Continuing my trip down memory lane of the years between 2010 and 2019, I add another three games to my fifteen favourite games of that decade. It’s been a nice experience doing this, going back and reliving my favourite experiences from when I had a lot more time to play these games than I do now.
It’s interesting to see just how much my gaming habits have changed too from the start of the decade to the end, where I was much more willing to play wider spanning RPGs over and over before, where as now I’m spending most of my time in the perpetual game space. Which I’m sure will be reflected as these entries go on.
#9: Sonic Mania
Released in 2017 | Played on Xbox One & Nintendo Switch | Developed by PagodaWest Games & Headcannon
Sonic Mania was something of a revelatory moment for me in my video game life. It was a game that made me realise that I didn’t have to stand for sub-par games anymore. That maybe it was okay to let go of my childhood nostalgia and just move on with my life.
And what better way was there to do that than play a perfect love letter to those very games of my childhood. And that is exactly what Sonic Mania is. A game made by fans for fans. For so many years, I would take on the role of the Sonic apologist, playing these bad games and trying to find the little glimmers of quality within them.
Writing reviews that amounted to almost reluctant praise. “No, really, this one is okay.”. And there are parts of Sonic Generations and Sonic Colors I still love, Sonic Mania is, without a doubt, the best Sonic game since before the franchise made the jump away from sprites and into polygonal nightmares.
A perfect combination of nostalgic throwback, remixes and brand new ideas. Sonic Mania does what those original games did so well and cracks it up another notch. Since playing this game, I don’t feel the need to pick up every Sonic game that comes out anymore. Especially when this came out in such close proximity to Sonic Forces, which was one of the very worst examples of what the franchise has become.
I’m okay letting Sonic just be a children’s franchise these days, this game helped me let go of my nostalgia in a way that liberating. And if I want to play some Sonic again, I’ve got this game to go back to. I just hope they let Christian Whitehead continue making this style of game in the future.
While Breath of the Wild might have been my game of the year for 2017, it hasn’t stuck with me in the same way Sonic Mania has.
Released in 2011 | Played on most platforms | Developed by Mojang
It’s up for some debate as to whether this game should count towards being something that was released in this decade. But let’s be real, for the very majority of people, they spend a significant portion of this decade playing the game. Seeing as how the beta version came out at the tail end of the previous decade is a minor point.
It almost feels unnecessary to justify putting Minecraft on a list like this. It was, for a long time, the biggest video game in the world. Almost like the realisation of playing with Lego as a child re-imagined into an actual video game, it combined adventure game mechanics with the ability to freely build just about anything. Making Minecraft into a very malleable game, something that could become almost anything to any number of different people.
I also put hundreds of hours into Minecraft, over several different platforms. Even now I have run a server between me and a few friends. I spent hours exploring the underground, I spent even longer building castles, towers, pirate ships and a very bad Death Star.
Minecraft inspired a whole generation of twitch streamers, Youtubers, developers and bootleg t-shirt makers. It’s influence is impossible to deny, and while I don’t have the time these days to invest into it like I did a decade ago, I still hugely appreciate this fantastic game. It’s just too bad that Super Duper Graphics Pack the for One X got scrapped.
#7: Star Wars: The Old Republic
Released in 2011 | Played on PC | Developed by BioWare Austin
There are not many video games out there that can make me buy a platform. The only two examples I can think of were picking up a Wii expressly to play Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and also getting a brand new, high end PC built for the sole purpose of playing the new Star Wars MMO; one that followed up the story started in Knights of the Old Republic.
I love Star Wars, and KOTOR is amongst my favourite video games of all time, so excitement and anticipation aren’t large enough words to describe how much I was looking forward to playing The Old Republic. And I wasn’t disappointed either.
The Old Republic was a gargantuan video game, combining all of the best aspects of an MMO with all of the most beloved aspects of the Knights RPGs that preceded them. While an MMO, The Old Republic leaned heavily into the story driven, dialogue heavy gameplay that made people fall in love with the other games in the series.
And then it went and multiplied it by eight. Each of the four character classes on both the Republic and Empire factions had totally unique stories, ones that ran alongside the overarching narrative being told, as well as all the side quests and companion quests along the way. And they were all good stories too.
It’s literally the only example I can think of not only playing eight different characters in a single video game, but also getting all of them to the maximum level. I did it because I wanted to see these individual stories play out. Playing an entire story where you follow an Imperial spy, bouncing from planet to planet, playing both sides of a conflict for personal gain was not something I ever knew I wanted.
And yet I loved the Agent’s storyline so much that he ended up becoming my main, as my Jedi Sage ended up being forgotten in favour of this James Bond-esque Chiss and his adventures. I loved the game so much that I even tried raiding. It ended up being a little more than I could handle, but I still had a go and that’s more than I can say for any other MMO I’ve played.
It’s been a good few years since I played The Old Republic, and it seems like the game is winding down now. But I still look back on that game incredibly fondly, as some of the best Star Wars content I’ve ever seen in movies, books or video games. And I really do hope this is not the end of the Old Republic in Disney’s new vision for the franchise.