Honorable Mentions (Games I Played in 2017, Regardless of Release)
10. Final Fantasy IX (PC)
I’m sure this seems like a ridiculous inclusion, but it’s also another of the games I played the most this year, and the newly released “HD” port is the best version of this game, so surely that’s enough for an honorable mention. I loved this game on PSOne growing up, but I’d forgotten how absolutely fantastic it is to play (for the most part) until I booted it back up for the first time early this year to record the entire game for my upcoming Final Fantasy IX Story Play (Our entire Charged Shot crew is part of it, you can indulge my shameless plug). This is another remaster similar to the Zelda 3D ports on 3DS where they didn’t try to make it look modern, they just cleaned up the visuals to make it look closer to the concept art they originally intended until hardware limitations interfered for the PSOne release. Because of that, it definitely looks old, but this game’s more painterly art style has actually aged really well, and while it doesn’t render in wide screen (though you can stretch it if you want), the assets all upscaled beautifully and the bars on the side aren’t that annoying. The game plays as well as ever, also, with some minor changes such as the ability to max out your gil, abilities, and stats (though these can’t be turned off), much shorter loading screens, and seamless transitions between what used to be disc changes. In general, this new release of the game is just proof that this entry in the series has withstood the test of time and is still one of the best RPGs ever made. If you passed it up because you grew up in the more edgy era of Final Fantasy 7, or were turned off by the mediocrity that is Final Fantasy 8 (though I stand by the super cool leveling mechanics of that game), then now’s your chance to try it again, because while it can be jarring to see the series go back to a more traditional fantasy style, you do yourself a disservice by judging it solely on that. There’s a lot to love here; I should know, it’s been one of my favorite games of all time for almost 20 years now.