Our individual Game of the Year articles allow our lovely team of writers to share their own personal PS5 and PS4 picks for 2023. Today, it's the turn of reviewer Jamie O'Neill.
I've waxed lyrical many times about how Capcom's 1989 Strider is one of my personal favourite games ever, so the long awaited console release of Mitchell's previously unconverted 1996 coin-op title, Cannon Dancer, was genuinely one of my most anticipated games of 2023. Strider led me to be fascinated by Kouichi Yotsui as a Japanese game designer, so I also spent many more hours than most gamers playing PS3 Moon Diver. Cannon Dancer's acrobatically animated sprites and detailed, ethereal 2D backgrounds have aged magnificently, so hats off to artists like Kiyoshi Utata, and Mitchell's arcade team for creating a worthy spiritual successor to Strider.
4. Dead Space
Of course, it's the tense, tread carefully gameplay, and the swanky, spit-shined PS5 remake's graphics, but with Motive Studios' 2023 Dead Space I especially enjoyed the way its story, setting and lore sucked me into a blissful black hole of sci-fi media, and interstellar horror appreciation. I sandwiched returning to the USG Ishimura in-between repeated views of both the animated Dead Space: Downfall prequel, and the Dead Space: Aftermath films. My outer spooky space nostalgia for the 2008 PS3 game was expanded, so even though it's a tenuous link, revisiting Dead Space brought back fond memories of an interview I carried out with Firesprite about The Persistence back in 2018. Dead Space's sci-fi horror vibe also convinced me to re-watch Event Horizon, too.
Take into account that Blazing Chrome featured in my top five PS4 games of 2019, and combine this with how editor Sammy Barker had me sold in the introduction of his Mini Review of Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider by describing it as "a white-knuckle mix of Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master on SEGA Genesis and Mega Man X on the Super Nintendo." I blatantly adore retro arcade games, and in an interview with Nintendo Life, JoyMasher's lead developer Danilo Dias explained that, "The idea is to try to simulate the arcade experience that older games used to present." Fair play to this talented Brazilian studio, because it's nailed the arcade presentation and flow of the 16-bit era.
I've chosen an Insomniac Games title in my Push Square Game of the Year list four times out of the last six years, so the studio has easily cemented itself as my favourite modern video game developer. This admiration not only includes 2021's Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, but also the first 2018 Marvel's Spider-Man and 2020's Miles Morales, so Insomniac's Spider-Man series now ranks as highly as Rocksteady's Batman: Arkham franchise in my eyes, which is strong praise indeed. The very best thing about Marvel's Spider-Man 2, though, was bonding with my 81 year old stepdad as we compared our progress, and I watched him advantageously use his PlayStation Portal to slingshot launch past me in completing the game.
I love 2D art styles, so including Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider above, I made myself a list of fun but sometimes forgotten 2023 pixel art games like Bat Boy, Double Dragon Gaiden: Rise of the Dragons, Full Void, Lunark and Revita. Yet, it's Blasphemous II that's the graphical pinnacle of this year's pixel art with its sumptuous visuals. Obviously, Blasphemous II's difficult, but if you can't stand the heat, get out of The Game Kitchen. In a similar way to how I mentioned Strider earlier as one of my most fondly remembered games, Blasphemous II reminded me of another of my personal all-time favourites, and it's a huge compliment that I speak about it in the same revered tones as PS1 Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.
What do you think of Jamie's personal Game of the Year picks? Feel free to agree wholeheartedly, or berate relentlessly in the comments section below.