Favorite Media of 2017

Just like I’ve done for the past 7 years (201020112012201320142015, and 2016), I like to end the year with a gigantic list of my favorite media that I consumed throughout the year. As I warn each year, this is not a “best of” list, but rather a highly subjective list of the stuff I really liked this year — I like the exercise of it all, because it gives me a chance to look back at what I took in during that year, and hopefully it can act as a list of recommendations for others. I stick to stuff that was released this year, and so there’s always stuff that falls through the crack (for example, all the 2016 releases that I only watched this year). For each category, I offer up an alphabetical top 5, and then include a few honorable mentions.

Favorite Games
Not only did we get an awesome new console from Nintendo this year, but three of my favorite games of the year were released on it — yeah, Mario Kart is pretty much the same game we got on Wii U, but it doesn’t change that I played it again just as much, and I still play it regularly. I’d say the two games that just missed my top 5 were Untold Stories and Uncharted: Lost Legacy (my favorite entry in the Uncharted series). I don’t include For Honor because I was too close to it, I include Destiny 2 for the campaign (I haven’t really played much post-campaign), and I do have a copy of Yakuza Kiwami but I haven’t played it yet.

  • Assassin’s Creed Origins (PS4)
  • Super Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (Switch)
  • Super Mario Odyssey (Switch)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch)
  • Yakuza 0 (PS4)

Honorable Mentions: Arms (Switch), Bound (PS4), Destiny 2 (PS4), Fast RMX (Switch), Ghost Recon Wildlands (PS4), Graceful Explosion Machine (Switch), Mario + Rabbits Battle Kingdom (Switch), Nier: Automata (PS4), Skyrim (Switch), Subsurface Circular (PC), The Fidelio Incident (PC), Uncharted: Lost Legacy (PS4), Untold Stories (PC)

Favorite Mobile Games
Let me start by saying that all these are played on iPad — I very rarely play games on my iPhone. I also include games like Super Mario Run that weren’t released this year, but still released new content this year (I love the “Remix 10” mode, which I still play). I included the Animal Crossing game because I played a lot of it when it was released, and was quite enjoying it at first, but I eventually tired of it.

  • Fire Emblem Heroes
  • Gorogoa
  • Monument Valley 2
  • Reigns: Her Majesty
  • Super Mario Run

Honorable Mentions: Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, Card Thief, Old Man’s JourneyPhoenix II, The Elder Scrolls: Legends

Favorite Movies
I spent most of the year watching older movies, and so still have a lot of catching up to do with this year’s releases, but here’s what I liked from what I watched. And yes, Valerian is a deeply flawed movie mostly ruined by the casting of the leads, but I was wowed throughout by the visuals.

  • Atomic Blonde
  • Baby Driver
  • Blade Runner 2049
  • The Last Jedi
  • Thor: Ragnarok

Honorable Mentions: Alien: Covenant, DunkirkGet Out, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, LoganNapping Princess, T2 Trainspotting, The Incredible Jessica James, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, Wonder Woman

Favorite Movies of the 1980s
To anyone who follows my media consumption, you’ll be aware that this year saw me invest the majority of my movie-watching time looking back at films (one hundred in fact) from the 80s, specifically for the years 1985, 1986, and 1987 (I also dipped into 1967 and 1977). Since that was such a big part of what I watched this year, I thought it would be fun to list my fave 5 of the 80s for each year that I revisited.

1985

  • Back to the Future
  • Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome
  • Ran
  • The Breakfast Club
  • Weird Science

1986

  • Aliens
  • Blue Velvet
  • Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
  • Pretty in Pink
  • Stand By Me

1987

  • Evil Dead II
  • Full Metal Jacket
  • Good Morning, Vietnam
  • The Last Emperor
  • The Lost Boys

Favorite TV
Even though I list a lot of series below, this year saw me enjoying movies more than I have in years, which meant watching a lot less TV shows — or maybe it’s more a case that I ended up only watching stuff I really enjoyed. My absolute favorite TV series of the year was Twin Peaks — during the 16 weeks it aired, there was nothing I looked forward to more than Sunday nights for new episodes.

  • Game of Thrones
  • Halt and Catch Fire
  • Samurai Jack
  • Star Trek: Discovery
  • Twin Peaks: A Limited Event Series

Honorable Mentions: Abstract: The Art of Design, Better Call Saul, Big Mouth, GameCenter-CX, GLOW, Master of None, Mindhunter, Million Yen Women, Mr. Robot, Samurai Gourmet, Santa Clarita Diet, She’s Gotta Have It, Stranger Things 2, The Get Down, The Good Place, The Toys That Made Us, Wet Hot American Summer: 10 Years Later

Favorite Web Series
This is a new category, as I’ve noticed that I now watch and enjoy quite a bit of video content that’s produced directly for the web. For Jeremy Parish, it covers all of the amazing videos that he produces, from the various “Works” series to his enjoyable gin-soaked “let’s plays.”

Honorable Mentions: Jeremy Parish, New Territories, Screenland, The Manga Concierge

Favorite Music
Again this year, I only list my favorite albums, as I didn’t really pay much attention to singles. I will say that I feel like I didn’t spend a lot of time discovering new music this year, spending more time listening to older records, thanks to the “For You” section of Apple Music — and I did this happily, because I’ve always found that I spend too much time listening exclusively to new stuff, quickly forgetting older albums that I’ve enjoyed a lot.

  • Colors (Beck)
  • Drunk (Thundercat)
  • Django (Chip Tanaka)
  • Masseduction (St. Vincent)
  • Onism (Photay)

Honorable Mentions: Ash (Ibeyi), Halo (Juana Molina), I See You (The XX), New Energy (Four Tet), Rest (Charlotte Gainsbourg)

Favorite Comics
As with each year, my list tends to focus more on series, which is what I tend to read the most throughout the year, and then at the end of the year I check out the “best of” lists and catch up on all the great graphic novels that came out (which I’ll do again this year). I’ll also say that my American comics reading took a bit of a dive this year once I discovered my local library, and started binging on French-Belgian comics (bandes-dessinées, or BD) again.

  • Aliens: Dead Orbit
  • Batman
  • Mister Miracle
  • Shaolin Cowboy: Who’ll Stop the Reign?
  • The Black Monday Murders

Honorable Mentions: Britannia: We Who Are About to Die, Dark Nights: Metal (and various one-shots), Doomsday Clock, Extremity, Generation Gone, Groo (various mini-series), James Bond (various mini-series), Loose Ends, Magnus, Moonshine, Motro, Royal City, Savage, Secret Weapons, Southern Bastards, The Dying and the Dead, The Goddamned, The Wild Storm

Favorite BDs
What has excited me the most in the world of sequential art this year is that after an incredibly long hiatus (of practically two decades) I’ve gotten back intro reading French-Belgian comics since discovering my local library (or rather the one near the studio where I work, as well as access to the entire Montreal library network). I’ve been reading tons of books since the summer, but the majority has been older stuff, as I’ve been catching up on series I used to enjoy, and new ones that I’m discovering. But below are some highlights of what I’ve read that came out this year — I think that by next year I should be more up-to-date on my reading. Series title is followed by book title.

  • Carthago AdventuresZana
  • I.R.$.Kate’s Hell
  • KatangaDiamants
  • Soleil FroidL.N.
  • UndertakerL’ogre de Sutter Camp

Honorable Mentions: Lady S.Crimes de guerreLe Lucky Luke deJolly Jumper ne répond plusLe Spirou deLe Maître des hosties noires, Tebori (Tome 3)

Favorite Podcasts
For this category, the most captivating podcast for me this year was S-Town, and I couldn’t wait to listen to each new episode of A Twin Peaks Podcast (by editors at Entertainment Weekly) while the series was airing.

  • 8-4 Play
  • A Twin Peaks Podcast
  • Pop Culture Happy Hour
  • S-Town
  • Waypoint Radio

Honorable Mentions: All Songs Considered, Designer Notes, Kotaku Splitscreen, The AIAS Game Maker’s Note Book, The Stack

Japan Mobile Game Analysis

I’ve recently been enjoying posts by Motoi Okamoto that take a look at the mobile gaming scene in Japan, offering up analysis on how these games are successful — he’s been sharing them on Gamasutra, but you can follow him directly through his blog as well. His latest post offers up a look at Fire Emblem Heroes. Okamoto spent many years working at Nintendo, and currently runs his own development studio, with a focus on social/mobile games.

Hidden My Game By Mom 2

One of my favorite games from last year was the mobile gem Hidden My Game By Mom — it’s true, just check my favorite media of the year list — and I’m so happy to see that a sequel has just come out. Like the first one, it’s free (with ads), and so no reason to not give it a try. It’s a fairly simple hidden object game, but with fantastic art and a funny as hell setting.

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?

Smartphone Games from Sony

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On the eve of the release of Super Mario Run — surely one of the most anticipated mobile games ever — Sony has officially announced the titles that its mobile-focused subsidiary ForwardWorks is working on, and it’s a pretty attractive lineup. They detail a few classic RPG series (Arc the Lad, Wild Arms), but what I’m mostly excited to play are the promised PaRappa the Rapper and Boku no Natsuyasumi (My Summer Holiday) games, although we don’t know much about these yet. I’ve actually never played a Boku no Natsuyasumi game, but I fell in love with the series after reading the themed issue of the now-defunct Scroll magazine (I highly recommend that issue). Here’s also a promo video by Sony to promote the lineup.