OPINION: Getting Back in the Groove, 2019 Edition

Thursday, January 10th, 2019

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Yoshi's Crafted World | Nintendo

So, 2018 has come and gone, and it was a bit of a lackluster year for games, at least for me. Yakuza 6 was a grand finale I thoroughly enjoyed despite some disappointing drawbacks, and I Smashed my way through a Who’s Who of Nintendo properties, but overall I played very few new games and caught up on even less that I have backlogged.

But now that it’s 2019, my New Year’s resolution is to get back into the swing of things, and what better way than to lay out the games I’m most looking forward to getting my hands on this year?

So let’s do this!

Kingdom Hearts III (Jan. 25, 2019 – Square-Enix)

Kingdom Hearts III | Box Art
Kingdom Hearts is a bit of a mixed bag for me. I played Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II when they released, but the only spinoff I’d played until now was Chain of Memories. (I’m currently doing a Birth By Sleep run followed by Dream Drop Distance and we’ll see if I can make myself do Days...) I’ve been looking forward to the third installment for a very long time, though I admit some of the enthusiasm has ebbed away over the last decade. But I’m stubborn and I’m determined to see it through to the end. Maybe it’ll even surprise me and be good. I liked the first two well enough. Maybe the Disney magic won’t have completely worn off quite yet.

Judgement (Summer 2019 – Sega)

It’s Yakuza meets every detective trope imaginable, and I’m so on board we’ve all ready set sail. I played the demo in early December and loved every minute of it, from the familiar playstyle of Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio games to its ultra-serious plot juxtaposed against a gamified world. It’s a return to my dear friend Kamurocho, and while the combat retains its very Yakuza-ness, the bits of sleuthing were fun if basic. It whet my appetite and I’m ready for the full experience.

Devil May Cry 5 (March 8, 2019 – Capcom)

It’s been around 15 years since I tried dancing with this devil, and I am ready for another chance.

This is where I admit to the world that I never actually beat the first Devil May Cry nor played its sequels (though I did beat Ninja Theory’s DmC, which I enjoyed well enough.) I’m prepping for DMC5‘s release with the HD Collection (a gift from my husband), and I’m actually pretty excited to return to it. I’ve always loved the aesthetic, and I especially loved the gameplay (even if I sucked at it). Now that I’m older and wiser, here’s hoping I can finally overcome and beat the damn game.

Yoshi’s Crafted World (Spring 2019 – Nintendo)

Yoshi's Crafted World | Nintendo
There is a decided charm in the “crafty” Nintendo games, from Kirby’s Epic Yarn and Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, to Yoshi’s Wooly World and this newest entry. Kirby’s Epic Yarn was impossibly easy and yet cloyingly adorable, while Yoshi brought more challenge (well, comparatively) but still laid into the charm. The visual aesthetic of the games is remarkable, capturing the essence of cloth and clay in ways that I can still appreciate years later.

It helps, too, that my son is enamoured of these games. Raising him to appreciate all types of games is important to me, but I have an especially soft spot in my heart for Nintendo games, and watching him light up when he sees Kirby or Yoshi will never get old.

Yakuza 3, 4, 5 remasters (TBD – Sega)

Sega had better bring these to the West. I am a sucker for these games, and having 3, 4 and 5 all on one system makes me giddy. Usually I roll my eyes at re-releases or remasters, but not this time. It’s a concrete chance for me to share the world of Yakuza with friends who never got to experience the games on PS2 or PS3, and Sega’s push to put the franchise more center-stage has me excited that maybe we’ll finally get Kenzan and Ishin.

Huniepop 2 (TBD – HuniePotDev)

Huniepop 2 | HuniePotDev
Cute newcomers and old favourites? Of course I’m excited for a return to one of my favourite sexy match-three puzzle games! The first game was immensely fun, and I can’t wait to seduce a whole new crop of ladies with my stylish puzzle skills.

Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers (Summer 2019 – Square-Enix)

Hi, welcome to my obsession for the past eight years or so. I mean, I did just attend FanFest, after all.

Watching this game grow from 1.0 until now has been a treat (and a wild ride for sure), and the newest expansion looks to continue the trend. I can’t wait to sink my teeth into the growing Ascian threat and finally take the fight to Garlemald. And with Yoshi-P’s annual New Year’s address leaving yet another cryptic message for what’s to come, I’m even more excited to “embrace the dark” with my fellow Eorzeans.

Patch 4.5 is all ready here, and then 5.0 just around the corner. I, for one, am a very happy Lalafell.

Also you cannot tell me Blue Mage doesn’t look amazing because it does.

Honorable Mentions
ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove (March 1, 2019 – Sega)

It’s been years since I played TJ&E, and seeing them return, funky music and all, puts a smile on my face.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (March 22, 2019 – From Software)

Sekiro- Shadows Die Twice | Featured Image

I never got onto the Souls train, but I can’t deny this game looks amazing and a lot of fun.

Daemon X Machina (TBD – Marvelous, Inc)

Daemon X Machina | Co-op Boss

I fell in love with the look of this game the fist time it showed up during a Nintendo Direct. It just looks like it’s gonna be a blast.

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night (TBD – ArtPlay, DICO, WayForward)


A spiritual successor to Castlevania? Sure, I’m in. It helps the game looks gorgeous.

Concrete Genie (Spring 2019 – PixelOpus)

Concrete Genie | PixelOpus

Visually imaginative, the game gives me Flower vibes in its “make the world brighter” gameplay schtick, and it looks like it might have a profound message on using art as a coping mechanism if the reveal trailer is anything to go by.

Ori and the Will of the Wisps (TBD – Moon Studios)

Ori and the Will of the Wisps

I haven’t even finished Ori and the Blind Forest but these games are so incredibly beautiful I’m still excited that a sequel is on its way.

About Leah McDonald

Leah's been playing video games since her brother first bought an Atari back in the 1980s and has no plans to stop playing anytime soon. She enjoys almost every genre of game, with some of her favourites being Final Fantasy Tactics, Shadow of the Colossus, Suikoden II and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Leah lives on the East Coast with her husband and son. You can follow Leah over on Twitter @GamingBricaBrac