So, here’s how it is: last week I had a lot of stuff going on last week, namely a few assignments and exams. I simply didn’t have a blog post written for last Wednesday. I also forgot about posting until 2:00 in the afternoon, and would have had to plan, write, and post a new article.
But, I’m back now. And I’m prepared. (Read: I’m writing this on Sunday.)
So, December is upon us, and a lot of “Top 10 of the Year” lists are rolling out already. But since we only have two more releases this year—neither of which look overly interesting—let’s take a look at 2016’s video games.
I’m just going to point out here that this is not a Top 5 list. These are just five games I thought to be important to the medium. Not the best or the worst, just the ones worth remembering.
5) Mighty No. 9
For lack of better words, Mighty No. 9 is this year’s Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric. I’ve never been one for the side-scrolling shooter genre (Metroid is my least favorite Nintendo IP, bear in mind), so this game didn’t appeal to me personally. But it still was anticipated by gamers all over, especially fans of Mega Man. It was delayed several times over and didn’t do well critically or sales-wise. I remember seeing it on the shelves when it came out. A week later, I saw it on the clearance rack.
Moral: be careful what you wish for. The game was sold as the “return of Mega Man.” Nobody realized that Mega Man went away for a reason.
4) Doom and Battlefield 1
I’m sharing this slot with two games because they ultimately did the same thing, just slightly differently. I’ve reviewed both, so I’ll cut to the chase: both games simultaneously took a step back while taking a step forward. With Doom, I’d argue that it took two steps forward, but both games were quite satisfying, especially looking at their competition. The FPS genre is competitive in every level. The competition—Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Titanfall 2, and to an extent Overwatch—tried to advance the genre. Some of them, in the wrong direction. While advancing their graphical appearance and showing they can make games for the new consoles, Doom and Battlefield 1 actually went back to its classic, traditional roots. No wall-running, no giant robot mechs, not even complex plots or deep world-building. They were just games. And if the 2016 Game Awards say anything, they are good games at that.
Sure, I wouldn’t recommend either of them to kids, but we’ve been over this. I wouldn’t recommend anything to kids.
Moral: we don’t always need fancy. Also, a good soundtrack can really help a game. My props to you, Mick Gordon!
3) Skyrim – Special Edition and Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD
Again, these games ultimately did the same thing. They are both remakes of older games, upgraded to an HD format, ported for the current console generation. But, that’s basically what they are: ports.
And here’s another thing. There isn’t even a generation gap between the games. A lot of people still have their PS3’s and Wii’s. (I know Twilight Princess HD was a port of the GameCube version, but I played it on the Wii.) Those who played the original games probably still have the original games—as I do. These ports simply seemed unnecessary.
It isn’t like I have anything against ports, mind you. I’m currently playing through Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD, which I could actually afford because it was remastered. But why would I buy a game that I already have?
Moral: more for game developers, but be patient with ports. Learn from Pokémon and Wind Waker: if the game was released more than two console generations ago, it’s safe to remake.
2) Pokémon GO
Speaking of Pokémon, I wasn’t the least bit surprised when Sun and Moon came out and people were silent. We already got a good Pokémon game this year. It got people outside and interacting with other fans of the franchise. It did what Pokémon Red and Blue set out to do twenty years ago. Foster communities, make friends, then promptly squash them with your Level 70 Venusaur. Sure, it also stirred up the conservatives, as I discussed here, but I can’t blame the game for that.
Moral: also to the game developers, never rule out the mobile market. Everybody has one and anyone can play on them. Except me, but that’s my problem.
And now we come to one of the biggest games of the year, and not because of its sales, awards, story, or gameplay. Overwatch takes the cake because of its fanbase. Seriously, I didn’t really hear about Overwatch until I crossed paths with a few Tracer cosplays before the game released. The game probably has one of the biggest fanbases I’ve seen in gaming, rivaling last year’s biggest fanbases. (Those being Undertale and Five Nights at Freddy’s.) I’ve never played Overwatch and—sorry, Blizzard—don’t think I will anytime soon, but seeing the reaction to it made me legitimately interested.
Moral: we are fans; do not underestimate us. I don’t mean that to be threatening, I’m just saying that we are the ultimate test of how well these things turn out.
So, in closing, here’s to another memorable year in video games. Let’s hope that 2017 will be just as…wait. 2017. That means…
BREATH OF THE WILD IS NEXT YEAR!