Tag Archives: Honorable Mentions

On Honorable Mentions, 2016

As is becoming tradition, for the end of January we recorded a two-part “Games of the Year” show, in which we talk about the things we enjoyed playing in 2016. Both parts are now out, but here are some things that I thought were amazing, but didn’t make the cut.

Warframe

Stumbling into this game was a bit of a fluke. The game chosen for Game of the Month in January was pretty boring, and there was a lot of desire for co-op, so a few of us gave this another try.

It turns out that space ninjas are actually pretty cool. There are a variety of characters with different abilities, gun variety that gives Borderlands a run for its money, and a movement system and level design that emphasizes how acrobatic the playable characters can be. Unexpectedly, there’s also an actual plot.

Owlboy

I did mention this one on the podcast a few weeks ago, but it’s worth repeating. Owlboy is one of several games with a very long development history to release in 2016, and the only one so far that I’ve finished. (For the record, it was announced between Final Fantasy Versus XIII and The Last Guardian and released slightly before both.) It’s a platformer that superficially resembles a metroidvania, but is much more linear than most examples of that genre. There’s also not a lot of actual platforming, as the main character has unlimited flight.

This game looks amazing art-wise; the music is also excellent. There’s a lot of humor in some of the dialogue, but other parts are much more serious. I didn’t mention this because I thought it might become a game of the month, but that seems unlikely at this point.

Stories: The Path of Destinies

This probably isn’t going to make any “Best of” lists for 2016, but I still think it’s worth a mention. Stories is a mostly isometric action-RPG of sorts, that looks like diablo but plays kind of like the Arkham games when fighting things. There’s a heavy emphasis on positioning, counterattacks, and keeping your combo string going which makes it pretty fun.

The main draw of this game is that it plays like a choose-your-own-adventure book. A complete playthrough from the start to an ending is probably between 60-90 minutes, and is shaped by the decisions you make (usually at the start of each chapter). When you start, these are all going to be Bad Ends in some way or another, but each to you get to one, you can learn a “Truth” that can help guide you toward endings that you haven’t seen yet. Once you have all 4, you can get to the real ending (you can’t stumble into it before that). It’s not the first time I’ve seen this concept, but it is one of the best executions I’ve played.

On Honorable Mentions

Recently, Aggrochat discussed our Games of the Year for 2014. It’s been an interesting year for game releases, but we still managed to find a large number of games to talk about. My personal top 5 for the year is Transistor, Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls, Pok√©mon Omega Ruby/Alpha Spphire, Shovel Knight, and Infamous: Second Son, but I feel like there were some other games that came out this year that deserve recognition. Some of them got mentioned in the podcast (most notably Dragon Age: Inquisition, and Divinity: Original Sin, which I am not talking about because I haven’t played as much of them as I’d like), but here are 5 more games that were not mentioned in no particular order that make the GOTY Honorable Mentions list.

Super Smash Bros. for 3DS/Wii U

This one couldn’t make the main list because I haven’t given it as much time as I’d like. A lot of the annoyances in Brawl (like tripping) are gone, but the changes aren’t entirely favorable to the characters I played most in previous games (Marth & Pikachu). I find the game a bit awkward to play on the 3DS, but the Wii U version already feels like an old friend. The new characters are pretty cool, especially Bowser Jr. and Mega Man. I haven’t tried online play, but I hear that’s also much improved from Brawl. There are a lot of interesting new ideas (Great Cave Offensive, Crazy Orders, 8-player Smash) but some that fall flat (Smash Tour). Overall, I do think this is the best version of Smash Bros. to date, and it’s a welcome addition to the Wii U’s library.

Crimzon Clover: World Ignition

I wrote about this one already, but I think it’s the best scrolling shooter currently on Steam. This version of Crimzon Clover is a re-release of a game that technically came out in 2011, but the World Ignition release is the game’s first release in English, so it counts for this year. The variations between the modes and ship choices keep the gameplay interesting, and the difficulty levels mean that it can be played without getting your face immediately punched in. That said, it’s no walk in the park, and I’d have a hard time recommending it as someone’s first game in the genre. I do recommend it to anyone who likes flying small objects into showers of bullets while wielding overwhelming firepower.

Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call

I wrote about this one already, too. If Game of the Year were decided by how much time I played any given game this year, the winner would be Final Fantasy 14. The runner up would probably be Theatrhythm. I really love rhythm games, and I don’t think any other good ones came out this year. The RPG-structure and soundtrack for this one also increases its personal appeal. Playing along to things like “Torn From the Heavens” is awesome, and tracks like “Tempus Finis” make me look forward to Type-0 HD this upcoming year. I hope there’s a Theatrhythm Kingdom Hearts at some point in the future; Theatrhythm Dragon Quest was recently announced.

Mario Kart 8

Mario Kart 8 deserves recognition for a few reasons. It presents exactly what’s expected of a Mario Kart game (although it is thankfully a bit lighter on the Blue Shells than Mario Kart 7). It’s fun in local multiplayer and online, and it’s had one of the better DLC releases I’ve seen from any game in a while. It’s also worth noting that the game is really pretty with a lot of detail in both the courses and the racers (who interact with each other in small ways when close). The course selection (both new and retro) is pretty awesome, including one of my favorites from the DS game, Tick Tock Clock. The antigrav mechanics work well and change things up just enough to make it interesting.

South Park: The Stick of Truth

If you like South Park and Paper Mario-esque RPGs, you should play this game. It’s funny, inappropriate, and quite fun. It’s somewhat easy to forget about because it came out in March, but I found it entertaining all the way through. In addition to all of the things South Park normally makes fun of, it also likes to make fun of RPG and video game conventions while cheerfully making use of them. It picks up where the Black Friday episodes of South Park leave off, so watching those is recommended. It’s probably not as strong of an RPG mechanically as Divinity or Dragon Age, but I still haven’t beaten either of those, and Stick of Truth kept me going until the very end.

Farewell, 2014

It wasn’t the best year for AAA releases, but it wasn’t a bad year in games, all things considered. I hope some of the issues of this year stay in this year (which is just wishful thinking) but there are lessons to be learned going forward. Here’s hoping that 2015 doesn’t disappoint (and that Ori and the Blind Forest gets a solid release date).