It’s that time of year (give or take a few weeks) where we all take a second and ponder the year that was. However, rather than use this time for introspection or self betterment, why not just think about which games were most fun? Which ones took you by surprise, which ones met your expectations and which ones exceeded them by far. If only there were some already completed list to help spark your though process, complete with pictures and individualised blurbs…
Why, who put this here? What luck! A (somewhat) well thought out list of Japanese based video games that made 2016 fun. Talk about a lucky break. Why not give it a look? I’ll meet you down at the bottom of the page. Have fun!
GOTY – Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth
2016 was, in the eyes of many fans, a year dedicated to the long-running Monster Taming franchise Digimon. At the forefront of it’s year-long victory was none other than this year’s Game Of The Year; Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth. The first worthwhile Digimon video game to be released in Western regions for quite some time, Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth shocked fans with it’s overall high calibre. Expecting something along the lines of Digimon: All-Star Rumble, a notoriously flawed title, Cyber Sleuth hit the Western world with enough force to leave a lasting impact, that being the continued release of once Japan-only Digimon titles across the entire world.
Cyber Sleuth took everything we came to know and love about Digimon over the years and brought it into a world that was both familiar and yet begged to be explored. Released for both the PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 4, Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth was a video game masterpiece mixing well-tuned gameplay mechanics, an outstanding visual presence, a story that inspires people to delve deeper in, and the Digimon that blessed our childhoods, making it not only a fantastic game to jump into as an adult but one that acted as somewhat of a portal into our own pasts.
Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth, for us here at SnapThirty, will forever be the video game that not only defined 2016 but the one that rejuvenated this franchise outside of Japan. Thanks to Cyber Sleuth’s excellence, both as a video game and in regards to it’s sales, games like Digimon World -Next Order- are planned for a release across the globe come the end of this month. Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth is exactly what the franchise and us, it’s fans, needed, and for that it will forever remain SnapThirty’s Game Of The Year for 2016.
Reader’s Vote – Pokemon Sun and Moon
Best Gameplay – Attack on Titan: Wings of Freedom
When Omega Force first announced that they would be developing and release a video game based on the hit Anime/Manga series Attack On Titan, it was very hard to determine just what it would be like. For all intents and purposes, many people imagined that it was going to play almost exactly like several of the other video game titles that the company has released in recent times; i.e. Dynasty Warriors clones. When the game was eventually released, audiences from around the world were stunned by just how different this Wings Of Freedom was to not only all the other Warriors-style games but from all other games in general, being compared only to old Spiderman titles from the days of the PlayStation 1.
Attack On Titan: Wings Of Freedom, in an attempt to emulate the strange struggle between mastery and helplessness that the series perfectly portrayed, created a system of mechanics that made you, the player, feel overtly in control but always with a slight air of absolute danger meaning that you were only ever a couple of mistakes away from being devoured. Wings Of Freedom embraced it’s name and gave players the ability to feel free in a literal caged society as they zoomed through the air with somewhat ease, destroying the monsters that threaten their very existence.
Omega Force found a way to make a perfect Attack On Titan game, and even if I had all the time in the world I still wouldn’t be able to explain the intricacies. All I know is that Attack On Titan: Wings Of Freedom was, arguably, one of the most enjoyable games of the year, and we’re only considering gameplay. It was easy to jump into, difficult to master, and impossible to stop playing. Truly deserving of this award.
Best Visuals – Final Fantasy XV
Final Fantasy XV took 11 years to happen, a game that quite possibly looked as if it was going to crush under the weight of its lofty ambitions. After all, just recently we saw Scalebound get cancelled for that very reason. The rumour mill was simply spinning with tales of how current hardware was struggling to even run Final Fantasy XV, but after many many delays and a great deal of uncertainty, Final Fantasy XV did finally land. Say what you will about its story and cast, you may even have qualms about its battle system, but you simply cannot take away from the sheer brilliance of its graphics and visuals. The breathtaking open world, titanic monsters, and endless array of visual eye candy, all delivered with a few forgivable glitches and hitches here and there. When it comes to sheer visual and graphical ambition, and delivering superb performance, few Japanese games this generation were as daring or successful as Final Fantasy XV and Metal Gear Solid V. How many JRPGs this generation have even attempted to utilise the full potential of current console hardware? Final Fantasy XV broke the technical glass ceiling.
Best Soundtrack – Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse
It may not have been the best graphical showcase of 2016 by a long shot, but with its art style and music alone, it created an atmosphere like no other. If you’ve ever seen the 1994 classic film The Crow (starring the late Brandon Lee) then you will totally dig the broodingly haunting soundtrack and atmosphere of Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apolcalypse. The music alone drives that dark post-modern apocalyptic aesthetic, making use of dark 90s/80s synth rock tunes to immerse the player. The soundtrack convincingly conveying moments of impending doom, dramatic battles, and an even better job of relief when exploring the town segments. The upbeat tune that plays during the town segments is just so intoxicating and such a stark contrast to the doom and gloom, doing an excellent job of making you feel like an underground hunter. If you ever enjoyed the music of anime from the late 80s and sci-fi anime throughout the 90s, then you will find the musical style of Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse to be very engaging and nostalgic. Did we mention that protagonist Nanashi’s jacket has lyrics of John Lennon’s Imagine written all over it?
What a journey that was, right? What a bunch of cool guys who think a bunch of cool things. Anyway, another year in the books and another bundle of games to mark into the favourites. Or not, because of personal opinions and all. Still, it’s fun to ponder and it’s even more fun to play video games. Pretty lucky that everybody can do both. Though the playing part is probably more fun.