Games of 2022: Pokémon was the best experience by proxy

Literally surprising no one, my game of the year is Elden Ring. It exceeded my expectations of Erdtree size, and despite releasing a few absolute stoppers this year, nothing else came close. The games that have made me happiest, on the other hand, are games that I have barely played, if at all. Pokémon Legends Arceus and Scarlet brought me more joy than all the Elden Rings and Immortalities and Marvel Snaps combined.

I am not a player of these games. I tried a few, but never finished one, they never caught me. My fiancee Rune (yes, they’re not binary, why you ask?) on the other hand, absolutely adore them. Sun and Moon were the first releases after we got together and I dutifully made sure they had all the new Pokemon games coming out, even during the tough times.

It is really worth it. Nothing compares to their delight as they experience the heady joys of something so comfortably familiar generously sprinkled with new surprises. I help select starters and contribute names. (Would you believe that as a video game journalist, I’m pretty good at puns?) Making them laugh is good. Making them moan and hitting me with a cushion is even better!

Here is an overview of Arceus.

I love that the core Pokemon games are now on the Switch. Instead of having a portable screen in front of my face every two minutes, we cuddle up on the couch and I can see all the action as it happens. The whole thing has become a big event now. We even get snacks. I won’t end up watching the entire game, but you can be sure I’ll be alerted whenever a new Pokemon is discovered or an evolution is about to occur.

It helped me appreciate other parts of the game and the fandom that I don’t think I’ve really seen the appeal of before. Watching streamers play games will never interest me, I much prefer playing games myself, but I’ve realized that the game itself isn’t really the point, it’s to see someone else having fun.

Likewise, I never understood how people can be casual fans of things. Either I like something or I don’t and when I do, my instinct is to go all out. RPG books and Legion figurines. I rewatched a bunch of movies and series and finally finished Jedi: Fallen Order. (How good is that ending?)

With Pokémon, I’m content to enjoy news and rumors around a new release, smile at fan art, and have an ever-growing list of favorite Pokémon (with Bulbasaur always on top.) It’s more like nice. And considerably cheaper than my usual way of engaging with the media.

What I realized is that some of the best games can be enjoyed without playing them at all. Unboxing was my GOTY last year and I experienced that start to finish watching Rune play it. I probably enjoyed it even more than if I had played it myself, because we pointed out all the little details and speculated together. I played the aforementioned Immortality alone, but I would have liked to play it with someone else. Tunic is another wonderful title from 2022 that would have been better together. (And having someone else do the frustrating combat would have been a blessing!)

What’s your favorite game you’ve never played?

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