Our individual Game of the Year articles allow our lovely team of writers to share their own personal PS5 and PS4 picks for 2021. Today, it's the turn of retro specialist Jamie O'Neill.
Like in the Weezer lyrics, whenever I replay the first two Euro-style 2D run-and-gun Turrican games the memories make me want to go back there, because recalling the younger me playing Amiga games with friends and family was a retro experience that filled me with delight. Chris Huelsbeck's tunes were obviously a big part of this joy, but it was also the fond memories of Super Turrican from its re-release on Wii Virtual Console, as well as feeling elation when I beat Mega Turrican without using continues to discover the Mega Drive game is the true highlight of the series. Turrican Flashback also bolstered my excitement for the release of the A500 Mini in 2022.
Nostalgia is the main fuel for my retro gaming appreciation engine, and I found playing the 32 games specifically included in the Capcom Arcade Stadium Packs 1, 2, and 3 to be deeply nostalgic. It felt like a historical journey through CP System arcade technology, with previously unconverted games like 19XX: The War Against Destiny, and Progear being a high point for finally coming to console. 1989 was the year when I went from being a fan of video games to becoming somewhat obsessive about gaming, and Capcom's releases embody this with titles like Final Fight, plus one of my personal favourite games of all time, Strider.
In 2021 I've become fascinated with Ratalaika releasing Mega Drive shoot-'em-ups like Gynoug and Gleylancer that offer a rewind function to achieve easy Platinums to entice gamers into experiencing retro games. I came to the conclusion that bringing new players to old games is a good thing, but I also hope those people stick around to see how far they can progress based upon skill alone. I believe you can love a game without even beating it, and Returnal epitomises skill based progression. Considering Housemarque's Bloodhouse roots in shmups like Amiga Stardust from 1993, I find advancing just a smidge further by dodging neon bullets in Returnal's technically wonderful PS5 light show genuinely satisfying.
Initially, I found the 11 minute gameplay first look of Guardians of the Galaxy to be a highlight of E3 2021, but I allowed myself to follow the flock of internet doubters, and I subsequently started to bleat that it may end up being disappointing like Marvel's Avengers. I was happy for Eidos Montreal to prove me wrong, as Gardeners of the Galaxy turned out to be the most pleasant superhero gaming surprise since Batman: Arkham Asylum. It also fits nicely with Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales being one of my favourite games of last year, which conveniently links to my number one pick of 2021.
2016 was a great year for Ratchet & Clank, with an animated film I enjoyed more than expected, and the remake being one of my favourite games of the eighth console generation. Insomniac Games expanded upon the remake's triumphs in 2021, and I'll remember Rift Apart as a showpiece title for PS5's first year. While the impressive technology is showy rather than gameplay defining, I nonetheless loved the visual gimmick of SSD diving between varied environments. I find a lot of comfort from Rift Apart bursting in colour and fun to top this list, and it's not a coincidence that run-and-gun gameplay in a sci-fi setting is a running theme throughout my Game of the Year picks.
What do you think of Jamie's personal Game of the Year picks? Feel free to agree or berate in the comments section below.