Best Game - Hades
1st Runner Up - South Park: The Stick of Truth
2nd Runner Up - Pikuniku

Of course my first move after abandoning World of Warcraft was to spend almost 100 hours wrecking up the Grecian afterlife (five-ish of those hours are from when I had to walk the dog or get dinner out of the microwave or something, and left the room with the game paused). I have to confess it got a bit exhausting by the end so some people may want to cut off before it burns them.

After that, the only halfway meaty game I played this year was Stick of Truth. For the third slot, honestly, there were a lot of perfectly fine 3 Skitty games through the year, but I'm giving it to Pikuniku for its cheerfulness being so welcoming in this miserable year.

Deltarune Chapter 2 omitted because that's still only part of a game.

Worst Game - Die With Glory
1st Runner Up - Mega Man X6
2nd Runner Up - World of Warcraft: Shadowlands

Yes, I actually thought that Die With Glory dumpster fire was a less pleasant experience than fucking Mega Man X6, which at least has a bitching soundtrack and is maybe the kind of game that makes you want to smash your hands between bricks while playing but when you finish it and calm down you might stop to think "Well, I guess the idea of that temple stage was sorta cool? Execution was pants, though." Mega Man X6 also doesn't end once you've beaten all the mavericks and tell you to wait for the sequel that will never be released to defeat Sigma.

We'll talk about the bullshit of Shadowlands later.

Prettiest Game - Hades
1st Runner Up - Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap
2nd Runner Up - Luna

One note about Hades is that as pretty as it is, you'll be spending hours retreading the same scenery so you do start to become numb to it. The other two are much shorter so their visuals don't wear themselves out.

Best Soundtrack - Deltarune Chapter 2
1st Runner Up - Hades
2nd Runner Up - Cthulhu Saves Christmas

Yup, another banger from Toby Fox. If I have one criticism it's that a lot of songs end abruptly, and not even in a way you could loop them and add a fadeout.

Hades' soundtrack mostly slaps and "In the Blood" is epic but holy shit some songs don't know when to end. The final boss theme is nine bloody minutes long and while that covers two phases, there's so much noodling to fill that time and what the hell is going on from 6:08 to 6:32?

If I was counting replays I'd give the third... well, second slot to Mega Man X6 whose soundtrack is easily the best thing about it. But lets go with Cthulhu Saves Christmas instead, which has grown on me as I've listened to it. I still don't think it has as many bangers as Saves the World or maybe I'm just too focused on the final boss theme being kinda lame. And it has the same problem as Hades of some of the songs just being too long.

Funniest Game - Hades
1st Runner Up - Deltarune Chapter 2

Yes, Hades had more laugh out loud moments than Deltarune, although with the sheer volume of text Hades was pretty much guaranteed to come out on top. I would actually get disappointed when I made a purchase from the contractor, not realizing that because of a side dialogue Hades wasn't "listening," and losing out on his snarky reaction to it.

Most Pleasant Surprise (Games) - Pikuniku

It's not mind-blowing, but considering I went in expecting a vapid mindless faff-fest in the vein of Loco Roco, it was a nice little surprise to find there was an actual game here.

Biggest Disappointment (Games) - Cthulhu Saves Christmas

As I've said before, I still regularly listen to Saves the World's soundtrack and in the past ten years have probably spent longer listening to "Existence Collapses" than I have playing most games except Pokemon Ruby (300 hours) and World of Warcraft (I don't even want to know, that would depress me), so I had some high expectations for Saves Christmas. But the lack of world building combined with the slog of a combat system left it wanting.

Most Satisfying to Finally Finish After Tormenting Me For Years - World of Warcraft

I wanted to throw Shadowlands into the "Game That I Put A Decent Amount of Effort Into, But Decided Could Go Fuck Itself of the Year" category because this is usually for games I never finished as a child and finally broke over my knee. But fuck it, World of Warcraft has consumed the last five years of my life and ridding myself of is satisfying.

Looking back... you know what, I can't say I completely regret ever playing the game. There was once a magic to it, exploring the new lands and all, and I was even able to slap some songs from it onto my iPod. But of course I regret the amount of time I poured into it at the cost of being actually productive. If nothing else, WoW has served as a warning to myself that I am not as resistant to addictions as I once thought, and at least it was just the dopamine rush of getting pretty animals to ride on and not cigarettes or slot machines I was plugging away at.

Saddest Boy I Wanted to Hug - Spamton (Deltarune Chapter 2)
1st Runner Up - Axl (Mega Man X7)
2nd Runner Up - Hades (Hades)

The Internet exploding over Spamton is going to look bizarre to an outsider because, if I'm truly honest, in-game he is fucking hideous which will totally confuse anyone who plays the game after seeing fanart like this or this, or that digital pet somebody made. Of course there's people having a field day with the latest Undertale universe meme character, but a lot of it is people who feel so bad for him and the Hell he's been through, and the closest you can get to helping him feeling like a mercy killing that they draw cuddly, wholesome fanart to try to show him love (a little too much in some cases, because in a game with buff butlers, a cat maid with a whip, and whatever you want to make of Queen, everyone wanted to fuck the puppet instead). And I think there's a spiral of that art endearing him to more people who then go out and draw their own fanart, which endears more people and so on. Granted, I don't believe he actually dies after the NEO fight* (well, maybe the Snowgrave version does but holy shit fuck the Snowgrave route) and Toby Fox himself was shocked by how popular he got, so who knows, he may get some official redemption down the line. Or at least a moment where he wonders if being a [[BIG SHOT]] is worth the flood of Lightners wanting to ride his [Hyperlink Blocked].

I do find it hilarious how he's some bizarre incarnation of that 5'11" vs 6'0" meme, where the Internet has collectively decided to draw him as a tiny gremlin despite being almost as tall as Kris, and Spamton NEO as a towering giant when he's only as tall as Kris and Susie combined (hey, it helps when you want to switch between him getting and doing the cuddling I guess. And before you ask because the artist kinda messed up the layout, he's smashing the television, not the protagonists).

Now, Axl, my baby boy, he got the raw deal both in- and out-of-universe. He has developed a fanbase over the years, but X7 gave him a grating voice and had everyone but me called him a "Poochie" and even I sometimes felt like an embarrassed mother whose son kept running his mouth. Then he has to fight his dad, watch him give up on life, and kill himself in a cave-in. He at least gets a hopeful ending in X7, then Mega Man X8 comes along and fucks him over in what is at best a cliffhanger that will never be resolved, and at worst some sick "Axl died on the way back to his home planet" joke.

As for Hades, on top of it being awkward to get my arms around somebody ten times my size and who'd totally skewer me if I tried, he's the only one here that gets a relatively happy ending.

* First - and the biggest indicator - is if you have a full inventory when he turns into the glasses (or scarf how dare you) and tries to give himself to you, he gets offended and yells at you. Second, if you got the Jevilsknife and try to equip it on Noelle, she mentions it smiling at her implying Jevil is conscious in it (although it sounds like he rips his own tail off and gives that to you for the Jevilstail?). And finally, remember how Lancer turns into a playing card, then reverts when he helps Kris out of their prison.

Best Movie - The Book of Life
1st Runner Up - Klaus

Klaus was a nice movie while I was watching it, but I haven't thought of it afterwards as much as Book of Life and not just because that one Spamton video I linked above reminded me of it. But while we're on the subject, the original scene that song came from? I guessed how that fight was going to end, but it's a testament to the writing that the fight and resolution were so well executed it didn't hurt my investment unlike when I guessed the big twist of Coco.

Worst Movie - Epic
1st Runner Up - A Flight of Dragons

Ehhh I didn't watch any truly awful movies this year. Epic isn't offensive but it's the biggest waste of potential of what I watched. And A Flight of Dragons was just forgettable aside from the ending where (spoiler for a forty year old movie if you care) the protagonist beats an evil wizard by shouting science terms at him until he explodes. Wizards is a mess, but it's such a fascinating mess I couldn't throw it on this list.

Best Book/Comic - Murder Falcon
1st Runner Up - Bone
2nd Runner Up - A Wolf Called Wander

Guess the best reading material of the year was comics. Damn, is this the first time in years I read a Discworld and it didn't make the best books?

Worst Book/Comic - The Wild Robot

There's a bit of a trend going here with my "worst" non-games being more like "It's not completely terrible, but you could have done so much more here."

Best TV DVD - South Park Season 14
1st Runner Up - South Park Season 3

I have GOT to get back into watching TV shows...

Final Thoughts

2021 was second verse, same as the first, and it looks like we're headed for a third year of this bullshit.

What's more, in July I lost a cat I'd had for 18 years, and it was not a clean death. Remember when I said I started playing Hades in August? Well, that was a bit of a lie. I actually started it in July, but only played it once and didn't get back to it for several weeks because the very day after I started (story whited out for people who are eating or just don't want to read this shit) my cat suffered a rectal prolapse. If you don't know what that is, it's when you literally shit your guts out. I had come back from taking my father to the VA and it was 7 in the evening so we had to wait overnight to get her to the vet. Normally a vet can push the intestine back in and make a stitch that keeps it from falling back out, but her intestines were riddled with what I think were called angry tumors? Because of covid restrictions only one person was allowed in the room and I was waiting in the car with a cell phone so I may have misheard something. But it was some kind of tumor that wasn't cancerous but still malignant, and when the vet tried to push her colon back in they began to rupture. They were able to cauterize them, and vet gave her a couple days to live before she bled out, but the cat actually held on for two weeks. And for those two weeks, I was throwing proverbial shit at the wall trying to figure out what she could eat and wondering if she could even poop afterwards, washing the bedding every other day as it got soaked in blood and other fluids, and rubbing KY and vaseline on her exposed intestine multiple times a day. And I think what finally killed her was necrosis when the antibiotics ran out. So I think you can see why I was a bit... out of it for some time after that. Even before that the cat was not acting well, and I was getting a lot of Burger King because those $1.50 bags of chicken nuggets were the only thing I could get her to reliably eat which caused me to put on some weight.

But hopefully 2022 will be more productive. I was finally able to make my getaway from World of Warcraft, and Hades and Deltarune Chapter 2 reminded me of what it's like to play games that make me feel something besides dull irritation. So here's to a productive future and getting my attention span back on track.

In Loving Memory of Sukie
2003 - 2021