The last generation's weirder, uglier side.

I guess since the final wave of new consoles is arriving this month, now might be a good time to reminisce and say something about how awesome video games are or how influential these handful of games changed the way we think about and play games. I can describe the feeling I first played Wii Sports and seeing the joy on the faces of my friends and family as they were trying to bowl a strike. Or share my feelgings on the final moments of Portals 1 and 2. Or explain how estactic I was when I gathered all 240 Stars in my personal best game of the generation, Super Mario Galaxy. Or show how much time I wasted/spent with Team Fortress 2 or Borderlands or Terraria. I can find my list of my favorite games of the generation and write a simple paragraph about why that game is awesome or changed my life. I can dig through the news archives looking at all the reactions to various announcements, trailers, etc.

Or I can go in a completely different direction and blog about all the strange, stupid shit we had to suffer through the past 8 years or so.

Like this game and the musical syles of Jonathan Davis.

Nothing Is Certain but Death and Shovelware

We always look back at the best of what was offered and we like to forget the worst of the worst, but those shitty games exist in somebody's closet stuck between your old tax returns and some old porno mags. Licensed games will always exist and even though Batman managed to buck the trend, many licensed properties kept the tradition of bad going. And as always, bad games extend to original properties based on the trends of the era, Rock Revolution. No console is immune to shovelware, but the Wii in particular became the dumping ground for awful games thanks to its popularity, cheaper development costs and its simplified control scheme. Oddly enough, some games actually sold well while most probably made enough to make a profit from the gullible Walmart bargain bin Christmas shopper. The Wii made Calvin Tucker the redneck he is today and Jerry Rice the dog football lover we never expected. I can list several more games, but the ultimate example of shoddy game design came from Data Design Interactive, makers of Ninjabread Man and about 30 other terrible games IGN were forced to review. Later on, the shovelware migrated to the Kinect and made for some great material for the Giant Bomb crew, but it was the Wii that ruled over the land with some of the best games along with some of the worst.

Deadly Premonition... Depending on Who You Ask. Right, Zach?

A surprisingly normal scene from Deadly Premonition.

This one gets its own spot in the weird category. On one hand, Deadly Premonition is a broken piece of hot garbage with a story that is too ridiculous to comprehend. On the other hand, it's a broken piece of hot garbage with a story that is too ridiculous to comprehend... in a good way. Many of us here are familiar with the Endurance Run and many of us have memories of that giant ghost dog or Thomas and his dancing, but there was a clear love/hate relationship with Deadly Premonition from all sides, virtually no middle ground whatsoever. There are actually some crazy people out there who are trying to make a case for Deadly Premonition as Game of the Generation, but there are even crazier people who think Swery 65 should hang from a hook through his face. In any case, Deadly Premonition is a game too horrible to play with a story too good and surreal to ignore.

This Part of the Blog Is Sponsored by Doritos and Mountain Dew

Product placement and advertising isn't new to games, but advertising and promotions took some odd turns this generation. As stated above, Doritos and Mountain Dew became the de facto products to ridicule this generation since it became synonymous with Microsoft, particularly the Halo and Call of Duty franchises, although Sony attempted to retaliate with its love affair with Taco Bell and poorly planned giveaways. Call of Duty went so far as to associate itself with Jeep for Christ's sake. In general, in-game advertising was limited to sports games and the occasional Cool Spot or Yo! Noid, but now we see ads everywhere, even on the Xbox Dashboard. Even the President of the United States put up ads for his re-election campaign.

Corporate advertising is difficult to avoid in daily life, but video games used to be a place to escape the bombardment of ads, but now we must live like hermits and renounce technology in order to get away from Pepsi ads and Obama.

Phil Fish

That's really all I need to say, really. NEXT!

The Derailing of the Hype Train

All games have to start somewhere and unless you're Typing of the Dead: Overkill, they get a press release or a big reveal at E3. And before a game's release, we are surrounded by trailers, gameplay footage, news, celebrity endorsements from Kid Rock and other wackiness which is done deliberately to boost hype and ultimately sales. For example, Final Fantasy XIV was officially announced at E3 months before Final Fantasy XIII was released. Want another one? How about Wii Music and the infamous Ravi Drums? One more? How about just all of Sony's E3 press conference in 2006? I can divide this into a separate blog if I had the manpower.

Video game companies often pitch their games to the public in unusual ways as they attempt to capture a certain demographic or their fanbase, but often announcements and demos go awry like the live demo issues for The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword in 2011 or BAM! the Kudo incident of 2009 or this.

The industry never ceases to disappoint sometimes, but then I think of Cammie Dunaway and I just fucking smile. If you're wondering where she is, she's an executive for KidZania, a Mexican kid... job thing where they dress up and... work or something? Child labor maybe? Just be glad she's not selling statues of bloody, headless torsos... or is she?

Several Generations in the Making

Never forget.
Not actual gameplay footage.

Duke Nukem Forever began as a game slated for the 5th console generation of consoles, but somehow through sheer ineptitude it found its way onto shelves during the back half of the 7th generation. There are often games that get delayed or go through major shifts in development, but Duke Nukem Forever took that to the extreme by shifting from the Quake Engine and eventually to its own version of the Unreal Engine, yet the game itself felt stuck in the 90's, just not in a good way. It was the game that wouldn't die, but should have been shot in a Detroit alley years ago.

Thanks, Gearbox.

Conclusion

Let's end this farce already and open up the floor. What about this generation made you question our species as a whole? I know I missed some crucial WTF moments like all the company closures and broken launches, but I don't have all day to research it all so have at it. And with that, here's something about Too Human.

27 Comments
27 Comments
Posted by ThunderSlash

The Konami press conference was the best thing to wake up to. I thought that I was still sleeping when I saw that.

Also, still waiting for Silicon Knights to make good on that Too Human trilogy promise.

Posted by Hailinel

I still, to this day, can't believe that the RROD fiasco became as big of a problem as it did. Even more, I can't believe that there are people out there that were willing to burn through seven or eight 360s because they kept fucking breaking. What does it take to have that kind of patience for faulty hardware and Microsoft's Xbox support line?

Posted by Flappy

@hailinel said:

I still, to this day, can't believe that the RROD fiasco became as big of a problem as it did. Even more, I can't believe that there are people out there that were willing to burn through seven or eight 360s because they kept fucking breaking. What does it take to have that kind of patience for faulty hardware and Microsoft's Xbox support line?

Gotta preserve those achievements, man.

Posted by Hailinel
This generation gave us the realization that game journalism is largely a three-ring circus.

@flappy said:

@hailinel said:

I still, to this day, can't believe that the RROD fiasco became as big of a problem as it did. Even more, I can't believe that there are people out there that were willing to burn through seven or eight 360s because they kept fucking breaking. What does it take to have that kind of patience for faulty hardware and Microsoft's Xbox support line?

Gotta preserve those achievements, man.

Achievement hoarding is another thing I'll never understand. When people get to the point that they're playing terrible video games solely for the sake of easy achievement points, something has fucked up.

Edited by e30bmw

Haze still bums me out. I loved me some Timesplitters and it seemed like with Haze they had some really cool ideas.

Edited by audioBusting
Posted by SarcasticMudcrab

I qa'd haze and as awesome as that job was it was a painful experience to see the bad choices and having what I considered unshipable bugs being left in. The clock in the qa room was set to 4:20 from the point it got a 4.2 review score from ign right up until frd got closed down. I do have a soft spot for shitty games tho, there's a certain brand of comedy that comes with them that just does it for me. Oh games industry, never stop producing these glorious failures.

Posted by YukoAsho

@hailinel said:

I still, to this day, can't believe that the RROD fiasco became as big of a problem as it did. Even more, I can't believe that there are people out there that were willing to burn through seven or eight 360s because they kept fucking breaking. What does it take to have that kind of patience for faulty hardware and Microsoft's Xbox support line?

Honestly, the RROD fiasco is one of the darkest blemishes in gaming, period. That MS got away with it amazes me to this day.

@hailinel said:
This generation gave us the realization that game journalism is largely a three-ring circus.

@flappy said:

@hailinel said:

I still, to this day, can't believe that the RROD fiasco became as big of a problem as it did. Even more, I can't believe that there are people out there that were willing to burn through seven or eight 360s because they kept fucking breaking. What does it take to have that kind of patience for faulty hardware and Microsoft's Xbox support line?

Gotta preserve those achievements, man.

Achievement hoarding is another thing I'll never understand. When people get to the point that they're playing terrible video games solely for the sake of easy achievement points, something has fucked up.

First off, it took you this fucking long? Giant Bomb was fucking BORN out of this generation's nonsense, but the guys behind it can probably tell you crazy shit dating back to the SNES or earlier, and publisher-controlled games journalism contributed to the crash of '83. That's a sick ass Dorito pope hat, though.

As to achievements, I gotta agree. Memo to achievement crazies: You can't stick your e-penis in me or any other girl. Just sayin'.

Posted by Hailinel

@yukoasho: True, game journalism has been nonsensical for a very long time. It's just much easier to spot the nonsense now with the internet showing us ever exacting detail in super-slow motion from seven different angles.

Posted by ArbitraryWater

That entire Haze Hotspot segment is probably one of the best proto-Giant Bomb moments out there.

But I hope people don't forget these moments. I don't think we should forget the farce that was Denis Dyack's war against NeoGAF (and the internet in general), or the embarrassing, hysterical overreaction to Mass Effect 3's ending. It will help when moments like these invariably come up again.

Posted by YukoAsho

@hailinel said:

@yukoasho: True, game journalism has been nonsensical for a very long time. It's just much easier to spot the nonsense now with the internet showing us ever exacting detail in super-slow motion from seven different angles.

That's certainly one (not entirely inaccurate) way to put it. The internet just kinda puts it in all our faces now.

That entire Haze Hotspot segment is probably one of the best proto-Giant Bomb moments out there.

But I hope people don't forget these moments. I don't think we should forget the farce that was Denis Dyack's war against NeoGAF (and the internet in general), or the embarrassing, hysterical overreaction to Mass Effect 3's ending. It will help when moments like these invariably come up again.

Don't forget Dyack suing Epic because they didn't hold his fucking hand during Too Human's development, or outright stealing UE3 code for the "Human Engine."

Seriously, that dude's a tool of Victor Ireland caliber.

Edited by Flappy

@yukoasho: Achievements/Trophies may not lead to any lovin', but they're good for milking content out of games. With that being said, I think it's really weird to buy a game just for the sake of achievements.

Posted by Damodar

While we're talking about product placement and in-game advertising etc, I feel it would be remiss to not mention Burger King. Obviously, they brought us Sneak King, Big Bumpin' and Pocketbike Racer. But they also had their bizarre shit pop up elsewhere, such as Fight Night Round 3, where there was a Burger King title belt and if you got it, you unlocked the ability to have the Burger King be your trainer. Being escorted to the ring by the Burger King never got old.

Also, gaming is my religion and Haze is the shit.

Posted by Demoskinos

"Gaming for me is a religion, and Haze is the shit." - Jonathan Davis

Online
Edited by Vuud

Duke Nukem Forever is still my biggest bum-out of the generation. Even bigger than Dragon Age 2. I really wanted to like it, but its a bad game in every way. :(

Posted by BaconGames

Oh fuck, Too Human totally did come out this (last?) generation didn't it? Man, this shit was long. Like, WWII first person shooters were still selling long. Admittedly I thought Brothers in Arms was one of the best games set in that period, but yeah, let us not forget that Call of Duty: World at War sold a fuck ton, Call of Duty 3 existed, and Hour of Victory was...Hour of Victory .

This is reminds me of watching my friend play Crackdown a few months ago and it was like video game time travel. The only thing missing was the blades interface. God, it's all kind of collapsing in on my psyche right now how ALL this shit will be packaged into the box of that generation.

  • That motion gaming started from scratch with the Wii and various attempts to capitalize
  • Achievements!
  • Steam getting way rad
  • that entire Wii and motion bubble formed and became huge
  • the countless family party and dancing games
  • casual and mobile also exploding on phones and facebook
  • The great debate of paying for online or not
  • the Red Ring of Death
  • Jack Thompson's last sad grasp at attention
  • THE EYES OF ALLARD
  • the Peter Moore tattoo reveal
  • Giant Enemy Crabs and One Million Troops
  • 50 MB GAME SIZE LIMITS ON XBOX LIVE ARCADE GAMES
  • establishing the downloadable space
  • the independent scene exploding and tearing at the seams of publisher relations
  • game jams becoming a thing
  • grinding Guitar Hero and Tony Hawk into the ground
  • labor and social issues finally getting more press, good and bad
  • PAX becoming a huge thing
  • the ubiquity of posting game commentary videos and streams
  • horror and stealth getting a kick in the ass
  • MOBA's getting enormous
  • Japan's story getting complicated and somewhat muted in the global and online gaming world
  • storytelling in games becoming more of a thing than ever before
  • the growth and visibility of development contracting and studio closings
  • concerted movement away from "traditional" ways of covering games
  • social media integration in games
  • DLC
  • Free to Play, Freemium, Microtransactions, Pay to Win, Energy and Zynga's odyssey
  • the founding of Activision Bilzzard and the closures of both Midway and THQ
  • Square Enix becoming a publisher
  • Eastern European games actually getting an audience
  • Fighting games and adventure games making a comeback
  • the institution of Call of Duty and the rise of the gaming "bro" stereotype
Posted by Sooty

Game reviewers this generation: We are fine with Call of Duty being released every year with little real change, we'll give it good scores for 4-5 years, but the 6th year? No way!

It feels like sheep mentality really, as if one publication decided to call Ghosts out and then everyone else followed suit.

Posted by YukoAsho

@flappy said:

@yukoasho: Achievements/Trophies may not lead to any lovin', but they're good for milking content out of games. With that being said, I think it's really weird to buy a game just for the sake of achievements.

Oh, that I see. I mean, I remember seeing the achievements for climbing up to the top of Agency Tower and then jumping off it and landing in water in Crackdown and thinking "that sounds fun, I'm gon' do that."

I don't have a problem with achievements per say. I don't even have a problem with people going after them all in a game they enjoy. It's people who act like they mean something, those are the guys that get me. The people who brag about that shit and make console decisions based entirely on them, and who went through a bunch of 360s just because they couldn't bare to be without them, it's just something I don't get. As you say say, when you're playing shit games for the purpose of getting your Gamerscore up, the train's gone off the rails.

Then again, I'm the kind who thinks that people who take their gaming prowess hyper seriously and aren't getting paid to do so need to step the fuck back and take a look in the mirror.

Or don't, and keep giving us material to laugh at on YouTube...

Posted by Nightriff

You didn't mention it and I remember Ryan ripping it a new one but Powergig Rise of the Six String commercials still give me nightmares...that commercial where he is getting fat, bald, ugly, loosing limbs....it was fucked up. And I'm serious, nightmares and I get creeped out even thinking about the commercial, and I'm 24, married and have a kid.

Posted by punkxblaze

This generation made cynical assholes out of all of us, and for that, I cannot forgive it.

Posted by Hailinel

You didn't mention it and I remember Ryan ripping it a new one but Powergig Rise of the Six String commercials still give me nightmares...that commercial where he is getting fat, bald, ugly, loosing limbs....it was fucked up. And I'm serious, nightmares and I get creeped out even thinking about the commercial, and I'm 24, married and have a kid.

Oh god. Speaking of commercials, I remember Halo 3 being advertised with those hilariously pretentious diorama-like commercials. And then Bulletstorm's own ad campaign making a mockery of them. That, and Duty Calls.

Posted by punkxblaze

Also, can we reflect on how weird this is to look back on as we journey into the launch of this generation? So much wide eyed wonder.

Posted by Sammo21

@sooty: I don't really agree. I spent four hours with just the multiplayer earlier and it feels pretty lazy, even in terms of menu design. They should have skipped this year and just made Ghosts next years game. What they have done now is put the nail in their own coffin. If they can't produce something less lazy next year (because there will obviously be another COD on every system next year) then they might as well call it Call of Duty Underground 2.

Posted by Sammo21

As a side note I will say that after watching Geoff Keighley last night with the PS4 launch stream...man, I really dislike that man. I know lots of people in the industry like him and say he does lots of hard work...but if he isn't nothing more than a glorified hype man feeding off nothing but whatever is currently cool in pop culture I don't know what he is. He has the right to keep doing it as plenty of people like him but man...he feels like the equivalent of Chris Matthews covering a Democrat Convention.

Posted by Doppelgamer

@yukoasho said:

Honestly, the RROD fiasco is one of the darkest blemishes in gaming, period. That MS got away with it amazes me to this day.

I have to agree. Microsoft just throws money at problems and lets their customers suffer until enough pressure mounts. Their own engineers knew about the RROD issues and they still chose to launch. Not that the other guys are perfect (YouTube channel closures, "Other OS" removal, etc...), but Microsoft certainly has a shady history that goes all the way back to their days with MS-DOS. (Stacker software incident, etc...) Having said this, I think the 360 slim is pretty nice whenever I get the chance to play on one.

Posted by YukoAsho

@yukoasho said:

Honestly, the RROD fiasco is one of the darkest blemishes in gaming, period. That MS got away with it amazes me to this day.

I have to agree. Microsoft just throws money at problems and lets their customers suffer until enough pressure mounts. Their own engineers knew about the RROD issues and they still chose to launch. Not that the other guys are perfect (YouTube channel closures, "Other OS" removal, etc...), but Microsoft certainly has a shady history that goes all the way back to their days with MS-DOS. (Stacker software incident, etc...) Having said this, I think the 360 slim is pretty nice whenever I get the chance to play on one.

Oh the 360 S is fucking awesome (I suspect the 360 E is pretty cool too). And I'll admit I didn't get quite as gipped by the Xbox 360 original because I had bought the insurance policy for it, but they denied that there was a problem for SO long even after every independant hardware analyst had said that the failure rates were unacceptable, and a lot of people got burned.

If anything good came out of the RROD fiasco, I think it's that more people are going to pick up those insurance policies, be it from the hardware manufacturer or from the store they pick the system up at, and won't go through SO damned much money due to clearly defective early hardware.

Posted by Dalai

After reading the comments, I could have easily turned this blog into a 5-parter if I wanted to. I didn't even get to mention Lair or the whole debate over horse armor. Even Gerstmann-gate has its place in the conversation. How did I miss that one, especially here of all places?