A lot of gamers keep lists of all the games they’ve finished throughout each year. That’s something I’ve always kinda-sorta intended to do, but I’ve tried to keep them all in my head, and at my advanced age (I’m all of forty-damn-seven), that’s nearly impossible for my withered old brain.
So since the beginning of the year, I figured I could keep track of them right here in a blog post, which I continually updated throughout the year. The latest games were added to the top. (I did not include re-playing old games I’ve already finished, like, say, Super Metroid or Mega Man.)
With the final update on New Year’s Eve, I ended up finishing 15 games in 2021. It’s not a lot by some standards, but considering how busy I’ve been with “real life,” I’m fairly pleased with that count, especially considering there are a couple long RPGs on the list. Hopefully 2022 will bring an even longer list, but for now, here’s a look at my year in gaming:
Lost Judgment (PS4)
Squeaking in under the wire on the very last day of the year is Sega’s Lost Judgment. Look, as I mentioned below in the Yakuza: Like a Dragon listing, I have played all of the main series Yakuza games since day one, and I loved the first Judgment a couple years ago, so of course I was going to play to its sequel. I’ve always said the Judgment games are like Yakuza and Ace Attorney had a kid, so if you like clue-finding and mystery-solving along with bashing bad guys’s faces in with bicycles, these are the games for you. I will continue to buy and play the games in this series for as long as it lasts — somehow, after 16 years, I’m not sick of them. At all.
Metroid Dread (Switch)
Of course this was going to be next on the list. Like Actraiser Renaissance, I have lots to say, and it too deserves its own blog post. TL;DR: Loved it. (Update: As of 12/30/21, I have played through Metroid Dread three times, and it seems to get better every time.)
Actraiser Renaissance (Switch)
YEP. Got it on release day and absolutely devoured it with every free moment I had. I have so much to say about it, but I will save it for a full blog post, so please keep an eye out for it. The TL;DR version: I’m very happy.
Bayonetta 2 (Switch)
Since I only got a Switch late last year, I had been looking for Bayo2 for quite a while — it’s not available new in stores anymore, so I finally got one off eBay a few weeks ago. I loved the first Bayonetta on my X360, and the sequel is even better. Yes, it’s absurd and over-the-top, and the action borders on incomprehensible (actually it just takes some getting used to), but I love the character and the enemy design is crazy badass. It’s really all about the eye candy, though, and I kept wanting to take screenshots throughout the entire game, but everything moves so fast that it’s gone before I could grab a capture. And of course, I got the Samus costume! Not only that, but literally while I was playing the game, Nintendo showed Bayonetta 3 in their 9/23 Nintendo Direct, so I have that to look forward to now that I’m caught up!
Yakuza: Like a Dragon (PS4) and Phantasy Star (SMS/Switch)
I’m putting these together because in the same day, I finished one of Sega’s first RPGs and one of their latest! As a devoted follower of the Yakuza franchise since day one, I initially had some trepidation about the series’ shift to a menu-based RPG format, but I ended up absolutely loving this new entry. I started it back in April and spent over 50 hours with it, and found it to be an emotional and hilarious epic (they really upped the comedy aspect with this one), and with the Judgment spinoff continuing the original beat-em-up format (and that new release coming next week — I finished this just in time!), I’m now totally on board with this new style for the Yakuza line.
True confession: I had never played through a Phantasy Star game before. I’ve played my share of Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy, Ys, and Mother games, but PS was always a big gap in my JRPG history, and I’ve always regretted that. So I finally played the SEGA AGES version on Switch, the port by beloved developer M2 that adds many quality-of-life improvements to the game such as more balanced leveling, fewer random battles, and a mapping feature to aid in the navigation of the first-person dungeons. I’ll readily admit that I used a few online guides to help me through it, as the clues the game gives you are about as vague as those found in Castlevania II. The new in-game maps were also super helpful, giving me one less thing to keep track of. Anyway, I loved the game and I’m so happy I finally know what it’s all about, and I’m hoping to experience at least one or two of its sequels.
Simulacra 2 (PC)
It’s been a busy summer and I’ve had little time to play, but not long after finishing the first Simulacra game, I started its sequel, and just finished it. Simulacra 2 takes the concept of the first and makes it much more involved, with a lot more investigating to do, more clues to find and methods of finding them, and of course a much more complex series of branching causes and effects. Therefore, I know that the ending I reached was only one of many possible outcomes. What’s cool is that once you finish the game, it shows an entire chart of the game’s paths! These games are pretty creepy, mysterious, and fun, and somewhere down the road I may play through this one again to achieve a different result.
The Spectre Files: Deathstalker (PC) and Simulacra (PC)
Two games, made decades apart, but not entirely dissimilar. I’ve been on a little bit of an FMV game kick lately, and I’ve been spending a lot of time with the legendary “lost” laserdisc arcade game, Deathstalker, which is available on Steam. After hours of muddling through it and never “beating” it, I looked up a couple of videos to find just one solution. Although I didn’t follow the exact patterns I saw, I tweaked a few things I was doing and managed to find my way to a successful ending! Craving more FMV intrigue, I played through 2017’s Simulacra, a total creepypasta game where you find yourself in the possession of a missing girl’s smartphone, and you must use it to unravel the mystery. Both games feature extensive branching pathways and can be solved in multiple ways, and I would love to go through each one again — I would especially like to really master Deathstalker and write a lot more about it, because if it had come out in the ’80s as intended, it would have actually been the deepest and most free-roaming LD game in the arcade. I’m also planning on playing Simulacra 2 soon, and have been looking into more recent FMV titles!
City Shrouded In Shadow/Kyoei Toshi (PS4)
I’d been meaning to get this Japanese-only game since it came out in 2017 — it’s jam-packed with all my favorite Japanese pop culture icons, Godzilla, Gamera, Ultraman, Evangelion, and even my favorite anime, Patlabor — but it took me until now to obtain a copy. An offshoot of the Disaster Report series, you must navigate the city while monsters attack and battle throughout. It’s not a particularly difficult game, and stages are broken up into short sections with lots of save points. There are lots of multiple-choice points that are all in Japanese, so non-Japanese-speakers may not get the whole story (I speak some Japanese, but most of it was still past my skill level), but if you just pick the first option it always seems to work. The game is also not technically great, with wonky control similar to the original Silent Hill, but I love the theme and spirit of the game so much that I can forgive that and I had a ton of fun dodging kaiju and meeting Patrol Labors!
Super Mario 3D World (Switch)
I loved Super Mario 3D Land on the 3DS (I played through the whole thing on my son’s 3DS when we were on vacation several years ago), so when this was announced for the Switch (I never had a Wii U), I figured it’d be a fun pickup. It is! Although I don’t really keep up on all the Mario games, this is a good one to pick up and play in small chunks. And with it pulling thematic references from several classic Mario titles, retro gamers should feel right at home. As of right now, I’ve cleared the main game, but not the (SPOILER) bonus world, and I haven’t played much of Bowser’s Fury yet.
Cotton Reboot! (PS4)
The Japanese version is out and has already made it to preorders in the US! Okay look, I’m not gonna lie, I *finished* the Arrange Mode, but I continued like 10 times. I got the trophy saying I cleared it, but I’m sure some people will say clearing a shmup doesn’t count unless it’s a 1CC. Pretty sure I’m never gonna 1CC this thing, but I’m gonna enjoy trying!
South Park: The Fractured But Whole (PS4)
I really, really love these South Park RPGs. Super fun gameplay framed by South Park’s trademark proprietary blend of smart, acerbic satire and stupid dick and fart jokes. I hope they do a third sometime!
Ys Seven (PC)
The culmination of my “Ys kick,” I spent a little over 40 hours to finish the PC version of Ys Seven. Definitely different from other games in the series because of the party element, but still had enough of that Ys feel to keep me hooked.
Untitled Goose Game (PS4)
I finally got to play this game after my wife got me the iam8bit “Lovely Edition,” packaged entirely in eco-friendly materials, for Christmas — and a few days later I finished the game in one sitting. Original and hilarious! In my head, I kept calling it Metal Goose Solid.
Keep checking back for list updates!