I had a few articles written up before the new year already scheduled, so this is going out a few days late, but HAPPY HOLIDAYS and HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope you were able to spend some time with family, and maybe just maybe, get in some quality gaming time as well.
2016 was a blast for gaming, and burning through my endless backlog proved to me that I still have some great taste in games. Hey, I know what I like. Let’s have a gander at the games I completed this year:
Glancing over this list today, I’m already seeing how easy it’s going to be to talk about my favorites, as several of them are practically glowing bright green in my head.
I love looking at these lists and seeing how diverse the systems are, too. If I recall correctly, the past year was entirely 3DS games, and it was really cool to see myself branch out a little bit more. Of course, starting to go a little insane with the collecting is also partly to blame for this. I cannot tell you how many nights I was up at 3am sniping eBay auctions for GameCube games. It got a little bit silly.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds came in strong, completed right at the beginning of the year. This game innovated on the Zelda formula but stayed true to its past (hehe), overall it was an extremely calming and absolute joy to play, as is to be expected with any game in the Zelda franchise. That being said, The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures was a good time as well, but one I felt was definitely lacking with a solo playthrough. I can’t imagine the fun and/or chaos playing with three other people, but I’m pretty sure that very few people in the world have actually done this!
Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon was my first foray into the mystery dungeon genre. I only had heard of it when the game was being talked about prior to release, yet picked it up blindly, only having a vague idea of the general gameplay elements involved. However, what I wasn’t prepared for was the level of depth to the story – PSMD is a really great game with a great story. The simple mechanics are fine, it’s challenging when it should be, and it certainly doesn’t hold your hand, which is a common pain in the ass with anything under the Pokemon umbrella. But this game felt amazing to me.
One of the issues I had with Pokemon X last year was that with all of those hundreds of new Pokemon – none of them resonated with me. I had no connection to them. I didn’t see them in a cartoon since I hadn’t watched or even thought about Pokemon since I was 12, so I had no personality to overlay on to them. Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon put personalities to these new creatures, which made me appreciate them more. This is especially evident in my current playthrough of Pokemon Moon. It definitely was an unexpected highlight of the year.
This was also a huge year for catching up on Metroid games that I had missed. Metroid Prime 2: Echoes was a great gameplay experience, but in my opinion the environments didn’t hold a torch to its predecessor. I don’t know, maybe it’s just my absolute love for the Phendrana Drifts world and music that added a nice reminder to Prime that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and not so everything is bleak and miserable. Hey, why not read the rest of this article with some light tunes?
Outside of the Prime series, it was also really cool to finally experience the first Metroid (Zero Mission on the GBA), and the second Metroid (A2MR), and although I don’t know how much that technically counts, I have no desire to go back and experience the NES version. Of course, Super Metroid played via the 3DS eShop was an incredible experience. Can’t believe I missed that one growing up.
Speaking of classic Super Nintendo games that I missed, I absolutely adored Earthbound, and while it took me a while to “figure it out,” it proved to be worth the 35 hour time sink. Sometimes you just need to press on and suck it up. Earthbound was definitely this situation in a nutshell, for me at least.
And now for something completely different: Dark Cloud 2! I knew from the first hour of this 60+ hour journey that this was a top 3 game of the year material, and somehow it managed to keep itself in my good graces for all wonderous 63 or so hours. While it did get pretty repetitive at the end, and I found myself waking up early to play it, it never didn’t feel rewarding getting through each and every one of those, I don’t know, five-hundred-thousand dungeon floors. And that really says something about the feel of the game and how well it was done. I wrote a whole lot about Dark Cloud 2, and looking back now it looks like an obsession. Truly I don’t remember much from my life those three months except playing a lot of Dark Cloud 2.
The addition of a beautiful new Playstation Vita Slim was a huge highlight of the gaming year for me, and all the games (someone seriously tell me it has no games again, really) completely took me by surprise. It filled a huge void that the 3DS/DS offerings had left. Mostly in the form of 3D games. Yes, I get that the 3DS outputs in 3D and that can sound confusing. But between God of War, Ratchet and Clank, indies like Shovel Knight and Thomas Was Alone, the beauty that is Tearaway – it’s just a fantastic little console. But none of these left such a lasting impact on me as Ys: Memories of Celceta. This game was an absolute blast and when paired with Dark Cloud 2, turned me back on to the action-RPG genre. Truly a lost art.
Of course, the sheer amount of time I spent playing Rayman Legends means it needs at least a big mention here. It’s an incredible game that has more content than should theoretically fit on to its tiny cartridge, and the 30 or so hours it took me to 100% it was a blast from start to finish. Yeah, even through those Murphy levels!
The idea of making a top list of 2016 bounced around my head a bit. The “Master List” as it were, was originally planned to be a long rambling about every game I completed, but I realized that’d be too long. So let’s keep it short, and then talk about specifics another time!
My Top 5 Favorite Games Played in 2016:
Most Epic: Dark Cloud 2
Most Unexpected Fun: Super Mario Run
Best Story: Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon
Addicting Gameplay: Rayman Legends
and the Best Overall is…
Ys: Memories of Celceta
And there ya have it, folks. This was unexpectedly more difficult than I imagined it would be an hour ago when I started writing this. There were so many great games played and so little in the way of disappointment. Ys: Memories of Celceta turned me back into an action-RPG freak and I was truly heartbroken when I beat it. Most games I aim to finish as fast as possible because that’s what my spare time allows, but this one was 35 hours of loving every minute of it.
I’m super excited for 2017 and what I’ve got planned for it. But that my friends is a topic for another day. Happy Belated New Year everyone, let me know in the comments if you had any favorites from 2016 that came out years before 2016!