Pic from advancehappynewyear2017.com
For many of us, to say the year 2016 has been difficult would be an understatement on par with mentioning the N-Gage never quite surpassed the Game Boy Advance. It seems everyone I know had a tough year for several reasons, and I spent quite a bit of it with family members in hospitals or medical appointments. Many good things happened, but it seemed every week the idea of a return to some 'normal' got pushed further and further out. I think I see some disadvantages to this whole 'being the adult' thing that never got spelled out alongside the whole cookies-and-bedtime-whenever-I-want setup. Or maybe it was spelled out and I was too busy drawing plans for my future home, complete with helipad and shopping mall in the backyard. (Was I the only kid who drew that up?)
Oh, and I guess some famous family is moving out of a nice house near Virginia and the new family moving in is making the neighbors nervous or something? We live in a strange country. And it's not even Canada! (Although I hear they have some nifty retro-stocked video game stores up there.) And apparently some Brexfast thing happened and now importing games is all confusing and/or tasty? Crazy world.
Most folks on this site likely play games to unwind, unless you play games to get mad, in which case I recommend Carrier Command
for Xbox 360. For the rest of us, it's good to have our go-to games for decompression.* You know what I mean; those games you aren't necessarily playing to complete, but rather to mentally unfurl and let the stresses of the day process somewhere in the back of your mind.
Maybe it's an RPG or dungeon-crawler you mindlessly level-grind. Or a puzzle game like Tetris
. Many old-school PC folks still whittle away hours on Solitaire
. I've seen a middle-aged couple keep an ol' grey NES and the classic SMB/DH cart (the only cart they owned) just to keep replaying their first and only Mario game. While they were our neighbors, I probably watched them complete it a few dozen times a year. They knew the game inside and out, and to play was just to relax.
And this year, boy has that type of game been useful! Sure, there are comfort movies, classic books to read again, and excellent albums that you could listen to any day. But there is a special simultaneous engagement/disengagement that comes with certain video games. Here's my personal list of favorites, both modern and classic:ExplorationTerraria/Minecraft/No Man's Sky
These see a lot of play lately, and seem custom built for setting up a game and wandering, exploring, and just relaxing. No Man's Sky
is my personal favorite on this list, and I still think that if this is the type of mindset you have going in, it's one of the best.
PuzzleTetris/Bejeweled/Meteos/Lumines/Planet Puzzle LeagueTetris
Pic from Gematsu.
will always be my standby, and I have in fact played it in my dreams, but it was the original Meteos
on DS that had me trying to match the patterns on upholstery... and surprised when it didn't go launching into the sky.
PinballMetroid Prime Pinball/Devil's Crush/Pinball Hall of Fame: The Williams Collection/Marvel Pinball Epic Collection: Vol. 1Metroid Prime Pinball
Pic from ign
almost doesn't make this list because half of the time I get too involved in a play, and that defeats the point of the article. But it can also be a wonderful wind-down. The Marvel
collection so far has fit the bill wonderfully as well. And I'm always up for a few rounds of Medieval Madness.RacingF-Zero/Forza Horizon 3/Dirt/Dirt2/Dirt3
FH3 lived up to its trailer promises, and I spent many an hour cruising around and doing races at my own leasure. It's a beautiful racer that's easy to relax to.
But I may never memorize a racing game like I have the original F-Zero
I'm assuming a sports fan would enjoy a Madden
, or NBA 2K
match. Me, I like to see how many dozens of points ahead of the AI team I can score on Double Dribble.
Familiar Retro Gaming
*squeak* *squeak* *squeak*
I mentioned the SMB couple already, and many of us have games from our youth that we return to as a comfort experience. Most of mine are on the Super Nintendo: Contra III
, Super Castlevania IV
, Turtles in Time
, U.N. Squadron
, and F-Zero
are familiar friends. And sometimes I go further back and spend some time on Necromancer
, Spider Fighter
, or Seaquest
. It's amazing how an in-the-groove session with these can feel like it lasts forever.
I can play this game until either the joystick breaks or my hand cramps. Usually the latter.
Pretty much any JRPG can fit here, as well as dungeon-crawlers. The Etrian Odyssey
series have been my go-to's, as well as the SNES-era RPGs like FFII/II (IV/VI) and Chrono Trigger
Etrian Odyssey II
, also known as the game that kept me sane through many a hospital visit. Pic from ign.
These game have been some of my I-need-a-break-from-reality havens every now and then. They are, of course, no substitute for a good friend by your side, which is why I normally play alongside one. And we all know it's dangerous to spend too much time away from the real world (try not to play any of these for, oh, more than 200 hours at a time.) But I wanted to share some of the helpful chill-out games I've used over the last few years.
How about sharing some of yours?
*Unless you live underwater, in which case you should likely follow a very different procedure.