2019 in Review and Region Free Gamers Turns 2!

2019 in Review and Region Free Gamers Turns 2!

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On January 11, 2018, a crew of four guys that had met on Instagram launched a podcast episode setting out their intent in joining the wide world of podcasts and also looking back on the amazing year in games that was 2017. In hindsight, that episode is more than a little rough, our audio quality leaving a lot of room for improvement, our verbal tics being quite prevalent, and the guys perhaps not being as mindful of taking up too much air time. But still, there was something worth pursuing there, and it is hard to imagine that this episode was the first time that we all actually spoke in person.

Two years later, we find ourselves looking back on our growth and the year in gaming that was 2019. Although two years may not seem like much, a lot has happened for the podcast. We have steadily built a community of loyal listeners and our episodes consistently hit a pretty good number of downloads. We have launched this website, which is still in its infancy, and we have launched The King of Games 98 tournament, which has allowed us to release an episode a week, which we thought was not possible just a year ago.

We have also added two new hosts to our rotation in Geoff and Anthony. Each of them brings an individual and idiosyncratic personality and voice that stands out. Geoff speaks passionately about the games he grew up loving and can even challenge Ozzy in ranting about a particular game he did not like (looking at you Bloodstained). Anthony brings his Bronx personality to the pod, with a comedian’s sensibility and a keen sense of pop culture history. It also helps that he is now the oldest member of the pod.

3/5 of the crew from the left: Arnie, Anthony and Ozzy repping Sony.

We also can’t ignore the elephant in the room, and that is that we are short one of our founding members in Masa. He brought a deep baritone voice, a strong loyalty for Nintendo and a willingness to “punch mother******* in the face.” We do not need or wish to go into details about why we parted ways, but rest assured that we would still love to bring him back for an episode if he is up to it. Certainly there is no better person to speak about the Dragon of Dojima. If you are reading this buddy, thank you for being an integral part of making this show happen.

This is all to say that we are very happy to be here, talking about the year that was 2019 with all of you. We say it often, but the best part of doing this is hearing from all of you that you tune in each week and that you appreciate what we are doing. So, from all of us, thank you!

With that said, here are each of our picks for our favorite game that we played in 2019 that was not from 2019, our runner-up favorite game of 2019 and, lastly, our favorite game of 2019. Here are each of our hosts talking about their picks.

Geoff

Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise

“Being a huge fan of the 80’s manga icon means I was always going to be intrigued by a FOTNS game. Combine that with a game from the Yakuza team and my expectations were sky high. Well, Lost Paradise absolutely delivered on it. Whilst the gameplay isn’t a huge step away from Yakuza, the world, setting, characters and utter ridiculous strength of Kenshiro all combined to a fun and memorable experience.  The usual side quests bloat up some of the time you spend in order to help you level up and the bizarre jobs you can pick up reek of laziness from the developers BUT it actually all adds to the joy and silliness that the world of the crack fist inhabits.  Aside from hunting down Yuria and trying to defeat his elder brother in order to bring some semblance of peace to the post-apocalyptic world, Buronson created a mostly over-the-top and ridiculous world and this game captures it perfectly.”

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

“To be honest, this game was always going to be near the top for me seeing as I’m a big SoulsBourne fan. However, it’s important to note that doesn’t mean I’m great at their games. And that’s where this game drops some points vs the Dark Souls of this world, you’ve got to be great at it to both enjoy and beat it. Sekiro is a gorgeous game, easily the best looking game FromSoftware has released to date. The story is deep and the characters are interesting and strangely fleshed out, considering who’s in the driving seat.  For most of the time it delivers a great challenge that gives you a sense of reward when you manage to defeat either a mid-level or “end stage” boss.  Unfortunately, the tried and tested gameplay of learning by failing goes against it more so than ever in Sekiro. Being a legendary Shinobi with a prosthetic limb giving you a range of helpful abilities would make you think you stand a fair chance of going toe to toe with the enemies in the game, but you start off a complete noob, so the sense of realism within the game world is immediately broken.  Is it fun to get your arse kicked by every boss 10 times before you nail it? Is it fun to spend 10 minutes having to perfectly deflect every attack?  After 40 hours, I’d have to say no.  All in all, it’s a top game from a consistent developer and I enjoyed it a lot but the beat downs I endured meant it failed to claim that top spot.”

Resident Evil 2

“A REMAKE, GOTY?!?! I hear you cry.  Yes, a remake of a 1998 game.  Yes, a story I know all too well from multiple play throughs of the original. Yes, a game with next to no originality on the surface. But you know what, I’m ready to say RE2 is quite possibly the greatest remake I’ve ever played.  Faithful to the excellent original game in terms of the story and locations (including the slightly jarring and pace changing final “chapter”) but with enough gameplay and environmental twists that wreak havok with your brain and ability to keep calm in a high stress situations. With an incessant monster chasing you down throughout the game and with the changes in lighting and enemy placement, there were enough moments to make me realise this wasn’t the same game from 1998, and whilst it pushed my nerves to their limits (I’m not the best with horror movies/games) I also played it with a smile on my face.

Even though I’m talking about a remake, this is further proof that Capcom is a ship pointing in the right direction, with a focus on quality content rather than obsessing over monetizing games within an inch of their life. Bring on Resident Evil 3!”

Anthony

Superhot VR

“PSVR has been out for over 3 years and my kids barely touched it. Then all of a sudden they got the bug and before I knew it, the whole house was dodging bullets, disabling bombs and arguing over why no one could do either in time. In the end, it was Superhot that really got us going and passing the headset around. A game that could easily be dismissed as a tech demo but a game that shows gameplay trumps graphics. You can play this game without VR but you’d be missing out on what makes this game great.”

Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order

“It was a tough call deciding between Jedi Fallen Order and Control but at the end of the day, Fallen Order gave me the most fun in 2019.  It reminded me so much of the Batman Arkham games, in terms of combat, giving me the thrill of being a badass Jedi. I also loved that you start off as a Jedi in a post Episode 3 timeframe. In the end, it just came down to fun. Control has great gameplay, a deep story and the real-time environmental damage to anything is impressive but, overall, Fallen Order just had more of the fun factor I was looking for.”

Arnie

Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door

“Probably my easiest pick. Loved it from start to finish! So many great aspects, from the characters, to the story, the music, the art style and the combat mechanics. They all come together to create an insanely enjoyable RPG that stands out even among modern offerings.”

Truberbrook

“An unexpected gem. Bought sight unseen, what I got was a lovely point and click adventure with a gorgeous aesthetic and incredibly fun writing. Always entertaining, with a good blend of puzzles that are fun and challenging at times, without being impossibly unfair. A must play for fans of the genre.”

Beat Saber

“More than anything, Beat Saber was my pick for GOTY because it offered a unique and enjoyable experience in a genre that I don’t generally enjoy (rhythm games) while making excellent use of the PSVR technology. This game would not be as fun as it is without VR, which instantly draws you in!”

Paul

Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE

“I selected Tokyo Mirage Sessions because it’s the closest I’ve been to playing bubble gum, and who doesn’t like bubble gum?”

Slay the Spire

“Killer Queen Black is the most raucous multiplayer game I’ve played in years, but it missed the cut for GOTY because I don’t feel like it could be directly hooked to my veins in the same way Slay The Spire can.”

Ozzy

Astro Bot: Rescue Mission

“Much comparison has been made between Astro Bot and Mario 64, and what each of them has done for the respective technologies. Not mentioned in that discussion is that Sony Japan’s Asobo Team has managed to craft a game that exudes happiness and charm that manages to stand toe to toe and even exceed Nintendo’s offerings in terms of personality. It is a game that, with the assistance of the PSVR technology makes my endorphins swim, and that is why it was my favorite non-2019 game I played last year.”

Devil May Cry V

“I distinctly recall the first time I saw the trailer for Devil May Cry. We were still riding the high from The Matrix and how it redefined action movies. In Devil May Cry, I saw that very same paradigm shift, with volatile, fast-paced and stylish action, wielded by a super cool protagonist. 18 years later, Dante made his return, with Nero and new character V in tow, and the game felt like a time capsule of the era that spawned the first game. It is pure adrenaline, with absolutely no filler. It certainly brought me much joy to see the series return to its roots, and even though I nowadays crave a little bit more story in my games, Devil May Cry’s future seems absolutely bright.”

The Outer Worlds

“I have been thoroughly unsatisfied with the work that Bethesda has put out the past few years and I thought that perhaps their brand of RPGs had simply grown stale. Turns out all I needed was for Obsidian to take back the reins they handled so well in Fallout: New Vegas, this time with Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky, the creators of Fallout, on directing duty. This game’s wit is sharp, the gunplay is fantastic and it offers a brand new world that manages to put a fresh spin on frontier life. I had a terrific time with it and was my favorite game of 2019.”

Well, that does it, those are our games of 2019. Make sure to listen to our episode and let us know what you thought. And of course, let us know what your game of the year was in the comments below.

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