Following the critically acclaimed The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a daunting task. It completely reimagined what a Zelda game could be, and created a massive, beautiful world where you could visit anything you saw. Its sequel, Tears of the Kingdom, didn’t break the mold. It fine-tuned it, giving players one more very compelling reason to return to Hyrule.
We could go on about how gorgeous the game is, or its successful iteration on the systems laid out in BOTW, or even just how much we love its characters. But what really makes this game special is its ability to build just about anything you can dream of with Ultrahand and Fuse—which players naturally used to create flamethrowing dicks, a jail for Ganondorf, a Gundam, torture devices, and so much more. Game of the year.
Platform: PlayStation 5
Superhero games don’t have the best track record, but Insomniac Games is the exception. Picking up after the events in Marvel’s Spider-Man and Spider-Man: Miles Morales, the game follows Peter Parker and Miles as they face off against their personal lives and new foes like Venom and Kraven the Hunter. Both Peter and Miles feel refreshingly distinct and perfectly complementary, even as Insomniac turns their world into a playground of skyscrapers to swing through amid the game’s twisting story. And, of course, who could forget its world full of wild NPC conversations?
Super Mario RPG
Platform: Nintendo Switch
One of the best games Nintendo released this year is also its oldest. Super Mario RPG, which combined the role-playing sensibilities of Final Fantasy games with Nintendo’s characters, is a delightfully weird, extremely ’90s adventure. After a giant, talking sword foils Bowser’s latest attempt to kidnap Peach, Mario is tasked with collecting seven stars to restore the world’s ability to make wishes.
It’s a pretty simple premise that plays out in much weirder ways. The game’s original invading villains are all weapons (including a Power Rangers spoof); Mario and Bowser join forces with a talking doll; mini-games include everything from hiding behind curtains to bouncing off barrels while dashing uphill. Super Mario RPG is funny and full of unforgettable moments that make its remaster unforgettable, even after all this time.