Sunday, December 29, 2019

SuperPhillip Central Best of 2019 Awards - Top Five Biggest Surprises

Let's rebound from last night's negative awards category of Most Disappointing Games of 2019 and return to what the SuperPhillip Central Best of Awards are all about--celebrating gaming! Today, there's just one category, but it returns us to a more positive place as we celebrate and count down the Top Five Biggest Surprises of 2019. These are the games that had unexpectedly great quality or just came out of nowhere and knocked people's figurative socks off. It's a colorful array of nominees and winners on the list, so it's time to begin counting them down!

5) New Super Lucky's Tale (NSW)

We start off with a game that is very much a surprise for being a quality platformer. Not only in a 3D sense, where we don't see a lot of games delve into this dimension as of late, but also in a 2D sense. It's New Super Lucky's Tale, a game that was originally an Oculus Rift exclusive turned Xbox exclusive turned Nintendo Switch exclusive, each time gaining new features a new word to the game's title. While far from perfect and adding a little too much variety to distract from the solid enough platforming hijinks, New Super Lucky's Tale wowed me with its charm, its personality, and its clever design.

4) Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair (PS4, XB1, NSW, PC)

We move from a mostly 3D platformer to a wholly 2D one with Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair. Despite enjoying the original Yooka-Laylee, which was modeled after Banjo-Kazooie and its ilk, I didn't quite expect to love Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair as much as I did. From the creative level designs, to the extremely ingenious 3D overworld and the means to alter levels, to the titular Impossible Lair, which demands platforming perfection to pass, Yooka and Laylee's second go of it was a phenomenal game, making it one of my favorites of the year. Truly unexpected, but perhaps that's on me for doubting the tremendous talent behind some of my favorite games of all time from various ex-Rare staffers!

3) Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled (PS4, XB1, NSW)

File this one like the other games thus far on this countdown of the Top Five Biggest Surprises of 2019 as a game that I didn't know I'd like as much as I did. While I knew of the original Crash Team Racing's quality, as I played the game back on the PS1, I did not expect how much of a masterful recreation and remake its Nitro-Fueled reincarnation would be. Packed with content in the form of characters, tracks, karts, and cosmetics, Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled keeps me playing to this day, and we're talking about a title released this past June. This is thanks to the Grand Prix mode and by virtue being a game that keeps on giving, but it's also because it's a game that one constantly improves at. You WANT to get better at the game because the game rewards you for doing so. Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled delivered so much unexpected joy from me this year, putting it a firm middle position on this countdown.

2) Ring Fit Adventure (NSW)

Now, we're going to talk about games that came from out of nowhere and surprised with their high quality. When one thinks of fitness games, they think of quote/unquote "non-games", but Nintendo pulled no punches with Ring Fit Adventure, a complete fitness RPG. The Pilates ring that comes with the game is the piece de resistance of Ring Fit Adventure (literally, too, in a way with its resistance training), allowing players to perform unique and legitimate exercise maneuvers to not only defeat enemies and venture the game world, but also to get a real workout in. Set the difficulty level of your workout and challenge of the game, and pick your set of exercise moves into battle, serving as your attacks. Ring Fit Adventure isn't just a surprise of how creative and innovative it is a game, but how excellent it is as a full-fledged workout!

1) Untitled Goose Game (NSW, PS4, XB1, PC)

HONK! Sneaking up on the gaming conversation and taking full control of it was Untitled Goose Game, whose name serves as a prime example of just how eccentric and off-the-wall the game truly is from developer House House. Meandering about levels causing mischief as a goose is a simple enough elevator pitch to convey--wacky, no doubt, but seeing the game in action and witnessing how the stealth gameplay and hilarious absurdity of it all work in tandem together really sells the game. Untitled Goose Game is a big surprise not only for being a sensational game, but also a big surprise for how it unexpectedly commandeered so much attention from the gaming world this past year in a viral way. ...HONK!

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