Let us jump into the good first. I played some really fun games this year, whether or not they actually released this year. I finally bought Blaster Master Zero, and enjoyed it a lot. Getting to the final dungeon was kind of dumb and easy to miss, but I still think the game is good. Radiant Historia was re-released for the 3DS. I loved the original release, so getting a slightly updated version was welcome. It's still good, even if the added content feels superfluous. Still, more content is more content. Alliance Alive was another fun game I played and reviewed this year. In a surprise development, Dissidia: Final Fantasy Opera Omnia is a mobile game that I actually really enjoy, and still currently play. And yes, the name is total JRPG silliness.
So what was my favorite game of the year? This year it was really easy to pick one: Octopath Traveler. The gameplay is extraordinarily good for old school gamers, and the graphics are top-notch sprite goodness. The character interactions are nice, but I would have loved to have a lot more of them. The story structure reminds me a lot of Saga Frontier, which in this case is pretty good (the second Saga Frontier was terrible though). It's not perfect, but was easily my favorite game purchased and played last year. A very high recommendation for anyone that enjoys old school RPGs.
Now for the bad. I previously enjoyed Recore, but the Definitive Edition upgrade was not good at all. It was unpolished, and added things that the game just didn't need, except for maybe Violet, the tank. She was only needed because they put in those mud areas. Defenders of Ekron was not fun, and Iconoclasts looked great, but was very disappointing. Disgaea, my favorite game, received a re-release, and showed just how far the series has come. Unfortunately, it received none of those upgrades, and is just a heartbreaking, effortless, cash-grab release. Sadly, even Monster Hunter World was a massive let-down. I'm glad a lot of people like it, so the franchise can sell more, but it was not at all what I wanted from the series. A few small steps forward, and a few big leaps back.
To top it off, one of the "best reviewed games of the year", Spider-man, Spiderman, how ever it is spelled, was not a fun game for me. Traversal did not feel good at all, since you have to actually swing from objects and buildings to move. Realistic, but not fun. Prototype did this much better, and years ago. Fighting is somehow worse. It's very Batman: Arkham counter heavy, but leans way too hard on the timing. It's just too unforgiving to be fun. Again, this was done better by other games, notably the Assassin's Creed series, years ago. Plus, the game is very front-loaded. "Do this, now this, now this, here's how to do this, and this, and this! Now, go do whatever." It just wore on me after a few minutes. So of course I end up winning a code for the deluxe edition...
The SaHD category is whatever kind of catch-all I want it to be. This year I'll talk about a few toys. The new Transformers line, Siege, is a lot of fun. Nice new molds, lots of areas to plug in accessories/weapons, and special guys that you can pull apart to make into battle armor. They've even made action effects that can plug into the various weapons. The toys are great, but Hasbro's distribution is still awful. While it should be a good thing that the new toys can't stay on the shelves, it's more from stores getting older waves way too late to properly sell them to collectors and fans, and not having the room for new things. Well, and not getting more than one box of the new stuff. I am still convinced they need to emulate the video game market to bring back toys to the mainstream, or at least turn some good profits.
Another toy that had a tumultuous first year was Mayhem Mekanics Unrustables. I backed the kickstarter back in 2017, and received my figure last year. It's really well designed and built. It transforms from a robot to a rider and motorcycle, and boosts a good amount of weapons to play with. Unfortunately, the makers had some problems with the factory producing their toys. Outsiders might not know all that is going on, but it's surely a financial blow to a small start up company that had a lot of promise.
I was also extremely excited to finally be able to afford another 3rd party Devastator. Well, in design, if not in name. Fate and a cosmic event (having money and a 20% eBay flash sale), provided me with a decently-priced Constructor. It is big, and looks awesome. It does have faults, such as some scarily tight joints that shy me away from transforming it very often. I really don't want to break such an expensive toy! Even so, I am very glad I purchased it.
So that was a brief look at the ups and downs from 2018. With a new job, I'm not sure how 2019 is going to shape up, but hopefully we will see you back here in another year to see what made 2019 good, bad...and SaHD.
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