MajorMitch's comments

Posted by MajorMitch

@slag: Thanks Slag! Hope you had fun at PAX East. I'll make it out to a PAX one of these days, though not living close to any of them makes it trickier! Maybe they'll make PAX North Carolina someday :P

You make a good point about not all years being equal (and comparing them is very difficult), which is something I've thought about quite a bit. It's fun making making top 10 lists each year; it's clean and easily understood. But for a bigger list like this I didn't want to target a certain number, or mandate arbitrary constraints. I put a lot of thought into the best way to showcase my favorite games, and this approach made the most sense to me. It does mean the list keeps growing, which could get unwieldy depending on how long I keep it going (passing 100, if it ever happens, will be the true test). But with how picky I am about letting games on, that would be a good problem to have, as it means I'm playing a lot of really good games :)

The east/west trends were definitely interesting to me. While there are certainly more eastern games on this list in the 90s compared to recently, I was expecting it to be significantly more lopsided. I would guess in retrospect that's more due to my taste in games; these are my favorites after all, and I still have an appreciation for Japanese game design. More recent games like The World Ends With You, Pokemon X/Y, and the Souls games continue to prevent Japan from being completely overshadowed. I would bet if I looked at all the games I play, however, there is an overwhelming shift towards western games in the past decade. It's just when I pick my favorites from the masses, I still get some Japanese games in there :)

On that point, I actually keep a spreadsheet of every single game I've played a "meaningful" amount of. It took a while to build when I started it a few years ago, and is too large and unwieldy to keep up to date on GB's sometimes shaky list tools. But in its current form it's easy to update (and sort, by any number of additional variables I want, like year), and the current total is 832 games. So, 50 games out of 832 making this list means that on average 1 out of every 16 or 17 games I play ends up being a "favorite". Considering I primarily play games I expect to like, that makes a certain amount of sense, and still feels pretty exclusive. I will add that I've played a lot more games per year over the past few years, without increasing the number of games per year making this list. That means I used to be adding games more frequently than 1 out of 16, and recently I've been adding them less frequently. 1/16 is just the "average".

Anyway, thanks for the comments! I'm happy with the format and progress of the list, and glad others seem to dig it as well. I never would have expected someone to run with the idea themselves, but that's pretty cool :)

Edited by MajorMitch

@gunstarred: Wow, thanks Gunstar! I always enjoy seeing your take on games as well! How big I want this list to get has always been an internal debate, but I try and do what feels right to me. That's led to slowly adding games, but never removing. In other words, it's tough to get in the party, but once you're in you're here to stay :)

Conversely to you, I was a Nintendo kid and missed a lot of Sega stuff :P I did have a Genesis for a little bit as a kid, and played the Sonic games on it, but somehow missed the other big Sega hits. Going back and seeing those classics is actually a high priority on my backlog when I have time! As for Mario 64... I was a 10 year old Nintendo kid when that came out, and I'm also someone who has always liked seeing new ideas that pushed boundaries. That personal history led to Mario 64 having a huge impact on me, and I also thought it played extremely well (I haven't played it in a long time though, curious if it holds up). I also remember feeling like 2D platformers, which I certainly liked a lot at the time, weren't going anywhere. Stuff like Mario 64 felt more like an addition to me than a replacement at the time. In retrospect though, while we certainly have a lot of excellent 2D platformers today, they did take a backseat for a while. Probably thanks to stuff like Mario 64...

I like FF IX a hell of a lot! It's my favorite FF that's not on this list (FF VI-IX was my personal FF sweet spot), and is one of those games that has kind of always been "on the edge". As for why it's never made it on, it's a lot of subtle distinctions that probably has more to do with my own FF history than anything. I had played just enough FFs at that point that IX didn't stand out quite as much, and also hadn't yet played the NES FFs to really endear me to IX's specific throwbacks. There's a whole lot more that could be written on that, along with how my own history and experiences shape a lot of this list. But point being I do really like FF IX! :)

Posted by MajorMitch

@slag: Playing at my PC probably does hurt productivity some :P But it's also a more enjoyable way to take breaks than getting distracted by the internet... it does require some disciplined time management though!

I think any of the "gen 6" Pokemon games, meaning X/Y or Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire on the 3DS, would make a great starting point for the series. Those are very similar mechanically, and I personally wouldn't start with anything older unless you have to... Pokemon is a series of incremental improvements, meaning I think the newest ones are the best yet, and there's no meaningful story continuity to worry about either. As for deciding between those two pairs, the differences are subtle, and and probably wouldn't even be that meaningful if you're not deep in it already. I like the world and the Pokemon available during the campaign more in X/Y, but I like the post-game content and features in ORAS better. I might lean ever so slightly toward X/Y for a first-timer, but I honestly don't think you'd go wrong starting with any of those games :)

Posted by MajorMitch

@dankempster: Thanks Dan! I totally agree about Detector mode, and more generally I like most all of the DexNav features. There's a lot of great functionality there that really helps you get what you want more readily.

As for the main campaign, to delve slightly into my Pokemon history, I actually haven't really liked any of the campaigns in the series that much since the original Red/Blue. Back then it was such a novel concept, but all the campaigns are similarly long and grindy (a slog as you put it) that I haven't really gotten back into them. Even Gold/Silver I didn't care for a ton, and that's why I originally skipped Ruby/Sapphire, as I mentioned above. It was only when my brother got Diamond/Pearl and started telling me about all the competitive options that had been introduced since the first two generations that I got interested again. Ever since then Pokemon has been all about the post-game for me, about training and battling competitively with friends, and the quicker and more painlessly I can get through the campaigns the better.

Anyway, all that to say that I agree that the campaign isn't that great ORAS, and can be a bit of a slog. But it's still a lot breezier than the rest of the series before this generation. That's one of my favorite changes this gen, that I can get through the campaigns quicker and focus on the improved post-game. It probably also helped me that I was playing in small bursts, out of necessity from being so busy, so I never really got tired of it. I'm happy to be done with it either way, and am primarily looking forward to more training and battling when I have time. Hopefully you'll find a spark in there somewhere! :)

Posted by MajorMitch

I also struggled with Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together, though not necessarily because of the difficulty. I played through the first two chapters last summer, and a few battles into the third chapter, and just got tired of it. I actually found most of the battles up until that point to be very straightforward, with a few of them having tricks that, as you said, you may not realize until you started the battle. In those cases, simply restarting the battle with a different party/tactic in mind made it fairly simple again. I'm sure the battles get tougher and/or more interesting later in chapters 3 and 4, but from what I played I found them kind of dull.

In that sense, I found the game a little more boring than I expected, but really what did me in was precisely all the micromanaging you talk about. I spent soooooo much time before and after every battle rearranging equipment, shopping, making sure I had the right party setup, etc. It was exhausting, and I also felt it was necessary. In fact, maybe I was doing a good enough job at managing everything that battles were easier as a result, I have no idea. Either way, I really felt like the bulk of the game's time and challenge was spent managing things in clunky menus, and it really just wore me down. At some point I had no interest in seeing the story through anymore, which was a bummer, because it seemed really interesting as you mentioned.

TO: LUCT isn't the first game I've felt this way about, but when there's more to micromanaging stuff pre-battle than there is to the actual battle, it can really wear me out. This is probably one of the most extreme examples of it I've come across. It's further a shame because I did like FF Tactics a fair amount, and I really love Fire Emblem. But TO put way more of its "grind" in the management side of things, and it burned me out to the point where I didn't even want to finish it.

Posted by MajorMitch

@slag: Thanks Slag! I followed TWD as each episode came out, and I think that worked to some extent because it was such a popular cultural thing for that season. But I still think I would have enjoyed it more if I had played it all at once, and their subsequent games have not seemed to be as big of a smash hit (at least culturally), meaning I think it would be even more difficult to follow them as each episode came out. For TWAU, playing it all at once was definitely the way to go. I also think you're on to something when it comes to using original characters. Telltale is a talented team, and I think their creativity shines more as they have more freedom to create new things.

Finally, part of why I may not be as into their style as much as a lot of people, is I feel like I have seen "behind the curtain", as you put it, enough times. Deep down I know my choices don't matter all that much in these games, and I can't really fool myself back into believing it at this point. That doesn't mean I can't enjoy seeing the story play out, especially with a talented team of storytellers/writers behind it (which Telltale certainly has), but it's not as magical or interactive as it once was. In fact, given how much they've expanded the games they're working on, I kind of wonder how long their style will hold up. Probably depends on the sustained quality of the writing, but it will be interesting to see either way!

Posted by MajorMitch

Nice list Slag! Dragon Age: Inquisition is one of the main games from the year that I haven't played, but would like to. I just haven't had time (and won't for a few months yet), and also have a few concerns about the game's use of filler as part of that length. Do you think the game justifies being as long as it is based on what you've played? Does it seem to hold up?

Posted by MajorMitch

@slag: Thanks Slag! The internal debate between Mordor and Dark Souls II for that top spot was one of the MANY tough debates for this list, and the margin between those two games is very slim. As you said, Dark Souls II seemed to be judged fairly harshly for not meeting overly high expectations, but I don't really feel like much of that is warranted, and I had a blast with the game. My only real caveat is that it is the third game in that line, and is very similar to the previous two without being "better" in any real capacity (even if it's not much "worse"). So it's a situation of "This game is right up my alley as a design ethos I really like, and is executed very well, but it's also nothing different or better than what came before."

On the other hand, Shadow of Mordor is, for me at least, virtually the complete opposite. It comes from a type of game I've never really liked (open world action, particularly the Assassin's Creed variety), and in many cases I've felt like it's just a sloppy genre. I'm working on a blog that goes into a lot more detail on open world action games and Mordor's impact (my next monthly roundup), but the short version is that Mordor is the first open world action game where I genuinely enjoy all of the nuts and bolts of the moment to moment gameplay. Then the nemesis system is such a great idea that makes much better use of the game's "open world" than anything I've seen. Mordor is a monumental improvement in both execution and ideas over what came before, compared to Dark Souls II that's more or less staying the course. It wasn't easy by any means, but that's what ultimately won it for Mordor. Even if in some ways I still enjoy the act of playing Dark Souls II more, purely because it more closely aligns with my particular gaming tastes and values.

It is interesting to think how Mordor will be viewed over the years though. It's possible that in a few years from now I may feel differently about it, but that's too hard to project for the purposes of this list. Everyone's making the best picks with what 2014 gave them :) My best guess is for it being a Gears of War situation, where it sets a standard early in the generation with a cool idea, then later games (particularly its own sequels) continue to refine and add to that idea. That's all speculation of course, but if that is the case, I don't think that devalues the original much at all; everything has to start somewhere!

Posted by MajorMitch

Nice read Dan! I joked with my brother that Pokemon X/Y is my "real" game of the year, as I spent virtually the entire first half of the year planning and building competitive teams in it. It's easily the game I clocked the most time on in 2014, and I had a lot of fun doing so. Then I went back to school and haven't played much Pokemon since, but I kind of want to pick up Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire when I have time. I've never played any form of the Gen 3 games, and the updated versions seem like the way to go. Anyway, I know you've been really into the series the past year or two, and this is a nice way to acknowledge the franchise :)

Man, reading this reminds me how great Papers, Please is. It really is subversive, and I loved seeing how it reacted to everything I tried to do, and all the different paths you can take. It's a clever game with sharp writing and design, and deserves all the praise it gets :)

Posted by MajorMitch

I've played almost every Halo game (all but ODST), and each one I've played through exactly once, co-op with my brother. I'm not the world's biggest Halo fan by any stretch, and pretty much never touch the competitive multiplayer, but playing the campaigns in co-op has always been a good time. Reach was one of the campaigns I enjoyed the most too, and we got even more mileage out of Reach's Firefight mode. I thought that was a pretty robust and fun co-op mode to set up goofy scenarios and mess around :)