Top 100 Games of All-Time: #10

Final Fantasy 7 Remake

Release Date: April 10, 2020

Platform Played On: PS4

2018 Placement: N/A

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE_20200418160836

What It Is:

Of all the games that people have clamored for a remake, Final Fantasy 7 is probably the one that has gotten the most (or at least the loudest) support. The game itself is stuck in early polygon-era models, but since it captured the hearts of many and also had several later spinoffs (and a movie sequel) with better graphics there was a lot of hoping for an HD upgrade to the story.

People finally got their wish in 2020 as the Final Fantasy 7 Remake finally came out. It had the updated graphics everyone asked for, along with an all-new action RPG system that used elements of the original game. Because the project was so big, Remake only told the story of Midgar, the opening city of the game. For comparison’s sake, this 40 hour game was about 4 hours of the original game and was only a small portion of the first disc. The city of Midgar is brought to life even more than before with side characters being expanded upon and entire new areas and enemies to fight, along with old enemies being refashioned into bosses and characters that don’t show up until later in the game making much earlier appearances (here’s looking at you, Sephiroth).

But it wasn’t just the original game’s story with a shiny coat of paint and a different battle system. As the game progresses, things get weirder and start deviating from the original story. And before you know it, you release you aren’t just playing a remake: you’re playing an entirely new game. And it’s awesome.

Why It’s Important To Me:

When I sat down and started playing FF7 Remake, I knew I liked FF7 a lot. But I didn’t realize how much these characters and this game had influenced me until my emotions started running rampant as I played through this. I tore through this game as the COVID pandemic was starting its tear through everyone’s lives, and falling back into the comfortable, updated nostalgia of this game was just perfect timing.

And then the story beats went in an entirely different direction than I was expecting. It blew me away to the point that I ended up loving this game even more than the original. It does something with storytelling that can’t be replicated in any other medium as far as I’m concerned. It took something familiar, something beloved, something that people had been clamoring for, and built upon it and gave something nobody asked for. It was amazing. I’d never played anything like it and I haven’t played anything like it since.

My Strongest Memory:

To stay (heavy) spoiler-free: the set up of the Air Buster showdown. In the original game, the Air Buster is simply the second boss. It has a mechanic that you have to hit it from behind to do more damage but it’s otherwise fairly unremarkable. But the game takes your expectation and turns a pretty standard boss into an awesome setpiece. There’s so much build-up – fans of the game know what’s coming but the game ratchets up tension as you basically see it be built to attack you as you progress through the chapter. If you’re smart, you can disable some of its parts to make the eventual fight easier. And then the fight itself is just balls-to-the-wall action fun. You couldn’t ask for a better execution.

And then, of course, the remixed music. They took the original legendary soundtrack and just made it better in every way. The battle theme gets so many different variations: from the Airbuster version to a gym version. There’s even new songs for new bosses that kick ass. And there’s a remix of one of my favorite video games songs of all time, Crazy Motorcycle, that nearly tops off the game as it’s played towards the end of the Midgar section in the original game. I was looking forward to hearing the remix the entire time I played and man, finally getting to hear it did not disappoint.

Why It’s #10:

This is the last game on this list that wasn’t on the 2018 list. When I originally made the list in 2021, I was a little worried that recency bias was making me overvalue FF7 Remake. But the stupid smile I got while thinking about this game and listening to the music again as I wrote this entry just washed away any doubts. This is a fantastic game, and while it’s hard to replicate 20+ years of nostalgia wrapped into a surprisingly perfect package, if it does apply to you this game will hit your feelings hard and I definitely think it’s worthy of being in the top 10.

Final Fantasy XIV in Four Months: A Retrospective

On July 16th, 2021 I capitulated to friends, random internet strangers, and the will of Yoshi-P and downloaded the free trial of Final Fantasy XIV Online, which goes up to level 60 and includes the award-winning blah blah blah you know that spiel and joke since I already did my Realm Reborn Roundup.

This summer was rough for me for a myriad of personal reasons. I was going through a lot and while all those personal details are a discussion for another time, what is important is that Final Fantasy XIV was an outlet that probably saved my sanity and kept me grounded. Shortly after my Realm Reborn roundup I subscribed to an MMO for the first time in my life because of how much time I was spending in the world and how much I was enjoying myself exploring Eorzea.

On November 18, 2021, almost exactly four months from when I started playing (and the day before the original Early Access for Endwalker was supposed to start) I rolled credits on the final main story quest of the Shadowbringers expansion – thus “completing” the main story of Final Fantasy XIV that’s currently out. It was a weird sensation – my sole drive in the realm of gaming for the past four months had slowly morphed into completing the story in time for Endwalker’s release. And I was ultimately left with that empty feeling of “now what?”

So clearly the next step is I’m gonna write about it.

Continue reading “Final Fantasy XIV in Four Months: A Retrospective”

FFXIV: A Realm Reborn Roundup

So I’ve been playing FFXIV for about two weeks now. Yes, I’m one of those people who is playing the free trial, let’s just get that out of the way. I’m not an MMORPG kind of person. I’ve never been. Previous to this, the only MMO games I’ve played have been Guild Wars (that I played through the entirety of with an almost-girlfriend) and The Old Republic (that I played about 2 hours of and then never touched again).

I’ve now clocked at least 50 hours into FFXIV over two weeks. Maybe 60 or 70? I don’t really know and I’m glad there’s no way to tell how much time I’ve spent on it so far (and don’t tell me if there is). Hands-down it’s the MMORPG I’ve spent the most time playing. So after finishing the main storyline of A Realm Reborn – FFXIV’s 2.0 base game rework after it’s initial shitty launch – I decided I’d formally put together my thoughts on the game.

FFXIV sucks.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s also amazing. But it also sucks. But no, it’s great. Actually, it’s kinda terrible. No, really, it’s awesome. But it stinks. But you should play. But never play it.

Okay, so I guess I’m conflicted.

Continue reading “FFXIV: A Realm Reborn Roundup”

Top 100 Games of All-Time: #94

Shadow of the Colossus

Release Date: October 18, 2005

Platform Played On: PS2

2018 Placement: #75 (-19)

shadow-of-the-colossus-playstation-2-screenshot-meet-the-first

What It Is:

Shadow of the Colossus is a revolutionary game that took the idea “what if only boss battles?” and made it artistic and compelling. It’s you and your horse Agro versus sixteen colossi and each one a different puzzle. You have a sword and a bow and your climbing ability and that’s basically it – there’s no skill trees or RPG elements. Each colossus has a weak point and it’s up to you to figure out how to tackle each fight.

The world itself is empty except for the colossi, so the time between battles is mostly spent enjoying the vistas as you ride Agro to your next destination. There are occasional map puzzles forcing you to figure out how to get to the next colossus, and there are lizards to find and kill to add to your stamina, but not much beyond that. The simplicity of the game’s objective is deliberate and intended to be part of the appeal.

Why It’s Important to Me:

I remember sitting down with my friends and us taking turns at tackling different colossi. Collaboration was a huge part of my experience with this game, as some of the colossal battles made us scratch our heads until we all collectively went “oh!” after somebody cracked the code. It was exhilarating to take down a colossus with an audience who collectively breathed a sigh of relief when the final hit took the giant down.

It’s such an elegant game that existed before the time of “systems” and “skill trees” and turning every game into a numbers-go-up simulator to get the endorphin shots from EXP bars completing. The art style is beautiful and each colossus is designed so well – from the environments you fight them in to how they move to what you have to do to defeat them. And they feel like majestic creatures – I remember coming up to the first colossus and just watching it move for a while before even attempting to go after it. It was just such an impressive game when it released – it stood out from what was being made at the time and even now no game really comes close to evoking the same feelings.

My Strongest Memory:

The fifth colossus was when the game went from good to holy shit god-tier for me. The battle takes place in this large lake area that is filled with ruins. You swim inside the ruins and climb up part of them, only to see a giant bird-like colossus fly past you. It’s breathtaking and shocking at the same time – up until this point the colossi have all been walking around and getting on them has taken some form of climbing up their limbs. But this creature is flying! How are you supposed to tackle this?!

The journey of figuring out how to climb onto this colossus is just the first part. Then there’s the absolute terror-inducing part of hanging onto its wings for dear life as it flies around the lake. You have to Spider-Man your way across its back as it soars through the air, flapping its wings, turning left, right, and upside-down, circling around while it (and you by proxy) defies gravity. All while an epic score of music is playing over your feats. It’s the stand-out colossus for me simply because of how awesome it felt to tackle the entire scenario.

Why It’s #94:

This game is so important to me I’ve bought it three times: the PS2 version, the PS3 collection of it and Ico, and the PS4 remake by Bluepoint. And yet…I’ve only played it fully through once. I made it through two or three colossi on the PS3 before stopping and one of my biggest PS4 shames is never even installing it after I bought it – I have yet to touch the remake. Am I scared that it won’t deliver the same epic, emotional beats it did my first time playing? Do I just have problems revisiting games nowadays, regardless of how I feel about them? Whatever the reason, while Shadow of the Colossus is an amazing game that’s also a work of art, I find myself unable to place it higher due to my lack of motivation in replaying it. Maybe it’s a game I relegate to fond memories. Or maybe I just need to bite the bullet and play the PS4 version and fall in love all over again.

The 2020 Manatees: Written Companion

So every year for Make Me A Gamer we do a podcast with our Game of the Year content, and every year I also do a write-up of my games of the year as a companion piece. This year we went over my top 5 of the year in the podcast itself, and here I’m gonna expand to my top 10 along with a few honorable mentions.

Nothing else to say, just good ol’ year-end summary of games content coming. Here we go!

Continue reading “The 2020 Manatees: Written Companion”

Top 100 Games of the ’10s: #100-91

So if you haven’t been listening to the Make Me A Gamer podcast, you’ve been missing out on the fact that I’ve composed my top 100 games of the decade list – from 2010-2019. I’ve been doling out a few numbers here and there as part of our Countdown Cauldron segment and while I won’t be going over every number in the podcast, I did promise to write up companion pieces that outline all the games.

In the podcast we’re working through sets of 10. We started with 100-91 and in the most recent episode moved to the 81-90 set, which means now it’s time for me to release the first group of ten. I tried writing up my Top 100 games of All-Time a few years back and ended up burning out in the 60s, so I’m going to try and keep the descriptions a little more brief so I don’t fall into the same trap. I will note the ones that were discussed on the podcast (and link to the related episode) and keep those even briefer.

Without further ado, #100-#91 of my personal favorite games of the 2010s.

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Post PAX Game Impressions

Last year I was only able to go to PAX East for two days out of the four so I wrote up each day separately. This year I was able to go all four days and used that time to go to panels, games, and meetups.

I may write about the panels and meet-ups in another post, but this one will exclusively be about the games I played. I got to 18 different games over the 4 day weekend. Is that a lot? I don’t really have a perspective, as I also watched about a dozen other ones without actually having any hands-on. I’ll try not to wax poetic too hard on each and every game as I don’t want this to take forever, but without further ado here’s all the games I played at PAX East this year!

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The 2019 Manatees – Written Companion

So if you haven’t listened yet, last week myself and my partner in crime HarveyZ recorded our Game of the Year podcast where I handed out my Manatees for 2019. In that I outlined my top 5 games of the year and talked a little bit about each. Like last year, I also wanted to put up a companion blog post to add some written words about why I enjoyed each game and also flesh out the games to a full top 10 and a few Honorable Mentions.

Most of these are going to be games I’ve talked about already this year, but a few are games that I always meant to talk about but slipped through the cracks (at least on the writing and podcast side). I hope you enjoy this last blog post of 2019 and I’ll see you in the new year with all sorts of new games, posts, and ideas!

Continue reading “The 2019 Manatees – Written Companion”