So, as I mentioned in last week’s Fitzgerald Scale, I won’t be partaking in the Game of the Year debate this year on Gaming Respawn. This is mostly due to my belief that I just haven’t played enough current games during 2016 to do the process justice. On the bright side, I’ve produced a steady amount of Retro content throughout the year, so I’ve decided to do the first annual “Retro Respawn Year End Awards”.
I’ll be looking at the Retro Respawn and Rings of Saturn articles I’ve uploaded this year to come up with five different awards. Those awards will be:
Retro Respawn Best Game of the Year – This will be the game that I felt was the best overall game I played during the year.
Retro Respawn Worst Game of the Year – This will be the game I thought was the worst Retro game I played during the year.
Retro Respawn Most Interesting Game of the Year – This will be the game that, even if it wasn’t the best overall game I played during the course of the year, still brought enough interest and substance to the table that I feel it deserves special mention.
Retro Respawn Most Charming Game of the Year– This will be the game that, for whatever reason, charmed my socks off and deserves a special mention for such a reason.
Retro Respawn Console of the Year – This will be the Retro console that I had the most fun playing during the year.
So, with the award categories explained, let’s see who our (un)lucky winners are!
In a year where I really did play some excellent games, few were as perfectly crafted as WWF No Mercy. The fruits of nearly five years’ worth of labour, No Mercy was AKI/THQ’s fourth and final wrestling game to appear on the N64 and was also the best.
Along with the perfected wrestling gameplay, AKI/THQ also beefed up the career and Create A Wrestler modes to give the game an impressive lifespan. PAL players were also pleased to see the return of blood to the series after it was taken out for WrestleMania 2000¸ and the WWF played its part by raiding both WCW and ECW of some of their biggest stars to give the game one of the best rosters ever seen in a wrestling game.
If that wasn’t enough, you could now brutalise your mates in bone crunching Ladder Matches, as well as being able to take your fight into the bowels of the wrestling arena itself in the all new backstage areas.
No, the game wasn’t perfect, with slowdown sometimes being an issue when four wrestlers were all doing battle, but the game was still an easy 95% and set a standard that many a wrestling game has failed to match.
It’s rare that I rip a game completely apart without any semblance of reprieve in Retro Respawn, as there is usually even the smallest of positive things I can say, even when it comes to the worst of the games I come across. Sadly, South Park: Chef’s Luv Shack is completely devoid of positivity. It is a positivity vacuum that exists only to suck every positive emotion you could possibly feel from you, leaving you bereft of happiness.
This game is the most cynical of cynical cash ins. It’s shoddily made, looks like utter crap and isn’t funny in the slightest. Thankfully, with creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone taking a more hands on approach to the games in the modern era, the South Park logo doesn’t tend to find itself attached to disgusting slabs of excrement like Chef’s Luv Shack any longer, and we can only be thankful for that, especially as the current series of South Park really has been excellent.
But we still ‘member this game lads, oh yes, we’ll always ‘member this shower of shit!
I think it speaks volumes that even though I played this game so early in the year, it still has a place at the top table come years end.
A game which enjoyed great review scores when it first came out, Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver is still an impressive piece of work that I’d happily slap an 80% on without much analysis required. From the minute the game started, I felt invested in Raziel’s struggle and immersed in the game’s glum and unforgiving world.
The fact that a game from the original PlayStation, released in the late 90s no less, has practically no loading times whatsoever once the game starts proper is incredibly impressive. Yes, the gameplay has some flaws, but overall the game is still an impressive feat and well worth your time if you own Sony’s original trailblazing console.
The voice acting is superb, the graphics are atmospheric and the gameplay is well imagined. Certainly an interesting game that I was grateful to spend some time with!
I didn’t quite understand at first due to never playing it before, but I get now why so many people want a sequel to this game so badly. Beyond Good & Evil is a game with character and charisma coming out of every pore. It has an instantly recognisable and, most importantly, likeable cast of main characters that draws you into their struggles from the very beginning.
The visuals can be colourful, imposing and even oppressive at times, depending on what emotion the game wants you to feel and why. In some ways you feel like an insignificant small cog in the midst of an intergalactic conflict, whilst at the same time feeling like you really have a chance to make a difference in this living and breathing world.
The gameplay is easily picked up but not easy to master, and like a good book you just can’t put down, you’ll be hooked on the story and genuinely rooting for your favourite characters to see it to the story’s end.
Yeah, they should definitely make another one of these, and I’ll happily buy it when they do!
The N64 and I have had an…interesting relationship over the years.
I was a Super Nintendo child all the way; mostly because that was the console my parents bought for me when Nintendo decided to drop the console’s price to coincide with Super Mario All-Stars PAL release during the Christmas of 1993.
I loved my SNES like it was an extended member of my family, so you’d think I would have been pushing heavily to get Nintendo’s jacked up fifth generation console? Well, as I’ve mentioned previously on here, it was actually SEGA’s “Saturn” console that captured my imagination at first during the fifth gen, and then it was eventually overtaken by Sony’s PlayStation machine.
For me Sony deciding to go with CDs over cartridges just made their console seem superior to Nintendo’s N64 machine. Of course, I couldn’t really articulate it in such a manner at the time. When it came to multi-plats, to me the PlayStation games just seemed “better” than their N64 equivalents, even though Nintendo’s first party stuff looked as good as ever, and that was what eventually led me to abandon Nintendo for Sony.
This is a pattern that has continued for the past two decades. Nintendo bring out a console that is, for whatever reason, crippled when it comes to multi-plats, so I wait until the generation has essentially ended before picking it up.
However, the fact I waited till what was essentially the sixth gen to finally buy an N64 second hand doesn’t mean I don’t like the system. I think the N64 is actually a great console, hampered by the idiocy of using cartridges, yes, but that doesn’t ruin the console outright or change the fact that it has some truly excellent games.
Playing the AKI/THQ wrestling games is what really made the N64 my Retro Console of the Year, as well as International Superstar Soccer 64 and Mario Kart 64¸which were both really fun games to play. I just had more fun on the N64 than any other console this year, which is why it takes the trophy for Console of the Year for 2016.
So there we go, another year in the bag and another one waiting on the horizon. Next week we’ll be starting a brand new feature in the Retro section. We’ve had “Rings of Saturn”, and starting next week we’re going to be paying a visit to the sixth generation for a while and a Project about Dolphins that ended up being a pivotal point in video game history.
Thanks for reading
Until next time;