Sunday, December 31, 2017

Archile's End of the Year Awards 2017 Part II

 The fight will be finished once again in 2017...!
 Without further ado...

Worst Game of 2017:
 Tons of bad games this year, probably a consequence of playing so many licensed games.

 I've loved beat'em up games ever since I first played Battletoads & Double Dragon, and you'd think it'd be hard to mess up such a simple formula, but throughout the years I've learnt that... it's so simple that it's very easy to screw up. Cue in Hidden Invasion, horrible camera, tons of bugs, unfair odds and terrible gameplay. There's a reason this game is dirt cheap now.

 I've never played such a glitchy game before. I've been gaming ever since I could remember, and no other game I've played has had this many glitches, not even Ride to Hell. Every single time I turned on the game I'd come across a new one. Still, if I'm to be honest here, the game could be fun at times. AT TIMES. Despite all the nonsense, like how horrid the exploration is, it could be a bit entertaining. Sometimes. Maybe because I love the Metroidvania genre.

 Ultimate Spider-man on the DS was a horrible, but good looking game. Battle for New York runs on the same engine and, somehow, it's even worse. Poor collision detection, horrible level designs, tacked on stylus mini-games, boring bosses and dumb time limits make for a bad, bad game. It's like a culmination and compilation of everything wrong in Spider-man games.

 Some people defend this 'game' with the fact that by the time it came outside Japan it was a 6 year old game. The original, clunky, Tekken was released in 1995. Final Bout was released in 1997. There's absolutely no reason as to why this game had to be so bad. I think the Dragon Ball SNES fighting games were pretty bland too, but Final Bout is even worse. Unresponsive controls, horrible game mechanics that slow down everything and an overabundance of versions of Goku... this game is trash. Expensive trash.

 There's a lot of ways I could describe Corpse Party Blood Drive. Boring, the story is bland and uninteresting, with horrible dialogue and a very high barrier of entry if you haven't played other games. Bland, because the entire game is spent exploring the same areas over and over again. Badly designed, because when you are supposed to tread old ground every new chapter to see if something has changed, because sometimes you are supposed to go back someplace else because something you did triggered something in a room you've already been to. Broken, because the game runs like crap on the Vita, with numerous loading screens and terrible framerate.

Best Handheld Game of 2017:
 I didn't play many new games on handheld consoles. Monster Hunter 3 kinda sapped all my time all by itself, and truth be told, I'm still playing it to this day. There's so much stuff left to do and the Dios Gem won't drop so I can't upgrade my weapons!

 Ah! Speaking of the guilty party, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is really good... but waiting and hoping for stuff to drop can be a bit of a pain at times! I've already spent over 90 hours on this game, with no end on sight. I have discovered that I much prefer the clones that came after it, Toukiden and God Eater, but Monster Hunter is still pretty good, just wish that it would make the drop rates more lenient.

 Looks are not everything. When I first turned on the game I was greeted with more mazelike levels and found out that they ditched the beautiful 2D sprites they've been using for wonky digitalized sprites. But it turns out that level design was pretty good, and they only used a timer for a specific few missions and... they finally gave us a compass. Basically, they finally figured out how to do a Spider-man game on a handheld... which they quickly forgot once it was time to release a new Spider-man game on the DS.

 I feel like Reckoning was the true Dead to Rights II, in no small part due to how it reuses a tons of assets from that game to deliver a much more fun experience. I know I harped on and on about how it's the melee system that makes Dead to Rights stand out from the rest, but... melee is a bit useless in this game. Not that it matters, they went for pure arcade shooting action, and it works, and it's a blast. Not a thinking man's game, but not everything needs to have puzzles or a gripping storyline, sometimes, you only need very solid and fun mechanics to pull the game forward.

 Hardly an enhancement, but it feels good having this game in the palms of your hands. Every level is here, as well as a new world... if you're willing to put in the time to unlock it. That said, I don't think a new world, that is a bit of a time sink to unlock, is enough to call this the 'definitive version' of Donkey Kong Returns... Not that it matters, since the base game is fantastic, whether you suffer imprecise motion controls for attacks or unresponsive button controls for attacks. Just pick your poison and have a go at one of the best Donkey Kong games ever made.

 There're a lot of things I don't agree with when it comes to Shin Megami Tensei IV's design, but, despite my concerns I can still tell that it's a great JRPG. The first 10 or so hours of the game can be unfairly challenging to the point of frustration, but after you get through the hump the game will become fairer. The story was alright, there was a brilliant twist early in the game, but it's nothing to write home about, and it's got nothing on previous Shin Megami Tensei titles. It's the tried and true modern SMT gameplay that make the game so much fun, the amount of strategy required if you want to win fights is what makes this game, and the series, so engaging.

Best Playstation Game of 2017:
 I wish I had played more Playstation 1 games this year, more games that weren't fighting games that is! I've a bunch of fun stuff waiting for me in 2018 though!

 It doesn't have the best rap nowadays, but I played Koudelka and loved it to hell. The setting, a creepy mansion, is a fantastic and original setting for a JRPG, and the cast of mature characters really make this one something different, and special, from its brethren. You haven't played a JRPG like this before, since even Shadow Hearts is different, and while reviews prove that this game is not for everyone... I think it's worth giving it a look, if just for curiosity's sake.

 The charming pint-sized Samurai was the protagonist of a fun little romp that reminded me a lot of Goemon on the N64. It's great little game rife with exploration, all of it that rewards the player with various different perks and boosts. I have to give props to how well it manages to make you feel stronger as you earn new combos, better swords, more spells and more abilities to explore the world with.

 Dragon Ball Z Legends is something unique, there's no other game quite like it. And it's a bit surprising, because the game is so weird, and it sounds so weird if you try to explain it, yet works s well once you get to play it. Few games have managed to emulate the show so well.

 The short-lived Bushido Blade series is something that you can't find anywhere else. There are similar games in concept, like Nidhogg, but none have the scope and style Bushido Blade has. But one of the things that makes it so special is the fact that both Bushido Blade 1 and Bushido Blade 2 offer different takes on the same idea. You want something more technical, more methodical and with more variables? Bushido Blade 1 is your game. Would you rather have something faster, with more emphasis on blade on blade combat? Bushido Blade 2 is your game.

 The game is really expensive, but.... it's worth every penny. Every thing you've heard about this game is true, it's that good. I wouldn't go as far as to call it the best JRPG on the system, but it definitely cracks Top 5. The gameplay is simple, but fun and the story is something mature, political and interesting that deals with war and how it tears down cities, people and... friendships.

Best Playstation 2 Game of 2017:
 If I focused on one console this year, and not on purpose mind you, it was the PS2. I've been catching up with dozens of games I hadn't played before, games I had played before and games that I had only tried when I was younger but never got through to the end.

 It was my favorite when I was younger, and it's still my favorite. I think it's one of the more unique games in the series, since no other offered quite the same mechanics when it came to stages and goals. It feels more... organic? It definitely has most of my favorite stages in the entire franchise. I also dig how immature it is, how dumb the missions can be, and how ridiculous guests and guest vehicles are. Plus, being one of the latter games in the PS2 era, it also means that you've a ton of different moves at your disposal.

 I was a bit scared of the series, reading about the Judgment Ring made me wary... this wasn't something I was interested in playing. And then I got interested in playing Koudelka, so why not give the series a try? And I did. And I loved it. I'm not the biggest fan of the Judgment Ring, but it sure as hell isn't a detriment, and no, it doesn't get old when you are grinding for experience, it's just another mechanic you get used to. Still, what makes this my favorite Shadow Hearts game is its setting: No other Shadow Hearts game is as invested in horror themes as this one. Heck, some of the monsters are borrowed from Koudelka. If you can only play one game in the series, it's this one.

 What's left to be said about Psychonauts? Tight gameplay, fantastic story and great sense of humor, there's rarely a dull moment in the game.... unless you didn't buy the Arrowhead detector in time, in which case... I'm so sorry. Small gripe aside, the other 95% of the game is amazing and it's not a game you want to skip.

 I think Suikoden V was the Suikoden I was least looking forward to. The Prince, the main character, looked kinda silly so I wasn't to keen on playing the game. And then I did. And it was amazing. One of the best JRPGs I've ever played, with one of the most gripping storylines ever told in a JRPG dealing with all kinds of themes and treated in a mature way. Years of Suikoden games have led to this, and this might very well be the final Suikoden game... and I'm OK with that, because that means the series ended on a very, VERY high note.

 Every time I play the game I like it more than I did before. Last Year? 'One of the best hack and slash games ever made!' This year? One of the best Playstation 2 games ever made, and one of my favorites. At this rate is gonna be my favorite game by 2020.

Best Playstation 3 Game of 2017:
 Sadly, the poor old PS3 got a bit neglected on the second half of the year. Maybe it will change in 2018. Most likely not, but maybe.

 Resident Evil 6 is more than a sum of its parts. The setpiece-to-setpiece design is something that may turn off people, particularly fans of the older games, but it's something I got used to and learned to enjoy. The different campaigns was also hit-or-miss, since you'll likely not like every campaign the same and would rather have more of one and less of another one. Regardless, I think despite all the misguided design choices... it's a solid, if flawed, action game through and through.

 CentralFiction brought back my love for the franchise. I think the slew of new characters, particularly if you didn't dabble on DLC or the Extend edition of Chronophantasma, as well as the new stages and what not invigorated the franchise. At this point I'd suggest skipping on the inane story and just focus on the game itself.

 Year after year of making Spider-man games, Treyarch finally hit the sweetspot with their final game in the franchise: Web of Shadows. Not only does it have the best swinging Spider-man has had before and after, it also has the best combat system. Many people have nostalgia for Spider-man 2, but is has aged a lot, THIS is the Spider-man game fans want to play. And the best thing about it? Besides being a great Spider-man game, it's also a great game overall.

 Games like this make you wish that Atlus would stop milking Persona so hard, with dancing spin-offs nobody asked for, and instead let the Persona team do original stuff, like Catherine. It's a weird game, in all the right ways. With a very engaging story, even if the ending(s) will turn a few people off from what seemed like a plausible plot.

 I hope that Dead to Rights Retribution will be vindicated by history. That years from now people will pick up the game and, just as it happened to me, wonder why critics where so harsh to it. Because the game is anything but generic, there's never a dull moment when you are taking down bad guys as the vindictive duo of Jack Slate and his canine companion Shadow.

Best Game of 2017:
 This is it! Which one reigns supreme in 2017!?

 It was a bit disappointing, personally, but it's still a great game, I mean, it IS Shin Megami Tensei after all.

 The final game in the Dead to Rights franchise was also the best one. A reboot/reimagining of sorts of the first game, it feels as the evolution of the franchise, not stuck in the past, yet paying homage to it. Criminally underrated.

 One of the best JRPGs on a console known for its great JRPGs. It also stands out from the rest, thanks to its unique mechanics: Six-man party members, the way weapons are upgraded, 108 total possible team mates, a story focusing on war and politics and not 'Saving the world from the one winged angel final boss!!!!!1111'. It's fantastic.

 I think that the fact that I liked the game even more after replaying it a measly one year later says a lot about the game's quality. Usually, when you replay a game or rewatch a movie... as much as you love it, you'll probably enjoy a tiny bit less, especially if not much time has passed between your first experience. But with Devil May Cry 3, I only liked it more. The combat is so good, few games have matched the possibilities that the engine brings the player.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Archile's End of the Year Awards 2017 Part I

 I'm doing this again for the fourth time. There's no stopping me.
 Drum rolls, please... another year, another tally, this time around... 150 games. I finished 150 games. No other year have I played this many games... which I can probably explain away with the fact that this year I played a lot of licensed games, like, a lot, and they tend to be shorter than most games. But then again, I also played massively long games like the Shadow Hearts tetralogy  and Final Fantasy XII, so I don't know what gives!
 Anyways, onto 2017's games:

==== Playstation ====
Fighting Bushido Blade 8.5
Fighting Tobal No.1 7.5
Fighting Battle Arena Toshinden 3 6.0
Beat'em up/Action Gekido - Urban Fighters 5.5
RPG Koudelka 8.0
License/Action Star Wars Episode 1 - Jedi Power Battles 3.5
RPG Wild Arms 5.5
Other Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4.0
Other Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 5.0
RPG Suikoden 7.5
RPG Suikoden II 9.0
Platform Jersey Devil 6.0
License/Action Spider-man(PS1) 7.5
License/Action Spider-man 2 - Enter Electro 7.5
Fighting Mortal Kombat 4 6.5
Fighting War Gods 3.0
Fighting Mortal Kombat Trilogy 4.5
License/Fighting Dragon Ball GT - Final Bout 0.5
Fighting Bloody Roar 7.0
License/Fighting X-Men - Mutant Academy 6.5
Fighting Street Fighter EX2 Plus 8.0
Platfrom Floating Runner - Quest for the 7 Crystals 3.0
License/Fighting X-Men - Mutant Academy 2 7.5
Fighting Psychic Force 2 8.0
Fighting Gouketuji Ichizoku 2 8.0
License/Fighting Dragon Ball Z - Idainaru Dragon Ball Densetsu 8.0
License/Fighting Dragon Ball Z - Ultimate Battle 22 3.0
Survival Horror Galerians 7.5
Fighting Bloody Roar 2 8.0
Adventure Brave Fencer Musashi 8.0

==== Playstation 2 ====
RPG Disgaea 2 - Cursed Memories 7.5
Action Metal Slug Anthology 8.0
License/Beat'em up/Action Star Wars Episode III - Revenge of the Sith 5.0
Other Twisted Metal - Black 7.5
RPG Suikoden 3 8.0
Other Tony Hawk's Underground 2 9.0
License/Adventure The Hobbit 6.5
Platform/Adventure Vexx 6.0
Other Tony Hawk's American Wasteland 8.0
Platform Sonic Heroes 2.5
Racing Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam 4.5
Puzzle Super Bust-a-Move 4.0
Other Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 6.0
Action Dead to Rights 8.0
License/Platform Bionicle 3.0
RPG Wild Arms - Alter Code: F 4.5
RPG Suikoden IV 6.5
Adventure/Action Castlevania - Curse of Darkness 7.0
RPG Suikoden V 9.5
RPG Shadow Hearts 9.0
RPG Shadow Hearts - Covenant 9.0
Action Gungrave 6.5
Other Tony Hawk's Underground 7.5
Racing Midway Arcade Treasures 3 7.5
Action Hidden Invasion 2.0
License/Action Spider-man(PS2) 3.0
License/Action Spider-man 2(PS2) 7.0
RPG Shadow Hearts - From the New World 8.0
License/Action Ultimate Spider-man(PS2) 8.0
Fighting Tekken 4 8.0
License/Action Spider-man 3(PS2) 6.0
License/Action Spider-man Friend or Foe(PS2) 6.0
License/Action Spider-man Web of Shadows Amazing Allies Edition(PS2) 6.0
License/Adventure Ed, Edd n Eddy - The Mis-Edventures 5.0
Action Dead to Rights II 6.0
License/RPG X-Men Legends 6.0
License/RPG X-Men Legends II - Rise of Apocalypse 7.5
License/RPG Marvel Ultimate Alliance(PS2) 7.0
Action Gladiator - Sword of Vengeance 6.0
Action? Stretch Panic 8.0
License/Adventure The Simpsons - Hit & Run 7.0
License/Adventure TMNT(PS2) 4.0
Action Devil May Cry 8.0
Action Devil May Cry 2 6.5
Action Devil May Cry 3 10
Action Seven Samurai 20XX 6.5
Action Darkwatch 8.0
License/Action Evil Dead - A Fistful of Boomstick 6.5
License/Action Evil Dead - Regeneration 5.0
Survival Horror Galerians - Ash 4.5
Adventure Raw Danger! 8.5
Fighting Bloody Roar 3 8.5
Fighting Bloody Roar 4 4.0
Action Spartan - Total Warrior 7.5
License/Action Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas - Oogie's Revenge 6.0
RPG Final Fantasy XII 6.0
Action Samurai Western 6.0
Adventure Rygar - The Legendary Adventure 7.5
Adventure Beyond Good & Evil 7.5
Action God of War 9.0
Action Oni 4.0
License/Action XIII 8.0
Action Bujingai - The Forsaken City 4.5
Adventure Psychonauts 9.0
Adventure Way of the Samurai 2 6.0
RPG Drakan - The Ancient Gate 7.5
RPG Shin Megami Tensei - Persona 3 FES 7.0
Fighting The King of Fighters Maximum Impact Regulation "A"         8.5
License/Fighting X-Men - Next Dimension 7.5
License/Action DICE - DNA Integrated Cybernetic Enterprises 5.5
Action GTA 3 6.5
Action God of War II 9.0
Racing/Adventure Road Trip 8.0
Action Crimson Tears 8.0

==== Nintendo 3DS ====
Other Dillon's Rolling Western 4.0
Platform Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D 8.0
License/Action The Amazing Spider-man 2(3DS) 5.5
RPG Shin Megami Tensei IV 8.0
Action Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate 7.5

==== Nintendo DS ====
License/Action Spider-man 2(DS) 4.0
License/Action Ultimate Spider-man(DS) 5.5
License/Action Spider-man - Battle for New York(DS) 2.0
License/Action Spider-man 3(DS) 3.0
License/Action Spider-man Friend or Foe(DS) 4.5
License/Adventure Spider-man Web of Shadows(DS) 7.0
License/Adventure Spider-man Shattered Dimensions(DS) 7.5
License/Adventure Spider-man Edge of Time(DS) 2.0
License/Action The Amazing Spider-man(DS) 4.5
License/RPG Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2(DS) 4.0

==== Gameboy Advance ====
License/Action Spider-man - Mysterio's Menace 7.0
License/Action Spider-man(GBA) 4.5
License/Action Spider-man 2(GBA) 4.5
License/Action Ultimate Spider-man(GBA) 8.0
License/Action Spider-man - Battle for New York(GBA) 5.5
License/Action Spider-man 3(GBA) 8.0

==== Gameboy Color ====
License/Fighting X-Men - Mutant Academy(GBC) 2.0
Fighting Street Fighter Alpha(GBC) 5.0

==== PSP ====
License/Action Spider-man 2(PSP) 6.5
Action Dead to Rights - Reckoning 8.0
License/RPG Marvel Ultimate Alliance(PSP) 7.0

==== Playstation 3 ====
Fighting Guilty Gear Xrd -Revelator- 8.0
Fighting Blazblue - CentralFiction 8.5
Other Catherine 8.5
Action Painkiller - Hell & Damnation 6.0
Other Tony Hawk's - Proving Ground 6.0
Action Moon Diver 2.5
License/Beat'em up/Action Transformers - Devastation 7.0
License/Action Spider-man 3(PS3) 5.0
License/Action Spider-man Web of Shadows(PS3) 8.5
License/Action Spider-man Shattered Dimensions(PS3) 7.0
License/Adventure Spider-man Edge of Time(PS3) 6.0
License/Action The Amazing Spider-man(PS3) 6.0
License/Action The Amazing Spider-man 2(PS3) 5.0
Action Dead to Rights - Retribution 8.5
License/RPG Marvel Ultimate Alliance(PS3) 7.0
Action Resident Evil 6 8.0

==== Wii ====
License/Action Spider-man Web of Shadows(Wii) 7.0

==== Gamecube ====
Fighting Bloody Roar Primal Fury 8.5

==== Vita ====
Adventure Corpse Party - Blood Drive 0.5

==== PC ====
License/Action Spider-man 3(PC) 3.5

Best RPG of 2017:
 Still my favorite category, I played a ton of RPGs this year, including classics that had eluded me like Suikoden and Shadow Hearts. There were a ton of games to pick from...

 Koudelka was a bit of a surprise since reviews hadn't been very kind at the time. The developers tried to mix Survival Horror with RPG mechanics, even though the Director's original plan was a wee bit different, and by all means it shouldn't work. But it did. I loved the game's setting, mature characters and brilliant dialogue that was solemn, funny, creepy or depressing depending on the circumstances. The gameplay was pretty fun too, once you got the hang of it.

 Covenant was a more than worthy follow up to the first Shadow Hearts game, and did the same thing that Evil Dead 2 did for Evil Dead: Add a ton of humor why keeping the horror elements. It's ridiculous in the best of ways, and the gameplay has been polished to a sheen. It's a brilliant game, even if it lost a bit of the charm that made the first game so special.

 Covenant might've perfected the gameplay, but there's something about the original Shadow Hearts that made it so special, mainly, the setting. Shadow Hearts has a very silly sense of humor, but unlike Covenant, it doesn't take priority over the horror elements. There're a ton of memorable moments in the game, like when Yuri first stumbles into a village where demons are disguised as men, or when the old woman tells you the old tale about her fisher town. And when it comes to RPGs, having a good story, with an interesting setting and engaging characters matters a tiny bit more than having great gameplay, which is why Shadow Hearts 1 is slightly better than Covenant.

 Suikoden II is one of the most expensive games you can purchase on the original Playstation, but it's oh so worth it. The gameplay is fun by itself, even if a bit simple and a bit too challenging at times, but the story is what really sells the game. It's a very interesting story of political warfare among two nations, and how a bunch of friends get divided and thrust into fighting each other. It also features Luca Blight, one of the most evil and most resilient villains in all of JRPG history.

 Suikoden II did the 'close friends have to battle each other' thing pretty well, but Suikoden V perfected it, albeit it's not the same tale by a longshot. Little has changed in the gameplay department, not that the franchise really needed it, but Suikoden V is a much more ambitious game. Unlike other games in the series, Suikoden V tried to cram as many of the 108 possible party members into the story and it's very easy to get invested in a couple. I was enamored by Lucretia, a Zhuge Liang expy. As I mentioned early, it deals with a few themes that Suikoden II did, but instead of pitting friends against each other... it has a family torn by war, and the stakes get higher as the war grows bloodier. Not only is the game made up of a brilliant ensemble cast, it also features some very brilliant turns of events that's bound to make you smile in its brilliance.

Best Action Game of 2017:
 There were plenty of action games this year, and there were both large quantities of bad actions games and good ones. I might've to create different categories for shooters and hack-and slash games, since wile they both fall under the action category... they are relatively different experiences.

 Controversial opinion: Resident Evil 6 is bloody fantastic. In all honesty, people have warmed up to REvil 6 in the following years of its release, but it's still regarded as a bust by a large part of the fandom. In my case, I adored the action and all the new tweaks to the Resident Evil 4 formula. I'd argue that the 4 different campaigns actually hurt the game a bit, but I guess there was no harm in trying something different.

 No franchise is as underrated as Dead to Rights. The first game was a fantastic game, although a few couldn't ignore the fact that it was pretty much a Max Payne clone... guess lucky me for not having played any Max Payne game... yet. The sequel was pretty bland, but the PSP game was great for what it was. And then came Retribution which got everything right and then some. Sadly, the game was released to lukewarm reviews, many calling it generic... but I guess they don't know what the word means since Retribution is anything but. You get a dog sidekick that can maul your enemies and retrieve guns for you. There's also a pretty functional melee combat element to the game that really sets it apart from its competition.

 There's something to be said about God of War, y'know, for as much as I hate having QTEs in my videogames... I really don't mind them too much when it comes to God of War. I guess they really managed to implement them in a way that's not too obtrusive. It's also fascinating how it looks like a by the numbers hack and slash game at face value, but once you get to play it you'll come across a perfect mix of brainteasers and brawling. It's a great game, and there's no doubt why Kratos became so prominent in the Sony fandom.

 There's not much to say about God of War II except that it does everything the first game did but ever so slightly better. You've got the same combat as before but with a few new moves, a new spellset and new weapons. You've got the same sense of scale as the first game, but now with a bit more ambition, the game is even a grander spectacle than before as you traverse enormous shrines an temples. Your enemies are bigger too, you thought Ares was imposing? Now you fight Zeus. Basically, if you liked God of War you will like the sequel.

 God of War is fantastic but Devil May Cry 3 is on a whole different level. I played this game last year, but for whatever reason I liked it even more now. The gameplay is topnotch, and having two completely different characters is the cherry on top. It's a relatively challenging game, but it's oh so very worth it, plus, the more you play, the more you grow proficient at learning how to battle every enemy and how to use your different weapons to craft beautiful combos.

Best Adventure Game of 2017:
 Not many adventures games this year, but the few I played were great. And many of these offer very different takes on the adventure genre, there're collectathons, survival-ish adventures and even... a racing adventure game!

 Beyond Good & Evil is a bit dated by today's standards, but it still holds up remarkably well. It's a fun game that offers a little bit of everything: There's an overworld that you traverse on your boatship-thing, there's a simple, one-button combat element to the game, there're a few stealth segments and there's also a few puzzles to solve. And it does everything really well too! I also didn't expect to get so engrossed with the camera sidequest, but dang it if it wasn't fun to search around for new forms of life to photograph! All said and done, the Playstation 2 version is probably not the one that you want to play.

 Road Trip is something I've been wanting to play ever since I got my paws on Outrun 2006: A true and honest adventure game with cars. And it really feels like one, the overworld is relatively large and it seems like every time I fool around I come across new stuff that I didn't see before. The racing component of the game is really hit-or-miss, with stiff controls and wonky physics, but the Adventure mode alone is worth it.

 A charming little adventure game from the house of Final Fantasy, Brave Fencer Musashi is a very quirky and memorable little romp. Armed with two swords, Musashi must rescue captured civilians as he unlocks new magic and skills that further open up which areas of the world he can traverse. It's just fun to collect new abilities and explore new places as Musashi grows stronger.

 A very unique game, in Raw Danger! you play as one of various different survivors who must brave a flooded city that's on its last legs after a dam broke and the city is falling apart. One of the most impressive aspects of the game is how many different choices, big and small, you can make throughout the game, and the consequences of each can too be small or large. There aren't many games like Raw Danger!, which is one of the things that make it such a unique and interesting game.

 Psychonauts took me by surprise: It's smart, it's deep, it's funny, it's interesting, it's depressing, it's uplifting... but above all, it's fun. There's so much attention to detail that a lot of subtext will probably go over your head as the game makes you laugh. One of the most interesting parts about the game is how most levels are, well, some character's subconscious and its many elements give you so much information about each character. The brilliant puzzles and characters really make this game memorable, you'll probably still be thinking about the Milkman's stage long after you finished the game.

Best Fighting Game of 2017:
 I really did it a point this year to play a ton of fighting games... but not on purpose, it just kinda happened. It's not like I was specifically looking to play fighting game this year, but they sorta, kinda game to me in droves.

 I won't bother with the game's Japanese name(Too long!), but Power Instinct 2 is really fantastic. It's like a sped-up version of Street Fighter 2, with a few more mechanics, like dashing and air blocking. It's probably not as balanced, and the Playstation port has a few caveats that make it less than ideal for competitive settings, but the game is very fun to play nonetheless.

 Bushido Blade is interesting... because it's quite different from its sequel. Bushido Blade is slower, more methodical but it also gives you more weapons and more strategy: You can actually harm your enemies' limbs and thus force them to crawl or forbid them using one of their arm which affects their moveset. Personally I prefer the more streamlined, faster paced sequel, but Bushido Blade 1 is no slouch and the fact that it's so different from its sequel makes it a very attractive choice if you want even more Bushido Blade, because it's more of the same but a bit different.

 Another game with a ridiculous name. Look, I adore King of Fighters Maximum Impact 2/2006, it's one of my favorite games ever, but Regulation "A" is a very skimpy offering. If you want to play by yourself you get a generic time attack mode and a VS CPU mode, and even if you get someone else to play, and as attractive as having new characters sound... you're still missing half the color palettes the previous game had. And I guess it speaks volumes of the game's quality if I've got mostly bad things to say about it, yet I gave it a spot among the best of the year.

 I've a little history with Blazblue... when I first played it I absolutely adored it. But as I grew up and finally realized that all anime was basically the same I came to the realization that Blazblue is generic anime dribble with generic anime stereotypes finding themselves in generic anime situations repeating generic anime lines. I could still respect the gameplay, but everyhing about its world, its setting, everything about it felt... lame. Uninspired. Lacking. Chronophantasma is(was) the final game in the franchise, and now we've over 30 different characters, which means over 30 different playstyles and every character does their own thing. Play Blazblue for its brilliant, fast-paced gameplay, not for its lame story.

 Bloody Roar 3 is not a game you can take seriously. Not only because it's a furry's wet dream come alive, but because this is a button masher, plain and simple. But if you can get past that, if you can get past the fact that even someone that knows nothing about the game can wreck you in seconds flat by pressing buttons, then you'll be able to enjoy a frenetic fighter that puts style over substance... and proves that it's not always a bad thing as long as you do it right. This is achieved by making the combat fast and smooth, it's nice to look at everything that happens, so pressing buttons is instantly rewarded with flashy, crunchy looking moves that have oomph behind them.

Best Other Game of 2017:
 Other is a label I use to bunch all the games that have hard-to-label genres, or even games of genres I didn't play many games of, like say Racing games. I don't really like racing games.

 Galerians is a Survival Horror game that has a very interesting twist on the formula: You are a psychic kid that must escape the institution he is trapped in and defeat other kids with similar powers to his'. It's not the best the genre has to offer, but there're pretty neat twists that make it worth a go. The hotel stage is particularly memorable, as they nail the atmosphere perfectly: You know there's something wrong, you know that something is gonna happen, but you don't know what. You'll also have to visit various guests, and then... well, I won't spoil it for you.

 Donkey Kong Returns 3D does away with the annoying, imprecise motion controls and adds unresponsive, unreliable button inputs for attacking. Basically, the game is just as good as it used to be, but they changed the game's worst mechanics with a different broken mechanic. But hey, the core gameplay is just as good, with dozens upon dozens of unique levels, each one with a different gimmick, that's always challenging you in different ways. It's a great game that still manages to pull forward despite somewhat clunky controls when it comes to offense. There's also a new easy mode, so now there's no excuse for not being able to finish the game.

 Stretch Panic is not your average game. Think of it as a boss-rush in which you play as a little girl and her possessed scarf, a sentient demon scarf that can pinch things and then stretch them or twist them or even launch Linda, her host, as a projectile. It's a very weird game that enhances its weirdness with a very minimalist art-style that does wonders for the game.

 I didn't expect to like Catherine as much as I did, and to be honest I wasn't the biggest fan of the puzzling, but I loved everything else about it. The story is engaging, and they managed to concoct a very believable setting: Every day before going to sleep, and thus starting the puzzle-part of the game, Vincent will be at the bar with his friends talking about recent developments in his love life as well as learning about them. While in the bar you are free to interact with other NPCs and learn more about them and... get invested in their stories. And it was these segments that made me fall in love with this game and engaged in the game's story.

 The Tony Hawk's franchise had many ups and downs, many different small and large tweaks to its mechanics and gameplay, so much so that every Tony Hawk game has its own group that deem it the best in the franchise. In my opinion, it's Underground 2. It has one of the most intricate and developed movesets in the game, thanks to being one of the latter titles in the series, and the way the game is set up was very fun. I loved having no timer and having to do different things, some that may or may not require to talk to an NPC or what have you. It also has some of my favorite stages in the entire series.

Best Licensed Game of 2017:
 I thought I had played a ton of licensed games the past year... I was wrong. This year I played a tond, and I do mean a TON(in all caps) of licensed games. Most of them terrible, but a few exceptional ones as well. Still, the best Licensed game of Year is not just a good game, but it also has to do the license justice.

 A Fistful of Boomstick would've been a very forgettable game if it wasn't for how true to the franchise it was. Bruce Campbell brought his A game to voice Ash in the game, and everything that happened felt like something that could've happened in the movies. Regeneration was a better game than AFoB, but the plot didn't feel as Evil Dead-ish as this one.

 Fact: I don't know anything about the XIII comic... but I do know that the XIII videogame is phenomenal. Not only is the gameplay top-notch, it has one of the most earnest attempts of bringing a comic book to life thanks to the beautiful cellshaded graphics that tried to be as comic bookish as possible, such as having onomatopoeias for sound appearing as text on-screen, as well as having comic-book panels show up whenever you landed a headshot. It felt like I was playing a comic book, but it was a fantastic videogame to boot.

 Web of Shadows is the best Spider-man game ever made. There were a few chinks in its portrayal of Spider-man's personality, but as far as gameplay is concerned: This is THE Spider-man game. Swinging had never felt so good, and has never felt as good since, and the combat felt gratifying thanks to heavy-looking attacks that also took Spider-man's agility in consideration while also allowing you to switch to Symbiote Spider-man at will, which would change your entire moveset.

 Web of Shadows is the better videogame, but Ultimate Spider-man isn't too far behind. The combat is a bit lame, but swinging was a step-up from the previous game and is one of the fastest-swinging Spider-man games out there, and you know how much I love speed. But what makes this one a better licensed game is how good the story-line is, feeling straight out of Ultimate Spider-man pages. The cell-shaded graphics helped build a very convincing comic-world too.

 Often overlooked, Inadainaru Densetsu(Dragon Ball Z Legends) is a great game that's unlike any other, that's also massively faithful to the source material. You get to have 3 on 3 fights that, albeit simple, perfectly capture what makes fights in Dragon Ball Z so special. You get to play through  the major arcs of the Z story too, and if you are faithful to the plot, like letting Kuririn die during the Frieza fight, you'll get rewarded with things such as Goku going Super Saiyan right there and then.

Most Surprising Game:
 These are the games that surprised me in a positive way. Maybe they held up as well as I remembered, or maybe the hype paid off. Maybe it's a game I had low expectations of.

 I thought I was gonna hate Battle Arena Toshinden 3. My only experience with the series was Toshinden Subaru, also on the Playstation, and also known as Toshinden 4. And I hated that game when I was younger. It was slow, clunky and boring. But Toshinden 3 was... slow and clunky. But it was surprisingly fun too, and there were some pretty neat things that you could do. It's far, faaaaaar from the best fighting games on the system, but it's certainly not too bad.

 I felt like Chronophantasma was pretty dull, and I was pretty much done with the series. I only purchased Central Fiction out of habit, but... it was pretty fun. I had fun getting reacquainted with old characters and trying out the new ones. The story was as bad as it's always been, but Blazblue is a legit fighting game.

 I had played what came before and after it, so I knew... that Tony Hawk was gonna get bad pretty soon. And going into an open world felt like it was gonna spell death for the series. But against all odds, American Wasteland was a blast! The levels weren't as interesting as they had been in previous games but they weren't boring by any means. American Wasteland proved that Tony Hawk could work with an Open World, it's a shame that subsequent games failed to make the most of it.

 While I wanted to replay Dead to Rights I didn't think it was gonna hold up. Third person shooters have changed a lot since its release, and it's hard to go back to an era before Resident Evil 4. But Dad to Rights has aged well, like, really, REALLY well. You have to be willing to forgive its age and what was then considered as standard, but it's a very enjoyable romp all around.

 Koudelka was a game I've wanted to play ever since I first saw its trailer. I think it came boundled with Alone in the Dark: A new nightmare? Doesn't matter, I wanted to play it. But review scores were pretty low, it didn't paint a pretty picture. But Koudelka was something special, a mix of things that shouldn't work but do. I'm surprised at how much I fell in love with it.

Most Disappointing Game of 2017:
 The opposite of the previous category, games that surprised me due to how bad they were. Games that I had high hopes for... only to watch them crash and burn.

 I love the Metal Slug franchise, and I've had such good experiences with it on both PS1 and PS2. The games received multiple ports, I believe Japanese only, on both consoles and they played like a dream. I was looking forwards to having the first six games on a single disc... only to be greeted by unacceptable loading times. There's absolutely no excuse for them, if SNK could get stand-alone releases of Metal Slug running so well, there's no reason a glorified emulator can't run them without loading times. A very disappointing release of a fantastic classic franchise.

 Trailers and videos for this game look amazing, light-saber combat looks smooth, stages seem fun and... it all-around looks like a good game. It looks like one, because as soon as you grab the controller you'll realize how clunky everything is. I had tempered expectations, Star Wars has seldom gotten really good games, but... this one looked great.

 The fact is... Painkiller is a top-notch first-person shooter that harkened back to the days of older FPS games. Another fact, I love Painkiller, it's one of my favorite games ever. Painkiller on the Ps3... is a sham. It has less levels than the original game... but you can get them back, for a fee as DLC. It's an absolute joke how they shoed-in a new story to excuse having to replay the first game(albeit with less levels), as a way to entice people to pay for the same game, albeit missing parts, again. If you own Painkiller on the PC, there's no other reason, other than hating yourself, for buying this poor excuse of an HD port.

 Way of the Samurai 1 and 2 were two games that I was rather fond when I was younger. I replayed WotS 1 on the first year that I started this blog and I liked it. A lot. When it came to WotS 2 I was savoring the moment I would put the disc on the console's tray, I was ready to hunt for the various different endings just like I did on the first game. And then they murdered me. And they murdered me again. And again. Alright, tough game, doesn't matter I'll just lower the difficulty and try again. Murdered again, but at least I got to keep a cool sword. Alright, another attempt, back on normal difficulty but with my badass new sword(Which was actually the smithy's hammer, but I digress) and... I got through the game with minimal story exposition. And I tried. Alright, second attempt, now with a guide and... the story was boring. And I was done with the game. The previous game was shorter, more compact but... it helped get the played interact with various NPCs and get involved with any of the various subplots. Here, unless you know exactly when and where to be, you'll miss out on everything. It's such a lame setup, this game was such a waste of potential.

 ...but one game managed to disappoint me even more. Wild Arms Alter Code F. Wild Arms 3 is one of my favorite JRPGs ever. EVER. Wild Arms 2 was pretty good too(No pun intended), and this year I set out to play the entire series. I started with Wild Arms 1 which... was a bit disappointing, but not too surprising since it was the first game. Even though many people overrated it to hell and back again. But Alter Code F was a remake running on Wild Arms 3's engine, and the first hours felt really good, despite massive loading times. But the more I played the more it disappointed me. By the time I was 50 hours in I was bored beyond belief and tired of it. I got the secret characters and called it day, I didn't want to do the side bosses or the side content, I just wanted the game to end. It was so disappointing because at the start it felt like it was gonna be a great one... but it just got worse and worse and worse and worse...

Best Franchise of the Year:
 I played many different franchises of games this year. Some were small two-game investments, while others were massive like Tony Hawk's. These were my favorite:

 When Tony Hawk is at its best, it's bloody fantastic, but at its worst.... I shudder to think of it. Tony Hawk has many ups and downs, and it's a different set of ups and downs depending on who you ask. For instance, I'm not much of a fan of anything that came before 4. Because it's so erratic, it lands here, on the fifth spot.

 Bloody Roar never changed much, for good or ill.... Definitely for good, because the one time they decided to shake things up, namely Bloody Roar 4, they broke everything. The games had always been very fun, even if only at surface level, but Bloody Roar 4 was bland even at surface level. Still, Bloody Roar 1 to Primal Fury are excellent button mashers.

 A disappointing second game is not enough to put down Jack Slate and his canine companion Shadow. They are fun third person shooters, but it's the melee system that really makes me have so much fun with them. I love being able to put down my guns at a moment's notice and pummel my foes with the good, ole fists.

 What started as a weird mishmash of genres, Koudelka gave birth to one of the most unique takes on the JRPG genres out there. You can argue with me all you want about Koudelka's quality, but there's not denying that Shadow Hearts and Shadow Hearts Covenant are cult classics. From the New World was mediocre, but considering it started off as a spin-off... I can let it slide.

 I'm sorry that I didn't give the Suikoden franchise a try before. Their prices were too prohibitive! But I finally did, and I loved it. II and V were the best, in my opinion, and I think are some of the best JRPGs ever made. Ever. Suikoden 3 was great too, although it doesn't come close to the previous too. Suikoden 1... well, you have to consider that it was the first in the franchise, so a lot of ideas and mechanics were in the rough. Lastly there's Suikoden 4, which is a bit disappointing, but it's not bad by any means. Special mention goes to Tierkries, I didn't review it in the blog, but I certainly played it back when it was released, and it's still one of my favorite JRPGs on the Nintendo DS.

Worst Cover of 2017:
 I can't believe I'm actually making a category for this, but man, do I own some bad covers now! Like, there was an abhorrent number of hideous covers, so much so that 5 was too restrictive. So a special mention goes to Web of Shadows' horrible cover that didn't make it in.

 There's no good image available online of Toshinden 3's awful north american boxart, but trust me, it's hideous. There's an awkward looking cavewoman lookalike fighting a hideous depiction of one of the characters in the game. If you saw this cover you'd think that this was a budget game.

 Bloody Roar's never had the best covers out there, but.... What the *@(#!(&!*(&#(!)(#@ is this? Seriously, why is Jenny looking like that? What's up with her pose? Why are they using sch a horrible 3D model of her? WHY IS JENNY EVEN ON THE COVER?!

 What is this cover? No, seriously, what is this cover? Guilty Gear has always had great covers, even the very first PS1 game had a cool looking cover. But what the (#)!(*&$@*(&!*( is this supposed to be? They tried going for 'artsy, everyone in a tan shade of orange with red eyes', but it look hideous. Who'd but this game based on the cover? Like, seriously, who are they appealing to?!

 And you thought Bloody Roar Primal Fury's cover was bad, here's Ken primitive-looking 3D model Shoryuken-ing on an orange background. Why? This is one of the most unappealing covers I've ever seen in my life. The worst part about it? The PAL cover is one of the best covers Street Fighter has ever had.

 Acclaim. Do I really need to say something else? The guys that were offering money to people who'd name their son Turok. That offered to pay the cemetery fees of people who'd put Shadow Man adds on their dearly diseased's tombs. And now, here they gave Bust-a-move, a classic, a horrible cover. Like... I'm speechless.

Best Cover of 2017:
 At least there were some good covers. Not as many as there were bad covers, but at least it's something.

 I don't usually like covers using 3D models, because they always look incredibly awkward, but this one... is actually kinda neat. It's also very true to the game, the foreboding structure behind the main characters, the clear mist surrounding everything.... it's a very moody picture that's perfect for the game.

 I adore Ayami Kojima's artsyle, and her piece for Curse of Darkness is pretty good, even if it's not her best work. It's a bit too simple, and there's not much going on, but I'm a sucker for her art.

 I love this cover. Is very busy, which usually is a bad sign, but it's the perfect cover for the game, it encapsulates the feeling of adventure that the game wants to sell you, as well as giving you a little taste of what's to come once you pop-in the disc.

 The game's awful, but you can't deny that the cover is spectacular. I love the pencils for this work, it's very dynamic and captured the look of the characters perfectly.

 Brilliant, this cover is... brilliant. I love the artwork, and luckily, it's not limited to just the cover, the back of the box also features art, as well as the instruction booklet. And everything looks amazing.

Best Character of 2017:
 For whatever reason... I didn't feel like I came across many interesting characters this year. But there were a few that became favorites of mine.

Image result for Hector Castlevania
 I liked Curse of Darkness' Hector a whle lot. He doesn't have as much charisma as other heroes from the Castlevania franchise, but he is among the coolest white haired pretty boys in it. What won me over was his speech, speaking in Ye Olde English never goes out of style. Or never should've gone out of style.

Image result for Shadow Dead to Rights
 Dead to Right's Shadow is one tough pup. While he doesn't have much development, I mean he is a dog after all, what little he gets is what made him so loveable. His utility in 1 and 2 is more of as a tool than anything else, but a useful tool that can fetch you guns or aid you in combat. And then came Retribution, and now you get to see how Shadow adored Jack's dad, and how he too wanted to avenge his death. There were also tiny moments of loyalty, like when Shadow took down the Helicopter gunner and became a big damn hero. Shadow is a good boy, no doubt about it.

Image result for Koudelka game
 Koudelka was such an interesting, multi-layered character with nuances to her character seldom seen in Japanese JRPGs. I loved her sass and demeanor in the first Koudelka game, and she always had some smartass comment up her sleeve. It was nice to see her all grown up in Shadow Hearts 1, and it seems like she may have gotten her happy ending after both games ended.

Image result for Lady Sialeeds
 Lady Sialeeds was one of the most interesting characters in Suikoden V, and the more the story advanced the more you learnt of her past, about how much she had to sacrifice due to her status as the sister of the Queen of Falena. She is one of the most tragic heroes in the game, no, in the entire series, and the one that left the biggest impact upon its conclusion.

Image result for Suikoden Lucretia
 Lucretia hails from Suikoden V, and she's pretty much a Zhuge Liang expy, coming up with brilliant strategies that are the key of the Rebellion's success. There's more than meets the eye when it comes to Lucretia, and she doesn't develop much throughout the game, mostly because she doesn't need development, and what she lacks in development she makes up through sheer badassery, she's probably the mightiest strategist in the entire Suikoden franchise.