Charinko Hero (Banpresto, 2003, GCN)
A shockingly good GCN kart racer that you can read more about here.
Atelier Ryza 2 (Gust/Koei Tecmo, 2021, PC/PS4/Switch)
This took six months to finish because we kept getting distracted by travel and other games, but that's not a statement on the quality of the game at all. It's easily the best game in this series to date, which says something since I liked some of the earlier games quite a lot. Like those, this is an exceptionally light-hearted JRPG in which you'll use deep crafting mechanics to make ever better items that help you on your quest to (eventually) save the world and be friends with everyone.
Ryza 2 doesn't have anything that will shock people who've played previous games, but it is a major step up on existing general ideas. Crafting has a huge number of quality of life improvements, combat is more interesting and has a smoother flow, and most importantly, major characters feel like people with their own priorities instead of just archetypes along for the ride. They each have their own very lengthy quest chains that see them overcoming their personal struggles and interacting with each other. It's a small touch, but just seeing your friends interacting among themselves without the protagonist driving everything adds a lot to the world.
As long as you aren't going to be put off by a story that is, again, exceptionally light-hearted, I'd recommend this to just about anyone. No other series has ever been close to matching Atelier's item mechanics, and Ryza 2 pushes that even further while also refining everything else.
Time to beat: 45 hours
Beat Saber (Beat Games, 2019, VR)
It's too soon to say whether or not this will become my favorite rhythm game ever. Even after 20 hours it's still only at 5% of my playtime in osu!, but that's certainly a question I'm going to have to consider eventually. There's no doubt that it's the best fitness game I've ever played, helping me work much harder and longer than Ring Fit ever managed. Honestly, I'd probably have twice this playtime already if not for travel and my tired arm muscles getting in the way.
I'm loathe to say that a system is worth it for a single game, but at the same time I'm completely satisfied with my headset and have hardly touched any other game so far. Beat Saber is a vision perfectly realized.
Time to beat: 20 hours
Hitman 3 (I/O Interactive, 2022, PC/PS5/XSX)
If you're thinking that this post is much too positive so far, fear not! Hitman 3 is not very good. The greatest challenge is getting the thing to play at all, at least on the Gamepass version. I had it crash in-game three times in roughly as many hours and had issues with it refusing to advance past the start screen or even open so often that I eventually just gave up despite only having one level left. I managed to finish said final level last week on my laptop, but even with an entirely separate system I still had issues with it dropping the internet connection and one crash. Brilliant.
Putting aside the absolute embarrassment that is its technical state, the rest of the game just honestly isn't very interesting. I've never been at all interested in the way this series does stealth, so bear in mind that I'm effectively playing these as third person shooters, but the first two were still pretty fun to play that way. This one is hardly ever challenging when played my way because the AI forgets about you so quickly, and worse, the final level actually wants you to play my way, which meant the difficulty was lowered even further and it was one of the most anticlimactic finales I've seen.
There is also a story that makes very little sense, but that's par the course with these games. Not recommended.
Time to beat: 5 hours
Untitled Goose Game (House House/Panic, 2019, everything)
Everyone knows what this is, so I'll just say that it's short and funny. I'm glad that it wasn't any longer because the movement mechanics were getting more frustrating the longer I played, but I also think it's way too short and simple for a $20 game. The $10 I spent on sale felt more reasonable.
It's worth experiencing in co-op, but it's not essential.
Time to beat: 2-3 hours