You wouldn’t know it by reading this blog, but I played quite a few games this year. I also liked quite a few games this year. So, as is tradition, it’s time to discuss my ten favorite games of 2022. This is a very similar first paragraph to the previous game of the year list, and that’s pretty depressing. Oh well.
If you’re new here, I write my game of the year lists with three simple rules. The first is that the game needed to be released in the United States for the first time this year. As an example of where that could be important, the Chrono Cross remaster from earlier this year came with Radical Dreamers, the 1996 Satellaview game that had never been localized before. Because of this, Radical Dreamers is eligible for game of the year this year. Spoilers, it didn’t make it. The second rule is that I have to actually play it. This results in a lot of very big games from this year simply not being eligible for my list, such as God of War Ragnarok. My biggest regret from this year in this respect is Live A Live, which has been sitting on my shelf since launch day. Maybe next year. And finally, no remasters or re-releases. And yes, that means that despite Radical Dreamers being eligible, the Chrono Cross remaster that it’s a part of is not.
But before we get to the list, I’m going to start with some honorable mentions. These don’t follow any of the rules that I just laid out. They’re simply games that I enjoyed in the year 2022 that I want to mention. So if we’re lucky, maybe you’ll see Live A Live on this section next year.
Nintendo Switch Sports
I have loved Wii Sports since the day the Wii launched. It is one of my absolute favorite couch multiplayer games. So of course I quite enjoyed the Switch sequel as well. It definitely didn’t make as big of a splash as the original, but the inclusion of online multiplayer had me playing bowling pretty regularly for a good month or so. Switch Sports very nearly made it onto the proper top ten list, it was the last one I cut, so you can kind of think of it as my eleventh favorite game of the year.
Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition
I have started the original Xenoblade Chronicles three separate times. Once on the Wii, then again on the port for the New 3DS, and then finally again when Definitive Edition came out for Switch back in 2020. While I always enjoyed the game (there is a reason I kept rebuying it), something would always come along and take my attention away. But this year, I decided to finally get through the whole thing. Xenoblade 3 was coming out, and I wanted to be ready. And I did it. And it’s one of the best RPGs I’ve ever played. And you should play it too.
Xenoblade Chronicles 2
It’s crazy to think that despite how much I loved Xenoblade Chronicles X on the Wii U (I wrote about my progress through that game weekly in the early days of this blog), I just couldn’t manage to stick with the core games in the series. But just like with the first game, 3 was coming out and I wanted to be ready. It had been even longer since I played 2, so I actually restarted the game and played the whole thing this year. While I think it’s the weakest game in the series with too many unnecessary systems bogging things down, 2 is another excellent game with fantastic characters and a compelling story. While I wish I had gotten through the first two games earlier, I kind of love that my 2022 was defined by the Xenoblade Chronicles franchise. More on that later.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Yes, I’m still playing Animal Crossing. I haven’t missed a day since the game launched and don’t plan to any time soon. At this point, most of my days are spent saying hi to my neighbors and doing my daily tasks, like digging up fossils and seeing what pieces of art Redd is selling. However, every once in a while, inspiration will still hit and I’ll make something new for my island, like a game show set I made this year. New Horizons was my game of the year two years ago, and it’s still holding my attention. Also, this is the year I completed the museum, so that’s pretty cool.
Sea of Thieves
Another game that won my game of the year award, Sea of Thieves continues to be a great way to spend a night. There’s been a lot of changes this year that make things more convenient, and that’s great, and the core that made me fall in love with the game years ago is still very much intact.
Persona 4 Golden
I had watched the anime adaptation of Persona 4 many years ago but had never actually played the game. This year, I bought myself a Steam Deck, and Persona 4 Golden would end up being one of the first games I played on it. While I didn’t beat it, the strong storyline and enjoyable characters make this game still worth checking out today, even if some of the mechanics feel pretty dated.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE
I didn’t play Tokyo Mirage Sessions this year, but I certainly thought about it. I just really like it, okay?
And now, here are my ten favorite games of 2022
1o. Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin
I played Stranger of Paradise on easy, and it resulted in every fight being stupidly easy. Maybe it would rank higher on my list if I had played on a harder difficulty and really got to learn the combat mechanics. More likely however, I probably would have given up and you wouldn’t see it on this list at all. As a big Final Fantasy fan, I wasn’t really there for Soulslike combat, I just wanted to see a ridiculous retelling of the first games plot and punch a bunch of monsters in the face. And on easy mode, this game gave me exactly that.
9. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge
It’s really hard to make a compelling arcade style beat-em-up these days. Even the ones people usually point to as being great, like the Scott Pilgrim game, really don’t do a whole lot for me. But, I grew up on the Ninja Turtles games, especially the NES port of the arcade game and The Manhattan Project, so I was really hopeful that Shredder’s Revenge would capture some of what made those games so great. And it does. While there are some modern touches, like a progression system, you’re mostly just walking to the right and beating up a bunch of different colored Foot Soldiers. The game is definitely playing on nostalgia, but it’s also just a really good time.
8. Sonic Frontiers
This game should not be as good as it is. It’s super janky and has some wildly inconsistent design, but it’s also weirdly compelling. Putting Sonic in a semi-open world just works, and it’s the kind of thing that makes you wonder why they didn’t do it before. It still largely plays like any other 3D Sonic, but it’s been mixed up enough to feel fresh. Hopefully the next Sonic will iterate on Frontiers’ ideas and smooth out the jank.
7. Bayonetta 3
Remember when Bayonetta 3 was announced? It was at the Game Awards the year the Switch came out and was a really big deal at the time. Well, it finally came out this year and I liked it quite a lot. While I don’t think it hits the highs of Bayonetta 2, the third game still features tons of ridiculous, over the top action and silky smooth gameplay. I’ve seen some some complaints online about the new features added in this one, particularly the kaiju-like summon attacks, but I thought they were a fun addition. Definitely worth the long wait.
6. Elden Ring
This is the one that I think is going to look off compared to other lists online, but I assure, putting Elden Ring at number 6 is a massive win for Fromsoft. I have bounced off of every Soulslike I have tried. They always sound so cool and I tell myself this is going to be the one that finally gets it’s hooks in me, and then I stop before even beating a boss. Not true with Elden Ring. I didn’t finish it, but it completely took over my life for a good while. The thing that pushed it over for me was the open world. Unlike previous Soulslikes, if I got stuck, I could just leave and go explore. And there was always something crazy to find and usually get killed by. I may not have finished the game, but I did actually beat some bosses, and those were some of my most satisfying moments of the year.
5. Pokémon Scarlet and Violet
At the time of this writing, Pokémon Scarlet is the game that I’m spending the most time with, and I’m having a very good time. I enjoyed the previous generation, Sword and Shield, but was disappointed with it as the first new generation to be released on a home console. Scarlet and Violent is different. This is the game I’ve always wanted from the series. It’s still Pokémon, but it’s a true open world. You can go anywhere and do anything in whatever order you want. This means you can absolutely end up in places that you probably shouldn’t be yet, but that’s part of the fun. The classic Pokémon gameplay combined with a new sense of freedom is exactly what I wanted. It’s a real shame and runs terribly, I have to at least point that out. But in my opinion, the good absolutely outweighs the bad.
4. Splatoon 3
I love Splatoon. I don’t tend to play a lot of competitive multiplayer games, which is probably pretty obvious when you look at this list, but I’ve played every Splatoon game for hours and hours. The fast-paced fights combined with the unique mechanics, where you win by covering the most amount of space on the map with ink rather than by killing your opponents, has always been a favorite of mine. Splatoon 3 is more of that, and that’s a good thing. Also, it has by far the best single player campaign in the series and easily the best final boss. Go play Splatoon.
3. Kirby and the Forgotten Land
Can you believe it took this long for a mainline 3D Kirby game? And not only that, but they nailed it on their first try. Forgotten Land has all the charm of any of the classic 2D games, but is, you know, in 3D. The core gameplay is very similar to the way the 2D games work. You go through a linear level, inhale enemies to get their abilities, and search out secrets while making your way to the end. All the while, you’re saving kidnapped Waddle Dees and bringing them back to Waddle Dee town, where they unlock new features, including upgradable powers. The Kirby formula fits the third dimension so effortlessly that it’s hard to believe that it took them this long to do it.
2. Pokémon Legends: Arceus
Two Pokemon games on the same year’s list? Yes. Also, Scarlet and Violet is the game I’ve always wanted from the franchise, but Arceus is better than it? Also, yes. Arceus is a completely differently structured game from the mainline ones. It actually reminds me more of the Monster Hunter series than a typical Pokémon game. You have a town that you accept missions from, go out into the world, do the mission, return home, and eventually unlock new areas. You also catch Pokémon, and for the first time, you can do it in real time by just throwing Pokéballs at them. There’s still Pokémon battles, but they’re not the focus at all, it’s much more about catching this time around. Also, the game takes place way in the past and god gives you a smartphone, so that’s pretty cool.
1. Xenoblade Chronicles 3
You knew this was coming. I didn’t play all of Xenoblade Chronicles 1 and 2 this year only for 3 to not even make the list. Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is absolutely brilliant. The story combines elements from both of the other numbered games. There’s two nations that are eternally at war, and one has races that were featured in the first game and the other has races that were featured in the second. But it goes further than that. Your party consists of three people from each nation, and the combat mechanics more closely resemble the game that their home nations are based on. In the first game, your abilities filled up by a simple cooldown timer, and that’s how it works for the people of Keves. In the second game, your abilities filled up as you landed your standard auto-attacks, and that’s how it works for the people of Agnus.
But beyond that cleverness (and also, no spoilers, but there’s a good reason for all that), the game features extremely likeable characters and a story the twists and turns and constantly surprises. It’s also humongous, with tons of side quests and unlockable characters to add to your party. I finished the story, but there’s still lots to do that I will go back and take care of. I could go on for much longer, and I probably should in an actual review, but for now I just want to say that Xenoblade Chronicles 3 was my favorite game of the year and it wasn’t even close.
And that’s my list! What did you think? Is there anything you strongly disagree with or anything you’re sad didn’t make it on?