The idea that 2016 was a rough year which went from consensus to cliche with alarming speed. It was a rough year for Last Time on Videogames as well. Zach, Tyler and I produced 40 episodes in 2016, and while I'm rather proud of what we put together, that means we missed 12 weeks. We've already missed 2 in 2017, but my goal is to have the remaining 50 come out on time for you, and we'll definitely have our first episode of 2017 this Thursday. In the meantime, I wanted to revisit some of the games we played in 2016 one last time, so hit the jump and lets head down memory lane.
While I wish we'd produced more episodes, I'm actually pretty happy with the quality of the episodes we released, with one exception. In review, I'm also pretty happy with the quality of games we played this year. Looking through, only 3 games really jumped out to me as being terrible, while there were 9 that I considered giving best game of the year to, 6 of which I'd count as some of my favorite games of all time, podcast or no. Like Zach's year in review list, I'm going to divide this into categories, so without further ado, let's give out some made up awards.
Worst Game of 2016
We didn't have anything break the top 5 games on our list
this year, but we had two games hit the bottom, both Sega titles. Phantsy Star II
wasn't fun, it was a chore that felt like work from the moment I booted it up each time. But I can understand wanting to go on a Sci-Fi anime adventure. Ecco the Dolphin
is just bewildering to me. Dolphins are cute, I can understand wanting to make one a cool videogame character, but the gameplay is just obtuse puzzles that feel like they'd be at home in an adventure game, not something designed to show off the 'blast processing' of the Genesis. We're harsh on Sega games, but Ecco really seems like a scattered mess.
Phantasy Star II
I can see the appeal of Phantasy Star II, but its buried under so much of the stuff that makes RPGs a boring chore I couldn't imagine playing it for fun without a lot of nostalgia. Here's hoping Phantasy Star III brings things together.
Honorable Mentions: Mortal Kombat 2, Bayou Billy.
Most Surprising Game of 2016
We played a lot of great games this year, but most of them I knew were great going in, by reputation if not my own personal experience. I didn't know what to make of Sin and Punishment
when we chose it as an assignment. To be honest, I'm still not sure what to make of it. It barely cracks the top third of our list, and I think that's the right spot for it. While the gameplay certainly works well enough, that's pretty faint praise, and its a short game that doesn't really make sense. The ideas presented within however were very exciting, and I'm incredibly glad I finally played this game. While it's not a hidden gem like Uncharted Waters
or a classic I hadn't gotten around to like Super Metroid
, Sin and Punishment is definitely the sort of game I started this podcast to have an excuse to play.
Runner Up: Zoombinis
Having played it before, calling Zoombinis a surprise isn't really accurate, but I was quite happy to see how well it held up.
Most Disappointing Game of 2016
really seems like a game I should love. I like Tim Schafer's games, especially Brutal Legend. I love games with a sense of humor, and I'm a fan of 3D platformers. I'm still not sure exactly why I find Psychonauts so boring. I'm not sure why Raz rubs me the wrong way so much. I expected Zach to hate Psychonauts, but it was always one of those games I was excited to get to eventually. I just wish I'd liked it more.
Runner Up: Shantae
Like Psychonauts, Shantae is a game I was looking forward to getting around to it. I can see why it got the praise it did, but the ideas in the game are much stronger than the game itself. Graphically it looks amazing given the hardware it's on, but that comes at the expense of clarity of game play, and the enemies are just boring. I'm glad Shantae has made a comeback recently, since giving all those ideas another shot seems worthwhile. I just hope if I ever do get around to playing those, they're the improvement the game needed.
Honorable Mention: Sonic CD.
Best Podcast of 2016
I was very happy with the quality of episodes in 2016. Looking over them for this list, there were only a handful I wasn't proud of, and the base quality of episodes seems like it improved greatly this year. I'm especially proud of our discussion of Paper Mario
however. I often struggle in editing to make sure all the hosts are properly represented, and that we don't repeat the same points on a game over and over again. I feel our discussion of Paper Mario was a very well balanced look at what the game does, why it works, and what its faults are. If I was going to suggest an episode for a first time listener, I think it would be that one.
Runner Up: Street Fighter 2010
So I hate giving things titles. If I had my way, every Last Time on Video Games episode would be titled after the game we played in it. Tyler, however, gave the first episode a title, and now it's my job to give every single one of them a title of their own. I hate it.
Editing the podcast takes a long time, and the worst is when Zach loses track of what he's saying and puts long pauses between things. Editing those out in a way that makes him sound cogent is always a challenge. I hate it.
A Big 2d Sidescrolling Boss Fighter Guy
is my favorite episode title ever. It was effortless. I also genuinely think its the funniest thing anyone has ever said on the podcast. I played around with editing it, taking the pauses out, making them longer to add effect, nothing was funnier than the way Zach delivered it originally. Plus, while it's a weird game, way too hard, and not at all what anyone thinks when they here "Street Fighter," I had a soft spot for the game to begin with. If you don't mind weird, hard NES games, give our episode a listen, then give Street Fighter 2010 a try yourself.
Worst Podcast of 2016
I'm giving Psychonauts two awards this year! See fanboys, you can quit complaining! While I didn't like the game all that much, I think I'm even more disappointed in the podcast we produced for it. As a moderator, I really feel like I didn't do a good enough job being impartial towards it. While I don't like the game, it wouldn't have the fans it does if it didn't have high points, and I feel we didn't discuss them very well. That, and we had a host of technical problems with the episode. To be honest, releasing it was more about sunk cost fallacy then anything else, I'd prefer to release no episode at all than that mess, but at least it was a mess we worked really hard on.
Runner Up: Pokémon
I think our episode on Pokémon was fine, and I'd like to thank Cody and Alex for guesting on it. Pokémon is a huge game though, and there were a lot of points on the game I didn't have time to make in our episode. Perhaps we'll cheat and do Yellow as a separate assignment sometime so we can talk about it a bit more.
Best Game I played in 2016, Non-Podcast Division
Have I told you all I like Persona yet? Persona 4 isn't quite as good as Persona 3 in my estimation, but it streamlined a lot of Persona 3's quirks and I think it's the best entry point for anyone new to the series. At least until Persona 5 comes out.
Runner Up: Pokémon Sun
Man, I didn't play many games in 2016. Pokémon Sun isn't my favorite Pokémon game, it's not even my favorite one I played this year, but despite my problems with it, it's worth playing if you even think you might enjoy it.
Best Game of 2016
While playing games for the Podcast can often be a chore, this was by far the hardest category to pick. I started with 9 candidates, almost a quarter of the games we played this year, and shrinking it down was rather difficult. In fact, I even started writing this paragraph for another game, before realizing I only thought it was the runner up. Super Mario World
is my favorite Mario game. It's got just the right difficulty level, just the right number of secrets, and rewards for finding them, the right sort of boss battles, and Yoshi. It has just the right mix of new ideas, and old familiar ones. We played a lot of great games in 2016, but for my money, Super Mario World is the best.
Runner Up: Star Craft
Star Craft's story doesn't quite hold up as well as I remember it. The controls, while much better than some of the other old RTS games we've played, leave a lot to be desired as well. And without the Broodwar units, it's not the perfectly balanced multiplayer game that got Esports on TV. In fact, it's actually really hard to recommend Star Craft to anyone who hasn't played it before, which is ultimately what makes it the runner up. It's still an incredible game though, and without it, PC gaming would probably look completely different.
Honorable Mentions: Final Fantasy 6, Star Fox 64, Pokémon, Paper Mario
Other Considerations: Castlevania Rondo of Blood, River City Ransom, Roller Coaster Tycoon
And that's 2016! I'd like to thank my co-hosts, Zach and Tyler, for continuing to record this podcast with me (nearly) every week, through awful games and great ones. I'd like to thank Cody, Alex, and especially Kevin for joining us as guests on episodes this year. I'd like to thank Kevin a second time for stepping in and recording episodes when I was sick and couldn't make it. Last but not least, I'd like to thank anyone who listens to our podcast, and especially anyone who read this all the way through.
In 2017, I'm looking forward to playing more early 3D games, specifically Super Mario 64, The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time, and the Resident Evil series, along with some of the Game Boy Advance games I know I'll love but haven't had the excuse to play yet. I hope you'll all join us!