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My Five Favorite Games of 2016

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Lizard Dude:
These all ended up singleplayer so first a couple of multiplayer shout-outs:
Videoball is a competitive multiplayer game that will make you like your friends.
Overcooked is a cooperative multiplayer game that will make you hate your friends.

5. Quadrilateral Cowboy
The latest in Brendon Chung's line of brilliant FPS vignette things (Gravity Bone, Thirty Flights of Loving) except this one has a lot more Actual Gameplay. You execute a series of heists using gadgets and rudimentary programming. The game gives you a marvelous sense of actually using your tools rather than your player character just automatically performing actions. Quadrilateral Cowboy dwells on things most games skip and skips a lot of things most games would show. The puzzles could have gotten WAY more complex but the mechanics never really get fully explored. This isn't a tight Jonathan Blow game or anything. But it IS a Chung game, and his story methods and style are the real reason to play this. Sidenote: This game taught me how annoying it is to type the word ‘deploy’ repeatedly.

4. Firewatch
I can think of a few games that have firewatch towers in them but this will certainly be history's only game about WORKING at one. Partly about investigating wilderness goings-on, but really about a connection between people, superb writing and acting combined with the unique setting deliver a lovely videogame story. This year's Oxenfree (which would probably be somewhere 6-10 if this list were longer) may have had the best videogame conversations of all time, but I still liked the experience of Firewatch better.

3. Inside
I was never as enamored with Limbo as many of my friends/the world was. It was cool to see an old-school 2D slow-paced action puzzler rise to success in the modern day but having played Flashback, Out of This World, Abe's Oddysee, etc. – Limbo brought nothing remarkable to the table. It was worth playing once, barely. So several years later the developer releases their next game. It's the exact same genre and stars a boy again and looks depressive again. I figure it's been long enough so I'll have a go at playing "Limbo again but different" except... HO-LEE CRAP, turns out it's the best game ever created in the genre. I couldn't believe the quality jump over Limbo. Phenomenal atmosphere, puzzle progression, everything. Insanely good. And that final act...

2. Rhythm Heaven Megamix
If I had never played a Rhythm Heaven before, this would without question be ranked #1. The problem is that this entry consists of 1/4 content from the GBA game, 1/4 from DS, 1/4 from Wii, and 1/4 new. So I was pre-inured to 3/4 of it. Still, it's awesome seeing remixes that combine games from across the series and even a quarter of a new Rhythm Heaven can easily beat 99% of things that come out. It's not called Heaven for nothing. Truly the best series that Nintendo has ever created.

1. Thumper
This game is like the ending of 2001: A Space Odyssey ****ing a bass drum. This game punched me in the stomach while French kissing my eyes. This game is how you win Lizard Dude's heart. I love you Thumper.

Honestly I haven't played too many new games, but...
The three main games from this year I can think of are Pokemon Sun And Moon, which I liked about as much as any Pokemon game when it comes out (i.e. a lot), Shantae 1/2 Genie Hero has really nice art, and JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Eyes of Heaven is a really nice game to play if you're a fan of JoJo, but kinda awful aside (fortunately I love JoJo so I'm fine). Maybe that one doesn't count, since my copy was released in 15, but the NA release was this year.

I have a pretty huge backlog to work through, and I wait for sales on most things, and this year I've pretty much only been playing my 3DS and whatever can run on my laptop, so I really didn't play many 2016 games. A lot of my favorite games from this year were actually from 2015 or 2014 because I finally caught a sale. So this is actually every 2016 release I played in 2016, in no particular order.

5.) Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright
I'm pretty bad at actually finishing games (Sourcce), so I haven't gotten Conquest or Revelations yet, but I really like what I've played of this so far. I suck at strategy games, so I really appreciate that Fates has options that still let me enjoy the story and characters without having to water down the experience for people who can actually play it (I actually haven't used Casual or Phoenix Mode yet, but I'll probably need it when I play Conquest (Now that I think of it a big part of the reason I haven't beaten it is because I play on Classic and reset every time someone dies, and for most of the year my L button was broken so I couldn't soft reset)).

Five) Pokemon Moon
Also haven't finished this, but what I've done so far is pretty great. I haven't been this drawn into a Pokemon since my first game (HeartGold), if ever. Getting rid of HMs was huge. When the games first started, HMs were a cool immersion thing -- your moves have effect outside of battle too! -- but after twenty years, having to have so many HM moves (or having to swap your Pokemon around through the obnoxiously slow PC) to have full mobility shackled the game in a way much similar to what I've complained about before in the DS version of Mario 64. Sun and Moon for me are about a bunch of minor QOL tweaks that should have been done a long time ago, along with a lot of little additions that make it feel more like Pokemon actually exist in the Pokemon world (which will be enhanced even more if Stars adds the overworld partner thing they planned on).

V.) Planet Coaster / Parkitect / RollerCoaster Tycoon Classic
Combining these all into one entry so I can talk about all of them, because otherwise there'd only be like one or two games not on my list. Each represents different branches off of the RollerCoaster Tycoon tree, and they're all good in their own way. Planet Coaster is a very powerful park creator that gives complete creative control over everything if your computer is powerful enough for it (mine's not), while also have a good game behind it. Parkitect (which is technically still in alpha) is kind of an alternate universe RCT3, or maybe 2.5. It's basically the first two RCT games but with the ability to rotate the camera in 3D, with more of a focus on tweaking the management mechanics of the game. And RCT Classic is just RCT2 ported perfectly to phones, with no microtransactions or energy or anything like that. I'm still kind of amazed that it works so well. I never really play mobile games, but lately my battery has been dying at work because of this.

2+3) SteamWorld Heist
So this one's kind of cheating -- the Wii U version came out in 2016, but the 3DS version, which I played, came out in 2015. And that's also probably the last time I played it (it's really good; I'm just lazy), so my memory's a little spotty. I just wanted to say this is really good.

cinco) Hustle Cat
Just got this a couple days ago in the Steam sale. It's a really cute visual novel (pretty sure there's no porn in it (not that there's anything wrong with that (except when there is))) where you play a non-binary 20-something who works in a cat cafe, so it makes sense that I'd be into it. I finished one of the six paths the other day, so technically this is actually the only 2016 game that I beat in 2016. Definitely gonna get all the paths soon; I love all the characters. Really fun writing. Nice music. Cats.

...And yeah, actually the only other 2016 releases I've played are Miitomo (fun for a while if you have friends who are into it), Swapdoodle (same), and Inchworm Animation 2 (need to play around with that some more). I also have Azure Striker Gunvolt 2, but I haven't played it yet because I haven't finished the first one. It's probably really good, though; I love what I played of the first one.

I think I'm a casual now.

I don't know my top five off the top of my head but I can pretty safely say that AM2R is #1.

I only played four new games in 2016, so:

Fire Emblem Fates
It took things that I liked about Awakening and made them better. I like the new team-up mechanics, I like the way weapon degradation is handled (or not handled, as the case may be), and I like the way that powerful weapons are risky to use. It also took things I disliked about Awakening and made them worse. Wow the story in this game is garbage. At least the voice acting is decent.

Rhythm Heaven Megamix
I've already talked about my thoughts on Rhythm Heaven, so it shouldn't be any surprise at all that I loved the hell out of this game. It's exactly what I wanted: more distilled happiness and tricky rhythm challenges. The series so far has done just fine with no narrative, but I enjoyed the dialogue bits a whole lot. I don't think it took away from the game.

I haven't had this much fun online since Team Fortress 2.

For real though, it's good to have a game that I play with friends, to keep us connected and having a good time. Plus, the game is really quite fun. Learning new characters is a fun process, and there's nothing quite like the feeling when your team coordinates well and succeeds in a big push. Definitely one of my favorites.

Final Fantasy XV
I like it, but also it's got some real problems. Story pacing is kinda weird, conveyance can be problematic, and also there's a lot of bugs. I'm also waist-deep in sidequests and haven't progressed very far in the story, so it's tough to judge. I'm having a good time, though.

Honorable mention also goes to Bloodborne, which came out in 2015, but I started playing in the summer of 2016. I liked Dark Souls, but not enough to have me chomping at the bit for more. Bloodborne changed my mind; it's faster and more stylish than Dark Souls, and tells you more of the story while still maintaining the air of mystery that the games are known for. I love it and will probably play through it more than a few times.


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