Friday, December 31, 2021

SuperPhillip Central Best of 2021 Awards - Top Ten Games of 2021

With 2021 quickly drawing to a close, 2022 arriving in but a few hours here on SuperPhillip Central and seven awards and lists out of the way, we now stand at the main event: it's time to crown 2021's Game of the Year here as part of SuperPhillip Central's Best of 2021 Awards! While the year itself saw the pandemic still raging on and a world in continued crisis (as if this were 2020: The Sequel in some regards), gaming offered a nice respite, an escape from the chaos of the world--how ever brief it may be.

These ten games are some of the best that were played this year. They offered unparalleled design, fantastic worlds to do some escaping that was previously mentioned, took our imaginations to new heights, made us laugh, made us happy, and made us for a moment forget about our cares. The latter of which was something truly special in these intensely trying times. 

If you need to catch up on past lists from the SPC Best of 2021 Awards, look no further than these links:

Without further ado, though, let's see which ten games made the list this year and which will be crowned with SPC's Game of 2021! Note: None of the games on this list received a grade less than an A- this year, which for this site is quite special! 

Now, onto the list of the Top Ten Games of 2021!

10) The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD (NSW)

Starting off the countdown of the Games of 2021 we have a blast from SuperPhillip Central's past. The original Skyward Sword was named SPC's Game of the Year in 2011, and now The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD kicks off this countdown ten years later. This HD remaster of the Wii classic brought with it the motion-controlled swordplay, as well as the bomb-rolling, arrow-shooting, Clawshot-launching goodness of the original, but also featured analog controls for those who may not want to or be able to utilize motion controls as easily. Venturing back into the realm of Skyloft and the surrounding areas (and of course the surface below) was a most welcomed return, and with the quality of life upgrades (such as less interruptions from Fi), and you have a much better game than what was already available in 2011. 

9) Halo Infinite (XBS, XB1, PC)

Master Chief returned, and despite all the hubbub and commotion over the much reported issues surrounding the development of the game, Halo Infinite defied all odds and came out a winner in the end. Releasing piecemeal with its multiplayer in November and its single-player campaign this past month (co-op coming in 2022), Halo Infinite delivered exciting firefights on a bold, grand new scale. The game was sort of a Breath of the Wild moment for the Halo series, presenting a robust open-world to explore, which was substantially made more fun due to the all-new Grappleshot accessory. This allowed Master Chief to propel himself across distances both horizontal and vertical with a shot of his grapple, and made his mobility even more impressive and fun. This was featured in the multiplayer component, which somehow improved even more as a multiplayer experience than it was already. By the end of Halo Infinite's campaign, I was yearning for more, and thankfully for me, co-op is again coming soon, and there's plenty to see and discover on the Ring as I wait and players online to slay (or in my case, get slayed by)!

8) Death's Door (Multi)

The sole indie game on this list of stellar titles (but don't let yourself think indies didn't have their fair share of excellence this year in gaming), Death's Door delivered a delightful cross between Dark Souls and a traditional Zelda adventure. The action was immense, the exploration was enjoyable to search every nook and cranny of the game's world for secrets, and the world itself was lovingly crafted to make for a brilliant game. Then, there's the sensational soundtrack, which did well for itself in SPC's Best of 2021 Awards Best Original Soundtrack category. Death's Door was a tour de force in game design, offering a magnificent Zelda-like with a melancholy world and set of characters, superb puzzles, challenging fights--whether they be against groups of foes or bosses, and interesting dungeons to dive into. A real winner this year, feel free to knock on Death's Door and give the game a playthrough or two. You won't regret it.

7) It Takes Two (Multi)

A co-operative game that masterfully weaves multiple polished gameplay set pieces together, each idea that could be formed into their own games, It Takes Two was a masterclass of multiplayer design. With each of the two player characters in the game having asymmetrical roles, players needed to depend on one another to get through the game's platforming levels, action sequences, and of course, boss battles as well--some of the most impressive from 2021. Whether you gelled well with your co-operative partner or not (online or off), you were going to get an equal dose of fun, laughter, and great times. I mentioned this already in previous awards categories, but It Takes Two gave my older brother and I some truly terrific times together. For that, I will always appreciate the game, not just for that, but also just for being a well-polished and wonderful co-operative game in general.

6) Psychonauts 2 (XBS, XB1, PS4, PC)

With mind over matter, Double Fine dished out a much anticipated, long awaited sequel to the original Psychonauts, fittingly titled Psychonauts 2, and this sequel upped the ante quite considerably. Bigger worlds, more to see, more to do, and plenty of kooky characters to fall in love with made Psychonauts 2 a pleasure to play and fully complete for this particular player. Speaking of upping the ante, Psychonauts 2's levels regularly did just that. Whether reuniting a band in a trippy musical world or trekking through a mix between a hospital and a casino, just when I figured the development team at Double Fine had run out of ingenious ideas for levels, boom! A new one was introduced that impressed me even more. While combat wasn't the game's strong suit by any stretch of the imagination, Psychonauts 2 excelled in other areas so highly that I can't be too upset that the game dropped the ball when it came to battles.  

5) Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury (NSW)

Continuing with our platforming theme, we have the king of the genre: Mario, and Nintendo brought back one of his greatest 3D adventures while adding a whole new one based off its mechanics with Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury. The former featured full online play for the first time in a 3D Mario game, while the latter showed us a potential glimpse at what an open world Mario game might look like in the future. Bowser's Fury was a tantalizing tease and prototype for a possible open world Mario, and if this is the foundation, oh my, are we in for something really special! Really, that's what Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury was this past year: something really special. It was a combo of old and new, the comfortably familiar and bold and daring, and it made for one of my favorite platforming games of 2021 and one of my favorite games released this past year period. 

4) Monster Hunter Rise (NSW)

A duo of Capcom-developed and published games sit on the next two spots of this countdown, and we begin with Monster Hunter Rise. I'm not telling tales here when I say that Monster Hunter as a series had never felt more entertaining, more enjoyable, and more satisfying to play with this latest entry. The Wirebug ability brought some much needed (and much fun) mobility to the Monster Hunter series, allowing quick escapes from monsters' clutches as well as new ways to interact with the world and said behemoth beasts. The gameplay loop of hunting down monsters, collecting their drops, and then recycling them for better equipment was here, present, and addicting as always, and the online multiplayer shined as some of the year's best. Monster Hunter Rise was overall one of my favorite entries, if not my favorite entry ever in this long-running franchise. It was THAT good.

3) Resident Evil: Village (Multi)

Poor Ethan Winters had a lot on his hands (and off his hands, too, heh) in Resident Evil: Village. Bad news for him, but it was very much good news for us, as Village stands as one of the most satisfying entries in the series yet. It reminded me of a stellar cross between Resident Evil 4's action and structure mixed with Resident Evil VII's scares and first-person perspective. Village was indeed a horrifying game, scary to boot, but also one with fantastic gunplay, superb set pieces, excellent action, and a world that was most definitely fun to explore and search for its many secrets. Resident Evil Village was a thrill ride from beginning to end for players to sink their teeth into, like a Lycan into Ethan's flesh. It was something I could easily recommend playing again and again, and at the end of the day and at the end of Ethan's adventure, I could not have asked for a better Resident Evil game from Capcom all things considered.

2) Metroid Dread (NSW)

After nearly two decades without any wholly original 2D entries in the Metroid franchise, Samus Aran returned to two-dimensions for a brand-new mission, and man alive was the wait worth it. Metroid Dread delivered a difficult, tough-as-nails, but always fair adventure for players to dive into. Intense boss battles, awesome exploration, clever backtracking and signposting so players seldom got lost, frantic EMMI sequences where one false or careless move could mean an instant game over, and a story that nicely wrapped up Samus' current saga with the Metroids, Metroid Dread was a remarkable return to form for the franchise. If I had to nitpick the game at all, it'd be for these paltry reasons: a less than memorable soundtrack and some annoying shinespark puzzles required for 100% completion, but when a Metroid game is THIS good? Those are but things to shrug one's shoulders at, as Samus Aran's latest mission ended in total success not just for her, but for the players who got the privilege to experience it.

And SuperPhillip Central's Game of 2021 award goes to...



1) Forza Horizon 5 (XBS, XB1, PC)

If you can believe it, this is the first time an Xbox first-party game has received Game of the Year honors on SuperPhillip Central, but things seemed to have come up Xbox with all the work Microsoft has put into building a steady portfolio of development teams under the Xbox umbrella. Forza Horizon 5 was one such games that came racing down the pipeline from this work, and the excellence seen in this superb open-world racing game was something to behold.

Not only was I not expecting to enjoy Forza Horizon 5 as much as I did, I was surprised by how addicted I became to competing in seasonal events: earning points to unlock new cars and playing multiplayer matches (whether those be traditional races or arcade mode shenanigans). I loved cruising around Mexico searching for new events to participate in, experience boards to smash, PR stunts to perform like speed zones and jumps, as well as just earning experience for doing pretty much anything in the game.

While a game with so many moving parts does have the occasional issue or glitch--Forza Horizon 5 is no exception here--I greatly adored and cherished my time with the game despite any issues, showing just how much I could overlook by virtue of Forza Horizon 5 being masterful in almost every other category. Yes, that's control, all of the numerous accessibility options (such as the super helpful and optional racing lines and rewind functionality), the myriad races and events to participate in, and just having my mind blown constantly by how impressive it all looked. Forza Horizon 5 is a game that I will most definitely be jumping back into the driver's seat to play this upcoming year. It's for all these wonderful reasons why Forza Horizon 5 is SuperPhillip Central's Game of the Year. Congrats to the team and Xbox in general for one hell of a 2021!


That concludes another year and another awards ceremony here at SuperPhillip Central. Before we part, I'd like to provide everyone with well wishes for the new year. May it be a better, more prosperous year for all of us. See you in 2022.

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