Mike Sounders's indecisive six best games of 2017


Big picks for big boys

2017 was a great year for video games wasn’t it? Yes we’ve all heard it said dozens of times already, but it’s true nevertheless. This has easily been the hardest year in my life where I couldn’t decide my absolute favorite game of the year. So as a result, after weeding out at least a dozen other games, I am left with six of them. Six games that I had the greatest time of my life with this year, and am struggling to say ‘I’d give this my personal GOTY award’ over the other five.

So as a result, I’m just going to list all six of them. I love all of them equally, and they all deserve equal spotlight. If you don’t see a game you liked mentioned, it’s due to me not getting around to it, such as Final Fantasy XII: Zodiac Age or Gravity Rush 2, or barely got cut, such as Fire Emblem: Shadows of Valentia, or I did not enjoy it, like Breath of the Wild.

So without further delay, here are my six favorite games of 2017.

Metroid: Samus Returns


This title seemed like it had a potentially perfect recipe for disaster. Sakamoto and MercurySteam teaming up to remake Metroid II, a game that is the black sheep of the 2D entries. Instead what we got was a fantastic remake that stands on equal footing with the rest.

It is by no means perfect. The two new boss fights have issues, the game constantly resets how powerful you are in comparison to common enemies, and the new Aeion abilities, while useful, are a little too strong. However the updates to the game more than make up for it. The Grapple Beam gaining new life as a result of having the Grapple Lasso function from Corruption, the addition of a map and teleports to make navigation easier, the 360-degree aiming, the new life breathed into the world. It was a great game, and I genuinely want to see the team take another crack at the franchise for a new entry.

That being said, and someone’s going to shoot me for this, Switch port when? It’s such a shame that this game will effectively be lost if the DS/3DS line of consoles is abandoned entirely in a year or two. Samus Returns absolutely deserves a second lease on life, and it would fit right at home on the Switch.

Nier: Automata

“This cannot continue. This cannot continue. This cannot continue.”

Confession time! Until this year, I had never played or experienced a game with Yoko Taro in charge. The main reason I tried out this game was because Platinum was attached, and the demo sold me on the game mechanically, although I was still a bit skeptical of how the writing would be.

Oh boy was that skepticism misplaced.

What I experienced was a game unlike anything I had experienced to date. I was drawn into a roller coaster of emotions. One minute I’m laughing, the next I’m crying, the next I’m feeling pure joy. This is on top of a hauntingly beautiful soundtrack, unlike anything else that I’ve heard. The only real issue I have with the game is the first half of the section dedicated to 9S, however it greatly improved when it started focusing on him as a character instead of just rehashing certain events with minor additions.

That being said, I am all in on anything else this man is in charge of in the future.

Persona 5

“You’ll never see it coming!”

Who knew you could make a JRPG so stylish?

Originally announced in 2013 with a release date of 2014, it was an agonizing four years until the game finally released. Upon release, that painfully long wait turned out to be entirely worth it.

Persona 5 just did so much right that you could go on and on. The Confidant system had a much larger contribution to battles and exploration, the menus just oozed style, the dungeons felt like they had more personality than before. Also let’s not forget that HD Mara model are we right folks? That was long overdue.

The only real gripes I had with the game were with how a certain cat was handled, how certain dungeons felt a little long in-between checkpoints, and how the foreshadowing for a certain twist was handled so poorly the screen may as well have said “Don’t believe his lies.” It is one of those situations though that the game was strong enough in its other aspects that it more than made up for these problems.

Now where’s Persona Q2? I’m done for another game with this group of characters.

Super Mario Odyssey

“I’ll be your 1-Up girl!”

I’ll keep this one brief, solely because you’re going to be seeing it pop up all over for these type of awards. Super Mario Odyssey is a fantastic game through and through, and gave me the feeling of playing through Mario 64 when I was a child. The worlds are a joy to explore, with moons scattered all over the place. Meanwhile, Cappy is easily my favorite addition to the franchise out of everything included, bringing a level of mobility to the game that opens up new opportunities for how to get from point A to point B. I genuinely hope any future Mario games that come out have something like Cappy in that regard.

Super Robot Wars V

“To go beyond a god, and defeat even a demon! That is Mazinger Zero!”

I mean, did anyone not see this one coming? This was my most anticipated game for this year for goodness sake.

I could sing its praises all day. The music choices were excellent, the visuals are fantastic, the secrets were satisfying, and the writing was superb with a great translation. Not only did the writers create a living world shared by the shows included, but they also changed how things played out and how characters grew, with how Evangelion is handled being a prime example of it. At the same time they have fun with the interactions and cast, like Kincade/Seabook, the protagonist of Gundam F91, being accused of being a Gundam weeaboo.

My biggest complaint with the game, and preventing it from being truly great, is that it’s too easy. The balance of series and enemy types means the game can’t counter the likes of Mazinger Zero, Unit-01, and some of the other super robots. In a twisted way however, it’s almost like a positive, as it emphasizes just how dangerous Mazinger Zero is in comparison to the rest of the cast.

On that note, there is something I owe this game: for finally giving me a sense of proper closure for Mazinger Edition Z: The Impact! It was a series that ended on a horrible cliffhanger, so to have something there, even if it wasn’t one to one with what the original series would have done, was fantastic.

Now the long wait begins for Super Robot Wars X, and if it even matches what V did, I’ll be in love.

Yakuza 0

“Justice! Woah breakin’ the law, breakin’ the world~”

Let’s make this very clear. A Yakuza game was getting a spot on this list, no questions asked. Both of them were phenomenal games, and to not acknowledge that would be a disservice. It was just a matter of which one, and 0 was the better choice over Kiwami.

Very few games can pull off going for a serious tone with their storytelling, yet switching to over-the-top hilarity the moment the player takes control, and yet Yakuza 0 pulls it off. One moment you’re dealing with Yakuza matters, next thing you know you’re doing a side quest that consists of sneaking around women to buy a young boy a porn magazine. It’s a unique experience to say the least.

It’s a content-filled game too. Side quests, mini-games, and more will take up your time when you’re not progressing the plot. There is always something to do, and every moment will put a smile on your face. The only real negative I’d say the game has is that main story segments involving Majima are vastly more interesting than the portions focusing on series protagonist Kiryu.

Also shout out to one of the most stubborn old men in gaming, Kuze, being a great boss every time he showed up.