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SlowPokemon

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Re: Slow Reviews Games: A NinSheetMusic Column
« Reply #75 on: January 02, 2018, 04:03:12 AM »

Favorites of Video Games 2017

Here are some of my favorite gaming experiences of this past year.

A few changes: I’ve had to retire the “best use of 3D (Nintendo 3DS)” category this year. Nintendo has all but stopped supporting this signature feature of their handheld, disappointing many fans of 3D. First-party Nintendo releases such as Hey! Pikmin, Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions, Mario Party: The Top 100, and Pokémon Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon; and even series which previously released 3D entries, such as the Layton Series, have been excluding it from new releases. The only games I played this year in 3D were Poochy & Yoshi’s Woolly World and Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, which both include a lovely 3D effect, but neither of which uses it in significant enough ways to justify honoring them specially. Sadly, I don’t believe we’ll be seeing 3D gaming for much longer. I also retired the “Best DLC” category as the only real contender of my played games is Breath of the Wild, and I haven’t even touched the second batch of DLC for it yet.

I am also adding two new categories. The first is “Best eShop Game,” as I felt that a number of my favorite releases this year were digital-only. The other is “Best amiibo.” This, obviously, will cover any amiibo releases by Nintendo during the calendar year. In picking my choice, I will consider the following: figure design, compatibility, and in-game function. Like everything else on this list, it will largely be dependent on my personal opinion.

In addition, there are a few games released prior to 2017 that I only got around to playing this year. Though the titles are older, I still want to acknowledge how much I enjoyed them. These include:

1
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
(2011) -- Wii U download (originally on Wii)

I’ve been slowly but surely working my way through a massive backlog of Zelda games over the past year or so, ever since first completing Ocarina of Time 3D and falling in love with the series; a late bloomer, for sure, but there it is. Following a replay of Majora’s Mask 3D, a game which I loved so much that less than a year after playing it I decided to carry out a 100% completion run; and experiencing the massive but overwhelming open-world adventure Breath of the Wild; I felt an urge to try out one of the more classical Zelda games. Skyward Sword turned out to be a perfect fit for when I played it, though it became apparent that the hype surrounding its release inflated the critical reception. On the other hand, it turned out that because of the too-positive critical reception, audience hatred I had seen for the game was also grossly exaggerated. I had a great time with the game, and I must admit that even as I grew frustrated with Nintendo’s insistence on drawing out the story a good ten hours past what felt natural, I never once tired of the game’s motion controls, which were as innovative as they were marvelous. On the whole, I found Skyward Sword a delightfully challenging, surprising, and thoughtful game, though of course it is held back by its poor late-game pacing and by the technical limitations of the hardware on which it appears. You can read a more detailed account of my thoughts in the review elsewhere in this thread.
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2
Root Letter
(2016) -- PlayStation Vita (also on PlayStation 4)

Root Letter, released in late 2016 for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita, is supposedly the first in a new series of mystery adventure games/visual novels with an interesting hook: rather than the same characters or storylines continuing from game to game, each will contain a different set of characters and will focus on a different area of Japan, making the setting a prominent part of the plot. Root Letter takes place in the Shimane prefecture, a rural area of Japan with plenty of nature and historical interest. The main character, who is nicknamed Max, is in search of a childhood penpal whose mysterious final letter has haunted him ever since he first received it. Though the mystery drives the player forward, with bizarre alternate story paths and strong characters throughout, the game’s biggest strength is actually in the setting. A serene, lovely music score follows the player throughout the majority of the game, and the beautifully illustrated backgrounds and mouth-watering descriptions of local seafood really made me feel like I was taking a relaxing vacation to the Shimane prefecture. The story isn’t the greatest--I got the feeling the localization work was a bit too literally translated, and some of the plot points were painfully predictable--but the setting and characters alone made the game something special that I keep wanting to go back to, even a mere year after I first played it.
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3
Steins;Gate 0
(2016) -- PlayStation Vita (also on PlayStation 4)

I loved Steins;Gate when I played it in 2015. It was the type of story-based game I enjoy more than any other: an intensely slow burn, with plot elements that by the end are developed nearly perfectly. More notably, its science-fiction elements, which usually make me skeptical, were implemented in such an organic and believable way that I hardly remembered they were fictional. But all of the clever plot devices and time travel chaos ultimately fell second to the endearing, fascinating, and above all, painfully human characters. When I finished the game, I felt like it was quite possibly the most objectively perfect video game narrative I had ever played. Any sequel, I decided, would not be able to add anything necessary. Does Steins;Gate 0 prove me wrong? No--but it’s still a great time. Taking place in one of the alternate endings of the original game, this version of Rintaro Okabe is a man who’s completely dropped his “chuunibyou” persona, suffering intense anxiety and PTSD from his awful experiences in July and August 2010. As the entire game takes place in a bad end scenario of the first game, it does come off as something of an unnecessary “what-if?” story, or a supplementary rather than a mandatory follow-up, but it’s an incredibly entertaining one. I adored the new characters, especially Dr. Leskinen, a goofy professor who worked in the same research laboratory as Makise Kurisu, and Maho Hiyajo, his assistant who is twenty-one yet frequently is mistaken for a middle-schooler. When all was said and done, I felt like I understood the characters a bit better, since this game swaps perspectives frequently and lets you get inside the heads of characters other than Okabe. It’s an admittedly unnecessary but thoroughly enjoyable game, and one that would certainly get a “Best Story” nomination had I played it last year (though likely no more than that).
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Without further ado, here are my picks for favorite gaming of 2017.

BEST MULTIPLAYER
Spoiler
1-2-Switch

As per usual for me, multiplayer games weren’t really on my priority list this year. Regardless, it’s tough to beat the multiplayer chaos of 1-2-Switch. The game is an oddity even by Nintendo standards, as it is a video game where you...don’t look at the screen? It takes a solid half hour or so to get past the awkwardness of “looking each other in the eye,” as the game repeatedly insists you do, but oh man, is it a good time after that. From the fun (players reach for their Joycons when they hear “FIRE!” in a quick-draw) to the hilarious (the aptly-named “Fake Draw,” where the voice shouts words that sound like “FIRE!” but are actually “FILE,” “FOUNTAIN,” “FOOT,” and many others), from the impractical (cradling a baby, which requires you to play in handheld mode) to the downright bizarre (the infamous cow-milking), the various minigames and actions the game sets for the players are more hit than they are miss, even if the price tag is steep for essentially a collection of tech demo minigames. Still, about the time I tried the “Copy Dance” game and my friends and I were gasping for breath between fits of laughter, I was sold.

Honorable mention: Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Pokémon Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon
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BEST amiibo
Spoiler
Link (Majora’s Mask)

This turned out to be a tougher category than I had expected. After all, we got no less than TWELVE Zelda series amiibo, all of which are fascinatingly designed and--in the case of the Breath of the Wild amiibo especially--feature wonderful detail and functionality. Ultimately, my pick of the Link (Majora’s Mask) figure comes from my love for the games featuring the Hero of Time, and it’s a great figure to represent that, especially when displayed side-by-side with the Link (Ocarina of Time) figure. The choice to model it after the character art of Link holding the Goron Mask gives it that trademark Majora’s Mask bizarre factor; the Goron Mask is a frankly ugly thing that clashes with the cute design of Link. The only thing that I wish the amiibo had was the Mirror Shield, with that strangely haunting face on it, but as it stands, the design of the Hero Shield is well-crafted and probably suits Link’s aesthetic better. What pushed this amiibo above the more detailed figures such as Link (Archer) and Guardian for me was the functionality--I mean, come on, who doesn’t want Fierce Deity armor? I would like to note that although I could make an argument for literally any of the Zelda amiibo released this year, my true honorable mention goes to Goomba. It’s just about the last character you would expect an amiibo of, and it’s a really cute figure that has cool functionality with the Bowser’s Minions quest of the new Superstar Saga remake.

Honorable mention: Bowser (Wedding Outfit), Goomba, Guardian, Link (Archer), Urbosa
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BEST GRAPHICS
Spoiler
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BEST SOUND DESIGN
Spoiler
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

This year’s Zelda was out of this world--more specifically, out of this open-world. Featuring a sprawling Hyrule roughly the size of Rhode Island, 120 clever puzzle shrines, and more hidden Koroks than you can shake an anthropomorphic stick at, Breath of the Wild was a masterclass in open-world game design and blew pretty much everyone and their brother out of the water. A game with the sheer number of elements this one has demands intensely focused sound design, with appropriate effects, music, and character voices. Of these, the sound element that Breath of the Wild best accomplished was that of music. More specifically, the game does an incredible job of knowing when not to use music. Most of Hyrule features harsh, natural silence, with only the sounds of birds and your footsteps accompanying your trek through the wild. A few well-timed piano cues (always soft and lonely) accent this beautifully, and whenever Link approaches a town or something similar, the music swells in sneakily, but the days of full-blast music scoring every minute of his adventure are long gone. This is some of the most effective and immersive sound design I have ever experienced in a game.

Honorable mention: Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony
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BEST MUSIC
Spoiler
Super Mario Odyssey

If you ask someone to hum a tune from a video game, what are they going to sing? It’s tough to say for sure, but there’s a good chance they’d come up with that iconic “da-da da da-da da!” that opens the Super Mario Bros. Ground Theme. The Super Mario games have always been known for catchy, expansive soundtracks that enhance the playing experience and generally perfectly match what’s going on in the game. Super Mario Odyssey is here with the biggest collection of music tracks yet (we know this because of the in-game sound test, which allows you to change the music to your liking at any time), and all of it is high quality. The game’s main theme is soaring, whimsical, and joyous, reminiscent of Super Mario Galaxy’s lush orchestral tones, and the vocal song “Jump Up, Super Star!” has taken the Internet by storm for a good reason. That song alone elevates Super Mario Odyssey to something truly special--it’s worth seeking out the in-game quest that lets you hear it--and the 80-odd additional tracks fit the many worlds and battles of the game wonderfully. Truly a great soundtrack, and one I feel confident I’ll be listening to for quite a while.

Honorable mention: Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
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BEST REMAKE
Spoiler
Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions

This was the only real contender this year for me. Games like Undertale and Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney were simple ports that added a few new features; Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Cave Story+, and Poochy & Yoshi’s Woolly World added a few new stages or modes of play that didn’t amount to quite as much mileage; and Pokémon Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon had enough that was different from their original counterparts that they didn’t even feel like remakes to me. Superstar Saga is a remake of the GBA classic from the ground up, and the game has never looked better. It’s truly a gorgeous game, and though they ditched the 3D for this outing, the game can run at 60 fps because of it, which means it looks slightly cleaner and smoother than Alpha-Dream’s previous 3DS titles. But what really makes this remake worth the buy is the Bowser’s Minions part of the title--a new mode that will run you a good ten to fifteen hours, taking the role of a Goomba (seriously) who works behind the scenes of the main plot to rescue an amnesiac Bowser from the evil clutches of Fawful and Cackletta. Though the battle gameplay is strategy-based without much actual input from the player, and the “story” plays out more like a series of comedy skits with goofy characters and punchlines, it fits in marvelously with the Mario & Luigi canon and amusingly fills in the gaps of some of the main story--gaps that no one was really wondering about, but which are hilarious to learn of regardless. (Ever wonder why Mario ended up getting a Poison Mushrooom from that Toad in Little Fungitown, or just how Birdo ended up working for Popple, anyway? This is the game for you.) It also extends the runtime of the game to a solid 45 hours if you want to 100% complete all of the challenges as I did, which means we get a game that’s nearly twice the length of the original. Pretty good deal, if you ask me.

Honorable mention: none
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BEST STORY
Spoiler
Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony

In my “Best of 2014,” I awarded Best Story to the first two Danganronpa games, which released within a year of one another and which offered such a compelling two-part story that I couldn’t pick one over the other. Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony is its own thing entirely, and I have absolutely no qualms in saying it surpasses those two games easily. Though the game up to a certain point follows franchise patterns and hits familiar beats, this game really stands apart in its ultimate refusal to conform to audience expectations, instead delivering a shocking, satirical finale that makes a relevant statement about modern society. In my review, I wrote: “The game’s finale may well be the most polarizing ending I’ve ever seen, coming as it does totally out of nowhere in the eleventh hour and slamming into the player with the force of a freight train; but regardless of whether you like the direction the narrative takes, it’s undoubtedly got a lot to say about society and the state of games in general without ever becoming too preachy--a quality that the game itself is proud of.” I couldn’t have put it better myself. Do yourself a favor and pick this one up next time it goes on sale. Just, you know, play the first two games first.

Honorable mention: Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy
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BEST GAMEPLAY
Spoiler
Super Mario Odyssey

There are few greater gaming pleasures than running and jumping along as Nintendo’s mustached plumber. This seems like a given, or maybe it seems like an overstatement, but after an excruciating four years without a new 3D Super Mario game, Odyssey is an absolute joy. Honing back to Super Mario 64 by sticking to the basic “explore 3D environments, collect the collectibles” formula, Odyssey nevertheless feels utterly fresh and brilliant thanks to its beautifully designed worlds, stellar collection of new mechanics (notably the “capture” technique which Mario uses to control various creatures), and, above all, the finely-tuned movements and responses of Mario. Here’s hoping this isn’t Mario’s final 3D Switch outing.

Honorable mention: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
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BEST eShop GAME
Spoiler
Pokémon Gold & Silver

I didn’t really have any plans for an 18-year-old Virtual Console title to become my favorite digital-only game of 2017, but it edged out the competition fairly easily. I haven’t touched my own copy of Pokémon Silver in years, because the battery of my cartridge ran dry in 2004 or so and I have been unable to use it since. This re-release proved delightful for me. I couldn’t believe how well it’s aged, and also could not believe the effect of the long-forgotten nostalgic things. My favorite thing about these games is playing at night, and I’m not sure how to describe why other than “look at the soft, warm glow of the windows all lit up.” Playing at night just felt somehow comforting, like an old scent from my childhood that I hadn’t smelled in years. And it helps that the gameplay is as good as it was when it came out. As with Super Mario Bros. 3 compared to the first Super Mario Bros., it’s almost impossible to believe that these games are on the same console as Pokémon Red & Blue. The quality of life improvements cannot be overstated, and the balancing done to the combat--though far from perfect--greatly enhanced my experience. The cherry on top of all this is Game Freak’s decision to leave the original glitches intact, meaning that I was able to travel Johto with all three starter Pokémon by using the well-known PC glitch. I may prefer the more detailed, beguiling atmospheres of Pokémon Ruby & Sapphire, but these games are regarded as classics, and rightly so.

Honorable mention: Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, Picross S, Snake Pass
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BEST GAME OF 2017
Spoiler
Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony

Someone asked me what my game of the year was the other night, and I was surprised to find myself thinking of this one despite other, more beloved series of mine getting new entries. What ultimately gives Killing Harmony the edge, after a few months away from it, is the memory of being utterly absorbed in its world. I lost two weeks of my life to this game, and I’m not exaggerating. For a solid two weeks, I was either playing this game or fantasizing about getting home later and playing this game. It’s pure, deliciously demented joy from start to finish, and the fact that it challenges your notions about fictional narratives is kind of an amazing bonus. Zelda was a crazy huge feat, and Super Mario Odyssey gave me a wonderful 3D platforming exploration experience, and Pokémon somehow reeled me in again with essentially remakes of a title I played a year ago, but...Killing Harmony stuck with me. Not only do I not want to forget it, I don’t think I’m capable of forgetting it.

Honorable mention: Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Pokémon Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon, Super Mario Odyssey
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BEST GAME OF 2017 THAT I DIDN’T PLAY BUT WOULD REALLY LIKE TO
Spoiler
Yo-kai Watch 2: Psychic Specters

I added this category on a whim, because there were so many great games I simply didn’t have time for this year. Yo-kai Watch is one of those franchises that I’m endlessly endeared to despite never having played any of it, simply because the art style is adorable and it’s developed by Level-5, who of course is a deeply beloved company to me. I missed the first game and both of the dual-release sequels, but I’m considering jumping in with this updated version of the second. Anyone have any thoughts about the games?

Honorable mention: ARMS, Doki Doki Literature Club, Ever Oasis, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, NieR: Automata, Splatoon 2, probably a million others that I’m forgetting. The life of a gamer is not easy. Sigh.
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What are your own lists like? Agree or disagree with any of my thoughts here? Post comments below if you want!
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Dudeman

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Re: Slow Reviews Games: A NinSheetMusic Column
« Reply #76 on: January 02, 2018, 04:19:14 AM »

Did you mean to leave "Best Graphics" blank? Otherwise, this was a great read! Loved your picks and your explanations. I really wish I had more time on my hands to play more stuff.
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Olimar12345

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Re: Slow Reviews Games: A NinSheetMusic Column
« Reply #77 on: January 02, 2018, 04:21:42 AM »

He always does that lol.
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SlowPokemon

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Re: Slow Reviews Games: A NinSheetMusic Column
« Reply #78 on: January 02, 2018, 04:22:59 AM »

Lmao actually the first time I did this list in 2012 or whenever, I accidentally left Best Graphics blank and it’s kind of become a yearly tradition

I also think that graphics are maybe the least important thing to me in a game so it also doubles as social commentary if you like
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Dudeman

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Re: Slow Reviews Games: A NinSheetMusic Column
« Reply #79 on: January 02, 2018, 04:24:17 AM »

Lmao actually the first time I did this list in 2012 or whenever, I accidentally left Best Graphics blank and it’s kind of become a yearly tradition

I also think that graphics are maybe the least important thing to me in a game so it also doubles as social commentary if you like
lol wow I love this, excuse my ignorance
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BlackDragonSlayer

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Re: Slow Reviews Games: A NinSheetMusic Column
« Reply #80 on: January 02, 2018, 04:24:34 AM »

but the graphics
they're really what this is all about
the graphics
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Dudeman

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Re: Slow Reviews Games: A NinSheetMusic Column
« Reply #81 on: January 02, 2018, 04:28:40 AM »

DEM GREEEEHHHHHHFIKS
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Maelstrom

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Re: Slow Reviews Games: A NinSheetMusic Column
« Reply #82 on: January 02, 2018, 05:52:44 AM »

My list:
Best Graphics - Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice
Best Soundtrack - NieR: Automata
Best Voice Acting/Sound Design - Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice
Biggest Disappointment: Metroid II Remake
Best Story: NieR: Automata
Best Gameplay: Hollow Knight, with NieR: Automata in close second
Most Fun I Had All Year - DOOM 2016
Best Game: Damn, this is hard. It's between Hollow Knight, NieR: Automata, and Hellblade. Out of those 3, I think I'll have to go with NieR.
Also shoutout to OneShot for being a great game

crap crap crap I forgot Fire Emblem Echoes came out this year and idk how to compare it to games that are so vastly different so here's a second list

Games I enjoyed every moment of that I played this year:
DOOM 2016
Fire Emblem Echoes
NieR: Automata
Hollow Knight
Nuclear Throne
Umineko Question Arcs
Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice
OneShot
Inside
Furi

Note that I have not yet played Danganronpa V3 because it's expensive on steam and I don't like spending money.
Also, I think I only played 2 nintendo games to completion this year: Ace Attorney 6 and Fire Emblem Echoes
« Last Edit: January 02, 2018, 06:00:09 AM by Maelstrom »
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