There are a lot of people proclaiming 2023 as the greatest year in gaming yet, but as long as 1998 still exists that’s a hard argument to accept. 1998 saw genres defined and legends release such as StarCraft, Half-Life, Metal Gear Solid, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, and the year ending with The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time. However, 2023 is a momentous year with some amazing releases and while Baldur’s Gate 3 has already been declared Game of the Year by most people, my GOTY is easily Super Mario Wonder.
I did really enjoy Baldur’s Gate 3, and it was an excellent CRPG with modern AAA production values and the best video game adaptation of Dungeons & Dragons yet. But, the game does rely too much on “save scrubbing”, where you need to constantly auto-save and reload a save to get through many encounters (something Larian’s Divinity games did as well), and I believe the game became fodder in console wars when it became accidentally a console exclusive to the PS5, which immediately causes it to skyrocket up some GOTY charts. Super Mario Wonder on the other hand was a revelation, and a game that revives your love of video games the way Super Mario World did 32 years ago.
In a year where we got another amazing Legend of Zelda game (and a lot of people will be picking Tears of the Kingdom as their GOTY), a surprise Mario game dropped. I’m not exaggerating when I say that Wonder is the best 2D Mario since Super Mario World. In the same way that SNES debut amazed us with its graphics and new mechanics, so does Wonder.
You start up Wonder and you’re immediately impressed with the level of animation, which is a generational jump over the rather stuff New Super Mario games. But then the game throws at you the new suits, the badges, and the wonder flowers and you have a Mario game that again reminds you how fun and imaginative video games are supposed to be. With so many games pretending to be movies with their cinematic experiences and first-person-shooters out there, we sometimes need a Super Mario Wonder to remind us of that.
This is my top 5 of 2023:
- Super Mario Wonder
- The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
- Hogwarts Legacy
- Final Fantasy XVI