You guys, I've spent the last four days at my in-laws' joint in Florida, drinking in their hot tub, and reading a history of Nintendo book. I've decided that the only way I can continue to live is to make millions selling Donkey Kong in the early 80s, so that I can continue to spend my days drinking in hot tubs.
Since I seem incapable of using the image editor and list feature in tandem, I guess I'll put this here. I asked my eight-year-old son to tell me why he liked the games we played together this year. Here are the results. (Also, should anyone feel like commenting, I'd ask that you keep it PG. I'd really like to show my son what you guys might say. Thanks!)
Dad's take: I don't play MMOs, in fact I wrote a dumb blog about that. But I gave this one a whirl, after it went free-to-play. I'm still not sure it's my bag, but I'm going to keep poking away at it.
The Dude:I like helping the citizens all around Metropolis (that’s Superman’s city). I like fighting the gorillas and Brainiac’s robots. Super-speed is the best power, especially when it’s upgraded. Then you’re almost as fast as The Flash. My dad has flight as a power.
Dad's take: My first look at ANYTHING Pokemon related. I'll admit, I was digging it. Unfortunately for me, it wasn't enough to keep my attention, but I did get a kick out of doing a few IR battles with the Dude's Pokemon, even though I was wildly underleveled compared to him.
The Dude:Getting all the Pokemon is your main objective. You need both games, Black and White, to complete the Pokedex. I think fire is the coolest power. My Tepig evolved into Pignite and then into Emboar. There’s so many different Pokeballs.
Dad's take: OK, here we go, the first game on this list I really like. And not even ironically. I don't care what Ryan has to say, this game is fun. Sure, it's short, and shallow, and kinda flat, and...well, who cares? We spent a great weekend beating this game twice (while getting the platinum trophy). My favorite moment was during our second playthrough, when the Dude left the room in a rage after I sided with Magneto. Seeing him get attached to characters in the way for the first time was a joy.
The Dude:Different powers to choose, different players to choose, different TEAMS to choose. Different things to say, which change your adventure kind of. (on a semi-related note) Isn’t it weird that Sentinels are made of plastic?
Dad's take: This one was a Christmas gift, so we haven't had too much time to really dive in, but through the first two levels we're having a blast. Not exactly a Ratchet game anymore, more of a family friendly third person shooter, it still has the great humor and quirky characters that have made this series so great.
The Dude:You can suck up crates and creatures with the Vac-U. I play as Ratchet, my dad plays as Qwark. He usually gets the most bolts. It's fun to play with a teammate.
Dad's take: Another game we've played criminally little of. And sure, the co-op has few, if any, differences from the single player, but it just looks SO GREAT. I wanna eat it.
The Dude: I bought this game with my own money. I saw a video of the bubblizer on Dad’s iPhone. You can slap other guys on your team. Those circle plant things, if you hit them something happens. You can put different skins on your guys.
Dad's take: I LOVE Uncharted 2. It might be my favorite game of this generation. I lost track of the number of times my jaw dropped during my first playthrough of that game. Uncharted 3? Eh, it's every bit as good, if a little more disjointed in the story department, but it mainly made me want to play its predecessor again. At the end though, when Drake trades one ring for another, I was reminded what makes these games so special: the characters.
The Dude:It’s just cool. I don’t really know how to explain it. I like it equally with Uncharted 2, well Uncharted 3 is better, but in Uncharted 2 you could cheat and give yourself the weapons. If you could do that in Uncharted 3, but not in Uncharted 2, Uncharted 2 would get three stars, and Uncharted 3 would get five stars. There’s more action and running to escape in Uncharted 3.
Dad's take: LittleBigPlanet was The Dude's favorite game, bar none, for two straight years. We played and played and played. Its sequel improves it in every way imaginable. Constantly evolving thanks to robust creation tools and an imaginative fanbase, this is the game that keeps on giving.
The Dude: Creating levels is really fun because there’s new stuff to use but you can also use the stuff from the old game. I liked the Nurse. You can throw cupcakes at your enemies to kill them and shoot mutant marshmallows. The final boss really is a human vacuum cleaner.
Dad's take: Every time I got frustrated by a puzzle, be it in co-op or single player, and The Dude took over and solved it...Hey, I like getting to be a proud dad because of video games. Also, they did it you guys. They made Portal better.
The Dude: There’s the gel, and those circle robot things, the one says “SPAAAAACE,” and the other one is a military one. They’re funny. The gel goes through the portals.
Dad's take: Yeah, I know it didn't come out this year. But I was finally able to justify to my wife that we needed three consoles last Christmas, so I didn't get to play this until this year. I have a blog post floating around in my head claiming this game to be the "Greatest 'Video Game' Ever". It looks like a "video game", it feels like a "video game", it even sounds like a "video game". Stupid addictive, crazy satisfying, and oozing with style, this game will be on the top of any list I ever make, ever.
The Dude:I aced a level my dad couldn’t even finish.
I wanted to make a Top Ten list for this year. I really did. I started putting together what I thought were the best games I played. I got to number five. I ran out of games. Full disclosure: I've had a crippling COD addiction for the last two years. That addiction has made it pretty difficult to start (let alone finish) too many other games. As a result, I'll play most of this year's games starting early next year.
That being said, the thing that I have done quite a bit of is play games with my son. He's 8. He LOVES games. I've been raising him a gamer, starting him early with simple games like Mario Party 7, which was basically one button operated, and Lego Star Wars, which, you know, has no fail state. From the time he was three I've indoctrinated him with a desire to get the next coin, or cross the next objective off the list. With that in mind, I've decided to sit him down and have him help me construct a joint Top Ten list. I'm curious what he might tell me when asked why he likes the games we played this year. I'm also quite sure this list will be dramatically different than almost any other on this site. While I have made my absolute best effort to make him enjoy good games, I've also given in to his desires to play what he thinks MIGHT be good. I figure that he needs to learn what is good and what is trash on his own, I'll just be a guiding hand, pushing him toward say Portal 2, and not always the next licensed movie game.
I don't play MMOs. I don't play PC games, in large part due to the fact that my PC is absolute garbage. But with the excitement surrounding the launch of SWTOR, my interest has been piqued. Having no real sense of what is available, or playable, on my PC, and possessing a strong desire to avoid paying a subscription fee for something that may not be my bag, I decided to install DC Universe on my PS3. While the gigantic gamefile downloaded, I took my son out to shop for Christmas gifts for my wife. During that time we talked about what character we could make, what adventures we might go on, what powers we would utilize. We were both genuinely excited to get started. We had a great deal of fun deciding on a costume, a weapon, and our superhero name. We started off on our quest, got through the tutorial mission, and jumped into the world proper. That's when the wheels started coming off, and the "Oh yeah this is an MMO" feeling began.
I guess that's not exactly true, as we had fun exploring and beating up things on our way to quest objectives. We made progress, fought a boss, had a duel with another player, got new weapons and gear. We stalled a bit by getting distracted by various side nonsense before calling it a night. Then this morning, I let my son make his own character. After getting over the shock that "Sharp Shooter" was taken by another player, he settled on a name and started down his own path. I let him take the reigns, and went off to do various things around the house. I came back and asked what mission he was doing, and he said, "I'm blowing up these transporters." I responded, "Oh yeah, why?" He said, "I don't know, because that's what it says on the screen."
That pretty much reinforced what my uninformed preconceived notion of an MMO was: doing this "because". Can there really be a story, as one would traditionally think of it, within this structure? Is everything just in service of raising numbers on a stat screen? I'm certainly not ready to totally write off MMOs altogether, in fact I was honestly enjoying my time with my character last night. And my son is definitely ready for more. I started writing this while he was taking a shower, and as soon as he came back downstairs he asked if he could start playing again. I suppose the next step is to try to make some connections with other players, or to try to convince a friend or two to play with me. In any case, I'm looking forward to what he does with the game, and what he's able to get out of it.