2016 was a big year for Vidjagame Apocalypse, the show about friends who get drunk and make exhaustively researched audio listicles about video games. Thousands of new listeners joined our growing weekly audience, and five shows stood out as their favorites of the past 12 months. Which episodes were our most popular? Find out as we count ’em down!
All this week we’ll be looking back at the Laser Time Network’s best stuff of the year, as dictated by you, and by that we mean the raw numbers of views, clicks, downloads, etc. Stay tuned for Best of Top 5s from Laser Time, Talking Simpsons, Thirty Twenty Ten and the best Laser Time videos of the year.
Welcome to what will hopefully be a yearly re-examination of the strange and terrible choices that led to another 52 episodes of Vidjagame Apocalypse, the show where oddball Top 5 lists drunkenly devolve into discussions about new releases, industry news, and more. Our fourth year of VGA saw a few sad changes – so long, Anne Lewis! Goodbye, Tyler Wilde! – as well as an explosion of new listeners who’ve turned in every week to hear Mikel Reparaz, Chris Antista, Dave Rudden, and a rotating cast of Special Guests talk about electronic amusements. Things really started heating up toward the end of the year, in fact, which is why our most meta Top 5 of 2016 begins with…
5. Vampire Protagonists
EPISODE DESCRIPTION: It’s the first week of October, which means we’re kicking off a month of supernatural- and horror-themed Top 5s, beginning with a look at immortal, superpowered bloodsuckers who starred in their own games. We then talk about the early releases of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered and Gears of War 4, delve into why Danganronpa on PS4 is exciting news, and look at the N64 games you want to play, but still haven’t.
Vampires are sexy, and everyone wants to play as them all the time. Even in games where it’s thematically inappropriate. In our first of three horror-themed episodes in October, we talked up forgotten favorites like Jericho Cross, Kain, and Conker, as well as the shakier Eric Bane and the many appearances of everyone’s favorite dhampir, Alucard. It also had Michael Grimm, whose bellowing, energetic presence is always a fantastic addition to any show.
FROM THE COMMENTS: “Chris keeps insisting that Rakugaki Showtime is related to Mischief Makers, and everyone keeps dismissing this. They actually ARE related: Marina is an unlockable character, and is easily the most broken character. For whatever reason, she’s missing her bandana, but she’s specifically called Marina, has peg legs and green hair, and has the strongest throws in the game.” – Scribble Monkey
4. Lost on Wii
EPISODE DESCRIPTION: The Wii turns 10 in North America this week, pushing us to revisit a strange era of dominance built entirely on first-party games – or was it? In spite of its reputation, the Wii had a whole mess of fantastic third-party exclusives that have never been seen again, and this week we’ll talk about five of our favorites with the help of Hank “Henry” Gilbert. Then it’s on to talk about important stuff that matters, like the PS4 Pro, Watch Dogs 2, the NES Classic Edition, Nintendo Switch news, and the game characters you’d like to see as president.
For whatever reason, our look at overlooked gems that only appeared on Nintendo’s immensely-successful-yet-not-all-that-fondly-remembered console pulled in an unexpectedly high number of listeners. While I assume that this was partly because many, many French New Wave enthusiasts were confused into thinking we titled the episode “Lost Ennui,” it seems a lot of you were excited to hear Hank use his Wii expertise to help us talk about the likes of Fragile Dreams and Tatsunoko vs. Capcom – and probably also excited to tell us how wrong we were if we left out something cool (or worse, included something you hated).
FROM THE COMMENTS: ” I think Shower With Your Dad Simulator would make for a delightful escape room romp. You would have to collect hints hidden in the chorus of dad jokes coming from a gaggle of strategically placed showering dads in order to find a key not currently located in any of their pockets. After you, now known as “Trying to Find the Key,” spend an hour hearing the wurst jokes about German sausages, you escape they tell you to knock down the door and you realize they literally meant knocking downwards on the door. In the end, you leave satisfied and with the knowledge that a good pun is its own reward.” – Steve McSteve
3. N64’s Third-Party Exclusives
EPISODE DESCRIPTION: The Nintendo 64’s North American debut happened 20 years ago this week. Because any list of its best games would be dominated by Nintendo titles (and would be utterly predictable), let’s take a slightly less well-trod road and count down five of the console’s best third-party exclusives. We then dig into a bustling week of new releases that includes Forza Horizon 3 and XCOM 2 on consoles, discuss our face-on impressions of Battlezone on PlayStation VR, and talk about your favorite videogame foods.
If you made a Venn diagram of people who listen to game podcasts and people who harbor fond nostalgia for the N64, I imagine it’d just look like a slightly blurry circle. And because so many “Top X N64 Games” lists tend to dwell on your Marios and your Zeldas and your Smash Brotherses, switching our focus to the console’s vibrant lineup of third-party exclusives was just new-yet-familiar enough to be interesting – especially given that we had Laser Time’s resident Nintendophile, Brett Elston, on hand to give the conversation some depth.
FROM THE COMMENTS: “Being an N64 Stockholm syndrome victim (I got my ps1 after the redesign) there weren’t many games I missed on the system thanks to friends and rentals. There was one game i remember seeing, but because the box art looked so lame (I was a pre-teen) I skipped it. .that game was blastcore. I still don’t know what that game is about, I just remember it had a weak CG looking box art of a robot stepping on a dumb truck. Will somebody please tell me what blast core is?!” – Rudd Fucker
2. Undercover Cops
EPISODE DESCRIPTION: Happy Halloweek, everybody! We’re… actually cutting our Halloween theme short a week early, because we only get one Episode 187, and we’d never forgive ourselves if we didn’t seize the opportunity to reference an ancient Dre/Snoop song by focusing on characters who went into deep cover to investigate crime syndicates. We then move on to Battlefield 1, Civilization VI, and World of Final Fantasy before talking at length about the Nintendo Switch, Red Dead Redemption 2, and the creepiest things that happened to you while playing games.
There are certain unwritten rules that must be followed when creating content for an audience. One of those rules demands that when you hit #187 in a series of podcasts, you have to make it about undercover cops. Adherence to this rigid arcane formula satisfied the conditions of contracts struck in blood countless eons ago, obligating our Dark Lord to shower upon us a bounty of eager ears, into which we whispered twisted obscenities. Also Grimm came on to talk about Sleeping Dogs and that’s always a hoot.
FROM THE COMMENTS: “I enjoy that VA can sometimes devolve into drunken angry rambling, and this episode might be the most angriest drunkiest rambliest videogame podcast I have ever heard in my life. I guess what I’m trying to say is I love you Michael Grimm!” – Chinese Ninja Social Justice Warrior
1. Final Fantasies
EPISODE DESCRIPTION: Final Fantasy XV is out after a 10-year wait, and we’re celebrating the only way we know how: by looking back at our five favorite games from the series’ 29-year run. Once we’ve finished enraging fans with our wrong opinions, we shift our focus to Final Fantasy XV, Steep, Nintendo showing up at Universal Studios, and the games you played over the long weekend.
This show was our most-downloaded of the year by a pretty wide margin, and it’s not hard to see why: riding the coattails of Final Fantasy XV’s release, Episode 191 hit a perfect sweet spot of timeliness, nostalgia, and engaging discussion that helped it spread by word of mouth. Guest hosts Bob Mackey and Henry Gilbert came armed with deep knowledge of the series, and everyone’s enthusiasm and love for the games really shined through during our Top 5. This isn’t just our most popular show of the year – it’s also hands-down our best, and my favorite as well.
FROM THE COMMENTS: “I have zero interest in the Final Fantasy series, and I will waste my time and your time letting you know about it in ten seconds or less.” – 23Breach
What was your favorite Vidjagame Apocalypse episode of the year? Let us know in the comments below.