The 2022 GameCola Videogame Awards (Part 1)

The undisputed and universally recognized best games of 2022, here in one article: Part One.

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A note from Alex “Jeddy” Jedraszczak, GameCola’s Editor-in-Chief:

Dear Readers, we are gathered here today to celebrate the best games of 2022. Now that we’ve had time to actually play some games that came out in 2022, we’ve nominated, argued, voted, argued, and agreed to disagree about what the best games were. Below is the closest we got to consensus.

Best Licensed Game

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge

Paul Franzen: As someone who lived through (deep breath) the 2004 GameCube game TMNT: Battle Nexus, whose only redeeming quality was that it included a much better game as an unlockable (and even then, you still had to beat the base game to get it, so not worth it); TMNT Smash-Up, the Smash Bros. rip-off from before Smash Bros. rip-offs were cool; Turtles in Time: Re-Shelled, a game so impossibly bad that it’s illegal to buy it now; and a seemingly never-ending conveyor belt of generic games based on the rebooted versions of the cartoon they spit up every other year…I was more than primed to hate this. Hate was, in fact, my default emotion.

And yet…and yet…

This felt like the game that should’ve come after Turtles in Time. A simple, goofy, radical multiplayer beat’em up with Donatello and the other three. It doesn’t take long to beat, it doesn’t have chunky 3D graphics, it doesn’t have a story, like, at all—and it was exactly what I wanted, all these years later. I know the next couple dozen Ninja Turtles games are gonna be trash, but if we can get one of these every 25 years or so, I’m happy.

Honorable Mention: Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga

Best Remake or Re-Release

The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe

Blu Ryder: The Stanley Parable has always had a very special place in my heart. The gameplay might not be particularly bombastic, and some may see it as a glorified walking sim, but the clever writing is superbly creative. It’s a dissection on the molecular level of the infinite possible thought processes that different players have when playing games. It was a perfect game that stood on its own. Ultra Deluxe‘s status as a re-release is a bit deceptive. I quickly found that calling this edition a sequel instead wouldn’t be a stretch. A sequel that lives up to the original in every aspect, something I once imagined to be impossible.

Honorable Mention: Final Fantasy Pixel Remasters

Best New Character

The Cat (Stray and A Little to the Left)

Leaf: Cat from Stray is a masterclass in creating a light-hearted, non-controversial character. If you’re looking for the angst of a morally gray protagonist, you won’t get that with Cat unless you consider scratching up a stranger’s floor in a post-apocalyptic universe to be “morally gray”. What you will get is endearing purrs, meows, and thrilling leaps with the acrobatic finesse only cats can achieve. From curling up in a purring ball on soft carpet to weaving between robots’ legs, there’s very little Cat will do that won’t leave you saying, “aww”.

Paul Franzen: Wow, what could be more relaxing! A Cute Lil’ Indie Game™ about straightening picture frames, organizing junbdnsssdgggbfghmjhl.l/

Sorry, cat walked on my keyboard.

*ahem* A Sweet, Soft Cozy Game™ about putting things back where they go and—AGHHHH, OUCH!!! Sorry, cat attacked my leg. Haha, what an adorable little monster! I’m not even bleeding that much!

Anyway! A Game for Soft Kids Like Me™ where you neaten shelves and FRICK!!! IT CHEWED UP MY SEGA CD CABLES! THAT’S IT IDIOT, YOU ARE GOING BACK TO THE KILL SHELTER.

I love cats. I’ve made a career out of PhotoShopping pictures of cats and making them date each other. So believe me when I say, with all the authority that the developer of Cat President 2: Purrlitical Revolution can afford me, that this FUCKING CAT is the FUCKING WORST. It is CONSTANTLY appearing in situations and times where a cat is least needed, messing up my beautifully symmetrical bookshelves and swiping its stupid paws at my perfectly arranged cutlery so I have to start from *ahem* scratch. The Steam description describes it as “mischievous”. This cat is as mischievous as the atomic bomb. What an asshole! I love it. I hope the seagull from Wind Waker pecks it to death.

Honorable Mention: Volo (Pokémon Legends: Arceus)

Best Story

Return to Monkey Island

John Rizzi: While the ending can be a bit jarring with how quick it is, Return to Monkey Island‘s story, for me, remains a funny and heartfelt romp about how expectations can cloud one’s judgment and affect their actions. Throughout the journey, I was always invested in interacting with the characters and where the story would go after building up the final treasure for so long. I didn’t care how I was affecting everyone around Guybrush, I just wanted to see the end as much as he did. Then the ending happened. While your can make the argument that the end reveal to final character arc was too quick and should’ve held out longer to complete the emotional core of the narrative, it still made me realize how much the game put me into the main character’s shoes. I wanted the treasure. I caused all that damage. And I was the one let down, only to realize what truly matters. The real Return to Monkey Island was the friends we made along the way. When it comes to videogames, appreciate the journey. Not the destination.

Honorable Mention: Xenoblade Chronicles 3

Most Disappointing

Pokémon Scarlet & Violet

Joseph Martin: Pokémon Scarlet and Violet are the most technically underperforming Pokémon games in the main series and represent a stark low point in the franchise as a whole. Any positive design choices are completely overshadowed by the amateur visual presentation that cannot be ignored even by the most vehement of defenders of the “gameplay over graphics” philosophy. These technical issues not only do a massive disservice to the visual presentation of the games but have also delayed the deployment of key features as the life cycle of the game has progressed, the most notable of which being the integration of Pokémon Home. The Pokémon franchise has been able to get by on its massive backlog of goodwill over the years, but there are clear signs that this reserve is running low and a clear victory in the main series is needed if the franchise is to truly hold its own with its contemporaries by any metric other than sales.

Honorable Mention: Kingdom Hearts – Switch Cloud Version

Funniest Game

Return to Monkey Island

Terrence Atkins: We have come a long way from combining a banana with a bowling ball. Videogame comedy continues to evolve and this latest installment of the classic Monkey Island franchise does not disappoint. While there are those Among Us who wish to Return to Monke, I know that I will be Returning to Return to Monkey Island for the great comedy.

Honorable Mention: Trombone Champ

Best Multiplayer

The Quarry

John Rizzi: One element I miss greatly from gaming’s past is couch co-op/local multiplayer. When I was a kid/teen it seemed like EVERY game had a multiplayer mode where a friend can just pick-up a controller and join in. No online lobbies you have to wait to connect to, no friend codes or account systems. Nowadays, this feature is reserved for fighting games, racing games and indie titles. However, Supermassive Games is one modern studio that has taken full advantage of multiplayer modes in every one of their releases with each one improving over the last. The Quarry is no exception. With multiple modes and controller setups, it has never been easier to get a group of friends together locally or online to jump in a session, get invested, play along and have fun. And the opportunities these games can create with each multiplayer setup are remarkably extensive. Pass a controller down the line as the story goes or for every quick-time event, have certain people get stuck with playing as a character they hate, go against the unanimous decision to get a reaction, riff on the campy story together. Even with these games at their worst, the opportunities to have fun with friends never fail to present themselves.

Honorable Mention: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge

Biggest Improvement

Cyberpunk 2077

John Rizzi: I wasn’t too interested in Cyberpunk 2077 initially, even before all the backlash of its botched launch. A good friend of mine had a copy sitting on his shelf collecting dust since 2020. Fast-forward to 2022 and I decided to conduct an experiment. I borrowed my friend’s PS4 copy and yanked my ethernet cable from my console. I wanted to see how bad this game released on disc and then download all the patches, updates and upgrades afterwards. After a 90-minute installation process from the discs themselves, I fired the game up. Not even five seconds in, the title screen stuttered. This was gonna be fun.

After fiddling with the shockingly limited settings and creating my character, I was greeted by a stuttering, blurry, alias-filled world where NPCs would get stuck in walls. Even without performance issues, the game felt tedious with tutorials that treated you like you’ve never played a videogame before. After it crashed for the third time, I decided enough was enough and downloaded the PS4 updates that resulted in a better framerate and a resolution boost that made the game much easier to get through. Some issues popped up, but it was as playable as a decently-received Ubisoft game. Then I downloaded the PS5 Upgrade.

To say I was blown away is an understatement. The first thing I noticed was the lighting. The world felt much more dense and less visually flat. The framerate was now a smooth as butter 60 FPS and enemy encounters felt more organic since the AI was now more challenging and fun to fight. Then I opened the settings menu again and was stunned by the changes to the UI and the plethora of options that had been added. Different kinds of performance modes, accessibility options, gameplay tweaks, etc.
It was overwhelming the amount of work that was put into this game to earn goodwill back from its customers. While the game itself is still a bit of a letdown in terms of structure and design, those initial expectations were NEVER going to be lived up to. Right now what we have here is a solid FPS/RPG with fun levels, fun customization and a lived-in world that’s fun to explore and mess around in.

Honorable Mention: Star Wars: The Old Republic

Those are the little winners, but there’s more where that came from! Stay tuned for the big winners tomorrow, followed by The Tac, our awards show spectacular. Be sure to join us on YouTube for the event of the season!

Disagree with the results? Don’t worry, most of the staff does as well! Leave a comment, post about it on your social media platform of choice, or come tell us how wrong we are directly on our Discord channel. The choice is yours!

2 votes, average: 10.00 out of 102 votes, average: 10.00 out of 102 votes, average: 10.00 out of 102 votes, average: 10.00 out of 102 votes, average: 10.00 out of 102 votes, average: 10.00 out of 102 votes, average: 10.00 out of 102 votes, average: 10.00 out of 102 votes, average: 10.00 out of 102 votes, average: 10.00 out of 10 (You need to be a registered member to rate this post.)

About the Contributor

Since 2007

Alex "Jeddy" Jedraszczak is presiding Editor-in-Chief at GameCola, not only editing content but often writing it as well. On top of all this GameCola work, he also develops indie games.

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