Video game of the year: 'Zelda: Breath of the Wild' or 'Super Mario Odyssey'?
via Nintendo

Video game of the year: 'Zelda: Breath of the Wild' or 'Super Mario Odyssey'?

#TeamZelda
#TeamMario
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Not only is the Nintendo Switch selling like hotcakes, the hybrid console system also scored the two best-reviewed games of 2017: "The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild" and "Super Mario Odyssey." The 19th installment in Nintendo's "Zelda" franchise masterfully married its open-world NES roots with an unparalleled sense of exploration and a haunting story. But "Super Mario Odyssey" deftly recaptured the open-world magic of "Super Mario 64," adding in some innovative platform mechanics. Which game deserves top honors? 🎮

#TeamZelda
#TeamMario

It's the end of the year! And we're facing-off the best songs, albums, movies, TV shows, video games, sports, pro athletes and entertainers of 2017. The "Best of 2017" is chosen by a combination of popularity, impact, acclaim, rankings and/or amount sold. But ultimately, we want you to let us know who and what from 2017 won the year in each category.

And don't forget to cast your vote for these other end of year debates:

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The Nintendo Switch is currently outselling both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, buoyed by not just one potential Game of the Year title, but two. Not only is it a major coup for the 128-year-old video game company, it's incredibly rare. 

In an industry where it takes hundreds of professionals and years to make a single game, pumping out two nearly perfect video games in less than eight months is something of a miracle. But here we are. Which Switch game deserves top honors?

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For many, "Breath of the Wild" is a slam-dunk for video game of the year. Nintendo returned to the series' open-world roots but dialed up the sense of adventure and exploration—packaged in a wonderful and haunting story. Granting Zelda fans unparalleled freedom, allowing gamers to discover and open up worlds at their leisure, and allowing for players to beat the game any number of ways resulted in a very personal, intimate gaming experience.

Some intrepid gamers beat "Breath of the Wild" in under one hour, others have spent over 60 hours in the virtual world of Hyrule. It combined the best part of modern game mechanics and the most nostalgic elements of the franchise. "Breath of the Wild" was pure bliss, and for many, that makes it an easy contender for Game of the Year.

Breath of the Wild is the best game to come out this year and according to many, the greatest Zelda game of all-time. It shattered the conventions of Zelda and was both fresh and familiar, something every great game strives for. It delivers a level of fulfillment that no other game has ever given me (and many others, if the reviews are to be believed.) While it is not my favorite Zelda game (a part of that may be due to nostalgia, for the sake of transparency), many do consider it to be.

The only video game developer that could take away the Game of the Year honors from Nintendo... is Nintendo. "Super Mario Odyssey" is a distillation of childhood joy and adventure in a cartridge form, with Nintendo putting on a clinic on how to develop a video game that manages to entertain children and old farts alike. 

After Mario's more linear adventures, Nintendo returned to the free-form style of "Super Mario 64," empowering gamers to clear levels any number of ways. (Like reaching an unexplored area via a complex combination of jump moves or simply finding an invisible passageway.) But even more impressive is the combination of old-school mechanics, like the triple-jump, with some novel additions like Cappya bizarre ghost-hat-thing that Mario uses to possess objects and enemies. You have not lived until you have possessed a dozen Goombas standing on each other's shoulders.

Simply put, "Super Mario Odyssey" is a wonderful and joy-filled adventure that both inspires and challenges. It's the easy contender for Game of the Year.

Many game releases in 2017 could learn a lot from the focus on fun and accessibility exemplified by Super Mario Odyssey. While other games this year exhibited similar levels of excellence, none so perfectly nailed what I needed from games in 2017.
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