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I've been reading a lot of untrue things in the Zelda reviews like "unprecedented even for Nintendo" and "Dark Souls-Ian." I've taken it upon myself to set the record straight by looking at real influences and the series' own build up to this moment. This is a landmark game deserving of all the praise, and we should praise it accordingly.
  1. The obvious open world games
    Assassin's Creed, Grand Theft Auto, and Bethesda's games should all come to mind. Assassin's Creed in particular is super important as it's movement and environmental exploration makes the biggest impact on Breath of the Wild with Link's new ability to climb everything.
  2. Tomb Raider
    The Shrines you seek out in Breath of the Wild are the best parts of the adventure, they're short puzzle rooms (I've run into a few combat trials as well) that capture the essence of what an open world Tomb Raider should feel like. Link is essentially a fantasy Indiana Jones in this game, seeking treasures from long forgotten, sealed shrines.
  3. The Witcher series
    CD Projekt's ascension from scrappy newcomers to RPG royalty likely did not pass Nintendo. There is no finer modern development team in the genre, focusing on grand adventure, deep characterization, powerful moral choices, and a much appreciated sense of humor. But The Witcher's main gameplay influence to Breath of the Wild can be found in cooking feature. You cook food and brew potions, much like a Witcher, to give yourself status effects vital for survival in combat and the environment.
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Let's be real, Bambi, The Lion King, The Jungle Book, 101 Dalmatians, Dumbo, Finding Nemo, A Bug's Life, The Fox and the Hound, The Great Mouse Detective, Ratatouille, The Rescuers, you all know these and they'd dominate the list on their own. So here are other animal stories!
  1. The Cat Returns
    It's Studio Ghibli so technically Disney's name is on the box but they didn't make it. This is a brilliant story on its own and I recommend it to everyone!
  2. Watership Down
    Powerful stuff. Both the novel and the movie are amazing.
  3. The Redwall saga (all of it!)
    Gotta love the gallant Long Patrol. My favorite book in the series.
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In 2016 I got into board games. These are my rankings of everything I played this year. The top 7 are all excellent games to play! I'm really happy I got into tabletop games this year.
  1. 1.
    Ticket to Ride
    Fast-paced competitive play makes Ticket to Ride an exciting board game. There's a risk to taking route cards (lose their amount in total points), but great payoff if you can complete them. And the randomness of other players' routes leads to a lot of improvisation. Whether things go as planned or not, bright beautiful railways twist around a map of the USA in my current favorite tabletop game!
  2. 2.
    Betrayal at House on the Hill
    The most compelling game on the list due to the various scenarios. All games begin as a tense, cooperative game of discovery and impending madness. But once a condition is met one of the players goes mad and one of dozens of scenarios is set in motion as one player has to hunt down the rest who have to work together to survive! It's dynamic and exciting but best with 5-6 players.
  3. 3.
    I find this the most complex game on the list. It has a basic mode to get acquainted with the rules which removes occupations and minor improvements. The game supports 1 player but goes up to 4. But resources are scarce and can be tougher to manage with more players leading to more negative points. And you have to feed your family so as rounds get shorter you need a way to produce more food. It's complex but really fun.
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By far one of the hardest lists I had to make. At one point there were nearly 50 titles listed. But eliminating number 21 was the hardest choice I had. It was Ys 1 & 2 Chronicles but that series still got decent representation below. The top 5 were all in consideration for the top spot. They're all amazing works.
  1. 1.
    Persona 4: Golden
    The ultimate form of the JRPG. Persona 4 takes traditional RPG systems and marries them with social simulation to create a series of character driven short stories that play out alongside a larger mystery involving supernatural murders that plays out over an entire year. It's the type of game that makes me wish I was a teenager again and that's the first time any game has ever made me feel that way. This is the apotheosis of the genre and what all games should be judged against.
  2. 2.
    Dark Souls
    I think it's safe to say my formative years ended before I got to Dark Souls. Honestly I didn't think my adult life would include what I would consider a formative moment, but then Dark Souls happened. Playing Dark Souls is equal parts joy, frustration and self-discovery. I learned more about myself braving through Lordran than I have playing almost any other game. This will be remembered as the game that helped change the industry in one of the most positive ways imaginable. Praise the sun!
  3. 3.
    Chrono Trigger
    If I had to pick one 2D RPG to recommend to anyone the answer will always be the same: Chrono Trigger. It's a dream game crafted by a dream team, dealing with time travel, a stellar cast and fun battles. There are honestly so many stellar pieces and books on this game I don't even know how I could add to it other than saying it's an essential and a game everyone should play at some point in their lives.
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Some stuff I watched during my 4 days off!
  1. Armenia Fund: Telethon
    They raised $15.5 million! It's an annual thing.
  2. Planes, Trains, & Automobiles
    Best Thanksgiving movie of all time. Of. All. Time.
  3. UFC Fight Night 101
    Some violence. Sporty violence that is!
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It's Thanksgiving. Some of us have 4 days off. I'm thankful for that!
  1. Sleep in
  2. Stay in your pajamas for longer than usual
  3. Complete a few errands
    Whether it's cooking a dish or the feast, getting Christmas decorations ready, or studying a bit, just spend a few hours getting some stuff done
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A list of stuff that couldn't live to see another day
  1. David Bowie
  2. The artist formerly known as Prince
  3. The Wii U
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I'm a boy. I'm an emotional boy. I cry. And I'm proud of it! Also I'm a manly man who's tough and reliable and everyone knows it!!
  1. Kobe Bryant's farewell game
    Disclaimer: Kobe is the greatest thing to happen to the city of Los Angeles in its entire history!! I was listening to the Cruz Show on Power 106 the morning of Kobe's final game. The guy broke down into tears on the radio and I proceeded to sit in traffic on the 405 sobbing like a baby. Later during the game my best friend told me he was crying. I responded back through tears that I was too. The waterworks did not stop.
  2. Grave of the Fireflies
    Disclaimer: this movie is depressing but still!! It's a World War 2 story about two orphans trying to survive in Japan. I cried like a newborn during the movie and then for hours after it was over I made the ugliest sobbing face possible. I sat down to eat and started crying. In front of other people... they still think I'm crazy.
  3. Satoru Iwata's death
    Disclaimer: he was the president of Nintendo!! I've never met Satoru Iwata. The only connection Iwata-San and I shared was a one sided affair where he worked on so many of the games that defined my childhood. Part of it was sorrow that cancer took away such a talented and creative man who I admired. The other part of it was a nostalgia trip and realizing those days wouldn't come back. And so I did the only thing I could: cry.
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I am going with a fairly loose term for shooters here: things move and you shoot at them. It includes FPS, TPS, on-rails, lightgun (well none made the cut but they were considered!) and shmup so long as your primary objective is to fire at enemies! RPGs like Mass Effect and Fallout were not considered even if they have shooter combat.
  1. 1.
    Halo: Combat Evolved/Halo 2
    I'm cheating and putting both here to make room for one new entry. This represents the epitome of the genre for me. Stellar campaigns, jam-packed multiplayer, couch co-op, vehicular warfare, challenging enemy AI. When you factor in Halo 2's ambitious, series-altering campaign, and it's online multiplayer it's clear which series dominated the shooter space of that era. Nothing has surpassed Halo in my eyes and I doubt anything ever will.
  2. 2.
    Half-Life 2 (and 2 Episodes)
    The closest a game has and likely ever will come to dethroning Halo as my favorite shooter. Everything about HL2 oozes class and intelligence through brilliant design. Half-Life 2 is so good it's still representative of the very best the genre has offered a dozen years after its release. But most important is the variety of ideas present in the whole game and how well executed each idea is.
  3. 3.
    Doom was going to feature in the top 3 one way or another. It was just a matter of where I would place it. It is one of the great influencers of an entire medium. Labyrinthine, fast, challenging and more satisfying than most modern shooters. Doom's influence is very real, but it's lasting legacy is proof that great design holds up regardless of age. It doesn't matter which version (or if you play 2) just play one. It's important to understanding how everything changed at once.
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The indie games label needs to die but it exists so I'll use it! This list was tough to do as I had well over 25 games written out (and many like Undertale that I have yet to play) but ultimately I had to make a lot of cuts to fit it all in at 25. Lots of heavy hitters didn't make the list but that's proof that there's something for everyone!
  1. 1.
    Mark of the Ninja
    Mark of the Ninja might just be the greatest stealth game I have ever played. It's a 2D stealth platformer with wonderful level design and in-depth game mechanics that puts much of the bigger budget competition to shame.
  2. 2.
    80 Days
    My favorite text adventure ever made and it works best as a mobile experience for quick pick up and play sessions. There's so much to see and do, so many options on how to proceed that no two playthroughs have to ever be the same. The ultimate joy in 80 Days isn't success, it's the adventure and all the lives you come across on the way.
  3. 3.
    Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove
    The current poster-child for indie gaming, Shovel Knight feels like a throwback with modern sensibilities. There's free DLC, charming characters, beautiful art and on-point, precise controls. This game is wonderful! And it's been updated with two more campaigns that make a stronger case for this title than ever before.
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