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The Best Video Games of 2019

The must-play games that released over the last year.

Dec 31, 2019

2019 closed out the decade with some memorable video games. Nintendo made a big splash and gave gamers plenty of excellent excuses to play, with some excellent releases that brought some new ideas to the table and reflected on what made past games so great. Just before the end of the year, the gaming team here at Kidzworld wanted to share our thoughts on the must-play titles of 2019. We've played a lot over the last year and each of these games had something special that stuck with us beyond their initial release. 

Super Mario Maker 2

Games are expensive products. So it's no surprise that gamers care about getting plenty of value from each pricey purchase. Fortunately, anyone who picked up Super Mario Maker 2 is definitely pleased with the infinite content available to anyone with an internet connection. Picking up where the Wii U original left off, Super Mario Maker 2 lets players build their own Mario-levels based around different styles from Super Mario Bros, Super Mario Bros 3, Super Mario World, New Super Mario Bros, and Super Mario 3D World -- potentially with more to come!

The content is endless in Super Mario Maker 2.The content is endless in Super Mario Maker 2.

More into playing games than making them? Then browse the endless flow of levels uploaded by players dedicated to making some of the most creative levels imaginable! If you think you've seen everything the Mario series can throw at you then think again as the ingenuity of other creators will never cease to amaze. 

Super Mario Maker 2 - A Legendary Update - Nintendo Switch

 

From Kidzworld's review of Super Mario Maker 2: "​Super Mario Maker 2 is the best game on the Nintendo Switch and the best 2D Mario game ever made by Nintendo. It's a must-own for any Mario fans and offers literally endless fun. There's not much more praise that could be showered upon such a perfect game, especially as Nintendo continues to update the game with promised features like improved multiplayer."

Luigi's Mansion 3

Nintendo's most famous cast of characters don't normally rely on much more story than saving the Princess and jumping on turtles. That said, whenever we do get a bit of plot from Mario and friends, we're often treated to a charming tale that's brimming with personality. Luigi's Mansion 3 returns players into the scared and shaking shoes of Luigi as he's tasked with taking down a collection of creepy ghosts across an ever-changing hotel. One floor holds an extravagent French-restaurant, another has its very own movie-making studio, and my personal favorite... is better left as a surprise. Luigi's ever-expressive face is an impressive evolution of how far the series has come and, despite our hero's frightened face, I hope we find ourselves in another mansion sooner rather than later.

Luigi's lovable personality gives endless charm to his 2019 adventure.Luigi's lovable personality gives endless charm to his 2019 adventure.Courtesy of Nintendo

From Kidzworld's review of Luigi's Mansion 3: "It's pretty unlikely that any game in the series can top the complete originality and atmosphere found present in the original Luigi's Mansion but Luigi's Mansion 3 offers plenty to do and see in this fun sequel. There are plenty of satisfying surprises and adorable slapstick humor but the fun gameplay and atmosphere are what make this game a great addition to your Switch library."

New Super Lucky's Tale

This one may come across as a surprise but New Super Lucky's Tale is one of the year's hidden gems. Many players, myself included, skipped out on the game's original release due to the title's launch day rubbing shoulders with Super Mario Odyssey. But after a bit of time has passed and the game has gotten a few extra touches of polish, New Super Lucky's Tale wound up playing like the feel-good platformer of the year.

New Super Lucky's Tale feels like the best parts of a 3D platformer from yesteryear.New Super Lucky's Tale feels like the best parts of a 3D platformer from yesteryear.

Featuring buttery smooth controls and maybe the cutest character to adorn a game console in all of 2019, Lucky could wind up being a platforming mascot with plenty of staying-power.

Lucky may not have the name-recognition of the Mario series but he's got plenty of platforming power.Lucky may not have the name-recognition of the Mario series but he's got plenty of platforming power.

From Kidzworld's review of New Super Lucky's Tale: "If you're a Switch gamer looking to fill a Mario-shaped hole in your heart then you're bound to have a great time with New Super Lucky's Tale. This adventure surprised me with how much fun the developers were able to cram into each level and I found myself driven to snag each collectible I laid my eyes upon. One of the best surprises of the year. And yes, it really is that adorable."

Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled

Even though CTR is a remake, it managed to capture my imagination just as much as the original did all the way back on the original PlayStation. The colorful cast of characters, iconic race tracks, and all the new bells and whistles added in this new version make it easily one of the strongest racing titles out there. If it weren't for the likes of Mario Kart 8, Crash Team Racing would remain the premiere kart racing game. 

CTR is just as fun today as when it first released in 1999.CTR is just as fun today as when it first released in 1999.

From Kidzworld's review of Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled: In the same way that the 1999 original made me grin from ear to ear, Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled is not just a wonderful re-imagining of a classic, but a legitimately great time. It takes everything that fans loved about the original and injects it with just the right amount of modern conveniences and features to make this new version the definitive way to play CTR. The remade graphics style is beautiful, giving new life to the characters and race tracks in ways never before possible, and with the new customization options and tracks being constantly added there are plenty of reasons to keep playing even after you take 1st place against Nitrous Oxide in the Adventure Mode. Including tracks from Nitro Kart was a great decision to keep the track rotation always different during online play, and Battle Mode is a basic but fun way to keep the game fresh. When the online issues are patched, Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled will be a game worth coming back to for hours to come especially with the Grand Prix mode. It might not be as easy to get into as Mario Kart, but it has a unique feeling of its own that makes this a no-brainer grab for kart racing fans.

Gears 5

After the somewhat disappointing Gears of War 4, Microsoft and The Coalition brought Gears back in a big way. Gears 5 continues the story of Kait Diaz, and it not only met the standard of the series' past but in many ways exceeded it. The more open design of the middle three chapters shook things up, and when the action did reach breakneck speed, it was a blast. There were even some emotional gut-punches on top of it all. It is a shame the multiplayer wasn't quite as well-received, mainly due to the excessive amount of available microtransactions (including some series staples behind a paywall), but Gears 5 makes me very optimistic for the future of the Gears series. 

Gears 5 was a superb return to form for the series, and stands toe to toe with the franchises' best.Gears 5 was a superb return to form for the series, and stands toe to toe with the franchises' best.

From Kidzworld's review of Gears 5's campaign: Gears 5’s campaign feels like the perfect balance of a superb return to form and innovation to carry the series into the next generation. It takes the storytelling potential set up by Gears of War 4 and runs with it, all while giving the new cast of characters meaningful depth and conflicts to overcome. The world of Sera feels more lived-in than ever, and lingering questions that have surrounded the series are answered in satisfying ways. The gameplay is better than it has ever been, and while the AI teammates can lead to some frustration, it is the most balanced campaign experience to date. I am anxious to see what happens next. 

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order might not always pull off everything it sets out to, but when it clicks, it is a superb Star Wars experience. It combines many of the best advances in third-person action games from the last three console generations into one exploration rich and action-packed whole. The combat takes most of its inspiration from Dark Souls, but between the rich exploration of Nintendo's adventure classics Metroid Prime and Zelda, and the high octane set pieces of Uncharted, there is something for everyone even if you aren't a Star Wars fan.

The spirit of exploration and wonder is ever present in Jedi: Fallen Order.The spirit of exploration and wonder is ever present in Jedi: Fallen Order.

From Kidzworld's review of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order: Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order attempts to do a lot, and for the most part it succeeds. The drastic shifts in pace can feel a bit odd at times, but the sheer breadth of care and detail that was put into this game deserves praise. There are some pretty severe bugs and glitches that unfortunately wade their way into the experience though. There was one instance where I loaded into an area only to find a bunch of Stormtroopers and Wookies just standing still looking at each other when they were supposed to be engaged in a heated battle. The performance can be a bit rough at times, even on the PlayStation 4 Pro but hopefully future patches will help to fix that problem. Had it gotten just a little bit more time, it easily could've gotten another star but these issues are all too present throughout and do get in the way of the fun sometimes. While I like Cal's dynamic with the crew of the Mantis, for a lot of the game I found Cal to be a fairly bland main character especially in comparison to so many of Star Wars' great heroes. Cameron Monaghan does get some moments to shine, and his optimism makes him likable sometimes, but mostly he just felt like a character that would've been better suited as a customizable avatar for the player. The boss battles are some of the game's brightest moments, taking down towering AT-ST walkers and dueling lightsaber wielding Inquisitors was a blast. In short, it is far from perfect. However, what it does accomplish is plenty of reason to give it a shot. You can tell it was a passion project for Respawn Entertainment, who's previous games before this were all first-person shooters. Titanfall and Apex Legends put Respawn on the map, but Jedi: Fallen Order cements their status as one of the best developers out there. Letting the team stretch their creativity has led to a game that takes on many inspirations, and uses some of the best elements from the best third-person action games to create a Star Wars experience all its own. 

Destiny 2

Destiny 2 might have launched officially back in 2017, but this year marked a new beginning for Bungie’s shared-world shooter. After separating from their previous home at Activision, it was now up to Bungie to carve their success as an indie studio and shape Destiny into the game that fans have been dreaming of. With the game going free-to-play, and the huge breadth of content available to enjoy, Destiny 2 in 2019 stands as a hallmark of online multiplayer. The fast-paced gameplay feels second to none, and the rich customization and weapon variety can keep you playing for hundreds of hours. 

Shadowkeep is the latest expansion to hit Destiny 2, and the game shows no sign of stopping.Shadowkeep is the latest expansion to hit Destiny 2, and the game shows no sign of stopping.

From Kidzworld's Guide to Getting Started in Destiny 2: If you do want to take the time to get to know it, the game is an extremely fun shooter that you can enjoy for a very long time. Coming back to Destiny 2 after some time off has been great, and New Light has made the transition back into the game’s world very easy. It might not be perfect, there is some room for improvement to make it easier for new players, but if you have ever been interested in diving into the Sci-Fi/Fantasy universe that Bungie has created, there has never been a better time. 

Share Your Thoughts!

So, what did you think of 2019? Were any of our favorites on your own list? Share your thoughts below and leave a comment!

By: Max Cannon and Noah Friscopp