2017 has been a yo-yo of a year, filled with ups and downs for everyone. Luckily, there’s been this little thing called “entertainment” that can distract us from our real world problems! The following are all the shows, books, and video games that gave me a fun distraction this year.
10. Pinball Arcade
Pinball Arcade takes classic, real world pinball tables and digitizes them to be played on Phones, Tablets, PC, and consoles. I finally put down the money to enjoy a few classic tables based on popular franchises like The Twilight Zone or Star Trek: The Next Generation, and a few lesser known tables like Taxi and Jack Pot. Maybe it’s seeing my score go up, the ability to get a trick shot, or simply the music and sounds, but Pinball Arcade is a great game that can fill anywhere from 5 minutes to hours worth of my time.
9. Game of Thrones (Season 7)
While I enjoyed season 7 of Game of Thrones, it was a mixed bag in terms of execution. The character moments were still on point and the fight scenes were fantastic, but the pacing of the story was sloppy. The “instant teleportation” from place to place for every character and the rushing around to finish plot points made it feel jarring and strange. I’m still excited for season 8 (in 2019… BOOOO!!) and I hope that with only one narrative to focus on, the pacing of the story will be tighter and more on point.
8. Stranger Things 2
Instead of repeating the same story beats as season 1, season 2 mixed things up by putting characters in different combinations that the audience hadn’t seen before. Team ups like Dustin and Steve, or Hopper and Eleven, brought some fun and engaging character interactions and memorable moments. The show still nails down that 80’s aesthetic and provides some cool call backs to classic films like Predator, The Goonies, and The Exorcist. For Stranger Things 3 though, don’t be so on the nose with the music references.
7. Life is Strange
It took me a while, but I finally got around to Life is Strange from my video game backlog. I would describe Life is Strange as a mixture of Steins;Gate, Veronica Mars, a Telltale game, and a WB/CW teen drama. You would thinks these elements wouldn’t mix well, but you’d be wrong. The great mystery surrounding Blackwell Academy and the strongly written and well acted relationship between Max and Chloe kept me on the edge of my seat.
This year has been a major shift. DC has been on a roll of great books since Rebirth, but Marvel has unfortunately faltered due to subpar events, bad PR, and not knowing what they want to be. On the indie comics side, Image, Boom, and Dynamite have put out great books that go well beyond the superhero gene. Here are my favorite books of the year:
- Superman American Alien: By having each issue show a different points in Clark Kent’s life, the book illustrates that Superman is much more complex then people perceive. The reader sees Clark discovering who he is, what he believes, and what he should do with his powers. I highly recommend this book to people who think Superman is a boring and bland character. It may change your view on Superman, it definitely did for me.
- The Fade Out: Are you interested in the Golden Age of Hollywood? Murder mysteries? Film noir dramas? This book is for you. With beautiful art by Steve Epting, The Fade Out shows the glam of classic Hollywood and its dark underbelly.
- Spider-Woman: Showing a superhero taking care of her newborn child and keeping up with the work of a superhero makes for some fun situations. Do you want to see a superhero fight an alien invasion in a cosmic maternity ward when she’s about to give birth? This is the book for you.
- Silver Surfer: This recent run of Silver Surfer feels like Doctor Who meets the Marvel Universe. You can jump into this book without knowing anything about Marvel continuity and with its colorful pop art and quirky characters, Silver Surfer is a great entry point for people who want to start reading Marvel books.
5. OSW Review
OSW Review is a wrestling review show on YouTube that reviews older wrestling pay-per-views. What makes the show great is its high production values, ability to poke fun at cheesy wrestling moments, and how it explains wrestling history and storylines in an easy to understand way. This year, OSW has been covering TNA pay per views from 2007. It’s been fun seeing and laughing at the gimmick matches that TNA would put on, like a “blindfold match” where both wrestlers can’t see. Let the stupidity commence!
4. The Uncharted Franchise
I hadn’t played the Uncharted games until this year but once I started, I couldn’t stop. Their mixture of grand locations, movie-like set pieces, and Indy-esque adventure stories made Uncharted really fun. What made me really care about Uncharted though is Nathan Drake’s relationships with Sully and Elena, and his status as the underdog. Thanks in part to sharp writing and great acting from the cast, the game does a great job at making the player care about the characters and the high stakes they find themselves in. I may sound like a broken record, but please check these games out!
What makes me come back to Hearthstone week to week and month to month is the crazy events that happen in game. For better or worse, the randomness that happens in Hearthstone is what makes players either scream in bloody murder or weep tears of joy. A hefty mixture of skill and luck makes Hearthstone a game that’s easy to play but hard to master. Plus, Blizzard’s visual style is the icing on this card-playing cake.
2. Legend of the Galactic Heroes
It took me 2 years but I finally finished the anime classic, Legend of the Galactic Heroes, and it was worth it. Its mixture of epic space battles and complex views of government grabbed me right by the hook. You’ll probably see a piece on this site in the future about why you should watch Legend of the Galactic Heroes, so I’ll leave it at that for now. PS. Third opening is best opening.
1. Doctor Who Series 10
Peter Capaldi’s final season is when things finally started to gel for his Doctor. The 12th Doctor took on a persona that fit him much better. They characterized him more as a teacher and not as the grump he was in his first series. The new companion Bill Pots (great name by the way) got away from all the baggage that Clara had. Bill was just a regular person; a companion who wanted to explore the universe and wasn’t tied to some kind of “end of the universe” event that the Ponds and Clara were. Missy made a great return and clearly had a great time chewing the scenery. I’m glad Capaldi could go out on a solid season and it makes me really excited for the 13th Doctor, and our first female Doctor too!