Top Games of 2023

2023 was an interesting year in gaming for me. I spent a large chunk at the beginning of the year not really playing anything, and taking large breaks between games when I did end up playing things. And then, unexpectedly, I got walloped with a game with would become my obsession for three months and counting (I’m still nursing a fourth playthrough for fear of letting it take over my time completely once again). I rarely ever consider one game my GOTY, or my singular favourite because I don’t rank or sort experiences that I find worthwhile. They all have merits that make them unique and wonderful. But this year, one game from 2023 joined my very short list of favourite games of all time, and I have to acknowledge that.

As with every year previous, I’ve organized two lists of my top ten favourite game experiences. My first list is my ten personal favourite games released in 2023, with honourable mentions (in reverse chronological order):

  • Saltsea Chronicles – I have a weird irrational fear of artificial structures in bodies of water. Not a fear of water, or diving, or sea life, or of anything natural in the nautical world, just structures that we humans have made and plonked down in the water. Especially large artificial structures, everything from giant tanker ships to sunken buildings. Thus flooded cities are nightmare fuel for me. This fear renders Saltsea Chronicles an ideal setting for a post-apocalyptic world because the flooded world becomes something that feels truly foreboding and mysterious, something that I both want to escape but that I still want to know more about. And that makes a human story of relationships, human fears, hopes and dreams all the more powerful and poignant to me. It turns a little mystery into a grand adventure with tension always at the margins. Beyond my personal fears, Saltsea Chronicles is a wonderful character driven story that unfolds like a bedtime story read from a picture book. Sadly, it’s my first game from Die Gute Fabrik because Mutazione always felt like something I want to play on a device bigger than my phone, and I only tried playing it on Apple Arcade. My love of the experience had in Saltsea Chronicles makes me want to finally dive into Mutazione as soon as possible.

  • Harmony: The Fall of Reverie - I think I played more visual novels in 2023 than any previous year, and it’s been a very satisfying year for game narratives as a result. It’s also been a great year for Queer characters and stories, as a result. Something I discovered about myself was that I never expected to enjoy pouring over charts and causality nodes to the degree I did this year. Harmony: The Fall of Reverie is one of two DONTNOD games released this year, and easily my favourite of the two (although the second gets a honourable mention below). The gam follows the character Polly, who also assumes the role of Harmony, an Oracle for what are called Aspirations. The game is a politically charged anti-capitalist story that attempts to explore various human desires, drives and motivators. It’s about many things thanks to it’s branching paths, but my story was largely about community, trust and the bonds we make with others that support us in the face of tragedy, corruption and persecution. Harmony: The Fall of Reverie was both gut wrenching and cathartic and It complimented several of the other games I played this year thematically. It also has a stellar cast, including a number of actors from some of my favourite games (DA:O, BG3) which made for very enjoyable performances.

  • Chants of Sennaar - a mesmerizing game of minimalistic colour pallets, grandiose environments and complex linguistics, Chants of Sennaar is a thoroughly enjoyable puzzle game that tasks the player with deciphering a number of unfamiliar languages to re/unite disparate people scattered in isolation in a giant tower. Clearly borrowing from the allegorical tale of the Tower of Babylon, Chants of Sennaar features five groups that inhabit a tower and have lost (or never held) the ability to communicate with each other. The role of the player is to discover the meaning of various symbols used by each group and to connect the shared meanings across symbolic differences. It’s a game full of deeply satisfying revelatory “ah-ha” moments that encourage the player to push through tougher moments. The game does suffer from a bit of downtime when hunting for a missed clue, but it is predominantly a very thoughtful and pleasant experience.

  • Venba - a story about a young Tamil family who have moved to a new country to find a “better life”, the complications related to the constitution of that “better life”, the attempt to maintain traditions while accepting new ones, and the degree to which difference is both discouraged and commodified by the dominant culture and social structures of that new home. Also, a game about maintaining connections to tradition, identity and self through cooking, and the ways food can be a symbolic container for everything from the greatest hopes to the worst fears. I highly recommend Venba to everyone, whether they connect with the story it tells or broadens their understanding of the experience of others. A deeply touching and melancholic story that shares a personal journey and asks us to connect with that journey through empathy, understanding and potentially even identification.

  • Cocoon - in the wake of the success of Playdead games Limbo and Inside there have been several attempts by other studios to capture the essence of these games. Some have been quite successful (e.g. Far Lone Sails and Far Changing Tides by Okomotive) and some have been less so (Somerville by Jumpship and Planet of Lana by Wishfully Studios). Cocoon is by former lead gameplay designer, Jeppe Carlsen, of Playdead, and the connection is clear. Like Limbo and Inside, Cocoon is a fluid and satisfying, if not slightly simple and relaxing, puzzle game that adopts an isometric perspective and worlds within worlds concept at its centere It’s a brief game that can be completed in a single afternoon, and was a comfort while I was sitting in bed with a cold one Sunday afternoon. There are fewer revelatory moments than there are emotionally satisfying ones, with most puzzles gliding to completion with ease as you slip in and out of worlds to bend space toward your aims. It also features several very enjoyable boss fights that spice up the serene exploration and orb wielding of the rest of the game. I think my only two major disappointments were the degree to which the player is handed answers to certain puzzles (symbol sequences) and the lack of a final boss, but thematically the latter makes sense given the context of the story. Regardless, Cocoon is an enjoyable and relaxing experience that I highly recommend.

  • Goodbye Volcano High - High-school, dinosaurs, impending cataclysm, D&D, and Queer rep, what more does anyone want. In a year I spent playing quite a number of variations on Visual Novels I found Goodbye Volcano High a perfect microcosm of the last three years spent stuck in a pandemic, navigating our daily lives in the face of something that felt both uncertain and deadly. The game captures the humanity of a group of teens that are all coping in different ways, finding ways to communicate, and sometimes failing at both.

  • Baldur’s Gate 3 - what is there to say that I haven’t said across a ridiculous number of posts gushing about BG3? I went into 2023 with almost no expectations for this game, came close to skipping it altogether and then spending four-hundred hours and counting obsessed with BG3. I bought it on Steam, I bought it for PS5, I ordered a physical copy from Larian and I built my first desktop/gaming PC in over twenty years, all because BG3 basically drove me to madness. And what a glorious form of madness that was. Undoubtedly my Game of the Year, a rare occurrence for someone who never ranks experiences. But I can’t deny it the rare GOTY label given that BG3 joined my very short list of all-time favorites I look forward to many more playthroughs to come, including a run through the new Honour mode and some much anticipated multiplayer sessions.

  • Metroid Prime Remastered - I forgot just how much I loved the original Metroid: Prime, and Nintendo and Retro delivered a game that subtly updated and improved on the original while preserving the feelings I remember associated with the original.

  • The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom - in 2017 Breath of the Wild captivated me like very few games do. I let me loose in an incredible open world that begged to be explored. It never held my hand, it rarely showed me where to go, but it felt like a warm blanket, a feeling of contentment that comes only from being where you know you belong. In 2023, Tears of the Kingdom brought be back to that world, to see how faces and places had changed. It granted me knew, inspiring tools, and gave me whole new areas to explore. And for the most part, it did give me something that I will forever cherish. It also demonstrated that going back to a place you love can sometimes be hard, and that not everything changes for the better. Some things may improve, but others might feel a hair out of place, or just transformed enough to lose the full wonder it once held. Despite some steps backward that I didn’t enjoy TotK is still a masterfully designed game that is a joy to experience, and definitely belongs on my ten favourite games of 2023

  • Tchia - Tchia might just capture the essence and joy of BotW that TotK couldn’t quite replicate for me. It revels in the joy of exploration, largely eschewing conventional combat to tell the story of the island, community and people of New Caledonia through the allegory of fairytale. It’s a vibrant and touching story that made me tear up a few times. It was also an exceptional way to kick off 2023.

Honourable Mentions:

  • Star Wars Jedi: Survivor
  • Jusant
  • F-Zero 99
  • Super Mario Bros. Wonder
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man 2
  • Forespoken

Now for my 10 favourite games that I played in 2023, released in any year (except 2023, as with last year I will leave out games last year to avoid crossover with my previous list). As usual, this is also in reverse chronological order.

  • Ghost of a Tale - Ghost of a Tale was the first crowd funded game I ever backed. And it is a lone project by a former animator who transitioned into game design, a translation of his animation concepts into interactivity. As a sucker for stories such as Mrs. Brisbee and the Rats of Nimh, or The Secret of Nimh as the film is known, this was something I had to fund. And I’ve never regretted it. Ghost of a Tale is a largely combat free adventure that requires wits and stealth to as you, a lone mouse, attempt to escape the clutches of a corrupt Rat Empire. A labyrinthine game that takes inspiration from Soulsborne and Metridvania genres, minus the combat, Ghost of a Tale is short, but satisfying, and packed to the brim full of wonderful and entertaining characters. Although I do hope for a continuation of the tale, I always enjoy my time with the game.

  • Ghostwire: Tokyo - the game that has me excited for whatever Ikumi Nakamura has in store for us with her next game Kemuri. Although Tokyo: Ghostwire received mixed reviews from critics, I thoroughly enjoyed it’s mix of Tokyo locations, interesting combat revolving around Japanese Shinto spiritualism, curses and seals, and it’s many Yokai inspired side quests. I enjoyed the banter between the protagonists and the way the game operates as a bit of a tourist excursion into haunted Japan, with a specific focus on myths and superstitions about Yokai.

  • 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim - the game that unexpectedly sent me off on a bit of a tour of visual novels in 2023, 13 Sentinels is an unexpected strategy game from a studio know for it’s beautiful sidescroller brawlers. While just as gorgeous as it’s previous games, it drops the fantastical setting of fairy tales and myth in favour of sci-fi, 80s pop, Japanese war trauma, and mecha. It features a large cast of characters that the player follows down thread after thread in a mystery that unravels across space and time. Explaining anything about the game would probably do it an injustice, so the best I can say is everyone should give it a chance. And then when you’re done, watch the German mini-series Dark for a show that deals with similar concepts and traumas.

  • Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze - look ma, I like me a DKC game. After years of a complicated relationship with DKC games, I finally played once that I really felt delivered the fun. Tropical Freeze is genuinely a blast and I’m glad I finally played it.

  • Silent Hill - Played as part of the Retro Game Club for October 2023, I’m not stranger to Silent Hill. It remains one of my favourite PlayStation games and one of my favourite franchises ever. It was fun to revisit this year, and I feel it holds up just as well as it ever did.

  • Citizen Sleeper - second possibly only to BG3 this year, Gareth Damien Martin’s games were the most enjoyable experiences I had this year. Forms of interactive fiction, they took me on a serene yet not uncomplicated and melancholic journey through dystopic landscapes, anti-capitalist ideology, and humanity found in unlikely places (plus lots of mushrooms, always mushrooms). Citizen Sleeper is truly beautiful, haunting, hopeful yet bleak at the same time, and also one of the best examples of how Cyberpunk stories can shed the worst tendencies and tropes of the genre.

  • In Other Waters - going hand-in-hand with his other game, Citizen Sleeper, I found In Other Waters to be impossibly beautiful despite its absolute minimalism. Possibly even more haunting than Citizen Sleeper (a fact helped by the vast oceanic setting of the game), I was pulled into the story like a current that grabs you and won’t let you go. A fantastic compliment to Citizen Sleeper and an experience I won’t soon forget.

  • Dicey Dungeons - Terry Cavanaugh, Chipzel and Marlowe Dobbe made a game together, do you need more reasons to play one of the best roguelikes ever made? No, I thought not.

  • Norco - I’m technically not done Norco yet, but I can’t image it won’t make my top ten this year, because somehow Geography of Robots managed to make another Kentucky Route Zero while also staying completely original. I’ll have more to say soon, but this deserves the spot in the top ten.

  • Devotion - a superbly tense and unsettling horror games by Taiwanese studio Red Candle. There are few horror games that truly unsettle, and Devotion is one of them, relying on atmosphere, upsetting concepts and truly gut wrenching moments, instead of jump scares. It’s a thoughtful game that I wish had a further reach (through no fault of Red Candle Games).

Honorable Mentions:

  • Lil Gator Game
  • Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins
  • Monster Hunter Rise

Here’s my favorites of the year. Will probably update this after I’ve completed a few of the titles I have planned for December, but I really don’t expect my GOTY to change:

Released in 2023:

  • Resident Evil 4 Remake - A really stunning retelling of the original game that puts a highlight on what a “remake” should be. Not just a graphical update, but a complete reimagining of the original experience that keeps the core elements of what made the original special while respectfully making cuts and additions to modernize and update the experience. This is a title that doesn’t seek to replace the original, but to live alongside it as an alternate take on its vision.

  • The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom - A triumphant trip back into the Hyrule of Breath of the Wild that uses the world of its predecessor as a playground for the most creative and freeing mechanic in Zelda’s history: Ultrahand. While it disappoints in the sense that it doesn’t improve on many of BotW’s flaws–and in fact it lessens the feeling of quiet solitude that made this Hyrule so mesmerizing–it makes up for it with the sheer joy generated by its new building systems. In the end, these new mechanics successfully heighten the sense of wonder and adventure enough to make me think of this as a worthwhile addition to the canon that stands side-by-side with BotW as one of the many all-time great Zelda games.

  • Pikmin 4 - This wonderful new entry in Nintendo’s strategy-adventure series is stuffed to the brim with compelling content that pays homage to the history of the franchise while feeling like something totally new. While it still falls well short of perfection and leaves room for the next iteration to further improve, this is certainly the culmination of every Pikmin game before it.

  • Super Mario Bros. Wonder - Revived my faith in Mario side-scrollers after 10 years of spinning its wheels with the iterative New Super Mario Bros. series. It does so by boldly changing some of Mario’s longest-standing mechanics and introducing a batch of creative and visually appealing levels.

Favorite game of the year: Baldur’s Gate 3 - I grew up with some of the CRPGs of the early 2000s, and as many of the studios that pioneered the genre have veered into different directions, it has left a void that has only been filled by a handful of passionate developers such as Larian Studios. Baldur’s Gate 3 is the culmination of the journey they began almost 10 years ago with Divinity: Original Sin to recreate the tabletop RPG experience in video game form. This game completely engrossed me in a way that not many games can. I spent a good two months of the year solely playing this game, immersing myself in its rich world and characters, and to this day I still think of ideas for new playthroughs and how they may change the dialogue and outcomes of the story. It’s a total masterpiece that makes every other RPG I’ve played this year feel lacking in comparison.

Honorable 2023 mentions:

  • Diablo IV
  • Battlebit Remastered
  • Cocoon
  • Chants of Sennaar
  • Metroid Prime Remastered

2023 Games I didn’t get around to playing but I wanted to and probably will check them out at some point in the future:

  • Fire Emblem Engage
  • Street Fighter 6
  • Sea of Stars
  • Hi-Fi Rush
  • Alan Wake 2

Favorites played in 2023 but released in the past

  • The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask - Still my favorite Zelda game of all time, and one of the most enchanting video games I’ve ever played.
  • Final Fantasy XV - XVI disappointed me a bit, but it was well worth it to revisit its divisive predecessor. XV is most certainly a mess, but its best moments are nothing short of awe-inspiring. While clumsily delivered, the message of its story is deeply moving in a way that not many games nail anywhere as well as this game does in its incredible climax.
  • Bugsnax - I was not expecting to enjoy this game as much as I did. Its Pokémon Snap-esque premise is compelling enough, but in practice it is highly addictive, which helped me overlook the game’s many quirks.
  • Dr. Kawashima’s Brain Training for the Nintendo Switch - I flippin’ love sudoku.
  • Super Mario Bros. 3 - Best 2D Mario.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 2 - Best 2D Sonic.

Welcome to “Inc’s Top 10 games he played in 2023.” As the name suggests, not all from 2023.

  1. Axiom Verge 2. Not as good as the first game in my opinion, but still a tremendous and tense romp through an alien world that’s out to kill you most of the time.

  2. Super Mario Wonder. A finely made game. Lots of fun, creative ideas and weirdness. It’s almost too polished though, which most modern Mario’s are. I don’t know if I just find it hard to get excited about 2D Mario, or if it’s too predictable, or if i just couldn’t shake off that it’s still “New” Super Mario Bros under the hood, but I still had a good time.

  3. Pokemon Violet. Yes, it runs like it’s powered by a potato. It SHOULD look and play so much better. But the formula is still so fun and i did get used to all its faults. The open world and travelling to any gym or town in any order is liberating, like Arceus was last year.

  4. Neo: The World Ends with You. It’s been so long since i played the first game and I’ve not really thought about it until i tried Neo and boy am i glad i did. This was a pleasant surprise. As cool and stylish as Persona 5, it’s just a shame the battling feels a bit button mashy and the storyline is long winded. But I love the cast and the execution.

  5. Sea of Stars. Ok, so it’s not the best writing or the deepest battle system. But it looks and sounds great, the cast are loveable, the world is gorgeous. It overstays its welcome a bit, but Sea of Stars is a magical, classic, coming of age tale.

  6. Fire Emblem Engage. These are the best stages the series has seen in a long time. Reminiscent of the big Gamecube and Wii outings Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn. The story and dialogue is cliche and by the numbers. I don’t actually mind how the protagonist looks (a tube of toothpaste, as my brother described it). I do mind that the whole cast is immediately in love with him and worships him like the literal God he is. The whole main cast is royalty and perfect looking and a bunch of goody goodies, making this the least relatable bunch of characters ever. Thank God for the gameplay on this one…

  7. Tales of Arise. Looks great and i think it’s this high up the list because of the epic tale that unfolds. It’s not nearly as full of tired tropes as Engage (although early on the cast go walking through a blizzard in their regular clothes, revealing and totally inappropriate for the weather without so much as a mention of being cold, which really takes you out of the world). The gameplay is fine. The 4th quarter of this game is entirely unnecessary. But it is an epic take. Tales of Symphonia is still the better all rounder.

  8. The Murder of Sonic the hedgehog. Screw Superstars, Murder is the best Sonic game this year. It was a simple, 3 hour joy and it’s nice to see this cast so out of context. Something different, something that felt like love and care went into it. SHADOW IS A SWEET HEART.

  9. Horizon Forbidden West. Certainly the most beautiful game I’ve ever played. Finely crafted world, fun gameplay, the robit dinosaurs are still cool as fuck. The story has become a bit too wacky. But man, this is a world i could get lost in for a very long time. Great time had.

  10. Zelda Tears of the Kingdom. A fine finale and sequel to one of the games of a generation. I was fully invested and the pay off was glorious. A satisfying ending. Some great new mechanics and ideas. A mysterious world to explore and rediscover. I can’t really fault my time in this version of hyrule. The gloom sucks, that’s about the only niggle!

Edit: once again, the stupid numbering system on here gets me again! I can’t be arsed to correct it, it reads from 10th to 1st.

Edit 2: I fixed it


For what it’s worth it’s not really the fault of the forum, it’s because that’s how ordered lists work in HTML. Since the site uses a markdown editor, number lists are automatically coded as ordered lists in HTML, and ordered lists always start with the number 1 and are in ascending order unless specifically coded otherwise, such as the following:

<ol reversed>
  1. last
  2. middle
  3. first

I finished Super Mario Wonder, but found it pretty bland. Maybe even moreso than New Super Mario Bros., in fact

I always like the old ones best [SMB 1-3, SMLAND 1-2]. They were dark and gritty and realistic. And they sometimes had new antagonists [Wart, Wario, WaTatanga]

Playable Princesses are nice


Boulder’s gate 3 and halo infinite

1 Like

I played fewer new games this year than any other in recent memory. I think there are two main reasons:

  • Business has been tough. While on paper I can afford a new game every so often, it’s hard to do so enthusiastically when the future seems uncertain.
  • Publishers seem to be de-emphasizing the mid-tier physical release, which lessened my incentive to pre-order or buy full-price games. I don’t have room for statues or duplicate consoles, I just want pretty steelbooks and printed manuals! :sob:

Since I only finished eleven games published this year, I might as well list them all. Many are free or just a few dollars, so you should definitely check them out!

  • The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog 🞂 Charming fan service
  • Pineapple on Pizza 🞂 Silly joke in game form
  • Like a Dragon: Ishin! 🞂 A middling but still fun Ryu Ga Gotoku game
  • Life’s Too Short 🞂 Another tiny adventure game on Playdate
  • Moose Lost in the Woods 🞂 A cozy little indie 3-D platformer
  • illum 🞂 Promising student project
  • Re:Fresh 🞂 Another cozy indie 3-D platformer with an interesting level of verticality
  • Berry People 🞂 What weirdos like me play instead of Pokemon Snap
  • Gwen the Hen 64 🞂 Another cozy 3-D platformer (I sense a pattern)
  • Sludge Life: The Big Mud Sessions 🞂 When you liked Sludge Life fine but not enough to pay full price for its sequel yet
  • South Scrimshaw Part One 🞂 Gorgeous documentary-style visual novel

I’m currently playing Picross S9 and Sonic Superstars, but I likely won’t finish either before midnight.

Out of all the games I finished this year (regardless of release date), my ten favorites were…

(Looking back on these lists, the Steam Deck has clearly rocked my gaming habits. Of the 25 games mentioned, I played 3 on PS5, 3 on Switch and one each on PC, Playdate, 3DS and Wii. The remaining 15 were all played on Steam Deck.)


In my prior posts, I kept talking about my “favorite era” of NES-through-PS2. I am finally there at its starts, re-playing the MSX Goonies and Castlevanias that got me started on this chronology project a couple years ago. Because I stuck with streaming, a lot of my time was spent playing OldSchool RuneScape. I finally maxed, which has been a lifelong goal. Hundreds of days spent playing that game. According to my OSRS Year in Review, I spent 794 hours playing OSRS in 2023, but that doesn’t even include my Free-to-play Ultimate Ironman account I made for a stream idea. Just played it till I beat Dragon Slayer. Anyway, my biggest change in terms of OSRS wasn’t just maxing my stats, it was also that I finally got into bossing. I can actually do end-game tough content like Tombs of Amascut and Nex. I never got into the pvm or any active part of OSRS, always just played it for afk. We will see if it sticks because a goal for 2024 is to focus on relaxing and putting my wellbeing before desires, urges, and worries.

Because of me truly focusing on my goal of maxing and then on learning pvm and endgame content on OSRS, my rate of backlog clearing suffered. I mean, last year was insane. Seems it was 367 games reviewed not just played.. A lot of my ultimate favorites I played this year were re-plays–namely Castlevania and Dragon Quest. For this playthrough I did the original Japanese versions. I was surprised that the first Zelda and Metroid didn’t make the cut of absolute favorite, let alone 5 stars, but they’re of course great games. Anyway, my top 10 played in 2023: (after writing out the list, I realized how many were games I played for stream, not backlog games >.< )

  1. Castlevania (FDS, 1986) - On replay, this grew to be one of my all-time favorite games. I loved it the first time I played it through in 2021, but I trullllly loved it this time. I couldn’t stop replaying it, trying to limit my use of savestates, even completing the tougher 2nd version you start after beating the game once. Just a great game, full of quirky gameplay mechanics you can get to know and eventually love.

  2. Kingdom Hearts (PS2, 2002) - I didn’t realize how many of these streamed games I played in 2023! Time has been weird. Anyway, what a consuming game. I always get sucked into it every playthrough. And this time, it managed to be declared a Perfect Rating, matched only with FFX and Super Mario World. Only reason Castlevania was higher was because it became a favorite favorite this year, a new all-time favorite that may grow to be a Perfect Rating and forever game too. The fact I’ve already played it, what, 5 times through in only a year or 2 of having played it says a lot.

  3. Super Mario World (SNES, 1990) - So beloved. I feel like I know the controls of this game and Crash 3 better than any other game. It’s so intuitive to me at this point. Only reason KH got one higher is because Super Mario World can get really tough at times. Which is warranted, but as we all know, I like to game for ease and fun ha. This is a forever game, I will replay it and replay it for the rest of my life. May even try speedruns

  4. Tomba (PS1, 1998) - A childhood favorite I replayed for stream. Tho some of the gameplay got frustrating, it has such a unique mix of quest-based action-adventure, RPG, and platformer. Once you get Baron, traveling around is much easier and becomes a fun pseudo-open-world adventure game of crossing off quests. Lord knows how much I love crossing off lists! Plus the Sound and Look are forever-endearing.

  5. Pokemon Yellow (GBC, 1998) - A childhood favorite I replayed for stream. It has a lot of bugs and goofy aspects, but it is just so endearing and addictive. I love the grind-heaviness, and the dialogue is surprisingly great for 90s RPG.

  6. Larn (Browser, 1986) - My issue with roguelikes is the intense difficulty. It is assumed you will die, and die a lot, and just keep retrying. Luckily, Larn was the first one to really get me to push through that, because I dunno, you kept learning from it and the browser larn version had some niceties that made it feel like a proper menu and enjoyable to play. I got so addicted to this lol.

  7. Abe’s Oddysee (PS1, 1997) - The difficulty was a bit marring, but hey, infinite lives. Just made it a bit tough to stream ha. Another childhood favorite and it proved to be as good as I remembered. Maybe some day I’ll finally 100% the game. One of the few favorites I have never 100%'d

  8. Section-Z (MAME, 1985) - Harkened the Look of Metroid, great Sound, addictive shmup gameplay (main thing of 2023, I suppose, was that I can now officially add shoot em ups on my list of games I tend to always finish, along with platformers and action-adventures ha… even when they aren’t very good). Luckily this game is good! I love the Moon Patrol style checkpoint system, keeps me going. Now, to see if JRPGs join those 3 genres as favorite genres, since I usually have viewed RPGs and platformers as my ultimate genres (but during the backlog, I was not enjoying early-to-mid-80s CRPGs).

  9. Shao-Lin’s Road (Arcade & MAME, 1985) - I first played this on the actual arcade machine and knew I needed to give it a full playthrough via MAME. This was just plain-ol, fast-paced, fun action. Great controls, great pacing, and great gameplay. Can’t ask for much more in an arcade action game.

  10. The Fairyland Story (MAME, 1985) - I’m noticing a pattern with the backlog games that made the cut to the top 10: almost all were arcade releases. I thought NES games would be the ones, but no surprise that arcade games made it (plus, Dragon Quest is close behind, and there were a lot of great NES and MSX games in 1986). Anyway, the last few levels of this are soooo hard to the point where I almost gave up. But the fact I did push through said a lot. Plus, the Look is amazing.

Ironically, I only have a few more games before I start on 1987. Almost this whole year (2023) was spent in 1986 games. 1987 was the last year I added darn near every game from the database to my backlog, buttttt games also start getting longer and higher-quality so that doesn’t mean I will be moving much faster. Plus, the rise of JRPGs. Here we go into 2024! My next 2 stream games are FFX (Which will surely make the cut for 2024) and Earthbound (never played it before).

Oh and honorable mentions: Dragon Quest (1986, NES) and KiKi KaiKai (1986, MAME). Both were super special. Other 5 stars included: Gateway (1985, Mac), Master of Magic (1985, C64), Terrormolinos (1985, Speccy), Big Mac: The Mad Maintenance Man (1985, C64), Super Mario Bros (1985, NES), and The Goonies (1986, NES)