Janathan Jerometheus Ochoa is an Associate Video Producer at Giant Bomb Dot Com. He enjoys the finer things in life: rap sounds, cups of coffee, and cool s's. It has been said that his ability to press buttons to make videos happen is a gift from above and his hair a faint scent of vanilla.
Please indulge me while I get sappy for a bit--I've been a fan of the site since the Sausalito days and the fact that I've been at Giant Bomb for a year and some change now is wiiiiiiiild. This past year has been absolutely amazing. Before working at Giant Bomb I was in a very negative headspace, I felt creatively bankrupt and that I didn't have any input on what we were working on. But here, I have never had the freedom and TRUST to just do whatever dumb idea pops into my head. I don't mean to throw anyone under the bus and I understand that it's part of the creative process, but at the last couple places I worked I was micromanaged to crap before we posted any video. I would get shut down on music choices, shots, and even font choices until everything I proposed was removed. It was frustrating. But HERE at Giant Bomb I have that creative freedom. I was expecting to have to revise the EVO video a million times before we put it out but the powers that be just said, "Nah dog. Upload that shit boyy and LET'S GOOOOOO!"
Okay no one actually said that. But I cannot tell you how liberating it is for my bosses to trust me. I cannot express how thankful I am to be in the spot that I am. So thank you for getting down with me this past year and accepting the dumb things that I've done.
Let's get to some GAMES.
I got bit by the Pokémon bug again hard this year. Some would say that bite was super effective...yeah okay I’ll move on. Pokémon Showdown is a neat little website that’ll let you assemble teams from every generation and battle random people online. I’m garbage because I’m not super familiar with what the current meta is but I’ve been able to pull a couple wins. In my short time with it I’ve had a lot of fun and learned some fun acronyms like OU, UU, and what a “Mega-Zam” is! Maybe I’ll try and put together a Giant Bomb Pokémon league.
I can go either way on rhythm games. Sometimes they’re too busy and I may not like the actual music. Cytus II gets way too busy and some of the music is not my style. BUT the more I played the more I was starting to think that I miiight like EDM or whatever genres of music the game has to offer. Some of these tracks are certified slaps and I believe all of the music is also on Spotify! The easy mode is a little too slow, but the hard and then “chaos” mode are good amounts frantic tapping and swiping. I’d say the major bummer is that you have to pay $9.99 for the expansion chapters or song packs, but the base game at $1.99 is definitely worth it.
10. Pokémon Go
Okay this is the last Pokémon game I’ll mention I swear! Like everyone on the planet I fell for this game when it initially dropped in 2016. It was an absolute phenomenon, but it was definitely flash in the pan. I fell off of the game because of how different from the original mainline games this was. It was a little too basic and I didn’t like having to scrounge around town for the same five or six monsters.
But thanks to my SO, I got pulled back in and experienced a now feature rich game. More Pokémon, raids, trades, and friends (I’m terribly sorry for never opening my gifts, I’ll get to it homies!). There was something so neat and different about going to raids in person and befriending people because you both shared the secret shame of still playing Pokémon Go. It is still far from perfect and has multiple trappings to get you to spend money. If you have some friends that still play I’d say try to get back in it and if you don’t have any friends that do try check some discord channels because there are so many people still playing. Also there is still that rush or high that happens when you happen to find a monster that you were hunting.
Speaking about hunting monsters! Two of my best friends are die hard fans of the franchise and I’ve always wanted to join them on hunts. Unfortunately I always bounced off the game any and every iteration that I’ve tried to join them on. BUT YO, this version was such a change of pace. A lot of my problems like having problems tracking monsters, limited whetstones, and load screens between different zones were all gone!
I could now freely chase monsters across the map, my hammer over my shoulder, and my friends flanking my sides. Even when I couldn’t link up with them I was having fun doing solo hunts. There were so many moments that had my heart pumping and hoping to the hunting gods that the monster I was after was almost dead. I also appreciate being able to KO a monster with a massive hammer and see its horns fly off. Monster Hunter: World also helped change my opinions on cats because I grew very attached to my Palico. You the homie, Peanut!
8. Hitman 2
You know that familiar restaurant you like to eat at? Or that jacket that just fits? Or that bald guy that just happens to be everywhere and everyone? Familiarity and comfort! That is what Hitman 2 is, and why it warrants being on my top 10. It has all of what made the 2016 release amazing, and also now made me get invested into the story. Everything that this games does in how it encourages you to game the system and retry levels in different ways has increased the replay-ability. The way they handled mission stories is a fantastic way at showing you the different ways to get crazy. Everything just works and even when it doesn’t, there is hardly a problem that can’t be solved with a well thrown can of soda.
Tetris Effect made me ride the fine line of becoming very tense and ultra relaxed. Just like how Hitman 2 felt familiar, of course Tetris Effect would feel the same because it’s TETRIS. But then you add some amazing visuals and music to Tetris and then you just have something super special. This isn’t a rhythm game but I was playing it like it was. I was riding the highs of the beats and then getting super chill as the sound of rain or wind would take over. Yo, it’s Tetris son, it’s A TRIP.
6. Dead Cells
I still haven’t beaten this game. I’m not quite sure I ever will. But damn, did I ever feel good rolling through the different worlds trying to desperately find an exit so I could cash in my cells and a fresh new blueprint. This is one of those games that unfortunately ruins others in the genre because I this plays so well mechanically that I want everyone else to adopt the same feel.
I’ve always believed in the heart of the cards. That being said I fold when I try and pick up other card games. But for Slay the Spire I was ALL IN. Who knew a run-based-dungeon-card-game would steal so many hours of my time? I picked up StS when it first hit steam and didn’t touch it again until the summer of this year and wow had the developers put in a lot of work. Now with three classes, different play modes, and more floors there’s so much more to occupy yourself with. I think that my main issue with card games is that if I don’t play them continuously then I won’t pick up cards and get left behind, maybe because this is strictly a single player game I didn’t fall into that. I was stuck with the “just one more game” head space with this. Thrilled to hear that this is coming to the Switch in 2019.
I’ve been a big fan of Spider-Man since I was a kid. I loved the animated series and then grew to love the comics. Peter and his relationships are some of my favorite pieces of fiction because of how relatable it can be. But I always wanted to feel the rush of swinging from building to building as Spider-Man. Being able to pull off those relationships and NAIL the swinging in the game is no short task. This was such a beautiful game and I enjoyed the moments in between the set pieces. This is probably one of the best depictions of Peter I’ve experienced. The two moments in Spider-Man where characters lost the person they cared about the most surprised me and made me tear up. Not too many blockbuster games can do that. Yeah I had some trouble with the combat at the start, but maybe that’s because I was approaching the combat instances like a tankier Batman rather than the more (fr)agile Spider-Man. I cannot wait to see where they go next with the groundwork they’ve laid for the spider.
BOY did I enjoy summoning my axe and adventuring around the world with my malnourished sickly looking son and omnipotent head friend. Quick little aside, I thought about minoring in theology in college. I grew up Catholic, and I always loved reading about different religions and how similar they were because of their respective origins or big figures.
Anyway, I loved how God of War mixed Greek and Norse mythology (along with hinting at others!). This was so different that the original trilogy and I couldn’t be happier. From the opening moments you felt the weight of what Kratos had been carrying, the literal weight and the burden of his past. He was still a god but his mortality was showing.
Rocksteady’s Batman games are some of my favorite third person action games. It’s hard to do things differently than Batman because that combat system just clicked. God of War though adds a couple factors that sold me on their combat system. Being able to recall that axe was some of the most satisfying moments of this year. The other factor was Atreus. I normally hate having a partner that’s controlled by AI because they’re useless. But I felt that my BOY was becoming more effective as the story progressed and it made sense for him to be. I think that’s what made me get attached to the frayed relationship between Kratos and Atreus.
I thought Spider-Man would be the game with the biggest swings this year, but that title goes to Into the Breach. Never have I gone from feeling like an absolute genius tactician to feeling like I want to rip my mind out for all the mistakes I’ve ever made, but that’s fine because I’ll just reset the timeline!
Like Dead Cells, this has ruined me on other turn based strategy games because this is so transparent with what’s going to happen. And if a turn goes awry it’s mostly because I fucked up and it wasn’t up to a random dice roll. The music is bumping and the mechs have a weight to them even if they’re pretty tiny. I already want more from this series and who knew that a mech that would freeze you on the spot would be my favorite mech in the game?
I peed next to Yoko Taro this year. That was dope.
I’ve raved about this game on the Quick Look and when I brought it up on the Bombcast, but I honestly have had so much fun with Let’s Go Pikachu. It was crazy how all these routes were still burned into my memory. Even though I enjoy playing Pokémon Go, I didn’t want that system to water down the core pokemon mechanics. But I was pleasantly surprised at how those changes wound up being totally fine with me. This game just oozes charm. I became so attached to my Pikachu, that after every gym battle or random fight I’d give him a berry to congratulate him on a well fought battle. It’s crazy how just being able to see the wild pokémon pop up from the tall grass just added so much life into the game. I wouldn’t mind at all if Game Freak used the Let’s Go template for future remasters of the other games because I want more. I’d kill for a Let’s Go Bidoof.