And shut up Giorno
Two years ago, I decided to gimmick up my annual Game of the Year list by comparing my choices for that year to JoJo Stands. Back then, I was a neophyte at JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure and JoJo shitposting. But after two long years, I have become an expert at JoJo shitposting and have learned more about the series in general. For example, how The Hand is a powerful Stand, but is in the hands of a complete moron. Or how Gold Experience just makes no sense to me whatsoever, but not to worry about it!
To bring people back up to speed, Stands are the physical manifestation of a person’s psychic power and will. They reflect their personality and quirks and can do anything from being able to punch someone really hard to, I don’t know, turn rock, paper, scissors into a life or death battle? And now part 5, Golden Wind, is out, animating new Stands from across the wacky world of the Italian mafia.
Personally, 2018 was a pretty shitty year. Even the Super Best Friends are over! But at least there’s still a lot of JoJo left to cover over the coming years.
Monster Hunter: World and Killer Queen
There was really no doubt in my mind that I would be talking about Monster Hunter: World for 2018. One of my favorite game series, finally off an underpowered handheld and onto a full powered console! While there was a concern that Team Monster Hunter would be unfamiliar with console architecture for game development, they really hit it out of the park with World, menu quirks be damned. After Generations Ultimate released for the Switch, I really couldn’t go back to the archaic style of movement. In World, you can leap chasms, swing from grapple points, climb over walls, roll away from monsters, and slide down hills. Monsters behaved more like creatures rather than bosses and map designs were less like flat arenas and more like actual ecosystems to climb over and leap off of. And not only is MHW a multi-faceted game, but it was also continually updated over the course of 2018 with new armor, glamors, monsters, and quests.
MHW is a huge package, just like how Killer Queen is such a powerful and complex Stand with many different powers. You’d think after Araki decided to make Killer Queen a Stand that turns things into bombs, he’d call it a day. It even has the gimmick of imitating a detonator button to blow people up! But Killer Queen has not just one, but two sub-abilities! First, it has Sheer Heart Attack, a tracer bomb Killer Queen releases to home in on targets. Its second ability is Bites The Dust, a landmine type bomb that can be imprinted on an unsuspecting person, which blows up people who learn of Yoshikage Kira’s identity as the serial killer of Morio, and turns back time to before his secret was uncovered.
Spider-Man and Pearl Jam
Spider-Man is a game of flavor and texture. It has been proven many times before that competent swinging mechanics alone do not make a good Spider-Man game. And interesting story hooks aren’t nearly enough to make a good game. But Spider-Man does have good swinging mechanics. Spider-Man does have a fun and interesting story. Spider-Man even has a great combat system, which I’ve never seen before in any previous game of the franchise. Not to mention a pile of addictive collectibles to find across New York, this is easily the best Spider-Man game and possibly the best game of 2018, period.
That is the basis of Pearl Jam. Appearing in practically only one full story during Diamond is Unbreakable (with exception to a side story), Pearl Jam takes the ingredients that its user, Tonio Trussardi, cooks and turns the nutrients into miracles of healing. Eat food that’s supposed to be good for your teeth which have been enhanced by Pearl Jam for example, and your teeth will literally fly out and be replaced by teeth twice as good. But Pearl Jam only works as well as it does thanks to Tonio’s abilities to take a variety of ingredients and turn them into fine, Italian cuisine.
Red Dead Redemption 2 and Little Feet
I actually did not finish Red Dead Redemption 2. I admire the quality and care that went into creating this beast of a game, but I personally could not finish this game because it takes too long for me to get into it. I need to set aside an hour to really enjoy the pace RDR2 goes at. A lot of time is needed to get past pre-mission conversations, horse travel, and just getting into the ambiance of the wild west in order to come across shenanigans. I still remember the time I stopped to investigate a hung man, only to be ambushed by the creepy swamp people, where I literally got stabbed to death because I was too flustered to properly fight back.
Little Feet is a Stand commonly viewed by its allies as being weak. Its power is to shrink objects attacked by it, albeit at a very slow pace. How is an assassin like Formaggio supposed to kill if it takes like, five minutes to shrink something by even a few inches?
Well, the answer is to ambush and surprise your mark with Little Feet and hide if your mark is aware of your presence. Try shrinking a car and dropping it into a man’s drink while they’re not looking. Ever seen a man give birth to a full-sized automobile? Just take a day off to shrink a car, then drop that Micromachine into their drink when they’re not looking. Then explosively undo your power while it’s deep in a person’s small intestine and watch your handiwork get recognized. Even if someone is aware of your assassin plan, Formaggio can get a cheap shot off on them, then shrink himself quickly in order to hide and kill time as they slowly shrink down to the size of a bug that Formaggio can just step on. It’s just as he said himself, there are no weak Stands, just uncreative Stand users.
Deltarune and Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
This is an easy comparison for a game that’s barely a complete experience. I went into Deltarune expecting some relation to Undertale, one of my favorite games in the past decade and finished with even more questions about how Deltarune works in the world. Deltarune obviously takes place in some weird Toby Fox universe where all your favorite characters from Undertale exist and yet are not the same people they were as you knew them. There’s a lot that can be spoiled about talking past a certain point about Deltarune but the Deltarune we got is only a small demo experience of a larger game, with many mysteries about the larger story and world of Undertale still lying about.
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, or D4C, is the Stand of the villain of Steel Ball Run. D4C allows its user, Funny Valentine, to travel between parallel dimensions for various purposes, much like how the defining idea of Deltarune‘s existence is that of being a parallel dimension. I think it’s fascinating that Funny Valentine can be functionally immortal by using D4C to summon different parallel versions of himself from across time and space to replace his main body if anything happens to him. Funny Valentine has such strong conviction in his goal, that even different versions of himself from other worlds will not question the idea of crossing dimensions in order to further his plan to make America the most powerful nation in the world. Just like how Undyne in Undertale is different from Undyne in Deltarune, Funny Valentine is still an excitable, physically imposing figure of authority, no matter the dimension.
Octopath Traveler and Sex Pistols
It’s simple really, this one. Octopath Traveler is a game about eight different RPG stories with eight different job classes. Sex Pistols is a Stand that is six different little guys, who help manipulate the bullets of a six chamber revolver.
If you think these six miniature Stands are just identical personalities, well, you’d be wrong. Sex Pistols 1-7 all have unique personalities, ranging from leader to sadist. Also, there’s technically no number four because the Stand master, Mista Guido, has an intense fear of the number four. So Sex Pistols numbers are 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, and 7.
It’s kind of like how the eight different characters are all interesting, despite never interacting or intersecting all that much with each other, even though they travel together. My favorite is Tressa the merchant, who goes on a journey to train in her craft of business. She’s bubbly, fun, and generally has a fun quest line meeting rivals and finding treasure. This is in stark contrast to Primrose, who works as a dancer, travels to brothels, and swore bloody revenge on the man who killed her father as a child.
Look, I just really like Tressa, ok? And Sex Pistols is a cool Stand. It’s much cooler than Hol Horse’s Stand, The Emperor. That Stand is just a gun with magic bullets, and Hol Horse is too much of a cowardly idiot to use a magic gun well. Hol Horse can easily just shoot a man from outside their range, and manipulate his bullets to home in on them. But he never does that because he’s an idiot. He even somehow accidentally shot himself! Mista actually uses his own gun and lets Sex Pistols deflect his bullets into crazy trajectories, as a testament to his skill.
Diablo 3 and The Hand
The Hand, as I’ve learned over the years, is secretly an overpowered Stand. It can scrape anything away with its right hand, regardless of defensive ability. It stands to reason any attack that comes Okuyasu’s way can be deleted thanks to The Hand’s, well, hand. It deletes things so completely that it leaves no trace of its existence behind. If The Hand scraped away the “n” on a danger sign, the sign will become a “dager” sign, with no space left behind. That’s why Okuyasu’s main attack is to scape away the air in between him and his opponent, in order to drag them into melee range.
But Okuyasu is an idiot who doesn’t know how to use his Stand to its full potential. Instead, he charges forward in a straight line, swinging away with his palm. He’s a simple man who uses his Stand in a simple way. But I suppose it gets the job done at least.
Earlier this year, I didn’t think I’d be interested in Diablo 3. But when a friend asked me if I’d get Diablo 3 with him, I said why not? And that was the beginning of the end as I sunk endless hours into the simplest pleasure of all: loot farming. And taking some min-max wizard build that’s razing hordes of trash mobs while simultaneously summoning meteors every 8 seconds on the go, wherever I want, in order to kill time while out and about doing Christmas shopping, is just simple.
Ok, where was I going with this analogy? Well, whatever it was, The Hand is a powerful but simple Stand. And Diablo 3 is fun because it preys on the simplest fun there is for a gamer like me: seeing green numbers that imply a net gain.
Hollow Knight and Black Sabbath
Now this comparison is more straightforward. I love how thematic elements are reversed in Hollow Knight, with the dark being more comforting in the world and the light actually being evil, casting a searing blight across the denizens of the underground. Hollow Knight is this enormous adventure that I thought was going to end at three different times. I constantly thought I was at 50% completion for about five hours. And so much story is communicated on a slow, steady, almost speechless 15-20 hours.
Black Sabbath, I feel, is the first major Stand battle that matters a lot. While we’ve already dealt with Echos and Sticky Fingers at this point, Black Sabbath felt like the first real Stand battle of Golden Wind with the classic Stand battle dynamic of, “What the fuck is this Stand’s special ability?” And of course, Black Sabbath is all about traveling through shadows in order to deliver quips and stab people with an arrow. Black Sabbath is also interesting for being a long-range, automatic Stand which is fairly strong as long as it remains in a shadow. It’s capable of operating far away from Polpo, doing its job without any guidance whatsoever, without even reflecting any damage it receives back to Polpo.
Even when you figure out Black Sabbath’s gimmick, it only becomes more powerful over the course of a day, as the shadows get longer while the sun sets across any tall buildings you may be near.
Warframe and Gold Experience
For a decent 20% of the time I’ve been playing Warframe, I do not understand what is going on, even after months and months of playing this game. When I first started in January, it was about being ignorant of the long-term goals and mechanics of the game. But even now, after a half dozen of Prime Frames constructed, a small fortune of platinum spent, and many, many upgraded slots, there are still times when I am at a loss at what exactly is happening, like Limbo throwing me into a parallel dimension, Corrupted Ancients suddenly nullifying my damage on mobs, or anything Equinox does in general. No matter how much time I spend with Warframe and how much enjoyment I get out of it, it’s very easy to lose track of what can happen during your space ninja shenanigans.
Gold Experience, despite being the Stand of main character JoJo, is a Stand I utterly do not understand even as its powers are explained to me. Gold Experience can imbue life into the inorganic matter it punches, so Giorno will turn bricks into snakes or luggage into frogs, and yet he also explains that he doesn’t control these animals, as they have will of their own. Yet these animals clearly help Giorno and his interests. Gold Experience can also imbue power into people, causing their senses to go berserk and become faster then their body can move because I guess that’s how time dilation works? Bucciarati straight up travels forward in time to describe this effect. If Gold Experience is already like this, how am I going to wrap my head around any of its future antics, let alone a certain red stand in our future?
Smash Bros. Ultimate and Cheap Trick
I’ve immensely enjoyed my time so far with Smash Ultimate. I think a big part of this enjoyment comes from this pervasive feeling that Sakurai did away with any restraints he had before in creating the game exactly as he envisioned. Ultimate is Sakurai throwing all ideas of his Smash Bros. out the window in order to deliver on everything fans have been wanting in nearly every capacity. King K. Rool? Yes. The Belmonts of Castlevania? Sure. Solid Snake’s return? You bet. Final Smashes being faster and more potent, in addition to a meter for it? Big yes. Overall faster movement and mechanics, right down to being able to cancel the dash animation with anything, be it an up smash, forward smash, jab attack, or neutral special? Someone has been reading feedback I think. Everything about Smash is in your face and insistent with its quality. I mean, it has over 800 songs!
Cheap Trick to me has always been, low key, one of my favorite Stands and a particularly effective one at that. All Cheap Trick can do is stick to your back and whisper annoying things. The only catch is that while Stands can normally only be seen and heard by other Stand Users, normal people can hear Cheap Trick. Cheap Trick isn’t about flashy, supernatural powers. Cheap Trick is about sticking to you and doing what it does best: talk. It talks and talks and talks and talks some more until after about an hour or two, he’ll actually start to become effective. You can’t fight Cheap Trick, because he just sticks to your back. He’s just really good at being annoying by talking your ear off. He’s an effective Stand, with an effective power, and he knows what he needs to do to win a Stand battle. Rohan only beat Cheap Trick by exploiting a supernatural zone and using it to his advantage to kill Cheap Trick.
2019 is promising not just a new year of games to look forward to, but episodes of Golden Wind being animated, and the far-off promise of Stone Ocean and Steel Ball Run becoming animated. And I cannot wait to cast off 2018 and head into 2019 full speed!