We’re finally into the time where all of us likely have condiments in our fridge that expired in 2017 but we can’t bring ourselves to throw away. I mean, can mustard really even go bad? It was only two years ago, but at times, feels like an eternity and other times feels like it was just last week. Anyone else feel like that about most of these years? It could be we’ve just gotten old here at FBTB…

For this series, we’re going to walk through the years and go through some of the touchpoints that we’ve been through in the big focuses of our site… movies, video game, and of course… LEGO.

Previous Years:
2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016

Video Games

Ace’s Pick: 2017 saw the release of the Switch and it was about that time that coincidentally I was able to pick up one of my favorite pastimes on a more regular basis: video games. Sure, I had my 3DS on me, but  I wanted more. My kids were more self sufficient and required less attention; they were all in school and had regular schedules. Or maybe I believed that to make more time for games. WHO KNOWS?!?

I played more on the PS4 and made a focused effort on trying to reduce my game backlog. Yes, even though I wasn’t playing a lot, I still bought games. I fully attribute that to FOMO. But when that Switch came out, I was excited. I paid more attention to what games came out that year and it was a pretty stellar year: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, Horizon Zero Dawn, Nier: Automata, Overcooked!, etc. But there was one game that to this day is ranked #1 in terms of hours played:

Splatoon 2I’ve clocked in 1,365 hours on Splatoon 2. I’ve more or less retired from playing it since Smash came out. Also, I want to play and complete different games but I can’t do that if I’m constantly in a ranked match or doing a Salmon Run. This game is so fun, I can’t wait for the next installment to pour another 1,000+ hours into.

While I’m still on my soapbox, I want to give a special mention to this particular game:

This was the swan song for the 3DS. Metroid: Samus Returns is a remake of the Game Boy game Metroid II: Return of Samus. As remakes go, it included a lot of quality of life improvements over the original such as an in-game map, map pins to mark locations, new game save structure, and sometimes overly-generous item drops. There’s a new melee counter move that was satisfying to land and functionally served another purpose in getting back some energy. Yes, other games came out after it, but no one cares about or even remembers any of those games. This was the last great game to the system and like Twilight Princess HD for the Wii U, it was a fine way to say farewell to the system.

Eric’s Pick: Since Nick’s talking about my actual favorite game of 2017 below, I figured I’d talk about second place, because, honestly, it deserves to be talked about.

As I mentioned in the Best of 2013 article, post-Skyward Sword, pre-BOTW Zelda was in a not great place. We were also in the period of time where pretty much every mainline Zelda game got a re-release or remaster, and some unexpected spinoffs like Tri-Force Heroes and Hyrule Warriors. So when BOTW finally released, well, critics were excited. I think it’s far from a perfect game (unlike a little Mario title that Nick talks about), but credit has to be given to how well the game shook up the games industry. I mean, developers like Sam Barlow, who made FMV detective game Her Story, and Traveller’s Tales themselves, who’s making the new Lego Star Wars game have credited inspiration to Breath of the Wild.

Which…seems a little sensational to me, but I do write for this site, so I’m cynical by nature. But I’d still say, next to 2011’s Dark Souls, BOTW is likely the most influential game of the decade, and it’s only been out for ~3 years.

But let me talk about the game – what’s good and what’s not so good.

Exploration, or, the main draw of the game, is done obviously really well. Jumping in with no clue where to go, just knowing that you have to eventually fight Ganon in Hyrule Castle, and going to go gear up, feels so cool. Finding a little village in the middle of nowhere, or a warm, relaxing stable is always a treat. The sidequests are pretty interesting a varied, though the rewards can be…lukewarm. The systems -magnetism, freezing water, stasis, and bombs – work together in incredibly interesting ways and allow for really creative solutions. The world, while not especially beautiful, has an atmosphere thicker than a rain storm in Florida. I think Nintendo had a very specific vision for how they wanted their world to look and feel, and they nailed it.

But! There are some problems that can crop up naturally because of this that Nintendo didn’t avoid. For one, eventually, many, many hours down the road, exploration itself can feel a bit repetitive. The shrines, which are like mini-dungeons, feel samey, and, in some cases, are literally the same. The main four / five dungeons themselves in the form of the Divine Beasts, while cool concepts, also suffer from sameness. The weapon durability has already been blasted into oblivion by the Internet, and I think an increased durability would have been a good solution. There are only 10 or so enemy designs that are palette-swapped out to have more HP / hit harder. And climbing. Man, I hate climbing in this game. It’s boring by itself, but add rain, which causes you to slide down the wall every few seconds, and it’s infuriating. Your options at that point are to: A.) try and keep climbing and hope you’ll eventually make it or B.) go make a campfire (somewhere covered by the rain) and wait it out. Neither are fun. Neither are good options. And there’s no food or clothing buff that can avoid this. So rain can just totally ruin your plans. In a game about exploration, adding this extremely inhibiting feature baffles me.

Okay, that’s a lot of negative. But despite all of that, Breath of the Wild is a magical game that I think anyone should try. You’ll be swept up in it so quickly and for quite a long time before you see the flaws. And that’s okay; I feel like I got my money’s worth in that time.

Nick’s Pick: I’ll be honest… I didn’t do a ton of gaming in 2017, compared to other years. There were a couple of reasons for this: my daughter and my (at the time) newborn son, who came along in 2017. If anything, the year ended up being a breaking point for me on a lot of titles… Battlefront II came out at the end of 2017 and laid the greed of the AAA industry bare for everyone to see. They got smacked down hard, but didn’t really change their behavior in the end.

Interestingly, this was the first year I didn’t buy a Call of Duty game in… as long as they have been making Call of Duty games. That series had been sliding downhill for a long time, and there was buzz about it being revitalized going back to its roots, but honestly, just couldn’t be bothered. That Activision|Blizzard would go on to be terrible wasn’t on my radar… I disliked Activision back then, but Blizzard seemed like it was okay. We all know how that turned out, though…

I came to the Switch a few months late, but my playtime in 2017 was dominated by it, and that really hasn’t changed ever since. There were several games that came out with it… and Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was one that took a lot of my time, got me into a crippling amiibo addiction, and has me going back to play it yet again. I don’t think it was a perfect game, and had more than a few complaints about the durability and rain system… but I still love it. Yet… I don’t think it’s the best Switch game ever made.

That title goes to their flagship character’s first release on the Switch: Super Mario‘s Nipples Odyssey. Any game should be fun to play… but Odyssey was a game that was a joy to play. It rewarded you for playing the game and having fun. It encouraged you to try weird things, look around, explore, and just wander.

It wasn’t the depth that Breath of the Wild was for challenge… it wasn’t trying to be. Yet it somehow ended up being the best 3D Mario game ever made (Mario 64 loses the crown to Odyssey), and likely good enough to make it into the top 3 with SMB3 and Super Mario World. It’s just that good.

Movies

Ace’s Pick: Batman Batman Batman. He’s the crutch that the DC super hero movie genre leans heavily on. And the previous year’s Batman vs. Superman was less than stellar to put it mildly. Had the mythos of Batman lost its luster? Probably. But here came this heroine to make DC super hero movies relevant again:

Wonder Woman blew away my expectations. I still remember the feeling of sitting in the theater when the credits started rolling and just how much I enjoyed it. If DC never made another Batman movie, not sure I’d bat so much as an eye, pun not intended. But please keep making Wonder Woman movies.

Eric’s Pick: It’s likely that you’ve seen at least on Key and Peele sketch around the Internet, even secondhand. It’s such a popular show, and everyone loves at least one bit the show does. In 2016, the duo of Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele made Keanu, a movie about a cat. It wasn’t bad, just a fine comedy movie. But, in 2017, Peele flipped around and hit us with:

I’m a sucker for a good thriller, and I hate horror (which is a really fine line, I know), and Get Out nails it for me. Everything, literally everything in this movie is in service to the plot, from the music, to the sets, even little lines here and there. The symbolism is intensely strong. I don’t want to speak too much about it, because I went into this blind and fell in love, and I want to same for anyone reading this.

Nick’s Pick: Another just stacked year for movies that I love… 2017 gave us what was was both the best love letter and roast of Batman in the LEGO Batman Movie. It reinvented what Marvel Movies were going to be about by giving us the shockingly wonderful Thor: Ragnarok, one of the best war movies in years with Dunkirk, and what is by miles the best DCEU movie made in Wonder Woman. A movie that should have just been terrible, that literally no one asked for, in the Jumanji sequel/remake, ended up being pretty terrific.

Of course, we cannot let the year go by without acknowledging that Star Wars: The Last Jedi came out, and we saw the disgusting and toxic side of Star Wars fandom start to poison everything. I’ve given my thoughts on TLJ a lot of times… I loved it, but acknowledge the flaws within (casino planet at the top of said list). That being said, the attacks by all the toxic manbabies who are sad because girls are seen and heard or who knows what else, also meant that a ton of people who love Star Wars disengaged with the fandom.

I was hoping that they would have all drowned in their tears, alone and unloved, by now… but unfortunately they’ve still been out there harassing the actors and fans alike. I’m writing this the day before Rise of Skywalker comes out, but luckily I’ve managed to avoid most of their rantings, as I just don’t go to the places where they like to frequent. There are still good fan communities out there, full of people who liked, or didn’t like, movies like TLJ and the prequels and can talk about it like adults… but they are sadly rare.

As much as I liked TLJ, it’s not the movie I would pick as my favorite of 2017…

That honor goes to a movie that not nearly enough people saw… Logan Lucky. If you saw the trailer… you had no idea what this was going to be. Let’s see… we have James Bond with frosted tips speaking in an southern American accent. Kylo Ren has slow speech and a prosthetic hand. Magic Mike is… well, he’s still Magic. At its core, it’s a heist movie, something that I love. More than that, though, it has a thread of emotional impact that you absolutely will not see coming. I’m not ashamed to say that I teared up for a particular musical scene at the end… it was beautiful; it’s a “twist” in that a movie was able to deliver that sort of hit with the overall story being told. It’s also helped by being a pretty vicious takedown of the modern economic and corporate system, and subtly pokes holes at a lot of American preconceptions, so of course I was going to like it.

LEGO

Ace’s Pick: 2017 was the year I came clean about all my stuff. I wasn’t building as much, I was trying to not buy as much. Needless to say I was at a bit of a crossroads with LEGO in my life. Still, if I had to pick the one set I liked the most from this year, this would be it:

Seeing this thing on-screen in The LEGO Batman Movie split apart into 4 separate vehicles was bonkers. Seeing, building, and playing with the exact same set and have it do the exact same thing from the movie was even more bonkers. My favorite part was the motorcycle and how the wheels split apart. The black and the yellow color scheme is signature Batman-themed colors but the red highlights were a really nice accent. It’s massive, totally impractical, but so much fun.

Eric’s Pick: You guys remember the LEGO Ninjago Movie and how it came out in 2017? What? Not really, because no one saw it? Yeah, I feel that. Well, a handful of sets were released with the movie, including one great standout:

Coming from the straight-laced modular buildings, 70620 Ninjago City is so much more interesting just to look at. I love the old school / modern Japan aesthetic of the entire movie, and I’m glad it was reflected into this set. I don’t even have this set; I just like looking at it.

Nick’s Pick: 2016 broke me for Star Wars, but 2017 was the year that broke me for everything else. There were a few nice sets this year, like the Saturn V rocket… but 2017 marks the start of my “Dark Ages.” In all honesty, I don’t expect them to end… I’m mostly done with LEGO outside of the occasional purchase. The front part of the year (really, the end of 2016), was loaded with a lot of The LEGO Batman Movie sets… which I loved, but all had the problem of being overpriced.

I reviewed 70912 Arkham Asylum for the site, and gave it pretty rave reviews. I still have it, tucked away somewhere, along with all of the minifigs from this particular theme. I have all of the LEGO Batman Movie stuff… but none of it would I qualify as must have. A lot of the reason I’ve held on to my collection is that it often hasn’t felt worth the effort to part, build, reassemble, disassemble, and list everything. The recent change in ownership at Bricklink hasn’t enticed me much more, so eventually I’ll probably just do a big bulk sale and be done with them.

There’s always the question “why not save them for your kids?” The honest answer? Because my kids won’t care about them… kids love LEGO, but they don’t care about collecting sets, buying up all the different minifigures, etc. Well, I’m sure some do… but mine don’t. More than that… they want their own stuff, the things they love. 2017 is a bittersweet year for LEGO… it marked the closing of a chapter of my life. It turns out, when I was done with LEGO, I ended up not missing it like I thought I would. And that kind of makes me sad…

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