There sure was video games in 2019. Just piles of them. Video games for all. I kept a list of almost every video game I played in 2019. Surely some fell through the crack of remember to writing them down, such was the berth of video games given to me. Here is One Half of Hinge Problem’s Sweet 20 of 2019.
Kingdom Hearts 3 (PS4)
No video game ever has made me scream so much and so consistently. Every 20 minutes of this game made me scream out loud. I wanted to vomit with joy every half hour. Every hour I caught how big the smile on my face was. This Was Video Game. The graphics are so deep. The plot so nonsense. It was Kingdom Hearts being reflective ex twenty. Kingdom Hearts Refl x20. It was a game I had prepared by hate playing every other Kingdom Hearts game over my life. Your mileage just maybe, will vary.
Almost everything I could write about my feelings of this game will be dismissive. If I wanted to read about the struggles of folks suffering under the hell of Corporate Capitalism I could check out the selectbutton.net forums. Instead, at the end of the game I needed to pull out a harddrive out of a mainframe. The second I did, my laptop BSOD’d. Hell yeah, video games.
Pong The Modern Arcade Machine
I played this at least twice this year. Both times I appreciated what a beautiful cool cabinet it was. And then I got mad because it was not a calibrated, precise machine that demanded skill. The paddles are sloppy and loose. Oh well.
Daytona 2017 (Arcade)
On Arcade games. I did not play Daytona 2017. I bring it up here, because this year, in Branson, Missouri, was the the first time I had actually seen a cabinet. I was shocked and breathless upon seeing it, and right before I saw it I was jetlagged, sicked and so sleep-deprived my body would not let me sleep. My friends played Daytona, and I went to my rental car and laid down. They reported it was good. So I will dream, of one day playing a game once, and then never again.
Juno First (Arcade)
This video does not do the game justice. Emulation doesn’t. This is one of the games where the screen is reflected onto a star field. The sprites sit in space. The acceleration is beautiful and fast. I played it in Natsukashii Game Museum, days before they closed. One more in a long string of closing game stores and Arcades. Natsuge existed longer than I had hoped and still it’s closing stung. It had a habit of having strange beautiful games I did not know. This was another, and with hope I will keep that I played Juno First in my heart for years.
Christmas Seaman and JRA PAT for Dreamcast
I made several stupid yahoo auction purchases in 2019 for not a lot of money. To quote the Dreamcast Complete Guidebook on Christmas Seaman, “It was active for 9 days, from Dec 16-25th 1999. It is useless now.” A further look proves that it had two parts, and I only had the message part. You constructed a message and sent it to the internet, which was then accessed by the “gift” part of Christmas Seaman. A disc not found in the Guidebook, JRA-PAT for Dreamcast, connected you to internet to check on horse racing stats. It has a great cover. I assume the servers are no longer up, but I don’t have the dial-up modem connection to check.
I bought both of these on the promise of a cool cover and a weird time. I found out I could not connect to the internet and was in possession of the Dreamcast equivalent of MAG.
The Xbox 360 Kinect
Walking around Disneyland is fun. Raising your left arm to walk around Disneyland as Microsoft tries to reinvent interacting with an avatar not so much. Only half the ideas of the Kinect work and those half of the ideas are frequently terrible. I bought it for $10 in a thrift store in Redmond, WA where I assure you the Microsoft products are excessive. When I mimed jerking off to make my Mon Calamari jerk off was a top moment in video games this year. And then I realized that those bastards M$ suddenly have mo-cap of me jerking off. I almost forgave them because for up to 3 seconds at a time the Endor Speeder Bike Chase segment felt like I was on those bikes going a 100 miles an hour through an endless forest and I wanted to cry it was so cool. Then it would de-sync and I would remember I had to stand on my couch to fit into the camera in my Japanese apartment. Child of Eden was almost pleasant.
Here midway through the list I will bring up games that I played far too much of because people loved them, and I couldn’t convince myself I just did not like them. It took three times through Sekiro for me to go “I do not like the deep verb set this game demands.” Exasperated I went, “I guess Hollow Knight is a new classic.” Shovel Knight‘s Specter Knight was almost fun, and I hated Plague Knight. It got worse with Celeste. I don’t think I ever enjoyed that game, I grit my teeth though dropped inputs and a control scheme that hurt. It’s a fine tale of adversity and maybe just maybe I was either too old or not the audience. Each of these games burned deep in me for a while. They took a game I liked and turned it into a game I decided I loved.
The Messenger (Switch, PS4, PC)
Yes the opening writing is particularly overbearing. It is trying to hard for something and ends up slamming down onto the party bowl. It’s a mess. Then it gradually asks you to do more and more with it’s verb set. Then midway it asks you to Search Action through the world for dongles. And it brings you back for one final dungeon. Deep in the dungeon, I found a story that struck my heart. If I told you that moment, you’d call me stupid for having feelings. I had feelings.
Now months after release, after playing a dozen other indie-darling games, I know The Messenger was the one for me. The challenge of movement clicks now in my brain. The greatest moments I had in any of those other indie games was when they were approaching The Messenger. The tricky moments in Celeste felt like memorizing a series of inputs. The Messenger at it’s best is rhythmic. It is keeping the ball in the air. In it’s strictest moments the balls is ever higher, failure ever more a knot in your stomach, just a bit more, just one beat more. Then the song is either over, or it is time to try again.
That challenge sticks. The search action like any other search action I have ever played fades away. Then there was a free DLC slice just to cut me one more time to know, this was what was right.
I was quick to say I loved Landstalker and mean it. Yesterday I watched the credits on Link’s Awakening (Switch). Last month I had replayed all of Landstalker. I got to directly compare both. The problem with Landstalker, everyone, is that there aren’t enough sprites. or music. or sound effects. I love the “ow” everything makes. But give me more. Give me more than one dungeon theme. Give me about 15 more NPC Sprites. Landstalker is imposing and 30% bigger than it can support from being a /true classic/. The later dungeons are horrible confusing labyrinths that require absolute concentration because a second broken you lose where exactly you were going in this same-y mess. There were a few I just stumbled out hoping I had finished. It is minimalist with it’s maximum. Eventually you realize all your favorite video games were made by salarymen.
Apex Legends (PS4)
For brief mornings and afternoons in this year I was truly happy. I was crying with laughter. I was playing characters I hated with friends on the other side of the world that I loved. All the characters suck in Apex Legends. It is a game in itself to make fun of the bad characters. The game was maybe ever just okay. Now I just want to gather two friends and try that train. What’s on that train. Maybe I can be distracted from the hackers and professionals long enough to have a good time in 2020.
Quantum Break (PC)
I eventually admitted to myself I didn’t like The Last of Us. Then I crystallized that disinterest into hate, because you can’t just not having feelings on a NEW CLASSIC. Stiff praise blew in for QB after I finished Alan Wake, a game I despised years ago. I hated Alan Wake then, now I related to him just wanted to be left alone for a while. We all sometimes wander in the woods trying to find our wife. I’d seen Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace and Twin Peaks. I got the humor. I have also now read about 20 trash pulp sci-fi novels and classify as a Steins;Gate Fan. I could enjoy the B-Television of Quantum Break and the best of class cover shooting. Boy did I just want an endless mode of that shooting. Or a multiplayer mode. It ended up being less of a time-travel story than I wanted.
What Remedy’s recent games gave me in 2019 was knowledge that I liked certain things much more than The Best. The sooner I accepted that. The sooner I realized maybe things aren’t for everyone, and the best stuff can be bad, the happier I can be.
The Best Games of All Time
I played through a lot of games in 2019. I spent a good month with DooM 2 and wads. You ever tried that? DooM is fantastic. There’s a great Sonic game MADE IN DOOM (Sonic Robo Blast 2). That Sonic game has a Kart Racer spinoff that is also good. I plowed through Symphony of the Night. Wow what a game filled with stuff, and then they gave you a bonus stuff. It has incoherent stuff at that. Duke3D has such cool level design that reminded me of Myst more than I could have imagined. Silent Hill 2 and Siren:Blood Curse are so good at enveloping dread. Onimusha takes like 3 hours to beat. Video Games! Have you heard about these things?
Shenmue Chapter 1 Yokosuka (Dreamcast, PS4)
I found a list from 2007 where I declared Shenmue my favorite game. That’s a harder critical question in 2019. But having played it in 2019 I was without breath at how much of a video game as the art form it was. There is a whole podcast about this. It is clearly one of The Best. I loved it. Shenmue 2 is frequently miserable, and never entirely redeems itself. Shenmue III will have to wait for 2020.
Murdered: Soul Suspect (PS4, PC)
It ever crept on the PSN page for cheaper and cheaper prices. I briefly considered if this was a secret cavia game based off a siliconera piece I half remembered about their last cancelled game. It is a mess. It was strict Japanese director working with an underpaid American studio. I laughed and kept yelling “Two Dollars” the whole time I played it.
Blair Witch (PC)
I grew up with woods right behind my house. I also grew up in the age of The Blair Witch Project. I was too much of a coward to ever see the film. Or was it? I try to remember now. Blair Witch the 2019 video game has the most accurate woods I’ve ever seen in a video game. There are video game paths, because there is overgrowth or hills or valley’s or streams or just NATURE in the way elsewhere. My woods were swarmed with insects in the summer. So for six months they were out of bounds. Each fall was seeing the literal new season and changes to woods. Woods can betray you quickly into being lost. For the first 90 minutes before Bloober Team (Layers of Fear, Observer) does their thing, you are just lost in the woods. Next time just give me 5 hours of beautiful woods with my dog.
Detention (Switch), Devotion (PC)
Both of these games I feel to say anything about them is a spoiler. I think both of these should be played. I will say both of horror games. Both are darker, deeper unsettling horror games than I was expecting. They say something about the world in which we live. One is 2D, One is a PT-like.
Ape Out (Switch, PC)
I really like Ape Out. A reactive percussion soundtrack about being an Ape trying to get out of a research facility. It takes about two hours to beat. I played it through the Xbox Game Pass. I have no idea how I would have tied-the-brain-knots to pay 15 dollars for it. And yet, I had a fantastic time with it and paid much more for games I didn’t like this year.
Zero Ranger (PC)
It was GAME OF THE YEAR 2018. It was almost GOTY2019. I beat it this year. It is still perfect and beautiful. I got to tell the composer at TGS how much I loved it.
Death Stranding (PS4)
Soon I will get a longer essay out of this game. Before it came out I said I would huff this game. Seeing it for 15 minutes with friends I said I was going to get drunk of this game. I huffed and drank this game and came out loving it. If you’re a game player you already know if you would like this game. If you’ve never played a video game, why not this one I am sure you would have opinions about it. I still almost refuse to talk about it directly at all. Like right now. It’s on this list anyways.
And Rudie’s Game Of The Year 2019 is…
Starting this year I had PS+, Twitch Prime. At the end I have 45 days of Xbox Game Pass and the steady drip that is the Epic Game store. So many of my game opinions came from free games this year through minimal effort on my part. Each month gave me at least one game for free or “free” that I had a great time with. Even if I had not bought a single game this year I would have had so many game experiences this year. It was so constant and good I could dull the screaming voice that told me about the lack of ownership in these games. I got The Messenger for free TWICE. That’s like my actual GOTY if I was being reasonable.
In that first paragraph I forgot I also did the month trial of Apple Arcade and could have easily written an entry about Earthnight a perfectly good game I did not like at all and resent it existing and that’s my problem. I get to judge people for their reaction to Sayonara Wild Hearts. I get to regret to find out whether I would have actually liked Overland or just found it too much all the time.
In that first and second paragraph I forgot because of Twitch Prime I got a year of Switch Online so that I could play Splatoon 2 occasionally. And then they were like here are a bunch of roms I already had on three devices in this room, but now on my Switch. Play some Kirby’s Adventure and Super Metroid. And then I did. Then there is Tetris 99 which I have played minimally of and could have given up other video games to play.
Being patient and not knowing how I would feel paid off big. I got mad and upset at almost every game I paid more than 15 dollars for on my Switch this year. And yet not spending money let me play Celeste, >_Observer_, Minit, Pikuniku, etc. The surest bet I can take from this year is I’m going to play some great game next year and all I have to sacrifice is personal data that was already compromised.
I don’t even have to buy video games anymore, I can just open my mouth and see what falls in. Shoot The Hinges, Totally Awesome Video Games.
December 30th, 2019
Update January 1st, 2020
I knew I had forgotten something important in this list, that had made it incomplete. This year I bought a Gamepark 32 (essay coming soon). A near 20 year fascination and never realization of the game Her Knights All For Princess. I got to hold and click the other handheld console with a clicky stick. It has three buttons on the right side, semi-perfect for Genesis games. The GP32 is an artifact I haven’t spent enough time with, but each time I look over at in my shelf a jolt of joy passes along my brain.