What makes a game stand out against its peers? Honestly? Often it's because if how it resonates with the person more than how it may compare in a by the numbers game.
Continuing on our two week gush fest to celebrate Chalgyr's Game Room's 10th anniversary, here are other types of experiences that may not exactly fit neatly into other categories.
Super Mario MakerLook, the Wii U had a pretty rough reception, but there were a handful of games that stood out on the platform. Perhaps none made better use of the touchscreen technology, however, than Super Mario Maker, which blended platform action and creative world-building beautifully. I have spent oodles of hours with game-maker software in the past, but without a doubt, this was the smoothest console game maker made to date. Considering the massive community that evolved around this game to lend its incredible life after its release, I think it is safe to say that this was one of the most unique and compelling game offerings of the last decade.
Sega Genesis ClassicsThis doesn't fit in a singular box, because it is a compilation of some of my favorite games of all time. There was a Sonic collection back on the prior generation of consoles, and there were a couple of things about that collection I liked just a smidge better than this one, but by and large, this 2018 release did many things better. More than 50 games to choose from, a wide variety of formats and some great quality of life additions make this a must-have for Genesis fans such as myself.
Guitar Hero: MetallicaJust barely making the cut as a 2009 game, Guitar Hero: Metallica was (along with Guitar Hero III and Aerosmith) among my favorites in the oversaturated series. Worth noting due to the huge, if brief, popularity spike Guitar Hero (and to a lesser extent, Rock Band) had on the video game rhythm genre. Metallica took one of my favorite bands and allowed me to play along with their music. Unfortunately, the period after this release saw the downfall of the Guitar Hero series as well.
Danganrompa 1-2 ReloadHow... does one even describe this? Battle Royal meets a visual novel / murder mystery? Other than being bat shit crazy, Danganrompa plays host to the excellent dialog, great narrative gameplay, who done it jury trials and a crazy assed bipolar bear who would kill everyone just because they decided to test him. Having played 1-2 and Ultra Despair Girls (2.5), the only thing left is to finally go into Danganrompa 3 and see if it holds up to the first as I wonder if all the surprises have been let out of the bag.
Yonder: The Cloud Catcher ChroniclesI have never relaxed so much to a game like I have to Yonder. Zero combat, just exploration and side quests on a relaxing island, this is a cute little adventure that everyone should experience as the only emotions short of awwwww are the feeling of zen as you explore and solve the mystery of the island that you have found yourself on.
Stardew ValleyHarvest Moon farming? Check. Dungeon Crawler? Check. Animal Crossing friendships? Check. Stardew Valley for a 16-bit inspired and looking adventure had it all and it was so easy to lose hours upon hours to it even before the updates and the inclusion of multiplayer. How you decide to run your farm and go about your days? That's entirely up to you!
With the colossal mistake that was SimCity (2013) there was a void left in the city-building world of gaming; enter simulation/strategy super juggernaut Paradox Interactive with 2015's highly anticipated Cities: Skylines. It was literally everything aspiring city planners the world over wanted, plus some. Harnessing their longstanding history in strategy and its penchant for detail, Paradox brought to the masses an incredibly deep, highly sophisticated, easy to pick up, city-building simulation that anyone of any skill level can play … And you can have curved roads! With Cities: Skylines enjoying nearly 5 years of excellence, a number of excellent expansions, and a dedicated modding community, Paradox broke additional boundaries by bringing an excellent port of it to consoles in early 2019 where it continues to enjoy a rabid fanbase. From the tallest of towers to the lowest of water pipes and from the largest airport to the smallest bus stop, Cities: Skylines delivers on every level for both fans of the genre and newcomers alike.
Frontier Development's Elite: Dangerous is a unique beast; the sequel to a 30-year old franchise, Elite began development in the early 2010s, say widespread "Early Access" in 2014 and full release a year or so later, all to critical acclaim. Working with experts at the European Space Agency and NASA, Frontier developed and released a to scale model of our Galaxy with hundreds of billions of planets to scan, nebulae to explore, and black holes to see. Along the way, we received the ability to land on planets in our SRVs, fight in open PVP for control of the Bubble, and chase the intimately dark history of the Elite universe and the longstanding Thargoid threat. Years later with development updates are pouring in and the fandom no less feverish for content, Elite: Dangerous is a force to be reckoned with in the space-faring simulation genre and will be THE title that all new titles in the genre are compared to.
Forza Horizon 2
I have been a longstanding fan of the racing genre; from the original Cruisin' USA and Top Gear games to Need For Speed: Underground, to more simulator focused Asetto Corseca and Gran Turismo, so when Turn 10 studios, of the Forza Motorsports fame, dropped a wholly different type of racing game in 2012 with Forza Horizon, I was hooked. While the first was fun, 2014's Forza Horizon 2 was spectacular. With better framerates, gorgeous graphics, more detailed vehicles, and a wholly more natural "arcade racer," open-world racer Forza Horizon 2 was an instant favorite. Blistering speeds through fields, tight city corners, or through the valleys and vistas brought a marriage of speed and beauty that few racers can match. Being a fan of automobiles that I am, I would find myself toiling away to find the next great Barn Find or spend countless hours just … designing my car; from tweaking its performance to slapping on a new paint job, this baby can do it all.