Games of 2021

Due to the inexorable passage of time, it is nearly the end of 2021,
which means it’s time for my yearly retrospective of all the games what I
gone done played like. Managed 40-odd games this year, down from last year’s 80-something, but y’know. Real life and stuff happened. Video games!

2021 saw me become a Twitch affiliate,
thus proving my sister wrong all those years ago- video games CAN make
you money!!!! It also saw me fail to start any of my intended projects.
How surprising.

2022 is the year of the Steam Deck, aka the Backlog Buster. I’m very
very excited to get mine- we’ll see next year if I’ve actually played
the damned thing or if I just put a load of emulators on it and then
didn’t touch it afterward.

To the list!

Pokemon Fire Red Randomiser Nuzlocke

Trailing off from the end of last year, our pokemon journey came to a
happy ending as we were declared Champion of Kanto. SugarHurt, Yellow,
Daddyama, Goggles, Bootsy, and Swampbert enter the hall of fame, and the
history books. A fantastic run and a great deal of fun, I can’t wait to
do it again some day.

Pikmin 3

This is Pikmin Perfected, striking the ideal balance between its two
predecessors, maintaining the pressure of the first game but in a much
less stressful manner. The bonus mission modes are all enjoyable too-
rare for me to enjoy these things but P3 got it right.

Fire Emblem Three Houses

Phew, alright. I’ve spent four hundred hours in this game so far,
currently halfway through my fourth run (of four). It’s fair to say I
have fallen utterly in love with this game. It was the subject of many
months’ discussion and debate with midgi who played alongside me, as we
unraveled the mysteries of Fodlan together. 3H is a vastly different
direction for the series and one they’re unlikely to replicate for
future entries. I honestly have lots of thoughts about this game that
exceed the scope of a write-up like this, but suffice it to say FE3H is
my Game Of The Year.

Touhou 18

Went in with high hopes, having enjoyed the demo a great deal. Second
half not as strong as the first half in my opinion, but still a lot of
fun. I like that ZUN was honest and said he didn’t actually put any
thought at all into how balanced the ability cards are, but it really
shows in Extra where you either get lucky with the random cards or you
lose. It’s a shame cos I like the Extra stage, but having certain runs
just straight up give me three extra lives makes it frustrating when you
don’t get that.

Yooka Laylee

Hmmmm, I kinda rushed my way through this one. A game that steadfastly
and deliberately refuses to learn any lessons since 1999, it’s really
hard to review this. The bad parts are deliberately bad, and they are
bad in a very authentic way, does that mean it was good??? I dunno.
Ultimately I had a little fun with it but almost equally as much
frustration, and I certainly didn’t even entertain the idea of 100%ing
it.

Gris

(Some spoilers ahead) This was a tremendously effective and artistic
depiction of grief. The most striking part of the game for me was the
giant shadow bird- how Gris just utterly shut down when it first
appeared, nothing she could do about it. Much later in the game, Gris
has more powers and has grown and recovered so much, and the bird
appears again out of nowhere… and she’s just as powerless against it
this time as she was the first. It’s a striking moment because games
won’t usually do that and that is also true to how grief will suddenly
knock you down even so long after you feel you’ve recovered. I truly
wish they hadn’t included the collectible achievement items as it only
detracts from what is otherwise a great piece of art.

Hades

Pyre is still my favourite Supergiant game, but at this point if Darren
Korb handed me a bucket of broken glass and said “hey, I need you to eat
this”, I’d do it. GOTY (I’m allowed to have two, leave me alone)

Zwei

Argh, it was a very very shaky Fin when I played it, and when I came
back to it I just… couldn’t. It’s a gorgeous game, but between the
horribly clunky interface, the poor camera, confusing directions, and
baffling progression system, it was too much work for too little payoff.
A real shame.

I hate this game

I love this game! Hahahahaha sorry. Some really neat parallel thinking
here, 100 rooms deep so it doesn’t outstay its welcome. Decent chiptune
soundtrack rounds off a nice little evenings-worth package.

Milo and the Magpies

Really enjoyed my hour with Milo, it’s another cozy fit for an evening. Very sweet and cute and charming. My BBLC writeup says it all. Strong recommend.

Kero Blaster

The main game is great. The unlockable extra story relies a little too
hard on bottomless pits and instakill mechanics and suffers as a result.
Cave Story still the magnum opus, but Kero Blaster is worth a punt if
you like retrostyle run’n’guns.

Metroid Dread

GOTY (I can have three! Shut up!). Goodness, the entire internet has
lavished praise upon this to the degree that I don’t know what I can
really add. I’ve only played through it once- I sorely need to get back
to it and start doing speedruns. Holy crap, what a tour-de-force.
Finally learning what became of the Chozo, after so long, and that WHOLE
end sequence that I won’t spoil. Damn! What a game!

Hollow Knight

I certainly wasn’t as taken with it as many seem to be, with a pile of
frustrations keeping me from LOVING it, but overall I did have a good
time with Hollow Knight. The boss fights are the main draw here, very
challenging but the controls are SO tight and well-tuned that they still
feel great to battle. only a few optional bosses crossed the line into
bullshit.

The Swapper

Enjoyable up to a point- it eventually became a little too
pixel-finnicky for my tastes. Execution became so precise that it was
hard to tell if I had the wrong solution or I was doing the right thing
but slightly off-position.

Iconoclasts

Haven’t gotten back to it yet since writing by BBLC post. It’s next up in line though!

Sin And Punishment

Another one I haven’t got back to yet. I actually haven’t even written
the BBLC post for it yet because I’m depressed! Oops! Maybe by the time I
publish this I’ll have put it out? [EDIT: I did! But I’m still two
behind ;_;]

Pokemon Shield/Moon/X

In an effort to combat seasonal depression at the start of the year, I
made it a personal mission to complete a living pokedex, and so scoured
all my old carts for blighters to port forward and fill any gaps. It was
a nice nostalgia trip and I got to see all my fantastic nicknaming
decisions across the years.

Master of Orion 2

I’m telling you, it’s going to be on this list every year until the end
of time. This year, I streamed it for the first time, hoping to catch a
few flies in the web. Don’t think anyone took the bait, but my offer
stands, I’ll buy you a copy if you have a genuine interest in trying it.

Touhou obviously

I think I played all of them at some point this year. Someone made a
neat package for the first five titles that makes it super easy to run
them and They Just Work, which was very cool. I’ve played them before
but the emulation was atrocious at the time, was nice to see them in
proper glory. Th01 is really weird.

Donkey Kong Country (diddyspin)

I only technically played this. It was for a project that hasn’t
seen the light of day yet. I wanted to start it in the summer, but alas
it didn’t work out. I’m still figuring out how to do this. We’ll see if
2022 is the year.

Ocarina of Time

It has aged far more significantly than a lot of people are willing to
admit, and the fan-patcher is pretty much required at this point. It’s
still great and has an impressive command of atmosphere for an early 3D
title. The music in the Spirit Temple still gives me shivers.

Final Fantasy 5 Four Job Fiesta

I ran the FJF
four times this year! First time was the Corona Two event raising money
for covid treatment, a cause dearer to our hearts now than it was the
first Corona event. I then ran the main event in the summer raising
money for the PCRF and we raised over $100, which is FANTASTIC, and to
celebrate I did a second run off-stream just for my own enjoyment.
Finally, to celebrate the release of the Pixel Remaster, we ran it again
in November, which is technically a different game but I’ll lump it in
here. The PR version is probably the best version out there, although
we’re still figuring out all its foibles and exploits. Hopefully by the
next summer event, it’ll be fully explored. PR is the version I’ll be
using from here on!

Pokemon GO

As mentioned earlier, this was part of the effort to battle seasonal
depression by completing a living pokedex. It also had the advantage of
giving me an excuse to go for a walk in the cold, which definitely helps
the brain. I’m not a big fan of the way the game works, but it did what
it needed to do.

Wonderboy 2

I love this weird old game, nostalgically and otherwise. This year I
wanted to try to recreate a glitch I remember my brother stumbling on
when I was a wee babby, with limited success. I was able to replicate it
using memory modification to force the issue, but obviously he didn’t
do that back in the day. Still a cool game that I recommend people give a
try. It’s pretty difficult but save states mitigate all of that.

Fire Emblem 7

Having run a Girls Only stream of FE8 last year, I wanted to do it again
with my favourite of the FE titles. It’s a lot more challenging in this
game as you don’t actually GET any combat-ready girls for quite a long
time (in the main game at least), so I allowed use of the main Lord
Eliwood as well. It’s not like he’s some super powerful unit who would
break the challenge, so I didn’t mind that small allowance.

Chrono Trigger

Another game I played for the stream to share it with people who NEEDED
to know. Chrono Trigger is widely heralded as one of the best games ever
made, and I don’t disagree with that assessment. It simply gets so much
right, and what it doesn’t get right is charming enough that it’s
forgivable. The love and effort and thought put into every single facet
is palpable.

SIF / SIFAS

SIF is a game that means a great deal to me, but its heyday is long
past. SIFAS is a game that I wanted to try again having bought a new
phone that can actually handle it without crashing, but I still just
don’t really get it. Regardless, you’re probably going to see both of
these games on next year’s list.

Metal Gear Solid 2

This is a game I played hundreds of times as a teen, and I’m very
familiar with it and have a nostalgic fondness for it. Going back to it
these days it’s a little hard to recommend, too busy trying to tell a
completely nonsensical story to linger on the actually fun parts of the
gameplay. It seems like you spend just as much time skipping cutscenes
as you do playing the game. It’s also just as guilty as the others in
its treatment of women and the general sense of grossness is far more
off-putting as an adult. What I’m saying is, I had fun with it but I am
not at all going to try to convince anyone it’s good. It was a very
important game in the history of such things, and an important game for
me, but I don’t think anyone going back to it will have a good time.

Grand Theft Auto Vice City

Not the re-release. Every so often I get the urge to fly across the city
in a helicopter to the tunes of VROCK radio station, and the rest of
the game is fun enough that getting to that point isn’t too much of a
chore. But really, just flying over the city, between buildings and
under the bridges and over the beach, all to a fun 80s rock
soundtrack… it’s hard to beat that feeling.

FE3H Girls Only

Still working on this, of course- it’s a long game! We’ll be playing
this well into 2022. I really hoped playing this would gather a bigger
audience, but oh well. As long as the audience I do have is having fun,
it’s worth it.

Touhou Danmaku Kagura

Touhou rhythm game! It just seems like such a no-brainer, taking a
series known for its killer original soundtracks AND the absolutely
uncontrollable fanbase producing endless rearrangements, and making a
rhythm game based on that, doesn’t it? Alas, me and gacha games just
don’t seem to be compatible, especially this one. Top marks for not
tying progression to gacha rolls- every single song is available to play
from the start, and you can ignore the mobage aspects entirely if you
want- a very cool touch that garners many bonus points, and I’m sure was
one of ZUN’s stipulations to secure his cooperation. But then there’s
no sense of progression, and that’s a killer for me personally. Events
are also handled weirdly, the prize being an exclusive card for a girl
who wasn’t featured in the event… I stuck with it for a while but
eventually realised I was just playing it because I felt I should be,
rather than because I was having fun. That’s when it’s time to stop.

Kokurase 2 + 3

Chapters two and three of a cool RPG maker game, this is unfortunately a
story that is likely never to be finished, as no translation studio
seems interested in picking up chapter 4. Chapter one is a closed story
worth playing by itself, and the next chapters were good for what they
are.

Final Fantasy 4

The Pixel Remaster of my personal favourite FF game, this absolutely
blew my socks off. Soooo much better than the 3D remake and for my money
the GBA remake too. That remastered soundtrack is just phenomenal. I’d
love to share this on stream some day.

BMX XXX

This gamecube game was universally panned at the time of release and I
was always fascinated by it, so having discovered a recent love of aquatic mammals
I took a look. Good gravy, it’s truly abysmal- an utterly fetid turd of
a game. The attempts at humour are pathetic, feeble and embarrassing.
Holy Dooley, it’s worth playing for all the wrong reasons.

Metroid Fusion

I wanted to play through this before Dread to catch back up with the
story, but I was too slow and ended up finishing it AFTER Dread instead,
so now canon states Samus forgot her computer was called Adam for some
reason and had to relearn it. Fusion is great. I understand the
criticisms but it’s great.

TF2

This year I sold all of my inventory, intending to quit wholesale, and
instead discovered that selling all my junk was actually quite
liberating and brought back some sense of the Old Days of TF2. Plus I
made $100 of steam credit towards my Deck! I still didn’t get that one
hat I’ve wanted for nine years though. The botpocalypse brought ruin to
the Halloween event, with spinbots everywhere, but they all spam an absolute tune over the voice chat so I didn’t mind.

Diddy Kong Racing

Both the N64 and DS versions, which I guess are technically different
games. The DS version really suffers badly with touchscreenitis. The
second race isn’t even a race, it’s an autoscroller! I quickly jumped
ship back to the N64 version, which is wayyy too easy except when it
isn’t, in which case it’s wayyyy too hard. Very odd balance.

Baba Is You

Haven’t made it back to this one yet since my BBLC stream, but I kind of
want to save it for my Steam Deck. It feels like such a great fit for a
handheld.

Donkey Kong Land 2

On the recommendation of Supper Mario Broth, I gave the Gameboy version
of the best DKC title a go. It’s pretty good, surprisingly authentic,
and I keep tripping myself up remembering where the secrets are only to
be reminded that the level design has been altered for this version and
the things I remember being there are in fact no longer there. Quite
tricky to unlearn such things.

Bins:

REVOLVER 360
Nimbatus
Ninja Pizza Girl
Turok
Final Fantasy Adventure
Bit Trip Runner
Soul Axiom

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