The 20 games you shouldn't miss in 2016

Since I last presented a year-end videogame wrap-up for Boing Boing readers, it's become an exponentially harder task. The number of games released per day has - even just since 2014! - risen a few times over, so narrowing a list down means leaving amazing and creative work behind. That's not even to mention the herculean task of staying on top of the pile of games still unplayed.

2016 gave us a generous amount of powerhouse titles hoisted by massive budgets and massive marketing efforts: hello Overwatch, Dark Souls III, Doom, No Man's Sky, Pokémon Sun & Moon, and especially Uncharted 4. But I did my best to wander the far corners of the internet, searching and sometimes blindly stumbling upon weird, beautiful, thoughtful videogames.

Below you'll find 20ish games (actually quite a good number more) that sang to me the most, and I think exemplify the best that 2016 had to offer. You'll find interesting places to explore, unique achievements and re-inventions of old standards, and brilliant ideas executed simply. I hope you find them as surprising and delightful as I did.

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Beglitched

by A.P. Thomson & Jenny Jiao Hsia • Get it: Windows/Mac/Linux

Beglitched is, on its face, a fairly simple match-3 type game, on the same family-tree branch as Bejeweled or Candy Crush or any other number of similar clones you may have spent all your idle moments thumbing around with on your phone over the past few years. Read the rest

Original development art from The Legend of Zelda

The Legend of Zelda turned 30 this year and in celebration, Nintendo posted development artwork from the game hand-drawn by legendary designers Takashi Tezuka and Shigeru Miyamoto! More at Nintendo.co.uk.

Read the rest

Top games of 2016

Griffin McElroy presents his favorite games of 2016. His first choice is a farming RPG called Stardew Valley, which looks like fun, in an Animal Crossing kind of way. Read the rest

Watch Japanese bo-taoshi players defend their poles

Bo-taoshi (pole toppling) is a contact sport in which two teams each try to keep a large pole upright. Half of each team is on defense, and the other half plays offense. There's a player who stands on the top of the pole and kicks everyone in the face till they yank that player off the top. Read the rest

Just in time for Hanukkah: Maccabees and Menorahs, a dreidel powered RPG

Randy sez, "Maccabees and Menorahs is a one page RPG played with a dreidel and gelt. Designed to run over 8 short sessions, one for each night of Hanukkah." Read the rest

The amazing, endless battle between rural Eastern European partisan fighters, demons, mecha, and werewolves

Jakub "Mr Werewolf" Rozalski is a prolific Polish painter whose longrunning series of painters depict rural Eastern European folk fighting against mecha warriors, werewolves, and demons. Read the rest

The story of the world's worst videogame

For better or worse, video game designer/programmer Howard Scott Warshaw is perhaps best known for the Atari 2600 game "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" (1982). That game is considered by many to be the worst video game in history and blamed for driving the video game industry crash of 1983. (To be fair, it wasn't entirely Warshaw's fault. He was also the talented developer behind the classic Yars' Revenge and other fine titles.) Above is the Big Story of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Warshaw, now a psychotherapist in Silicon Valley.

And in case you missed it, the film Atari: Game Over is a wonderful documentary about E.T. and the mass burial of unsold copies of the game.

Read the rest

Pitting 11,000 virtual vicious penguins against 4,000 murderous virtual Santas

Brilliant Games Studios wanted to show off its new crowd rendering system, so they created 15,000 virtual characters -- 11,000 penguins and 4,000 Santas -- and loosed them on each other in an "epic battle" -- "Units now navigate complex terrain, Bodies now pile up, movement and avoidance improved and smoothed." (via JWZ) Read the rest

Kickstarting Papers & Paychecks, an RPG where you play "workers and students in an industrialized and technological society"

A thirty year old joke by Will McLean in the first edition of the Dungeon Masters Guide features a group of fantasy adventurer types crowded around a table playing an RPG where they pretend to be "workers and students in an industrialized and technological society." Read the rest

Amazing Black Knight hand-painted miniature from 'Kingdom Death' weird horror game

Check out this astonishing workmanship by mulletsaurus, who hand-painted The Black Knight from Kingdom Death. Here's the blank for comparison: Read the rest

A mystery gamer is projecting their Super Mario screen onto the side of a building in the Lower Haight

Last night, Dan Jackson shot video of a mysterious, gigantic game of Super Mario Bros being projected onto the side of a building over a store in San Francisco's Lower Haight. Read the rest

Cryptomancer: RPG based on real crypto fundamentals

In Cryptomancer, players inhabit a fantasy world populated with elves, dwarves and humans, but they win out by designing and undermining cryptographically secured networks of magical gems that allow different factions to coordinate their actions over distance. Read the rest

On Ebay: the rare, original "woodgrain" D&D set

A mere $5,700 (as of current writing) gets you the 1974 first printing of the game that Tactical Studies Rules used to change the world(s). Read the rest

Virtual toilets reveal the souls of video-game companies

People need toilets, or the poop starts piling up, so video games that are supposed to simulate human environments need toilets to attain willing suspension of disbelief. Read the rest

Kickstarting "Bears vs Babies," a new game from the Exploding Kittens team

Elan Lee writes, "Bears vs Babies is a monster-building card game from the creators of Exploding Kittens, Elan Lee and Matthew Inman (The Oatmeal). Described as a game of 'strategic benevolent betrayal' it has already raised more than $2.5 million in funding on Kickstarter from 67,000 backers. Bears vs Babies completed the original $10,000 funding goal in less than 10 minutes after its launch. The game is set to join the ranks as one of the most successful crowdfunded gaming campaigns in history." Read the rest

Nintendo's relaunched NES Classic sells out in seconds

I was looking forward to grabbing the NES Classic Edition console today, but it was not to be: the box, a miniaturized version of the classic 1980s machine replete with dozens of classic games, sold out instantaneously.

At Amazon, countless negative reviews piled up as buyers rushed to check out the surprise hit, only to be shut down by error messages.

"Clearly thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of gamers were sitting on the product page hammering the F5 key and some random selection thereof got their wish," writes Devin Coldeway at Techcrunch.

The instant evaporation of inventory from Amazon was repeated at other stores: top retailer GameStop reported being out of stock half an hour after opening.

They're already popping up on eBay for ridiculous prices; Nintendo says it will have more on the shelves soon.

Previously: NES Classic Edition looks like great fun—but will it hack? Read the rest

The New York Times's GOP voter-suppression retrogame: "The Voter Suppression Trail"

Throughout the election cycle, The GOP Arcade has been releasing satirical 8-bit games about the GOP and right-wing politics in America; the New York Times commissioned a special one, based on the classic Oregon Trail, in which you play one of three voters attempting to cast a vote in either Texas (where you are a Latina nurse); Wisconsin (where you are a black salesman) or California (where you are a white programmer). Read the rest

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