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Gamers are spoiled. There are so many quality games coming out these days that when a year falls a little short from previous years it feels like a disappointment.

Plenty of great games released in 2019, just not nearly as many as we have seen in each of the last few years. We are, after all, at the end of a console cycle — Christmas 2020 will see new Xbox and PlayStation consoles.

It also takes developers a few years to recover after they have released a big title, so many of the big boys are gearing up for major releases over the next couple of years (perhaps a new “Grand Theft Auto” and “Batman Arkham” game?).

So, if you were feeling a little shorted this year, check out the list below for my choices of best games of 2019.

“Control” beat out “Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order” as Rocky Mountain Gamer’s favorite action/adventure game. (Courtesy photo)

Action/Adventure

“Control”

This year, best action/adventure game was my hardest decision. I really loved “Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.” However, some questionable choices in control design kept that game out of my top spot. I have no regrets with the game that floated to the top though. It’s hard to find a better original game than “Control,” with its frantic third-person action, wonderfully detailed story and weird dips into the paranormal. Entertainment in general could use more original properties, and “Control” is fantastic addition.

Honorable Mentions: “Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order,” “Luigi’s Mansion,” “Death Stranding,” “Devil May Cry 5”

Shooter

“Gears 5”

I’m sure it’s partially because I prefer third-person shooters to first-person ones that “Gears 5” ended at the top of my list. Well, that and it’s hard to say no to a gun with a chainsaw bayonet. “Gears 5” also offers a fantastic story and single-player campaign, a fun co-op mode and some of the best multiplayer maps out there. It helps if you’ve played previous entries and have some investments in the characters, but even if you haven’t the well-polished gameplay and gorgeous visuals will make you feel right at home.

Honorable Mentions: “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare,” “Fortnite,” “Overwatch”

“Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair” snagged Rocky Mountain Gamer’s top platform game in 2019. (Courtesy photo)

Platform Game

“Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair”

When former employees from developer Rare decided to revisit their glory days with 3D platformer “Yooka-Laylee,” fans were psyched, though the end result was just OK. Now, the team at Playtonic Games have brought the unlikely combo of chameleon and bat to the 2D platform realm with spectacular results. Tight gameplay, amazing level design and a wonderful, interactive hub area bring “Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair” to life. And the titular Impossible Lair will inspire speed-runs for years to come. Absolutely the best 2D platform game in years.

Honorable Mentions: “Super Mario Maker 2,” “Super Lucky’s Tale,” “Gris”

Role-Playing Game

“The Outer Worlds”

I wish people would stop comparing “The Outer Worlds” to the “Fallout” games. Sure, they are both first-person RPGs with guns, but everything else — story, art style, progression system, experience length — is its own creature. Set in a future where mega-corporations rule the galaxy, gamers can go on missions, power themselves up and make choices that will affect your future in this exciting new RPG that fans are hoping represent the first of many.

Honorable Mentions: “Disco Elysium,” “Pokémon Sword / Pokémon Shield”

PC Game

“Disco Elysium”

An RPG with no discernible combat system: Who would have thought something like that would have been one of the best games of the year? You’ll play as a detective in a sci-fi, futuristic city tasked with solving a murder. You must also discover the truth behind your own identity as an extending bender has rendered you without your own precious memories. With no real combat to keep players engaged, “Disco Elysium” must rely on its setting, story and characters to drive things forward. This is one PC RPG that won’t disappoint.

Honorable Mentions: “Pokémon Sword/ Pokémon Shield,” “Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III”

Rocky Mountain Gamer named “Mortal Kombat 11” the best fighting game of 2019. (Courtesy photo)

Fighting Game

“Mortal Kombat 11”

Eleven games in and the “Mortal Kombat” franchise shows no signs of slowing down. Not only is the latest installment one of the best playing fighting games out there, the developers have kept it fresh by adding new characters, including some unexpected offerings like The Terminator and Batman’s arch-nemesis, The Joker (coming in February 2020). Like past “Mortal Kombat” games, it’s still strictly for the adult crowd.

Honorable Mentions: “Dead or Alive 6,” “Jump Force”

Best Multiplayer

“Fortnite”

“Fortnite” isn’t a new game for 2019, but a tremendous amount of the content is, including a recent “Star Wars” event that introduced lightsabers to the game. Developer Epic Games treats “Fortnite” like a living entity, continually updating and upgrading, offering events and special limited content to keep things fresh. It has earned its rabid following and, if it stays on track, it has the potential to stay at the top of the shooter pile for many years to come.

Honorable Mentions: “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare,” “Gears 5,” “Overwatch”

Rocky Mountain Gamer’s favorite family game of 2019 is“Luigi’s Mansion 3.” (Courtesy photo)

Best Family Game

“Luigi’s Mansion 3”

If ever there was a character that deserved his own successful series, it is Mario’s little brother Luigi. He’s only had a couple of previous chances to prove his worth as a ghost hunter, so it is with perfect timing that “Luigi’s Mansion 3” landed this past Halloween. With some brilliant new mechanics (doppelganger Gooigi), an incredible setting (the haunted hotel) and Luigi’s first chance to be the hero for all his friends, this game is the pinnacle of the series. Throw in some fun multiplayer and you have a game you’ll be playing well past next Halloween.

Honorable Mentions: “Crash Team Racing,” “Sonic Racing,” “Yoshi’s Crafted World”

Sports/Racing Game

“Need for Speed Heat”

Electronic Arts’ “Need for Speed” series hasn’t exactly shined lately. In fact, its last installment, “Need for Speed Payback” was perhaps the most forgettable entry in the franchise. This made “Need for Speed Heat” an even more pleasant surprise, with its mixture of sanctioned races and illegal street runs. There’s a story, for what it’s worth, but that’s not why you’ll play this one. The location, Palm City (very loosely based on Miami) features wonderfully diverse racing locals, and the livery of more than 125 cars are the main draws, along with great AI and a ton of side stuff to do. It’s the “Need for Speed” fans have been waiting a while for.

Honorable Mention: “Madden NFL 20,” “FIFA 20,” “NBA 2K20”

Indie Game

“Untitled Goose Game”

I didn’t hear about this game until a week before it came out and didn’t play it for about two months after. “Untitled Goose Game” just didn’t sound like fun to me. You play a goose, sneak around, steal stuff and scare people by honking at them. Each level you get a checklist of things to do, and you work on it until its done. No timer, no real fail state. In my brain, this shouldn’t be fun, but damned if it isn’t. I found myself playing the game for “just five more minutes,” the way successful games make you think. Not only is playing the titular goose a lot of fun, but you’ll actually find yourself caring about the little bugger. And really, what more could you ask for from a game.

Honorable Mentions: “Outer Wilds,” “My Friend Pedro,” “Wargroove”

Nintendo Switch snagged Console of the Year from Rocky Mountain Gamer. (Courtesy photo)

Console of the Year

Nintendo Switch

Last year, this category went to Sony for its amazing array of PS4 exclusives, including “God of War” and “Spider-Man.” This year, nobody came close to touching Nintendo’s Switch, with the system reclaiming the award they snagged in 2017. “Luigi’s Mansion 3,” “Fire Emblem: Three Houses,” “Yoshi’s Crafted World,” “Super Mario Maker 2,” “Astral Chain” and “Ex Machina” — all exclusives to the system, and all very good to great games. This doesn’t account for the ports, the remasters, the third-party offerings and “Dragon Quest IX S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition” which takes last year’s PS4 exclusive and dials it up to 11. The Switch has had an amazing year, and it seems no end is in sight.

Surprise of the Year

A remake wonderland

Game remakes have been a thing for the last five or six years, but it took until 2019 to see the true potential of remakes. It started early with “Resident Evil 2,” undoubtedly the finest remake to come along. The old, kinda blocky, original PlayStation game with terrible controls became a current-generation masterpiece that showed players the true potential of the franchise. Other remakes, big and small, kept coming. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening,” “Final Fantasy VIII Remake,” “MediEvil,” “The Spyro Trilogy Reignited” and “Crash Team Racing: Nitro Refuled” are all excellent examples. And the remakes will keep coming next year, starting with “Final Fantasy VII Remake,” perhaps the most anticipated reimagining ever. It looks like this is a trend likely to stick around for a while.

Disappointment of the Year

First-party games

Dear Sony and Microsoft, please forgive me if this is something you are already working on, but in 2019 you let us down with your paltry and mediocre first-party offerings. While Nintendo stayed on point, we only received a single huge release from each of you – “Death Stranding” and “Gears 5” respectively. Yes, we all understand you are working hard on your new systems launching for holiday 2020, but loyal users deserve a bit more. Let’s aim for at least three or four from now on, OK? Sincerely, Rocky Mountain Gamer.

Game of the Year

“Fire Emblem: Three Houses”

While I have enjoyed “Fire Emblem” games in the past, I was not ready for “Fire Emblem: Three Houses.” As the newly named instructor of one of the titular “Three Houses” (you get to choose) you must train students in the art of war, and then deploy them in the same strategic battles that made the series famous. These added interactions — similar to the “Persona” series — draw players into the story and make the entire experience more intriguing and pleasurable. Plus, the array of characters and different endings will make you want to play through the game a few times. There were a lot of great games in 2019, but none better than “Fire Emblem: Three Houses.”

Rocky Mountain Gamer’s game of the year goes to “Fire Emblem: Three Houses.” (Courtesy photo)

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