VHScapades: E3 2003

Oh, Infogrames. You tried so hard.

Alright, so E3 2001 was spectacular and E3 2002 was kind of a dud. Well, E3 2003 was somewhere in between. Sony had the big surprise with their announcement of the PlayStation Portable, and there were quite a few blockbuster games to be seen. The talk of the show for most people were actually three non-playable games; Halo 2, Half-Life 2, and Doom III. While those shooters were getting all the attention, there was also this little game at Activision's booth known as Call of Duty. Other highlights included the EyeToy for PS2, Project Ego, True Fantasy Live Online, Gran Turismo 4, sequels to Jak and Ratchet, Boktai: The Sun is in Your Hand, Metroid: Zero Mission, Soul Calibur II, Resident Evil 4, Viewtiful Joe, SSX 3, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Final Fantasy X-2, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.

8-player Double Dash is the whole f'n show!

I also got to watch Rob Van Dam and Rey Mysterio play Mario Kart: Double Dash!!. So, that pretty much stole the show.

If you get there early enough, you can basically stand on Figueroa and get some good shots. Here we are entering West Hall's lobby, then taking a 360º view of South Hall's lobby.

Starting this off with the show stopper. Here's the epic 9-minute gameplay footage of Halo 2 that Microsoft was showing in a theater at their booth. I don't think they wanted people filming this, but they never specifically said it, so I sat down in the front row and kept the camera at my side and somehow kept a good angle on the screen for (mostly) the entire time. Most of the videos I've seen of this don't include the introduction by Sergeant Johnson. So, get ready to dance, you pasty bastards!

After exiting the Halo 2 demo, I immediately ran into Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. I'm pretty sure that's Greg Zeschuk guiding the demo, but I had no idea who he was at the time. Also featured in this video from Microsoft's booth are people playing True Crime: Streets of LA and Conker: Live & Uncut very poorly. Then there's trailers for Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six 3 and Sonic Heroes.

Here's the Doom 3 video that Activision was showing around their booth. I never got into the actual gameplay presentation because the line for that theater was insanely long. Also, there's a trailer for Tony Hawk's Underground featuring a lot of getting off the board nonsense.

Once again, Konami stopped show goers in their steps with a super lengthy Metal Gear Solid trailer. This time it was Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. And, as you'll see in the trailer, "this is no vice city."

Here's a short panoramic view of EA's massive booth followed by a deluge of trailers for stuff including:

And here's the other half of EA's video wall featuring all their sports games set to early 2000's pop music. You know, like the All American Rejects. Games featured here include:

Remember when someone thought making polygonal Castlevania games was a good idea? Oh...they're still trying to do that? Okay, carry on then. Just don't forget to call Zobek.

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VHScapades: E3 2002

West Hall

Last week, I shared my VHS footage from one of the best E3's of all time; 2001. This week, it's time to check out the mostly forgettable E3 2002. There were no sexy new consoles or even handhelds to flaunt in 2002, so it was truly all about the games. More specifically, playing games online. Xbox Live was about to be launched, Sony was touting SOCOM and the PS2's official network adapter, and of course there were plenty of online games being featured for PC including the first looks at World of Warcraft, EverQuest II, Battlefield 1942, and Star Wars Galaxies. And there was this other game called Doom III that was getting a lot of attention at the Activision booth, but I don't think video was allowed til next year.

So, here's another dozen videos or so in glorious VHS-C definition. Keep in mind that one of the main reasons I was videoing this stuff was to play it my friends' Babbage's and Software Etc to boost reservations. It totally worked.

Coming into South Hall super early in the morning to get in line for the show. The thing I remember most about this is that they had set up a bag check station outside for the first time, which is why there's a cut in the video before I got inside. This was the first E3 after September 11th, so there was a bit more security than in years passed.

The famous Electronic Arts video wall. This video isn't very exciting, but it was an easy way to get trailers into the store for pre-orders. You have to remember that there was no "GameStop TV" crap in the stores back then. The company would sometimes send video tapes for the store to put on loop, but we just replaced it with these each year. Game trailers in this video include:

Continuing with EA, here's a bunch of sports games featuring a distinct lack of SSX. What was I even doing? Games that are featured include:

Here's a game that doesn't exist and one that we wish never did. Historically, Eidos' booth was always packed with people, but not because of games. It was primarily because of the models they hired to throw t-shirts and the infamous Lara Croft models. Nothing says 2002 like a Fear Effect 3 trailer set to Linkin Park.

By this point, the "Metal Gear Trailer" had become a tradition in the Konami booth. Here's what MGS2 Substance from the show floor.

Microsoft's booth was always kinda weird around this time. It was kinda like even they weren't too sure this whole Xbox thing was gonna work as there were big sections of their booth still dedicated to PC games (like the Ensemble Studios area at the beginning of this video). Within a couple years, the PC area of their booth became dwarfed by Xbox. Any mention of Halo 2 would have to wait til next year. Games included in this video are:

Around this time, I was still a die-hard EverQuest player, but I wasn't beyond looking for something new. At the time, Shadowbane seemed like it could be pretty cool and the demo I got at the Ubisoft (yes, Ubisoft published an MMO) was quite good. I wonder if @andy was there...

We all know movie games typically suck. But, Two Towers was actually alright if you ask me. EA also had a bunch of movie props in glass cases around the booth. Lord of the Rings was kind of a big deal at the time, you know.

For several years, LucasArts never had an actual booth at the show. Their only presence was always this big video wall in the lobby area of West Hall. Here's a look at Clone Wars and Galaxies.

Sony had a cool booth that featured a lot of glass. In a world that was still populated by big-ass CRT monitors, seeing games projected onto a pane of glass was kinda neat. They also had a bunch of games to show I guess including the debut of a couple mascots. Non-glass things to see at Sony's booth included:

After having a closed booth at E3 2001, Sega was back in 2002 after basically abandoning the Dreamcast in favor of developing their games for everyone. Seeing the 2K games running on PS2 was super weird.

Nintendo didn't seem to be on the online bandwagon with everyone else (big surprise), but no one seemed to care after they played Metroid Prime and Wind Waker. They probably weren't saying great things about WrestleMania X8 though. Super Mario Sunshine was also a focal point of the booth. History would not be so kind to that game.

This was a weird time for Capcom I think. It was before Resident Evil 4 and way before Street Fighter would make a comeback. And after flooring everyone with Devil May Cry, the sequel they brought in 2002 didn't fair as well. Games included in this video are:

To get into SOE's booth, you either had to have an appointment or you had to find a post card in a copy of the E3 daily newspapers. The backs of the postcards had either "ACCESS GRANTED" or "ACCESS DENIED" printed on the back, but it could only be read under a black light. A friend of mine and I raided a stack of the newspapers and ended up getting about a dozen of them. We each went once a day and gave the rest to friends. They were showing the next EverQuest expansion, The Planes of Power. But, they were also showing the Star Wars Galaxies character creator (no video was allowed) and the first ever look at EverQuest II. There's even a part in the EQ2 demo where he starts to talk about a city of Marr, which never actually ended up in the game.

PEACE OUT!

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VHScapades: E3 2001

E3 2001 - West Hall

E3 2013 is over and it was definitely one for the history books. If you've read any of my PAX guides, you probably know that I've been to my fair share of Electronic Threes. For ten straight years (1997-2006), I went to E3 mostly thanks to PlayStation Underground. I've posted some time capsule blogs that I wrote during those shows in the past, but, about a year ago, I bought a relatively cheap capture device so that I could digitize all the VHS tapes I have from E3's past. The footage was originally to use on the TV the Babbage's and Software Etc's that my friends worked at (and later I worked at). It definitely helped boost pre-orders. I uploaded them to YouTube a while ago, but I never formally shared them here, and I think some people may find it interesting. I have tapes from 2001-2005, all in glorious VHS-C quality.

So, here's what I have from E3 2001. It was a big year for E3 since the PlayStation 2 had just come out a few months before, Nintendo was unveiling the GameCube, and Microsoft was joining the fray with the Xbox.

This is super early on Day 3 walking into the lobby of South Hall. Traditionally, South Hall was home to most of the big third party developers like EA, Konami, Ubisoft, and...Acclaim.

At the beginning of this video, I'm taping the big screen in Nintendo's booth while I wait in line to play a wheel of fortune type thing in Nintendo's booth. They had an animatronic Mario/Wario there with Charles Martinet behind a wall doing the voice. Each round, about 12 people could sit at the spinning table, introduce themselves to Wario by telling him where you were from, and then one of Nintendo's classic hired ladies would spin it around. Whatever prizes stopped in front of your seat, you got to keep. There were foam GameCubes, foam GBAs, GBA cases, and other swag. The catch was that one person per spin would win an actual Game Boy Advance, which wasn't out in America yet. Well, I won. I was actually wearing a PlayStation shirt at the time and Wario tried to convince them not to give it to me.

Man...2001 was a pretty great year. Sony's booth was full of to-be-classic games. You know...like Kinetica! Sony had this big ass sphere video thing at the front of their booth that kind of mesmerized me every time I walked by it.

Tecmo and THQ always seemed to get booths in West Hall near the Sony and Nintendo booths. So, I crammed them together in one video. Tecmo was notorious for not really having anything to play and just showing videos of stuff. And women. They always had women.

EA almost always had a giant video wall looping all their trailers. Over the years, it got more and more elaborate until E3 2006 where the floor felt like it was a speaker. So, here's a bunch of stuff they were showing. Get TRICKY!

So, this was the second year that Konami presented a super long trailer for Metal Gear Solid 2. And while it wasn't as shocking as that fabled E3 2000 video, it was still jaw-dropping in its own regard. MGS2 finally launched about six months later.

And here's Microsoft with all the heavy hitters they could muster prior to the launch of their first console. I remember playing Halo and thinking it was nothing special. Bungie got a lot done in those six months prior to launch, because you can clearly see in this video that the framerate was terrible. I also got some footage of Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee in here.

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 was (and is) a pretty big deal. Activision even had a full-sized halfpipe set up in their booth where Bucky Lasek, Mat Hoffman, and the Birdman himself would run skate/BMX demos a couple times a day. Return to Castle Wolfenstein was a big draw as well believe it or not. That flamethrower!

Devil May Cry was one of the biggest games of E3 2001. Uppercutting fools with a sword then juggling them with bullets just felt so good.

This footage was mostly for myself and my guild. At the time, the Shadows of Luclin expansion was about to become a big deal. Partly for reasons SOE intended, and partly for reasons they did not. The new graphics engine was beautiful (even if the character model animations were worse), but this expansion also marked the end of an era as several of the people that had been on the EQ team from the start, most notably Brad McQuaid, were about to leave the company. When the expansion finally released in December 2001, many of the zones were not finished (and never would be).

On a side note, the SOE employee playing the demo was wearing a Star Wars Galaxies shirt and refused to say anything about it.

This is near the end of Day 3 where I just ran around West Hall grabbing some panoramic shots of the show floor. I still do this today when I go to places like PAX. I have some weird infatuation with trying to document what it was like to be there.

And that was E3.

I'll post some stuff 2002 later on. Hopefully someone out there will enjoy taking a look back in time.

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By the Numbers: StreetPAXin East 2013

Your Green Light is On

A couple of brand-new 3DS owners.

PAX East 2013 was the fourth PAX since the advent of StreetPassing. Honestly, I didn't pay quite as much attention to it this year, only milking those Miis for puzzle pieces whenever I had down time in a line or something. But, even so, I still ended up with over 400 StreetPasses and finished all the puzzles including the Luigi's Mansion one that got released sometime Friday night. Even after four PAX's and over 1800 Miis, I'm still missing seven hats in Find Mii. And, I've come to the conclusion that absolutely no one lives in Wyoming.

I wasn't sure if I was even going to do a blog like this again, but then my flight home got delayed over four hours, and I just decided to try and get all the raw data into a spreadsheet while I waited. So, let's look at some dumb numbers.

It's Raining Cats & Dogs

Aside from being able to tell if a Mii is male or female, StreetPass also reveals some info about the person (assuming they provide it in their profile), and one of those stats is if the person prefers cats or dogs more. So, here's a breakdown of the gender population at PAX along with what type of pets they prefer.

The female population is up from 17% at PAX Prime 2012 and up even more from the 15% at PAX East 2012. At this rate, PAX East 2029 will be all women!
Male - Dogs vs CatsAll of PAX - Dogs vs CatsFemale - Dogs vs Cats

The notion that men like dogs and women like cats has held true every time I've done this.

Locations

As you would expect, Massachusetts had the biggest turnout of any region. But, aside from Connecticut, almost no one else came from New England. More people came from Japan than Maine.

United States of America

StateCount% StateCount%
Alabama10.23% Montana00.00%
Alaska00.00% Nebraska10.23%
Arizona00.00% Nevada00.00%
Arkansas00.00% New Hampshire153.45%
California102.30% New Jersey296.67%
Colorado10.23% New Mexico00.00%
Connecticut184.14% New York5412.41%
Delaware10.23% North Carolina71.61%
District of Columbia00.00% North Dakota00.00%
Florida112.53% Ohio51.15%
Georgia132.99% Oklahoma10.23%
Hawaii10.23% Oregon00.00%
Idaho00.00% Pennsylvania194.37%
Illinois81.84% Puerto Rico00.00%
Indiana30.69% Rhode Island61.38%
Iowa10.23% South Carolina20.46%
Kansas20.46% South Dakota00.00%
Kentucky30.69% Tennessee10.23%
Louisiana20.46% Texas20.46%
Maine20.46% Utah00.00%
Maryland235.29% Vermont20.46%
Massachusetts9822.53% Virginia255.75%
Michigan61.38% Washington92.07%
Minnesota30.69% West Virginia10.23%
Mississippi20.46% Wisconsin20.46%
Missouri10.23% Wyoming00.00%
USA (no state listed)92.07%
TOTAL40091.95%

Canada / International

ProvinceCount% CountryCount%
Alberta51.15% Australia (Queensland)10.23%
British Columbia10.23% Japan (Unknown Prefecture)10.23%
Manitoba00.00% Japan (Miyazaki)10.23%
New Brunswick20.46% Japan (Niigata)10.23%
Newfoundland00.00% United Kingdom10.23%
Northwest Territories00.00% United Kingdom (England)20.46%
Nunavut00.00% United Kingdom (Scotland)10.23%
Nova Scotia20.46%
Ontario122.76%
Prince Edward Island10.23%
Quebec30.69%
Saskatchewan00.00%
Yukon00.00%
Canada (Unknown Province)16.21%
TOTAL276.21% .81.84%

Last Played

StreetPassing with someone will also reveal the last thing that person has played. This includes not just games, but also any apps on the system. Here are the top ten most popular games and apps at PAX East 2013. Keep in mind that Luigi's Mansion didn't even come out til Sunday. Nintendo was selling it on Saturday at their booth, but it's still kind of impressive that it got up to #3 on the list.

GameCount% AppCount%
Fire Emblem: Awakening5713.10% System Settings5011.49%
Mario Kart 7276.21% Mii Maker286.44%
Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon132.99% Swapnote153.45%
New Super Mario Bros. 2122.76% Nintendo eShop143.22%
Pokémon White Version 2122.76% Activity Log81.84%
Etrian Odyssey IV112.53% Nintendo Zone Viewer81.84%
Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate112.53% Nintendo 3DS Camera61.38%
Super Mario 3D Land102.30% Nintendo Video30.69%
The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time 3D102.30% Pokédex 3D30.69%
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy102.30% Download Play30.69%
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PAX East 2013 in 100 Words (or thereabouts)

Presented in (mostly) chronological order without explanation or context:

  • Downstairs Mexican
  • Backpackin' Beer in the Snow
  • More Technical Issues
  • Track Jackets
  • The Music Died
  • Expensive Pins
  • Dive Kickin'
  • No Fuckin’ Pooyan
  • Mod Shenanigans
  • Gonna Need More Stools
  • Vinny: "What's your real name?" Me: "Brad." Vinny: "Oh, I'll never remember that."
  • Giant Chicken Parm
  • TIIIIIIIYYYYYYYUUUUUUUUPS
  • Rasslin' Talk with Alex
  • Holding Cell
  • CERTIFIED!
  • Bagpipe Mariachi Tubas
  • Section One Alepha
  • Eavesdropping on the History of Saluting
  • Transistor on the Big Screen
  • Early Luigi
  • 404 AYDS
  • Anne Hathaway Panel
  • Partial Genocide
  • Farts That Go Into Your Vagina
  • Milk & Cookies
  • Grope Photo
  • TIIIIIIIYYYYYYYUUUUUUUUPS
  • Feeling Blue
  • 4-Player Dive Kickin'
  • Steak Bombs
  • Indie Wandering
  • Fruit Fucker Cliffy
  • Messed Up Spaceteam
  • Creamsicle Coke
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Marino's PAX Guide v3.0

Welcome to Crokinole Con 2013!

A couple years ago, I posted a guide of sorts for PAX first timers. I've updated a little for each PAX since, and now it's time for PAX East 2013. Why do I take the time to do this? Well, there's a lot of information I can provide in terms of maximizing your time at a gaming convention. What makes me qualified to do this? Well, here's my resume of shows I've attended:

E3PAX
Atlanta 19972008 (Seattle)
Atlanta 19982009 (Seattle)
Los Angeles 1999East 2010 (Boston)
Los Angeles 2000Prime 2010 (Seattle)
Los Angeles 2001East 2011 (Boston)
Los Angeles 2002Prime 2011 (Seattle)
Los Angeles 2003East 2012 (Boston)
Los Angeles 2004Prime 2012 (Seattle)
Los Angeles 2005East 2013 (Boston)
Los Angeles 2006

Come to PAX. Get groped by British people.

As you can see, I have quite a bit of experience in attending gaming conventions, making the most of the time available, and generally surviving four days on little to no sleep. While a lot of this info is targetted at those who have never experienced PAX, I believe it is also helpful to those who have.

If you've seen my previous guides, there's admittedly not a ton of new information here. This is just a revision of the previous versions. Over the last couple years of doing this, I think I have most of the important things covered.

Before we proceed, go ahead and follow these Twitter accounts:

  • @official_pax - All news, updates, changes.
  • @pax_lines - Keep track of panel lines as they fill up to max capacity.
  • @rkhoo - The man.
  • @pax_tourney - What tournaments are going on and where?
  • @paxparties (unofficial) - Parties, meet-ups, tweet-ups, tabletop all-nighters, and bar crawls.

Now, let's do this!

Wheaton's Law: Don't Be a Dick

PAX East '10 Keynote - Wil Wheaton

I once wrote a blog about what I called The PAX Vibe. In it, I tried to describe the most indelible thing about PAX. The experience is as though you've come to some sort of reunion with tens of thousands friends you never knew you had. Whether it's an attendee, enforcer, exhibitor, panelist, or D-list Internet celebrity, virtually everyone has a permanent smile affixed to their face for three days. Wil Wheaton, said it best...

All of the things that make us weird and strange in the real world.
Those things that people tease us for loving.
Those things that we seem to care about more than anyone else at work and school.
Those things make us who we are.
And when we are at PAX, we don’t have to hide them, or explain them, or justify them to anyone.
We have come here this weekend because just playing games isn’t nearly as fun as playing them together, surrounded by thousands of people who love them just as much as we do.

Personal Hygiene

Bean bags are petri dishes of diseases. (PAX East 2010)

First of all, for the sake of everyone at the show, please shower. Yes, every day. And use deoderant. It's not difficult. You're going to be doing more walking than you're probably used to doing. Aside from that, why is this so high on the list of tips? Well, after PAX Prime 2010, there was a confirmed case of H1N1 on my flight home. So, use the hand sanitizer whenever you can. There are generally dispensers set up all around the convention center and especially right outside the bathrooms. Or better yet, bring your own. You're going to be touching controllers that have been touched by people of varying degrees of sickness from all over the world. Be smart, and don't spend the week after PAX in misery.

Enforcers Are Awesome

This red shirt will not help you find the League of Legends tournament. (PAX Prime 2011)

The Enforcers are the incredible army of red shirts that volunteer their time in order to make sure that PAX is an enjoyable experience for everyone. Can't find the right panel room? Look for a red shirt. Need medical attention after experiencing the Mega64 panel? Look for a red shirt. Can't figure out where John Drake is handing out Dance Central slap bracelets? Look for a red shirt. These guys and girls are stationed everywhere. If they ask you to do something, listen up. Respect them. Appreciate them. Buy them cookies.

Do Your Homework

PAX East 2012 Entrance

The schedule is avaiable right now online, but you should really download the app. It's called Guidebook, and it's the best. Either way you choose, skim through it, look at the presenters of every panel, and make a rough draft of what you'd like to see. Compare with your friends, look for overlaps, and start the excruciating process of deciding how to cut the least awesome things from your to-do list.

Planning ahead is a must. If you walk into Boston completely unprepared, you're going to either be a deer in headlights or a wandering madman. It's overwhelming. The key to planning ahead is to be flexible. Inevitably something will come up and you'll want to rearrange your plans. I'm going to tell you right now that you're simply not going to be able to do everything you want to do/see. Don't stress out about it. Stick to your plan as best you can, but have fun above all else.

Rhythm-Based Entertainment

Video Game Orchestra (PAX East 2010)

A common misconception is that PAX is just like E3 in terms of being a giant expo hall of developers and publishers demoing their games. While that is a big part of PAX, there's so much more. The expo hall closes at 6 PM each day anyway, and the party certainly doesn't shut down at six. The concerts are an excellent way to spend your evening, whether you know the artists or not. In 2008, I only vaguely knew of Jonathan Coulton. I knew he did "Still Alive" for Portal, but that was about it. After that night, I was instantly a fan. The same could be said for Freezepop after that night as well.

This year's line-up includes the Protomen, Sam Hart, Video Game Orchestra, Those Who Fight, Paul & Storm, Jonathan Coulton, and MC Frontalot. For the uninitiated, Paul & Storm typically steal the show with their comedy stylings and a 15 minute song about pirates that you'll never forget. Generally, these concerts go pretty late. Sometimes well into the following morning. But, sometimes they are strictly told by the venue to be out by 1 AM. Dejected ARRR!

The Omegathon: Final Round

Omegathon Finals (PAX East 2010)

The Omegathon is a three day tournament between attendees that were randomly selected weeks ahead of time by Penny Arcade's staff. If the trend continues, the PAX East version consists of two-person teams. You'll see that each round is on the schedule if you want to see a particular game they're playing, but the important one is the final round. The final round's game is always kept a closely guarded secret until just moments before the contestants are set to play it. Have you ever imagined being in the crowd for the final showdown in The Wizard? Well, this is it. Literally thousands of people cheering for a few of their peers as they battle head-to-head in Pong, Contra, Skeeball, Ikaruga, or whatever they come up with this year. It can't be weirder than Crokinole, right? Right?!

And it's all hosted by Gabe and Tycho from Penny Arcade. This is the perfect closing ceremony, and you should be there to experience it.

Hurry Up and Wait

PAX East 2012 Queue Room

As the years have gone by, attendance at PAX has only increased. The Boston Convention & Exhibition Center is indeed massive, but you will inevitably be waiting in line for many things you intend to see and do. I've waited over an hour to see/play things like Dragon Age II, Mass Effect 3, Skate 3, The Last of Us, and others at E3. On the most popular panels (i.e. the Keynote, Giant Bomb, Mega64, BioWare, Gearbox, and anything associated with Penny Arcade), you should arrive at least an hour ahead to guarantee yourself a good seat.

So, be prepared. Bring your 3DS, Vita, Game Boy micro, or whatever it is you like. If you're a 3DS fan, you will get literally hundreds of StreetPasses over the weekend. And regardless of your handheld gaming option of choice, you'll likely never find a better place in the world to jump into random multiplayer games. I once used Pictochat on my DS to solicit people to come play me in Hot Shots Golf on PSP...and it worked!

Do yourself a favor and avoid the line waiting for a while and check out all the indie games at the show, because that's some of the best stuff you'll find at PAX.

Backpacking Through New England

PAX East 2011 SWAG

Many convention rookies make a mistake as soon as they leave their house. You simply must have a backpack of some kind. If you show up to PAX empty-handed, you'll be hurting and feeling like an idiot by 2 PM. Some think you can just pick up one of those big, fold-out, paper bags from a booth, but there's no guarantee any booths are doing that. Plus, they're cumbersome, you'll be hitting people with it constantly as you squeeze through crowds, and you need to keep your hands free.

So, be smart. Bring your favorite backpack or messenger bag to throw all of your swag into. Your shoulders are going to be killing you by Sunday afternoon, but it's your best option.

Expo Hall: It's a Trap!

@Matt & @Sweep enjoying some of that fuckin' Pooyan.

The expo hall is where all the developers and publishers have booths set up to show off their upcoming games. You get to play stuff that's not out yet and typically talk to the people that are making them. It's awesome. But don't get stuck in there. Make sure to make your rounds through the convention center. Go upstairs and check out the PC Freeplay area. It's a massive farm of PC's unlike anything you've ever seen (unless you've been to QuakeCon). Hit up the Console Freeplay room and take your shot at some of the best fighting game players around. Think you're good enough? Enter one of the nearby tournaments (check the schedule). Need to take a break? Crash in the Handheld Lounge and rack up some StreetPasses and Near stuff. Head up to the Classic Console room for a bit and take a look at the massive library of gaming's past, pick out something you loved and play it with some people. And don't forget to hang out in the Classic Arcade for some fuckin' Pooyan. No quarters or tokens necessary, but please respect the cabinets. There's just so much more than just the expo hall that you need to see and do to get the full PAX experience.

The Dangers of SWAG: Don't Be That Guy

PAX 09: I have never, nor will I ever, wear this.

Free stuff is great. I know. But, listen to me for a second. Don't spend the majority of your time trying to get inflatable swords, funny hats, and Gunnar Optiks t-shirts. You're going to get free stuff without trying. Not all of it, sure, but plenty. The vast majority of free stuff you get, you will eventually throw away or, if you're like me, going to pile into boxes in a closet. At PAX East 2010, there were people that waited well over an hour to play APB for 15 minutes and get a t-shirt. How do you think those people feel about that decision now? Just be smart, people.

Pack Light and Carry-On a Big Bag

PAX Merch (PAX East 2012)

For those of you flying to Boston, you're likely going to pay at least $25 to check a bag on the plane, so you might as well get your money's worth. Even if you're only packing three Internet meme t-shirts and three sets of socks and underwear, bring a big suitcase. The extra space is going to be great for any swag you obtain as well as any stuff you end up buying inside or outside of PAX. At PAX 2009, I bought a 'Splosion Man statue from Twisted Pixel's booth. It came in a block of styrofoam, and I was still able to safely fit it into my luggage on the way home. At PAX Prime 2010, my friend (Washa Endrya) bought a fight stick from Capcom and was able to get it home easily as well.

Also, if you have one, bring a cardboard tube in your suitcase. You are likely to be handed posters at the show, and there's really no other way to get those home without folding or crushing them. One more tip from the experienced in packing for a con. Throw an empty trash bag in with your stuff. You can use that as a dirty laundry bag, which will allow you to quarantine your sweaty socks from all the cool stuff you accumulated at the show on your way home.

Do You Like Sleep? TOO BAD!

PAX East 2011: After Hours

Sleep deprivation is a major side effect of the PAX experience. You can sleep on Monday or on your flight home. But, there are official and unofficial PAX events going on virtually 24 hours a day beginning Thursday night. The concerts Friday and Saturday typically go til at least 1 AM, and you're going to be in downtown Boston, which has countless bars to hit. In the grand scheme of things, your time at PAX is very limited even if you can be there all three days. You may not realize this now or even during the show, but come Monday, you'll know what I'm talking about. So, if you get four to five hours of sleep, you're doing great. Make the most of the time you have.

Microsoft Space Bucks Don't Work Here

PAX East 2011: Band Land

If you've got a debit or credit card, you're mostly okay. Any food places in the area, including the food court in the convention center, are going to take your card just fine. Most booths in the expo hall will take it as well when purchasing their wares. But, it may be a good idea to carry at least a little old-fashioned paper money. Cash can be good especially if you're going out to the bars at night. If you know you're going to need cash, there are several ATM's at the convention center, but you should hit them early because I've seen them run out of cash to dispense. And there's nothing worse than knowing you can afford that one of a kind Cammy drawing by Long Vo, but being unable to retrieve the funds to buy it.

Eat Something!

Boston Convention Center - Nowhere Near Anything

This may sound ridiculous at first, but once you're in the thick of PAX, you may forget to eat or drink. And considering that you normally don't walk around for 10-14 hours a day, you're going to need to hydrate. Stopping for 30 minutes to eat may not sound enticing either depending on your schedule, but you've gotta. Unfortunately, the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center is kind of in the middle of nowhere if you ever could be in a major city. There's not a lot of food options in the vicinity without going back into downtown, which is going to take even more time. So, your best bet is really the food court in the convention center. Yes, it's overpriced. Yes, it's crowded. But, just bite the bullet, get in, and get out. Otherwise, you could toss a few Clif bars in your bag and just eat on the go.

Don't Let PAX Ruin Your PAX

Who invited you?

This is something I've learned over the last couple PAX's. Whether it's Rock Band Night, a Giant Bomb meet-up, the Pokemon League, the Westin Waterfront Gaming Night, or one of the countless other unofficial PAX festivities, make an effort to do stuff after show hours. Honestly, it doesn't even have to be PAX related. Chances are, if you head out to the bars and restaurants in downtown Boston, you're going to run into other PAX goers. We generally take over the city.

What I'm getting at is that being in line at the Queue Room of the convention center at 8 AM (2 hours prior to show open) isn't worth missing out on the great stuff that's going on at night. Now, if there's a game that you HAVE to see and you know the line during the day is super long, go ahead and get to the convention center early one day and run for it when the doors open. But, just make sure you spend some time outside of the convention center and your hotel room.

It's All That You Can Do

Be yourself, but also be open to meeting new people. I know your mom told you not to talk to strangers, but I'm telling you that's a bunch of crap. It's unlikely that you're ever going to be around more people like yourself than you will at PAX. Above everything else, including all the tips I've given you here, have fun. You're about to have an experience that you'll never forget.

Hopefully, I'll run into some of you all there. Actually, hopefully I'll be seeing some of you at Rock Band Night on Thursday night. Last year is going to be pretty tough to beat. If you want to relive last year's RBN, let me help you out.

Let the chaos begin.

64 Comments

Persona 4: The Virgin

The following may contain minor spoilers for those who have never played Persona 4 or intend on playing Persona 4 Golden, but I don't go into detail about major plot points.

I have a confession to make. I don't know anything about Megami Tensei games. That is until 96 hours and 26 minutes ago. Aside from a few, totally forgotten hours of Revelations: Persona on the PlayStation fifteen years ago, I'd never even played one. Not only that, but I have not watched the Endurance Run……*ducks*……I KNOW! How could a moderator of this site have avoided it this long? "Blasphemous" is probably an accurate exclamation to shout at me right now. Please, put your pitchfork down and let me explain.

Like many people (I assume), Final Fantasy VII was the first RPG that I sunk a ton of time into. For several years after that, I fell in love with the genre and played a ton of stuff. Then this thing called EverQuest happened. Being neck deep in EQ for a number of years doesn't allow for investing 100 hours a pop into RPGs. That, combined with some other factors, means that I have a ridiculously long Shamefully Shameful Pile of Shame, which unfortunately needs to be updated. In my warped sense of reality, I still believe I'll get around to playing these games. So, when presented with the idea of watching two dudes play through one of the most acclaimed RPGs of all time, I avoided it like the plague because I wanted to experience it for myself first. Four years later, I finally got around to Persona 4 thanks to the added convenience of playing it on my Vita. Miraculously, I made it without having any of the major plot points spoiled for me.

It took me a dozen hours or so before I got past that "am I doing this right?" phase, but that was to be expected. At one point, I looked at a Social Link guide and just decided I wasn't going to worry about it. Go with the flow and whatnot. The only thing I "cheated" on was making sure I made the right dialogue decisions on 12/3 to get the opportunity to experience the "true" ending. I'd like to thank for his spoiler free guide in helping do that without totally ruining the twists and turns in the story.

Concert at Junes. Wait...who's that guy?

I'm not here to review the game, though. Chances are, if you're reading this, you already know how great it is. I guess I'm partially here to say that I get it now. I understand the hype, obsession, and love shown for this game. It's still too raw in my mind to responsibly say it's one of my favorite games of all time, but it's definitely up there. More importantly for now, I also feel that my experience with Persona 4 is somewhat rare considering I came into the "Golden" version of the game knowing virtually nothing about the original. In a way, I feel like it must be similar to Brad's experience with Mass Effect 3. Looking at the excellent breakdown of what's new in Golden on its wiki page, it seems like there's a significant amount of new stuff that I got to experience as if it was always included. Many of the new additions are gameplay mechanics that streamline the experience. Some of the more notable additions are fan service such as the group concert with Rise at Junes. It seamlessly fits into the story, but it's not all that important. But, then there are the additions that I can't imagine playing through the game without. The best example of this is Marie.

Marie. If that is her real name.

I knew ahead of time that Marie was new of course. What I didn't know was how she would be integral to the backbone of the entire game. I feel like an asshole for just assuming she'd just be a somewhat throwaway Social Link character. I don't want to spoil anything for those intending on playing Golden, but Marie is of the utmost importance to the entire mythology under the surface of the game. Her involvement adds a whole extra layer of emotional impact as well as providing (in the true ending) a better understanding of the world of Persona 4 as a whole. I promise that I'm not exaggerating here.

It may sound like a dick thing to say, but I almost feel bad and/or sad for fans of Persona 4 who have not and will not experience the "Golden" version.

To iterate what I said before, I get it now. Consider me on the bandwagon even if it's a few years late. In the end, especially with the additional epilogue that's new to Golden, a sense of sadness equalled, if not outweighed, the sense of joy and accomplishment I had in just finishing a game. After leaving all of your friends behind, the new epilogue brings Yu back to Inaba the following Summer for a visit. In this extra ending scene, everyone looks different. It's at this point that it really hit me that all these friends I'd made were growing up without me. The sense of sadness and nostalgia I felt in this scene was probably amplified by my own life experiences, but it speaks to how good of a job the game did making me care about everyone in it.

Part of me wants to dive back in with New Game+ and see the stuff that I didn't get to see. Hit the Social Links that I skipped and/or paid less attention to and whatnot. But, I don't think I will. Not because I don't want to invest the time again, but because I don't want to taint the experience I had. The benefits earned by the decisions I made in terms of who to spend my time with should also have the consequences of missing out on whatever else there was that I didn't get to see. What I got is what I got. Am I crazy for thinking that way?

So…now what? Arena? Yeah, soon. But, right now? Well, I guess I better get started on this Endurance Run thing. I've heard it's pretty good.

72 Comments

By the Numbers: Data Dump 2012 Final Mix #Reload

Welcome to 2013. The 20Doz is gone forever. And soon the Data Dump will be as well. Unfortunately, the metrics that I use to grab all these charts from are not built into the new site yet, which means that this is the last edition of the Data Dump at least for a long while. Rather than just doing a post based on December data, let's just wrap it up by looking at 2012 as a whole and look at who were some of the top users and pages on the site for the year.

Letters & Numbers

Here's some totals from the year.

  • 592 Articles
  • 953 Videos
  • 33,000+ Forum Topics Created
  • 374,000+ Comments
  • 3000+ User Reviews
  • 8000+ Blogs
  • 140,000+ Wiki Submissions

Blogs

By almost reaching the century mark, truly was the king of the blogs in 2012.

Forums

had nearly twice as many posts as anyone else in 2012. That's...probably not healthy. , , and also broke the 1000 landmark in terms of comments.

Clearly, videos get the most activity in terms of comments. actually created more new topics than Patrick did, which is kind of crazy. Unsurprisingly, Mass Effect 3 was the most active game forum. I wouldn't have guessed Guild Wars 2 would be #2 though. And the wrestling thread was far and away the most active topic of the year nearly doubling that of the anime thread. Giant Bomb is your go-to source for all things Antonio Cesaro.

Quests

Okay, you know we haven't had any new quests since Christmas 2011, but I had to post this chart because seriously...what the fuck happened in March?

Reviews

No real surprises in the top ten most user reviewed games. The only 2011 release on the list is Skyrim at #10. And the only console exclusives on the list are Halo 4 and Journey.

The Giant Bomb community's favorite number seems to be 8 (or 4 stars). And left everyone in the dust in terms of the number of user reviews posted..

Video

The #1 most watched video on Giant Bomb in 2012 was... The SSX Quick Look? Really? I mean...I love SSX more than most, but...huh. The only explanation here is the powerful influence of the man known as .

I don't know why is listed twice on the top video commenters chart, but I think it's safe to say he got the #1 spot. Clearly Alex posted the most videos to the site in 2012, but I think something's wrong with that tracker. It says that I uploaded 69 videos, but I remember counting close to 100 or maybe a little over that when I was uploading them during E3 2012. Who knows. I'll take credit for that massive spike in June, though!

Wiki

Unfortunately, the metric for wiki points seems to be broken. So, the only means I have of determining the top wiki editors in 2012 is based on number of edits made. It's probably not the fairest way to do it, but I figure is deserving anyway.

ZombiePie has been watching the wiki queue like a hawk all year. Someone out there has been doing the dirty work of adding Release data to the site. So much so that there were more new Release pages than any other type of page on the site. On the submissions chart, you can see that the moderators are still doing about 20% of the approvals of wiki edits. And it's no surprise that game pages are far and away the most edited page type.

These are the top 10 9 most active wiki pages in terms of number of edits made. What's that one at the end?

The End

It's no secret at this point that I'm a stats junkie. Hell, I even admitted it over three years ago. So, I've had fun doing this stuff for the last six months or so. Maybe it'll return one day, but I hope some of you have enjoyed looking at some dumb bar graphs once a month.

37 Comments

By the Numbers: Xbox 360 vs Giant Bomb 2012

Happy New Year, duders. It's time once again for a data dump based on achievements. Just like last year, this data is based upon Xbox 360 achievements earned in games released in 2012. It'd be easy to just tell you what the most played and least played games were. But, let's take it a step or two further. What if you wanted to know what the least played game that got a 5-star review? I can tell you that. What if you wanted to know the games that had the highest average number of achievements earned? I can tell you that too. Or what about the most played multiplayer games that never got treated to a TNT? Okay...we're getting a little obscure here, but I can still totally tell you that one.

By my count, there were about 250 Xbox 360 and XBLA games released this year. To create an accurate list of releases, I mainly used Xbox360Achievements.org and added a game to the list whenever they did. I would not be surprised if I missed a few stragglers, so let me know if I did. There's also a few games that never had their achievements integrated into the site here, so I took them out of the data for now.

After last year, some people asked about doing Steam and PSN achievements. I still haven't done it because it would basically triple the amount of work involved, and while I enjoy doing these, that's a little too crazy for one guy. I kind of wish I had though since the achievement tracker is going away with the new site. So, this may be the very last time you see achievement data like this at least for a long time.

Onto the numbers!

Top 20 Most Played Games (Overall)

Shepard.

No separation between retail, XBLA, or Kinect here. Mash all that green, orange, and purple together! This is just straight up the most played games on Xbox 360 in terms of unique users. This is also the only list with more than 10 entries, just because I though 11-20 were pretty interesting.

  1. Mass Effect 3 -- 11,523
  2. Halo 4 -- 10,038
  3. Fez -- 7960
  4. Borderlands 2 -- 7174
  5. Trials Evolution -- 7144
  6. Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition -- 5430
  7. Assassin's Creed III -- 5225
  8. Call of Duty: Black Ops II -- 5069
  9. Max Payne 3 -- 4923
  10. The Walking Dead -- 4918
  11. Dishonored -- 3582
  12. SSX -- 3442
  13. Mark of the Ninja -- 3434
  14. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning -- 2982
  15. Dust: An Elysian Tail -- 2858
  16. Sleeping Dogs -- 2837
  17. Spelunky -- 2836
  18. Syndicate -- 2695
  19. Forza Horizon -- 2686
  20. XCOM: Enemy Unknown -- 2617

Top 10 Least Played Games (Overall)

Root what now?

This category is a little skewed because a few of these never came out in North America. But, hey, they're in the tracker and we've got a sizable amount of non-North Americans on the site anyway. Also, no separation between retail, XBLA, or Kinect here. These are simply the most neglected games of the year on Xbox 360 by the Giant Bomb community.

  1. Root Double: Before Crime * After Days -- 0
  2. Phantom of Inferno -- 0
  3. Hunter's Trophy 2: Europa -- 0
  4. Top Hand Rodeo Tour -- 1
  5. Snipers -- 2
  6. Phantom Breaker -- 2
  7. Harley Pasternak's Hollywood Workout -- 4
  8. Wipeout 3 -- 4
  9. Crash Time 5: Undercover -- 4
  10. Nickelodeon Dance 2 -- 4

Top 10 Most Played XBLA Games

Giant Bomb's #4 GOTY

Downloadable games are holding their own these days, but I still felt like it's a little unfair to not give them their own lists.

  1. Fez -- 7960
  2. Trials Evolution -- 7144
  3. Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition -- 5430
  4. The Walking Dead -- 4918
  5. Mark of the Ninja -- 3442
  6. Dust: An Elysian Tail -- 2982
  7. Spelunky -- 2837
  8. Rock Band Blitz -- 2348
  9. Happy Wars -- 2228
  10. Alan Wake's American Nightmare -- 1880

Top 10 Least Played XBLA Games

This zombie shit's gotta stop soon, right?

I bet you didn't even know some of these existed.

  1. Darts vs. Zombies -- 8
  2. Planets Under Attack -- 10
  3. Red Bull Crashed Ice -- 11
  4. Home Run Stars -- 12
  5. Ski Race -- 13
  6. American Mensa Academy -- 13
  7. Dogfight 1942 -- 18
  8. Jam Live Music Arcade -- 19
  9. 3 Point Contest -- 20
  10. Bellator: MMA Onslaught -- 24

Top 10 Most Played Kinect Games

Kinect done right.

Did you realize there were more than ten Kinect games that came out this year?

  1. Double Fine Happy Action Theater -- 1594
  2. Wreckateer -- 1036
  3. Kinect Party -- 910
  4. Kinect Playfit -- 698
  5. Kinect Fun Labs: Mars Rover Landing -- 636
  6. Dance Central 3 -- 530
  7. Haunt -- 462
  8. Kinect Star Wars -- 453
  9. Karaoke -- 383
  10. Kinect Sesame Street TV -- 252

Top 10 Least Played Kinect Games

I don't even.

That's one lonely cowboy.

  1. Top Hand Rodeo Tour -- 1
  2. Harley Pasternak's Hollywood Workout -- 4
  3. Wipeout 3 -- 4
  4. Let's Dance -- 6
  5. Country Dance All-Stars -- 7
  6. The Hip Hop Dance Experience -- 7
  7. Darts vs. Zombies -- 8
  8. miCoach by adidas -- 10
  9. Red Bull Crashed Ice -- 11
  10. Home Run Stars -- 12

Top 10 Most Completed Retail Games

100% of the time, it works every time.

This one is based on the percentage of achievements unlocked in the game. Are they just easy achievements? Or really good games that people are dedicated to? You decide.

  1. Nickelodeon Dance 2 -- 100%
  2. Toy Story Mania! -- 73.4%
  3. Ben 10: Omniverse -- 64.4%
  4. The Testament of Sherlock Holmes -- 59.7%
  5. Men in Black: Alien Crisis -- 57.5%
  6. Battleship -- 57.0%
  7. Prototype 2 -- 56.0%
  8. Brave: The Video Game -- 54.7%
  9. Spec Ops: The Line -- 54.4%
  10. Rise of the Guardians -- 52.3%

Top 10 Least Completed Retail Games

Deer have taken over Europe and something must be done!

And are these hard achievements to earn? Or just terrible games that no one spent time on?

  1. Root Double: Before Crime * After Days -- 0.0%
  2. Phantom of Inferno -- 0.0%
  3. Hunter's Trophy 2: Europa -- 0.0%
  4. Snipers -- 1.5%
  5. Le Tour de France 2012 -- 2.0%
  6. Kinect Nat Geo TV -- 2.2%
  7. Top Hand Rodeo Tour -- 2.5%
  8. Carrier Command: Gaea Mission -- 2.7%
  9. Let's Dance -- 3.7%
  10. miCoach by adidas -- 4.3%

Top 10 Most Completed XBLA Games

If it's an old Sega game, it's probably on or soon to be on Xbox Live Arcade.

It's probably not fair to lump these games in with the retail games since they have fewer achievements.

  1. Sonic the Fighters -- 90.9%
  2. Virtua Fighter 2 -- 79.7%
  3. Fighting Vipers -- 76.5%
  4. Kinect Fun Labs: Junk Fu -- 75.8%
  5. Kinect Fun Labs: Rush Snapshot -- 73.6%
  6. Jeremy McGrath's Offroad -- 71.5%
  7. Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown -- 67.8%
  8. Zuma's Revenge -- 65.3%
  9. Kinect Fun Labs: I Am Super! -- 63.5%
  10. The Walking Dead -- 58.1%

Top 10 Least Completed XBLA Games

2012's Best Bow

Seems that players didn't make it too far after entering The Lang Zone.

  1. Wreckateer -- 4.1%
  2. Black Knight Sword -- 4.8%
  3. Sine Mora -- 5.4%
  4. Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc HD -- 6.0%
  5. Karaoke -- 6.4%
  6. Sega Vintage Collection: Monster World -- 6.8%
  7. Kinect PlayFit -- 7.1%
  8. Red Bull Crashed Ice -- 7.8%
  9. NFL Blitz -- 8.1%
  10. Guilty Gear XX Λ Core Plus -- 9.8%

Highest Average Number of Achievements (Retail)

Typically, this category is full of licensed movie-type games.

No percentages here. Just strictly how many achievements unlocked per game per user.

  1. Mass Effect 3 -- 37.4
  2. Toy Story Mania! -- 36.1
  3. Ben 10: Omniverse -- 33.1
  4. Spec Ops: The Line -- 30.4
  5. Brave: The Video Game -- 27.7
  6. Borderlands 2 -- 26.7
  7. Prototype 2 -- 26.2
  8. Rise of the Guardians -- 25.8
  9. The Darkness II -- 25.5
  10. Sleeping Dogs -- 24.0

Lowest Average Number of Achievements (Retail)

We don't even have Xbox 360 box art for this game.

A frightening look at the bottom of the barrel.

  1. Root Double: Before Crime * After Days -- 0.0
  2. Phantom of Inferno -- 0.0
  3. Hunter's Trophy 2: Europa -- 0.0
  4. Snipers -- 1.0
  5. Le Tour de France 2012 -- 1.3
  6. Kinect Nat Geo TV -- 1.7
  7. miCoach by adidas -- 2.5
  8. Let's Dance -- 2.7
  9. Country Dance All-Stars -- 3.1
  10. Carrier Command: Gaea Mission -- 3.8

Highest Average Number of Achievements (XBLA)

Look out behind you!

The Walking Dead should be higher if it weren't for a database problem that didn't register players' achievements who played episode 4 within the first day it was out.

  1. The Walking Dead -- 23.4
  2. Deadlight -- 19.2
  3. Rock Band Blitz -- 16.3
  4. Dust: An Elysian Tail -- 15.3
  5. Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition -- 14.0
  6. Fable Heroes -- 13.7
  7. Zuma's Revenge -- 13.1
  8. Mark of the Ninja -- 12.6
  9. Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 -- 12.3
  10. Guardians of Middle-earth -- 12.2

Lowest Average Number of Achievements (XBLA)

Nostalgic for these games? No? Oh...okay.

Were these games difficult or were you just disappointed and only played it once?

  1. Sega Vintage Collection: Monster World -- 1.0
  2. Skullgirls -- 1.1
  3. Haunt -- 1.3
  4. Puddle -- 1.4
  5. Sine Mora -- 1.7
  6. Black Knight Sword -- 1.7
  7. Choplifter HD -- 1.7
  8. Kinect PlayFit -- 1.7
  9. Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc -- 1.8
  10. Warp -- 1.9

Most Played Games Not Reviewed by Giant Bomb

Finally on consoles.

I have to assume Vinny would've been the best person to review The Witcher 2. I miss Vinny's reviews...

  1. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings -- 2617
  2. Happy Wars -- 2228
  3. Lollipop Chainsaw -- 1856
  4. Soulcalibur V -- 1854
  5. Double Fine Happy Action Theater -- 1594
  6. Final Fantasy XIII-2 -- 1354
  7. Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City -- 1350
  8. FIFA 13 -- 1293
  9. Binary Domain -- 1286
  10. The Amazing Spider-Man -- 1067

Least Played Games Reviewed by Giant Bomb

No, thanks.

Presented by Alex Navarro.

  1. The Expendables 2 -- 51
  2. Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor -- 77
  3. Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse -- 86
  4. Fable: The Journey -- 117
  5. Fire Pro Wrestling -- 136
  6. Grand Slam Tennis 2 -- 147
  7. 007 Legends -- 152
  8. Bloodforge -- 156
  9. The Splatters -- 194
  10. Game of Thrones -- 227

Most Played Games That Did Not Get a Quick Look

Free-to-play is here to stay, y'all.

Ever wonder if Quick Looks have an effect on sales numbers? Well, I can't really answer that, but see if you can decipher anything from this info.

  1. Happy Wars -- 2228
  2. Kinect PlayFit -- 698
  3. Kinect Fun Labs: Mars Rover Landing -- 636
  4. Devil May Cry HD Collection -- 632
  5. Karaoke -- 383
  6. FIFA Street -- 364
  7. Sonic Adventure 2 -- 355
  8. NeverDead -- 328
  9. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations -- 294
  10. Armored Core V -- 287

Least Played Games That Got a Quick Look

That bear seems upset.

This speaks to how many Quick Looks the guys actually churn out.

  1. Cabela's Dangerous Hunts 2013 -- 12
  2. Carrier Command: Gaea Mission -- 13
  3. Of Orcs and Men -- 17
  4. Harry Potter for Kinect -- 19
  5. NBA Baller Beats -- 19
  6. NASCAR The Game: Inside Line -- 22
  7. Bellator: MMA Onslaught -- 24
  8. Dragon Ball Z for Kinect -- 28
  9. Kung-Fu Strike: The Warrior's Rise -- 45
  10. Karateka -- 45

Most Played Multiplayer Games That Did Not Get a TNT

So close, yet so far away.

SSX is #1, but "real" multiplayer didn't get added into that game til much later after release.

  1. SSX -- 3582
  2. Happy Wars -- 2228
  3. Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier -- 2204
  4. Resident Evil 6 -- 1948
  5. Soulcalibur V -- 1854
  6. Spec Ops: The Line -- 1722
  7. Street Fighter X Tekken -- 1694
  8. Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City -- 1350
  9. FIFA 13 -- 1293
  10. Binary Domain -- 1286

Least Played Multiplayer Games That Did Get a TNT

Possibly the goofiest subtitle of 2012.

Sad in a way, but the chances of you playing against the staff in these games were pretty high.

  1. Ridge Racer Unbounded -- 314
  2. Hybrid -- 423
  3. Awesomenauts -- 472
  4. Dead or Alive 5 -- 765
  5. NFL Blitz -- 765
  6. Persona 4 Arena -- 1001
  7. Gotham City Impostors -- 1204
  8. Need for Speed: Most Wanted -- 1384
  9. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD -- 1730
  10. The Darkness II -- 2406

Community All-Stars

The best...around.

While combing through achievement pages, I began to realize there's a ton of registered users that seemingly only registered to track their achievements. Many have no posts or wiki points. So, while looking at some the rarest achievements earned in 2012, I plucked out some active (or at least semi-active) users to highlight for their feats of greatness.

Miscellaneous Other Nonsense

CategoryGameStats
Average Players per Game-775.53
Average Completion Percentage per Game-26.85%
Average Number of Achievements Earned per Game-10.21
Least Played 5-Star ReviewFar Cry 3 (Brad)2586
Most Played 1-Star ReviewSouth Park: Tenorman's Revenge (Alex)254
Most Played Game Reviewed by AlexThe Walking Dead4918
Least Played Game Reviewed by AlexThe Expendables 251
Most Played Game Reviewed by BradTrials Evolution7144
Least Played Game Reviewed by BradSteel Battalion: Heavy Armor77
Most Played Game Reviewed by JeffMass Effect 311,523
Least Played Game Reviewed by JeffTekken Tag Tournament 2598
Most Played Game Reveiewed by PatrickDishonored3632
Least Played Game Reviewed by PatrickAlan Wake's American Nightmare1880
Most Played Game Reviewed by RyanAssassin's Creed III5225
Least Played Game Reviewed by RyanGrand Slam Tennis 2147

Random Observations Made While Tabulating Data

  • Seven games got TWO Quick Looks: Borderlands 2, Mark of the Ninja, Pid, Sleeping Dogs, Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, Trials Evolution, and XCOM Enemy Unknown.
  • Two games got two TNT's: Syndicate and Trials Evolution.
  • One person bought all the items in Scarygirl.
  • Two people earned all the medals in Puddle.
  • 21.68% of those who played Soulcalibur V never cleared Episode 1 in the story mode.
  • 414 people (3.6%) who started Mass Effect 3 never returned to active duty (the first achievement). Guess they can't complain about the ending.
  • Over 1000 people (8.9%) have endured Mass Effect 3 on Insanity.
  • Only 6 people have S-Ranked Street Fighter X Tekken.
  • 3.4% of Shoot Many Robots players never killed 100 robots. Way to follow directions, guys.
  • Armored Core V has eight different versions you could S-Rank.
  • 1.3% of people are good at blowing up dogs.
  • Somehow, three whole people S-Ranked the atrocity known as South Park: Tenorman's Revenge.
  • 234 people never found a single cube shard in Fez.
  • Trials Evolution is quite intimidating. But, did you know 137 people couldn't even pass their first license test.
  • Based on achievements, less people completed Episode 4 than did Episode 5 of The Walking Dead. This was due to a Xbox Live database error that didn't register achievements earned by players within the first 24 hours or so of Episode 4's release.
  • Roughly 20 people who played it S-Ranked Men in Black: Alien Crisis. What the hell…
  • There are eleven achievements in Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor that no one has unlocked. Is the game so broken that you can't actually get them?
  • Five masochistic individuals have completed Spelunky without collecting any treasures.
  • Sixteen people started Quantum Conundrum but never actually picked up the IDS device. Puzzles are hard, duders.
  • Over 1000 people entered The Lang Zone and nearly half of them never earned a medal to show for it.
  • Wolfenstein has more players than this years' Madden.
  • 144 people have played more than 300 different songs in Rock Band Blitz.
  • We have 227 True Ninjas on Giant Bomb.
  • CheapAssGamer's is the second best NBA Baller Beats player…in the world?
  • No hockey this year means no one has the will to S-Rank NHL 13.
  • Everyone that started Double Dragon Neon got cursed with a 1-point achievement, but only 87 were able to get the 19-point achievement to get back to some semblance of normalcy.
  • 9.8% of Borderlands 2 players "Did It All" by completing every side mission in the game.
  • No one has S-Ranked Kinect Sesame Street TV and it's all because of Smart Glass.
  • Over 2000 people have played the free-to-play XBLA game known as Happy Wars. But only 32 of them completed every story mission. I wonder if Johnny V is still playing.
  • Only nine people have scored 50,000 points while DJ'ing in Intel Discovered.
  • The Super Turbo Turkey Puncher achievement is the most common in Doom 3 BFG Edition.
  • 52 people never even made it to the festival in Forza Horizon. Another 20 never finished a race.
  • 77.17% of Mass Effect 3 players finished the game, which is extremely high compared to other games.
  • Barely a quarter of the people who played Assassin's Creed III got a double assassination with a musket.
  • Over a third of Halo 4 players completed the campaign on Heroic or harder.
  • There are no achievements involving sharks in Far Cry 3. What's even the point?

The Impossibilities Are Endless

Here are some of the hardest and/or rarest achievements from 2012. No one has earned any of these yet.

GameAchievementDescription
Country Dance All-StarsCountry Dance ChampionEarn scores of 500,000 or more on 30 different songs in any score game mode.
Dead or Alive 5Anybody, Anytime, AnywhereFight 50 people through invitations.
DishonoredVoid StarComplete all Normal and Expert challenges with a 3-Stars rating.
F1 Race StarsShortcut ExpertTake every shortcut in the game.
Fable: The JourneyMedal Gear SolidEarn a Gold Medal in every Arcade Mode challenge.
Grand Slam Tennis 2The LegendCareer - Finish ranked #1.
Madden NFL 13Shannon Sharpe AwardAs a created TE, surpass Shannon Sharpe on Legacy Score in Connected Careers.
NHL 13LegendaryRetire as a Legend in Be A Pro with a Created Pro.
Of Orcs and MenBloodjawFinish Of Orcs and Men at the highest difficulty level.
Persona 4 ArenaCombo CrazyComplete every characters' challenges.
Sonic & All-Stars Racing TransformedTeam SonicFinish 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th with local friends in a 10 player race.
The SplattersThe Combonator!Earn three stars in each "Combo-Nation" level.
Top Gun: Hard LockGive 'em HellFire every weapon in the game at least once.
Trials EvolutionWail of the BansheeZero fault the Hard as Nails tournament using the Banshee.
Wheel of Fortune: Big MoneyFashionistaAcquire all contestant clothes and logos.
WWE '13King of the WorldAchieve the maximum rank on Xbox Live.
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Tales from Norrath: Solstices, Pottery, Collusion, and Gnomes

Today is the Winter Solstice, which reminds me of a tale from the Summer Solstice of 2002. Trade skills were always important in EverQuest, but never more so than they were for about a month that Summer. A quest was introduced that required the highest skilled craftsmen of every kind to complete. It was called the Earring of the Solstice and it was part of a quest known as Protection of the Cabbage. Players coveted this earring primarily because it had an effect called Flowing Thought that increased mana regeneration, but even melee classes tried to get one simply for the stats on it, which were fairly good at the time.

Back then, a player could only specialize in one specific trade skill. Whichever skill a player leveled up to 201 first, could then go up to 250 while all other skills were then capped at 200. This quest required the crafting of nine different items, most of which required skill of over 200. Crafting, like almost everything else in EverQuest, is very time consuming. Many players ignored it completely while those who had the patience often made a decent amount of platinum from it.

For me, I never got into crafting for the money. I had invested a decent amount of time in the rogue-only skill of Poisoncraft, which led me to learning Pottery so that I could craft my own vials required for higher level poisons. I got sort of carried away with it and pottery led me to Jewelry, which I needed in order to lacquer gems for high-level, encrusted pottery items. It was entirely a waste of time and platinum. Until the Summer of 2002.

Items Required to Obtain an Earring of the Solstice

That pottery wheel over on the left probably an imprint of my ass worn into it.

Here's the list along with what type of trade skill was required to make each item. The number indicates the level at which crafting the item becomes trivial, meaning that you would not fail when attempting it. Since the cap was 250, you can see that some of these items were never trivial (until later expansions increased the cap).

  • Blessed Fishing Rod - Fishing (202)
  • Ceremonial Solstice Robe - Tailoring (252)
  • Demi-Sec Champagne - Brewing (250)
  • Golden Idol of Tunare - Pottery (242)
  • Lotus Pie - Baking (236)
  • Lucky Cabbage - Baking (182)
  • Mistletoe Cutting Sickle - Smithing (250)
  • Misty Thicket Picnic - Baking (335)
  • Star Ruby Encrusted Stein - Pottery (335)

As you can see above, two of the items required for the quest called for high level potters. Now, as you may expect, pottery was pretty far down the list of popular trade skills. Turns out, I was one of three people on the entire server that had the ability to make these things when the quest was first discovered. And one of those three people was Korean, so she wasn't online most of the time that I was. Even so, and with limited communication ability, the three of us realized this quite quickly and came up with set prices on these items and agreed not to undercut each other. OH, COLLUSION! We weren't price gouging really. It was simply a textbook case of supply and demand, so we charged what we could and probably could've charged more. We were each making tens of thousands of platinum per day.

The Halfling Cleric Faithstone

On top of the whole Solstice thing, other trade skill quests were discovered during that time. The most important to me and potters were faithstones. Faithstones were ceramic idols of gods that had the ability to teleport its holder to the church in their starting city. There was a specific idol that could be crafted for every race/class combination of clerics and shaman. Since neither clerics nor shaman had the ability to teleport, faithstones became a highly coveted item. Clerics especially would often get stuck in the middle of nowhere since they would often bind themselves close to their grind/raid spot in case things went poorly.

Between faithstones and steins, I had my own little factory set up in Shadow Haven. I had a level 8 high elf enchanter that I made simply to enchant clay. I had my level 20 wood elf ranger running all over the globe foraging and fishing for the items that were the variable in the recipe that determined which god the faithstone was for. For example, to create a faithstone for a dark elf cleric, I had to forage a rare item in Nektulos Forest, which entailed sitting there and hitting my "forage" key every 30 seconds or so hoping I would get it instead of some roots, water, or grubs. And I'm sure the sight of a big, dumb, barbarian rogue crafting jewelry was a rare sight. I couldn't create them fast enough though. Word got out, and soon I was getting requests/orders from players from rival guilds that would otherwise have never spoke to me. In the course of a few weeks, I had brewed, lacquered, jeweled, foraged, fished, molded, enchanted, and fired my way to over half a million platinum.

Here's my screen right before I went and dumped 250k on a dumb mask.

I, along with the other two master potters on the Rodcet Nife server, were rich beyond our wildest dreams. Unfortunately, there wasn't a whole lot to spend that kind of money on for max level players. Any new loot you would want was no-drop. So, I spent it on toys. Well, one toy to be specific. A Mask of Tinkering. This was one of the rarest items in the game and still is to this very day. That's because it was a loot item from one of the four warders in Sleeper's Tomb before Kerafyrm was released. There were only five or six of them on the server before Avatars of Discord awoke the Sleeper and, even in 2002, a couple of them were gone forever having been on players who quit the game. But, I found a guy with one and gave him 250,000 platinum for it. Why did I want it? Well, there were (at that point) about seven masks that rogues and bards could use to temporarily disguise themselves as a different race. The Mask of Tinkering was more commonly referred to as "the gnome mask."

So, whenever I hear any mention of the Solstice, I will always think of gnomes.

Grizzled.

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