Alongside our staff-voted Game of the Year awards, each of our writers have crafted their own personal lists, covering their top five PlayStation 4 titles of 2019. Today, it's the turn of reviewer Jamie O'Neill.
In a similar way to Blazing Chrome, the pixel art in The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors feels like the continuation of SNES style visuals, but with detail, effects and general 2D pizzazz beyond the capabilities of the 16-bit era. I spent a lot of time with The Ninja Warriors Again on Super Famicom, so I hotly anticipated Tengo Project's terrific remaster of the SNES side-scrolling beat-'em-up, and it also inspired me to play the original 1987 The Ninja Warriors as part of Arcade Archives on PS4 to get a feel for the series while enjoying this fan-pleasing release.
4. Shenmue III
Following E3 2015's three big surprises, The Last Guardian met my expectations, and Final Fantasy VII Remake looks set to impress in 2020, but Shenmue III seemed like it faced the greatest struggle to release, by mixing ambition with development by a smaller studio. I was excited when my Kickstarter pledge arrived in the post, but I purposefully chose not to rush, as the sedate setting of Bailu Village was so relaxing that I returned to it on a spare save slot even after I'd reached the bustle of Niaowu. Shenmue III makes my Top 5 list through admiration of Ys Net's determination to ensure that this game even exists.
I've been a big fan of side-scrolling run-and-gun games since discovering Contra in a seaside arcade around 1987, and Blazing Chrome really impressed me with its intense 2D action and set-pieces. It clearly takes inspiration from the genre's classics of the 16-bit era -- not just in its visual style, but JoyMasher took the gameplay mechanics like hanging underneath platforms, juggling weapons and the feel of the controls, all mashed together from the framework of the brilliant Contra III: The Alien Wars. I know I'll be playing Blazing Chrome as a quality run-and-gun game for years to come.
Capcom's triumph was in maintaining the atmosphere and feel of the 1998 game's template -- including backtracking to uncover mysterious statue puzzles, and searching for codes and keys -- yet updated with extra PS4 graphical oomph, and gameplay enhancements viewed through a modern third-person perspective. The claustrophobic design of the Raccoon Police Department is daunting, but keeps you exploring, as the hallways interweave and wind back together. The incredible tension ensures you stay nervy, with Lickers crawling on dark ceilings, while the Tyrant's daunting footsteps hound you around every corner. Resident Evil 2 has set a new standard for future retro remakes.
There's a running thread of nostalgia and retro themed games throughout my 2019 Game of the Year picks, and playing PSone Crash Team Racing alongside the gorgeous yet authentic remake is one of my favourite gaming memories of 2019. After buzzing from Nitro-Fueled at launch, I returned for bonus tracks like Prehistoric Playground, which pleasantly reminded me of Mario Kart: Double Dash!!'s wonderful Dino Dino Jungle. Plus, another extra track called Twilight Tour has an Egyptian themed music section that sounds like The Offspring's guitar riff in Come Out And Play, which is just one of many reasons that I love this kart racing game.
Do you agree with Jamie's personal Game of the Year picks? Whatever your opinion, feed us your thoughts in the comments section below.