Leon Chang is a New York-based musician. He’s @leyawn on Twitter.
2018 was the year video games finally became popular. Rise up gamers. It’s our time. Let’s take a look at some of the best games of the year. But first, we must recite the gamer’s salute, which we all know by heart of course: gamers unite, in games we trust, gamer’s delight, in games we must. Semper games.
Star Ocean: The Second Story
I’m proud to announce that Star Ocean: The Second Story has won game of the year. This game whips ass. One of the characters has a two-headed dragon growing out of his back. There’s a teenage girl who invented a rocket-powered robot arm to punch people. You can cook in the game. Sure, you can cook in other RPGs. Can you join an Iron Chef competition too? Do other RPGs let you write songs for an orchestra? An orchestra made up of your party members?
There’s 80-plus possible endings in the game, determined by what actions you take throughout the story. If you fucked up and didn’t make one character give flowers to this other character in the first hour, they’ll never get married and make space babies or whatever. There’s also a character named Leon in this game. His favorite food is carrot juice and he can summon a demon to kill God.
A demon fighting God? How about Ronald McDonald fighting Sailor Moon? Kefka fighting ALF? It gives me great pleasure to announce that MUGEN has won game of the year. Infinity War has nothing on this king of all crossover events. It’s been recently brought back by an excellent Twitter account called No Context MUGEN, ironically named because MUGEN is entirely without context. I’ve never even played this game.
The object of this game is to stuff your hole with as much garbage as possible. The results are in and Donut County has won game of the year yet again. It has all the classic things we love about games: raccoons, puzzles, and a subterranean narrative world you are sent to when you get sucked down by a hole.
Pump It Up Prime 2
Rhythm games hold a special place in my heart. It was so hard to choose between this, Sound Voltex IV: Heavenly Heaven, MÚSECA 1+1/2, Chunithum Star Plus, or any other ridiculously named rhythm game, but Pump It Up Prime 2 has beaten the rest to win game of the year. The diagonal arrow system and kpop song list (stan Dreamcatcher) have made this game a standout for me. I lost ten pounds trying to get past level 12 songs this summer, and plan on gaining it all back this winter playing this next game.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Okay fuck whatever I said before this, I bought a Switch yesterday and downloaded Smash early this morning, this game kicks ass. Game of the year, hands down. I played one match online and rocked some people with Pikachu Libre, before discovering the Spirit section of the game and spending the next four hours trying to unlock as many things as I could. The gacha elements plus the non-stop gameplay of this mode (the Spirit board section will refresh five to eight Spirits you can unlock constantly with a time limit on each one) has set up the perfect addiction cycle. Each match has new twists and not only are you collecting Spirits, you can level them up to become more powerful. By feeding them snacks.
Nintendo is evil.
You don’t really do much in this game. You walk around someone’s dreams and wake up every once in a while. Despite that, it’s one of the games that still inspires me today. It’s got everything I want in a game: haunting music, surreal pixel art, and a weird gooey noodle creature that smiles at you. And that’s why Yume Nikki is the game of the year.
A spiritual successor to Yume Nikki, another game that lobs a harsh environment, bizarre sounds, and unexplained actions in your face as you try and figure out what meat does, what a goblet is, and what all these damn symbols mean.
Also you’re a frog wizard. Game of the year.
Star Ocean: The Second Story
Breaking news: from the time you first started reading this list to now, Star Ocean: The Second Story has won game of the year for a second time.
I cannot emphasize any more how good this game is, but I’ll try anyways. There’s a three-eyed alien who is traveling the galaxy trying to find her three-eyed boyfriend. Also, she shoots bazookas. After you beat the game, there’s another dungeon that’s about 10 times harder with a completely new god boss you have to beat. The original story’s god boss will also be harder if you go down a slightly different path and remove the limiter that holds back his true power.
The one gripe I have about this game is they only made one remake, and that was for the PSP, so I had to buy a PS2 off of eBay to play it, and then my dog chewed through my PS2. Come on, man.
Also the price of Seltzer in this game is insane. La Croix’s not that good.