Top 35 Most Anticipated Games of 2015 - #35 - #21

2015 is something like 10% done so it's a little hard to do a "looking ahead to 2015" piece with a straight face, but WHATEVER. Here's the first 15 games of 2015 that look hella fucking cool. Enjoy the list.

Note: For this list, I don't consider Early Access games to be released. There is a lot that can happen during a game's time on the service and for those of who wait for a game to be complete to play it, we're still waiting for its release date regardless.

#35 -Gang Beasts

An insane piece of rubber baby wrestling, drunken Pillsbury Doughboy street brawling, humanoid stress ball king of the hill nonsense Gang Beast’s simplistic style, basic ruleset, and thin content doesn’t exactly belie any sort of hidden depth in the game, but it’s still a bundle of good, stupid fun. Sure, there’s a few “advanced” techniques to get a hang of, from wall climbing to using momentum to toss players around, but from the state the game is currently in, it’s merely a multiplayer riot.

And there is nothing wrong with that. Playing Gang Beasts with several other people is an absolute blast and definitely a game to add to your local multiplayer rotation.

But I’m interested to see what exactly Boneloaf can do to expand on the core of this game before they officially launch it. I don’t know what mechanics could add depth without ruining the simplistic design they currently have, but I can’t help but feel there’s some sort of potential with this game’s core idea that’s left untapped…

If they just end up adding more levels and costumes, polishing up the menus, and tightening the controls a wee bit more, Gang Beasts will be worth every cent if you’re a fan of local multiplayer games. So I guess I should just be happy with that.

#34 - Kirby and the Rainbow Curse

I’m taking a very optimistic view on this new Kirby game, as it seems I’m the only person out there who was thoroughly unimpressed by Rainbow Curse’s predecessor, Canvas Curse on the DS. It was a neat idea, but it felt shallow in its execution. However easy it would be for me to dismiss this new game as just the same design with the same flaws a decade later (yes, it has been a decade since Canvas Curse came out. Yes, that makes me feel really old.), I don’t feel like being a downer on such a happy, charming game. So instead I’m hoping that Rainbow Curse can make good on the promise the original had, with more interesting level design and better use of Kirby’s powers.

And if it doesn’t? Well, maybe that co-op and unbelievably cute art style will make up for it. Hey, it worked for Kirby’s Epic Yarn!

#33 - Mario Maker

I'm never going to be good at level design if I can't make something better than this mess!

Considering my plan in life is to go into game development professionally within the next two years or so, it might be weird and slightly discouraging that I’ve never really had any passion to mess around with these types of create-your-own-level games, like LittleBigPlanet or WarioWare D.I.Y. I respect the hell out of those who make beautiful, weird, wonderful levels in these games/tools, especially since I can then download those levels and enjoy myself, but I would much rather get into the code, into the nitty-gritty than using a toolkit that is more approachable, but limited.

But you know, if the tools are robust, the controls are accurate to their originals, and the sharing and discovery of levels is quick and easy to use… I might just give this game a shot. I mean, unlike something like LittleBigPlanet (which has robust tools but not exactly the tightest platforming), the Mario series is pretty much the best you can get when it comes to platforming physics and design.

It might not be working on the code and design of a new Mario game, but Mario Maker could be the next best thing for both big fans of the games and up-and-coming developers.

#32 - Gravity Rush 2

I finished Gravity Rush over the summer, twisting and turning my Vita screen as I flew through the air while divekicking the same amorphous blobs in the big glowy red spot over and over. It was repetitive, looked a little too brown and dull for that amazing art style, and crammed way too many instances of forced touch screen and motion controls, but I enjoyed my time with it. More so than most other open worlds of its type, in fact. And on the Vita, no less!

Really, the game has an excellent core to its design. It just needs to flush out everything around it. That’s a big “just”, but the most fun I had with Gravity Rush was just zooming around the world, looking at the sights as I soar by, finding gems on top of lighthouses, and running on the side of buildings. If they could make some compelling side content, a story that focused a little more on Kat’s character, and give the combat system a little more love, Gravity Rush 2 would be killer. With the early-in-development footage released (embedded below) you can already see a lot more vivid use of colour in the world, so the game’s already on the right track in my books.

So let’s go, Sony! I’m willing to give this gravity defying series another shot.

#31 - Firewatch

What is this game!?

What is Firewatch? Well we’re not really sure yet, even those of us who have seen lengthy demos or have talked to the developers themselves. It seems to be simultaneously embracing and rejecting the modern models of adventure games. It focuses on the human relationships and choices like Telltale’s The Walking Dead, but doesn’t limit the player to doing this through binary choices or text selection. It has an extreme amount of detail in its environment and relies on the player to explore it carefully to piece together the details of the characters’ lives, much like Fullbright’s Gone Home. Yet the setting varies drastically, as you fan out to different parts of the Wyoming wilderness. It does this through use of jump cuts in a linear story, showing different scenarios that expose something about the greater story and character interactions. Kinda like how Thirty Flights of Loving uses them to force the player’s imagination to fill in the blanks, though Firewatch seems to not use jump cuts quite as liberally.

So what is Firewatch? It could be what I described above, but that’s mostly just a guess on my part based off the little footage I’ve seen of the game. I could be completely wrong! Who knows! Either way, it’s certainly something unique and interesting. Hopefully, whatever Firewatch ends up being, it will be right up my alley.

#30 - Star Fox Wii U

The last (and only) time Star Fox was good.

I say this a lot and I get a weird amount of pushback on it, but Star Fox 64 is one of the best games ever made. The movement… the shooting.. the enemy waves, designs, and placement… branching paths based on in level performances… the way score is handled and encourages replayability. Ahhh… it’s easily the best game in the series, a highlight in the Nintendo 64’s catalogue, and stands up there with the best of the best in the on-rails shooter subgenre (like Sin & Punishment and Rez). It’s not for everyone, sure, as many criticized its 3DS remake recently as too short or repetitive (a criticism that reminds me of reviews fixating on Street Fighter IV's lack of story or Spec Ops: The Line's poor multiplayer), but for even the most tangential fans of the genre, it was a pure and near perfect shooter experience.

Fast forward two decades and the Star Fox series is still riding on the back of its only notable entry like a forgotten actor milking their only big TV performance. Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited for the idea of a new game, but twenty years is a really long time to wait for a series to produce a game worth anyone’s time (beyond Star Fox Assault’s so-bad-it’s-good multiplayer). Do I have faith that Miyamoto can bring the series back on track? Not really. Star Fox 64 is the kind of technical game that is not really Miyamoto’s forte. He’s better at taking a complex set of genre conventions and designing them to be approachable, like Pikmin or those demos he showed off at E3 last year. As much as it would be wish fulfillment for Kamiya, I really think a studio that puts as much focus on fine tuning combat mechanics like Platinum would be the ones to return the series to form.

But Nintendo is always full of surprises, which is why this game is on this list. I might not have a lot of hope for the project, but, it’s good to see the series get a new installment after such a long wait and, hey, it could be fantastic! Who knows! And if it’s not, well, at least we’ll always have that Bayonetta 2 bonus level.

#29 - Darkest Dungeon

It may be grossly oversimplifying its mechanics and maybe even a bit reductive of the innovations Red Hook Games is making with Darkest Dungeon, but I have to hand it to them for tricking a lot of people to talk about an indie JRPG. An independent developer has to struggle to get all the coverage they can, while most games with a classic turn-based RPG battle system are largely ignored by the western press. So for this game to get the attention it deserves and run a successful kickstarter, no doubt influenced by the inclusion of some popular roguelike mechanics and use of a popular dark & gloomy art style, is simply amazing, as it looks outstanding.

I could go on for quite a bit about the little things this game seems to be doing right so far, but the way it tries to humanize its randomly generated characters is what grabs me. The story and concept of the affliction system remind me a lot of Rogue Legacy, though with less of a goofy tone to it (I don’t think we’ll be seeing upside down screens or constantly farting characters). The more serious handling of such a touchy subject (especially for someone who suffers from a few mental illnesses) is a tricky tightrope to walk and I’m not exactly sure that they’ll pull it off, but the end product will end up being infinitely better if they do.

#28 - A Hat in Time

Getting some serious Banjo-Kazooie vibes here.

Look, I get it. The 3D platformer died for a reason. The overemphasis on collectibles lead to trash like Donkey Kong 64, the studios that once excelled at its design have shut down or moved to bigger markets as the medium sized developer shrunk out of existence, the rise of indie games and the (comparative) ease of 2D platforming design made 3D platformers unattractive to smaller teams, the market for even the children 3D platformers dried up as mobile exploded… there is no reason to believe that the 3D platformer will ever see a return to prominence like we saw around the turn of the millennium.

But I still want to see it have a comeback. I miss them. I still have enough good memories about the early games like Super Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie from my childhood, I still would love to see more entries in the PS2 trifecta of Sly Cooper, Jak and Daxter, and Ratchet & Clank, and I love the more experimental designs in the genre with Psychonauts and Jet Set Radio (totally counts. Think about it).

A Hat in Time might be kickstarting that 3D Platformer resurgence. It looks a little rough in it’s alpha footage, but watching that footage invokes all of that wonder I had when I jumped into a brand new world in Super Mario 64. It gives me hope that, with so many indie games covering the gaps left by AAA game design stagnating, the 3D platformer might not quite rise again, but definitely have a brighter future than it has in the past few years.

#27 - Tokyo Xanadu

  • Platforms: ???
  • Release Date: 2015
  • Video: N/A

I’m really rolling the dice here. The only thing we know about Tokyo Xanadu is a few pieces of art, a short paragraph describing the story premise, and the legacy of the series. Beyond that, who knows? Will it be some sort of visual novel spinoff that never comes out to North America? Will it be a smartphone only game that is a large departure from the original games? Will it be a faithful sequel with some key elements that will turn me away from it? When I put it like that, I don’t really have a rational reason to put this game on this list. There are too many unknowns…

Yet, I am still excited for it. I may be a new fan of Nihon Falcom, but some of their recent releases like Ys: Memories of Celceta have won me over with their excellent gameplay design and smart world building. I’d be happy to see more localizations of the games (they’ve been churning out games in the Trails franchise almost every year over there), but a revival of one of their older franchises seems a lot more interesting than rapid-fire iteration.

It might not exactly be a new, unique property like I’d hope they’d do next and I might not have much experience with the Xanadu franchise, but I have a lot of trust built up for the developers at Falcom to build a fantastic game. And that’s enough for me to get excited for it, even if it ends up being a Japanese-only cell phone free-to-play game that I have no interest in.

#26 - Bloodborne

Bloodborne takes the "Blood" part of its name very seriously. Glad I got over my hemophobia in games.

I have not seen a Souls game through. Still! Not due to lack of interest or excitement, mind you. I respect the gameplay, adore the world design, and even enjoy the clunky nature of its asynchronous community within the game. No, it’s not that I don’t believe that Dark Souls or Demon's Souls won’t hold my attention, I’m afraid that they will hold too much of it.

For the past few years my life has been a mess of ever-present anxiety, strained relationships with family and friends, and the soul-crushing weight of an overabundance of obligated responsibilities, (rather than motivating and fulfilling responsibilities like game making). It would be irresponsible to believe I could dive headfirst into the worlds From Software have been releasing for the past 6 years and think I could juggle it alongside everything else.

Bloodborne will be hitting store shelves at a weird time of transition in my life, as two decades of school ends and the rest of my life begins. I hope that, once that transition is over, I can finally find that oxymoronic middle ground where my life is proceeding in such a satisfying direction that I’ll have the luxury to remove myself from it for hours at a time.

Until then, I’ll be very excited for Bloodborne and it’s evolution on the style of its Souls spiritual-predecessors, but only from afar.

#25 - Phantom Dust

By the time I knew about Phantom Dust and had the means to play it, the community had dried up. With the looming closure of Xbox Live for the original Xbox, I felt like the door had closed, that I missed my chance to experience this weird arena based, collectible card game, deck building, action RPG. Sure, there was still a lengthy campaign to experience, but it would still only be part of the full experience. I put the game in the backlog, making the empty promise to return to it one day.

I wasn’t the most excited person on the internet when this Phantom Dust remake was announced at E3 last year (that would be Nick Robinson), but I was pretty happy to see it. It’s one of those truly surprising announcements at E3 that ensures you watch every year. It wasn’t a huge hit when it first came out, but with the buzz from diehard fans, from people who clued into the game just a little too late (like me), and, hopefully, a warm reception of a good remake, I think there will be a lot of people experiencing this forgotten classic for the first time when it eventually launches. And it might just be enough to convince me to grab a Xbox One for myself and be right there with them.

#24 - Code Name: S.T.E.A.M.

This game looks really, really ugly, stars a bunch of American and English historical and fictional figures I don’t know (beyond Lincoln), has a steampunk theme to it (blah!), and seems to be taking most of its mechanics straight from Valkyria Chronicles, but with more spring-loaded-boxing-gloves and less horrors of war.

Code Name S.T.E.A.M. has a lot souring my excitement for it, which is really unfortunate because “new SRPG series from Intelligent Systems” is just about the most excited I could get for a 6 word pitch for a new game. I’ll pick this game up despite everything about it looking boring, bland, and ugly, just because I’m positive the mechanics will be superb.

#23 - Danganronpa: Another Episode


It’s hard to explain why I am so excited to play Danganronpa: Another Episode without spoiling the rest of the series. Anyone who has played the games knows exactly why the idea behind this game could be so appealing, so I guess a quick, very vague recap for those not in the know is the best way to proceed….

Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc and Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair are visual novels that lock up over a dozen high school students with over-the-top anime trope personalities. Some wacky hijinks ensue just based off of that, but once their captor Monokuma (a black and white bear… thing) appears, he threatens to keep them locked up forever unless they manage to get away with murdering one of their fellow classmates.

It plays out like a mixture between thrilller visual novels like Zero Escape, mystery visual novels like Ace Attorney, the SAW franchise of films, and a parody of anime cliches. The characters, initially just paper-thin anime stereotypes, are fleshed out really well. In fact, I’d say only a handful of characters across both characters don’t have satisfying arcs, mostly due to them dying early in their stories. So you end up liking a lot of the cast… only for them to die horrible, horrible deaths at the hands of your other favourite characters. You then have to suspect all the rest of your favourite characters, find out which one of them committed murder, and watched helplessly as Monokuma deals out horrific retribution.

This is the only other screenshot in the Giant Bomb gallery that doesn't have spoilers for Danganronpa 1 or 2.

These arenas of life and death, stories of mysteries and tragedies, struggles between hope and despair…. they are all taking place in a box, in a cage that both the characters and the player cannot leave from. The game is great at world building within that cage, but only makes vague references to the world outside. Why aren’t you being rescued? Why is this allowed to happen? Is everything okay outside? There’s a big curtain there, that you only, briefly, get to peak behind if you follow the story close enough.

Another Episode isn’t that. The curtain is thrown wide upon within the first 20 minutes of the game, letting all the theories, all the speculation you have about the world of Dangitronpaul lay bare (bear?). Some would question that approach after being so coy about it, that it would ruin some of the magic of the first two games, but it was really the only way to proceed.

Another Episode doesn’t look like the most compelling game from a gameplay perspective, but I cannot wait to sink my teeth (and claws) into what those first two games have been keeping from me.

P.S. This game is not announced for North America yet, but I hope and pray that the disgusting tickle (see: boob touching) minigame that’s in this game gets taken out in its English release. Guh. Blah.

#22 - The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D

There’s not much that needs to be said about this remake. It’s the best Zelda game ever made with a fresh coat of paint and a few gameplay tweaks. Given how high quality the Star Fox 64 and Ocarina of Time remakes were, I think it’s pretty safe to say this will end up just as good.

And that’s about it. Pick it up if you haven’t played it before, as it ages just as well (if not better) than Ocarina. It’s not the most exciting entry on the list, but having this excellent experience in your pocket wherever you go is going to be a blast.

#21 - Superhot


I like to think of myself as someone who gives every game, every genre a chance, but the single player FPS is a hard sell for me. Very few games have ever made just the action of shooting a gun an enjoyable activity for me, so with a genre that uses that as its main draw I’m kinda left out. It’s like if I tried to get someone who hated turn based RPG combat to play Etrian Odyssey, a game that is nothing but that. So when games like Far Cry 4 were getting Game of the Year nods from several publications last year, I was having incredibly boring flashbacks to that one time I thought renting Far Cry 3 was a good idea.

(It wasn’t.)

Superhot managed to, in a demo that takes ten minutes, grip me in a way no single player FPS has in years. It’s funny, it’s creative, it’s stylish, it’s tactile, innovative, and refreshing. Every shot you take has weight, every bullet whizzing by your head is an actual obstacle, and every level is a delicious puzzle to be solved. While there is very little details out there on how this game will be expanded from a short game jam project into a full title, which leaves me a little concerned if this will hold up over a longer experience, Superhot already has me on board.

Don’t just take my word for it though. You can play the original 7DFPS demo here right in your browser or watch Drew play through it in the video link above.


Most Anticipated Games of 2015 - 2014's Leftovers

Before I get on with my Most Anticipated Games of 2015 (expanded to a list of 35 this year because A) there are too many great games to talk about and B) fuck it), I’ve got to mention the fantastic games of 2015 that I thought we would have been playing by now. There’s a million valid reasons for a game to miss a release window, so I’m not here to yell at developers to get their games done because I’m an impatient child who wants to play with their new toy already. No, I’m here to shout “Hey developers! I get it! You had to delay your game and I understand. Don’t think what you’re doing isn’t still rad af! I’m still excited for your games and respect the hell out of what you’re doing!”

So here’s a quick recap of the fifteen games I wrote about in this feature last year (and, in one case, for the past three years) that I’m still anticipating the hell out of.

So grab a nice hot drink, watch some trailers, and see just what the rest of 2015 has in store for us!


I’m not really one for playing games before they’re released fully, as I’ll get to later on in this post, but I can’t help but feel I squandered my opportunity when I got an early copy of Apotheon and didn’t get around to playing it. School, life, and computer problems just got in the way of enjoying that “beta”. Still, Apotheon looks like a fascinating take on 2D action combat. I can’t wait until I have the time to play it and support a Canadian indie developer making interesting and unique games.

Broken Age: Act 2

I cannot stand episodic delivery systems. I would rather wait for an entire season of a television show to hit store shelves than watch it weekly and I’m so happy that The Hobbit is finally done so I can see that supposed trainwreck all at once instead of spoon fed over a three year period.

That all being said, I could only make it about 6 months after the first episode of Broken Age was released until I caved. I knew I shouldn’t have. I knew it… but I just couldn’t help myself. The thought of a brand new adventure game from Tim Schafer, even if it was only half of one, existing in the wild was just too tempting. And it was fantastic, but now I’m just another schmuck that hit that end point, that diabolical cliffhanger, that is forced to twiddle their thumbs until the finale is released.

Cosmic Star Heroine

Cosmic Star Heroine wears its inspirations on its sleeves.

When I first played Cthulhu Saves the World on Xbox Live Indie Games and saw the progression the small team at Zeboyd Games had made in such short time, I knew that someday, given enough time, they could make a JRPG that rivaled that of the 16-bit classics. They have such a firm grasp on what made those games tick, what made them so special, and what needed refinement, as well as how the old formulas could be just shaken up and twisted around.

It took a few games, but that day is quickly approaching. From what I’ve seen of Cosmic Star Heroine… well, if it doesn’t end up being better than Chrono Trigger, Phantasy Star IV, Final Fantasy VI, or Earthbound, it’s looking to be the closest Zeboyd has come yet. And I’m sure the game they make afterwards will be even better.

Also oh my god dat battle music.

Final Fantasy XV

It’s been a year, we’ve had a few more trailers, we’ve had a few more announced characters and details leaked, and I feel like I know even less about what the hell Final Fantasy XV is now than I ever have. It’s a road trip story? That’s kind of cool. Yet, you jump out of your convertible and fight monsters on the side of the road? Do you just drive around in a car for 10 hours and hear banter from your party members and just fight these monsters if you’re bored? I’d be kind of into that, but what happened to the Uncharted-esque Action RPG you were showing off last year? I am so confused about the design of this game. It’s either going to be a gigantic mess or the weirdest revival of the Final Fantasy series possible.

Either way it’s going to get weird and interesting, so count me in. If it crashes and burns, we’ve always got that Bravely Default sequel on the 2016 horizon to give us that old school Final Fantasy gameplay.

Galak-Z: The Dimensional

This game really fell off the face of the Earth, eh? I think I heard about it a bit at E3 and Gamescom… just a little more of the same praise and excitement, but that’s about it. I guess that’s kind of 17-Bit’s style. Skulls of the Shogun disappeared and reappeared continuously over its development, each time reemerging more polished and better designed. So the radio silence on Galak-Z doesn’t really have me too worried. I trust 17-Bit and know that game isn’t going to ship until it’s absolutely polished and airtight, even if it takes until 2016 and beyond.

The Iconoclasts

I feel bad for implying that The Iconoclasts was delayed or missed its intended launch. My expectation of it releasing in 2014 was just blind speculation on my part. Konjak is going to release this game when it’s damn well ready and I either underestimated how much work was left to do in the game or overestimated just how big of a game Konjak is cooking up. Either way progress is being made, albeit quietly (we only really see bits and pieces of it pop up on the internet every few months). So I guess we’ll just have to wait and see…

The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky - Second Chapter


I could sit here and cry and moan about how much I want to play this game and how long it’s taking, but I think these two things are more important:

1) The English translation of the first Trails in the Sky launched on PC this year and it is excellent. Please support the continued localization of these games by picking it up. Unfortunately you missed your chance to grab it for half off during the Holiday Steam Sale, but $20 is still a fantastic price for not only a lengthy JRPG, but the best damn JRPG on the PC platform.

2) Odds are that Andrew Dice, founder of the company (Capre Fulgur) who is localizing Trails in the Sky - Second Chapter in conjunction with XSEED, had a worse 2014 than you did. Please offer your kind words and support for him in any way you can.

Massive Chalice


I love Early Access as a developer. It provides useful feedback on design elements early in development, outsources bug testing to passionate players, provides early indications of how successful your game will be, and gives you a reassuring boost from your audience that, yes, you’re on the right track and, yes, people are loving your game.

As part of the game playing public though, Early Access runs into the same struggle between impatience and quality of experience that the episodic delivery method does. I’m not the type of person to play through XCOM: Enemy Unknown, for example, dozens of times. So I might as well wait until all of the systems, mechanics, and polish are in or else my one playthrough won’t be with the game at its full potential.

None of this is a complaint about Massive Chalice mind you. I’ve heard some amazing things about the game so far and I think it will be right up my alley once it launches properly, but it’s just not for me yet.

But, damn, do I respect how they’ve handled Early Access so far.

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate


The next Monster Hunter will be the one I get into. The next Monster Hunter will be the one I get into. The next Monster Hunter will be the one I get into.

I’ve been saying this to myself since Freedom Unite came out. I’ve sunk 10+ hours into each version of the game that has come out since and I’ve enjoyed my time with them, but the hooks have never firmly set in. I know each game I could happily spend another hundred or two more hours with, but just haven’t.

But I know this next Monster Hunter will be the one. I just know it.



Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines

Beyond that initial announcement, I don’t think we’ve heard a single word out of Sony about Oreshika. We’ve never seen an English trailer, preview build, or even a screenshot. The game has been out in Japan for a while now and it wasn’t even shown at the Playstation Experience event last month. Considering the Vita’s lackluster sales, I’m beginning to have my doubts that Sony still intends to bring it over at all. Which would be a shame. Oreshika didn’t receive the best reception in Japan, but the ideas behind the game were looking so interesting to dive into and pick apart.


Much like The Iconoclasts, Owlboy was never scheduled to come out in 2014 and, much like The Iconoclasts, I included it on the list last year because I, basically, just really, really wanted it to come out.

The difference between the two is that, while The Iconoclasts was just a pure guess, Owlboy was showed off to the public at PAX Prime 2013. It felt smooth, fun, and nearly complete when I got the chance to play it. Chatting with the project lead, I could tell how much enthusiasm there was for the project. I just know this game is going to be something special and I can’t wait until the day that D-Pad Studios deems it ready to be released.

Road Not Taken

Okay, some could cry foul on me including Road Not Taken on this list as the game did come out on PC and PS4 last year, but the Vita version is still nowhere to be seen. It’s the perfect fit for the handheld! So much so that I’m still happy to wait for the Vita version, even if it takes several more months.

I just wish I didn’t have to wait at all.

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero

It was a little crazy to expect Half-Genie Hero to make it out by the end of 2014, but that’s what they estimated on their Kickstarter so I went with it. I’m still making my way through the 3DS game (which is excellent), so I’m not really in a rush for Wayforward to come out with another Shantae quite so soon anyway. Hell, I’m fine if it gets pushed into 2016 even! I’d rather see it polished to hell and back on all of those systems than juggle two similar games at the same time. Plus, it will give an excellent first impression of the series for new players!

Shin Megami Tensei x Fire Emblem

We still know absolutely nothing about this game and I’m still unreasonably excited for it.

Not much else to say…

Xenoblade Chronicles X

Well, at least this game is going to be beautiful.

I’m still not sure if this will be any good, but Xenoblade Chronicles X is certainly an ambitious follow up to the Wii original. The more I see of it, the more I’m impressed at the scale of the world and the sprinkling of little quality of life changes they’ve made to the gameplay. Don’t know how keen I am with the main character being a blank slate made in a character creator. It’s always been a hit or miss for me whether it draws me into the world more or if it exposes the strings behind the system, but I guess we’ll just have to see how Monolith handles it. Hey, at least you can be a female now?

We’ve only seen Xenoblade Chronicles X in Japanese so far, so who knows if this will actually see a North American release in 2015. Here’s hoping they keep the assortment of European accents that the original had!


Top 30 Most Anticipated Games for (the rest of) 2014 - #10 - #1

As I discussed in this blog post, I originally was going to make a list of games I was excited about for 2014 back in the start of January, but school kind of demanded my attention and I never got around to it. Now that school is done and summer is here, I would like to write a bit about the games left to come out this year (that I haven't already talked about) that I'm excited to play. So here's the second part of the Top 30 Most Anticipated Games for (the rest of) 2014.

Sorry this is a little late. I planned on having this out last week, but job hunting, traveling out of the country to attend UFGT, and getting sick kinda pushed this back a little farther than I'd like. Sorry!

#10 - Shantae: Half-Genie Hero

Platform: Vita, PS4, Xbone, Wii U, PC, 360, PS3

Release Date: October 2014


Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse, the third entry in the series, isn’t even out yet and I’m still excited for the next sequel. While the 3DS eShop title Pirate’s Curse seems to be building on the established formula for fans to enjoy, Half-Genie Hero seems to be made to revamp Shantae and introduce new players to the series. Shantae has always been a relatively niche Nintendo handheld focused series and is now releasing on nearly every other platform under the sun, so it makes sense. I don’t know if Half-Genie Hero will be quite as good as the metroidvania goodness that came before it, but I’m kinda excited just to see the series get the audience and recognition it deserves.

#9 - Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines

Platforms: Vita

Release Date: 2014


Oreshika is not just on this list because it looks like a solid classic turn based JRPG with a beautiful cel-shaded aesthetic reminiscent of Okami on a platform that desperately needs it, it’s on here because it’s a sequel to a Japan-only classic that stole a gameplay hook I had been thinking about for years now. Okay “steal” is probably the wrong wording, as the original game, roughly translated to the badass name “Over My Dead Body”, was released on the PS1 and I just wasn’t aware of it until recently. Regardless, this game is an excellent opportunity to dissect how that mechanic benefits the game and how it was implemented and emphasized from start to finish.

It may seem like a standard JRPG, but Oreshika has some interesting mechanics that flip the genre on its head.

Oh yeah, should probably explain what that mechanic is, eh? Well I’ve always been fascinated with permadeath. It works wonders to raise tension and stakes in the moment to moment gameplay of Diablo or Spelunky, while fostering a deeper connection with the characters of a story in Fire Emblem or even a Nuzlocke run in Pokémon. But permadeath is nearly nonexistent (beyond self-imposed rules like the aforementioned Nuzlocke runs) in the traditional turn based JRPG genre and I’ve brainstormed for years on how to pull it off.

And we came up with a fairly similar base solution: a multi generational story that’ll see many of your party members die of old age as well as in battle. It adds that juicy tension to the combat while creating a unique, gameplay driven relationship with a family line, kinda like how you naturally built a story and connection to your generic as hell characters in XCOM: Enemy Unknown.

Oreshika, unfortunately, chooses to up the anime factor (and, therefore, the embarrassment factor of even being excited for this game in the first place) on the idea by making your offspring age about 35x faster than normal and your characters have sex with gods to have children. Uhhhh….. Yeeeeeaahhh….. that’s a thing, but it doesn’t disuade me from still wanting to analyze it from start to finish.

#8 - Sportsfriends

Platform: PS3, PS4, PC

Release Date: June 2014 (PC)

Trailer: [Giant Bomb Link]

Yeah, I didn’t get through this list nearly fast enough to post before the PS3 & PS4 launch, but I have still yet to play the game(s) because of a foolish mistake to back the game’s Kickstarter and commit to getting the PC version. So hush.

Really, I could talk about how much fun Super Pole Riders is going to be in a social setting amongst friends or how cool Hokra is for actually making a video game that accurately depicts what it’s like to play a sport or I could talk about how much Johann Sebastian Joust reminds me of the impossible task of getting multiplayer games of The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventure going, but this whole package is just a vehicle for me to play BaraBariBall.

BaraBariBall is Super Smash Bros. with the same approachability, easy controls, surface simplicity, and hidden depth, but A) doesn’t require mayhem to keep players engaged B) has a clear definable goal to a match that everyone can relate to C) that has excellent and varied maps that accentuate the core gameplay mechanics and D) that has a tournament level competitive nature to its gameplay without removing or ignoring mechanics. It is, basically, up there with Divekickas one of the most approachable fighting games I have ever seen.

And as someone who has much love for the FGC and puts a lot of effort into making it as approachable, inclusive, and accessible to as many people as possible, games like BaraBariBall are a godsend.

At the time of posting, Sportsfriends has been released on PS3 and PS4. Pick it up.

#7 - Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth

Platforms: PC

Release Date: Winter 2014


I’m a fairly recent fan of 4X games. To which I mean I’ve only played about 3 games of Civilization IV and Civilization V over the past year and the addicting one more turn gameplay is just as great as people made it out to be.

Beyond Earth is nothing more than more of the same with a twist. Same basic structure that’ll keep me up to 4am, but with aliens, less rigid progression, and the potential for cyborgs or alien-human hybrids taking over new planets.based on a game I never played, but has a concept I can get behind. In a predicted not-too-distant future (because it seems inevitable instead of dystopian) we try to colonize other, earth like planets that’ll have all sorts of alien lifeforms and civilizations. I could go into more detail, but blah blah blah you get the gist of it. It’s more Civilization! And I can’t really complain about that.

#6 - Bayonetta 2

Platforms: Wii U

Release Date: Summer 2014?


Character Action games, the weirdly named subgenre for what is essentially the stylish & fast-paced 3D evolution of the beat-em-up, enjoyed a lot of fantastic entrants this past generation. No More Heroes had some of the most challenging and rewarding boss fights out there, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance was the best Metal Gear game in nearly a decade (and since), and Devil May Cry… had an HD port of Devil May Cryand Devil May Cry 3. But the subgenre found its peak in Platinum Games’ Bayonetta. It was everything you could ask for. Combat that constantly tested and rewarded your skill and reflexes, an incredible variety of weapons and abilities that drastically altered your approach to combat, and a control scheme and combo system that were pretty much perfect. The debate continues whether the sexually charged titular character was appropriately handled and I don’t think many people are going to jump to defend the goofy and convoluted story, but Bayonetta was basically what the entire genre was working towards on the gameplay side of things.

This looks like a new Bayonetta alright.

But how do you make a sequel to the quintessential character action game? I don’t know. I don’t know what Bayonetta 2 could be other than “just more Bayonetta" or "Bayonetta but not quite as good”, unfortunately. But I’m willing to give them the chance to surprise me. I know I really should condemn the medium for the constant unnecessary sequelization and push towards new ideas instead, but I don’t think more of the same is a always a bad thing. Bayonetta was fucking fantastic and even if they make a game that isn’t quite as good or tries a few new things that don’t quite work, I think giving a passionate team the opportunity to try to improve and innovate on already great game is worth a shot.

Much like how Dark Souls II disappointed many, no matter how hard Bayonetta 2 could fail, there is nothing it can do to affect anyone’s enjoyment out of the original. So why not give it a shot?

#5 - Ultra Street Fighter IV

Platforms: PC, 360, PS3

Release Date: June 3rd, 2014


People who complain about how many releases of Street Fighter IV there are simply don’t understand fighting games, let alone how much time and effort goes into balancing and tweaking them. Tier lists and match-ups can come down to a single pixel of a hit box, a single frame of invincibility or recovery, or how much metre an attack builds when it lands. When all of that is taken into account for each 24+ normals, 2+ specials with ~3 different versions, 1 super, and 2 ultras (which isn’t even counting command normals, distance dependent normals, EX moves, and special cases like Gen who has two complete movesets) for each of the 39 characters, you’re talking about making tiny, tiny tweaks that have huge impacts on the metagame. Without investing the time to properly balance and examine these tweaks carefully, you could have a character with an attack or technique that cannot be punished or a buff to a bad character that ignores their current flaws, keeping them at the bottom tier.

Hell, I don't even mind Decapre. She's shaping up to be an interesting and unique character, despite sharing a few normals (and DNA?) with Cammy.

And these balance changes are lasting. Fighting games have tried to have constant patches for balance purposes like shooters or MOBAs, but it generally discourages a player from getting invested in the games. If the combos I spent 10 hours experimenting with and mastering the timing of won’t even work in a week, why would I put the time in to learn them? If my way of combating a certain strong attack by an opposing character has its hitbox shifted, why would I take the time to learn the match up? The infrequency of these updates allows for each nook and cranny of a game to be explored, for misunderstood characters to rise to the top, for “unbeatable” characters to have their weaknesses exposed, and for every player to strive to be more effective and efficient in their play.

Fans of Street Fighter IV will buy Ultra. It adds new dynamics to a game whose current state has been thoroughly explored for 2 years. It adds 5 new characters (and, therefore, 210 new match-ups), new interesting modes like Edition Select, and quality of life changes like online practice to a game that has been kicking around for five years. With that kind of support and hours of entertainment numbering in the thousands, I’d gladly pay the $140 total asking price.

And considering how much the FGC has grown over the past 5 years, I imagine I am very much not alone in thinking that.

#4 - Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem

Platforms: Wii U

Release Date: 2014?


We know absolutely nothing about this crossover other than its platform, the two series involved, that Atlus and Intelligent Systems are co-developing it, and that it’s going to be some type of RPG.

We probably won't even see these characters in the final game.

Probably a turn-based tactical RPG, but we don’t know.

We know absolutely nothing about this game.

We don’t know if it will be good. We don’t know what it will play like. We don’t know if it will be generic sword & sorcery fantasy like Fire Emblem or sci-fi post-apocalyptic religious-nonsense like mainline Shin Megami Tensei. We don’t know if it fuses tactics with the dungeon crawling to make some sort of alternate take on Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor. We don’t know if it will be grid-based, top-down, third person, or first-person. We don’t know if there will be permadeath or if there will be demon fusing. We don’t know if there will be manual stat allocations or if there will be class ups. We don’t know if it’s a direct crossover of established titles or a new title that takes the soul of both series into account. We don’t know what it’s about. We don’t know who it’s about.

For all we know this game will be absolute trash.

Who knows if this game is even going to come out? The video above and these stills of past characters are all we have.

But it still doesn’t stop me from dreaming about how these very different series could be intertwined. It’s the concept of taking two established-yet-separate properties, really breaking down every element of each, and somehow fusing them into one being that makes crossovers (and, to a lesser extent, games that mix genres) so appealing to me. What elements are, when boiled down, truly necessary in a series? What elements work together and what no longer makes sense? How much do you remove from one series to make the game accessible for the other’s fans? What style do you go for artistically and musically?

We know nothing of Shin Megami Tensei x Fire Emblem, but that’s okay right now. The absurd concept of joining those two series I love is enough to get me excited about it. I know that the end result won’t be nearly as cool as the dozens of ideas I have when I daydream, but I’m still excited to see exactly what Nintendo and Atlus have in store for us.

#3 - Super Smash Bros. 4

Platforms: Wii U, 3DS

Release Date: Winter 2014


I spent the entire Sportsfriends post listing off ways in which BaraBariBall improves on the premise of this series in a more streamlined and approachable package, but what can I say? I love me some Smash Bros. and always have since I read in disbelief that extensive preview of the original in some obscure, forgotten gaming magazine. Link, Pikachu, and Mario in the same game? It’ll never happen! Yet the series would become a staple at my childhood birthday parties, during my teenage class skipping, in my crowded university dorm room, and in the basement of my own place. I grew up with this series and, despite how much my life has obviously changed, have never really stopped playing.

Nintendo's screenshot-a-day approach gives us a trickle of cool info, like having both genders of Animal Crossing Villagers.

So, while many bemoan the series for its lack of commitment to the competitive style that was discovered within Melee and others see it as nothing but chaotic four player nonsense that doesn’t deserve to be looked in a competitive light, I’ve fallen into a more neutral role that just accepts the games for what they are, warts and all. There has never been a game in the series that has been “bad” yet, just a series of games that lack focus and don’t give enough attention to the style of play some exclusively prefer. It’s a jack of all trades multiplayer experience with Nintendo nostalgia filling in all of the cracks and I don’t see this fourth game changing all that.

But I am impressed with everything I’ve seen so far. The roster selections have been smart, there have been more concessions made to the competitive side without sacrificing the manic four player experience, and the flow of the gameplay is a distinct mix of previous entries. That’s really all I can ask for to keep me hooked for several more years.

#2 - Persona Q: Shadows of the Labyrinth

Platform: 3DS

Release Date: Winter 2014


You have to commend Atlus on how they handle their spin-offs. They consistently deliver excellently made games that capture the essence of the source material instead of relying on fanservice to succeed. Persona 4 Arena, for example, was a great fighting game that appropriately imitated each characters playstyle despite the abrupt genre shift and had the mechanical depth necessary to succeed in the genre, yet with an approachability rarely seen in anime fighting games. Hell, the Persona series itself is just a big spin-off of Megami Tensei and it still carries the same heart and soul of MegaTen despite it morphing into a (somehow critically acclaimed) high school simulator dungeon crawling JRPG.

Even with Personas helping you, F.O.E.!

So I don’t know why I would doubt Persona Q, despite having the dubious honour of being a spin-off crossover of a spin-off. Instead of just pumping out a story with the Persona 3 and Persona 4 characters with a tacked on gameplay system, they’re actually taking this crossover pretty seriously. Make no mistake, Persona Q is shaping up to be an Etrian Odyssey-ass Etrian Odyssey game. Even knowing that Persona attracts a more modern RPG player, they didn’t back down from including the complexity of Etrian Odyssey. Instead they decided to appropriately fuse in Persona gameplay elements to the Etrian Odyssey base wherever it made sense. They even make concessions to appeal to both crowds simultaneously, offering simpler difficulties and optional auto-mapping for Persona players and increased character customization for Etrian Odyssey fans.

So while I’m too big of a sucker for both series to resist the idea of a Persona 3 & Persona 4 crossover with Etrian Odyssey gameplay systems, it’s really the devotion to the execution that has me excited. It’s easy to say “wouldn’t it be cool if…” for crossovers, but it’s another to really break them down and fuse them together without alienating either side. It really looks like Atlus is taking all the right steps here and I can’t wait to play this game when it gets a localized release later this year.

And, as someone who has always described Persona 4 as an Anime Scooby Doo JRPG, JESUS do I love that Scooby Doo-esque logo.

#1 - Transistor

Platforms: PS4, PC

Release Date: May 20th, 2014

Trailer: [Giant Bomb Link]

Bastion was an obvious highlight of the last generation. If Braid put an end to the era of downloadable independent titles being viewed as just cheap fan efforts and simple retro inspired titles, Bastion made people seriously consider why they perceived a barrier of quality between retail and downloadable efforts. 2011 could be argued to be the last year where triple-A retail games thoroughly dominated the market and, with games like Saints Row: The Third, Portal 2, and The Witcher 2, they were no slouches either. Yet, despite the competition, Supergiant’s little game received an incredible amount of deserved praise and Game of the Year nods because of its smooth and responsive combat and storytelling that was quite mature for this medium, both in content and in presentation.

Bastion was quite possibly the best game to come out last generation, so how could Transistor not be #1?

But Transistor is not Bastion. It cannot be Bastion. It’s the classic struggle to follow-up what came before, like a sophomore album or a younger sibling following in the footsteps of their accomplished sister/brother. Many people are going to be disappointed with Transistor, regardless of its quality. And I don’t really think there was anything Supergiant could have done to change that. People naturally enjoy a brand new experience that surprises and innovates, but you can’t make a second first impression.

Transistor is exactly the game that they should have made. It takes those magical parts in their previous game, like the stunning art direction and genre blending soundtrack, and incorporated them into a whole new gameplay and story experience. It tells the player to expect the same quality of experience, but nothing like what has come before. This capturing of the essence of what worked in prior works are what made Disney movies so magical and memorable in the nineties and Pixar movies now (well, before the last few films at least). Completely different specifics, but that same attention to detail and engagement with the audience.

And that’s exactly what I wanted.

At the time of posting, Transistor has been released. Pick it up on PC or PS4.


Top 30 Most Anticipated Games for (the rest of) 2014 - #20 - #11

As I discussed in this blog post, I originally was going to make a list of games I was excited about for 2014 back in the start of January, but school kind of demanded my attention and I never got around to it. Now that school is done and summer is here, I would like to write a bit about the games left to come out this year (that I haven't already talked about) that I'm excited to play. So here's the second part of the Top 30 Most Anticipated Games for (the rest of) 2014.

#20 - Wildstar

Platforms: PC

Release Date: June 3rd, 2014


I have some huge, huge, HUGE misgivings about Wildstar. Even with the newly added set of body types, the proportions, animation, and presentation of its characters (especially of its female characters) can only be described as “harmful”. The optimization for the game, from what I have messed around with it, is horrendous, making it not as approachable requirements wise as other MMOs on the market. The intro areas do not exactly give you a compelling first look into the game’s more interesting and unique features, somehow feeling more banal than the outdated starting zones in World of Warcraft. The gameplay is action heavy, so having a good connection is another limiting factor on its audience. Perhaps most egregious, at least to me, is the “humour” on display in some of the trailers put out is Borderlands 2 levels of bad.

But I can’t help but be excited for it mechanically. Wildstar, at least on paper, is the closest an MMO has come to eclipse World of Warcraft. Now, I don’t mean that Wildstar is a WoW clone that plays exactly like it (but there are plenty of those out there) and I don’t mean that World of Warcraft is the absolute best game in the genre anymore, as Blizzard became complacent atop its throne these last few expansions and games like Guild Wars 2 and Final Fantasy XIV have launched to much acclaim and praise in the same time frame.

The environments in Wildstar really stand out.

No, there are plenty of MMO alternatives out there nowadays to choose from, but Wildstar is the first game to feel like World of Warcraft did when you first jumped in. It captures the wonderment of exploring the world, the possibilities for player interaction and engagement, and evolves the mechanics of the genre in unique and refreshing ways. Especially impressive is how they are handling combat. Effectively making every non-instant ability a telegraphed area of effect spell makes for a reaction based, action packed combat system that really changes the dynamics of PVP combat, raids, and even how you just fight mobs scattered throughout the landscape (which, by the way, are also impressively detailed once you get out of the boring and generic sci-fi starting areas).

Having poked around in the beta and soaked up information about its various alterations to the MMO template, Wildstar has manage to capture that essence of excitement and awe that I felt when my Troll Shaman took his first steps into Durotar all those years ago.

Only time will tell if the game can grab me for the better part of a decade like WoW did.

#19 - Mario Kart 8

Platforms: Wii U

Release Date: May 30th, 2014


Let’s face “facts” here: there hasn’t been a good Mario Kart game in close to a decade. Mario Kart Wii sold like hotcakes, but ultimately was a disappointing direction for the series. It sucked the fun and excitement out of the franchise so thoroughly that many fans (myself included) didn’t even bother picking up Mario Kart 7, which launched awkwardly at the time when everyone thought the 3DS was a failure and very few people were able to experience the local multiplayer that makes the series worthwhile. And the Mario Kart arcade games? Who has access to an arcade anymore? I can’t think of more irrelevant entries in the series.

One of everything, please.

Now, Mario Kart DS on the other hand…. that game had everything you could want out of a kart racer. Excellently handled local and online multiplayer (especially for both an early DS game and a handheld entry), superb controls that rewarded skilled driving, a wealth of fun and challenging single player content to go through, a wide variety of characters, and both new and remastered courses. For 2005, I think it was pretty much a perfect Mario Kart game.

Obviously you can tell that I love Mario Kart DS and I’m a bit grumpy that a lot of its mechanics have been thrown out the window since, but I’m not the only one who lost their faith in the Mario Kart series. Mario Kart 8 comes out this month and a lot of people don’t even have the game on their radar. Maybe that’s just a symptom of the larger “The Wii U isn’t selling so let’s just ignore anything good about it” attitude that seems pervasive across the internet, but I think it’s more that, after Wii and 7, people are just done with Mario Kart. I can understand the attitude as I’m not exactly thrilled with a lot of the mechanics from the past two titles are making their way back into the new game (motorcycles and flight, for example) and the new anti-gravity gimmick and HD visuals are not really that exciting.

But I’m willing to give Mario Kart 8 a shot. Mario Kart has provided me too many great memories over the years for me to just abandon it. I mean, Super Mario Kart was the first game I ever owned and the games have been a multiplayer staple since. I doubt Mario Kart 8 will live up to my expectations, but I’m hoping it will still be worth my time.

#18 - X

Platforms: Wii U

Release Date: 2014?

Trailer: [Giant Bomb Link]

Xenoblade was far too pretty for a Wii game.

I stopped playing Xenoblade Chronicles for a reason I’m not proud of. About 20 hours too soon, I guessed a major, incredibly stupid plot twist in the game that, when I found out it was true, made me so angry and disgusted that I quit playing the game entirely. I haven’t picked it back up since.

It’s not like I hated the game or anything! I actually was enjoying it immensely! I found the world to be utterly beautiful (especially for a Wii game), the combat to be a nice take on Final Fantays XII's MMO-like system, and even the stupid repeated phrases during combat I grew to love. “It's Reyn Time”, indeed. And that's not even mentioning the superb soundtrack, which is one of the best of the last generation.

But then the curse of the JRPG’s struck.

When you play any JRPG, you run the risk of the story, characters, and/or writing becoming just so nonsensical or anime-y that you begin to question why you enjoy the genre at all. I should just stop giving most of these games a shot. I mean, I bought Tales of Xilia a few months ago for god’s sake. I’ve tried no less than than four times to get into that series and I’ve hated every single one of them. Yet, here I am, probably jumping into my fifth attempt over this summer. I’m like a four year old that, instead of learning to be careful when they put their hand on the stove when it’s on, I keep coming back for more pain.

Again, far far too pretty to ignore.

No, I’m not proud at getting angry at Xenoblade for ending up being a JRPG. I should have expected it. I should have expected that something so aggravating would occur that I’d want to put my controller through the window. I shouldn’t have got attached to the story or grown incredibly interested in the world and those that inhabit it. But I did. And I got burned for it.

And here I am, staring at X salivating like a puppy looking at a steak. Not learning my lessons. Actually, actively ignoring these lessons I’ve learned and getting my hopes up for yet another JRPG from the same people who brought me that last one that disappointed me so much. I should focus on how the story will likely be just as bullshit, but I’m too distracted by the unique take on ranged/melee combat, vehicle based world exploration, and the breathtaking design of the world.

Call me stubborn or call me an idiot, but I guess my continued interest in the current state of modern JRPG’s produces enough winners to keep me coming back.

#17 - Azure Striker: Gunvolt

Platforms: 3DS

Release Date: Fall 2014?


Azure Striker: Gunvolt is an action platformer from Inti Creates, the company currently working on Mighty No. 9, that looks a helluva lot like what I’d expect a new Mega Man ZX game to look like.

You know what? I am perfectly okay if Keiji Inafune continues to use his new company to make new games based off of his old series, especially since they have more interesting ideas and premises and he has less restrictions being imposed on him by some sort of upper management.

#16 - Persona 4 Arena: The Ultimax Ultra Suplex Hold

Platforms: PS3, 360

Release Date: Fall 2014


I loved the original back when it came out in 2011, but I just kinda shrugged when Ultimax Ultra Suplex Hold (fantastic name, by the way) was announced. I don’t really like how Arc System Works approaches updating their fighting games. Sure, I respect them updating Guilty Gear XX to hell and back with for over a decade ago, but it was still the same base game underneath. The same is true for Blazblue. Arc Sys has released two sequels to the original Calamity Trigger, but they don’t really feeel like sequels. They have new story content, if that babbling mess of a storyline holds your interest, and there were new moves, characters, and mechanics added, but they all really feel like the same game.

And it's a hhhhoooommmmeee ruuuuunnn!

I guess when you get down to it, there really isn’t much difference between how Arc System Works and Capcom approach updating their games, but they promise different things. Capcom focuses on the mechanics and balance, while adding a few features here and there in their “updates”, while Arc System works does the same with an irrelevant story and classifies them as a “sequel.”

It’s super pedantic, I know, but it kinda set my expectations for Ultimax pretty low. The promise of three new characters (including two Persona 3 characters) and an expanded story followup to Persona 4 was enough for me to know I had to play the game, but out of obligation more than anything. I never really got to the point in Persona 4 Arena to be competitive at the game, despite entering a few tournaments here and there. I enjoyed the game immensely, don’t get me wrong, but I never “grinded it out”, as they say. So the idea of a more-of-the-same sequel didn’t really have me jumping up and down with excitement.

But I guess it was the disappointment of Blazblue: Chrono Phantasma and the overall stagnation of the current games in the FGC that got me looking forward to jumping back into a familiar and fun fighting game that doesn’t get a lot of attention anymore (anime games have a notoriously short lifespan in the FGC). Plus, the addition of the Shadow characters really does shake up a lot of the match-ups and playstyles for characters. It effectively gives you a completely different, more aggressive way to play each character if you’re confident in sacrificing their defense.

So, yeah. Ultimax is a weird pick. It’s a game I’m very confident I will enjoy and play a lot of, but it’s the situation surrounding it that makes me more excited to play it than the merits of the game itself.

#15 - Galak-Z: The Dimensional

Platforms: PC, PS4, Vita

Release Date: Fall 2014?


17-bit naturally decided that after shipping the Advance Wars inspired Skulls of the Shogun that the next logical choice would be the complete opposite side of the spectrum. Despite its last century anime vibe, Galak-Z is a reimagined Asteroids for the modern age of downloadable games, giving you a roguelike-like progression system through vast levels and a control scheme hellbent on giving the player as much control as possible without becoming overly complicated. Merely watching its simple surface gameplay doesn’t do Galak-Z justice, as you’ll need a short play session to truly understand the player’s power over trajectory and the fluid movements you can make with it. Details on the roguelike-like elements are scarce, but, with the right balance and design, it’s easy to see how enticing it could be to squeeze every drop out of Galakzed. Skulls of the Shogun was a solid offering and I’m hoping that, despite the genre whiplash, 17-bit will deliver a product worthy of its premise.

#14 - Kero Blaster

Platforms: PC, iOS

Release Date: May 11th, 2014


Kero Blaster is an unassuming action platformer like its spiritual predecessor Cave Story, so much so that it might be overlooked. I kinda understand why, as it’s a basic gameplay premise, with a simple presentation, and generic video game-y premise. It’s easy to write it off as yet another fish in the vast sea of indie games, but watching video of the game reminded me of that magic Cave Story had. Sure, they share more than a few similarities, but Kero Blaster distances itself mechanically while keeping the spirit of its fundamental predecessor. I’m pretty sure this will sneak up on a lot of people.

At the time of writing, Kero Blaster has already been released, so pick it up at Playism.

#13 - The Iconoclasts

Platforms: PC

Release Date: 2014?


Such a beautiful and vibrant environment.

The Iconoclasts has been in development since dinosaurs roamed the earth. Well, Konjak (the curious, relatively young creator of great PC action games like Noitu Love & the Army of Grinning Darns and Legend of Princess) has really only been working on Iconoclasts for three or four years at this point, which isn’t all that long considering its scope and the size of his development team (himself). But it’s one of those games I’ve been dying to play for years that the wait feels like an eternity. It looks charming as hell, has lovely animation, and has a fun and unique premise (you know, for a metroidvania). And, judging by some gameplay videos posted to his youtube channel, it seems like this huge undertaking is finally getting to the point where it will be out soon.

I think.


#12 - Owlboy

Platform: PC

Release Date: 2014?


Picking up friends gives you new abilities.

Owlboy is basically in the exact same position as The Iconoclasts. Both games have been in development for a long time. Both games have small, passionate development teams. Both games are shaping up to be something special.

Owlboy isn’t exactly in the same genre though. Sure, there’s a little bit of shooting action in Owlboy, but it’s mostly for puzzle solving. The game actually feels like an action-adventure game like a Legend of Zelda title more than some sort of action platformer or metroidvania. Owlboy’s ability to fly (as you might have guessed) turns the whole Zelda structure on its head a bit. You will still be exploring dungeons, opening treasure chests, using abilities found in those areas to traverse, solve puzzles, and attack enemies, but it kinda feels like a shooter (think R-Type, not Call of Duty) as well in a way. Many enemies have projectile attacks you’ll have to avoid and the terrain can be full of spikes and tight shafts and corridors that require careful navigation.

It’s a weird combination, but with some excellent movement options and unique dungeons built around these mechanics, it could play like a dream. Factor in some beautiful sprite work and a soundtrack that is already shaping up nicely, and you’ve basically pushed all the right buttons to get me excited

#11 - Cosmic Star Heroine

Platforms: PC, Vita, PS4, Xbone

Release Date: December 2014

Trailer: [Giant Bomb Link]

We're getting to the point where new small scale indie games are looking like old blockbusters.

Zeboyd Games were one of the first developers to really impress me on the Xbox Live Indie Games Marketplace when they released the excellent Dragon Quest inspired RPG Breath of Death VII. Since releasing the just-as-great Cthulhu Saves the World on the service, they worked on completing the Penny Arcade quadrilogy that was previously abandoned by Hothead Games. As my interest in Penny Arcade waned over the past, say, seven years (aided by its creators' constant douchebaggery), I thought of those two games less as products I should be interested in and more as a great way for Zeboyd to secure a comfortable income, finish a series that fans had been waiting to see completed, and, more importantly, hone their skills into a mean, lean "J"RPG making machine.

And it's now time to see what that machine can do. With their games getting closer and closer to looking like those 16-bit era classics like Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VI, it's interesting to think just how far they've come and just how much potential this small team has to create a piece on par with those holy grails of the JRPG genre.

Not saying that Cosmic Star Heroine will be as great as Chrono Trigger was, but instead I'm stating just how much faith I have in Zeboyd to create high quality, old-school JRPG experiences. And who knows? With enough time, money, and experience, I think they could pull off a modern classic in the genre.


Top 30 Most Anticipated Games for (the rest of) 2014 - #30 - #21

As I discussed in this blog post, I originally was going to make a list of games I was excited about for 2014 back in the start of January, but school kind of demanded my attention and I never got around to it. Now that school is done and summer is here, I would like to write a bit about the games left to come out this year (that I haven't already talked about) that I'm excited to play. So here's the first part of the Top 30 Most Anticipated Games for (the rest of) 2014.

#30 - Hohokum

Platforms: PS4, PS3, Vita

Release Date: 2014

Trailer: [Giant Bomb Link]

Hey there, Mr..... Elephant? Crocodile?

Hohokum has a rich art style reminiscent of a fellow, albeit dormant, Sony franchise: LocoRoco. Yet, despite the similar aesthetic, LocoRoco almost seems tame in comparison to the creativity on display in Hohokum. This creativity pushes the game beyond a simple mechanic of slithering a flying…. snake… eye… creature… thing… across levels using an unusual, but incredibly fun, control scheme. I only got a bit of time to poke around with it at PAX, but each new level breathes new life into the simple mechanics, with finding your new objective being just as fun as completing it.

But all these comparisons to LocoRoco is what’s got me nervous. While LocoRoco was interesting to dive into, it’s gimmick didn’t interest me enough to stick around for the whole game, let alone two. I’m hopeful that Hohokum will be a fun little diversion that I can squeeze some joy out of, but I can’t shake that nagging feeling that it’ll disappoint.

#29 - Final Fantasy XV

Platforms: PS4, Xbone

Release Date: 2014?

Trailer: [Giant Bomb Link]

Whenever a new game in a franchise is passed onto a new developer, fans immediately begin debating and dissecting whether the studio is up to the task. Even from last year, games like Tomb Raider, Killer Instinct, and Dmc each took their franchises in more modern directions. Whether they succeeded is completely irrelevant, as the transition from old habits to new talent naturally ensures that the established core of a franchise will be challenged and redefined.

Final Fantasy XV doesn’t have that luxury. Square Enix is shooting for a brand new direction with XV alright, but Final Fantasy still has that weight of wasted potential and misguided priorities that the franchise has become synonymous with. This is no new blood here to truly shake things up or guarantee a new path for Final Fantasy. The same people who produced only a small handful of worthwhile titles (most of which pushed into obscurity in favour of marketing the milking of FFXIII) with over a decade worth of resources and potential are the same same people working on XV, this bastion of hope for an ailing (if not already dead) franchise.

To say I have faith in Final Fantasy XV is a huge overstatement.

Fuck the (ridiculous looking) police.

That being said, I do think there has to be some sort of chance for this… this… UnchartedKingdom HeartsFinal Fantasy XIIIThe Last Story… hybrid… thing… can work. It’s an intriguing approach that is full of potential and, for the first time in quite a while for Final Fantasy, I think I would still be interested in it even if those words never appeared in the title.

But, then again, so did the last two numbered titles and FFXIV was only saved by scrapping it and building it from the ground up again. So we’ll see how this goes. If it succeeds, then hats off to Square Enix for believing in their people when I didn’t and proving that they know how to handle their franchise a lot better than little ‘ol me. If it fails, then an ensuing shake up at Square Enix may help push this franchise either back on track or off the rails completely. Either way, how Final Fantasy XV unfolds and how it impacts what was once considered one of the biggest and best franchises in the industry is what I’m anticipating most it.

Hey, just because I’m making a list of games that I’m anticipating doesn’t exactly mean I’m jumping at the chance to run out and preorder all of them. Sometimes, the story around the game is what’s worth getting excited about.

#28 - Shovel Knight

Platforms: PC, 3DS, Wii U

Release Date: Summer 2014

Trailer: [Giant Bomb Link]

I really can't tell what this game is taking inspiration from.

I never really paid attention to Shovel Knight’s Kickstarter. Partly because I was broke, but also because I wasn’t really too impressed by what they were showing. It seemed like they were looking to capitalize on the look and mechanics of old school Capcom NES titles like Ducktales and MegaMan, but didn’t have the heart in it. That early footage lacked that je ne sais quoi that made those classics, well, classic. That attention to detail when faced with limitations, that love and craftsmanship in the level design, and a simple, yet immediately fun feel to the gameplay.

And I still have those fears, but Yacht Club Games have done their best to mitigate them. I really won’t be able to decide for myself whether Shovel Knight is worthy of the comparisons to its inspirations, but I’m willing to give it a shot. At worst, the game looks like a solid foundation that future iteration will hone into something special, much like a certain blue bomber decades ago.

#27 - Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure

Platforms: PC

Release Date: May 7th, 2014

Trailer: [Giant Bomb Link]

Okay, the trailer above is all I really needed to know about Tesla Effect to get pumped up for it. And it’s not even because the game itself looks amazing. Well, it does look amazing, but I’m more excited that all those dreams of the return of self-serious FMV silliness through the magic of crowdfunding has actually come true. While I’m always a fan of a good point & click adventure game, there’s a special kind of joy that you can only get out of the over-dramatic stupidity of an FMV sequence done right and a resurrection of the form is long overdue.

#26 - Destiny

Platforms: PS3, PS4, 360, Xbone

Release Date: September 9th, 2014


Look, I’m just trying to find a game to replace the fun co-op FPS RPG gameplay of Borderlands but without the insulting storytelling, groan-inducing dialogue, and hateable characters. If Bungie can fulfill that expectation, then I won’t really care if it’s bland rip off.

I’ll settle for anything at this point.

#25 - Tomodachi Life

Platforms: 3DS

Release Date: June 6th, 2014

Trailer: [Giant Bomb Link]

Man, I don’t even fucking know anymore.

Tomodachi Life? Hell, I don’t know what the hell THAT is, but I think it says something weird about me that I’m 100% into it.

Whatever it is.

#24 - Road Not Taken

Platforms: PC, PS4, Vita, iOS

Release Date: 2014


Spry Fox are focused on and committed to making simple, high quality titles with incredibly smart and innovative design. This is what made Triple Town a true stand out, even if it was a game in a crowded match-three puzzle genre available on even more crowded social network and smartphone marketplaces, and Realm of the Mad God a completely unique take on the MMORPG.

I’m not entirely convinced that the idea behind Road Not Taken, an honest to goodness roguelike with match three puzzle mechanics, will work as well as I hope, but I am convinced that if anyone is the right team to tackle the concept, it’s Spry Fox. I can’t wait to huddle around my Vita and struggle along The Road Not Taken later this year.

#23 - Apotheon

Platforms: PC, PS4

Release Date: 2014

Trailer: [Giant Bomb Link]

Such a beautiful, unique style.

I’m actually, truly excited for Apotheon despite it being not “my” type of game. I mean, look at this list. Sure, you’re going to find a healthy dose of indie games and titles that have action, exploration, and platforming aspects to them, but mixing Apotheon with those games kind of diminishes what it’s going for. It’s not looking to relive the glory of NES action games like Shovel Knight is and it’s not trying to go for cinematic flair like FFXV is. The platforming is an essential tool for traversal in a 2D plain, but not the central focus of the gameplay. The exploration is… well, I’m not sure the extent of the exploration in the game truth be told, but from what I’ve experienced in Apotheon it seems like it will play a vital role in the background of the moment to moment combat experience.

Instead, Apotheon seems to be taking the feel, the weight, the pace of its combat very seriously. It wants your actions to be deliberate. If you lower your guard to swing your sword or shoot an arrow, you’ll have to accept the consequence of those actions. It’s tired and old to compare things to the Souls games at this point when you’re looking to talk about that commitment in gameplay, especially since combat in Apotheon is much more nimble and (at least from what I played) more forgiving, but I don’t have the confidence in my understanding of Mount & Blade or something of that nature to compare Apotheon to instead.

And that’s the fascinating part of Apotheon for me. It hits a spot in my array of experiences with games that I have rarely touched, yet I still found my brief times with it fun and exciting. Sure, I’m a sucker for a good art style and Apotheon’s is completely captivating, as that Greek pottery art style has rarely been seen in video games and certainly not with this fidelity and commitment. Yet, even if the beautiful art style is what grabbed me initially, it’s the potential to dive into an unfamiliar gameplay experience that has me anticipating the final product.

#22 - Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN-

Platforms: PS3, PS4

Release Date: 2014


We saw a huge boom of fighting games this past generation, where almost every series you can think of was rebooted, reimagined, or, at least, rereleased. But beyond a few ports, a few crowd funding successes (Yatagarasu and Skullgirls come to mind), and the release of Injustice (which felt just as clunky and obtuse as the last Mortal Kombat), Divekick (which is a great game, but doesn’t exactly scratch that fighting game itch) and Killer Instinct (which is also great, but stuck on a system most don’t have access to), 2013 was a quiet year for fighting games. Sure, it was a pretty okay year for the FGC, with bigger events mixed in with the usual, unfortunate controversies that plague that scene, but we didn’t really see a big shake up of the games we were actually playing.

This new character's name is Bedman. Seriously.

Which, I guess, makes it fitting that a new Guilty Gear is coming out in 2014. The previous entry, 2002’s (!) Guilty Gear XX, saw over a decade of balance changes, patches, and new versions, with the last version, Plus R, coming out last year. That’s a long-ass time for a fighting game to be supported. While the fighting game genre definitely needs new blood, there isn’t an active fighting game series that needed a new entry more than Guilty Gear. I guess Xrd’s impending release is kinda killing two birds with one stone.

Guilty Gear has always been the least interesting of the three main Arc Sys fighting game series to me. It’s always been the least approachable, most likely due to it being iterated on for so long. It’s hard to jump into a fighting game when the people you’re playing against have been playing it for years. Which is why I prefer Blazblue or Persona. Sure, Blazblue's newest version, Chrono Phantasma, fell pretty flat due to some serious balance and mechanics issues and Persona 4 Arena was a lot more simple than its older siblings, but at least I was able to start those series at the beginning. Where everything was fresh, new, and exciting.

And that’s why I’m excited for Guilty Gear Xrd. It’s an entirely new fighting game to sink my teeth into without having to play catch-up to even compete. Okay, not entirely new but Guilty Gear is starting fresh with a downsized roster and new characters, movesets, mechanics, music, etc etc etc. Hell, the game even switches to a sick cel shaded style from the hand drawn sprites of the past. I’ll probably end up playing more of Persona 4 Arena Ultimax this year just due to preference, but I’m excited that Guilty Gear is finally getting a full refresh and maybe giving newcomers like me a chance to jump into the series.

#21 - Massive Chalice

Platforms: PC

Release Date: September 2014


The game itself is looking kinda cool too.

Massive Chalice isn’t my most anticipated game of 2014, but it is the game I’m most jealous of. It is basically my dream game. Not the game I dream to play, but the game I dream to make. It takes all the right inspirations, all the right directions, includes all the right mechanics for my head to just burst with ideas. From enemy types to class implementations to damage values, level geometry, and how all of the above would be implemented in code. I’m not exactly an expert game developer yet and I know that I need a lot more experience to lead a team on a game of that size, budget, and scope, but it’s what I aspire to. It’s what I make notes about in class while I’m bored. It’s what I daydream about when I’m on the bus. It’s what I wake up in the middle of the night and scribble notes about, having had a flash of inspiration while I slept. It’s what, if you plopped an infinite budget into my hands right now, I would be doing for the rest of my life.

I have full faith that Massive Chalice will deliver the Double Fine experience that we know and love: a game that may have a flaw or two but is unique, fun, and always new & interesting. But what makes me excited about the game is to analyze every tiny bit, figure out why the developers made the decisions they made, and learn from the experience so that I can get closer to, one day, making my own dream game.


2014: Let's Talk About Those Video Games

School kicked my butt this past term, but that’s all over. While I get to spend this grace period after finals and before summer work doing responsible things like doing extensive spring cleaning, managing my finances, and actually finding a summer job (gulp!), I also get to play some goddamn video games again! And do some writing! Mostly writing about video games!

So, while I could just work through my Most Anticipated Games of 2014 list that I was going to write at the start of January and pretend a good 1/3rd of them aren’t already out, I’m instead going to just write a feature that is just a big ball of excitement for video games of 2014, past, present, and future.

I’ll still be doing a most anticipated list, expanded to 30 titles that are not yet released as of this time (to cover my butt on releases that are happening very, very soon). I’ll also be talking about 20 more titles: 18 titles that have been gnawing at my very soul while I ignored them to work through the school term and 2 titles that were unfortunately delayed into 2015 that I was so eagerly looking forward to at the start of the year.

All in all, that will amount to me writing about 50 games and gushing about how excited I am to play them. So uhh….. look forward to that, if you’re into that. Not gonna lie, I write these mostly for myself to just get my excitement on paper (errr… on…. computer?) so it doesn’t distract me later. Also, the time capsule element of looking back on how wrong or right I was about a game has always been fun for me.

Anyway, on Giant Bomb I'll be posting the lists in six giant chunks: 3 posts for the 30 Anticipated Games for (the rest of) 2014, 2 posts for the 18 Games of 2014 I Am Dying To Play, and another post for the two delayed games, which I imagine will be lot longer than the average post. I'll be posting the first 10 of the Anticipated games this evening. I'll also be using this blog post as a hub for all those lists, so click on the links below to jump to the appropriate posts.

And after all that is done? I'll get around to finally writing my Top Ten Games of 2013 list. Finally.

You can also check out my Tumblr instead, if you really want the posts separated into individual posts or something. I don't know.


Eh, Video Games. This was a swell shindig! Thank you very much!

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Oops, Life Happened

Quick apology for all... one or two of you who were looking forward to my "2014's Most Anticipated Games" post series. I've been done the list for a while now, but need to put some solid hours into writing/editing them. I'll have that time during the break in classes in a week and a half, but until then I have a mountain to climb of school work and midterms. It's been a crazy busy year so far with a lot of things on my plate and not exactly conducive to spending a lot of time writing on the internet about video games I want to play.

So it'll be mid-February by the time I get around to writing this list and games are starting to come out. Heck, some are even out! So, I thought I would write some words about them. A few were never going to be on my big list, but I'm still ecstatic for. Some were on the list, but will be available far too long to be discussed in a "most anticipated" feature. Some will be released, but I still think it'll be worth talking about them later.

So, to make up for my lack of tardiness, here's a quick, short list of some highlights of the first 45 days of 2014.

Banner Saga - PC - We've got two more chapters of this Viking-esque Oregon Trail Strategy RPG to be considered fully "released" and plenty could go wrong, but the first episode is leaving a pretty good, if a tad shaky, first impression. We'll see how this goes.

Bravely Default - 3DS - Bravely Default defies conventional wisdom. If you’re a big company making a spiritual sequel to a smaller game, you attach your big name franchise to it for that sequel to sell more copies. Except Bravely Default’s predecessor was the fantastic and overlooked Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light, so the shift to its own series is surprising. Maybe it says something about the health of Final Fantasy, but I think it says more about the possibility Bravely Default has to be a killer game and franchise going forward.

Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc - Vita - A visual novel in the vein of Zero Escape and Ace Attorney. Interesting release that I plan to delve into right after this rough patch of school is over. VN’s aren’t really my thing, but a swarm of recommendations from friends for this game and its universal, glowing praise has certainly grabbed my interest.

Detective Grimoire - Mobile/PC - Not the best or most in depth adventure game I’ve ever played, but the unique art style, short play time, great use of the mobile interface, and its just approachability of its design makes it an easy recommendation.

Nidhogg - PC - A fantastic multiplayer game. I was able to get a bit of free time last month and attend a gaming event at my university. Nidhogg was there and people were freaking out about it. Didn’t matter if you played video games or not, everyone wanted to jump in. It’s been a long time (other than Samurai Gunn recently) that I’ve seen a game grab people quite like that.

Octodad: Dadliest Catch - PC - That Octodad guy. He’s got a good thing going, ya know? Nobody suspected that the game would have been anything less than a short, fun experience filled with wacky controls and humourous situations. And from what I’ve heard, it delivers exactly that.

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Top 25 Most Anticipated Games of 2014: Prologue - The Waiting Continues

Developing video games requires hard work, determination, a little bit of insanity, and a whole lot of luck for a presentable product to be produced in the end. But games don’t always release when the gaming audience wants and games almost always release well after the developers want them to. Sometimes, a game just needs that extra time, whether it’s to make up for a lack of polish, to attempt to meet lofty expectations, to seek out a translation team with the right skill set (and the right asking price), or just due to a little too much feature creep. Therefore, there will always be games that slip past their release dates, that don’t quite make it out when the developer hoped they would (no matter how hard they tried).

It’s easy to be disappointed by delays, but I’m just thankful that, with everything that could go wrong, the games I’m excited for come out at all.


Welcome to the prologue to my personal Top 25 Most Anticipated Games of 2014. I will get into those games very soon once the actual list is ironed out, written, and polished. Meanwhile, the nine games below are all titles that I’ve written about in the past, but have yet to reach the consoles, tablets, computers, and/or handhelds they’re destined for despite being set for release in 2013. No matter the reason why they were delayed, I’m still anxiously awaiting their releases. I hope you will too after you…

Click the header images. captions.

Watch the trailers.

Enjoy the write-ups.

And get excited for what video games have in store for us in 2014.

Edit: There is an issue with linking to trailers on images. Going to just link in the captions instead.

Edit 2: Welp. Captions aren't working either. Going to put them behind spoiler tags then, so I won't destroy anyone's internet by embedding nine youtube videos.

Edit 3: WELP. That didn't work either. Ugly ass plain text it is!

Broken Age

There's not much I can really say about Broken Age. Despite the first half being out in, hopefully, the next few weeks, I don't really know much about the game itself beyond the genre and the basics of the story. And why would I? The adventure game genre is named that for a reason. It's not an adventure if you know all the steps you're going to take to get to the destination.

What I have been paying attention to is the documentary series for backers. Broken Age has had just the right amount of problems and compromises inherent to game development to make for a fascinating roller coaster ride of a series, but not enough crashing and burning for the game to actually, you know, fail. I'm sure 2 Player Productions were excited to see it fall into place like that and have done an excellent job making the most of this opportunity. Even though Broken Age isn't out yet, I can at least recommend future fans of the game or people wanting to know more about how their favourite games are created to watch the dozens of hours of behind the scenes footage out there.

Release Date (Chapter 1): January 2014

Release Date (Chapter 2): April-May 2014

Dark Souls II

I have no useful insight into Dark Souls II. I haven't seen anything about it beyond a trailer or two. Hell, I still have the daunting task of beating the original left to do. Though I have that mountain still left to climb, I've played enough of the original to know that having more Dark Souls to play is a very good, and terrifying, problem to have.

I look forward to this game kicking my ass.

Release Date: March 11th, 2014

Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky - Second Chapter

I still can't believe it.

For a game with a notoriously difficult and time consuming translation to have an announced English localization is shocking. For that game to also be announced for release on a dead system in 2014 is unthinkable. For that game to be a sequel to a JRPG that flopped hard in North America, barely receiving press coverage and hardly selling out its sparse stock across the continent, is nothing short of a miracle.

Even though it was clear XSEED was very passionate about this excellent JRPG trilogy, it was hard to ignore the reality of the situation. No matter how much they wanted to complete Second Chapter and The 3rd's localization, that ship sailed when the PSP died. XSEED needed to completely transition to new platforms to continue localization efforts, which was not a small undertaking. Concentrating on other projects with bigger payoffs and faster turnarounds was just a smarter business move.

XSEED's enthusiasm, however, seems to have been greatly underestimated by fans. While most publishers would have dropped the game for something much more profitable, XSEED made secret deals behind closed doors. When the great people at Carpe Fulgur, known for their localization work on Recettear and other Japanese indie games, went dark two years ago, no one could have known it was because they were secretly contracted to localize Second Chapter for Steam and (digitally) PSP. Not only that, but work was also underway to port the PSP version of the first chapter to Steam and will launch soon in the new year. Since Steam is sorely lacking RPG's of this ilk (something Square-Enix is trying to capitalize on with their old PS1 Final Fantasy ports), this move should work wonders in creating a ton of new fans and ensuring that the series becomes profitable, much like Steam did for Nihon Falcom's other series, Ys.

So this throwback to the PS1 era of JRPG's gets a new lease on life on Steam, it gets an impossible release on a dead system, it gives an established indie localization studio some serious cred, it has given Trails in the Sky fans hope for the trilogy's localization to be completed, and XSEED didn't have to kill themselves financially to do it.

Again, it's pretty much a miracle.

Release Date: 2014

Monster Hunter 4

My excitement for Monster Hunter 4 continues to wane as time goes on. With a timely release of the fourth iteration on the formula, I thought I would be able to skip over the release of Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, but quickly caved once a 2013 MH4 release seemed less and less likely. Now that I have hundreds of hours of monster hunting to cook on a rotisserie and sink my teeth into (so tasty!), Monster Hunter 4 is looking far less tempting than it once did. Plus, I actually know people who own Ultimate, which means I may finally be able to play the series in its intended form.

I guess there will always be some sort of Super Monster Hunter 4 for the Wii U or PS4 or Vita or whatever in a few years anyway.

Release Date: Never?

Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

It seems like the popularity of crossover titles has grown exponentially since this game was first announced. Sure, we live in a world where Battletoads & Double Dragon was produced 2 years after the Rare original and Super Smash Bros. is a gigantic system seller on three platforms (thus far), but now all kinds of wacky crossovers have popped up. Even beyond the realm of cellphones, where Batman is in Puzzle & Dragons and the card game Street Fighter x All Capcom is appropriately named, we're continuously seeing developers exploit multiple fandoms in order to maximize their potential customers.

Some would say the video game industry is going too far. That, with the Persona series intermingling their casts and the land of Hyrule serving as a setting for a Dynasty Warriors hack 'n slash, we as an industry are eroding our beloved franchises so thoroughly and quickly that nothing will be left when this is over. Of course, that's pure hyperbole, but if the mixture of classic Namco arcade game characters and Homestuck in the bizarre high school dating sim Namco High isn't a sign of the end times, I don't know what is.

Yet, beyond their sometimes odd pairing and questionable abundance, there will always be a place for crossovers in video games. You may call them cash grabs or desperate attempts for companies to stay afloat in an increasingly cutthroat industry, but that shouldn't stop great ideas from being pursued. And I doubt you'll find a crossover with more raw potential than mixing these two series of logical puzzle solving and eccentric storytelling. I said it before and I'll say it again, these two series are a match made in heaven.

I can't wait to finally play this game once it hits North America later this year.

Release Date: 2014

Shantae and the Pirate's Curse

Shantae has had a long history of coming out on the wrong platform at the wrong time. The series debuted on the Game Boy Color well after the Advance's release. The sequel was one of the only bright lights in the dark pit of despair that was DSiWare. The metroidvania series required tight controls, fast reflexes, and precise movements, yet Risky's Revenge was ported onto the iOS store just as the bubble sort of burst on paid games.

Recently, the series seemed like a great fit for the PC market, yet it got lost in the wave of independent games trying to get noticed on Valve's ill-designed Greenlight service for Steam. Now that hundreds of titles have been pushed through Greenlight by Valve, it seems like Steam is getting flooded by new independent games every day and metroidvanias are becoming more and more common on the service.

Oh, and that big kickstarter for Half-Genie Hero that Wayforward must have been relying on? It launched mere hours after the now record breaking kickstarter for Mighty No. 9, thoroughly stealing the spotlight from Shantae.

Yep, it's been a long road for this little franchise that could, but I think 2014 will be the year Shantae finally gets the attention it deserves. The 3DS might just be the most popular console in the world right now and the eShop is becoming a more and more viable service for developers, as many hot titles came out on the service in 2013. It's also shaping up to be pretty damn fun if the demo I played at PAX is any indication. It was a brief look, but Pirate's Curse seems to have improved a lot of the series's now well established formula.

Even after a hot year on the 3DS and some great looking titles coming out on the horizon, there's few releases on the handheld I'm looking forward to more than Pirate's Curse.

Release Date: Q1 2014

South Park: The Stick of Truth

Everything we've seen of South Park looks fantastic. The humour is spot on, the animation makes it look like a long lost episode of the television show, and the light RPG mechanics seem incredibly well made and actually kinda remind me of Paper Mario, which is pretty damn high praise.

But there is that constant nagging feeling in the back of my head that something about the project is horribly, horribly wrong. That just beyond the frame of the pretty picture shown to us that the world is on fire. That we're going to discover that this whole thing was just too damn good to be true.

I really hope that's just baseless pessimism.

Release Date: March 4th, 2014

Super Time Force

Super Time Force has gone through a major shift in its gameplay since its first announcement, which made me pretty skeptical. I loved what I played of this time traveling run & gun back at PAX 2012, but playing it a year later put my fears at ease.

The new rewind mechanic shifts focus away from short bursts of repetition to a more fluid gameplay experience. Respawning just a few seconds before your death removes a lot of the game's frustration and quickens the pace with only minor sacrifices of tension and challenge. In fact, these changes allowed Capybara to make the levels a lot more lengthy and fleshed out, as you no longer have to risk starting from the beginning if you miss a crucial jump 20 seconds into the level. Just rewind to the jump, spawn as a new character, and keep on going (sans 1 life). It also gives the game a layer of strategy, as you can choose to spawn in a different class on the spot to access hidden areas, block an incoming attack, or just gang up on a boss.

Looking forward to its eventual digital release and all the goofy, over the top action goodness that comes along with it.

Release Date: 2014

The Witch and the Hundred Knight

Treasure is a studio that are masters of the shooter genre. Whether it's top down, horizontal, on-rails, or run & gun, Treasure has produced some of the highest quality titles the genre has ever seen. Though that's not always the case. The men and women at the company are mortals and they do make mistakes, whether it's a fatal flaw that ruins an otherwise fine game or just a venture into a genre they don't have the experience to tackle.

Nippon Ichi Software is sort of the Treasure of Strategy RPG's.

During the magical time of the PS2 era, Nippon Ichi could do no wrong. They released game after game in the niche genre that all could be considered classics and seemed to be, at least as developer, almost infallible. Once the generation changed, however, Nippon Ichi were revealed to be mortal after all, making damaging partnerships, localizing terrible title after terrible title, and having bad luck finding success outside of that familiar niche (Z.H.P.'s take on the roguelike being the notable exception) that they were quickly bleeding dry. Sure, the newer Disgaea games and even Guided Fate Paradox (Z.H.P.'s spiritual sequel) were solid games, but they weren't of the quality expected of them by their long time fans.

So I can't be blamed that, when NIS announces that they are going to be making an isometric action RPG reminiscent of Diablo, I get a little hesitant. Sure, I threw it on my list last year and I'm obviously looking forward to see how it turns out, but that doesn't mean that I have the utmost faith that Hundred Knights is going to be good.

Sometimes the hope of a game surprising you against all odds is enough for you to look forward to it.

Release Date: March 25th, 2014

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This blog is a crosspost of a series of posts on my personal blog: Yeti Sized Games. It's a blog about my thoughts on gaming, whether it be reviews, opinions, podcasts, game design, and, sometimes, my time with indie game development while working towards getting my degree. Check it out if you want.

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Fuck! Ryan Davis... D:

After a Sunday lost due to nasty allergies and a nasty hangover, the first thing I did when I woke up was roll over, pick up my laptop, and check twitter. The first tweet I looked at was Patrick's announcing the great loss the video game industry had suffered. A full day of crying and pouring over everything I could find that made our Ryan Davis special followed.

I don't want this to stretch on when you can read other people's better and more personal anecdotes. I never met Ryan Davis, though I often tried to at PAX. I didn't have a life altering experience that his voice helped me through, but he did constantly entertain. Quick Looks, Podcasts, Mailbags, Endurance Runs, Livestreams, E3 Coverage, PAX Panels, dumb tweets, I Love Mondays, and dumb Game of the Year videos. I consumed it all again and again and again. It kept me feeling great during the good times and picked me up during the darkest times of my life. Over the past three and a half years, the Giant Bomb crew have constantly been there to put a smile on my face. And Ryan Davis was at the centre of it all.

The world will never be the same without that big ol' lovable jerk. You were one of a kind, Ryan. You will be sorely missed.

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My Favourite Games of 2012

It’s the start of April. The reflection period is complete and I’ve caught up on nearly all of the games I wanted to play in the last year (Sorry, Analogue. I’ll get around to you eventually). With time to think about what I’ve played, I can finally compile of a list of games that I find to offer the best and most memorable experiences of 2012.

If you have read my lists in the past, you’ll know I always make a point to differentiate between “best” and “favourite”. You can have immense respect for a game that is not your cup of tea and you can have (probably irrational) love for a game with utterly terrible design. Much like my earlier anticipated lists, I’m going for a personal perspective with this. So, unfortunately, the eloquent Super Hexagon won’t be on this list, even if I think the game could easily win Best Game of 2012.

But I’d still give it a solid Honourable Mention. That game is brilliant.

Anyway, I shall begin, once again, with the list creation and delivering process.

Also, check out my friend PerfidiousSinn's list as well. He put a lot of time and effort into his list.

#10 - Dust: An Elysian Tail - Humble Hearts - XBLA/PC

“I don’t understand… [W]e did everything we were suppose to.”
  • Best Metroidvania Game
  • The "Cave Story” Award For Most Impressive Achievement
  • Game That Was Most Likely To Kill Its Creator

Dust: An Elysian Tail is not a perfect game. There are too many extra gameplay and progression mechanics that lack coherent balance or satisfying depth. The mapping system is ambiguous and obtuse as compared to even the forefathers of the Metroidvania formula. Progression gates are purely artificial and strictly to adhere to the formula of Dust’s inspirations. The combat system, while inherently satisfying and well designed, lacks the evolution to prevent the late game becoming labourious. The story, while having a weighty theme and just enough maturity to pull it off, is rushed and not fully explored. Suffice it to say, the problems I have with Dust are numerous.

Yet, while Dust’s many blemishes can be blamed upon its over-ambition, that enthusiasm was what saved it. Dust is a massive title for its relatively slim play time, humble origins, and budget price and it does wonders in showing just how multifaceted games have become. The end product is tarnished by a handful of missed game design opportunities, but has overcome thousands more to create a fluid, responsive, beautiful, and incredibly enjoyable action platformer.

Its flaws are many, but Dust’s aspirations and successes still manage to push the caliber expected of downloadable and independent gaming up a few notches.

#9 - Mark of the Ninja - Klei Entertainment - XBLA/PC

"None of them have any honour."

Stealth is one of the most out of date mechanics in game design. It’s an idealistic dream of designers to evoke that superspy or master assassin power fantasy, but it’s a core mechanic that continuously produces clumsy and unenjoyable results. It’s an outdated goal that is never achieved. Either compromises are implemented to destroy the designer’s dream and make a better game or stubbornness produces inaccessible, slow, boring, and needlessly punishing garbage. Either way, stealth is an annoying distraction, a gimmick that is a burden upon the rest of the game.

That is, until Mark of the Ninja came around and I witnessed the first game, in my eyes, to actually get it right.

The results are breathtaking and exhilarating. It’s a game that lays down its many, equally viable tools before you like paintbrushes of death and asks you to paint a creative and expressive masterpiece with each enemy encounter. It expects you to form your own role, your version of that ninja power fantasy, your own form of creative expression, and to execute it well. By allowing the player to define what it is they are painting, it will drive them to make every brushstroke absolutely perfect.

Oddly, several of the oldest mechanics in the medium (especially pausing, the 2D perspective, and point based reward feedback) were the keys to making this game succeed. Sprinkle in perfectly placed checkpoints and hidden collectibles, add a ton of challenge, and you have one of the most rewarding games of 2012.

It’s just a shame that the plot was paper thin and the ending was just another addition to the “contrived moral decisions don’t work” list.

#8 - Tokyo Jungle - Crispy's / SCE Japan Studio / Playstation C.A.M.P. - PSN/PS3

“The days of being a coddled pet are at an end.”
  • Best Arcade Game
  • The “R-Type Final” Award For Ridiculous Replayability
  • The “Viva Pinata” Award For Best Use Of Animal Sex

I’m unconvinced Tokyo Jungle wasn’t developed in an alternate universe where the arcade is still king. It’s the kind of game you’d imagine to run across in that stereotypical, smoke filled Japanese arcade that kids once fantasized about. The cabinet would be littered with Japanese text, bright colours, and pictures of Pomeranians. Drunken, depressed businessmen would chain smoke cigarettes as they sit down in front of it. It’s the kind of game that, once your Beagle avatar has been thoroughly eviscerated by a looming Hyena, will stick with you long after your urban Japanese vacation had ended and not just due to the startling image of the above scenario.

Then you have the return home, that stop at the arcade being one of the highlights of the trip. A vivid memory and a single photo is all you have to communicate Tokyo Jungle’s simple, yet insane, premise to those who care. An image forms in their minds of the basic idea, but once you get into the mechanics of the game, your explanation becomes the ramblings of a mad man. Side-scrolling beat-em-ups and roguelikes. RPG levelling and equipment mixed in with leaderboards. Acid rain, giant rabbits, and dogs wearing hip hop clothing. A completely different version of the game is envisioned with each person you tell, impossible to truly nail down an accurate and thorough description of your unique and bizarre experience.

I guess all you could do is hope that they’ll play it for themselves one day and it will live up to their insane expectations.

#7 - Awesomenauts - Ronimo Games - XBLA/PSN/PC

“Mr. Zork requires shiny objects."

MOBAs/DOTAs have never cut ties with their RTS roots and it has severely hampered my enjoyment of the genre. The mechanics have grown and evolved into a competitive RPG of sorts, but the feeling and the approach of an RTS is still there. Movement is still clunky and imprecise, the game is full of unnecessary complexities, and there is a ridiculous amount of knowledge you must absorb about the game before playing.

One big difference that allows RTS’s to still be enjoyable is they craft an eloquent and enjoyable 10-50 hour tutorial called a “campaign” to teach you the ins and outs of each faction while simultaneously giving you some story or whatever. DOTA (or other, barely different games) give you dozens upon dozens of characters (see: factions) with minute differences that you should learn the ins and outs of immediately before you play or you’ll be feeding the other team and your a fucking asshole piece of cock shit.

Or whatever the kids use for insults these days.

And this is where Awesomenauts comes in. This game is a gigantic middle finger to MOBA/DOTA’s established conventions, as it provides the same basic experience without all the bullshit. The game removes the base level confusion immediately, destroying much of the barrier to entry through a more limited roster, more straightforward progression/upgrade mechanic, and more focused objectives: Kill bots and towers to progress, Kill enemy players to get money, kill creeps for health, and don’t die. That’s it.

It may just seem simplified down, but the other major revelation in Awesomenaut’s design is what makes it a winner: It draws upon the conventions of an action platformer instead of an RTS. I know that’s just swapping one genre’s complexities for another, but if there is a genre I and many others have burned into our skulls, it’s the platformer. Jump arcs and character weight. Mid air directional changes and double jumps. Hovering and jumping through platforms. None of this needs any explanation to the player, as it’s all second nature to anyone who has played a classic Mario, Mega Man, or Metroid game. Best of all, is that those skills are transferable. If you want to just jump and shoot your way to victory, that is totally valid for half of the cast.

In the end Awesomenauts is just an immensely fun and approachable game in a genre where that is truly a rarity.

#6 - Skulligirls - Lab Zero Games - XBLA/PSN/PC

“The world will always be cursed by a Skull Heart, and so it will always be cursed with Skullgirls…”
  • Outstanding Achievement In Animation
  • Most Intelligently Designed Game
  • The “BloodRayne: Betrayal” Award For Best Game That Was Largely Ignored

If you listened to the gaming press, Skullgirls is nothing more than a promising indie title that couldn’t hope to compare to the other, larger budget games in its competitive genre. Yes, Skullgirls features a beautiful Michiru Yamane soundtrack, unparalleled animation, and one of the best tutorials in the genre, but much of the dialogue around the game’s release (beyond sexualization, albeit parody driven, of a few characters, which is another debate entirely) was dominated by how atrociously difficult the AI was, how stereotypical and dull the story mode was (featuring little voice acting and almost no animation), how lacking a move list destroyed the game’s integrity, and how the slight cast of eight wasn’t worth your time investment. Most reviews were comfortable with picking Skullgirls apart and criticizing each little bit, drawing a conclusion about the game as a whole, and slapping a score on it.

Notice how I haven’t mentioned the versus gameplay yet, which is basically the point of a fighting game. Unfortunately, most reviews didn’t seem to focus on it either.

Quick aside: I can say, with certainty, that Street Fighter II is one of the best games of all time. By that, I don’t mean for its day, I mean as compared to fifty years of video game history. It’s that good.

Yet, I can understand if you don’t agree, especially if you’re basing this off of The World Warrior. Small roster, unclear moves, terrible story, and input reading AI, if you break the game down and remove the fact that it was breaking new ground, it was pretty much a terrible experience. The game may have been drastically improved over three years of iteration, but it’s just not as feature filled as one would expect from a modern game.

The fact that Street Fighter II is still played by many people today purely for its versus mode is, clearly, irrelevant.

I can also say, with its brilliant design and innovative gameplay mechanics, Skullgirls is a better game than The World Warrior and, with several years of enhancement, it may just become better than Super Turbo too.

#5 - Persona 4 Arena - Arc System Works / Atlus - PS3/360

“Make sure you take care of that Persona… It’s your other self, after all.”

Look, I just wrote a full post about how great Skullgirls (a fast-paced, charming, and eloquent fighting game) is and I can do that again about Persona 4 Arena (a fast-paced, charming, and eloquent fighting game) if you want me to. But the two games pretty much hits all of the same notes and both do their part to push the genre every so slightly into approachable territory. Sure, it might need some major balancing, but the game is still a blast to play regardless, even with some atrociously bad matchups.

The only real reason P4A is higher on this list than Skullgirls is because it’s Persona 4 sequel. I can’t help it. Persona 4 is the game I have simply enjoyed the most during my time here on Earth. Any sort of media that will expand upon that universe and attempt to recapture that feeling of playing the original will immediately grab my attention. Even with the absurd genre shift from a high school simulator JRPG dungeon crawler to an anime fighting game with a significant visual novel story, I still can’t help but fall in love with Persona 4.

#4 - Journey - thatgamecompany - PSN/PS3

  • Outstanding Achievement In Artistic Design
  • The “Super Metroid” Award For Excellence In Minimalistic Design
  • Best Wandering Around And Looking At Things Simulator

Almost two decades ago, a little accident called Super Metroid was released. I only call it that because Yoshio Sakamoto, Gunpei Yokoi, and the rest of the miniscule development team at Nintendo R&D1 somehow crafted a brilliant experience that has yet to be matched. The game’s commitment to minimalistic design was far ahead of its time, yet it managed to perfectly execute it in a fairly complex action platformer. Necessary tutorial and exposition were both completely woven into the exploration, such that every new enemy encountered, secret discovered, and door opened equally increased your knowledge of the world around you and your confidence in controlling Samus. Simply put, this level of world building and melding of gameplay and narrative is rarely seen in games, largely due to the insane attention to detail necessary to create such a natural experience.

So, if you can follow the format of my previous points, you know that a comparison is going to be made between Super Metroid and Journey. A strange couple, but in a lot of ways they have a very similar approach to delivering narrative and world building, but they unfortunately have completely different goals.

Your abilities in Journey are severely limited to make each interaction meaningful and it works surprisingly well. If I chirp at this wall painting, it will react and reveal a glimpse into the past. If I run up to this seaweed like structure, my scarf increases back to full, which tells me more about the odd plant like structure than any amount of exposition could. By limiting my communication, a player avatar falling over and crumbling into dust implies a darker side in this tale instead of merely focusing on the player disconnecting to go play another game. This is how the story is told in Journey and it makes for a refreshing three hour ride of gameplay-as-narrative experiences.

Yet, Journey’s simple and more accessible route offers little in the way of actual “gameplay.” After looking back on your time with the game, you feel like those limitations that offer you those rich insights into the world actually hamper and lessen your experience, making it feel more like a touching narrative wrapped around an early gameplay demo. It might just be me nitpicking, but I feel like Journey is the stepping stone to a much larger and breathtaking game.

That experience was what I wanted out of Journey. Even if I loved my time with the game, I wanted a game that featured the same perfect weave of narrative and exploration, of discovery and exposition, but with a more fulfilling gameplay experience. Even with all that Journey accomplished, I guess I just couldn’t help but be disappointed in the end result.

And I guess I just wanted a new Super Metroid.

#3 - X-COM: Enemy Unknown - Firaxis Games - PS3/360/PC/iOS

“Remember, we will be watching”
  • Best Series Revival That Thankfully Was Not A Shooter
  • The “Fire Emblem” Award For Most Challenging/Rewarding Title
  • The “Fire Emblem” Award For Best Moments of RNG Bullshit

It’s a weird thing to pin all of the success of Enemy Unknown on one mechanic, but it simply would not be as successful without permadeath. In an experience built around multilayered stress and situations being straight up fucked, permadeath is what holds the whole thing together.

Your entire run through the game can hinge on who you bring to battle and who makes it out alive, so each investment decision outside of battle is absolutely critical. Spend all your money on weapons and armor and you’ll soon have countries, which act both as income and lives (in a way), dropping like flies and a crippled base, preventing you from upgrading equipment further or progressing through the plot. Keeping countries safe and your base in peak condition is a full time investment though, so pool too much resources into them and your soldiers are going to die. Every element of the entire game wraps back to one simple fact: winning missions is what matters and you need every advantage you can get to keep your your soldiers alive.

Thankfully, the actual game part of X-Com is pretty damn good. There’s not much to say about it, really. There are some dumb scripting, bad bugs, and line of sight issues, but they are mostly a fleeting frustration unless you’re examining the game under a microscope. All in all, the tools given to you during the gameplay and your upgrade paths for your characters are excellently balanced and each encounter is a tough and challenging experience right up until the end game.

X-COM is one of the few games to capture that raw stress created by permadeath and channel it correctly. Its inclusion makes every decision, movement, and upgrade a calculated risk and reward decision that requires you to consider your strategy for not just the next few battles, but for the rest of your playthrough. Not since Fire Emblem 7 have I played a game that pulls it off so well.

#2 - Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward - Chunsoft - 3DS/Vita

“I may be gone, but I’m aaaaaaaaaaalways watching. Maybe I’ll see you again some day… Have a nice tragedy!”
  • Best [Insert Every Award For Storytelling and Localization]
  • The “Metal Gear Solid 2” Award For Most Improved (Yet Paradoxically Still Worse) Sequel
  • Winner of the “No, Not That Type of Visual Novel” Award


Just wow.

Play 999: 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors and then play Virtue’s Last Reward. This is less of a recommendation and more of a requirement. I don’t really give a fuck what your opinions are on the Visual Novel genre. Just get over your insecurity about a genre you barely understand (like I did) and enjoy two of the best looks into the thriller genre of storytelling that this medium has ever seen. Because both of these games have this whole storytelling business down.

You want to know how much I love these games? I was disappointed by Virtue’s Last Reward. Disappointed! It’s not nearly as good as 999 in my eyes, yet here I am just barely stopping myself from naming it the best damn game of 2012. It’s that fucking good.

I don’t really have much to say about that game beyond my slight grumblings about the puzzle structure and how I wish they were as good as 999’s puzzles. Other than that it’s just straight up insane rantings of an overly excited fan. So just play the games.

They’ll blow your mind.

P.S. While writing this post, I figured out what the hell "Virtue’s Last Reward" actually means and I’m kinda freaking out a bit.

#1 - Kid Icarus: Uprising - Sora - 3DS

“I’ve been so looking forward to your arrival, Pitty Pat.”
  • Game of the Year 2012
  • The “Masahiro Sakurai” Award For Insane Breadth Of Content
  • Best Series Revival That Thankfully Was A Shooter

Kid Icarus: Uprising is one of the best Saturday morning cartoons I’ve seen in years wrapped up in video game form.

It’s got a healthy 25 chapter first season of 15-20 minute missions. It follows your typical monster of the week cartoon structure, fighting excellent bosses at the end of each chapter/episode. It’s got mid season twists, tangential story arcs, and multi-part episodes that end on a cliffhanger. It’s even got your stereotypical “way too serious for a kid’s show” episode!

What’s best about the unique handling of the pacing and story structure is that it allows the story to just be fun without sinking too much into long exposition or melodrama. The characters are memorable, well written, and gracefully localized, which is especially impressive due to the game’s overall goofy tone. It’s not a hilarious game by any means, but the dialogue between characters has a nice comedic timing rarely seen in gaming and will keep a nice smile on your face throughout each level. Kid Icarus even manages to give you all the plot, laughs, and charming characterization while minimizing the amount of cutscenes to a fraction of most titles.

After watching the season finale and going back to see a few reruns, I can’t describe the experience as anything but delightful.

Kid Icarus: Uprising is the best game that Sakurai has ever created.

There is an attractive style in which the man creates his games, as they usually end with an impossible attention to detail and more content than necessary or even healthy. Yet, Uprising is the first game to take advantage of all of the crazy nonsense Sakurai loves to put in his games. Yes, there are a ton of trophies in Kid Icarus, but every other mechanic feeds back into the core gameplay somehow, whether it be street passing, the over 250 achievements in the game, the sheer variety in its gameplay inspirations (see below), the secrets and hidden paths scattered throughout every level, and, weirdly enough, a very enjoyable online multiplayer deathmatch mode. Even if it just means gathering more weapons and items, Uprising manages to channel all these weird aspects Sakurai likes to sprinkle his games with to contribute to the game in a (somewhat) meaningful way,

Kid Icarus: Uprising is a weird, yet delicious mix of Sin & Punishment, The World Ends With You, Gears of War, Diablo, and Persona 3.

TWEWY’s difficulty system was always a highlight for me, as dropping Neku’s level to improve the drop rate was a really clever idea. Uprising evolves the concept to become straight up genius. Not only are you using the 90 point difficulty scale to dictate how much money you make and what loot drops, but damage values, enemy population, enemy type, attack patterns, costs for an extra life, and even your path through the level are all altered by where you put that slider. It’s absolutely insane, but it somehow works and allows you to fine tune the difficulty to be perfectly in line with your skill level.

The flying mode, occupying the first half of each chapter, is just straight up Sin & Punishment: Star Successor. And that is AWESOME. Flying across the screen during these on rail sequences is natural to control, fast paced, and full of enemies, making for a completely chaotic experience that will leave you sweating bullets every time you transition to…

…The completely strange third person, over the shoulder shooter sections that make up the second half of each mission. Due to the touch screen this may sound clunky, but just as detailed options are available for tuning your controls as there are for the difficulty. After a few minutes of tinkering and a little practice to make sure, you’ll be mowing down enemies with your arsenal of weapons, vehicles, and ridiculous special abilities without problem.

Speaking of the weapons: have I explained yet that, besides having nine different weapon types that have a completely different playstyle, each weapon you find in the world has random stats associated with them? Because loot games are always fun, right? Usually that’s a grown worthy comment, but when you have an intricate fusing mechanic (ala Persona 3) for your weapons, it makes creating, customizing, and charging into battle with your ultimate weapon immensely satisfying.

It may toss a ton of mechanics into the mix, as expected from Sakurai, but, again, it somehow works. Kid Icarus is a better game for every single one of those mechanics and the combination of them all makes for an entirely unique experience.

Kid Icarus: Uprising is the best fucking game that came out in 2012 and ya’ll are gonna have to deal with it.

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This blog is a crosspost of a series of posts on my personal blog: Yeti Sized Games. It's a blog about my thoughts on gaming, whether it be reviews, opinions, podcasts, game design, and, sometimes, my time with indie game development while working towards getting my degree. Check it out if you want.

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