My Top 5 Games of 2017

Ignore the date! It is NOT late March and therefore this article is NOT long overdue.

5. Puyo Puyo Tetris

Puyo Puyo logo

I’m actually surprised this is in my top 5, but looking back over all the games I played of 2017, this one I’ve kept coming back to. Puzzle games aren’t even a genre that I have much love for compared to others but Puyo Puyo Tetris is just so easy to love. Tetris is universal, I don’t need to explain that as anyone having an interest in gaming and reading this knows how Tetris works. Puyo Puyo is something I’d never played before and when I got the game I figured I would just play the Tetris modes and that’s it. Puyo Puyo is similar to popular Facebook and mobile phone games. You have colours, you line the colours up and score points and clear space. Setting off a chain reaction of disappearing Puyo’s will grant more points and space as well as obstacles for your opponents.

The game does a great job of explaining the gameplay mechanics of both modes and it’s Frankenstein of a mode where they merge the two. What follows is a simple concept but hard to master package that has a mode for everyone. The chaos that ensues when four people play against each is hilarious especially with modes like Swap, where each player has to play Tetris for a set time and then swap to their own Puyo Puyo game and the pattern continues until a victor remains. A great game with a lot of replay value and perfect game for a Nintendo Switch as the portability is a huge bonus.

4. Stardew Valley

Stardew valley

I own this on 3 platforms. I’ve put over 100 hours across all 3 and yet I still haven’t finished a single playthrough. It’s one of those games that I’m sure everyone has experienced. You start it, you play it for hours a day, you spend dozens of hours getting the result you want and rather than finish your current run, you decide to start again. Not due to boredom or unhappiness with your current run. But due to that simplicity and addictive nature of the beginning of the game. The thing that enraptured you in the first place.

Achieving an ideal farm and a peak routine that yield’s the most profit and productivity is fun. It’s great fun and very therapeutic. On the other hand, a simple basic farm has my pitiful mind brimming with potential. Do I focus on animals? How should I organise my crops? Do I want a cat or dog on my farm? How do I improve on what I did previously? There is so much choice in this game that I think I’ll be playing it for another 5 years before I finish a run. And I am completely okay with that.

For more on how I feel about Stardew Valley and a more in depth look at an average 20 minutes on the game, feel free to check out a feature I wrote a while back. Here is the shill….I mean, link! Shill

3. Mario Odyssey

mario

This is a fun game! It gives me a warm, happy feeling when I play it. I know that sounds all touchy and overly sentimental for a game but it’s the truth. Mario games in the main series have always held that power over me but Mario Odyssey might be one of the prime examples. Everyone and their gran knows what Mario is and how it plays so I’m not going to explain that.

Mario Odyssey has what makes a video game a classic. It’s beautifully colourful, has fluid gameplay, an amazing soundtrack and has many moments that planted the stupidest smile on my face. This game is a stand out in Mario’s long history. From the beginning to the end of this adventure, humour and nostalgia are injected into every corner of this game. Nintendo set out to make the most fun and Mario filled Mario game and I believe they done that spectacularly. Sheer fun on a cartridge.

2. Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Breath-of-the-Wild

Breath of the Wild has spoilt me. Why can’t I climb all mountains in all other open world games? I’ll be the first to admit that I have an issue with open world games. There is usually too much to do and the world in question is a lot of the time, devoid of personality or enough personality to fill its scale. Breath of the Wild laughs at that problem. I loved exploring this world. There is so much to find and see that I never tired of climbing mountains. Not only is Hyrule a treat to traverse but the actual traversal mechanics are a delight to play.

This Zelda is a tricky one to place. It’s number 2 on my list and I believe it deserves that spot. Saying that though, it’s one of the weakest 3D Zelda games in my eyes. I always loved Zelda’s dungeons and bosses and this game lacks in that area severely. On the other hand though, it still deserves the number 2 spot and is still the best realised open world game I’ve played. I think this is an amazing game and an amazing series. Even when Zelda is at its weakest it is still head and shoulders above most of the video game industry. So even though I just said this is a weak entry in the series, I still recommend buying this game 100%. A superb game.

My game of the year is………..

1. Persona 5

Persona 5

For me this was the clear winner. I loved the others on this list and when I wrote down my preliminary top 10, Persona 5 was placed at number 1 and it stayed there. Others I swapped and ummed and ahhed about but not Persona 5. That speaks volume to me and hopefully to you about how I feel about this game. This was a stellar year in gaming but this quirky high school sim/JRPG/heist game takes the grand prize.

I’m not a stranger to the Persona series or even the Shin Megami Tensei series. I remember buying Persona 4 for £10 for my PS2 back when PS2 games were no longer the key market. The next gen had come along but I saw this strange game with these fantastic reviews and gave it a go. My mind was blown. It is still my high point for JRPG’s, a genre that I’m not the most proficient in besides the odd Final Fantasy game.The Persona series is like no other series I’ve played. It’s tone and weird nature are enveloped by solid characters, unique storyline’s and a combat system that I care for with a passion. It’s essentially Final Fantasy turn based combat with Pokemon chucked in. There are so many aspects of this game that I could write paragraphs about.

In the end though, it’s style that is all over this game that I love immensely and the reason it is my number 1 of 2017. The look, the music, the character and Persona design. Even the menu screen is a joy to view. It has pizzazz all over the place and it’s not a style over substance game. The world and the characters that fill the world are rich in detail and care. Every aspect of this game took time and consideration. If you haven’t played or seen footage of this masterpiece then please go on YouTube and have a look. Just at the menu screen or the end screen of a battle. To me the end screen of a generic battle is a classic. It’s up there with the Final Fantasy victory fanfare (the one that you just sang to yourself). That is only a small detail of this game but that flare and flourish is cascading through this game.

There is nothing else like it at the moment in my opinion besides other iterations. Persona 6 can’t come soon enough but I’ll gladly accept Shin Megami Tensei on the Switch till then.

Trivia Time- Doom 3, Demolition Developers

Doom 3 was released in August 2004 after a long production cycle, work on Doom 3 started back in mid 2000. The game was well received for its graphics and lighting but not so much for its gameplay, which was very different to the classic run ‘n’ gun formulae of previous Doom games. Clearly the team had spent a long time designing the game and its world and clearly it shows. The research facility on Mars, where the game is set, feels lived in and worn. When you enter rooms there is blood, remnants from fights, damaged surfaces and misplaced objects. But the rooms were like that originally.

When the levels for Doom 3 were created, they were created immaculate. Brand new rooms! Like a newly built office. As if the Mars research facility was a brand new, vacant building. Developers were then given the task of going through each level and giving it that tattered, lived in feel. How they did that you ask? Well, the developers created special weapons to do the work. Details of these weapons are very scarce but I like to imagine they made guns that put dents into walls, smudges on surfaces, smeared blood upon the tiles and a variety of effects to make the world of Doom 3 a damaged one. Once they had gone through each level with these weapons, the levels were then used in the game.

doom 3 room

It’s a clever idea. It helps give the research facility that authentic feel that helps our ability to believe in this universe. Also, how fun would that be, to be one of those developers? To create something and after months of hard work and detailing the levels, you get to go round and smash up the place. I bet it’s very therapeutic, especially wrecking certain rooms that were more difficult than others to design. I would love that job. Professional level wrecker!

Trivia Time: Resident Evil 5 Corpse Hunt

Publicity stunts are a funny thing. Some companies just miss the mark in spectacular fashion while others hit the tone of their respective game just right. Others, try something a bit different. Different is good……sometimes. Resident Evil 5 had such a stunt.

For those that don’t know, Resident Evil 5 is a third person shooter set in sunny Africa. The series is known for having zombies but the main enemies in RE5, are villagers under the control of the Uroboros virus. This virus basically puts whoever is infected, under the control of whoever is controlling the virus. Now that that’s explained, let’s talk about something completely different! This Resident Evil 5 stunt! Rather than taking place in Africa, this stunt take place in murky London. 50 contestants set off in the early hours of the morning, for a scavenger hunt in the city. The prize you ask? A trip for two to Africa. Not a bad prize at all. I’d give my right leg for that trip. And a hand. A torso. Another leg. Oh wait……I wouldn’t have to give them my body parts! Just the ones the organisers have scattered about the city.

27.-Resident-Evil-5-2009

Yes you read that right, body parts. Just lying there, no big deal. Someone’s grandma out for a morning stroll, wanders round the corner and hello there! A leg in the alley. Whether that happened or not, I am unsure of. Maybe the heads, torsos and limbs were hidden well enough. A little too well apparently because at the end of the competition, a few mounds of flesh hadn’t been returned. Yup, apparently one head, two torsos, six limbs and lots of chicken liver, for added effect, were not returned.

I like to think that this was one of the contestants who just ran off with his finds. Perhaps he was really happy with him or herself. Strolling along, limbs tucked under each arm, head in a carrier bag and torso shoved in a back pack. Then he sees the winner of the contest, Steve Long, walking by with more limbs. And our body snatcher decided that he/she wouldn’t win today. So, like a sulky child they took their football and went home. Only this time, it was a head instead of a football. Just like the Mayan’s used to do.  There’s an extra fun fact for you!

resident-evil-5-stunt-1-300x300

Trivia Time: Redead’s Scream

Redead’s are the stuff of nightmares. I don’t care what anybody says, The Legend of Zelda series can be dark at times. From paralysing screams, giants hands that spring from the shadows, the Happy Mask Salesman and that sadistic, smiling moon, the Zelda franchise is deceptively twisted. Exhibit A:

Zelda Monster

What is that!?!? Nintendo, that ain’t fair. A few hours ago I was in an open field with my trusty steed Epona, whistling a merry tune with my ocarina. Then you open the gates of hell and invite Satan’s creepy uncle to Hyrule.  That is an abomination of a mind I don’t want to delve into. Some creatures in the Zelda universe are creepier than horror game monsters.

None show this more than the Redead’s. These shambling corpses just stand there moaning like us Brits at a bus stop. Until you get close enough and then suddenly they scream. A scream so terrifying, that the main character Link, freezes in place. The player then has to mash the buttons to try to unbind themselves from the spot, before the slowly moving figure, latches onto you and starts biting. As a child, this put the fear right in me! So much so, that there were times that I’d just close my eyes and run through Castle Town. That was until I learnt that the Sun Song freezes them and then it’s easy. Easy but still scary.

redead kill

So, I wanted to try and figure out where that scream came from and whose vocal chords it belonged to. Alas, I didn’t find the person in question, I did find where Nintendo got the scream from though. The General Series 6000 Sounds Effects Library! A catalogue of sounds that can be purchased for use in media.  The scream that I have found is different to the Redead scream, but I believe this to be the base form before audio tampering. The scream even has The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask listed as one of its times used in media form. Here is the scream I believe to be the Redead’s origin:

This

Compare it to the completed game’s version:

Here

I may be wrong on this but I do believe that is the same scream. The very first half a second or so sound to me. It then changes and a sound effect is added, that is like a whooshing sound. I listened to quite a few women’s screams (what an hour that was) and that one sounds the part. For now and until I master audio mixing, that is the Redead scream to me.