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Old 01-16-2023, 09:17 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Default 1998 - The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

1998

And yet another great year in gaming. And once again, I find myself in the situation that I really don't know which one to pick as a lot of the games from this year are some of my favorites of all time. I talked about Banjo-Kazooie somewhat recently, so I don't think I want to jump into that again. Other games like the Pokemon Trading Card Game for Game Boy Advance, Turok 2: Seeds of Evil, and Spyro The Dragon all released this year. Great games, but if we're talking my favorite game from this year as a whole, I would have to go with The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

Anybody who's anybody knows how good Ocarina of Time is, and when put up against the other games that were released this year, it should really be no surprise as to why I chose this game. But I'll tell you why anyway. I still have vivid memories of the first time I ever played Ocarina of Time. I was relatively young and I had just borrowed a copy of Ocarina of Time from a friend of mine. I got home that night and literally less than a week later, I had completely finished the game. And that's not implying this game is short. Rather, I just couldn't help myself going from one part to the next. Because not only was it one of the first time I ever beat the game in its entirety, it was also one of the first time I had ever played the game, period. So it was a fresh experience either way you look at it. And I honestly don't really need to tell you any of this since Ocarina of Time is often touted as one of the best games of all time. And I know nowadays we've got games like Breath of the Wild and Twilight Princess etc, but when you want to go back to how the Zelda games were back in the day, I always recommend people playthrough Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, and even Wind Waker. I'm sure I'll be discussing Wind Waker later on so I'll keep my thoughts on that to myself for now. The reason I always send it off with high recommendations is simply because it deserves it. I think throughout the different iterations of my gaming journal, Ocarina of Time is certainly one of those games that I probably have the most written about. But again, that's simply a testament to the quality of Ocarina of Time. It's got everything you need. Adventure, a great protagonist, an amazing antagonist, and an overarching story that never goes stale even if the game starts to feel like it's taking a while. I don't think the game is really that long though, especially if you know how to play through it already. Going back to it again can actually be a pretty fun experience since you can enjoy playing through it and just seeing everything you experienced back in the day. Lots of nostalgia for this one, and I still feel nostalgic anytime I play it, and definitely when I watch other people play it. Hell, people have been doing these crazy randomizer runs of Ocarina of Time, and it's truly a blast watching it because you get to see the game played in different ways despite it being the same game every time.

The other big reason why I always love bringing up Ocarina of Time is because I like to remind people just how good the soundtrack is to the game. Despite it being released back on the Nintendo 64, that didn't stop them from making one of the greatest video game soundtracks of all time. You've got Song of Storms, Epona's Song, Zelda's Lullaby, and that's not even scratching the surface. You've got the song that teleport you to different dungeons which then becomes it's own form of fast travel and makes getting everything in the game done just that much more enjoyable since you can literally warp to different parts of the map after playing a dope track on the Ocarina. Epona's Song is just one that always sticks out to me, and I still hum it whenever I'm just doing anything:



This song along just brings back so many feelings of nostalgia, god damn.

That's honestly all there is to it, really. Like I said, I've talked about Ocarina of Time many times over the past few years, and I honestly have no problem bringing it up again in this fashion because it really is just a testament to how good the game actually is. If you for some reason have yet to sit through at least one playthrough of this game, I highly encourage you to do so. It's one of those games you will definitely want to have had played at some point in your life. Hell, Majora's Mask is up there too, and sometimes I prefer Majora's Mask, but Ocarina of Time gets the spotlight today.
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Old 01-17-2023, 03:36 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Default 1999 - Super Smash Bros

1999

We are closing out the 90's today, and while the list of games released this year may not be as full of greats as other years so far, there are still quite a few to choose from when talking about my favorite game from that year. A few examples would be Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, Pokemon Gold & Silver, Donkey Kong 64. I know I've talked many times about the aforementioned, so I'm going to try to talk about a different game from that year, though I still would consider it one of my favorites from that year. That game being Super Smash Bros.

Honestly, any of the games that I mentioned would easily take the spot for my favorite of the year, but as I've talked many times about those games already, I figure the next best one would be to talk about Super Smash Bros, and that's what I'm here to do today. Despite this game having many sequels, all of which are infinitely better in multiple ways, the series had to start somewhere right? And while Super Smash Bros as a whole is not all that impressive, the fact that it basically started or at least helped pioneer an entire subset genre of gaming is pretty remarkable. I remember time and time again getting together with a couple of school friends and just duking it out either on this title or the sequels that had come out during that time. That was so long ago so I barely remember. I just know that there were many many sleepless sleepovers due to playing hours upon hours of Super Smash Bros.

One of the coolest things about Super Smash Bros and hell, the smash games in general is the fact that you can fight your friends with your favorite video game characters. And obviously as time has gone on, the roster for whom you can choose to fight with has just continued to increase over time. I mean, Super Smash Bros Ultimate has 74 different characters you get to choose from. So, whether or not you think that's too many is just it's own thing. But god damn, they are dedicated to making the games as accessible and as fun as humanly possible. I'm eager to see which characters make the roster for the next game.

The thing I also remember really enjoying growing up is trying to guess which characters will make it to an official Smash roster. And while the theory crafting was much more satisfying back in the day without the depth of the internet, it is still fun to think about why some of your beloved characters haven't made the cut. But I mean, at this point, the amount that haven't made it must be significantly smaller than the ones that have made it. Again though, I don't really know what to expect with the next addition of Smash, but it will be cool to see who makes the cut.

The unfortunate thing about the Smash series in general is, while it is a series of games I wholeheartedly respect and enjoy, I have never gotten very good at them. I know people and have known people throughout my life that their skill with Super Smash Bros exceeds my own 10 fold, maybe even 100 fold. It's one of those games that I really enjoy watching when someone is good, but can also be relatively painful when watching somebody else play.

I also don't think the Nintendo 64 made it very easy to get the controls down to a point where you felt overpowered, because that god damn controller is just a gift from Satan. Nearly impossible to play any sort of skill based game with a controller that works against you all the time. Doesn't keep the game from being fun though. And that's really all there is to it at the end of the day.

From here we move into the 2000's. That wraps it up for the 90's. Lots of gems. And many more to come.
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Old 01-24-2023, 12:09 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Default 2000 - Banjo-Tooie

2000

We are moving on into the 2000's, and what better way to do that then to, well, y'know, talk about my favorite game from that year. The 2000's years were simultaneously some of my favorite gaming experiences of all time, while also being the years that I simply don't remember as much about the games as I'd like to think I do. Nonetheless, I could make a separate list specifically talking about my favorite games in the 2000's era, but I don't want to do that. Because I'm doing this here, which is really the same thing. Anyway, we're talking about Banjo-Tooie today. Not that I necessarily want to bring up the Banjo-Kazooie games again, as I've talked about them many times over the years, I just don't have many other experiences from this particular year that had the same effect on me as a lover of games that Banjo-Tooie brought. Games like Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 and Spyro: Year of the Dragon are fantastic games in their own respects, but I haven't really experienced them enough myself to formulate enough words to express how I feel about them.

As you can probably guess, based solely on the many times I've talked about Banjo-Tooie, it is up there as being one of my favorite games of all time, while also being one of my favorite sequels of another one of my favorite games of all time, being Banjo-Kazooie. I've talked time and time again why this game falls in that particular set of categories, but I don't mind going over it again, be it a little less flashy. Banjo-Tooie is just one of those games that I feel I can go back to, and the experience would be as fun and rich as it was the first time I ever played it. But nothing would ever be able to replace how it felt to get through the game the first time. Especially when you consider that this game had a lot to live up to with Banjo-Kazooie being as good as it was. And man, they nailed every bit of it. The adventuring aspect, the new levels, the new moves you can learn. It basically took Banjo-Kazooie to another peak, and that's impressive considering Banjo-Kazooie was on a peak of its own. It's basically everything a sequel should be. Games have definitely managed to do this many times over the years, but back when I wasn't really all too familiar with the concept of a sequel, playing through a game like this was just a good experience through and through.

And despite the many times I have brought this game up, I still feel like it's worth mentioning that the level design is definitely on par in some areas and some are super creative and interesting. What they all have in common however is that they are not only fun to go through, they are full of little bits of adventure for you to get sucked into. It just feels grander in scale compared to its predecessor, and again, that is the whole idea of a sequel. But with the combination of the cool level designs, mix that with an open world that almost feels endless, the game wraps itself nicely in this atmosphere that makes you feel like your taking on this whole world, and simultaneously it feels like the world is living in its own right, and you're just adventuring through it. Each level has its own unique theme and all the characters revolve around that theme which just adds to the world feeling alive.

Other than the levels having their own unique charm, there are two other specific things that I remember enjoying the most, and that is both the transformation of Kazooie into dragon Kazooie, and the powerup that allows you to split the duo apart. Both of these add a unique difference in play style that we never really got to experience in Banjo-Kazooie. That game focused solely on the idea that the two work as an inseparable duo, so I always thought it was really cool that the two got to split up this time and learn things on their own. Which, I equally love the powerups between the two, and I don't think I ever enjoyed one more than the other. However, Kazooie is a favorite for a lot of people, and I could easily say the same, especially like I said with the addition of dragon Kazooie.

I hope the many times I've talked about this game has given you an idea of what I think about, but if it hasn't, I love Banjo-Tooie.

Last edited by Key; 01-24-2023 at 01:22 PM.
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Old 01-24-2023, 12:26 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Default 2001 - Runescape

2001

This year is a particularly interesting one to talk about because, despite it being a game that has pretty much become the only game that will never be surpassed in terms of total game time, I didn't actually start playing until a few years later. And then went to play for many years after that. And when I say many years, I mean that I have 16+ years collectively, though there were a few years that I didn't play at all, but it has always sort of been in the back of my mind when nothing else took my time. I'm talking of course about Runescape.

With this game surely being the one I have spent most of my life playing, I couldn't really see any reason to talk about any other game other than Runescape, because while being one of my first if not my first experience with an MMORPG, it also managed to be one of the first experiences I ever had truly feeling the pull of addiction, and this led to me nearly failing out of high school. Looking back, was it worth it? Eh, sure. I mean, I wasn't going to college anyway so school didn't matter much. "It's just a game" some would say, but at such a young age, that pull to keep making your character better was something I wanted all the time.

As I got older, the more experience I got playing Runescape, and the better I got with it. So much so that I did a few posts about it in my previous journal, and I am honestly stoked about where my character is at its point in its life. Lots of gp and al the best armor I can get. It's one of those cases where when you arrive in the starting area when you begin your adventure, and first thing you see is a high level character with amazing armor. I always wanted to have a character like that, and minus the need to be looked at by low level characters, I can safely say that I feel like I have a character that mimics that need.

People already pretty much know my thoughts on this and I will continue to talk about Runescape throughout the year, but it's definitely the one game that stuck with me the most throughout the years. And surely, will continue to do so.

Last edited by Key; 01-24-2023 at 01:23 PM.
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Old 02-03-2023, 01:48 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Default 2002 - The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

2002

This was a pretty good year for gaming for several different reasons, but the reason I'm excited to talk about this year is because one of my favorite games of all time was released this year. It's a game that didn't necessarily get a fair shot when it was released due to a couple different reasons, one I'm sure being that people expectations were a bit high for what was delivered. But as time went on, this game in particular garnered more popularity and is now seen as a staple and a must play in the series. I'm talking about The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, or as i'll mention it for the rest of this post: Wind Waker

I still remember pretty vividly the first time I ever played this. I was in my younger brothers room because he had the Nintendo Gamecube at the time, and I somehow acquired a copy of Wind Waker. I hadn't really played a lot of Zelda games at this point in my life, so getting into a new one seemed like a pretty good idea. Little did I know I would end up spending hours and days playing through this on a small TV in my brothers room. I enjoyed everything from using the boat on water, to doing the dungeons, to even filling up every square of the map. I honestly believe that this was one of the very first times I actually 100% completed the entire game. I did all the mini side quests and found everything I could. The graphics were pretty great for their time, but I think people were expecting something more along the lines of Twilight Princess which if I remember correctly, caused Wind Waker to really not be a big seller at the time. It's a shame too, because if people could have gotten passed the games look and dove into it much like I did, I think a lot more people would have enjoyed it. It has everything that makes a great Legend of Zelda game, but I just think the graphics held it back.

Fortunately, years later we did get an HD remaster, and my god, I prefer the HD remaster over the original, despite the original still looking pretty good for its time. The HD remaster not only added more beauty to the graphics, but added some quality of life changes that really made the game that much more enjoyable. More specifically I'm talking about the upgraded sail that makes you travel twice as fast when riding on water.

I also thought it was really cool to still follow the same trend as Ocarina of Time by giving you a musical instrument that has special powers that allows you to teleport around the world etc. I honestly think the Wind Waker as an instrument is cool than the Ocarina, though both serve their purpose really well, and honestly I wouldn't be surprised if the opinion was the opposite. Both games come with great music, but I just really like the more simplified ideas behind Wind Waker. Really worked well with its overlaying theme of being on an island in the middle of nowhere.

Speaking of the map, it's huge. Lots of dungeons, lots of places to explore. Lots of neat quirky individuals to meet. Wind Waker has everything to make a great Zelda game like I said, and it honestly has some of the coolest boss fights. Especially the one against Ganon at the end. I've always enjoyed boss fights in Zelda games but I think Wind Waker adds a little extra spice to make it feel familiar yet also it's own thing.

Hell, I would play Wind Waker right now if I had my Wii U set up. It's still a great time to go through and I highly recommend it to anyone that hasn't taken the plunge yet. Also play the HD remaster. It's better in every way.

Last edited by Key; 02-14-2023 at 02:09 PM.
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Old 02-14-2023, 01:56 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Default 2003 - Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

2003

This year has taken me a little bit longer to talk about because I honestly could not choose which game to talk about. A lot of my all time favorite games were released this year, including Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Mario Kart: Double Dash, and Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne, to name a few. But the one I'm choosing to talk about today has had a lasting effect on how I view games in general and it is still one of those games where I find myself going back to it time and time again, and having a great time playing it each time I go through it. Easily one of my favorite games of all time, we're going to talk about Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic or KOTOR as it's otherwise known.

I first played this game shortly after it was originally released and I remember being confused by it at first, due to my experience with these kinds of games being fairly limited at the time. But as I progressed through the game, I started to understand it more and more, and by my 3rd or 4th playthrough, I was really starting to get into the RPG elements that are all over the place in this game. You have different types of powers and special traits that you can choose from. One playthrough you'll be an expert at demolitions and another play through you'll be a tech wiz with a specialty in computer use. It all boils down to how you want to play realistically. Sure you get weapons like the lightsaber later on and you can be a full on jedi or sith if you so choose. But sometimes it's more fun to go through the game as say, a bounty hunter or something who only uses long range weapons like guns, etc. I've done one of these playthroughs, and it is a lot of fun. Adds a lot of creativity to your character instead of just going through with force powers etc. Just a great example of how this game has continued to be one of my all time favorites.

The story altogether is not all that bad, but obviously a lot of the enjoyment you'll get out of these games is the types of dialogue choices you get when talking to other NPC's as well as just making your character a complete powerhouse. Like I said, you have a lot of opportunities to play exactly the way you want, and this was made even more accessible in the sequel, but as a game on its own merits, it's done really really well. It's again a big reason why I always find myself going back to play KOTOR, because I can choose the way I want to play it each time, and it will never feel like the previous time. Hell, it's been a couple years since I jumped in, perhaps it's time to play through it again. And perhaps KOTOR II if I feel up for it.

It's no joke however, I have probably close to 300-400 hours of playtime between KOTOR and KOTOR II, and that's simply because of its replayability and my love of the games in general. Some people really don't like the combat system, but I personally find it to be interesting enough to make the game as a whole interesting to play through. Sometimes it can be a little wonky and sometimes you wonder why certain moves don't hit, but that's where you build your character to be able to take on these difficulties and wonky situations and use certain traits to your advantage.

I've talked about this game many many times throughout several journals on this forum, so I really don't have much else to say other than the fact that this will probably be forever one of my favorite games of all time, and I would love to see a remaster or reimagining of this series at some point in the future. The MMO The Old Republic just didn't do enough to keep people interested. We need a KOTOR III.

Great game. Truly.

Last edited by Key; 02-14-2023 at 02:10 PM.
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Old 02-14-2023, 02:09 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Default 2004 - Fable

2004

We've had a lot of these types of years show up where it's honestly difficult to choose just one to talk about. And sometimes I make exceptions, but this time I won't. Seriously though, the 2000's were some of the greatest experiences I've ever had with gaming, and that's credit to just the amount of quality games we got during these years, and this year specifically. And as much as I would like to go with KOTOR's sequel, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, which is another one of my favorite games of all time, i'm actually going to talk about Fable instead. Which, if you guessed it, is certainly up there. Though in this case I prefer Fable Anniversary over the original, but seeing as this came out in 2004 and was basically the start of it all, I think it's perfect fair to talk about it. So I'm going to.

Back in the day, I think Fable was one of the first times if not the first time I ever got super hyped about a release. Before this, I hadn't really paid too much attention to game trailers and the like, as I had not really understood the process of marketing a game with trailers etc. So I sort of just became blind to it. I usually knew about a new release by seeing screenshots of it in a magazine or word of mouth. It wasn't until around this time that I stumbled upon an early trailer for Fable, and it was my sole focus until it was fully released. And man, what a great game. Anybody who has played Fable or any of the games in the past will tell you that even though the series sort of lost its way throughout its sequels, both Fable I and Fable II are shining example of how to properly make a really fun RPG, and while Fable III does struggle to find its way, it's still got a lot of good moments that make it worth playing through. Though I think at this point, they sort of lost track of what they were trying to do with the series. I still enjoy all 3 games for different reasons, but Fable still reigns as the best of the 3. At least until we get this new Fable coming at some point in the future, I'd hope.

One of the coolest things about Fable is just how powerful you can make your character whether you focus on Strength, Skill, or Will. You can have a powerful spellcaster, or someone that's really good with a bow. Or just go all out brute strength and just destroy people with swords and brute force. The choice is yours, and I've done a playthrough of each gameplay style, and all offer their own little tricks to make it a joy to go through. And just like KOTOR, I've probably lost count of how many times I have played through Fable, Fable: The Lost Chapters, and Fable Anniversary. And even though these games are as old as they are, I can guarantee you given that I played through these somewhat recently, they hold up. If you haven't gone through and played the original Fable in a while, I highly suggest it. It's still one of the most fun gaming experiences out there.
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Old 02-14-2023, 02:46 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Default 2005 - Psychonauts

2005

Psychonauts was released this year. I looked through the other games and I can't possibly talk about anything other than Psychonauts, so I'm going to do that for 2005. That's not to say this year was bad, but it's certainly the first year I've come up on that has somewhat lack luster releases. Still some that shine through though, but definitely nothing close to the previous years. But yeah, Psychonauts should be talked about anyway so it's worth it for many reasons.

This game is a mind****, and I mean that in the best way possible. All I remember when I played through this game originally is just remembering all the crazy stuff that's going on around you, whether it's focusing on mental health, or the game is simply trying to make you feel like you're going insane. And additionally, being released in a time where graphics weren't super perfect, but we're making improvements as time went on. And honestly, having played through Psychonauts relatively recently, I can say that the game still looks good despite it looking old in some cases. However, we did just get a sequel for this and man, as beautiful as that game looks, I didn't get as much out of it as I did the first one. The sequel sort of felt more like the first with a bit of improvements, but not enough to where I feel a sequel is justified. Honestly, I really was only excited about the sequel because it meant the developers could come back and work on an IP that is honestly fantastic. So that's really cool for me, and on top of that, despite me not enjoying the game as much as I thought I would, it's not really a bad game. Just doesn't do enough. But, who knows, maybe they'll make a 3rd one.

I really don't want to go into too much detail because the game is worth more as a personal experience, but just know that if you do decide to take the plunge, both this and the sequel are worth playing at least once.
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Old 02-14-2023, 09:19 PM   #19 (permalink)
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My favorite part of KOTOR is annoying Bastilla. Really out of character for me, I know.
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Old 02-15-2023, 12:26 PM   #20 (permalink)
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You're a Dark Lord of the Pith.
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