Retro Game of the Year Awards 2021 thumbnail

Retro Game of the Year Awards 2021

Celebrate the good old days

A.J. Maciejewski

Written by for GOTY Awards on 🏆

The spirit of old-school gaming is alive and well so here are the very best retro experiences, classic game collections, and revivals of 2021.

A.J. has been obsessively gaming since the late '80s and is just as passionate about video games in 2022. 🐻

Castlevania Advance Collection Classic Console Compilation of the Year

Circle of the Moon, Harmony of Dissonance, and Aria of Sorrow remain a few of the best Castlevania games that follow the Metroidvania formula and this package contains all 3 of these Game Boy Advance classics along with Castlevania: Dracula X because; well, why not? The amount of fun to be had in these vampire-slaying adventures is superb and they'll keep you coming back for more as you attempt to uncover every map, collect everything, and experience the campaigns again as secret characters. Plus, there are some hearty extras. v1d30chumz 44-200-169-3

Castlevania Advance Collection Review Award image →
Castlevania Advance Collection screenshot
Dracula is certainly excited for this award

The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles Modern Console Compilation of the Year

The 2-part The Great Ace Attorney originally released for 3DS in Japan back in 2015 and 2017 and this year, western gamers finally got the opportunity to experience what are perhaps the best Ace Attorney games so far. As you observe the story gradually unfolding with plenty of unexpected twists and turns, you'll delight in the pitch-perfect sense of humour and the new mechanics add layers of immersion to the classic formula. So, if you enjoy visual novels and detective games then you'll love this duology of top-notch stories.

The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles Review Award image →
The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles screenshot
I think he just got word that he won an award

Capcom Arcade Stadium Arcade Compilation of the Year

Few developers have as many incredible arcade games in their vaults as Capcom and this delightful compilation contains 32 titles that range from awesome shoot 'em ups to classic fighting games. The most impressive parts about it are its range of expected vintage titles to obscurities as well as its presentation options which make playing these arcade greats even more enjoyable. Plus, the online aspect will have you competing to be the best in each of your favourite games. It's one jam-packed and comprehensive collection.

Capcom Arcade Stadium Review Award image →
Capcom Arcade Stadium screenshot
Want to play Giga Wing in an authentic arcade setting? Yes, please!

Bonfire Peaks Puzzle Game of the Year

Now that we're on to retro genres that are alive and kicking, our favourite puzzle game of 2021 is Bonfire Peaks. Similar practical puzzlers have been around since the early '80s and Bonfire Peaks does an excellent job of fleshing out the classic formula to a third dimension as you carefully manipulate each level's boxes on your way to burn a crate of stuff. It may be challenging but its forgiving overworld will have you juggling puzzles until you master as many as you can. Oh, and its unique immersive voxel visuals are exceptionally well-done.

Bonfire Peaks Review Award image →
Bonfire Peaks screenshot
More games should have you arrive to the game world via swan

Natsuki Chronicles Shoot 'em Up of the Year

Shoot 'em ups that go above and beyond to create something truly memorable really stand out and Natsuki Chronicles brilliantly blends story and intense arcade shooting action in one phenomenal campaign. Its gameplay alone will thrill any genre fan as you diligently weave through clouds of projectiles and occasionally switch up your weapons while aiming for a high score. It's a must-have shmup for sure.

Natsuki Chronicles Review Award image →
Natsuki Chronicles screenshot
Anime story-telling and shoot 'em up action go together beautifully

G-Darius HD Arcade Port of the Year

Speaking of shoot 'em ups, G-Darius HD is an enhanced port of the 1997 arcade shmup and it does a wonderful job of bringing back the classic while making the iconic Silver Hawk ship really stand out. Throw in extra HUD elements and modernizations such as quick-save, online leaderboards, and a museum of collectible enemy captures and you're left with a fantastic package for both fans and newcomers.

G-Darius HD Review Award image →
G-Darius HD screenshot
I could go for some seafood right about now

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD Remaster of the Year

There have been a handful of great Remasters in 2021 yet few have recaptured the essence of the original while offering something new and exciting as well as The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD has. Previously featuring primarily motion controls, Skyward Sword HD can now be played with button controls that are rather intuitive and impressively customizable and the overall experience is much more streamlined which allows you to continue the action at your own pace. Clearly, a lot of work went into this top-notch release.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD Review Award image →
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD screenshot
Link shows off his awesome sword to an appreciative skeleton

Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World Remake of the Year

When it comes to remakes, Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World thoroughly captivated us with its brand new 3D visuals that are downright adorable while remaining faithful to the original 1994 Sega Genesis classic Monster World IV. I personally loved this remake so much that I obsessively played it as soon as I got my hands on it and even wrote a complete walkthrough for it. How could anyone not fall in love with this lovely reimagined 2D action game? Whether you're a Wonder Boy fan or not, you need to check it out.

Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World Review Award image →
Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World screenshot
Sorry to wake you up, Lamp Spirit, but you won an award!

Metroid Dread Retro Revival of the Year

Finally, my favourite retro award to give out goes to Metroid Dread this year as it brought back the original 2D formula after almost 20 years since the previous 2D Metroid game. Although we saw a remake of Metroid II: Return of Samus back in 2017 with Metroid: Samus Returns, Metroid Dread is a brand new experience that offers rewarding gameplay, a clever new adversary in the form of E.M.M.I., and eye-popping cinematic qualities that no Metroid game has accomplished previously. It's a retro adventure through-and-through yet its modern sensibilities make it appeal to contemporary gamers which is a balance that must be incredibly tricky to pull off. Congrats! 😄

Metroid Dread Review Award image →
Metroid Dread screenshot
Samus has never looked so cool
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Gameplay video playlist for Retro Game of the Year Awards 2021
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