DualShockers’ Favorite Games of 2019 — Iyane’s Top 10
2019 had a lot of cool mecha related games, but a lot of other great games from other genres too. Here are my top 10 from this year.
As 2019 comes to a close, DualShockers and our staff are reflecting on this year’s batch of games and what were their personal highlights within the last year. Unlike the official Game of the Year 2019 awards for DualShockers, there are little-to-no-rules on our individual Top 10 posts. For instance, any game — not just 2019 releases — can be considered.
I assume anyone who clicked on this wishes to read me talking about myself and my Unneeded Opinions (one of my favorite sentences of 2019), so I’ll do just that. 2019 was another year that went by in a flash. I’ve reached my first anniversary writing on DualShockers in September, and I’ve been pretty busy overall. As such, there are multiple games on this list I actually didn’t finish yet.
There are many games released in 2019 that I was really hyped about but didn’t have the time to try out yet either, and I’d like to start by listing some of them:
We first have games I’d consider mainstream, such as Devil May Cry 5, Judgment (I actually bought it in Japanese) Astral Chain. Then you’ve got more niche things, like Daemon X Machina (I’m waiting just in case a PC port gets announced), the Grandia remasters, SaGa Scarlet Grace, and Friends of Mineral Town Remake.
Lastly, we’ve got some visual novel games: Berubara Gakuen, Gnosia (Japanese outlets hyped up this game in a similar fashion that what happened with Disco Elysium in the US and Europe), Ciconia Phase 1 (the thing I was actually hyped for the most in 2019), Eve Rebirth Terror (idem), and the Yu-No remake.
I’m on a quest to play everything that Hiroyuki Kanno wrote after getting my mind blown by Eve Burst Error. Yu-No is one of these things, but the character design in the remake is bland as hell. Ryou Nagi is a great artist, and you can see that with Heavy Object or Ar Tonelico, but for some reason, everything remake-related he touches turn into the blandest thing ever. The same thing happened for the newest Langrisser I&II remake; it’s like some huge conspiracy. As such, I’ll probably grab the Yu-No remake in Japanese, as that version includes a port of the original.
Anyway, that was just a small intro to show my tastes and what to expect in this ranking. Here are the games I’ve enjoyed the most in 2019, and note that it’s not only games released in 2019. Also, note that the top 5 are all pretty much my top 1.
10. Cyber Troopers Virtual-On Masterpiece 1995-2001
I suck at Virtual-On. But I love it, especially Oratorio Tangram, and being able to play it remastered on PS4 is nice. The only thing these ports of the three Virtual-On games sadly lack is local multiplayer split-screen. Virtual-On is the originator of Gundam Vs like games and all the anime 3D arena battlers of varying quality releasing each year, and it’s the best one there is.
Other games I considered for this position were Destiny Connect, Shenmue 3 (which I didn’t play myself and watched an online friend’s playthrough), and Zanki Zero (I was supposed to review that but ended up never finding the time to finish said review). I picked Virtual-On because it didn’t require me to write 2000 words to explain my mixed feelings about it.
9. Space Engineers
According to Steam, I’ve played 47 hours of Space Engineers with my online friends. I’m pretty sure at least 20 hours of that was us trying to figure out how the game works and being annoyed and how counter-intuitive many elements are. This includes reading wikis and only to realize it’s outdated info, looking for Uranium only to realize you can’t find any on planets, or trying to design vehicles, copying blueprints and recreating them block by block. And a lot of other dumb stuff.
Besides all these frustrations, Space Engineers is my favorite multiplayer game I’ve tried out this year and I’ve made some great memories with it, as an online friend streamed some of our adventures too. I’ve tried making the Senegalese flag with wind turbines (too long to explain): we managed a trip to a moon and putting the Algerian flag on it (a French joke too long to explain) and we did a MASK opening sequence parody with a vehicle parade.
8. Ocarina of Time Randomizer Version 5.0
I actually put this on my list last year as well, but seeing that the game’s meta has changed since then, this is fine. Again, I don’t have the time to play this myself and enjoy watching races instead, This year, ZeldaSpeedRuns held the OoT Randomizer Season 2 tournament, which ended in June with the victory of Marco against WTHH.
Now, the Season 3 tournament bracket matches just started in early December, with the version 5.0 0f the mod, changing the meta. We’ve already got a surprising upset, with first tournament winner and 2nd qualifier ATZ losing against 31 qualifier Killerapp23. Getting into detail would take too long and be incomprehensible if you’re not already into OoT rando, so I’m just gonna say this is the most interesting esports thing to watch ever. And like I said last year, it’s incredibly fun.
7. Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom
Wing Commander IV is one of the many games I’ve played in my childhood which left me with a huge impression. Along with things like Shenmue 1 & 2, this is one of the games I used to regularly quote until my high school years or so. I’ve finally got the time to rediscover the game this year. I didn’t end up replaying it myself though and watched a full playthrough of it. It was really interesting; I remembered many iconic scenes from the game and some characters, but I had no idea what the overall story was about anymore.
It’s surprising how anime space opera the story is, and I wouldn’t be surprised if something Japanese inspired the story. It all comes to Japan. This also made me realize, in a sense, that Wing Commander IV is pretty much one of the first visual novels I played and what made me enjoy well-written stories and choices. This is also what made me both love and hate draconian choices, multiple routes and characters’ deaths. I hate not being able to save characters.
6. Romancing SaGa 3 Remaster
Back in my childhood I tried playing Romancing SaGa 3, as it was among the various SNES roms I had at disposal. I quickly realized that it’s completely different than most RPGs and unlike many games in Japanese such as Super Robot Wars 4: I couldn’t trial and error my way through.
Around 18 years later, Romancing SaGa 2 Remaster comes out in 2017; it’s awesome, and a masterpiece. And then in 2019, Romancing SaGa 3 Remaster is finally out and it’s even more awesome. I’m currently in the final area of the game after playing as Sarah, because she has a fluffy afro ponytail. I just wish the game had a turbo button.
Tie-in 6. Persona 5 Royal
This is a tie-in as that’s an enhanced version of a really recent game, which was my 2016 favorite. I purposely played through Persona 5 only once, only maxing the coops and not doing much of the other side content, in case such an enhanced version ever released.
Even then, and even considering how much of a masterpiece that Persona 5 is, clearing such a long game again is annoying. Most of the new scenes I’ve seen so far, most notably Kasumi’s and Takuto’s scenes, are all incredibly nice though. The renewed dungeons and bosses’ designs are fun, and Joker is even more Lupin The Third-like with the wire hook, but there’s nothing groundbreaking either. I’m far from reaching the new part at the original’s ending, as I’m just about to reach the Hawaii part. Hopefully, it’ll be a nice ride.
The five games below are all my actual number one.
5. 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim
I’ve been waiting for 13 Sentinels since when it got announced in 2015. I could even say since 2013, as I hoped a game related to the Vanillaware Happy New Year 2013 Geroge Kamitani artwork above would come out someday. I had incredibly high expectations for it and none of it were betrayed as of now.
It’s awesome. It’s fully-voiced. It’s got giant robots. It’s the most beautiful (2D) game since forever. It’s like if an old Japanese adventure game got made with current technology. It’s a shame the game bombed in Japan. If you’re interested, I’ve written more about the game, and I’m recording myself translating the game as I’m playing through it.
4. Ys IX: Monstrum Nox
Ys IX: Monstrum Nox is amazing on all points. I’ve rarely had so much fun walking around and exploring a city in a game. I think what makes the game the most amazing is how it’s pretty much the culmination of the Ys series since it switched to the party system, and as if one of the first versions of the first Ys games were transposed to 3D. The verticality of the environments is used so well you can still feel lost despite having a map. Falcom might pretty much be one of the smallest, penniless studios in Japan despite its longevity; they still make the best action RPGs ever. What I’ve seen of the story so far is particularly amazing too, and Toshihiro Kondo is a good writer along with being a good company president.
I’m currently taking a break from the game after reaching what I guess is around 1/3 of it. I was so hyped I had to play it at launch, but I want to do all the other Ys games I didn’t do yet first, even if it’s absolutely not necessary to understand the story. I like being able to understand every single reference in a series like this. I’m the kind of person who wishes to know exactly how many times Kazuya and Heihachi threw each other out of a volcano/mountain.
3. Super Robot Wars T
I didn’t play Super Robot Wars V nor SRW X as they initially didn’t release on Switch. If we don’t count SRW OG Moon Dwellers, which was on my top ten 2018 list, SRW T is my first SRW game since the SRW Z3 finale on PS3 in April 2015. It’s pretty great, be it the story, its cast list, or the animations. Everything about it is nice. Having things like Cowboy Bebop, Gunbuster, Rayearth, Gun x Sword, and Captain Harlock together feels incredible. It’s extremely sad that Captain Harlock’s seiyuu Makio Inoue passed away right after he finally got in SRW.
A new OG anime directed by Obari and a new OG game would be nice. I’m happy the series seemingly won’t get a new game in 2020, so the development teams can take their time.
2. Fire Emblem Fuukasetsugetsu / Three Houses
This game has my favorite cast of characters in a Fire Emblem game, along with Fire Emblem Seisen no Keifu/Genealogy of the Holy War, and I could write a 1000 word article on every single character on this picture (if I was paid adequately for it). This is only one of the many reasons why I like this game. In a nutshell, I’d say I love the fact that I find it very innovative and yet similar to the other Fire Emblem games I’ve played and liked so far, and how it’s true for every aspect of the game.
1. Project Sakura Wars/ Shin Sakura Taisen
This opening sequence has over 1.7 million views, and half of these are all me. While I’m not done with Shin Sakura Taisen yet, I fail to imagine how the game could even disappoint me so far, seeing how amazing it is. Before the game launched, I wasn’t concerned about the battle system change, but whether the new cast would be interesting or not. If there was a world Guinness record for most baseless worry of 2019, this would get it. This game got everything that makes Sakura Taisen so awesome. The strong female characters, the cool mecha, the great worldbuilding, the comedy. It’s a great new start in the series and I hope we’ll get more. I shared a few impressions on the game and just like 13 Sentinels, I’m recording myself playing the game, translating at the same time.
That’s it for my top ten.
If you’re wondering about my expectations for 2020, the game I’m looking forward to the most so far is the Seiken Densetsu 3 remake: Trials of Mana. Then we also have things like FF7R, Rune Factory 5, Space Channel 5 VR, Brigandine…I’m also eager to see KOF XV even if I won’t play it. Lastly, 2020 will also mark the tenth anniversary of the Pretty Series franchise. The Pretty Rhythm anime seasons and its King of Prism sequels were my favorite anime of the decade, so I’m looking forward to what Avex and Takara Tomy have in store for the anniversary, and if we might get some games other than arcade games out of it.
I’m planning to stay on DualShockers and keep writing about Japanese games in the new year. I don’t have the time nor the paycheck to cover every single news as fast as possible, but I always try to bring to the table as much info as I can, along with relevant translations and observations. Hoping you’ll keep reading us in 2020.
Check out the rest of the DualShockers staff Top 10 lists and our official Game of the Year Awards:
December 23: DualShockers Game of the Year Awards 2019
December 25: Lou Contaldi, Editor-in-Chief // Logan Moore, Managing Editor
December 26: Tomas Franzese, News Editor // Ryan Meitzler, Features Editor
December 27: Mike Long, Community Manager // Scott White, Staff Writer
December 28: Chris Compendio, Contributor // Mario Rivera, Video Manager // Kris Cornelisse, Staff Writer
December 29: Scott Meaney, Community Director // Allisa James, Senior Staff Writer // Ben Bayliss, Senior Staff Writer
December 30: Cameron Hawkins, Staff Writer // David Gill, Senior Staff Writer // Portia Lightfoot, Contributor
December 31: Iyane Agossah, Senior Staff Writer // Michael Ruiz, Senior Staff Writer // Rachael Fiddis, Contributor
January 1: Ricky Frech, Senior Staff Writer // Tanner Pierce, Staff Writer // Laddie Simco, Staff Writer