Better late than never, right?
After a month offline thanks to an inconvenient WordPress issue, I’m finally able to get back on here and write! And what better way to make up for lost time than to look back on the year that was 2016! There are a few features on this blog that I’d call an annual event, and the top ten games of the prior year is definitely one of them. Unlike other blogs, especially the big sites out there, my list of games doesn’t consist of just games that released in 2016. Rather these are the top ten games I actually got around to playing the past year. Here are my top ten games of 2016!
10. Final Fantasy Explorers (3DS)
Way back in 2014 I dabbled with the Monster Hunter series. It was fun, but I don’t think it was really for me. The grind was real, and since I was playing by myself or with random players online and not any real friends, I just didn’t see the appeal. Jump to 2016 and Square Enix comes out with a Final Fantasy version of Monster Hunter (Essentially). I secured a couple copies for myself and three friends, and we greatly enjoyed our time hacking and slashing our way through foes. The epitome of awesome came in the form of our first boss kill, the mighty Ifrit! While the game has some shortcomings, namely the somewhat clunky interface, it was certainly rewarding and fun to play with others. Here’s hopeing we get back in there and slay some more foes! I want to mutate my spells even further!
9. Skylanders: Superchargers (Wii U)
Another tradition around here is Skylanders, believe it or not. I’ve somehow managed to amass quite the collection of toys over the years. Worth nothing, however, is my timeliness with the games. Or rather lack thereof. I always seem to get the latest game months after its initial release, sometimes after the newer, upcoming game is announced. With Superchargers I actually received the game for Christmas, meaning I played it kind of on time! This game was a very fun romp through the Skylanders universe, even if the gimmick of cars wasn’t as cool as it could have been. Personally I think Trap Team has been the best so far, but I can’t discount Superchargers for pushing the envelope further. Hell, there were exclusive Nintendo characters this time around, which seems to have been the beginning of a trend if the recent introduction of Crash Bandicoot into the series has anything to say. Here’s hoping the newest game will have even more fun, cross-series inclusions!
8. Rogue Legacy (PS4)
Dying in a role playing game is usually no big deal: you come back at your last save point, ready to learn from your mistakes and move on. In Rogue Legacy death comes at you a bit differently. Every time you perish, you come back again as the ancestor of your former self, with a handful of new, randomly generated abilities, and all the gold and power-ups you previously had. Combine this with an always changing dungeon layout and some devious traps and bosses, and you’ve got a game that demands multiple playthroughs! I found myself playing Rogue Legacy randomly on some days I couldn’t think of anything else to play, well after beating the game multiple times! Constant New Game Plus difficulty spikes and the appeal of gaining a little bit more gold to level up one more skill is wholly addicting and worthwhile! Best of all, there’s cross play between the PS4 and PS Vita versions! So that’s a small plus for owning a Vita, right?
7. Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam (3DS)
Paper Jam was the first time I had fun with a Mario RPG since The Thousand Year Door released on the Gamecube. While this game wasn’t as good as the older ones by any means, it featured fun combat, an interesting crossover’ish story, and a satisfying ending. Any game with the Koopalings in it always tends to be one of my favorites, so Paper Jam has that going for it too! Looking back on the year there were definitely better RPGs released, some of them on the 3DS, but the charm of Paper Jam won me over! As both the Mario & Luigi and Paper Mario series’ go forward, I’m hoping they hearken back to the humor and challenge of the older games. This was but a taste of what could be!
6. Fire Emblem: Fates (3DS)
When Fire Emblem: Awakening released on the 3DS in 2012 we were treated to one of the most refined and visually stunning games on the Nintendo 3DS. It took four years for a sequel to release, and though it won’t be remembered as dearly as Awakening, Fire Emblem: Fates was still an excellent strategy RPG. The split storyline between two rival factions with your main character caught in the middle ensured many different interpretations of the tale. Those players who played both games and saw the true intentions behind the series’ huge cast of characters were witness to a compelling storyline of love, betrayal, and making hard decisions. Fates was also one of the only games I really enjoyed using my mountain of amiibo toys with, as they unlocked hidden items and characters to use in the main game! Hooray for cross promotions!
5. Rocket League (PS4)
One surefire way to tell if a game is good or not is to look at its lasting appeal. Rocket League was a big part of the beginning of 2016, as my friend group really got into playing it nightly. We moved up into the Pro ranks, and proceeded to still get our asses handed to us my much better players. Regardless, we enjoyed the game for months. Jump to fall of the same year and the exciting Rumble update was released, adding a new game mode which featured a handful or nifty power-ups to make the crazy game of car soccer even crazier! Again, we played for months. I think Rocket League is one of those games that will stick around for years thanks to its insanely fun core mechanics, and aided by the developers desire to give more and more content to its players. If you haven’t tried out Rocket League yet and have some friends looking to play a game together, you couldn’t do much better!
4. Pokemon Go (iOS)
Not one, but two Pokemon games released in 2016. And no, I don’t mean two games like Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon (which did release in 2016!), but two games in those aforementioned titles and the mobile exclusive phenomenon Pokemon Go. When the iOS game Pokemon Go released in the summer, it was like the entire world downloaded the game and started playing. Countless news outlets covered the games impact on the world, showcasing multitudes of people going out to new places to catch tiny virtual monsters, sometimes leading to unfortunate conclusions (I read some people found dead bodies while trying to catch Pokemon!). The game itself was simple, insanely simple when compared to a proper Pokemon game, but it resonated with so many people, not just gamers! Personally I still log into the app to catch a few here and there. Though the development of updates didn’t go as well as many hoped, there is no denying going into 2017 Pokemon Go will likely be one of the most followed games of the year!
3. Far Cry Primal (PS4)
Only a few games I’ve played on my PlayStation 4 have really made me feel like they were the next generation of games beyond the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Far Cry Primal is one of those games. Hot damn, this game was breathtaking! Stunning visual expanses, a lush forest setting with glorious wildlife and fauna, and a storyline that made me want to play more and more! The Far Cry formula worked well despite there being no guns or bombs (well, sort of bombs) to speak of in the 10,000 year jump back in time, but Primal proved to me to be the best the series has had to offer! One of the crowing achievements of the year for me is undoubtedly killing that son of a B Batari for what she did to my clan. Man, epic fight, epic conclusion, epic game!
2. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition (PS4)
As far as role playing games go, there are good games, and then there is Skyrim. Originally released in 2011 on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim continued the excellent gameplay and storytelling elements from The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and refined them to near perfrection. 2016 saw the five year re-release of the game on PS4 and Xbox One, and this was my first entry into the world of Skyrim. Hot damn, this game is amazing. There are hundreds of things to do besides actually complete the story, and they are all engaging, rewarding, and most of all fun! Visually jaw dropping, technically marvelous, and overall one of the deepest, most immersive gaming experiences I ever had the pleasure of partaking, Skyrim is without a doubt one of the greatest RPGs I have ever played. It just… wasn’t quite the best game to come out this year.
1. Overwatch (PS4)
Without question, my favorite game this past year was Blizzard Entertainment’s wildly successful new IP, Overwatch. The team based shooter was nothing new, but the way Overwatch incorporates multiple play styles with the 20+ heroes, team based tactics and strategies on every map, constant rewards via Loot Boxes, and such a fantastic attention to detail, it is hard denying impact Overwatch has had on the gaming scene in just 8 months time. Overwatch feels to me like Team Fortress 2 did back in 2009: it’s a platform and not just a game. I still find myself logging in weekly, getting a few matches in before bed, and playing online with dozens of friends who also own the game. It’s fun, it’s addictive, it’s rewarding, it’s gorgeous, and it’s going to be huge in 2017 as well. It’s my pick for game of the year!
There you have it, the top ten games of 2016. Not surprising are the top two I’m sure, as many major outlets pegged these games as GotY candidates. But can you really blame them? Overwatch alone had such a significant impact on the eSports community even I’m starting to follow some teams and players!
Other games that didn’t quite make my top ten include The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes, Overcooked, Pokemon Sun & Moon, Super Mario Run, and Street Fighter V. Honestly I didn’t play too many games this year, thanks to many games in this list taking up literal months of play time. Which is fine with me. I’d rather have a short list of truly excellent games than a long list of titles I wish lasted longer!
What were your favorite games of 2016? Why isn’t it Overwatch? Let me know!
Here’s to the video games of 2016,