Whereas some people might like doing their usual year end lists of awards for the good games and the bad, I, on the other hand... am doing the exact same thing! Breaking new ground is fucking tough. In fact, it is too hard! What do I look like? A smart? An innovative? I can barely fathom my multiplication tables.
And I took approximately 3 hours to write this intro.
I also keep forgetting to take out the trash.
I'm sitting on broken glass right now.
U R SMRT Award 2016 -
It's not all bad, I suppose. I spent a whole 13 hours in The Witness without ever breaking a sweat! In fact, my equilibrium was ac-... eh, that was just a large word I was aware that had to do with the brain and what was in the brain. I don't really know where to go with it.
Ugh. Basically, The Witness made me feel smart.
Steadily increasing my knowledge of how to get the thing or things to the other thing or things, zoning out to its visual/audio zen, effortlessly bringing myself to think in its brand of esoteric logic. It was a cool as heck ride that I eventually quit, unfortunately. Partially from having burnt myself out a bit on it. Most puzzle games probably shouldn't last much longer than a tenth of the length of this game and it liked spreading out its more complicated puzzles in a fashion as abstract as the solutions themselves.
Also, yeah. I forgot this game released this year as well.
Social Butterfly Award 2016 -
Uncle Death; Let It Die
If I could (well, strictly speaking, I could, but I digress), I'd fill every one of these categories with Overwatch stuffs. Even the negative. Even the piss take categories. Which is almost all of them, probably. But, especially the positive ones. And we WILL get to Overwatch. But, for now, we're going to try and pretend there were other amazing qualities to 2016 in video games besdes Overwatch. Such as Uncle Death from Let It Die! Not Overwatch.
Frankly, I could only manage a few hours of Let It Die before going back to Overwatch. The gameplay didn't really grab me the same way something like, say, Overwatch might. Overwatch Overwatch Overwatch Ove-... *ahem*.
Uncle Death is sort of the dungeon master of Let It Die. He's the first character you meet, he chauffeurs you through your basic tutorials, and he has no problem practically being the one responsible for your very first death. He's the one in absolute control, yet he does call you "senpai". And wears thick shades. And skateboards. He rides skateboards. He doesn't wear them.
He's half Japanese sensibility, half 90's Americana. Two of my most favorite things ever! About all he's missing are the cat ears and a Capri Sun.
To that, all of the characters I witnessed in my short time with Let It Die are straight out of No More Heroes, which is probably Suda's bestest work. It's a shame that they were wasted on a game we'll all probably forget about very soon, because I want them all to fuck my ass as boss fights in a No More Heroes 3.
[Honorable Mention - Tina; Bob's Burgers
Hey, I don't just play video games! Well, that's... mostly what I do for entertainment.
The little lady deserves it. She is obsessed with butts and sweaty boys to a likely very unhealthy degree and that speaks to me like Dre Beats. I mean, minus the young teenager part.
Though, the social awkwardness? About that... errrrrr, it sort of makes this award a bit ironic. But, that also speaks to me. Because that definitely encompassed yours truly around her age and up until probably 19/20.]
Oh, C'mon. Cut. It. Out. Award 2016 -
No Man's Sky
This game is both a case study in just how blatantly, incessantly stupid hype culture is and how NOT to design a particular type of game. Most damning for me as someone who hardly took part in the former is the latter.
I may have already said this around these parts, so forgive my potential repeating of myself, but leveraging exploration with survival gameplay is one of the most counter-intuitive design choices you could possibly make.
No Man's Sky, very clearly, wanted to be an exploration game first and foremost. The goal of the game is to explore, afterall. Not necessarily survive. Surviving is merely an obstacle to exploring. That and obtaining better equipment. But, instead of survival being looped in naturally with exploration, you actively have to stop doing everything you're doing to cater to that nagging AI that informs you of "danger" every few seconds. Nevermind the unsavory friction this sort of design creates on its own, the survival elements of No Man's Sky are horribly imbalanced and serve to only annoy rather than engage.
Everything I need is right in front of me, yet it takes up far too much of my time to remedy the situation so that I can explore more.
You know why games like Minecraft, The Long Dark, or Don't Starve are so successful as survival games? Because they leverage survival with exploration, not the other way around. Your goal is to survive, but to survive, you will find yourself exploring and, as you explore, you gather all that you need intuitively instead of in a begrudging, cold acceptance of "this is just what I gotta do". Exploration doesn't hamper your survival, it helps it. In No Man's Sky, however, survival greatly hampers your exploration because stopping to "survive" whilst trying to explore becomes a gameplay loop with two conflicting trains of thought.
If No Man's Sky wanted to be an exploration game, it should've made achieving that goal as simple as the goal itself. As they were, the survival elements felt like nothing more than a cop-out because the developers were too insecure about their game not being enough of a "game". Granted, this has been supposedly fixed within a separate mode via the recent update, but the damage has already been done and No Man's Sky is, as far as I'm concerned, one of the biggest vidja flops of all time thanks to its amatuer gameplay design and its undeserved roof-toppling levels of hype pre-launch that too many people fell for.
[Honorable Mention - Mighty No. 9
Remember how we all thought this was gonna be some big "Fuck you!" to Capcom? That it was gonna send a message to all those other naysaying publishers who had forgotten their integrity? Be a small piece of a larger revolution in gaming? Be, at all, much of something worth playing?
Remember how it got delayed probably 3 or 4 times? Remember when that PR bloke for MN9 described his own company's game as "better than nothing" on an official stream? Remember how said company sapped some millions of dollars from our naive little pockets to produce something that was about as professional-looking as a proof of concept from a team unlike one backed by somebody with about 30 years experience in the industry?
This Belongs On A Jampack Demo Disc Award 2016 -
I've dabbled in all three Dark Souls iterations, as well as Demon's Souls and Bloodborne. Every single one, steamrolling me into submission in its own special way. I do love a good challenge and am even partial to playing games on their hardest difficulty whenever given the option these days, but deep down? I'm not that great.
Suffice to say, there is something to the Dark Souls formula that speaks to people. Just when you thnk you're done with it, it ropes you back in! At this point, it's much like the niche's own Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. It set a new standard, it's still going strong, and a pretty good handful of me-too's have cropped up over the years. However, the consensus seems to think that Nioh was the most successful of these to date and this was just a demo!
If Dark Souls was the armored dragon atop a hill made up of hundreds of fallen heroes' corpses, then Nioh was at least the tough-looking schoolyard punk with the ripped skull tee. Either one dishes out some awfully stern purple nurples.
As for me? Yeah! It was pretty awesome. It didn't hide that it was basically Dark Souls with one major new addition, being the stances, and that's perfectly okay given it seems to have taken hold of what makes the gameplay of a Souls title so addictive. Either that or my bias for Asian folklore is showing.
It'll be some great fun, trying to weed out the best strats for each enemy and boss. So long as I actually finish this one.
[Honorable Mention - Titanfall 2 (Beta)
I spent an insane amount of time on that time trial run. Easily more time than I spent in the actual MP portion of the demo! In that insane amount of time, I came to find that Titanfall 2's future parkour was surprisingly polished and robust. It got me pumped for an eventual purchase of the full game and it's nice to have recently gotten word that the campaign is very good!
Though, I literally would buy Titanfall 2 were it just various time trials and then some MP for good measure.]
Yandere Award 2016 -
Yawn; Resident Evil: REmake
For those who caught my last blog, you will know I trekked into the "REmake" of the original Resident Evil REcently. It had its issues, but it was, overall, a REally good time! It gave the original gangster of survival horror a much-needed dose of updated spookage and a complete graphical overhaul. REeling me in with satisfying combat feedback and wonderful level design. But, one particular set of moments will always REmain in my head.
You see, there's this giant snake prowling around the Spencer Mansion known as "Yawn". "Yawn", for its gapping jaw, one might presume. I'm also gonna say it is a girl snake. Not because of anything sexist, mind you. It just makes it seem cuter that way. Though, is that still sexist? Well, anyway.
Was me nearly killing her and her nearly killng me not enough for her to take the hint? I mean, we could've maybe worked something out were her kisses not dREadfully poisonous. I was sort of given no choice. She nearly killed me again and something had to be done. I wasn't about to die in a library.
Also, "Yawndere". There. I said it.
Underdog Wonderdog Award 2016 -
Stikbold! was a game I bought off an impulse whilst browsing the Playstation Store because I have a certain weakness for vibrancy and virtual beaches. I've also held a polite interest in dodgeball ever since I watched Dodgeball that one time.
Oh, right! Stikbold! is about dodgeball. It has cutesy physics, lots of custom game options, plenty of balls, as well as a campaign of all things! A campaign involving romance, rivalry, friendship, and the devil. It has boss fights, for cryin' out glayvin! It was something I walked away from feeling pretty happy about, which is something I wasn't expecting out of a game that could've very easily of just been MP + bot matches. Props!
It's also on the cheap, so give it a look!
I Played A Game Of Paranautical Activity After Finding It Hiding Away In My PS4's Library To See If It Was Worth Slotting Into This List Award 2016 -
Newfangled Media And/Or Entertainment Award 2016 -
Game Grumps; Super Mario Maker
I'm a super duper huge fan of a damn good Let's Play series. When it's not video games, it's YouTube and the same two or three TV shows over and over and over that make up about 95% of my entertainment. Most of the Let's Plays I watched this past year were from the Game Grumps and said year saw the continuation of their descent into the hilarity and madness (mostly madness) that are custom Super Mario Maker levels.
For the longest time, I avoided the Gam Goops after JonTron parted as I could hardly see the charm in the Gurm Gramps without the chemistry between him and Arin. But, times do change and not only have I warmed up to Dan and his chemistry with Arin, but good golly is it hard to keep track of just how many different Gum Drops are on the team! There's now Arin, Dan, Ross, Brian, Suzy, Barry, a dog... boy.
But, I don't think you have to look much further than these videos to see why these two particular Gram Crackers work so well together. I've seen it through (technically) twice and it has never ever once gotten old!
[Honorable Mention - Cryaotic; Clock Tower 3
Just wait for the game's tonal switch an episode or two in. It is sooooooo worth it!]
Best amiibo I Forgot I Owned Award 2016 -
Only an amiibo could get me to care about owning anything related to Pac-Man, so it deserves a special aside mention for that.
[Honorable Mention - Murabito
He's just sort of tucked away in the back of my collection, Donkey and Diddy Kong prancing about atop him. Probably because it is what Murabito wishes.
That's right. I still keep him in his box. You would too, were you to stare long enough into those deathly, soulless, black as nothing eyes. Sometimes I hear vague, distant exclaimations coming from my collection. Always too faint to tell if their screams of joy or terror. If not terror, what is to celebrate? If not joy, what is there to be afraid of? Maybe his powers don't affect me, as he is plastic and I am human.
One can only imagine the true life of an amiibo and maybe it's best we never know what it's like.]
Don't Tell Your Parents You've Sold Your Soul To Satan Award 2016 -
Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse; Battle f4
I've made it no secret that I absolutely adore both Shin Megami Tensei and its music. It's actually split 50/50 and sometimes I consider that were its music not so tremendously amazing, I might not be playing the games! That isn't to say the gameplay is ever terrible (there's perhaps one or two exceptions, granted), they're just two parts of the same Megazord that is Shin Megami Tensei and SMT is a gem amongst your usual JRPG-fare.
Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse fleshes out the soundscape of the original SMTIV with songs accompanying all of the sort-of-sequel's new facets. The new dungeons, the new friends, the new villains, and, of course, the new battles. In bursts this beast of a track, known aptly as "Battle f4" and sounds, as the young ones might put it, "tight". It's the sludgiest, most bombastic, most terrific battle theme Shin Megami Tensei has pumped out to date and that's saying a whole lot!
The phaser effects evoke this sense of corrupted, rising power that perfectly encapsulates the intimidation that is felt with each new boss. Every one (for all intents and purposes) more powerful than the last and you have to be ready to kick butt. With this track, simultaneously, that responsibility is alleviated ever so slightly thanks to the SYNTH METAL COURSING THROUGH YOUR BRASS VEINS and yet you know this is no time to hold back. It does exactly what a boss track should do and so much more.
I want to be this song's little bitch.
Surprising Nobody At All Award 2016 -
Not since post-F2P Team Fortress 2 has a multiplayer title hooked me in the slightest. Before that, it was probably Halo: Reach. Before that, Left 4 Dead 2. I've dipped my toes in others, but yeah. They don't come around often! I've never quite got on with the idea of tedious slaughtering for 3-10+ minutes at a time until an MVP is revealed and we all chatter about our fat, ugly mommas, but Overwatch has got the right schticks that keep me coming back as often I can come back!
Firstly, the scenary. Overwatch is a bright, soft, vibrant, shiny experience even on its lowest settings. If latter day Ratchet & Clank has that "Pixar-like experience" covered on the single player front, Overwatch has it within the competitive scene (though, we all hope to see a campaign of sorts updated into Overwatch someday). Environments sheen brilliantly, bullets and shells splatter onto surfaces with tiny cartoon explosions, and it overall fills me with child-like glee.
Secondly, the gameplay. Where I falter most in multiplayer shooters is in my lack of skill. I simply do not have the determination to keep up with how good many players can get. I can become overwhelmed by just a single average player and quickly fall by the wayside like a meek fool. With no tension and full confidence, I often still overcompensate my aim far too much and it can demotivate me super fast. But, thankfully, Overwatch has plenty of characters that require more strategy and positioning than precision aim such as Winston, Mei, Torbjorn, or Mercy. Meanwhile, as I'm being eased into the experience with a few well-earned wins, it's becoming a lot tougher to remain too depressed about a bad run with characters more outside my element like Reaper, Tracer, or Roadhog. I can just come back twice as hard the next time!
Overwatch is also very liberal with its parsing of automatic audio queues for each character, making it more than possible to cooperate with teammates without mics (if still not ideal). Characters will call out when they unleash their Ultimate, with variations depending on which side they're on. When a teammate spies a teleporter, a sniper, or a turret, they make sure to let the rest know. If a point is being captured by a teammate, their specific hero will let you know. Characters will even have their dialogue interrupted with a harsh grunt if they die as they're speaking! The (generally) intuitive access to manual audio queues like "Group up on me!", "I need healing!", or one's Ultimate charge progress also helps tremendously.
The last point doesn't even need to be made, but the game's heroes immediately make a lasting impression and are insanely likeable. I don't know who all collaborated on the character design end, but I want to meet them all and whisper endless naughty appraisals into their earholes. To put things into perspectiive, their most generic character has a Robocop visor, a sharp red/white/blue stuntman's jacket, and pure white hair. It's only up from there! A professional gamer in tights piloting a mech, a Chinese climatologist that (poetically) creates ice walls and freezes foes in place, a shotgun-toting mercenary that dresses like the Grim Reaper, the list goes on! Every one with their own hammy catchphrases and memorable gimmicks.
If I had to boil down Overwatch to one simple word, it'd be "wholesome"... also "great".
I never wanna stop playing this game. It makes me feel so good that we clearly have so many more great characters to conceive and so many more great stories to tell with those characters. With Overwatch, I'll have fun making up my own as I play whilst reveling in what we get fed by Blizzard.
Such as Tracer being super gay. Deal with it.
Best Porn Award 2016 -
Because while I didn't fill this entire list with Overwatch stuff, it had to win at least two awards.