Games I Finished in 2016

To start off, I can explain why I barely finished anything with two reasons: (a) real life got in the way, and (b) my attention span is becoming increasingly short. Sadly, I don’t expect things to change in terms of real-life obligations in 2017. So these are the games I (mostly) finished, in order of when I first started playing them, and my thoughts on them. The games that defined my year.

Also, just the mildest of spoiler warnings if you’re sensitive about that kind of stuff; I made sure this would be safe to read barring a few character or plot aspects here and there.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

For anyone who wants to jump back into gaming this generation, this might be the best possible AAA introduction — with the caveat that nothing else will top it (YMMV on say, Bloodborne or Yakuza 0 or Breath of the Wild). A typical session for me would be just to visit a few markers and maybe try a quest if it’s convenient, so you can see why it takes me really long to make progress. I do get bored pretty easily. Maybe I’ll get to touch the expansions someday. 2030 sounds doable.

Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations

Trials is the best of the series so far. In defense of Apollo Justice, I don’t think Capcom could have done anything to match the acclaim this one got. This entry is the essential Phoenix Wright experience, although it’s best played after the first two. I think the magic of this game boils down to the fact that every aspect of this game had color; it’s the most lively and dynamic visual novel I’ve ever played (sorry Danganronpa) in terms of the presentation, the audio, and the story. And in every single case, the dialogue feels breezy and propulsive whereas the others tended to grind. T&T has that weird intangible quality I can’t describe, but I can say that I still remember all about characters like Jean Armstrong or Ron DeLite versus Machi Tobaye or Guy Eldoon. Just amazing.

Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s World Championship 2011: Over the Nexus

I nabbed this one because someone was selling it sealed for like 1000 pesos, so this wasn’t really a passion purchase. I liked Yu-Gi-Oh a lot as a kid, and still sort of do, though my nostalgia is kind of for Forbidden Memories on the PS1 and that World Championship game on the GBA. This was good, but I ended up putting it down after a while because the duels got too samey. Love them Synchros though.

Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light

This might be my favorite game I played all year. For all my complaints with the small inventory and getting lost in the dungeons and the trial-and-error with the bosses sometimes, the overall experience was memorable. It has this really pretty fairytale aesthetic (a serious feat on the Nintendo DS) and it has a really fun twist on the job system. Unfortunately I got stuck on the final boss; that 2nd form always manages to murder me somehow. So I haven’t seen the ending, but as soon as I can bring myself to grind and finish this game I will definitely be there. Essential for RPG fans in my opinion.

Kid Icarus Uprising

Mechanically crisp in the way you’d expect from HAL Laboratory. Really funny at times too — the dialogue has that 2010s Cartoon Network vibe (i.e. Adventure Time, Steven Universe). I don’t think the controls are all that bad actually (Americans and their gorilla hands…). This game was very good.

Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition

Another one of my favorites this year, and one of the games I managed to finish. Sleeping Dogs’ biggest strength is that it nails the atmosphere and aesthetic of modern-day Hong Kong action movies. One sequence that really sticks out in my mind is the club scene early in the game where I kicked like 20 random goons in the mouth while this damn song played in the background. I still get goosebumps. Don’t skip the DLC either; Year of the Snake makes a fantastic quasi-epilogue.

WWE 2k16

Ended up selling this before 2k17 came out. I just can’t justify buying sports games at full price. The annual 2k wrestling games scratch my fantasy wrestling itch about as well as Shinsuke Nakamura sells the leg, which is to say only when it bothers to.

Tropico 5

One of my worst vices is management and strategy games. We’re talking a combined total of at least one year of my life playing games like Civilization, Command & Conquer, and Sim City. This game is more of that, but with a better sense of humor, so there was really no escape for me. I mean it’s not really in the same ballpark of complexity as Civ 4 or Sim City 4, but somehow it manages to be just as engrossing. With that said, I really want to micromanage traffic. Let me do that in Tropico 6 pls.

Rhythm Heaven

I started this game way back in 2010 so I was so excited to finally beat it. Except, I don’t think I actually did. Because after the credits a crap-ton of stages got unlocked. Decided not to continue after that for my own sanity. This was when I made it a rule that once the credits roll, the game shall be considered beaten.

Zero Time Dilemma

Classic example of hype clouding my judgment; my initial reaction to ZTD was that this was the best of the franchise. Maybe it still would have been, if I didn’t have the misfortune of reading the threads on /r/zeroescape, but the plot holes are too gaping for me to ignore anymore. It’s still an amazing narrative feat, and nowhere near the disappointment of, say, the LOST series finale, but I guess there were a few things they could have done to ground it.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Don’t have a lot to say about this, seeing as it’s the first Metal Gear Solid game I’ve played in earnest (I’ve dabbled in 2 & 3 but never got far). The plot is almost impenetrable and the controls are weird (i.e. riding D-Horse) but it still doesn’t feel that contrived (yet?) and I can sort of appreciate why the mechanics are the way they are. I’ve only just recently come back to this game and I like it a little more than I did last time, especially the base management stuff now that I’ve progressed a little further. Maybe by this time next year I can say that I loved it but for now it hasn’t breached the “Just Okay” level.

Pokemon Colosseum

As of this writeup I’ve postponed my playthrough of this game. I may have made a critical error by focusing on curing the Shadow Pokemon rather than raising my team, because I keep friggin’ dying. It… hasn’t been fun, to say the least.

Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney

I don’t want to discourage you from playing this game, because AJ really finds its groove by the end if you’re patient enough. I think what makes this game worth playing is the way it subverts the familiar Phoenix Wright character tropes. And whether these choices were good or bad should be up to you. My word of warning would be not to go looking for opinions on the Internet afterwards. That’s a safe resolution for the year right? To stay away from the hivemind? Because now I can’t unlearn the plot holes or GameXplain’s takes on Klavier Gavin.

Pokemon Sun

Objectively good but now I am once again burned out, and I find myself yearning for the heyday of the 3rd – 5th generations. I’m one of the few who wish that Pokemon’s meta-aspects (IVs and EVs, breeding) remained difficult and opaque. Not to be elitist at all; I just feel like raising ultra-specialized Pokemon would be even more special if the means you used to attain them weren’t as accessible as they are in-game nowadays. Part of the fun was having to beat the Battle Factory like 10 times just to earn enough BP to get Thunderbolt or something.

Christmas Loot and New Year’s Resolution

Thanks to my generous and wonderful Titos and Titas, I managed to cross a lot of games off my wishlist this Christmas. Not that I’ve shared the contents of that list yet, but I will tell you that Flower, Sun, and Rain just about tops it. So to help me manage the growing backlog I’m going to finish a new game a month. Priority would be the older games in my collection. And I’m also going to write my thoughts about each monthly game because this blog needs content. Consider that my new year’s resolution.

Right now I’m playing four games (listed below) which should be the limit. My main problem right now is that I’m losing interest in some of these games. Focus will be key for the new year.

  1. Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes Of Light – No joke, I’ve been playing this game since June. I don’t think I’m anywhere near the end. It ain’t good, but it ain’t bad either.
  2. Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations – Told myself not to play this right away after the second one. Just testing it out, I said. But everyone knows these games are the shit.
  3. Picross DS – Seemingly endless puzzles, even without the downloads anymore. Been playing this for most of the year and it’s still fantastic.
  4. Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s World Championship 2011: Over the Nexus – Fun only when you’re actually card battling, which should be most of the time.

Spotlight #1: Retro Game Challenge

[Mild Spoilers]

I’m not a Game Center CX fan. The host Arino is a really awkward comedian, and it’s dull watching the guy bumble through some of the games like Ocarina of Time and Mother 2 (which is my favorite game of all time). The best episode I’ve seen is Balloon Fight, and guest Satoru Iwata totally stole the show from Kacho. I think the show’s main appeal is with the sheer love and reverence they treat the games they feature. I’m not old (just turning 22 in a few weeks), so I don’t long much for games from the Famicom era. With that said, this game adaptation of the TV show is amazing.

I think it was Jeremy Parish who said that the Nintendo DS was essentially the last retro console. For all its innovation with touch controls and tiny cartridges, it was also the final hurrah for the classic-style 2D platformers, RPGs, etc. There were a ton of classic hits collections released for the DS. Retro Game Challenge (RGC) is the culmination of all that. It’s the ultimate love letter to 80s kids, to the Nintendo Power era, right down to the limited edition corporate tie-ins. This game is so rich and detailed in its depiction of the Famicom era, making it an essential experience for retro aficionados and nostalgia seekers.

It would’ve been easy to half-ass the actual games you can play on this system. Thankfully, developer indieszero did anything but. Star Prince is a deliciously crunchy space shmup. Haggle Man is tactical action fun with unique mechanics. Rally King is my personal favorite (I go back and forth between this and Star Prince); an arcade racer that you will NOT be able to put down. Centerpiece of the show is Guadia Quest, a full-fledged Dragon Quest clone with less tedious gameplay. That’s secretly been the best thing about RGC; it picked out a lot of the annoyances we associate with early games. You’ll find a polished experience that could make it hard to go back and play the old stuff. This is the final form of the 80s.

Unfortunately, Retro Game Challenge bombed in NTSC regions. If you’re in the US, you’ll probably have a hard time finding this game. Luckily there’s like one copy each at a few Datablitz branches (local version of Gamestop) in Manila, because this is a Catholic country and Jesus loves us (not really). I was also able to snag the sequel, Arino no Chousenjou 2, on a recent trip to Japan. If you’re like me and you can’t read Japanese yet, there’s a fan translation available (kudos). I haven’t gotten to it yet but the reception has been really positive so I’m stoked. You guys, the Nintendo DS was amazing and this is a prime example of what made it great. Retro Game Challenge is the most fun and quirky game, and it’s got a live, beating heart at the center. Nostalgia for daaaays.