My Favorite Gaming Surprises of 2017

I’m still writing about all the games I played this year but before I complete that, I thought it would be fun to write about something else. 2017 was full of games. The icing on the cake of this year was the number of gaming related surprises. Here were my favorites.

Super Mario Odyssey’s Little & Big Moments

Super Mario Odyssey was a true return to the adventure style Mario games of yore1. What made me love it was all the little touches, big moments, and set pieces in the game. Namely the New Donk City Festival and the finale after Mario defeats Bowser. If you’ve played the game, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, you need to. Jump Up, Super Star! is this year’s break out tune.

Metroid’s Back

Nintendo showed off a fancy JPEG of Metroid Prime 4 at E3 and everyone went bananas2.

What’s even more insane is Nintendo nonchalantly announced a new Metroid game in their livestream that was launching just a few months later. Metroid: Samus Returns is remake of Metroid II: The Return of Samus and I’ll post my thoughts on that game in my 2017 roundup. But the title is even more fitting; Samus has returned after a seven year hiatus.

Mega Man is BACK!

Speaking of another seven year hiatus – when Capcom announced a Mega Man 30th Anniversary livestream, most Mega Man fans didn’t get their hopes up. At most we hoped for a collection of all the Mega Man X games, or maybe the Mega Man Legacy collections on Nintendo Switch. We never imagined a new game would be announced or that it would be a continuation of the classic series with a modern art style. We got all of that. And they debuted it with this awesome history of Mega Man trailer. I am was and am so happy every time I think about this. Mega Man is back!

The SNES Classic featuring Star Fox 2

Star Fox 2 was a nearly complete game that was cancelled due to the then upcoming Nintendo 64. ROMs of this game have been floating around the Internet for years, and many of the ideas of Star Fox 2 eventually made it into future Star Fox games.

Nintendo had barely acknowledged the existence of this game for years. The existence of a SNES Classic wasn’t a surprise, as most were counting on the success of the NES Classic3 to lead to another retro console. But I remember when Nintendo announced the SNES Classic would feature Star Fox 2. I almost cried.

The announcement was accompained by this true to period promotional art.
The announcement was accompained by this true to period promotional art.

The announcement nearly fulfilled a prophecy I made regarding the next Nintendo retro console. I proclaimed for it to be an intriguing collectors item that Nintendo would release with a previously unreleased game, most likely one that was never localized. I was so close.

Bayonetta 3 Announced

I love Platinum Games. I love the Bayonetta series. I was excited to hear there was another game in development, and the other two games were coming to the Nintendo Switch as well. Bayonetta is practically a Nintendo series now.

Nintendo Taking Names

Nintendo killed it this year. A new fantastic console, a masterpiece launch title, a bevy of games, and defying expectations at large. Nintendo had two Game of the Year contenders this year between Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey.

On top of this there was a surprising amount of third party support for the Switch. We got Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, a strategy game featuring the Rabbids from the Rayman Wii era. It was surprisingly good.

At the Game Awards, Nintendo had several titles nominated, including two games for Game of the Year. Nintendo used their presence to further hype. They debuted the second piece of DLC for Breath of the Wild with an elaborate display featuring Eiji Aonuma behind the screen pulling the Master Sword from its pedestal, which lead into a trailer. At the apparent end of the trailer, the sound of a revving engine could be heard, and then the screen dissolves into a cliff with Link riding a motorcycle4 followed by the words, “Available Tonight”. There was no information about this DLC pack until this moment in time. It was magical.

Nintendo seems to be defying all types of expectations, so it makes me wonder if 2018 can keep this momentum.

2018 Has Hype Expectation

With 2017 being full of games and surprises, it makes me wonder if 2018 will be as exciting. Who knows? Maybe VR will finally take off5.


  1. Yore was the year 1996. 
  2. Donkey Kong was surprisingly composed. 
  3. You know, if you could find one, and actually play it. 
  4. Aptly named the Master Cycle Zero. This is not Link’s first appearance on a motorcycle. He was featured in Mario Kart 8 on a motorcycle called the Master Cycle. In a Miiverse post (RIP) Anouma stated he wanted to see the Master Cycle in a future Zelda game.  
  5. HA! 

My end of the year roundup of what games I played this year is still incoming. It's just going to be a bit longer than I was anticipating because I apparently have a bunch to say. 

But since I don't have anything ready yet, please enjoy this photo of me standing next to a sign. 

This was just a sign, but it was still pretty exciting.
Photo by Alison Burcham

The US Total Solar Eclipse of 2017

Last weekend I travelled down to Nashville, TN with my wife and good friends to observe a total solar eclipse. Nashville was in the PATH OF TOTALITY1. The last solar eclipse I can recall was when I was in elementary school. I viewed it through my dad’s welding mask. It was neat.

Entering Nashville. They Warned Us.
Entering Nashville. They Warned Us.

We spent the weekend in Nashville with some eats and some sights. I got legitimate Nashville hot chicken2 3 4, and then proceeded to hang out in 95º F playing mini golf. Poor decision on my part. I digress…

Am I the total eclipse of Erica's heart?
Am I the total eclipse of Erica’s heart?

We headed to a park just outside of Nashville to avoid crowds. The park itself had a pretty large audience, but there was plenty of space and parking for all5. I didn’t really prepare to take decent photos of the eclipse. I attempted to take photos through my eclipse glasses6 and they didn’t really pan out. However with some cloud cover I was able to capture some slivers of sol. Totality hid behind some clouds until it revealed itself to the hoots and hollers of the observing crowd.

I was elated to get this shot.
I was elated to get this shot.

The eclipse was other worldly. Photos are neat, but do not capture the true experience. I know some in Ohio were mildly impressed by their partial eclipse, and even if they had 90% coverage or more… 1 to 10 percent of the sun, is still ALOT of sun. As totality neared, it was like someone throwing on the dimmer switch of the sky, but when totality hit, it was truly amazing. It was like dusk came out of nowhere.

Day to Dusk within minutes.
Day to Dusk within minutes.

And then, it was over. The partial eclipse waned out of existence, and we were poised to head home in the early afternoon. It was warned there would be significant traffic7, however we did not anticipate the true impact the eclipse had. It looks us nearly 14 hours to head home.

Gridlock into Elizabethtown, KY
Gridlock into Elizabethtown, KY

We tried to work around it, taking back roads, but it wasn’t enough. The eclipse audience was nothing short than a small migration8. During our stay and travels we met/saw people from Indiana, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Georgia. As we approached midnight, and weren’t in Ohio yet we were beat. Rest stops were packed, and it was stop and go. We arrived home near 6 AM on Tuesday completely exhausted.

Would I do it again? Yes. 9

Also this post is brought to you by McDonalds, the official restaurant of the 2017 solar eclipse. 10 11 12

McDonalds, the official restaurant of the 2017 Solar Eclipse.

  1. Seriously. if there isn’t a metal band named Path of Totality, someone needs to get on that. PATH OF TOTALITY 2017!!!! 
  2. XX-HOT, I got rep to maintain yo. 
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince%27s_Hot_Chicken_Shack 
  4. Legitichicken? 
  5. Kudos to the Goodlettsville parks department and police dept. for being so organized. 
  6. Purchase stock in eclipse glasses in early 2024. 
  7. See photo above. 
  8. Also, Elizabethtown, KY… get traffic situation figured out okay. We spent nearly 3-4 hours just trying to get through here. Probably more. 
  9. Good thing there’s another one coming in 2024. PATH OF TOTALITY is touring in OHIO! 
  10. How? How does this even happen? How is this a thing? Why is this a thing?! 
  11. Accept no substitutes. We only ate McDonalds our entire visit. 
  12. I wonder who they are going to get for the 2024 eclipse? 

Auditory Creative Endeavors

I dislike Winter very much. I never have inspiration to do anything creative even though I’m indoors for most of the season. Now cut to Spring, my favorite season, and the choice season for critics alike1. I’ve felt reinvigorated to start some new things and start creating. So I have.

Podcasting

Shawn and I have started a new podcast called Sines, Co-Sines, and Tangents.

Sines, Co-sines, & Tangents, our new podcast that's part of our Four Score & Seven Pongs Ago endeavor.
Sines, Co-sines, & Tangents, our new podcast that’s part of our Four Score & Seven Pongs Ago endeavor.

The joke is his name is Shawn Sines, and I’m his co-host, and we talk about all kinds of things that devolve into many tangents. Now that I’ve explained it, the title is now 300% more hilarious.2

Podcasting Setup (Photo by Shawn Sines)
Podcasting Setup (Photo by Shawn Sines)

It’s great to be back to podcasting, and to talk about video games with someone who appreciates them like I do yet has a completely different take. I love the democracy of podcasting much like the open web. We aren’t subject to YouTube ads , algorithms, proprietary formats or delivery. People can use whatever app they want and we own our content and deliver it directly. It may take longer for people to find it but it’s a principle I stand behind.3 4

I also love the technology behind our setup and making a good sounding podcast without a lot of post production. 5

Music

I’ve been getting back to making music. It’s not something I’m terribly good at, but I enjoy it nonetheless. I got inspired last year near vacation time. I haven’t made anything I’m very happy with to publish on the internet yet. But it’s something I’m continuing to do to stay creative. I’ve made several musical equivalents of writing on the piece of paper and throwing it in the trash bin.

In the process I’ve learned more and more about synthesizers. If there’s an instrument I identify with, it’s the synth6. A mix of technology and music.

Making music has reminded me when I started with photography. I wasn’t amazing when I started taking photos, but with years of experience and understanding the tools I had, experimenting, I’ve reached a point where I’m happy with it. For music I have been using a MIDI keyboard and my iPad with several different synth apps, and sequencers. Some might dismiss this as not “real” music. That opinion disheartens me. I grew up with electronic music by way of video games. In many instances the creators of music in video games were simultaneously programmers and musicians, writing the music in code. I read an article on Bandcamp about all these amazing genres of obscure music and it was enlightening. There’s room for everyone and taste in music is subjective. I will continue to learn and experiment, and maybe I’ll have something to share with the world in the near future.


  1. “Mother Nature raves ‘this season has really started to grow on me. 5/5 it’s a mastapeece'” – The Columbus Gazette March 20th 2017 
  2. The next time a friend doesn’t understand a joke, make sure to explain to them why it’s funny in several different ways. They will appreciate it. 
  3. I intend on writing more about the Open Web and how it’s dying soon. 
  4. Look, I’ve gone off on a tangent. 
  5. There are still a few kinks to work out as I write this. 
  6. If you haven’t watched the Lords of Synth yet, you’re missing out. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXgNo5Smino 

RIP NES Classic Edition

Nintendo has decided to discontinue the NES Classic Edition. Supply never met demand, often selling out on sites within 10-15 minutes. I really wanted to gift these out during Christmas. I thought it was a great toy, and a good trip down nostalgia lane for my gamer friends, and retired-gamer friends. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to nab one myself until February. It’s a solid little guy full of 30 great games. Nintendo surely will take note of this right?1 RIGHT?!

The sad part is Nintendo’s newest console, the Switch doesn’t even have a virtual console yet. Maybe Nintendo is working on a sequel? A newer version that has more games? One that can download additional games? A SNES Classic Edition? Probably not. The NES Classic Edition had a shorter shelf life than the Virtual Boy and that’s just sad.


  1. Nintendo listening to customers?! 

Flickr

Flickr will always have a place in my heart. It represents one of the last true bastions of the open web. It was one of the first places where I saw a community of like minded individuals come together. And from 2004-2008 it was a special time of growth and possibility. It may not have caught up with Instagrams of the world, but it’s still a pretty nice place. Hopefully it will survive the new post-Yahoo world. Kottke summed it up best:

Flickr was extraordinarily vital, for years. It still has so much to offer. Sometimes there’s something reassuring about a tool that’s still much the same.

Source: In praise of Flickr