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Best Games of 2019 and A Look Ahead to 2020
posted on: Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Happy New Year!

Wow, 2019 is already at an end, I can hardly believe it! That means it is time for our annual recap post. Grab a drink, get comfortable, and let's take a look back at 2019 in gaming and guess what might be coming in 2020.

F5 Games News from 2019

Before we start talking about other people's games from 2019 let's talk about our own! F5 Games released its first game in nearly 4 years just this month. Our latest game, Blackjack Masters, entered soft-launch on iOS and Amazon Kindle a couple weeks ago and so far things are looking good. In Blackjack Masters you can practice your blackjack skills with the help from Basic Strategy and Hi-Low Card Count helpers that teach you how to play each hand correctly. Before you know it you'll be increasing your bank roll and going on a Blackjack World Tour, playing in different casinos with more decks and higher betting limits!

The current version of Blackjack Masters is just the beginning though. We're currently working on daily missions, leaderboards, customization, and even weekly tournaments so there will always be something fun to do in the game. If you have an iPhone or Kindle Fire please download Blackjack Masters and let us know what you think!


Best of 2019

This has been an interesting year for gaming. While Playstation and Xbox are gearing up for their next-gen fight the Switch has continued to turn out hits and gain market share. We also saw the release of Apple Arcade bring back 'premium' games to mobile in a way that has been really refreshing. As a game developer I'm very interested to see where Apple Arcade goes from here. Will people continue to pay for the subscription month after month? Will Apple continue to work with developers to bring new games to the platform? These are all questions that will take time to answer but so far I think the answers are encouraging.

Alright, that's enough waxing poetic; let's get to the awards.

Best Mobile Game of 2019 - Grindstone

We saw some really huge mobile releases in 2019. Nintendo kicked it off with the release of Dr. Mario World and then kicked it into another gear with the release of Mario Kart World Tour which set records for most downloads in a week and month. Then those records were eclipsed just a couple weeks later by the release of Call of Duty Mobile which went on to record over 100 Million downloads in no time at all.

However, for my money, the best mobile game of 2019 was Grindstone. This Apple Arcade puzzle game is such a joy to play that I have continued to grind my way through its levels since release. It combines the traditional saga-style level progression with light RPG mechanics and a puzzle/combat system that is very inventive and a blast to play.

If you haven't given Grindstone a try yet I highly recommend it.

Most Inventive Game of 2019 - Creature in the Well

Creature in the Well is an indie delight that really stood out for me in 2019. As soon as I heard it was a mashup of Pinball and Dungeon Crawling I was interested, once I got a look at the awesome art style I was onboard, and once I started playing through the puzzle-combat rooms, I was hooked.

There are a couple rough edges. This is definitely an indie project made by a small team and not everything is polished to the same degree that you may get from a first-party Nintendo title. Honestly though, the little imperfections make this game even more endearing in my opinion.

Playing Creature in the Well feels like a breath of fresh air because it is just so different from most things on the market. There are basically no enemies, or I guess just one enemy, the titular Creature. As you work your way through the game world, restoring power and righting wrongs that had been lost to time, the game slowly builds up the tension between you and the Creature. At every encounter you know that you're building toward an incredible final confrontation. But, if you're like me, you'll also be sad to see it end.

Creature in the Well, highly recommended

Best Long Running Game About Space Ninjas - Warframe

I'm extremely late to the Warframe party, but as the game was released for the Switch this year I'm going to slide it in here on a technicality. After watching the NoClip documentary about Warframe and how it was developed I became very interested in trying it out for myself. Once I heard it was released for the Switch I decided to give it a try, and I was very pleasantly surprised.

Warframe can be pretty inscrutable at times, everything has a weird name and almost nothing about the story makes sense early on. But its kinetic combat, huge game world, and co-op multiplayer make it a really interesting place to spend some time. It also looks incredible on the Switch, to the point that you almost can't believe it is running in the palm of the hands. If you haven't tried it yet I definitely suggest giving it a try. Because, as always, Ninjas play for free.

Best Multiplayer Game - Tetris 99

I love Nintendo Directs. You just never know what is going to be announced, it could be a new Zelda game, some new indie fever dream, or a 99 player battle-royale Tetris game! Tetris 99 came out of nowhere as an add-in for Nintendo's online subscription service and it quickly became one of my most played games of the year. In a year full of Battle Royale game modes Tetris 99 was the perfect combination of fast puzzle gameplay with the building tension and excitement of fighting your way to be the last Tetrimino standing.

The beauty of Tetris as a game is undeniable. To go from the solitary and almost meditative Tetris Effect in 2018 to the frantic and combat focused Tetris 99 in 2019 just shows how timeless and malleable the Tetris framework really is. I can't wait to see what they come up with next.

Game of the Year - Luigi's Mansion 3

Luigi's Mansion 3 is a joy to play. It is amazing to see in motion. It is the best co-op gaming experience of the year. It has the best boss design, best level design, and most satisfying moment to moment gameplay of any game I've played this year. It is the quintessential Nintendo game, polished to a shine that almost no other developer can equal. If you own a Switch then you absolutely need to own a copy of Luigi's Mansion.

Luigi's Mansion is so great that my two oldest children played through it together in co-op, my wife and I are currently doing the same, and our youngest daughter asks if she can 'watch Booigi's Mansion' because to her it's like a cartoon about Luigi's ghost busting adventure. It's just incredible and it is definitely my Game of the Year.

Notable Mentions

I recently picked up God of War through PS Now and have really enjoyed its early levels. I also received Days Gone for Christmas and have started playing it when I can find the time. So far it feels like 'Daryl Dixon - The Video Game' and I'm totally okay with that.

I have heard so many great things about Remedy Entertainment's Control that I had to pick it up at Christmas as well. I haven't had a chance to dive in to it yet but when I do I'll do a post to let you know my thoughts. May people have been naming Control as their game of the year so I'm excited to dive in and see what they enjoyed in it.

Looking Ahead to an Incredible 2020

2020 is going to be a very exciting year for gaming. By the time I do this post again we will likely have seen the release of the PS5, Next Xbox, and possibly a more powerful Switch model. We will also get to see all the new launch titles for these systems which is usually interesting because publishers are more willing to take changes when a new generation starts. Hopefully we'll see some interesting new titles announced in the next couple months.

There are also a ton of games that have been pushed into the first half of 2020. I'm especially looking forward to Doom Eternal and Cyberpunk: 2077, both of which look incredible and will likely look and play even better on the PS5 with its rumored backwards compatibility. I'm still waiting on more info for Bayonetta 3 and Metroid Prime 4 but those are likely the games Nintendo plans to use to combat the next-gen systems next holiday season. I'm planning to do a post in the next few weeks that takes a look at what Nintendo could do in the next year as it has to face off against two new system that will greatly outclass it in power. I think this could be one of the most interesting questions of 2020.

F5 Plans for 2020

Here at F5 will are really excited about 2020 and what it will bring. Early in the year we will be updating and fully launching our latest game, Blackjack Masters. After that we have several other card and puzzle style games planned for release in 2020. We're hoping to launch 2 or 3 new games next year so stay tuned here and to our Twitter account for more info in the coming months.

I hope you had a great 2019 and an even better 2020 is on the way for you. Thanks for reading!

Blackjack Masters
Weekly Game News Roundup - Jun 26
posted on: Friday, June 26, 2020

What a week for game news! Over the last week we have seen several new game announcements and updates for some old favorites. I thought it might be fun to highlight a few that we are excited about at F5 Games.

Star Wars: Squadrons

I was a huge fan of the Wing Commander and Star Wars dogfighting games for PC back in the 90s; I played through every level of the first 5 Wing Commander games, X-Wing and Tie Fighter. While the space sim used to be a staple genre in video games it has really fallen on hard times over the last few years with very few releases to speak of. That is why I am extremely excited for the reveal of Star Wars: Squadrons, an all new Space Dogfighting game for PS4, PC, and Xbox One. The trailer below covers all of the details we know as of right now except for the fact that this will be a $40 game and that there will be no micro-transactions!. I will definitely be picking this up on Oct 2nd, the only question I have is how in-depth the single-player story will be. I really hope we are getting a fleshed out single-player experience in line with the classic X-Wing and Tie Fighter games, if we do this could be in the running for my Game of the Year.

Pokemon Unite

While Nintendo has been pretty quiet on the announcement front lately there have been several updates from the Pokemon Company over the last week. Last week we heard about Pokemon Cafe Mix, a new F2P Pokemon puzzle game which is available now on Mobile and Nintendo Switch. The bigger announcement, in my opinion, was the reveal this week of Pokemon Unite, a new Pokemon themed Moba for mobile and Nintendo Switch. This game is being developed by Tencent and is set up like a Pokemon version of League of Legends. I don't know about you but this almost feels like a Meme. LoL + Pokemon = Profit!

If a Pokemon multi-player team battle game sounds like your jam, check out the reveal trailer below.

Curse of the Moon 2

A few years ago Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night was kickstarted as a spiritual successor to the Castlevania series. As a long time Castlevania fan I was interested but I never could have imagined how an unexpected outcome of that Kickstarter would end up being one of my favorite games of the last couple years. That game, Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon, was released as a downloadable title that looked like an homage to Castlevania 3 within the Bloodstained universe, I grabbed it on day one and never looked back. It is a small snack of a game that really takes me back to the glory days of hair pullingly difficult NES platformers while still giving you just enough help to get over the hump.

I say all of that to let you know how excited I am that there is GOING TO BE A SEQUEL to Curse of the Moon! Check out the reveal trailer below for Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2 and get hyped for some awesome retro action coming our way 'soon'.

Cyberpunk 2077

This week saw the first in a series of reveals for Cyberpunk 2077 called Night City Wire. This first episode was a roughly 25 minute video that showed off a new gameplay trailer, walked through some new gameplay features like 'BrainDance' investigations, and included some discussions with CD Projekt developers. This game looks fantastic and it is really shaping up to be an incredibly detailed world, I hope they can pull it off by November.

Blackjack Masters Update

We have also been hard at work here at F5 Games on our latest game Blackjack Masters. Next Monday we will release our next update for the game which includes Leaderboards so you can compare your success at the Blackjack tables with our other players. We have also added the ability to link up with your friends in the game in case you want to see which one of your friends is the best Blackjack Player.

The Tournament update for Blackjack Masters should hit iPhone and iPad on Monday with Android and Kindle Fire version getting the update later in the week. Please let us know what you think of the new additions and if you are enjoying the game please spread the word and leave us a review on the App Store. Get Blackjack Masters on the App Store for Free

Thank you for reading. With many more rumored announcements coming up in the next few weeks we would like to make these weekly roundup posts a more regular occurrence. Check back next week for more coverage.

Blackjack Masters
Weekly Game News Roundup - Independence Day Edition
posted on: Friday, July 03, 2020

Happy Independence Day! While we are going through some troubling times here in the U.S.A I think it is important to recognize the history of this great nation and celebrate its founding. Before we all head out for a weekend of BBQ, Fireworks, and swimming pools, let's recap some of the interesting game news from the last week.

Curse of the Moon 2 Launches Next Week

Curse of the Moon 2, the retro action game announced by Koji Igarashi last week, already has a second trailer and a release date! Thankfully we won't have to wait long for this awesome looking throwback to hit Nintendo Switch, PC, Playstation 4, and Xbox One, as the game will be available for download on July 10th. This trailer also shows off the games new coop mode, which is something I am definitely interested to try out. Check out the new trailer below and look forward to our impressions in the weeks to come.

Next-Gen Games Getting a Price Hike?

With the announcement this week of the 'Mamba Forever' versions of NBA2K21, 2K Sports also dropped a next-gen bombshell about game pricing. While some publishers like CD Projekt Red and EA have announced that their cross generational games will allow owners of the current-gen game to upgrade for free to the next-gen version 2K is taking a different approach. 2K has announced that the next-gen version of NBA2K21 will cost $69.99, which is a $10 hike over the standard price of $59.99 that has been in place for the last two console generations. Also, there is no upgrade window like we have seen from other publishers, which mean that if you would like to grab the current-gen version and then upgrade to next-gen later you will either have to purchase the game a second time or you will need to purchase the 'Mamba-Forever' version for $99.99 which will give you access to the game on both generations of hardware. For more details on the specifics of this check out this article on Polygon

While it isn't clear if this will be an industry wide move for next-gen games I wouldn't be surprised. Game budgets continue to grow and the technical requirements for next-gen are only going to increase that problem. Bumping up the standard pricing for new games to $70 will help offset that additional cost, and I imagine more and more publishers will give this a try. If this does start to look like a trend across the industry you may want to think twice about purchasing a digital only console. Physical games still continue to see much better discounts than digital titles after launch and if the prices are going to start higher those discounts may be more important than ever.

Ghost of Tsushima - A Storm is Coming Trailer

Ghost of Tsushima continues to impress with each new reveal, and this new story trailer is no exception. I am very interested to see what Sucker Punch has been able to do with the long development cycle for this game. By all accounts it looks fantastic, and thankfully we won't have to wait much longer to find out for ourselves. Ghost of Tsushima will be released on July 17 for PS4.

Fallout Getting a TV Series?

As reported by Eurogamer, Amazon has teased a new Fallout TV Series for their Prime Video service. Industry news says that this project is being headed up by the creators of the HBO hit Westworld and that it will dive in to the dark comedy and off-beat storylines of the game world.

For more details check out this article at Eurogamer

Crysis Remastered Trailer Leaks and the Game Gets Delayed

Early this week Crytek started a tease for the first trailer of Crysis Remastered, an upgrade of the legendary Crysis with the latest graphics tech that would be coming to current-gen consoles. This is a game that has been highly anticipated by fans for years and something that I was personally excited for as I never had a PC that 'could run Crysis'. After the tease the upcoming trailer leaked, as they tend to do these days, and basically all hell broke loose.

WARNING - Late game story elements of Crysis are revealed in this trailer

It didn't take fans long to start complaining that, based on the trailer, Crysis Remastered looked worse than the original Crysis! Honestly, I don't see the issue but I am not as familiar with the original version. Interestingly the outcry from fans was so negative that within a day of the leak Crytek announced that they would be delaying the game to improve its quality and visuals. Hopefully Crytek can make some upgrades to the game and release it in a condition that will please the fans. I am excited to give it a try and will definitely check it out on release.

Blackjack Masters Leaderboards Update

The latest update for Blackjack Masters launched this week on iOS and should be coming soon for Android and Kindle Fire Tablets. It includes leaderboards so you can compare your Blackjack skills against other players from around the world and it allows you to link up with your friends so you can compete with someone a little closer to home as well.
You can grab Blackjack Masters for iPhone and iPad by tapping here. Let me know what you think.

Thanks for stopping by this week. I hope everyone has a fun and safe July 4th weekend and that you'll swing by again next week for another round of gaming news updates.

Blackjack Masters
Weekly Games Update July 24 - Crysis Launches, Xbox Games Showcase, and Star Wars Squadrons Looks Legit.
posted on: Friday, July 24, 2020

This week saw one big release and some major hype for games coming this Christmas season. Let's step through it all shall we?

Crysis for Switch is a real thing you can play right now!

Yes, it has actually happened, Crysis has launched for Nintendo Switch and, from all accounts, it's actually pretty great. Check out this awesome Digital Foundry video to see an in-depth look at how Crysis looks on the Switch in comparison to both the original PC version and the version that released for last-gen consoles. It definitely looks like a miracle port and I still can't believe that we can run Crysis on a portable gaming machine.

Star Wars Squadrons Previews Raise the Hype Level to 11

When Star Wars Squadrons was announced earlier this year I was instantly excited. As I have mentioned before, I am a huge fan of the classic PC space sims Wing Commander, X-Wing, and Tie Fighter and Squadrons looked like it may be trying to bring that style of gameplay back in a beautiful new package. But, this is EA we're talking about, so there was also the chance that the game would have a stripped down tutorial parading as a single-player campaign and then a few multiplayer modes tacked on. I tried not to get my hopes up too high.

Thankfully, it appears Star Wars Squadrons may be 'the real deal'! Several previews of the game hit this week and across the board they sound like Squadrons has brought them back to the days of classic space combat. The game appears to be highly skill based with advanced flight maneuvers, power management, and tough capital ship attacks. I can't wait to get my hands on this thing when it launches on October 2nd.

If you want more detail on Squadrons check out these previews from Eurogamer and The Verge.

Mario Kart Tour Landscape Update!

While it may not be for everyone Mario Kart Tour has been a success for Nintendo on iOS and Android. Nintendo has continued to update the game, bringing in new characters, karts, and tracks since launch. The latest update, which went live this week, brings a much requested feature to the game, the ability to play in Landscape Mode! Check out the trailer below for a look at the new feature, which makes this feel just that much more like the Mario Kart of old.

Microsoft Xbox Games Showcase and the Game Pass Experiment

Microsoft held an Xbox Games Showcase yesterday to show off their slate of upcoming games for the Xbox Series X launch later this year. While many games were shown, there were very few that displayed actual gameplay, in fact most of the reveals were nothing more than CGI renders or title announcements. The general consensus is that Microsoft hasn't done enough to sell players on purchasing an Xbox Series X this Christmas, and I have to agree. What I find interesting is that Microsoft may not be making the case, because they don't really care if people buy the Series X this Christmas, they just want people to sign for Game Pass.

Microsoft made it very clear that every game shown yesterday would be available on their Game Pass subscription service the day it was launched. That means Halo, Forza, Fable, and the other dozen Microsoft Game Studios games shown off can be secured with a $10 a month subscription instead of by plopping down $60 for each game individually. It is a really interesting move from Microsoft, by focusing their sales efforts on the subscription they are minimizing their new hardware launch and trying to push players to Game Pass which allows you to play on an Xbox One, PC, or even Mobile with their xCloud streaming service.

I get the feeling that Microsoft as a corporation has decided that they can't beat Sony and Nintendo in the classic 'Console War' fight and they are choosing to move the battlefield to a new location, services. It could be a very smart move on their part but we will just have to wait and see how it plays out for them. I imagine that if this push to services doesn't take off like they hope Microsoft will exit the hardware business and transition into being a software publisher only, much like Sega did in the 2000s.

In the meantime we do have a new Halo game to play this year. So check out the gameplay from that below and let the nostalgia wash over you. If you are interested in reading about the other games announced yesterday this article at Eurogamer has you covered.

Here at F5 Games we are working on the next update to Blackjack Masters which will add weekly tournaments! These tournaments will make it easy to compete with other players and your friends to see who is a real Blackjack Master. If you haven't downloaded the game yet you can play for free on iOS and Android.

Play Blackjack anytime for free with Blackjack Masters! Learn Card Counting and Blackjack Strategy even compete with your friends!

Thanks for reading, have a great weekend.

Blackjack Masters
F5 Games is an independent game developer in Tulsa Oklahoma. We strive to create the very best in tablet and mobile games.