Another year, another top 10 list. Another year of (almost) nothing else being posted on this blog. Curse you, crippling lack of motivation! Anyway, this is now the second of these posts I've done for anime, and the format remains unchanged from last year. These are the 10 Top Animes That I Think Are Completely Acceptable or Something and require only an airing or Japanese home-media release date in calendar year 2016 to be eligible for this list and they are in no particular order. 行きましょう!

Flying Witch

COMFY

I love me some comfy, slice-of-life shows and Flying Witch is one of the comfiest shows I've ever had the pleasure of watching. Makoto Kowata, our protagonist, is a professional witch in training, and has come, along with her black cat Chito, to Aomori to live with her cousins and study up on whatever it is witches do. A show where every single character is a joy to watch, with standouts being Makoto's adorable young cousin Chinatsu, Makoto's older sister Akane, and Inukai, who got really really drunk and ate some sweets which turn her into a dog during daytime. As well as the great, relaxed moments you'd expect from the slice-of-life genre, the show's comedy is also top-notch, with an impeccable sense of timing, and the way the show subtly marries it's supernatural elements with the more mundane, everyday life stuff works really well.

Sweetness & Lightning

Tsumugi is precious

Kouhei Inuzuka is a high-school teacher, who, after the death of his wife, now lives alone with his preschool-aged daughter, Tsumugi. Her mother was the cook of the house, so lately, the Inuzuka family have been living mostly off of ready meals. After deciding he wants to give his daughter a good meal for once, the two find themselves at a small family restaurant owned by the mother of Kotori Iida, one of Inuzuka's high-school students. What follows is a show about the three of them (and occasionally a couple of other friends) learning to cook a good meal and eat it together. Though I feel the show falls into the trap of getting a little formulaic at times, there's a lot to like here. Tsumugi is adorable (helped in no small part by being voiced by an actual child), and the show throws in some melancholic moments that I admit caught me off guard. Sweetness & Lightning is up there with Bunny Drop as shows that might make you want to consider become a father (you know, if I had someone to do that with...).

Mob Psycho 100

"This is one of Reigen's special moves, where he dropkicks an esper as hard as he can."

Last year brought us One Punch Man, an adaptation of the manga written by an artist who goes by the pseudonym ONE. This year brings us Mob Psycho 100, ONE's serialised manga, adapted by the prolific studio Bones. If you enjoyed OPM, you'll likely enjoy MP100, as I feel it does a better job at creating an interesting story and characters, while still maintaining a good sense of comedy. One Punch Man is the manga that ONE writes as a hobby... a mangaka for fun, much like the titular character. Mob Psycho 100, however, is ONE's actual job... and it shows. Bones also does an incredible job at adapting ONE's eh... unique artstyle into something that just looks sublime when in motion.

Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World-

Waifu-bait of the year.

Re:ZERO is the story of Subaru Natsuki, who finds himself suddenly transported into an alternative, game-like, fantasy world, because of reasons. Soon after entering this world, he meets a half-elf girl named Emilia, whom he immediately takes a liking to and decides to help her recover something that was recently stolen from her. At the end of this small quest, the two of them are brutally murdered.

And then Subaru wakes up, back where he originally started. He discovers he has a unique ability to essentially travel back to a pre-determined point in time, memories/knowledge intact, but can only invoke this power by dying. The show does some interesting things, delving into the effect that constantly dying and reviving can have on that person's mind, as well as doing interesting things with the tropes often found in these "isekai" (alternate-world) shows. Subaru, our main character, isn't particularly likeable, but they do some great stuff with his character later on in the show that helps justify it, and there are plenty of other, immediately likeable characters in his place. Re:ZERO also contains what might be my favourite single episode of an anime from this year. It isn't quite the faultless, 10/10, anime-of-the-year-all-years that some of the fanbase were hyping it up as during its airing, but it's definitely an interesting show, and I look forward to watching more if future seasons are greenlit.

ERASED

I couldn't find an interesting screenshot, so here's a picture of best girl.

ERASED or, in my opinion, the much more interesting Japanese title Boku dake ga Inai Machi (The Town Where Only I am Missing) introduces us to 29-year-old Satoru Fujinuma, who will inexplicably find himself time leaping back a few minutes whenever a fatal accident is about to occur, a strange power he's used to save multiple people's lives. However, someone close to him gets murdered, and being suspected of doing it himself, Satoru funds himself sent back 18 years, to 1998. It's here that he realises the murder in the present may be connected to the abduction and killing of his classmate Kayo Hinazuki. And so unfolds the story of Satoru trying to discover what really happened all those years ago, as well as prevent the death of his classmate. ERASED is probably one of the shows this year that would probably work well among western audiences that aren't familiar with anime. It isn't laden with cliche anime tropes, and tells a plot that honestly wouldn't be out of place in a western TV show or Hollywood movie. The conclusion feels a tad rushed in my opinion, but overall, ERASED is a pretty fantastic show that is well worth watching.

Tanaka-kun is Always Listless

Tanaka's life in a single image.

Tanaka is, as the title would suggest, an incredibly listless young man. He enjoys nothing more than lying about doing nothing. His hobbies are sleeping. The show follows Tanaka, his best bro, Ohta, as well as a few other friends and characters that are steadily introduced in their relatively uneventful daily lives at school and beyond. For a show whose protagonist is a guy who would gladly do nothing more than sit around all day doing nothing, it does a good job of staying pretty engaging throughout, thanks in no small part to it's wonderful cast of characters. There's the tiny, adorable and incredibly energetic Miyano, who for some reason greatly admires Tanaka's listlessness and wants him to make her his apprentice. There's Echizen, the abrasive tomboy who really likes cute things. There's the incredibly popular and attractive Shiraishi who goes through great effort to hide the fact she's a normally plain and boring looking girl. It's also a nice looking show, with a focus on a softer, pastel colour palette, obviously tying in with the whole relaxed nature of the show.

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu

Also my favourite opening animation from this year.

Yotarou, a former yakuza has just gotten out of prison. He isn't interested in returning to that life though: he wants to become a rakugo performer. Rakugo is a traditional form of Japanese comedic entertainment, where a performer sits on a stage and, using nothing more than their voice and a couple of generic props, tells a funny story, often long, and featuring multiple characters. Whilst in prison, Yotarou was inspired by the performances of Yakumo Yuurakutei, and begs him to make Yotarou his apprentice. Yakumo eventually gives in. Under Yakumo's care is a young woman named Konatsu, whose deceased father, Sukeroku Yuurakutei, was another performer, and Yakumo's best friend and rival. The rest of the series takes place in the past, telling the story of how Yakumo and Sukeroku met, and became rakugo stars. A truly fantastic period drama, the show is probably my favourite of the entire year. Fantastically developed characters, incredible performances by the voice actors, and just an overall well-told story. It ends with us returning to the present, with the second half airing in early 2017, which I await with bated breath.

Persona 3 The Movie #4: Winter of Rebirth

"The Arcana is the means by which all is revealed."

The conclusion to the anime adaptation of one of my favourite video games of all time. Although I would need to probably marathon through them again to be 100% sure, I think this final movie my be my favourite of the four. There's a section of the film where the cast have, for lack of a better term, lost their way, and it's just dripping with atmosphere, dominated by oppressive colour palettes. I love me some atmosphere. Plus the fact it's the conclusion to a pretty great story. Although the film series as a whole suffers from the same thing most video game adaptations do (that is, a lot of stuff not being included), since you're compressing an almost 100 hour game into 4 90 minute films, it's still an overall great experience.

 

KonoSuba: God's Blessing on This Wonderful World!

Explosions are pretty dope.

As mentioned earlier, alternate-world (or isekai) anime are all the rage lately, and KonoSuba is another one of those. But the thing that sets it apart is that it's a comedy, through and through. Our protagonist, Satou Kazuma, is a high-school-aged NEET, who on his way back from buying a new game, dies a pathetic and hilarious death. He then meets the (rather obnoxious) goddess Aqua, who gives him the choice of either continuing on to heaven, or reincarnating in an alternate-fantasy world, with the choice of any item to take with him. So he chooses the fantasy-world, and chooses to bring Aqua with him, dragging her off her throne. Turns out, Aqua isn't very useful in this world, her only magic abilities limited to water-based party-tricks. Their party eventually grows to include Megumin, a young arch-wizard who loves explosions so much so knows only the most powerful explosion magic... which incapacitates her for the rest of the day when she casts it, and Darkness, a crusader and massive masochist, who dreams of being ravaged by men and monsters alike. It also turns out the fantasy-world isn't quite as cushy as it might be in games, as Kazuma and Aqua find out, having to sleep in the stables and struggling to make living expenses. Comedy is obviously very subjective, but KonoSuba hits all the right marks for me, a show that gleefully plays around with the fantasy tropes so common in other shows and games.

New Game!

If only real game studios had cute girls hanging around in their undies.

And we end my top 10 with a 100%, bona fide show abut cute girls doing cute things. Aoba Suzukaze is fresh out of high-school and is now working at Eaglejump, the company that made an RPG she loved when she was still in grade school. She quickly finds herself working as a character artist, making 3D models of NPCs for the studio's newest RPG. Comparison might be initially made to last year's Shirobako, however, those two shows have very little in common. You're not going to learn anything meaningful or genuine about working in game development from New Game! Like I said, this is a show about cute girls and the cute things they do. And it has that in spades.

 

 

Honourable Mentions

There are a handful of other anime from this year that I watched and enjoyed, but just weren't quite up to the task of making the top 10. Amanchu! is a wonderfully sweet show from the director and mangaka that brought you the fantastic Aria series, Space Patrol Luluco is more fantastically unbridled nonsense from those lovable goofs at Studio TRIGGER, Orange has a lot going for it, but was ultimately let down by the two main characters being (in my opinion) the least interesting of the main cast and Food Wars! The Second Plate is more Food Wars, which is great, but it's only half the length of the first season and the pacing is kind of all over the place. Enjoyable, but doesn't quite make the cut. The first Kizumonogatari movie is really, really good, but as a movie, it just doesn't stand up on its own, since all it really does is set up the rest of the story.

There's also a handful of anime from this year that have my interest, or I was planning on watching, but haven't gotten around to, mostly from the Fall season: Sound! Euphonium 2 is the second season of my of favourites from last year, Drifters is a show from the same mangaka of Hellsing, and Gi(a)rlish Number seems to be a funny and incredibly cynical look at the anime industry.

And that's it for this years look at the animes I thought were alright this year. See you again in 2017!

VA-11 HALL-A isn't a visual novel, but saying that seems kind of silly, because it pretty much is. The reason I say it's not is because... well, it's not a novel. Aside from a few optional side things, VA-11 HALL-A's story is told through pure dialogue. I'm pretty sure something that consists purely of people talking can't be considered a novel, right? Prose doesn't work that way, right? Perhaps I'm wrong, who knows.

You know it's cyberpunk because there's an X in the year.

You know it's cyberpunk because there's an X in the year.

VA-11 HALL-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action is a totally-not-visual-novel set in the very rough part of a cyberpunk city-state in the year 207X. You are Jill, a bartender who works in Hall A of the V-11 building, or "Valhalla" as it's most often referred to. You "mix drinks and change lives", as she puts it, by chatting to your patrons and concocting the drinks they ask you for.

The biggest draw of VA-11 HALL-A is the way in which is tells a comparatively small story. Valhalla feels like the sort of place you'd visit in a big budget, AAA cyberpunk action game, the kind with an epic, high-stakes, bombastic plot. Its customers the types of NPCs who repeat the same single line of dialogue whenever you approach them. You'd only be here at all because you need to speak to a specific character in order to receive some maguffin, or get some info that helps advance the plot, and then you'd never have a reason to return.

But VA-11 HALL-A isn't that. It's a small game that tells a small story consisting of what would be inconsequential characters. These characters do have a story, even if that story isn't quite on the same scale as say, Adam Jenson's or Cloud Strife's, but they're still interesting and a lot more grounded to boot. By being (totally not) a visual novel, the characters are the main draw and the game does a fantastic job of making them interesting and enjoyable, even the ones that only appear a handful of times. Each one has their own stuff going on, and you can help them in your own little way as a bartender would: by supplying them alcohol and listening to their woes. Jill herself also has her own share of guilts and anxieties, a past she'd rather not speak of. However, as you get to know your regulars, and as they get to know you, she'll begin to open up, willingly or not, about her troubles. You'll learn exactly why it is she works at a seedy downtown bar, spending most of her free time sitting bored at home with her cat, reading the in-universe equivalent of 4chan and the Daily Mail.

Of course, characters aren't much if their dialogue isn't up to the task. Fortunately, for a game that consists almost entirely of dialogue, it's pretty stellar. There are times when it can feel a little... videogamey, for lack of a better term (such as when a character asks "hey, so I was wondering about such and such..." in order to segue into a particular topic, usually a character's backstory) but the majority of it feels naturalistic and, above all else, enjoyable. The game has its share of references and in-jokes: a couple of characters like to announce their presence with pro-wrestling quotes, and one character is straight up wearing that red jacket from Akira. The game doesn't rely on this though and does have it's own sense of humour, one that fairly often had me giggling to myself. These characters feel like people that know each other, and so, often joke around in a way that people that know each other often do.

Look at how rad this shiba is.

Look at how rad this shiba is.

Spending so much time chatting to and getting to know these characters also means getting attached to them. Feeling thrilled when a particular character shows their face at the bar because you're excited to spend time with them, or rolling your eyes and sighing when another shows up because you don't fancy listening to their shit, feels rewarding. Especially when those thoughts mirror those of Jill herself. The characters are the stars of the show here and each feel like they have something to offer, even if it is just being the slightly rude patron who only visits the bar on occasion. The cast of characters is also pretty unique, from the physically 13-year-old, but mentally 24-year-old sex-worker robot girl who takes an adorably large amount of giddy pride in her work, to the talking dog who wears sunglasses and a Hawaiian shirt. Yes, you read that correctly. His name is Rad Shiba. He's pretty alright. There was only a single character that felt out of place and thankfully they don't get too much screen-time so they didn't sour the experience too much.

Interestingly, for a game so focused on dialogue, there aren't actually any dialogue choices. There is still player choice however, and this is where the gameplay comes into... play. Jill is a bartender after all, and her job consists of more than chatting with patrons. In the far off cyberpunk future of the 2070s, alcoholic drinks are cocktails of fake future cyberpunk chemicals. All the drinks you can serve customers are made up of a mixture of Adelhyde, Bronson Extract, Powdered Delta, Flanergide and Karmotrine. Various combinations of these ingredients as well as occasionally ageing, blending and/or serving them on the rocks make up every drink. There's no real challenge to the actual making of drinks, though that comes in the form of making sure you actually serve the correct drink. Folks aren't going to always be explicit, perhaps instead asking you for "something classy" or "the usual". Making sure all your patrons are happy by the end of your shift will net you bonus pay, which helps to ensure that Jill has enough money to pay her bills. Karmotrine is the alcoholic component of these cocktails, and many drink recipes list it as optional, and this is where the bulk of player choice comes into play. For such drinks, you can opt to not include alcohol at all, or load up as much booze as the game will allow. A customer might be a little more loose-lipped if you get them drunk quicker, or they might end up going home earlier due to not being able to handle their booze. You could also take a turn for the amoral by choosing to serve alcohol to the minor that managed to find her way to this back-alley bar.

It's definitely an interesting way to deal with player choice, especially in the type of game that almost unanimously relies on simple dialogue options. It makes it feel much more... natural. When presented with dialogue options, knowing what you're able to say ahead of time, you can make educated guesses as to what the "correct" choice to make is. But with creating drinks, it's a lot more subtle but still has results. You can't always be sure what will happen when you make your "choice", much like real life!

Outside of the mixing booze and chatting up customers that encompasses the majority of the game, there's also small sections each day of Jill hanging out at her apartment, and you can do a handful of minor activities. You can head to the shop and purchase little trinkets (such as posters, old video games, a Megachristmas tree...) which will stop her from becoming too distracted and affecting her performance at work. There are also a couple of sites mentioned before that you can browse on your phone: The Augmented Eye, a news outlet that primarily deals with celeb gossip and other such asinine topics, Danger/u/, analogous to 4chan, and the blog of a local robot pop-idol. Here you can read about the various goings-on in this dystopian world, topics that will occasionally be brushed upon in conversation with your friends and customers at work. It's a good way to do some subtle worldbuilding, as well as reinforce the idea that VA-11 HALL-A is a small, inconsequential side-story in a much larger epic.

Visually, the game definitely has a striking look to it, wearing its clear influences on its sleeve. A 90s/early-00s retro-anime aesthetic, and great pixel art reminiscent of Hideo Kojima's Snatcher and Policenauts or many other Japanese adventure games from that time. Along with the blue, purple and pink colour palette and the incredible soundtrack create an atmosphere unlike any other game I've played recently. The soundtrack, aside from being excellent, is also utilised in an somewhat interesting way. Being a bar, VA-11 HALL-A of course has a jukebox which, at the start of your day and after your mid-shift break, you can fill up with songs from the soundtrack to play sequentially or randomly throughout your day serving drinks and making small talk. This is how you will experience the majority of the surprisingly large catalogue of songs, so it pays to switch it up.

All in all, VA-11 HALL-A is a small, intimate story featuring unimportant, but charming characters that feels like it's something happening way behind and off to the side of something much bigger and grander, but ultimately irrelevant. And it's this feeling of inconsequentiality that makes VA-11 HALL-A's story so fresh and enjoyable. Despite all I've said, it's pretty much a visual novel and even if visual novels aren't for you, you should probably give it a try. It's much shorter than most Japanese examples of the genre, clocking in for me at around 8 hours. I'm of the opinion that there's a game of every genre for everyone, and maybe this is that visual novel for you? Regardless, it's undoubtedly one of my favourite gaming experiences of the year.

So... if it weren't for my top 10 anime of 2015, the last post I made before this one would be my annual end of year games list thing. That means I haven't posted anything here for an entire year. I would say "that won't happen again!", but I can't exactly guarantee that. So, I dunno, "whoops", I guess. But anyway, it's the end of the year, that means it's time for the now fourth annual Top 10 List of Games What I Think Were Alright This Year Or Whatever. As always, these are in no particular order, and the game simply needs to have had a release in calendar year 2015 to be eligible. Final Fantasy X, Final Fantasy VII and Ultra Street Fighter IV all had releases this year, but for your sakes, they're not on this list.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

I'll say it: MGSV wasn't the grand finale it was apparently supposed to be. It didn't tie everything together nicely, it didn't answer all the outstanding questions. MGSV is, however, simply one of the greatest open world action games ever made. Similar to Ground Zeroes, it doesn't have as much of what I want out of a Metal Gear game as the earlier instalments. It does have a decent amount of the crazy anime bullshit we've come to love from Metal Gear, but not quite enough, nor often enough. But that's okay, because the actual game part of this game is by far and away the best that Metal Gear has ever been. Even with the fact the story is clearly unfinished, even with all the crazy politics surrounding Konami and Kojima, it's still one hell of a game.

It's a Metal Gear game, that's for sure.

It's a Metal Gear game, that's for sure.

Bloodborne

I was never into the Souls games before playing Bloodborne (and don't get me wrong, Bloodborne is a Souls game, in everything but name), but man did it suck me in. The combat is quick, deliberate, punishing, yet immensely satisfying. The world design is incredible. The environmental storytelling is a breath of fresh air when compared to games that are very upfront and "tell, don't show" with their stories. Hell, even telling you the actual genre is technically a spoiler (it's not gothic horror, like the boxart/trailers would have you believe). I originally planned on writing a big post about the game earlier this year that never panned out. Although I'm not too likely to go back and sink a lot of time into the older games, Bloodborne told me exactly what these games are, and I respect them greatly.

Blooooood

Blooooood

Steins;Gate

Whether or not visual novels are technically "games" is a topic for another day. Regardless, the English version of Steins;Gate had its console release (PS3, Vita) earlier this year. If you're into anime at all, the name will likely be familiar. It is after all one of the most popular anime among westerners and often recommended for people wanting to get into anime (and a recommendation I mostly endorse). The anime, however, is an adaptation of a visual novel that originally released on the Xbox 360 in Japan in 2009 before being ported to every other major console and eventually finding an English release on PC and Sony consoles within the last year or so. The plot is thus: an idiot and his mates accidentally turn a microwave into a machine that can send text messages into the past. Then a time-travel story happens. Incredible art, music, characters, plot, everything. I will likely write more on it in future. Based on the name of the genre (visual novel) you can imagine what it actually consists of if you haven't played one before, but it's well worth the ride.

The art is great. Those eyes.

The art is great. Those eyes.

Fallout 4

At the time of writing (a couple of weeks before this post is live), I'm still making my way through the main quest of Bethesda's latest post-nuclear RPG. It's about what you'd expect from a game with the title "Fallout 4". Obviously, being six years since Fallout 3 , there have been many changes and tweaks, for better or for worse. The game looks nice - the lighting is fantastic and makes exploring the wasteland at dawn or sundown as enjoyable as it always has been in these games. Your character is now voiced, which unfortunately means it's now more difficult to create a character that truly feels like your own. There's nothing wrong with a game that wants to tell its own story, but Bethesda RPGs have always felt more about the story being yours and having it play out how you want it to, a feeling which is severely diminished in this latest game. There are other changes, like the gross simplification of the dialogue system, the combination of skills and perks, the removal of karma, that are better suited to discussing in a separate, more detailed post. But the core of the game is still the same: wondering around, discovering new places, people and monsters, and exploring, talking to and killing them. And in that aspect, it's as good as it's ever been. If you've an itch to return to the wasteland, it scratches that itch well enough.

Baller as fuck.

Baller as fuck.

Halo 5: Guardians

I'm still slogging my way through Halo 5's campaign. I say "slog" because I mostly don't have a fuck to give about Spartan Locke and his buddies (even if one of his buddies happens to be Nathan Fillion). If you'd rather be playing as Master Chief (you know, the Halo guy) and following the part of the story that actually matters, have fun, because that accounts for like, maybe 20% of the game. Apparently the ending is also a Halo 2-esque cliffhanger. But the single player campaign isn't why this game is on this list. Halo 5's multiplayer is the best it's been in a long while. New movement options that make the flow of the game feel zippy and modern, without taking away what makes it feel like Halo. Equal weapon starts, and none of that random power-weapon drop bullshit. It's what Halo 4 should've been.

Oh, and it has card packs. PACKS. Those who know me will know how much I liked Mass Effect 3's multiplayer. The packs were a big part of that. I can't help myself. Send help.

pls help

pls help

Downwell

You're a dude with gun boots who jumps down a well. Tight difficulty, tight controls, tight design.

My boots are lazers.

My boots are lasers.

Destiny: The Taken King

Destiny was a game I mentioned last year as being "the most disappointing game I couldn't stop playing". Bungie's latest is not a bad game. It has the excellent gun-play you'd expect from the studio that made Halo, and nothing about the way the game plays is bad. But the original release had some major, unforgivable flaws. Bungie had created this big, interesting universe, but the storytelling and plot was absolutely abysmal and not what you'd expect from the studio that made Halo. The loot and player progression was largely uninteresting, and there was a major lack of content, which for a game meant to emulate an MMO-like experience is a major setback. But then this year, The Taken King came out, the game's big expansion. They've made strides over the past year to improve the progression, but more importantly, it's starting to look like a game you'd expect from the studio that made Halo. The first 20 minutes of The Taken King has more personality and better writing than the entirety of the base game.

Just a stag. Nothing to see here.

Just a stag, chillin'. Nothing to see here.

Rocket League

Imagine playing indoor 3-a-side football, only instead of running about kicking a football, you're driving about in rocket-powered cars ramming into a 20 foot ball. Deceptively simple, but hard to master and with a tonne of depth, Rocket League is easily one of, if not the best, multiplayer game of 2015.

Also, it has hats. You can put hats on your car.

CAR HATS

CAR HATS

The Witcher III: Wild Hunt

I need to get back to The Witcher III at some point. I've put in maybe 30 or so hours into it and it barely feels like I've even scratched the surface. I own and have played the previous 2 Witcher games, but found them to be largely impenetrable and didn't have the patience to get properly stuck into them. In The Witcher, you play as Geralt, the titular witcher. Witchers are monster-hunters who have undergone some sort of mutation to make them better-monster hunters. What this gives them other than white hair and cat-eyes I'm not sure. The Witcher III does a fantastic job of having you play as an actual character, as opposed to a mostly blank slate for the player to self-insert into like a lot of western-made RPGs. As someone who generally doesn't self-insert into video game characters, this pleases me. Give me a well-written, fleshed out character any day of the week. In fact, the entire game is incredibly well written, with one particular side-arc involving a character called the "Bloody Baron" being perhaps this year's shining example of good video game writing.

Also there's boobs.

The Witcher III's world is fun to explore.

Metaphor: The bridge is the more accessible third game, crossing the impenetrable previous games... or something.

Persona 4: Dancing All Night

Dancing All Night marks the continuation of fantastically titled Persona 4 spin-offs, following last year's Persona 4: The Ultimax Ultra Suplex Hold, which was unfortunately nerfed somewhat to just Persona 4 Arena: Ultimax outside of Japan. Dancing All Night is... well, it's a rhythm game, with a bunch of Persona 4 music remixes. That's pretty much all I needed to know to be sold on this game. That's all it needed to be, but it even has a full-blown story mode. Similar to the previous Arena games, the story is basically a visual novel with the occasional fights (or dances, as is the case this time) spread throughout. The fact the game gives a justifiable, in-universe explanation as to why the Persona 4 crew have to defeat shadows by dancing is somewhat commendable. I'm not totally done with it yet, but the story even seems to be a much more solid offering than that of the fighting games, and will hopefully be a stellar send-off for Persona 4. Please, Atlus. I love Persona 4. A lot. But you don't need any more spin-offs. Lets just get to Persona 5 already. My only real gripe with the game is that some of my favourite songs from Persona 4 seem to be conspicuously missing (boss battle themes, mostly), but the selection that is there is decent, and the rhythm gameplay is simple, yet solid and enjoyable.

This entire game condensed into one line of dialogue.

This entire game condensed into one line of dialogue.

Even though 2015 was a pretty great year for games, I actually struggled to put this list together. I even considered condensing it down to a top 5. I just didn't play all that many of this year's games, partly out of laziness, partly out of not wanting to shell out £40+ per AAA game (and then not picking it up cheaper later) and partly because I spent a lot of time this year watching anime and playing Street Fighter. So many well received games came out this year that the over-abundance of choice can be overwhelming and you end up not playing anything.

In regards to this blog itself, I'm planning on updating the look of the site sometime in the new year. I've a design I've been slowly tinkering away at here and there which I will hopefully be done with in the not too distant future. Once I'm completely happy with the way it looks, I just need to convince myself of going through the boring process of making it into a WordPress theme.

2015 was a pretty dope year overall for games, many of which I will likely be playing at some point in the future. Games like Undertale, Tales from the Borderlands, Axiom Verge, Until Dawn, Her Story, Life is Strange, SOMA, Ori and the Blind Forest, Grow Home, Invisible Inc. and plenty of others I'm failing to even think of. That's not to mention the ones from this year I have played but need to get back to.