- HONORABLE MENTIONS -
Yes, this year I finally am actually mentioning them! Here are 16 games I wanted to mention and talk about a little, but couldn't make it to the top 50 for one reason or another. That isn't to say they were the only games that narrowly missed out, and should another game I didn't mention pop up in next year's list, I'll still shamelessly call it an "honorable mention" from this year! Either way, let's get into this.
Honorable Mention: Burnout Dominator
This game has been on every list I've made this far, and for good reason. It's my 2nd favorite racing game out there, and I have a lot of good memories with it. It's way underrated, and the best Burnout game in my opinion. But this year, well, it just gave way to other things.
Honorable Mention: Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the Necrodancer feat. The Legend of Zelda
The Crypt of the Necrodancer x Zelda mashup was an idea as out of left field as it was good. This game is awesome, but I only just beat it very recently and it hasn't really had time to sink in. To be honest, despite how fun the thing is, I can't help but feel like it was somewhat forgettable when compared to the original, non-crossover game.
Honorable Mention: Castlevania: Rondo of Blood
Mostly everyone's favorite level-based Castlevania. Rondo of Blood is a great game, but that's about it. I've played it once and haven't felt like going back to it. It's great fun, but sometimes too frustrating; it's a classic, yet I don't remember too much from it. This game strikes the perfect balance between clunky and free-flowing controls, making it just limiting enough that you have to think about your actions, but still feeling very much in control. Despite that, I can't help but enjoy one other, clunkier game in the series ahead of it.
Honorable Mention: Celeste
I finally played Celeste this year, and... it's good. Pretty good, actually. I don't get what all the hype was about, never mind the game of the year nomination, but it's a good game I had plenty of fun with. The story touches a good bit on psychological issues, and that's likely where most of the hype came from, but nonetheless, it's a fun game, albeit kinda short. I didn't get into the post-game content.
Honorable Mention: Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth
This game, um... I haven't beat it yet, which pretty much rules it out of my list by default. It's all I've been playing in the last couple of weeks, though, and it's just a really good game. The story is getting quite good and I'm always excited to see which unexpected turn will happen next. It might make the top 50 next year.
Honorable Mention: Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest
A classic mostly everyone loves, but hasn't aged too well in my opinion - as is the case with just about every Rare game. DKC 2 is the best they've made, and has a phenomenal soundtrack, but although it was a game I played a good bunch of in my childhood, it hasn't really been relevant to me since.
Honorable Mention: Donkey Kong Country Returns
I think this game has very narrowly missed out on the top 50 in just about every year since I've played it. It's never made a list, but I always remember being sad about cutting it. Although I only played DKCR once, it was pretty memorable for what it was. The soundtrack is average, and the game as a whole doesn't come close to its sequel. It's Retro Studios' worst game... and it's great.
Honorable Mention: Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock
The most memorable, the most classic-est Guitar Hero game is here! Let's face it, everyone loves this one. I've always refrained from listing it because I didn't want too many plastic instrument games flooding my list, but Guitar Hero 3 is the shit and it'll always be the shit. Gonna also give some shout-outs to Guitar Hero 2 and Warriors of Rock, because why not.
Honorable Mention: The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
Back when this one came out, I thought it was one of the best Zelda games. Over time, though, I realized that was a notion driven mostly by the game's ending, which, to be fair, is very hype. But... as much as I love an epic ending, it feels a little shallow when your game hasn't earned it, and it's how I feel about ALBW. This game as a whole feels like a sterilized version of A Link to the Past... I'd much rather play the original. Still, it's very good.
Honorable Mention: The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages & Oracle of Seasons
These two have made my list a number of times, but ultimately I decided they couldn't be in it anymore. They're great games, and it's hard to talk about the qualities of each one of them individually, but the reality is, I've only played them once each, all the way back in 2013. I haven't touched them since, nor have I felt like doing so - and as a result, makes them more of an experience of the past than something I still think about regularly.
Honorable Mention: Mega Man X
Good game, classic, great soundtrack, all that stuff. There's only one thing I hate about this game, and it's that insanely hard final boss gauntlet, the last one especially. If not for that, maybe I'd have put in the effort to beat it multiple times, but every time I remember that final boss, I just kinda let go of the idea of replaying it. Awesome game otherwise.
Honorable Mention: Need for Speed: Most Wanted
Every 90's kid favorite racing game in their teenage years. Most Wanted is just awesome, but as most here, it's a game that's very much stayed in the past for me. It wasn't without its memorable moments, though, that's for sure - that final chase sequence will stick with me always.
Honorable Mention: Pokémon Red & Blue
The original monster catching games are largely maligned by the Pokémon fanbase these days, and for good reason. These games were broken as hell, had loads of things that didn't function as 'advertised', were unbalanced, had horrible sprites and more. Still, Red & Blue are just good, plain fun. If anything, the unpolished nature of these makes them even more fun as a "what the hell is going on?" kind of experience.
Honorable Mention: Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove
Another game that's been in my list every year. Shovel Knight has a horrible habit of making a great first impression with me, and then ending up largely forgotten as time goes on. Every time I thought of dropping it from the top 50, though, I always got a new campaign from it which kept it in my mind. That hasn't happened for a while now, though, and I'm kinda past the point of caring about it. Fun game, though.
Honorable Mention: Urban Reign
I've wanted to talk about this one for a while now, but it never made it into the top 50. I don't remember much about this game, to be fair - only that it was a brawler on the PS2 and that it was fun as hell. I remember it had a pretty lengthy campaign, and while I don't remember any story details, I do remember some levels that were pretty cool (and also some that were infuriating). I should try looking back into it someday, but there's a side of me that fears it won't be as good as I remember... well, either way, now you all know about it too. It's an obscure game that definitely deserved more attention.
...oof! That was a long post. Next up, the actual top 50!