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Unread 01-07-2023, 05:41 PM   #1
BB
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Books Games of 2022

2022 was my first year back at work the entire time, and it was also the year of the Steam Deck, two conflicting forces in the realm of games-playing which together resulted in around 60 games getting played. That’s a smaller figure than last year, but nonetheless impressive given I spent an unreasonable amount of that time playing Master Of Orion, and also sadly got sucked into Fortnite pretty heavily. Technically, though, I actually played over 800 games this year, taking the time to finally sort through my extensive, uh, retro games collection. Finally, I started writing a book this year, which I am currently procrastinating on by writing this. Oops!

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Iconoclasts

A weird one this, it’s a fun romp through some unreasonably sublime pixel art and decent metroidvania-ish exploration that doesn’t get too complicated, but the story is all kinds of baffling. A handful of characters get introduced right at the end to ex-machina one antagonist away, and the final boss is ???. It’s easy enough to shrug off but it did leave less of an impact as a result.

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Sin and Punishment

Never managed to come back to this. Might throw it back on the backlog.

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Baba Is You?

A game absolutely born for the steam deck, each puzzle lasts just long enough to cook your brain and then you can put it down again, coming back fresh for the next puzzle. The ability to put it down between stages means you’re not falling into the trap of bringing forward rules from the previous level that no longer apply.

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Brrrrothers

I was not jazzed about the ending, and I’ll try not to say much more than that. Telling the story through the controls was a neat touch though.

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Muse Dash

Never came back here… I really need more progression than just unlocking songs to get me into a game. I need a goal of some kind, and a lot of rhythm games skip that part. A shame, it’s very cool and colourful, and there is a staggering amount of content. ...and cheesecake.

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Framed

Forgot to write a BBLC entry for this- it was a Fin. Rearrange comic panels so your noir heist goes according to plan, or end up sleeping with the fishes. A fun puzzle that tells a story and doesn’t outstay its welcome, with some really tricky stuff later on as you solve two panels only to break what you thought you had solved previously.

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Mushihimesama

The scrolling background and horizontal play area made me really dizzy when I tried to play it, which is my excuse for missing the 1cc. It’s possibly something I could get used to over time, but making myself sick repeatedly just isn’t worth it. A big shame.

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Pokemon Legends Arceus

Absolutely baffling decision to release ScarVi in the same year as this. They must have greatly underestimated how much people would latch onto the mechanics here. For my part, I went into great detail in my BBLC entry about how important this game feels, and having since 100% completed it, that opinion has cemented further. Deeply imperfect and still an absolute romp despite that, this gets my GOTY for the sheer potential it shows for what’s to come. Gen 5 is my favourite gen and there are easter eggs aplenty that Unova’s getting the same treatment some day. I cannot wait.

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Snakebird Primer

Finished this before writing up the BBLC entry! Good puzzler that doesn’t get anywhere near as painful as its forebear.

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Offspring Fling

Another one finished before writing it up, and another fun puzzler. Very rapid-fire levels keep the game flowing forward.

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FF3

The pixel remaster to be specific, I think 3 is a hard sell these days with lots of weird difficulty spikes and unfriendly design choices even after the remaster. Soundtrack is killer, though.

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Arc Symphony

It’s debatable if this is even a game, more of a message board simulator. it’ll take 10 minutes of your time and is a brief but interesting look into a world that could have been as you respond to messages on a newsgroup for your favourite video game.

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Distance Delux

I don’t have much more to say about Distance- it wasn’t much longer than the original hour. Most of the longevity is in user-created levels which I’ve never really cared for, but the package itself is a lot of fun and very stylish.

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Broken Age

Never finished it; after the two characters swapped positions and Elijah Wood got deeply, deeply mired in 5 separate adventure-game-standard nonsense quests I just couldn’t muster the strength to get through it. A shame, since all the other stuff going on was really cool.

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Monster Boy

An utter joy from start to finish. The Wonder/Monster Boy series has always been kind of an under-appreciated great, and this latest entry is the best of them. It’s my GOTY, and before you start, yes I can have more than one of those. Soundtrack is legit.

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Sonic Mania

I dunno, man, I guess I just don’t like Sonic games? The last good one was Sonic 2. The inertia makes basic platforming miserable, the speed means you miss things that you can’t go back for, there are obnoxious gotchas around every corner that you don’t have time to react to, the special stages are BS... It’s frustration after frustration, and I just don’t get the hype.

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MGS

Both the PS1 original and the GC remake, these games are dumb as hell. It really feels like a ‘you had to be there’ kind of situation. People talk about them like they are super deep and serious, bordering on poetry. Snake’s shirt comes off apropo of nothing and then the dramatic escape sequence is interrupted just so he can find it again! He does a kickflip off a missile!!!!

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Nex Machina

Hugely frenetic high energy twinstick shooter to the end, it’s a fun game but the real winner here is That Soundtrack. The lyrics to Let Me Save You make no damn sense but they’ve been cemented in my mind ever since.

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FF7

It’s fine.

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Touhou 18.5

I think I enjoyed this interstitial more than its associated main title this time around! It’s a good five minute burn for between jobs or on your lunch break. Some progress even when you lose.

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Bridge Constructor Portal

I dropped it shortly after giving it Fin status. Physics games are just kinda beyond my ken, sadly. My bridges would fail and I would have no idea why. That’s definitely user error though.

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a short hike

Finished it within the hour, and it’s a perfect one-hour afternoon game. Highly recommended to anyone who wants something Just Nice to play around with.

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Jumpgrid

Hugely frenetic game that is 99% exactly my kind of thing, with some later levels sadly becoming more about memorising what’s changing more than reacting to it when it does. Mainly talking about the blinking circles level, here.

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HGSS nuzlocke

What a slog! 4 restarts, we finally became champions on attempt number 5. There’s some real issues with wild encounter levels in this game, often being half the level of your team so they’re no good to catch and no good to train on. It’s a great game though, and obviously they are not designed to be played this way.

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Donkey Kong Land 2

On the gameboy, an astonishing technical achievement that seems to present the same game as the SNES version but with level design changes across the board. For someone (me) who has played the SNES version a hundred times, it’s like leaving your bedroom to find the entire layout of your house has been rearranged. I can’t fault the game for that, but it was too jarring for me.

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Donkey Kong Land 3

The sequel meanwhile was far more its own standalone title, distinct from the SNES version. It’s a good rip, a strong platformer that carries over a surprising amount of tech from its big brother on console. Well worth a punt.

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Sonic C64

Another staggering technological achievement, this is the Master System version of Sonic The Hedgehog, broken down into assembly code and then rewritten to run on the Commodore 64. Absolutely incredible work from the team behind it. They even rearranged the soundtrack into SID format.

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Spiderman PS1

Fond memories of this one, unfortunately my Actual Legit PS1 didn’t run it very well so I had to drop it. I have a newer more powerful Actual Legit PS1 now, so I’ll probably give it another shake soon.

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TF2

Look, leave me alone, alright?

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Spike McFang

SNES RPG that goes criminally underappreciated, though it is hard and also very stingy with its levels and money so you have to grind an awful lot. Vampire prince Spike has to go cave in the evil Lord Von Hesler’s face for a reason I can’t remember. This game notable for being the origin of where I stole the villain’s name for my novel from. Oops!

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F Zero X

I skipped this one back in the day so my fondness is for GX, which- yes, I’ll say it- is the superior game. Not to disparage the technical achievement of X, of course, but if I have a hankering for some Falconing, it’ll be the gamecube that’s overheating, not the 64.

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Age Of Empires II

Like 90% of the fun of this game is fooling around in the scenario editor, honestly. Good memories of swapping floppy disks with Steve at school so he could play the likes of ‘really good map’, ‘can you destroy the wonder!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!’, and ‘JUSTIN TIMBERLAR’.

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Soul Calibur 3

The first in the series to introduce boob physics, but I promise the reason I came back to this was more fond memories of my teenage years playing against my best friend of the time. Jiggle jiggle

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Soul Calibur 2

The last game in the series not to have boob physics, I never played this multiplayer BUT it had a far more robust and interesting single player mode which I enjoyed a lot. Back in the day I played the PS2 version as I had to borrow it from a friend, but this time I played the obviously-superior gamecube version, which had Link as a playable character.

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Sonic The Hedgehog SMS

Having played it on Commodore, I had to give the original a spin. For my money, the best Sonic game of them all, and no I’m not kidding.

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STH2 SMS

Where the SMS original was a fairly faithful take on the Mega Drive OG, their respective sequels deviated wildly, with the SMS version introducing weird gimmick levels that were hit or miss (goddamn hang gliders what the hell). It’s a hard sell these days, I think.

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Ikaruga

For christmas last year midgi bought me a half-size arcade machine, which I then spent the year modding and refitting into an Ikaruga cabinet! A long held dream realised. Playing with an arcade stick means all the muscle memory is gone and it’s very very hard.

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Aperture Desk Job

A little test game for Deck owners, the main function of this game is to make you wistfully say aloud “damn, I wish Valve still made games”. It’s a laugh, but probably not worth booting up for the deckless.

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Rock 'n' Roll Racing

The combination of both rock racing and roll racing makes for a pretty cool isometric race-em-up with upgradable vehicles and a very cool and very copyright-infringing soundtrack. The controls are very slippery until you get pretty deep into the tire upgrades, be warned.

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Master Of Orion 2

It’s always going to be on here. This year I completed my challenge to beat the game with all of the stock races and fooled around with making mods for it to better suit my likes. I even joined the discord!

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Metal Gear Solid GBC

Those infamous hour-long cutscenes are *really* grating when played out in slowcrawl text. It’s an impressive game that manages to do an awful lot with just two buttons- if only it would shut up long enough to let you do it.

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MGS GC

A kickflip off a missile

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Castlevania Harmony of Dissonance

The first one of these I’ve played that is the -vania of metroidvania, and it’s helped me come to realise I only really like the first half of that genre. I’m not sure what it was, exactly- I guess more emphasis on platforming and combat than exploration? There were lots of boss fights that felt like they were going to lead to something important but then were just kind of… *there*. I didn’t dislike the game, I had fun with it, but it felt very 6/10 for me.

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Skyblazer

Pretty cool SNES scrolly punch-em-up with some neat fluid movement and cool level design. It’s very hard and without save states (which, uh, my SNES came with built in) I probably would have bailed. Really like some of the music.

Donkey Kong King of Swing

Was always interested in trying this when I read about it in my nintendo magazines at the time of its release, but the imprecise gameplay left me a little cold. I kinda felt (perhaps unfairly, I didn’t get far) that I’d seen everything it was going to offer within the first short while. There are *so many games* I haven’t played yet and it just felt like my time was better spent elsewhere.

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Kirby gb 2

I love a good kirby game, and since the series has been the exact same ever since this title released there was little doubt I’d enjoy this one too. It’s all here, fun stages, mini puzzles, Rick the Goddamn Hamster, levels that have to be approached a certain way so you can fight the abject eldritch horror at the end of the game. All that good stuff.

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FF5 FJF

Mime, Time Mage, Ninja, and Freelancer this year, a team that seems a little iffy at first but actually has some great synergy (and also, Mime). Another triple crown, I’ve never missed one yet. Looking forward to FJF 2023!

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Terranigma

A SNES RPG that does some LEGIT impressive stuff and is criminally underrated. The opening couple of hours are the strongest, with the game getting weaker as it goes on- especially the latter half starts to drag its feet a little. Even so, it tells a great story and has some very nice combat mechanics (though you’ll NEVER use magic). Soundtrack is legendary.

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Fortnite

Fortnite the game is a lot of fun. Fortnite the presentation has a lot of very cool ideas. Fortnite the business model is abhorrent. It’s important to distinguish those. The developer side of Fortnite really seems to know what they’re doing, but sadly so does the publisher side. I’ve spent hundreds of hours here enjoying the core game while trying my very best to ignore the mindhacks. That said- holy smokes Epic, please fix your storefront, the launcher is TERRIBLE.

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Pokemon Trading Card Game

On the gameboy, specifically. This game is a bit weird, in that it can be decided almost instantly who has won just off a(n un)lucky first hand, which I’m sure was balanced a lot as the game developed over the last 20+ years. Despite that, it’s a lot of fun to build a deck and try new toys. I always thought it would be fun to play the TCG but cost is a prohibitive factor- this game sure scratched that itch. However the real stand out feature here is the soundtrack. There is just no reason at all the OST had to go THIS hard. Every tune is a certified TUNE.

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A Short Hike

A very pleasant way to spend an hour, it has a very gentle sense of humour and a wonderful nostalgic feeling of exploration. It really is a short hike, but there are plenty of distractions along the beaten path to take you on a tangent.

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Jumpgrid

A very stressful way to spend an hour, but in a good way. Jumpgrid is another one of those ultra-simple premise games along the speed of Super Hexagon where the goal is to hit each segment of a 3x3 grid and return to the centre without being nobbled by abstract shapes moving along in the background. It goes a mile a minute and restarts are almost instant, keeping the sense of pace. GREAT music rounds off a niche package that will either be very much your thing or absolutely not your thing at all.

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FF1

This time with a party of all black mages. The version I play fixed the bug in the original where intelligence didn’t actually have any effect on spell damage, but even with that, magic is simply inferior to physical attacks. Yes you can wipe out groups of enemies, but if they go first you’ll get wiped yourself no matter what, while tanky classes can whittle those groups down over a few rounds and take far less damage. Magic is also useless against bosses. Thankfully BMs have access to Haste and Temper, so it’s trivial to throw the masamune on one of them and buff him to hell. Then it’s just a matter of surviving attacks, which is a problem since Chaos’ physical hit OHKOs a black mage no matter what, and his magic attacks outpace healing. I’d still rank them above 4 Black Belts, but it’s probably the next weakest team. (Four white mages is actually superb)

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And finally, the Bins:

Soul Axiom
Tokyo 42
Newt One
superhot
Raiden 5
Dominus Galaxia
wario land 2
My Friend Pedro
Pid

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There are 53 games on my backlog, not counting those *ahem* retro games. In theory, by the next time I write one of these, my backlog should be empty, right? See you next year!
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Last edited by BB; 01-07-2023 at 05:56 PM.
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