Game of the Game of the Year Game of the Year

The Free Cheese Game of the Game of the Year

May 10, 2021


The Free Cheese Game of the Game of the Year

The current lineup of this podcast has been together for five years and have deliberated on five separate years’ worth of Game of the Year awards. While the categories have changed each year, we always close out the awards with our top five games as a group with the Game of the Year at the top.

To celebrate 400 episodes, we’re going to build the ultimate Game of the Year list from 2016 through 2020 one week at a time. Each week on The Free Cheese Podcast, we’ll agree on a ranking for the 25 games that made our top five each year until we ultimately have a winner for Game of the Game of the Year and a total ranking of the best 25 games released since 2016.

This article will be updated each week with the next entry as we count down to number one, which will leave us just a few weeks before we start putting together our shortlists for Game of the Year 2021. Which game do you think was the best game between 2016 and 2021? Let us know in the comments section below and stay tuned each week for another game to find its ranking.

Tetris Effect

Yeah it’s just Tetris. Or is it?

We fell in love with Tetris Effect. Love is complex, right? There’s the first hit of it, where you are overcome with elation and adoration, when there are no faults and everything is beautiful. Then there’s the first bump, but it’s worth it to explore it together. You find yourself back at the beginning.

It does this, up and down, for years as your relationship grows deeper and you realize that you don’t know yourself without that whom you love. You become defined by that relationship and they you.

We are years since Tetris Effect first entered our lives but it has a lasting power like no other game. The core game is what we’ve known we’ve loved since forever; there’s an eternity to Tetris. Everything around the core Tetris in this game is what we never knew we needed. There’s a journey that you go through, both in the game’s main mode and within yourself. It’s an experience that when it clicks, the entire universe begins to make sense. We begin to make sense.

But it’s still just Tetris, right?

Episode ranking: The Free Cheese Episode 403

Previous ranking:


DOOM was our winner for overall Game of the Year 2016. In the years since we voted and agreed, DOOM stands out as a touchstone moment in first-person shooters. It renewed our interest in a genre that had been capitalized by military shooters and a focus on multiplayer. DOOM encouraged us to explore each stage to find secrets and chain together demon murder puzzles punctuated by a heavy soundtrack that punches us like each successful glory kill.

Fittingly, our first Game of the Year winner as a trio is the first to get added to our list.

Episode ranking: The Free Cheese Episode 400

Previous ranking: 1

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

We initially scheduled our Game of the Year recording for 2018 to make sure we gave Super Smash Bros. Ultimate enough time to be considered. It’s a really rare occurrence, the release of a game in the Super Smash Bros. franchise, but this time the developers made the deals necessary and did the work to bring back every character from the franchise history. They’re still adding new characters more than two years past its initial release.

Ultimate became a celebration of video games and has acted as a gateway to new experiences for us. Thanks to a new character addition (and usually a detailed look at the character with Game Director Masahiro Sakurai) we suddenly become fans of games that felt out of reach.

Each character feels like it’s been lifted from its origins yet fits perfectly within the confines of Super Smash Bros. The attention to detail on display is unrivaled.

Episode ranking: The Free Cheese Episode 401

Previous ranking: 2

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2

Episode ranking: The Free Cheese Episode 407

Devil May Cry 5

Episode ranking: The Free Cheese Episode 412


Episode ranking: The Free Cheese Episode 408

Splatoon 2

Episode ranking: The Free Cheese Episode 405

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Episode ranking: The Free Cheese Episode 410

Red Dead Redemption II

Episode ranking: The Free Cheese Episode 413


Episode ranking: The Free Cheese Episode 404

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night

Episode ranking: The Free Cheese Episode 415

Final Fantasy XV

Episode ranking: The Free Cheese Episode 414

The Last Guardian

Episode ranking: The Free Cheese Episode 411

Super Mario Odyssey

During our original conversations in 2017, Super Mario Odyssey beat out its contemporary, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, for a spot on our top five games that year. Looking back now, we can see where Super Mario Odyssey offers a new experience for 3D Mario games and is easy to recommend to anyone as they are buying a Switch.

We found that jumping into different bodies as Mario and becoming a different creature to fit the needs of the puzzle was refreshing, yet ultimately we’re left wondering where Mario goes next. By the end of the experience, we were all a little tired of collecting moons and some areas were a bit more empty than others. There’s a lot of great in this game, with something somewhat off.

Episode ranking: The Free Cheese Episode 402

Previous ranking: 3

Joe is the creator of The Free Cheese. He eats a lot of pizza and takes thousands of pictures of his pugs Oswald and Earl every day.
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