These games and awards were decided during the Wardcast’s Best Games Played 2017 episode, where we considered any and all games played by the members of the Wardcast in 2017, even if they weren’t released that calendar year.
Imagine roaming around an arcade – a rare but reemerging experience – and something catches your eye. A black monolith of an arcade cabinet. Intrigued, you approach it.
Images and color flash across the screen. A lone rider on their motorcycle screech across a barren landscape. Your blood rushes. Excited, you play.
Expecting to find the familiar joystick, you’re instead met with an alien interface. Your hand touches the curved, rubbery surface of what looks like a large skateboard wheel protruding from the surface of the cabinet. You turn the puck with the flattened palm of your hand and feel the rider skate along the narrow road, barely within your control.
A lone arcade button sits beside the wheel. You press it, and it ignites the engine of the bike, propelling the rider forward, barely contained within the confines of the screen, beyond which ensures certain death.
You feel one with the rider as you thunder across the featureless desert, but any simple mistake – slowing down to catch your breath, riding too close to the rail, skirting off the road and into the sand – and your life disappears in a flash of fire and a plume of smoke.
Black Emperor is a game that perfectly encapsulates the sensation of speed, and everything – from the hypnotic parallaxed background to the instantaneous respawn upon death to the uniquely tailored control surface – is in service to help your virtual avatar barrel across the landscape.
It is one of the most codified, pristine experiences you’ll ever have.