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LONG BLOG

A Decade in Review; Shog's Top-Something List

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This is it: the culmination of 11 lengthy, semi-meandering blogs filled with nuclear takes, bandwagon-following, and bizarre accolades. I want to say this final entry will be free of hot-takes, but even positivity and praise can raise eyebrows if it’s applied to the right (or should I say wrong) thing. If I didn’t mention it at some point in the last 11 months, I think it’s worth mentioning that these reviews are based on my personal tastes. So without further waffle here’s my list of the best games of the past decade, and my favorites among them in semi-release order. 

 

This isn’t a compilation of every game I listed as “Good” in my previous blogs; this is a list of those games I cherry-picked from those lists. There were far more than five games from 2012 that I would call “good”. On a similar note I would call 2017 the best year of the decade. Finally, I am aware that Rabbidluigi recently posted a video about the best years in gaming. Please understand that I didn’t steal this concept from him, as I’ve said, I’ve been making these blogs since January, so if anything he’s stealing from me. Without further stalling, here’s the total list in what is mostly alphabetical, and mostly chronological order.

 

Best of the Best

 

  • Fallout: New Vegas (2010)
  • Pokemon Heart Gold/ Soul Silver (2010)
  • Pokemon Black/White (2010/2011)
  • Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage (2010)
  • Dead Rising 2 (2010)
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010)
  • Just Cause 2 (2010) 
  • Dark Souls/Remastered (2011/2018) 
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution/ DX (2011/2013)
  • Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D (2011)
  • Mario Kart 7 (2011)
  • Dishonored (2012)
  • Hotline Miami (2012)
  • Mass Effect 3 (2012)
  • Spec-Ops: The Line (2012) 
  • Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy/Curtain Call (2012/2014) 
  • Animal Crossing: New Leaf (2013)
  • Gunman Clive (2013)
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (2013) 
  • Papers, Please (2013)
  • Pokemon X/Y (2013)
  • Tomb Raider (2013)
  • Wolfenstein: The New Order (2013)
  • Dark Souls II/Scholar of the First Sin (2014/2015)
  • Elite Dangerous (2014)
  • Luftrausers (2014)
  • Guacamelee Super Turbo Championship Edition (2014)
  • Bloodborne (2015)
  • Just Cause 3 (2015)
  • Nintendo Badge Arcade (2015)
  • OlliOlli (2015)
  • SOMA (2015) 
  • Dark Souls III (2016)
  • Doom (2016)
  • Final Fantasy XV (2016)
  • King’s Quest (2015/2016)
  • Pony Island (2016)
  • Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth + (2017)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (2017) 
  • Metroid: Samus Returns (2017) 
  • Night in the Woods (2017) 
  • Opus Magnum (2017)
  • Sonic Mania (2017) 
  • Super Mario Odyssey (2017) 
  • Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap (2017)
  • Yakuza 0 (2017)
  • Yooka-Laylee (2017)
  • Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon (2018)
  • The Office Quest (2018)
  • Shadow of the Colossus R (2018)
  • Spider-Man (2018)
  • Ace Combat VII: Skies Unknown (2019)
  • Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night (2019) 
  • Resident Evil 2 R (2019)
  • Tamashii (2019)

 

Fallout: New Vegas had a really rough launch, and even years later it’s still possible to glitch this game out spectacularly. New Vegas is also one of the deepest RPGs of its kind that I’ve played in general. Everything I did in the Mojave Wasteland could have strengthened or weakened my allegiances with one of several major factions. There are jobs that I had the option to take on and missions I could have taken part in that range from seemingly trivial, to incredibly important.

Like with other Bethesda RPGs, the world of New Vegas seems to have a lot going on in it in a way that’s easy for me to take seriously. Even with so many factions working to their own ends, with so many named characters having their own agendas, it’s really easy to slot in one of dozens of player characters and make a working narrative play out. From the standard stealth-sniper all the way up to a more advanced silver-tongued intellectual who lets his companions do the fighting and many more character types in between, I don’t think I’ve played New Vegas the same exact way twice. I love RPGs in general, but the open-endedness and satisfying combat present in this one makes it an exemplar to me. Bethesda hasn’t been able to match it, and unfortunately, neither has Obsidian. Not yet anyway.

 

Fallout: New Vegas on Steam
(Patroling the Mojave makes you wish for an arrow to the knee)

 

Pokemon Heart Gold & Soul Silver is when the main Pokemon series peaked. Diamond and Pearl, the introduction to the fourth generation of Pokemon, introduced the Sinnoh region and introduced over a hundred new Pokemon (the Pokedex at that time totaled 493 Pokemon). This is also when the combat mechanics diversified special and physical attacks into their own stats rather than by element. It was now theoretically possible for Dark-type Pokemon with a high attack stat to learn Dark-type physical attacks and deal far more damage than before. What Heart Gold & Soul Silver did was take this mechanical groundwork and apply it to the Gen 2 games Gold and Silver. The aesthetic difference alone made this a must-buy for me: Game Boy Color games could likely be emulated on the graphing calculators of 2010, but now the towns look like towns, the characters look recognizably human, and in combat the Pokemon sprites look anime-accurate.

Unlike certain modern Pokemon games it was possible to complete the National Pokedex, but on a smaller scale it was possible to collect other starter Pokemon as you progress through the game. Daily and weekly events gave me a reason to come back to the game and continue playing it. Then there was a very small inclusion that wound up being a fan-favorite: The Pokemon on the top of your party would follow behind your trainer as you walk around Johto and Kanto. You can even turn around and talk to them, which was incredibly endearing. I bought this game 3 times, importing the Japanese version of Silver then buying Gold and Silver once they launched in the US, and since I bought them all new they came with a Pokewalker. The Pokewalker looks like a Pokemon-themed tamagahci, and it is, but it’s also a surprisingly accurate pedometer. Transferring one of my Pokemon into my Pokewalker and walking around with it was a really cool feature and it’s kind of living on in the Pokemon GO!/ Gen 8 transfer functionality. The Pokewalker also let you catch Pokemon, some of which were exclusive to the peripheral.

Heart Gold and Soul Silver are very nostalgic games to me, but the additional features from Diamond and Pearl, and the graphical upgrades, make these games the best way to experience Gen 2. I assume anyway, I still haven’t played Crystal. 

 

Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver — StrategyWiki, the video game walkthrough  and strategy guide wiki
(I would buy these again, but Nintendo refuses to sell them to me)

 

Just Cause 2 launched in 2010, but looking at it I would have guessed it was an early PS4 or Xbone title. Rico Rodriguez is dropped in the nation of Panau with one simple mission: destabilize the militaristic government by blowing up as many things as humanly possible. There are missions which offer a goal, structure, or context to your explosive actions but the bread and butter of this game boils down to destroying buildings, billboards, and other such structures...and generally things that are colored red.

It’s something of a stereotype that 7th generation games were a parade of brown, beige, and gun-metal grey, but Just Cause 2 is set in a brightly lit island nation that boasts multiple biomes. There’s the vibrant greens of the Panau rainforest, a vast sandy desert, a large city, and tall snowy mountains. This much biodiversity would make a lot of other openworlds seem cramped, but the island nation of Panau has a surface area of roughly 1,000 square miles. I believe that too, considering there are very fast vehicles, like jets, that can be found if you know where to go and it takes a while to get from one end of the map to the other while piloting them. Just Cause 2 was a game that I was always having fun with. The missions gave me a target and context, even if the plot wasn’t all that great. When I wasn’t interested in furthering the plot it was fun to just wander around the open-world picking up collectibles and grapple-hooking myself from a helicopter, to an attack jeep, to a minimum-wage security person. 

 

Buy Just Cause 2 - Steam CD KEY cheap
(Why did I choose this over other open-world games? 'Cause I felt like it)

 

I’ve only ever played Dark Souls Remastered, not the original release, but it doesn’t seem like the remastered version changed things up like Scholar did for Dark Souls 2. That Dark Souls though! There’s a lot that can be said about a game where the first hostile enemy you fight against is a boss monster. The fact that that boss monster is palette-swapped twice kind of hurts the game a little bit, but you only really NEED to fight two of the three Asylum Demon types. The world of Dark Souls is really engaging to me, and probably to a lot of people, because for the most part the only times I’ve seen loading screens have been those times I’ve died and respawned. There are other loading gates like if you want to transition from Anor Londo to Sen’s Fortress, and if you want to go to the Kiln of the First Flame the only way to get there is via a loading screen. Other than those two instances though, the world of Dark Souls is completely connected.

It’s possible to walk from the depths of Blight Town to the highest towers of Sen’s Fortress, to the Crystal Caves, and if you can survive that trek you won’t have to see a loading screen. In 2010 that was almost unique, and even in the 2018 remake it’s not something that can be easily dismissed. I consider the first Dark Souls to be the best of the trilogy because it’s the most consistent of the three. Dark Souls 2 is broken: it’s possible to permanently despawn a vast majority of the enemies, it’s possible to max out healing items as soon as you’ve beaten the first boss, it’s easy to grind up enough souls to max out multiple attributes, and it’s even possible to get multiple weapons to max level because of generous drop rates.

Dark Souls 3 is the one I’m the least familiar with despite having spent over 40 hours with it. It feels more like a Bloodborne game in that everything is much faster than my player characters, and there are elements of monster design that seem to borrow from cosmic horror which was a major theme of Bloodborne. A part of me would love to run through Dark Souls as an unstoppable kill-machine, but I like how Dark Souls is a game where I could build one of dozens of powerful, if flawed, characters instead of one all-powerful one. Dark Souls is a game that I can see myself going back to over the years and trying in slightly different ways each time. At the moment though, I generally just rush to the Tang Demon, steal his sisters goth clothes, then run away, causing him to fall off of a ledge. 

 

Buy DARK SOULS™ Remastered from the Humble Store
(Just...ignore what Steam says about which one I've played more of)

 

Spec-Ops: The Line is a perfectly competent 3rd-person, cover-based shooter. None of the weapons feel like duds, the cover isn’t an all powerful safezone, the level design sets up multiple scenarios of multi-tiered enemies to fire upon you with environmental elements that can be used to subvert and defeat them. As a game, Spec-Ops: The Line is a perfectly fine, functional, 3rd person shooter which is more than can be said for the cavalcade of 3rd-person shooters that launched from late 2006 onward. What pushes Spec-Ops: The Line from fine over the line of good and into great territory is the story it tells. Either you've played the game and you know what the story entails, or you haven't but you've heard about how subversive the narrative is. Recently I've seen a lot of games sell themselves based on their stories, specifically games like Senua's Sacrifice, Celest, etc, and this one, similarly, tells a story about a man who's absolutely mentally shattered. It's a journey that demonstrates how he fell so far, and challenges the player in a very interesting way, to the point that I would call it required playing for anybody who consider video games to be a form of high art. 

 

Spec Ops: The Line on Steam

 

Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy plays, for me, like a 100-hour demo for its sequel Curtain Call, but mechanically both games are identical. These are rhythm games exclusive to the 3DS featuring music from all of the main entries of the Final Fantasy franchise (the first game launched before XV, and the second features a track from Vs XIII so…) Both games feature robust menus of DLC tracks to choose from as well, but what’s on the cartridge was enough to get me through over a hundred hours in each title. The narrative that strings the music together is a familiar one to me: the worlds of Final Fantasy have begun to merge and gathering a music-based energy source for the Goddess of Order can put things right. To gather this music-based energy resource you make a party of four characters from the games and get to tapping! Playing the game is done by either using the bottom screen or the face buttons and circle-pad.

Prompts appear on screen that let you know if you need to tap, hold, or hold-and-slide in time to the music. Your timing determines whether or not you get a perfect score, a passable score, or you missed the icon all together and risk falling out of tune with the current song you’re trying to play through. Successfully getting through songs levels up your party which grants collectibles, currency, and lets you fight more monsters in combat-focused songs. The combination of really good music, regular rewards, and night work kept me playing the Theatrhythm games religiously for a really, really long time. Curtain Call’s setlist including Mystic Quest fight and boss music is almost enough to make it the greatest game of all time in my opinion but it’ll have to settle for being the best rhythm or music game of all time. 

 

Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Curtain Call | Final Fantasy Wiki | Fandom
(FF-Mystic Quest tracks out of the box make this the best rhythm game of all time)

 

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, or Link to the Past 2 if you acknowledge Japan but draw a line at speaking their language, did a lot of things I really like and appreciate. It’s a 3DS exclusive that doesn’t rely on the touch-screen for movement or actions. It’s a 3DS Zelda game that isn’t a remake, though in fairness Nintendo were running out of 3D Zelda to remake after Majora’s Mask. There was an actual economy in Link Between Worlds instead of rupees just being there. This is also a very open entry in the series, so at any point I can rent (or buy) an item that’ll get me into a specific dungeon and try that one instead of there being a strict dungeon order.

Being able to press Link into a wall, and not just in the way a bully probably has, opened up a lot of really cool puzzle and combat opportunities. I wish Link Between Worlds was a bit more challenging, but it was still hard enough that I haven’t really bulldozed through it. The main antagonist Yuga stole every scene they were in and it’s great to see such an effective villain menacing Hyrule aside from the usual culprit Ganondorf. Link Between Worlds is one of the many games that kept me playing with my 3DS even when I had the option to play more technically advanced games on higher-end consoles.

 

Amazon.com: Pyramid America Zelda A Link Between Worlds Video Game Gaming  Cool Wall Decor Art Print Poster 24x36: Posters & Prints
(This image is one of my 3DS themes!)

 

SOMA isn’t just an excellent game, it’s an excellent example of existential horror. Soma was one of the earliest games I played through when I entered the glorious world of PC gaming last year, but before then it was one of the games Sony gave me for paying to play PS4 games online. It’s a game that follows a man named Simon, who almost survived a car accident. That is he survived the initial crash, but he suffered brain damage that eventually did him in. Before he passed though, he consented to have his brain scanned in the hopes that it could be used to treat him and others who’ve suffered similar trauma.

During the brainscan though Simon wakes up decades in the future, in an underwater satellite launching/research facility, and surrounded by hostile automatons. As the story unfolds Simon learns about what happened to Earth, humanity, himself, and of course what happened to the facility itself. Pathos-II wasn’t always a ruin after all, and existential horror aside the fates of your companion character and most other inhabitants of the station are interesting and tragic. The atmosphere of SOMA kept the tension up throughout, and even though I’m familiar with the setting now I always feel a sense of tension when I go back to replay it. SOMA is one of the best stories told in the medium of gaming and it’s an absolute must-play. 

 

Buy SOMA from the Humble Store
(This is peak existential horror)

 

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is the most open ended game in the Zelda franchise, to the point where you can roll up to Hyrule Castle and attempt to face Ganondorf within the first hour of gameplay. Depending on how you look at it, Breath of the Wild has either 4 dungeons or 124 since the shrines in the overworld offer a microcosm of what I usually expect from Zelda dungeons. Some of the shrines are combat focused like the dungeons from the first 2 games, but other shrines are puzzle focused. There are three shrines that need to be done early on, and they give Link the ability to freeze time, freeze water, and use the weakest bombs in the franchise. With these tools though, Link can utterly break the physics of the world for conquest of his enemies and the puzzles blocking his path.

Hyrule is an absolutely massive open world in this game so finding the shrines in itself is a challenge and completing the challenges within the shrines gives Link a resource that can either increase hit (well...heart) points or stamina. Being able to increase stamina, finding clothes and armor to increase resistances and an implied endurance stat, being able to use multiple weapons and weapon types, these are all ingredients that turned Legend of Zelda into a really compelling role playing experience. The role playing elements and exploration elements are further complimented by an in-game chemistry engine.

What this means is it’s not possible to use fire or bomb arrows if you’re out in the rain. If you’re hanging around Death Mountain you may die from the extreme heat, or you’ll die because your bomb arrow explodes as you get ready to use it. If you’re in the Garudo desert you can either dehydrate in the intense heat or you can strap an ice-based weapon to your back and be fine. You can even hard-boil eggs and bake apples in Breath of the Wild. There are a lot of little details that make this incarnation of Hyrule feel like a living, breathing place, and it kept me immersed for a couple hundred hours. Breath of the Wild isn’t just a system seller for the Switch, it’s still the game I most often play when I turn my Switch on in 2020. I would even go so far as to call it my favorite Legend of Zelda game. 

 

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild - Buy Nintendo Switch Key
(One of the 2 games I still boot my Switch up for)

 

Metroid: Samus Returns might have been made out of spite and Nintendo probably felt justified when they issued cease and desist orders to the makers of AM2R, but despite the controversy surrounding it this is another 3DS game that I spent dozens of hours playing. Samus Returns isn’t just a total remake of Metroid 2, but it also acts as a way to strengthen continuity between Metroids 2, 3, and 4. After the events of Metroid and in the wake of Mother Brain’s death, Samus journeys to SR-388 to eradicate the Metroid race. The layout of this game is mostly linear, with some areas that can only be accessed later on once Samus unlocks new abilities, and a majority of the boss encounters are Metroids in later stages of their life-cycle.

The floating jelly-vampires from the first game are merely infant forms which grow larger and more monstrous as they age and these greater Metroids offer up challenging fight scenarios. There are other forces on SR-388 that need to be taken care of like a rogue mining robot but for the most part Samus is dealing with dangerous wildlife, metroids, and hazardous terrain. The challenges presented in Samus Return are never overwhelming, but it’s really easy to get overwhelmed in some scenarios. Even on repeat playthroughs Samus Returns wasn’t a game I could just sleepwalk through, even though systems like the counter attack made some combat scenarios trivial and the X-Ray visor made exploration and 100% completion fairly simple.

I’m not sure if I would call this my favorite game in the series, but it’s another game that got me to play with my 3DS in a post-Switch environment. It’s easy to say that this is the best modern Metroid if nothing else, and a must-play 3DS game. 

 

Metroid Samus Returns review - Plenty of life left in 3DS after Nintendo  Switch | Gaming | Entertainment | Express.co.uk
(I wish it happened sooner, but I'm glad it happened at all)

 

Sonic Mania isn’t just a Sonic game that I had fun playing, it’s also a Sonic game that’s highly polished and a wonderful reminder of how great the series was before 3D art styles became the standard. The plot is somewhat modern in that Dr. Ivo “Eggman” Robotnik is subcontracting the collection of Chaos Emeralds to a boss rush of charismatic robots. He isn’t betrayed by them so it isn’t quite that modern, and there are cameos from familiar if forgotten characters from the wider Sonic canon which also feels like a modern touch. Mania is mostly made up of side-scrolling levels that feature multiple routes from the start to the goal.

There are special stages that you can visit if you complete a level with 50 or more rings, and completing the challenges of those stages grants you Chaos Emeralds. Once Sonic has them all, you can play as Super Sonic provided you have enough rings to maintain the form. I wouldn’t call myself a Sonic fan: most of the games I’ve played in the series are the bad 3D ones and when it comes to the 2D titles I don’t think I’ve beaten any of them. Sonic Mania though reminds me of what those games are but makes them accessible without introducing elements that turned me off of the older games. As an outsider, I see Sonic Mania as being the best Sonic game in general as well as being the best 2D Sonic game.

 

Sonic Mania on Steam
(Sonic Mania: The first good Sonic game in nearly 2 decades)

 

I don’t want to sound hyperbolic, but Super Mario Odyssey isn’t just my favorite 3D Mario game but I would go so far as to call it the only great one. Don’t get me wrong, I had a lot of fun with 3D Land and just about as much fun with 3D World, but I hated Super Mario 64 and Sunshine, and I had to push myself to play through Galaxy which got better later (in this case, that means it got better when I got over the motion sickness Galaxy gave me during the first hour or 3). Bowser has kidnapped Princess Peach again, but this time it’s for the sake of forcing her into a fairytale wedding. Mario travels throughout several really big worlds where Bowser has stopped off to steal something wedding related like a giant ring, a cake, and a veil to name a few. The veil however was alive and another living hat, Cappy, takes the place of Mario’s hat which is destroyed by Bowser in a very cinematic fight that occurs before gameplay begins.

In addition to having instant access to a bevy of movement options from long-jumps, to wall-jumps, to sliding-long-jumps-onto-walls-then-into-wall-jumps, Mario can toss and jump on Cappy to further increase his mobility and range. Then there’s the body horror aspect of Odyssey whereby Mario can throw Cappy onto a hatless enemy, vehicle, or object to take control of it for the sake of solving environmental puzzles. During his journey Mario can collect coins, coins of another color, and Power Moons, the later of which are required to power up an airship and grant access to new worlds. The coins and purple coins have a purpose though and that’s the ability to purchase health increasing items, and additional moons. You can also purchase new hats and outfits for Mario to wear so you can keep with the theme of the food world for example by dressing up as a Chef, or Wario.

Skillful platforming in Odyssey have lead me to places in the levels that I thought might be unreachable or places where I probably shouldn’t be able to get to, but more often than not the developers have set up coins or moons in those places. I always felt rewarded for thinking outside of the box and taking chances while exploring the large levels in Odyssey. I don’t usually have high expectations for Super Mario games, but Odyssey blew my expectations away. I don’t think the Switch has had a year as good as 2017, and indeed, I see 2017 as being the best year for gaming of the last decade. Super Mario Odyssey is one of the reasons I feel that way. 

 

Super Mario™ Odyssey
(One of the 2 games I still boot my Switch up for)

 

Spider-Man on the PS4 was really good, wasn’t it? It’s not quite an origin story, since Peter Parker has been doing his web-swinging thing for long enough to have collected about 50 backpacks worth of collectibles from villains like Sandman and Vulture, but other big names like The Venomous Green Hobgoblin haven’t come about to wreck carnage yet. This is an origin story though, but the focus is on Dr. Otto Octavius with some sly glances over to Miles Morales. I’m going to assume this is also the first time, in this continuity, Peter has had to deal with a selection of six sinister supervillains.

I like how naturally things escalate as the story unfolds: In the beginning Peter beats up and takes down Kingpin. The power vacuum this creates causes Mr. Negative and his gang of superpowered henchmen to rise to power while, in the background, Dr. Octavius is fighting to keep his prosthesis project funded while also fighting a degenerative disease of some description. Mr. Negative is too much for Spider-Man and the NYCP to handle alone so Silver Sable (here portrayed as a private military corporation), essentially invades the city and puts it on lockdown. By the climax we find out that Mr. Negative, Dr. Octavius, and presumably Kingpin, all have beef with upstanding citizen, and nothing else, Norman Osborn. Then a virus is released into the city and things feel a lot more real in this decade than they did at the time, but it’s alright because there’s a quick fix and the first step towards it is essentially just dealing with a boss rush that ends with punching Doc Oc off of Osborn Tower.

The story plays out like one of the better comic arcs, and enough dangling threads are left that I’m really excited about the possibilities for the direct sequel to this game. Manhattan is a huge island, but I never felt overwhelmed by the open world collectibles, random micro-quests that would pop up, or less random, not-so-micro quests that would be made available from time to time. A big factor in that is probably just how satisfying it is to webswing around the city. I can’t compare it to Spider-Man 2 from nearly 2 decades ago though because I haven’t played that game in years, but the sense of speed and momentum gained in this game is highly satisfying.  At first I thought tying abilities to costumes would make it so that costumes I may potentially dislike are objectively better to wear, but since mastered costume abilities can be transferred, I could dress Spidey in nothing but a mask and boxers and keep him that way basically from the moment I got the opportunity.

The combat reminds me a lot of Arkham combat, but since Spider-Man can use his web shooters to use improvised weapons at range or automatically take down multiple people at once, it didn’t feel very much like a rip-off at all. I didn’t even dislike the stealth moments of gameplay where you either control M.J. or Miles Morales since that put into context exactly how dangerous the trash mobs I’ve been taking down were to the average person. They were also really short, especially compared to much worse missions like those Black Cat Steakouts, Taskmaster Challenges, or Screwball Challenges (none of which are bad; they’re just C-rank content in an otherwise A-rank package). Thanks to this and Bloodborne, I can safely say that the PS4 has 2 absolute must-own games that I can’t just get on PC. I can also say that 2018 wasn’t a total let down which wouldn’t be totally fair I guess since 2017 was the best single year for gaming this decade. 

 

Marvel's Spider-Man: Game of the Year Edition
(I still don't like this suit or the minimalist box art)

 

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is the latest entry in the Castlevania series. It may have a different title, and it may not be endorsed by Konami, but the creator of the Castlevania series successfully kickstarted this project because of his history with the Castlevania series. Ritual of the Night plays like a direct sequel to Symphony of the Night or the handheld Of Sorrow titles. Exploring the massive Castle similar to but legally separate from Vania is just as interesting and engaging in Ritual of the Night as it was in previous Castlevania games. Collecting the souls of defeated enemies is usually rewarding except for that one which is necessary to continue on with the game. 

 

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night on Steam
(What is a kickstarter success!? A massive piles of other people's money!)

 

The Resident Evil 2 remake is probably my favorite of all of the Resident Evil games. Like the original game, Resident Evil 2 takes the point of view of Leon “It’s my first day” Kennedy and Claire Redfield, who looks uncannily similar to Candace Cameron. The opening scene in the gas station was a cutscene in the original, but in the remake it’s an effective tutorial stage that showcases how to pick up and use items, and that headshots don’t kill zombies like they used to. I figured out early on though that it’s much more effective to shoot a zombie’s leg off at the knee in about 3 shots and run away rather than potentially wasting a whole magazine to maybe kill a zombie. When the duo makes it to the police station they do it separately and while their end goal is the same place, everything they do in both the A and B stories are basically set with very minor differences. Leon always teams up with Ada to kill Mr. X and find the source of the outbreak. Claire always teams up with and tries to save Sherry Birken from her mutated father and disturbed mother...and the police chief but he’s dealt with fairly quickly.

What I loved about this version of Resident Evil 2 is how everything felt like a puzzle. To get to the basement of the police station, I needed to find the code to the statue, to find that I needed to unlock other statues after having found a journal that suggested I do so. To do that, I needed to find the safest way to navigate around the police station and to do that I needed to either kill or shoot the legs off of zombies. Then Lickers are introduced but they were easy to figure out since they don’t have eyes and didn’t seem to mind if I walked by quietly. Then Mr. X appears and figuring him out was challenging until I realized that I’m faster than he is, and there are rooms that he won’t go into. I had the option of taking down Mr. X head on, but unlike Nemesis from that 90’s game he didn’t really drop anything so I never felt hugely incentivized to do so even when I had the resources to do so. As Resident Evil 2 transitions from the police station, to the sewers and city maintenance tunnels, and finally to the Umbrella lab, it always felt like the balance between puzzle and action never shifted too heavily in one way or the other.

I also loved the monster designs as I continued on in the game: William is constantly changing and getting larger, and Mr. X has something similar going on to the point that I would expect to see him appearing in the next Street Fighter as a DLC fighter. The sewers introduce shoggoths or possibly just angry fat burgs, and the lab introduces a variation on the zombies that make them much, much more durable without them becoming overwhelming like the crimson heads were in RE-make 1. I loved Resident Evil 2 when I was a kid, and I was really unsure about this remake, but after playing it my uneasiness was replaced by the right kind of uneasiness. 2019 got off on a very powerful note with the release of Resident Evil 2-R, and I hope future Resident Evil titles are at least as good as this one was. 

 

RESIDENT EVIL 2 / BIOHAZARD RE:2 | PC Steam Game | Fanatical
(Featuring Tom Cruise of Legend fame and Candace Cameron-Bure from Fuller House)

 

It wasn’t until the 11th hour that I realized I had completely forgotten about Persona 5. It would kind of be unfair to mention it here and now since it wasn’t in my 2017 blog, or my runoff blog. I thought I forgot about Shin Megami Tensei IV too, but that was mentioned several blogs ago (when was that, 2014? 2013?). Luckily, Persona 5 is my only bafflingly out-of-nowhere snub that should have otherwise been a highlighted “good” game. There are a few other games that looked great but might as well have fallen off of the face of the Earth since they launched. Transformers Devastation and Platinum’s TMNT are probably easy enough to find online for example. Fatal Frame 0 and Hokuto Musou 2 being digital Wii U exclusives is baffling and inexplicable. As for the games on the horizon, it’s still only 2020. There’s no telling what games might launch in 2022 so it’s probably not even worth it to speculate beyond then. Besides, the hype machine is well known for leading to disappointment, isn’t that right fans of Cyberpunk No. 9?

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About Shoggoth2588one of us since 6:55 AM on 06.03.2013

Hello all! I'm Joe, from Maryland! I released five days before Enix launched Dragon Quest 3! I started playing games around the time I was 3, with some very early memories of myself playing Duck Hunt in my Dad's office and Golden Axe in an arcade at what might have been an airport (It was a weird memory). I'm mostly harmless so if you wanna talk to me, send me a message. I'll be around, making horrible puns though not quite as horrible as Gus' is able to do. I'll lurk on the Discord too and if you want to be my friend there, than come at me!

Discord: Shoggoth88#1113

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