2017 turned out quite a year for nerd culture. In no particular order, here are some of this nerd’s favorite things about 2017.
#1. Announcement of a New Doctor
So, admittedly I already wrote an article about this piece of news, but it is worth mentioning, simply because it gave fans something exciting to look forward to in the next season of Doctor Who. A few days ago, Jodie Whittaker appeared on screen for the first time as the Doctor. While no official release date has been announced for Series 11, Autumn 2018 cannot arrive soon enough.
#2 and #3. Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey
Mario and Zelda have been two of the Nintendo’s biggest franchises for over 30 years. In March, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was released to near-universal praise. The game also became one of Nintendo’s first attempts to introduce DLC into one of its main franchises.
If Nintendo had simply released Breath of the Wild, it would have been enough to call it a successful year. But in October, Super Mario Odyssey also released to great fanfare. The game’s new mechanic allows players to traverse Mario’s world by taking control of enemies, allowing for an innovative new perspective. Otherwise, it doesn’t add much to the typical Mario formula, but why mess with something that isn’t broken?
#4. Sonic Mania
In August, I previewed Sonic Mania, a game created by people who grew up playing classic Sonic the Hedgehog games in the style of those Sega Genesis classics. And this game lived up to its high expectations. The game is lovingly crafted to feel like a proper sequel to 1994’s Sonic 3 & Knuckles: Filled with throwbacks to the classic games, it includes remixes of eight zones from the original five games and five new ones. Everything about the game feels intentional, from character animations to the placement of items. The game, like many classic games, encourages exploration and leaves hints in its level design. It is no surprise that it has been the best reviewed Sonic game in more than 15 years, one of my favorites in the franchise to date.
#5 and #6. A Silent Voice and Your Name
One of the real treats of this year for me was watching A Silent Voice, one of the most touching films I have seen in a while. But this was far from the only anime film released this year to widespread acclaim. Your Name made its US debut in December 2016 (likely to make it eligible for the Academy Awards), and consequently, it received a more widespread release this year. Makoto Shinkai is known for his photorealistic background work, and his latest became a huge box-office success, particularly in its native Japan. And this was so beloved by its fans that when it did not receive an Oscar nomination for this year, there was some backlash in the community.
#7 and #8. Star Wars and Wonder Woman
Two movies that would feature on nearly any nerd’s list of best-of for 2017 would have to be DC’s Wonder Woman and Star Wars: The Last Jedi. I did not have high hopes for the first movie after the earlier DC films. However, it proved its worth, offering a reflective look on human nature through the character of Diana Prince in her attempt to rid the world of Ares. A well-constructed piece of cinema, it may even have been the best superhero film of the year.
And of course, what list would be complete without Star Wars. I won’t say much about the film but instead will let fellow TJP contributor Colten Biro’s review on the film speak for itself. It not only tells a compelling story but also allows the new characters to take more of a central role than in Episode VII, allowing their complexities to show and making them feel more human.
This installment was certainly worth the wait, and it leaves me excited for Episode IX and the Han Solo film (set for a release next year).
#9. Star Trek
Though I may not be a Trekkie, it is hard to forget that a new Star Trek series, Star Trek Discovery, released this year. The long-running sci-fi series made a return to television for the first time in over 10 years. What is perhaps most fascinating is that the new series predates the original series chronologically. To date, reviews have been positive and here’s to more adventures in deep space.
#10 and #11. A Hat in Time and Yooka-Laylee
And it was also a good year for small studios. Both A Hat in Time and Yooka-Laylee were attempts by small development teams to return to a genre of video games that I grew up playing: 3D platformers. While Yooka-Laylee received mixed reviews, it was a welcome throwback to the Banjo-Kazooie games of the late 90s, made by some of the same people who worked on the original games. The trademark humor of the Rareware carries the game and helps to compensate for a lack of polish and antiquated style (trivia challenges).
Far more successful was Humble Bundle’s A Hat In Time, a charming romp through four worlds. Tight controls and a change in gameplay from level to level keep the game from feeling stale as the player collects hourglasses (the collectable of the game). New hats the player can create offer a greater sense of depth to the gameplay. It is so encouraging to see successful games financed by fans do so well. It reminds me that solid games can and are produced from the ground up.
#12. Pokémon: I Choose You
Believe it or not, the Pokémon anime turned 20 this year! A new film was released this year to commemorate the adventures of Ash and Pikachu, presenting an alternate take on the events of the anime’s first season in the Kanto region. As a Pokémon movie, it’s not particularly memorable, but it is an enjoyable throwback to the series’ origins.
The cover photo is featured courtesy of Elliot Brown of the Flickr Creative Commons.