It’s that time of the year again where I get to flood you all with lists – of course, starting with my most anticipated games of the upcoming year! There are way too many games coming out next year and I started with a shortlist that was like 40 games long, but I somehow managed to trim that down to just ten games. These ten games are not in any particular order so let’s get right into it!

SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake

What better way to start than with the new SpongeBob game! Yes, I am not kidding. The Battle for Bikini Bottom remake that came out a couple years back was literally my game of the year and the SpongeBob platformers have always been super fun so I am expecting great things from The Cosmic Shake – the newest entry in the series from the same devs that did that very remake a couple years ago! Really interested in seeing the new areas they have and any new mechanics. We’ve already been shown a few, but I am super excited to check out the finished product in just over a month!

Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key

Me and including Atelier games on a top 10 list, what is new? At this point it’s pretty much a given and although I felt like Ryza 2 was a downgrade from the first, Sophie 2 – which came out earlier this year – was much, much better and if the studio can stick to that level of quality, then Ryza 3 has the potential to not only be one of the best in the series, but perhaps one of the best JRPGs of 2023? There’s just something about that laidback crafting, exploring, battling monsters, making friends – it’s all so light and fluffy and I just love it. And we won’t even need to wait that long either! This one is out in just a couple months.

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty

Yeahhh now I said this list was in no particular order, but honestly, this one would probably be my #1. Nioh 2: The Complete Edition was my game of the year last year and this game is that, but China – specifically the Three Kingdoms period. I literally have a degree in East Asian Studies and have studied this period extensively so you bet I am just a little bit excited to get that kind of souls-like action RPG gameplay in that kind of setting. Team Ninja rarely disappoints and I am absolutely ready for the challenge here. The trailers have already set the hype to maximum levels and we only have to wait a few more months! I am very excited.

Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon

Okay, so I may not have ever played an Armored Core game before, but I have been playing From Software games AND I am a big mecha fan. If the studio can take the budget and scale of something like a Souls game and adapt that to a futuristic mecha shooter then we have a solid package already and potentially a candidate for game of the year? Really, I just don’t know what to expect from this one. Is it going to be true to the series with its Ace Combat style gameplay or is it going to lean more towards what the studio has been doing recently. I am personally hoping for a bit of a blend of the two, but whatever the case – I am super excited to see what the end result is.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails into Reverie

And since of course I had an Atelier game on here I have to have a Trails game as well. I could have gone with Trails to Azure, but honestly, I am more excited for Reverie because I feel more attached to the characters from Cold Steel and the like and seeing that arc come to a close along with the Crossbell arc is definitely something I am looking forward to. Fun turn-based JRPG gameplay, wide-reaching story with all the politics and character relations, it’s just gonna be a fun time all around as usual with this studio and although it has been going downhill a bit recently, I am still expecting this one to end up as one of my favorites next year.

Like a Dragon: Ishin!

A bit odd that they’re kinda dumping that Yakuza title here in favor of Like a Dragon, but yeah, I did mention the whole East Asian Studies thing earlier? Pretty much the same case here. Yakuza games are a lot of fun, the Edo period is super cool as a setting, and the combination of the two is absolutely going to make for a fun video game. I never got to play the original released back in 2014 and I am glad that they decided to remake that and localize it too given the recent success of this series in the West. Swapping between swords, brawling, and guns is going to make for some really cool combat and yeah, all the little extras that usually come with this series will just make it even better. And again, another one we don’t even have to wait that long for – it’s coming out in February!

Final Fantasy XVI

So this one probably won’t be on PC until later but I decided to include it anyways. Final Fantasy has always been a fun series and this one in particular looks like they are upping their game yet again. Super flashy and fast combat, a completely off the walls and ridiculous storyline, and that absolutely iconic blend of anime and realism for the aesthetic. It’s probably gonna be edgy, it’s probably going to be a bit janky, but is it going to be fun? Absolutely, or at least, I am hoping so. I never did play 15, so this will be a bit of a new experience for me and I am super excited about it.

Persona 3 Portable

So you’re probably saying, “but Cub, this is an old game!” and yeah, but it’s getting a remastered PC release in like just a few weeks and it’s always been one from the series I would like to play so I am including it and there’s nothing you can do about it. The Persona series in general is just a lot of fun. Fun and complex turn-based combat, very cool Persona creation combining whatever system, interesting social mechanics and narratives – I’ve been told this one in particular is one of the better stories for the series so I am interested to see how it compares. I know some people were complaining that this wasn’t going to be the Fes version of the game, but honestly, I’ll take what we can get – I just didn’t want to have to bust out the PSP to play this one.

Sea of Stars

I still might do a top 10 upcoming indies list because I love them as much as I do these other games, but Sea of Stars is in a league of its own with what I have seen. It is absolutely gorgeous, with detailed pixel art, animation, a really cool setting, and the overall aesthetic oozes that nostalgic charm of JRPGs from several console generations ago. It comes from the same dev that brought us The Messenger – an already great retro-inspired game – so I can only imagine how they will use that expertise here. And it’s turn-based! Glad to see a dev dive straight into that without leaning into the action side of things like a lot of modern JRPGs. It’s easily my most anticipated indie game of the year.

Granblue Fantasy: Relink

So this game was literally announced like six years ago? We’ve gotten bits and pieces of it since, including full gameplay videos and such that look absolutely amazing but it just keeps getting delayed – now into 2023. If it does actually come out this year though, I am hoping for great things. Granblue Fantasy as a series has a lot of potential and I really liked the fighting game they released a couple years back too. It will be fun to dive into a full fledged action RPG with those characters, that level of soundtrack quality, and that classic anime, almost Tales of aesthetic. Just please don’t get delayed anymore…

2022 Leftovers

And as usual with these lists there are always a couple leftovers from last year’s list that never ended up coming out in that year, but I didn’t want them to take up another spot in this list so they get their own section. This year there are two of them! Starfield – that massive Bethesda space RPG that I am cautiously optimistic about – and Park Beyond, a Bandai Namco published theme park simulation management game that just looks like a fun blend of RollerCoaster Tycoon and Thrillville – two absolute favorites of mine.

And I guess technically a couple more leftovers from 2021 are still on the table. The first is Sharin no Kuni, the visual novel that is practically a meme at this point because it is never coming out and has been a leftover for THREE YEARS running now. The second is Earth Defense Force 6, which did have a successful release in Japan, but still has a pending worldwide release. 

But yeah, that’s pretty much all I got for this rambly little list of mine. Still hurt to leave behind some of the others in the shortlist (Street Fighter 6, Mina the Hollower, Pragmata, and others), but I managed to do it somehow and come up with something at least somewhat competent!