By Roomrunner 0 Comments
Hello. I know we're ankle deep in 2015 already, but I really want to do another year wrap-up. I spent much more time , so I'm a bit behind. I love writing about new music even more than games, so if you're interested at all, please have a look at that stuff too. thanks :)
Like I've done for the past two years before, top tens have just become arbitrary. I'd rather just talk about what I loved and hated this year, then find some kind of package to wrap it all in. Maybe by the end of this, I'll find something in my (first to admit) gravely limited 2014 gaming experiences to call a Game of The Year.
With an unceremonious "here we go"... here we go.
"Bearer Seek Seek Lest"
"Greatly disappointed" were the words Patrick Klepek used to describe Dark Souls 2. He has a perfectly good argument. Dark Souls 2 lacked the cohesiveness and wow factor of the original. I can't help but think about how much the personal journey shapes your Dark Souls experience. Patrick played through Dark Souls with an audience, interacting with him the entire way. He played Dark Souls 2 on his couch alone.
I played Dark Souls 2 sharing a character with my girlfriend. We passed the controller after each death, figured out bosses and areas together, strategized, butted heads, and shared triumph. In effect, Dark Souls 2 was a much more memorable and fun experience for me than the first game. What game is better? I'm not so sure anymore, especially after the DLC managed to offer what was previously lacking compared to the original.
I don't know. You still can't kick. Maybe the first one is better.
Has it become comically outdated to say that "retro" gaming is just a nostalgia grab? I hope so. In the same way you can appreciate "No Country For Old Men" taking place in the 80s without resorting to Billy Idol hair and synth-pop, Shovel Knight is just a straight up fantastic game that happens to use the NES era platforming style. I don't even think of it as "Hey, remember DuckTales?!".
The Choice Provisions (creators of the Bit.Trip series) joint, Woah Dave!, has simple 80s arcade aesthetics. At first glance you'd call it a Mario Bros or Joust clone, but does things unique enough to stand on its own then or today. Also, dat theme.
Then there is the rougelike remake, The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth. I've already logged too many hours into this than I'd care to admit (and that's after 100%ing the original). It's got nothing to do with the Legend of Zelda references, or the SNES look. It's just an extremely addictive game.
Obligatory "Two Years Late Award"
And now a summary of my performance in Mark of The Ninja.
Except I'm diving into a forest of deadly lasers.
Mobile Gaming is still a thing
OK I won't call them "iPhone games" this year, sheesh.
Sad thing is this year I have a lot less to say about them. Last year, I played Year Walk and Device 6. They were serious GOTY contenders; for their story and atmosphere, no less! Even Ridiculous Fishing had a bit more of a hook (heh) than the usual fare. This year though, Crossy Road? eh. It never really grabbed me.
"Let me tell you about WWE SuperCard!"
In case you haven't heard in one of many Jeff Gerstmann rants; the mobile "free to play" CCG, WWE SuperCard, is a bad game. I'd just like to go over one more match type that hasn't been covered: Road To Glory.
This is a game type built around keeping your high level cards, instead of feeding them to anything you've unlocked in the next tier (forcing you to keep grinding). Your 20 highest level cards compete in a series of matches to unlock a new deck. Obviously you start with the low level cards first. In order to finally collect a single card you actually want, you have to compete in at least 90-something matches. Here comes the ludicrous part. Literally none of these matches are competitive.
For 90 matches in a row, I'm randomly tapping my phone like a monkey; using no strategy, not even using power up cards. It's mathematically impossible to lose! That is until I hit a tier that pits me against cards where it's mathematically impossible to win. The disparity between "I can't lose if I try" to "I can't win no matter what" is instantaneous, like a line in the sand. Not once in the entire 3 or 4 day spanning tournament are you rewarded for deploying strategy. What a CCG!
Don't play WWE SuperCard.
|I WANT TO LIVE HERE|
I used to jokingly say that the greatest ending to a video game ever was Solitaire for Windows. Like most jokes, you say it enough times, and it just becomes routine and honest. Solitaire was the most perfect and rewarding ending for a video game. You slogged through busy work, and are treated to a little fireworks display.
Well, I "solved" FRACT OSC last night, and I can truly say this beats Solitaire. As frustrating as it was to navigate the landscape of FRACT, the puzzles were fun, and the rewards were plentiful. Solving FRACT as you go is like playing little games of Solitaire until you get to the very end, and are treated to a gigantic dance party.
Every game should end like this. I wanted the world of Dark Souls to come to life at the end of it, with Solaire body-popping across that dragon bridge.
Friends Make Everything Better
Most of my memorable gaming experiences of the year have been social. I love having my friends (of varying experience with video games) around to try new games with. The Yawhg turned out to be popular, especially with those who are too impatient to indulge in one of my complicated and lengthy board game sessions. The Yawhg is the world's easiest and laid back board game. It's great for people who aren't competitive, and just want to have something interesting and special happen to them.
The Yawhg is basically that fortune-telling paper flower girls make in school and pass along to their friends. We played this one just enough times not to start exploiting the format and taking the unpredictable fun out of each situation. A great game to play before you're too inebriated and impatient to read.
The Walking Dead: Season Two was a big dud. You don't need me to tell you that. It would have not even been worth writing about if not for a few six-packs, three of my friends, and Steam's newly added Broadcasting feature. Clumsily riffing and yelling our way through a marathon of disappointingly aimless chapters made my purchase of Season Two worthwhile. If you haven't played The Walking Dead: Season Two yet, save it for a big social drinking session. It won't even matter if you leave the room to be sick. Hardly anything important or interesting happens. It's a great replacement for bad movie night
|"Retweet that zombie!"|
Most nights were capped off with Nidhogg sessions. Nidhoogg is brilliant! It's in a sweet spot between Divekick and Super Smash Bros. Simple enough for anyone to pick up. Just enough strategy to keep the experienced engaged. A pace that allows for the occasional moment of randomness and dumb luck that sends the entire room (competitors and spectators alike) into a frenzy.
The biggest hit, and probably my game of the year, has to be the ridiculous Jazzpunk. Everyone wanted to get their hands on this for at least a few minutes. One of the great things about Jazzpunk is that it makes the player feel like they're the comedian. There are a lot of jokes thrown at you, but some manage to hit at just the moment you think "I want this to happen". There was a satisfaction of each person who steered the controls in the jokes that they personally discovered. It's a very "i did this" kind of rewarding experience. There are a lot of open world games out there, but none, including my days in college at the height of Grand Theft Auto III's popularity, made a crowded room shout "GO HERE, DO THIS, WHATS THAT?" like Jazzpunk has.
Playing Jazzpunk alone is a pleasure. With friends, it's my GOTY.