The Vooks Awards 2017 – The Best of Switch, 3DS and more
It has been an absolutely crazy ride this year, from the first weeks of January with the Nintendo Switch Presentation, the release of the Switch, Breath of the Wild in March it just hasn’t stopped. Month after month we’ve been spoiled with terrific games on the Switch and the Nintendo 3DS, the SNES Mini and just a general overwhelming sense of euphoria from the success Nintendo has had this year. It’s a great time to be a Nintendo fan.
Now let us celebrate the best of the best, the best Switch, 3DS, Indies and more – as voted by us. Once you’re done reading, don’t forget to click the link at the bottom of the page to vote for your best games of 2017.
It’s the obvious choice but, for good reason. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild took the entire gaming community by storm upon its release in March. People were ecstatic to play it, and social media was abuzz with players finding their way through the game in all different ways. For weeks, our Twitter feeds at least were awash with people sharing just how amazing this game is. Before Breath of the Wild, the 3D Zelda titles were getting a little stale, all built off the formula of Ocarina of Time and, while no means terrible, they were showing their age in a world filled with open world modern marvels.
When we reviewed the game in March amongst the launch hype, Daniel wrote this;
I was twelve when I first played Ocarina of Time, I remember going to the highest point on Hyrule Field and hitting that C-button to look around in awe and admire just how big that game was. Breath of the Wild does this to me nearly every corner I turn, with beautiful horizons and locations, however, it also shocks and challenges you at every step. You’re going to get lost in this game, you’re going to die over and over until your learn how to play it and then it’ll challenge you again. You’ll spend hours looking for something only to be distracted by something else and then forget what you were doing in the first place.
Breath of the Wild isn’t just the best Zelda game ever crafted, it’s one of the best games of all time.
Now, Nine months later it still stands and almost nothing came close to topping it until…
In a year where Nintendo release not only a brand new Legend of Zelda title but also the first sandbox 3D Mario title in more than a decade, the decision to pick between the two was almost impossible. Super Mario Odyssey is a tremendous title filled with a rich world full of character and a density you just don’t see very often. In our review in October we said;
Nintendo has managed, not once, but twice now in 2017 to take one of their beloved franchises, give it a breath of fresh air while still retaining the core of what made the series great in the first time. Super Mario Odyssey is a wonder and shows everyone why Mario is still king.
Choosing between Mario and Zelda is like asking a parent to pick which kid is better. We’re unlikely to see this brilliance in one year again anytime soon.
After Nintendo’s E3 Presentation in June, we walked away with one strong message: Metroid is back. Everyone’s favourite bounty hunter Samus was going to be featured in not one, but two new Metroid games — Metroid Prime 4 for the Switch, and Metroid: Samus Returns for the 3DS. With a name like “Samus Returns”, it was hard not to feel like this was a return to form for Nintendo. Like they were bringing out all the big guns to make 2017 the best year ever. And we can’t disagree.
In September, James reviewed the Metroid II reimagining;
It sounds cliché, but Metroid: Samus Returns feels like a return to form for the franchise. It has all the key characteristics that you’d expect from a Metroid game – level design crafted to encourage exploration and discovery, a positive characterization of Samus, and a general flow to it like no other game in the franchise. Visually, the game is a feast, if not slightly uninspired, but it takes great advantage of the 3DS hardware to really sell the idea of an abandoned planet that nature has taken back. It’s so exciting to say this, but Metroid is well and truly back and hopefully here to stay.
It’s a great first step to revitalising the franchise, and we can only hope that Metroid Prime 4 lives up to the promise.
Metroid: Samus Returns isn’t the only remake to hit the 3DS this year, however. In May, Nintendo reimagined a Famicom classic, Fire Emblem Gaiden, in the form of Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia. Shadows of Valentia came packed with a touched up story, all new gameplay elements, and a strong focus on gameplay, a small step away from recent Fire Emblem games, which focused a little too heavily on character interaction.
When Troy reviewed the game in May, it was easy to see why it was worthy of runner up status;
I really, really like Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia. Shifting the focus from character interactions to more gameplay mechanics was a huge deal for me, along with a story that feels like it’s developing with you, rather than happening in the background. Definitely pick it up if you’re a Fire Emblem fan, either new or old!
Fire Emblem is making the switch (pun intended) to Switch in 2018, and we can only hope it impresses us as much as Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia did.
We loved SteamWorld Dig back when it released on the 3DS, and we loved it just as much when it later released on the late Wii U. So you can imagine our excitement when Image & Form announced a sequel was not only on the way, but it was coming to the Switch. SteamWorld Dig 2 improved on its predecessor in just about every way imaginable, with Image & Form crafting a beautiful yet familiar world for players to
get consumed by enjoy.
Troy’s review of the game in late September had nothing but praise;
SteamWorld Dig 2 is what I want out of more games. A game that wants to be played, that doesn’t punish you for enjoying it your own way. You can tell that everything about this game is so deliberate and thought out, so much care went into this world, and you’re invited to be a part of it. So don’t wait, dig in!
As Indie games get more and more exposure, you can always rely on Image & Form to bring their A-game.
It’s safe to say that Golf Story was one of the biggest success stories of the year, if not the decade. The first game from Aussie two-man team Sidebar Games took the world by storm when it was first announced back in May, with gamers across the world drawn to its charming visuals and gameplay inspired by GBC classic Mario Golf; this is all despite knowing very little about the game, or the devs. When Golf Story finally released in September, it lived up to players’ expectations, providing the amazing and hilarious golfing RPG that we never knew we wanted.
Daniel’s review from September says it all;
Golf Story is a completely charming game and is packed with great humour, tons of content and simple but fun golf mechanics. Even if you don’t particularly like golf there’s still a ton of fun to be had. Golf Story offers one of the most compelling packages on the Switch eShop and is up there with the best the store has to offer.
Aussie devs don’t often make a splash on the global stage, but when you make a game as good as Golf Story, it’s hard not to get noticed.
Let’s be honest, there weren’t a heck of a lot of indie games to release on the 3DS this year, with most devs making the leap to Switch. That said, there were still a few indies that stood out, but none quite as much as 80’s Overdrive. And after one quick look at the neon, 80’s-inspired visuals it’s easy to see why. 80’s Overdrive is a game is unashamedly proud of its influences, and that’s a good thing. Aesthetics aside, it was just damn fun to play.
Chris reviewed the game when it launched earlier this month;
Styled after the classic Out Run games, 80’s Overdrive doesn’t so much wear its influences on its sleeve as it does shout them from a neon-lit street corner. Aesthetically speaking, 80’s Overdrive employs the staple blues, pinks and greens at every corner. Cars look like they’ve been transported straight from the game’s namesake decade, in addition to the flamboyant splashes of colour emblazoned upon the various locales. Yep, this is definitely an 80’s game — a pretty damn good one at that.
Sometimes a blast from the past is just what the doctor ordered.
Yep, this is another remake, but it’s a little different from the other remakes on this list. Unlike Metroid: Samus Returns and Fire Emblem Echoes, Blaster Master Zero erred away from modern graphics, instead leaning into the NES visuals that made it so popular all the way back in 1988. The result is a beautiful, nostalgic experience that takes you back to the days of sitting on the floor in front of an old CRT.
Regardless of if you’re playing on 3DS or Switch, Blaster Master Zero is a solid experience all around, and that’s what secured its spot as the 3DS Indie of the Year Runner-Up.
Really, was it going to be anything but this? While for most of us Breath of the Wild is a Switch game, the game was always destined for the Wii U and is, at its core still one.
The Wii U clearly had its last meaningful game in Breath of the Wild, but what a way to go!
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, ARMS, Splatoon 2, Super Mario Odyssey, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Fire Emblem Warriors, and Snipperclips. That’s just a taste of the games Nintendo has published this year. 2017 has been one of Nintendo’s biggest years, and they’ve consistently brought us some of the biggest and best games of the year, not just on the Switch, but on any console.
Nintendo’s strong publishing decisions this year have set the bar high for the Switch, with a major release once a month (give or take); it’s the kind of momentum you rarely see from major publishers, but it was exactly what the Switch needed to become the most talked about, and arguably the most successful, console of the year. Nintendo setting the bar so high sends a message, not only to players but to other publishers: we’re not messing around, the Switch is here to kick butt and chew bubblegum — and it’s all out of bubblegum.
We’ll let the section below speak for itself, but make no mistake — Bethesda’s strong and early support for the Switch has been nothing short of incredible. Nintendo promised third-party support, and Bethesda stepped to the plate and fulfilled that promise. In doing so, they sent a message to other major publishers: there are no excuses, no reasons for not supporting the Switch. If DOOM, Skyrim and even an all new Wolfenstein game can make it onto the Switch, then any game can.
Okay, pardon the pun, that actually wasn’t entirely intentional. But DOOM on Switch was the turning point for the Switch, where people realised what the console actually could be beyond first party support. You can have a AAA game based around ripping limbs from demons while invading hell, and now you can play it on the bus. That said, it’s one of the most Nintendo like non-Nintendo games out there in design, so DOOM really was a great fit for the hybrid console.
Resident DOOM fanatic Troy reviewed the game last month:
DOOM is a truly unique experience. You’re actually playing as the bad guy, in a way. Demons are afraid of you, as you sprint like a toddler on Red Bull, ripping apart skulls as if they were a bag of chips. The shooting is less run and cover, and more run and… well, just run. You’re dodging, strafing, jumping, and doling out damage like a corrupt government. It’s just so damn fun. If you haven’t played Doom before, you should definitely play it. It’s a culmination of ideas and passion since the 90s, leading to a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
Here’s hoping hell freezes over again in 2018 with more DOOM!
DOOM wasn’t the only Bethesda game to hit the Switch in 2017. November saw the release of one of the biggest games of the decade: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Skyrim is the game that seemingly never dies; after its release on the Xbox 360 and PS3 all the way back in 2011, it has been re-released, upgraded and ported countless times, but none of those ports ever ended up on a Nintendo console. It was beginning to look like it never would — that is, until the Switch came along. First teased in the very first Switch trailer, Skyrim launched on a Nintendo console for the very first time in November, and it was everything we could’ve asked for.
Oliver’s review last month summed it up perfectly;
If you’ve played Skyrim before, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what you’re getting into here. It’s the same game you know and love, and even after six long years it still holds up amazingly well. The Switch version of Skyrim is an amazing game, filled with lore and adventure and tonnes of dragons. If you haven’t played Skyrim yet, the Switch is the perfect place to start, with portability and exclusive features making this one of the best portable RPG experiences on the market.
We thought it would never happen, and not only were we wrong, but Bethesda delivered one of the best version of the game to date.
Despite being massive Nintendo fans, the Vooks team does occasionally dabble in games on other platforms. 2017 was an excellent year for the Switch, but the PS4, Xbox One and even PC got some pretty amazing games too. But for us, none were more amazing than Persona 5.
Dripping with style, attitude and pumping beats, the PlayStation-exclusive title from Atlus easily made it into our top spot for 2017. Persona 5 is an incredible (and eerily timely) story of resistance against a world filled with corruption, with a ragtag team of stylish teen thieves leading the charge for change. It boasts a deep story filled with twists and turns, slick visuals, and easily one of the best video game soundtracks of the decade. There are some questionable moments, but they’re easily overshadowed by the sheer charm the game has.
When Nintendo showed off the Switch in January, they made a lot of promises. They told us it was their best console yet, that it would be strongly supported by not only first parties, but third parties too, they told us it was revolutionary. We’d heard it all before with the Wii U, and while we were hopeful for the Switch, we were also a little skeptical. They were big claims, and Nintendo has misstepped before. We were wrong to be skeptical, and we were glad to be wrong.
Nintendo’s every move with the Switch has been a good one. They’ve marketed it correctly, they’ve kept stock levels reasonable, and they’ve consistently brought amazing games. The biggest surprise of 2017 isn’t necessarily that the Switch succeeded, but just how damn successful it’s been. In 2017, everybody was talking about the Switch. Everybody knew at least one person with a Switch. 2017 has been the Year of the Switch, and we couldn’t be happier.
2017 has been a good year for Nintendo games, and we at Vooks are so lucky to be able to play, write about, and review these games each and every day. But we also understand that our tastes aren’t the only ones that matter. That’s why we’re giving you a voice too. The Vooks team is proud to announce the Vooks Readers Choice Awards!
All you have to do is click the link below and fill out the survey to let us know what your choices are for Game of the Year.
Also feel free to let us know what you think of our top picks of 2017 in the comments below!