2016… wow, what a year, am I right? I mean, I got a new hammock, and… uh…. I’m sure some other stuff happened, but I can’t really recall exactly what right now. Oh, no matter, let’s talk about some videogames.
Disappointment of the Year: Street Fighter V
You don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone…
When I was first informed (by the owner of the videogame store that was selling me the game) that Street Fighter V launched with a limited story mode that included all of two or three battles per character, I was undeterred. “I don’t play Street Fighter for the arcade mode,” I feistily boasted, “I’m here for the rad characters and cool combos. I could care less about one player content in my fighting games.”
Turns out I’m very good at lying to myself and others.
I didn’t even realize it until Street Fighter 5, but apparently “arcade mode” is the main way I experience fighting games, and, when arcade mode is missing, I very quickly lose interest. I like fighting online against randos! I swear! But that experience is very… uneven? I can’t recall the last time I fought five online opponents at the same continuous difficulty level. It’s amazing when you feel out a fighter and learn the proper footsie game that is going to guarantee your victory… but most of the time you’re either fighting “someone too good”, “someone who uses the same three moves all the time”, or “clearly a ten year old”. And the ten year old is the worst! Even when I win that fight, I feel like that one jackass from the arcade that kept hogging the Mortal Kombat machine and stealing the quarters of the good children of the mall.
… I have issues.
So, with a lack of arcade mode, Street Fighter V went from one of my most anticipated games of the year to something that just randomly gets fired up when a new character is released. I want to play this game more, but every time I do, I wind up quitting within a half hour. It’s silly, but after the 27 Street Fighter iterations of the last few decades, this game somehow winds up being the best and worst all in one box. Well, it’s actually mostly DLC at this point, so maybe it isn’t really in the box…
Uh, anyway, I just don’t want to play survival mode. Too stressful.
Reason to not let me out of the house for the Year: Disney Infinity Figures
Look, they were on sale at Toys R Us, and I always liked the character designs for Inside Out. And then I figured I’d pick up a couple of cool characters, and I always thought Brave was underrated, and wouldn’t it be cool to have a shelf of all Disney heroines, and then there was another sale… and, long story short, I shouldn’t be allowed out of the house.
And, yes, the Amiibo collection grew, too. And there wasn’t even a sale on those…
Game with the absolute worst release date of the Year: World of Final Fantasy
World of Final Fantasy is a great concept for a videogame: What if Final Fantasy and Pokémon had a baby, and it was adorable? There, done, game of the year. Add in a Kingdom Hearts-esque plot about crossover characters that kinda sorta make sense in a delightful little world, and we’re all set.
But I have barely played World of Final Fantasy. Why? Because about a month after World of Final Fantasy, we had a real Pokémon game, and a real Final Fantasy game. That’s the first new, not-a-MMORPG, not-a-sequel, not-formerly-a-PSP-game Final Fantasy in, what, seven years? Seven years between Final Fantasy games, three years between Pokémon iterations… and Final Fantasy World is released a month before both. Good job, Squeenix. Way to look at a calendar.
World of Final Fantasy looks like a lot of fun, and I’ll get back to it after I devote years of my life to these other two games. Could have been a lovely Summer release, but nooooooo.
Compilation of the Year: Megaman Legacy Collection (3DS)
As long as they keep releasing this game on different systems, I’m going to keep calling it the best thing on those systems. Switch next year, guys!
Remake of the Year: Dragon Quest 7 Fragments of the Forgotten Past
I still haven’t finished any version of DQ7, but thank Yggdrasil 3DS Dragon Quest 7 exists. I’ve always told myself that I’d return to the PSX DQ7, a game I fished out of a used bin sometime after the release of DQ8, but coming back to that game after 8 was… difficult. And then we got 9, my absolute favorite adventure featuring questing dragons (weren’t they actually angels?), and it seemed very unlikely that I would ever touch 7 again. It’s so slow, guys! Like, if a turtle was trapped in a molasses spill while being menaced by a particularly curious cat slow. Bah, why do I feel like that’s probably the premise of an entire island in this game?
But DQ7:3DS (working title) is much more in line with the pacing of its DS/3DS brethren. Yes, it’s still long as hell, and it takes a slime’s age to get anywhere, but it does actually feel like you’re getting somewhere. And the translation is no longer drier than a sandslash’s armpit, so it’s even interesting to play, too. This is one of those rare, awesome remakes that improves upon the original in every conceivable way.
And, yes, you might be able to debate that statement, but that would require playing PSX DQ7, and I see now that that task is completely impossible.
Title of the Year: Nitro + Blasterz Heroines Infinite Duel
Hey, look everybody, it’s another anime fighting game with a ridiculous title. Will wonders never cease?
Nitro + is actually a pretty fun game. It’s got an all-female cast of mostly characters I don’t recognize (and I feel kind of bad that I immediately recognize Sonico and her supporting “other” character), and it could be just another lazy “let’s toss all these disparate characters together and feed off the nerds” affair. But it’s good! Well… it’s no Blazblue or Street Fighter (I said it was disappointing, not bad), but it’s still a fighting game that has some decent (and new!) ideas. Sonico, seemingly the headliner for this game (she sings the theme song!) attacks… with cats. Like… a lot of cats. That’s a little different from your typical Ryu. Oh, and the game actually looks like a PS4 game, and not something that could have easily worked on the SNES, like a lot of random anime battlers. Anybody play that J-Stars kinda-fighting game? For a game where Goku could punch Naruto, it was pretty damn lackluster.
System of the Year:
Nope. Moving on.
Game of the Year: Pokémon Go
I’m completely serious about this: my videogame of the year is barely a videogame. And it’s on a cell phone! I don’t even know who I am anymore!
Okay, yes, Pokémon Go is kind of lousy as a game-game. Its desire to drain your pockets is obvious (boy, if you buy a bunch of incubators and walk around a lot, you’re practically saving money!), the “ball tossing” elements are about as complicated as learning to snap your fingers (… okay that took me like twelve years), and the whole “gotta catch ‘em all” setup is there to leave you crazy and wandering the streets at 3 AM hoping against hope that a porygon might show up and not immediately run away. This is not a good game, and Final Fantasy 15 or Overwatch should have this spot. Hell, even the surprisingly innovative Pokémon Sun/Moon should hold the “best Pokémon game” spot.
I’ve dex’ed 141 pokémon, captured 5,572 random beasts, evolved 419 mons, visted 5,706 Pokéstops, and walked… a whole lot. Apparently Go doesn’t have an in game clock… and that’s probably for the best.
So why is Pokémon Go my game of the year? It’s not just because I played it more than any other videogame this year (which is true and obvious), and it’s not just because my OCD compels me to play any Pokémon game (or “game”) until I have become the very best, like no one ever was. No, the reason Pokémon Go wins my vote is simply that it recontextualized reality. I’ve always been a fan of “walks”, but I got out of the habit a few years ago (usually because it becomes a might cold around these parts for a solid four months or so, and by the time that changes, I’ve rediscovered inside activities). With Pokémon Go, though, I suddenly had a reason to get out there and walk again, and maybe investigate the nooks and crannies of my local neighborhoods while I’m at it. There’s an apartment complex at the edge of town that I never noticed in three decades, but when there’s a Koffing nest on the radar, well, it’s time for some exploring. And I’m an insomniac, so a game that rewards me for playing at 4 AM on an August morning is amazing (the reward is less people around, the greatest reward of all).
Pokémon Go wasn’t the best videogame of the year, but it’s a videogame that seemed uniquely suited to my unique neuroses, so it’s my game of the year.
Now can someone tell me how to get rid of this fat guy hanging in front of my house repeating, “Isn’t technology wonderful?” over and over again?
Games I’m sure are great, but I haven’t played: Overwatch, Doom, Final Fantasy 15
I basically got all these games within the last month, thanks to sales or release schedules. I’ll get to them!
Games I’m sure are great, but I still haven’t played: Xenoblade Chronicles X, Undertale
I was working on other stuff!
Gogglebob.com Introspection 2016
I’m really regretting starting the site last Summer, because, had I started at the beginning of the year, I would be able to say this has been Year 2 of Gogglebob.com. Now, what, I have to say it’s been Year 1.5? Lame.
Other than terrible timing, I’m still enjoying the site, and I’m continually amazed by that. I really thought I would peter out on this thing around FGC #30 (which was actually… Rampage Through Time? Sounds about right), but here we are, looking forward to #223. What’s that robot going to choose next? Who knows! (Actually, I usually “roll” ROB for about fifteen to twenty articles in advance. I like to know what’s coming.)
I suppose a new thing this year has been the “theme weeks”, like Final Fantasy 7-palooza or even the recent Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past week (which basically happened because I couldn’t stop talking about one game I’ve played constantly… go fig), and those will likely continue to happen, because, in a weird way, a week of stability seems to work well for my mental health. It’s hard to switch gears from B.O.B. to Pinball Quest to Super Scope 6! I can only do it so much! Theme weeks let me work with some basic truth and expand it to a couple of days/articles. I think my brain likes that.
Oh, and this is the year that was practically defined by the Xenosaga LP, which is in its closing chapters as the year draws to an end. I’ll retrospect on that one a little more in its own section, but I’m amazed at how enjoyable that project has been, and that, ya know, I’m actually finishing it. That seemed impossible last year.
And here are five random articles from 2016 that I enjoyed writing/reading (and that I haven’t already mentioned):
You can mention your favorites in the comments. Or don’t, as seems to be the tradition. See if I care.
And, honestly, even though I don’t say it enough, thank you to everyone that has ever enjoyed an article, commented, and/or linked the site or commented about it on social media. It’s all very appreciated, and this blog is brought to you by viewers like you. I promise I’ll get better at Twitter, soon.
Alright, that’s it for 2016! Let’s hope next year is at least a marginal improvement!
What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Lollipop Chainsaw! Okay, not what I would have picked to start out the year, but it’s still a fun game. Next year, get me a chainsaw. Please look forward to it!