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10. Zero Escape: Zero Time Dilemma ; I don't know why I had such high expectations after the flop Virtue's Last Reward was. 999 is still the best. But like VLR, it's the enjoyable kind of flop. If you had to ask me if I could get the time back for playing this (or VLR) then I'll go with "nah it's not so good but I'm all about that mediocre experience." The fanbase have been wishing for this game for so long and despite its mile long issues I'm glad the game exists.

Aight so ZTD is the third game in the Zero Escape series (you read and read mountains of text then solve puzzle rooms then read some more) that explains all the plot details that happened in the first and second games; 999 and Virtue's Last Reward respectively. Spoiler alert. It was supposed to.

The biggest problem I have with ZTD is it tries to do too much with so little. Well, I think I remember that I think that. Gimme a break. It's been half a year since release and maybe I should have written down notes to keep my mind fresh so I can actually coherently talk about it come GOTY time but bruh I'm lazy. I suppose I could head off to the GAF spoiler thread or wikis but ehhhh man laziness. And let's get another thing straight; I don't say things coherently anyway.

To sum up ZTD, nothing happens. I mean, there are some cool twists in there but man does the novelty wear off hard. You're thinking this is cool then the next second you go wha, that's lame.

I was actually impressed with one of the new characters. I think it was either Carlos or Eric. Let's start off with Carlos. That fratboy-looking slimebag. Turns out dude's a firefighter and he's got his own noble reasons to be in the plot. What else is there to say that's not really a spoiler. Nope, that's it. Eric though. Okay, I wasn't impressed with Eric. Dude's so whiny. People go on to defend whiny characters like him in games where stakes are high and lives can be lost. These are the kinds of characters that cause so much trouble. So easy to plant misleading thoughts in their heads and they'll take it straight up. That's Eric. Don't ask me. I haven't been in a hostage situation and hopefully never but please smack me upside down if I ever become as whiny as Eric. At the start of the game you find out he and this woman named Mira, a buxom lady, who refuses to zip up her jacket (I'm not complaining) are in a relationship and I thought how'd he end up with her? Blackmail? Well there's another of the few plot points I like from ZTD. It's pretty crazy.

When I finished the game my first thought was that I was disappointed in how Akane was treated. Where'd her DEM go? Can't believe Uchikoshi (he's the writer) and whoever else that helped with the story did her dirty like that. Totally failed to live up to her status SMH

On the other hand we did get Diana and she stole the show. So props to the writers? Good job guys just another +432423 points before we hit a score of 0.

ZTD is no good. But it's on the list because it's on the list. Channeled my inner ZTD for that line.

9. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Spirit of Justice ; So close to suplanting Trials and Tribulations as my favorite AA. I don't know how the general populace thought of this game but since it's widely accepted 5 was terrible and I loved 5 enough for it to be my second favorite in the series then jokes has to be on me.

8. Pokémon Sun/Moon ; Can't believe we're on gen 7. Here's to another billion generations of Pokémon.

I don't know who messed with Game Freak's cereal in the morning but visually from XY/ORAS to this? It's like a generation (huehue) apart.

7. 7th Dragon III Code: VFD ; I can make a team full of Nao Toyama <33333333333333

Its position in the ballot is pure coincidence, I assure you. Since we didn't get an Etrian Odyssey game this year I needed something to satisfy my team-building-from-nothing itch. Sure, Bravely Second and SMTIV:A do scratch that itch but they give you characters with lore attached to them already for you to mess around with. I wanted to build teams where I was in charge of art, voices, roles, and all that and luckily 7D scratched that itch so hard I got marks on my back.

You play as an unnamed character and the story revolves around you. In promotional media the character is shown as a girl but with the way the story's actually written it defaults to a guy. There's this girl you meet in the beginning and she gets attached to you really fast. You know how in Persona 3 and 4 where after you max a social link you and the person you're chilling with spend some quality time alone which is code for sexy time (if anyone's still reading this don't deny this undeniable fact), the same thing happens in 7D with that girl and it happens a lot. Now it sounds like I'm complaining like I think relationships should be between a man and a woman but good heavens no. I fully support that movement. I just thought it was odd that the developers' decided to go this route when the plot is written in accordance to a male character but promote the main character in media as a female. Or maybe they aimed to go this way from the start because waifus sell.

Living up to the name, dragons is the theme. World got wrecked by dragons. Humans fought back. Dragons gone. Peace. Dragons come back with a vengeance in spreading Dragonsbane, some plant thing that is fatal to all human beings. You're tasked with killing the big honcho dragons and getting their DNA to make this something or other to kill the biggest dragon honcho. I don't think the game explained what the something was very well. Some kinda biological weapon lethal to dragons, maybe. In between chapters you have free time and are free to socialize with characters from the three different eras; the past, present and future. They're all pretty unique too and I like the diversity in the environments. The first era you get sent to is 423441432 years ago (the past, pretty much) named Atlantis. As the name evokes, the place looks exactly what you'd expect. Here, people with cat ears (yes, it's a JRPG) are still around but a dragon sunk their city and wiped out their species so come present time they are just a legend. What got me was when I had to evacuate these people and send them back to my time. Some of them were so ready to give their life at one last chance to save their city. I could never do that. Beam me to a safe place shawty if the world's gonna be blown up soon. The other era is the future and it isn't really future-y. Due to the widespread dragon threat, humanity never managed to advance their technology any farther than the present. I thought this was praiseworthy because it's consistent writing. It's still the future built from your current past. This is what your future will be if you don't solve the dragon crisis in the present. It served as a constant reminder to just get things done and save the planet.

The game's rather easy, all things considered. You get some really broken classes as you progress through the game. I like breaking things though. There are 8 classes and as a big fan of having freedom in party composition there are a lot of things combos you can pull off. Sadly there aren't that many battles in the maingame in which the combat and your builds really shine because of how easy it is to steamroll mobs and minibosses. But on the occasional times where a boss is actually challenging and this does happen by endgame it's an exhilarating experience to see your team work together as one perfect system.

Okay, I lied at the beginning. I had 15 characters since you can have three teams of five and only one of them was voiced by Nao Toyama. She's got range so she could have provided a variety of voices for everyone if the developers wanted to.

6. Bravely Second: End Layer ; When the game came out in Japan and word got around that the sequel was worse I didn't know what to think. The predecessor was great and I didn't have a problem with "that" come midgame. I must be way too easy to please. So I had this nagging suspicion that whatever ailed the second game wouldn't bother me as much. And it didn't. The core gameplay is still intact and the music is slightly worse but not enough to dock any real points.

Compared to the cast of Bravely Default, I enjoyed the dynamics of the sequel's characters better. Magnolia, the new girl, is adorable with her constant displays of affection for Yew, the new guy. Later you find out she was mistaken in that when Yew offered her a flower (forgot if it had to be a specific flower) she took this as a sign of marriage or something. I am so deep into this corny romance man I ain't even afraid to admit it. Edea's as cool as ever and Tiz man, this guy. Some stuff happened after BD but he's back better than before as he acts as a mentor for Yew. This guy. Really swell stuff with the cast. The game also dropped the serious tone of its predecessor for a more lighthearted adventure with a few serious moments here and there.

The final boss is fan-freaking-tastic. Best one I fought this year.

5. Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse ; Like the above.... or below because it's ranked higher.... or lower? Dunno. Game's good.

4. Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest ; Since I was strapped for time all year I went full casual and ran Hard/Normal/Lunatic for Birthright/Conquest/Revelation. I'm gonna do proper runs for the first two one of these days.

Gave the points to Conquest because it played the best out of the three paths.

3. Granblue Fantasy ; I'd like to say a few words to my friend who introduced me to this game. You freakin' suck dude. No wonder my grades dropped this term. I like grinding as much as the next guy but this game takes grinding to a whole new level.

GBF is some mobile/browser game with gacha elements and it's got some FF guys tuning up the band. Forgot who they are. You play as some village kid with a talking lizard when you get caught up in a mess with a blue haired girl (HNNNNNNNNG voiced by Nao Toyama, first reason why I even bother playing this game) and a female knight who are being chased by the empire for reasons unknown. Nah, the reasons are just as you expect. Blue haired girl is needed to conquer the whole world kinda thing.

One of the starter tips people like to give out is to develop a colored element like wind/water/earth/fire and not light/dark. Reason being is that it gets hard to see progression in damage output if you play the latter elements. I see the game as three separate parts in early, mid, and lategame. The stuff you do in midgame takes the longest with having to strengthen your weapon grid so you can tackle the harder content in the game. Because the only way to see progression is by building your grid and that the colored elements have much better drop rates you can sorta see why that advice always floats around.

The other advice is that since GBF is so grind heavy, does it really matter what element you go for if you know you're in it for the long haul? You should play with who you like. If you pulled a character you like and their rating in the tier list is basura, doesn't matter just use them. I pulled Amira when I started and she's one of the best Light characters and despite the warnings I went for Light because I wanted to use her. Even if I pulled a garbo Light character like De La Fille I'd still be on the light pain train. Really though the second reason why I continue to play is because of the art. The art is supremely gorgeous. And I was kidding earlier about the random FF guys. It's the FFT guy for art. And the other random FF guy composed music for the majority of the series.

Seriously, here's my team. Light and Dark just so happened to be the only elements where the best characters (not just in art but skills and team building) are female. Of course I can withstand months of constant grinding and pain for my party <3




Other than that though not much to say about Grindblue. One last thing that makes me go back is the feeling of getting stronger. Sure I could go for weeks without seeing an increase in strength but with pendant farming and other things in the game to facilitate progression I'm not too worried. Case in point, to get strong you have to fight your element of choice. I'm Light so I have to fight Luminiera Omega. She's a tough nut to crack. I couldn't even dent her months ago, much less MVP her for a chance at better drop rates. Now I do enough damage to host and MVP her before I have to call for reinforcements. It's satisfying to see my labor bear fruit. One of these days, or months, or years, I'll have a respectable weapon grid and my team of lovely ladies will have the last laugh in raids.

2. Monster Hunter Generations ; Best gameplay of the year award goes to MH. Yep, again. I'm so confident in the team at Capcom that no matter what kind of weird additions they implement in the series they would still earn my vote in always delivering in the gameplay department. Not as good as MH4U which was also not as good as MH3U, but what can we do? Still better than everything else on the market.

So this time around we got styles and skills on cooldown to add new flavors to the combat. I like them. But I don't want them back. Out of the four styles, I mostly stuck with what I know so I did Guild most of the time. Couldn't be bothered to learn to play differently but the options were there if I was so inclined. Sadly I'm very addicted to Absolute Evasion and Readiness that I feel I've gotten worse as a hunter.

In the OT there was this weird praise for MHG's director who also did Portable 3rd. Guys, P3rd was aight. There was nothing in there that warrants calling Generation's director the savior of MH. Crazy folks. Generations is a stepback from 4U, how did we lose two pages worth of item sets? Checkmate. To the Portable Director's credit, I did get hit right in the nostalgia when I got to Yukumo Village. We should have gotten Moga back but Yukumo is a fine alternative.

I went ahead and got 99% of the in-game awards before people on the site were thinking of going for them. 300 hours got me to that point and that's when I started winding down. Could have been longer too but there was no G rank. I was also getting mad at public rooms because for crying out loud stop entering my room to host your quest. Read the room description next time! People gotta stop being so stupid. GAF and the Discord group were helpful but only a handful of them shared the same objectives as I did.

Capcom does like making enhanced versions so I doubt we'll see an MH that comes with all three ranks in low, high and G on the first iteration. Whatever, they have my wallet. Bring on MHGX.




And yeah well I knew this was gonna happen. Like a lovestruck maiden, I fell in love at first sight. Ahh the Romeo to my Juliet.





1. Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE ; KOWASHITAI

Reincarnation
Dream Catcher
Give Me

k got that out of the way.

Yes, TMS is my favorite game this year. A lot of people are so salty that this game didn't turn out to be what they wanted which is some grimdark edge crossover but whatever, jam's so good I don't care. I'd rather not focus on what could have been because what we got instead I enjoyed so much because it's so out there. Atlus continues to steal my GOTYs. Thanks, fam <3

It's a fun JRPG that doesn't take itself seriously. It doesn't have a narrative that tries soooo hard to sound meaningful and deep and hams it up with philosophical hogwash. None of that garbage, no sirree. Just an RPG with a serviceable plot, great characters with no sob stories, catchy music, and the like. And it has idols. And it's amazingly colorful. I didn't even know some of these colors existed.

Big fan of the cast and how there's no emotional baggage involved. Video game writing is so awful that I'm more likely to not care if you try so hard to push a narrative. Thankfully there's none of that in TMS. Everyone's pretty normal. Itsuki's a shadow protagonist in that he doesn't do much by himself but he acknowledges his real strength comes from others and helping them grow. Tsubasa starts off with a sob story but it resolves itself fairly quickly and she's a bundle of fun to watch when she's interacting with Itsuki and Kira, her idol. People thought it was weird with how hardcore of a fangirl she was. It was hilarious in all honesty. After meeting Kiria for the first time, the first thing Tsubasa did was breathe in really hard so she can breathe the same air Kiria was. Itsuki and Touma held their heads in disbelief. Touma looks like a slimebag just like ZTD's Carlos with how he dresses and he exudes tool but you find out he wants to be a Power Ranger lead in kids' shows. He meets this little kid who thinks heroes in action shows are dumb. I think the kid mentions later on that he was being bullied... or having a rough time around the house... uhhh one of those, so Touma starts working really hard to become a source of inspiration for the kid. Touma, you lovable goof. Kiria looks as icy as her element of choice but deep inside she likes cute things. Since her rockstar image doesn't mesh well with her real interests, she's in constant conflict. I think it's sad too because this is a real issue for people, having to put up fronts and hide away who they really are. I can relate, man. She loosens up later on thanks to the main character's meddling and idunno man she shows some slight interest in the MC. Man, he doesn't deserve her. Elenora's a halfie actress and her deal is that she wants to make it to Hollywood as a sort of vindication for her roots? I think? She's hoping to make it big so people look at her for her acting talent and not for her exotic status as a halfie. This time I can't relate because I'm a completely average person in terms of everything but I can understand the struggles of people who stick out more than they'd like. Mamori is the token elementary schoolgirl and she hosts a cooking show using microwaves. She can't actually cook though. I forgot her backstory. AHHH MAN. There's another one but nah can't talk about 'em. Then there are the side characters too. Maiko's the president of the production company that employs everybody. I'm so sad she wasn't playable. The first of two blunders. Barry's an ultra hardcore otaku who loves magical girl shows. People were turned off by him but I liked how he always put in 100% in his tastses and his dedication to Mamori is incredible. And finally there's Tiki who is so freaking cute my heart is exploding send help.

Each of the main characters have a Mirage and they're kinda like their guardian spirit. Apart from Itsuki getting Chrom who is as lame as he is but that's part of their appeal I guess, the rest of the Mirages are cool too. Tsubasa gets Caeda and she's very supportive of her master in her conquest of romance. She's been there and she's glad to lend a hand. Touma has Cain and they both maintain a strong sense of justice. Kiria gets Tharja and her yandere tendencies go well with Kiria's icy exterior. But she knows Kiria's got her issues with hiding her true self so she tries her best to help her out. Elenoara has Virion. His deal is to turn Ellie into a proper lady because she's kinda rough on the outside with her personality and all. They're always bickering and it's amusing to watch. Mamori gets Draug later on and he doesn't say much. Pretty cool though. He's a giant knight clad in full body armor who wields an axe and he's very protective of her. The game has a ton of characters and does a good job of setting them apart and yeah I know I didn't do much in explaining but they're memorable enough to paint a vivid picture in my head and that's good enough for me.

The game uses a similar battle system to SMT. Hit the right elements, get more turns. Screw up, lose your turns. I've always liked how easy it is for battles to go south and TMS adds extra stuff to the formula. When you strike enemy weaknesess with a skill, party members can follow up with attacks of their own called Sessions. So even though you can only have three party members on the field at a time and you're able to swap out members at any time, gotta keep that idol theme going and have everyone contribute to a splendid performance of vanquishing foes. Following that, there are Performance attacks, Duo Attacks, Dual Attacks, Ad-lib Performances, so many ways to spice up TMS' battles. The second blunder has to be that there's no way to cancel a long string of Session Attacks. The playtime does rack up as these attacks are done automatically. As for the actual tools of war, TMS takes from FE's sword, lance, axe, bows, and tomes and the tomes take from SMT's side like Agi and Bufu. The game IS a crossover of FE and SMT, it's just not direct about it. Speaking of references, the mart you visit is handled by a character who looks like Anna, FE's resident merchant. And the convenience store matches Jack Frost's, SMT's most famous demon not named Mara. There's more little references spattered here and there. Shout-out to the developers for sticking to their guns and not making a game rife full of references, so much so that it doesn't have its own identity.

In between chapters, Maiko sends Itsuki out for idol training. Dude's admitted he's got no hidden talent for dancing and singing but he keeps at it. The majority of character development happens in here and it's a smart way to break from dungeon crawling to story advancement. There's not much freedom to the game itself though. If you aren't crawling, you're either watching goofy cutscenes during break time or going through the story. But that's not a bad thing. What turns me off in games is wack pacing and TMS veers from that.

Like Granblue Fantasy's art, the art direction is so good. So so so so so good. The actual models (still fine, relatively speaking) don't do the art justice but I can always treat my eyes when I visit the notes section or whatever it's called. But the use of colors, wowee man. Even if there wasn't a 1:1 conversion with the art and the models, at least the colors are ever present. Enter battles and the field turns into a smorgasbord of colors that numb the senses. Exploring the town gives a similar feelings. Colors, colors everywhere. Attacks are flashy, animations are tastefully done just like how real dancing makes use of your whole body, the whole works.

TMS is such a colorful little game and I'll be fond of it for years to come. What else, what else? It's the most apologetically shameless game to come out this year. It embraces its idol theme throughout and from beginning to end delivers a captivating performance. Nice to see a game like this stick its landing.

x. Atelier Escha & Logy Plus: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky ; I knew I should have bought the limited edition off VGP when I had the chance. It's sold out now :(

x. Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book ; No PS4, uguu~ couldn't play it :( Maybe my trash laptop can run the PC port when it drops next year.

Some of the stuff I bought this year
one
two
three

Ooh man I haven't said anything at all lol. See you. Gonna go back to playing Granblue instead of touching my backlog or studying.