Craig lays down his top 5 picks for Game of the Year 2017.
5. Mario + Rabbids
Teaming up Mario with Ubisoft‘s Rabbids seemed like a ridiculous move, but the gamble paid off and this XCOM-esque tactical shooting game was a huge amount of fun, even if it wasn’t particularly challenging. The Rabbids‘ humour adds great value to the Mushroom Kingdom and the graphics are still the best that the Mario series has seen. There’s a lot of replay value on offer here too, with the addition of a season pass alongside tons of hidden areas to explore and additional challenges to complete.
4. Disc Jam
If you missed out on the Rocket League phenomenon, then Disc Jam is the next best thing. This frantic frisbee-air hockey mash-up is tremendous fun even if it’s still a little short on content (although that is slowly being rectified). There’s a very thin line between victory and defeat, particularly in multiplayer mode, meaning you’ll spend the majority of the game on the edge of your seat. If that wasn’t enough then developers High Horse Entertainment are thoroughly nice guys to boot.
3. Mario Odyssey
Expectations were high for Mario Odyssey and it did not disappoint. Returning its titular character to a full hub world for the first time since Mario Sunshine was an inspired choice, offering an open-world(ish) environment for players to explore at their leisure. The Cappy gameplay mechanic is much less frivolous than you’d expect, with each character controlling completely differently. The graphics are brilliant, the soundtrack is absolutely epic and most of all, Mario Odyssey is just a whole lot of fun that will leave a massive smile on your face.
2. Stardew Valley
Released in 2017 for the Switch, Stardew Valley is the perfect fit for Nintendo‘s latest console. Even if this was just a Harvest Moon rip-off it would be better than the latest slew of games in that franchise – but the game’s colourful cast of villagers are also dealing with some very relevant real-life struggles such as alcoholism, depression and homelessness, which makes Stardew Valley feel much more grounded in reality. With a consistently lovely soundtrack, beautiful retro graphics and a killer “just one more day” hook, you’ll soon find yourself losing hours and hours to the game.
1. Sonic Mania
No surprise here. Sonic Mania was the 2D follow-up to the original Mega Drive Death Egg saga – and exorcising all memories of the underwhelming Sonic 4, Sonic Mania was the first genuinely great Sonic game since…well, the Mega Drive. Stripping back the plethora of lousy supporting characters to just Sonic, Tails and Knuckles, the game focuses on everything that made the games so good in the first place, namely fast-paced 2D action. Sure, there are a few random retro zones included (Oil Ocean – who wanted to see that again?!) but all of them are significantly different from their 16-bit counterparts so dismissing them as mere re-makes does the game a disservice. The plot ties quite neatly into Sonic Forces, although the latest 3D game is so rotten it leaves Sonic Mania as definitive proof that the future of the series lies in 2D.