Four years! Four years that I restarted playing games again, and reconnecting with a hobby that I like so much. And it's so good to keep writing about them — now more than ever with this new blog. 2023 was a crazy year, specially on my gaming tastes. I played way more new releases than before, mostly because of my new focus on writing reviews (that I hope to do more here next year).

I also got a Nintendo Switch and a Playdate as wedding gifts, so me and my wife were playing a lot this year too. Specifically, I need to play more Playdate games in the next year to do a major recap, but Nintendo games were a jam in those last months at home.

But the year is coming to an end, and it's time to my already classic Played of the Year! Welcome to POTY 2023, my own personal list of the best games I played this year. It doesn't matter if the title was launched decades ago: if i'm discovering it for the first time now, it counts.

This year we have 25 (TWENTY-FIVE!) titles in the list because I had a lot to talk about! You can also see the lists from past years (2020, 2021, 2022). Let's start!

25) subpar pool

PC/Switch/Android/iOS, grapefrukt games, 2023

subpar pool

I'm always down for a well-made game to be in my pocket, and subpar pool lived in my phone for some months. The mix of mini golf controls with pool levels is amazing, with a lot of interesting mechanics and new crazy ideas. The progression through quests wasn't my favorite, but it was perfect to play a match when waiting in line or in the bathroom throne. The visuals are top notch, and the overall cute but strange vibes are perfect for some uncompromised fun.

24) The Many Pieces of Mr. Coo

PC/Switch/PlayStation/Xbox, Nacho Rodríguez/Gammera Nest/Meridiem Games, 2023

The Many Pieces of Mr. Coo

In this bad future we are heading towards with AIs creating all the "art", it's so refreshing and beautiful to see a game with hand-made animation beautifully done. The Many Pieces of Mr. Coo doesn't have the most simple and easy to understand puzzles, and it had a lot of bugs at launch... but Mr. Coo's worlds were so amazing, surreal and interesting that makes all worth it. (There was a lot of behind-the-scenes problems with the developer regarding this game, so I'm also using also the space to support all the effort done by Nacho Rodríguez and his creative team during those hard times. Hope to see a better future to the yellow guy!)

23) Venba

PC/Switch/PlayStation/Xbox, Visai Games, 2023


I was really excited to play Venba since the first time I saw a trailer. The puzzles are in a smaller amount than I expected, but the idea of cooking and discovering the recipe at the same time is smart and fun. Venba is also a great story about Indian and immigrant culture, and how family changes over time. I'm not a immigrant myself, but only connecting with those characters as a "far from home" person was enough to make me cry a little. It's also really short, perfect for a one-shot game night with someone you love.

22) A Tiny Sticker Tale

PC/Switch, Ogre Pixel, 2023

A Tiny Sticker Tale

As you gonna understand more and more during this list, short puzzle adventures are my jam. A Tiny Sticker Tale is a simple idea well executed: everything can be a sticker, and can be transported to other parts of the world. This focus gave me almost an escape room vibe, where finding patterns and experimenting with the rules is half of the fun. The story and characters weren't much memorable to me, but after the Paper Mario disaster, I finally have a "sticker game" to praise.

21) Koa and the Five Pirates of Mara

PC/Switch/PlayStation/Xbox, Chibig/Talpa Games/Undercoders, 2023

Koa and the Five Pirates of Mara

I'm not a great fan of pure platforming challenges (I like my games spiced with a lot of exploration), but sometimes all you need is a small girl running and jumping to have some fun. Koa and the Five Pirates of Mara isn't the most innovative in its genre, but it knows how to use its small scope to create a great experience. It's relatively short, easy to play if you just wanna relax, but also has a speedrun focus if you like these things. May the winds of Mara be kind to you!

20) Super Mario Bros. Wonder

Switch, Nintendo, 2023

Super Mario Bros. Wonder

Of course, Super Mario Bros. Wonder is the best 2D Mario game since the Super Nintendo days. And there isn't a doubt that Wonder is a great platformer, with a lot of good ideas and understanding what is fun in its pure form. But I think, after three decades of impressive games being launched, that my expectations were too high for what Nintendo showed us. Most of the Wonder Effects would pass as "common mechanics" in a lot of other titles, including Mario past adventures. It's a marvelous game and I loved it, but wasn't that wonderful for me.

19) WarioWare: Twisted!

Game Boy Advance, Nintendo, 2004

WarioWare: Twisted!

Finally an old game in this list! Thanks to the all-powerful 3DS homebrew, I could play WarioWare: Twisted! the way it was intended, with real motion controls. And it just works really well!? It was a little bit clunky, and sometimes the concept of turning the device bugged me, but it's amazing how they did this in 2004 without many flaws. The microgames were crazy and perfect as always, and I can only hope they put Twisted in the Nintendo Switch Online service so more people can experience it the right way.

18) The Spirit and the Mouse

PC/Mac/Switch/PlayStation, Alblune/Armor Games Studios, 2022

The Spirit and the Mouse

I asked for exploration platformers and I was served! The first on the list is the charming The Spirit and the Mouse, featuring the cute Lila, a mouse with electric powers (that doesn't violate copyright!) in a quest to bring back happiness to a French village. With limited movement in vast levels, my brain have gone almost to a positional puzzle, trying to find the best way to get to a certain place. With a lot of collectables and a cute story, I totally recommend it.

17) Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Switch, Nintendo/Bandai Namco/Sora Ltd., 2018

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

How not to mention the biggest crossover on entertainment in my POTY when I had the chance? After so many years, I finally played hours and hours of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate — specifically doing 100% on World of Light, the adventure campaign. I know that a lot of people disliked WoL, but I absolutely loved! It has that crossover feeling at the heart, like the gaming franchises were just LEGO pieces that could be mounted and remounted to play make believe. The fact it is, beyond all that, an almost perfect platform fighter is just the cherry on top; even to me, the worst Smash player on planet.

16) Storyteller

PC/Mac/iOS/Android/Switch, Daniel Benmergui/Annapurna Interactive, 2023


Sometimes I think of a good puzzle, but I don't really know how to make it a reality. Storyteller is a game I wish I had thought, and even if I had, I wouldn't have known how to make it. The concept of creating stories using logic blocks in comic strips is just marvelous, easy to learn and always intriguing to play. Sometimes, it can became a little too obtuse (specially in the extra objectives), but being a storyteller never was a easy job anyways.

15) Mario Kart 8 Deluxe: Booster Course Pass

Switch, Nintendo, 2022-2023

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe: Booster Course Pass

I generally try to put DLCs only in the honorable mentions, but this Booster Course Pass was basically a new game! I don't think that Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is specifically a better version of MK8, but with the strongest basis in the series, it's hard to mess up. Even in the weaker courses (like most of the city stages from Tour), it was fun to ride. The levels were doubled, they gave me Pauline and it was part of Nintendo Switch Online. Best expansion Nintendo ever made.

14) Bang-On Balls: Chronicles

PC/Switch/PlayStation/Xbox, Exit Plan Games/Untold Tales/CouchPlay Interactive, 2023

Bang-On Balls: Chronicles

I would NEVER guessed a game like Bang-On Balls: Chronicles would be in my POTY, but the world is round, and it spins, just like those balls. After I passed that first layer of "hey, it just a meme game?", I was shocked to find a 3D platform that is consistently wacky and stupidly fun. BoB is way more combat-focused that I tend to like, but the amount of collectables and the historical theme got me. There isn't a lot of games that allows you to be a Brazilian-painted ball with Nordic clothes helping in the Cold War, so...

13) Pick Pack Pup

Playdate, Nic Magnier/Arthur Hamer/Logan Gabriel, 2022

Pick Pack Pup

I played way less on my Playdate than I wanted this year — and I'm promising here more content about it in 2024 — but Pick Pack Pup wasn't just the best Playdate game I played so far, but, probably, the best match-3 game that I ever played. Limitation is the spark of good ideas, and that trio made a miracle here. Instead of fighting with the small screen, they found a good mechanic to overcome it and fix a lot of problems that I had with the genre. If you have a Playdate, this game comes in Season One and you NEED to play it.

12) The Making of Karateka

PC/Switch/PlayStation/Xbox, Digital Eclipse, 2023

The Making of Karateka

If I've played Karateka in any emulator, I would dismiss it in 10 minutes. Yes, people said it was important and I believe them, but its time has passed, right? Fortunately, I played The Making of Karateka instead. Digital Eclipse not only created an amazing game collection, but set a new standard for gaming documentaries and preservation. Even I didn't like to play the titular game, understand the historical context and all that happened during development was the perfect lens to the past to appreciate Karateka and Jordan Mechner's legacy.

11) The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening

Switch, Nintendo/Grezzo, 2019

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening

All that Zelda fans can talk nowadays is about breathing wild and crying kingdoms, but I need to confess: I love The Legend of Zelda in 2D. Just give me a cute world, a quest to slay the darkness and a little boy in green and I will be happy, I promise. Link's Awakening's remake does all of this and way more! This Link is the CUTEST EVER, the diorama visuals are incredible and it has great dungeons, characters and stories. I would be even happier with an original game in that style, though...

10) Rhythm Heaven Megamix

3DS, Nintendo, 2016

Rhythm Heaven Megamix

This POTY's top 10 starts with a second chance. I had already played Rhythm Heaven Megamix in the past — in fact, it was my first experience with the series. But, then, I became stuck in that cursed Lockstep level and gave up. But then, after many years (and two other RH finished), I discovered I could have just skipped the minigame. So I tried again, AND BEAT IT. In the meantime, I also played the definitive edition of one of the best rhythm game series ever made. If you have a 3DS laying down, put it on homebrew and go in this journey with me.

09) Vampire Survivors

PC/Mac/iOS/Android/Switch/Xbox, poncle, 2022

Vampire Survivors

Last year, I tried Vampire Survivors. It was fun, but didn't caught me. This year, I tried Vampire Survivors again AND IT CONSUMED ME. When you understand all the cogs behind the progression in VS, you will understand why it is so fun. All the combos, evolutions, relics and secrets, laying in the center of a perfect game to turn off the brain and relax. Sometimes, all I needed was choose a podcast, begin a level and start leveling up. I cannot wait the next updates and DLCs (and even other bullet heaven games) in 2024.

08) Carto

PC/Mac/Switch/PlayStation/Xbox, Sunhead Games/Humble Games, 2020


In my first ever POTY, I talked about Carcassonne, a classic tile-laying board game. Three years later and I'm here again talking a tile-laying board game mechanic, but in a different and way more interesting concept. Carto is a girl with a magical map: if she changes the disposition of the cartography, the real world bends to its shape. Each chapter also increases how you can manipulate the map, bringing more depth to the gameplay. It such an amazing puzzle, and it is really well executed in a cozy story about a quest for family.

07) Smushi Come Home

PC/Mac/Switch, SomeHumbleOnion/Mooneye Studios, 2023

Smushi Come Home

A 3D platformer, with focus on exploration, a small protagonist in a big world and SO FREAKING CUTE: Smushi Come Home was almost made to me. It is a short experience (compared with the genre average), but every detail was made to bring happiness. Every collectable is interesting, even if it's a upgrade, a skin or just a fact about mushrooms. Smushi is also the cutest shroom I ever met, with the attitude of a teenager that faces a problem and just asks "what I'm doing here, I'm only eight years old". My spiritual fungus.

06) Luigi's Mansion 3

Switch, Nintendo/Next Level Games, 2019

Luigi's Mansion 3

One more green brother adventure in the POTY! Luigi's Mansion 3 is the gameplay conclusion of a series that tried a lot. The ghost capture is easier, but more flashy and impactful (and also more fun, to me). The hotel is way better than Dark Moon's small mansions, and the new bosses have an amazing character design. Playing this in co-op with my wife was perfect, and we laughed a lot. Gooigi's lack of reaction against everything encapsulates a lot of me in Friday nights after working all week.

05) Katamari Damacy REROLL

PC/Switch/PlayStation/Xbox, MONKEYCRAFT Co. Ltd./Bandai Namco, 2018

Katamari Damacy REROLL

Every POTY of mine needs a double feature... and this year, it came rolling! I cannot recommend enough Katamari Damacy. It was such a strange game, but it knows exactly the meaning of fun, and goes for it in every detail. The music is perfect, the wackiness is great, the story doesn't make sense, and you have to just keep rolling. It's my wife's favorite game, and now I understand why. This REROLL version is the most accessible nowadays, but it has all the glory of yesterday rolls.

04) We Love Katamari REROLL+ Royal Reverie

PC/Switch/PlayStation/Xbox, MONKEYCRAFT Co. Ltd./Bandai Namco, 2023

We Love Katamari REROLL+ Royal Reverie

What's better than Katamari? MORE KATAMARI! Improving the original in a lot of ways, including new goals and ways to play, We Love Katamari is just perfection in a form of videogame. I know that the strange controls can turn some people off, but I beg you to try again. Yes, it seems weirder every second, but if you embrace it, you'll have a lot of fun. This REROLL version includes a lot of new things, but sticking to the original content is already an amazing experience.

03) Hi-Fi RUSH

PC/Xbox Series, Tango Gameworks/Bethesda, 2023


The bronze this year goes to the most surprising game of the year to me. A shadow drop from nowhere in the start of 2023, Hi-Fi RUSH is a masterpiece. I was never a fan of character action games, but mixing it with rhythm mechanics made it just perfect to me. And they even made a gorgeous world to look and explore, with that cartoon inspiration overflowing every dialog line, every animation, every object in the map. The story is great, the characters are so charismatic AND EVEN THE CAT IS CUTE, I LOVE 808! If you need to play just one character action game, this is your cue.


PC/Mac/Switch/PlayStation, Triband, 2020


I hate golf. Nothing against people that like golf, but I can't understand why someone likes a thing that is boring even in videogame form. Fortunately, there are people out there that understands me, and created WHAT THE GOLF?. The only golf thing here is the name: this is an incredible and always inventive physics puzzle that mesmerized me every level, no exception. The amount of ideas being executed all the time here is too absurd to be real, but sometimes miracles happen.

01) Kirby and the Forgotten Land

Switch, HAL Laboratory/Nintendo, 2022

Kirby and the Forgotten Land

I already love Kirby, and then you give me one of the best 3D platformers I ever played? Kirby and the Forgotten Land isn't just 3D transition well made, but a masterclass in set pieces, where every level is memorable and gets in the player's memory. All the Mouthful Mode is perfect (Car Kirby!) and the idea of evolving Copy Abilities ticked in my brain until I collected all of them. Surprising no one, Kirby and the Forgotten Land got the gold in my 2023 Played of the Year!

Honorable Mentions

  • Yes, I played Disney Dreamlight Valley all year. When an update dropped, there I was, ready to finish my new quests. I even bought the new expansion, A Rift in Time! I hope to get a full review of 1.0 version soon here in the blog (and the expansion in the future).
  • Dordogne is a short, but beautiful French story in watercolor. It isn't challenging, but it could be a good idea to relax at the end of the day.
  • Crime O'Clock is the most complete hidden object game I ever played. With a lot more story and plot than I expected, the time travel theme got me hooked for some days until I finished it.
  • Rytmos is more of a puzzle game about music, instead of a musical game. The challenge is fun, but discovering new genres and rhythms from all over the world is what makes it worth.
  • Puzzmo is what you need if you miss newspaper puzzles. I'm playing it for some months now, and the clue system in the crosswords made me smart again.
  • TYPECAST is a weird but fun mix of bullet hell and typing games. I would love to see more campaign-focused content in it, but as an arcade game, it is a blast.
  • Wanna a New Year's treat? Check those free web games that I loved during the year: Machine Yearning, Shape of Mind, Mystic Ring and Tricky Keys 2.

And that was my 4th Played of the Year! You can see a more complete list on my Backloggd, if you want. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and see you on POTY again next year!