Best of 2017: Video Games

Of course it’s Zelda.

Yup, it’s Zelda, and that’s quite a feat considering how averse I usually my adult ADHD addled brain is to devoting 100+ hours to any one game, which of course takes time away from other games. So what we could really say is, here’s Zelda and the other 4 games I actually managed to finish this year aside from Zelda. Which isn’t 100% true, of course, but it’s close enough to make 2017 feel pretty ridiculous. I could’ve probably just played Zelda all year, and no, it’s not just because I’m an asshole. Stay tuned for more rambling after the main list.


  1. Resident Evil 7

Almost a year ago Capcom recaptured the horror crown by going back to hardcore resource management survival horror basics and adopting a first person perspective of all things, taking horror gaming’s current hot trend and making it all their own just as they did with 2005 instant classic Resident Evil 4’s 3rd person, over the shoulder camera. Will RE7 have that game’s staying power? Sadly, no, but it’s still very much a great game, very much a horror game, and very much Resident Evil, putting that hallowed name right back at the top of the horror gaming heap where it belongs. A rare slam dunk anomaly from Capcom, a company who has become almost synonymous of late with not using their whole ass.

Here’s what we said in February of 2017 (full review HERE) :

But what about the first person perspective? It’s incredibly immersive and well done, less P.T. or whatever other Steam horror game flavor of the week is dominating YouTube views at the moment, and more the almighty Bioshock. You never even get a good look at main protagonist Ethan’s face, and everything the poor bastard gets put through here, from getting his arm chainsawed off (hardly a spoiler given all the game’s massive pre-release hype), to watching playable VHS tapes that offer hints to devious environmental puzzles yet to come, is experienced purely from his perspective alone. It’s highly effective, and transcends horror gaming trends rather than co-opts them in a way wholly unexpected and refreshing for a fan that’s been there from the very beginning.”


  1. Tekken 7

Elsewhere on this great American platform of mature discourse I’ve stated that Tekken 7  was the non-Nintendo title that I’d invested the most hours into this year, its crack-like Treasure Battle mode a genuine obsession of mine for months on end. But Tekken 7’s total package wouldn’t be even close to what it is if the core systems weren’t so highly polished and fully fluid. With jaw dropping graphics, engrossing gameplay and the entire video and audio history of the franchise included, T7 put every other piecemeal and cobbled together Japanese fighter released in 2017 to shame.

Here’s what we said in June of 2017 (full review HERE) :

Most of these adornments can be earned in the game’s highly addictive Treasure Battle mode, a sort of simulated online / survival battle (perfect for those of us who couldn’t be fucked these days to get good enough at one of these games to actually play it competitively online) where you fight increasingly difficult AI (with their own preposterous user names and fashion sense) to earn in-game cash and costume pieces, sometimes right off of a doppelgänger’s back. Add to this the fact that the entire series’ music catalog is available to listen to, mix and match and make playlists of to use during regular gameplay (not that the new soundtrack isn’t absolutely top notch) and there’s a gallery mode that includes every single opening and ending cinema from all 9 prior installments andTekken 7 is a whole lot of goddamned game for 60 bucks.”

  1. Metroid: Samus Returns

Just as Capcom restored 90’s survival horror king Resident Evil to prominence with RE7, Nintendo returned the all-time queen to her slimy, cosmic, parasitic throne with Metroid: Samus Returns. An update to a long dormant franchise which was a remake of arguably its weakest mainline installment, from a maligned developer on practically dead hardware, Samus Returns absolutely SHOULD NOT have succeeded. But with a skill and grace befitting the stalwart bounty huntress herself, Samus did, indeed, return, and hopefully the current Nintendo powers that be are smart enough to keep her and her franchise from shamefully disappearing again.

Here’s what we said in September of 2017 (full review HERE) :

“The responsiveness of the controls goes hand in hand with how well Samus animates, and vice versa, again, something that may not have been possible with 2D sprites, especially on this hardware. The complete freedom of tapping down on the stick to go into the morph ball, holding the L button to initiate 360 aim, tapping the screen to switch to the grappling hook, R to toggle missiles, is an absolute joy. And that’s before you even mention Samus’ new ability to unleash a devastating Street Fighter 3-esque parry on would be attackers, a highly satisfying maneuver which figures heavily into the game’s numerous boss encounters. Armed to the teeth and ready for anything, Samus Returns gives you all the tools to take down any galactic threat imaginable over the course of its campaign, it’s just up to you how to use them.”

  1. Super Mario Odyssey

Nintendo had to give the poor, cheap, jaded asshole bastards in their fandom (raises hand) a reason to buy a Switch that they couldn’t talk their way out of and here it was, arguably the greatest Mario game of all time, effortlessly combining the best of both 2D and 3D Mario platforming into an organic package that looked, sounded, and most importantly felt like no other “portable” game ever before. Most importantly though, this 2017 iteration of Mario was a Mario ass Mario game through and through, Tyrannosaurus possession and modern metropolis exploration be damned, and the joyous and not at all sarcastic or ironically detached celebration of everything in Mario history that is Odyssey is its greatest achievement in a game absolutely brimming with them.

Here’s what we said ALL THE WAY BACK in December of 2017 (full review HERE) :

And while Breath of the Wild almost completely reinvented the Zelda template based on a myriad of more contemporary and streamlined action/RPG influences, Mario Odyssey doubles down on Mario, and is all the better for it. Stage progression is an almost even mix of each 3D Mario that’s come before it, polished and optimized to near perfection. Super Mario 64’s wide open playfields, Galaxy’s ship based travel from level to level, the devious small scale platforming challenges born in Sunshine and perfected in 3D Land, it’s all here, all sequenced and balanced to provide the most unadulterated and complete Mario experience, some would say, ever.

  1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

In 2017 Nintendo was the Cardi B of video games. They don’t dance now, they make money moves, and if you see them and they don’t speak that means they don’t fuck with you. Or something. As an avowed lifelong Nintendo fanboy I still can’t believe how well the Switch has done, how surprisingly great the new Metroid turned out and what an undeniable masterpiece Super Mario Odyssey is. I think I can remember reading about those somewhere. Still, what started the year off untouchable for the big N was technically the swan song of the much maligned WiiU (even though it was, of course, also a Switch launch title), and the long in development Breath of the Wild delivered on all counts, dragging Link kicking and screaming (And jumping!) into an open world Hyrule just as dense with adventure as it’s sometimes unplayably buggy forebears in the Assassin’s Creed and Witcher series’, yet polished to a mirror sheen with that typical first party Nintendo quality. You can’t fuck with Nintendo if you wanted to.

Here’s what we said in April of 2017 (full review HERE) :

Breath of the Wild remains wholly engaging for literally hundreds of hours. Addictive combat and exploration with a heartrendingly resonant and satisfying tale to tell amongst its innovative sandbox of cataclysmic dark ages post apocalypse. Above all the adjectives and accolades I could heap upon this experience though, deep down this is a video game, and one that begs to be played, just like the perplexing gold cartridge that started not just the long lived Legend of Zelda series but a lifelong obsession with video games for so many of us. Having a game that bears the Zelda name be just as crucial and indispensable now as it was in the infancy of the game industry as we currently know it is a monumental accomplishment on Nintendo’s part that should not be taken lightly.”


In 2018…

Aside from the upcoming anime fighting nerd-mageddon scheduled for the end of the month in Dragon Ball FighterZ, I’m looking just as much forward to playing any new games in 2018 as I am catching up on what I missed in 2017, as I am currently sitting on games like Arms, NieR Automata, Middle Earth: Shadow of War, Horizon: Zero Dawn and Wolfenstein: The New Colossus just waiting to be loved. Similarly, I am waiting for some sort of Twilight Zone-esque end-of-the-world event to allow myself time to play them all, though knowing my luck I would probably somehow destroy my thumbs in the process and not be able to comfortably play video games anyway. So get ready to step up to the major leagues, toes!




Kevin Hawkey is the co-founder, head writer and editor of Riot-Nerd. He enjoys Fighting Games, Metal, Marvel, Horror and all the weird shit in between. A lifelong Philadelphian just as comfortable in a circle pit at Underground Arts as he is drooling over the new Hot Toys figures at Brave New Worlds, Kevin’s idiosyncratic sensibility gives this site it’s unique dichotomy between “riot” and “nerd”.
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