1/13/2017

Favorite Games I Played in 2016

Not all of these came out in 2016, but some did. I've always wanted to do something like this but doing it in video form felt pointless. A video on "these are games I played, maybe you'll think they are cool too" isn't very profound, but it's kind of perfect for a blog.

SLY COOPER: THIEVES IN TIME (PS3, 2013)
On my channel I reviewed the original Sly Cooper trilogy and felt lazy not doing Thieves in Time. I borrowed a copy from my friend and although I haven't finished the review for the game, I will come out and say that I actually enjoyed it a lot. I gave a pretty harsh review on Sly 2 and Sly 3 for their tedium and strange design choices. Sly 4 got rid of a lot of that. Since Sly 2 and 3 were walking on a thin line between monotony and quick strategy anyways, the changes were subtle but important. Not a lot of 3D platformers come out anymore due to the trend of 2D procedural generation games out now, so Thieves in Time was refreshing and although it's an unpopular opinion it might be my favorite in the franchise. I don't know though, Sly 1 was pretty cool.

ARAGAMI (PC, 2016)
At the end of 2016, I started getting into Steam, and my friends and I were looking for games to play online together since I might be moving away from their area fairly soon. I convinced my friends to try out Aragami since I was instantly drawn to its art style (and most of what they were suggesting were games that I wasn't very interested in, i.e. bland pseudo-realism shooters and horror games). I'm not super into PC gaming but Aragami, of all games, showed me its power. Aragami is a plot-centered stealth game, but instead of taking out bad guys with a gun in a boring industrial building, Aragami is set in lush cel-shaded environments and your primary weapon is a sword. You play as a mysterious creature called an Aragami who has been summoned by a captured princess to save her from her prison. Aragami has the typical WASD movement key binding of most PC games with shift sprinting and control crouching, but the space bar is used for certain shadow-based abilities that your character can use. The reason this works so well on PC is that you can aim with a mouse. Obviously you don't need to aim your sword but you can use shadow abilities to teleport to darker areas in your field of vision, even if it means scaling a wall. Speed and precision in your methods are crucial and this is so easy to do with a mouse that I can't fathom using a controller. Also Aragami is really pretty, has a fun enough plot, and is surprisingly fun to play co-op (two of you are Aragamis and you go through the story together). Aragami: it's pretty cool. There's an in-depth review.

SUPER MONKEY BALL (GC, 2001)
I have been playing Super Monkey Ball 2 for years but never owned a copy, just kept borrowing it from family. My sister ordered Super Monkey Ball for me as a Christmas gift (fun story, she thought she ordered SMB2 but the cover art is nearly identical so accidentally got me SMB1, but I'm not complaining). Super Monkey Ball is one of the first true physics-based puzzle games, or at least the first I'm aware of, and it plays as such. You push a monkey through various puzzles set up by the game in a certain order and see how far you can make it. Each puzzle gives you either 30 or 60 seconds to get to the goal, ramping up in difficulty (in theory) as you progress. Super Monkey Ball doesn't have as many memorable or impressive stages as Super Monkey Ball 2 does but it has tighter cornering which can be the difference between life and death when your main character moves in a big slippery ball. Admittedly, I also come back to Super Monkey Ball for the mini-games. I am significantly better at Monkey Billiards than I am at real life billiards.

BATTLEBLOCK THEATER (PC, 2013-2014)
Yeah, I just now got around to BattleBlock Theater. Another steam purchase that I have been meaning to try out for a long time and since it was on sale (bundled with Castle Crashers as well) I just decided to go for it. I have not been this pleasantly surprised with a 2D platformer in a long time. BattleBlock Theater is essentially LittleBigPlanet but more engaging and action-heavy. This isn't to say that it is better than the LittleBigPlanet games, just different. I always explain it to my friends that way and they think I'm saying that LittleBigPlanet blows in comparison to BattleBlock Theater and that is absolutely not what I'm trying to say. That's just like comparing different kinds of apples. BattleBlock's narrator is Will Stamper (Fairy Wish Prince, PeePee's Gay House, Potato Salad) which makes the game even more enjoyable for me. This was one of my main drawing points to the game, which is sad, but it absolutely brings a whole new personality to the game. Even without Stamper or the hilarious dialogue in general, BattleBlock Theater still looks like BattleBlock Theater. It's a unique and cutthroat experience that I recommend to everyone with a Steam account who likes pissing off their friends. BattleBlock is enjoyable alone as well, don't get me wrong. A lot of multiplayer games focus on multiplayer and disregard solo play, and other games do the exact opposite. BattleBlock is obviously more open for multiplayer but accommodates both.

POKKEN TOURNAMENT (Wii U, 2016)
Pokken Tournament is the answer to all of the Pokemon fans who have been asking for a game where you can have active combat with Pokemon, except made by the creators of Tekken. Pokken in this case is as simple or technical as you make it in a way. Going in blind is fun, but knowing a character forwards and backwards is also beneficial, and it can honestly be played either way. The story mode blows, plain and simple, but the gameplay is so well-designed and fun that I can't knock the game for trying too hard (and somehow not enough at the same time) at a single player experience. So many fighting games today are based solely on competitive play (as in tournament play) so at least they tried. I did a full review if you want to know my full thoughts on it. It's a lot more in depth than "Pokemon is fun and now they can beat each other up in real time!"

https://vid.me/1K9x

DONKEY KONG 64 (N64, 1999)
This one is a bit of a cheat. I technically did play this when I was a kid but it was only multiplayer mode and I was six years old at the time so I didn't get super into it. Now as an adult, I'm even more into it and feel like I'm experiencing a whole different game. Donkey Kong 64 is one of those platformer's platformers. Take for example the difference between Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2. Super Mario Galaxy is a beautiful game and playing it is fun and satisfying but even it's more difficult moments aren't going to make you break a sweat by the time you get to that point in the game. Super Mario Galaxy 2 might seem like a bit more of a cash-in but its design is what separates it from the original, giving an all new worthy challenge to veterans of the previous game and platformers in general. Donkey Kong 64, in this case, is like Banjo-Kazooie on every drug you can think of. Does this make it better than Banjo-Kazooie? Not necessarily. But Donkey Kong 64 is a platformer based on collecting that also has a focus on guns and puzzles. It goes from fast, heart-pumping combat to slow intricate puzzles in mere seconds. Donkey Kong 64 is such an anomaly in the platforming community that beyond this, I have to say just play it for yourself. It would take a 10-minute video to fully convey how I feel about this game (wink, wink).

SHOVEL KNIGHT (Wii U, 2014)
Another game that I played way later than everyone else. I really like this game. I think it's overrated, but that's only because it is seen as the new Super Mario Bros. in terms of hype. The hype is justified in a lot of ways though and Shovel Knight is an incredible game. Even for a platformer of its kind, Shovel Knight has a lot of reasons to revisit the game. Now the developers have also released a free second story where you play as one of the villains, and he controls so differently that it feels like a whole other game. They are also releasing another 3rd story and co-op (among other features) soon, so there is absolutely no time like the present to try out this weird orgy between Mega Man, Duck Tales, and Dark Souls.

PS. I reviewed this game too:
https://vid.me/IdSx

DIGIMON STORY: CYBER SLEUTH (PS4, 2015-2016)
I know. It's a Digimon game. It's supposed to be mediocre. Nope. Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth is actually a well-designed turn-based RPG with incredible writing and delightfully stylized visuals. Without spoiling the game, I still technically haven't beaten it because the last segment of the game breaks the difficulty curve quite a bit, but ultimately Digimon Story is one of the rare RPG's where grinding in moderate doses doesn't feel like a chore and has a wide array of side-quests that encourage grinding in a fun way without seeming like pure filler content. You want to take all of those side-quests because you are raising six badass Digimon in your party, as well as thirteen others back at the farm while another eleven in the farm are crafting items for you and five more are seeking out more missions for you. God, I really want to get back into this game, but I have so many more I haven't beaten. *stares at unfinished copies of Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD on shelf*

KINGDOM HEARTS: BIRTH BY SLEEP FINAL MIX (PS3, 2014)
I'm one of those Kingdom Hearts fans. One of those. I played every game except for any iteration of Coded and never got around to Birth By Sleep because that would have required me to buy a PSP solely for Birth By Sleep. So I bought Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 solely for BBS (still haven't played the remaster of II) and I believe BBS is one of the best in series. The story is shorter for the sake of it being a handheld game but there are three separate characters and each of them have a unique plot that develops each character, and solidifies each character even more if you play all three. This already adds up to a whole experience and the replay value is set up so tastefully in this way that you will want to pick up all the items along the way for the sake of some form of completion. The true ending that you get by beating all three stories also leads directly into Kingdom Hearts 2.8: A Fragmentary Passage so if you're a fan or just now getting into the series, Birth By Sleep has an awesome combat system and feels like less of a chore than previous installments with far less grinding. Birth By Sleep is so smooth and fun that it probably wouldn't be the worst place for a newbie to the series to start, and it's slightly appropriate because BBS is a prequel to the entire series. You still won't know what the hell is going on yet, but not a bad place to start since the plot is mostly self-contained.

UNCHARTED 4: A THIEF'S END (PS4, 2016)
Make fun of me. I deserve it. I keep trying to think my way out of it but if I'm going to be honest with myself, the most fun and thought-provoking time I had with a game this year was with Uncharted 4, hands down. Uncharted 4 is proof that you can have a successful, plot-driven game series and still take new installments in different directions. I'm not saying Uncharted 4 is better than all of the other games. I get why people complain about Uncharted 4 and think it's "boring". I'm a fan of the series and I can still see its faults, for example I don't think Uncharted 1 has aged very well despite only being about 10 years old. Uncharted 4 is a lot more cinematic than previous games in the franchise, but its action segments make the story feel rewarding and bring out tension in the story in such a theatrical way that I think this game shows that a cinematic game doesn't have to be formulaic. The game isn't about pretty cutscenes, even though it has them, it's about telling a story based on a weary adventurer trying to live a normal life, and in this sense, Uncharted 4 shows sides of the series never seen before in the entire franchise, which makes it a risky new experience, but probably my second favorite in the series (keeping in mind I'm not super into shooters either). Uncharted 4 and the upcoming Kingdom Hearts III are the only reasons I got a PS4, and looking back on the times I have already come back to Uncharted 4's world with a grin solidify for me that I don't regret a dime. I'm not saying Uncharted 4 is a great enough game to spend over $300 on, but it's really good. If you're a fan of Uncharted or Naughty Dog, get a PS4 and get this game.

That's the list. Thanks for reading my brief thoughts on a list of goofy games. Not to keep plugging my channel but hey, I also reviewed Uncharted 4 too so I'll link it below:

https://vid.me/K0eF

Bye now, kids!

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