The Sparkiest Buzzsaw Awards of 2013

Welcome, one and all, to this year's installment of the newly redubbed Sparkiest Buzzsaw Awards, wherein I assign a bunch of games and non-game stuff (and things, can't forget the things) random and not-so-random arbitrary awards that absolutely no one cares about. Who will win the not-at-all coveted Best Use of Chinchillas? How about the even-less-desirable Sparky's Choice of Hot Sauce? Throw some tires up on your corrugated tin roof, because there's a Sparky tornado of love comin' through your trailer park heart!

In prior years, I awarded rewarding awards towards all the games I've played throughout the year. Since I'm slowly sobering up (2 1/2 hours free of sparkling grape juice!) and I'm no longer certifiably clinically insane (take THAT, Judge McPherson!), I've decided to throw that out the window and just give out awards to whatever I feel like. OCD - way to be!

If you're looking for my favorite games I played this year, go look in my lists. I'm not going to regurgitate that nonsense here.

Three! Two! One! HAPPY AWARDS EVERYBODY!

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Best iOS Games I Played This Year

5. Worms 3

There's not much new to Worms 3, and it strips out a lot of the features in Worms Reloaded, but it's still incredibly solid, stable Worms gameplay on the iPad. The controls are pretty great too.

4. Clash of Clans

Terrific basic strategy elements and a basic upgrading system make Clash of Clans one of the easiest recommendations for the iPad.

3. Simpsons Tapped Out

A metric ton of updates and some pretty funny writing help this one stand out, despite the tepid game structure. The introduction of some mini-games would go a long ways towards keeping me coming back to this one.

2. Clumsy Ninja

Some neat ragdoll physics meet a trainable ninja in this oddball game, and I love it. You drag, push, throw, and drop a caroonish ninja around, and as you do so, he becomes more and more skilled. It sounds kind of stupid on paper, but in action, it's ridiculously cool. Can't wait to see where this one goes.

1. Bloons TD 5

Without question, this is my favorite game on the iPad. I love tower defense when I have lots of various options and levels to play with, and Bloons has both in spades. It's shockingly well supported too, dropping in tons of levels and gameplay modes without charging a dime beyond the initial purchase. This is small gaming done right.

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Best Use of Not Bruce Campbell

Poker Night at the Inventory 2: Even Pokerier

You can't have a game with Ash Williams and not get my attention. Combine that game with Glados, Sam (of Sam and Max fame, not Happy Days), the greatest living voice actor in Patrick Warburton, and Claptrap, and you've got a pretty interesting cast of characters. Oh, and Steve from Borderlands. Hey-o!

But most notably - and bizarre - was the not-Bruce Campbell version of Ash, from the Evil Dead. Most of the other characters had a small tangential reason for being there (a new season of Venture Bros. was starting up, thus Brock Samson - I'm assuming the Ninja Turtles were busy that week). There was nothing explicitly awful about the not-Bruce Campbell's voice work, but it felt a little limp without Our Be-Chinned Leader behind the wheel. Still, it was excellent to see the character in something, and there was even a Chuck Finley joke for all ten of us who watched Burn Notice.

Sadly, Not Brisco County Jr. has not been confirmed for Poker Night 3. Damn.

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The Most Depressing Dipshit Move By a Dipshit Who Gave Me Hope For Old-School Adventure Games Award

Paul Trowe Showing Porn to a Kid

Long-time readers might remember me getting really excited about Replay Games. They acquired the license to Leisure Suit Larry, one of my very favorite adventure game series, and as an added bonus, they hired on Al Lowe, the creator of LSL.

Well, Leisure Suit Larry Reloaded came and went (insert your own joke there). It was a mostly unremarkable remake of a game that honestly didn't stand up well to modern adventure games - or even other games in its own proper series. That was okay, because it sold fairly well and it was the basis for (hopefully) more Al Lowe games. Then... silence.

It was revealed in December that Al Lowe left Replay Games due to Paul Trowe's conviction of showing pornographic material to a minor. Replay Games still has the LSL license, and Al Lowe has made it clear that he won't be a part of their company.

In short, fuck you, Paul Trowe.

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Best Character of the Year - and Generation!

Drippy - Ni no Kuni

I mentioned this in my GOTY 2013 list, but I really do think Drippy's the best new character of this generation. His lines are well written, he's well designed, and the voice actor knocks it out of the park. He's a lovable little sidekick, given tons of memorable moments, and I refuse to believe he's not the best new character of 2013, GB staffers be damned!

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Best Shooter-Ass-Shooter

Halo 4

It's probably a bit weird that I played Halo 4 this year and it somehow didn't wind up making my Best of the Year list. It's not that I thought Halo 4 was a bad game, but it definitely felt like a last little gasp of cash-in air before 343 moved on to the next generation of Halo games. Gone were the big open single-player environments in favor of humdrum corridor-esque shooting. Gone were the interesting, well designed multiplayer levels in favor of multiplayer generica. It sure looked pretty, though, and that central story between MC Mixmaster Cheeef (that's his DJ name) and Ms. "holy hell, do I feel uncomfortable looking at a processor with bewbs" Cortana is pretty darned decent. I'm still excited about Halo games. Just not that excited.

Oh, that reminds me...

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Worst Multiplayer Experience Not Related to Technical Glitchery of the Year

Halo 4

Now, I know what you're thinking. "LOLZ, Halo is fer da kidz and newbieassnewbs. U suck Sproky." First, go back to second grade English and pretend like your school can afford to teach you grammar and spelling. Second, I've honestly had my best multiplayer experiences with Halo 3 and Reach this generation - which basically puts them in the running for best multiplayer experiences of all time, since the only other game I ever really played online before the 360 was Battlefield 1942. I loved driving Warthogs in Halo 3 for good reason - I was the fucking KING of Warthog driving. I may have only racked up a couple of kills personally, but if you were a gunner in my Warthog, you'd make the first or second spot, guaranteed. A good driver is easy to find, but a good driver that knows the best routes to keep you steady and level for maximized killing fun and doesn't care about being top dawg? Now that's a rarity.

Halo Reach was still fun, particularly in its non-deathmatch modes. But you could feel the community start to crumble. With Halo 4, any goodwill I had towards the series' evaporated within my first hour of playing it. I've never heard so many vile shitbags in my life, not to mention the complete lack of anything approaching teamwork. Seriously, it was bad enough that I played for precisely one week's worth of games before putting Halo 4 into a deep, dark corner of my living room, never to see the light of day again.

In short, fuck you, Halo 4 community.

Runner-Up: GTA V.

Just let it go, Rockstar. Let it go.

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Best Multiplayer I Actually Bothered With in 2013

Tie: Far Cry 3 and Syndicate

Both games featured pretty terrific co-op experiences. Syndicate gets the slight edge here due to its awesome unlocks and general badassery, while Far Cry 3 gets a nod because I had actual friends playing it this year. Hey, it makes a difference. Both games deserve a golf clap.

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Worst Game I Played in 2013

Surgeon Simulator

The controls sucked so damn bad that it rendered any hilarity completely null and void. Just an awful game, through and through.

Runners-Up: 30 Flights of Loving, DLC Quest

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Worst Experience with a Game That Still Managed to Ninja Its Way Into My Top 10

GTA V

While GTA V might be a technical masterpiece, frankly, it sucks big floppy donkey dick in certain spots. The minimap is unforgivably atrocious. The writing is miniscule. Design decisions, such as incredibly glitchy and flawed garages meant to be more realistic than a list of cars you've stolen or own, rob the game of the fun found in other open-world games like Saints Row or Sleeping Dogs. An early mission involving you chasing a man on a motorcycle nearly led me to sell the game right then and there, and had it not been for the option to skip quests, I would have, without question. I'd say that the mission design feels like it's stuck in the early 2000's, except that we have irrefutable proof in games like San Andreas that even back then the mission design kicked GTA V's up and down the floor.

I'm absolutely serious when I say this - GTA V was only a hair's breadth away from being my worst game of 2013. And honestly, I'm still not sure it doesn't deserve it. Rockstar, I hope you remember at some point your games are supposed to be fun. You can tack on all the pretensions you want, but it doesn't change the fact that the core of your game needs to entertain the player first.

Runner-Up: AC IV (go to hell, eavesdropping missions)

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I Want to Hug the Developers Award

Wadjet Eye for the Blackwell Games

I bought the Wadjet Eye very much on a whim. I've been hugely surprised and pleased at how much I adore the Blackwell series. They're very basic point-and-click games that seem to grow more and more lovable with each game. They've infused each game with a love of old-school adventure games, modernized the formula a little bit, and done a great job of doing a lot with just a little. We need more bite-sized adventure games like this. Thanks for giving me just a little taste of my childhood love of adventure games again, Wadjet!

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Best Hawt Saaaaauce, 2013

Zaaschila Chipotle Hot Sauce

@mb and I were locked in a bitter debate earlier this year over the inclusion of Taco Bell hot sauce in his hot sauce poll. I said it was tasty, he told me I could cram it up my ass. Well, okay - by "bitter debate," I mean we said about ten words in total to each other about it, and I believe the "cram it up your ass" comment was actually probably from the lady down the street when I asked her on a date. In any case, he inspired me to buy a shit ton of hot sauce from a Wal-Mart sixty miles away and give each of them a go. Turns out, he was right - there are tons of better hot sauces on the market. So far, my favorite hands down is Zaaschila's Chipotle Hot Sauce Spread, which barely counts as hot sauce, but is so damned good I'm including it anyways.

Throw this stuff in your next quesadilla with some black bean and corn salso on the side. Your stomach will nut itself.

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Best Hot Cocoa, 2013

Tim Horton's

Holy shitballs, I want it in me so bad. Please sell it again for decent prices, Amazon!

By the way, always prepare your hot cocoa this way - add three to four teaspoons to the bottom of a mug, add a teaspoon or two of dry creamer, and pour boiling hot water over it. Don't use milk - as weird as it sounds, dry creamer tastes better in cocoa.

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Best Tea, 2013

Lipton's Black Pearl

While I continue on my quest to get Lipton's Honey and Lemon tea back in stores, in the meantime, i have this. It's a simple black tea, but like many of Lipton's pyramid brand teas, it seems a little bit tastier than the regular stuff. If you like fruit teas, their Bavarian Wild Berry is fantastic too.

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Best Coffee, 2013

None

Coffee. Blech.

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Best Book, 2013

The Republic of Thieves

This was an easy one. Scott Lynch's Gentlemen Bastard books are intelligent, fun fantasy reads that continue to amaze me. This one focuses a little more on the wizards of the world, which is a bit of a shame since they're almost boring in their all-powerfulness. But it's still a ridiculous amount of fun to read about two of my favorite modern day duos taking on thievery, politics, and lovey-dovey stuff. If you haven't read any of Lynch's work, go read Lies of Locke Lamora post-haste.

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Best Dog Breed, 2013

Pug

Duh.

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Handsomest, Humblest, and Most Dashing Moderator of 2013

Yours Truly

Damn, I look good in sweats and a dirty t-shirt.

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And that's it! Join me next year as I try to find the answers to life, love, happiness, and where I left my boxers. Until next time, this is Sparky Buzzsaw saying, "No! Don't touch that!"

32 Comments
32 Comments
Posted by Claude

Can't agree with the Pug choice at all. German Shepard all the way.

Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw

@claude said:

Can't agree with the Pug choice at all. German Shepard all the way.

What? WHAT?!? But... but... the wrinkles, and the snoring, and the farting, and the snorting, and the... the...

My heart is weeping, Claude. In here. Weeping. You did this!

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Posted by csl316

My problem with Halo 4 is that once I unlocked everything I wanted (within 10 hours or so) I had no incentive to go back. As someone that played around 200 hours of Reach/Anniversary, that was a bummer.

And I wholeheartedly hope Rockstar takes some of the GTA V criticism for their next game and leaves their god damn bubble. As I keep saying, the competition has stepped up their game so much since the PS2 era.

Posted by ArbitraryWater

I thought the point of Surgeon Simulator is that the controls are totally unwieldy and the game is barely playable because of it. I'd be way more interested in you sending up DLC Quest or 30 Flights of Loving, to be honest.

I enjoyed what I played of Halo 4's multiplayer, but I only played it for like two weeks because competitive shooters don't really do it for me anymore. (I thought the campaign was decent, excessively dumb story aside) However, based on what I read about how 343 handled the balance and stuff with that game, it's pretty obvious why it's sneered at by people who got way into 3 and Reach.

Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw

@arbitrarywater: Surgeon Simulator's one note joke gets old within a minute. DLC Quest and 30 Flights of Loving's crappiness gets old in two. It's just good science.

I didn't play enough of Halo 4's multiplayer to notice or care about the balance. So far as I'm concerned, they could have made the best multiplayer game in the universe and I wouldn't give a shit. Not every match I played was awful, but I'm not exaggerating here when I say at least 3/5's were.

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Posted by ZombiePie

If you aren't drinking green tea you should just stop now. @mb was right too give you a dressing down about your taste in hot sauce, your taste is terrible.

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Posted by ArbitraryWater

I didn't play enough of Halo 4's multiplayer to notice or care about the balance. So far as I'm concerned, they could have made the best multiplayer game in the universe and I wouldn't give a shit. Not every match I played was awful, but I'm not exaggerating here when I say at least 3/5's were.

That just sounds like you have finally accepted the reality of competitive multiplayer shooters when you are playing anything other than Team Deathmatch with random people on the internet.

Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw

@zombiepie: Oh hush. I like green tea just fine. I just happen to like black tea more.

@arbitrarywater: Hah! Yeah, probably!

Moderator
Posted by Demoskinos

You jerk. What did Coffee ever do to you?

Edited by Sparky_Buzzsaw

@demoskinos: I'll tell you what it didn't do - please my tastebuds. Coffee - for when you've given up on flavor!

To be fair, I love lots of off-coffee stuff like lattes, cappucinos, and the like. Just not plain coffee.

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Edited by Demoskinos

@sparky_buzzsaw: Have you ever just thought that you've just had bad coffee?

Edited by Dalai

You were doing so well until you got to the last award!

Edited by Fredchuckdave

The writing is miniscule? I mean yeah but that's not really different from any other GTA (at least its also miniscule on giant TVs to make for a fairer experience to us non enormous TV owners) Poker Night 2 is pretty sweet, though I guess it kind of shits on the player ("you may think I'm a loser but you're the one playing video poker alone") which I thought was pretty amusing. Brock Samson is voiced by Puddy and thus inherently awesome and/or welcome anywhere. Hurray for PS+

Posted by jiggajoe14

Man I got Syndicate on sale and loved the single player, but I never got the opportunity to play any multiplayer :(.

Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw

@fredchuckdave: Saying something problematic is okay simply because it's like that in other GTA games is exactly the sort of mindset that Rockstar needs to get away from. If it's been a problem before, they need to figure out a way to address it.

@dalai: And then I went from good to amazing!

@demoskinos: I've tried enough coffee by enough people who claimed they could change my mind to know by now. Bleeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh.

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Edited by Demoskinos

@sparky_buzzsaw: So basically what your telling me is if I wanted to get information out of you water boarding you with coffee would break you in a matter of minutes? I will jot that down for future reference. =D

Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw

@demoskinos: Seconds, not minutes. That stuff is foul, man!

Moderator
Posted by TruthTellah
Online
Edited by MB

I would pay good money for you to shoot a hot sauce reaction vid and put it on youtube. The stuff you're currently calling hot is actually used to make baby food in Mexico, I'll have you know.

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Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw

@truthtellah: Thanks!

@mb: Oh, I recognize that and totally agree with you. It's for nambie-pambies and girly men. I have tried plenty of other hotter sauces and liked them just fine. But as far as taste is concerned, that stuff's my favorite so far. One problem with where I live is that there's not going to be anything super hot - it's pretty much very Americanized Tex-Mex country here, which is fine by me, but it does sort of limit my options, particularly when I don't drive and generally only get a chance to shop for groceries at Wal-Mart. I can't find a bottle of sriracha here for love nor money.

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Edited by MB

@sparky_buzzsaw: I would recommend getting it on Amazon but their prices for sriracha are way higher than what they should be, for some reason. It may have something to do with the current sriracha shortage crisis since there were some production issues at the So Cal plant. For the last couple of weeks I've been keeping my eye on hot sauce shelves in local stores and sriracha is almost always sold out, so I doubt you're going to see any at retail anytime soon.

I can just send you some out of my private stash, I always have at least a couple unopened bottles on hand.

Moderator
Edited by MormonWarrior

I'm partial to Lhasa Apsos myself, but...nah, I'd never get a pug under any circumstances. You're crazy.

Also, is anyone really surprised that the people behind the incredibly low-brow, gross and despicable LSL series contain some vile human beings? I'm surprised honestly that this kind of thing hasn't happened before.

Posted by Slag

Hey Sproky!

It was revealed in December that Al Lowe left Replay Games due to Paul Trowe's conviction of showing pornographic material to a minor. Replay Games still has the LSL license, and Al Lowe has made it clear that he won't be a part of their company

Hoooooooleeeee Shiiiiiiiiit. You've got to be kidding me.

I'm totally with you on GTA V, the little I've played of it, it seems really 2005ish in design mindset. Big world for Big world sake, linear mission structure and story. Story that's juvenile as the title. Maybe my expectations are too high but when GTA puts out a new numbered game (not a Liberty City stories etc) I expect a jump not more of the same. Kind of the standards I hold Mario and Zelda to. Not sure I'd go so far to say It's a bad game , I'd just say it's middle of the pack.

Otherwise Fun list as always! Despite your questionable taste in dog breeds.

Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw

@slag: I wish I was joking. I thought Replay Games did a pasable job with LSL Reloaded and really looked forward to where they were going with the series in the future, but so long as Paul Trowe is there, I'm going to feel squeamish as fuck about buying any of their games going forward.

Also, questionable taste in dog breed?!? Why, you little....

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Edited by Turambar
Posted by TruthTellah
Online
Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw

@turambar: you have the absolute wrong moderator for anime. You want @ZombiePie, not me.

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Posted by Turambar

@turambar: you have the absolute wrong moderator for anime. You want @ZombiePie, not me.

One would think pug love would be able to transcend our earthly mediums.

Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw

@turambar: I shall never, ever, ever, eeeeever watch anime. I have nothing against those who do. Butyou'll find me watching it on the day they have a snowball fight in hell.

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Edited by Slag

@slag: I wish I was joking. I thought Replay Games did a pasable job with LSL Reloaded and really looked forward to where they were going with the series in the future, but so long as Paul Trowe is there, I'm going to feel squeamish as fuck about buying any of their games going forward.

Also, questionable taste in dog breed?!? Why, you little....

As someone who doesn't own LSL: R yet, I guess I never will now. :(

What can I say? I've dogsat some Pugs before and the poor little guys seem like they are suffering just by living. They just seem so miserable trying to breathe, especially when hot. And then the reverse sneezing episodes.

Plus those folds get super nasty, and for whatever reason I always seem to get stuck with jobs like that.

They are a friendly breed so I do like them, just they make me feel sad sometimes.

I like bigger breeds myself that I can roughhouse with a bit more, like a Golden (although they are super expensive and certainly have their own health problems.).

different strokes for different folks, :)

@turambar: I shall never, ever, ever, eeeeever watch anime. I have nothing against those who do. Butyou'll find me watching it on the day they have a snowball fight in hell.

wait wait wait, what? But you like the most Anime-ish things like Disgaea and Ni No Kuni....

Dude you are really missing out. Not every Anime is great but there are definitely some really good ones out there.

Posted by MooseyMcMan

I had a pug once and she was one of the best dogs I've ever known. But she passed away several years ago, and that was sad.

That's all I have for input here. Pugs are rad. Such happy little, snuggly dogs.

Moderator
Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw
Moderator