RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.

Posted on Jan 13th 2019 at 08:00:00 AM by (slackur)
Posted under Suprises, If I put the game titles here you may not bother scrolling down

Instead of a "best of 2018" list, I figured I'd toss together a much more accurate "games that pleasantly surprised me that I played within the last year" list, even for games that weren't released in 2018.

Before typing any further I will fully admit that my old, feeble memory banks whine like a first generation PS3 when thinking about yesterday, and go into full-out Dreamcast lumber-saw grinding if I even try thinking about last week, so recalling anything from a year ago isn't too likely.  Thus, please forgive me if most of the games on here that came out in 2018 are from the tail end of the year.  Anywho, onward!!

Soul Calibur VI (PS4)

While it doesn't reach the heights of the first two entries, after the last one I kept my hopes in check.  This turned out to be a pleasant surprise and a turn in the right direction for the series.  The two single-player campaigns are well done and the multiplayer feels better than the last two entries. 

Battle Princess Madelyn (PS4, Switch)

I'm a big fan of this game as it turned out even better than I hoped.  Not perfect, as the story mode can be clunky and without clear mission objectives.  But it has a charming art style, a great soundtrack, and beautiful graphics mixed with more fluid play control than many of the older titles it imitates.  Best of all, it also has a straight-up arcade mode (in addition to the "Metroidvania" story mode) that plays like an easier but still challenging Ghosts 'n' Goblins cousin.  The fact that the developer went all out and included both game modes really impressed me.  We picked up the Japanese-exclusive physical copies for PS4 and Switch, but strangely only the Switch version has the English translation.  Thankfully the action mode doesn't need text.

Warhammer: Vermintide II (PS4)

We really liked the original, which was like Left 4 Dead with RPG elements in the Warhammer universe. The sequel seemed an easy sell.  Sadly, thus far it is available only as a full-priced digital title so I had to go against my personal preferences when picking it up.  Worse, it crashes pretty often.  (Update! I think this was due to my buddy's internet, as playing with me as a host seems to have resolved the crashing.) The good news is that the sequel improves pretty much everything from the original with more character options, weapon upgrades, quality-of-life improvements, and much nicer graphics.  As a fan of the first game, I was still impressed with how the developers improved upon the original.

Gang Beasts (PS4)

I assumed Smash would be the default New Year's Eve party game, but we popped this in first and ended up laughing our heads off until the early morning hours!  Even watching videos of this bizarre gummy bear wrestling physics sim brawler doesn't do it justice.  If you have four friends sitting on the couch, put this on, give a quick pointer on the controls, and enjoy.  As a bonus, even non-gamer types can compete as the goofy-weird physics and controls easily level the playing field.

Fallout 76 (PS4)

Already did a write-up on this so all I'll say is that I'm still playing it anytime I get the chance, and am still really digging it.  I did experience my first hard-crash, but considering how many hours I have already sunk into it, I'm still batting better than average for modern games, and this is a unicorn-sighting rarity for Bethesda games.

Grip: Combat Racing (Switch, hopefully PS4 soon)

I knew going in this one could be hit-or-miss, and it really hit!  I've been getting through the Switch version in small bites, and I like it enough that I'm hoping to grab the PS4 version to appreciate the nicer graphics.  I noticed this one is de-listed from retailers and wasn't a huge print run to begin with, so keep that in mind...

Return of Double Dragon (SNES)

I didn't have any problem getting this to run on our original hardware, but I have heard of compatibility issues.  Playing through this one with a buddy was a retro-highlight this year, and I think it is my favorite in the series.

Battle Garegga Rev.2016 (PS4)

The original Saturn import was on my personal wishlist for many years, but I grabbed this instead and I'm so glad I did.  This year I finally cleared it, though not 1CC yet.  It really is as good as I hoped, and the M2 "gadgets" make it even better.

Ketsui Deathtiny: Kizuna Jigoku Tachi (PS4)

Similar to Battle Garegga, finally owning this excellent shmup is even sweeter with the big list of helps, options, and screen info the M2 Shot Triggers series is now known for.  I had heard how good it is, and I was still pleasantly surprised.

Atari Flashback Classics Vol.3 (PS4) (and the entire collection on Switch)

I'm a sucker for retro compilations, and Vol.3 was unexpected as it had been awhile since the other two volumes.  Xari Arena, Star Raiders, and especially Final Legacy are the highlights here for me.  And the fact that all three volumes came in one Switch release (all 150 games!) with touchscreen support means I have a definitive way to play many of my Atari favorites.

Strange Brigade (PS4)

Another on the list that could have easily stumbled but ended up as a fun little gem, particularly going through the campaign with four players.  I've played with different groups and modes and it has all been better than expected.

Earth Defense Force 4.1 (PS4)
I've played through most of the games in the series that released in the U.S., and while this one isn't leaps ahead in quality, it was my favorite with a buddy online.  The scale, goofy B-movie appeal, and different complementary combos of classes, weapons, and vehicles are what make this one the best thus far, although the new one is digital only at full price so I haven't tried it yet.

Override: Mech City Brawl (PS4)

The base game itself is a decently entertaining romp that reminds me of the PS2 classic War of the Monsters.  What made this a standout game is the Voltron-like multiplayer mode where up to four players each control limbs and various parts of the giant robot!  It requires a bit of communication and practice, but it works, I don't recall seeing anything like it, and it is a lot of fun.

Civilization VI (Switch)

Despite the mobile ports, I just didn't expect a Switch release.  Portable Civ is dangerous for people like me. The only omission in this release, a lack of multiplayer, wasn't a concern once I remembered literally putting friends to sleep in between turns of Civ Revolution on 360.

Diablo III: The Eternal Collection (Switch)

Another game I just wasn't expecting to port as well as it did.  I haven't even gotten to play this version; my reflections are based on how much my Beloved is enjoying it.  It's the only game on her Switch that has unseated Fallout Shelter.

Penquin Wars (Switch)

I took a chance on this as an update to an obscure Game Boy game and ended up delighted at how fun it is.  The multiplayer is quick and fierce, but all the effort that went into a neat campaign mode and the over-the-top style makes the whole package a great game.

Spyro Reignited Trilogy

I didn't support buying this because I was disappointed that only the first game is on the disc.  But after it was kindly given to us as a gift, I have to admit the quality of the remaster blew me away!  The artistic quality and thought that went into this is just amazing, and I wasn't even really nostalgic for the original games (They didn't charm me the first go-round as much as other folks.)  I was surprised and impressed.

One last note, I didn't mention some great games I played in 2018 on this list because, well, they didn't surprise me with their quality; I expected them to be good, and they were!  Those include the PS4 Spider-man and God of War, Forza Horizon 4, Overcooked! 2, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and Tetris Effect. 

So what were your 2018 pleasantly surprising game experiences?

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Diablo III is amazing on Switch.

I need to pick up Civ VI and the Atari Flashback collection as well.
Lots of great games here. I'm glad to have played most of them. I need to pick up Penguin Wars. I was playing a lot of Deathtiny but had to stop as it was messing with my Lightening Force play. Such an addicting game. Also where is Monster Boy?
I really need to put some time into Battle Garegga. But you're totally right about Ketsui. It's incredible! And M2's treatment of the game is superb.
I did pick up Monster Boy but I literally have not put it in because I read it is a fantastic game but surprisingly long, and I didn't want to start until I knew I could finish.  For better and worse Fallout 76 still really has me hooked and I'm trying to finish all of the quests before moving on to another game.  I can so easily spend so much time in that game Tongue
I'm really glad to see Return of Double Dragon/Super Double Dragon getting some love. That is my all-time favorite beat 'em up, and I say that as a huge fan of the genre that has played pretty much all of them other than some super obscure stuff. I think the depth and variety of the moveset commonly goes unnoticed and unappreciated. The Japanese Return of Double Dragon version actually adds quite a few refinements over the US Super Double Dragon version.
I've been quietly grumbling about the Switch-only release of the Atari Collection in one package, until I happened to see it one day on the PSN Store for Vita.  Now, from what I understand it doesn't have some of the games (Empire I think), but then again it only costs $20.  Now if I could only convince SNK to do the same with their 40th Anniversary Collection...

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