By gakon 0 Comments
Ryan Davis recently wrote on Twitter that he found complaining about awards useless. I'd be inclined to agree, although in some cases I find game awards themselves a bit frivolous. That's why I appreciate the route Giant Bomb goes with their joke awards like the Soulja Boy Award or best use of ramps.
In light of that, and the fact that I have a grand total of four followers on Giant Bomb, here are my "awards" for my games of the "year".
Best Only Game I Played Released in 2009:
Winner: A Boy and His Blob (Wii)
While I haven't yet finished A Boy and His Blob, if we conform to the rules of what a "Game of the Year" is, as the only video game released in 2009 I played, it wins by default. Luckily, it's a pretty fun puzzle game and incredibly cutesy, but a bit frustrating because I have to use a Wii Remote and Nunchuck to play. I really have nothing else to say about it.
Best Role-playing Game:
Winner: Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 (PS2)
Runner-up: Final Fantasy X (PS2)
Nostalgia is getting to me. As time passes, my memories of Persona 3 become fonder and fonder, although I seem to be this way with most things I do. The glasses through which I view past experiences become more and more rose-tinted. So was it a good game? Yes. In fact, it was an excellent game, if I may pull one word to describe it from a sea of qualitative adjectives. Is it as good as its successor, the subject of a certain video series which inspired me to pick up Persona 3? Probably not. But, it still stands on its own.
Keeping with the nostalgia theme, the more I see of Persona 3 Portable, the more I think to myself this isn't "the way its meant to be played." The improvements to the battle system, Social Links, and nearly everything else comes at the cost of presentation. I just don't like the way in-engine cutscenes work (even if they have voice acting), or that the anime cutscenes, however stupid and "avant-garde", were ditched. On top of that, I may have some subconscious elitism about the ways Persona 3 Portable is being streamlined to appeal to fans of Persona 4. P3 requires a higher apprehension for RPGs, and for those who entered the series with P4 (or with the Endurance Run) can find it hard to go back.
It's as if I'm saying to those playing Persona 3 for the first time with P3P: "You dang hipsters! Back in my day, Tartarus was boring and dangerous, Social Links took five seconds apiece, and there was no fast travel! We hiked from the dorm to school uphill both ways, and we liked it!" But that's absurd. Of course, I should be happy that I could revisit a Persona 3 reinvented, and I certainly am, assuming it is translated into English.
People like to say they were there first, they liked it when before it was cool, or they were there when it meant something. By which I mean, look at all the ways Blizzard is "dumbing down" World of Warcraft: while I don't play anymore, reading all the ways they're making the game easier for new players elicits all kinds of "back in my day" thoughts, and not just from me. Mounts are cheap, and you get them twenty levels sooner. Good gear is easy to get. The list goes on.
My current pipe dream is that Atlus ports P3P back to the PlayStation 2, and releases Persona 3 Plus. There's already precedent for it with Lumines Plus and Tokobot Plus, two PSP-to-PS2 conversions.
As a sidenote, I'd consider Persona 3 my favorite game played in 2009. It's my "Game of the Year". That includes FES, although The Answer is dumb and boring.
And then Final Fantasy X... I'll just reprint what I wrote on the Final Fantasy XIII forum: "My problem is I that I like Final Fantasy X more than it deserves, with its awkward in-engine cutscenes, usually stupid characters, and, of course, its use of monster hallways and random encounters. The combat, and especially the boss fights, were my favorite parts of that game." That about sums it up. Great game, although I had to "cheat" to finish it. I used Trio of 9999 to beat BFA (hopefully you know what either of those things are), since I had played this game two years ago and got stuck on that guy. So when I played it again from the beginning I knew I had to finish it this time. And I did. I'd like to see Square Enix go back to pure turn-based, but the FF series seems to be on a path to being more and more real-time.
Best Role-playing Game I Didn't Finish:
Winner: Wild ARMs 4 (PS2)
Runner-up: Persona 2: Eternal Punishment (PS1)
This summer I assembled a stack of five turn-based, Japanese role-playing games to burn through. I finished P3 and FFX, played a combined 20-odd hours of Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne and Persona 2: Eternal Punishment, and nearly finished Wild ARMSs 4. If I recall, I stopped playing when I lost all my money after fleeing a random encounter and hadn't saved in thirty minutes. I suppose I can't hold it against the game. I should go back to it someday.
When it comes to WA4, I really only care about the gameplay. The characters are unlikeable, stupid, and at worse, precocious, and the story involves "coming-of-age" and not liking war or something. It's like, man, all these adults don't know what they're doing! War isn't the answer! What makes WA4 great is its combat, which manages to make both random encounters and boss battles engaging. The Hex system is an interesting halfway between grid-based strategy and a standard-issue turn-based game.
Best MMO I Played During January and February:
Winner: World of Warcraft (PC)
A few weeks ago Blizzard emailed me a free week of WoW, both in celebration of the game's fifth anniversary and in an attempt to get me back into the game. To be sure, it was tempting, but I haven't had time. The last time I played WoW was February of last year. I was healing Heroics, I was doing some light 10-man raiding, and I was into it, but I just fell off. I didn't play one day, and then didn't play for two weeks, and then my card expired, and that was it. I never looked back.
Occasionally threads pop up along the lines of "do you play WoW?" or "am I the only person who hasn't played WoW?". People want to go out of their way to declare they don't like something popular, like Final Fantasy, or World of Warcraft. Come on, guys; most of you play Modern Warfare 2, and that's a pretty popular game. I haven't played any major game from 2009, or from 2008, probably. I'm not out there saying that I dare to not play popular shooters. Instead of parading the fact that I haven't played popular game x, I parade the fact that I don't parade the fact that I haven't played popular game x. Wrap your head around that!
I suppose I quit because the gear hunt couldn't sustain my interest. It was certainly fun while it lasted, though. (I played a Tauren Restoration Druid on Onyxia US) I'll probably start up again when Catyclysm comes out, like I did when Wrath of the Lich King came out. Of course, considering I'll be in college by the time the new expansion comes out, do I really want to be that guy?
Best Game I Didn't Actually Play:
Winner: Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 (PS2)
Persona 4 is an excellent game. If you think my opinion is invalid because I've never played the game, let me ask you this, as a reader of Giant Bomb and probably a former Endurance Run watcher: do you disagree? Consider this: in a game that is entirely menu-based, is heavily story-driven, and requires little to no motor skills (in a video game context), it's easy to see how great this game is just by watching it. Atlus took Persona 3, a great game in its own right,* and improved the story, made the characters more fleshed-out, wrote longer Social Links, added more in-game events, created varied and visually interesting dungeons, crafted a different but interesting rural setting, and streamlined a number of annoying things like travel. It's pretty obvious even to an observer like myself that this game is worthy of praise, even if people around here have been on a bit of a Persona 4 high, over a year after it's North American release.
Oh, and this category has no runner-up. I've watched bits and pieces of games on YouTube (thanks, dudes like omegaevolution and MasterLL!), but no game did I watch more than Persona 4.
* Grammar alert: I don't know if I used this phrase properly.