Macaulay’s Top Ten Gaming Moments of 2016

13 min read

Welcome back to the third week of Gaming Month 2016. If you’ve missed the previous lists, Top Ten Soundtracks and Top Ten Characters, you can check those out in the links at the bottom of this list.

For this week, the third category to see its return is my Top Ten Gaming Moments. Whether it’s in-game, the news, or in the games industry, these moments make the hobby for me.

This list will be going through my favorites of this year. Like last week, for the moments that occur in-game I’ll be listing the game title first. That way, those who want to try their best to avoid spoilers can. Now, let’s get started!

10) Twilight Princess HD – Battle With Zant 

10-zant-2I feel ashamed to admit that I never beat Twilight Princess. The furthest I ever got originally was the City in the Sky. I regret not fighting Zant before, but now’s as good a time as any.

Somewhat unexpected as a boss battle, the main gimmick of Zant’s is essentially a boss rush. Previous boss mechanics are used again one after the other. The music also makes the fight with its goofier tone. This presentation really does a good job of highlighting that Zant is not actually the Big Bad of the game.

Being defeated fairly easily, Zant goes out with a poof. This makes for an interestingly light-hearted battle before facing Ganondorf. Funnily enough, that why Zant’s battle is a much more memorable moment for me.


9) I am Setsuna – Love is Complicated

09-setsunaOne of my favorite things about character development in RPGs is that they’re really good at superseding expectations. Characters are first presented as the expected archetype, then some traits and backstory helps to flesh them out. Other games that came out this year like Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE and Xenoblade Chronicles X do a good job of this, but there’s one pivotal moment that I liked even more.

Nidr in I am Setsuna wasn’t exactly a complex character. As a lone swordsman who would spend his days fighting monsters in an abandoned village, Nidr was of course gruff and hot-headed. You later find out that this is because of his failure of protecting his sacrifice before Setsuna. This isn’t even the most interesting part, however.

09-setsuna-revealNidr originally hailed from the same village as Setsuna and protected the sacrifice Nanase on her pilgrimage. Nidr was in love with Nanase’s sister Mana, who had tried to tell Nidr something before he left to no avail. After the sacrifice’s failure and in her dying moments, Nanase confessed her jealousy of Mana and her love for Nidr. Being unable to face the village after his failure, Nidr fled. What he didn’t know, however, was that Mana was pregnant with his daughter Setsuna.

With this realization, Nidr’s conflict between telling Setsuna the truth and silently protecting her really made me like him even more. While it may not be enough to put him in my Top Ten Characters list instead of Julienne, this reveal is easily one of the best moments of 2016.


8) Next-Level Hoaxes

08-persona-5-pcEvery year has its pranks and hoaxes are far as video games go. Whether it’s fake E3 presentation lists or off-screen recordings with suspicious camera angles, the hoaxes have been starting to get more predictable. However, thanks to modern technology, these are getting much more advanced.

The first example was an anticipated reveal for Persona 5’s launch date. Before a May 5th announcement, a cracked version of the official site showed that the PS3 version had been cancelled in favor of the PS4 and PC. As expected, some people lost their minds before it was quickly rectified that it was indeed someone bypassing the site’s security to change text.

08-nx-fakeThe next one has many fooled for quite some time (including myself) and that was the “leaked” NX (now known as the Switch) controller prototype. A supposed photo of the prototype controller leaked online. Its closeness to the patent design and its light editing touches lead many to assume it fake. However, more photos emerged a few days later, with an “actual” prototype design from multiple angles. It was at this point that I starting believing it. That is, until the maker revealed the hoax as a mock-up 3D-printed based on the patent. Its connection to the first fake was just for fun. After that, I just can’t trust any soft of leak anymore, no matter how realistic it looks. I guess that’s the future for you.


7) Xenoblade Chronicles X – It’s About Ethics In Humanity’s Survival

07-lao-finalRamblings of a mad man was not what I expected from Lao when I first met him. As the Pathfinder that played it cool, he always seemed like the reasonable type. When his true nature was exposed, I couldn’t understand his reasoning. Instead of his wife and daughter, people with knowledge and money were saved. Does that justify wiping out the human race? Not really, but we were just scratching the surface.

Humans on Mira inhabit mimeosomes with their mind while their bodies lay dormant in the Lifehold. The truth, however, is not quite that. As you enter the Lifehold, you discover that all humanity’s consciousness was digitized. All that remains of Earth living matter is thousands of gallons of DNA sludge. Once Mira had been secured, the process could recreate millions of humans and Earth species alike.

07-elma-trueIn this moment, everything made sense. Lao’s disgust with the unnatural process, the Ganglion’s obsession with extermination a race that managed to bypass extinction and their place as the chosen intergalactic species (yes, seriously). The rest of the writing in Xenoblade Chronicles could have been bad (and yes, most of it was), but this moment cements the overarching plot into a Schrodinger’s ending. That is, one both satisfying and not satisfying at the same time. I don’t want to dive into an ending that you should experience yourself, but this is my favorite moment in Xenoblade Chronicles X.


6) Bravely Second – New Game+

06-bravely-secondThe one thing I love about video games is the method of storytelling only they can do; messing with the mechanics. Whether it’s Undertale purposefully crashing the game or X-Men on Genesis requiring players to reset the console to continue. One game I didn’t expect to have a system like that was Bravely Second.

I was dreading this game’s version of the time loop the first game went through. I hoped that the Pillar of Light gimmick wouldn’t be used again, but there it was. Kaiser Oblivion managed to summon the Pillar of Light once more. However, to my surprise, the party didn’t jump through. Instead, the Kaiser escaped with Agnes and his fairy Anne used the Light to destroy Magnolia’s home on the Moon.

06-kaiser-oblivionWith the vanishing of the Moon, time has stopped. The only direction you’re given is Yew’s plea to the 4th wall to go back to the beginning, before it all happened. Townspeople (and pets if you have the Catmancer class will say “Bravely second, the courage to try again”. After some masterful decryption, the trick is to start a new game with the New Game+ option and use Bravely Second to summon yourselves from another world. It’s such a simple gimmick, but a moment like this feels rare and really helped me to power through repeated quests. As such, it’s easily a pick for one of my favorite moments in 2016.


5) Pokémon GO vs. the World

05-pokemon-go-2Approaching release, I think most people were expecting Pokémon GO to do poorly. I was adamant in that thinking, even after I started playing it for a few days after launch. “A dumbed-down mobile version of one of the most popular franchises in the world? This can’t possibly catch on.” Oh, how wrong I was!

I may have been a little kid, but I remember when the Pokémon craze swept the nation. That was something I would never see again, that is until Pokémon GO. In many ways, this zeitgeist surpassed the original since millions more people have access to smartphones than Game Boys.

People I never suspected would be interested in Pokemon were playing. Every day you would hear news stories of crowds of people swarming because someone managed to spot a Dragonite, falling off cliffs because they weren’t looking where they were going, and various other shenanigans. Not to mention the pseudo-gangs formed by the game’s three factions. Add it all together and you get a cultural touchstone that will likely be unrivaled for years to come.


4) Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth – Worlds Collide

04-rina-1As I played through, I felt that Cyber Sleuth was rather straightforward as an RPG story. You and your friends as newly appointed hackers have the ability to capture and train sentient programs called Digimon to do your bidding. Some hackers are good, some evil, and you do your best to help others as a detective’s assistant. As you progress, the world grows deeper and deeper. What better way to do that than by throwing in parallel worlds!

We got a taste if this as the diabolical 2nd Act plan to merge the Digital World and real world together, but that wasn’t the last of it. To match the speed of Kentaurosmon, Kyoko suggests finding UlforceVeedramon. Unfortunately he didn’t make the trip through the Digital Gate. After meeting with your DigiLab assistant Mirei, you come to the reasonable conclusion of finding UlforceVeedramon in a parallel world.

04-rina-2In this world, you meet Rina and VeeVee (spoilers; he’s the Royal Knight you’re looking for). What I didn’t know until I looked it up was that they were characters in the Japan-only Digimon World Re:Digitize Decode. Anyway, they’re willing to help if you can get back VeeVee’s stolen power. After a rather unorthodox battle, UlforceVeedramon is reborn and you ask for his help in your world. After Rina’s tearful sobbing, UlforceVeedramon joins you back to your world. This sadness is short-lived, as Rina actually snuck through the portal herself. The whole sequence wasn’t really that long, perhaps only 10 to 20 minutes. Nevertheless, the entire scene stays vivid in my mind as a wonderful moment in a great game.


3) Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE – Opera of Light: Fire Emblem

03-opera-of-lightSatisfying endings are also another thing (most) RPGs are good at doing. The final dungeon followed by the multi-stage final boss fight is almost a staple at this point. Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE also does not disappoint with this moment, even if the lead-up and true villain were sadly predictable.

In order to revive Medeus, Gharnef needs the Hero-King’s soul. To successfully seal away Medeus, though, Itsuki and his friends need the soul to perform the Opera of Light. Regardless, they set out to the final dungeon of Illusory Dolhr to confront Medeus. After approaching the altar at the end of the dungeon, they do their best to perform the Opera of Light. However, Medeus interrupts and kills Itsuki.

03-medeusThanks to the power of his friends, they successfully separate the soul from Medeus and Itsuki revives into his new Carnage Form, the Hero-King Marth. With that, the cutscene for the Opera of Light plays and the final battle begins. This confrontation with Medeus is great in its own right, but the previous events help tremendously. Since I can only pick one, the Opera of Light is my favorite moment in this game, and well as one of my favorites for 2016.


2) Hatsune Miku: Project Diva X – Ending Medley ~Ultimate Exquisite Rampage~

02-ending-medley-artLooking back, it’s been a long time since I first picked up rhythm games. The first one I ever played was Guitar Hero III, and the most memorable part of that game was playing Through the Fire and Flames by Dragonforce. More difficult songs have come along at time goes, but finally completing it was the moment that really resonated with me.

I wouldn’t have expected to find a song equivalent to that in Project Diva X, but I did. That song is the final medley, Ending Medley ~Ultimate Exquisite Rampage~. Instead of being unfairly hard or a cakewalk of a final song like the ones in Dancing All Night, Project Diva X’s is tangibly doable.

02-ending-medleyIt took forever to beat the 200,000-point challenge and complete Chance Time well enough to get Miku’s final module. It was the motivation to keep playing again for perfection is something I’ve been missing for a while. Fittingly, getting the Platinum trophy for this game was icing on the cake. The experience of topping off my fun with an incredibly challenging moment is reason enough to make it this high, but there’s only one other moment that topped it.


1) Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 – The Muse

01-mytylIt’s no secret that Lumen is the strongest character in the Azure Striker Gunvolt world. It’s easy to forget that Lumen isn’t an Adept; she’s a septima, specifically Joule’s. Or so we were led to believe.

My suspicions started as soon as I met Mytyl at the start of Copen’s story. As Joule 2.0, her frailness and her ability to cause Lumen’s shard to transform Lola into a Diva were major red flags. Turns out that Lumen is actually Mytyl’s septima, not Joule’s. Mytyl and Copen’s father had it removed in fear of the Sumeragi Group wanting to use her, leaving her weak and speechless.

01-mytyl-anthemAfter defeating Zonda and seeing Mytyl’s death in the true ending, you have to face the character opposite your story. After you beat him, Mytyl regains consciousness and uses Anthem to revive her hero. It is here where everything comes together. The music kicks in with an awesome duet version of Indigo Destiny, and the boss suddenly seems invincible. After finding their weakness, beating the boss was fun. Even if the actual ending isn’t that strong, this isn’t a list of Top Ten Endings. This is a list of my Top Ten Gaming Moments, and this one’s the best of 2016.

And with that, you have my Top Ten Gaming Moments of 2016. I hope that these may have inspired you to give these games a shot, even if some were expected. We’ve got one more to go; the head honcho that is my Top Ten Games of 2016. Stay tuned for the finale next Wednesday!

Top Ten Soundtracks of 2016 Top Ten Characters of 2016