Marcus’ 2017 Game of the Year Picks


2017 was a year full of high-profile sequels and brand new franchises. And, as has been increasingly the case, I primarily strayed from the path of triple A titles. Of course, there were still a few huge games that snuck onto my list. There were tons of excellent games out this year and I’m going to highlight ten of my favorites!


Friday the 13th the Game

Between horror series classics Friday the 13th, Halloween, and A Nightmare on Elm Street, I’ve always found Friday the 13th less engaging than the rest. Yet it was this official game based on the property which hooked me early on. Sure, there were a ton of server issues and glitches, but I couldn’t stop firing up matches.


Higurashi When They Cry Hou – Ch. 5 Meakashi

Higurashi continues to be an intense visual novel experience chapter after chapter. After four chapters explaining the murderous tragedy taking place in Hinamizawa, Ch. 5 finally treats players to the Answer Arc. Anyone looking for a creepy, complex mystery tale should check out Higurashi.


The Lion’s Song

Apparently The Lion’s Song is an episodic series I totally missed out on when it was originally coming out. Fortunately, I caught up with it once a “complete” edition launched. This lovely adventure game provides an anthology of tales focused on different creative types (painters, mathematicians, etc).


Resident Evil 7 biohazard

Once upon a time Resident Evil was one of my favorite horror franchises. This peaked with Resident Evil 4 and then came crashing down as the series proceeded beyond that point. Resident Evil 7 briefly hooked me again with its tense atmosphere and gameplay.


Snake Pass

I love a good platformer and Snake Pass is exactly that. It also managed to totally change the formula by making the protagonist snake control in snake-like fashion. Gripping and twisting are key mechanics of sidling up platforms/bars/etc. and easily become second nature.


Super Mario Odyssey

My love of the Mario realm began with Super Mario World and ended with Super Mario 64. None of the subsequent console releases elicited any joy from me – until Super Mario Odyssey. The bright colors, cutesy world and great gameplay make this the pinnacle of platformers.


Sweetest Monster

Ebi-hime is one of my favorite EVN authors to follow these days, and Sweetest Monster is my favorite of their games so far. It shares the story of a husband in a strained marriage and moves from meeting stereotypical expectations of such a story to something absolutely insidious.


Umineko When They Cry – Answer Arcs

Umineko When They Cry didn’t 100% blow me away in the Question Arcs. However, the Answer Arcs provide an incredible ride from start to finish. Even with more explanations come more tantalizing questions and scenarios. Now that the series is complete, it’s a must play for visual novel fans.


Wonderful Everyday

I had no idea what to expect with Wonderful Everyday. After applying the patch to the Steam version (which unlocks about 80% of the game) it goes from an offbeat yuri tale to something astonishing, disgusting, and ultimately excellent. I savored everything, even the horror it inflicted on me because no game has ever caused me to feel such a range of emotions so intensely before.


Yakuza 0

Yakuza is a series I  can’t help but love. Of course, Yakuza 0 was one of my first favorite releases of 2017. It’s great to finally see the game on PS4, even if the core mechanics and storytelling style remain mostly unchanged since its origins. The formula just works!

My 10 Most Influential Games: Rule of Rose

Rule of Rose Featured


Rule of Rose Image

I found myself fascinated with Rule of Rose before it even released on PS2. It was certainly no secret that games often launched in Japan prior to North America, but never before had I felt the need to play a title as soon as it hit Japan in early 2016. Yet, here I was, with a Japanese copy of Rule of Rose about a month after its Japanese launch. Fortunately for me, the game was not heavy on written text and cutscenes were actually in English to begin with.

What was it that initially drew me to pick up Rule of Rose? It most likely had to do with the Japanese trailers that made their way out prior to launch. It’s pretty similar to the footage shown in Atlus USA’s trailer, as shown below. The key things that hooked me were that it was a horror game with style, it featured an almost exclusively female cast, and seemed to be pushing the envelope.

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Marcus’s 2016 Game of the Year Picks

The House in Fata Morgana Featured

Marcus Only

It’s no secret that 2016 was quite the year for many of us. While there was a lot of negativity in the air, it also proved to be an immensely positive – and busy – time for myself. Between finally graduating college and getting more seriously into working at an office, there was both more and less time for gaming than ever before.

In compared to previous years, my urge to play almost anything AAA disappeared. Heavy hitters such as DOOM completely passed me by, though they’re still on my radar. Indie darlings such as Stardew Valley and Inside were also missed simply due to not playing much beyond my stable of review titles for Hardcore Gamer. Still, I did play some things! Here’s a look at my favorites in no particular order.

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Is the Vita Dead? Not As Far as I Can Tell!

Amnesia: Memories Featured

So, by this point we’ve all probably heard the comment that the PlayStation Vita is a “legacy system.” Of course, there was also the update that this was just a misunderstanding and only meant to refer to the original version of the system. With that said, the reason this statement made news was because Vita fans do feel this is Sony’s true opinion on the console. It launched in 2012 (in the U.S.) and rarely sees much attention in press conferences.

Even if Sony has mostly abandoned the device with first party support, third parties are absolutely dominating the handheld. Just as they did with the PSP before, niche companies are bringing their wares to the system and finding a devoted audience. Here is a list of some of the games coming soon which make me excited to be a Vita owner.

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Marcus’s Favorite Games That Didn’t Actually Launch in 2014

I play far more video games than any person should in a year time span. Despite this, one person could still never hope to play everything out there. Along the way I miss a great deal of new releases – but also have an immense backlog to chip into! As such, today I’m presenting a list of the coolest games I played this year that came out prior to 2014. Some are fairly recent while others not so much, but all are worth celebrating!

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Marcus’s Off the Beaten Path 2014 Game of the Year Picks

Marcus Only

Last year I didn’t quite understand the need for “Game of the Year” awards and this year I’m still of the same mindset. It’s great fun to celebrate what we believe are the best titles released in a year time span – but often those choices seem far too constrained across big media outlets. With that said, it does seem like this year includes more lists full of different choices and that’s exciting!

I’ve already posted a top 10 GOTY list for Game Podunk, but a few titles were either played too late or above an M rating. And a few, well, maybe I just forgot… How can you forget a favorite game of the year? When you play over 200 in 365 days it can become seriously challenging! Here’s a few titles to complete my personal GOTY awards.

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Marcus’s Favorite Games That Didn’t Actually Launch in 2013

With video games being my number one past-time, I’m almost always playing one. Often, they’re for review, but sometimes they’re just for fun. Shocking, right? Of course, this year also saw an exciting new friendship with GOG which has allowed me to begin chipping away at their excellent catalog. So really, even though we just passed through 2013 there were many great experiences I had with games from years back. This post will honor some of the favorite games I played this year that came out prior to 2013. They deserve as much attention as 2013-specific releases!

The 11th Hour Screenshot

The 11th Hour (1995)

Okay, I’ll admit, The 11th Hour is much more of a media showcase from the early 90s than a quantifiably good game. But I love it all the same. Why? It’s simple – the story is completely ridiculous and acted like a B movie. In fact, it practically is a film with some 45 minutes of FMV. Poking at tough puzzles is annoying, as are the repeated ones from The 7th Guest, but wow the acting is goofy enough to make it all worth it. Definitely play through to the three endings. All of them are awful, but at least two are out of this world.

Cook, Serve, Delicious! Screenshot 1

Cook, Serve, Delicious! (2012)

Games that have to do with food always manage to attract me. I’m not a gourmand by any stretch of the imagination, but something about them is totally appealing! Cook, Serve, Delicious! is exactly the kind of food game I love. You assume the role of a chef, cooking a wide variety of meals in a frenzied kitchen. But the game even goes further than that, allowing you to choose the menu, stock your kitchen, and more.

Escape Goat Featured

Escape Goat (2011)

Puzzle platformers are extremely hit or miss. With such a massive amount of them cluttering up gaming libraries everywhere, it can be hard to hone in on the “good” ones. Escape Goat isn’t just good, it’s phenomenal. Playing as an oddly colored goat, you must platform through increasingly difficult rooms. How can you make it? That’s where the puzzles come in, as you often must use the aid of a mouse to make it out alive. It’s tons of fun that has even warranted an upcoming sequel!

Long Live the Queen Featured

Long Live the Queen (2012)

Have you ever wanted the title of Queen (or King)? Well, sorry to say, but it’s not all it seems cracked up to be in Long Live the Queen. Here, you play as a princess preparing to assume the throne. Prepare her by studying various topics, ranging from court manners to naval war strategies. The fun/frustration comes in when events occur which test her fortitude. If you’ve skewed her in the wrong topics, then oops, the princess is dead! This is one title that takes a lot of work to beat but is very much worth playing because of the fun you’ll have working toward victory.

Nancy Drew: Secret of the Scarlet Hand Screenshot

Nancy Drew: Secret of the Scarlet Hand (2002)

Here’s a series that most gamers have completely ignored over the years. Heck, so did I! Granted, I never had any deep love for the Nancy Drew books (or mysteries at all) but it was with great luck that I played Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Kill on a whim. It led me to realize this was an excellent point and click adventure series! In Nancy Drew: Secret of the Scarlet Hand, you visit a museum at the time that everything goes completely wrong. Learning about Mayan culture, taking real notes for clues, and seeing how the mystery unfolds is entertaining. If you ever see any Nancy Drew games in a bargain bin, do yourself a favor and pick them up!

Spelunky Screenshot

Spelunky (2009)

I am someone who tends to find video games from a great variety of genres difficult. In fact, my only area of expertise is rhythm/music games. Spelunky is hard – not just for me – but for everyone who plays. As a cute little spelunker, you must traverse caves, forests, and more. Survival is dependent on careful management of resources and skillful killing of enemies. Oh, and sometimes luck. This platformer is incredibly tough, but a ton of fun to spend hours with.

Theme Park Featured

Theme Park (1994)

When I was younger, my friends all talked about Roller Coaster Tycoon as the perfect game. I never had it. Instead, I enjoyed Sim Theme Park. Little did I know however that it was a sequel to Theme Park. Visiting it for the first time after all these years proved a tough, but highly entertaining experience. The park plot is simply enormous and there are tons of things to research and build. With adorable graphics that really sell the kitsch theme park vibe (burger stands being giant burgers, hello!), it’s hard to dislike this one.

VVVVVV Screenshot

VVVVVV (2010)

In the last generation, we saw a trend toward increasingly cruel and difficult platformers. Super Meat Boy is perhaps the most well known of this subgenre and deservedly so. However, VVVVVV is another worthwhile (and frankly more accessible) version of these game types. The player bounds around through stages to find their friends scattered throughout stages. Along the way, the platforming gets quite creative – and frustrating! Still, I was able to beat it which proves this is not one of those “impossible” games.

Wing Commander II Featured

Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi (1991)

Oh my goodness. Who knew a space-focused action game over twenty years old would still be so compelling? Wing Commander II is an exciting sci-fi tale about a disgraced pilot and an alien race bent on galactic domination. It might not win any awards for creativity, but darn if it isn’t an incredibly fun (if tough) trip. The game beefed up storyline and character personalities over the original but retained that super cool cockpit view for action sequences. Blasting away at the enemy is as stressful as it is exciting, even with “retro” graphics.

Wizorb Screenshot

Wizorb (2011)

Arcade games are loved because they were mostly bringing very simple concepts with so-called “addictive” gameplay to players. The block-breaking game Arkanoid (and its may copies) are some of my favorites out there. Wizorb takes the concept of block-breaking but does even more with it. Now, the world is a retro-styled RPG where you can buy items and power-ups for your ball/paddle. Suddenly, there are enemies mulling about the game screen, tweaking the classic formula. Everything also happens to have a gorgeous pixel art style about it. These simple twists add a new layer of fun to what was already a good concept and I adore Wizorb for it!

Marcus’s Off the Beaten Path Game of the Year Picks

Marcus Only

For some reason, the gaming world always gets into a frenzy about “Game of the Year” awards. Although they are unnecessary, I do find them to have some use. It’s a great way to show people games they may have missed out on during the year! I’ve already created a top 10 list for Game Podunk but (for various reasons) kept a few separate so they could be written about here. In no particular order, here are some games I loved that (almost entirely) came out in 2013.

The Cat Lady Featured

The Cat Lady

Soooo… The Cat Lady came out in December of 2012, making it technically not fit into a 2013 list. However, it nearly came out this year and only recently saw a Steam release so there! In any case, this is an incredible adventure game. It’s not point and click, but close enough as you navigate left and right with arrow keys. Solving puzzles is usually not tough, but the main point of playing is to see the dark story unfold. Protagonist Susan is in a very unique situation and I simply needed to get through her entire journey.

Kara No Shojo Featured

Kara no Shojo

It’s no secret that I love visual novels and this was one of the couple that I jumped on for its English release this year. Since most of the lot I play deal with high school students, it was interesting to assume the role of a tired detective. His search into a string of murders was compelling, and the need to catch the culprit was my drive to continue playing. Even after figuring it all out, I went back to play more and uncover even more.

Queers in love at the end of the world

queers in love at the end of the world

This is a super short Twine game that was created for a Ludum Dare competition. The world is about to end in ten seconds and you, the player, are spending them with the person you love. How do you spend those final precious seconds of existence? I fumbled with my choice, hurried to read as if that would stop time, but then the game ends. The experience stuck in my mind and I want others to experience it too.

See No Evil Featured

See No Evil 

The world of visual novels and dating sims is immense, but there’s very little available in English that targets any part of the LGBT audience. See No Evil is one of these titles, with its focus on romanceable bara characters, it caters toward gay men primarily. But it’s not just an exercise in eroticism. Alongside mostly simple point and click gameplay stood engaging characters that you wanted to see “live happily ever after”. Actually obtaining the good end is tricky, but left me feeling completely satisfied.

Ten Games Worth Buying on Steam’s Greenlight Anniversary Sale

Greenlight Anniversary Sale

Greenlight Anniversary Sale

Steam Greenlight is an initiative by Valve to try to get more independently produced games through to the official marketplace. It’s such a big deal because, while indie developers can sell games themselves, it is on Steam where they will tend to make the most money (except in very rare circumstances). Although Greenlight is far from perfect, it has gotten a handful of really cool games well-deserved attention.

Greenlight’s first anniversary has come and now Valve has selected fifty Greenlight successes for a sale. But what games should you actually check out? If you’re unsure, take a look at the list of our recommendations below!

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4 Upcoming Otome Games to Look Forward To

Hakuoki Featured

Hakuoki Featured

What is an “otome game”? Basically, it is a specific style of visual novel games where you play as a woman and have the opportunity to pursue relationships with other characters. Generally, the other characters will be guys, but not always! In any case, the genre has existed for a long time in Japan but has always been fairly rare in America. All the same, we have seen some publishers brave enough to bring their otome titles to the West (to great response)!

We’ve decided to put together a list of upcoming otome games that we’re personally looking forward to. Some are titles you’ll be able to get on a console, while others are independent PC titles. Regardless of where you get them though otome games are worth supporting. So let’s take a look at four upcoming titles!

Leah’s Picks

Hakuoki Screenshot

Hakuoki: Memories of the Shinsengumi

Thanks to Aksys bringing over Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom, it has been proven that there is indeed a market for otome games in the West. Now, 3DS gamers will be able to have some fun with the handsome men of the Shinsengumi as well! Memories of the Shinsengumi not only includes the original story of Demon of the Fleeting Blossom, but also expands upon it with six new side-stories. Along with a 3D-viewing mode and a photobooth mode, this makes Memories of the Shinsengumi a must-have if you’re a fan of otome games and visual novels.


Sweet Fuse: At Your Side

Aksys strikes again! Like the Hakuoki series, Sweet Fuse: At Your Side seems to be very fast-paced and action-packed (it also reminds me a lot of 999 and Virtue’s Last Reward). Its premise is a tad siller, though. Basically, you are Keiji Inafune’s neice, Saki, and you’re visiting your uncle’s brand new theme park. Unfortunately, the evil Count Hogstein takes the famous game developer hostage and incites a “deadly series of games.”  It’s up to Saki and a group of good-looking men to save the day. Sweet Fuse boasts fourteen different endings, puzzles, and a chance at love with the aforementioned guys.

Marcus’s Picks

Backstage Pass Screenshot

Backstage Pass

Developer Sakevisual have been around for a while and already produced a handful of games. With titles like Jisei, RE: Alistair++, and Ripples, you can already get a taste of what they bring to the visual novel scene. Backstage Pass is itself a semi-sequel to RE:A++ and focuses on college student Sian who is trying to balance her job and school life. Thanks to her makeup artist job, she comes into contact with a handful of Hollywood-type hunks. There are four dateable men and sixteen different endings.


Jacob’s Island

Jacob’s Island is a different sort of game, where the main focus is not on dating, but experiencing the story of Kenna, who is one of the last humans among fantastical beings. As she learns more about herself, players may choose to date one of the multiple characters along the way. This game is being funded through Kickstarter and still requires a few thousand dollars to be a success. If you’d really like to play it then check out the demo and consider helping them out.