2017: A Year In Review

2016 might have been a complete dumpster fire, but at least… nah, 2017 was pretty bad too. A smaller dumpster fire, perhaps.

On a personal level, it’s been quite a good year. There may not have been a big Japan trip this time, but I can be happy with my improving health (save for, like, the SUPER COLD that’s been destroying me for the past week or two) and a handful of other things. I made a list!

Global Game Jam ’17
January 27th – January 29th 20xx

Very Scary Scenario is at it again. Now, you might not know that because the game from this year’s game jam is kinda still under wraps, but when it’s released sometime soon, that’s what you’ll say. Those rascals!

Follow @vscaryscenario and watch out for news. It’s not another idle game.

Super Bowl LI
February 5th 2017

I haven’t been following American football for very long – about three years or so. But since getting into it, I’ve made a point of watching the Super Bowl when it rolls around at the start of the year. That even includes the one time I was in Japan for it. This year it was just me and middlest brother watching it at my place, and damn am I glad we did. Not only was it the most exciting game I’ve ever seen, it’s also widely regarded as the best Super Bowl ever. I don’t even care for the Patriots, but their comeback was easily a highlight of 2017.

Trip to Mull
April 28th – May 14th 2017

The sorta-annual Scotland board game meet took place in Mull (a friend’s house) once again. We made fires, boated, cooked and everything. Cosmic Encounter is a very good game.

Trip to Wales
July 23rd – July 29th 2017

I’d never actually been to Wales prior to this trip. I was lucky to be put up for a week with some friends in a very lovely area of Bangor. It reminded me a little of Mull in a way, but perhaps because of the people and the scenery more than staying away from civilisation! It was a fun trip, and given everyone has been quoting Look Around You since, I’d say it was productive, too.

I met this tiny dog

Jacksonville Jaguars vs Baltimore Ravens at Wembley
September 24th 2017

After the Super Bowl, it became clear that I wanted to see a game in-person. Fortunately London is lucky enough to get a handful of games a year, with the NFL not backing down in their attempts to get American Football Fever to take over our country. On top of that, the Jaguars were playing – the team I decided to follow and play as in games like Madden (fun fact: I only picked them to begin with because they share a name with a bad video game console). The game was completely one-sided, and surprisingly in favour of the Jags. All in all it was a fun day out, and I now have a bunch of Jaguars flags kicking about my living room.

Cancer Research 2017
November 4th – November 18th 2017

Where do I even start with this. For the third year running, myself and some of the other Very Scary folks got together to raise money for charity by playing video games through the night. We changed our charity this year to Cancer Research UK mostly because we’ve changed every year so far, but also because cancer sucks and we’ve all been affected by it in one way or another.

Back when we started in 2015, I made a series of ‘stretch goals’ for lack of a better term that meant that we’d run the charity streams for an extra hour for every £200 we raised. This was to encourage donations of course, but we stated that we’d do this for every £200 under the impression that we’d never raise more than £200 or £400. I mean, we capped it at £1000 just in case, but any more than £400 would be completely unexpected.

This year we raised £1126. Even more when you throw in gift aid.

It’s not an understatement to say that we’re still thoroughly stunned at how much money was raised. All I can say is that we have some very generous friends and family who hate cancer and really wanted us to stay up for 29 hours. Thank you!

If you missed it, the archive of the South stream is below. You can also watch the North stream, which features some of the other VSS members, and there’s also the Neko Desu All-Nighter, which will be online sometime soon. It was a crazy three weeks and I can’t wait to do it all again next year. Save your pennies!

 

Gigs

I didn’t actually go to many gigs this year, mostly because my main method of finding them (Last.fm) still hasn’t brought back all of its tools for finding them. However, I did attend Distant Worlds when they swung by London for Final Fantasy’s 30th Anniversary, and it was a cracker of a show. Sure, they still play Zanarkand and One Winged Angel, but there was such a wide variety of music besides those that I fell in love with the show all over again. They even brought out opera singers and a narrator for a particular Final Fantasy VI song. What a night!

Japanese Cinema

I might not have been to many gigs this year, but I did make a habit of going to the cinema on the regular. This is mostly thanks to All The Anime putting regular anime film showings into UK cinemas, which I’m hoping will continue to be the case into 2018.

  • A Silent Voice – A phenomenal film. This was the first anime film in cinemas following Your Name which had set one hell of a high bar, but A Silent Voice stands up incredibly well. Mind you, there aren’t many similarities outside of them both being tearjerkers and films you need to watch.
  • From This Corner of the World – Another good film, but one that’s harder to recommend. There’s a lot to like here, and it approaches the war in a few ways that other animated films don’t, but there are better films on the subject matter. Still worth a watch if you get a chance.
  • The Red Turtle – Ghibli’s involvement in this is relatively minor, but I’m including it here anyway because I keep forgetting I’ve seen it (mostly because MAL doesn’t accept it as a film from Japan, which I suppose is fair). I have mixed feelings on this – the majority of the film is intriguing, but I really didn’t think much of the ending. Your mileage may vary?
  • Shin Godzilla – I love this film. I wrote more about it in my end of year Glorio post if you want to read more.
  • The Night Is Short, Walk on Girl – The Tatami Galaxy but somehow weirder. It’s a good film with some phenomenal animation, but be prepared to be scratching your head for some of it!
  • Fireworks – Another ending I wasn’t much of a fan of, but it certainly made me think about it for several days after watching it. Gorgeous visuals at the very least, and plenty of signature head tilting.
  • Lu Over the Wall – I’d be hard pushed deciding between this or A Silent Voice for best animated film I watched last year, but the films themselves couldn’t be more different. Lu is Ghibli-esque, and not just in that Lu (the character) is similar to Ponyo – the colourful art, the exaggerated animations and the lively characters give it that feeling. A very good year for director Masaaki Yuasa, who also worked on The Night is Short.

The Video Game Bit

Last year was a good year for video games. This year kinda knocked that out of the park. Good news considering just about everything else going on was a nightmare. Once again I’ve been tracking which games I’m playing and beating over on the Backloggery, and for 2017 I had similar goals:

  • Beat 30 Games
  • Beat 15 Games bought pre-2017
  • Beat two unbeaten The Legend of Zelda titles
  • Beat 50% or more owned Wii U games
  • Beat 50% or more owned PS4 games

Beating 36 games is pretty good, but it’s hard not to get a bit nostalgic for my uni days, where I was throwing together papers and coursework yet still finishing 50 to 60 games. Time to quit the day job and live under a duvet.

Joking aside, I am a little disappointed I missed the pre-2017 games target by 1. It’s a goal I try to hit because without it, the backlog just keeps on growing. Perhaps a little harder to keep on top of my game purchases this year.

The Zelda target is probably going away this year. While I do want to play some of the older Zelda titles, it’s not quite grabbing me as much as the Final Fantasy goal did. Speaking of which, perhaps I’ll start FFXV this year. It’s been hard to justify starting that when Square Enix continue to add new content to the campaign.

50% of Wii U games beat? Probably not going to happen. However, I have rejigged my living room to make it easier to use the Wii U if I wish to, so perhaps I’ll finish a few this year. I still want to play Tokyo Mirage Sessions, though part of me is still hopeful for a Switch port.

Oh, and it’s pretty funny that on the year I drop the goal for it, I buy an Xbox One. I’ve got some Halo games to get through, courtesy of Santa.

Anyway, enough waffle. Here’s the hit list for 2017 and some numbers:

Games beaten: 36 (4 more than 2016, 31 beat, 5 complete)

Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA X*
World of Final Fantasy*
Arslan: The Warriors of Legend*
GameCenter CX: Arino no Chōsenjō 2*
The Unfinished Swan*
Pokémon Colosseum*
Yakuza 0
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
DOOM
KAMIKO
Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl*
Persona 5
Batman: Arkham Knight*
Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth*
Ratchet & Clank*
Firewatch
Flower*
Super Mario 3D World
Inside
Dragon Quest Heroes II
Yakuza Kiwami
Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 FB*
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 RtB
One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3
Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness*
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor*
Golf Story
Super Mario Odyssey
SteamWorld Dig 2
Nier: Automata
Pokémon Ultra Moon
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
Fire Emblem Warriors
Doki Doki Literature Club
Finding Paradise

* denotes a game purchased pre-2017

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. Golf Story – This game released at what seemed like a dangerous time – a week or two following the new Everybody’s Golf. It’s not just that these were both golf games, though, as EG has established itself as a wacky but fairly accurate golf sim. Golf Story showed it was more than a golf sim, and fortunately seems to have done well for itself. Personally, I loved this game because of its absurd story and insistence of solving every in-game problem with golf. That and it’s pretty fun, too.
  • 9. DOOM – I was part of the group that saw this for the first time during Bethesda’s E3 conference and thought it was just going to be gratuitous violence, the game. I won’t even say I was glad to hear otherwise as I don’t really have much nostalgic love for the Doom series, but this new game was an absolute blast. The mere act of killing monsters is so fun that I wasn’t bored of it come the end of the game. Looking forward to what they do in the inevitable sequel.
  • 8. SteamWorld Dig 2– The first game was a superb 3DS game, albeit a little short. It meant that jumping into the sequel on the Switch was a complete no-brainer, and it certainly doesn’t disappoint. It improves on the first game in almost every way, and the act of exploring is still incredibly fun. A must-get for Switch owners.
  • 7. Finding Paradise – Remember To The Moon? If not, go play that game already. To The Moon was a phenomenal PC game that caught a lot of people off guard with its Game Maker-esque visuals and low price. Beneath that was a fantastic, genuinely moving story about someone’s last moments. Finding Paradise is the long-awaited sequel to To The Moon (not counting a few mini-episodes that technically come between) and I’d say it’s just as good. There are differences here and there, but ultimately it’s another game in the same vein as To The Moon with yet another cracker of a story. Back to waiting for another one!
  • 6. Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus – Wolfenstein II, as a game, is pretty middling. The gunplay is fun but not without its frustrations, and a real noticeable gulf in difficulty between easy and normal really soured me on that. However, there’s simply nothing comparable when it comes to stories in shooters. This game goes places, surprises you and then goes even further. It’s also home to almost all of the ‘best moments’ in game from this year – there’s just so many crazy, incredible moments to be had here. Definitely recommended, just don’t feel bad about dropping down to easy.
  • 5. Nier: Automata – I won’t lie – this game doesn’t speak to me on the same level as it seems to with many, more vocal players. However, it’s an incredibly fun game with some phenomenal storytelling that more people definitely need to experience, route B be damned. I’ll be keeping an eye on what Yoko Taro gets up to in the future, that’s for sure.
  • 4. Super Mario Odyssey – How do you even top a game like Super Mario Galaxy? It’s been a month or two since I last played Odyssey, but I’m still not sure whether this or Galaxy tops my 3D Mario list. Regardless, Odyssey is a brilliant, charming game, filled to the brim with tiny details and love from its developers.
  • 3. Persona 5 – This is easily the game I put the most time into this year, reaching just over 100 hours to finish up a playthrough. Is this the best Persona game? Gameplay wise, I’d say so. Story wise, probably not. However, the cast of characters on offer here are a great bunch, and the story is pretty darn good in its own right. Persona 4 is just a tough game to top!
  • 2. Yakuza 0 – I am so happy this game even came out over here. It’s gorgeous, amazing fun and easily the best the Yakuza series has to offer in English. The side stories are consistently hilarious, the mini games are addictive and the story is genuinely gripping. Add on top the atmosphere that comes with dragging Kamurocho into HD and it becomes an unforgettable experience. A game worthy of topping a GOTY list, had it not been for one game in particular…
  • 1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – This game was enough to make me buy a Switch in good faith that more games would come out, and that was a decision I made on perhaps 30 minutes of E3 footage. I was happy to keep additional details as a surprise for the full game, and boy was that one hell of an experience. It’s not simply a phenomenal Legend of Zelda game, but also one of the best, if not the best, open world game we’ve ever had. What really made me fall in love with this game is the sheer amount of intricacies accounted for by the developers. Conductivity of metals, realistic leg placement when standing on hills, enemy behaviours… that’s not to mention numerous ‘wow’ moments when you discover you absolutely can do something specific. This is easily the game of the year, and a terrific indication that the Switch is getting an incredible library of games.

Honourable mentions: Pokemon Go, Firewatch, Yakuza Kiwami, Doki Doki Literature Club

I think that’s about it. Thank you for putting up with my rambling, and I wish you a very awesome 2018!

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