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NPR staff and contributors list their favorite 2022 games

JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:

The world may have returned to an uncertain normalcy in 2022. But the video games, well, they were anything but ordinary.

(SOUNDBITE OF MONTAGE)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) Get ready.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) Falcon.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: (As character) You've brought great risk to yourself and to my brothers.

JIMMY LIVINGSTONE: (As Narrator) Rise now, ye tarnished.

SUMMERS: NPR asked staff and contributors to write about their favorites this year. James Mastromarino covers games for NPR, and he edited the final list. Hey, James.

JAMES MASTROMARINO, BYLINE: Hi, Juana.

SUMMERS: So we had you on this program over the summer to talk about some of the year's hottest games, including "Elden Ring," which I know we had a lot to say about. But what's happened since then?

MASTROMARINO: Well, just a little thing called God of War Ragnarok - this hugely anticipated PlayStation game - the other Norse-mythology-inspired adventure to come out this year. And it really delivered. On the one hand, it's impossibly huge - really epic - but it's also this intimate family story about a father tired of fighting and a son who's burning for a cause.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO GAME, "GOD OF WAR RAGNAROK")

CHRISTOPHER JUDGE: (As Kratos) Until you learn control, we'll take no unnecessary risks.

SUNNY SULJIC: (As Atreus) Inaction is also a risk. Stop thinking like a father for a moment and start thinking like a general.

JUDGE: (As Kratos) No.

MASTROMARINO: And as you can hear there, it really leans on these just heart-wrenching performances. It's almost like watching a movie.

SUMMERS: Yeah. And speaking of film, I also saw that one of these games is really like three live-action movies, right?

MASTROMARINO: Yes. It's called Immortality. It presents itself as three unreleased movies. And the way it works is that you'll be watching a scene, say, between an actress and a talk show host.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO GAME, "IMMORTALITY")

JEFF WITZKE: (As character) And you like New York?

MANON GAGE: (As Marissa Marcel) Oh, yes, I love it. The people are so interesting.

MASTROMARINO: And then you'll click on that actress's face, and suddenly you're in a scene where that actress is playing a monk in a monastery.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO GAME, "IMMORTALITY")

GAGE: (As Marissa Marcel) I concealed my sex and joined the abbey to be closer to your holiness.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #4: (As character) This cannot be.

GAGE: (As Marissa Marcel) Please do not be shocked by my dishonesty. I acted out of love.

MASTROMARINO: So you'll assemble these movies this way and discover secrets relating to all of them and its central actress. And you can even play it on your phone for free with a Netflix subscription.

SUMMERS: And when I hear about that, it sounds like the sort of thing that could really draw in people who aren't necessarily hardcore gamers. But speaking of mobile games, are there any others that you'd recommend this year?

MASTROMARINO: Yeah, I've been kind of addicted to "Marvel Snap." It's a very fast head-to-head strategy game. You have a deck of superheroes and villains, and the goal is to try and win 2 out of 3 locations that can range from places like Wakanda or Central Park. And it's really tense because, even though it's so short, things can change at the drop of the hat. You might think you're winning a location. Then suddenly, The Incredible Hulk will come in and smash your face. I got so involved in this game that I even tried to play it while I was actually playing board games with my family. Not a good look.

SUMMERS: Not a good look at all. OK, so say you want to play a video game with your family this holiday season. What game would you recommend?

MASTROMARINO: Well, Juana, I have four words for you.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO GAME, "TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: SHREDDER'S REVENGE")

MIKE PATTON: (Singing) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Heroes in a half shell...

MASTROMARINO: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge is a new arcade-style game. It's colorful. It's pixelated. Up to six people can play. It's great on the Nintendo Switch as you play your way through all of these really retro-style, beat-em-up levels.

SUMMERS: Yeah, this game is actually a huge favorite in my household as well. So as you're thinking about the new year, what is next on the horizon? What are you excited about in 2023?

MASTROMARINO: Well, I'm excited for a new Fire Emblem tactics...

SUMMERS: Yeah.

MASTROMARINO: ...Game on the Nintendo Switch. There's also a huge Hogwarts title that's coming out in February. I'm interested in that, especially since J.K. Rowling has sort of become toxic to that brand. And of course, Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom comes out in May. And I don't think it's preemptive to say that it will likely be to 2023 what Elden Ring was to this year - just completely inescapable.

SUMMERS: All right. So next year, we're going to have to compare notes again. That is NPR's James Mastromarino. Thank you.

MASTROMARINO: Thank you, Juana.

SUMMERS: And you can find the full list of NPR's Games of The Year at npr.org.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

James Perkins Mastromarino
James Perkins Mastromarino is Here & Now's Washington, D.C.-based producer. He works with NPR's newsroom on a daily whirlwind of topics that range from Congress to TV dramas to outer space. Mastromarino also edits NPR's Join the Game and reports on gaming for daily shows like All Things Considered and Morning Edition.