Checkpoint: Year of the Dog 2018 Edition

Checkpoint: Year of the Dog 2018 Edition

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Happy Lunar New Year!

The Lunar New Year weekend is upon us and it’s filled with being lazy and playing video games for me. It’s also a weekend to take stock at my gaming year thus far. Although I’m still playing Persona 5, I’ve slowly accumulated a slew of new games including:

  • Monster Hunter World
  • Dragon Ball FighterZ
  • XCOM: Enemy Within
  • Civilization VI
  • Owlboy
  • A bunch more stuff from Humble Bundle

Then there’s still the matter of Horizon: Zero Dawn, Super Hot and The Witness all which I acquired last year but have yet to play. And maybe Dragon Quest VIII [3DS], Final Fantasy XV and XII: The Zodiac Age? Maybe?

Too many games.

But even with all those games, I’m carving out time to watch my girlfriend play XCOM: Enemy Unknown. She’s never played a game like this and after watching Giant Bomb’s The Exquisite Corps, I was inspired to introduce her to this wonderful game. We’ve only played one session but I hope we’ll continue playing this on a regular basis. Watching her play is entertaining so I hope she will grow to like it and we can continue this couple activity.

Another game that I hope we will be able to enjoy together is Monster Hunter World. Neither of us ever played these games before so I think it would be entertaining trying to figure it out. 

Checkpoint: That Was Super Bowl LII Edition

Checkpoint: That Was Super Bowl LII Edition

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So that was Super Bowl LII. It was an exciting game filled with big plays from both teams and easily one of the smoothest football games I’ve ever watched due to the relatively clean nature of the game. Not a lot of time was wasted with penalties, challenges, and overly long reviews. I enjoyed the game despite the unfavorable outcome for the New England Patriots. Nick Foles’ performance was very impressive and gave me a whole new level of respect for him. I’m still a doubter on his long term viability as a starter but his playoff performance this year was nothing short of stellar.

I came away from that Super Bowl with two questions:

  1. Carson Wentz is clearly the Eagles’ long term QB so what will happen to Nick Foles?
  2. What will the Patriots defense look like with Matt Patricia gone and the lacking personnel?

I came out of last year’s Super Bowl victory amazed but entered the 2017-18 season not pondering much about it. I’m entering the off season with intrigue and look forward to finding out how everything shakes out with new coaches and quarterbacks shifting.

I’m heading towards the end of Persona 5. I don’t know how long I have left but I do know I am in the final quarter. I am still enjoying my time with the game but it has its share of issues that keep it from excelling.

Dragon Ball FighterZ is a quality video game and one that makes me want to invest a significant amount of time improving in.

Monster Hunter: World is teasing me with its ridiculousness and this 20% off coupon is making it might tempting.

Game of the Year 2017 Day 3 of 3

Game of the Year 2017 Day 3 of 3

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Best Old Game of 2017

Winner: Firewatch

Firewatch wins this category on a technicality because I simply didn’t play many older games in 2017. I was at odds with Henry’s cowardly ways; it’s very rare that I don’t find any redeeming qualities with the protagonist of an  game let alone an adventure game. He was a coward who ran away from his problems. I made it my mission to steer him back home and away from the allure of Delilah. I related to his growing infatuation with her even though she was nothing more than a voice. 

I came away reinforcing my own definitions of infatuation, love, and unconditional love. And for someone who was in the middle of a budding relationship, that proved to a bit helpful.

Best Game of 2017

Winner: Yakuza 0

Yakuza 0 is a masterful blend of wacky and touching moments. It took me on a wonderful journey through 1980’s Tokyo that left me wanting more. Giving Kiryu’s backstory more airtime was nice but transforming Goro Majima into a more than just a wacky nuisance was the real winner here.

I’ve played my fair share of Yakuza games starting with Yakuza 2 and the sheer amount of stuff to engage with in Yakuza 0 was astounding. Not all of it was of stellar quality but I found myself enjoying the journey and not wanting to end. I even flirted with the idea of returning to 0 to mop up leftovers.

Runner-ups:

2. Super Mario Odyssey – There may have been way too many Moons to collect but for the vast majority of the time, Super Mario Odyssey was a joy to play. My only complaint? It didn’t quite dazzle me like Super Mario Galaxy did but then again, how many games can live up to that masterpiece?

3. Persona 5 – I’m technically still in the midst of playing this game but I really enjoy it. I – like many others – have a strong affinity towards Persona 4 and its cast of characters, so I was curious what Atlus would do to win me over with a new cast of characters. After a bit of an awkward and rocky opening, I’m finally hitting my stride with the game.

I adore the music and style which they unsurprisingly nail. But I’m a bit surprised with how invested I am with the characters and their stories. They’re grabbing with their shocking nature but I’m sticking with them to see how they handle these “classic tales of woe” in these modern times.

4. Uncharted: The Lost Legacy – In a year filled with open world goodness, Uncharted games feel especially antiquated with their restrictive climbing mechanics and instant death pitfalls. But once I got my Uncharted legs back under me, The Lost Legacy was a wonderful way to revisit the mechanics of Uncharted 4 without the long commitment of reliving Nathan Drake’s final epic.

5. Metroid: Samus Returns – Almost any effort would have been seen as a success coming from Metroid: Other M. Metroid: Samus Returns not only successfully remade Metroid II: Return of Samus for 2017 but they also proved capable of taking the franchise forward with fresh new additions to Samus’ core moves.

6. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – There’s a lot of promise shown in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I think Nintendo struck gold with this new take on 3D Legend of Zelda. But I want something more than dazzle. I want more to do and I don’t mean more shrines. Creative types had a ball coming up with clever ways to torment the denizens of Hyrule. If only I had the knack for making my own fun. Then maybe, I would have loved Breath of the Wild a bit more.

7. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe – Mario Kart 8 was number 2 on my 2014 list and it still holds up 3 years later. It’s easily my favorite Mario Kart title and it’s even better with this refined package. This time around, I found additional joy playing the game with friends and family in 4 player splitscreen. It’s the first Switch game that I played like one of those Switch commercials.

8. Nier: Automata – I like many of the individual elements of Nier: Automata but as a whole, it felt short. The soundtrack is phenomenal — I still listen to it on a regular basis. But the bland world and basic combat left me wanting. And while I understand that playing the game multiple times to wring out additional endings is appealing to some, I generally dislike it. I don’t mind replaying exceptional experiences but unfortunately for Nier: Automata, it wasn’t one.

But that soundtrack? Keep that on loop.

9. Puyo Puyo Tetris – I didn’t get around to reviewing this game because I never got around to completing I did enjoy what I played of Puyo Puyo Tetris. The campaign is silly nonsense that overstayed its welcome but I admire their heart. It’s a fantastic game filled with nonsensical characters and great puzzling action. I know I will be returning to it time and time again which is why it currently sits as one of two digital purchases for the Nintendo Switch.

10. Yakuza Kiwami – I experienced the first Yakuza through Yakuza 2’s recap video so while I had an idea of how the adventures of Kiryu started, I didn’t experience it first hand. I rectified that this year thanks to Sega’s remake dubbed Yakuza Kiwami. It was certainly extreme but coming from Yakuza 0’s ridiculous panache, it felt a little toned down and disjointed. Granted this was faithful to the original game but I think they may have been a little too faithful. Still, it was good to see the likes of Yuya brought out of the dark ages of the PS2.

Game of the Year 2017 Day 2 of 3

Game of the Year 2017 Day 2 of 3

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Most Disappointing Game of 2017

Winner: N/A

I didn’t play anything that was disappointing this year. I wished certain games were a bit better in different ways but I didn’t find any title disappointing. It’s been that kind of year for me.

Most Surprising Game of 2017

Winner: Yakuza 0

 

I didn’t think I would be surprised by another installment of Yakuza. Yakuza 0 blew me away and reinvigorated my adoration for this franchise. It’s a fun, action packed, wacky adventure peppered with some of the most touching moments in games. It’s my fourth trip to Kamurocho but they somehow manage to keep it fresh with each visit. Also, who would have guessed Goro Majima was more than just a lunatic?

Runner ups: Persona 5, Metroid: Samus Returns

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