Well we are got to through the year 2016, I know tons of people have negative feelings towards this year and so do I. Still this is a year of beginnings for me as I am trying to face off my personal demons and not just shrugging them off. Either way there have been some impressive games as well to help me cope with some of my problems, there were easily some bad ones around and I could have to talk about a rather disappointing game in another post. For right now though we are focusing on the positives as we embrace what made this a good year of gaming. To be honest I am happy that fighting games got a big boost this year and let us see how many will be on this list. Now again I cannot play everything, but thanks to a nice brother and friends I got to see some of the PS4 games which is something I did not get at all last year.
Paper Mario Color Splash
I have just now started Color Splash and I can say that this is not Sticker Star! I hate Sticker Star with a burning passion, but Color Splash actually improves on what that title could not do. The inventory combat in this game is more lenient thanks to an actual experience meter and how easy it is to get cards and paint in the levels. I will say this game does feel easier, but compared to how extremely tedious Sticker Star could get, I welcome these over stickers. Another big thing was the humor, it did not feel funny in Sticker Star and felt boring since it was just the Mushroom Kingdom again. This game is taking place in a new area and there might not be no new characters except Huey, but there is humor in this title. So far, my favorite moment being the murderous Toad I helped out since he got mad at some Shy Guys. We literally smashed them into paint. I will get my full thoughts on this title later, but for now being better than Sticker Star needs to be known to the Paper Mario fans.
Final Fantasy XV and Last Guardian
The biggest reason these games are in this section is because they finally came out! Both of these games were on the burner for a good decade! What is also nice is that these games are good. With Last Guardian, it is not as great as Ico and Colossus, but it does bring good aspects from both games. Then it has one of its own with how you work with your animal friend. The exploration and puzzle solving is still here and it does look gorgeous. The same can be said for XV as it does look lovely, but I will say it has a bit more of Kingdom Hearts than it does with Final Fantasy. It is not bad, but it can be a bit mindless in my opinion. I will say there are some lovely distractions in this game as I do have some guilty pleasures with this game like I do with Deadly Premonition. There is a strange air to this Final Fantasy that can make it silly at times which I am fine with. Overall both of these games are good titles, but I do feel the hype of them did blind side some people and to me these titles just seemed good.
Let It Die
I love me some games from Grasshopper Manufacture! Now I still want to see Lily Bergamo more than this title, but I cannot disagree that Let It Die has many charms on its own. I do love how it borrows the intensity of Dark Souls to make a completely brutal game in more ways that Dark Souls can be. I personally love the combat a bit more than Dark Souls because of how things feel a bit faster. The complete random chances in this game are everywhere so you really have to be ready for what is to come. The aspect of losing your previous character and then knowing you and other players could be fighting it, really opens the game up. Combine that with the strange aura that Grasshopper loves to put in their games, you have a bizarre time ahead for you. Finally, I feel that Uncle Death is probably the best game character of this year.
Street Fighter V
Street Fighter V is having a bit of a hard time from fighting games fan. I do agree with how it started was rocky and it hasn’t fully recovered from it. Season two has just started though and I do see improvements already. I am interested in the upcoming character, but for right now the game that is out right now is still a strong fighting game. It still does feel a bit incomplete and even with the story mode added in, it just feels barren still. Compared to other fighting game titles that give some fun modes, Tekken being the best in that category. Street Fighter still tries to play it straight and even then, it had a small roster for the original launch. I do love the V-Trigger system and making characters more unique and seeing how they handled Ken and Akuma for this game that is a huge plus. I also feel this is one of the best rosters right now for Street Fighter in terms of what it is representing. We got classics from SF 2, got some characters from the third game which was a huge surprise, strong representation of the spin-off titles giving many characters their first debut in the main line series, and the newcomers are strong as Rashid is easily up there as one of my favorite Street Fighter characters. Overall things are good for Street Fighter V, but I hope season two will make things better.
10. Pokemon Sun and Moon
I remember giving X and Y and good name, but to be frank I look at that game a bit differently now. I will say though I am more confident that my opinions on Sun and Moon will stay the same. This game had some nice changes for once for the franchise. No more HM’s, boss fights that felt more like classic RPG battles, and the overall change of a pattern really made this game feel unique. It still feels like Pokemon no doubt about that, but there is some fresh air here. This really feels like a strong step towards what Pokemon could be doing. We could be seeing less new Pokemon, but could be seeing new alterations of our favorites. Personally, I am up for that more than just new Pokemon. I am surprised how much I actually want to use these new variations when back then I would barely bother with those Pokemon, a big one was Raichu. This was my decision game for if I wanted to stick with the franchise and I can say I will be getting the next installment when it comes out.
9. Asagao Academy
I am usually not a big fan of visual novels because for the most part they are not really games, but this was the year that did change quite a bit. I have played the first two Zero Escape games before and I will be talking about that again later on. Visual novels can have a nice way of endorsing gameplay into it. Sometimes it is more obvious than others with simple puzzles and yet that can be strangely exciting. With Asagao Academy there is some strategy into getting the man and becoming a member of the Normal Boots Club. There are many endings to many routes which just increase how much you can do and the overall love for this project is large. I loved seeing how the actual members played this title and got genuine lovely reactions. I remember playing this from time to time with my friend and even he was quite impressed with how it was written. Characters feel strong with goals and imperfections that just keep things gripping. Also, if you are a big fan of these guys like I am, you will notice many references and in jokes. I went straight for the Continue route because those guys are my favorites still and I just keep remembering their one episode where they all had sex with a Sega game. I always want some Papa Paul. Overall, this just has too much love in it that I cannot ignore this title and to be honest it is a well thought out story.
8. Mario and Luigi: Paper Jam
Another Mario and Luigi game came out this year and I am still happy to see that this series is not having any flubs yet. Now I will admit I am not a fan of the current concept of Paper Mario because things have changed a bit with how that feels. Yet how Paper Jam works with it was well done. Many clever jokes to differentiate the two franchises mostly with how Paper Peach is way better than normal Peach. Now the series has played with three playable characters before as well like with Bowser’s Inside Story. This time however you are playing as three at the same time in battles and not just tagging in and out. I am surprised how quickly natural it felt to work with third button to control Paper Mario. The game also brought in many mechanics that really got fully used. To me I love it when new ideas are just presented with any possible idea. The Mario Bros got new powers so why not give it to bosses? What makes this great is that you know exactly how it works so you can fight it off well. The boss fights were well thought out thanks to that idea. It was surprise after surprise with this title. I will say this is not up there with the original trilogy of Mario and Luigi games, but this did surpass Dream Team thanks to how much new there was and it did not overwhelm anything as well.
7. Shantae Half-Genie Hero
With some disappointments of Kickstarter projects like Mighty #9 it is nice to see why Kickstarter games are still worth supporting. This Shantae title did take some time as well, but it is a completely well-polished game with an amazing soundtrack and lovely visuals. This is the first Shantae game to deal with more 3D like models. It is still a 2D game no matter what, but this is the first time that sprites were not being used as much. I have to say the visuals for the game are probably the best of this year. Everything pops out with nice colors and giving full motion to multiple parts of the bodies. The best being the Giga Mermaid (best waifu). The chains are all fully there and shake as she struggles, her face constantly changes, the hair flows perfectly, and that chest is rather distracting… WHAT?! What also makes Shantae a fun game is that while it can be short there is ton of content to be found by going back to levels with more powers. I was surprised that in the first level there was more of the level hidden in the water that I could not find originally. Another reason I love this franchise is that it never ever had to hold your hand. Just like Shovel Knight the gameplay itself teaches you how to play and keeps building on basics to extend the lessons. I still feel games need to endorse this tactic because I love just figuring things out on my own and then progressively getting better. You can get experimental with Shantae and it does not punish you for that as you can find many secrets that way. This Shantae title to me is so far one of the best thanks to how it really pushes the basics and with the one of the best presentations of this year.
6. Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE
Reminding me of presentation this game is also pretty high up there with a great one. Now I know there were many people yelling at this product for being a Persona game for Nintendo. My thing is that doing a Persona styled game is not a bad thing. We recently had the new Digimon RPG and everyone was fine with that being similar to Persona and no one got mad with that game. There is still tons of Fire Emblem in this product as well you just have to actually play the game. Personally, even though I have not finished this game fell in love with how this turned out. Everyone was expecting just a crossover, but we got a crossover of mechanics. I am happy this turned out to be a new IP in general because this means we can get a sequel to this or some sort of spiritual one. The mixture of super natural and pop idol fever works well and it reminds me of a fun anime series and for me that is saying something. It did not have the most exciting plot, but what was exciting about it was the energy the game has. I am more for well-done execution than just a plot if that makes sense. Also, people complained about the changes for the American release and to be honest I got to those parts and I prefer the changes. In the Japanese version, I feel it is just a bit perverted and actually made me not like some characters. The changes that were made worked better with the art motif that this game uses at least in my opinion. Finally, this system is up there with one of my most addictive. It works with a turned based system with element and weapon triangles from Fire Emblem and the spell systems of SMT. I also love seeing who goes next because I can plan extremely ahead for many things to come sort of like seeing enemies on the map of a Fire Emblem game. So, I easily enjoyed this game and I do feel people are just going to forget about it, but oh well at least I enjoyed a game I was anticipating since 2013 while most people were disappointed with No Man’s Sky.
5. Fire Emblem Fates
Now we get to the reason why I did not finish some games yet, Fire Emblem Fates. I still need to do Revelation, but I did play through the other two campaigns. It took some time for me to complete it because I had trouble playing this. The fans were being silly again about what got changed even though they were not that severe. I’m sorry, but the whole petting thing was dumb and I had no reason of wanting it in the first place. So, with so much negativity for a fan base where I was so happy to be part of starting acting like children did affect me playing this title. I just ended up doing it though because I finally got to the point where I just ignore other fans. Fates is another strong title that builds on what Awakening started. The next question if it is better than Awakening which I do not know as of yet. What Fates as which I extremely liked was a new weapon triangle and I opened up to how they worked with no more limited uses for a majority of weapons. They focused on making each weapon unique with stronger attributes in some categories. Then expanding on the number of units was fantastic and I thought doing supports in Awakening was crazy. Having your own castle and getting items there and doing side content there made it easy to get to. I did enjoy how they focused on making certain titles in some ways. Birthright was more for Awakening fans where it was a bit easier than other Fire Emblem games and yet it had amazing level designs to be honest I was thinking more of Sacred Stones than Awakening. Conquest easily brought back the difficulty aspect which I loved. Conquest with some high leveled bosses and unique foes made me remember the first Fire Emblem the states got and Path of Radiance. Overall I think Fates is another strong title for the series and depending on what the Nintendo Switch can do, I wonder how the next Fire Emblem game will turn out.
4. Zero Escape: Zero Time Dilemma
I remember when I first got into this series by playing the second game, Virtue’s Last Reward. I do heavily prefer that title to this one, but this is an excellent conclusion for this trilogy. Compared to the three games I will say I did love the time flow for this game the most. 999 was straight forward, Virtue had some nice detours, but Zero Time Dilemma has an excellent one since it was fun piecing things together. I will also say these had some of my favorite puzzles, but I am sad it lacked the secrets that the second game had. I also have to give credit for this game trying to do complete 3D models and areas for both gameplay and cut scenes. Sure, things do not run the best at times and can look a bit odd. Still going for the full package of 3D is something I cannot ignore. Also, it really helped some scenes out when some people would be killing each other. What was so fun with this third story as well was how I got to notice links between this and the other games. I love all the stories in this series as it reminds me of classic Sci-fi stories along with a murderous twist. I will also say I did enjoy the chance mechanics this game had as it would literally mess with your mind. I did enjoy how this game felt like it was playing me at times. The ending was strong and I cannot wait for this team to do another crazy project like this one.
3. Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator
You guys know I love my fighting games. Guilty Gear is easily up there as my favorite franchise for this genre. To me it has the best characters in terms of unique play styles. The first Xrd and the current one still proves that with the newcomers they introduced. Jack-O being one of my favorites has this real-time strategy based system. I am literally setting up houses and summoning minions and yes this is a fighting game. Jack-O even has unique Dust moves which always was just launch or trip, but with this character she can do grabs and different attacks. Raven has this system where getting into a state means having damage on you is a good thing. Kum then focuses on execution more than anything else. This character has some nice grapples, projectiles, and even big attacks for coverage. The game will hopefully continue to have updates with more characters as they shown with bringing back Dizzy and I still wait for Baiken (god damn that fake leak pissed me off). What made this title strong though was some nice changes to the Burst system. If you keep your Burst gauge full, you can now use it for a stronger special attack and it only works for a certain one per character. What we still have are the frame canceling like in mid-motion which takes only twenty-five percent while the canceling in mid-attack takes fifty. The series is still not so much for beginners so be warned when trying this out on your first go, but Guilty Gear Xrd is still full of so much love. The presentation is still my favorite for a fighting game and for a man who loved the sprites for this series back then that is saying something. This new look just added on way more that the team could not have done and yet they keep the old-school charm around too. This also has some of the best music in like anything, seriously listen to the Guilty Gear soundtracks in general, Daisuke is a masterful composer. Guilty Gear still has the best presentation, the best flow, and the best soundtrack of any fighting game around and that is impressive.
2. Blazblue Central Fiction
Now I will say that in terms of a fighting game, I love Guilty Gear more. The thing is though being that for games of the year there is also personal feelings to mention here. Guilty Gear is still going to continue, but I think Blazblue is going to end for the time being. If this is the end, I am fine with that because it was a strong ending for the series. Blazblue was the fighting game series that got me into the genre. If it was not for Blazblue I would not be serious about fighting games today. So Blazblue holds importance to me. I have strong attachments with it and the characters and it being all over, I won’t lie I did tear up a bit. Onto the actual game though, Blazblue did end on a strong note. I am for the new extension of the Overdrive system where you can get a new special attack out of it. Giving more options to do with it and this one is even timed differently than just using the Overdrive state in general so it gets tense if you want to use it or not. Since in the next round there is a low chance you will be using it and could have to wait for the next round if you lose. The roster ends with a large number and the final new characters are again impressive and unique to the series. I love how Arc System fighting games focus on character uniqueness since it just leaves room for someone being great with many different styles. This is also going to be one of the last sprite fighting games and that is another little thing I am going to feel sad letting go. Graphics have to move on though and at least Arc Systems knows how to use good animations and graphics though. So if this is goodbye Blazblue, I say goodbye, but if it is not, I will easily play the next game.
1. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Spirit of Justice
To be honest this number one spot here is just showing my love for this overall franchise. I started the first game by August and quickly got all the way to the recent title. I am impressed on how fast I got into this series. Then to my surprise, Spirit of Justice is my favorite of the main line series, my overall favorite is Edgeworth 2. Now most of the overall charm of Ace Attorney is still around in the sixth installment. What this game had though had all great cases. Usually there are amazing cases all around, some okay ones, and then your rarely terrible ones. There are only three games in my mind that had all strong cases and that would be the original, Edgeworth 2, and Spirit of Justice. Why Spirit of Justice had strong cases was because of a constant theme of trust and betrayal. Then there is also the sheer amount of hatred you feel for scumbags in this game. In the original, there was a villain like Von Karma who was delightfully evil. People like Roger and the queen of a country are complete scumbags and so want to throw them into the water with cinderblocks and bombs attached to them! (You just got to make sure!) The puzzles were strong as well with the second cases of this game feeling like a finale in terms of the story and difficulty it had. The final episode had two cases in them and man what nail bitters those were. I especially love the new mechanic of seeing the final moments of someone’s life. This leads to many new possibilities of seeing the truth or how it can still be concealed. It took me some time to get used to this new mechanic, but that to me is a great sign that it made some puzzles harder to solve. Being a defense attorney just got harder with this game and I cannot wait to see this mechanic being used in a new spin-off title. Overall the charm is still there and the puzzles were at their best what could I possibly ask for more with the latest game for Phoenix Wright.
For next year I am easily going to be focusing on the Nintendo Switch and I will probably talk about that when we learn of more titles coming for the system, but we all know what I am up for… NO MORE HEROES! Along with that Nier Automata and Gravity Rush 2 is up my alley too.