Favorite Games I Played in 2016

Year end wrap-up time, so lemme make a post like everyone else where I talk about my favorite games I played this year. As with every time I do this, I am ignoring multiplayer games and also ignoring release dates. I’m not a ‘zeitgeist’ gamer and I don’t put much importance on staying fresh with what just came out. I’m sure there are a lot of great games that came out this year that I will eventually play but I like bouncing around so for me, most of my favorite games in the years are games I discovered or just gotten around to. I also tend to play multiple entries in a series in a row, so to keep the list from being all King’s Field and Shadow Tower games I am going to block certain games up as one pick. Also no order outside that this a “Top 10”.

Devil Daggers

A game with just an absurd content to fun ratio to me. After 50 hours forcing myself to play Gungeon, playing Devil Daggers again was like reaching the surface after suffocating under water. The rush, the speed, THE AESTHETIC. Devil Daggers does not waste my time and hits all my buttons for iteration and improvement. The only problem with it is it is hard to play while doing other stuff. Back during spelunky I would pause the game constantly to do other things but Devil Daggers, like playing TGM tetris, is hard to go back to midway. The game needs your undivided attention. It also does get repetitious so its best as a ‘game between’ games but every time I load up Devil Daggers its like “Why don’t I play this more?”

Front Mission: Gunhazard

A lovely SNES gem that I would have adored as a child. Not as mechanically clever or with as good levels as Metal Warriors, Gunhazard still has an amazing feel to it, despite its repetitious nature and overstaying its welcome a bit. It feels a bit like a better EVO: Search for Eden. Even though I’d say Gunhazard is a good game while EVO isn’t (even if I still love it), it does have some of that samey grindiness. But the world and aesthetic and story and growth is awesome. Also its set piece moments are delightful. Really adored finding this game. Its high points were high even if its low points were low… but never so low as to push me away.

Infinifactory (As well as Shenzhen IO and TIS-100)

Usually I tell people I don’t like puzzle games that much. Especially hard puzzle games. A cute puzzle platformer can be fun and not overstay its welcome but stuff like the Witness where I’m trying to reverse solve an obtuse puzzle? I really could care less. But Zachtronics doesn’t make those kinds of puzzle games. His games remind me of The Incredible Machine, or bridge builders or, in a sense, Carnage Hearts. Puzzles where there is no ‘trick’ and no ‘the solution’. Puzzles which are about creativity and expression. I actually adore those kinds of Puzzle Games and in fact, that’s part of what I like about making games. So when I played Shenzhen IO I went back to play a bunch of Zachtronics offerings (no Spacechem yet, but I’ll get to it). Shenzhen and TIS-100 like like series of those rewarding “Ah-ha!” moments of fixing my games but without the same stress or stakes. Infinifactory appealed deeply to my love of spacial interactions. I wish I could do this in something like minecraft and have the things I make actually matter. I loved going back in all these games to just do better and beat my friends.

Infinifactory also had the most developed story and progression through the games I played. Its surprisingly interesting and fleshed out and the themes the games areas have match perfectly with whats going on in the story. Perfectly put together and wonderful to play.

Klonoa 2 (and also Klonoa)

What a wonderful pair of games! Klonoa 1 was delightful if a bit ages but Klonoa 2 was just… better in every possible level? The way the mechanics ramp up up, the way the level design was perfect, the art style, just… everything. There isn’t even much to even say. Klonoa isn’t one of those games that does something novelly or has something that makes it stand out. Klonoa and Klonoa 2 are just amazingly solid platformers and perhaps the only “Mascot Platformers” besides Mario that don’t suck. Why must I live in the Dark Timeline where people think Sonic games were ever good, but few people have played Klonoa?

Inside

Inside is on a lot of peoples lists! This is just a wonderful, solid, well put together game that shows a ton of craft while also being a much better execution of the gameplay found in Limbo. Inside builds up its world, it builds up its mechanics, it ramps up its puzzles in ALL the right ways. Appreciation of Inside is like the appreciation of pure craft in a game. It’s not the most interesting, its not the most that filled me with the most wonder or made me feel the most accomplished or anything, but it’s just GREAT.  Also as a fan of atmospheric story telling, especially in a platformer, this game shines. Also has one of the best surprises I ever had in a game — so maybe thats its best trait. Still, wonderful title.

Ori and The Blind Forest: Definitive Edition

A wonderful openworld platformer. I’d call it, more like Guacamelee, more of a ‘platforming Zelda’ than a Metroidvania, but I liked it a whole WHOLE lot more. Delightfully fast moving with awesome mobility options, great art and music and great setpieces. Amazing quality for what is technically an Indie game. My friend Matt tried to get me to play this FOREVER and it took forever but eventually it happened. Only complaint is I think in some of the setpiece moments were a little too Trial and Error-y for how the game felt like it should be? In fact, the game in general felt like it was a bit harder than necessary. Which was fine for me, only a few segments irked me, but I feel like my sister might get stuck on a number of parts even if she’d like every other part of this game.

Doom

I never thought there would be a time when there was a lack of good, dumb FPSs but here we are and here is Doom. Doom was exactly everything it needed to be, fun and actiony with ridiculous weapons and hordes of enemies. The aesthetic managed to be dark or hellish without being grimdark or lightless. One sad bit for me, though not THAT sad is the game has more of a… Serious Sam model than a classic Doom model.  In most cases, enemy positioning doesn’t matter because they’re all so mobile, so much fewer areas have interesting usage of enemy placement or just ‘hallway enemies’, which is apparently for a number of technical reasons. But that’s fine, because they still managed to make a great game and the times they did work out smaller encounters or interesting enemy placements, it felt great.

One minor complaint, even though it’s not terrible in this game… I’m sick of weapon upgrades and trees and stuff? Doom gives you enough stuff to max everything out but still, I hate making blind choices for skills and weapons when I’d rather just be given cool toys to play with when the designer thinks I should have them. Again, wasn’t a huge distraction since Doom was generous about it, but it just also felt completely unnecessary.

Shadow of the Colossus (And Ico)

Finally got around to playing these on the PS3 and both were just wonderful. They had their rough  points but I was engrossed in both. Ico in particular had some puzzles and timing things which were like… man… who let this happen? Who thought the water wheel was okay? Probably rushes with development or something. Ueda’s game just make you feel so.. intimate with everything in the world that despite all the rough edges, they’re delightful.

Shadow of the Colossus was my favorite of the two. The port had some rough edges — mostly making the overworld look like ass and ‘european’ shaky difficulty — but even when the game frustrated me or felt a little like a chore, I was still hungry to always go back to it. If a colossus wasn’t fun, perhaps the next one would be (and usually was). The weight of your actions in the game, both gamefeel wise and thematically just made it all have an impression on me. The fact you had to hit the button twice to stab something just screamed ARE YOU SURE? Even when the controls frustrated me I felt like they were how they were for a reason. Agro felt like my buddy, not a vehicle, and that feeling was more important than my ability to drive him around like a racecar.

I look forward to finishing BEP, getting a PS4 and catching up on a lot of modern games. One of those is definitely The Last Guardian.

Shadow Tower Abyss (and all of From’s older King’s Field-esque games)

I can’t believe I liked all these games as much as I did. You can read those earlier in my blog. But the game that surprised me the most was Shadow Tower. Shadow Tower had some weird magic to it and while it had its problems (desperately needed an Auto Map) it captivated me. Shadow Tower Abyss just went totally wild though. Running around with an AK-47 while wearing a roman legionary helmet and samurai armor withe a boardsword on your pack was just wild. The aesthetic of the game is strange and alien. The gamefeel for first person melee was INCREDIBLE. King’s Field 4 finally made FPS melee tolerable, Abyss made it WONDERFUL. The only problem with Abyss for me is it ends very weakly. The game felt a bit unfinished at the end. Also the translation is terrible… though on the other hand, maybe the terrible translation adds to the alien feel of the game?

Anyways these games surprised me in so many ways and Abyss surprised me the most.

 Nuclear Throne

If I had to say something was my Game of the Year, well… it has to be Nuclear Throne. Just by sheer playtime it has to be.  Nuclear Throne is a game that knows what its about. It’s a game that knows what an interesting character mechanic is and how interesting mechanics can chain together. It understands how to make content that new players will approach cautiously and experienced players can play through like a bat out of hell. After my Gungeon rants, it kills me that it was inspired by Nuclear Throne because Nuclear Throne GETS player engagement and it gets scaling difficulty and it gets game feel and it gets respecting the players time. It gets that there is more to enemy design than rings of bullet hell projectiles. It gets that the layout of an arena can lead to real strategic choices.

Nuclear Throne is like an F1 Racer where you can play so fast and so hard and so aggressively that you can blow yourself to bits if you don’t know how to control yourself. The only bad thing about Nuclear Throne is I DESPERATELY WANT TO GIVE YOU MORE MONEY FOR AN EXPANSION PACK WHY — WHY WON’T YOU DO THIS TO ME I LOVE THIS GAME SO MUCH

Games I Played in 2016 that I have like… a thought about?

Downwell: I wish this game had more to it because it was great until I beat hard with every style and then it was boring. :(

Super Mario Galaxy: This game was way less good than people lead me to believe though I guess it was alright.

Enter the Gungeon: I now know its not the worst games that make me the maddest but the games that brush so close with greatness

Battle Garegga: I don’t know why I’m still trying to learn this game

Battle Arena Toshinden on the Gameboy: This game is stupidly fun for no reason and has a great ringout mechanic

Pokemon Go: I haven’t played this in a month and I feel like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. Actually maybe what makes me the maddest is successful games with REAAAAALLY talentless game designers?

Mario Run: Like… this was pretty good? More levels pls?

Besiege: I hooked my joystick and a mod to it and then I made an airplane with proper control surfaces and tried to beat every stage with it despite the awkwardness in trying to do so and mostly just ended up crashing over and over again. 10/10

Owlia: An actual NES game to play on my actual NES! Was a real sweet, cute game with just a few dumb puzzles that made me mad.

Pico-8: This is my new ‘happy wheels’ and I really should make something on it.

Big Sky Troopers: This game is also like EVO in that its complete horse shit only I still liked it in fact it’s more EVO than EVO because its EVEN MORE HORSEHIT but something was charming about it and I finished it because I’m dumb?

Glittermitten Grove: I like fairies okay

6 thoughts on “Favorite Games I Played in 2016

  1. Congrats — you’ve added Ori and the Blind Forest to my Steam wishlist. If nothing else, that screenshot is gorgeous, and I have to see a game like that in motion.

    For me, Doom is killed by how weak the feedback is from the guns. The animation and sound on the weapons just isn’t there; they feel weak. Not helped by how little the enemies “flinch” from being shot, and how you rarely see anything die from getting shot thanks to the “glory kill” mechanic.

    I actually tried SotC for the first time this year, and just couldn’t do it. Those controls… ugh. Climbing around the first boss felt a lot more cumbersome than it really should have, the horse controls felt bad, the platforming controls felt bad… it just really wasn’t fun to play.

    Shadow Tower: Abyss was the most fun I had with any game this year, for sure. That game floored me; I liked it a lot more than any of the Dark Souls games (and I really like DS2 vanilla [not SOTFS, though] and DS3). Not certain of the strangely stilted tone of the dialogue is supposed to be that way or if it was just a bad translation, but if it was a bad translation, then the bad translation made it better — it just sets the fucked-up tone perfectly. Can’t wait for that Hungry Ghosts translation to get finished — I need more fucked up Japanese takes on Ultima Underworld.

    Battle Garegga is a tough one to get into; I tried unsuccessfully many times before it clicked. The things that made it click for me were “pick Gain C” and not worrying much about playing it properly until I got the groove of the level design. Even ignoring the kusoge-tier rank system that accidentally turned out great, the level and pattern design in Garegga is wonderfully intense, aside from a sort of dead second stage (that one is fun if you’re doing all of the score tricks, but is ultra-dull otherwise).

    Out of curiosity, what’s your take on Mighty No. 9? I’m guessing you played it given your interests. Personally, I *loved* it, but I seem to be in a tiny little minority on that.

  2. Ori is lovely. There could be quibbling about some parts of it for sure but at the VERY LEAST it is gorgeous and looks just as good in motion

    I could see some issue with some gamefeel stuff in Doom. Hitting and being hit were a little finicky for sure.

    SotC. I find some people are just more tolerant of finicky controls that others. There was definitely some finicky bits but I was able to get over them easily, yet people who’s opinion I really respect just -can’t- which is totally fine.

    Enough said about STA, I think we’re on the same page there.

    yeah I started messing with Gain some and it worked better. I’m sure my attempts at the game will come in waves so while I haven’t played it in awhile, I’m sure I will soon.

    Didn’t play MN9. Not a Mega Man fan to begin with so I didn’t have much investment and the game looked bad to me early on. But I could see how it could work for someone too.

  3. The most surprising thing about how much I loved MN9 is that I’m also not much of a Mega Man fan, aside from 2 and X. It really doesn’t feel like a Mega Man game, aside from the boss-weapon rock-paper-scissors gimmick (and even that is heavily watered down, since if you have the “right” weapon for a boss, the game will tell you what weapon the boss is weak to at the level select screen). The way the “dash to kill” mechanic combines with the chain-combo system gives it a really aggressive momentum-y feel that’s not quite like any other platformer I’ve ever played. The closest analogues I can come up with are “Wrack if it was a 2D platformer (speaking of “simple dumb FPSs”, Wrack is the best pure FPS since the ’90s IMO, play it if you haven’t)” or “Strider with some system inspiration from Dodonpachi Daioujou”.

    I’d recommend grabbing it if you see it for really cheap, even if you don’t think you’re interested. I wasn’t expecting to like it anywhere near as much as I did.

  4. You’re telling me you never played SotC / Ico until recently?! You cad!

    …I still haven’t beaten Ico.

    I’m glad you picked up on how Agro’s controls and AI makes him, well, be a horse more than a racecar. If there’s any redemption of the finicky controls, it’s managing to wrangle those controls to do crazy shit like standing on Agro and leaping onto a low-flying Colossus. It’s almost to the point where the games’ unwieldiness serve into the feel of this mad scrambling and tumbling going on rather than some kind of eloquent dance. Getting into the zone with SotC is a very different zone than a given character action brawler or a Souls game.
    So, idk, maybe the finicky controls feed into the experience, but they’re still finicky so take it or leave it.

  5. I loved playing E.V.O. It makes me happy to hear other people mention it. It would be great to have someone make an improved version of the concept.

    I also totally agree about Enter the Gungeon.

  6. E.V.O and Secret of Mana are like the top games for “people love despite nearly everything being wrong with them.” But yeah, I’d love to see that too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *