An Embarrassment of Riches

2022 continued to be an embarrassment of riches and like last year, the release calendar was mostly carried by mid-tier releases from established franchises, strong indie titles and all of the in-between. The “AAA” games were pretty good, too. I wanted to share a few more thoughts on the games that didn’t quite make my top 10 list, however, including my “Lost Levels”, my favorite DLCs, ongoing game and other categories that didn’t quite have a place to call home.

Lost Levels of 2022

“Lost Levels” are games I started during the year but dropped for one reason or the other. The games that make this list could be both new and old, just so long as I started them (and fell off) during the current year.

I keep forgetting to cancel my Apple Arcade subscription, so I got the opportunity to play Yu Suzuki’s delightfully weird Air Twister. It’s like Space Harrier meets Panzer Dragoon and it has a ridiculously good soundtrack. Air Twister is sort of a run-based game with light character progression and a ton of unlockables, but I only managed to make it halfway through the game before I got distracted by other things. I did like it a lot from the little I played and if I managed to finish it before the end of the year, it may have made my top 10 list for 2022. I love ACE Team and The Eternal Cylinder, conceptually, speaks to me on so many levels. You play as tiny alien creatures just trying to survive on their home planet while a giant metal cylinder follows them from behind, crushing everything in its path. I’m not too hot on survival games, but The Eternal Cylinder is certainly a hybrid of many genres and the parts of the game that don’t involve resource gathering and other rogue-like elements, I really appreciate it. I played it for a few hours, but it fell by the wayside like many other games did in 2022.

Square Enix released what feels like 100 games in 2022 and I didn’t finish a single one of them. I picked-up most of their releases because I don’t know any better and I started a handful of them over the course of the year. I finished two character stories from Live A Live, Square Enix’s remaster of the 1994 SNES release that never saw the light of day in the west until now. I finished the first two chapters in Valkyrie Elysium, finished the prologue chapter in The DioField Chronicle, and played a bit of the demo of Triangle Strategy (which also allows you to carry your progress forward to the full release). I also started Harvestella but I’m only a few hours in and my farm looks pitiful. I really want to play all of these games (including Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin which I installed and never launched), but who has time for all of this!?

I started Star Fox and Super Mario Kart (from the SNES library on Nintendo Switch Online) during one of my plane rides from California to Pennsylvania. I started and finished the middle route in Star Fox, but to consider the game completed in my head, I wanted to do all 3 routes. I haven’t played the SNES Star Fox game since I was a kid and I quickly realized it’s not a good plane game considering the framerate. For Super Mario Kart, I earned a Gold Trophy or two in some of the cups on the lowest CC. I wanted to get Gold Trophies in all cups on all difficulty levels before I considered it completed for the year, but I never went back to them after that one plane trip. Both games are still fun but I definitely prefer some of the more recent entries from both series, though. I surprisingly played a lot of Kirby’s Dream Buffet, too. I believe I stopped playing around Level 70 or so, but I wrote more about it here (spoilers, it’s mostly forgettable).

I started Demon’s Souls by Bluepoint Games at the start of the year, but then Elden Ring came out… I’ve already beaten Demon’s Souls back on the PS3 10+ times between multiple regions, so I’ve done my time. I would like to play through the game properly again, so perhaps I’ll try to make time for the remake in 2023. Metal: Hellsinger looks like a DOOM 2016/DOOM Eternal mod, but it’s actually a rhythm-based FPS with licensed metal music. I played the first three levels of Metal: Hellsinger, but I never went back to it. I didn’t dislike any of the music I heard, but it also wasn’t resonating with me for whatever reason. As a progressive metal head, I’d be singing a different tune if I was blasting demons to the beats of Between the Buried and Me, Periphery, or The Contortionist, though. I also started Signalis around Halloween, played it for about 2 hours and never went back. It’s one of my biggest regrets of 2022, considering it’s essentially a love letter to PS1/PS2 era Survival Horror games (games like Resident Evil and Silent Hill), I’m assuming it would have made my top 10 list if I managed to finish it. I loved nearly everything about it from the little I’ve played, so hopefully I can carve out a full playthrough in 2023.

I keep starting Downwell thinking I’ll one day complete a full run of the game (since it’s short and you literally just make your way down a well), but it’s not an easy game. I love the look and concept of the game, even though rogue-like games aren’t usually my thing. My last attempt to finish the game in 2022 was the furthest I’ve gotten, though. I’ve also started Citizen Sleeper (twice now) but almost fell asleep while playing the game, and I don’t mean that in a negative way. Visual novels aren’t usually my cup of tea, but I’ve been know to play them from time to time. I keep hearing great things about the game too and I really like the cold, isolated SCI-FI setting, so hopefully I’ll find time for it again soon. I started Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising, the companion, prequal game of sorts to the soon-to-be released Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes. It seemed like a competent 2D action-RPG, but it became a bit too repetitive, too quickly, so I stopped playing after a few hours. I did like the character designs though and it started to get me more excited for the proper Suikoden successor they’ve working on.

The Trine games are comfort food to me. They’re somewhat generic 2D platformers set in a traditional fantasy setting, but they’re always gorgeous to look at it. I’ve completed both the original Trine and Trine 3: The Artifacts of Power at 100%, but I’ve never played Trine 2 or the latest game to completion yet. I started Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince earlier in the year, but only managed to finish a handful of stages before dropping it. I love old-school, side-scrolling/vertical arcade shooters; games like Gradius, R-Type and the Darius games, for example. I also picked-up G-Darius HD earlier in the year, but I only played it for an hour or so before dropping it. I typically like to play/learn arcade “shmups” on default settings with a limited amount of continues, but G-Darius HD doesn’t have those types of settings and instead allows you to pump and indefinite amount of credits when you boot-up the game.

I’ve finished No More Heroes I and II back on the Wii when they originally released. I’ve been dying to play No More Heroes III, but apparently, Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes, is almost “required” to play prior for story reasons. I’ve started Travis Strikes Again twice now since its release, and I always get through the first level and then drop it. The levels just feel way too long and the gameplay isn’t very interesting. I downloaded Sonic Origins at launch, finished a few zones in Sonic the Hedgehog, checked out some of the extras and then never went back to the collection. The game launched with some problems and I’m not sure if any of the issues were ever patched/fixed. It seems like I have a habit of starting the same games year after year, playing for about an hour or so and then dropping them; Panzer Paladin, unfortunately, has met a similar fate. It’s the type of game that I typically adore, but I can’t seem to stick with it for whatever reason.

Game Freak’s Pokémon Legends: Arceus is the latest entry in the long-running franchise and it was the first truly “open-world” Pokémon game prior to Scarlet/Violet’s release. It’s impossible not to compare it to the likes of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, but it also has shades of Monster Hunter. I haven’t played through and finished a Pokémon game since I was a kid and Red/Blue/Yellow were the last ones I completed. I’m still a completionist at heart, and the fact that most mainline Pokémon games leading up to Arceus released as two, paired games always left me with choice paralysis. I ultimately just shied away from the series because as time passed, it felt too overwhelming to commit to. I picked-up Arceus at launch and by the end of 2022, I only managed to log about 10 hours or so. I do love chucking multiple Pokéballs at monsters in real-time, seeing all of the experience bars fill-up for every little thing you do, I definitely understand why it can be addicting. Oh, and the sky boxes looked good, too. Maybe I’ll finish it in 2023?

Dotemu’s WINDJAMMERS reboot is an extreme sports frisbee game released originally by Data East. I’m not quite sure if I understand how to play the game as there are a handful of advanced throwing techniques I haven’t wrapped my head around yet. The goal is to toss the frisbee disk into the goal/net. The goal/net has certain sections that are worth 3/5 points. The single player arcade mode AI is fairly challenging, even on Medium difficulty. The online is completely dead and it seems impossible to find matches today, but given the fact that I’m not playing the game during its initial release window, it’s no surprise. It still begs the question why developers feel the need to include online play (with online-only trophies) when they know it’ll be impossible for certain players to earn them after so much time has passed, but this feels more like a relic of its time. I like the look/feel of the game, but I don’t think WINDJAMMERS is ultimately for me, though.

My Favorite DLC(s) of 2022

I really enjoyed Resident Evil Village’s DLC, Shadows of Rose (from the Winters’ Expansion). I streamed my complete playthrough of the new campaign on my Twitch channel around Halloween (you can watch the archive here for my full impressions). Shadows of Rose more or less repurposes areas from the original game, but puts you in control of Rose, Ethan’s daughter who’s cursed with powers she doesn’t want. The game itself plays similar to the castle portions of Village, but you now have psychic abilities that allow you to clear flower-like pods of goop that block your progress. The House Beneviento‏‎ remix, in particular, is probably one of the scariest sequences found in any Resident Evil game to date. I completed the DLC once but I still had more questions than answers. I also did not explore the new Mercenaries additions nor did I checkout the new 3rd-person mode that was added to the base game. At this point, I’m ready for Resident Evil IX and I can’t wait to see where this ridiculous story goes next.

Toem’s Basto update/expansion was excellent (and also free!). It’s accessible once you complete the game, but it’s essentially just more of what makes Toem a joy to play. The new area brings a day/night cycle, which changes the tides allowing the player to access new areas. There’s also a new accessory that allows you to fire water balloons from your camera. You’re still mostly taking pictures of creatures and island folk to progress, but there’s some fun mini-games thrown into the mix, too. The new DLC is really good, but I got hit with a bug that caused my 100% save to become corrupted. The developers had no way of fixing this, but they did update the game to work around the issue to a degree. It’s unfortunate I had to experience this glitch as it really soured my feelings on the whole package.

Bugsnax’s The Isle of Bigsnax free DLC is simply more Bugsnax, but bigger. The DLC takes place during the middle of the game’s story and it provides some additional world-building and characterization for some of the villagers. The island itself can be accessed from an existing save file and the objectives in the new area make use of your tools in interesting ways. The Buggy Ball, for example, is used to navigate wall-puzzles scattered around the island. The draw of The Isle of Bigsnax is the larger-than-life Bugsnax variants, however. How you capture them is also unique to the DLC and provides a challenging prospect for both new and returning players. Coming back to Bugsnax felt great. I didn’t realize I’ve missed these characters so much and their writing and dialogue is as funny and well-written as it was in the base game.

The DLC also adds customizable options for your player housing. By completing 100s of requests for the villagers, you can earn new doormats, wallpaper and furniture to furnish your home. These additional quests ask the player to perform a variety of tasks, including capturing, donating or feeding certain Bugsnax to particular villagers or even shooting hoops and making baskets with the basketball. It’s a simple addition, but it makes the game feel more content complete, almost as if they were ideas the developers had intended for the game at launch. I completed the DLC and unlocked all of the extra trophies outside of Live Laugh Hut, which requires you to complete a good portion of the requests to earn enough furniture to fully furnish your house. Although it feels like there’s an endless amount of side quests now, there’s enough here to keep me busy in Snaxburg until Bugsnax 2 (hopefully) releases.

My Favorite Ongoing Game of 2022

Now that we’re entering year 6 of Destiny 2, it continues to be my primary (and begrudgingly favorite) MMO/live-service game. I’ve been playing Destiny 2 since launch and I haven’t really taken any long breaks (although I have played less Destiny 2 in 2022 than I have in previous years, with 2020 being the time I spent most with the game due to the pandemic). I’ve been part of a clan on PlayStation for years now, but I also play with random people on Xbox or dedicated Discords in a pinch. Unfortunately, I still rarely reach out to people to run end-game content and I’ve never been part of any primary “fireteam” group, so I’ve mainly stuck to whatever solo content I could complete over the past year or so. I’m hoping the LFG/Discord integration will make grouping with people easier once it’s implemented. The Witch Queen is easily the best campaign to date. I played through the entirety of it solo on Legendary difficulty and at times it was relatively challenging, but always fair (outside of the final boss).

With that said, I have done most of the seasonal content in Destiny 2 post-The Witch Queen and at the time of writing this, I’m only a handful of triumphs away from obtaining the Seraph and MMXXII (Moments of Triumph) seals. I still mostly focus on Seals (which are essentially character titles based on in-game achievement completion) as they typically ask the player to play most, if not all of the content the game currently has to offer. I’m upset that I’ve missed my opportunity to earn the Unbroken seal, as they’ve vaulted the chance to earn it and instead changed the title to Glorious, which is now the new competitive-focused Crucible seal going forward. I use seals as a guidepost of sorts, as the game can be quite overwhelming, at least in terms of what content to engage with if you’re not sure what to focus on. I still think Destiny 2 is the best feeling FPS game on the market, so I guess I’ll keep playing until the servers shutdown (please, Bungie, put me out of my misery sooner rather than later).

The FOMO (fear of missing out) has gotten a bit better but it still persists within certain pockets of the game. Iron Banner, for example, currently has an excruciating grind to obtain a shader you cannot find anywhere else in the game. They’ve since stated that they’re going to make it easier to obtain the next time the activity rolls around, but it’s still a big ask for players who might not have the time to commit. There are still quests, seals, destinations and other content that continues to be vaulted. While I understand their reasoning for vaulting content (keeping the file size down, taking away activities people are no longer playing, game stability, etc.) as someone who likes to take their time and enjoy their games at a leisurely pace, the mad rush to complete as much old content as you can before it goes away continues to fuel my anxiety (and it’s not a good thing). Will I ever stop playing Destiny 2? Probably not, or at least not until they shutdown the servers, release a new IP or make a Destiny 3. I’m looking forward to the new expansion, Lightfall, releasing on February 28, 2023, so we’ll see what year 6 of Destiny 2 will bring.

My Physical Game Pickups of 2022

The first quarter of the year was front-loaded with big releases; games like Elden Ring, Horizon Forbidden West, and Pokémon Legends: Arceus occupied most people’s attention for months. Marsupilami: Hoobadventure was a surprise pick-up for the year, too. It’s an incredibly competent Donkey Kong Country-like that’s worth playing if you’re a fan of 2D platformers. Don’t let the (terrible) name fool you, it’s good!

I have a complicated relationship with Limited Run Games (LRG), but I still support them to a degree since they release some rad physical editions for a lot of cool games (like Huntdown). I’m really excited to play Battle Axe and Final Vendetta in 2023. If I can ever find time to finish the slog that is Xenoblade Chronicles 2, I’ve been hearing nothing but great things about Xenoblade Chronicles 3, so I can’t wait to rip off the seal and give it a whirl.

I played Swery’s The Good Life back in 2021, but my LRG collector’s edition showed up in 2022. I’ve used the coffee cup multiple times already. The Bayonetta 3 collector’s edition is very nice as well (it comes with a case that holds all three of the games on Switch). I really wanted to open my copy of Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope, but I have yet to finish Kingdom Battle, so it shall stay sealed on my shelf for the time being.

Klonoa is back and I still can’t believe it’s real. I imported a European copy of The Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series since Bandai Namco did not have a physical release in North America (and I have no idea why). Pictured is my current Klonoa collection. I used to have the second game on GBA, but I believe I lost my copy in a house fire and never replaced it. I believe my Klonoa: Door to Phantomile and Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil are my original copies that survived said fire, however.

I tried to pre-order the God of War: Ragnarök – Jötnar Edition, but I accidently ordered the Collector’s Edition thinking that was the highest tier. By the time I realized it wasn’t, the Jötnar Edition was sold out. Oh well! I sort of regret ordering The Callisto Protocol Collector’s Edition (since I didn’t really like the game in the end), so lessons learned there.

Pictured above is more LRG releases, in addition to a few random pick-ups, including Sifu (which I’m dying to play). I also took a picture of my entire Xeno collection when my standard edition copy of Xenoblade Chronicles 3 arrived. The collector’s edition was sent separately months later and I haven’t taken a new picture yet.

Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda

“Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda” are games I either had a passing interest in but never picked them up or they’re games I may have purchased, but did not play whatsoever during the year. Many of these games could have made my honorable mentions/top 10 lists for the year, but alas, I can’t speak to them at the time of writing this.

January

  • Nobody Saves the World
  • Shadow Man: Remastered
  • Demon Gaze Extra
  • God of War (PC)
  • Monster Hunter Rise (PC)
  • Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX 2
  • Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Extraction
  • Windjammers 2
  • Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection

February

  • Life is Strange: Remastered Collection
  • Dying Light 2 Stay Human
  • Voice of Cards: The Forsaken Maiden
  • River City Girls Zero
  • Edge of Eternity
  • COGEN: Sword of Rewind
  • PowerSlave Exhumed
  • Lost Ark
  • Monark
  • Final Fantasy VI Pixel Remaster
  • The King of Fighters XV
  • OlliOlli World
  • Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream
  • Martha is Dead
  • Getsu Fuma Den: Undying Moon
  • CrossfireX
  • Sifu

March

  • Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin
  • ELEX 2
  • Shadow Warrior 3
  • FAR: Changing Tides
  • Gran Turismo 7
  • Ikai
  • KOWLOON HIGHSCHOOL CHRONICLE
  • NORCO
  • Relayer
  • Agent Intercept
  • The Cruel King and the Great Hero
  • Chocobo GP
  • Dawn of the Monsters
  • Submerged: Hidden Depths
  • ANNO: Mutationem
  • Rune Factory 5
  • Moss: Book 2
  • Weird West

APRIL

  • Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
  • Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition
  • The House of the Dead: Remake
  • Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
  • ESCHATOS
  • The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe
  • Ayo the Clown
  • Rogue Legacy 2
  • Nintendo Switch Sports

May

  • Loot River
  • Salt and Sacrifice
  • Soundfall
  • Mini Motorways
  • REMOTE LIFE
  • Dolmen
  • Evil Dead: The Game
  • Pac-Man Museum +

June

  • Silt
  • Card Shark
  • Souldiers
  • Wonder Boy Collection
  • The Quarry
  • Final Vendetta
  • Omori
  • Firegirl: Hack ‘n Splash Rescue DX
  • Capcom Fighting Collection
  • AI: The Somnium Files – Nirvana Initiative
  • Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes
  • DNF Duel
  • Little Noah: Scion of Paradise
  • Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course
  • Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak
  • Outriders Worldslayer

July

  • Bear and Breakfast
  • Escape Academy
  • Zero Gunner 2-
  • Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 3

August

  • Shin-chan: Me and the Professor on Summer Vacation – The Endless Seven-Day Journey
  • Azure Striker Gunvolt 3
  • Cult of the Lamb
  • Spark the Electric Jester 3
  • GigaBash
  • Blossom Tales II: The Minotaur Prince
  • Rollerdrome
  • Cursed to Golf
  • Arcade Paradise
  • South of the Circle
  • Thymesia
  • We Are OFK
  • Destroy All Humans! 2: Reprobed
  • Soul Hackers 2
  • Immortality

September

  • Made in Abyss: Binary Star Falling into Darkness
  • The Last of Us: Part I
  • Prodeus
  • The Tomorrow Children: Phoenix Edition
  • Voice of Cards: The Beasts of Burden
  • Trombone Champ
  • Trinity Trigger
  • Return to Monkey Island
  • Soulstice
  • Beacon Pines
  • The Spirit and the Mouse
  • Valis: The Fantasm Soldier Collection II
  • Shovel Knight Dig
  • Grounded
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero
  • Moonscars
  • Deathverse: Let It Die

October

  • No More Heroes III (PS5)
  • The Last Oricru
  • Trifox
  • Beeny
  • Kamiwaza: Way of the Thief
  • Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed
  • Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope
  • Gotham Knights
  • Yomawari: Lost in the Dark
  • Star Ocean: The Divine Force

November

  • Ghost Song
  • Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration
  • Tactics Ogre: Reborn
  • Pentiment
  • The Knight Witch
  • Goat Simulator 3
  • The Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil In Me
  • Pokémon Scarlet and Violet
  • Lunistice
  • Evil West
  • Gungrave G.O.R.E.
  • Front Mission 1st: Remake

December

  • River City Girls 2
  • Romancing SaGa: Minstrel Song Remastered
  • The Callisto Protocol
  • Wavetale
  • Hindsight
  • Donut Dodo
  • Marvel’s Midnight Suns
  • Need for Speed Unbound
  • Chained Echoes
  • Dragon Quest Treasures
  • The Punchuin
  • Lil Gator Game
  • Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- Reunion
  • High on Life
  • Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth
  • Super Kiwi 64

See you next time for my Top 10 Games of 2022!

-Matty

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