I’m just gonna get this out of the way – 2016 sucked. I don’t specifically mean in terms of videogames either – it just sucked, both in general and on a personal level. It’s easy to take one look at the state of the world and think that there’s no point anymore; it’s easy to just give up and lock ourselves away and wallow in our own misery.
But while it is important to be aware and not be ignorant to what’s going on outside, it’s also important to still enjoy yourselves; it’s important to make yourself happy. There’s no shame in allowing yourself to feel joy, whether you get that feeling from family, friends, music, films and, of course, videogames.
And while 2016 still had some massive bumps in the road, like No Man’s Sky PR disaster, the downright insulting release of Mighty No. 9 and all the hullabaloo surrounding all those videogame voice actors going on strike (#PerformanceMatters), we still got some fun and fantastic videogames out of it.
I’m talking about Overwatch living up to its fans’ expectations and having its poster girl, Tracer, recently be confirmed as gay (hurrah for representation!), the long delayed Final Fantasy XV managing to rejuvenate peoples’ love of the franchise (I even sang a song about it) and Pokémon Go making our childhood dreams of actually going outside and catching Pokémon come true.
I don’t know what 2017 will hold overall, but I do know there’re some kick-ass looking videogames on the horizon that I want to get my hands on and, sometimes, it’s the little things that can convince you to get up in the morning.
Before the inevitable list begins, a quick special mention to Yooka-Laylee which I already covered in the last list and was unfortunately delayed till 2017. Still happy I helped contribute to its KickStarter and am most definitely looking forward to the final product.
Now, on to the actual list!
1. Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue (PS4)
While the announcement of another compilation title did make me roll my eyes, the following months managed to make me increasingly more excited for the last Kingdom Hearts title to be released before KH III (not including the 1.5 and 2.5 PS4 re-releases).
This is mostly due to 0.2: Birth by Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage, a brand new entry that shows us what happened to Aqua whilst she was in the Realm of Darkness. While the story itself looks rather interesting, with Aqua travelling through familiar worlds, encountering Terra and Ven again and teaming up with Mickey, the gameplay is the real draw of it and, quite frankly, it looks superb. It very much seems set to be a teaser for what KH III will entail; it’s giving us a taste of what to expect which I’m all for considering we still don’t have a release date for it.
Aside from that, we’ve also got an HD remaster of 3DS title Dream Drop Distance to replay and a full CGI movie called Kingdom Hearts χ Back Cover, detailing the original Keyblade wielders and what led to the Keyblade War. Despite my issues with 3D‘s story, it was still a fine game and porting it to a home console will help resolve some of the control and camera issues it had on the handheld. While I’m not super excited for Back Cover, however, since I don’t think we needed even more backstory for the series, it still has the potential to be an interesting watch and will no doubt connect to KH III‘s plot in some way. Plus, it’s bound to be better than the previous two compilation “movies.”
2.8 may be just more padding to keep us pre-occupied (seriously, where’s the KH III news?) but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t gonna get hold of it as soon as it’s released.
2. Yakuza 0/Kiwami (PS4)
I’m kind of cheating with this one since it’s not only two games, but I actually don’t plan on playing them – at least, not in 2017. See, I only recently decided to get into the Yakuza series a few months ago. The latest games grabbed my interest but I wanted to experience them from the very beginning. So, I got hold of a copy of the first game on PS2 and, while I have yet to finish it, I’m certainly enjoying it and fully intend to get around to the later entries, including these two.
Firstly, we have Yakuza 0, the obligatory prequel game showing how main characters Kazuma Kiryu and Goro Majima obtained their legendary statuses in the first game. And then there’s Yakuza Kiwami, an HD remake of the first game (thanks for waiting till I already bought the original, Sega!). While all eyes are probably on Yakuza 6, the next main entry in the series, these other two games are still set to be great titles in their own right and will contain all the usual wacky antics that the series is known for.
So why am I putting these games on the list? Well, like I said, I want to play them at some point but, for those that don’t know, Yakuza was one of those series that didn’t have as much as a prescence in the West as it does in Japan. If you enjoyed these games, you had to cross all your fingers and toes and pray that a new one wouldn’t remain a Japanese exclusive. So the fact that we’re getting two games in one year (with Yakuza 6 apparently coming in 2018) is kind of a big deal. Sega is aware of the love and the support this series has and seems to actively want people in the West to play it.
Not only are long-time fans of the series going to be happy but, with any luck, these attractive looking games about Japanese gangsters punching tigers and spending their free time in karaoke bars and batting cages will bring in new fans that can relish in their enjoyable insanity.
3. Zero Escape: The Nonary Games (PS4, PS Vita, PC)
Remember how I made a big deal out of Zero Time Dilemma‘s release in last year’s list? Well, despite buying the game day one, I have yet to actually play it. The reason? I wanted to see if a certain rumour regarding the series would pay off. And it did. The first two games in the series are now getting re-releases, meaning fans will have the opportunity to play all three games in consecutive order, as they arguably should be.
Granted, we can already play Virtue’s Last Reward on 3DS and Vita but this not only marks the first time the games will be playable on a home console and PC (meaning even more people can play them), it’s also the first time that the first game in the series, Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, will be playable in Europe. While VLR does a good job of filling players in on the basics, I always wanted to actually play 999 and experience it for myself.
So, I’ve deliberately held off Zero Time Dilemma so I can experience this unique trilogy of games the way the director and writer Kotaro Uchikoshi intended. It’s been a long wait but it’s about to pay off in a big way.
4. Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite (PS4, XBO, PC)
Again, I’m cheating with this one; this time because I have no intention of playing it. Doesn’t mean I can’t get excited for it though. I mean, the idea of another Marvel vs Capcom game being made seemed impossible after Disney’s acquisition of Marvel. But, somehow, it’s become a reality and the excitement of the series’ fans can’t be denied.
This crossover series always seemed odd to me but that doesn’t make it any less awesome. Seeing Capcom greats like Ryu and X battling Marvel’s finest heroes like Iron Man and Captain America is the kind of thing you could only dream of and yet, it’s all real. And while we still know little about this new title so far, it’s enough to get hyped for it (hell, X’s inclusion alone was enough to make fans cheer).
I’ve always enjoyed watching professionals play these kinds of fighting games because I get to enjoy all the cool spectacles without having to spend days learning how to play the games myself (have I mentioned I’m not good with fighting games?); Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite adds the joy of seeing familiar and not-so familiar faces from both companies’ histories be the ones to duke it out.
But easily my most anticipated aspect of this game is the confirmation of a story mode; a proper one at that, not the kind of, sort of bullshit MvC 3 had. I’m a bit skeptical about it since Street Fighter V‘s story mode was massively disappointing but, hopefully, it’ll at least offer some cool character interactions. There’s already theories that the final boss will be a combination of Ultron and Sigma – that’s how you do crossovers.
Regardless of the story, though, MvC: I is being set up to be a labour of love at the very least and will hopefully live up to the fans’ expectations.
5. Lady Layton: The Millionaire Ariadone’s Conspiracy (3DS, iOS, Android)
The moment I heard there was going to be a new Professor Layton game, I was instantly curious. The moment I heard that it would feature Layton’s daughter as the main character, I was instantly excited, even moreso when I saw her design (seriously, I can’t get over how perfect her design is).
It was always the intent of Level-5 to bring the adventures of the top-hatted gentleman to an end and, while it’s something I understand and respect, I still yearned for another game in the series. Not a life-sim spin off or that weird murder mystery game for iOS that barely resembles a Layton game; a proper successor, filled with charming characters, bizarre mysteries and even more dastardly puzzles to solve.
While we have yet to see any gameplay, the first two aspects seem to be returning in full force. Katrielle, or ‘Kat’ is already a very likable character, possessing the same wit and charisma as her father but also exhibiting some rather oddball traits. Her main deal seems to be making outlandish claims that turn out to be true which hopefully won’t become stale and unfunny.
Speaking of outlandish, Lady Layton seems to be going for a more bizarre tone than its predecessors, at least if the talking dog is anything to go by (though I’m still betting Kat picked that up Luke’s ability to talk to animals somehow). Not to mention, there doesn’t seem to be much of a concrete story judging by the game’s only trailer. While Kat is on the hunt for her missing father, there also seem to be several other unconnected mysteries for Kat to get embroiled in (maybe it’ll be more of an episodic title?).
I want to hold reservations for this title but I can’t help but be incredibly excited for what new adventures await for Lady Layton and hopefully, they’ll be just as good as her dear old daddy’s (also who’s the mother? We better find out, Level-5!)
6. Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony (PS4, PS Vita)
If we’re going by Western release dates, it’s been two years since the last Danganronpa title. Yeah, we’ve had the Ultra Despair Girls spin-off and the Danganronpa 3 anime to keep us occupied but they were both incredibly divisive within the fan-base (I personally really liked them). So a new game that goes back to the classic murder-mystery formula could be what we need to all rally behind, especially since it’s apparently unconnected to the previous games.
Yes, Danganronpa V3 will mark the beginning of a brand new story arc and will star a brand new cast of colourful characters that we’re already growing attached to even though half of them will be brutally killed (why do we do this to ourselves?) It already looks delightfully bonkers, with our cast now trapped inside some super high-tech prison and mascot Monokuma once again running the show; this time with his own family of other maniacal bears helping.
And while it’ll follow a familiar formula, the class trials look like they’ll be the most intense yet, with players how having to deal with multiple testimonies at once and even having to lie to progress the plot.
At the end of the day, though, I just want another insane story to enjoy; I want to feel that weirdly enjoyable feeling of utter dread, followed by resounding and unflinching hope. And I want to see what surprises are in store for us regarding how it all connects to the previous stories (because it must do in some way). Here’s hoping there’s no shit mini-games to ruin it.
7. Project Sonic 2017 (PS4, XBO, Switch, PC)
While the majority of the Sonic fan-base has their eyes set on Sonic Mania (and rightly so), I find it hard to get that excited for it; mostly because I don’t have a lot of nostalgia for the classic titles. I’m personally more excited for the other major Sonic game in the works; their next 3D title currently referred to as Project Sonic 2017, which is weird since, unlike Sonic Mania, we know next to nothing about it.
All we have to go on is a trailer that really only confirms that Sonic will be teaming up with his Classic self again, just like in Sonic Generations (though Sega has insisted that it’s not a direct sequel to that game). That said, the trailer did peak my curiosity due to it’s weirdly dark atmosphere – it felt more like a trailer for The Dark Knight or something.
The idea of a Sonic game having a darker tone can set off alarm bells in fans’ heads (need we even discuss the likes of Shadow the Hedgehog or Sonic 06?) but I’ve always liked the idea of Sonic having slightly darker plots so long as they’re balanced out with some light-heartedness too. After all, it’s still a series about a talking blue hedgehog that runs really fast – you can’t take something like that 100% seriously.
As of now, though, I’m going to try and keep my expectations tempered but, hopefully, this, along with Sonic Mania will mark a permanent comeback for the Blue Blur. Sega have been trying to win back support for the last couple of years and have seemed to gain some self-awareness if their social media accounts are anything to go by. With any luck, they’ll have definitely learned from their mistakes this time and get back to making quality Sonic titles again.
8. Persona 5 (PS4, PS3)
Remember when I put this game on my Ten Anticipated Games of 2015 list? Ha, good times. But, after numerous delays, Atlus have now officially confirmed that the newest entry in their stylish RPG series will hit Western shores next year.
Unlike some other games, I’ve made a point of avoiding practically any kind of info on Persona 5. I’ve waited so long for this game that I want to experience it first-hand, with barely any knowledge as to what to expect. I’m familiar enough with the characters and the like on a visual level, but I want to get to know them fresh from the game rather than the trailers.
That being said, I did watch the special one-off anime Atlus made to promote the game, which gave us a general idea of what exactly our protagonists, the Phantom Thieves do, and it’s certainly interesting. A small part of me was worried that it’d try to ape Persona 4 a bit too much but it seems even Atlus knew they had to do something new in terms of plot and characters.
What else is there to say, really? It looks awesome and I can’t wait to finally get my hands on it.
9. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Wii U, Switch)
Oh look, another game that I foolishly believed we’d get last year. Though maybe Nintendo shouldn’t have kept giving it release dates if they were going to keep pushing it back. Regardless of my personal issues with Nintendo’s handling of the game, however, Breath of the Wild still looks fantastic, both from a visual and gameplay perspective.
It just looks so… different. And in a good way. It almost resembles a Dark Souls game; Link being given an expansive and lush world to explore at the player’s leisure, with all manner of monsters to fight, treasures to find and God knows what else.
Nintendo, in recent years, has seemed to either rehash the same formula for the sake of being “retro” or “old-school” or implemented new ideas that they claim to be innovative but were just different for the sake of being different. Breath of the Wild seems to be striking that perfect balance; familiar but fresh.
There’s still so much we don’t know about the game but that is exciting in its own way. Nowadays, developers want us to know almost everything about the game before it’s out, meaning fewer surprises. Nintendo may be too secretive for its own good at times, but this could be one of those instances where that will pay off in a big way and lead to what could very well be a lot of peoples’ new favourite Zelda game.
10. The Nintendo Switch
Wow, I’ve cheated quite a lot in this list but, I’m sorry, the Switch deserves a spot just for managing to turn a lot of pessimists and cynics around on the console formerly known as the NX – myself included.
Nintendo’s utter refusal to talk about it for so long frustrated me; I was beginning to think that they had put all their eggs in the then-failing Wii U’s basket and had no back-up – the NX was some desperate last-ditch attempt to make up for it. Cue the three minute announcement trailer last month and my opinions did a complete 180.
I mean, it’s a home console/handheld hybrid! It looks very much like what the Wii U tried to do but on a greater scale, meaning we can take our big budget games with us anywhere we go without having to lug a massive controller and several wires with us.
And think of the game potential? We’ve already got a new 3D Mario planned but if certain rumours are true, we’ll even see the likes of main series Pokémon games on there. Imagine having formerly handheld-only games on a home console with all the graphical benefits? I’m getting giddy just thinking about it.
While I’m still annoyed with the Wii U’s treatment and failure, I can’t help but look forward to the Switch. Nintendo’s decision to keep quiet for so long paid off. Granted, there’s always the rare possibility it’ll all go tits up come launch but that little trailer helped sell the system to a lot of people. So long as there’s a good number of awesome launch titles for it (with the new Mario potentially being one of them), the Switch could very well mark a new beginning Nintendo maybe help restore to them to their former glory.