Here it is guys, with massive thanks to @Treble for all the palaver.
Game of the Year 2021
A1. No More Heroes III
With the recent pessimism surrounding the decline of Japanese B games, the unstoppable rise of the western AAA, Sony dropping out of the Japanese market, consumers wanting bigger and better and ray-tracinger etc. etc., it was refreshing and really pleasing to see that Grasshopper hadn't in fact got the memo, and were jankily carrying on the party like it was 2005. NMHIII has texture pop-in from a few metres away, a frame-rate that could generously be called inconsistent and very little meaningful interaction with its sparsely-populated, uncanny open world. And yet. The combat is absolutely amazing, the character and alien design is just really damn punk and the VA from Robin Atkin Downes and Noshir Dalal, as main arch-rivals Travis and alien lord Fu, just sells the whole damn stupid story in a way that will have you punching the air during their final fatal battle to be No. 1 ranked assassin in the universe. It's first and foremost just a damn good videogame, and it knows it. Oh, and the item shop theme really didn't need to go this hard but I'm really, really glad it does.
A2. Shin Megami Tensei V
It's not often I find myself agreeing with @Wiper's 100% correct opinions, but the fella is bang on the money here, and MegaTen V is the best JRPG I've played in ages. Taking open world cues from - what else? - BotW, the areas you find yourself in work like massive dungeons, albeit dungeons taking place in the ruins of vaguely recognisable Tokyo cityscapes, with a pleasing verticality to everything as you explore the ruins of collapsed skyscrapers searching for Miman, the korok equivalents. Starting off with faeries and the sandman in your party of recruitable, trainable monsters ripped from centuries of folklore and religion from around the world, you can kind of guess you're reaching the end game when your party consists of Loki, the Buddhist arch-demon Mara, the Virgin Mary and Lord Ganesh. With punchy combat and meaningful exploration, it never lulls during its 50-hour odd playtime.
A3. Metroid Dread
It might just be me, but Dread seems to be the most hardcore, difficult game Ninty has put out for ages. With all the impact of a shinespark to the face, the game has you blasting through the abandoned planet of ZDR at a pace that only lets up when you run into the EMMI robots - Dread there stealing the ultra-tense SA-X encounters from Fusion and deciding to make a game around them. It doesn't quite come together; ZDR never feels like a real, breathing planet akin to Zebes or Talon IV, and you're pretty much funneled from one area to the next in a way that makes it feel more an heir to the philosophy of Fusion and Samus Returns, rather than Prime or Super. But the boss battles are killer, the rare moments of Samus' expressing herself are badass and the animation throughout is absolutely top-notch. It's also great that they named the game Dread not after the relentless EMMIs, but the feeling that accompanies the discovery of that coveted energy tank hidden behind two tiny, inconspicuous speed boost blocks. To quote our own @Cyhwuhx, 'You want to me to shinespark where?!?'.
A4. Monster Hunter Rise
I bounced off World quite a bit when it released a few years ago on PS4, but Rise really clicked this year and I'm glad I can finally say that I 'get' Monster Hunter. It's all about the multiplayer. Single player is challenging and fun, but the rush that comes with playing online co-op, with friends or (usually Japanese) strangers alike, taking down a vicious Magnamalo with judicious zipping around on wirebugs, is a gaming experience that gets its hooks into you, forever chasing the next cool piece of armour made of the skin of the monster who's head you'd just caved in. The levels are wide and tall, the move sets as satisfying to learn as always, and leaping off your faithful palamute at full speed to plunge into your quarry's cranium long sword first rarely gets boring.
A5. Lost Judgment
It's a RGG Studios game. It's spotting UFOs so that a high school kid can come to terms with the fact that his father has run off with another woman. It's finding out what is so cursed about a lucky cat statue that seems to kill everyone who touches it. It's spotting a cat burglar panty thief who claims to be Spiderman in his defence. It's KimuTaku laying the smack down on school kids for having their shirts untucked. It's racing your drone through the streets of Yokohama to earn cash. It's working at a posh private school that somehow doesn't require any DBS checks to be the girls' dance club instructor. It's unpacking a pretty dark murder mystery. It's sitting back with a highball in the depths of Kamurocho, and then going to the Sega game centre to unwind with some House Hama of the Dead. It's punching punks for looking at you funny. It's a RGG Studios game. And it's glorious.
Game of the Year (premiered anywhere pre-2021)
B1. Outer Wilds: Echoes of the Eye
Anyone who has ever-so-cautiously piloted their spaceship through the depths of Dark Bramble, or of Giant's Deep, secretly knows: Mobius Digital want to make a horror game. And here they have, sort of. I don't think I've ever played a game that had environments that were so... cosy, yet off at the same time. It lacks the space travel that made the original game so special, and the new area to explore in EotE recalls influences from the original Myst to Amnesia, but the puzzle solving, frights and attention to detail of the new environment make a hell of a lasting impression that sticks with you.
B2. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD
Loved the motion controls on the Wii. Loved the motion controls (and the 60 fps) here. Great Zelda with an underrated soundtrack.
B3. Bowser's Fury
A fun Mazza that can't shake the impression of being a neat proof of concept. Short and sweet, with an entertaining central mechanic.
Biggest Disappointment of the Year
Z1. Still not being able to buy next gen consoles at retail
Z2. Look here! It's NFTs! With this new technology on the etherhiumium block chain, we will be able to engage with our consumers content, consumers, make them free to play, play to earn, consume, unprecedented opportunities for content creation in the hands of our consumers, content, play to engage zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz... fuck off
Sound Design of the Year
S1. No More Heroes III
S2. NEO: The World Ends with You
S3. Nier Replicant
Visual Design of the Year
V1. NEO: The World Ends with You
V2. Dungeon Encounters
V3. R-Type Final 2
Writing of the Year
W1. Lost Judgment
W2. No More Heroes III
Format of the Year
F1. Nintendo Switch
Publisher or Developer of the Year
P1. Grasshopper Manufacture