My Gaming Year in Review (2021)

Starting in about 2005, I decided to keep track of every video game I had ever beaten including the date and time of completion. I would even make notes about how the game was completed and added details like the difficulty level or percentage rates if applicable. I used my memory to recall games I had finished since starting college and went even further to try to list games that I had completed in my childhood. In total, I now have 188 beaten games on my list. It’s always fun for me to go back and see everything I’ve played throughout the years.

This year, due to a number of circumstances, I was not able to play too many games. However, I did manage to finish a few, and I’d love to share with you the six that made it onto my records for 2021!


Ecco the Dolphin 3D Remaster (6/20/2021)

Originally released on Nintendo 3DS (2013); Sega (1992)

When I saw that the 3D Remaster of Ecco the Dolphin was on sale on the 3DS eShop, I picked it up right away. I had always wanted to play this game, but as a Nintendo kid, I never had access to it. I remember seeing the box art in the stores or rental shelves and being enamored by the environments depicted on TV/Magazine advertisements. After finally finishing it, all I can say is that I’m glad I decided to wait for this remaster.

Ecco is HARD. I don’t know how anyone was able to have the patience to finish this game back when it first came out. The only reason I was able to beat it was because the 3D Remaster offered a “Super Dolphin Mode” which gives you complete invincibility and infinite oxygen. Additionally, the 3DS grants you the power to use save states, so I didn’t have to mess with the clunky password system. Is this cheating? Nope! It’s an option I can select that’s part of the game, and I’ll take it. Even as a super dolphin, the game is still incredibly challenging as I navigated expansive mazes and tried to manipulate rocks or shells that would open up new passageways. Overall, I’m glad I was able to finally experience this game in a way that was accessible for me.

Mario vs Donkey Kong (6/21/2021)

Originally released on Game Boy Advance (2004)

I was fortunate to buy my Nintendo 3DS from a friend’s ex who happened to get her system when it was first released. Because she had gotten it so early, it included Nintendo’s “Ambassador Program” which rewarded players with 20 free games for those who purchased a 3DS at the $249 price point before it was quickly dropped to $169. Mario vs Donkey Kong was one of these free games.

I likely started playing Mario vs Donkey Kong the same year that I bought the system, which means that this game has been almost a 10-year project for me. I played it off and on over the years, and while I enjoyed it, it didn’t always keep my attention for long. It was the kind of game that I’d play for a few minutes when I didn’t have anything else to play. Maybe I’d finish a level or two and then I’d put it aside. Well, this year, all my work finally came to a close. I only needed help with one level and was lucky to have a friend whose brother had been a speed runner of the game. I remember how we made an awkward Facetime call to him to try to show him what I was doing. He could barely see (or remember the level), but soon he was able to walk me through it. An hour or so later, it was over! Final thoughts? Truly, this game hasn’t left a lasting impression on me, but as always, I’m glad I got some entertainment out of it.

Gargoyle’s Quest 2: The Demon Darkness (8/27/2021)

Originally released on the NES (1992)

I did not expect to ever play this game but when I found out that I’d no longer be able to (easily) use my credit card for the 3DS eShop anymore, I decided to go shopping for some last-minute game grabs. Gargoyle’s Quest 2: The Demon Darkness caught my eye because I had played the first Gargoyle’s Quest on Game Boy when I was a kid, and I remembered liking it. Yet again, I am thankful to have played this game on a system where I could make use of save states because in true classic gaming fashion, this game is not forgiving. I remember one particular jump where if you didn’t press the button at juuuuust the right pixel, you’d fall into a lava pit and die. I tried this jump at least ten times before I finally made it. Had I been playing the “normal” way, I would have been sent way back to my previous save and it would have taken a considerable amount of time to simply get another opportunity at trying again. As an adult, I just don’t have time to play games like I did as a kid.

I got about as much enjoyment out of this game as I thought I would. It didn’t necessarily rekindle any nostalgic feelings that I had from my time with the first game, but I found it to be a much better experience than the Game Boy counterpart. Can’t really go wrong with Capcom!

Mega Man 11 (10/30/2021)

Originally released on various platforms (2018)

Speaking of Capcom, right here is the MAIN reason that I bought a Nintendo Switch! That’s right. I purchased Mega Man 11 back in 2018 when it was first came out long before I ever owned the system that I needed to play it (I don’t have any of the other systems on which it was released either). However, at the time, I was just about to enter grad school and knew that I couldn’t spend money on too many extraneous activities. So, Mega Man 11 became my ultimate motivator, my pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, my flag at the top of a conquered mountain. It worked out perfectly, too, as rumors of a “new” Switch populated my newsfeed over the course of my studies. Shortly after earning my Master’s degree, the release date for the Nintendo Switch OLED was announced, and I knew that my moment had come. It took me a week to finally find one at normal price in the store, but as as soon as it was in my hands, I popped in Mega Man 11 right away.

Was it worth the wait??? Well, it’s a Mega Man game! In particular, I was excited to finally see the cut scenes that inspired my Dr. Wily crayon art from one of my earlier posts. Other than that, gameplay was typical, and that’s exactly what I want from this classic series. Now, when will we get Mega Man 12?!

Metroid Dread (11/13/2021)

Originally released on Nintendo Switch (2021)

With the Switch OLED being released on the same day as Metroid Dread, I couldn’t leave the store without also bringing this game home with me. While I’m not into Metroid games as much as some of my other friends, I’ve found a lot of fun in all of the 2D iterations of the series (except the original NES game. No thanks to farming for energy). Knowing that Metroid Dread came from the same team that gave us Samus Returns on the 3DS a few years earlier meant that I was about to embark on a journey that would not disappoint.

The game was fantastic and the vibrant colors popped on the vivid OLED screen. Metroid has always done a good job of making the player feel like they’re slowly getting more and more powerful over time with the discovery of each new item. Just when you think you can breeze through an area, the game throws in a new challenge to keep you on your toes. I especially appreciated the boss battles which forced me to really pay attention to their patterns in order to be successful. It took me two separate play sessions to defeat the final boss, but the experience was so rewarding because I knew that a large part of my achievement came from the work I put in learning how to approach each phase. Hands down, this was the best game I played this year!

A Short Hike (12/24/2021)

Originally released on various platforms (2019)

While Metroid Dread may have topped my list for the year, A Short Hike wins the award for “Most Warm Fuzzies.” A friend recommended this game to me, and when I saw it on sale for $5.99 on the eShop, I couldn’t say no. I’m so glad I got it! The goal is simple: my bird character simply needs to get to the top of a mountain in order to have cellphone reception. On the way, you encounter all sorts of friendly characters who are enjoying their time on the island in their own ways. The graphics for this game are incredible, and the island is full of new things to discover around each turn.

One of the more rewarding aspects of the game involves the collection of “golden feathers” that allow you to gain height by flapping your wings for each one you’ve gathered. Soaring over the island becomes more and more awe-inspiring as you’re able to reach new altitudes. I’d often find myself looking for the highest point I could reach at the time and jumping off just to get that amazing feeling of gliding over a beautiful landscape. Seriously, I can’t recommend this game enough. Grab it today. You’ll be so happy you played it!


Thanks for stopping by to read my post! What are some games that you finished this year? Did any of them stand out to you? I’d love to hear about it! Leave me a comment below. Also, consider subscribing to my blog via e-mail so you can get content delivered directly to your inbox!

Published by erichagmann

Arranger / Pianist / Vocalist / Educator / Gamer

5 thoughts on “My Gaming Year in Review (2021)

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