It’s that time of year again. Time to chronicle and highlight all the video games I’ve completed (and due to a hacking incident on my website; a return to 2016 – as I was unable to recover that post and have been too lazy to get around to it until now; yeah…that happened…). This may be…sad. The last (and…only) “completed” game was in…August. Hmm.
This last year was, strangely, the year of the mobile game for me. Most mobile games are hard to “complete”, but I’ll spend some time mentioning them in their own category (I don’t really consider them “real games”).
I still put in a crap ton of hours into games this year, but I also started reading a lot more books and binge watched a lot of Netflix. I’m sorry. I’m disappointed in myself too. And well…I *started* a lot of games, but…oh shiny thing, what’s that! Ahem…sadly, it looks like 3DS got a big ‘ole donut in terms of playing time this year. That’s really disappointing. I’ll need to fix that this year.
Finally, here was my post from 2015. Let’s start!
Completed games of 2017:
08/26/17: PERSONA 5 (PS4). Completion time: 152:42.
- Whew! This was a tough year to pick a Game of the Year, but this is a very strong contender. Each Persona just keeps upping the ante and getting better and better (ehh…well, I wasn’t a big fan of 2…). Stellar voice acting, visuals, battle system, pacing, story, and well, what’s most important, it was just fun. And funny.
- Did I mention the music? Shoji Meguro is probably my second favorite game composer; the whole soundtrack is just awesome. Some of my favorite tracks are The Day When My Mother Was There, Price, and Blooming Villain.
- If you like traditional turn based RPGs you should love this game. If you have ever played Persona 3 and 4 and liked them, you will love this game (I thought 4 was amazing and this is even better).
- The game is very long though. It’s not that grindy (it didn’t feel like it to me), it just has very, very long dungeons.
- It took me 152 hours to get Platinum, but first run through was 112 hours for me. You have to play the game, basically, again to get Platinum (but you can skip a lot of content).
- You do not have to play any previous Persona to understand the game.
- I picked up the special edition because I had no doubt this game will be awesome, that said, nothing really that special with the special edition (although it is mega-rare now…). There is also a steel book edition.
Games that didn’t quite make the cut / in progress:
And…well…damnit…that’s it? That’s the only game I truly completed this year?! Unacceptable…well, I guess I’ll mention all the in-progress stuff and pray I finish them in 2018.
- Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch) – Essentially, this is “done”, but not by my anal standards. I’ve beaten the game, but I still haven’t beaten one of the dungeons (yeah…this game is pretty sandbox…). But, let’s be clear, this is very clearly a game of the year candidate. I hope to write up more about it when I actually beat it, but damn…this is the Zelda that I didn’t know I ever wanted. Many dynamics were changed that are more Monster Hunter-y / modern, including the weapon system (no more Master Sword or bust) and dungeon system (yeah, it’s…interesting…). I think the main gripe that people have with this is the dungeons. There…sort of…aren’t really any? That sounds strange, but, the world is ENORMOUS. It is incredibly fun just to traverse the overworld and complete shrine quests and find stuff. It’s that good. And…freaking beautiful. This game is stunning. Don’t miss this. It’s the reason to buy a Switch.
- Nier: Automata (PS4) – Another game of the year candidate (well, I only really played game of the year candidates this year!). I honestly only picked it up because of all the critical acclaim. I had no idea what to expect as I have not played any other Nier. The best way I can describe it…Ikaruga (Galaga-esque) + Devil May Cry + Monster Hunter. That ends up meaning: sandbox action RPG w/ top down shooter elements (yeah, I know!). It’s very unique…and crazy fun. The combat alone is awesome and feels so fluid. I just haven’t played enough to truly judge it, but from what I’ve played so far…wow.
- Super Mario Odyssey (Switch) – The only other Switch game I own. Seriously, there’s really only two good games for it at the moment, haha. Fantastic. It’s a combination of every Mario template: 64 (open world), World, Original (has 2D platformer sections). I’m just really excited that we got more of a 64-ish game than the bit-sized worlds of Galaxy. The “possession” system seemed gimmicky in trailers, but it’s fantastic. This is a great platformer and is really accessible by everyone. I’m pretty close to being “done” with it, but there’s a whole lot of content to get through post-game it looks like (I mean…there’s a lot of things to find…).
Mobile games…I’m kind of a video game snob and look at mobile games like they’re red-headed step-children, but, Nintendo drew me in to three different things this year (their first effort into the mobile space). Mobile games are just a…different experience. They’re designed to play on your emotions to get you to spend money, which I hate (and never will). But to free-to-play them, you have to do all kinds of grindy activities, which, well, I’ll be honest, I like. It also helped that I got a new phone that’s actually capable of running games, it’s a brave new world…
- Pokemon GO – I’ve covered this pretty extensively in some other posts, but I played this game a whole lot. I would have to wager, I spent 600-700 hours on this…easy. I played this pretty much every weekend for at least 4-5 hours a day. This was a big, big time sink. So what’s the verdict? Well, as someone that just hit level 40 recently (max level), I feel I can truly critique this in a way most can’t. Here goes. … This game kind of sucks. Whoa, whoa, whoa…how can you not like a game that you’ve spent so much time on? Answer: hope. Hope that it will get better. Hope that all the sunk cost you’ve put into the game means something. I feel like I should explore this further, let’s do a pro / con list:
- It gets you to exercise. This is one of the big draws for me. It gives me an incentive to go outside…and still do what I love (umm, play games).
- It gets you to “Go” and explore the world. I’ve found so many parks and interesting things around my town and surrounding areas that I literally never knew about.
- I mean, it is Pokemon. I do like Pokemon. I do like “catching them all”. I like building up Mewtwo and Dragonite. I like being able to “control” an area.
- The social aspects can be fun. If you can scrounge up some friends, you can dominate areas of a town (like a real gang!). Otherwise, it’s pretty boring to play solo. This is not a solo game by any means (but I made it one; it helps that I have a park right near me).
- This is made from a “developer” that’s…not a developer. They make AR tech. They’re an awful game company. They don’t communicate well with their base.
- Bugs. Oh, the bugs. Part of it was my budget phone, but I have *never* seen a buggy / glitchy PRODUCTION game. It’s embarassing. It really is. It’s gotten a little better recently, but this is still nowhere near the quality that one would expect from a Nintendo / The Pokemon Company backed game. It’s infuriating.
- The “game” itself is boring. There is really only two “modes”. Catching. Battling. Both are extremely shallow and offer really no major incentives. But to get any “money”, you have to battle. Otherwise, you need to pay. And I’m not paying.
- So what’s next? As mentioned, I’m sort of “done”. Until the level cap is released, there is no real “thing” left to do. Except the fact that, by default, the game has many years of content left due to the nature of the main series. More than half of the Pokemon haven’t even been released in the game yet. It’s something I will continue to play, but I will not hit nearly as hard as I have in the past. If you have any interest in Pokemon though, I do think “now” is a good time to check it out. Generation 3 content has just been released and it’s generally very easy to level up by “raiding” with people. You can get legendary Pokemon at very low levels with very little effort.
- Pokemon Magikarp Jump – This is my first foray into the inane, mindless mobile game genre of “hit button, see numbers go up, repeat forever”. This is licensed game featuring Magikarp (the Pokemon) in a quest to…I don’t know exactly. I guess beat the Elite Four or something. Here’s how this game goes: fish a Magikarp, feed it, train it (once every 30 mins is best you can do), have it reach max level, “fight” (I use that very, very loosely – is your “power” bigger than your competitors? Yes? You win!). Win? Go to the next level. Lose? You “retire”. Repeat. 300 more times. 300 MORE TIMES. That’s the game. I kept expecting some sort of…advanced game play mechanic that never happened. You can get other “support Pokemon” and such, but it takes forever. You need to spend “diamonds” to “buy” Pokemon that cost 400-600. Realistically you can get like 5-20 diamonds a day after you’ve exhausted all the in-game unlocks (which run out very quickly…). The game then assumes you’ve become so invested that they want you to drop cash to continue. I HATE GAMES LIKE THIS. That said, it’s not as bad as some other evil “gacha” style games (I’ll get to in a minute). The most you should ever need to spend on this game, if you were so inclined, is $40. $40 will get you an item that gives you infinite diamonds. But, then it becomes pay to win, and again, what’s the point…? Sigh…
- Other notes:
- I’ve been playing it over a month, and I can’t really understand why. I guess it’s my OCD with wanting to “beat” it. I’m pretty close. There’s really only a few things you can do to “beat” it: Max Level at 100 (check), max out JP at 12 trillion (at 9 trillion now), 100% Events (not happening, you need to spend money for this).
- OK, OK, maybe I’m a little too hard on this game, but you have to know what you’re getting in to. It’s mindless, boring, dopamine clicking. There is no level of achievement. There is no skill (the only “skill” is efficiently leveling up; i.e. double berry method, google it!). I’ve almost maxed out my JP (Jump points! the point is to “jump!”; did I fail to mention that?), and then I can try to pretend I didn’t waste weeks of my life playing this. At least I know now what to look out for in the future…
- I mean, Magikarp still is the shit, so…I forgive you Magikarp. We cool.
- Other notes:
- Fire Emblem Heroes – Ahh, finally. The “just right” Goldilocks equivalent of the three mobile games I’ve played this year. This is actually a REAL GAME. A fully polished and supported REAL GAME. There are no bugs. There is actual real CONTENT that is updated daily. This is a FREE game. But…it’s a mobile game, so it has some evilness to it. This is a “gacha” style game and what that means is this: 99% of players can play this game without spending money or maybe a very small amount in very limited circumstances. The game is designed to draw “whales”, which drop thousands and tens of thousands of dollars in an effort to get “all” the content. If you play games like this, you must be happy that you will never “have the best stuff” or “have everything”. You can’t. Again, the game is designed that to “be the best” you have to spend thousands of dollars. I’ll go into that more in a moment.
- Other notes:
- But, what about the game? Oh man! I love Fire Emblem. I love Intelligent Systems. This is a fantastic collection of the series many, many characters. Lots of fan service. Lots of content that take many hours to plow through. At it’s core, it’s a 4 vs 4 battle versus AI from teams you put together comprising of users of swords, axes, lances, mages, fliers, armors, cavalry, etc on a 2D grid (you know, Fire Emblem). The weapon triangle from the main series is here and you can equip units with various abilities that require you to “summon” other users to inherit skills and “promote” them through EXP and “feathers”. Ehh, you’ll get it once you try it.
- The game is pretty liberal in letting you “play”. There is no “pay to win” in the fact that everyone can only “play” as much as the next guy. You have 100 “stamina points” to use on various things. 1 point regenerates every 5 minutes. So you can expect to get 200-300 points a day. An item can be used that restores 100 points, that are generally common, but uncommon enough you can’t blow a dozen a day. It’s a fun system where you have to efficiently balance certain things. You can’t BUY these points. Which is cool. Some events take 30 points, some take 5 or less. You need to be pretty confident you can “beat” the higher level events or you just blew a third of your day! I enjoy it.
- All right, let’s get back to the dark side. How in the world can people drop thousands of dollars on this game? Well, it boils down to “summoning” heroes; which is essentially a lottery system (gacha). Most efficiently, you need 20 “orbs” to summon five heroes. 20 orbs is something like $13. You can expect to get 20 orbs in a few days through just playing the game. But, the rub is that there are limited “banner” events where you have very little time (a few days) to “summon” very rare and / or powerful units (for example, there was just a limited-time Christmas event). So, you literally have to spend money to get the best stuff or hope that you’ve stockpiled enough orbs to have a chance at getting something good. And if that wasn’t bad enough, to make the best units even better you can boost them up TEN MORE TIMES by “summoning” the same unit and sacrificing them. For example, I really wanted a Christmas Tharja. I “spent” 400-ish orbs and didn’t get her. At the most efficient orb buying from the shop, that would be about $200 (again, I got all those orbs for free by playing the game). I’d say the odds of getting a Tharja are about 1 in 300 (I didn’t get lucky, but I did get other good stuff, so I’m pretty happy!). So what does an impatient person that just has never learned the word “no” or rejection do? They spend and spend and spend until they get what they want. It turns into a gambling addiction. That never ends. Because there’s always a new “banner” in a few days.
- This problem is very cleverly and accurately addressed by the the South Park episode Freemium Isn’t Free. This Kotaku post explains it by referencing some clips from that episode. The ironic thing? There’s a South Park freemium game on mobile now. And you can’t watch the episode Freemium Isn’t Free on South Park Studios right now. Hmm…
- Here’s an example of a normal guy that got addicted to one of these games and ended up dropping $16,000 over time on it. It pisses me off. This is not the future I want gaming to head and it’s getting there. Publishers are realizing that why would you take a lot of risk making a killer game that costs $40-60 when you can make a piece of crap that you can get lucky and get some fool to drop thousands on (not to say that this game is crap; I believe it won Mobile Game of the Year in several places – it’s a good game). It hurts the reputation of the industry. It hurts real people. Yes, people need to step up and realize dropping thousands on a game is ridiculous, but there’s a line. I have to imagine there will be legislation, at some point, banning these type of games or severely curtailing them. They are, for a lot of people, just gambling.
- OK, done preaching. The point is: if you like Fire Emblem, take a look at this game. It’s pretty great.
- Other notes:
Game of the Year: Persona 5 – I mean there was very little choice. You honestly could take Zelda or Mario or Nier and I would agree with you. I just spent the most amount of time playing Persona this year and it was so much better than Persona 4 (which in itself was a fantastic game) that it deserves this nod! I’m really looking forward to finishing Nier though.
And you thought we were done!?
Eh, well, because I’m tired and this post has now grown enormous, I’ll be brief (ish). My original notes from 2016 in italics.
Completed games of 2016:
- 12/5/16: POKEMON SUN (3DS). Completion time: 60:20. Very good game! Somewhat surprising. I’ve skipped 3 gens…was getting stale. Still lots more to do! Note: Ultra Sun / Moon were just recently released. Definitely pick those up versus the original release.
- 07/25/16: ZERO TIME DILEMMA (3DS). Completion time: 20:35:51. All endings obtained. 100% on the series so far. Miss the sprites; still fun. Note: Looks like this is the last game in the series which is sad. A really great puzzle thriller (yep, that’s a thing).
- 06/19/16: DOOM (PS4). Completion time: ~30-40 hours. Not a FPS fan, haven’t played series since DOOM 64, but I really enjoyed it. Note: Screw Bethesda. I really liked this game, but they are the worst when it comes to bugs. There is STILL a bug that exists that prevents getting Platinum. This pisses me off. They’re blacklisted (as are Ubisoft and EA). I refuse to ever buy one of their games again. They produce buggy garbage.
- 06/12/16: SUPER MARIO 3D WORLD (Wii U). Completion time: 19:20. 220 lives, 149 deaths, All Green Stars/Flags, 80 stamps, Shiny 4 Star! Wow, what a game...
- 06/11/16: STAR FOX ZERO (Wii U). Completion time: 13:57. 37/70 medals. All areas unlocked. Sound Test opened. Hmm, I have thoughts… Note: I can’t find my original thoughts! I think I was mad at the content. It just felt like it wasn’t finished.
- 05/1/16: DARK SOULS 3 (PS4). Completion time: 86:42:57. Covenants done. Missing one gesture, one pyro. Time for NG+! Close to Platinum already. Note: I did get Platinum. Eventually new DLC was released. Fun fact: I have never played any DS DLC. It makes me sad, but I have my principles: I don’t pay for DLC.
- 04/12/16: FIRE EMBLEM FATES: REVELATIONS (3DS). Completion time: 45:43. Wow, I really enjoyed that. Highly recommended. Very satisfying third chapter. Note: This was the third piece of FATES. Note above: I don’t buy DLC. But I will buy very expensive special editions if you make it special with the DLC already included! I’m weird…but maybe rich? This thing goes for a lot of money now.
- 04/03/16: FIRE EMBLEM FATES: CONQUEST (3DS). Completion time: 31:48. Hard / Casual. Tough, tough final battle. Had to restart after getting annihilated.
- 03/25/16: FIRE EMBLEM FATES: BIRTHRIGHT (3DS). Completion time: 45:49. Ending just kind of snuck up on me! Fantastic game, pretty “meh” story though TBH.
- 02/10/16: DONKEY KONG COUNTRY: TROPICAL FREEZE (Wii U). Completion time: 20:47. 100% clear! Wow, that was pretty difficult! Recommended!
- 02/07/16: LUIGI’S MANSION: DARK MOON (3DS). Completion time: 16:13. Highly recommended. Extreme upgrade in content & “fun” from the first Gamecube game
- 01/01/16: YOSHI’S WOOLY WORLD (Wii U). Completion time: 32:13. Completely complete! All Flowers, Stamps, Health, Bestiary, Yarn Yoshis, Badges, and Music obtained. Note: This was also on the 2015, but I finished all content on the first day of 2016.
Game of the Year 2016: DARK SOULS 3. I mean, FATES, was a good game (even though it went the Pokemon route of multiple versions of the same basic game), but the climax of the SOULS series? DS3 was an absolutely amazing game. Perfect amount of content, challenge, run-time, music, visuals. I have no complaints. And that’s hard for me to say.
Well, that’ll do it! Hmm, I really dropped the ball in 2017. Freaking mobile games, they corrupted me. I’ll do better next time. It was nice to look back at 2016, that was a pretty great year.