2016: A Year in Gaming
I'm no gaming journalist. I don't get paid to play games. I don't get free games...well, not for any reason other than they were free anyway; I don't get games from publishers expecting a nice review. But, I game. Sometimes, I write about those games.
Most of my gaming occurs in the evening when my family has all retreated from the den and I have the TV and sound system to myself. If you've followed me for any amount of time, you'd probably expect me to be into gritty, horror games, but actually, I'm a chicken and rarely play anything that expressly seeks to frighten (this is actually why I write horror, I deal with a lot of my own fears and want to scare people the way that I'm scared of basically everything; but that's a psychological discussion for another time). I do play those games on occasion, but as you'll see at the end of this post, most of my gaming is of the quirky-ilk. I like, er, casual gaming. That's so often used as a bad word in gaming circles, like if you aren't playing hardcore games aimed at the core gaming community then why the hell are you playing a game in the first place? I don't feel that way, and I think anyone that feels that way probably voted for Tru...Tru... Um. Voted for Best Game of the Year with their hearts certainly in the right places, I'm sure.
I kid! Of course, most of gaming culture that I have encountered and interacted with are happy with any video game experience to speak of. Games are everywhere these days! You may not even think that you're a gamer when you might actually be gaming even more than myself! Smart phones...jeez, that's such a passe thing to refer to them as. Is that what we still call them? They're just our phones now, right? Except they're really computers that also happen to have phone-call making capabilities...I've digressed severely. Games are everywhere and you can play them on anything. Table top gaming is experiencing a resurgence. Card games far beyond Texas Hold 'Em are in every household these days. There's games everywhere you look.
But I'm talking video games. Console games, PC games, and phone games. This year I played more than 50 games and I know for a fact there are some I failed to mark on my log, either because I only played them for the tiniest amount of time, or I forgot to add them even if I played them for more than an hour or even more than once. But, following is a fairly comprehensive list of the games that I played, when I started them, and when I beat them (if I did). Some games I played in the online multiplayer, some online cooperatively with my buddy Dave, really my only gaming partner (and I'm fine with that! Frank, if you read this, join the PC Master Race where there are no fees just to play online), some I played on the couch with my daughter and wife. Most, however, are single-player experiences with narratives that I view much the same way as one would a novel or a movie.
I've probably said it a number of times, either in previous gaming-log posts, or those occasions where I felt compelled to write about a single gaming experience, but a lot of games these days are so much more engrossing than TV or books. You're actively participating in the narrative, sometimes making choices that affect the plot, or plodding (sometimes that's good, sometimes that's bad) to the next story-beat to see what happens to the characters you're spending so much time with.
Since I only get to play in the evenings for maybe an hour, even a short game can take me a while to conquer, so I feel like I tend to get my money's worth out of the games that I play. Sometimes I mainline just to get through, my "stack of shame" is something to be really, really ashamed of (damn you Humble Bundle and your charitable ways), but that doesn't mean I don't get any enjoyment out of games that offer a lot of side-quests I choose not to tackle. Rather, knowing that a game is that much larger gives me reason to revisit sometime later. Grand Theft Auto V is one I've dipped back into a number of times even though I've "beaten" it. So, in the list that follows, there's a few games that don't have a start date, just an asterisk, those are games that I've beaten and come back to. Mario Maker gets a pretty regular visit from me. Playing Mario Kart with the family. Loading DOOM up again because why the hell (lol) wouldn't you revisit it?
Speaking of, notable experiences this year included DOOM, this newest iteration. That's a grin from ear to ear even as you're dying over and over because it's not punishing you, you're punishing it. Flying through demons like a human wrecking-ball made of bullets that shoots bullets as it's flying around and those bullets are probably firing bullets, too (I'm not making that up), is just so damn fun! Yes, it's violent and gory, but this takes the worst of 80's parents' fears of the vidjawhatchamacallems and delights in it. It is heavy and bright and loud and loaded to the gills with guts and guns. You're so badass in this game that even Hell has created an anti-religion around you; you're the nightmares' nightmare and you're followed by shredding guitars and blown-off faces and blown-out minds.
Jeez, now I want to go play it again.
Also, in March, I played and defeated all 10 "main" Mega Man games. I wanted to try and squeeze in some Mega Man X, but the last couple of games took up a lot of my time as I tried to burn through "Mega March." It was a trip of nostalgia, as I had played and beat a number of those in my youth, but it was totally worth it.
I also found that I really dig the genre of gaming coming to be known as "walking simulators." These are narrative experiences where there's not much fighting to be had, if any at all. It's logic puzzles or being guided along a track to hear the story. Games like Kholat and Layers of Fear (both sharing a musical composer in Arkadiusz Reikowski who scored things of eerie beauty) gave me worlds to explore and stories that unfolded without a single weapon in my hand.
Taking the cake for games that I have played the absolute most of, just, wasting time with, games that have devoured hours of my life that I can never have back with no reward other than tickling that pleasure center in my brain that looks to escape the mundane, were iOS games. It started with Magic the Gathering Puzzle Quest, but then I got into Puzzle & Dragons, and I shit you not, I have played that game every day since I very first played it. Now more recently, as it's not even been out a month, Mario Run has dug it's filthy toadstool stained claws into my thumb as I jump and twirl away in the Mushroom Kingdom...on my phone! Off my phone, but just as addicting, was the impulse buy, PAC-MAN Championship Edition DX+. Waka waka waka in my dreams.
Going into 2017, though, I'm still not finished with older games that I'm finally getting around to, The Witcher, and Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth. Mods can pretty these up on my current machine, giving them a gloss they didn't have when they were released. But, today, and the first entry that will go onto the 2017 log as a new game, Pokemon Sun. I picked Popplio as my starter Pokemon. I also purchased Pokemon Moon for the daughter and she has already started. Eventually we'll carve out some time to battle each other like good Pokemon trainers should. Actually, as I look at my list, I realize Pokemon GO isn't on here. Know that I and the daughter have played a crap-ton of that, as well, even got Ditto and Pikachu wearing a Santa hat!
So, without further ado, here is my log of games that I played in 2016, a truly terrible year, but one I was able to escape from in the waning hours of the night into some great video games. Now, hopefully the formatting of my log sticks as I click "Publish."
|Fallout 3 GOTY||PC||12/27/2015||1/30/2015||Beat main quest and all dlc|
|Dead Island||PC||12/2/2015||3/5/2016||Online with Dave|
|Mount Your Friends||PC||1/11/2016|
|Super Mario Maker||Wii U||*|
|Super Smash Bros Wii U||Wii U||1/30/2015|
|SteamWorld Dig||Wii U||1/31/2016||2/5/2016|
|Magic the Gathering Puzzle Quest||iOS||12/9/2015||2/7/2016||Completed all chapters with Nissa|
|Jet Set Radio||PC||2/21/2016||2/27/2016|
|Mega Man II||NES||3/3/2016||3/4/2016|
|Mega Man III||NES||3/5/2016||3/5/2016|
|Mega Man IV||NES||3/6/2016||3/6/2016|
|Trine||PC||3/7/2016||3/15/2016||Online with Dave|
|Mega Man V||NES||3/8/2016||3/9/2016|
|Mega Man VI||NES||3/10/2016||3/12/2016|
|Mega Man VII||SNES||3/13/2016||3/14/2016||Mega Man wants to murder Wily?|
|Mega Man 8||PS1||3/15/2016||3/16/2016|
|Mega Man 9||Wii||3/17/2016||3/20/2016|
|Mega Man 10||PS3||3/20/2016||3/27/2016||Mega Man takes a sick Wily to the hospital after beating him. Wily leaves medicine for all the robots when he inevitably escapes. THIS is a good MM ending!|
|Injustice||PC||3/26/2016||Local with ANT|
|Syndicate||PC||3/27/2016||4/13/2016||Online with Dave||Beat single player|
|Mario Kart 8||Wii U||*||Local with family|
|Rocket League||PC||4/21/2016||Online with Dave|
|Renegade Ops||PC||5/24/2016||7/5/2016||Online with Dave|
|Pocket Jockey (Demo)||3DS||?|
|Puzzle & Dragons||iOS||5/29/2016|
|King of Fighters 2002||PC||6/10/2016||Local with ANT|
|Layers of Fear||PC||7/15/2016||7/26/2016||Got "bad" ending|
|Lord of the Rings: War in the North||PC||8/22/2016||Online with Dave & Derek|
|Mortal Kombat X||PC||9/15/2016|
|Neverending Nightmares||PC||10/4/2016||10/5/2016||Got "Final Descent" ending|
|Slain||PC||10/8/2016||11/13/2016||Died a LOT|
|Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth||PC||11/6/2016|
|PAC-MAN Championship Edition DX+||PC||11/26/2016|
|Super Mario Run||iOS||12/15/2016||12/26/2016||Cleared all courses|
|Mini Mario & Friends: amiibo Challenge||Wii U||12/26/2016|