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Year in Review: 2021

Disappointment of the Year: Axiom Verge 2

Feel the vergeSay it with me now: this does not mean the game is bad. Axiom Verge 2 was simply disappointing to me and specifically me. Axiom Verge 2, as near as I can tell, is an objectively great metroidvania, and absolutely a worthy successor to Axiom Verge (1). However, it is very different from Axiom Verge, which makes my subjective opinion on the matter very skewed, as I love everything about Axiom Verge. Logically, if you change the formula of what I consider to be a perfectly bespoke game, you are no longer going to have a perfect game. That’s just math! Axiom Verge 2 puts more of an emphasis on not combating mooks and bosses, and that is simultaneously revolutionary and exactly what I do not want. Yes, Virginia, it was not any other game that inspired my Metroid “I wanna be a powerful bimbo” review, it was the experience of ineffectually swinging around an axe in Axiom Verge 2. AV2 is a great game, it is simply not the experience I want out of a metroidvania.

Oh, and Metroid Dread did put an emphasis on combat, and I didn’t want that either. I am very hard to please!

Compilation of the Year: Blizzard Arcade Collection

ChillingAnd speaking of disappointments, let it be said that “compilation of the year” does not in any way count as an endorsement or reason you should actually purchase the compilation of the year. The Blizzard Arcade Collection earns this spot because it features two games that will forever hold my interest (Rock ‘n Roll Racing and The Lost Vikings), one game that I saw advertised in GamePro all the dang time, and not a single actual arcade title. However, it also needs to be said that Blizzard, the eponymous company that has been peddling this and a host of other titles, is apparently a morally bankrupt business that is literally responsible for suffering on a level up to and including death. So… yeah. Kind of had to say you should toss a twenty in their direction just because there are some games that were the bees’ knees back in the 90s.

And, to be clear, I genuinely feel bad about purchasing this game. Couple that with 2021 not exactly being a great year for any reason, and, thus, compilation of 2021. Castlevania Advance Collection can’t generate this many feelings, but apparently Blackthorne can.

Title of the Year: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game Complete Edition

Taste the rainbowIt is amazing that I now own an honest-to-God physical version of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, a game I seriously thought we would never see again. And it is complete! It includes all the DLC that was gradually doled out back when the game was young. Except… uh… you can’t play as Knives, because you have to go through some online newsletter signup bullshit to unlock her. Sure, it’s “free DLC”, but that is DLC all the same, and the physical, “complete” edition will not be complete going forward, thus negating the attempt to wholly preserve this previously unpreservable game.

So congrats to 2021’s title of the year for lying as part of the title!

Remake of the Year: NieR Replicant ver. 1.22474487139…

Feel the painOh! Oh! Something I can recommend! NieR Replicant ver. 1.22474487139… is the best dang Square Enix rerelease to come out this past Spring (sorry, SaGa). It takes a game that was previously extremely of its time, and transports it to a glorious future where the franchise is now popular enough to pop up in to other franchises. And they added a giant squid! Hooray! If you ever so much as considered getting on the NieR bandwagon, this is a great place to start, and if you are an old fan, this is practically required reading for one of the most inadvertently mature licenses to come out of the 21st Century. Get your NieR on, everybody!

Game with the absolute worst release date of the Year: Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl

You eediotNickelodeon All-Star Brawl was never going to be the Smash Bros-killer that some expected to see. Yes, it appears that the designers of the game put genuine care and thought into their product, and the appeal of a Ninja Turtle fighting Ren and/or Stimpy is undeniable. But this was a “cheapie” licensed product, and the lack of things like voice acting, color swaps, or even items of any kind really does make Reptar and his friends feel like less of a Smash competitor and more of another waylaid imitator. But then you release the game opposite the announcement of the most requested DLC character in Smash Bros history (literally! There was a vote!), and it’s all over. No one is talking about NASB anymore. Everybody is talking about that floaty kid with the big shoes. Two Avatars in the game, but the poor thing never stood a chance.

DLC of the Year: New Pokémon Snap

FLEXIf I had to nominate the nicest game of the year, I would probably go with New Pokémon Snap. We didn’t really need a new Pokémon Snap title, and we certainly have enough Pokémon merchandise to go around, but seeing a new game where you can just chill and take snaps of your favorite monster buddies? It’s nice. It is exceedingly pleasant. And we got some free, just turn on the game DLC, too? Very nice. More to play in New Pokémon Snap is all we could ask for, and the additional bonus of playing with perspective and “giant” Pokémon was a remarkably unexpected surprise. The whole package is very… nice.

System of the Year: Playstation 5

NOW LOADINGI played my Nintendo Switch more than any other system this year. But I paid the most attention to the Playstation 5. Are there any “must-haves” for the system yet? No, it seems like we are still in that nebulous period where the best you can hope for is a Final Fantasy 7 Remake Intermission. But more importantly, can you actually buy a Playstation 5 to play any of those games? Also no! Sorry, everybody, it looks like the supply shortages of 2021 are going to continue, and the Playstation 5 is quietly the most unobtainable videogame system in history. It’s been over a year now! And you still have to game and/or watch Wario to even stand a chance! I feel like nothing sums up 2021 better than the fact that everyone is losing in the proposition: Sony literally cannot satisfy demand, and is thus missing sales. People are not getting Playstation 5s in homes, so there is no reason to create/sell software for a system no one actually has. And even scalpers are having a hard time maintaining all the silly retailer-specific memberships necessary to score those online sales. It sucks all around! Welcome to 2021!

Game of the Year: Psychonauts 2

2-BitsBut, like every year, 2021 wasn’t all bad. There are always bright spots among the clouds, and, like seeing the sun on the darkest of days, there is always going to be hope. And this year’s hope is a kickstarted sequel to a game that was released to a resounding six sales approximately a billion years ago. Not exactly what my ancestors would have understood as an example of shining hope, but I’ll take it.

If I had to pin down one reason this game wins the coveted Gogglebob.com Game of the Year Award, it would be the not-at-all concise explanation of “it walks the line”. This is a “collectathon”, but grinding baubles never grates the plot to a halt. This is a 3-D platformer, but it never ramps up to an unwinnable meat circus. This is a children’s story of a kid at his first summer job, but it deals with tremendously mature topics like generational trauma. Couple this all with its kickstarted origins, and it feels like this game should in no way exist. It is too good, too pure for this fallen world, and taking Raz from wannabe intern to a savior of his friends and family is just the kind of game that 2021 needed.

… Or maybe I just like bouncing around on that springy little neon ball. Whatever! I like Psychonauts 2!

Games I’m sure are great, but I haven’t played: Resident Evil VIIIage, Shin Megami Tensei 5

Hey, there weren’t that many games released this year that I find interesting. This is a good thing! I think…

Gogglebob.com Introspection 2021

Feel the despairNot really much to report this year! Tuesday night streams continue unabated, and they seem to be winding up on the site in all sorts of ways. The Xenogears Let’s Play clearly does not exist. And, other than that, it’s been a pretty chill year. #600: Marvel vs. Capcom 2 was really the bulk of my dedication to the site, and, given no one seemed to care about that, I’m giving up forever. Or not. I feel like I’m winding down on here, trying to cover the games I feel I need to cover, and then I’ll be packing up shop and moving on to my next project (that I’m already mapping out, because of course I am).

Anywho, here are some of my favorite articles from 2021:

I miss any of your picks? Let me know in the comments. They can be in the form of Animal Crossing pictures. I don’t mind.

And that’s that for 2021. Let’s move on to a year that hopefully has like 60% less plagues.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Astyanax! I… am moderately certain I spelled that correctly. Guess I should figure that out sometime over the week. Will I? Well, please look forward to finding out!

FGC #600 Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes: Part 1

This is Marvel vs. Capcom 2Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes is an amazing, once in a lifetime game that brings together over 50 characters from wildly disparate worlds and franchises. So, in an effort to pay tribute to one of the games I believe to be the greatest of all time, please enjoy a five-day, 100% complete, generally alphabetical look at every fighter in Marvel vs. Capcom 2.

Akuma

Sorry, Final FantasyWhat a great place to start! Akuma was the first Capcom fighting game character to “crossover” with another franchise, as he appeared in X-Men: Children of the Atom as a hidden fighter. And this was apropos for this Atropos, as Akuma started his career as a secret character in the original Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo while parodying/referencing a fake secret character that was canonically a dude he killed before the game ever started. Or… as of Street Fighter 4, never killed at all. Whatever! What you need to know is that Akuma is a (literally) killer martial artist that has murdered multiple Street Fighters. Mind you, every one of his confirmed kills has returned as only “mostly dead” in later titles, though, so Akuma is just terrible at assassinating with that assassin’s fist.

Note that Akuma has appeared with a couple of different variants over the years. Shin Akuma is meant to represent Akuma in the full flush of his powers (and evoke memories of his initial, nigh-invincible incarnation). Meanwhile, Oni is meant to represent an Akuma where the designers of Street Fighter 4 completely ran out of ideas. More relevant to this article, though, is Cyber Akuma, a “weaponized” version of Akuma created by Apocalypse during crossover shenanigans. Cyber Akuma does not appear in MvC2, but he does live on, shooting a variety of missiles in/at our hearts.

Amingo

Go go cactus manCaptain Planet and the Planeteers was the story of a blue/green fellow that was created exclusively for the purpose of saving our precious Earth. Captain Planet’s purpose was to prove to children that lootin’ ‘n pollutin’ was not the way, and our world must be defended from malcontents that wish to exploit our natural resources for their own gains. Captain Planet thus starred in 113 episodes of a popular television series that premiered new episodes from 1990-1996. Whether Captain Planet successfully saved the world or not, he did make an indelible impression on a generation, and his persistent echoes in various Adult Swim programs confirms this apparent fact. And the (real life) Captain Planet Foundation maintains his message to this very day.

Amingo is absolutely everything Captain Planet ever was, plus he’s a shapeshifting, asexually reproducing cactus wearing a sombrero. And he plays guitar! Captain Planet’s music skills are suspect at best. Unfortunately, though, Amingo did not obtain a lucrative contract with Ted Turner, and only ever starred in one videogame.

Maybe this world isn’t worth saving.

And now for Anakaris and others…

FGC #595 New Pokémon Snap

Gotta snap em allAfter years of waiting, Nintendo and/or Pokémon Company finally decided to release a new Pokémon Snap title. The appropriately titled New Pokémon Snap is, naturally, an all-new adventure that allows you, humble trainer, to cruise around in a bubble and take pictures of adorable little Pokémon critters. Hooray! Our favorite pastime has come home!

But the drive for Pokémon photography is predicated on one thing: you actually want to see Pokémon. Sure, Pikachu is a looker, and nobody is going to turn down an opportunity to snap a Jigglypuff, but are all Pokémon worthy of your digital film? Would you stop by a Blockbuster kiosk to print a photo of a Grimer? Or Tyranitar? Are all Pokémon created equally photogenic?

No, of course not. That would be silly.

So let’s take a look at the top Pokémon ain’t nobody wanna photograph.

#755 Morelull

DO NOT EATMorelull is a mushroom Pokémon that primarily appears at night. It is based on bioluminescent fungi, and it utilizes its generally cute exterior to dual-type its Grass and sneak into the dragon-slaying Fairy category.

It also forgot to grow a damn face. So it might steal yours!

You can do a lot with Pokémon designs, and it seems like there has been a mandate since Generation 3 or so to make every Pokémon as generally adorable as possible. Yes, there are big, mean brutes in the Pokémon world, but they generally all have vaguely-human-esque faces, and nary a horror among them. Want a Pokémon that is just rows and rows of teeth popping out of every joint and limb? Sorry, no, you are going to get a smiley face on that legendary cosmic horror.

And, while Morelull may not be a cosmic horror, it is a generalized horror. Morelull initially appears to be cute with its big (voidy) eyes, but it hides a terrible secret. Morelull subsists on living energy. Morelull’s whole plan is to put a creature to sleep, and then use the move Strength Sap to drain their lifeforce. So they are basically little mushroom vampires.

So is Morelull traditionally ugly? No. But are its cold, dead eyes the last thing you are going to see before you fall asleep for the final time on the cold, uncaring forest floor? Yep.

There is no beauty in being food for malevolent mushrooms.

Is Morelull in New Pokémon Snap? Yes. Please make sure your protective bubble cart is properly sealed before visiting any jungles during the night.

#685 Slurpuff

SLURPSome Pokémon are unsightly based on their concept.

Slurpuff is your basic “embodies some random notion or whatever” Pokémon. In this case, Slurpuff embodies the sense of taste/smell, and is a noted Pokémon for loving and judging desserts. It is all about that sweet life, and, if you are a Patissier, you are definitely going to want one on your team. That heightened sense of taste and pink body makes it the perfect bakery mascot, and it doesn’t hurt that the creature can tongue-lash a dragon to death, too.

Except… with everyone’s focus on Slurpuff’s taste, no one really considers how Slurpuff must feel. Slurpuff does nothing but lick things, and it is always seen with its large tongue hanging out. We already knew that, but then the pokédex for Pokémon Shield revealed that Slufpuff is officially covered in fur. So Slurpuff has a long tongue that is always subconsciously licking itself, and all Slurpuff ever does otherwise is eat sweets. Do the math on that? Slurpuff is always going to be a sticky, matted mess of a monster.

Imagine a cat that has just rolled in corn syrup. That’s Slurpuff. All the time.

Gross.

Is Slurpuff in New Pokémon Snap? No. Your main character has a camera, not a bathtub.

#764 Comfey

GROSSLook at this sick freak of a Pokémon.

Comfey is disguising itself as a Hawaiian (Aloan) style lei. At first glance, you might think that Comfey is some manner of flower ouroboros, and little more than another friendly, inexplicably floating grass type. But Comfey is not the whole “lei”, Comfey is just a little dude that appears to have some flowers in his teeny tiny paws, and said flowers follow a ring-string that loops back to Comfey’s butt. In fact, Comfey is not a grass type at all, but another fairy type. A “naked” Comfey, technically, has nothing to do with flowers.

But you absolutely do not want a naked Comfey anywhere near flowers…

Year in Review: 2020

Disappointment of the Year: Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity

Go Impa GoAnother year, another reason to state that the disappointment of the year is not the worst game I played this year, it is simply the game that in some (significant) way disappointed me (and specifically me, I’m a very selfish guy). And the winner this year? It’s Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, a game that I anxiously expected, and then wound up bouncing off of like an arrow plinking off of Daruk’s mega-shield. Why? Simple answer: the goddamn world map. There was a lot of extra content in the previous Hyrule Warriors, but the main quest was sequestered off in its own little campaign with a little flow chart and maybe a Linkle (depending on the version). Hyrule Warriors 2, meanwhile, decided to stick the optional content all together on one map, and… and… I just can’t deal with that right now. 2020 has been an overwhelming year, and I cannot deal with 2,000 Hyrulian villagers that need some random quantity of fish. Look, guys, I’m dealing with a lot right now, I will get you your damn beetles later. Couple this with a plot that feels more pandering the more it unfolds, and I have a weird aversion to playing a game I was ostensibly eagerly anticipating.

So, yes, I’m saying I am stalling on a game I anticipated because my own anxiety can’t deal with Hyrule’s problems. It happens! And it’s disappointing.

Reason to not let me out of the house for the Year: Nintendo Switch eShop

Eerily accurateUgh, seriously? This category made a lot more sense when it was safe to actively leave the house. This has been an excellent year for me to avoid buying excess amiibos and alike, because, early in this year, I had genuine fears I wasn’t going to have enough income to buy food. It all worked out about as well as could be expected at this point, but, man, not a great year for randomly indulging in frivolous hobbies. I only bought like 7,000 “cheap” eShop titles during quarantine, so… Okay, maybe I still indulge in frolicsome nonsense. Did I really shell out for Wheel of Fortune? It was only five bucks? Okay, I guess that’s alright then…

Game with the absolute worst release date of the Year: Persona 5 Royal

Wake up, dummyIf it seems like this “year in review” list is dominated by references to the Great Plague of 2020, congratulations, you’ve noticed the theme, and nothing about that is going to change. From March on, this year has been conquered by COVID-19 (which is pretty damn impressive considering 2020 was an election year), and basically the whole of the world has been changed as a result. I am only noting this in case someone was lucky enough to be in a coma for the last ten months, just suddenly awoke, and immediately dashed over to Gogglebob.com for my annual year in review (hi, Walter, welcome back!). Everyone else reading this? I’m sure I don’t need to remind you. Anyway, this nonsense really kicked into gear around March 20 (to my recall), and Persona 5 Royal was released on March 31. And you know what nobody wants during an unprecedented pandemic that has changed life as we know it? A game that reminds you of The Before Times, both in its “real life”-based gameplay, and the fact that it is 90% a game you already played back during better times (and it had significant issues then). So, sorry, Persona 5 Royal, you managed to release at exactly the wrong time, and, while your protagonist might have the exact same “it’s quarantine” haircut I was sporting in April, it was not a great time to engage with an 80 hour, recycled JRPG.

Compilation of the Year: Namco Museum Archives Vol. 1 and Vol. 2

Wakka wakkaAKA the Namcot Collection, this (these) compilation of NES Namco titles is notable for bringing us unique versions of games that could otherwise be lost to history. Or, to put it another way, we finally got that one Splatterhouse game. It might not be the best game out there, but, like Pac-Land or Dragon Buster, it’s something that should at least be available somewhere. And, bonus, we got unique “demake” versions of Gaplus and Pac-Man Championship Edition. This year was great for arcade-style games that are more focused on score attacks than… uh… focusing, so this Namco compilation really ate the power pellet.

… Would have been nice if it was all one, appropriately priced package, though…

Title of the Year: Cyberpunk 2077

I have not purchased and/or played Cyberpunk 2077. I have simply been an amused audience for all the glitches and nonsense that has been associated with this game that may very well be decent under this pile of glitches (OG Final Fantasy 15 filled that space a few years back), but there is no way I’m shelling out for a title that apparently was born on the backs of abused employees. That said? Holy cow is that a terrible title. Cyberpunk 2077? You’re just going to go ahead and name your game after a target that, head’s up, you’re not even remotely hitting? That would be like taking a game that mixed flying space stations and war machines with swords and sorcery, and then naming it something like “Fantasy Genre”! That’s just silly!

System of the Year: Nintendo Switch

Pew pewPlaystation 5 and Xbox Whatever: It’s The Next One were both released this year. Did I jump on them? No. Was it because I’d rather have an occasionally portable system that inexplicably contains compilations of every Mega Man franchise (save that one with the dork on the moon)? Yes. Thanks for being you, Nintendo Switch. You didn’t even need that Collection of SaGa to win this spot, but it was a nice bonus.

DLC of the Year: Pokémon Sword & Shield: Isle of Armor / Crown Tundra

Classy dudeI just like the bulbous headed deer that rides the horsey. That thing is better than Steve. I’m sure there are other reasons to enjoy the two expansions of Pokémon Sword/Shield, but the horsey comes immediately to mind. Maybe there was a karate bear? I don’t recall. He is nothing before the horsey.

Remake of the Year: Resident Evil 3

Uh… see the next section for the real winner of this category. Second runner up? Well, that Trials of Mana remake wasn’t so hot, so I guess Resident Evil 3. That seemed like a nice upgrade over the original. Staaaaaars and whatnot. Moving on…

Game of the Year: Final Fantasy 7 Remake

Going up?Look, there’s a part of me that screams “I don’t want to be that guy”. Last year, I chose Kingdom Hearts 3 as my game of the year. Before that (may have missed a year in there), I chose a nostalgic Sonic the Hedgehog title. So, what, my favorite every year is going to be some kind of “retro” videogame that reminds me of when I was young and pure and playing games that generally involved murdering monsters and robots? Apparently! I’d love to be original, I’d love to choose a game that is new and different and maybe involves a severed Medusa head, but here I am, choosing another Square Enix title that wallows in nostalgia and years of anticipation.

But at least Final Fantasy 7 Remake is right there with me. As discussed extensively in my original article on the subject, Final Fantasy 7 Remake has a lot to say about the past, the present, and the “good vibes” one gets from hanging out with old friends (even if those friends are remembered as 32-bit jumbles of polygons). It’s also just plain fun. FF7R is insightful and you get to fight a tonberry for no real reason. Could I ask for anything more? Well, yes, Aerith and Tifa could finally kiss, but they do have to save something for the sequel.

Games I’m sure are great, but I haven’t played: Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Hades, Shantae and the Seven Sirens, Among Us, Moon

Look, just be glad I played any new videogames at all this year. It was a rough time! I barely even played Super Mario 3D All-Stars, and that should have been a slam dunk!

Gogglebob.com Introspection 2020

I’ve spent enough of this article bemoaning a terrible year for literally everyone I know (and don’t know!). But it’s also the year I got married. That was nice! And speaking of nice, this site has given me something “frivolous” to focus on through thick and thin, so I’m pretty happy with that, too. I maintain that this “project” is winding down (I swear I’m not going past FGC #655! I mean it this time!), but that doesn’t mean I’m preparing to abandon everything here. And this was the year that I picked up consistent live streaming with some friends, so that was an unexpected bonus of 2020, too. 2020 may have robbed us of my originally intended FGC #500 (I’ll make the real version… one day), but Gogglebob.com had a good year otherwise…

Oh, and here are some favorite articles from the year (not already casually mentioned edition):

FGC #473 Dragon Warrior 4
FGC #479 Castlevania 3: Dracula’s Curse
FGC #497.1 Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE
FGC #503 Final Fantasy 5
FGC #520 X-Men: Children of the Atom
FGC #527 Mega Man & Bass & I Wanna Be The Guy
FGC #538 Cadillacs and Dinosaurs
FGC #541 Splatterhouse

And that’s it for this godforsaken year. Here’s looking for to a 2021 that isn’t such a bummer!

What’s next? Random ROB is back and has chosen… Street Fighter: The Movie. Oh boy! It’s movie time! Please look forward to it!