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Episode 553: A Top Five Is Easier When More Than Four Games Come Out

by James Jones, Greg Leahy, Jon Lindemann, and Guillaume Veillette - January 7, 2018, 1:31 pm EST
Total comments: 9

My numbers 1, 2, and 3 game of the year are all Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE.

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We made it to January, an exasperated celebration that seems to happen at the start of every year, which means it's time for Radio Free Nintendo to tell you what were the best games of 2017. For those that don't know, each member of Team RFN makes a personal list and we reveal them in a round-robin format. There's no "Official" RFN Game of 2017 but...well you'll see. This year we also solicited some Top 5 lists from RFN guests, just to add some spice to the proceedings.

After the break we catch up on what everyone played during the break with New Business. In the interests of time, Greg passed since he's been playing Xenoblade Chronicles 2, so Guillaume kicks off with two puzzle games for Switch: Mom Hid My Game! and Gorogoa. Mom Hid My Game! is a slapstick quest to find a child's confiscated video game system, whereas Gorogoa is an artist's vision for the same genre. Jon finished up Wolfenstein II, soon to come to Switch, and clearly enjoyed his time liberating America from Nazis. James wraps up New Business with quick thoughts on Gravity Rush 2 ("They somehow fixed nothing from Gravity Rush") and Battle Chef Brigade ("I miss Iron Chef").

No emails this week, but if you want to start our 2018 off right, you can send us your questions via the inbox.

This episode was edited by Guillaume Veillette. The "Men of Leisure" theme song was produced exclusively for Radio Free Nintendo by Perry Burkum. Hear more at Perry's SoundCloud. The Radio Free Nintendo logo was produced by Connor Strickland. See more of his work at his website.

This episode's ending music is selected by Greg: Opening, from Super Smash Bros. All rights reserved by Nintendo Co., Ltd.


ClexYoshiJanuary 07, 2018

God, I have so much to unpack with this episode.

First off, I guested multiple times on your show in 2017, and I'm pretty sure James never contacted me about my list! Then again, that might be because I subjected him to La Mulana, or he has some sort of association between me and chucksters.

My list on nintendo console is as follows.

5.)Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment
4.)Blaster Master Zero
3.)The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
2.)Sonic Mania
1.)Super Mario Odyssey

I'm glad that Karen is at least getting more out of Super Mario Odyssey than Gui does.

I still need to play Fire EMblem Echoes, but damn if Fates didn't kill my fandom for that franchise. :C

I have so many corrections to unpack with Jon's assessment of Sonic Mania.

http://shc.sonicresearch.org/sonic/history15/23 Download this and tell me you still want harder bosses in Sonic Games. no, really. do it. The bosses in Sonic Games do not need to be Dark Souls or Megaman level struggles. I think they're at their best when they are setpieces that make me smile and maybe have an interesting gimmick to how they work. most of Sonic Mania's bosses besides maybe the Oil Ocean Act 1 boss got that reaction out of me.

Tails did not build the biplane you regularly see in those 16 bit sonic games. That plane is called the Tornado. it is Sonic's Plane, and Tails is just the one who flies it around for Sonic. they need a plane because it turns out the gas milage on mutant 5 year old kitsune is actually fucking TERRIBLE.

The Sonic Boom cartoon show is the best part of that series, mainly because they just take the piss and make fun of themselves at every turn, taking jabs at the likes of ChrisChan, shipping, and other nonsense gobbledygook. Sonic Boom Knuckles is a riot every time he's on screen because he's such an insane caricature of the character.

The quality of Sonic Mania is NOT surprising when you look into the sorts of fan games people make for this franchise. there's actually a friggin' AMAZING couple of proof of concept demos of 3D sonic games that are otu there that blow any of Sonic Team's attempts at it out the water. The quality of the romhacks are incredible when you know which ones to look at. Part of the reason I put up with Sonic is because I've seen this stuff and I know there are people out in this world that DO get the Sonic zeitgeist. Why do you think I was trying to tell you folks about Freedom Planet?!? I was trying to prove a point that there IS Lifeblood with Sonic, it just doesn't lie with Sonic Team!

I think Sonic Adventure, Sonic Adventure 2, and the boost formula games that aren't Sonic Forces are perfectly acceptable. I understand why people would love these games, and I don't bat an eye at people who like a particular style of 3D Sonic. Heck, I don't even bat an eye any more at people who primarily followed Sonic because they liked the archie comics any more. sure, I think of it as a video game franchise first, but people can enjoy Sonic how they want as long as they aren't using it as an excuse to harm one another... like people who get into death feuds over who the best voice actor for Sonic is.

More to come as I listen to more of the episode in the coming days.

EDIT: Greg, I'm a Chicago Cubs fan.  I had a 100+ year drought from the TAFT administration! Nintendo was still making Hanafuda at profitable margins! THAT is how long I had to wait. BOTH world wars happened. of course, whatever horrible devil pact Tom Ricketts had to make to make that happen of course has lead us to the world of ruin where the leader of the free world thinks he's "Like a very smart person" and makes me wish I could move to a country in the EU to avoid the imminent nuclear fallout, lack of helathcare, oil fracking, non-neutral net, and countless other headaches brought on by the Cubs winning the world series and thus sounding the horns of the apocalypse.

MASBJanuary 08, 2018

I hope Jon has been suitably corrected. I wouldn't wish missing out on the Sonic zeitgeist on any man.

I loved James's difficulty before the break. Don't fight it, James! Like the Force calling for Rey, Now Playing is calling for you. And Jon. Don't let that beautiful siren's call go unheeded!

If I were doing Top 5 lists in 1999, Jet Force Gemini would be number one with a laser blast! I hold out hope that one day JFG will make it into a RetroActive. Have you ever read Dave Halverson's review of JFG in Gamers Republic? If you can't trust Dave's discerning judgement on action platformers, who can you trust?!

Sorry about the Bills, Greg. You're ever the realist, so based on what you said in the episode, I'm sure you were prepared for a loss. Still, that was a hard one. It was such a badly played game on both sides, that the ratings may have went up just from people wanting to see the trainwreck.

EDIT: Reading ClexYoshi's edit lead me to a shocking but completely rational conclusion. In order for the Bills to make the playoffs, Brexit had to happen! There were backroom deals made at a neutral site (probably Toronto). I can only assume Greg was stabbed in the back in some way. Surely, he wouldn't have sold out his country for a loss in the Wild Card game. A Super Bowl win, maybe. Stiff upper lip!

Hot take: My top 5 list will eventually all end up on Nintendo consoles. (In reality I missed the Nintendo restriction, so if you take out P5 and DRv3 Never Stop Sneakin' and Splatoon 2 would be 4 and 5.)

LemonadeJanuary 09, 2018

Top 5 was interesting. Odyssey took my number 2 spot too, but I almost swapped it with Mario+Rabbids, which ended up at number 6.

I only played the main part of Odyssey and stopped playing with about 185 moons at less than 15 hours. But the game was a lot of fun and incredibly well polished, it deserved the number 2 spot.

1. Breath of the Wild
2. Mario Odyssey
3. LiS: Before the Storm
4. Ever Oasis
5. Splatoon 2
6. Mario+Rabbids
7. Cat Quest
8. Mario Party Top 100
9. Chicken Wiggle
10. ARMS

Evan_BJanuary 12, 2018

Hold the fucking phone, Clex. Did you just defend Sonic for having easy bosses when your holy grail Freedom Planet has some of the more rage-inducing encounters I've found in platformers, in general? You could argue that Freedom Planet is an action platformer, except the level design is a bit too fast-paced to have any sort of nuance at some times, and then so overly convoluted at others that it doesn't even feel like the developers knew what they were trying to make when they developed the game.

Gosh, this just makes me want to complain about Freedom Planet more. What the hell was that game?

ClexYoshiJanuary 12, 2018

Quote from: Evan_B

Hold the fucking phone, Clex. Did you just defend Sonic for having easy bosses when your holy grail Freedom Planet has some of the more rage-inducing encounters I've found in platformers, in general? You could argue that Freedom Planet is an action platformer, except the level design is a bit too fast-paced to have any sort of nuance at some times, and then so overly convoluted at others that it doesn't even feel like the developers knew what they were trying to make when they developed the game.

Gosh, this just makes me want to complain about Freedom Planet more. What the hell was that game?

There's a couple of HUGE differences between Sonic and Freedom Planet though. I feel Galaxytrail made smart decisions to allow for the sort of things you'd need for crazier boss battles.

1.) There's an actual health bar and not the ring system, which promote less sloppy play.

2.) there's no contact damage, so you're dodging actual attacks rather than just Dr. Eggman slowly trundling along and occasionally shooting a projectile Sonic's way or something.

3.) Lilac and the gang are able to cancel their momentum easier. if you had a boss fight like say... the Serpintine fight on Final Dreadnaught 2 that's got a lot of crazy bullet spread attacks and things that move it around the arena, the natural thought for Sonic would be to spin dash to avoid such attacks... but there's also no ledges on either side of the boss arena (on purpose, so there's a sense of urgency should serpintine bully lilac and co. to the edge with his attacks.) would make stopping after you dodge an attack very hard. Lilac can actually pretty much turn around mid-air after a dragon boost with how much she can fight her own momentum if you wanted.

4.) player attacks that give I-frames as a way out. this is getting refined in Freedom Planet 2 into a Parry button, but a big part of the intense fights of Freedom Planet are that if you're smart and get cornered by a boss through poor play or just wanna get a little more agressive then you should, you have a mechanic with Lilac and Carol that let them get a moment of invulnerability through their meter burning attacks.

The point is when things get too hectic in a Sonic game, more often than not the fight devolves into getting hit and collecting your last ring, trading blows, and collecting your last ring. the only place where this isn't true outside of Super Sonic bosses are the Sonic Advance 2 style chase bosses, which require a bit of strategy.

Funnily enough, Heavy Gunner is the boss people complained about the most in Sonic Mania for being a weird difficulty spike for being a chase boss that has this varying terrain that can potentially gimp Sonic's jump, which isn't the case in the Sonic and Knuckles boss that used the 'chase' style boss fight. I feel like in the DiMPS games that use Chase boss fights aren't as bad because of low resolution of the screen or in Sonic 4 Ep. 1 and Ep. 2's case, homing attack/tails combo spam.

Evan_BJanuary 12, 2018

Again, one of the only things I liked about Freedom Planet was the idea that there were attacks you had to I-frame through, which apparently wasn’t even the intention but feels that way because of how frequent the attack animations cycle. But the lack of contact damage meant there was no threat in the level design unless scripted (or when they cheaply threw enemies that take an absurd amount of damage at you mid level for no reason), and then meant the bosses had to be hyper aggressive to make up for that lack of difficulty. It really felt as if Galaxy Trail had an idea for a dedicated boss-Rush sort of 2D action game and got a hold of the Sonic 2 physics engine and just decided to mash the two together.

I don’t know, Clex. The more Sonic games I play, the more I realize that classic Sonic- when he was just a fast hedgehog and the platforming was momentum-based as a result rather than as a gimmick- and perhaps Rush’s boost model are the only kinds of “speedy” 2D Platformers worth mentioning. Mania attempts to reach those same heights and when the level design is best is when it is either aping the classics or just being consistently organic, something that newer Sonic games stray further and further from. I think about Tropical Freeze and how that game demands precision and momentum in ways that are completely different from Sonic yet so vastly superior in every way and it just highlights the idea that Sonic is a set piece style platformer in all the wrong ways- except when it’s not, like when Rush tried boost management, Colors tried timed power ups, and classic Sonic just... wasn’t fast.

ClexYoshiJanuary 14, 2018

well, to each their own. I kinda feel like the Donkey Kong Country games are Trial and error platformers in the worst way possible, and that the pre-rendered sprites never looked as good as hand animated stuff, even back when DKC was a contemporary thing.

Seriously, it was a mind-fuck when I learned you can jump out of the rolling attacks mid-air. I also feel like the barrel stuff is some of the most infuriating sort of level design one can put in a video game. it's a very "This is the exact one way you can beat this, no room for experimentation!" sort of feel that Sonic's multiple routes tend to not engender as much.

Evan_BJanuary 14, 2018

While I can never agree with you on the "trial and error" concept, especially in regards to the last two entries of the series, I can say that, if Sonic games actually stuck to the concept of "slowdown" as a punishment with their multiple routes rather than, say, bottomless pits and generally shitty level design, I would agree with you about Sonic titles being about experimentation.

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