a hero setting out in order to restore a cursed king and princess to their former selves, which naturally means said hero will confront a great evil.
Talking of 3DS adventures, now is a good time for an honourable mention of Ever Oasis. In that game, you are tasked building up an oasis in a desert to provide a safe haven from an encroaching evil. It’s a fun little game, and something I recommend looking into should you get the opportunity.
However, perhaps you aren’t satisfied with the selection of RPGs available on the 3DS. In that case, why not create your own with RPG Maker Fes? Or you could download the RPG Maker Player for free from the 3DS eShop and experience other people’s creations.
Number 8: Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap
One of my favourite Master System games was Wonder Boy III: The Dragon’s Trap, and Lizardcube happened to remake that game as Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap earlier this year.
Of course, it features updated graphics and music, but you can switch between modern and retro audio and visuals with the mere press of a button. The remake also added the ability to play as Wonder Girl, which is just a cosmetic thing but it is nice to have the option nonetheless.
The game itself is a sidescrolling platformer, in which you control a hero who is cursed after defeating a dragon. The only way to break the curse is to defeat more dragons, undergoing several transformations that grant different abilities.
The game is pretty old school as well, so don’t expect it to hold your hand and tell you where to go. Still, that didn’t stop me when I played it as a child, and I still love the game to this day.
Since I mentioned a Sega console, I figured I’d throw an honourable mention for Sonic Mania here. It is effectively a sequel to Sonic 3 & Knuckles, and it recreates the feel of the Mega Drive games. Despite what the internet would have you believe, going fast isn’t the best way to approach a Sonic game – it is by maintaining momentum. That is something I only really picked up on after reading reviews when Sonic Mania was released.
Number 7: Metroid: Samus Returns
It’s there right in the title: one of Nintendo’s most iconic heroines came back to the 3DS this year courtesy of MercurySteam. The game is a remake of Metroid II: Return of Samus. It feels like an entirely new experience, despite being set on SR388, just like the Game Boy classic.
Plenty of Metroid staples return, and there are some new features as well. There is an incredibly satisfying counterattack mechanic that makes fighting enemies feel good, and Aeion abilities provide new skills for Samus to put to use.
Number 6: Pokémon Ultra Moon
As per tradition, the 7th generation of Pokémon games got enhanced updates released earlier this year. I could have put either Ultra Sun or Ultra Moon here – it doesn’t really matter. Regardless, those games improve upon Sun and Moon, and have a different story that focuses on an Ultra Beast known as Necrozma.
As you’d expect, the gameplay remains similar – journeying through Alola, catching Pokémon and participating in island trials rather than gym battles. Some new Ultra Beasts were introduced in these games, as well as a few new activities.
It can probably be said that Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon are the definitive Pokémon experiences on the 3DS.
Number 5: Puyo Puyo Tetris
At number 5 on the list, we have a game that combines two puzzlers into one neat package. As I’m sure everyone already knows, Tetris is about using shapes consisting of four blocks to build walls and make them disappear. As for Puyo Puyo, the aim of that game is to match four or more Puyos of the same colour, and do so in ways that sends junk to an opponent’s screen to prevent them from doing the same to you. Probably haven’t explained it very well here, but it is addictive.
Puyo Puyo Tetris even manages to combine both games – whether it is in swap mode where you switch between Puyo Puyo and Tetris, or quite literally play both at the same time. It takes some getting used to, but there are several lessons available to help you get acquainted with all the modes.
Puyo Puyo Tetris includes several offline and online modes, and a variety of different options within them. Perhaps you just want a Tetris marathon, or maybe you want to practice your chains in Puyo Puyo – there are options for that and more.
Tetris on its own is a good game; Tetris together with Puyo Puyo is even better.
Number 4: Fire Emblem Warriors
My favourite Nintendo franchise is without a doubt, Fire Emblem. Some people may have certain favourites, but I unconditionally love the entire franchise. I’m also partial to Dynasty Warriors style games, and that is exactly what Fire Emblem Warriors is.
For those who are unaware: Warriors games are basically about selecting a character and cutting your way through hordes of enemies. Fire Emblem Warriors features a cast of characters from Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon, Fire Emblem: Awakening and Fire Emblem Fates as well as a couple of other guests.
It is the second Nintendo-Warriors crossover, following in the footsteps of Hyrule Warriors. It’s a real blast to play, and it even includes co-op play.
Fire Emblem Warriors manages to incorporate several elements from Fire Emblem games as well. The weapon triangle – swords beat axes, axes beat lances, and lances beat swords – is present, and you can level up and promote your characters just like in their native games.
You also have the ability to give orders to your allies on the map screen when you’ve paused, so you can have them defend a key fort or go after a specific foe.
The Fates DLC recently dropped for this game, and there’s more to follow next year with Awakening and Shadow Dragon – so this game will be one I revisit at least a couple of times during 2018.
Time for some more honourable mentions. For a more traditional Fire Emblem experience, you may want to try Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia. It is a remake of the second ever Fire Emblem game, Fire Emblem Gaiden, which was originally released for the Famicom.
Whilst it has been given a modern twist, that brilliant old school difficulty is very much present – which makes Fire Emblem‘s perma-death even more scary. Of course, you can switch it off if you want, but I’m pretty traditional when it comes to Fire Emblem – well, as traditional as someone can be who started with the 7th game on GBA.
Can’t ignore the other Fire Emblem game released earlier this year, either: Fire Emblem Heroes. It is a F2P Fire Emblem game that was released in February, and I still find myself logging in every day to give it a quick go.
You don’t have to spend a single penny to play it, and the relatively recent addition of one free summon for each new banner has been nice. There are also generally ways to earn orbs (the in-game currency) without spending anything, so patience can pay off.
Of course, it is a gacha game, so just don’t expect to summon the heroes you actually want…
Still going with honourable mentions, next up is a hack and slash game set within the Fate franchise: Fate/EXTELLA: The Umbral Star. Gameplay here is similar to Fire Emblem Warriors, this time with heroes from the Fate universe – which are effectively heroes from real world myths, legends and other folklore. This game was released for the Switch this year, hence its honourable mention.
You play the role of a Master, controlling Servants in battle to defeat enemy forces. As you go through the game, you can build bonds with Servants, leading to some rather amusing interactions.
Number 3: Xenoblade Chronicles 2
I consider the first Xenoblade Chronicles to be one of the greatest RPGs – in fact, no – greatest games of all time. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is proving to be a worthy follow-up from what I have played so far (I’m currently on chapter 8, and have spent well over 100 hours on it).
Much like previous games in the series, there are huge areas to explore, full of all kinds of monsters to fight and treasures to discover. I also really like the Driver-Blade mechanic, and the combat is actually pretty fun once you get your head around the HUD. It’s a bit daunting at first, but dedicate as much to it as I have, and you start getting a sense for how things work.
Also, whilst everyone was making a big fuss over the likes of Pyra and Dahlia, I just want to say that the character I appreciate most is Mórag, as well as her Blade, Brighid.
I’ve been enjoying the plot for the game as well. Rex’s journey to get to Elysium isn’t an easy one, and he has experienced several dire situations that not everyone manages to come out of unscathed.
Again, just like the previous Xenoblade games, the soundtrack is amazing, too. Some of the best music comes from Monolith Soft video games, of that I have no doubt.
Number 2: Super Mario Odyssey
I believe that one of the greatest feelings in gaming is quite simply controlling Mario. Nintendo have the controls for their mascot nailed down perfectly, and those first jumps and beyond in Super Mario Odyssey are just utter bliss.
There may be plenty of other amazing platformers out there, but Nintendo proved with Super Mario Odyssey that you just can’t beat the masters of the craft. The secret to this? Well, perhaps it is the joy that Mario brings.
Mario ventures from kingdom to kingdom in Super Mario Odyssey in pursuit of Bowser to save a kidnapped Peach, collecting Power Moons on the way. Each kingdom is packed full of ideas, and they are never overused.
Throw in the new capture mechanic, and you have plenty of opportunities for joy to be found. Some of the things you can capture are incredible surprises, but you’ll have to play the game to find out what they are for yourselves.
Also, the soundtrack is utterly superb. You’ve probably heard the main theme, ‘Jump Up, Superstar!’, but that’s just one amazing song from an entire selection.
A couple more honourable mentions before I get to number one. First, Splatoon 2. Nintendo’s take on the third-person shooter remains just as fresh as it was on Wii U, with new weapon types and stages added for the Switch. It also includes new mode Salmon Run, which is a co-op mode where Inklings team up to fight off hordes of enemy Salmonids. The game regularly updates, adding new weapons and stages completely free.
Talking of free updates, ARMS followed suit with that as well. New characters, arenas and ARMS were added with each new update. The most recent, the 5.0.0 update, added another female fighter in the form of Dr. Coyle. In the game, all the combatants have stretchy arms. You have to use those stretchy arms to fight for victory, and each character has their own special abilities to take into consideration as well. A fun fighting game.
Number 1: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
I’m sure this doesn’t come as a surprise – in fact, I believe I have seen several others state that their game of this year is The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Released for the Wii U and as a launch title for the Switch, this game took the traditional Zelda formula and shook it up like never before.
It’s always a risk taking a franchise like Zelda in a new direction, but it is pretty safe to say that it really paid off here. The game effectively sticks you in the middle of Hyrule, and then leaves you to do what you want.
Perhaps that is hunting down all of the shrines, and solving the self-contained puzzles within each. Maybe you like aiming for 100%, and the thought of collecting 900 Korok Seeds has you giddy with excitement. Or, maybe you just want to mess around with the Runes you pick up early on in the game, and see how the game’s physics work – creative use of the Magnesis Rune has seen players soaring through the sky for example.
You are free to approach Breath of the Wild as you please – you are limited to the Great Plateau to begin with, but get hold of the requisite Runes and the hang glider, and Hyrule truly opens up. That mountain you can see in the distance? Yeah, you can probably climb it.
There’s a huge amount to do in Breath of the Wild, and that doesn’t even take into account the DLC. Due to Xenoblade Chronicles 2 keeping me busy recently, I’ve barely even glanced at the Champions’ Ballad DLC. I’ll definitely make the time to get round to it at some point, though.
That concludes my top ten video games of 2017. Honestly, this list is pretty arbitrary, and I know that I technically have more than ten games listed here thanks to honourable mentions, but these are the games that I have been enjoying this year. An incredibly strong year for Nintendo with the release of the Switch – let’s hope the momentum continues into 2018 and beyond.