It’s not Takumi
Given I finally jumped on the 8th gen bandwagon late in October 2016, I couldn’t fairly say I’ve played each game released in 2016 to completion. For one thing, when I get a new PlayStation console, playing the latest Metal Gear Solid game is top priority and then after fixating on a game like that amidst a few 40+ hour weeks at work, I get really scatterbrained and indecisive. I’m not sure what to play next.
I tried a little Witcher here, some FFXV or Fallout 4 there and then I bought Overwatch on a PSN sale and all got pushed to the side. Things were easier when I just had a 3DS and a Vita. Portable games hold their value, while everything on consoles and PC plummets in price weeks after release, so I went a little crazy on buying stuff.
But there are still the memories. The little events that have or will stand out from games I got in 2016, so let’s go with those. Ranking stuff is stressful.
That prompt in Fire Emblem Fates
There was a lot of fuss and controversy about how Nintendo released Fire Emblem Fates. Centered on the narrative of a family feud, the game was released as a saga of narrative scenarios. Do you choose to side with Hoshido or with Nohr… or, later, neither in hopes they’ll both eventually unite at your side against the true enemy?
On top of this, there was the question of playstyles. While Fire Emblem Awakening was a big success that opened the series to a new audience, old fans weren’t fond of its more lax difficulty and the lack of variety in win conditions. Conquest was crafted for fans of FE prior to Awakening while Birthright was made for Awakening fans specifically. Then you had Revelations, which was either found in DLC form or the elusive, limited-edition physical release that contained all three games on one cartridge.
Nerds raged over this for months… but you know what? If you bought both standard releases and played through the introductory chapters, many found themselves staring at that prompt and it was no longer a question of good or evil or even gameplay preference.
Because you met both families and developed an affection for both. You love them, but they hate each other, want to fight until one side is victorious, and make you choose between them. Given I was faced with such a choice as a child in a bitter custody battle growing up (minus the swords and killing each other part, sort of), I found myself unable to choose for a while. I just started at the screen conflicted.
I eventually went with Nohr, because I wanted the extra challenge, but I liked everyone with Hoshido. Except Takumi, he hates you no matter what you choose so fuck him. Still, that choice stung for something that was heavily marketed, but I should expect no less from the division of Nintendo that killed a misunderstood creature with alien death lasers.
Monster Hunter Generations and the Way of Mr. Miyagi
If there is one thing Monster Hunter is renowned/reviled for, it’s how it likes to convert self-sufficiency and situational awareness into tedious quests. Many like to compare it to the series to Dark Souls, but then, people tend to use that game as their only frame of reference for “hard.” Dark Souls just gives you the basics and expects you to figure everything else out.
Monster Hunter gives you chores that piss a lot of people off, but the brilliance of that is each quest where you gather herbs, mushrooms, dragon eggs, or you’re asked to observe ants or herbivores is actually instructive amidst pissing you off. I had felt left cold by the series back on the PSP because it left you in the dark, but now I see this sensibility was always there.
When you’re sent off to deliver dragon eggs right from the mother’s nest, you’re actually being asked to watch the terrain or your stamina gauge. When you drop that egg after hopping off a ledge, it’s showing you exactly where you can stumble and slow down in combat while you may be trying to evade an enemy. If you run low on stamina while running with an egg, that egg breaks at the exact point where you’d be forced to stop to catch your breath. The game is teaching you how to master yourself and the terrain.
It’s just like how Mr. Miyagi pissed off Daniel with waxing the car or painting a fence a specific way. Daniel wanted to learn karate, not waxing cars, but he was learning karate all along. Monster Hunter is the Karate Kid of dungeon-hacking/weapon-crafting games.
How Navarre died before Shin Megami Tensei IV Apocalypse
If you played SMT IV in 2013, you’ll remember Navarre as the massive Luxuror douchebag with a pompadour. He’s a condescending jerk from the moment he meets Flynn and Walter and the later betrays his fellow samurai in hopes of getting back to an easy Luxuror’s life free of mingling with Casualry scum.
In SMT IV Apocalypse, we find him back as a green globby ghost who gloms onto protagonist Nanashi the moment he realizes Nanashi can see him. He joins your party and you’re stuck with him for this adventure for better or for worse.
This time, he’s out to redeem himself, become the hero in death he wasn’t in life and, actually, how he met his end is the best laugh I got out of any game this year.
Yeah, SPOILER AHEAD.
After being deemed honorless and run out of Mikado, Navarre is escorted by Flynn to Tokyo to start a new life. Shortly after, he stalks and creeps on a young female hunter who bathes in a river. Whilst under cover of night and with his pants around his ankles jerking it, he slips on a wet rock, hits his head, falls in the shallow river unconscious and drowns.
No one in the party lets him live it down.
I survived Roadhog’s hook and got my first Play of the Game as Mercy.
It’s also been really nice to start teaming up with Dtoiders online through Overwatch. And watching StriderHoang die a bunch.
That time Dark Souls III nearly gave me cardiac arrest.
You see this bone dog? Fuck this thing. I expect difficult fights in Dark Souls. I expect bosses that pull Akira-level final form kinda stuff, dragons napalming bridges, plummeting to my death, and giant skeleton archers.
I don’t expect smaller things just rushing me. I thought little but a gloomy view or undead guy awaited me on the cliff to the right of Firelink Shrine, then this thing charged me.
I killed it and made it in the shrine just fine, sure, but I still jumped nine feet in the air and needed a hug afterward.
Everything is red, demonic, and trying to kill me. There is little to this world but carnage and crushed skulls and it seems the rebooted Doomguy is in a race with the rebooted Lara Croft in ways to die horribly.
After all that death and darkness, don’t you just want something cute to look at? Just look at this little guy. Do you feel that moment of zen? I do. Collecting a little Doomguy is like having a sip of green tea after a hard, frustrating day at work. Usually after so many grimdark games, I’d need Kirby or Pokémon for balance, but this works, too.
And there you have it, some of my favorite gaming memories of 2016.