TVG: 1.01 – What Did We Play in 2016?

Hello again, faithful. So the end of the year is finally upon us, and it’s time to reflect on all of our gaming exploits throughout 2016. Not the hottest selection of games from Matt (Parenting! Thank you!) but Stephen has done a pretty respectable job of fitting in some good time for a variety of gaming delights. This time around, our conversation focuses on the games we finished, the games we didn’t, and our favorites from the year.

Stephen has a well documented list of respectable length while Matt’s finished games selection can be counted on one hand.

Games Steve Finished in 2016 (in order of completion)

Game Title Platform Length Paid Thoughts
Brothers – A Tale of Two Sons Steam 6h $1.17 This was a game I decided to play largely because it was one of the few games I owned already that has a Japanese language option. I wanted to spend some time in 2016 trying to pick up more of the language and decided that gaming could be a great way to multitask (and pick up relevant vocabulary to my interests). Turns out it was a bit of a bust. The localization was terrible, and I cannot recommend that anyone attempt to use this as a learning resource. That said, the game was great, and so I’d definitely recommend you pick it up if you just want an enjoyable experience.
Influent (Japanese Kana) Steam 33h $0.00 Another part of my Japanese language studying regime. This one is actually quite relevant since it’s purpose is to teach vocabulary. It’s a little bit dry if you’re looking for gaming… but it’s more interesting than reading the dictionary if you’re looking to memorize some vocabulary. Definitely check it out if you’re trying to learn a new language (there’s more than just Japanese to choose from, and I’ve just picked up the French edition for myself.)
Rocket League Steam 6h $17.00 The gang at work suddenly wanted to play this and so we all bought it one lunchtime so that we could team up. We got a few games out of it at work during our lunch breaks, and it’s definitely a great game if you can get a crew together for some multiplayer. The single player is weak though. Too easy to score goals within the first couple of seconds against AI. Only play it if you have good internet.
Leisure Suit Larry 5: Passionate Patti Does a Little Undercover Work GOG 5.5h $0.55 I bought all the LSL games a couple years back, and so I figured I should make an effort to actually play some of them. According to the internet this is one of the better ones, so it made it to my priority list. It’s… well… it’s a bit sleazy, but hey… we’re adults here right? It’s not a bad puzzle game, and I think I was able to get through it without having to look up any hints (unlike with the first one).
Bastion Steam 10h $2.48 I’d already been listening to the soundtrack for a couple of years on this one, so it was time to do some action platforming. Not a bad game… though… it feels like pretty much the whole game is a tutorial as you obtain new weapons at a pretty quick pace and each of them have significantly different play styles. Audio is great, and I’d definitely recommend it.
Total War Shogun 2: Fall of The Samurai Steam 27h $1.26 I think this is the first Real Time Strategy game I’ve played! From what I understand, it’s one of the better ones. Can’t disagree! It was really solid. My only complaint was the rushed pace. You have a pretty short number of years to meet victory conditions (in my opinion), so you don’t have time to slowly build your empire. You’ve got to get out there on the battlefield and dominate. Naval battles were pretty unexciting as well. Really good game though. If you find it on sale (it hit pretty low prices around 4 times this year) check it out.
Suikoden PSP 25h $5.39 This is one of those classic games that I keep hearing about but had never played. The JRPG community totes Suikoden II as one of the best games of all time… and it turns out that you can use your Suikoden save to affect changes in Suikoden II. So, I decided to finally give it a shot. It’s pretty affordable on the PSN, and so I played this one through lunch breaks on my PSP. Not too grindy, and a great story. I’d recommend this over half the Final Fantasies or Dragon Quests I’ve played.
Gears of War 4 XBone ???h $0.00 What can I say? I worked on the game. I played it very regularly while making it, and completed the campaign a couple of times (mostly because I was looking for bugs, or things that should be added). It’s an alright game, though I’d really rather play this style of game on my PC with a mouse and keyboard. I think it came together pretty well in the end, and am glad I got to work on it.
Pokémon Yellow 3DS 37h $9.99 Can you believe I never played Pokémon? I didn’t have access to a Game Boy when Pokémania became a thing, and … I am not a huge fan of playing sequels without playing the first iterations. So… when Pokémon GO became a huge fad, I decided to take a step back, download the original and see what it had to offer. It holds up in some ways quite well! But in others… it’s just… grindy. And disappointingly you can’t catch ’em all without trading or cheating. So… I think this is definitely a series that benefits from you playing the current iteration when it’s popular. Not so much from a patient gaming philosophy.
Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns PC 20h $25 I’m a sucker for Guild Wars. It’s a franchise with a lore that I love, art that I love, and I think it plays great. I feel bad that I sped through it as fast as I did… but I also am at a point in my life right now where I really just don’t want to be spending thousands of hours on a single game. There is much, much, much more this game could offer me than I allowed it to. Maybe some day I’ll be able to play with my kid? But for now, I just played the main story. And it was still worth the $25.
To The Moon Steam 3h $2.79 A little overrated I think. It’s a good little story. But I don’t know too many people that I’d recommend this to. Enjoyable… but… think of it as a story, not as a game.
Mass Effect 2 PS3 50h $1.60 I cleared ME1 in 2015, and decided to give the next iteration a shot too. It’s a really solid game! I definitely did not care for mining planets, nor the final boss. But all in all, it’s a great game and will hold up for a few years to come. Makes me happy that I’m currently working on MEA. I still need to find time for ME3 🙁
Battlefield 1 Origin 11h $0.00 I played it because I got it for free! I’m not into multiplayer games at the moment. I’ve got a young kid, so most of my gaming happens when he’s asleep. There’s no way I want to be yelling into a mic when it could mean waking the demon and putting an end to my session. So I didn’t touch the multiplayer at all. I did do campaign though, and I found it very appealing. It was probably one of the better games I’ve played this year.
Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright 3DS 28h $21.09 I love Fire Emblem games, and this is a Fire Emblem game! I think the breeding componenet is a little…. less relevant than it was in Awakenings and I could have done without it. But it’s a pretty good game, with good tactical rpg mechanics, and fun story. I’ve got the other two FE Fates games so hopefully I’ll get time to go through them early 2017. Definitely recommend this one.
Gone Home Steam 4h $0.99 My wife isn’t much of a gamer, but we played this together over a few nights. It’s a great walking simulator game that allows you to go at your own pace. I think it works nicely when played with another person as it helps strike up conversations.
Street Fighter Alpha PS3 2h $6.75 Took me over an hour to beat M. Bison as Chun Li. I haven’t really played fighting games since I was in grade 5. This reminded me why. I suck at button combinations. It’s… ok.
Parasite Eve PSP 12.5h $2.99 This is one of those games that came out in the golden era of Squaresoft / Square EA… and I didn’t play it when it came out. I had a limited budget of both time and money, and it just slipped off my radar. I managed to score it for pretty cheap this year on PSN though and so played this during my apartment hunting trip to Montréal. It holds up fantastically on the small psp screen. I’d absolutely recommend this if you’ve got a psp. Solid work, this one.
They Bleed Pixels Steam 12h $3.39 I don’t completely understand why I forced myself to play this one. It rides a line between frustration and fun and I still can’t decide how I felt about it. I started playing it in 2013, and hated the controls at first. I picked it up again this year, and the controls aren’t so bad if you use a controller. But… it’s agonizingly difficult. Don’t play it unless you like hard games like Ninja Gaiden, Contra, Super Meatboy etc.
Escape Goat 2 Steam 8h $1.34 A fun puzzle platformer that was originally off my radar, but I decided to give it a go with my wife. We both ended up having a blast with it. Disappointed by the lack of effort put into the ending… but we still had fun with it. Worth checking out if you want something that isn’t too difficult and can be played in short bursts.

Games Steve Discarded in 2016

Game Title Platform Length Paid Thoughts
Pokemon Go Android 6h $0.00 I still find it fascinating how into this poorly made ap everyone got. Cannot recommend it at all, yet clearly I’m not in the majority with that opinion.
Luftrausers Steam 18m $0.99 I like games that go somewhere. This seems more like one of those time wasting aps you’d tinker with while waiting for a bus. But… on your pc. Not my cup of tea.
Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams Steam 38m $0.63 Wanted to play this for the Japanese too. It looks like there’s a lot that I could spend the time translating… but, the gameplay didn’t do it for me at all. I just couldn’t get into it enough to feel like continuing.
Monaco Steam 2h $10.61 I remember the Penny Arcade guys going nuts for this when it was new. Seemed pretty exciting, so I got some copies and shared with friends. We tried to play it together, and it just kind of fell flat with all three of us.

Games Matt Finished in 2016 (in approximate order of completion)

Compared to Stephen, here is Matt’s rather paltry selection of games beaten:

Game Title Platform Length Paid Thoughts
Castlevania 3 / 悪魔城伝説 Famicom ? ? One of my favorite games ever, this was on my “to beat” list for a long time. IMO, exceptionally well crafted game from the Famicom era. Beautiful looking, and that VRC6 makes beautiful music. This game gets super rough near the end, but with dedication you can finish it. I liked the level selection screen and blood-pumping levels. “Aquarius” is a Casltevania classic tune showing up in a few levels.
Power Blade Famicom ? ? Not-exactly-exceptional platformer on NES. Fun; not a lot to say really. Similar in feel to the Rockman series, with selectable stages that can be beaten in any order (even partially beaten and then finished later). Music is good. Overall relatively easy difficulty. Hilarious super-’80s cutscenes add to the coolness.
Samurai Sword Famicom Disk ? ? Adventure games for the disk system. Decent pixel art visuals and a pretty good soundtrack. Again, not exactly exceptional. The story was on the good side, and I generally enjoy this kind of game, so I slagged my way through it. Probably not much appeal to a modern audience, but I enjoy this era of gaming, and this particular item serves as a good time capsule for the adventure style of game in the 1980s.
Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers NES/Famicom ? ? Quick and easy single session game. I’m pretty sure everyone I knew owned this when I was little, but I never did play through the whole thing. I beat it on what I believe is my childhood copy *high five*. Fun and relatively well known for it’s two-player simultaneous gameplay. Zone J baby!
The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass Nintendo DS ? ? Not a bad addition to the Zelda family. I was initially skeptical because the game is so obviously a plug for the DS features (ie, you need to use the stylus to move, there’s times you need to blow into the mic, etc). That said, they did a great job with what they had to work with. I absolutely hated the mini-games (as is the case in most Zelda games). Fun; go for it if you like Zelda. I much preferred The Minish Cap personally.
Metroid Fusion GBA ? ? Metroid… uh, 4? I guess? I enjoyed this. It feels very similar and very different than its predecessors. It’s the same gameplay, and the same “cave dwelling on a weird planet” feeling, but the execution is different with a linear story that holds your hand through its narrative, and with various timed events to keep you on your toes or something. I had fun. I’d take Metroid 2 or Super Metroid over this for the most part, however.
Cave Story PC / 3DS ? ? Free-to-play PC game. I bought the 3DS version probably three years ago and finally finished this year. Overall, pretty fun. In all honesty, I got bored a few times, but did come back to finish it. I’d say the game did pick up in the second half with more interesting bosses and maps. Even the story finally got interesting.

There were many undocumented casual gaming sessions that did not result in a beaten game, and many other games played but not through to completion.

Matt doesn’t remember details and actually enjoys the lack of specific records for such casual sessions. *High five*

The Vagabond Gamecast is a podcast by Stephen Tucker and Matthew Langille that covers gaming from the perspective of nomadic parents.
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TVG: 1.01 – What Did We Play in 2016?