Category Archives: Best of Gaming

Best in Gaming 2015

I know it’s pretty late for yearly reviews, but better late than never, right?!  2015 was a year that I probably played more games than watched anime.  Well, other than One Piece, which I am still in the process of catching up on.  It was a pretty turbulent year for me on a personal level:  new job, new city, new friends and lots of traveling.  I also closed out some ties last year that were weighing me down and am, so far, happier.

Gaming last year was great, though.  Last year I discovered that I enjoy story in gaming more than any other aspect.  My choices from last year reflect that – each of these had some impact on me on an emotional level.  So here’s my picks for the year.  If you are more interested in gameplay than story, these may not apply to you as much.

5.  Pillars of Eternity

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While I never got around to beating it, Pillars of Eternity seems like an easy shoe-in for my top 5.  The storytelling was consistently witty and fun.  I was entertained.  Enough said.

4.  Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

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While there are definitely things flawed about MGSV, like, I don’t know, it not being complete, Kojima’s final Metal Gear game definitely qualifies as one of my games of the year.  As the finale in the story of Big Boss, the story ties together the Metal Gear games brilliantly.  Were things retconned?  Sure.  Was it an afterthought?  Absolutely.  But the fact that Kojima was able to construct something to tie together the Metal Gear games which honestly has a quagmire of a plotline?  Outstanding.  I’m so glad to see Kojima rid of Konami’s grasp and look forward to what he creates in the future.

3. Undertale

Credit:  http://momoppi.tumblr.com/
Credit: http://momoppi.tumblr.com/

Did I like the gameplay?  Nope.  Did I like the graphics?  Hell nope (hence why they aren’t even pictured).  But was it the best story I played on an emotional level?  100%.  Absolutely.  It’s a ten.  Definitely.  The story was outstanding.  The characters were personable, believable, and funny.  The personalities came out despite the lack of skill put into actually creating the game itself.  The only reason this game isn’t higher on the list is because it limits itself by restricting graphics and gameplay to prehistoric levels.  It’s a pet peeve of mine and I got past it.  It was well worth it.

2. Tales from the Borderlands

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So first things first, I’m not a huge fan of the Borderlands games.  They’re over-glorified FPS games with loot scavenging tendencies with very little interesting plot.  This isn’t a typical Borderlands game.  I’ve recently discovered that I’m a -huge- fan of the Telltale games and this is definitely a Telltale game before it is a Borderlands game.  Sure, there are some in-jokes that I missed since I never have finished a full Borderlands game, but overall the game was quirky, entertaining and, at times, epic.  Our heroes are of the most unbelievable sort and seeing their evolution is outstanding.

1.  Life is Strange

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While Life is Strange was definitely a journey into Hipsterville, I got attached to its characters more than any other game last year.  There were reasonable twists in the story that I didn’t expect and I was legitimately torn between several options in the game.  There was plenty of foreshadowing for the eventual spiral out of control the game presents.  So yeah – I valued the story greatly.  It could occasionally get sophomoric, but it was definitely something that kept me glued to my seat.

Honorable Mentions:

  • The Witcher 3:  I always get bogged down in these games by side-quests, but genuinely enjoy the plot.
  • Splatoon: Enjoyable gameplay…but that’s all there is to it.

Disappointments:

  • Xenoblade Chronicles X:  I bought a Wii U for this game.  I have not made it past the main menu screen because the text is moronically small.
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The Very Best: Like Nothing Ever Was

Today I made the conversion over to a new layout on this site to signify the beginning of a new year and also the broadening of the scope of this blog.

Reviewing my old posts, I realized I’ve never really made a post about what anime I’ve found to be the very best – my all-time favorites.  I imagine this makes it a bit difficult to understand my background and motivations.

It’s time – my top 10 anime and (now that I am expanding into games) video games.

Anime

#10 : Welcome to the NHK

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Welcome to the NHK is a brilliant show that criticizes the otaku and NEET culture of Japan.  In doing that, it explores a wide range of psychological issues, social disorders and tropes in the otaku culture.  What makes me love this show so much is that it sometimes still maintains a light-hearted nature, even when the subject matter gets tense.  The transformation of the characters is subtle and expertly done.

#9 : FLCL

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FLCL takes some time (and multiple watches) to savor.  At first glance it may seem too bizarre.  But after you’ve had the chance to figure out the characters, their motivations (or obsessions) and the actual plot to the series, FLCL is excellent.

As an overall experience, FLCL ranks very highly.  The music is phenomenal – probably one of my all-time favorite soundtracks.  Add to that a show that functions at mach speed, forcing you to constantly pay attention, and you’ve got yourself a winner.

#8 : Neon Genesis Evangelion

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Any mecha fan (which I am) should consider Evangelion to be one of their favorite anime.  While this is a bold statement, since Evangelion is a deconstruction of the mecha genre, it’s just so, so good that you are kidding yourself if you claim to not like it.

Who knew that a minute long single frame could be so absolutely powerful?

#7 : Gunbuster

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We’ve clearly hit the GAINAX block here.  Gunbuster is phenomenal.  I’ve said a lot about the show in the past, and how I feel like Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann basically rehashed the show for the modern age, but I’ll say it again.  I love this show.

It was far, far ahead of its time and has the best ending I have ever experienced in an anime.

#6 : Mushishi

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Mushishi is an experience like no other.  It is a series abounding with simple beauty.

I once thought that I would never enjoy Mushishi, but after I started watching it, I accepted that it was much more than most anime could even aspire to be.

I’m also incredibly pumped that there is a new season (after 8 years off the air) coming out in April.

#5 : Steins;Gate

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Steins;Gate is a good example of a complex story done right.  It has very lovable characters and an interweaving plot that only shows about time travel dare attempt.

It’s not always consistent with itself, but that’s forgivable when you realize what the story achieves.  Kyouma/Kurisu are two of my favorite characters – way up on the list with Araragi and Senjougahara.

#4 : Code Geass (and R2)

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Code Geass…oh…Code Geass.  This show just has something for everyone.  I’ve talked a lot about it, and for good reason.  It just has an incredibly solid plot – with plenty of twists and turns.

All in all, the show is just masterfully done.  While it doesn’t necessarily meet my bizarreness quota at all times (there are moments), it is just so unequivocal in the way it pulls at your emotions at some points in the series.

#3 : Mawaru Penguindrum

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Get your ticket for the bizarre train.  Welcome to Rock ‘n’ Roll night…I’m just a Rock ‘n’ Roll man.  This show is just…Fabulous Max.

Those two words describe the show all too well.  Mawaru Penguindrum is colorful, creative, vibrant and unlike anything else you’ve ever seen.

If you’re looking for a show about warped love, this is it.  Even if you aren’t, this is still it and you should watch it anyway because this show is about much, much, much more than that.

#2 : Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica

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Madoka has been widely praised and has more fans than most series could ever dream of obtaining.  But it’s all for good reason and the show is a lot better than most of the fans even realize.

The show stomps all over the magical girl genre in unrelenting vehemence.  After the heads roll, there just isn’t anything stopping the series from being one of the best dark, psychological and powerful shows anime (or any media for that matter) has to offer.

#1 : Bakemonogatari

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I don’t think I can thoroughly describe all of the reasons why Bakemonogatari is my favorite show.  It’s probably because I just love everything about it (I can’t say the same of its sequels…though they are still good).

The art is gorgeous.  The voice cast is brilliant.  The relationships are extreme.  The dialogue is quick and witty.  The presentation is inventive.  The comedy, when there is comedy, is hilarious (even though I’m not a fan of comedy).  The action, when there is action, is fluid and explosive.

Bakemonogatari is just, hands down, my definition of a perfect show.  I can’t get enough of it and never will be able to, either.

Video Games

Since reviewing video games is a new thing for me, I’ve chosen only 5 of my favorite games.  I very much enjoy RPGs, but that’s mostly just because they usually have the best stories.

#5 : World of Warcraft

World-Of-Warcraft-Burning-Crusade-Wallpaper-ArtsHold on a second!  I’m going to explain myself.  World of Warcraft took up waaaay too much of my time in high school and college (obviously to the point of obsession, but the amount of time spent on this game is part of the reason for it being on the list).  However, there was good reason for that.

World of Warcraft, especially in the Burning Crusade era for me, simply did a lot of things right where other MMOs have either failed or emulated.  Character customization with the talent tree – great.  Combat always felt fluid and unobtrusive.  The dungeons were FUN even when you got down to “farming” them.

WoW was an enjoyable experience for me – not one I ever really want to go back to, though.

#4 : Elder Scrolls Series

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Though I didn’t really get into the Elder Scrolls series until Oblivion, I really enjoy the lore in the game.  Sandbox games can be incredibly fun when the games are well-realized.

And I get to be a Knight/Paladin thing in the games simply by acting like one…which is always cool.

#3 : Final Fantasy Series

Dissidia_Final_Fantasy_-_CG_artwork_of_Warriors_of_CosmosWith only a few exceptions, I have thoroughly enjoyed every Final Fantasy game I have ever played.  The stories are generally well-crafted and have enough twists to keep you on your feet.

I also like how the series always wants to reinvent itself, trying something slightly newer each generation.

#2 : “Tales of” Series

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It’s probably because I like anime so much that the Tales games are just so appealing to me.  That and the action combat.  The stories are usually relatively run of the mill (with some very notable exceptions), but the games are just incredibly fun.

I’ve played many times through on Tales of Symphonia (and a few times through on Tales of the Abyss).  Both are phenomenal games and the series on the whole is great, as well.

#1 : Metal Gear Solid Series

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The Metal Gear Solid games are the only games on this list that are not RPGs.  What I discovered at some point was that it’s not so much how I get the story from games that matters – there are imperfections in nearly every kind of gaming genre – it’s that the story is actually good and well developed.

Some would argue that the Metal Gear Solid games spend way too much time in cinematics and not enough time in gameplay.  Well, the games do it right for me.  So many different things are addressed in the Metal Gear Solid games that never seem to get addressed in games, and it’s always a pleasure to visit a new part of the series or even revisit an old one.