As per usual for these annual year-in-review posts, I won’t be getting into world events or politics or anything actually technically important. This is just me going over my favorite video games, movies, albums, and whatever else I feel like exhibiting. Normally this would have been ready before the beginning of the next year, but I had to experience of few of these things fully. I played lots of games and watched lots of movies this year. Like, way more than usual. That’s another reason why it’s been difficult to finish this. Anyway, without further ado, let’s do this crap.
Holy crap. It’s been said to death, but 2017 is easily one of, if not THE, best year for video games. I’m not going to do a top 10 list because it would be too hard. But here’s my favorite video gamey parts of 2017.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
This came out all the way back in January. To be honest, I only got about halfway through it, but I loved it. I first got into Resident Evil by playing Resident Evil: Director’s Cut on PlayStation in 1997. It genuinely scared me and had to have been the first video game to do so. In short, I loved it. Then Resident Evil 2 came out, and it was debatably even better. 3 and Code Veronica were okay. Then 4 came out, which was super awesome. That was the first one to lean into more action-oriented gameplay, but it still retained the cool adventuring and puzzle-solving of the older titles. Then 5 and 6 came out, which was nearly nothing but shooting…ugh.
But yeah, Resident Evil 7 brought it back. You begin the game in a spooky little house, and I don’t want to ruin it for anyone that hasn’t played it yet. But…it’s a great game. That’s all I’ll say. Being able to play in VR was cool, but it wasn’t my preferred way of playing.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
This and Super Mario Galaxy have to be my top 2 games this year. And not just because they’re new Zelda and Mario games. Breath of the Wild genuinely wowed me. Maybe I’d have been less impressed if I had ever played Skyrim or the like. But I’ve played all the Zelda games, and this has been the most impressive one since…Wind Waker probably, for me.
The lack of story, quality voice acting, and fragile weapons hurt it a little bit in my opinion, but being thrown into the world and being so non-linear was amazing. That aspect of it can’t be overstated. I can’t think of any game that has done that. When you’re so used to Zelda games being pretty linear, Breath of the Wild stands out. The difficulty was perfect. But you will die, a lot. I wouldn’t give it a 10, but it’s a very good game.
Super Mario Odyssey
Super Mario Odyssey surprised me less often than Breath of the Wild, but it’s still a very special game. The levels are great, collecting Power Moons was more addicting than finding Korok seeds, and I never wanted to stop playing (I’m still playing). And you know what, two portions of this game made me tear up. I’ll admit it. I won’t say which parts they were though.
It’s easy to say that it could have been better or harder or longer or whatever else, but without alienating any players, I don’t know if that’s true. The object of the game is essentially to collect enough Power Moons. To do so, you must visit many kingdoms and fight a bunch of bosses that range from a tad too easy to satisfyingly clever and fun. The way it’s designed, I feel like anyone who wants to finish the story of the game could relatively easily in a decent amount of time. But if you want a challenge and turn it into a collect-a-thon, you can do that too. Once you finish the story, you find you’ve really only completed about a third of what the game has to offer. And that’s awesome.
I want DLC.
This game was revealed around the Xbox One launch, I think. I know it was an early announcement at least. Regardless, seeing it for the first time as an Xbox One exclusive made me feel better about buying an Xbox One. Waiting for it to come out was a nightmare. I knew I was going to love it. But then there were reports of the platforming levels being bad, and that made me nervous.
Now that I think about it, I don’t know if those reports were wrong or just that the developers fixed those parts before releasing it. Either way, yes, the boss fights are the best parts of the game. But the other levels are quite competent too. I still haven’t finished it, but I’m close. And I’ve definitely played enough to know how awesome it is.
Thimbleweed Park is the kind of game that I would put on this list even if I didn’t like it. Any game that can even be compared to Maniac Mansion will get a look from me. Developed by Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick (of Maniac Mansion fame), it plays much like those old LucasArts point and click adventure games but with modern sensibilities. It’s impossible to get stuck as they added a nifty hint system shortly after launch. It was expertly crafted. I love the story, the graphics, and the level difficulty. The voice acting leaves a little to be desired (except for Ransome), but maybe adventure games just shouldn’t have voice acting anyway. You can call me in the game at 7994. Seriously. How cool is that?
Doki Doki Literature Club!
Is it possible to give any kind of synopsis or review of this game without spoiling it? I don’t think so. Whenever given the option, I’ll pick playing on console over PC anytime. But even PC-exclusive games have to be pretty special to get my attention. I’ll just say that this game is not the first 2 hours. It turns into something else entirely, and it could not work on a console. It’s free. Go for it.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
As one of the few people that picked up a Wii U, I bought and enjoyed the originally version of Mario Kart 8. Playing multiplayer was fun, but even the Wii U Pro Controllers weren’t super comfortable. And that battle mode. Ugh. But the Switch version offers the more classic styles of battle mode with the balloons, which is awesome. And since Switch Pro Controllers are incredible, multiplayer is a better experience. If you like Mario Kart, it’s hard to not like this game. Multiplayer isn’t the best in the series, but it’s hard to say the racing is bettered by any other version.
I beat this on New Year’s Eve. I can’t remember how much time I spent on it, and it’s hard to tell considering how many times I had played for hours without saving and died. So the game timer isn’t even accurate. But I’d say I put in right around 100 hours. Why am I pointing out how long it took to finish it? I only really enjoyed about 70 hours of that. On one hand, I guess that’s still pretty good. Like, 70 hours of fun gameplay sound good. But the other 30 hours kind of sucked.
So often during the game, it kind of feels open, but Morgana the cat keeps you from doing anything besides going to school and sleeping, for no reason. I really don’t know why. Other times during the game, you’re allowed to do whatever you want after school and you need to sleep. As someone who loved Persona 3 and 4, I found myself miffed that I didn’t feel compelled to wander around and do things that weren’t required. In Persona 4, I would go fishing, take jobs, go on dates, etc. I tried to do everything that was possible to do. In Persona 5, there’s all that to do and more, but it just didn’t grab me.
The gameplay is better than Persona 4. The graphics, battles, and general mechanics are better. But I didn’t like any of the characters, other than maybe Kawakami. And maybe Takemi. But you know what those two people have in common? They’re side characters that you hardly ever see. And the characters that I liked the least? Yeah, those would be the main characters whose voices annoyed me.
I didn’t like the story. I cared so much more about saving Nanako in Persona 4 than I did the world in Persona 5. And I can’t think of any story progression after hour 70 that really surprised me. It was a trudge. I say all that, but I didn’t dislike the game. I did enjoy Persona 3 and 4 better though. Maybe even Persona Q too.
Puyo Puyo Tetris
Tetris is awesome. I had never officially played Puyo Puyo before this game, but I am proud to say that it taught me that Puyo Puyo is awesome too. These are both old puzzle games that a lot of people have played before. The story mode is pretty fun. It forces you to play both Tetris and Puyo Puyo against the computer, and the characters actually understand the world they’re in. It’s weird, but it works.
My main gripe is that it’s not as easy as it should be to start the game up and play a game of Tetris by yourself. You probably have to go into 5 menus and change settings to set something like that up. If it wasn’t for that, I would love the game even more. But playing the crap out of this game was a blast. You can collect lots of unlockables. Everything from characters to voices to Tetris piece styles. I think I ended up unlocking everything, because I’m cool.
Oh, and it came out not long after Tetris Ultimate or whatever for PS4. I don’t know what it is with that game, but it felt weird. Like, there was this weird lag or something. I can’t even explain it. But if you had half the screen filled with blocks, I felt like I didn’t have time to rotate them as new ones fell down. The feel of Puyo Puyo Tetris feels perfect, so I know it’s not just my reflexes or something.
It’s no Tetris DS (but what is?), but it’s a great game to have on Switch.
Horizon: Zero Dawn
I bought this game and the Frozen Wilds DLC a long time ago, but I didn’t actually start playing it until after the new year. I heard it was good, and it is. As for why I waited so long to play it, I don’t even know. But I’m about 12 hours in maybe, and I’m digging it. For me, it doesn’t have the magic that Zelda and Mario have, so it’s not GOTY material in my opinion, but it’s good. Aside from the sometimes lame cutscenes and voiceacting, it’s top notch. There’s not much more I can say about it, but I’m comfortable saying it’s an awesome game. Hopefully it doesn’t fall off a cliff and get bad in the second half of the game. Hm.
Man, I did see a lot of movies this year, but this is the only one that I saw that I liked a lot. Perhaps it’s because I was sure this remake of the Stephen King classic would bomb like most other remakes/reboots/reimaginings tend to go, but this movie felt good. I mean, other than the needless CGI, it was mostly faithful to the original. Probably more than anything, I was impressed that they killed Georgie at the beginning. Hollywood doesn’t like to kill kids, so I thought he’d be dragged into the sewer and then make a reappearance in the sequel as an adult, alive.
So yeah, good movie.
Sequels are rarely better than the first entry in a series, but this is one of those exceptions, maybe. Given how the first movie went, I didn’t understand how they’d be able to make a true sequel to this, but they did. I don’t want to ruin it, but it began in an awesome way. I’m not sure how much I liked how it eventually ended, but what can you do?
I recently realized how much of a Stephen King fan I am. I couldn’t even tell you how many Stephen King books I’ve heard and movies I’ve watched. I had heard of Gerald’s Game, but never read it. As a straight-to-Netflix original movie, my expectations for this was low. But holy crap, I liked it a lot. Apparently I have a thing for movies that feature 1-3 characters. Not a spoiler: This movie is mostly a lady handcuffed to a bed and her husband dead on the floor. Whenever moviemakers can get a good story out of such limitations, it makes me happy. Is that my misanthropy showing?
Anyway, I have a feeling that the book would be considerably better, which I might pick up some day.
Heaven Upside Down
Easily my favorite release of the year, Marilyn Manson brought us Heaven Upside Down. It was delayed a few times, but we finally got it. I won’t repeat myself. Read my review here. I’m enjoying it still. “Saturnalia” gives me shivers. And I’m not sure any Marilyn Manson song since something from Holy Wood has done that.
This album is amazing. Even if you don’t like the style of music or whatever, you have to respect what went into it. KyzrWölf, or Loopy from Hanzel und Gretyl, created this piece of art without using any real instruments. The drums are sampled, but the coolest part is that all the guitars and basses are synthesized. I wrote more about it here. Loopy said he planned on having KyzrWölf be the “opening act” for Hanzel und Gretyl when they tour this year. It’s literally been years since I’ve seen them. It’s effing time.
What did I do in 2017? I released “Kill the Buffalo,” but I never did release that new album that I wanted to. Crap happened. But a new album will definitely come out this year. Maybe 2 if you’re lucky. I have a lot of ideas floating around that just haven’t gotten off the ground quite yet. With some new gear I’ve acquired, I’m set to get new music out soon! Are you excited?!