Sunday, December 30, 2018

My favorite games of 2018: Black Bird (Switch) and Sushi Striker (3DS)

I know what at least a few of you are thinking right now: you put more than 100 hours into Octopath Traveler and published numerous posts about it, but didn't pick it as your favorite game of 2018?

Nope, I didn't.

Which isn't to suggest I disliked Octopath Traveler. On the contrary, I loved it. Sure, a few aspects annoyed me here and there, but those flaws did little to keep me from thoroughly enjoying its sprawling adventure. (Read my write-up, "10 things I adore about Octopath Traveler," for more on that particular subject.)

As much as that SaGa-esque RPG delighted me, though, it wasn't one of my two favorite games of this year. That honor belongs to Black Bird for Switch and Sushi Striker for the 3DS.

What's so special about this pair of titles? Here are a few thoughts:

Fabulous Black Bird fan art by @croppar

Black Bird

This Onion Games release doesn't provide the most appealing of first impressions. Before you've actually played it, it looks like little more than a "dark" Fantasy Zone rip-off that costs $20. Thankfully, Black Bird is far more than a simple clone of Sega's classic looped-level shoot 'em up.

First, there are the bullet-hell elements. These are most obvious during the game's four boss fights, but they're woven into the stages that precede them, too.

Illustration counting down to Black Bird's release,
by @momenko774
Also, there's its score-attack focus. In other words, the point while playing Black Bird isn't to finish its small handful of levels. Rather, the point is to improve your high score and climb the worldwide leaderboard.

To accomplish that, you have to wrap your head around and come to grips the game's many systems--bombs, combos, collectible gems, and more.

Finally, there's Black Bird's soundtrack. It deserves all the praise that can be heaped upon it simply for being so sonically impressive and interesting. (One minute it's marvelously vaudevillian, the other it's otherworldly operatic à la "that scene" in The Fifth Element.) That's not all it brings to the table, though. In addition, it times the introduction of most enemies to the backing tunes in a way that's reminiscent of--if not as interactive as--ASCII's Otocky for the Famicom.

Curious to learn more about why I love Black Bird so much? Check out this post of mine. Also, if you need some help conquering this curious shmup, scroll through my "10 Black Bird tips, tricks, and tactics" write-up. And maybe this one, too: "How to beat Black Bird's final boss in 'True' mode"

Sushi Striker's protagonists, by @meshi3

Sushi Striker

I guess you could say it took me a while to warm up to this indieszero-developed title.

Actually, I was gaga over it after Nintendo unveiled it during E3 2017. After playing the demo the company made available via the Switch eShop early this year, though, my interest in Sushi Striker nearly fell off a cliff. It felt far too frantic for my liking. And it seemed to lack the kind of surprising depth and strategy I usually look for in puzzlers.

Still, I wanted to support its release, so I kept my pre-order for the physical 3DS version of the game.

After putting a couple of hours into the cartridge that made its way to my doorstep in mid-June, I was glad I did. For starters, the final product quickly proved to be a lot less superficial and straightforward than the demo suggested would be the case.

Celia, possibly my favorite Sushi Striker character,
y @carmeladansen
Also, a few of the components I wasn't sure about while playing the demo's three measly stages--the characters, the cutscenes, and the soundtrack being prime examples--displayed their true, eye-popping colors in Sushi Striker's full form.

To learn more about this game's many positive attributes, read my post, "Five reasons I've fallen head over heels in love with Nintendo's Sushi Striker."

Not in a reading mood? Maybe this'll sway you to at least consider picking up a copy of Sushi Striker sometime soon: I devoted more than 51 hours to the 3DS iteration before tearing myself away from it. (And after finishing its lengthy story mode.)

Oh, and I enjoyed the experience so much I bought it for my Switch, too.

So there you have it: my absolute favorite games of 2018. That's not to say I hated every other title I played this year. In fact, I liked a handful of them nearly as much as this pair. Which ones am I talking about here? I'll spill the beans in my next write-up.

In the meantime, what were your favorite games of 2018? Tell me all about them in the comments section below.

1 comment:

Martha Silva said...

Thanks for the postt