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2019 Brutal Gamer Awards: The Genre Bests

Two weeks late, but hey who’s counting? Here’s the second part of the 2019 BGA’s, honoring the greats of the various genres of gaming.

What’s your favorite?

All gamers have their favorite genre. Whether you’re a strict adherent to fun and colorful platformers or prefer the up close and personal, bloody battles of an FPS, that applies to almost all of us.

For this second installment of the BGA’s, the BrutalGamer staff voted on their favorites from 2019, a year that included quite a few highlights. From remakes like Resident Evil 2, to reboots like Modern Warfare, to brand new adventures like Control, last year had a lot to offer.

Best 2D Game

Old school… and yet, still plenty ‘new’. Two dimensional video games have been around since the very beginning of the art form, and they’re not going anywhere, even in the modern age.

That’s mainly thanks to the robust and rich indie scene, which continues to be a source of imagination and innovation. The 2D games from last year pushed the envelope in a few ways, be it in all-out action reminiscent of the best side-scrolling shooters of decades past, or methodical pacing and just trying to stay alive.

The nominees for Best 2D Game are…

  • Valfaris
  • Blasphemous
  • Katana Zero
  • My Friend Pedro
  • Yooka Laylee and the Impossible Lair

And the winner is…


The Game Kitchen and Team17’s blood-soaked, side-scrolling, horror action title takes Best 2D Game of 2019 with ease. There’s a reason too, since the game’s stylish approach to classic gameplay is just plain cool.

A Metroidvania at heart, Blasphemous is heavy on action. But though the game does offer quick action, it also makes you think and proceed with caution. It’s also unlike most other games of the genre in that it’s gory as all get-out and tells a supremely dark narrative.

If you’re going to play a 2D title, and want a challenge, Blasphemous is a title that you need to have a look at.

Best Fighting Game

One of the biggest genres in all of gaming since the mid-90s, fighting games are a mainstay. The revolution began with the likes of Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat, and those names are still just as big in the modern era. Actually, they might be even bigger.

While the genre has grown since its birth, to include games that stretch the definition of what a fighting game can be, those classics are still mostly going strong. As you’ll see in our nominees, you just can’t keep good series down.

The nominees for Best Fighting Game are…

  • Mortal Kombat 11
  • Samurai Showdown
  • Dead or Alive 6
  • Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid
  • Fantasy Strike

And the winner is…

Mortal Kombat 11!

Was there a doubt as to what fighter would take home the gold for us? Mortal Kombat 11 is a gem in just about every way, and well deserved of the win. Developer NetherRealm continued to refine what’s become one of the premier series’ in all of gaming with MK11.

This latest entry in the set upped the ante in almost every way. From phenomenal graphics and overall presentation, to MK’s signature play control, to a time-bending story that saw the return of many of Mortal Kombat’s greatest and most popular characters, this one had it all.

It’s going to be tough to top, but if we’ve learned anything from the team at NetherRealm, they’re definitely going to try.

Best Family Friendly Game

As usual, the best family friendly gaming titles were on the Nintendo platform this past year. That of course, was the Switch, which saw games like Mario Maker 2, Luigi’s Mansion 3, and Link’s Awakening.

Nintendo fills in a pretty important gap in the landscape with their continuing publication of games that appeal to all ages. Not a whole lot of publishers still do that these days, and it’s still nice to see.

As you’ll see here too, our entire list of nominees are exclusively Nintendo. Again, not a shock, but cool nonetheless.

And the nominees for Best Family Friendly Game are…

  • The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awalening
  • Super Mario Maker 2
  • Luigi’s Mansion 3
  • New Super Mario Bros U Deluxe
  • Yoshi’s Crafted World

And the winner is…

Super Mario Maker 2!

One of the biggest games on Switch this past year, Super Mario Maker 2 is a flat out joy for just about anyone. And while plenty of adults have created Mario courses in this one, it might be especially true for the younger set, who tend to be pulled in by Mario and crew pretty easily.

Being able to make almost any kind of Mario level you want is just plain awesome after all, and Super Mario Maker 2 added in loads of features that the original (and 3DS game) lacked. Add to that a fun story mode that threw 100 levels at gamers, and you have a winner.

Best Indie Game

This one gets a little tougher every year. The indie game scene started up years ago, and really never let up, with more and more excellent titles each year. We’ve seen some real gems come out of the indie space that probably never would have seen the light of day under the usual studio system.

Then again, we’ve seen the opposite too, with games that look like they could easily have been released by big name publishers. For that matter, the indie corner of the gaming industry has pretty much kept some genres alive altogether. That includes the once mighty 2D platformer/shooter.

This past year was a microcosm of all of that, with some massively unique gaming experiences, and some that you could easily have seen on the Sega Genesis.

The nominees for Best Indie Game are…

  • Untitled Goose Game
  • A Plague Tale
  • Disco Elysium
  • Children of Morta
  • Valfaris

And the winner is…

Disco Elysium!

One of those ‘out of nowhere’ types of games, ZA/UM’s Disco Elysium casts players as a detective out to solve a murder. But this is no normal whodunit, as DE takes place in a city called Revachol and in a decidedly apocalyptic world.

Still, murders are murders, and you’re a cop. So you better solve this one… or don’t. Maybe you’d rather strike it rich, or basically do almost anything else. That’s the kind of role-playing game that Disco Elysium is.

ZA/UM aimed for recreating all the freedom that a tabletop RPG offers with this one, including customizing what your character thinks and does, even if that runs outside of the lines.

Though the game had some bugs, it was also stunningly ambitious, especially for an independently developed title. In what was a tough, and narrow vote, it snagged BG’s Indie honors.

Best Game that Doesn’t Fit in Any Other Category

Every year there are games that just don’t… fit. There either aren’t enough notable games in a specific category to fill out a nominee vote, or the concept is so different that there just isn’t a genre that it fits into.

This year we had a little from column A and a little from column B.

And the nominees for Best Game that Doesn’t Fit in Any Other Category are…

  • Crash Team Racing
  • Concrete Genie
  • Tetris 99
  • Untitled Goose Game
  • Cadence of Hyrule

And the winner is…

Untitled Goose Game!

You are a goose. And a jerk. In Untitled Goose Game, one of the weirdest and most oddly endearing games in recent years, it’s your job to make life miserable for as many people as you can. At least, that’s what it seems like.

Combining simple yet effective graphics and play control with that unique premise, House House has crafted an indie gem that’s as tough to pigeonhole (pardons the bird term) as you can imagine.

They’ve also made one of the most purely fun titles of 2019, and game that shot to the top of the charts and stayed there for a while.

Best RPG

Another classic genre, the role-playing game has been around since the golden age of the art form. You get a hero to play as, sometimes a party of them, and set to work saving the world/universe/multiverse/princess.

Over the years of course, the meaning of “RPG” has changed somewhat. Today’s role-playing games can be turn based or real-time, have a focus on exploration or action, or even feature card-based mechanics.

It’s a varied genre indeed, and one that seems to evolve with each passing year.

The nominees for Best RPG are…

  • The Outer Worlds
  • Shenmue 3
  • Kingdom Hearts III
  • Disco Elysium
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses

And the winner is…

Fire Emblem: Three Houses!

I have to admit, I’m not personally a Fire Emblem fan, but there are legions of them. I assume there are some good reasons for that, though it’s not hard to imagine why, even as a non-fan.

Maybe our own Nintendo editor Michael said it best in his tops of the year article:

Fire Emblem: Three Houses came on the back of the most disappointing Fire Emblem games the series has seen in America. Fates burned my convictions that Intelligent Systems could do no wrong and punished me for blindly dropped eighty dollars on a sub-par package.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses doubled down on multiple story paths and, at first glance, anime clichés. But while a school setting seems out of place next to Fire Emblem or Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, it built a cohesive and interesting world for Three Houses. The characters were excellent and the story-telling and maps worked together much better than in Fates. While there were still poorly executed maps and unfinished story elements, Fire Emblem Three Houses restored my faith in the series.

And for the record: if you root for Edelgard, you need help.

Top 10 Games of 2019: Nintendo Editor Michael’s Picks

Best FPS

Ah the First-Person Shooter. My personal fave genre, the FPS was brought to life originally by (arguably) Wolfenstein 3D from iD Software. It starred a prisoner who busted loose and took on his captors in the heart of WWII.

And from that, a genre was born that absolutely caught fire after iD’s own Wolf 3D followup Doom hit the market a few yers later. Now, the game-scape plays host to massive, triple-A FPS’ with incredible production values, some of which are the most anticipated games in any given year.

In 2019 FPS’ had a terrific year, highlighted by returns to form for some franchises, and debuts for others.

And the nominees for Best FPS are…

  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
  • Rage 2
  • Apex Legends
  • Borderlands 3
  • Metro Exodus

And the winner is…

Borderlands 3!

Gearbox’ looter/shooter phenom returns with a stellar third outing. Borderlands 3 introduces new playable characters, and a fresh story that takes players to all new areas to play through.

While some had issues with Borderlands 3’s sales strategy on the PC, since Gearbox chose Epic over Steam for a timed exclusive, there’s no denying that the game excelled where it had to. It also didn’t break a system that was already a massive fan favorite. Sometimes more of the same is exactly what fans want.

Best Action Game

Another classic genre, but this one might be the eldest of all, if you don’t count Pong that is. Action games, requiring quick reflexes and featuring constant on-screen action, have been around since the very beginning of console gaming.

Much like the other iconic genres that we have listed here though, it just barely resembles its proto-form. The action genre today counts some incredibly varied titles in its stable.

From the survival horror of Resident Evil, to lightning fast action of Astral Chain, and even the planet hopping science fiction of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, there’s a little something in this one for everybody.

And the nominees for Best Action Game are…

  • Resident Evil 2
  • Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
  • Astral Chain
  • Devil May Cry V
  • Gears V

And the winner is…

Resident Evil 2!

Capcom’s remake of Resident Evil 2 was a flat-out stunner. Yes, it’s a remake, but this is no simple remaster.

The publisher took a game that’s already a legendary fan favorite, and remade it from the ground up. Including even new sections to play through and expanded character interactions, Capcom produced a final product that’s fresh and exciting. Yes, even for those who’ve played the original to death.

Not for the faint of heart, Resident Evil 2 is every bit the game that we hope it would be, and very much deserving of Best Action Game, 2019.


Thanks for joining us for part two of our three part BrutalGamer Awards series. The final installment, featuring our picks for the best games on specific platforms, platform of the year, and game of the year, will be ready to read this Friday. Make sure you swing back and check it out!

About Jason

Jason's been knee deep in videogames since he was but a lad. Cutting his teeth on the pixely glory that was the Atari 2600, he's been hack'n'slashing and shoot'em'uping ever since. Mainly an FPS and action guy, Jason enjoys the occasional well crafted title from every genre.

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