My Favorite Games of 2018

As I started to look back upon the year of gaming that 2018 provided, a strange revelation came upon me: there were a significant amount of personal low points throughout the year, especially during the winter months, that sorely impacted the investment I dedicated to my favorite hobby. Compared to 2017, where I was blessed at multiple opportunities to dive into a vast array of interactive experiences I never had the means to accomplish prior, significant periods of drought filled out the year. As a result, games like Red Dead Redemption 2 and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Celeste and Return of the Obra Dinn were left untouched despite initial excitement.

And even among those times, the thought of paying a new game would occasionally arise disdain. Believe it or not, Detroit: Become Human had conjured enough internal rage that I nearly destroyed a PlayStation 4 controller by accident and tainted my perception of gaming enough to send me on a two-week long hiatus and write a negative piece on the title.  A sleuth of controversies within the gaming industry seemed to plague every month, from a serial plagiarizer that infiltrated the ranks of IGN to the persisting loot box controversy to the…”fallout” of a certain game.

Seems like a fantastic setup for a disastrous year, right? That is the sentiment that I continually bashed into my head for the days leading up to the end. Yet upon further reflection, a strange revelation bestowed itself: there has never been a year where I found myself more “in-touch” with the games I did experience across the board, something that could not be characterized by a brief description or a critique of its own.

So this year, I have decided to take an experimental approach with the “Favorite Games” formula. Instead of listing off the plethora of games that brought about enjoyment across the spectrum, I have chosen to focus on six titles alone. One consists of multiple games released prior to 2018, with the other five featuring debuts within the year. However, they are all bound by one characteristic despite their distinguishing factors: each and every one left a personal impact in some capacity that I will hold in great esteem for the future. As a fun tidbit, I will choose to associate a word (highlighted in bold font) that best describes my experiences with each game to quickly convey the core emotional appeal the game provided. Regardless of specific thoughts, all of these titles are great in their own right, but these especially brought an unforgettable time.

*Listed in alphabetical order

 

Danganronpa

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When I first dipped my toes into the visual novel genre with Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, it quickly cemented a great interest in the narrative potential that such stories held, with the ability to divide focus across multiple characters in the service of a long-form story, without the daunting nature of television with grand episode counts.

But funnily enough, Ace Attorney had remained the sole series in the visual novel genre that I dedicated significant time to for nearly five years. Within that time frame, I gained awareness of two alternative visual novels that shared a fundamental appeal with the series: Professor Layton and Danganronpa. 

At the time I had no interest in Professor Layton given the initial disappointment I vested towards the crossover title Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright, but the premise of Danganronpa always piqued my interest: sixteen exceptional high school students without their memories trapped within a facility by a robot bear, where the only means of escape is to kill without getting caught.  And just like Ace Attorney, one must uncover the contradictions in testimony, except one accomplishes this by metaphorically shooting “truth bullets” at statements to progress the story and discover more information.

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It took a while, but a flash sale on the Playstation Store that appeared right after high school graduation signaled an opportunity too compelling to pass up. And never did I imagine Danganronpa would manage to become a new favorite that I look upon with great fondness.

Something that I wholly appreciate about Danganronpa is its unabashedly cynical and provocative tone, unafraid to delve into sensitive topics with its diverse roster of personalities. The atmosphere is certainly tense, but the series provides a wealth of opportunities to delve into the psyche and history of its main characters, each with an “Ultimate” talent one would assume to be their defining traits, only to uncover greater secrets underneath their exteriors. While the cast is unbelievably remarkable, they remain individuals filled with imperfection, amounting to fantastic character interactions and varied dialogue that ranges from outrageously hilarious to disturbingly horrific. These feelings are especially amplified throughout the class trials held to find the “blackened” who fell to the temptation of murderous desperation, knowing that a student that you interacted with chose to kill, or even that the victim could have been the protagonist themselves.

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The context of high school students participating in a killing game immediately created a thread of relatability that called upon my own personal insecurities and gripes that I held throughout my high school years, prompting greater thoughts about the purpose of those years and their significance within my personal development. Whether I chose to spend free time with the other characters or witness the anxieties conjured from a killing game, they foreshadowed powerful moments of self-reflection that remain valuable even in the months after departing from high school.

And with the progression of Danganronpa through its sequels, there is a keen demonstration of self-awareness on the part of the team at Spike Chunsoft, consistently managing to subvert expectations or reference aspects of older titles that garnered significant attention from the community, while building upon its foundations to craft something with greater potential.. The series knows exactly what it is, but more importantly it knows the audience that interacts with Danganronpa, ultimately resulting in some of the most impactful and shocking moments to catalog my experiences in gaming.

Without great spoilers, I continue to hold Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair in the highest regard at the time that I first completed a playthrough of the game, but without question Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony is a beast in its own right that single-handedly forms a new caliber of subversive storytelling. Put simply, I have never had a game persist in my thoughts for as long as Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, as I reflected upon the entire franchise searching for answers and questions to the formation of its existence and the merits of the game’s design.

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Provocative best describes the experience that Danganronpa hopes to instill in its players, and it remains an exceptional showcase of visual novels at their finest. Especially for those in their high school and college years, I genuinely believe that Danganronpa can prove to be a worthwhile time unreplicated anywhere else in the gaming space, or entertainment in general.

 

God of War

Without a doubt the newest iteration of God of War, serving as a reimagining of the series in the form of a sequel, has become helmed as one of the greatest games of the generation, garnering numerous accolades across the spectrum of the gaming industry. Much praise was specifically tailored to its narrative and universe, rooting itself within Norse mythology and establishing a new set of circumstances for Kratos to navigate as a father of contemplative regret.

And in most regards, God of War does exemplify a golden standard of visual and technical production unparalleled within the Playstation ecosystem, and perhaps the most impressive aspect of the game. While it certainly derives several fundamental gameplay mechanics from its competition to create a revamped combat system not quite polished to its optimal state, the striking balance of visceral intensity and substantial combat maintains the essence of the games that preceded its release.

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Yet I must insert a major concession here: I failed to find enjoyment with the original trilogy of God of War years prior, specifically because Kratos was such a distasteful individual that despite his tragic familial backstory, engaged in a string of brutality that discouraged my completion of the series. I eventually read up on various synopses for the three titles to understand the events that transpired. In fact, the curiosity within the new God of War remained solely with its significant departures from the original source material, otherwise I likely would have opted to pass on the title until further notice.

Concisely, I now cannot imagine a timeline in which God of War was not amongst the most important games that I played throughout the year, because the game refuses to settle on the merits of its artistic fidelity and profound expectations, instead hoping to convey a poignant tale of impeccable quality infused with a sorrow underscored through Kratos’ past experiences, effectively building upon his “sins” to carry an emotional weight unimaginable to shoulder.

Regret stains the memories of the past, aiming to remind one of their significant failures that with hindsight, would erase themselves from existence. And it remains the perfect means of describing Kratos’ dominant struggles throughout the perilous journey with his inexperienced son Atreus, with Kratos choosing to lock away the secrets of his past to avoid straining the relationship with his son, but doubly to suppress the recollection of his once repulsive actions. Yet it creates no success when Kratos metaphorically and literally runs away from the past to enter a world based on the tenets of Norse mythology, because he inadvertently carries along his shames regardless. The smokey white ashes of his deceased family remain bound to his skin, a reminder of the time he accidentally killed his family in a blind rage of unadulterated war. The visions of Athena continue to haunt his visual space, convincing him that his misdeeds will never warrant forgiveness and more importantly, his existence. The entire game is conveyed in a single camera shot without a single cut, often situated behind Kratos as if the player is following his every action without failure, yet primarily a gateway to align the frame of mind with Kratos’ that he cannot escape from.

And whether or not one is willing to absolve Kratos of the distant past, he demonstrates a restoration of the humanity he once sacrificed to justify his anger and censor his memory, hoping to become the man that Atreus desperately needs in his life for guidance. That journey of self-restoration is certainly accompanied by its pitfalls narratively and emotionally, but it serves to extenuate the greatest turmoil Kratos must overcome to move beyond his own perception as the “God of War” that fails to manifest itself in his current state. There is one particular scene within the climax of the narrative that melds these struggles into an overwhelmingly powerful and nostalgic moment for Kratos, securing itself amongst some of the greatest moments to bless the year.

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It truly remains a sentimental epic, capable of instigating reminders of personal remorse that once punctuated lives without mercy, that came to define people for the better or worse. In some ways, God of War attempts to observe the evolving dynamics of the father-son relationship in Kratos and Atreus, which in most regards achieves with resounding success to the credit of sincere character writing and visual storytelling, but intrinsically finds it greatest value when viewing the journey of Kratos as the manifestation of the consequences resulting from the culmination of his painful experiences. As a bold attempt to redefine the identity of God of War, it crafts something beautifully resonant in the process, and profound in its intentions.

Hollow Knight

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Hollow Knight is the equivalent of the underdog with a big heart of passion and warmth. As a Kickstarter game developed by a small team of three people under the name of Team Cherry, and appraised at the humble price of fifteen dollars, it certainly portrays the impression of a small title distinguishing itself as a Metroidvania prided on its atmospheric art and simple mechanics.

Yet plunging into the depths of Hallownest to uncover the secrets that permeate a lost and forgotten kingdom provides the greatest revelation: Hollow Knight is abundantly rich in the merits found across each and every aspect of its production, limitless in ambition and unparalleled in execution. Perhaps the greatest accomplishment of Hollow Knight remains the artistic mastery on display, complementing the subdued atmosphere of Hallownest with gorgeous landscapes of regal cities and fungal wildland amongst other locales without the loss of consistency. It retains the integrity of its character designs, featuring insects that sparsely populate the grounds of Hallownest, contrasted against the clean backdrops with a resounding depth, ultimately culminating as a gorgeous feat of traditional art difficult to gaze away from, even if you happen to be an entomophobic like myself.

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However, one could also rightfully argue that Hollow Knight plays as elegantly as it appears. The plethora of rewarding content available encourages meticulous exploration and challenges its players to develop a skill set apt to overcome the platforming and combative trials awaiting within the depths. It can be best classified as a “Metroidvania” as stated earlier, a genre typically used to describe challenging video games prompting exploration within a connected map to obtain necessary abilities and tools to progress into new areas and conquer the toughest obstacles.

To accomplish this, the player controls a small knight with a blade in order to defeat the enemies that cross his path, which nets a currency known as Geo. Geo remains a vital aspect of progression, used to not only purchase charms and upgrades to aid in combat, but obtain maps of newly discovered areas, activate toll stations as save points, fund the Stag Station to fast travel, amongst other functions. It also remains integrally tied to the risk-reward dynamic available to the player: the mere act of exploration carries great consequence, as death results in the loss of significant Geo, and the presence of a “Shade” appearing. Defeating the Shade in the area you died allows you to retrieve the lost spoils, but a second death before its repossession amounts to a permanent loss of Geo. It accompanies an array of challenging boss fights and common enemies with unique attack patterns that without thorough procedure can prove detrimental. It certainly demonstrates its brutality at times, but the challenge is undoubtedly authentic; conquering a particularly grueling foe carries a grand satisfaction hard to describe in words.

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But Hollow Knight is a gift that continues giving time and time again, as even I have yet to fully experience the greatest extent of challenge and reward within the game, uncover the entirety of lore bound to the long history of Hallownest, patiently awaiting its discovery. While I have sunken my teeth deep into the game thus far, I remain aware that tens of hours of impeccable content firmly tug my interest in its direction, affirming to never let go. And as far as I am concerned, it has certainly earned that right.

Hollow Knight is anything but hollow: it is prided upon its refinement of convention and infusion of originality, prioritizing the ability to bestow a luxurious stream of quality for the player, a refreshing goal that has caught my attention as I look ahead to the adventures that Team Cherry has in store for the future. Experiences like Hollow Knight are the titles that warrant a profound appreciation of gaming as an art form, a powerful demonstration of passion manifested in its purest form. To Ari Gibson, William Pellen, and Jack Vine: each one has doubtlessly garnered my sincerest appreciation for their efforts, and great strides have and will continue to arrive from those efforts.

Octopath Traveler

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With age, the prominence of traditional turn-based Japanese role-playing games has become obscured by its alternatives. A glance at the latest installments of the iconic Final Fantasy franchise that once championed the formula indicate a permanent shift away from such mechanics in favor of action-oriented combat with expansive universes. This does not necessarily signal the death of the genre; games in the Dragon Quest and Bravely Default series have breathed fresh life into the genre through visual and technical upgrades respectively. Yet such efforts cannot truly replace the nostalgia that titles such as Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VI arose in players when they introduced themselves on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.

So with the announcement of Octopath Traveler (formerly titled Project Octopath Traveler) at the Nintendo Switch Presentation in January of 2017, there was a subtle trace of hope that it could recapture certain qualities of older role-playing games sorely lacking in presence against the domineering forces of competition within gaming, opting to feature an eight-character roster and graphical style officially coined “HD-2D”.

Fortunately, Octopath Traveler is a pinnacle title capable of leading a jubilant comeback of the genre, featuring an exemplary fusion of nostalgia qualities with original innovations that might not wholly deliver on every front, specifically concerning its disjointed narrative, yet phenomenally striking in its endeavor to deliver a modern turn-based combat system within a magnificent visa of artistic spectacle.

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I vividly recall traversing the bustling city of Atlasdam, a scholastic haven of literature and research, as I conversed with the population to obtain valuable information and appraise items for sale. A journey through the icelands of the north was accompanied by perilous enemies, as I trudged through the snow to uncover shrines that would unlock valuable job abilities. Discovering the major cities scattered across Osterra provided an opportunity to unwind and read through the banter the octet exchange throughout the progression of the story, or even comb the inventory to assess the state of my team.

Across the four chapters, there always was the sense that the eight protagonists were a group of assorted individuals wandering from place to place, happening to resolve the comparatively minor conflicts that constitute major personal arcs within each person. Some have lofty ambitions: to become the greatest merchant or apothecary. Others have direct adversaries: a journey of revenge against those that murdered their father, a need to maintain one’s pride as a master thief. The intrigue primarily lies with the means in which those motivations intertwine with each other in contrast to the actualization of each story arc, contributing to a game that feels smaller in scale.

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Conversely, the musical talent behind Octopath Traveler had a different pair of shoes to fill. And what resulted is a score of epic proportions suitable for a game that reciprocates the same zeal in its core combat design, which is impeccable. Overworld music subtly changes depending on the atmosphere and climate of the given location, treating them as mystical wards of adventure to be conquered. A handful of battle themes continue to escalate in urgency and grandeur with the completion of each chapter, with all encounters punctuated by distinctive orchestral beats. Character themes are perfectly tailored to extenuate the defining qualities of the individual in question.

But within the collection of battle music exists a fantastic subset of boss themes nothing short of monumental, managing to leave goosebumps creeping across the skin in anticipation for its imminent arrival in a tense standoff with a powerful enemy, depicted with an exaggerated size reminiscent of classic games to depict authority.

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Now imagine this prospect: have the character theme paired alongside a boss theme, with the former transitioning seamlessly into the other. Long story short: it is a blessing in disguise. These compositions are unexplainably powerful in impact if not energizing, not only within the battles, but within the context of reality. For an extended time, I created a playlist of music consisting exclusively of these specific transitions, alongside an occasional random piece from the greater soundtrack, because it literally fueled my inspiration for the days briefly ahead of its creation. It was a healthy feedback loop where my enjoyment of the game fed into the impact of the soundtrack, which manifested itself as a personal motivator before repeating itself.

All in all, the pure simplicity of Octopath Traveler is supplemented by an audio-visual production lovingly brainstormed by a passionate team with the greatest of intentions, sincerely aiming to create a retro game that people were craving for, and who explicitly asked for feedback to further improve the game near its completion through a three-hour demo released to the public for free. What ultimately is a love letter to the classic turn-based Japanese role-playing genre morphed into something with profound effect, something to be cherished for years ahead.

 

Spider-Man

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It remains hard to believe that the integrity of Spider-Man as a franchise underwent a major resurgence throughout 2018. Tom Holland brought his charm to the big screen in his iteration of the web-slinger in Avengers: Infinity War, maintaining a refreshing interpretation of Spider-Man as a high-schooler thrust into a conflict with cataclysmic implications. Yet it was followed by a fantastic animated feature in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, bundling with a vigorous infusion of animated spectacle into a fun and heartwarming story of expectation and identity. And I would daresay that it is unarguably the best Spider-Man film of all-time by a significant margin, a stunning tribute and faithful embodiment of the comic origins of the character.

And although Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse topped off the year with ease, one cannot forget that our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man headlined a brand new game exclusively for the Playstation 4, developed by the creative minds behind Ratchet and Clank at Insomniac Games, elegantly titled Spider-Man. As a result, Spider-Man not only found himself in one of the most amazing films of the year, but one of the most spectacular games of the year, and easily the greatest Spider-Man game ever released.

Most game critics have already expressed the sentiment that the authentic web-slinging and acrobatic combat truly placed them within the shoes of Spider-Man, and there is great merit in those feelings beyond the two fundamental tenets that define Spider-Man as a superhero that immediately sold me on the premise that the game strived to craft a genuine experience that celebrated Spider-Man in a new context.

The attention to detail is present from the dawn of the opening cutscene: framed pictures of family and memories indicate a significant passing of time from the era that many fans are accustomed to witnessing the feats of Spider-Man. Leftover Chinese food, energy bar wrappers, and a cracked computer screen underscore a lack of time and funds, and sticky notes provide a messy means of organizing his personal duties against his responsibilities as Spider-Man. And most notably, Peter Parker clearly upholds an admirable dedication to fight crime and maintain the safety of the people in New York City when he turns his back to the letter prompting payment for his overdue rent.

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Such design is replicated throughout the physical manifestation of New York City and the undercurrent of the narrative as I navigated through a heartfelt tale of a Peter Parker continuing to struggle with day-to-day tasks, not quite able to wholly balance the momentous expectations placed upon him, suffering the consequences as a result. The deep interpersonal conflict of Peter Parker and Spider-Man is intricate, brought to the forefront through visual storytelling at the opportune moments, whether it be a cell phone call from Doctor Octavius to remind him to make it to the laboratory on time, or a random crime appearing in the streets to interrupt his current objective. The latter is a particularly effective demonstrative of resonance between gameplay and storytelling, as the player feels as compelled as Spider-Man to swoop in and handle the threat.

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But the former is just a sole example amongst the wide array of memorable characters that contribute an unwavering charisma and weight to the story, all featuring phenomenal motion capture and voice performances of arresting quality. On a personal note, I want to commend Yuri Lowenthal and Laura Bailey for bringing Peter Parker and Mary Jane to life with fantastic chemistry across the board. Additionally, the introductions of Martin Li and Yuri Watanabe were handled with great care, becoming integral to the progression of the story.

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I tread lightly on particular details of the narrative so that I do not compromise the intrigue and impact the story manages to slowly build up across hours of meticulous setup and I mince no words when I affirm the climax of Spider-Man is emotionally piercing for reasons that can only be attributed to fantastic execution on the part of the writing team, to the game developers that handcrafted a world to realize the full vision that was set upon. Tears slowly dripped across the cheek as I witnessed everything culminate towards a resolute, painful conclusion that ends brutally for some, but shines a ray of hope towards the future to cherish those experiences and become greater as a result.

Spider-Man is the perfect synthesis of the lives of Peter Parker and Spider-Man through the lens of a video game, a candid, relatable depiction of the web-slinging hero. Insomniac Games was bestowed a great responsibility to create the ultimate Spider-Man experience. And it resulted in Spider-Man hoisting the great power of its sheer quality to exceed the expectations of fifty-six strong years of history. Whatever awaits Spider-Man in the future is assuredly great, but whatever awaits Spider-Man in the gaming world is certainly amongst the greatest.

 

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

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When I was only two years old, I became exposed to video games for the first time at a friend’s house through Super Smash Bros. Melee. Memories of those times are vivid, where I often played Peach for no explainable reason against a bunch of other people mashing buttons on a GameCube controller with no clue what to expect.

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Eventually, Super Smash Bros. Brawl released on the Wii in 2007 (2008 in America), ushering a new wave of unadulterated fun that dominated the moments of gaming I had available when Pokémon was not averting my attention. Gatherings throughout the summer most certainly involved a few rounds of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, eagerly huddled around the television to seize victory against each other, while hilarity and chaos would quickly ensue. I remember one moment in a four-player match where a friend and I weren’t sure who summoned a Deoxys from a Poké Ball, and a friend kindly walked into the laser Deoxys shoots to check, only to get blasted off the screen. Nowadays looking back upon Super Smash Bros. Brawl reveals certain flaws in retrospect, but the joy it fulfilled cannot be ignored for a second.

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By the end of 2014, Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U hit their respective consoles. Alongside some new adjustments to the core fighting mechanics to better appeal the casual and competitive audiences, both games assembled a massive fifty-eight character roster of Nintendo all-stars and gaming icons to battle on dozens of stages. It immediately became a go-to game on the Wii U in which I invested hundreds of hours collecting trophies and fulfilling challenges, not to mention battling purely for the sake of it, right up to the point where my Wii U permanently crashed during the spring of 2016.

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Deprived of the ideal means of playing Super Smash Bros., a painful wait ensued through 2016 and 2017 as anticipation for the inevitable arrival of the franchise on the Nintendo NX (i.e. Nintendo Switch) swelled, with confirmation of the next game not arriving until March, where I appropriately freaked out at its surprise announcement. The hype train made its way to E3 Avenue, revealing gameplay footage and the title: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Over the next six months characters would be revealed, details would be given, and the Grinch would unsuccessfully attempt to steal the spotlight from Super Smash Bros. But alas, the eve of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate would soon arrive, marked with a grueling eleven-mile journey from the college dorm to the nearest Best Buy for the midnight release.

And the efforts turned out to be worth it in the end as I immediately played the game until 3:30 AM, confirming a sentiment that persists to this day: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate delivers its promise wholeheartedly as the ultimate experience within the series, a triumphant return in top form as the love letter that the most passionate will latch onto as they relive the greatest moments defining their times with the series once again.

Everything and everyone one would feasibly want in Super Smash Bros. is here: seventy-six playable characters (with five more on the way) representing all veterans in the series history alongside a humble set of newcomers available to use across a gigantic list of one hundred and three stages. Additionally, they are recreated within a refined game engine with various fighting mechanics tweaked and introduced to add a greater competitive edge to the action. Visual flair is present everywhere, from the trail of smoke that follows a player knocked into the air to the confetti that sprouts with a knockout to the zoom-in with a powerful game-ending attack. All the characters have something to distinguish them from the rest of the crowd, and I have genuinely enjoyed testing out every character to understand their quirks and polishing my skills with my favorites, especially Pikachu, Pichu, and Inkling.

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Outside of fighting, there’s an extensive alternative mode in “Spirits” where you collect character memorabilia akin to stickers that provide benefits to fighters synonymous with their abilities in their origin titles. They are prominently used within the single-player mode “World of Light” where you battle against incarnations of characters with unique attributes across a large map, and while repetitive there remains a charm uncovering the inspiration for the matchups featured.

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There is an extensive playlist of eight hundred and seventy-seven music pieces that compile fantastic renditions of iconic themes across a boundless range of series, extending from new remixes to classic beats. The introduction of the Splatoon and Castlevania series have specifically blessed the soundtrack with a great expansion in the number of quality pieces, not to mention the first original lyrical song for the series titled “Lifelight” that hits all the right notes to nail a grand atmosphere.

I could proceed on and on about the records that Super Smash Bros. Ultimate shatters within its own franchise, but that would undermine the culmination of labor that was evidently required to fulfill the tremendous expectations placed upon its shoulders. Game director Masahiro Sakurai and the entire team responsible for the game approached the new endeavor with such commitment to the player, opting to cram the most content imaginable within a single package with minimal compromises. Rest assured every ounce of dedication manifests itself within the results that I outlined, a faithful team effort that nearly feels conclusive. Even as downloadable content expands the game far beyond, one can only fathom if Super Smash Bros. can truly continue after the release of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate given its numerous, almost transcendent accomplishments.  And when a development team has created a game that prompt such questions, they have created what can only be described as a contemporary masterpiece to outlive the future.

Conclusion

Sometimes it becomes difficult to not become swept up within the current of the modern day. Looking into the world of gaming, there are news stories across every corner that often weigh down one’s spirits and arise cynicism. Certain gaming companies have become misguided in their approach to game development, prioritizing the limitless potential of the medium to generate revenue through “live services” and extensive monetization. The sheer number of games flooding the various platforms are overwhelming, with limited time, limited money, and unlimited options.

These feelings run through my head more instances than are desirable. I want to remain in the loop, I want to gather the most recent and informative information on gaming, not only because I hope to become a part of that industry, but because it has become an integral part of my character and interests, my favorite medium to engage with as a direct result of its interactive capacity and boundless potential. But even these feelings managed to waver over the course of a year that seemed to do everything humanly possible to run that esteem into the ground.

Why do I play video games? Am I just wasting my time? What value does it bring, if any at all? Such questions rattled the mind frequently, as I navigated the tightropes of life aimlessly with sorrow weighing down those motivations as I failed to find the definitive answer I was seeking.

However, I remained oblivious to the answers that were right in front of me for so long until I sat down to reflect. I thought about the compelling philosophical questions poised within Danganronpa, the purpose and value of regret depicted in God of War, the beauty featured within the darkest depths of Hollow Knight, the empowering journeys of the wanderers in Octopath Traveler, the emotional turbulence of power and responsibility in Spider-Man, the resounding care and nostalgic fondness present in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate…. 

All of these fantastic games were not simply played: they were captivating experiences that sought to enrich, to express, to excite. They represent the extent to which video games can reach out to produce an impact, regardless of the person(s) holding the controller. Suitably, I play video games to appreciate the medium for its potential, seeking out games that will personally connect and inspire.

Without question, the games that I acknowledged here will be looked back upon in a such a positive light, during the time I finally discovered what compelled my adventure into the expansive universe of gaming to explore countless worlds that I could never imagine. So no matter what someone might tell you, video games and the people behind them are important and commendable, and not a single person or thing, including myself or the inevitable disappointments that permeate the gaming landscape, will ever manage to convince me otherwise in a lifetime.

 

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