By Dalai 1 Comments
I swear, this is the last one. Some of you probably know my choice for Game of the Year, but there's some other games worthy of praise so let's conclude this (X) thing.
Best Use of Nostalgia - The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
People love to shit on Nintendo for using nostalgia to prop up their games, but I love when Nintendo adds those Easter eggs to their core games. It's a reminder that my childhood was awesome and maybe better than yours. So when Nintendo unveiled a direct sequel to The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, the world split into two camps. One group criticized Nintendo for making a nostalgic cash grab. The other group was drooling in amazement. I mean, can a game set literally in the same world as its 20 year old predecessor work in the present day? According to Gamespot and one Vinny Caravella, absolutely. A Link Between Worlds uses that classic world to its advantage. I love how nearly everything is right where it was 20 years ago, yet the subtle differences work so well it feels fresh and new. Even in a game where the entire world is a giant A Link to the Past Easter egg, they find a way to throw in references to other games like Majora's Mask and Skyward Sword.
Also A Link Between Worlds wins the Game To Convince Me to Buy a 3DS Award. Thanks for the hole in my wallet, nostalgia.
Runner-up: Super Mario 3D World
Wii U Game of the Year - Super Mario 3D World
Speaking of nostalgia, here's the king of nostalgia himself, Mario.
I think even the most die-hard Nintendo fan can see the Wii U hasn't lived up to its potential yet. That doesn't mean the fledgling console is void of good games because as long as Nintendo makes games for it, the Wii U will have great games. Take Super Mario 3D World, for instance. It's not quite the second coming of Super Mario Galaxy or Super Mario 64 or Super Mario World depending on what you played when you were 11, but 3D World is pure magic in motion that never likes doing the same tricks over and over again. Mario has some new powers like illegal human cloning and being a cat and yes, the cat suit is quite prominent and often vital to finding many of the stars and stamps. The cat suit is destined to become a classic in its own right, but Super Mario 3D World also loves its one-off concepts like Kuribo's "motherfucking" Skate! Nostalgia with a twist! Perhaps the best part of 3D World is that Mario can be dragged to the sidelines for the awkward Luigi (it is his year you know), Peach (clearly the best choice) or Toad if you wanna be that guy. So yes, it's like Doki Doki... I mean Super Mario Bros. 2 in that fashion. If Mario bores you, you can mix things up.
Super Mario 3D World gets the win here because it's the same wonderful 3D Mario experience while blending parts that make the 2D games great. It's that one game that Wii U owners have every right to brag about.
Hottest Mess/Garbage - SimCity
The SimCity I was introduced to during E3 2012 looked like the SimCity I had been dreaming of for 20 years. Curved roads, 3D, online regions, this game could have had it all. I rode that hype train for months all the way until March when that train suddenly lost its brakes, derailed, caught on fire and crashed into an elementary school full of children. I was willing to forgive EA and Maxis for forcing me to be connected online at all times since my internet rarely goes out, but when the server side is swamped with a million people trying to walk through a single door, I was pissed as was you were probably... unless you don't own SimCity, then lucky you! So a week passes and tensions are high amongst the SimCity community, but they got their servers in order and things were normal. Except for the lack of key features like cheetah speed and achievements. At some point, EA and Maxis had to apologize for underestimating demand and releasing SimCity with servers at less than adequate capacity. At least I got a free copy of one of the Dead Space games, whichever one it was.
So after all the troubles and tribulations of the launch, we all found out that SimCity was actually pretty mediocre. I understand Maxis had a vision of a SimCity with more social interaction and cooperative play which makes a ton of sense if SimCity were structured better. City plots are unbelievably small and fill up way too quickly. Key components to city building like highways are nowhere to be found. The traffic system was horribly flawed. The mining of resources and trading with other cities sounds neat on paper, but never worked all that well in practice. The list goes on and on and on. I really wanted to justify my $80 pre-order and played a decent amount of SimCity finding some sense of enjoyment whenever I can. Sadly, all I have to show for it are some cities that haven't been touched in months and one game in my Origin account that I completely forgotten about.
I remember now. It was Dead Space 3. Fucking hell, EA!
Best Unfinished Game - Kentucky Route Zero
It all started with a package to an address located on a mysterious highway in the middle of Kentucky, but I am not sure how it finishes yet. Nobody does. Five episodes were promised, but only two have been released, the last one way back in May. Back to the plot, it's basically a story about a man and his dog as they try to find this place on Kentucky Route Zero and... adventures. I'd rather not spoil anything, but let's just say its style of writing is damn near poetic and quirky enough to where I couldn't put the game down. Well... is it a game again? I had this issue with Gone Home and Proteus in Dalai's 2013 VGXTs: Episode 1 so the hypocrisy could possibly ring true except the other parts around the game are phenomenal. Those surreal parts where the camera zooms in breaking apart the scene with such brilliant artistry to show something even more haunting and beautiful, the bits of bluegrass which made me stop and contemplate about the travels ahead, the weird bits of humor scattered across the countryside, all those components and more made me appreciate games more as a work of art than ever before.
That and the bears.
Game of the Year - Bioshock Infinite
Spoilers ahead so tread lightly.
Jeff and Drew were right.
Bioshock Infinite felt much more like an event than just a game during the first few weeks it was released. I was fresh off my PAX East trip and was going to jump right into Bioshock Infinite since SimCity was a total bummer and I had a feeling Infinite was going to be something special. About two weeks after launch, I finished the game along with thousands of others and like those thousands of others, I had to talk about the ending, ask questions about the ending, read about how it was the best conclusion to a video game ever or in the rare case, an underwhelming ending with a cheap excuse for the reason this world existed. This game was hailed as a lock for Game of the Year prematurely, but also for good reason. No other game was discussed in detail and to death this year like Bioshock Infinite. Weeks and months passed and all of a sudden everybody seems to be on this Bioshock hate train. The Monday morning quarterbacking continues today with even more vigor and more barbs thrown at the game for almost cheating the system by using the multiverse and time-travel tropes to fill in the plot holes. People bitched about the politics, why the racism angle wasn't explored deeper or why the Vox Populi had to be these asshole murderers who burned everything to the ground or why that whole conflict was eventually turned into background noise in favor of this Booker = Comstock narrative or... I need to stop before my head explodes. Seriously, who the fuck cares? The game was awesome!
Bioshock Infinite is a spectacular roller coaster ride of action and exposition that surpasses the original Bioshock in so many ways. The combat is fun, especially when you start experimenting with the vigors. There are several memorable characters you meet, kill, and follow you around. The use of music is original and inventive. There are countless moments where my jaw figuratively dropped like when Elizabeth creates a rip to reveal 1980s Paris in all its Tears for Fears glory, or when the millions of lighthouses were shown to Booker's amazement, or the death of Songbird in Rapture of all places. It's an extraordinary world that looks great, plays great, and tells a story I'll remember for years to come.
And for the record, Back to the Future II is a kick-ass movie.
Game of the Generation - Super Mario Galaxy
Let's end this awards show with a big bang, not a shitty concert. I've been expanding my horizons over the past several years trying out games in genres that are out of my comfort zone like the occasional JRPG and first-person shooter. I've loved games across a wide spectrum of styles and tastes, but for me there's nothing like a platformer that reminds me of my gaming beginnings. That's where Super Mario Galaxy comes in. Giant Bomb's own Alex Navarro said that Super Mario 3D World is what he imagined a Mario game would look like when he was a young lad, but Super Mario Galaxy was how I imagined a future Mario would play like back when I was a young lad. Super Mario Galaxy was the most fun I've had with a game since I was, well, a young lad. Each level is crafted to be pure fun without any filler or unnecessary bullshit difficulty. The controls were precise and felt natural making great use of the Wii tech, possibly some of the best use of the Wii Remote ever. It even looked great, but I had the advantage of having a standard definition TV at the time, but holy crap it looks so colorful and pretty even today. And if you finished the game, you got to see one of the most surreal endings Nintendo has ever made. Super Mario Galaxy was that rare game that brightened up this dreary, brown generation and made me grin from ear to ear like no other game can and that's why Super Mario Galaxy is my Game of the Generation.
And that's it for this, the Year of Luigi and oh fuck.