We’re coming up on the end of 2016, here. And aside from my dog dying, and that thing with Bowie, I can’t think of anything bad happening. Pretty dull, uneventful year, really. So let’s cool it with these sardonic “ugh 2016 am i right” memes, okay?
But there were some really good ass games that came out, and, like every other internet pseudo-celebrity, I’m putting my favorites into an unorganized list. Now granted, in the world of video games, I’m not nearly as notable a name as like, “Male Games Critic What Tweets Out ‘Trans Women Are Shifty-Eyed Rapists Waiting For Their Manchurian Candidate-esque Trigger Word’ To Massive Online Applause From Progressive Audiences And Can Also Complete Halo 3 Using Only The Plasma Pistol,” but hey, I’m an artist with a worldwide audience (I have fans and followers outside America, so that counts), so that’s as good a qualification as any to give you my gaming opinions.
Anyways, here they are. As I said before, they’re all presented in no particular order, except for the last one, which is my top pick of the year.
Devil Daggers is a really sick Quake-looking score shooter. You shoot at a continually spawning wave of enemies that announce their presence with a soundbyte that sounds like they’re saying “Burger King” in an empty room, trying your best to survive and to beat your friends’ scores. I think I’m number two on the Friend Scoreboard. It doesn’t really need anything else; it’s perfectly acceptable as is, but it would be pretty cool if there alternate methods of tracking score. Example: how many points you can score in X (maybe hearken back to the days of Hudson score caravans with 2 and 5 minute rounds) amount of minutes.
Queer (making this a headcanon if they’re not) Russian hackers pulling off big heists using small robots and computer programming. It’s short, dream-like, kind of ugly, but enthralling while it lasts. Trying to figure out the programming language to solve all of the puzzles is far more fun than it sounds. There’s a level editor too, but as fun as learning how to program is, it’s still really fucking hard, and I’m not about to play some nightmare made by a computer science major imitating Jigsaw.
STYLE SAVVY FASHION FORWARD
A game aimed at little girls, developed by a company known for the best wrestling games of all time. I’m an adult; 30 years old, hunched over my 3DS, coordinating outfits, hair, and makeup for myself and a town full of artists and dreamers. The perfect game to pull out whenever I’m getting those “gender feels,” and I’m feeling gross and disgusting, and would much rather feel beautiful for a change.
MONSTER HUNTER GENERATIONS
Admittedly, I haven’t spent as much time with Monster Hunter as I would have liked. The much-maligned INTERNET DRAMA came and knocked out a lot of enthusiasm I had for the series. I ended up getting this as a birthday gift, and slowly getting back into the swing of things. Revisiting areas from the PSP games I spent so many hours in was a fun experience. And I really like the “Style” system because, hey, if I’m going to spend hours killing the same monster in hopes that it will finally drop that one part I need to get a new long sword, I might as well switch up how the game is played.
I already wrote about Stardew Valley, but what I said remains true: it’s chill as fuck. It’s still this hella relaxing farming game where you can grow some crops and cultivate relationships, having some good music playing in foobar2000 in the background. It’s so charming and earnest about everything it does that it’s hard not to love it.
DIARIES OF A SPACEPORT JANITOR
An adventure game about a trans woman, haunted by a floating skull, barely making ends meet by picking up trash left by people far more successful than her. It’s a poverty-stricken gender-dysphoria simulator, presented with this cute, Keita Takahashi-like veneer. You wake up, clean up puke, slime, empty guns, and magical orbs. You pray to one of several gods, hoping your luck gets marginally better. You do all this for very little money, trying to balance your credit so you can eat, change your gender, and do something about the skull hovering over your shoulder at all times. What is your gender today? Dirt? Photosynthetic? Blood?
Gender is a joke, but it’s our joke to tell.
Another game by thecatamites. The whole thing feels as though you had described the concept of game development to an alien, or someone who had been stranded on an island since World War II. It’s an RPG, and there’s collectibles, and combat. But it’s not done in any traditional, sensical way. Space Funeral, for all its worth, still clung tightly to the established Final Fantasy roots. Goblet Grotto had a mechanical similarity to Zelda and King’s Field. Magic Wand is its own animal. Like a lucid dream borne from a stressful, uneasy sleep.
At risk of making a cop-out, t’s very difficult to describe. It’s one of those things you need to see for yourself to understand.
I’ve owned Pokemon Moon for less than a week, but it’s already on the list. Since I’ve started the game, it’s lived up to the Pokemon standard of being cute, and fun, and exciting, regardless of your age. Like I said in my blurb about Style Savvy, I’m thirty motherfucking years old, and I’m still getting pumped about catching a Machop, a Quagsire, or a Gastly, wondering when I can find a Porygon.
Can’t really say much else, as I’m not too terribly far in it yet, but it’s still very lovely.
SHIN MEGAMI TENSEI IV APOCALYPSE
I fucking love Atlus. Yes, most of their games are extremely problematic in regards to LGBT issues (shout out to Persona 4 and Catherine), but I still find them addicting and fun as hell. And Megami Tensei is a series that scratches my unending Cyberpunk itch. Using computers and cell phones to summon demons and become powerful enough to punch God is such an amazing concept for a game. Plus Apocalypse didn’t have the really shitty, slow start that SMTIV had, where you couldn’t even use like half the game’s features and earning money to buy equipment and summon demons was basically impossible. It’s far smoother a progression. And revisiting areas from the previous game, seeing the results of the actions Flynn and company made during their adventure was really cool.
RIVER CITY RANSOM TOKYO RUMBLE
This game is fun and all, but I’m really putting on this list for its localization. It could’ve taken the easy way out and made a series of irritating HEY DO YOU REMEMBER THE 80’S?????? CHUCK NORRIS???? COCAINE?????? ARNOLD?????? BLOWING ON NES CARTRIDGES??????? jokes and references from people whose only exposure to the 1980’s was getting a 100% completion in GTA Vice City. Instead, it’s just, like, a game about high school delinquents beating each other up for stupid reasons. Which is great; don’t fucking annoy me with your bad jokes.
ECZEMA ANGEL ORIFICE
A collection of Twine work from Porpentine Charity Heartscape. Haunting short stories that hit way too close to home in regards to gender, illness, abuse, social ostracizing, violence, hate, finding hope when it feels like there isn’t any. Things that, over the course of the past year, have influenced and guided the path my work has taken. My stuff is nowhere near as good of course, but still.
Granted, the work collected in here wasn’t technically released in 2016, but this is Porpentine, so fuck you.
Admittedly, Overwatch isn’t really anything that special, innovation-wise. It’s a class-based shooter with unique character designs and some interesting mechanics (in regards to character abilities), but nothing that’s going to set the world on fire. That’s not why it’s here. It’s here because this is the game I’ve spent so much time playing with my friends. It’s a catalyst for building and strengthening relationships. When you’re up until five in the morning, having barely-coherent conversations about bullshit like Spider-Man while somehow still being able to capture the point, there has to be something there.
Is it the game? Is it the person on the other end of the internet? Would we be having as much fun if we were all playing something like Team Fortress or one of the 800 zombie killing games? Probably not. Being able to make stupid headcanons and crack dirty jokes about the Overwatch cast with other gay trans girls in a private Discord server has managed to add so much to a game where I frequently joke “Overwatch has a plot?” Turns out, making characters that appeal to women and/or LGBT folks is a good idea. We’ve had just as much fun using that infamous queer fandom magic to give the game some life as we have pushing a payload and getting some sick killstreaks or whatever.
Basically, I’m gay, and so is Overwatch.