Games for the Casuals
Updated: Oct 14, 2020
Throughout my time here at BRD I've learned two things: Tracy is secretly holding an immense power and if she unleashes it we're all fucked so don't piss her off, and that many members in our lovely audience have no idea what the hell I'm rambling on about since they don't play games. So rather than rambling on about why this pathetically forever alone dumbass will forever love Persona's Elizabeth or discussing the absolute bangers that permeate throughout the Xenoblade Chronicles soundtrack (Look up "You Will Know Our Names" and you'll see what I mean), this list is dedicated to you beautiful folks who still click on my garbage content despite knowing nothing about games. I'm talking about the best games for people who don't play games, or "filthy casuals" if you will (don't worry, I mean that in a loving way I promise). So let's get to chatting, I focused on games that are both friendly to beginners in mechanics or design and easily obtained on modern platforms. Since the last decade of Mario Party games either were offensively awful or just kind of sucked, I won't include it.
Mario Kart 8/Deluxe
Sure the last decade Mario Party kind of sucked, but that sure ain't the case with the last console Mario Kart. Mario Kart is definitely a game that has a level of skill that allows people to get good and destroy their friends (case in point, I roll over basically all my friends), but it has enough random bullshit to make it still a blast for anyone to play with friends. It's a simple concept that is easy to grasp. Just step on the gas button and go FAST, and that lends itself to being one of the best games to play with buddies. Throw in some insane track design and bizarre items and you've got a winning formula. There's always just enough of a "What the fucking fuck!?" factor in Mario Kart that you never really know who is going to win a given race. Nothing will ever top when your cocky friend loses 8 positions in about five seconds after getting ruined by items in rapid succession, or just obliterating that one character you really hate with a well-timed shell (Yeah get rekt Bowser Jr., you spiny mistake). Plus, this game can definitely be even more fun if you play after getting liquored up real good.
Okay so 2020 has royally sucked and so maybe you can't get together with your buddies to play a game. That's where Among us comes in to give you an online time so good that it's sus as hell. It's your standard game of "find the impostor" like Ultimate Werewolf. You are a space crew trying to repair your ship before you're all murdered by the two imposters. The impostors have the ability to murder people and mess with the ship by creating emergencies that crewmates have to take care of, which interrupts the tasks they need to complete in order to win. What makes this game so great is that you can only talk to the others when someone finds and reports a dead body or calls an emergency meeting, leading to hilarious moments of people trying to convince their friends to vote out one another while accusations fly out in every direction. This game is cross-play between PC and phones, so anyone can just grab it and set up a great time. Get this game and call up your friends for a hilariously great time of accusing one another and lying through your teeth to convince your friends that you ain't no impostor. Also, Pink is hella sus right now so we outta vote them out.
Super Mario Maker 2
Super Mario Maker 2 is, in my opinion, the perfect game to introduce people to the complexities and rewarding nature of a 2D platformer. Since so many more people picked up a Switch during the COVIDsanity, more and more people have the means to pick up this great game. This game provides the chance to have infinite levels to play or create, which means it has an infinite chance to make you rip your hair out at the garbage some people want to call a level. Beyond the community created levels, there exist a ton of premade levels packaged into SMM2's charming story mode. Not only do these levels provide a great bit of fun, it also has basically a single level dedicated to almost every unique mechanic. By simply playing the story, the player will learn how every little mechanic works, which can then also give them inspiration for how they could use this idea in a level of their own. Super Mario Maker 2 also showcases my philosophy with Nintendo games, it isn't a Nintendo game if it doesn't make you want to yell "What the fuck, Nintendo!?" For this game, it's because the online multiplayer is actual garbage. But hey, least the single-player content absolutely rules, so if you're lonely like ole Parker you have something to look forward to.
Tetris/All the Other Puzzle Games, but Mainly Tetris
Once again, I'm talking about these damn games. Tetris, Puyo-Puyo, Dr. Mario, Tetris Attack, and all the other block fallers (but mainly Tetris) are just fantastic games to zone out to that can be picked up by anyone. What makes these games all so great for anyone is that due to the nature of blocks falling at an ever-increasing speed, they can be as easy or difficult as the player wants them to be. If you've never played a Tetris or anything like it, set it to the lowest speed and get accustomed to everything. If you're like me and have played these games ad nauseam because your entire life is a pathetic waste of time, set it to high speed and go hard in a desperate attempt to feel something for once. These games are super easy to understand and get into. You don't need to learn about stutter-stepping to charge Driver arts and combo-ing those into Specials while building up a dark element Blade combo to seal the enemy's reinforcements, you just make the pretty colours line up. Between the simple nature of the games, the incredibly high ceilings meaning you can basically always get better, the influx of insane and unique ways to play (like Tetris 99, or Dr. Mario versus mode), and the fact that you can get one of these games one basically any device with a screen, these game are and will forever be relevant titles that are fantastic for gamers and non-gamers alike.
Pokémon Go, the global phenomenon of 2016 that caused people to walk into oncoming traffic (and clearly that is the fault of the game, all games are bad!!). Sure this game isn't being played by every asshole with a phone and an asshole nowadays, but it is far from dead and stands as a great way to accompany any outdoor excursions you may desire. That is, assuming you live in an area that isn't getting absolutely rolled by a virus and going for a walk outside isn't a terrible idea. The Pocket Monster franchise has been around since the late '90s and this game was the perfect chance to get a bunch of jaded millennials who hadn't touched the series since Ash set off the sprinklers in Brock's gym so that his zip-zap rat shock Brock's big stone boi (seriously how was that match considered legal?). The concept is unbelievably simple, walk around and catch the monsters. Okay, maybe there's a little bit more than just that but at its core, that's the game. It's the perfect showcase of some of the amazing and endlessly creative designs the series has had over the years, and also the Charmander line which sucks fuck you fite me. Gathering together with friends and randos for a quick little raid is a great time that will put a smile on even the most joyless faces. If you've long since ended your late '90's Nirvana-infused romance with the series, Go is a fantastic way to get back in and see all that you've missed. Plus for many people, this game is like the only way they'll get exercise so I think it deserves a mention for that alone. Download and reinvigorate that Pokémania you didn't realize you were missing today! #NotAnAd #NotSponsored
To all the people who know this game and think I'm crazy for this, let me finish. Celeste is not easy, not at all, and that's why I think it belongs here. One of the main themes in Celeste is the idea that we can overcome any obstacle if we keep at it, and that failure should not be feared. It reinforces this by giving a checkpoint after every single challenge, meaning that each time you fail you lose no progress and just gotta keep trying this particular challenge until you succeed. This past year has been incredibly tough for everyone and many of us feel powerless and hopeless. Celeste offers a beautiful reminder that you will have setbacks when dealing with tough obstacles, but through persistence and sheer will we can overcome anything. Celeste will challenge, and frustrate you, but it will never punish you for failing, and will always celebrate your successes (hell, you can save the game at any individual challenge if you gotta turn the game off meaning you lose nothing when you turn the game on again). This allows it to create this blend of juxtaposed ideas in immense challenge mixed with therapeutic elation. The game is not overly long and you will finish it in no time. Plus it has an amazing soundtrack and a story that will hit you in the feels in a good way.
Another game you can absolutely get really good at, with a much higher skill ceiling than Mario Kart, while remaining super beginner-friendly. Cars playing soccer, that's the whole game. Sure the cars can drive on walls and have boosters that let skilled players fly, but the core game is so simple and easy to grasp making it really easy to jump into and have a good time. Not to mention the games all being quite short, making it the perfect game to pick up and play for a few minutes before putting back down. Yeah if you delve into online ranked matches you will get absolutely thrashed by some Adderall-infused-incel, but the game remains something easy to understand and jump into if you're just looking to relax and have a great time. Plus, once again, Car soccer, that concept alone is just friggin' rad.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Another game people who have played it might think me insane for mentioning here. Once again, please hear me out. Breath of the Wild is the greatest example of a game leaving everything up to the player, creating your own completely unique playthrough. This game can also get difficult but doesn't get frustrating. This world is your oyster, you can go basically anywhere and do whatever you want, whenever you want. So why does that make it friendly to newcomers? Because, there's no insanely complex story to keep track of, there is not a ton of objectives thrown at you immediately to overwhelm you, and you really do have complete freedom to do as you see fit. If you want to go take on Ganon after playing for 1 hour or 100 hours, you can absolutely do that. I would say that freedom allows it to be beginner-friendly. This game also maintains Celeste's philosophy of minimal punishment for dying and frequent saving to make it a pick up and play game that can be played however and whenever you want. Whether you wanna play for ten minutes or ten hours (I did that one time, shut up I'm a grown-ass man and can do what I want), Breath of the Wild has you covered. For Zelda being my favourite franchise in gaming, I really don't mention it here that often.
Once again I mention Ace Attorney. This series is so good it makes me like a genre that really doesn't do it for me in almost any other sense. Ace Attorney is a visual novel, meaning it almost does not qualify as a game given how little interaction there can be compared to other games on this list, but I think that makes it a great choice for a more casual audience to enjoy. The concept is simple, you're a lawyer and you try to get the best verdict in a court of law. You will investigate crime scenes, talk to witnesses, and yell OBJECTION as you slam down your evidence to win the case. Right off the bat, this series doesn't require any gaming skill, essentially you just select the right options when presented with a choice. That sounds boring as hell to me, and most visual novels are just that in my opinion, but Ace Attorney has so much charm and personality that it will always be a great time. Between the larger than life characters, fantastic music that amps up to an insane degree during tense moments in the case, and intense visual and audio design that elevates each moment to ridiculous heights, Ace Attorney remains a truly unforgettable series that will leave you itching for more memorable moments from Nick, Maya, The Judge, Edgeworth, and the rest of this absurd cast.
Ah, Stardew Valley. My personal all-time favourite indie game and the reason I wanted to make this blog (Sorry A Hat In Time, you were so close). Stardew Valley is all about experiencing everyone's favourite thing, manual labour! Stardew Valley begins with your character inheriting their grandfather's farm and getting to do whatever they want with it. Wanna grow veggies until you have a Vast Vegan Empire? You can do that. Wanna raise animals and control the milk industry? You can do that. Wanna grow more beer than Joshua Hauta could ever hope to drink? You can do that. The freedom Stardew Valley gives is incredible. Sure you may not have much idea what to do early on and may waste a few days because of it (don't worry the days are infinite), but this allows you to create your farm however you want and make your experience truly your own. You can spend the days toiling away in the soil, rushing through the mines, or just roaming around before deciding to go get high with a wizard. Add to that an amazing soundtrack, gorgeous aesthetics, and an amazing cast of characters (shout outs to Best Girl Abigail), Stardew Valley remains one of the best games to just zone out and relax with.
Hopefully this dumb list gives you at least one game you'd consider trying, even if you do not consider yourself much of a gamer. Gaming is a vast medium with a huge library of incredible titles for people of all walks of life. It is far more than just a dumb gimmick that lonely people use to fill the empty void that is their life, even if that is primarily what they are for ole P-Vock.