Not a huge surprise: I don’t have the extensive time to play every game I purchase (especially the RPGs), and therefore exclude a healthy number from my Game of the Year deliberations. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have anything to say about a few of these unrepresented titles, so I present Other Games of 2016.
I typically include such honorable (and dishonorable) mentions with my Favorite Games lists, but this seemed potentially large enough to justify its own post.
Amplitude // PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3
At first, I might argue that Thumper stole Amplitude’s thunder, but the reality is Amplitude barely had any thunder to steal. It’s an enjoyable music/rhythm game, but Amplitude never hooked its claws into me. Maybe because the gameplay is too similar to its spiritual sequels Rock Band Unplugged and Blitz, or perhaps the soundtrack is composed of tracks that I wouldn’t otherwise listen to, but the outcome was the same. I don’t regret tossing money at the Kickstarter that birthed this game, however.
My Nintendo Picross: Zelda: Twilight Princess // Nintendo 3DS (eShop)
Throughout the life of the 3DS, Nintendo released seven Picross e games and developed a Picross 3D sequel (which I loved), along with a free-to-play Pokémon version. So maybe I shouldn’t complain a bunch about their Zelda: Twilight Princess-themed, My Nintendo-exclusive Picross because, well, I got it free mostly by tinkering around with Miitomo. Then I played the game and suffered through a stupidly long and unskippable tutorial. The puzzles are fine, but get repeated in every mode, an obvious cost-cutting measure that I should’ve expected given the price.
Pokémon Go // iOS
Pokémon Go is a strange game to talk about because it’s not a great game, but it’s a fantastic experience. Gathering a group of buddies to explore the town for new Pokémon is a blast, and there’s a genuine thrill from feeling your phone vibrate and seeing if the creature to trigger that is something worthwhile or just another Pidgey (or Drowsee, which populates the areas near me). Technical issues and battery drain drove me away, and me accidentally getting rid of my Beedrill didn’t help.
Pokkén Tournament // Wii U
The younger me would’ve gone insane for Pokkén Tournament, a fighting game starring less than twenty Pokémon, but the present me is reminded how much I suck at fighting games. Cool, I’m using a Weasel to beat up Pikachu, but crap, Pikachu is kicking my ass and now it’s blocking. What attack uses the blocks to its advantage? What buttons? And now Pikachu is attacking again and I can’t block because it’s a fighting game and I suck at those. So, yeah, there’s enjoyment to be had, but I’m the loser playing on the easiest difficulty and barely squeaking out victories.
Rock Band Rivals // Xbox One
Although not technically a full game, I still wanted to comment on Rivals, the first paid expansion of 2015’s Rock Band 4. Beyond online multiplayer — which is only being patched-in this month, and I don’t care — you’re given two additional modes. Rivals is an asynchronous competition between groups of people playing songs centered around a specific theme, which is surprisingly enjoyable as a means to play songs I wouldn’t normally select. Beneath the Tuneage, the second big addition, is a fake documentary with live-action footage between songs, which is the big differentiation between this and the existing “story” mode.
Star Fox Zero // Wii U
Given the number of times I’ve seen someone on the internet use Star Fox Zero as proof that Nintendo should force Miyamoto to retire, you’d probably fall under the impression that the game is complete shit. That’s not the case, although I wouldn’t argue that SF Zero is a quality product either. Even if you fix the controls, you’ll find an unremarkable lock-on shooter that still pales to Star Fox 64 and similar games like Sin & Punishment. Controls are still an issue, and even if you’re the apparent minority able to deal with that, there’s still a lingering impression that the gamepad gimmick was unnecessary.
Steins;Gate 0 // PlayStation 4
Steins;Gate 0 is a series of emotional gut-punches, partially for myself, as someone who loves the protagonists of the original Steins;Gate, but mostly for leading man Okabe. The story follows a pivotal moment not far from the first game’s true ending, dealing further with time-travel while including artificial intelligence and transferring someone’s memories into another person. It’s a visual novel, so there’s no gameplay to speak of, but I’d argue that this story is better than the first Stein;Gate’s, and would’ve easily made my Favorite Games list had I been further at that time.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE // Wii U
I’d eagerly buy a Switch port of Tokyo Mirage Sessions simply to play on a handheld platform. It’s been years since I devoured a JRPG chained to a home console, instead finding portable platforms more conducive to the repetitive nature of the genre, and Tokyo Mirage Sessions unfortunately lacks Off-TV Play. So while I loved what I played of the game, it was frequently ignored in favor of games at home on home consoles, like Dishonored and Uncharted 4.
Unravel // PlayStation 4 (PSN)
Unravel is a beautiful 2.5D platformer that almost made the cut, mostly because it’s not an exceptionally original game. We’ve seen platformers built around a lasso mechanic as early as the NES days, and Unravel doesn’t bring a clever twist to differentiate itself. It’s a fun game with stunning visuals that I’d recommend to fans of the genre, but expectations shouldn’t be set sky high.
World of Final Fantasy // PlayStation 4
I won’t look down upon anyone frightened away by the opening of World of Final Fantasy. It’s wordy and takes too a tad longer than I’d like to get into the game proper — all common complaints of JRPGs. It’s a shame because WoFF is surprisingly fun, mixing familiar Final Fantasy mechanics with monster catching, and integrating them into combat in a novel way. Truthfully, I’m not terribly far, so this could somehow chance at a point, but I’m pretty confident in giving it a recommendation.