The Best Game Collections of 2022 – TheGamer

Forget game of the year, what are the best GAMES of the year?
As we close out the year and try to find more games to buy for loved ones (i.e., ourselves), we’re all seeing a lot of ‘Best Of’ lists. And hey, 2022 was a great year for games. I feel like almost every year is a great year for games, but there’s some sort of rule where everyone has to say it in their list. Usually by adding some qualifier about how an eagerly anticipated game was delayed or something. Wah, wah, nothing’s perfect.
That said… 2022 was a pretty great year for games! But you already know that. If you need another article to tell you that Elden Ring was good, buddy, I got nothing that can help you. Did you know there was a cyberpunk game about a cat? What a wild year. Look, I’ve got nothing against ‘Best Of’ lists. Especially the ones that mention games I like. The ones I mention games I don’t like I have less use for.
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But the problem with Game of the Year lists is they are, by necessity, focused on the word ‘game’ singular. This, of course, makes sense because we are talking about individual pieces of art weighed against each other based on quality and/or how angry people online will get if they’re not mentioned. This leaves out a lot of games collections and anthology series.
I’m serious: 2022 was a year that some pretty amazing, high-quality video game collections were released. Some got press, some didn’t. But to ignore them entirely as we celebrate the year in games feels a little crappy. Nay, it feels very crappy! These collections went beyond just tossing together titles in a bundle and calling it a value. They curated an experience. They added to the experience of each individual game.
And I want more of them, so please spend them your money.
I’m capitalizing this title because most places selling the collection do. I swear I’m not a psychopath. But you know who is a psychopath? Someone who doesn’t own this collection!
That’s actually not true. It’s really up to your tastes. I shouldn’t have even brought it up.
As you might guess from ‘Vol. 2’, this is the second (hence the “2”) volume (hence the ‘Vol.’) of Neo Geo Pocket games from SNK. While the games aren’t nearly as strong as they were in the first collection, they’re still pretty great. In fact, a couple were never released in English at all. Granted, they’re still not in English, but at least they come with an English-language manual. That’s pretty, pretty good!
The real headliners of the package are the Capcom vs. SNK card game and a port of the Mega Man arcade games. Both hold up. And while the Mega Man Battle & Fighters port looks way worse than the arcade, it plays significantly better. And it looks cuter. I dunno, man. Am I allowed to say a game is cute at 38? Oof.
In all likelihood, you don’t give a shit about Neo Geo Pocket games. The system wasn’t popular enough to spark nostalgia in children the world over. But the quality of the emulation is great, the extras are useful, and – hey – you can even choose different skins for the fake Neo Geo Pocket system used as a background wallpaper/frame for the games.
Also, it’s worth repeating that the Capcom vs. SNK card game is pretty great and feels like a shorter, simpler alternate dimension Pokémon Card Game.
Shoutout to Capcom for going for such a specific title. Sure, you could gussy it up – but why? Why would you make it more marketable? Let the fans find quality products on their own, I say! There’s no reason to trick people into spending money on ports of rare fighting games! Just say ‘Capcom’ and hope someone born before 1992 does the rest.
Enough whining: the Capcom Fighting Collection is great. I’m not a professional fighting game player nor an eSports fan, so I’m sure the ports are broken and don’t use the right technology to acknowledge the change in frame rates between CRTs and modern televisions. I’m positive there’s a reason to be mad at these ports.
But since I don’t care about those reasons, I don’t care in general.
If you played Capcom’s (better-named) Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection, you’ll understand what you get here. But rather than everything coming from Capcom’s flagship series, we get the tasty weird shit here. Darkstalkers, baby! Finally we get Felicia and Morrigan in their original games and not just guest starring in random other games like Charo in a Christmas special.
Not every title in this collection plays great, but damn if we don’t get some wonderful shit that – let’s be honest – is more replayable than most of the games in the Street Fighter collection. For real: You’re going to play Gem Fighters more than Street Fighter 3: 2nd Impact. Pocket Fighters, Darkstalkers and – hey – there’s even a Street Fighter game in there to please everyone present.
Do yourself a favor and play some weird, old fighting games.
One of these is not like the others! Dread X Collection isn’t a retro throwback, it’s an anthology series. Think the V/H/S movies and you’re somewhat there. Each game is its own little piece of horror. While artistic choices and budgetary limitations make some of the games look older, they’re all pretty much new! As in, right now! Of this era!
It’s hard to talk about the games without spoiling them since they’re short and a lot of the joy is in the surprise of the turns. This isn’t “You’re stuck in a strange town with a mystery to solve over 40 hours.” This is “You’re in an art gallery and what the fuck is going on in the immediate future?”
If you love horror games and, more importantly, short games, check this out. And check out the other ones, too. In fact, check out as much as you can of anything anywhere. Life is about variety.
See, Capcom, that’s how you fucking do it, man. My top two collections are both made by Digital Eclipse. I have not made my love for this company a secret. I fucking love this company. I am ride or die. At least until they make one minor mistake and I’ll tear them to shreds. Being a fan of video games is healthy and fun at the same time.
The Cowabunga Collection is incredible. It includes some of the best Ninja Turtles games of all time, which were also some of the best games of their era. While the online play leaves a little to be desired in terms of variety and functionality, the rest of the package is so genuinely wonderful. We got box art. We got manuals. We got ads. We got promotional materials. We got a lot of 1990s capitalism to miss!
And – lord almighty thank you – there are features to make some of the more insane games more approachable. Little Game Genie-style cheats and extra settings that make moving through the games possible for people like me who, to use medical terminology, suck ass.
This is the first time I’ve been compelled to play through all of the Game Boy Ninja Turtle games and I don’t even like the Game Boy Ninja Turtle games.
See, Capcom, that’s how you do it a little less well than the Ninja Turtles title, but still better.
Remember – just two sentences ago! – how I said I didn’t care about the Game Boy Ninja Turtle games? Well, if I don’t care about those, then I deeply, whole-heartedly, soulfully give far less of a shit about Atari. I’m not nostalgic for Atari. I don’t hate Atari. I’ve bought other collections over the years, but old Atari games always felt like minor distractions to get a feel of what video games were like before fun was invented.
Then came this sweet, sweet collection. Atari – 50: The Anniversary Collection is what happens when you decide to add as much context as possible to games that came out decades ago. It’s essentially a living documentary with interviews, commercials, old news footage, manuals and documentation. You know what’s great? These aren’t even features hidden under seven menus. The historical timeline and documentary are what come up first.
Hell, there’s even a completion number for how much you’ve explored the history of the games. Let me repeat that: There is a completion rate for learning! Reader, I could marry it.
Since it’s Atari, a lot of the games are historical oddities. But with this context, they’re interesting historical oddities. And, hell, some of the unreleased and barely-released game prototypes are wild. Just bonkers shit from an era of arcade games in which anything went because nobody really knew what the fuck they were doing.
Without the documentation, these games would be a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing. With the documentation, these games are a lot of sound and fury signifying fun. I’d delete that last sentence, but if I did, I’d have to admit I wrote it.
And, hey, how many Lynx games have you played? How many Jaguar games? I’m not gatekeeping – I’m saying this is a chance to play them after they were ported by a team that is fucking masterful at the job. Even the bad games – and I’d say almost every Jaguar game in the collection is bad – are fascinating and worth exploring. You get them. You understand them. The randomness of a collection is gone and replaced with what amounts to an actual museum.
The sad thing is, Atari – 50: The Anniversary Collection doesn’t outwardly present as the incredible package it is. The box art isn’t too different from other Atari collections over the years. Iconic logo. Name. Hope for the best. It’s not evocative and I’m sad that it’ll probably cause a lot of people to pass this by. I beg you – look beyond the bland box and buy this thing.
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Mike Drucker is a television writer and standup comedian. He’s currently co-head writer and co-executive producer of Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, and has written for shows including The Tonight Show, Adam Ruins Everything, and Mystery Science Theater 3000. Mike’s writing has also appeared in video games for Sony and Nintendo. If you read this far, thank you.


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