I will always remember 2016 as the year when my passion for games grew to bigger heights. Games have become an even more important part of my life, and I am always grateful for the opportunity to talk about them in this capacity. This was quite a year for gaming too, with numerous big game releases. As usual, a good number came out near the tail end of the year, so I haven’t been able to experience them all yet. I already anticipate games that I believe would make this list if I played them, including Final Fantasy XV. Nevertheless, I spent many hours this year with the Nintendo 3DS, just in time for the Switch’s launch in 2017. Most of my top games reflect the fond memories I’ve made with the little handheld that could.
Favorite Game Released Before 2016, Played in 2016: Life is Strange
I initially missed this adventure game from 2015. Thanks to the physical edition’s release earlier this year, I played through all five episodes within a week’s span. Life is Strange wove an intricate tale of time travel and friendship. I’ve played other games that rely on making dialogue choices, such as Telltale’s The Walking Dead series, but LiS actually let me rewind time to redo big decisions. Even after witnessing alternate consequences of my choices, it was always difficult to settle on how I wanted the story to continue. The compelling storytelling and plot twists made this game one of my favorites this year.
5. Zero Time Dilemma
In the same vein as Life is Strange, Zero Time Dilemma is a point-and-click visual novel that structured its gameplay around a clever time travel motif. Every story decision created a new path in the game’s complicated timeline. What made this game stand out was how I had to figure out how to jump around timeline paths with the knowledge I acquired from other sequences. Combine that with puzzling escape rooms and you can see why this game made my top five.
4. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice
Another visual novel on the list, the sixth installment in the Phoenix Wright series easily earned a spot in my top five simply by offering more of the exciting courtroom mysteries that I have come to enjoy. Besides telling an excellent story that capped off the series’ second trilogy, the game brought back some of my old favorite characters while adding a cast of wacky ones.
3. Monster Hunter Generations
I was very engrossed by this action RPG for its sophisticated and addictive gameplay loop. I’m not normally one for loot-based games, but something about crafting equipment from monster remains thrilled me inside. Hundreds of missions for both single-player and cooperative play meant that there was no shortage of content, which was how I spent over a hundred hours on this game.
2. Fire Emblem Fates
Back in 2013, Fire Emblem Awakening quickly became one of my favorites in the series thanks to improvements in story and character development. Somehow, Fire Emblem Fates has outdone that with three whole versions of the game, appealing to fans of both the new style that Awakening brought forth and the classic style associated with older Fire Emblem games. Fates told the story of two warring nations, each with a likable family that you must choose between. Although each game stood well on its own, it was the three games played consecutively that brought together a complete, engaging experience, making them some of my favorite games of 2016.
1. Pokémon Sun and Moon
Developer Game Freak could have kept everything the same for the latest generation in the Pokémon franchise, and I would have still played it. Yet in this latest pair of monster-catching RPGs, the game went above and beyond in changing the formula for the better. Instead of gyms, we got to fight Totem Pokémon in the Island Challenge. Instead of teaching our creatures HMs to explore, we got to ride rental Pokémon everywhere. Pokémon Sun and Moon felt fresh, while offering the classic catching, trading, and battling gameplay that I love. This was truly an excellent way to cap off Pokémon’s 20th anniversary celebration.
Honorable Mentions: Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2, The Witness, Pokémon Go, Hyrule Warriors Legends, Batman: The Telltale Series
I am a lifelong gamer, having grown up with Nintendo since I was young. My passion for gaming led to one of the greatest moments of my life, my video game themed wedding!