It’s been quite the year for Nintendo. What many deemed a slow start to 2018 with scattered, smaller titles was made up for in the latter half of 2018 with an influx of big exclusives like Pokemon: Let’s Go, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Super Mario Party, etc. And with adequate third-party support, Nintendo has undoubtedly had a great year. But, the question remains, which title is the game of 2018?
After a vote from the staff here at Nintendo Enthusiast, our Game of the Year and Runner-Up have been determined.
Game of the Year: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is a fantastic party game that has a beating heart of a complex fighter within it. It’s the culmination of everything we loved about its predecessors. From its wide array of iconic characters to its intricate fighting mechanics. Every aspect of the game is showered with tender love and care. Not only is it the best Super Smash Bros. game of all time, but it makes me ponder on how Nintendo will top this in future iterations. I suspect that this is a game most Switch owners will be keeping on their micro SD card for years to come.
Runner Up: Celeste
Celeste took the gaming world by storm upon its release in January. This sensational precision platformer has all the makings of a standout in the genre—fantastic level design, tight controls, a lovely aesthetic, and a beautiful soundtrack—but it is further enhanced by its atmosphere, character development, and themes. Celeste’s central message is one of overcoming your greatest obstacles and inner demons. This is reflected in the narrative and in the gameplay, where players are supplied with a constant stream of encouraging messages as they struggle to climb Celeste Mountain. The final result is as rewarding as it is challenging, cementing Celeste’s place among the greatest indies and greatest platformers.
- Nick Pearson
Other nominees include Pokemon: Let’s Go, Super Mario Party, Octopath Traveler, and Overcooked 2. Though it wasn’t voted in, Sabotage’s The Messenger gets an honorable mention as we gave it a perfect 10/10 in our review back in August.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Often, while some video games try to one-up every other game of the year, others are grounded in simple, yet incredibly fun concepts. Overcooked 2 fits this latter category. The game doesn’t have flashy graphics. Its storyline could be summarized in three sentences. But, its gameplay will keep you and your friends hooked for hours on end.
Isn’t that what games are about, though? If a game can put me in a joyous mood with my friends and keep me endlessly coming back, who cares about how much money went into making sure I can see the individual neck hairs of the character. I don’t know about you, but I had my share of fun screaming at my friends to “throw me the buns, the hamburgers are done!
Octopath Traveler proved that you can teach an old dog new tricks. Equally importantly, it proved Square Enix still knows how to make a great JRPG that isn’t Dragon Quest. With its innovative HD-2D art style, Octopath Traveler applies modern lighting to beautiful pixel art, and the final result literally sparkles. Likewise, the combat takes classic turn-based battles, sprinkles in some ideas from Bravely Default, and creates the most addictive RPG gameplay in recent memory. Octopath Traveler does so much right that its faults are easy to overlook. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a game like this before — one that is so rooted in the past and yet feels so modern to play.
Super Mario Party
Super Mario Party marked a return to form for a wayward series. On top of staying true to its roots, Super Mario Party scrapes together several of the good aspects of its failed predecessors, like allies and special character dice. Combined with a massive roster of excellent minigames and a slew of great modes, Super Mario Party is the soft reboot this series has desperately needed for a long time. It was far from perfect—there could have been more boards, the rhythm games needed more fleshing out, and the control options were unusually limited—but the core experience is still a great party game that hopefully has the series back on track.
– Nick Pearson
Pokemon: Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee
Pokemon: Let’s Go Eevee had its ups and downs, but ultimately left me happy. I got to explore a newly created Kanto and see Pokemon like never before, on a system that’s simply a perfect fit for the series. It’s gorgeous and feels like the classic games, only now looked at from a modern lens. Let’s Go was, for the most part, the remake I’ve wanted since traversing Kanto in HeartGold and SoulSilver and leaves me genuinely excited for the future of the Let’s Go games.
What’s your GOTY for 2018? Let us know down in the comments section.