2016: A Year In Review

It’s New Year’s Eve 2016 and there’s nothing on TV, so it’s time for a look back at the year (that and I’m not going to remember any of this nonsense after a few weeks of 2017).

Note to future self: 2016 generally wasn’t a year worth remembering.

There were some good things though!

Global Game Jam ’16
January 29th – January 31st 2016

If you’ve not heard of Very Scary Scenario, you’ve been living under a rock. The award-winning game studio is truly in its prime, releasing a new game in twenty sixteen. Like last year’s business simulator, VSS are tackling the issues that other game studios are just too scared to touch. An unforgettable experience.

Suck the atty direct.

Trip to Japan
February 5th – March 1st 2016

I don’t think it’s much of a secret how much I like this country, so it wasn’t much of a surprise that I’d be back for a fourth holiday. I was there with friends for close to a month, revisiting some of my favourite places and also going out of familiar territory to see some new places too. If you want to see what we got up to, you can check out the video I made below. Just a warning though, this thing runs longer than The Lion King.

Leaving Microsoft
August 30th 2016

I knew this day would come eventually, given the insecurity that comes with being a contractor, but it was a shame nonetheless. One of the best perks of the job was being in a fantastic team, and that’s probably the biggest shame about the whole thing. Also, with four years at the same job, the idea of job hunting was quite daunting…

Joining Enigma
September 12th 2016

Like most worrying things, the job issue was resolved a lot quicker than expected. I had been speaking with someone at Enigma while I was working my last few days at Microsoft, and I was hired less than two weeks after leaving the job. Can’t ask for much more than that! I joined a great team in Maidenhead and wrote in much the same way as I did at Microsoft. Happy ending!

Extra Life 2016 Special Effect 2016
November 7th – November 8th 2015

We had planned to participate in Extra Life for a second year, but we were a little saddened to see that there were still issues with raising money for a UK-based charity. With that in mind, we instead decided to do our all-nighter alongside Extra Life, but raising money separately for Special Effect. Having seven people in my house to play games was good fun last year, but it was ultimately really difficult to ensure that everyone was playing games, causing people to fall asleep easier. To address that we split into two teams, with two 25-hour gaming marathons on consecutive weekends. If you missed our streams, you can watch the archives on the VSS YouTube channel.

Leaving Enigma
November 18th 2016

Well, that was quick. Fortunately it was neither because of my opinion on the job or being let go. To be honest, I really enjoyed my time at Enigma and got to write for some pretty interesting projects, it’s just a shame that it I wasn’t there for longer. The nearby area was also pretty good for Pokémon, for what it’s worth!

(Re-)Joining Microsoft
November 28th 2016

Well, that was an interesting development. Yep, not three months later and I was back, just with a new team and a different website to write for. Still, there are plenty of familiar faces (and I’m just on the other side of the building from where I used to be) so it’s kinda same-old! A bit of a wild year as far as jobs are concerned!

Gigs

Live music can be pretty cool. Here are the gigs I went to this year:

  • Charisma.com – I mentioned wanting to see Charisma.com is last year’s post, filed under the ‘Good luck with that’ section. Surprise! Turns out they decided to show up to Hyper Japan this year, playing songs on all three days. I saw them on the Saturday and they didn’t disappoint. Even got an album signed and a photo with them both! Score!
  • Pokémon Symphonic Evolutions – This was just a week or so ago, interestingly on the same date I saw it last year. While the orchestra was fantastic, it was a bit disappointing that the setlist hadn’t changed at all. In fact, I think the only thing that changed was the footage that showed alongside the famous anime opening. Their rendition of the Team Rocket theme is still amazing, though.

Live-music wishlist for 2016

  • Not terribly unlikely: Rammstein, Maximum the Hormone, Man with a Mission (they played this year but I didn’t know!), Bump of Chicken, Pokemon Orchestra with a new setlist
  • Good luck with that: Yuzu, YMO, Abingdon Boys School/TM Revolution

The Video Game Bit

It was a good year for video games. Not much else mind you, but for video games there’s no doubt. Once again I’ve been tracking which games I’m playing and beating over on the Backloggery, and for 2016 I had some similar, reasonable goals:

  • Beat 30 Games
  • Beat 15 Games bought pre-2016
  • Beat two unbeaten Final Fantasy titles
  • Beat 50% or more owned Wii U games
  • Buy an Xbox One

It was a pretty so-so year for video game beating, mostly due to the two months or so that I spent basically bedridden. Still, I beat a few more than my final totals from 2010 and 2013! Knowing this is a little sad, I realise.

The biggest milestone has to be finally finishing every main Final Fantasy game. X-2 and Lightning Returns certainly aren’t my favourites from the series, but both managed to entertain me more than I was expecting given the general opinion of them. Now that XV is out I have one more title to add to the list, but I’m sure that one will be cleared early next year. I think I’ll wait a little longer given both the backlog and Squeenix seemingly adding more story to the main game.

It’s a shame that I didn’t beat 15 games from before 2015. It’s one of the targets I’d meant to focus on as a way of whittling away at the backlog, though I suppose 10 of 32 isn’t so bad.

Anyway, enough waffle. Here’s the hit list for 2016 and some numbers:

Games beaten: 32 (18 less than 2015, 24 beat, 8 complete)

Strider*
Persona 4: Dancing All Night
Aviary Attorney*
Her Story
Yakuza 5*
Amplitude
The Beginner’s Guide
Life is Strange
Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls
Rhythm Tengoku: The Best Plus
Yo-kai Watch
Stardew Valley
SUPERHOT
Broken Age*
Wolfenstein: The Old Blood*
Hyrule Warriors
Theatrhythm Dragon Quest
Miracle Girls Festival
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD
Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds*
Final Fantasy X-2*
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII*
Zero Time Dilemma
Vib-Ribbon*
Transformers: Devastation*
PaRappa the Rapper 2
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice
Hitman
Yo-kai Watch 2: Fleshy Souls
Rock Band 4
Pokémon Moon

* denotes a game purchased pre-2016

Like I did last year I won’t talk about each one of these, but rather build a top ten to talk about:

My Arbitrary Top 10 List of Games I Played This Year

  • 10. Yakuza 5 – It was worth the wait. That, coincidentally, is going to be my review of every new Yakuza game in the near future if the last few PlayStation Experiences are anything to go by. Out of all the games I’ve played in the series, this was easily the one I spent the most time with – and with good reason. Hilarious side quests, fun distractions and that combat system I fell in love with when I played 4.
  • 9. Rhythm Tengoku: The Best Plus – I picked this one up when I was in Japan this February, but at the time it didn’t look like we were going to be getting this game at all. I’m certainly glad it did eventually get an English release, as I thoroughly enjoyed my time with it even when I could only read parts of it.
  • 8. Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright – I was absolutely craving another strategy RPG by the time all three of these games came out. On one hand I wish the games were staggered so that I didn’t feel completely swamped by them, but I must say that it was an interesting approach to a game release. That and I could get them all on one cartridge for a good price. The story wasn’t mindblowing, but to be fair I’ve only finished Birthright and not all three games. Something to do in 2017, certainly.
  • 7. Superhot – SUPER. HOT. SUPER. HOT. SUPER. HOT. This game picks two or three mechanics and goes to town. Simple, smart and addicting.
  • 6. Zero Time Dilemma – Gosh this thing was a mess, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love my time with it. I do wish the game got the love and attention it deserved, but it did a pretty good job satiating the fans that wanted more of Zero and his death games.
  • 5. Phoenix Wright: Spirit of Justice – A lot better than the fifth game, and I really enjoyed that one too. There are some fantastic and memorable cases in here, and a deserved sequel in this franchise. Maybe hold off on the DLC though.
  • 4. Hitman – I haven’t ever cared for Hitman. I remember watching a friend play Blood Money on his then-new Xbox 360 and thinking it looked amazing, but found myself pretty underwhelmed when I eventually bought the game myself. This reboot, though, is another beast entirely. It’s crazy in all of the right ways, and most of all, really damn fun. I can’t wait for season two, and I really should put more time into raising my mastery levels.
  • 3. Pokémon Go – This is perhaps the game that my opinion changed the most on this year. I had very little interest in playing it ahead of release, but it’s easily the game I’ve spent the most time on this year. Aside from perhaps a handful of weeks since release I’ve had it running while I’m out and about. I’m getting more exercise, I’m going to places I wouldn’t normally go, and I’m having fun hunting for the last few pokémon I need. I can see me sticking with this for a very long time.
  • 2. Stardew Valley – I wouldn’t call myself a diehard Harvest Moon fan, but I do have fond memories of a few of the games. I played the GBC game a fair amount, and I spent a lot of my childhood in the back of my mum’s car playing the GBA game, fighting the sunlight to see what I was mining. Stardew Valley takes all of what I like about these games and improves upon them. Besides getting ill, it was this game that took a lot of my time away from other games. No regrets though!
  • 1. Pokémon Moon – A lot of us were desperate for another Pokémon game, but this one really smashed it out of the park. We got a great story, a new focus and a decent smattering of new critters, making this one hell of an experience. They even managed to ditch gyms without turning the game into something that didn’t feel like it belonged. There are still improvements that can be made, though, which makes me very excited to see how the series evolves when the Switch rolls around.

Honourable mentions: Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Arcade Future Tone, Life is Strange, The Beginner’s Guide, Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

I think that’s about it. Thank you for putting up with my rambling, and I wish you a very awesome 2017!

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