My top ten favorite games of the year, presented in ascending order each day leading into the holidays. Look for my full Top Ten list with categories and awards on December 24!
#10 Pokémon GO
There’s a first damn time for everything – including a mobile game on my Game of the Year list. It’s the first time a mobile game has made my coveted list since I began making them four years ago.
That’s not to say I don’t enjoy mobile games. I have a ton of fun playing digital board games like Lords of Waterdeep and Small World, and dabble in ports of Heroes of Might and Magic III and Dungeon of the Endless.
But never has an original mobile game captured my attention like my #10 game. Leave it to Pokémon to finally break the barrier.
Pokémon GO isn’t even much of a game, but to many (including me) it was a fascinating introduction to the concept of augmented reality. Being able to go out in the real world and ‘find’ and capture Pokémon is brilliant and fun, despite the crushing lag and server problems the game suffered from its unprecedented popularity.
That’s the other thing – Pokémon GO exploded into mainstream pop culture like no game ever had. It was free to play and required very little instruction. And it was based on a twenty year old franchise. Your parents may not be able to identify all 800+ Pokémon, but everyone knows Pikachu and pokéballs.
For me personally Pokémon GO also released at an important time in my life. In July we sold our old home we’d been in for over eight years and bought a new one that same week. Including cleaning, prepping, moving, etc the process took over the entire Summer.
Pokémon GO released just days before the actual move, and it proved not only a much-needed stress reliever, but an enjoyable tool we used to explore our new town. For weeks after the move we’d drive around and see new places, our phones open to swipe PokéStops and find new critters.
I don’t know how much time I’ve logged into Pokémon GO but I still play it almost every day, even if just for a few minutes. I don’t even battle; I don’t hang around PokéStops or Gyms. I’m not even level 20 yet (just made 19 a week or two ago). It’s just a friendly companion app that’s on when I’m doing errands. It helps that my daughter’s preschool is in the middle of a dozen PokéStops – I’m permanently flushed with balls.
Pokémon GO has been the definition of a fun, casual experience, and well-deserved among my Top Ten Games of the Year. It also helped revitalize the Pokémon franchise, and there’s an excellent chance you’ll see that reflected in another of my Top Ten picks.