I have played Mega Man 2. Several times. Usually I've played Mega Man 2 alone with the TV turned up so all my neighbors can listen and say to themselves, "He's playing Mega Man 2 again. Awesome!" Never once have I had my session of Mega Man 2 accompanied by a band. This guy has done it.
MAGFest is an annual event that combines the world of video games with the world of music. When these worlds collide, you get the cosmic greatness above. Excellent job, Bit Brigade. You've destroyed us all... and it's glorious.
And thumbs up to the player for not dying and being super-efficient.
I did not play nearly as much Aquaria as I should have, but it makes my list this year because Aquaria was able to make an entire game set underwater good. Perhaps the other reason why I like Aquaria is its exploration and open-world feeling... like Super Metroid and Castlevania. I call it Metroidvania. Anyway, Aquaria separates itself from other Metroidvania games with its oceanic theme, colorful graphics, and amnesia. Another standout feature is the narration which is similar to how Bastion treated narration... except it's narrated by the character and she doesn't talk nearly as often. Unfortunately, it didn't grab my attention as much this year so hopefully 2012 is the year I finally get to sit down and get more acquainted with Naija and the surrounding world.
If I were giving out awards, Chrono Trigger would win the "Best RPG of 1995 That Isn't Earthbound." I started playing Chrono Trigger just before Ryan and Patrick started their Endurance Run, but 16 years after its initial SNES release... but better late than never. I think you all know enough about Chrono Trigger now that the Endurance Run is nearing the end, but I can say that the classic gameplay still holds up well today. From the unique cast of characters to the wide range of settings, Chrono Trigger remains one of the high points in JRPG design and execution.
Or Fahrenheit if you will. Indigo Prophecy plays like no other game I've ever played. It's part point-and-click adventure, part Simon. However, the "action" is not what makes the game in this case. Indigo Prophecy is built around the story more than anything else so liking the game depends almost solely on whether the story and dialogue is well done. And... yeah, the story of Lucas Kane is an interesting one to put it lightly. It starts off with Lucas in a trance-like state murdering a guy in a diner and somehow ends with him being Keanu Reeves. Even though the Mayan connection and the Lucas/Carla attraction came out of left field, Indigo Prophecy was a one-of-a-kind game at the time and fans of adventure games who want something different should give it a try.
Of all the games I've played this year, Limbo has to be the darkest, most emo of the bunch. As a platformer, it ranks high among the best this generation. As soon as the game begins, you find yourself in a dark forest running through the dank trying to survive. You're just a boy... no superpowers, no background, no nothing. The goal is to traverse the landscape avoiding giant spiders, man-made traps, and the environment. As a puzzle game, it's brilliant and makes you think before you proceed, although trial-and-error can be used to pass through the game as well because Limbo is forgiving with its many checkpoints. Artistically, the lack of color and the silhouettes might seem lazy to people who like some color, but it works to the game's advantage making Limbo scarier than it would be if it were in full color. Overall, Limbo is an excellent game that... I still need to finish. Damn, I suck at completing games. It's my fault because Limbo is not a long game.
Many of you have witnessed the tale of Commander Shepard and the gang through two games and are looking forward to the 3rd entry later this year, but I'm late to the BioWare party. Although the game came out back in 2007, I was still amazed by the scale of Mass Effect in both the size of the game's universe and the detailed history given to just about everything. It doesn't do everything perfectly, but the few issues didn't hamper my experience one bit.
Here's a game listed in my best of 2009 blog so... why bring it back? Because I spent more than a few hours with the game this time. However, I stand by my approval for Muramasa and its lovely style and action.
Tower defense was never this good, but the premise makes zero sense. Why are plants fighting zombies? More accurately, why is Crazy Dave using plants to fight zombies? Because he's hardcore? Whatever the reason is, Plants vs. Zombies is surprisingly complex for a cutesy, casual game.
Of the 2011 games I played, Bastion ranks last in the amount of time spent. 20 minutes, actually. So expect Bastion on my 2012 list, but those 20 minutes of Bastion made me realize why people have been praising the game the past several months. Damn if that narrator is the James Earl Jones of video games! I must make room for Bastion this year.
Somehow I was hoping Bulletstorm was going to be the game to break the mold and make shooters exciting again. That didn't happen, but it's not like Bulletstorm is a bad game. It's a shooter that doesn't quite take itself that seriously and the dialogue pretty much proves that. It put dicktits on the map, but for most of us, that's the game's legacy. I do have to give People Can Fly and Epic Games some kudos for developing a solid game with some great set pieces and dozens of different ways to kill. If you were hesitant about Bulletstorm, just get it for cheap and strap it on. Seriously, though. Dicktits?
I will come out and say that I really like de Blob and getting the sequel was a no-brainer to me. I fully expected de Blob 2 to be a great game on par with the original, but sadly it wasn't the case in my opinion. De Blob 2 was a familiar game that brought very little that was new to the table and the biggest change (the 2D platforming sections) felt sluggish. I still believe de Blob 2 is a good platformer that stays true to the original with an underrated soundtrack and loads of gooey charm.
The Binding of Isaac can be best described as fucked up. You mainly play as Isaac, a scared naked fetus boy who is trying to escape his overly-religious mother because she's trying to kill him. It's a classic Old Testament story... right? Anyway, The Binding of Isaac is my first true experience with this weird roguelike genre and the randomness has kept me from discounting this game. The design almost mirrors The Legend of Zelda (the first one) so a hint of nostalgia lingers despite the blood, ooze, and creepy enemies that want Isaac's flesh. The Binding of Isaac might take bit and pieces from older games, but it's a departure from pretty much anything out there and because of that, it stands out.
I have a top 3 which I will dig into later, but chew on this for a while.
As a side note, Dead Island will likely be on next year's list. I sneaked a few hours of that game on New Year's Eve and if I had played it earlier, it would be among the games above, jank and all.
So here's the deal. I wasn't really interested in Dead Island until about a week or two ago. Like many of you, I wanted no part in any games that showcase the latest in zombie technology. I've had my fill of Left 4 Dead a few years back and I was happy leaving the zombies behind. Then the Steam sale came along and Christmas. Combine the two and I get a nice gift from my brother, that gift being Dead Island. The game was chosen by me so I am to blame if I hated its take on the apocalypse by zombie infection. But I just said I was sick of zombie games... well... Dead Island actually looked pretty neat. It seemed like my type of zombie game. Little gunplay, sharp objects, blunt objects, and a strangely original setting on the fictional island of Banoi, originally called Hanoi until Ryan Davis thought swapping the H for a B would be hilarious. The pieces were there, but would it be any good?
Believe it or not, the answer might be yes. I'm not sure why because there are aspects of the game that I simply don't like. For example, everybody is either depressed or scared. I understand zombies are serious business, but most of the people on the island are either downers or cowards. They want me to do everything, selfish fucks. Speaking of me, I'm cursing a lot in the game. I figured I chose the white male douche because they make for the best fighters in zombie apocalypses, but tone the shit down, game. What else... Dead Island is fucking hard! I'm opting for the single player because playing with other people just ain't my thing unless it's a deathmatch or competitive scenario. I'm not sure if that makes a difference, but how am I supposed to fend off 7 or 8 walkers at once? Luckily the game doesn't exactly punish people hard for not living so balance? And oh, the jank. And the shitty driving. And the occasional mission where you have to fetch bottles of Jack Daniels.
So do I like anything about Dead Island? Well, the entire package works despite the issues. Think about it, it's a zombie infestation! People should be fearful and afraid to go outside. There should be large groups of zombies together to make the apocalypse almost impossible to survive. There should be fetch quests for booze because alcohol is cool and tastes great.
Several hours in, I find myself enjoying parts of Dead Island to the point that I will sometimes forget about the rough edges. For starters, killing zombies is fun because it's all about the melee. Shooting zombies is boring, right? Chopping off the head of a walker with a sickle or an axe is much more gratifying than just pulling out the gun and trying to pull off a headshot. Continuing onto the next point, Banoi is a lovely place for a zombie attack. It's like Sandals or Beaches, but without the kids running around bugging you for attention. The actual city I found myself in later in the game looks less inviting, though. I swear that city is actually a lost Call of Duty multiplayer map. But hey, zombies.
I can attempt to go on, but the bottom line is that I like Dead Island. It ain't perfect, but it's really great if you can live with the jank.
On an unrelated note, where is my 2011 in review? I have a Game of the Year to announce. No it's not Dead Island, silly.
2011 is coming to a close, folks. Belive (sic) it or not, we are less than a year away from the end of the world. The human race had a good run so I can't complain, but what about video games in general?
If I can describe 2011 in a single word, I'd say it was "familiar." The number 3 was the big winner of 2011 and the only company not to release three-quel was Valve. Because Valve doesn't believe in the number 3. There were very few games that were both original and stood out among the pack and that's very unfortunate because 2011 could have been an awesome year. Some of you believe it was a great year. It was the year of Skyrim, Zelda, Uncharted, Gears of War, Portal, Batman, and many more. Now it's not like the whole sequel thing is a new phenomenon, but 2011 was an exceptionally horrible year for innovation and all things new. Some may disagree and I've seen some people compare this year to 2007, the year that has become the default best year this generation. Those people are morons... or not, some of them might just be misguided.
As I look back at 2011, I see fewer games worth talking about than last year and for some reason, fewer older games to talk about as well. One reason might be that I spent more time on a small handful of video games than other games in the past. I spent over 50 hours on a few games this year so I was somewhat occupied with a small amount of games. There are some games on the list I didn't finish, and even a few still need to dig much deeper in. But these were the games I played and deserved at least some of my time.
What were these games? Well... guess them all and you can win a 10% coupon off any Activision game on Steam! That's a WHOLE 10%! Hold on, here are some clues.
A game 25 years in the making that doesn't star Duke Nukem.
A 2011 tale straight from the Bible.
An epic and colorful shooter, both in language and box art.
A colorful 2011 platformer all about colors.
A tower defense game that matches the living against the undead.
A Vanillaware title I put on my 2009 list.
A Minecraft-ish game that looks older than Minecraft.
A 2011 game that is certainly no combustible lemon.
An aquatic adventure that has been humbled in the past.
A dark 2010 game set in greyscale.
And a game that felt like a quantic dream.
Remember, you can win a virtually worthless coupon. Come back on Christmas for the results.
The Nintendo Download X-Press train has been sitting in a railyard for months without anything worthwhile to talk about. And since I haven't listened to the Bombcast in a long, long time, I'm not sure if they periodically bring back the WiiWare and eShop releases unless they're actually of some bit of quality. Well... I have a game here called Paper Wars: Cannon Fodder! that bucks the usual trend of glorifying its shitty games. You don't believe me?
Put on your Gerstmann voice and read the description for Paper Wars.
"There are a lot of bad games. Some of them are even considered to be the worst games ever – is this one of them? It kinda is. But you shouldn't find Paper Wars compared to any of those! It’s just too bad to be even ranked ! This is a warning: do not even try to play it! Paper Wars Cannon Fodder is a tower defense video game developed by several Polish and Hungarian outsourced programmers of iFun4all team, in the cheapest way you can imagine. What’s the so-called brilliant goal of the game? You would never guess. It is about destroying all enemies! The same well-known thrilling story, hordes of cold-blooded enemies trying to survive the Armageddon! There are some additional goals to be achieved in different missions and levels - watch your right! The game can be played by up to four players in co-op mode. If you think you need some extraordinary power-ups, you can get them during three campaigns: Classic, Winter Assault and Cyber Wars. „Hand made” graphics, soviet style military music and annoying sound effects make players eager to complete each level and collect medals for their outstanding efforts."
- worst game ever - papercut graphic - three campaigns - four players cooperation
It's been ages since I've voiced my opinion here about a video game I was currently playing in great detail. This year was a great year for some, but for me it wasn't the most impressive year of the generation. In fact, it's probably the weakest I've seen since 2006 when the industry was going through the transition towards HD graphics and motion controls. And it was in 2006 when we were introduced to the Wii and a little game called The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Some like myself thought the game was excellent and improved on what made its predecessors so endearing. Others thought Twilight Princess was too much like the previous games and was predictable enough to dislike. 5 years later, the same thing can be applied to Skyward Sword. And here I am 5 years later playing a game that is unequivocally Zelda to the core and loving it. And despite the traditional trappings, Skyward Sword also makes enough subtle changes to keep many of those who want dramatic change occupied a few years until we get the Wii U's interpretation of the story about Zelda, Link, the Triforce, and the rest.
My impressions will be mostly positive, but let's get the predictable story plots out of the way. The story doesn't exactly veer off into left field, at least as far as I know. I'd say I'm about 80% through the main story and it's not that different than the others. Zelda is part of some elaborate witness protection program like in Ocarina of Time and Link must go through a series of dungeons finding trinkets and doo-dads that will all eventually help with the end boss. The only major twist is that Zelda and Link start off best friends in the game. And since I believe Skyward Sword is intended to be an origin story, I hope they eventually wrap up some of the 20 million or so loose ends in the timeline. As I usually do with Zelda games, the story is secondary to the meat and potatoes of the game, the gameplay.
And the game plays just like a Zelda game with advanced motion controls. I find the controls to be pretty superb and the MotionPlus works at least 95% of the time. It appears that the Zelda team took some cues from the Wii Sports Resort team and utilized the controls from a number of the Wii Sports Resort games. The bow controls are straight from archery, rolling bombs remind me of bowling, and flying is... flying. Anybody remember the beginning of Wii Sports Resort where your Mii goes skydiving? Yep, same controls when Link skydives. The only minor flaw that can hinder the controls a bit is while pointing at the screen to aim, but even that can be fixed with a button press. I have had no problems with calibration to speak of and other than maybe some human error, Link's sword goes where my Wii Remote goes. Link's weapon selection is a bit different this time around... think no boomerang. There's a leafblower device that cleans up sand and dirt, a bug net for catching bugs (yay), and the most useful device I've seen in a Zelda game in a while, the Beetle. It's been incredibly handy as a land surveyor, grabber of goodies, and distractor of baddies. The Beetle is one of the first examples of actual technology in the Zelda universe. In fact, this might be the most advanced civilization in a Zelda game. Like... robots! Robots in my Zelda game? It somehow works. And everything controls great.
And it's probably a good thing I've had no troubles with the controls because the majority of enemies rely on those high fidelity controls working near-perfectly. There will always be a handful of enemies that can be killed through waggling, but most involve swinging your controller a specific direction to effectively get the hit or kill. And I'm surprised that Link's arsenal can be very useful against some bad guys. It definitely keeps me on my toes and forces me to think about how to kill enemies compared to previous games where either button mashing or waggling were the standard.
As for how it looks and sounds, I'm all for the impressionist look. We all know the Wii never blew people away with its technical prowess and those people aren't going to be wowed by Skyward Sword. So I'm praising Skyward Sword's visuals for being different and unlike anything we've seen in a long while. It's simply beautiful overall even if there are some spots where it's less flattering. It's a good way to combine the gritty realist look of Twilight Princess with the clean, colorful look of Wind Waker and give Skyward Sword its own identity. And the soundtrack is a glorious mix of old and new, most of it in its orchestral glory. So check that box. Voice acting... not this time. A disappointment, but it doesn't bother me. The few dozen characters still express more emotion than most characters in other games where they won't shut up. I'll take Beedle's enthusiastic yells or even Fi's computer gibberish over Beedle's actual voice or Fi speaking at all... she's too much of a Captain Obvious.
But it's a Zelda game so there are going to be many elements that are inherently Zelda. Heart pieces and rupees remain as they should, maps are important for dungeon exploration, and many of the weapons return like the bow, bombs, and clawshot. Even the upgrade system feels like an upgrade system that would be in a Zelda game, simple and a bit irrational, but kinda neat at the same time. The cast of characters are still as goofy and colorful as they have been. Like the big-headed fortune teller or the Kikwi fella in the picture above who reminds me of Adam Savage of Mythbusters... if he were a giant pair of balls. Skyloft, Hyrule, and the rest of the universe will always have its quirky citizens and I wouldn't want it any other way. As for Zelda's dungeons, they're dungeons you'd find in a Zelda game. The themes are typical for Zelda (forest, fire, water) but now the surface world acts as several small dungeons. Skyloft is the central hub where everything happens, but the world below is much less open and is deceptively dungeon-like. The dungeons themselves haven't changed except for the lack of torch puzzles... shocking! Every dungeon still has blocks to move in order to climb up a high ledge, there are switches that only the slingshot or bow can reach, and I believe every dungeon has that end boss where the rule of three exists, but Nintendo can still create a fun and challenging dungeon boss scenario. I can keep going on about the remixed side quests (like the variation of the toilet paper scene in Majora's Mask) or the minigames that don't seem to evolve or the tear collecting that rips straight from Twilight Princess or the one dick who hates Link because he's so awesome or the... everything else I've seen in other Zelda games. I say they should bring back the Bomber's Notebook quests from Majora's Mask... because that was the shit!
But does all this translate into a Game of the Year contender? I guess it depends on your tastes in games today. In 2006, Jeff Gerstmann (you know who he is) felt that Twilight Princess was an 8.8 (still great, guys) and his opinion ain't gonna change with Skyward Sword. That's fine and we need people like Jeff and Patrick Klepek of Giant Bomb fame to emphasize what some people believe are negatives. Hopefully they make sure Nintendo doesn't just remake the same, old game again and again even though some people think Nintendo remakes the same, old games again and again. Personally, Skyward Sword is vastly different than previous games, but so familiar that it feels like I've played this exact game before with a different coat of paint. That means I think it's an awesome game that everybody should check out if you have a Wii. That also means that Skyward Sword doesn't really change much from past games in any meaningful way other than the MotionPlus controls... for those who believe in motion controls. We might finally be at the point where every future Zelda game from now to the end of time will be scrutinized for being either too different, too similar to the rest, too dark, too lighthearted, too simple, too challenging, etc. It's pretty common to see something that's been around as long as Zelda be criticized for a host of things. Look at The Simpsons, for Christ's sake. People like me who feed on nostalgia can live without innovation to a point and still love Zelda for what it is, but with gamers finding themselves more attracted to games like Skyrim, The Witcher 2, and Dragon Age, something like Skyward Sword feels like a throwback.
But I love myself a good throwback. As does this guy.
About 5 days and 28 hours of play time with the latest Zelda adventure, I can honestly say that I'm familiar with the inner workings of Skyloft and the surface world in general. I know my way around town pretty well, I have a friendly relationship with the Item Check girl, and I am a master bug catcher. There is so much I know about the world in Skyward Sword, but there are burning questions that need answered. It's possible they'll be answered as I play through the second half of the game, but I can't wait for the final battle with Ghirahim or maybe the fortune teller (he knows too much) to have these questions answered for me. So let me ask you all here since you've all been playing Skyward Sword on your dustless Wii consoles.
In the world of Skyloft, there is an honest-to-goodness working toilet. It's fairly crude by modern standards, but indoor plumbing in my Zelda game? I'm stunned! Anyway, there is only one of these toilets in the entire floating town. That toilet takes care of the people who live at the Knight Academy, but what about the common folk? They don't have toilets. Do they... just poop off the edge of the island? Or do they all just use that one crapper? Because I never see a line into the bathroom. Ever.
No Zelda game can ever survive without pots of all shapes, sizes, and creeds. They are virtually everywhere in the universe, both above the clouds and below. Yet not a single potter in Skyloft. Where the hell do they come from? Does it rain pots while the town sleeps? Seriously, somebody has to explain these mysterious pots for me.
Speaking of pots and breakables, how come only a handful of people get pissed off when I break their shit? Some people don't give a fuck if I break their fine china. Why? Do they think Link is "special" or something?
On the subject of breaking shit, why is Link such an asshole? Why does he always barge into people's homes and tear shit up for no reason?
And finally, who has ever tried pumpkin soup? Because this delicacy has eluded me my entire life. It's a pretty big deal in some circles in Skyloft, but the real world doesn't care about pumpkin soup.
I should have more serious thoughts on Zelda: Skyward Sword in a few days... unless I run into the only potter in town. Because he's gonna kill me after what I've done to his work.
We're about a month away from the release of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, the game people are proclaiming as the Wii's swan song. It's a pretty big deal for fans of the series being a full-fledged console game and not a portable jaunt or a minigame cavalcade of mediocrity. I am getting very excited for the game myself, but the latest rumors are making me question the direction the series is taking. I'll list a few of the major rumors so you can make up your own conclusions.
Weapon upgrading and crafting has been confirmed, but the latest rumor is that Link can also craft new hats. Link can use his inventory of useless items and weapons and combine them to create a slew of hats including, but not limited to: the fedora, fez, derby, sombrero, glengarry bonnet, tin foil, do-rag, and dozens more. Link will also be able to spend rupees or Wii Points on custom hats if you're lazy and have disposable income.
Ganon or Ganondorf isn't a part of the main story, but Ganondorf Jr. is a major boss near the halfway point in the game. Rumor has it Ganondorf Jr. borrowed an airship from a friend of his in another game.
There is no left-handed mode, but there is a left-footed mode for people who prefer to use their lower appendages.
Link and Zelda have known each other since they were kids and have a special relationship. After Zelda is kidnapped again, Link must save her and all that, but Zelda is saved fairly early in the game and Link becomes very popular in Skyloft, which leads to intimacy. So in layman's terms, they "get it on."
Tingle has been replaced with American Idol walking stereotype, Adam Lambert.
Finally, there is a rumor going around about how Link can steal weapons and use them against his enemies. Unfortunately, the only weapon enemies carry are guns.
Nintendo of Japan released a statement about the above rumors stating:
"Nintendo does not comment about rumors and speculation, but we'll look into Link and Zelda getting it on in a future Zelda game."