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My Personal Game Of The Year Awards

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The yearly Game Of The Year (GOTY) voting threads are starting to pop up everywhere, I think I might even be quite late to the party! As a retro gamer, GOTY lists merely amuse me, and the ones coming up on top are usually big budget AAA games that rarely tickle my fancy. Still, it’s fun to make the exercise myself, albeit with slight adjustments as playing a game within the year of its release is quite a challenge for me!

If you’re interested in hearing what I have to say about each game, consult my dedicated gaming blog where the reviews reside, at

I present to you a collage of 40 games I (re)played this year:

The GOTY contestants.

Do you recognize them all? You’ll immediately notice the many Game Boy games in there—that’s because of this year’s Hardware Toy Of The Year, namely the Analogue Pocket. I love that thing. It’s been completely worth it to cough up even the extra taxes. They’re shipping the Q4 2022 pre-orders as I type this, I hope you all get to enjoy the Pocket during the holidays!

The collage seems impressive—40 games in a year, you must have endless seas of time! Not really. I play when my wife watches TV, probably about an hour a day, if that? In addition, most Game Boy games are finished in an hour. So in a manner of speaking, I kind of cheated this year! For comparison, in 2021, I have played 13 games (the longest one then was Hollow Knight, clocking in about 25 hours). I only count the ones I wrote a review about, but I try to be consistent with that as for me it’s part of the gaming fun.

Some more useless stats, based on user input from How Long To Beat:

  • Total hours spent: 194.5 (compared to 2021: 161)
  • Average hours spent per game: 4.86—that’s not a lot!
  • Average per day (counting each day of the year): 0.55
  • Longest game: Axiom Verge (10.7—still quite a short game)
  • Shortest game: Pilgrims (0.8)
  • Division by platform:
    • Switch 20/40 (!)
    • Game Boy 7/40
    • Game Boy Color 6/40
    • PC 6/40
    • NES 1/40

I approached my GOTY by introducing two categories: a Recent GOTY list, which includes games released in the last two years. A traditional GOTY list only contains games released in this year, but that would reduce it to less than a handful, so whatever. The second list is a Vintage GOTY one, where games older than that have a shot. The problem with replaying classics like The Secret of Monkey Island is that it would probably end up on top each year, so I eventually decided to scrap those (Day of the Tentacle, Monkey Island 1 & 2).

On Jefklak’s Codex, I rate each game from 1 to 5. The rating system is explained in detail on the site. Games scoring 4 (great) or 5 (amazing) are to me games I can easily recommend to anyone and the ones that deserve to be on the Recent or Vintage GOTY list. That automatically narrows it down by quite a lot.

The Recent GOTY list:

  • 💖 TOEM (Switch; 2021)
  • 💖 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge (Switch; 2022)
  • 💖 Dexter Stardust (Switch; 2022)
  • 💖 Return to Monkey Island (Switch; 2022)
  • 💖 Metroid Dread (Switch; 2021)
  • 💖 The Excavation of Hob’s Barrow (PC; 2022)

The Vintage GOTY list:

  • 💖 Axiom Verge (Switch; 2015)
  • 💖 Looney Tunes Collector: Alert & Martian Revenge (GBC; 2000)
  • 💖 Agent A (Switch; 2018)
  • 💖 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Radical Rescue (GB; 1993)
  • 💖 Wendy: Every Witch Way (GBC; 2001)

Games that deserve a honorable mention but missed the list by a slight margin: Pilgrims, Guacamelee, Rayman Legends, Unpacking, Alfred Chicken, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Back from the Sewers, Floppy Knights, The Darkside Detective, Yoshi’s Crafted World, Mario Party Superstars, Sylvester & Tweety: Breakfast on the Run, Axiom Verge 2.

As for actually putting every element in order, that turned out to be surprisingly difficult. Some games are very different from each other and hard to compare. One could argue that the three adventure games in the list could be more easily compared. But would I prefer the iconic Return to Monkey Island—a game everyone has been waiting for for over a decade—over the painfully crafted Dexter Stardust that was made by a single guy and took more than 9 years to make? I don’t know. Mechanically, probably. Or would I prefer Hob’s Barrow, also made by a small team? Again, I don’t know.

All I can do is put a 💖 in front of the ones that stand above the others. Go ahead and take your pick, they’re all superb.

When it comes to the Game Soundtrack Of The Year, there’s little doubt: that’s Shredder’s Revenge. That CD has become part of the daily cycle and it’s impossible for me to sit still when Mall Meltdown comes up.

What does your GOTY list look like?

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I'm Wouter Groeneveld, a Brain Baker, and I love the smell of freshly baked thoughts (and bread) in the morning. I sometimes convince others to bake their brain (and bread) too.

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