My Games of 2021

Ugh. What year is it? 2021 is over, so now I can talk about the games I played throughout the year. I was originally going to rank the games that I came out in 2021 that I played, but I ended up playing a lot of uninteresting titles. If you want me to talk more about Mario Golf: Super Rush again I can try, but that was already a struggle previously. So, this year I am going to shake things up and talk about my top ten favorite games that I finished this year. There is a good mix of new and old titles in here and it makes for a more interesting write for me. To give you an idea of how slow I am with things, here are two honorable mention list with games I wanted to play and games I started but haven’t finished.

Games Released in 2021 That I Had Interest Playing, But I Never Bought

Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny
Pac-Man 99
Poison Control
Nier Replicant ver. 1.22474487139…
Returnal
Resident Evil: Village
Chivalry 2
Cris Tales
Famicom Detective Club: The Missing Heir
Famicom Detective Club: The Girl Who Stands Behind
Legend of Mana (Remake)
Pokemon Unite
The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles
Psychonauts 2
No More Heroes III
Sonic Colors: Ultimate
WarioWare: Get It Together!
Cruis’n Blast
Kena: Bridge of Spirits
Metroid Dread
Far Cry 6
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Hinokami Chronicles
Voice of Cards: The Isle of Dragon Roars
Forza Horizon 5
Dungeon Encounters
Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition (For the lols)
Monster Rancher 1 & 2 DX
Super Robot Wars 30
Wildermyth
Potion Craft: Alchemist Simulator

Games That Came Out In 2021 That I Played, But Didn’t Finish

Persona 5 Strikers
Bravely Default 2
New Pokemon Snap
Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin
Scarlet Nexus
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game – Complete Edition
Back 4 Blood
Shin Megami Tensei V
Yu Gi Oh! RUSH DUEL: Dawn of the Battle Royal!!


Top Games That I Finished This Year

10. Etrian Odyssey III: The Drowned City

“Hie thee to the ocean city… To the Yggdrasil Labyrinth. A journey to the blue depths… To conquer the shadows of night. Though you know not what this means, you go towards Armoroad. What awaits is time’s end; death’s demise. A tempestuous dream… To push away the unfathomable dark and bring light to Armoroad… A stormy adventure begins…”

Creating my list was hard, but I knew I wanted to include this game. Etrian Odyssey III was one of the hardest games I have on the DS. My gaming knowledge was new to dungeon crawlers and understanding party compensation.10 years later, I have become an adult with a better understanding of how things work. I went from not understanding how certain abilities could be helpful to finding ways to make my party unstoppable. The mix between dungeon crawling and finding treasure out in sea made the game enjoyable for many hours. The game left such a big impression on me that I went out and got the other games in the series to slowly play through the story canon games in the series. I will report my thoughts when I finish the series twenty years from now.

9. Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age

The trend this year was finishing games that I’ve put off for years. I was really excited to play through this game when it first came out, but I found myself playing chunks at a time since I had started grad school at the time. Motivation went south fast when the definitive versions came out and sour my mood when I learned that you couldn’t transfer your progress to the newer, shinier version. So instead of starting all over, I chipped away at the base game and finally finished it this year. 

Dragon Quest XI is a comfort game for JRPG players. It is simple and friendly for newcomers while also engaging for series veterans. The story and setting make this an adventure worth playing while never feeling stale. There is always something to see, something to do, and challenges around every corner. I still need to finish the post game and eventually play through the definitive edition one day, but that won’t be until a while from now. I did write a post about this game back in October.

8. The World Ends With You: Final Remix / NEO: The World Ends With You

Yeah I’m cheating with this one. I couldn’t decide on which game I liked more over the other since they both have their high and low points. Ultimately I decided that if you put both together, you get a great game. The World Ends With You took me places that I wasn’t ready to go. The themes of your world ending when you refuse to live in it struck a chord that I never really thought about. It opened a new viewpoint that I was unaware of and kept the optimistic flame in me going. It’s sequel doesn’t do the theme justice, but it did deliver an improved gameplay formula that irritated me in the formal. Both games had me playing them whenever I had the free time to do it, and that’s coming from someone who ignored the original game when it came out. I am sad that NEO didn’t do well enough to Square’s expectations, but here’s hoping that the series can continue with new characters, locations, and a stronger emphasis on its theme.

7. Castlevania Advance Collection

I’m still cheating! When I learned that the Gameboy Advance Castlevania games were being rereleased, I got excited. Symphony of the Night is one of my favorite games and the advance trilogy share the same formula. While most games in the collection were better than others, I enjoyed my time playing through all four games. If you would like a more of my thoughts on the games, I wrote a post about them last month.

6. SaGa: Scarlet Grace – Ambitions

This was a surprise to me when I was looking over my options. The more I thought about this game, the more I remembered my playthrough and the adventure I went on. SaGa: Scarlet Grace has the charm and formula of a SaGa game that is also friendly for newcomers. The almost endless possibility of how your journey could play out makes finding and making decisions fun since you have to figure it out yourself (almost literally since there are not many guides). My journey with Urpina was a daunting one, but rewarding in so many ways. The other three protagonist are still waiting for me to take them on, but I am in no rush to get through theirs (especially since I started playing other games in the series). I wrote about my experience with the game back in August, so you can get the full read there.

5. Xenoblade Chronicles

The award for the game that took the longest time for me to beat this year goes to Xenoblade Chronicles. In hindsight, I could have finished this game a long time ago, but similar to Etrian Odyssey, my dumb young brain didn’t understand how to play the game logically. Xenoblade mimics a MMO game style where understanding how abilities and status modifiers matter. Once I understood this, the game became much more enjoyable to play and finish. It was a bit bittersweet to finally cross this game off my list since I was really feeling it. My advice if you want to play the game is to get the definitive edition on Switch. It is a really good game and worth playing. And yes, I did write about it as well as part of Love Your Backlog month.

4. Dark Souls Remastered

This is one of my proudest gaming achievements. I had no intention of finishing this game anytime soon, but the more I played and got into it, I was determined to see it through. I’m glad I did since the reward was definitely worth it and I felt accomplished. The original Dark Souls may not be my personal favorite out of the series, but it is now the one I am most comfortable with. There are parts in this game that I dread doing again, but I’m not afraid of facing them anymore. It is somber that I finally get to cross this off my list, but with other games in the series to keep me busy for the next four to nine years, I think the experience will make me a better player.

3. It Takes Two

There is a reason why this game won Game of the Year. It is a well-developed game. I played this with Kat the entire way though to the point where we couldn’t stop playing it. Everything felt well designed from the locations to gameplay to how everything relied on how cooperative you and your partner had to be. The story still irks me in several places, but certain moments make it up for being heartbreaking or hilarious depending on the type of person you are. I wish the game had more to do after the campaign since Kat and I were eager for more. If Hazelight Studios can expand on this gameplay and create something more inline with this, then it would be an instant buy from me.

2. Monster Hunter Rise

A new year, a new Monster Hunter game to play through. For me personally, I enjoyed Rise way more than I did with World. Rise fixed a lot of my personal issues with scaling down the bloated environment and making them smaller and more interesting. I like exploring the maps in Rise since there are things to discover like artifacts from the previous era and remnants of epic battles. My favorite is the Frost Islands where you can explore a destroyed ship and follow the skeletal remains of the monster it was fighting throughout the entire map. It’s details like this that I wish existed in World to make my time getting lost more interesting.

Besides the map, the mobility and how fast the game plays now made for interesting hunts. The Wire Bugs are one of my new favorite additions to the series and offers a lot of elements in and out of battles. I felt “meh” at first with the Wyvern Riding mechanic at first, but once I figured out how take advantage with the controls, it became fun to use. Rampage quest are still a struggle for me. The idea is to have multiple people with you during them, but my lonely self had a hard time maintaining everything that was going on. They do present a nice change of pace and strategy, but it does feel like it was meant to be played with others.

Other than that, the new monsters introduced had their fun gimmicks and quirks. I thought the Magnamola would be a pushover since I had no real difficulty up to it, but it quickly put me in my place when it decided to fly all of a sudden. The two new elder dragons are no pushovers either since they utilize Rise’s gameplay and your understanding of them. They are neat fights and made me say a swear or five. Outside of all of that, I’m happy Rise brought back interesting and creative designs for weapons and armor. It was something I was missing and happy to have back.

I never did write a post on Rise for one reason or another, but there is a lot that I can talk about. I originally didn’t have this game high on my list, but after replaying it this month, I feel in love with it all over again. On the fence if I might double dip and get the PC version when it comes out. I may actually finish Sunbreak when it comes out. The offer still stands if anyone wants to play online.

1. Tales of Arise

Tales of Arise is not a perfect game. If I had to rank it with the rest of the series, I would put it as maybe my fourth or fifth personal favorite. The game has a lot of good qualities in it, but there are glaring issues that hold it back from being up there for me like Symphonia and Vesperia. So why is it my number one game this year? From beginning to end, I could not stop thinking about this game. I wanted to explore everything this game offered and complete each difficult challenge that was available. I tend to avoid doing ridicules challenges in Tales of games, but Arise kept me engaged throughout. I didn’t find the characters annoying outside of battle and their struggles kept me invested. Even though I felt the story wasn’t on par with other titles, it did through me off guard at times and only decided to get complicated at the last minute.

Even as I write this, I still find it hard to explain why this was my favorite game I played and finished this year. There is something to say here about acknowledging all the faults it has while still finding some enjoyment out of it. I may never write about this game because I can never find the true words that I want to say. The best I have is that it is good despite its flaws. Rather that is good or bad is left to the individual. All I know is that Arise was my favorite game that I finished and completed this year.


So that’s all I got. Sorry if it is not the follow-up from last year’s presentation, but there wasn’t a lot of excitement from my gaming bubble. Let me know what some of your favorite games were this year that you finished.

March 2021 Gaming Report

Time. There just doesn’t seem to be enough of it lately. Luckily my time spent this month was on the productive end, and I got to experience an emotion that I haven’t in a while, bliss. At the beginning of the month, I was highly productive and engaged in the games that I was playing to the point I would just mess around instead of focusing on finishing it. During the second half, I shifted my focus to things here on the blog and I now have a backlog of post that are close to finish or in the edit pool. I know all of this wonderful production is going to come crashing in April, but I’m going to endure and keep my eye on the prize in August.

Finished Games

What’s this? Danames found time to actually finish some games instead of building his collection for once? I hear the snark; and yes, I did find time to finish a couple of games this month. The first was thanks to Kim and Genni’s annual Love You Backlog event, where I finished Xenoblade Chronicles for the Nintendo Wii. I wrote a whole post about it, so you can read my thoughts there. I was still struggling to figure out if I enjoyed the game, or if the Wii’s limitations prevented me from enjoying it. I did have the definitive version for Switch ready to play whenever I finished the original, and ever since playing that I determined that it was the Wii’s fault for holding this game back. I do plan on finishing the definitive version since I’m enjoying it so much, and it is holding me over until the drought for physical copies of Xenoblade 2 exit the black market.

The second game I finished was supposed to be for last month’s Pokémon Creator’s Catch collab, but it was a struggle for me play constantly. That game was Pokémon Ultra Sun. As you can tell from my post, Sun and Moon rubbed me the wrong way when I finished the original. Ultra Sun is more of the same from the base game, but with extra content and a new postgame chapter. The post game looks interesting, but sadly this game has given me a really bad sunburn. I probably won’t touch it for a while, and the next Pokemon game I’ll play will probably be the Diamond and Pearl remakes (the redemption arc).


Games Added This Month

Ha ha…ha ha ha…

Let’s not talk about what was added to the collection this month. In my defense, most of them were free or donated to me (and due to blood oath, they will stay with me). Some come from the wake of digital store fronts closing and leaving some games inaccessible without a crime lord’s bank account. We are seeing this with the closing of the PlayStation Network Store for PS3, PSP, and Vita later this year. This sucks since these digital store fronts have been the cheaper option for playing older games without having to sell a kidney or three. More importantly, now that they are closing, I now have to go on a shopping spree to buy titles that I don’t have yet, creating this disgusting feeling of consumerism that I don’t like. At least games on these stores are cheap and can be redownloaded after the store closes; which was one of my biggest concerns.

Outside of that, Monster Hunter Rise came out and that will be the state that I’ll be in for a while. I would love to play this game online with people I know, so if you want to find a time to hunt together let me know please. Otherwise I will finish all of the village quest by next week and move on to the next game while playing this on the side. I will save all my thoughts on the full game at a later time.


Plans For Next Month

I think I have more blog post plan for next month more than games to play. As of writing this, I am listening to the Bravely Default soundtrack that was recently released on streaming services (the music is so good). This makes me want to start Bravely Default 2 since I keep hearing good things about it. I think my burnout from the first game is finally over, and maybe I will double dip by playing Bravely Second on the side (I doubt it). Other than that, I’m started planning out a road map on what I want to do next after I’m done with school in August. The more I draw the idea out, the more I’m looking forward to it since it will be the best thing for me and the accumulated that I’ve built up in the past 3 years. I’m looking forward to sharing it with all of you come August.


And that I all I have for this month. You would think that at this point I would know how to close these things out, but you know…I don’t.

Thanks for reading,

DanamesX

Xenoblade Chronicles – 9 Years in the Backlog #MaybeInMarch

#MaybeInMarch is the second part to a two part collaboration hosted by Kim from Later Levels and Solarayo from Ace Asunder. Participants were asked to share their love for their backlog last month, and now this month to finish one of the oldest titles in your backlog. While I highlighted a different game in my first post, I choose a different game that has been in my backlog for quite some time.

If there was a game that I loved playing, but was terrible at the core mechanics of, it would be Xenoblade Chronicles. Xenoblade Chronicles was one of those games that I was excited to get back in the day that kept me hooked for months. The main draw that kept me playing, like others, was the massive open world that was fun to explore and discover every part of this giant world. For Wii standards, this was impressive at the time, and some might say that it still holds up to this day. But, if you read my title, this is my first time finishing the game since buying and playing it back in 2012. Why did it take me this long to finish such a great game if I was enjoying it so much?

For those who have not played, heard, or know what a Xenoblade is, allow me to explain. The world of Xenoblade Chronicles takes place on the bodies of two colossal giants; known as the Bionis and the Mechonis. The Bionis is home to different races; Homs (that represent normal humans), Nopons (cute ball-shaped creatures), and the High Entia (humans with angelic hair), while the Mechonis is home to machines, the Mechons. The people of the Bionis and Mechonis have been at war with each other with the people of the Bionis on the losing side of things. That’s before the hero Dunban started to take control of the battlefield wielding the mythical blade, the Monado. The Monado has the ability to destroy the Mechons unlike normal weapons which do little to them. With this OP weapon, the people of Bionis should start turning the tides right? Well it seems that the Monado is very picky about its wielder and leaves Dunban with a destroyed arm after he failed to control it’s power. A year later, a boy named Shulk spends his days researching the Monado in hopes of understanding it better so the next wielder can control it. After an Mechon attack on his home, Shulk learns that he can use the Monado without any negative side effects. Even better, he can now see glimpses into the future to avoid his and other’s deaths. This isn’t perfect since there are somethings out of his control (as he quickly finds out). Without spoiling much, Shulk and his best friend Reyn go on an adventure to defeat the Mechons with the Monado at hand. The plot doesn’t sound like much without going into spoiler territory, but once the adventure starts you understand the weight of the journey that they carry.

And that is about as much of the story I can tell you since most of the journey is a blur to me. There are a lot of things that I forgot happened since it has been so long since I played those parts. Just know that the destination is worth it since the story goes places that I wasn’t expecting and ended on a scope that I was not prepared for. The story, environment, and visuals (for Wii era) were so impressive that it really carried the game for me. If you like to explore and have enough quest to find items, defeat monsters, and deepen bonds with characters, then Xenoblade has it all for you.

There was something though that prevented me from enjoying this game from beginning to end in one setting that ultimately prevented me from finishing this game until now; the gameplay. Your game can look pretty and impressive all you want, but if the gameplay is not great, then the whole game falls apart. This is not me saying that the gameplay in Xenoblade is bad. It has one of my new favorite battle mechanics that is customizable to bring out the full potential of each character. The problem is understanding it.


So let’s go back in time to the year 2012. Roblox had been hacked, Windows 8 was terrorizing the nation, and a youngish nineteen year old Danames had just started playing Xenoblade Chronicles in his freezing apartment. The tutorial battle starts and…the characters are attacking on their own? Ok, auto attack is the primary way of fighting in this game, and if you want to use a fancy move (arte), you select them at the bottom. Ok, no problem at this point! Now the game is throwing terms at me like aggro, break, topple, positioning, ether, gems, and a cluster of different effects. This…didn’t feel like any JRPG that I was used to playing. It turns out, Xenoblade plays more akin to an MMO. You have to understand each character’s role and make the most of what they specialize in to make the most of them on the battlefield. Guess who had zero knowledge of MMOs back in 2012?

If you are familiar with MMO mechanics, or can perform the basic concept of reading the tutorial, then the battle system and character customization will not be an issue for you. I have come to learn that I used (and sometimes still) to get overwhelmed with so many mechanics to learn, memorize, and apply to in order to make the most of a character’s growth and specialties. It doesn’t help that the menus and details in Xenoblade is a lot to learn and wrap your head around in order to equip the right equipment to each person, the types of gems that will be beneficial to them, what artes you want to equip them with, and what team compositions would be the best for boss. I greatly underestimated the importance of ether until the last few dungeons, and I was beating myself up that I wasted a lot of potential for certain characters since I did a poor job of outfitting them properly.

The best example I have is Melia. I never used Melia when I first got her, because she was ether based and her abilities sounded really confusing to me at first, I just avoided using her. I never bothered to understand her utility since I was getting by just fine with Shulk, Sharla, and Reyn. It wasn’t until the fight against *Spoiler* at the Bionis Heart. This boss would spawn multiple enemies to buff it and it was hard to take them all out in a fast manner. This is when I learned that Melia has AOE attacks that could destroy them in one or two hits. The problem was, I never developed Melia to be that effective. I found a guide that helped me build her up and that’s when most things finally started to click. By the time I was done developing Melia for that fight, she became one of my most powerful characters since she would just buff everyone and then release powerful attacks that destroyed anything in her path. I felt bad that I never took the time in the past to really get to know how to use her since she would have been very useful in other battles.

This issue wasn’t exclusive to just Melia. For a long time I thought I had to keep Sharla in my party because she was the designated healer. The only problem with Sharla is that she sucks at everything else outside of healing. What’s worse is that after every arte she uses, her rifle will start to overheat, and you would have to cool it off before she could use her artes again. Its good to have her if you want a strong healer on your team, but Xenoblade does not make that a requirement if that is not how you want to format your team. Almost every character has a healing ability that they can use to keep them in the fight, or an ability that helps them stay alive. So, if you don’t want to have terrible Sharla on your team, you don’t need to depending on how good your team is. It took me until the final dungeon of the game to finally realize who the best character in the game it, Rikki. Memes aside, Rikki is stupid versatile with what you want him to do. He has the highest health stat in the game and that sets him up for the best support character in the game. The health stat would be tempting to make him a tank, but he needs all that health to slowly murder and help the people around him. Give him gems to increase his physical and ether defense and make him a priority ether user to use the strongest healing arte in the game as well as nasty ether attacks that have status aliments to them. My final team consisted of Shulk, Dunban, and Rikki since they would end battles so fast for me.


Sigh. As I’m writing this, I’m really upset that I ruined some of the experience of the game for myself. If I wasn’t so stubborn in the past to use guides and take the time to learn the game, I might have this one of my favorites games of all time. That is not saying that I found the entire journey free from some annoying issues. I am not one of the people who doesn’t dismisses a game entirely if the framerate isn’t consistent all the way through, but the framerate issues I had with the Wii version of Xenoblade made me rage so many times. The only time where the game would slow down because it couldn’t handle everything on screen was during battles. In the boss fight that I mentioned in the Bionis’ heart, the adds that would spawn in would make that battle miserable since things would happen, but you can’t react since different things are processing at different times and then you find yourself dead. The amount of times the framerate would screw me over in a game where your positioning is important drew me up the wall towards the endgame. I was waiting for my Wii to melt at any point either from trying to handle everything or the heat from my frustration would vaporize it. Ugh.

Also there are too many side quest in the game. I know the developers wanted you to explore this expansive world, but there are too many useless fetch or slaying quest that just gives you money as a reward. The Colony 6 side quest are fine since those actually build up to something, but when everyone has something for you to do, then you don’t really have anything that you want to do. Some of these quest can be fun, but a majority of them just feel like padding.

So that is pretty much my thoughts on Xenoblade Chronicles. I appreciate this game more now that I have finished it and learned how to play it effectively. I wasn’t planning on it, but I immediately started playing the definitive edition on Switch, which improves so many things for me. My eyes feel like they are no longer burning since the Wii visuals didn’t age well for me and the text felt small to read. The user interface feels so much better to navigate and read, and the updated graphics are fine to me. There are also small quality of life changes that improve the game from the base game. I’m only on Chapter 3, so if there is something stupid that the definitive edition did, I won’t know until I get there.

But that about wraps up my thoughts and time with Xenoblade Chronicles. I’m happy that I was able to finally cross this game off my backlog and get one step closer to completely finishing my Wii collection. Of course I would be interested in getting Xenoblade Chronicles 2 now when you can’t find a used physical copy anymore. I may cave and get the digital version, but with other games on my backlog right now, I can hold off purchasing it right now.

Again, thank you Kim and Solarayo for hosting this collaborating event!

Thanks for reading,

DanamesX