Make Me Mad's Games of the Generation (in no particular order)

I decided to write up this Games of the Generation thing without stopping and realizing what that actually entails; there are games from when I was still in High School. That's insane! I can't even remember half of the people I knew in those days, much less recall all of the games I've played since then... but I don't need to, of course. These are supposed to be Games of the Generation, the kind that leave a lasting impression. The ones that to this day I still pick up and play, because they're the best!

Of course, that also means that this is a deeply personal list. I don't particularly care if a game was technically important for some reason or another, or if it somehow advanced the medium. If I didn't love it, it didn't make the cut, simple as that. For the same reason, you shouldn't get offended if something you liked doesn't make an appearance here.*

Also, be forewarned that spoilers are just going to happen.


Of course

There was a time when the name Platinum Games didn't mean a thing to me; I wasn't aware that they used to be Clover Studio, that they'd been putting out fantastic games like Okami and God Hand for years. I probably wouldn't have recognized the names of Atsushi Inaba, Hideki Kamiya or Shinji Mikami. I knew nothing about any of that, but I'd seen a trailer and said to myself "That game looks like fun." I was so right.

I could ramble about this for hours, so instead I'll try to hit just the key points here: It's probably the best playing game I've ever played. The combat starts fast and only gets faster, demanding your full attention from the word go; both Bayonetta and her enemies are quick and lethal, and even in the prologue most battles are a frenzied melee. You're given plenty of defensive options to keep yourself alive, and that's where the real beauty of the game's design shines; the pace would be unsustainable without contrast, and nearly all of your defensive maneuvers serve a dual role in that they activate Witch Time. With your opponents and surroundings slowed to a crawl it's obviously a great time to dish out some major damage, but it also provides you with a brief moment of calm in the middle of the action. It gives every fight a distinct, calculated rhythm, further emphasized by the Dodge Offset mechanic; picking up a combo after a successful dodge, right where you left off, allowing you to finish long attack chains even in the midst of a swarm of attacking enemies. The action builds incessantly, and defense is never just that.

I'm honestly not sure if he's uglier before or after the fight...

There's no slouching visually, either, and from marble-coated angelic monstrosities to Bayonetta and her substantial array of alternate outfits, there's an unmistakable style. Even the nameless NPCs who appear for single scenes are dressed in their very best, and the graphics hold up their half of the deal nicely; everything on screen is as awe-inspiring or grotesque (and more often than not, both simultaneously) as it should be. No matter how many screen-filling special effects are going off or how much blood and gore is spraying across the battlefield, the game looks absolutely stunning. The game's excellent visual design is coupled with a strange penchant for incredibly strange arenas, and fights break out absolutely everywhere; a crashing aircraft (on two separate occasions), the decapitated head of a massive statue that's currently flying through the air because of a tornado, and at one point even several different missiles in flight. What you end up with is a bizarre, exciting adventure through a number of stunning locales; be it the action or the looks, there's never a dull moment. The audio doesn't let the game down either, complementing the action perfectly no matter how drastic or sudden of a change it has to make. While there are a lot of smooth, almost jazzy** tunes, you'll just as often hear full-on heavenly choirs and blaring orchestras while one of the Cardinal Virtues does his best to put you in your place. There are remixes of classic Sega tracks, a fantastic, exciting mid-battle rendition of Fly Me to the Moon, and at no point do any of these feel out of place.

Give me a good Jeanne spin-off and I will never complain again

The story can get a bit convoluted, sure, but the characters hold up exceptionally well; Rodin, Enzo and Luka provide a more down-to-earth backdrop for Bayonetta and Jeanne's rivalry and reconciliation; while they're both pretty damned cool, I ended up finding Jeanne to be the more compelling character of the two, with her secret identity as a history teacher and Viewtiful Joe inspired super heroine persona. That worked out, because not only did I unlock the ability to play as Jeanne, I got a full suite of alternate costumes once I beat the game as her- Cutie J outfit included. One of the running themes with Bayonetta was that it kept throwing more unlockables and secrets my way; there's an achievement for beating the game in under three hours, but I easily put in more than twenty times that and still haven't seen everything the game has to offer.

The point here is that Bayonetta is a goddamn incredible game in nearly every category, and to me, it's easily one of the best ever made. Years ago, I didn't know who the hell Platinum Games was; now I consider them to be a guarantee of quality. They're recognized experts at the Character Action genre, and Bayonetta is their masterpiece. In my opinion, it's the best game they've ever made to this day, and after years of playing and re-playing this game, I know I could pick it up any day and still have just as good a time with it as ever.

Persona 4 Arena

Persona 4 is my favorite game of all time. Persona 4 Golden is an updated, much-improved version of my favorite game of all time (which technically makes it the favorite now?). Neither of those are technically in this generation, so it'd be easy to throw Persona 4 Arena in here just to give some proxy-praise to the world's best RPG; and truth be told, were Persona 4 not the wonder that it is, this game wouldn't be here. That does not, in any way, diminish the fact that Persona 4 Arena is my favorite fighting game of all time. Sure it drew me in with characters and a setting that were near and dear to my heart, but I wouldn't have stuck around and actually gotten good- legitimately good- at a fighter for the first time in my life if it wasn't a great game.

Radical robot lady

It's an Arc System Works game, so I vaguely knew what I was in for. I put in my time with Guilty Gear XX #Reload years ago, so I figured I was ready for whatever the game could throw at me. What I hadn't anticipated was that there'd be a surprisingly good story mode, and yes, I know some people absolutely loathe it. Personally, I'm way into that sort of thing, and enjoyed seeing how the different characters from Persona 4 handled having to be the hero of the day. Plus, Labrys is a great addition to the cast, and is an eerie reminder that people in the Persona universe are still up to some shady stuff behind the scenes. Sure, it can get a bit long winded, and there were bound to be some spots where the writing felt a bit weak, but for the most part it was a blast. Also, if you need that little extra nudge, the music is about as fantastic as you'd expect when you put Arc System Works and Atlus together.

More importantly, as a fighting game, it's excellent. I've had my problems with fighters in the past, and there was even a long stretch where I cursed any and all 'high-level' play. I didn't see what the hell was supposed to be fun or exciting about one person spamming so many screen-filling attacks in MvC2 that their opponent spent 90 percent of the match taking chip damage. Skullgirls' excellent tutorial mode planted the seed, and Persona 4 Arena drew me in and made me, for the first time, actually buckle down and learn a fighting game. I know frame data for the different versions of Kanji's command grabs. That's absurd... and fantastic.

Never Forget

But really, no matter how great a game it is and no matter how much I loved the setting and cast, I'd never have gotten into it as much as I did without the community. I've made some awesome friends as a direct result of both this game and Giant Bomb's tournaments, and I can't be thankful enough for that. Most of my favorite memories of the last year have been had talking to duders in the IRC or playing the game with them, and there's a lot to be said for a game that has a positive impact on your life.

Advance Wars: Dual Strike

War: For everyone
These guys pretty much salvaged two years of my life

I really love Advance Wars, you guys. I admit, I never finished the first game, but I was young and stupid back then. The second game made me love the series, and Dual Strike pretty much defined large parts of my time in High School. I had a classic DS, the giant silver brick, and Advance Wars DS was one of the only games I had. Luckily, it was also pretty much the only game I needed. I played the hell out of this game, and it constantly destroyed what I had assumed were sound military strategies. While my geometry homework was passed around the cafeteria for other people to copy I was directing hordes of bloodthirsty, adorable troops on the front lines of a seemingly never ending battle. Ambushes and the fog of war cost the lives of what must have been thousands of brave men in bright orange uniforms... which explains a lot now that I think about it.

There's just something inherently joyful about Advance Wars DS. It's war, and people are gunning each other down, bombers are raining fire onto your cities, there's wreckage strewn across once idyllic landscapes... but the characters are colorful and quirky, and everything is so damn fun! Sure, a Megatank just rolled up and turned a poorly placed squad of infantry into a fine mist, but you're too busy enjoying the idea of the MEGATANK to feel too broken up about it.

Admit it- that is an adorable artillery strike

The game is also hard as hell sometimes, but I didn't mind because it was fun and challenging and intense, for a strategy game. When those super power meters filled up any given turn could be the one that decided the outcome of the entire battle, and it was exactly the kind of pressure I needed to take me away from all the trials and tribulations of daily life. I could flip open the DS whenever I wanted and get back to what really mattered- picking Lash and abusing her absolutely broken CO power, enjoying some great music, and smiling like a madman as tiny, adorable armies fought tooth and nail for every tile in sight. It's my favorite kind of game, and to this day I still break out that giant, clunky monster of a DS and power it up for a little good-old-fashioned warfare.

Alpha Protocol

She's actually pretty nice when she isn't shooting you.

If there's one thing that this generation will be remembered for, it's games that claim the player's choices will be taken into account and matter. What that actually means varies wildly from game to game. Sometimes the illusion of choice is fine, and even if all your options take you down the same road the player is at least comforted by the knowledge that they influenced the way things progressed. Other games branch out and offer different paths towards the same destination, but give the player a definite impact on the experience. Alpha Protocol is maybe the only game I can think of that delivers a truly malleable story, and it definitely does it best.

Oddly enough? Also pretty nice once the attempted murder passes

From the beginning, you know where you'll eventually end up; in the hands of the enemy, being interrogated. The story is told through a series of flashbacks as your adventures are recounted, but everything can change depending on how those flashbacks play out... including your situation in the game's 'present'. Captured? Maybe you made the right friends and a certain covert organization is about to provide backup. Maybe you made more enemies than friends, and you conveniently told them where they could find you if they wanted revenge; the guys holding you prisoner are in for a rude awakening, then. Maybe you even have some partners on the inside, and your situation's not nearly as dire as the villain thinks.

Or maybe you're tired of being the lone, outgunned hero and decided it'd be way smarter to switch sides. You're not captured, you turned yourself in for a job interview. That's a totally valid option! Equally valid, way more difficult and much cooler is backstabbing the villain shortly after you sign up, replacing his network with your own carefully constructed organization of spies, arms dealers, triad leaders and allies from throughout your globe-spanning adventure. There's a crazy amount of variation that can happen over the course of the game, and sometimes it's as simple as the tone you use when you talk to people that makes all the difference. Collecting and reading intel dossiers on your targets, knowing how to deal with clashing personalities between your teammates, and even knowing who to kill and who'll be more useful running around terrified of you; the experiences you have in Alpha Protocol can change over the smallest details.

I should address the most common complaint about this game, I suppose, and that's the gameplay itself. A lot of people seemed to expect this to be a standard third-person shooter, i.e. if a guy is in your crosshairs you're gonna hit him. The problem is that the game is an RPG, and if you want that kind of accuracy you have to level up and put points into that weapon's skill tree. I didn't have a problem with it because I'm way into leveling up, but for a lot of people that was a deal breaker and the game was widely derided. It's a shame, because in all honesty it's the best example I can think of for a game that takes the player's choices and actions into account and gives them have a unique version of the story.

Mass Effect 1

It's all coming back now...

That's right, the first one. Most people probably think that I'm crazy for thinking that Mass Effect 1 is better than the sequels, but I know for a fact there are at least a few people in my corner on this one. Even if there weren't it'd still be my opinion, because ME1 is the game in the trilogy that I enjoyed the most. There are a number of reasons why, but I think the thing that matters most in this case is atmosphere; Mass Effect 1 goes full out on the ridiculous space fantasy and it's an absolute blast! You make your Commander Shepard and get tossed into the middle of a universe spanning plot involving a race of sentient AI, a rogue secret agent, ancient technology and mysterious impending doom. There are bizarre aliens, ridiculous technology, and by the time you hear that the Asari can reproduce with any species you just laugh and wonder when the Enterprise is going to steal your parking space.


Sure, the game has issues. The elevator rides can be excrutiating, even with your teammates and news reports doing their best to entertain you. The Inventory can quickly become a cluttered nightmare, as well, despite your best efforts to keep junk from accumulating, and the Mako is at times your greatest enemy in the middle of a pitched firefight or a Thresher Maw chase. On the other hand, there's something hilarious and humbling about the rag-tag team of galaxy-saving badasses making idle chatter in slow moving elevators. That pile of stuff in your inventory gives you a ton of customization options; my space gun shot fiery explosions and lightning. And there's nothing quite like ramping the Mako off of a Geth armature once you had the hang of the controls! Mass Effect 1 had problems, for sure, but I'd rather have those problems than settle with the stripped down version of things in Mass Effect 2. (And that's not the only thing Mass Effect 2 stripped down... I miss the days when people in an alien environment would take the time to wear a goddamn space suit.)

The Mako is brought to you by a lack of pictures of Ms. Commander Shepard

It was pretty much inevitable that Mass Effect couldn't stay a pseudo-silly, exploratory romp through the stars, but I feel like Mass Effect 1 is the only game in the series that really had a good handle on what the tone was supposed to be. Nearly every character and all of the various problems that Shepard encounters feel somehow right and appropriate within that world, whether he's dealing with ancient mind-controlling plant monsters or having a philosophical debate with Saren in the middle of a battlefield. Your teammates (humans aside) are generally pretty cool people (if that's the appropriate term), even though they sometimes serve as exposition dispensers about their respective species. I honestly enjoy that aspect, because even when they spend a lot of time telling you about the problems their people have had, they never stop being well-defined characters of their own; that's not easy to pull off.

Don't get the wrong idea, of course; I played the other Mass Effect games, and I even enjoyed them. They've all got things that they do well, and things they don't do so well, but at the end of the trilogy looking back, I still feel that the first game is the strongest entry in the series. It's definitely the best to me, personally, and it's the one that I find myself going back to whenever I want another shot of the Mass Effect universe.

Dark Souls

If you don't know why this guy's an asshole, play the game

A lot of things have been said about Dark Souls, some of them probably too vile for me to repeat even at a den of iniquity like the Giant Bomb forums. I didn't really know what to expect when I jumped into this game, because I'd never played Demon's Souls and had no real frame of reference for how hard this was gonna be. For all I knew, I was buying a game that I'd play for 30 minutes and absolutely hate! I went in almost completely blind and unprepared, and the game... didn't crush me, actually. Where I had assumed brutal death would befall me in the first few minutes, I actually made it quite a while before I died for the first time (to some firebombing undead soldiers in Undead Burg). It ocurred to me later that it might be because I was kind of terrified and apprehensive going in; when the game gave me messages explaining the controls, I made sure to remember it. When I found a new weapon, I tested it out to see if I liked it. When I saw a new enemy, I kept my shield up, and I was borderline OCD about my stamina meter never going below half if I could help it. Because I was patient (read: cowardly) I ended up surviving and having a damn fun time with the game, right until I caught fire.

But then again, that was fun too. I died and wound up back at Firelink Shrine, but I didn't mind that much; after all, I knew right where my souls had landed, and now I knew to watch out for guys tossing bombs my way from the rooftops. It took a few more tries to get it right, but when I eventually came up behind those same undead and booted them to their deaths it was entirely worth the trouble. That's something that I love dearly about Dark Souls; it's rewarding, and not because you've overcome some insanely difficult challenge; in truth, I don't think the game is all that difficult. There are times when it traps and tricks you, and some of the late-game areas and bosses aren't quite as well designed as you'd like (fuck you, Bed of Chaos). For the overwhelming majority of the time, though, I was amazed at just how lenient the game could be. I made mistakes left and right, accidentally healed while a boar charged my way, fell into pits and got cursed and stabbed and generally beaten every way you could imagine, but at no point did it feel like whatever obstacle I faced was insurmountable. There was never a moment when I felt like I couldn't win if I gave it a couple more tries, and I was right.

Amazing Chest Ahead, etc, we get it already

It's not a game for everyone, and that's alright in my book. I do feel like people might be cheating themselves if they don't at least give it a shot, though, and I feel like the people who often say they aren't good at action games might in fact be the best kind of players. If you're going into the game aware that you don't know what you're doing, I think you'll fare much better than someone who marches in expecting to attack their way to victory. There's something really enjoyable about playing Dark Souls and learning how to play the game; a lot of it has to do with coming back to an area later and blasting through the enemies like paper, not because you remember the layout or leveled up but simply because you're more comfortable with playing. The last time I started a new character, I made it to Blighttown before I died. And I defeated the Capra Demon and his attack dogs by two handing a shield.


Waitress of the Generation

Catherine is my favorite puzzle game of all time. It's that particular aspect of the game that makes me put it on this list, though I did enjoy the story and characters; basically, I spent a ridiculous amount of time on this game, and I absolutely love climbing those damned towers of blocks. It's got what I feel is essential in a puzzle game, which is giving the player relatively simple controls and actions. Movement is easy, as long as you don't lose track of your position, and pushing and pulling blocks is about as basic as it can get; the complexity comes from the layouts of the stages and the curious mechanics that allow you to disassemble and stack blocks in physics-defying formations. There are obstacles aplenty, from pursuing bosses, the encroaching void that pulls the tower apart one row at a time, spikes, bombs, ice, enemies... Catherine can become insanely tense and frantic, and the more pressure it puts on you the more likely you are to forget the mechanics and screw yourself over.

Oh yeah, I saw this a lot

I suppose that's something about Catherine that I loved; I ended up completely stalled in the Torture Chamber nightmare, unable to progress past the spike traps and faced with what seemed, at the time, like an insurmountable wall of blocks. I stayed up into the next morning and made no progress, angrily admitting defeat and crawling into bed. The next night I completely blasted through that stage, making it several worlds until I encountered my next real roadblock. It wasn't for a lack of difficulty; the game was consistently getting harder, and the entire time I was learning and practicing my moves, memorizing the quick and dirty solutions for the most common block-puzzles that I encountered. They never introduced more abilities to me, never turned down the difficulty or gave me a pass; I just got better at the game, and when I got stalled I took a break and really thought about it. Catherine made me use my brain until it was running on fumes, and when I couldn't keep up I had to come back another day and try again. That's exactly what a puzzle game should do, and Catherine is a goddamned incredible one.

Of course, it's not all puzzling action. There are things about Catherine's story that I like and dislike for a lot of personal reasons; personally I don't mind that Vincent spent a few nights trapped in terrifying, death-defying nightmares, because I don't particularly like him. It's not that he's not a good character; he's a great character, but to me he seems like a complete asshat. He and Catherine are the only characters in the game that I'm not a fan of, however, and between Katherine, Erica, Vincent's friends and the rest of the Bar patrons, I think that Catherine has one of the strongest casts of any game this generation. Any of the other patrons who get drawn into the nightmare world could probably have been the main character of this one, and Erica and Vincent's other friends give the bar the relaxed, friendly atmosphere that you need before you head home and throw yourself into another Nightmare stage.

I may have forgotten to mention that the game looks incredible

With all that said, I still feel the need to reiterate that a lot of my problem's with Catherine's story are personal; it hits close to home. It might be interspersed with comedy and magic and weird supernatural elements, but there are some really disturbing things in this game. The game talks about suicide, survivor's guilt, child abuse of the worst sort, infidelity, shame, and even touches on transgender issues, and it does so with real, honest empathy. I imagine it'll be a hell of a long time before we get a game that even tries to touch on some of the issues that Catherine does, and longer still before we find one that can approach them with some level of class and maturity.

So... there you have it! That's a list that was much, much longer a few days ago, but I trimmed it down to just the games I felt strongly enough about to write for a little while. It's seen revision after revision, but this is the version I'm happy with. I'll still give an honorable mention to some other games: Vanquish and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, neither of which are as good as Bayonetta, but both of which are fucking fantastic. There's Binary Domain, which had one of my favorite sci-fi stories ever. It's like a Twilight Zone plot that's gone on for years after the episode ends, and it's incredible. Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen kept me occupied for hours, and the story really does get as crazy as everyone says; if you want to understand any of it, though, you should probably do your side quests. Monster Hunter Tri, Assassin's Creed Brotherhood, Nier... I played so many good games that I could keep this going forever, if I felt like it. This generation has been pretty great, you guys. Here's hoping the next one matches up, and that next year is infinitely better than this one was. See you in 2014!

*Unless you like Heavy Rain.

**I cannot describe music well, and I apologize.


Game of the Year 2011? How can I pick like this?!

I am terrible at this blog thing. This isn't going to be pretty, that much is assured, but I figure that it's the end of the year, and games this year have been pretty okay you guys. Note that this is a personal list, and that I haven't had the chance to play every game that came out this year, despite my best efforts. Also, I'd somehow be even more of an asshole if I was going around posting my thoughts on Game of the Year lists without letting my own opinions be publicly ridiculed, so... here we go!

10: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

I've done a fair amount of bitching about this game, make no mistake. I think that the glitches, bugs, and general brokenness that pervade every area of the game are shameful, and someone probably deserves an actual punch to the jaw for allowing it to be released in such a state, especially to PS3 users. That said, I can still understand and appreciate what they attempted, and it's not like they made a bad game in the process. They just made a great, very broken game, which is arguably the more depressing outcome. At least the Argonians look awesome this time around.

9: Dead Space 2

I'll admit to not liking this game quite as much as the first one, due in large part to the shift from survival horror towards... action-horror? Whatever it is that Resident Evil has become in recent years. That doesn't stop it from looking downright incredible and still managing to, if not make you nervous and jumpy in dark corners, at least turn your stomach with some serious eye-related trauma. It's got likable enough characters that you don't want to see horrible things happen to them, and this being Dead Space, it inevitably will anyways, and the gameplay still feels rewarding and manages to keep things interesting until the end of the ride.

My only real request is more of this.

8: Batman: Arkham City

About 85% of the population loves Batman unconditionally, or so I've been told in the past. Arkham Asylum, while critically loved, failed to inspire much more than disappointment from me when I played it in preparation for this one- And make no mistake, the boss battles were entirely to blame for that. That issue has been more than resolved with this game, which handles the major villains and showdowns with as much aplomb and grace as you'd hoped for in the first game. The combat is improved in some small but important ways, and the Detective Vision thankfully gets a break, allowing you to really soak up some of the downright fantastic environments scattered around. The only real shame is that there isn't a little more to do on the rooftops and streets, but I suppose there has to be something saved for the sequel right?

7: Portal 2

How do you make everyone's Game of the Year lists? Make a sequel to Portal, and don't fuck it up. It sounds a seemingly insurmountable trial, but it's been done, and in some people's opinions it's actually even better than the first. I tend to sit more with the crowd who found Wheately a little annoying... wait, I was the only one? Oh... okay, then. It was fun, it was clever, it was hilarious, and actually playing it feels as good as it did the first time around. The added Co-op was a nice touch that actually provided some of my personal favorite content in the game, but even without it this game solidly deserves to be on most Game of the year rundowns.

One of the most visually appealing games of the year, even when it's telling you things you'd rather not hear.

5: Alice: Madness Returns

That's not a typo. I was expecting to remember some amazing game that I totally forgot about, but that never materialized, so we're left with a dark void where Number 6 should go. I'll use said vacuous abyss to store my memories of Alice, because holy shit you guys, this game got dark. It's gorgeous, it oozes style every time you glance at it, the levels are both smartly designed and intriguing, and the characters feel alive. That's perhaps unfortunate considering some of the territory that the story edges into later on, pulling some truly twisted material out of left field. I actually considered leaving this game off the list, because when I think about it I feel unhappy, and I find myself literally wishing that I hadn't played the game so that I could stay ignorant of the last few twists they pull. I'll have to live with the knowledge, however, like some unwanted black spot on my memories, but any game that could so thoroughly affect me has to be on a list like this. I wouldn't have it any other way.

4: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

This game came in late, to be sure, but it's hard not to be immediately grabbed and pulled in by the signature style of the Zelda world. This isn't a familiar one, though, and the changes allowed by taking a far-removed approach from the Hyrule of earlier (later?) games in the series is refreshing. A lot has been said about the slow start to the game, which I suppose was mitigated in my case by unabashed joy and nerdy revelry at the discoveries I was making about the series as a whole. For instance, I now know why there is a red bird on the Hyrulian shield, and that fills me with an unusual amount of joy. Make no mistake, this is a Zelda game at heart, and fans of the series will find themselves knowing where to go and what to do instinctively. For those not as well versed, Fi makes an excellent addition to the ranks of Link's companions, providing hints about puzzles, item suggestions for new areas, and even allowing you to search out and pinpoint particular goals. On top of that, the motion controls finally come into their own here, and had this game been released at the start of the Wii lineup instead of the end, I imagine the gaming landscape today would be quite different than it is.

Character of the Year, all years. I will fight you on this.

3: Catherine

A lot has been said about Catherine on this site. It seemed like no one really knew what to expect from the game, and when everyone found out that the majority of gameplay was a block-puzzler, the reactions went everywhere. To anyone who says block puzzles can't be fun, I say that while I understand it's your opinion, you can go directly to hell. Forget slogging through the block puzzles, I was waiting for Vincent to shut his mouth- despite my love for Troy Baker- so that I could get back to those awesome Nightmare stages. It's tense, it's exciting, it makes you think harder than a lot of games will just to get up the tower, not even mentioning when they're asking you what you'd do if you caught your partner in an affair. The game tackles some uncomfortable material in traditional Atlus style, by throwing it at you and letting you drown in the awkwardness and pressure that at times can feel scarily realistic. The side characters manage to be some of the most entertaining and endearing you'll ever meet, and several are inarguably more interesting than the cast of other games on this very list. Despite a few misgivings I have with the way the story wrapped up, namely the illusory nature of a certain character, and despite my intense personal distaste for Vincent Brooks as a person, there's no way that this game isn't completely deserving of the top of the list.

2: Dark Souls

But that wasn't the top of the list? Well, not technically, but these last three games are all so damn good that I can't actually pick between them. They all tickle different areas of my mind in just the right ways, and all three, including From Software's brutally punishing Dark Souls, claim the top spot as far as I'm concerned. This one, in particular, lets me really sink in and enjoy the story and the world. Everyone said this game's story wasn't important, or that it barely had one? They weren't paying enough attention, then, because Dark Souls actually has one of the more ingenious stories of any game released this year. Perhaps more impressive is the manner in which it's delivered to you, by scarce dialogue from the few NPCs and more often than not from the informational text describing the items lining your pockets. It's all the more amazing when you manage to piece together the bits you need to uncover the actual story of Dark Souls, to find the characters driving things from behind the scenes, and to once and for all understand your place in the world. There's a complex web of lies, betrayal, and tragedy just under the surface of the game, and uncovering it was one of the most memorable experiences of the year.

This is your main adversary. I am not even a little bit joking.

1. Saints Row: The Third

Saints Row The Third prioritizes having fun. This takes it a shockingly long way towards excellence, in no small part due to the fact that when they set out to do something, they set out to do it as big as they can. A lot has been said about the comedy, the outlandishness, the insanity that pervades the game world, and I feel like in all that joy and glee something has been missed, and that is the fact that this game is surprisingly good, even without all of that delicious icing on top. The driving is smooth, a must for a game like this, and the smart addition of in-world racing arrows to steer you around lets you enjoy the scenery, style, and spectacle of the game without risking performance, and the shooting is more than serviceable for this sort of outing. The improvements it makes to the old formula that the GTA series made popular are minor, but they are numerous and always appreciated. Everything serves the purpose of allowing you to more easily do the things you'd want to do in a game like this, and while simple it's effective in a primal way. I don't think I've had quite as much fun with a game, this year, as with Saints Row The Third, and considering that I am currently on playthrough 3 and a half and still looking forward to my next adventure through Steelport with yet another outstanding voice to experience, I think it clearly earned a place here.

There are so many commas in that list that I am almost physically ill. I can't edit all of that, that's crazy talk. You're just going to have to deal with what you got.


Re-Endure the Persona 4 Endurance Run: Finale!

Honestly, it's a little hard to believe that the Re-Endurance Run has actually lasted long enough to justify this Fourth and Final thread.  The real test of interest may just be beginning, however, as we come back from a week-long break brought on by the general insanity and deluge of content provided by the annual E3 coverage.  Regardless, as long as the comments keep coming, the Re-ER will continue until it ends.  Anyone who feels so inclined is still perfectly welcome to drop in and comment on whatever episode they feel like!  Just remember to keep your spoilers marked for the benefit of people watching for the first time.

Duder, it's over!




Re-Endure the Persona 4 Endurance Run: Round 3!

Re-ER Thread 1: Episodes 1~35

Re-ER Thread 2: Episodes 36~70

Re-ER Thread 4: Episodes 119 - End

The Re-Endurance Run has entered its third incarnation with Episode 71! Hard to think of a better way to start. Anyone who feels like it is still welcome to jump in, rewatch, and comment, even if you're not planning to sit through the entire thing again. Just make sure the big spoilers are marked as such! There are still some people watching for the first time, after all.



Re-Endure the Persona 4 Endurance Run: Episode 1!

Because enough people wanted it, and because it was the two year anniversary of Giant Bomb's Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 Endurance Run, a thread was created so that we can start to rewatch it... together.  It started a day early because a new computer and my calendar teamed up to make a fool of me.  This first post will be updated daily, with the current episode we're on and the previous four. We'll switch to a new thread periodically, whenever it feels dramatically appropriate, to keep these things from becoming too massive. Unless everyone really wants to keep a single thread the entire time, I guess, you guys are crazy so who knows what'll happen. Wingin' it!

Re-ER Thread 2: Episodes 36~70

Re-ER Thread 3: Episodes 71 - 118

Re-ER Thread 4: Episodes 119 - End




Let's Re-Endure the Endurance Run?

The Persona 4 Endurance Run is pretty daunting.  It's more than 150 episodes long, a lot of them stretch out for more than an hour long, and it's now been almost two years since it began.  Still, the Catherine quick look brought back some fond memories of one of the greatest Giant Bomb features, some users have expressed an interest in rewatching the thing.  Crazy, right?

Having already seen it in full twice myself, I feel a little awkward at the idea of going back and watching it alone, so I came up with an idea- I'm going to be rewatching it, and I'll be posting a blog here with the episodes I watched and some thoughts on them.  Those who want to rewatch, or who never saw it and feel the urge, why not watch it together?  Go back, watch the episodes starting from the first, post new comments and breathe some life into an old, revered part of Giant Bomb history.

Good idea?  Terrible?  Would anyone be interested in a community revisit of the old ER?  Give me your thoughts!  If I'm the only one interested, there's no point, after all.

Edit: Enough people here are crazy enough to want to do this.  Starting the 9th!


Thoughts on Metroid: Other M, Venting Rage edition

Spoilers included within, obviously.
I don't like to make Blog posts a lot.  I don't think that whatever I have to say is usually interesting enough to warrant an entirely new blog post or forum thread or what have you.  Unfortunately, if I don't go ahead and make one large post with my thoughts on Metroid: Other M and all the claims that it's ruining Samus' character, I'm going to literally explode from the blood rushing into my heart out of anger.  It'll be messy, and I don't want anyone to have to clean that up.

I know not everyone is saying that Other M is Sexist, or that it flies in the face of Samus' character.  I just want to address some of the issues I've seen brought up so far that I disagree with.  I'll try to tackle them in large segments, but they will probably bleed into one another on several occassions.

1. Ridley Cutscene
Being Ridley's appearance, and Samus being scared into inaction at his sudden appearance.  I understand that a lot of people were angry with this one, and I understand why- Samus has been pretty consistently a total badass in all of her appearances.  To have her suddenly paralyzed with fear when Ridley shows up for what must be about the 7th fight they've had over the series seems ridiculous and comes out of nowhere, and having one of the other characters in the game appear to save her is enough to make even the most hardened Metroid fan glare with anger in the direction of Nintendo headquarters.

You have to recall, though, that Ridley isn't just any old enemy for Samus to battle, he's an enemy that is specifically related to the death of her parents when she was a child.  He's been overused in the games, to be sure, and I think it's to the detriment of the story that Ridley is reused over and over for so many boss battles in nearly every installment in the series.  In this particular instance, though, it makes sense that Samus would be more terrified of Ridley than she ever was before- as Samus herself has said, she considered Adam, her CO, as a replacement father figure.  Samus may have faced down Ridley time and time again in the past, but on this occasion she wasn't making a solo attack on a Space Pirate base- she was onboard an isolated space station with her old Commanding Officer and her old allies from her time in the military.  To make it more obvious, there is a moment during the cutscene after Ridley appears where Samus imagines her childhood self from when her parents were killed standing in her place again- Samus isn't afraid to fight Ridley, she was afraid of losing her 'family' yet again.

Some people would disagree with that, which I understand.  Samus has never been much of a talker, and especially has rarely commented on her family or any possible friends she might have.  I will point out Metroid Prime 3 as another example of Samus losing the people close to her, though- she didn't even seem to know the other Bounty Hunters that well, but as soon as she heard that they'd lost contact with them, she ran to her ship to go track them down.  Upon finding them and being forced to kill them, Samus shows increasing amounts of regret, being unable to even look at Gandrayda as she is absorbed by Dark Samus.  Samus has a long history of losing everyone around her - Her family, the Chozo, the Metroid hatchling, and even people who she only knew for short periods of time.  It's perfectly understandable that after reuniting with her old team, the sight of an enemy like Ridley who she shares a long and painful history with would be enough to make her pause.

2. Samus waiting for Authorization to use her weapons and abilities
A lot of people are confused about this one, citing that Samus is a Bounty Hunter, and that she wouldn't just follow the orders of the military because someone she knew was in charge.  They're right.  She'd follow the orders no matter who was in charge.  Samus has, at the point in the story that Other M is taking place, never directly disobeyed the Federation or any orders she received from them.  She even trusted them enough that, immediately after destroying all of the Metroids except the final hatchling, she turned it over to Federation scientists.
The idea that Samus distrusts the federation and that they are on uneasy terms was only introduced in Metroid Fusion, which takes place some time after Other M, and more importantly, takes place after Samus' CO and father figure Adam Malkovitch is killed.  Samus states that she was young and inexperienced when she had last worked with Adam- clearly, his death soured her views of the Federation to some degree, and only the discovery that the Federation was planning to use the Metroids as weapons, along with their plans to capture the X-Parasites, finally led to Samus disobeying and destroying the research facility and home planet of the X-Parasites.  In the timeline, when Other M is taking place, Samus is still clearly working with the Federation quite closely, and would have no trouble following their orders as she has in all past games.

That was long, and I probably should have broken those points up more, but damnit, it's getting late and I don't want to argue about something as stupid as people claiming Samus is a weak character.  Samus has almost completely destroyed several planets, made enemies of nearly every major faction in the galaxy, almost entirely destroyed a criminal army that was on the verge of taking over all of civilization, wiped out an entire species of genetically engineered bio-weapons and the shapeshifting parasites they were created to destroy, and killed several super-powerful copies of herself.  If she wants to be a little worried in one game that the only people she knows who haven't already been killed by her enemies might die, then damnit, she can.


Editing the Evil Zone page/Stabbing yourself in the face

I'm loving this whole wiki thing the site has going on, and was just waiting for a good game I could really geek out over when I noticed that Evil Zone doesn't have a lot of info, especially in the character sections.  I spent ages back when I first got the game reading through all of the encyclopedia entries that went to exhaustive lengths to give a name and significance to every detail of the characters, from their attacks, their names, their birthdays and bloodtypes, all the way down to the backstories for pieces of their costumes that weren't even visible on the character models.  This brings me to my first dilemma - should that sort of information be added to the wiki, or is going into that much detail about such an old game, no matter how much I love the ridiculous encyclopedia entries, just not what people want in the pages?

My only other issue is my browser of choice, Opera.  It can't edit the wiki pages here on Giant Bomb, and I absolutely cannot stand firefox, so if anyone could throw me a suggestion for a browser I could use as a wiki-editing device, that'd be awesome.

...This thing seems too short.  That means it's time to add something.  Rambling about the Motion controls!

As with most of my more brilliant thoughts, this one came to me in the bath right after I slipped and nearly fell face first into the horrible spider-nest that is the area behind the toilet where men dare not tread or spray pest-killers.  Holding myself above certain disgust by a precariously rigged shower curtain, I began thinking as I often do about the technical limitations of the Wii remote, and motion control in general.  I was one of maybe 20 people who was lucky enough to play Soul Calibur Legends on the Wii shortly after it came out, and a thought ocurred to me as I looked at a large, goofy, flashing toy-lightsaber looking attachment for the Wiimote that they included with the game.  They were on to something.

I realized that 1 to 1 motion control is nigh impossible in many games these days for the simple reason that while you may be swinging a sword in the game, in real life you're swinging a near weightless piece of plastic, or in the case of Kinect, just waving your arm.  It's simple, sure, but realizing it gave me a new appreciation for the difficulty in trying to deliver what people want in a game like Red Steel 2.  It makes me realize that the Katana, more than just a stylistic choice for the game, was really one of the only choices they could have made to keep the game as responsive as they did.

Imagine playing a motion controlled game where your character swung a massive sword ala Siegfried in Soul Calibur, or Guts in Berserk. (Obligatory anime reference achieved!)  No one would have appreciated swinging the Wii remote and watching a slow, lumbering chop, but on the other hand, to make the character's swing match the player's would look absurd with weapons that size.  Somewhere around here I had a stroke of genius - This was what all those people in Star Wars were talking about when they mentioned a lightsaber.  You've got an incredibly dangerous weapon that feels like it's not even there!

So basically, they need to make a Jedi academy style game for the Wii stat, and take off all of the usual motion control restrictions they have.  If I aim the Wiimote a little too far to one side, I want to be able to lop my own damn arm off and die painfully.  If I hold down B and activate the thing with it pointing at my face, I should have to reload the game after a hilarious shot of me crumpling to the floor.  It'd be perfect.  Any thoughts on any of this, please, feel free to comment.  ...I'm so alone.