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January 2, 2017

2016: A Retrospective

Happy New year!
Good riddance 2016

I don’t think a lot of people will look back with joy on the year that ended on the night between Saturday and Sunday. The music amateurs lost David Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen, and George Michael… among others. Film amateurs lost Alan Rickman, Gene Wilder, Carrie Fischer and likely many others who haven’t been nearly as much advertised. On a purely political standpoint, we’ve had Brexit, Donald Trump, and a terrifying victory of hatred, bigotry and fear over reason and hope. Even in video games, we can name at least two things that were built up as the “greatest thing ever” that turned out to be more than disappointing: Pokémon Go and No Man’s Sky.

We can learn a lot from the mistakes of the past – unfortunately, some people refuse to learn. It’s weird how that sentence resonates this year, in more fields than just video games. Let’s call 2016 the Year of Mistakes, and learn from it. Don’t toss 2016 in a dumpster fire, don’t erase it from collective memory, keep it as various examples of what not to do, and learn not to do again what’s been done this year. I know, I know, I am a desperate hopeful who still believes in man’s capacity to learn from mistakes. Allow me this, I can’t stand being cynical for too long. I don’t believe cynicism is the way to go, I believe we should always keep a bit of idealism, the desire to make things change if they need to change – and cynicism is simply sulking and snarking, without a desire of standing up and taking action.

My personal life? That was fine. I finished my bachelor in Social Communications, received my diploma last October. Found work from July to November, even if it was a little something, it helped. I made a lot of friends online, with actual plans to go and meet some of them in person at a convention in 2017. I started using Steam, discovering many awesome games that I kept hearing good things about. I know, I’m late. I opened my horizons musically, moving from Dream Theater to Pink Floyd, and later to Harmonium. I stocked up on CDs and DVDs. I redecorated my room a little.

Not that great a year in news, but on a purely personal standpoint, this year was better than 2015. And I’ve been wishing to end a rather gloomy year on a joyful note. I’ll write this retrospective, taking into account the bad, but mostly the good.

Alright, so, here are some stats about the blog!

Number of games reviewed: 114
Number of WiiWare Demos: 50
Number of Steam games reviewed: 11
Number of Top 12 articles: 21
Number of films reviewed for VGFlicks: 10
Number of TV shows reviewed for An Episode In Gaming: 2
Number of other official reviews (mostly music): 2
Month with the most page views this year: December, with 18,279
Number of views total since blog launch: 332,887

Worst 5 games reviewed this year:
5. Rhythm Heaven. Not actually all that bad, but goddammit, I am so annoyed about games that I’m unable to beat at all…
4. Naruto: Clash of Ninja Revolution. Not an outright terrible game, I actually enjoyed it, but it was below par with most other games I’ve reviewed this year.
3. Rise of the Guardians (Wii). Yup, my last review of 2016. Though as I said, its greatest crime is to be boring as Hell. Which, alright, makes it less bad than some games that are outright offensive or stupid, or with terrible controls… but games shouldn’t be boring.
2. Sexy Poker. Yeah, I wrote this review as a pervert, and that was the whole joke – but even as a jokey perv, I can’t ignore that this game sucks. It certainly wasn’t worth the five dollars I paid for it. Not nearly enough content, and a game that promises sexiness only to be a tease in the end.
1. WALL-E. A game adaptation like Rise of the Guardians, and to its credit, the Wii version of the WALL-E game is less boring, but only slightly – and even then, it suffers from numerous problems still. Well, it gave us this .gif, so it can’t be all bad.

Top 10 games reviewed this year:
10. Kirby’s Dream Land 3. Slightly infuriating when trying to get 100% completion, but which game isn’t? This game expanded on the mechanics of the previous Kirby’s Dream Land title, with better graphics. All in all, a very good game, no matter how angry I get because of it – actually, that applies to a lot of games…
9. Kingdom Hearts Re:Coded. Granted, it’s one of the weakest titles in the franchise, but if all Kingdom Hearts titles are that good, wow, I understand why the series is so popular.
8. Muramasa: The Demon Blade. I truly enjoy the concept behind this game. I may not agree with the ending, and some of the more icky elements of the plot, but the gameplay is fantastic, the boss battles are incredible, and I actually quite enjoy that you can get three different endings for each character – even if it turns the game’s canon into a fine mess in the end.
7. No More Heroes. It is a brutal deconstruction of a player’s willingness to kill anything that blocks their way towards a title that, in the end, means nothing – to be the very best, like no one ever was, but at a price. The game’s relentless comedy and lampshade hanging, combined to its action gameplay, make it something to experience at least once.
6. Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars. The GTA title for the Nintendo DS does its best to be like any other title in the franchise; an open world with a storyline that you might not even follow, and more side-quests than you can shake a stick at.
5. Mega Man. God, I raged at that one. Freaking Yellow Devil, man. Seriously though, I may have fought tougher bosses since. It’s also the first time I play with the format of my reviews. Admit it, you didn’t expect there to be two parts to a single-part review, huh? Honestly though, the first Mega Man is a good game. The sequel is even better, but it’s a good game.
4. Kirby Super Star. Eight games in one! A Boss Battles mode that I actually managed to beat for once! Just as many fun stories! 2016 is the year I reviewed all the Kirby games I still had on Kirby’s Dream Collection. That was one of my goals, and I succeeded. I’m quite happy with that. Kirby Super Star is one of the best Kirby games out there, and by checking each game one by one, I can attest; it’s great.
3. WarioWare: Smooth Moves. Despite a few microgames that don’t work as well as they could, this game is great. We have the usual silliness of the WarioWare series, ported to the big screen with the Wii’s motion sensor controls. A lot of fun to be had, especially with the multiplayer mode.
2. Pokémon White. Of course a Pokémon title had to be among the best games reviewed this year. My third anniversary review for Planned All Along, I like the fifth generation of Pokémon for being one of the most plot-intensive titles. Whereas the previous two generations showcased villains desiring some form of destruction to fulfill their own desires, and the following two generations also basically had this… Gen 5’s Ghetsis was a wannabe dictator who didn’t want destruction; he wanted control, and came close to getting it through his emotional manipulation of N. Even setting the plot aside, Pokémon White had a great, large world, a good selection of Pokémon before postgame and an even better selection in postgame, a lot of interesting Legendary Pokémon… Okay, enough raving.
1. Super Metroid. A jewel of gaming, a treasure in storytelling with minimal words, a gigantic adventure. Super Metroid is seen frequently as one of the best games of all time, and I can say I enjoyed my playthrough greatly. I’m quite happy, yes.

My favorite Reviews
This list isn’t about the item of the review itself, but the review and how it came out. I am usually quite happy with what I write, but some reviews are definitely better than others, so I’m listing those here. Not in a Top 10 order, though.
1. Kingdom Hearts Re:Coded. I quite like how this one came out. As a first venture into the world of KH, this was a satisfying game, and the review to go with it was also satisfying.
2. Dragon Quest Swords: The Masked Queen and the Tower of Mirrors. I like when I can play a game and some joke already pop up in my mind, and what I need is to set them up into the review. DQS:TMQATTOM (wow, it feels long even as an abbreviation) had plenty of moments like this.
3. Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars. One funny thing with this blog is when I pretend to be the character, or immerse myself into the story enough that I start thinking like that character. Being an open-world game, GTA is perfect for this, and the complex plot of Chinatown Wars also let me put in quite a number of great jokes.
4. No More Heroes. I know I am talking about this one again, but it bears repeating. Great game. My analytical moment in Part 3, about the hidden message of the game, is probably one of my best moments on the blog.
5. Muramasa: The Demon Blade. It’s one of those games that is difficult to get into if you have no interest in games that were subtitled rather than dubbed, but in the end it’s a great story – as long as you don’t mind the abundance of Japanese myth around the story. I enjoyed this review because it was great to play through two different storylines and view some of the weirder things around that world. Not to mention, of course, all the bonus content.
6. Dream Theater’s The Astonishing. Yes, it was a review of a music album, which I doubt I’ll ever do again… but I love how this one came out. It has actually been read by quite a number of Dream Theater fans (I shared it on the Dream Theater subreddit). The exploration of the plot and everything that is wrong with it is possibly more thorough than I’ve done for any other game or film reviewed for the blog. And I like many of the jokes I thought up for this one.
7. Pokémon White. Probably my most normal anniversary review so far (hey, whaddya know, can’t be fighting an omnicidal maniac every year), and I suspect future anniversary reviews will be similar. Still, as I mentioned earlier, it was interesting to approach this Generation of games and discuss its plot. Sine Gen 3, all Pokémon games try to involve the mascot Legendary into the struggle between the heroes and the local villains, usually to destroy whatever they want to destroy. Ghetsis was much nastier. I like this Generation for that.
8. The Beginner’s Guide. I like that game even if it’s barely a game. There isn’t much else to say about it, really; and it was a quick thing to write about.
9. Code Lyoko. Of course, I spent 7 parts discussing that darn show, but now I’m done for good. It was long, but still quite fun to check through the entire series, almost episode-by-episode, to see what it did well and what it didn’t. In all this, I forgot to mention the tendency for fanservice in that show for kids… though the less said about that, the better. These characters are only teenagers, after all.
10. WarioWare: Smooth Moves. After a very long review in November, I tried to dedicate December to quick reviews, and WarioWare: Smooth Moves is a fantastic game despite being simple or short enough that I could discuss it all in a single part.

Top title cards in 2016
I feel like I applied myself a little more this year when it came to creating title cards. Here are my favorites.
I like the eyes on that one. A subtle touch that I hope many people noticed.
Who would have thought a mix of shadows and greys, with very small
modifications, could make me look like this?
More complex than my usual title card, and fairly effective too.
Another silly one, but I like it.
I think of title cards as another joke added to the review. So using
the clone jutsu... that was a given for this one.
P.S. I don't have Photoshop. This is Paint.
Heh. Memes. Guess that one still hasn't gotten old in my book.
For a game I didn't think much of, I still wanted to make a special title card.
This one has a few fun touches. The one singing is clearly not dressed as
well as the orher two...
Heh. Pretending to be a pervert.
By the way, look at that  calendar.
The advantage of having a forest that I can use for picture.
I enjoy this one for the effort I put into it. It shows both sides pretty well,
and the two sides fit together almost seamlessly.
For some reason I get upstaged an awful lot on my title cards.
Thanks, WALL-E...
One of the title cards I put the most effort into, making over 20 different
images, some which contain their own joke.

My goals for 2017
I’m trying to set this list of things I want to achieve in 2017 with this blog, and in real life (if the achievement is related to the blog in some way).
1. GET A JOB IN JOURNALISM. Okay, look, this is the sad part of this article; Now that I have my bachelor in Social Communications, I will try to find something in my domain – in other words, I will try to become a journalist. Or a reporter, either one really. If I do find something, I don’t know how much time per week I will be able to dedicate to this blog. I am not saying that I will stop – I am saying that I might have to slow down. I can’t guarantee anything here. However, one thing is certain; serious career goes first, fun blog goes second. Sorry, that’s life.
2. An Ace Attorney Month. I’m getting closer to the end of my collection of Nintendo DS games, and I will need to review Apollo Justice at some point. I also have the first Phoenix Wright game on WiiWare… I’m gonna need to do those soon enough.
3. A “Mon” Month. Let me explain: “Mon” is short for any game about creature-collecting. The name is obviously a reference to Pokémon. Many franchises try to do something similar to Pokémon, without being complete ripoffs. I own a few games like this, mostly Fossil Fighters and Spectrobes Origins (both which involve reviving creatures out of fossils, lookit that). I should probably dedicate a month to those two games.
4. Year 4’s anniversary review. It will probably be The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.
5. Streaming. During 2016, I tried to stream some Steam games every once in a while. I think it would be interesting to showcase myself streaming. I will probably try streaming the Steam games I review. Hey, why not?
6. And of course, posting my Let’s Plays to YouTube, possibly.
7. An actual Halloween special this year. I mean, I’ll try writing a story. I might not be able to once again, but that won’t stop me from trying – October is quite far away after all.
8. Maybe another Sonic Month?
9. Maybe another Rabbids Month?
10. Maybe a Mario month?
11. I really need to make title cards for my old reviews that still don’t have any.

Okay, that’s about it for this retrospective. I hope you enjoyed this! As promised, this Friday, I will be posating a review of a Steam game.