Favorite 5 Games

There’s a tweet making the rounds right now encouraging you to share your favorite 5 games of all time. Narrowing down your favorites to a truly top 5 is of course an impossible task — I’d count pretty much every Legend of Zelda game as favorites — but I tried to do the exercise nonetheless, highlighting 5 games that had a strong enough impact on my gaming life that I would certainly count them among my favorites. Just below this I’d need to also include a Mario game (probably Super Mario World) and Ultima (especially Ultima 7), but for now, here are possibly/maybe my 5 favorite games (in no particular order).

Phantasie III: The Wrath of Nikademus
SSI was better known for all of the games it produced under the Dungeons & Dragons license (Pool of Radiance being my favorite), but this pre-D&D era RPG was a highlight for me. It’s quite possibly not a great game if you revisit it now, but I remember spending countless hours playing it, and a lot of those hours were played side-by-side with a friend in front of the PC (a Commodore PC-10), our own version of couch co-op. Also, the names I used for my characters in this game are the same names I continue to use for any character I need to name in an RPG.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
The Zelda series in general is my favorite series in games, and so narrowing it down to 1 or 2 titles is tough, but it’s hard not to point to A Link to the Past as a milestone (and its modern 3DS sequel, Link Between Worlds, is fantastic as well). The Super Nintendo graphics were astounding at the time, and it was certainly the game that cemented the series as a classic for all time.

Wave Race 64
I love Wave Race so damn much, and I can say that I also love the GameCube sequel (Wave Race: Blue Storm). Experiencing those beautiful giant waves was a joy, and added a fun level of randomness to the racing experience. More than any other racing series, this is the one that I’d most like to see a proper sequel, and so I keep wishing that we’ll see one on Switch.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
I was a huge fan of the Infocom library of text adventure games, and it all started with Zork, but the adaptation it produced of Hitchhiker’s is the title that is the most memorable to me. From the insanely convoluted Babel Fish puzzle (that you pretty much needed the hint book to help you through) to just the genuinely funny vibe throughout, it stuck with me.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Including a game that came out just a few months ago? What can I say, as someone who truly loves the Zelda series, this entry is as groundbreaking as it is fun as it is engaging. To see Nintendo produce such an amazing Zelda game thirty years after the first one is something I feel is pretty special.

Favorite Media of 2016

Here it is, my annual post (here are the ones for 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015) in which I list all of the media that I most liked in the past year. This is not meant to be a “best of” list. This is a highly subjective look back at the stuff that I experienced over the past year, and that tickled my fancy the most. I do it as a fun exercise to reflect back on what 2016 provided me in terms of entertainment, and hope that it serves also as list of recommendations. I restrict it to stuff that was released in 2016, and usually allow myself to do updates through the rest of December and into January, as the act of making this list usually makes me uncover things I missed out on. Each category is made up of an alphabetical top 5, followed by honorable mentions.

Favorite Games
This is always a tough one, as there are so many games I want to play every year, and I can’t, or I try to be patient and wait a few months for sales — I wouldn’t be surprised if The Last Guardian ends up here (once I play it), or maybe even Final Fantasy XV, which I am still quite looking forward to playing. Also, I was debating whether to include it here as a game or not, but the NES Classic Edition is definitely one of my favorite game experiences I’ve had this year.

  • Firewatch (PS4)
  • Inside (PS4)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD (Wii U)
  • Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (PS4)
  • Virginia (PS4)

Honorable Mentions: Abzu (PS4), Bravely Second: End Layer (3DS), Far Cry Primal (PS4), My Nintendo Picross: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (3DS), Oxenfree (Mac), Ratchet & Clank (PS4), Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20th Anniversary Edition (PS4), Stories: The Path of Destinies (PC), The Witness (PS4), Tom Clancy’s The Division (PS4), Trials of the Blood Dragon (PC), Unravel (PS4), Watch Dogs 2 (PS4)

Favorite Mobile Games
Some years I include this category, some years I don’t. This year I found myself enjoying enough on mobile to warrant its return. And although I don’t include it because I lost interest in playing it fairly quickly, I must admit that for a few weeks, I was having a blast playing Pokémon Go outside with friends. I include a mention of the device that I mainly played the game on.

  • Bullet Hell Monday (iPhone)
  • Legend of the Skyfish (Apple TV)
  • Mr. Robot:1.51exfiltrati0n.ipa (iPhone)
  • Pathfinder Adventures (iPad)
  • Super Mario Run (iPhone)

Honorable Mentions: Galaga Wars (iPhone), Hidden My Game by Mom (iPad), Reigns (iPhone), Triennale Game Collection (iPad)

Favorite TV
This year, even more than before, I found myself very rarely watching a series that airs weekly, as it aired — the exceptions are all in my top 5. Instead, I prefer to watch a show once a season is over, at my own pace (and I do most of my TV watching on Netflix).

  • Game of Thrones
  • Halt and Catch Fire
  • Mr. Robot
  • Stranger Things
  • Westworld

Honorable Mentions: Ali Wong: Baby Cobra, Black Mirror, GameCenter-CX, House of Cards, Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories, Saturday Night Live, Star Wars Rebels, The Get Down, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Favorite Movies
Seems like each year I find myself watching less and less current films, which means that I’m not including a lot of really good stuff that came out this year, but that I’ll probably end up watching in years to come. That said, I REALLY liked this top 5.

  • Everybody Wants Some
  • Miss Hokusai
  • Rogue One
  • Sing Street
  • The Red Turtle

Honorable Mentions: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Branching Paths, DeadpoolKingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV, The Magnificent Seven, We Are Twisted Fucking Sister

Favorite Anime
Despite the fact I’ve loved anime since I was a kid, this is the first time I include an anime category in my year-end list. I guess I’d taken a bit of a step back from regularly watching new stuff over the period that I started writing these (from 2010), but this year saw me get back into it in a pretty big way.

  • Ajin
  • Dimension W
  • Lupin the Third
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin
  • The Great Passage (Fune wo Amu)

Honorable Mentions: Boku Dake ga Inai Machi, Ghost in the Shell: Arise – Alternative Architecture, Mob Psycho 100, Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans

Favorite Music
When I was doing my Codex podcast, I’d also include a “Favorite Tracks” category, since I spent a lot of time selecting specific songs for the show, but since I haven’t been doing that, I’ll stick to favorite albums. Also, I feel like I didn’t really take in as much new music as I usually do. A lot of it had to do with me focusing on listening back to a lot of Japanese music from the 90s/2000s after I recovered some old archives, but also because I spend a lot of time listening to stuff from the “For You” page on Apple Music, which makes me happy because I’ve always had an issue where I don’t spend as much time as I’d like listening to older stuff (versus always being on the lookout for new music). I look forward to going through year-end “best of” lists and discovering albums I missed.

  • AIM (M.I.A.)
  • Bonito Generation (Kero Kero Bonito)
  • Jessica Rabbit (Sleigh Bells)
  • We Got it From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service (A Tribe Called Quest)
  • Woman (Justice)

Honorable Mentions: Awake (Remixes) (Tycho), Cheetah EP (Aphex Twin), iii (Miike Snow), Epoch (Tycho), Motions (Best Killer Remixes and Produced Works by FPM) (Fantastic Plastic Machine), Skilled Mechanics (Tricky), The Hope Six Demolition Project (PJ Harvey), Puberty 2 (Mitski)

Favorite Comics
As with each year, my list tends to focus on the series I enjoyed the most throughout the year, and then at the end of the year I end up finding a lot of graphic novels I’d like to read based on the “best of” lists that pop up.

  • Batman (written by Tom King)
  • Billy Bat
  • Moonshine
  • The Black Monday Murders
  • The Vision

Honorable Mentions: Briggs LandDetective Comics, Green Valley, James Bond (written by Warren Ellis), Lake of Fire, Motor CrushOld Man Logan, OutcastSeven to Eternity, Southern Bastards, Southern Cross, Violent Love

Favorite Podcasts
Feels weird writing up this category and not including Marc Maron’s WTF podcast, which I’ve loved and followed for years, but this year found me taking a step back, only listening to a few episodes here and there — I still quite enjoy the interviews I do listen to, but still don’t end up listening to it regularly.

  • 8-4 Play
  • All Songs Considered
  • Pop Culture Happy Hour
  • The Stack
  • Waypoint Radio

Honorable Mentions: CAGcast, Designer Notes, Glixel Podcast, Polygon’s Quality Control, Shall We Play a Game?

Favorite Media of 2015

It’s my annual tradition in December to write up a list of my favorite media that I consumed throughout the year, that was released that year (here’s my 2014 edition). This is a HIGHLY subjective list, and is made up of stuff that I liked the most out of the stuff I got to experience. As the title says, it’s not a “best of” list, it’s the stuff that tickled me the most, that excited me the most, that gave me joy, so basically, the stuff that rocked my world this year. Each category is made up of a top 5 that I list alphabetically, and then I include honorable mentions, to round things out. I do this every year as an exercise to reflect on the things that I took in throughout the year (which I try to log regularly here), and by sharing it, it can act as a recommendation sheet of things I’d tell anyone that they should check out.

Also, I do often update the list up until January, as I’ll often have forgotten to include something, or to add stuff that I’ll be experiencing over the coming weeks.

Favorite Games
I usually have a separate category for mobile games, but I found that over the past year I’ve rarely been playing games that way. It’s not to say that there aren’t some great games that came out on mobile (like Lara Croft GO, which I’ve included below), but I didn’t end up playing enough of them to warrant a separate list.

  • Destiny: The Taken King (PS4)
  • Mario Kart 8 (DLC Pack 2) (Wii U)
  • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (PS4)
  • Splatoon (Wii U)
  • Xenoblade Chronicles X (Wii U)

Honorable Mentions: Broken Age (Mac), Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture (PS4), Galak-Z: The Dimensional (PS4), Grim Fandango Remastered (PS4/Vita), Her Story (Mac), Journey (PS4), Lara Croft GO (iOS), N++ (PS4), Super Mario Maker (Wii U), The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D (3DS), Undertale (Mac)

Favorite TV
As I continue to move away from watching things on a weekly basis (with a few exceptions), instead preferring to wait for a full season to be done, you’ll probably find my choices to be light on things that launched in the fall.

  • Game of Thrones
  • Mad Men
  • Master of None
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
  • Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp

Honorable MentionsAsh vs. Evil Dead,
Better Call Saul, Louie, Marvel’s Daredevil, Saturday Night Live, Sense8, Shameless, Star Wars Rebels, The Comeback Kid (John Mulaney stand-up special)

Favorite Movies
Let’s face it, there’s a very good chance that The Force Awakens will join this list. Or maybe it won’t. (Edit: It has.) Also, I’m noticing that I didn’t watch a lot of new movies this year (I watched a lot of movies, but not really stuff that was released this year). And I keep wanting to watch Ex Machina, which I think I’ll really like. (Edit: I did.)

  • Ex Machina
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • SPECTRE
  • The Assassin
  • The Force Awakens

Honorable Mentions: Chappie, Hotel Transylvania 2, Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Martian, Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection

Favorite Music
I had a really hard time coming up with a favorite 5 in this category – my only clear favorite albums this year were California Nights and Ibeyi. I did love a ton of great records this year though, and I could easily have added more to my “Honorable Mentions” list, but tried to keep it relatively short.

  • California Nights (Best Coast)
  • Ego Death (The Internet)
  • Ibeyi (Ibeyi)
  • I Want to Grow Up (Colleen Green)
  • No Cities to Love (Sleater-Kinney)

Honorable Mentions: Acorn Man (Wild Billy Childish & CTMF), Art Angels (Grimes), Before the World Was Big (Girlpool), Brace the Wave (Lou Barlow), Currents (Tame Impala), Depression Cherry (Beach House), Eurydice (Moonsocket), Every Open Eye (Chvrches), In Color (Jamie XX), Magnifique (Ratatat), Slowtown Now! (Holly Golightly), Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit (Courtney Barnett), Teens of Style (Car Seat Headrest), Thank Your Lucky Stars (Beach House), Time to Go Home (Chastity Belt), V (Wavves)

Favorite Comics
As I say every year, I tend to read serialized stuff throughout the year, and then catch up on great graphics novels at the end of the year and beyond (for example, I haven’t read Adrian Tomine’s Killing and Dying yet, which I’m sure I’ll love), but here’s what I can say are most of my favorite things I was reading this year.

  • Billy Bat
  • Drawn & Quarterly: Twenty-Five Years of Contemporary Cartooning, Comics, and Graphic Novels
  • Inuyashiki
  • Southern Bastards
  • The Multiversity

Honorable Mentions: Avengers/New Avengers (written by Jonathan Hickman), Doctor StrangeHead Lopper, James BondStar Wars comics (Star Wars, Darth Vader, Lando, Kanan), Stray Bullets: Sunshine and RosesSunny, The Goddamned, The Legacy of Luther Strode, VisionZero

Favorite Media of 2014

In what has become an annual tradition – I’ve done it for the past 4 years, although those posts are now all lost to the ether due to my big server shutdown of 2014 – I like to end the year with a big post that goes through my favorite media of the year. This is a HIGHLY subjective list, it’s a list of the stuff that I really liked from the stuff that I experienced – and I of course do not experience everything that comes out. I do it more as an exercise for myself, as I enjoy looking back at what I took in throughout the year, and to have a think at what brought me the most joy. The way I do it is that I narrow it down to a top 5 – that I list in alphabetical order – and then I add in a few honorable mentions. I usually forget to include some things, and so I sometimes go in and update this post if something I really liked comes to mind.

Favorite Games (Consoles)
I try to keep these lists filled with media that came out in 2014, and for games it’s always a tough one since I tend to buy a lot of stuff when it goes on sale, which means in the early part of the year I played a lot of stuff that actually came out in 2013 (and I still do). One of my favorite gaming experiences of the year was playing Wind Waker HD, and Super Mario 3D World was a close second (I got my Wii U in January). For each game, I indicate the platform I played it on.

  • Bayonetta 2 (Wii U)
  • Broken Age (Mac)
  • Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker (Wii U)
  • Fantasy Life (3DS)
  • Mario Kart 8 (Wii U)

Honorable Mentions: Azure Striker Gunvolt (3DS), Banner Saga (Mac), Costume Quest 2 (PS4), Diablo III Ultimate Evil Edition (PS4), Hyrule Warriors (Wii U), Luftrausers (Vita), Pushmo World (Wii U), Rayman Legends (Vita), Rogue Legacy (Vita), Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball (3DS), Shovel Knight (Wii U), Star Wars Pinball: Heroes Within (PS4), Stick It to the Man (PS4), Super Smash Bros. (Wii U/3DS), Super Time Force (360), TowerFall Ascension (PS4), Transistor (PS4), TxK (Vita)

Favorite Games (Mobile)
Over the years, I sometimes have a separate category for mobile games (that I pretty much all play on iPad, as I’m not really a big iPhone gamer) and sometimes I don’t (like last year), but this year I felt there was a lot to highlight. Sure, some of these are multi-platform, but this is how I experienced them.

  • Game of Thrones: A Telltale Game Series
  • Monument Valley
  • Tales from the Borderlands
  • The Sailor’s Dream
  • The Wolf Among Us

Honorable Mentions: 80 Days, Deep Under the Sky, FTL: Faster Than Light, Hearthstone, Hitman GO, Joe Danger Infinity, Joe Dever’s Lone Wolf, Out There, Papers, Please, République, Star Wars: Commander, Threes

Favorite TV
This year I started binging more and more on seasons instead of watching stuff weekly, and there are still series that are on my watch list (like Boardwalk Empire, Fargo, and a few more). I’d also like to highlight Amnesia Fortnight 2014, a documentary video series that followed Double Fine Productions’ 2-week game jam, that aired on YouTube.

  • Arrow
  • Game of Thrones
  • Mad Men
  • Monday Night War
  • True Detective

Honorable Mentions: Black MirrorConstantine, Gotham, Halt and Catch Fire, House of Cards, Louie, Orange Is the New Black, Over the Garden Wall, Rick and Morty, Ronia the Robber’s Daughter, Shameless, Star Wars: Rebels, The Flash, The Walking Dead, Top Gear

Favorite Movies
This is a tough one too in terms of really covering the year, since being in Japan, I don’t really get to see a lot of the stuff that comes out in the latter part of the year until the following year. So keeping that in mind, here’s what I most enjoyed this year. Also, I can honestly say that Jodorowsky’s Dune was my absolute favorite film of the year. I’m also noticing that I slowed down in my movie watching this past year, and there’s still a lot I’m looking forward to watching.

  • Automata
  • Edge of Tomorrow
  • Enemy
  • Jodorowsky’s Dune
  • The Zero Theorem

Honorable Mentions: Appleseed Alpha, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, SnowpiercerThe Grand Budapest Hotel

Favorite Music
In past year I would have a separate category for tracks and albums, but since I stopped doing my Codex podcast, I don’t really keep track of the songs that really stand out for me, as I tend to listen to albums as a whole. Also, I don’t include these because they are made up of old material, but some of my favorite releases this past year also includes The Pixies’ Doolittle 25: B-sides, Peel Sessions, and Demos (with the “Demo 1” version of “Wave of Mutilation” being a particular standout) and Fugazi’s First Demos.

  • Intro Bonito (Kero Kero Bonito)
  • Michael (Les Sins)
  • Our Love (Caribou)
  • Pom Pom (Ariel Pink)
  • St. Vincent (St. Vincent)

Honorable Mentions: Atlas (Real Estate), Brill Bruisers (The New Pornographers), Here and Nowhere Else (Cloud Nothings), It’s Album Time (Todd Terje), Lese Majesty (Shabazz Palaces), LP1 (FKA Twigs), Morning Phase (Beck), Nikki Nack (Tune-Yards), Rips (Ex Hex), Sylvan Esso (Sylvan Esso), Syro (Aphex Twin), You’re Dead (Flying Lotus)

Favorite Comics
Even though I read a ton of comics throughout the year, I always very much look forward to all of the year-end “best of” lists that come out, as I constantly find tons of stuff I missed that I want to read, especially when it comes to graphics novels.

  • Black Science
  • Deadly Class
  • Harley Quinn
  • Alex + Ada
  • The Multiversity

Honorable Mentions: Andre the Giant: The Life and the Legend, Avengers/New Avengers, Futures End, Gotham Academy, Hawkeye, Injustice: Gods Among UsJustice League 3000, Low, Moon Knight (1-6), Seconds, Sex Criminals, Stray Bullets: Killers, Supreme: Blue Rose, The Fade Out, Velvet, Zero

Favorite Podcasts
This is the first time I include a list of favorite podcasts, and I figure it’s about time since listening to these is something I spend so much time on.

  • 8-4 PLAY
  • CAGcast
  • Canadaland
  • Pop Culture Happy Hour
  • Serial

Honorable Mentions: All Songs Considered, DLC, Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo’s Film Reviews, WTF with Marc Maron

Favorite Media of 2010

For some reason I’ve always avoided doing year-end lists of favorite things — I don’t really know why — but I just felt like doing one this year, and so here goes. Now, of course, this is all based on what I’ve actually seen/played/used/listened to, and so consider this a personal compilation of the favorite things I experienced this year in the world of media (it’s not a “best of” thing) — and note that it is limited to things that were released in 2010. Two categories that may be conspicuous by their absence are books and magazines — I just don’t feel like I read enough books to justify a proper list, and for magazines, I don’t have five truly favorites that come to mind.

So here then is my highly unscientific, truly subjective list of favorite media obsessions of 2010. Each category includes five items in alphabetical order (I think it’s silly to rank them in order), and I’ve occasionally included a few honorable mentions, things that I really wanted to have in those favorite fives.

Favorite Games
As you’ll see, my favorite genre tends to be RPGs (with a strong emphasis on action RPGs), and then racing games too. I could probably have done a separate downloadable game category as well, but decided to just put them all together.

  • Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
  • Fallout: New Vegas
  • Mass Effect 2
  • Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit
  • Red Dead Redemption

Honorable Mentions: Costume Quest, Fable III, Limbo, Heavy Rain, Split/Second

Favorite iPad Apps
There are many more apps that I really like, but these are the ones that I use the most, that I have in my dock. I decided to only list iPad apps and not iPhone apps (same for games), since I do really spend a lot more time on my iPad, and my iPhone is just something I pull out when I’m bored waiting somewhere (most used apps on that would be Twitter, Instapaper, Camera, and listening to podcasts).

  • Cloudreaders
  • Instapaper
  • NYTimes
  • Reeder
  • Twitter

Honorable Mention: Air Video

Favorite iPad Games
I’ve kept this to real iPad versions of games only — I did play a hell of a lot of DoDonPachi Resurrection on my iPad, but it’s really just an iPhone release.

  • Carcassonne
  • Infinity Blade
  • Plants vs. Zombies HD
  • Robot Unicorn Attack HD
  • Word with Friends

Honorable Mentions: Highborn HD, Small Worlds, Space Invaders Infinity Gene, Canabalt, Puzzle Agent HD

Favorite TV
This year was absolutely amazing for TV, and you’ll see that my tastes are definitely on the cable series side of things (Community is the only network show to be included) — that fact that you can be truly mature is one thing, and the shorter seasons (and so more focused storylines) is another.

  • Eastbound & Down
  • Dexter
  • Mad Men
  • Sons of Anarchy
  • True Blood

Honorable Mentions: Community, Treme, The Walking Dead, Louie, How to Make It in America, Bored to Death

Favorite Movies
This was difficult because I obviously haven’t seen a ton of movies that came out in theaters in recent months in North America, so my list could honestly have included movies that came out towards the end of 2009 as well. I know the two Mesrine films originally came out in France in 2008, but I felt like I could include them since they came out in North America this year.

  • Cyrus
  • Inception
  • Mesrine: Killer Instinct/Mesrine: Public Enemy #1
  • The American
  • The Ghost Writer

Honorable Mentions: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Kick-Ass, The Social Network, Exit Through the Exit Shop

Favorite Albums
Music is also very difficult, since I listen to so much of it, and to such a variety — which is one of the reasons I started Codex — but I think I was still able to come up with a list of favorites, in part based on the “most played” count in iTunes.

  • Record Collection (Mark Ronson & The Business Intl)
  • Swim (Caribou)
  • There Is Love in You (Four Tet)
  • The Suburbs (The Arcade Fire)
  • The Way Out (The Books)

Honorable Mentions: The Social Network Soundtrack (Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross), King of the Beach (Wavves), Not Music (Stereolab)

Favorite Tracks
Again, these are mostly based on the “most played” count in iTunes.

  • “A Cold Freezin’ Night” (The Books)
  • “Bang Bang Bang (feat. Q-Tip and MNDR)” (Mark Ronson & The Business Intl)
  • “Happy Up Here” (Royksopp)
  • “Threshold Apprehension” (Black Francis)
  • “Odessa” (Caribou)

Honorable Mentions: “King of the Beach” (Wavves), “Rococo” (The Arcade Fire)

Favorite Comics
This was the hardest category for me, because I read A LOT of comics, and so it was hard to narrow it down to just five — and these five are basically the things that I could remember really liking — and the reason I don’t even include any honorable mentions is because it would be ridiculously long.

  • Justice League: Generation Lost
  • Richard Stark’s Parker: The Outfit
  • Scott Pilgrim
  • Sweet Tooth
  • The Unwritten