We did this last year so now it’s a tradition… How about another self-indulgent review of games I’ve played and completed in 2021? I know no-one else cares, but it’s kind of like a diary, and I’ve already written it, and I’ve got nowhere else to stick it!

January

Resident Evil 4 was the last game I hadn’t played in the series and turned out to be not only my favourite Resident Evil, but an outrageous imposter into my very, very longstanding top three games of all time! Its predecessor-successor turned out to be pretty cool too. Boss rush aside, the last of the classic Castlevanias I hadn’t beaten looked, sounded and played great, as did a brand new Dizzy – what a stunner! Always time for a few old favourites too, although I then started the third Spyro remaster and just couldn’t face any more of the same!

9 January: Resident Evil 4 (GameCube)

12 January: Power Drift (ZX Spectrum)

15 January: Resident Evil 3 Remake (PS4)

16 January: Castlevania – Rondo of Blood (PC-Engine Mini)

17 January: Wonderful Dizzy (ZX Spectrum)

23 January: V-Rally 3 (Game Boy Advance)

30 January: Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage! (PS4)

February

Started the month with some new Spectrum games; White Jaguar especially is both a stunner and a great platform adventure! Then I played a load of Simpsons Hit & Run, Vampyr and Shadows of the Damned but got bored about halfway into each, so went for some more old favourites instead (though Batman is more favourite soundtrack than game, and parts of Super Star Wars still really stink). Finished with best nearly-NES brutal platform adventure you could wish for, Cyber Shadow. Almost beat me, but you always know you just need to get better, and despite my blood boiling over a few points, that’s what I did. Game of the year to this point!

6 February: White Jaguar (ZX Spectrum)

8 February: Alien Planet Underwater Research (ZX Spectrum)

13 February: Indiana Jones & the Fountain of Everlasting Life (ZX Spectrum)

15 February: Batman – The Video Game (Mega Drive)

16 February: Scooby Doo (ZX Spectrum)

17 February: World of Illusion (Mega Drive)

18 February: Akumajō Dracula – Castlevania (NES on Switch)

20 February: Super Star Wars (SNES)

28 February: Cyber Shadow (Xbox One)

March

Not sure why I saw out the very average Battletoads and slightly less so Double Kick Heroes, but made up for it with classic (really!) 10-minute text adventure Jaws, and time with Shao-Lin’s Road is never wasted! Then my new Xbox Series X appeared… Got through supernatural walking and sometimes running sim The Medium, which is fine if not very next-gen. Donut County was a surprisingly fun couple of hours too, same for the slightly longer, brilliantly crafted arcade and RPG Undertale, and Gears 5 then Wreckfest were stunning looking games and plenty of mindless fun if nothing especially memorable. Nothing not memorable about Frankenstein’s Monster though, especially the bonkers game over screen – it’s a 2600 game with an ending too! And we’re back to closed-door Academy football training, so back to some cool old handheld stuff as well!

3 March: Double Kick Heroes (Xbox One)

4 March: Battletoads (Xbox One)

4 March: Jaws (ZX Spectrum)

8 March: Shao-Lin’s Road (ZX Spectrum)

9 March: Shao-Lin’s Road (Arcade on PS1)

10 March: The Medium (Xbox Series X)

13 March: Donut County (Xbox Series X)

15 March: Gears 5 (Xbox Series X)

18 March: Frankenstein’s Monster (Atari 2600)

19 March: Star Fox 64 3D (3DS)

21 March: Undertale (Xbox Series X)

25 March: Dragon Quest (Switch)

28 March: Wreckfest (Xbox Series X)

April

Game Pass really delivering here, with three great games in the space of a week… Pointing, clicking and jazzing, and somehow I still didn’t hate Genesis Noir – quite the opposite, actually! Then Narita Boy was a brilliant metroidvania of sorts homage to the eighties, and Outriders got that shooting and looting thing spot on! Dirt 5’s lighting effects kept me going far longer than its fairly uninspiring career mode deserved. After that I lost myself in Final Fantasy VII Remake, but did make my way through new ZX Spectrum game Danterrifik III; plays like Super Meat Boy meets Manic Miner, looks like Downwell in a Nazi cathedral, and has the best music you’ve ever heard on there !

2 April: Genesis Noir (Xbox Series X)

6 April: Narita Boy (Xbox Series X)

10 April: Commando (Arcade on Switch)

14 April: Outriders (Xbox Series X)

19 April: Dirt 5 (Xbox Series X)

30 April: Danterrifik III (ZX Spectrum)

May

Bit too much time on Final Fantasy VII Remake this month – glad I played it, but also glad I didn’t pay for it, thanks to PS+! That sandwiched the wonderful Resident Evil Village twice, which completely lived up to my own hype, and was instantly game of the year to this point! Also slipped in an extra bit of filling with old favourite The Trap Door – was there ever a better looking Spectrum game? Went back to Hotshot Racing, which is nice, but not quite the Virtua variety it looks up to. Otherwise, wonderful few hours with WEC Le Mans and Mr Heli, and there’s always time for a new run at Silent Hill 2!

14 May: The Trap Door (ZX Spectrum)

16 May: Resident Evil Village (Xbox Series X)

17 May: Hotshot Racing (Xbox Series X)

23 May: Resident Evil Village NG+ (Xbox Series X)

26 May: WEC Le Mans (ZX Spectrum)

29 May: Silent Hill 2 NG+ (PlayStation 2)

30 May: Mr Heli (ZX Spectrum)

31 May: Final Fantasy VII Remake (PS4)

June

I loved the look of The Saboteur back in 2009, and finally got around to it – still plays pretty good too, even if the rude DLC is no longer accessible! Finally beat Continental Circus after years of getting to the last course then blowing it – felt great! Enjoyed my first (but undoubtedly not last) journey through sometimes brilliant but often by numbers Silent Hill 3, and rounded off the month with a bunch of arcade-type stuff on all sorts of systems!

6 June: The Saboteur (PS3)

11 June: Riddle of the Sphinx (Atari 2600)

13 June: Wave Race – Blue Storm (GameCube)

15 June: Dragon Spirit – The New Legend (NES on Switch)

17 June: Continental Circus (Arcade on PS2)

21 June: Silent Hill 3 (PS2)

27 June: Super Cycle (Atari ST)

July

Still not sure what clicked with D&D, but for all its bugs, button mashing, general mediocrity and my lack of co-op partners, I really enjoyed it! Madden was fun if not especially groundbreaking, and still not something I’d rush out and pay for (though I did happily buy Madden 94 on GameCube recently)! More versions of Out Run and Pit-Fighter rinsed, but Panzer Dragoon Mini and Frontline barely count for being a bit too easy. Super Turrican wasn’t quite as easy, except the final boss, which I loved, and that soundtrack still sounds incredible! I ran out of races on Forza Horizon 4, and gave in to the temptation of another Resident Evil 4 run. Finally this month, I made the most of my first ever review code with Cotton Reboot, though reaching the end is barely scratching the surface.

4 July: Dungeons & Dragons Dark Alliance (Xbox Series X)

5 July: Out Run (PC-Engine)

6 July: Madden NFL 21 Franchise Mode (Xbox Series X)

7 July: Panzer Dragoon Mini (Game Gear)

13 July: Super Turrican (SNES on Switch)

17 July: Pit-Fighter (Arcade on Xbox Series X)

17 July: Forza Horizon 4 (Xbox Series X)

19 July: Resident Evil 4 (PS4)

21 July: Frontline (Atari 2600)

29 July: Cotton Reboot Arrange Mode (Switch)

August

One of your top five games ever is always a good start to a month, as is more Cotton Reboot, which is also quickly becoming a favourite! Game Pass newbie Twelve Minutes was a star-studded but janky point and click thriller that starts compelling but becomes confusing. Blair Witch was leaving Game Pass and being a massive fan of the film decided to finally try the game I’d never fancied – it’s alright. And yet another game of Silent Hill 2 done, but in my defence it was the HD version on Xbox which I’d never played before. Finally reached the end of Luigi’s Mansion too, after quite a long time dabbling – another one that’s alright, but looks far better than it plays.

2 August: Renegade (ZX Spectrum)

15 August: Cotton Reboot X68000 Mode (Switch)

15 August: Cotton Reboot Arrange Mode / Appli (Switch)

20 August: Twelve Minutes (Xbox Series X)

23 August: Blair Witch (Xbox Series X)

27 August: Silent Hill 2 HD (Xbox Series X)

30 August: Luigi’s Mansion (GameCube)

September

Not sure Rogue Trooper or Commando count anymore as I could finish both in my sleep! Not sure about Psychonauts 2 either; dragged a bit, but some absolutely spectacular moments probably made up for that. Art of Rally was a wonderful, very stylised proper rally game that I could tell was up my alley from its very first screenshots. Unlike the stunningly imaginative, narrative musical journey that is The Artful Escape, a definite game of the year contender from out of nowhere! I missed Jason’s Gem and Myst first time around, and considering I don’t like puzzle games, that one turned out to be alright! That new Castlevania Advance Collection ain’t bad either, even if the first game I played wasn’t a very “Advance” one.

1 September: Rogue Trooper (ZX Spectrum)

3 September: Commando (Arcade on Switch)

5 September: Psychonauts 2 (Xbox Series X)

10 September: Art of Rally (Xbox Series X)

11 September: The Artful Escape (Xbox Series X)

12 September: Jason’s Gem (ZX Spectrum)

17 September: Myst (Xbox Series X)

25 September: Dracula X – Castlevania Advance Collection (Switch)

October

That Castlevania Advance Collection is fantastic – I think Harmony of Dissonance just about won out as my favourite, but all four games are a treat, and the art gallery and the music player that gives you their awesome soundtracks is the icing on the sumptuous gothic cake! Otherwise, just some old favourites, but special mention to Cotton 100%, officially released here for the first time, and some of finest graphics ever to come out of a SNES.

6 October: Castlevania: Circle of the Moon – Castlevania Advance Collection (Switch)

10 October: Gleylancer (Switch)

15 October: Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance – Castlevania Advance Collection (Switch)

17 October: Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow – Castlevania Advance Collection (Switch)

17 October: Monument Valley 2 – The Lost Forest Expansion (iOS)

20 October: Kung-Fu Master (Game Boy)

29 October: Cotton 100% (Switch)

31 October: Super Castlevania IV (SNES Classic Mini)

November

Started the month where I finished the last, most of the way through both old favourite Splatterhouse and its sequel, which was first time playing! Had an urge for my very first Game Boy game again, which is always fun, as was (somewhat surprisingly) Hypnospace Outlaw, a slow-burn sleuth puzzler set in a deep and thoughtful simulation of the early internet. Arcade Castlevania Haunted Castle ain’t so bad once you get past the outrageously hard first level, but my old pal Noddy on GBA is the complete opposite! Tiny Wings then met Journey in Exo One on Game Pass, but while often stunning it didn’t quite live up to either over its short duration. It did lead me back to Journey though – still one of the most beautiful games ever created!

1 November: Splatterhouse 2 (Mega Drive)

5 November: Splatterhouse (PC-Engine)

7 November: Super Mario World (Game Boy)

14 November: Hypnospace Outlaw (Xbox Series X)

20 November: Haunted Castle (Arcade on Switch)

24 November: Noddy – A Day in Toyland (Game Boy Advance)

26 November: Exo One (Xbox Series X)

27 November: Journey (PS4)

30 November: Clockwork Aquario (Arcade on Switch)

December

I bought Abzu for almost nothing years ago and finally got around to its slightly poncey but mostly impressive couple of hours to kick off the month. Feud’s couple of hours is always way more than mostly impressive, which is why it’s my favourite game ever! Halo Infinite not quite that – too many metal corridors ending in metal doors for that – but it was a blast all the same, as was Serious Sam 4 along similar, albeit less polished, more bonkers lines! “Less polished” is a good way to describe Firewatch too, but maybe I just left it too long!

4 December: Abzu (Switch)

6 December: Feud (ZX Spectrum)

17 December: Halo Infinite (Xbox Series X)

21 December: Serious Sam 4 (Xbox Series X)

23 December: Firewatch (Xbox Series X)