Last year there were some absolute corkers that I didn’t write about, incredible stuff that was all the more tragic for the lack of dedicated blog posts: Sky Odyssey (PS2), Disaster: Day of Crisis (Wii), Metroid: Other M (Wii), Trauma Team (Wii), Dragon Force (Saturn), the list goes on. By comparison, this year has burnt a little less brightly. It’s not that the games haven’t been good – they have been. Apart from a few exceptions though, they’ve not left as deep an impression, not cut me to the core, in the same way as the absurd theatrical masterpiece that is Disaster: Day of Crisis. These are some of the most wonderful (and weird) games I played last year.
Nintendo Land (Wii U)
Ah, Nintendo Land. Upon getting a Wii U, this was one of the first games I actively set out to get. The “minigame collection” genre has a bad rep, I know, but Nintendo has a masterful track record with it. Wii Sports was great, its resort-themed sequel was even better, Wii Play was good; and Nintendo Land hits all the same delightful notes. There’s an excellent variety here on offer, with both single-player and multi-player focused games. Every game is accessible, but with enough depth that you can re-play again and again.
One of the best things about Nintendo Land is that every game has a smooth difficulty curve that starts off gentle, and then gradually gets harder until it becomes near-impossible to continue. This may be casual gaming, but casual does not (and should not) always mean easy! That is the beauty of Nintendo’s approach to minigames in my opinion, and something that many other developers fail to understand.
Donkey Konga (Gamecube)
The big ape strikes again in 2016! I started a post about this game and never got around to finishing it. I don’t know if that says more about me or this game. It’s plenty enjoyable – a thoroughly silly rhythm game with cool bongos to go along with it. I got this mainly as a cheap bonus, something to accompany my set of bongos and the unique platformer, Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat combo. Remember Jungle Beat? It’s the first game ever made by the Super Mario Galaxy team, before they made Super Mario Galaxy. One more game to blog about.
Anyway, back to Donkey Konga, the thoroughly silly rhythm game. I have to say it’s a nice touch that every region got its own variant of this game (and its sequels). So the European version features various songs intended to appeal to a Euro crowd. In practice that makes for a very special collection of music, with material as varied as the Motown hit Dancing in the Street by Martha and the Vandallas, the British hooligan anthem Tubthumping by Chumbawamba, and Europop megahit 99 Red Balloons by Nena. Donkey Konga brings all these tracks together with some classic Nintendo tunes in a scattershot playlist that is both delightful and, owing to the inclusion of Tubthumping, abominable.
Parasite Eve (PS1)
Horror games – I like them. Parasite Eve is one such game, an RPG-survival horror hybrid from Square Enix. It’s a seriously odd game in some ways – adapted from a Japanese novel of the same name, the plot is about a female NYPD cop battling a crazed opera singer with the ability to manipulate mitochondria and make people (most of them) spontaneously combust. It sounds like it shouldn’t work, but it does. It’s a very moody, haunting game with plenty of atmosphere. Paradoxically, I find these PS1-era horror games incredibly soothing to play. That is helped in Parasite Eve’s case by a beautiful soundtrack from one of my favourite videogame composers, Yoko Shimomura. Her take on horror is an absolute delight.
Cho Aniki: Kyuukyoku Muteki Ginga Saikyou Otoko (PS1)
Does this game qualify as a classic? According to Sony, hell yes it does! Not only does this entry in the bizarre Cho Aniki series count as a “PS One Classic” in Sony’s eyes, but it’s also the first one I ever bought on the Playstation Store, an ever greater distinction if you can imagine one. The title for this game translates roughly as “Super Big Brother: The Ultimate, Strongest, Most Invincible Man in the Milky Way”, and really that’s all I can muster here. Apart from screens, of course; lots and lots of screens.
That’s all for part one of my best games of 2016 that I didn’t blog about, with part two soon to follow. It’s already plain to see that 2016 was the Year of Muscley Primates. What are some of your best experiences you’ve had this past year with big primates, Ape-Fathers and nude muscle men? Leave a comment below.