By Sean Michael-Patrick Thompson
November 21, 2018

 
It’s that time of year again, and award shows are going to pop up left and right over the next few months, never leaving you alone until you’re sick and tired of them! Luckily, we here at Two Guys Playing Zelda have got an early jump on things, and are going to be kicking off the award show season with our 2nd annual TGPZ awards! Last year’s awards were a ton of fun because many of the writers for the site were able to come together on a collaborative feature, and it was a real treat to put it together, so I absolutely had to continue the tradition this year. Without further ado, here are our favorite games from the past year!

Action Game of the Year

Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition

Of course we had to include one Zelda title on this site, I think it’s mandated by law, or at least common courtesy among Zelda fan sites. Either way, Hyrule Warriors was a blast on the Wii U and 3DS, and from the sound of it, it only got better, combining both versions and their collective DLC. Our writer Zach Winn describes it as, “Great as a quick pick up and play. Definitely the best edition out of the three with all of the content included.” He is backed up by fellow writer Crow, “It’s a fun and action packed war against the masses.” Though I have not played this version of the game, I did purchase both previous iterations, and I can tell you the only thing that could make my experiences better would be to port it to Nintendo Switch.

Adventure Game of the Year

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker

Captain Toad released among a slew of Wii U ports this year, but this one broke through to be one of our favorites here at the site. In Zach’s words, it is, “Too damn cute and too damn fun. Loved it back on the Wii U and still love it now. This is definitely a must have adventure for the Switch.”

One of our founding members, Hick, takes it further. “It felt like I was playing a Zelda game wrapped in a Mario body. Now that I think of it, why not make a spin-off Zelda game like this?!” An interesting point, as this game started development as a spin off for our favorite series, but was changed to star Toad when the developers saw there was so little combat that they thought it might be suited to another character than Link.

RPG of the Year

Octopath Traveler

I love this game so much I don’t even know where to start, so I’ll let Crow start instead. As he puts it, “Easily one of the best games released on the Switch, Octopath merges what is so fun about RPGs like the early Final Fantasy games, with beautiful graphics and fantastic sound design.”

He pretty much nails all the key points. For me what pushes this game over the edge, specifically in relation to the other RPGs I’ve played this year, is the gameplay. Not only is the combat a fresh take on classic turn-based style, but out in the overworld, each character has a unique way to interact with the NPCs, putting the RP back in RPG.

Sports Game of the Year

As not much of a sports-game-player myself, I was a bit surprised to see a tie here. Two fantastic titles broke through and won the hearts of our staff. I didn’t play either of these games in depth, so I’ll let our other writers take it away.

FIFA 19

“As a big soccer fan, being able to play one the biggest sport franchises on the go was massively appealing to me. However, after the disappointing effort that was last year’s FIFA 18 on Switch, I didn’t hold out much hope, though I will acknowledge there is still a big bridge to gap between the Frostbite versions of the latest entry and the Nintendo version, it is a massive improvement that is a lot more enjoyable to play and prettier to look at. Hopefully next year’s version will take as big of a step towards reducing the gap as this years version has.” – aJNation71

Mario Tennis Aces

“I’m not big into sports games in general, but Mario Tennis Aces was a lot of fun upon release. There were some huge innovations to the gameplay and the story mode is entertaining as well.” – Kendra J

“Mario Tennis is back! It definitely wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be to grasp the new mechanics, but once I did I just couldn’t get enough!” – Zach Winn

Best Story of the Year

As odd as it is to have a tie, a three-way tie is even more awkward, yet here we are. Too many good stories to pick from this year, apparently, especially considering our first winner had eight stories to pick from…

Octopath Traveler

Crow makes a great case saying, “With not just one story, but eight stories, all of which intertwine, and a limitless number of paths your journey can take based on where you choose to go, Octopath easily has the best story of 2018.” I agree, and this was my pick as well. Each of the eight stories is at least as good as the average game, and they only get better from there.

God of War

Interestingly enough, this game was nominated for more total categories than any other game on this list, but this is the only category it won. I’ll let the original Two Guys take it away.

“The story is really complex so I won’t get into it, but I’ll put it this way; I’m not a huge story guy. Yeah I like a game with a good story but I am more about the action. This game’s story pulled me in and didn’t give me an option but to be invested. That’s what a great story does.” – Hick

“Loved the theme of father and son bonding, plus Norse mythology intertwined throughout. The relationships between the supporting characters were great, and so many memorable story moments. My favorite (minor spoiler) was Kratos sharing a drink of Greek wine from a jug he found with Atreus. Just a really good, tight, heartfelt story.” – Red

Xenoblade Chronicles 2

Technically released at the end of last year, but our award show has always been in December (the one time it has ever happened before) so we opened our window to include this entry. Monolith Soft really knocked it out of the park with this incredible JRPG, with a story that according to Zach, “Definitely gets convoluted and campy at times, [but] the overall arc is well worth the journey.”

aJNation71 had a lot to say on this one, so who am I to stifle him? “One of the greatest RPGs of the modern era sees the player control Rex, a salvager living on the back of a Titan that he sentimentally calls ‘Gramps’. Rex finds himself intertwined in an epic adventure that is just as much unpredictable as it is exhilarating and heart warming. Though admittedly slow to start, once Rex and the gang get going, the story develops into nothing short of a sophisticated masterpiece. Part political thriller, part story of an underdog hero, it is a carefully scripted piece that will grab your emotions, toss them into a blender and leave you with memories that will want not be matched again until the inevitable sequel is released.”

What I love most about the story is the sheer amount of lore behind the core story, which is only expanded upon by the DLC prequel. If you’re a fan of action JRPGs, it’s been almost a year already, what are you waiting for?

Most Original Game of the Year

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker

Even more love for Captain Toad! As if one award was not enough, this game managed to snag our award for originality over LABO, and that’s a feat in and of itself. Crow argues this is the definitive version: “The re-release on the Switch felt more natural with better usage of the Switch’s controls, creating a fun and innovative puzzle game for all ages.”

Hick backs him up, sealing the deal on this game’s position as the most original game. “I just love this whole concept. It’s a laid back puzzle game that makes your brain work. It was different from everything I have ever played. The graphics were amazing and the soundtrack was memorable. The camera system is top of the line. It shows that Nintendo knows what it is doing with their first party games.”

Best Graphics of the Year for Nintendo Switch

Kirby: Star Allies

As much as I personally thought Octopath Traveler would sweep this category with its blend of 2-D sprites in 3-D environments, when I saw the votes flow in for the pink puff ball, I could not help but agree. The game has a fairly simple style at first glance, but every texture on every environment, weapon, or enemy (or friend) has a truly polished quality that is hard to match. Hick comes through again with a great description: “A fun platformer with some beautiful colors. I almost gave this to Captain Toad but this game just has a little more to offer in terms of graphics. Nintendo even makes 2D games look great.” Not quite as good as Octopath’s stylized graphics in my opinion, but man are they clean.

Nindie Game of the Year

Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon

It wasn’t hard for me to vote this way; Curse of the Moon was the only indie game I played this year, as my copy of West of Loathing is still in production limbo at Limited-Run Games. Still, this game surprised me since it was announced as a stretch-goal bonus on the Kickstarter for the upcoming Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. This 8-bit dungeon-crawler may be a tad easier than most of the Castlevania games I’ve played (at least on the default difficulty) but it sure hits home with the labyrinthine levels, inventive power-ups, and the party-swapping system that I have fair certainty the kids these days would call “Super Neato.”

If you don’t believe me, Kendra shared her feelings for this game as well. “Being a retro gamer at heart, this game hit close to home with the graphics and nostalgia. I played Bloodstained with a cousin of mine and we had a blast! And going back to the retro roots is why I picked Bloodstained for Switch Game of the Year. The gameplay is amazing and I’m looking forward to playing again soon!” Won’t we all?

3DS Game of the Year

Detective Pikachu

No, we aren’t talking about the trailer for the film coming next year like everybody else on the net, we are giving game of the year for 3DS to this inventive little spin off where a coffee-addicted talking Pokemon solves mysteries! According to Crow, “This was the closest thing to Switch-level graphics, looking a lot like the Let’s Go games coming out later this year. Best looking game out of a slim line of 2018 releases.”

It may be slim, but with titles such as Captain Toad, Luigi’s Mansion, and of course our investigative Poke-Buddy lining the roster, it seems the console may just have a little more steam than we surmised last year.

Game of the Year

Octopath Traveler

Crow has a unique look at this game. “Working at GameStop, no Nintendo Switch game has even come close in sales to Octopath so far. This game did everything right across all levels. 10/10.” I know exactly what he’s talking about too, since when I went in to pick up my copy, the clerk at my local store was reluctant to tell me they had sold out. Luckily I had the Wayfarer’s Edition on pre-order, so I hadn’t a worry, but there were many shortages of this game worldwide for the first few months, leading to the game breaking the million mark in just over two weeks. Imagine how fast it would have been if they had kept up with demand!

aJNation71 praises this game along with us. “Who here is bored of the old 8-bit and 16-bit pixelated graphics seen in so many games in the modern era? Who here can’t get enough of them and thinks the people who are bored should keep quiet? What if I told you Square Enix managed to please both parties and create this year’s prettiest game? Octopath Traveler is very much a game that respects its roots while modernizing an arguably overly-used art style. It’s just as traditional as it is inventive and it is just as gorgeous whether played portably or in handheld.”

This game brought everything it possibly could to the table. Beyond its graphical appeal, intricate and immersive side quests which rival Majora’s Mask alongside eight interconnecting tales, this game is a storytelling masterpiece. Beyond that yet again, the combat and Path-Action system make it truly my favorite video game role-playing experience. Good job, Square Enix, you blew my mind for the first time since Final Fantasy VII.

Bonus: Most Anticipated Game of the Year

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

I posed the question to the writing staff here as to what our most anticipated upcoming Switch title would be, and Zach Winn summarized everybody’s thoughts with a simple response. “Duh.” Even gamers who live under a rock almost certainly know this looks to be the biggest and possibly best Smash Bros. title there will ever be. Director Masahiro Sakurai will unfortunately not be here forever, but while he is here, he has already shown us with this title that he is just as much a fan of Smash as we are. We expect to see this game in a few categories in next year’s TGPZ Awards!

Woo Hoo! We made it through another year and another award season! If you liked this piece, be sure to shout out to any and/or all of us in the comments or on Twitter, or hey, hit us all up at once on the TGPZ Discord server! We would love to keep the conversation rolling. What are your favorite games this year? Did any category winners surprise you? Do you think I like Octopath Traveler too much and rigged the votes? The world will never know unless you chime in! Until next year, I am Sean Michael-Patrick Thompson, thank you very much for reading!