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With many 2D Mario titles being released over the years, the prospect of another one might not have gotten too much excitement. However, as the initial trailer for Super Mario Bros. Wonder played and fans got a glimpse of what it was, it was hard not to get excited. Thankfully, the final product delivered. The first truly new 2D Mario game since the likes of Super Mario World and Yoshi’s Island, bringing a number of weird new features and powers to the series. Throw in some neat asymmetric multiplayer features, and you’ve got one of the best Mario games ever.
A brand new badge system where you can pick an extra ability to have in each level such as power jump powered by crouching provides a ton of new ways to play the game, and new ways for players to challenge themselves as well with some of the weirder powers. Its new wonder seed system, where levels warp in many weird ways, provides constant excitement and challenge ranging from simple fun things like singing piranha plants to having to play from a top down perspective. Fun new power ups including a digging helmet and turning into an elephant add additional new ways to make it through levels and bosses. Super Mario Bros. Wonder is a breath of fresh air for 2D Mario, one that hopefully Nintendo will continue to build on in new fun ways.
The excitement for Baldur’s Gate III was always high when it was announced, but as Larian Studios showed off more and more as the game went through Early Access and finally approached its release, the building sense of anticipation was palpable. The developer’s past success with Divinity: Original Sin ensured that there were plenty of faithful fans ready to dive in, but the clear amount of love thrown into the game has ensured attraction from all over. Many of the staff members are still working their way through the massive game, but it appears it have been every bit the success Larian Studios has hoped for, and frankly deserved with the faith it displayed in its development team.
It’s hardly surprising that a brand new mainline Final Fantasy game would get the RPGamer staff working their way through it. In a packed year it was perhaps less certain than ever that Final Fantasy XVI would get the completions, but Square Enix’s flagship RPG series showed that it is still worthy of its status. The always impressive presentation levels, combined with its thrilling combat, ensured that plenty of the RPGamer staff stayed enraptured enough to get through to its finale and emerge victorious.
We’ve already delved into detail about our Most Anticipated Games for 2024, but our annual voting gave us the opportunity to put some qualitative measure about which of those was the brightest spark on the horizon. To that end Final Fantasy VII Rebirth stood out amongst a very impressive crowd, with the second part of the Final Fantasy VII Remake trilogy set to hit at the end of February. To quote from our feature:
The freedom promised to players in this lengthy entry is utterly alluring. The reworked activities such as racing and breeding Chocobos look spectacular. The inclusion of Zack’s story also promises to add more touching moments to an already gripping set of events. I can’t wait to visit the new Gold Saucer and explore towns including Cosmo Canyon, as well as recruit Vincent, Cid, and Cait Sith.
Runners-up — Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes, Unicorn Overlord, Dragon’s Dogma 2
by Mike Apps and Alex Fuller