Cary’s Best Games of 2023 SO FAR Awards Show!

Around this time of year, I like to make a list of my best games SO FAR, because usually the AAA titles are released later in the year during the holiday season, and the titles that came out earlier tend to be forgotten.  So here’s when those games get their due.  Keep in mind that this is my list only and no other outside opinions contributed.  And if a game isn’t on this list, it either just didn’t appeal to me as much or I haven’t had a chance to play it yet.  Ok with that out of the way, let’s begin!


Theatrhythm Final Bar Line (PS4)

I really like these music games, since they feature Final Fantasy music, some of the best songs ever.  The first one was even my GOTY way back when it was released.  After I played this home console version, I realized that they only made this one since they can’t make money off the 3DS versions anymore.  In fact some parts of the 3DS games are better, but it’s still pretty much the same game. But I still really like this series a lot so it gets the award.  I’m really glad I got to play the arcade version.  Shame we never got the Dragon Quest version that came out only in Japan.  Later this year we’ll get a new Samba de Amigo game so we’ll see if it beats this one.  Before Taiko Drum Master came out, Samba de Amigo was my favorite music game.  I still have my maraca controllers in the box under my bed!


Metroid Prime Remastered (Switch)

This is always the biggest category because I like classic arcade collections and remakes.  Even if I do get tired of how many there are on the Switch.  When I first got Metroid Prime on GameCube, I didn’t think I’d like it, since I’m not a big FPS fan.  But boy I sure did like it!  While I didn’t notice a significant change in the remastered version, it has been a long time since I played it last, so maybe I’m just remembering it better than what it was.  I still say it looked pretty good for a GameCube game.  Metroid Prime Remastered has that addictive quality that not too many games have anymore.  If you missed out on this one, you really should play it.  I’m glad I got the physical version!

Runners Up:

Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection (PS4)

I hate how Capcom advertised it had ten games, since it counted each version of some of the sequels.  But it’s still a good collection of the first six games here.  I really only played through the first three back in the day, but my brother Jeff sure loved them.  I think they could’ve added more to this, like the GameCube Network Transmission game, the Battle Chip Challenge card game, and the 3DS Star Force games.  But maybe they’re saving that for the sequel.  Capcom’s done that before!

Zool Redimensioned (PS4)

Back in the 90s, 2-D mascot platformers were all the rage, thanks to Sonic.  There were so many that I got downright tired of them and skipped out on quite a few.  Also this was about the time I was really big into 16-bit RPGs like Final Fantasy and Chrono Trigger, so yeah.  Anyway, one of these mascot platformers I missed out on was Zool.  He was a ninja gremlin guy who tromped around 2-D levels based on themes like candy, tools, toys, music, and more.  Zool was on pretty much all the consoles at the time, but hasn’t been heard from since.  There’s a rumor that the infamously bad Wii game Ninjabread Man was originally going to be a 3-D Zool title, but I’m not 100 percent sure on that.  Anyway, now Zool is back on some modern consoles and PC with all sorts of new modes and features.  Now that I’ve played it, I have to say I didn’t think this one was THAT bad.  Kind of reminded me of Jazz Jackrabbit, a 2-D mascot platformer I did like back then.

Kirby’s Return to Dreamland Deluxe (Switch)

I have to be honest here.  As of this writing, I haven’t gotten this game yet.  I’m going to save this one for people to get for me for Christmas or birthday.  So why did I put it on the list?  Well I played the original on the Wii, and it was a darn good game and led the way for two of the best single player Kirby games on the 3DS (Triple Deluxe and Planet Robobot).  And this Deluxe version adds neat new things.  But even though I’m a huge Kirby fan, I didn’t feel like paying full price for it.  I can wait to get it for a holiday.

We Love Katamari Reroll Royal Reverie (Switch)

I love the Katamari games so this one goes on here.  They say they added some new levels featuring the young King of All Cosmos, but it’s really just five of the same levels with slightly different rules.  I used to not want a brand new Katamari game, since Namco kind of beat that series into the ground.  But I think we’re ready for a new one now.  And when I say new, have different locations to roll around in other than mostly Japan.  Maybe different time periods like rolling around dinosaurs or medieval castles.  Or maybe roll up characters in Namco worlds like Pac-Land or Soul Calibur?

Ray’z Arcade Chronology (PS4)

This is a collection of Taito’s “Ray” series of shooters.  There’s only three of them, but only three were ever made.  You’ve got RayForce, RayStorm, and RayCrisis.  I never really spent much time with these beforehand (and I call myself a Taito fan), but after playing these now, I came away pleasantly surprised.  I’ll have a full review of this one up at a later date.


Trinity Trigger (Switch)

This is actually an action RPG, but I liked it so I’m putting it here.  It plays like Secret of Mana (three people can even play at the same time) and has GameCube era graphics and style.  I used to love playing games like this, and they really nailed that classic feeling here.


Puzzle Bobble Everybubble (Switch)

I freaking love Puzzle Bobble.  It’s one of my top three favorite puzzle games, right on up there with Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo and plain ol’ Tetris.  It’s actually a spin-off of the arcade classic Bubble Bobble, but this is one case where the spin-off ended up being more popular than the original game it was based on!  The series was originally called Bust-A-Move in the US, but I’m so glad they changed it back recently because I hated that name.  Puzzle Bobble just makes more sense.  Also, this is one type of game that gets heavily imitated on cell phone devices.  I bet Taito wished they would’ve gotten some kind of stricter patent or something (not sure how that works), but their game isn’t entirely original itself either.  Anyway, the newest game in the series: Puzzle Bobble Everybubble is now available on Switch!

And now for the best game of the year SO FAR.  Taiko drum roll please…


The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom (Switch)

Of course this one’s no surprise.  As much as I ragged on Breath of the Wild, I still spent more than 60 hours on it and beat it, so I must’ve liked it somewhat.  The sequel certainly improves on some things, like better dungeons, bosses, and progression.  But there are three main reasons why I made this one my GOTY SO FAR.

One is that it has that addictive quality that makes you just want to keep playing.  Just like Metroid Prime Remastered that I mentioned earlier.  Two is the building gameplay mechanic, which allows for lots of creativity.  I like to call it “The Legend of Zelda: Nuts & Bolts.”


But the third reason is a little silly.  In the first game, you could ride horses, and you can in this one, too.  In BotW, I got a horse and named it Turbo Horse, like I always do.  The name Turbo Horse comes from an inside joke my brother Jeff and I have.  I have told this story here before.  Anyway, in the last battle in BotW, you have to fight a giant pig monster Ganon, and you start out the battle on your horse.  Well the camera angles here were so bad that I couldn’t see where I was going and he stomped my horse flat and killed it!  And since it was at the end of the game, I couldn’t resurrect my horse with the Horse God.  But in Tears of the Kingdom, the game reads your save file from Breath of the Wild, and lets you carry over your horses from that game.  And since Turbo Horse was on there, technically they pretty much brought him back to life!  Yay!


But while I like Tears of the Kingdom a lot, it definitely has a lot of problems, too.  Breakable weapons (nobody likes that, Nintendo), confusing controls, and unintuitive gameplay mechanics are the three main culprits.  And as of this writing, I just reached a huge difficulty spike in the game which has stalled my progress.  I hope this doesn’t end up being like Metroid Dread where I’m not able to beat it because it gets too hard.  So Tears of the Kingdom may not make it to be my GOTY at the end of the year.  Especially since the June Nintendo Direct had so many great games that’ll be released by the end of the year that could topple it.  Stuff like the Detective Pikachu sequel, new WarioWare game, Super Mario RPG remake, and Super Mario Bros. Wonder.  But we’ll just have to see!

And that’s all for my list.  In the comments section, let me know what you think of my pics, and tell me YOUR favorite games of the year SO FAR.  Later!  –Cary

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