Blimey, has it already been a year? It feels like just a few weeks since we handed out completely unnecessary awards to the games we played in 2016 and here we are once again. Tell you what, this time instead of just talking about games, we talk about games, movies and TV what with them being the things what we talk about on this here website from time to time. So it is with great pride and aplomb that we present to you the Mostly Kobold Awards 2017.
Mark’s Games of the Year
2017 was the year in which Todd Howard decided to re-release Skyrim on increasingly exotic gaming systems and whilst the portable handheld version of Skyrim is impressive, the VR version somewhat blows it out of the water. Basically, it’s still the extremely playable and moreish action RPG that Skyrim has always been, but now you can look around you and interact directly with the world. Sure, the graphics have been scaled back down to PS3 levels and the thing is a hard to control blurry mess at first, but by porting over this six-year old game and making it work with motion controls, Bethesda have essentially come out with the most fully-featured VR game on the market.
What Remains Of Edith Finch
Despite the fact that nobody can agree on a proper name for the genre, Walking Simulators continues to evolve. What Remains Of Edith Finch shares a lot of DNA with 2013’s rummage-em-up ‘Gone Home’, but with the added caveat of “what if the house is basically Gormenghast?”. Aside from offering a more puzzling, labyrinthine experience than your average narrative exploration game, the game’s approach to storytelling is wittier and more varied; each member of Edith’s late family had a room in the house and as you pass through each room you learn about their demise through a series of increasingly morbid minigames that surprise and delight at every turn.
Avery’s Games of the Year
why is this dragon so fucking cute??
There’s no doubt about it, 2017 was a great year for video games. Even Griffin McElroy agrees. In fact, one might say there’s too many video games. And a lot of them are rather violent aren’t they? Well that’s not very good. Let’s get comfy and gay up in here. “why is this dragon so fucking cute??” is an incredibly short, yet free, visual novel about a transgender hunter called Amanda. She’s tasked with hunting down a dragon that’s been terrorizing a small village town recently, so she goes to set up camp, only to find out that, while there is indeed a dragon, she’s far too cute and kind to actually do any sort of damage. I shan’t say anything more than this due to its short length, but it’s definitely worth a look.
Angels With Scaly Wings
What’s that? You want a bit more action? Oh go on then you cheeky buggers, we can have a bit of violence. You’re not going to be the ones enacting it though, ooh no. You’re going to be investigating it. Whilst romancing dragons. Yes, both of my GOTY’s are visual novels where you kiss a dragon. No, you may not complain about it. “Angels With Scaly Wings” is a far larger scale visual novel than “why is this dragon…”, being that it’s primarily a sci-fi murder mystery with some romance sprinkled on top. And if that doesn’t show that the developer knows exactly who their audience is, then the occasional innuendo and implications in some of the dialogue definitely will. Unfortunately I can’t really delve into the full plot here because it’d take far too long, but I can say that, while iffy at times, the writing is exceptionally good and the characters are incredibly cute in their own different ways. Except Emera. Fuck Emera. But yes, anyway, if you have no issues with blood and, uh, murder, be sure to take a crack at Angels With Scaly Wings.
The Rest of the Mostly Kobolds Awards
Thumper (The “Still The Best Punch I’ve Ever Received” Award)
While we were initially tempted to give this award to Llamasoft’s excellent Polybius, we figured that it’s better filed under “The best trip I’ve ever been on” and as such, compared to Thumper, it feels more like a lavender scented pillow being gently wafted in your general direction. Thus, Thumper continues to hold its place as the Full Strength Strongman.
Wonder Woman (The “Hype Backlash” Award)
Wonder Woman isn’t a great movie. It’s kind of watchable and there are some seriously good setpieces, but it’s a bit of a confused mess that rather undoes itself with the the big fight at the end. It’s not awful,but when given the critical and fan acclaim that sort of compared it to the second coming of Christ, it really doesn’t measure up. As a result, Avery will outright insult the movie at any given opportunity, whilst Mark mostly just compares it to the original ‘Thor’ but with less jokes.
Blazing Transfer Students (The “Pleasant Surprise” Award)
Blazing Transfer Students was a weird and unexpected treat. Based on a cult manga series by Kazuhima Shimamoto it starred Japanese boy band Johnny’s West as a group of anime stereotypes tasked with infiltrating and fixing a series of weird schools. As a cheaply-made (by Netflix’s standards) series full of in-jokes, anime gags and Japanese pop culture references, it seemed like a weird thing for Netflix to translate and promote internationally. Thankfully, the series’ sense of anarchic, chaotic humour makes for an astonishingly fun romp and well worth looking into.
Night In The Woods & Everything Is Going To Be OK! (The “One Of Us Was Hit Hard by This Game And The Other Refuses To Play It” Award)
Night In The Woods is a story driven narrative game about dropping out of college and returning to your decaying hometown, topped off with smooth vector-like graphics and lush animations. Everything Is Going To Be OK! is an interactive zine that uses humour to convey the author’s various anxieties and social problems, in addition to utilising eye straining glitchy graphics, noisy music and sfx and poetry. I’d say it’s fairly easy to guess who played what, if you know either of us.
The Last Guardian VR Demo (The “Most Impressive Use Of (PS)VR” Award)
Four words: Giant puppy, in VR. Apart from seeing Trico up close and personal, it looks absolutely gorgeous, especially by PSVR standards. From what I’ve heard, the thing uses the PSVR’s full resolution and my does it show. For me, this short demonstration is the thing that reignited my love for virtual reality, and presented me with possibly the best experience I’ve had in it so far. Considering its free, we heavily advise you grab this if have the headset.
VR The Diner Duo (The “Best multiplayer (PS)VR game” Award)
Multiplayer VR games are somewhat of an anomaly. While some people can invent new meta games with them (for example, Pictionary using SculptVR or Tilt Brush), there’s very little in the way of games that are explicitly built around 2 or more players. In fact the only one that really comes to mind would be Keep Talking And Nobody Explodes. Not anymore though, because in come Whirlybird Games and their legitimate job simulator, VR The Diner Duo. VRTDD has the jacked-in player behind the counter, cooking up burgers and creating intricate layers of sauces and cheese, whilst the jacked-out player controls a cute little robot waiter who hovers about getting the orders from the other robot customers who come in. Of course though, the game has you shouting out which orders need doing and the waiter needs to remember who ordered what, but it’s all in good fun. While it does feel a bit like a dry version of Owlchemy’s Job Simulator, it’s still a lot of fun to see how fast you can prepare those burgs.
Nintendo Switch (The “Blimey, how wrong were we?” Award)
We would be the first to admit that we massively misjudged the Nintendo Switch in its first few months. What seemed at the time to be an overpriced, poorly thought out release with a pittance of games turned out to be a master strategy by Nintendo to produce a system that would be ready for a huge Christmas push nine months later. The effective drip feed of truly impressive first-party games combined with the uncharacteristically Nintendo move of producing enough stock to meet demand meant that the system was not only a desirable commodity, but sold gangbusters this month. Nintendo have engineered a comeback on a scale not seen since the Wii.
Thor Ragnarok (The “Best movie about super-powered people punching each other” Award)
It’s been a good year for Marvel Productions. Guardians of the Galaxy 2 was a charming adventure that explored the theme of family, whilst Spider-Man: Homecoming was definitely in the top 3 Spider-Mans. Thor Ragnarok, on the other hand, is like an explosion of colour in your face, fired by a very nice man from New Zealand. It’s not the tightest script (if anything it’s heavily improvised), but it’s a movie that allows Chris Hemsworth’s charm to glow through the previously boring Thor facade, and which somehow manages to inject irreverence without losing too much of the series’ defining epicness. Also Cate Blanchett as Hela? Sublime.
GLOW (The “Best TV series about a thing I never imagined I’d actually care about”)
Before Netflix made their comedy drama about it the most I knew about the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling franchise was that Jeanne Basone, Aka Jane from the weird 90s “FMV” “”game”” ‘Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties’ was one of the wrestlers. And yet despite my apathy for wrestling in all its forms, Liz Flahive and Carly Mensh’s heavily fictionalised take on the making of the original GLOW kids morning TV show is a captivating story of rivalries and friendships, and the strange balance of female empowerment and exploitation in a world of stereotypes, soap opera plots and low budget shenanigans.