Just a little guy.
Let’s not dwell on 2021, I’m ready to move on.
Community Pom Translation
This past year was absolutely incredible for fan translations. Games like Mizzurna Falls and Tomato Adventure were constantly being asked for and can finally be played in English, and even this early into 2022 we’ve already got heavy hitters like the Super Famicom version of Tokimeki Memorial. However, there’s one game that I saw maybe one other person talk about, and it’s a lovely little game called Community Pom for the PS1. Yeah, P O M. Get yer mind out of the gutter.
Community Pom is a sweet game where you play as a little girl witch who wants to help repair the image of critters called Poms, bunny-looking beings that are being blamed for the issues near your home village. You rescue Poms from dungeons, battle monsters, and other various RPG scenarios. Three things bring Community Pom above its contemporaries, in my opinion; The titular Community, its music, and its writing. The Community aspect sees you bringing Poms back home to their own little village, where they can farm, build, and otherwise help both you and their fellows live an easier life. Poms can even be brought out onto the field, assisting in combat and traversal.
Community Pom also has one of the most interesting soundtracks I’ve ever heard. There’s a song that’s a remix of an Earth, Wind, and Fire song, but it’s got its own flavor? There’s a song made up completely of those “DUN DUN DUN DUN DUUUUUUUUN” sounds you’d hear in like…Animaniacs. There’s nothing else like it. The entire soundtrack is up there. Please listen to it for me.
The writing is very funny and very sweet. Of course the original writers are a big part of it, but also shout out to translator TheMajinZenki for their absolutely sensational adaptation. The player character is such a bundle of sass, I loved hearing her mouth off to everyone she fights against.
So yes, I feel like everyone should try this game if you missed it last October! Here’s a link to the translation patch!
5. New Pokémon Snap
Pokémon for the most part rested on its laurels for 2021, in the worst possible way. BDSP was pretty embarrassing, and all the other Pokémon content was pretty lame overall. One highlight, however, was New Pokemon Snap, Bandai Namco’s sequel to the beloved, but maybe overblown, N64 classic. New Snap blows the original out of the water with far larger areas, gorgeous visuals, and the ability to unlock not only new Pokemon but new interactions and spectacles with each playthrough of each map.
New Snap could have been the most bland remake in the world and it would’ve sold like crazy. Instead, B-N actually put in the effort and surpassed my expectations, and then kept going! There’s a few headaches here and there, mostly in the boss fights, but New Snap is a game I can see myself returning to and finding new things instead of just retreading the same animation of Charizard popping out of the magma again and again.
4. Deltarune Ch. 2
Toby Fox just gets it. He’s so goddamn funny, dude. Every time Queen spoke I lost my mind. The music!! The music. I don’t know what I need to say about this game that hasn’t been said by literally everyone ever but yes, I’m excited for more Deltarune and even if this was maybe held back by being “part two of whatever the hell” there’s still a lot to love about this entry by itself, and a continued improvement on top of this is an enthralling prospect.
3. Metroid Dread
I remember when the new Metroid was revealed, I was saying “they’re gonna call it Dread, it’s such a cheap pop but god it’ll be so good” and as soon as it was revealed I clapped and laughed to myself, knowing this was gonna be a great game. It absolutely was; the return to form 2D Metroid needed after so long.
I liked what I played of Samus Returns, but MercurySteam came fully into their own with Dread, perhaps thanks to the help of Nintendo EAD and Yoshio Sakumoto. The melee attack has become a far more rewarding aspect of the gameplay, the maps have a perfect flow to them, and (most of) the bosses are exciting and fun to fight. The future of Metroid feels secure here, and I cannot wait to see what happens next. They gave Samus a devil trigger, they’ve gotta let us use it in another full game, right? RIGHT???
2. Disco Elysium The Final Cut
I’m so sorry. I didn’t play Disco Elysium when it was new, and I missed out on one of the smartest, funniest, downright best games I’ve ever experienced. I am a pretty big hater of top down, western RPGs like this, but every line of dialogue, every music sting, every piece of art that makes up the city, no, the world of Revochol combines together to form an absolutely breathtaking story that I believe everyone should experience. The nuanced portrayal of a variety of people, a variety of politics, and a world on the brink…There’s nothing else like it.
The Final Cut upgrade is a big reason why I waited to play, and I’d say the wait was worth it. Almost all dialogue is now voiced, including each and every inner monologue the player character has. Great writing complemented by just as good voice acting makes said writing even smoother! The gameplay updates and extra quests don’t do much for me, but the voice acting in itself was more than enough. This is a dense, unique masterpiece of a game that’s pure lightning in a bottle.
1. Resident Evil Village
Resident Evil Village is stupid. It’s that special kind of dumb that makes me laugh out loud, clutch my forehead, and mutter “oh wow” under my breath. It’s a game where an extremely tall vampire woman cuts your hand off with her huge nails and you graft it back on moments later. There’s an evil dollhouse where you run from a giant fetus demon. There’s a guy with the most insane accent ever who controls metal and says “bitch” like he’s being held at gunpoint to be sexist. It rules.
On top of all the silliness, Resident Evil Village is downright fun to play. Structured similarly to Resident Evil VII, it builds on the house the Bakers built with better combat and easier treasure hunting, filling each new location with memorable encounters and intriguing puzzles. I don’t think it does anything truly revolutionary, but it does everything it’s trying to do so well, and is clearly having a blast every step of the way. Resident Evil Village is this style of RE polished to a fine sheen, and I can’t wait for IX, with whatever nutso psychic powered kids and plant monsters it dares to bring into the franchise.
…However, on top of that, the real John’s Pick of 2021 is Shin Megami Tensei. Like, all of it, or at least what I’ve played. I finally dug into SMTIV after falling face-first into the ground every time I tried the training grounds. I finally made it over that hump, and my goodness, did I become obsessed. I have beaten IV and IV: Apocalypse so far, have started III, V, and Strange Journey, and now daydream about buying a Samurai cosplay to wear around the house. I know it’s crazy that my answer for GOTY isn’t just SMTV but I haven’t played enough yet! So for now I’m just gonna say that RE8 is my favorite game from 2021 and that I’m just glad SMT entered my life this year. May war continue to break out in heaven, and may we all keep rejecting just one more god.