Best Game - The Stanley Parable
1st Runner Up - Teslagrad
2nd Runner Up - Halloween Forever
If at the start of 2016 you told me that a walking simulator was going to be my favorite game of the year, I would have laughed at you, but here we are.
Worst Game - The Legend of Dragoon
1st Runner Up - Dear Esther
2nd Runner Up - JUJU
On the other hand, a walking simulator would have been my least favorite game of the year, if I hadn't decided to pick off Legend of Dragoon at the very end.
As far as replays go, I replayed Undertale twice, Earthworm Jim on the Genesis, and Skullmonkeys, so there's not much point in doing a section on that.
Prettiest Game - World of Warcraft
1st Runner Up - Teslagrad
2nd Runner Up - Dust: An Elysian Tail
World of Warcraft might sound like an odd choice; because of its age, you'd think it'd be all blocky and dated. Blizzard might have upgraded its textures over the years, and yeah, the paper foldout trees looke a little jarring, but I think it's still a very pretty game. Its bright colors and rich environments were the main reasons I kept playing at first, wanting to see what the game had to offer next. Then there was the awe I felt the first time I stepped into the alien Outlands, the icy Northrend, and the lush Pandaria (even if Outlands is painful to replay with alternate characters). This might also be one of the reasons the game started to lose me at Warlords, because it's literally pre-destroyed Outlands.
It also has some damn nice skies for what it's worth.
Best Soundtrack - Skullmonkeys
1st Runner Up - World of Warcraft
I didn't play any games this year with a soundtrack that blew me away like Undertale or Xenogears last year. In fact, the only game I played with a consistently "good" soundtrack was Skullmonkeys. WoW is mostly ambient stuff, but there are some noteworthy moments in the soundtrack like the first few minutes of the title theme, the Orgrimmar theme that typically plays around the Valley of Strength and the zeppelin towers, one that plays in Feralas, and the Gnomeregan theme.
Worst Soundtrack - The Neverhood
Here's a fun little tidbit; I was bitching about this game's soundtrack years before I even played the game.
Most Pleasant Surprise (Games) - The Stanley Parable
Again, being a walking simulator no one was more surprised than myself that this game impressed me at all, even moreso as much as it did.
Biggest Disappointment (Games) - Dust: An Elysian Tail
There were a lot of games I could throw in here, including the Strider reboot, The Neverhood, and Legend of Dragoon. But I went with Dust because after how much hype it got over being created by one person, it was a letdown to find that under the pretty visuals it was an at-best competent hack-and-slasher with a bungled story. So now whenever I hear somebody bring it up as an achievement in game development, instead of "Holy shit, one person did THAT?", my reaction is "Oh my god, will you people shut up about this game?"
Most Satisfying to Finally Finish After Tormenting Me For Years - The Neverhood
I guess it was nice to finally find out what happened in The Neverhood after playing Skullmonkeys all those years ago? Would have been nice if the actual game had more to it.
Greatest Shame - Getting Myself Addicted to World of Warcraft To the Detriment of Studies, Other Games, and Everything Else
THIS IS WHY I RESISTED THIS GAME FOR TWELVE YEARS.
Most Intentionally Hilarious - The Stanley Parable
1st Runner Up - Oh! Sir... The Insult Simulator
2nd Runner Up - World of Warcraft
Oh! Sir comes with a huge disclaimer, because that game is only funny the first time you play it. It's really funny that one time, but gets old quick.
Most Unintentionally Hilarious - The Legend of Dragoon
The horrendous translation was funny enough, but the game's ending was the hardest I have laughed at anything in years.
Game That I Put A Decent Amount of Effort Into, But Never Got Around to Finishing of the Year - Pokemon Stadium
I spent much of the early year grinding Pokemon on Red for use in this, and I made it late into Round 2. But I hit an enemy in the Petit Cup I couldn't beat with my current team (that fucker with the Growlithe that spams Dragon Rage). Then I had to go housesit, and thinking was only going to be away for a couple months I left my N64 and copy of Pokemon Red behind. Then that tooth extraction left me housesitting for the rest of the year, so Stadium was left in limbo.
As for the game itself, it really highlights the bad balance of Red and Blue, and if you want to beat this game without cheating absolutely ever, you're in for one hell of a grind. Very few Pokemon learn their best moves through leveling and need TMs. But because TMs are single use, you either have to call on Missingno or replay the entire game several times to get enough Thunderbolts, Ice Beams/Blizzards, Earthquakes, and Psychics to cover four teams. Which in turn brings up the problem that a Pokemon with Ice Beam, Thunderbolt, and Earthquake can hit every other Pokemon in the game neutral or better. Even today the only Pokemon I can think of that would resist all three are Electric/(Steel, Fire, or Ice) with Levitate, and the Steel type and abilities didn't exist in RBY.
I imagine this is why they let Mewtwo into the two Lv. 100 modes; if you grind up a team that can't beat them, you can just have Mewtwo bulldoze everything instead of spending hours upon hours fiddling with other 'Mons.
The Pika Cup is broken, and I almost wonder if they got the level restrictions of Pika and Petit mixed up. There are very few fully-evolved Pokemon you can legitimately obtain between levels 15 and 20, either because they don't reach their final stages until they're at least in their 30s or are only found wild at higher levels. I wound up breeding non- and Stone-evolving 'Mons in Gold then sending them back to Red.
Game That I Put A Decent Amount of Effort Into, But Decided Could Go Fuck Itself of the Year - Tembo the Badass Elephant
Oh, I guess Game Freak is taking both these awards this year.
Tembo actually looks nice, I'll give it that, but the actual game is brought crashing down by what are quite possibly the worst controls I've seen. Tembo's default speed is too slow, his running speed is too fast, and I kept pressing the dash button in the air, forgetting that makes Tembo do a ground slam instead of speeding up mid-jump, so I'd throw myself into the pit I was trying to jump over. Not only that, because you have to rescue a certain number of hostages and kill a certain number of enemies to advance past checkpoints on the map, and because there's little indication of which route in a level leads to an area containing collectibles and which one is a one-way trip to the rest of the level, you have to replay levels over and over to gather enough shit to advance the game. Needless to say, I got fucking sick of the game halfway through, even though there's only twelve levels.
Best Movie - What We Do in the Shadows
1st Runner Up - How To Train Your Dragon 2
2nd Runner Up - Captain America: The Winter Soldier
I really need to get back into the habit of watching movies as regularly as I was a few years ago. Sometimes I don't even have enough movies to fill this section, much less with three good movies instead of the de facto "least offensive" ones.
Worst Movie - Pixels
1st Runner Up - Hogfather
2nd Runner Up - Avengers: Age of Ultron
Funny, my two least favorite movies of the year are both supposed tributes that completely miss the point of the source material. Although while Pixels wipes it ass with what it's supposed to be paying tribute to, Hogfather mindlessly and soullessly apes it.
I almost left the 2nd Runner Up off because Age of Ultron's worst crime was just being really, really boring and I was torn between it and Deadpool. In the end I went with Age of Ultron because I'm more attached to The Avengers, so when Deadpool disappointed me it didn't sting as much.
Best Book - Hogfather
1st Runner Up - One-Punch Man
2nd Runner Up - The Mallet of Loving Correction
Yes, One-Punch Man is a graphic novel instead of a traditional text one, but screw you, this is my list and I can do whatever I want with it.
Worst Book - Seven Wonders: The Colossus Rises
1st Runner Up - The Magic Thief
2nd Runner Up - Jam
If I was limited to actual print books, I guess I'd give second place to Pip Bartlett. Not sure about third place; Foundation was impenetrable and Stuff of Legends fell flat on its face, but neither of them enraged me (probably because Foundation was too much of a clusterfuck for me to get mad at it).
Best RiffTrax - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 2
1st Runner Up - Birdemic
2nd Runner Up - The Wizard
I guess to clarify when I call Legend of Dragoon's ending the funniest thing I've seen in a while and the hardest I've laughed at something, I mean general moment. A full RiffTrax is still funnier... maybe. Legend of Dragoon's ending was fantastically terrible, though.
Most Pleasant Surprise (Everything Else) - One-Punch Man
Remember how I thought the premise of One-Punch Man sounded completely stupid, only to be blown away when I actually read it? Imagine my surprise when I went on Cracked a few months later and found myself reading about a guy who had the same apprehension and reaction to the anime. I haven't seen the anime yet, though. I don't watch TV anymore so I'd always forget to turn it on, and the physical release isn't due out until April.
Biggest Disappointment (Everything Else) - Hogfather Movie
I was mentally prepared for the disaster that was Pixels, so when it turned out to be shit I wasn't surprised. But I'd heard good things about the Hogfather adaptation, I liked the Color of Magic special, and of course it was based on my favorite book of the year. So when it turned out to be a bland regurgitation of said book, it stung that much harder.
I'm sure everyone is sick of the "2016 was a dumpster fire" meme, what with all the dead celebrities and that clusterfuck of an election that led to people choosing between Scylla and Charybdis to run the country, but 2016 was a pretty sorry year for me personally. Oh, 2013 still tops it, but I didn't play many great games this year, and after spending much of the first half of the year grinding Pokemon Red, I spent much of the second half of the year grinding World of Warcraft. I also had to get a tooth pulled after spending a few months in pain, and my favorite entertainment store went out of business.
On the plus side, I graduated with a shiny new degree in Computer Informations, and through my Project Management class learned about Lynda.com, where I learned a few things about Photoshop painting, Illustrator, Unity game development, and whatever else I can dig out of their course catalogue. Let's see if I can pull myself from WoW long enough to continue this in 2017.