My Standout Games of 2016

Games I enjoyed in 2016 in no particular order

2016 has been a good year for video games. It turns out I played more than I thought this year. I spent time in No Man’s Sky, but it didn’t make the list. It’s a pretty diverse list but here are my favorites of the year:

Super Mario Run (iOS)

We live in a different reality now, where Donald Trump is the president-elect and Nintendo is making games for non-Nintendo hardware. Super Mario Run is a great game and puts other mobile games to shame with the amount of polish this game has. (I wrote more about this in detail a bit ago.)

Videoball (PS4)

Videoball is a game I had followed for a while. It’s a single screen multiplayer game where players shoot balls into goals with triangles. It’s easy to pickup and start a game with newcomers even if they aren’t hardcore gamers. Shoot balls with triangles from your bigger triangle. It’s one of those easy to learn but hard to master games. “That sure was Videoball.”

Pokémon Go (iOS)

Pokémon Go has certainly been an experience, but is it really a game? It’s like a digital scavenger hunt everyone is playing. My fondest memory was playing it on vacation with four other grown adults. Our vacation spot was a veritable Galapagos Islands of Pokémon diversity. I am not super invested on Pokémon Go as some of my friends are/were, but I still open up the app from time to time.


I was pumped for a new DOOM1 since the first preview last year. When I booted up the game I found a first person shooter that threw all the “realism” (reloading, hiding behind cover, gritty story, etc.) right out the door. It is a throwback to older FPS games, but with modern sensibilities and level design. It also allows you to play the game how you want to play it. If you want story, there is one. If you want to explore, you can. Every encounter in this game is crafted and fun. If you stop moving, you’re dead. It makes for a frantic, ridiculous game that always gets my adrenaline pumping.

Overwatch (PS4)

Overwatch is probably my favorite game this year. Another FPS, but one that is so polished and fun. It doesn’t matter if you want to play this game casually or competitively, it caters to all. As of writing this there are 24 distinct characters, both in play style and personality. The game promotes teamwork through almost every design choice. Matches end with everyone’s contributions, and it completely negates kill death ratios2 in lieu of how each player contributed to the match. Every interaction with players is a positive one. It is very much like Splatoon in that aspect. Since this is a Blizzard game, there is a whole universe built around this game. Surprisingly all the information about that universe is found outside of the game through short movies and comics. The minor detail of having characters speak things to each other before a match referencing their personal histories is such a small thing that has a huge impact on the world Blizzard has built. Even if you don’t play the game, watch the short below and see the amazing world Blizzard has built.

Jackbox Party Pack 3 & Drawful 2 (PS4)

Jackbox Games continues their realization of making interactive party games that are so much fun to play. The great thing about these games is that experience of other video games is not necessary to enjoy them, which makes them very approachable for everyone. Just use your mobile device as a controller. These games always produce such laughter and are much deeper than something like Cards Against Humanity.

Forza Horizon 3 (XBone)

I love these games. It is so expansive. Driving into a sunset , or off a cliff, or racing a train, it’s got something for everyone.

Honorable Mentions

The Witness (PS4)
A fun puzzle exploration game that I’ve played with my wife. It almost feels like a modern Myst but better in almost every way. I need to finish this.

Oxenfree (XBone)
An adventure game focused on choices. It follows the story of five people on a trip to an island and then some spooky things happen. The best thing is how well the dialogue and dialogue trees flow into the game. It’s more about the journey than the destination.

Gone Home (PS4)
Another adventure game that tells an intimate story while you explore a spooky large house during a storm. There is more than meets the eye. I would recommend this to people who don’t play games often.

  1. It has to be in all CAPS, or else. 
  2. “What’s your KDR man? Headshots, boom!” 

Spire Plunging (Love for Towerfall)

I found out about Towerfall when I got an Ouya. It was the Ouya’s “killer app”. I played the single player mode for a few minutes, didn’t see the fun and moved on. I knew it was a game best played with multiple people but I only had one Ouya controller. You can technically sync PS3 controllers with the Ouya but it’s a hassle. I had excuses.

When I found out Towerfall was coming to PS4, bewilderingly I got excited. I only had one PS4 controller. Controllers are expensive these days $60 if you don’t get them on sale. After some Best Buy price matching magic I obtained more controllers, then, I embraced Towerfall.

Towerfall is hard to explain. The fun is lost in description. You don’t have to explain Mario Kart. Mario Kart is the UNO of multiplayer games. Everyone knows about it and you’re either willing to play or not. Admittedly, that’s not the best example.

I invited some friends over gave them a controller and made them play Towerfall. After a few rounds they got it and liked it and wanted more. Towerfall is couch multiplayer at it’s finest. It’s the closest thing to Super Smash Bros. on a Playstation (I’m looking at you Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale).

So what is Towerfall? The best job I can do to describe it is: Towerfall is a 2D four player retro inspired competitive platformer archery game (phew!).

This is a typical match with my friends and wife.

Matches are fast and chaotic. Some will wait in the shadows preparing to strike while others may volley all the arrows in their arsenal. Each stage exhibits what I call uniform infinite edge flow or “PAC-MAN” physics. There is no edge and thus no real advantage spot. Each stage is symmetrical. In a modern era of HD televisions it eschews the typical widescreen format of 16:9 and goes for the old school 4:3 to condense the tension. Stages are dynamic and by default the game turns on auto balancing to make sure everyone has a chance until the end. It’s easy to learn but hard to master. Arrows are just as deadly as hopping on someones head.

There’s an underlying lore as each character isn’t simply a color. They have different personas such as “Forgotten Master” and “Turncloak Soldier”. After each match everyone receives awards based on how they played. I often get the “Most Zen” award because I’m patient, methodical, and deadly.

To add to the experience, there are a wealth of options to tailor your game to your group. Once everyone has experienced vanilla Towerfall you can start throwing in variants like drill arrows and exploding corpses. Yes those are things.

Towerfall brings back memories of playing against your friends in a room side by side, and it creates new ones. If you haven’t considered this game, consider it now.