For my top ten games of 2019, I’ve decided that I won’t be ranking them in some arbitrary order, because that is kind of a hassle – what’s the difference between fifth and sixth place, really?
Instead, I shall be presenting ten of the games I most enjoyed playing in 2019 in alphabetical order, and probably throw in a few honourable mentions as well. My list will be particularly skewed towards Nintendo Switch games, though there will be some multiplatform titles here.
With that said and done, here are my top ten games of 2019.
ASTRAL CHAIN2019 saw the release of a new Nintendo IP, and one that was developed by PlatinumGames. This action-adventure game sees you take control of either a male or female police officer, and do battle against otherworldly creatures called chimeras.
When it comes to action titles, PlatinumGames have it down to a fine art and Astral Chain is a fine example of that.
So I think I’ll try to squeeze in honourable mentions between each entry, and it makes the most sense to talk a little about some other action titles I particularly enjoyed this year here: DAEMON X MACHINA, Dusk Diver and Fate/EXTELLA LINK are a few that come to mind. Boil them down to their most basic essence and they are just about defeating waves of enemies. Nothing wrong with that, though.
Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness and the Secret HideoutOf the three Atelier titles released in 2019, Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness and the Secret Hideout just manages to edge it as my favourite. Of course, Reisalin Stout – or just Ryza, as everyone knows her – might have played a part in it, but I really enjoyed figuring out the alchemy system. The story was interesting, and there’s a fun cast of characters.
I suppose my honourable mentions here should go to the other two Atelier titles. One was a main entry in the series, and the other a spin-off. Atelier Lulua ~The Scion of Arland~ was my first foray into the Arland games, and I’d argue that its cast of characters are even better than Atelier Ryza. Figuring out the alchemy system took me a little longer, but I got there in the end.
The spin-off was Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists ~Ateliers of the New World~ which is effectively a town-building sim. Don’t go thinking its just some Facebook game, though: there’s a lot more going on in this particular title.
BLAZBLUE CENTRALFICTION Special EditionAsk me my favourite fighting game developer, and my answer will be Arc System Works. Some may prefer industry giants Capcom or SNK, but for me, the BlazBlue series will always top my list of favourite fighting games.
So of course, that is why I am featuring BLAZBLUE CENTRALFICTION Special Edition as one of my top ten games of 2019. It is the entire CENTRALFICTION experience in one place, with plenty of different modes to get stuck into.
There was plenty of Arc System Works content this year, as we got GUILTY GEAR & GUILTY GEAR ACCENT CORE PLUS R on the Switch, and Kill La Kill The Game – IF as well. BLAZBLUE CROSS TAG BATTLE also got updated to Version 2.0, bringing in a few new characters.
Bloodstained: Ritual of the NightNow here’s a title I wasn’t sure about including here. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night didn’t exactly have the best start on the Nintendo Switch – which is the version I got. However, thinking back on it, I really enjoyed playing through the game – even with some technical difficulties here and there. I think that speaks volumes about the quality of this particular title.
At the time of writing, the development team are still working to fix the Nintendo Switch version’s flaws, but this one is a multiplatform title. An excellent Metroidvania, and a very worthy successor for the Castlevania series.
I’ll stick with a Metroidvania theme for the honourable mention here, and turn my gaze towards Game Freak. Oh, one of their games will certainly feature later on in this list, but before that I’ve definitely got to give a shout out to GIGA WRECKER Alt.. Turns out Game Freak are talented at creating games across multiple genres.
DRAGON QUEST XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive EditionThinking about, I would say I am more invested in the Dragon Quest series than the Final Fantasy series. That’d probably be because Nintendo’s consoles have actually be getting the mainline Dragon Quest games.
The eleventh entry of the series could be argued is best experienced on Switch; it is the Definitive Edition, after all. It is a Dragon Quest game, and that’s something I really quite enjoy. I’d go so far as to say that this is something every JRPG fan should at least give a go – and the free demo you can download from the eShop certainly encourages that.
As for honourable mentions, now seems like a good time to mention DRAGON QUEST BUILDERS 2. Definitely an improvement over the first game, and something I just really enjoyed playing.
Another JRPG I experienced for the first time this year was Final Fantasy IX. Much beloved by many, it doesn’t even come remotely close to touching Final Fantasy IV as my favourite Final Fantasy title.
One more honourable mention, and this one has a connection to Dragon Quest. In particular, artwork by Akira Toriyama. SUPER DRAGON BALL HEROES WORLD MISSION brought the DRAGON BALL HEROES card game outside of Japan on Switch and PC and is very much worth a look if you’re a fan of all things Dragon Ball.
Fire Emblem: Three HousesIf I had been ranking games this year, Fire Emblem: Three Houses would have easily taken the number one spot. I mean, Fire Emblem is my favourite Nintendo franchise, so of course I was going to think highly of any new entry in the series – and unlike more recent entries, Three Houses actually seems to please everyone (or most people at least).
Of course you’ll be commanding troops on the battlefield, but you’ll also take on a role as their teacher and help them grow as students of the Officers’ Academy.
There’s so much praise I could heap onto Three Houses, but I think I should just carry on with this list instead.
Only a quick honourable mention here, but it is one for another strategy game: Wargroove. Ask me to describe it in its simplest terms, and I’d say “medieval fantasy Advance Wars“.
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s AwakeningAnother long-standing favourite Nintendo franchise of mine is The Legend of Zelda, so naturally Link’s Awakening makes this list as well. This remake is probably a testament for how well the original Game Boy title holds up, even if it has been giving a slick new coat of paint.
Honestly, in terms of adventure games, you can’t really go wrong with Zelda.
All right, got quite a mouthful of a title for the honourable mention going here: Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the NecroDancer featuring The Legend of Zelda. This particular seems to be an indicator that Nintendo might be a little more open about sharing their characters with other developers (indie developers in particular) and gives us a future with countless possibilities. Also, the game itself is rad. It’s definitely on the more difficult side, so that is something to be aware of.
Pokémon SwordThe eighth generation of Pokémon takes place in the Galar region, which is based on the UK. As a resident of the UK myself, I absolutely love it. All the new Pokémon are excellent, and the Galarian forms of familiar monsters are spiffing, too.
Pokémon Sword actually got me back into EV training, too, as it does things to make competitive battling more accessible for those who wish to pursue it.
Hmm, since I’ve already mentioned GIGA WRECKER Alt., I guess there’s not going to be a particular theme for these honourable mentions. Turns out visual novels might be ideal for the Switch, and one such title that proves this Nurse Love Addiction. Might just be worth experiencing for the bad ends alone.
Gun Gun Pixies showed us lewd games can have heartfelt messages, and also proved that the Nintendo Switch is a pretty good place for them as well. If heartfelt messages aren’t your thing, then SENRAN KAGURA Peach Ball is worth a look if you fancy an alternative take on pinball.
Huh, turns out there may have been a theme for this set of honourable mentions after all…
SUPER MARIO MAKER 2For the second time, Nintendo is like “huh, you like Super Mario games? How about you try making your own levels?” and the fans respond “yeah, all right then.” Super Mario Maker 2 brings custom made Mario levels to the Switch, with plenty of new content, including slopes!
There are infinite possibilities within this title, as fans can upload their own custom levels for everyone else to play. Nintendo were also kind enough to include a story made with pre-made levels, which might just ignite a spark of creativity.
Another Mario title released (or perhaps re-released would be more accurate) this year was New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe, which is a Switch port of the Wii U’s New Super Mario Bros. U. In terms of platformers, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything that controls better than the Mario games. Whether it is in 2D or 3D, Nintendo offers perfect platforming.
Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition2019 was the year I discovered my new favourite Tales of… game: Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition. A large part of that comes down to Ristelle (that would be the Rita x Estelle ship for those unaware), but the game itself is just excellent.
This is just one of many great JRPGs available on the Switch. Here’s hoping we see plenty more in the future, whether they’re new or ports of older ones.
There we have it. The ten games I enjoyed playing most in the year of 2019, with plenty of honourable mentions thrown in for good measure.
Lots of great stuff found its way onto the Nintendo Switch this year (and some other platforms as well, I suppose). I’d say 2019 was a really strong showing for games, and early impressions indicate that 2020 might just put up some fierce competition as well.