Game of the Year 2013!

I've finished all the games from this year that I'm going to finish(Mario unfortunately won't happen this year) and man, what a weird year for games. This list is incredibly tight, but I'm happy with the way it turned out. Anyway, Let's get to it! (there might be spoilers)

10. DMC: Devil May Cry

This tenth spot was the most hotly contested of the entire list. DMC, Revengeance, Saints Row IV, My number nine game, and for a brief moment, Remember Me (hey, that game's ok) were all battling it out to be on this list. In the end, I decided that I enjoyed my time the most with DMC. The writing in Saints Row and Revengeance are no doubt better and both those games are plenty fun to play, but something about the DMC combat just clicked with me. I'm not gonna pretend I'm some insane combo master or even great at the game, but it was a ton of fun and I found the writing good enough for what it was. I didn't hate it and there were some parts I enjoyed. What's more, unlike Revengeance, I never found myself frustrated with the combat, though I found using the dodge moves to be rather clunky with a controller. But that satisfaction that comes with laying waste to an entire room of enemies going untouched in one long combo is what earns DMC a spot on this list.

9. Phoenix Wright: Dual Destinies

Phoenix Wright: Dual Destinies almost didn't make this list. I was ready to cut it, but my brain had one last argument to make. I heard the showdown music, and I knew it had to be on here. Whether or not this is the best Phoenix Wright game is hard to say. I think Athena is a great addition to the cast and Apollo really comes into his own. Fulbright was ok, but I always liked Gumshoe. BlackQuill was fine, but no Edgeworth, Von Karma, or Godot. But there was no Wendy Oldbag, so, big bonus there. But whether or not this is one of the ten best games of the year? I can confidently say that it is. Despite the fact that this is probably the least interactive Phoenix Wright of the series, I also found it the most enjoyable to play. No more pixel hunting, barely any convoluted logic, no running around showing every witness every piece of evidence until you stumble upon new dialogue. Dual Destinies might lean heavy on character quirks at times, but it's easy to see beyond the exaggerated character traits to the interesting character underneath. Aside from having a fantastic cast of characters, Dual Destinies makes a rather important improvement to the formula. The new revelation system(or whatever it's actually called) mostly rehashes things you've likely already figured out, but despite the choices being obvious, it feels really great doing it and serves as a nice release to the building tension. I love this series, and this game reminded me why.

8. Gone Home

I don't like adventure games. I'm not the type of guy who clicks on everything in the environment or needs to hear every bit of dialogue. But for the hour and a half I spent with Gone Home, I was. One of my favorite things to bring up when talking about Gone Home, is when searching your sister's room, you can find a piece of paper with a move list for Chun-Li written on it. One of the inputs is crossed out and corrected. To me, that is Gone Home. All the small details that really bring this world and these characters to life. It's not the journal entries(though they are fantastic and absolutely important), it's the adventures of Captain Allegra. It's not what you're suppose to see, it's what's hidden. Gone Home is not a unique story(though to games it may be), but the way you discover it is something special. I've seen complaints about the feelings of supernatural elements at the beginning the game, but I think that tease is just a bonus. I mean, if you showed up to a large, strange, empty house in the middle of a storm at night(with an ominous note on the door), you'd probably be a little uneasy. I always knew there wouldn't be ghosts or whatever in Gone Home, but that feeling was still there for a bit, just because it's a creepy setting. I don't want to say too much about Gone Home because I think it's best that people discover it for themselves, but I will say that after I found the final Journal Entry, my heart was pounding and I was cursing the game for not having a run button.

7. Divekick

Divekick is probably the biggest surprise for me this year. I knew this game would be fun, but I thought it would just be dumb fun for a little bit and then I would never think about it again. Turns out, Divekick is a lot of actual legitimate fun. It takes my favorite part of fighting games, mind games and hit confirms, and turns them into an entire game. It helps that the game is incredibly easy to pick up and learn, and I learned most of the matchups within a day. Like with Persona 4 Arena last year, the Giant Bomb community has something to do with this. Though there was only one tournament, it was a ton of fun, super intense, and left me wanting more. Every once in a while I get an itch to play some Divekick, and though I often don't because the online doesn't interest and my local partners are limited, I'm sure I will revisit Divekick in the future and it will continue to be more fun than it has any right being.

6. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

I think I finally get art. I mean traditional art, paintings and such. They say when you look at it you're supposed to feel something, I never did, but after playing Brothers, I get it. This game provides you benches so you can sit and look out at the world they created, I sat on every bench I saw. This game is awe inspiring. I can't remember the last time a game has filled me with such wonder just from gazing out at the landscape. That's not all there is to love about Brothers though. Despite having no real dialogue I found the interactions of the Brothers to be entertaining and the more I played the more I really felt their bond coming through. Sure, the death of the older brother is obvious, but I still found it impactful, more so when you had to channel him to complete tasks as the lone younger brother at the end. I can see the argument being made that I'm giving it too much emotional credit, but the game being so wonderful up to that point is probably what made it so crushing. The only real knock I have against brothers is that I never really got the control scheme down perfectly. It could be mildly annoying when I'd have to stop moving one to fix them because one was at a slightly wrong angle and messed me up. Maybe more my own error than the game's but still. Had Brothers had more game to it and been more fun to play, it would no doubt be higher on this list.

5. Bioshock Infinite

Unlike many, I never did a complete 180 on Bioshock Infinite. I certainly see the flaws, but I thought Columbia was a great world, and the Luteces and Elizabeth are fantastic characters. For all the griping people do, I think they're forgetting that Bioshock infinite had some truly special moments that made them love it in the first place. When you first escape and Elizabeth is dancing, when you find the guitar, the songbird's final moments. Bioshock Infinite is a hell of a game. Unfortunately, I've been tired of first person shooters for years. I just don't find that style of gameplay to be very fun anymore, and often times find it more frustrating. Bioshock Infinite was serviceable in terms of combat, but there were times when I found it to be a burden more than anything else. Also, there was apparently some issue that caused me on multiple occasions to lose half an hour or more of progress, forcing me to replay sections. I'm not sure how widespread that problem was, but it definitely detracted from the experience for me. These annoyances would have caused me to drop a lesser game, but Bioshock Infinite was worth seeing through.

4. Tomb Raider

I've never been a fan of Tomb Raider(though I know this one is wildly different), but the prospect of an Uncharted-esque reboot had me intrigued. That's not what I got. In fact, I think comparing Tomb Raider to Uncharted is similar to comparing Gears of War to Uncharted. Tomb Raider is it's own game, and a damn fine one. If this is still the year of the bow, let me go ahead and give Tomb Raider the award for best bow right now. I almost exclusively used the bow for the entire game. Not just because I felt it added a nice bit of flavor, but because I found it to be incredibly fun to use. Third person shooting is becoming a bit redundant, but the bow made it feel fresh and alive again. Gameplay aside, I hope there's a future for this franchise. I'm not going to pretend that the writing and characters are stellar, but I enjoyed them and would like to see more and see where they go with them. WIth Lara having acknowledged how surprisingly easy it is to kill someone at the beginning of the game, I hope in the future she's a bit more of a badass. Watching her get beat up for 8 hours was in a way grounding, but at a certain point felt like a bit too much. Tomb Raider might not be the best game in any one respect(minus the bow), but the whole package made it one of the most enjoyable gaming experiences of the year.

3. Rogue Legacy

Every year there's a game that doesn't even need to pretend it's trying to have a compelling narrative to win my affection. This year, that game was Rogue Legacy. Like Super Meat Boy three years ago, everything about playing this game just felt right. If I died, it felt like my fault. If I had a great run, it was because I played exceptionally well. Rogue Legacy is not a complicated game. You run through a castle, kill monsters until you die, maybe upgrade your lineage a bit, repeat. To keep things interesting, Rogue Legacy had a number of classes with different properties, and each character came with a randomized set of traits that would either help you(spikes don't hurt you), completely screw with you(turn the game upside down), or do nothing(you fart a lot). Eventually I figured out which traits I loved and which traits I hated and started making selections based on that, and sure I preferred classes and would just pick Hokage as much as possible, but even if I was just constantly running a Hokage with the same exact traits, Rogue Legacy would have stayed fun. It has just enough progression and the runs are just quick enough where you can fall down a serious "one more run" hole. Even when I had seen all the game had to offer, learned all it's tricks, and solidified my play style, Rogue Legacy kept me coming back until I beat it. I never did go in for New Game plus, but sometimes I still want to. Rogue Legacy quickly went from "This is neat" to easily one of my favorite games of the year. Seriously, you should play it.

2. Fire Emblem Awakening

This honestly took me by surprise. I love Fire Emblem, and Awakening might be the best Fire Emblem of the one's I've played(could also be Path of Radiance). I love Valkyria Chronicles. I love XCOM: Enemy Unknown. So what took me by surprise? How easily Fire Emblem Awakening secured the number two spot when I had a second to think about it. The story is nothing unexpected for Fire Emblem, but it works well enough for what it is. And I'll admit I have a habit of getting more attached to the characters in games like this than I probably should(even in stuff in like XCOM and Final Fantasy Tactics where they don't have personalites) so I probably like the characters more than they deserve. But Fire Emblem Awakening is still almost the best game I played this year. I love the style of gameplay, and though I reset if a character dies, the threat of permadeath adds a nice layer of tension to the battles. The support conversations were fun and I took more pleasure in pairing off my characters than I care to admit. Sure, after a while the game lost most of it's challenge, but there's a certain satisfaction in watching your country boy who couldn't kill a thing when you met him lay waste to an entire army by himself. I knew this game was going to be on my list, but I thought it was going to be lower. That is, until I realized that since beating it, I've had an unscratchable itch. I want more. I don't want the same exact game again, and I've exhausted my library of games that would be satisfactory(I tried playing Valkyria Chronicles II, but all my PSPs are garbage. Also, those load times are really long). Very few games make me wish I had the sequel right next to me so I could dive right in immediately after finishing, but I can't wait for the next Fire Emblem game, and I'm sure I'll be searching for anything to hold me over until then.

1. The Last of Us

The Last of Us is one of the most compelling gaming experiences I have ever had, not just this year. Joel is a great character, but most of the credit goes to Ellie. For me, she was really the driving force behind this game. Not only do I think that she is excellently written, I cared about her. Sometimes games will make you do something that I don't think is the right choice, but there wasn't a question in my mind about the end of The Last of Us. Sure, it's the selfish choice, but if I was Joel, I would have made the same call. And concerning the end, I'm glad neither of them died. That would have been the easy and obvious route to go. To have them both alive with this secret(that Ellie probably knows about) is far more interesting and compelling. To see Joel being more fatherly at the end, and Ellie being more distant is a great shift. To end the game with the word "Okay.", brilliant. Of course, the end isn't the only thing that makes The Last of Us a special game. Ellie's joke book, the Giraffes, Ellie yelling obscenities as she breaks a bottle on an enemie's face, the rise and fall of the unerground society, and just all the banter between Joel and Ellie. Then there's the gameplay. I get why people don't like it, but once I got the hang of it, I started to really enjoy it. I was able to do most sections by stealth killing a good amount of enemies before being discovered(either with takedowns or the bow) and that was satisfying, especially when I managed to clear an entire area. There was one section(the generator) that was frustrating, but outside of that the combat added more to the game than it detracted for me. Even when I was discovered I didn't have an issue with small firefights. I understand why people have problems with The Last of Us, but for me, it is unquestionably the game of the year.

Start the Conversation

A Mystery Box of Anime. Volume 1.

My brother decided that it was a good idea to purchase a box filled with 30 random DvDs...of anime. We, along with a friend, then decided that it was a good idea to watch them all in a random order. Here, I will be chronicling this journey(or descent). This first entry is going to have a lot, so I'll try to keep what I have to say on them brief. Thoughts may feel disjointed, but I'm just going by what comes to mind. These aren't supposed to be hardcore reviews.

Disclaimer: These are random volumes of random anime. We are going in with no context and purely for fun. This may be unfair to some, but we are going entirely on what we were given.

Saiyuki Gunlock Reload Vol 7. (Episodes 24-26)

Talk about starting with a showstopper. Not the good kind. The kind that makes you want to stop because you had such a bad time. I think I got roughly what was going on, granted it was the last 3 episodes, but man was it nonsense and generic. This show was just boring, horribly animated, and the antagonist couldn't decide if he was Italian, Spanish, or a Vampire. Most of the time he was a mix between the three. The three episodes were largely fighting, but the fights were just nonsense. They kept counting Gato's(a large native american zombie(???)) bullets for what seemed to be no reason because getting shot didn't do anything to them and they weren't doing anything to him either. It was all pretty pointless. Then of course they want you to sympathize with the villain, turns out he was corrupted by a monster because he killed monsters. I guess monsters are pretty ok in this world? Then there were other characters that came to watch the fight for seemingly no reason. There was a scientist with a bunny who seemed like he may have redeemed the show, but he also did literally nothing. It felt like there were a lot of unresolved plot threads and character arcs. Sure enough though, to my knowledge, this is the end of the series.

Robotech New Generation Vol. 14 (episodes 80-85)

Another end of a series, but my understanding was this one had some fanbase around it. Coming off Saiyuki Gunlock, Robotech was definitely a step up. That said, I feel like Robotech just sort of happened to me. I was there, but I don't entirely remember being there. It had some one off episodes followed by suddenly being thrust into the end of a war, which was a little weird. Also, everyone was apparently in love? I guess I see how they were building Scott and Invid(alien) lady, and maybe Lancer and other Invid lady. But Rand and Rook came out of literally nowhere as far as I could tell. They're robot fighting and are essentially like "oh, I love you by the way". And Rook was just in love with cowboy man like, 2 episodes ago! Oh, and Lancer is a crossdressing singer known as Yellow Dancer. The more I think about Robotech the less sense it makes to me. It was at least watchable though.

Gad Guard Vol.2 (episodes 5-8)

Gad Guard might be ok. We have volume 4 as well, so that remains to be seen. But out of them all so far I think it has the most potential. It depends whether it leans toward Digimon, or Madoka. If it goes digimon, I'm out. If it goes Madoka, I might be in. What we've seen so far was ok though. People find Gads and wake up robots or something but some of them are special and can be controlled and are called techoids. That's my understanding anyway. Watching Katana punch a dude in the face while giving literally zero fucks was among the most enjoyable things so far on this anime quest. Also, sick jazzy intros, always good.

Girls Bravo Vol 3. (episodes 9-12)

Raper Count: 1

Liam O'Brien you asshole. I was dreading this show. With good reason. We pulled not only a hot springs episode, but a pool episode. Luckily(though each episode was worse than the last), the creators seemed to try to load the majority of the boners into the first five minutes, and became a somewhat legitimate show from there. HOWEVER. This show is extremely gratuitous, and there are children involved. Many things about this show are not ok. So why am I calling out Liam O'Brien specifically? Well, he might be the best character in the six anime we've watched thus far. He plays a horrible man who sees molestation as totally ok. But he sells it so well there was some legitimate entertainment from him. Does this make me a bad person? As tolerable as some aspects of this show became, the octopus in the pool episode was too much. Not cool Anime, not cool. Also, as you will see in the rankings later...this is sadly not the worst show.

Ex-Driver: The Movie(movie)

Raper Count: 2 (I couldn't find a picutre of him)

I'm sure this movie would have made more sense had we seen the series(I'm assuming there's a series considering it seemed like we should have known who these characters were). I thought we were gonna get Tokyo Drift the anime(except in L.A.). Instead, we got a bunch of nonsense. There was a race that was wholly unimportant, and some sort of criminal organization gambling but actually it was a trap for this guy who was stealing money or something and these guys weren't bad guys they were just funding the races and the cops were involved and I'm still not sure what the problem was. The plot kind of lost me. Granted, when they started pushing the "I hate you but I love you" story line with 12 year olds I was already on my way out. And man did this movie go quick. Not in a good way. Nothing felt like it had any real development. Then there was Detective ButtToucher(I forget his real name if he even had one), a guy who touched people and then smelled his hand for what I'm gonna call no good reason. This was really bad.

Vandread Vol 3 (episodes 8-10)

Raper Count: 3

What a misleading volume title. My expectations were low, and somehow they managed to be too high. Men and Women are segregated so there's very few men on a ship full of women...yep. There's the one young dude that all the girls are into but of course there's one that sticks out and she's SUPER ANNOYING...yep. Hyper sexualized older woman...yep. Robots...yep. Vandread sure is an anime. Ex-Driver and Saiyuki had something going for them, we could at least goof on them. Vandread was just aggressively boring. The sad part is, the idea of robots that combine to become totally different robots is a semi interesting concept. Also, I'm pretty sure this show is sexist. I'm just not sure which gender it's sexist against. I'm inclined to say women, considering everything feels like a metaphor for dicks and putting dicks in things. And it took a grand total of about 8 seconds to figure out exactly everything that was going on in this show and where it was going. Yet somehow, the predictability, boringness, and just downright shameful quality of this anime doesn't land it in the bottom slot...

Rankings!

I decided after four or five that we should rank them as we watch them. Again, these rankings are based purely off of what we have. Not what we've heard, not potential, not things we look up. We also are not taking into account our ability to goof on it, otherwise, Vandread would probably be the bottom. I just hope by the end of this that Girls Bravo is in the double digits.

1. Gad Guard

2. Robotech New Generation

3. Girls Bravo

4. Vandread

5. Ex-Driver: The Movie

6. Saiyuki Gunlock Reload

What's Left?

Here's what we haven't watched in alphabetical order. We're choosing them randomly though.

-Appleseed(movie)

-Armitage Dual Matrix(movie)

-Bast of Syndrome Vol.2 (episodes 6-10)

-Chobits Vol.2 (episodes 5-8)

-Fafner Vol.2 (episodes 5-8)

-Gad Guard Vol.4 (episodes 13-16)

-GetBackers Vol.5 (episodes 21-25)

-GetBackers Vol.6 (episodes 26-30)

-GunXSword Vol.4 (episodes 13-16)

-Heat Guy J Vol.1 (episodes 1-4)ol

-Heat Guy J Vol.2 (episodes 5-8)

-His and Her Circumstances Vol.4 (episodes 17-21)

-Pani Poni Dash Vol.3 (episodes 11-14)

-Phantom Memory Kurau Vol.2 (episodes 5-8)

-Saiyuki Vol.7 (episodes 27-30)

-Starship Operators Vol.3 (episodes 9-13)

-Stellvia Vol.4 (episodes 11-13)

-Submarine 707 Revolution The Movie (movie)

-Texhnolyze Vol.1 (episodes 1-4)

-Tokyo Majin Vol.1 (episodes 1-5)

-Utawarerumeno Vol.6 (episodes 23-26)

-Viewtiful Joe Vol.2 (episodes 4-6)

-Welcome to the NHK Vol.2 (episodes 5-8)

-Zipang Vol.1 (episodes 1-4)

That's all for Now!

Are we way off about anything? Is there anything we should look forward to or dread? To be honest, I'm kinda dreading all of it. I thought Saiyuki Gunlock might have been good based on the cover, and it was the worst one. I'm afraid to get my hopes up again.

12 Comments

GOTY 2012

10. Trials Evolution

This was a hotly contested slot. Had I written this a week ago I might have put Binary Domain here. Before that, Dust. Both those games are great, but I have to give it to Trials. I never did beat the final level or go for golds on most tracks, but to me this game is this year's Super Meat Boy. It's simple, it's straightforward, it's pure fun, but god damn is it frustrating.

9. Syndicate

Another game that makes this list simply because it's fun to play. The story was nonsense and the ending was bullshit(Miles and Merit should have just been best friend murder pals and you should have shot everybody), but the game just felt right to me. While the campaign is fun, the multiplayer is really where it's at though. I went through those stages over the course of a couple of days, some of them multiple times, and it was a ton of fun. Most groups seemed to work relatively well together without a ton of communication and there were very few dicks who just wanted to run. I remember one time where my team mates were down and it was me against like 10 other guys at least. I had to pop out of the corner, kill someone, pop back in, use everything at my disposal, and I almost died before finally picking people up. I'm a bit sick of First Person Shooters, but Syndicate was just a blast to play.

8. Rhythm Heaven Fever

Rock Band? Pshh. Rhythm Heaven Fever is a game I occasionally want to go back to before thinking about how all I have left to do is collect perfects and there's no way I'd be able to just casually do that. It's a ton of fun and the sound track is catchier than it has any right being. I'm finding I don't really have a lot to say about Rhythm Heaven, but it's a game I fear will go undernoticed by pretty much everyone this year, and that's a shame because it's brilliant. Also, fuck monkey watch.

7. Sleeping Dogs

I debated a lot where to put this on the list. I like it a bunch. Then I remember the second half of the game. The combat in this game is similar to the Arkham games, but different enough. It's not as snappy(literally) and it's a bit slower paced, but in some areas I find it to be more enjoyable. The combos and finishers are much more satisfying to pull off the hits felt like they had more weight. Unfortunately they want to make you use guns a lot at a certain point. The guns aren't good, but at least the shooting sections are absurdly easy. The story and characters are mostly forgettable but they're good enough to make for a fun ride while you play it. And really, that's what's important.

6. Diablo III

I know, everyone is supposed to hate this game. I'll admit this game didn't capture me quite like Diablo II did, but then I check the time played on my Barbarian. Well over 100 hours. I never beat Inferno difficulty Diablo, but that's because the game's flaw of gear being too difficult to get stopped me. It's still a completely solid game that is a lot of fun though. The classes feel different and a lot of the abilities are fun to use which makes it sad your loadout is so limited. Co-oping with some people I know probably helped to keep the game from getting stale, but it's hard to deny over 100 hours of entertainment.

5. Borderlands 2

The top 5 are all very close to me, but I have to number them. Borderlands 2 also broke the 100 hour mark, most of it on my main Axton. I'll admit I'm a bit of a sucker for character progression, but I'm ok with that. Borderlands 2 was a lot of fun solo or co-op. I look forward to eventually jumping back in once all the DLC is out. And I found Handsome Jack to be a surprisingly good villain.

4. Asura's Wrath

Man...fourth...I'm sorry Asura's Wrath. I love this game. I'm no big fan of Quick Time Events, but I enjoyed doing them in this game. Even though there was no fail state, feeling like you were a part of the action was awesome. I actually enjoyed these sections significantly more than the God of War sections or the Panzer Dragoon sections. I found myself strangely drawn in by the characters as well. Asura, Yasha, and Augus(bonus points for New World Symphony) especially. Also, I know, the DLC thing is bullshit and it shouldn't be taken into account. Had it never existed, Asura's Wrath would probably still take the same slot. The true ending DLC is fantastic though. The final two chapters especially are some of my favorite sections of a game this year.

3. Persona 4 Arena

I don't like fighting games. I'm not good at fighting games. Persona 4 Arena changed that. Initially I was just interested because hey, more Persona. But after seeing the quick look it actually looked pretty fun. I bought it, and started playing through the story modes. They were fun, but wore on me quick. The visual novel style was not doing it any favors. I actually never even finished all the stories. The multiplayer is what gives this game the number 3 spot. I came in with the intention of my main being Chie or Akihiko, the other subbing with a pocket Yu. But after trying Yosuke once, it just felt so right. Recently I've kind of forced myself to take on Kanji as my sub, and I'm actually enjoying him despite being a grappler. I owe a lot of my love for this game to the awesome community GB has for it though. I doubt I would have stuck with it anywhere near as long had it not been for them(Special mention to for organizing all the events and keeping us coming back). I'll admit I feel like myself and most of the others are on our way out though, and it's a shame. I've had a ton of fun with this game, love for Persona 4 aside, and it absolutely deserves the praise it's been getting.

2. Journey

It took some reminding, but Journey really was a special experience. I loved every minute of it and was completely taken start to finish. I'm not really one for art games, but Journey captivated me in a way I didn't know possible. Everything about it just pulled me in so hard I couldn't have resisted if I wanted to. I could try and describe the music, the lighting, the sand, and any other effect you can think of, but I wouldn't do it justice. At this point you've probably already made up your mind on Journey, but I maintain that it is something that anyone with even a passing interest in video games should experience. This game is gorgeous in every sense of the word.

1. The Walking Dead

Big surprise right? I'm sure people are sick of seeing The Walking Dead at the top of lists. I'm no stranger to forgiving subpar gameplay for a good story(after all, I do love me some JRPGS). I've been playing games all my life, starting with the NES. The Walking Dead represents something I think is important for video games. I'm in the camp of thinking stories and characters need to continue moving forward. Blending The Walking Dead's writing with Syndicate's game play would be a dream come true. (not necessarily those two specifically, but you get the idea). I've played plenty of good games, but I've never been this affected by one. Even the end of Nier didn't get to me like these games did. There were several times throughout the series I felt genuine emotion(mostly anger and sadness). I don't want to spoil anything, so I'll leave it at that. The Walking Dead succeeded where Heavy Rain failed, and is a truly special experience.

Start the Conversation

Asura's Wrath DLC

You can see my thoughts on the full game here: Shameless plug

At this point I'm pretty sure all the DLC for Asura's Wrath is out. I know a lot of people are disgusted, but that ending is totally worth 7 dollars. It gets you 4 more episodes that manage to keep ramping up the insanity.

The anime things are ok. Interesting, look really nice, and are only two dollars, but aren't necessary. If you were a fan of the main game you should get the DLC ending. I don't want to say a lot about it because it should be experienced, but the last 2 chapters are fantastic. The last fight is quite good and though the game is simple they manage to make it interesting. Also, for anyone who follows Ryan on twitter, he's 100% correct about best fist bump 2012 going to Asura's Wrath.

Review: Get it.

Start the Conversation

You win this round Art Games!

Ok, so anyone following this thread at all probably knows my skepticism on Journey. I spent all day yesterday eagerly awaiting its arrival on PSN to the point where I even preordered it just in case something was broken. Finally, I managed to start playing some time around 9:30 at night.

I loved it.

I was absolutely enchanted from start to finish. The lighting and music never stopped being incredible to me. That part where the sun is setting and the sand is reflecting almost as if it's water, amazing. The way the sand is manipulated by the wind and your movements, the way the character moves when you jump or are tossed around, everything about that game was stellar. The worst thing I can think of is how heart breaking it is when you lose your companion.

Through a good portion of the game people came and went, but when I to the snowy area, maybe even the big tower before that, I was with one other guy the entire time. We stuck together, we sang at eachother, and made sure to stay close to keep the snow off. He was impatient during a certain part and it caused something unfortunate to happen to me, but I forgave him. Toward the very end, I thought I lost him, only to find what I think was him and lose him again. As I was doing the very final walk, I saw someone in the distance. I chirped a couple times, he chirpped back, I like to think it was that same guy. I didn't get the same emotional responses others seemed to get(though I think I know the biggest part that got to people, and yeah, that got me a little bit), but maybe because it was more like I'd stumbled into a glorious, wondered world that was so constantly popping my eyes I didn't have time to feel anything else.

Journey is short, but I do not regret paying for it. If you haven't played Journey and are interested in even the slightest bit you need to try it. It is something to experience. As a game, it's not the best, but everything around it is just so stunning I can't hold that against it. Also, play it in one sitting.

I will be writing a review some time later tonight, I'm still deciding if I want to play it again for the review or not. Can anyone recommend one way or the other? Also, I missed a couple of things. Some of the "10 glyhps" and the "mysterious creature", what did I miss out on?

Edit - My bad, this can be taken out of general, I'm sure people are sick of Journey threads.

1 Comments

My first(and probably last) Platinum Trophy

As a lover of Demon's Souls I pre-ordered Dark Souls well in advance. As I popped the game in I thought "I beat Demon's Souls, how hard could this be for me". Not too long later, Capra Demon showed me exactly how hard it could be as I cursed him and his stupid dogs until I'm pretty sure they just felt bad for me.

Anyway, after the first play through was about the time I decided I was going to platinum it. I pulled up a list of every Pyromancy, Sorcery, Miracle, and Rare Weapon, copied them into a word document, and began erasing the ones I already had. I discovered I would need to play through the game almost 2 more times in order to get the platinum, but the second playthrough was proving infinitely easier as I just went two-handed with my Quelaag's Furysword and rained down fire and jagged spider-leggy pain on the bosses.

Everything was going smooth, I was using most of my souls on titanite for upgrades and buying magic since I didn't really need the levels. Finally, it came time to join the Sunbros. After helping 8 people defeat Ceasless Discharge(and watching as many more fools just died) I went back to the alter only to discover I had to do it one more time, and I put the game down.

Two months later, after the patch hit, I decided to take another run at this. The requirement was nerfed so I managed to join the covenant and get the miracles I needed. At the same time, my beloved Gold-Hemmed armor set was nerfed so I said fuck it and put on all of Havel's armor. To my surprise, I could still roll all right. My quest went smooth, making weapons, reinforcing to the max, and buying spells along the way. I finished my Sorceries and dealt with Bed of Chaos to finish my Pyromancies, and joined all the covenants.

This is where things got interesting. The next thing I decided to do was get the final miracle I needed from Gwyndolyn's covenant. I attempted to invade people in Anor Londo but couldn't find anybody so I made my way to Lost Izalith. Oddly enough, that place is like a hub for guilty. After about four or five sentences carried out, I ran into someone who wrecked my shit. After that, every other invasion was that same person, and each time, I lost. In between I had some good battles, but I was focused on this one person. 9 ears and I go to invade...that guy again. The universe being as wonderful as it is, on my 6th or 7th bout with this foe I beat him, for my 10th and final Souvenir of Reprisal. Skyraizen, if you're reading this, I bow to you. But also, fuck you.

After getting through that Ordeal, I found myself face to spear with another. Ornstein and Smough. Unfortunately, I needed Ornstein's soul so I had to kill Smough first. A couple tries in and I started having flashbacks to my second or third playthrough of Demon's Souls and the Maneater battle. Only, Ornstein is fucking everywhere. Every time I thought I had an opening he would come flying out from behind Smough and jab me in the face. Once Smough was down things got easier, since you just stand near big bosses and you're pretty much ok, but it was still a pain in the ass and more infuriating than my first time with Capra Demon.

After that things took a turn for the less interesting, since I decided to farm out the random drop rare weapons. Though the Channeler's Trident was totally worth it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3CgCqg0NRFY

The remaining bosses went down easy and all that was left was Gwyn. I made everything I could, only needing Gwyn's soul for the Great Lord Greatsword, and Sif's soul for the Greatsword of Artorias. I also needed a Titanite slab to finish crystal reinforce, and a Blue Titanit slab for Magic Reinforce, then I was done(after getting the Dark Lord ending that is). I was expecting Gwyn to be hard, but after seeing that insane speed run I decided to try my hand at parry-reposting the Lord of Cinder. Turns out, it makes him way easier and almost all of my damage was done that way. I gotta tell ya, even though it wasn't that hard, parry-reposting that asshole is incredibly satisfying.

The Third playthrough was just as easy as the second. I got my slab and finished crystal. Got to Anor Londo and finished the weapons. All that was left to do was go to the Crystal Caves and grab my Blue Titanite Slab. I hate that invisible maze to get to it and I didn't have any Prism Stones. After falling like 5 times I got sick of it and wanted to quit, but I was too close. I got the idea to put on my bow and shoot the ground to see if there was a platform there, worked perfectly. Retrieved my blue slab and homeward boned.

Maybe it was because I already realized a while ago that it was going to happen, but through this ending process of getting those final two "Bing!"s I didn't really feel as great as I thought I would after having conquered Dark Souls. Instead, I just returned to my good buddy Andrei of Astora to have him finish my Magic Ascension. After doing that, I didn't crack a smile or feel a great relief or anything. Instead, I just did the most appropriate thing I could think of. I switched to orange Soapstone and placed a message..."I did it!"

I was glad Dark Souls could be my first, and probably only Platinum. Clocking in at around level 125 and over 90 hours, part of me didn't feel done with the game, but I knew I was. I keep telling myself I'm going to platinum Skyrim, but that isn't going to happen. I'll always remember you Dark Souls.

Then I turned off the game and watched Redline

2 Comments

Games I missed Part 2

I've made the decision to cram the rest of the games into this so as not to go into 3 parts. I also included a special mention that don't quite fit the criteria for this blog. Anyway, on with it.

Final Fantasy(GBA)

Final Fantasy

Yep, the first one. I played the GBA version of this a couple years ago. I chose it over the original version because the limited spells and the fact that your character would attack nothing if it's current target died before they got a chance to act was dumb. Why would I do this? I listened to some Duane & Brando and for some reason that made me want to play Final Fantasy.

Not much to say about this. It's what you would expect from an early FF game. Just take the current ones, simplify them a bit, and remove all traces of guidance throughout the game. Oh, also shorten it by about 50 hours.

Viewtiful Joe 2(PS2)

Viewtiful Joe 2

Not this guy.

I got this game when it was current, but I stopped playing it really quickly after starting it for quite possibly one of the dumbest reasons ever. You could play as Silvia. I don't know why, but for some reason the ability(and occasional requirement) to play as another character scared me off the game. Funny enough, the exact same thing happened with Otogi. I went to play the second, saw I could play as another character, and promptly quit.

However, I picked Viewtiful Joe 2 back up earlier this year to play through it. The combat was simplistic, but fun, and at times frustrating, just like the first game.

Silvia played a little bit different from joe. Her normal punch was a projectile and her augmentations were different. I can't say too much about them because I spent as much time as possible playing as Joe and focused on his upgrades and health upgrades.

If you played the first game and remember the bosses from that, any fury or frustration you may be feeling remembering them will be applicable to this...if you're like me and forget how to play. The bosses were taking me forever to kill and it was getting to the point where I was almost dead each time I beat a boss just from making dumb mistakes or trying to get too rushy. Finally, in I believe chapter 5 the ice-tiger-guy was going down way too slow. One time after he killed me I decided to look up how to beat him easier and I was reminded of the Red Hot One Hundred. It's an ability that consists of you zooming in, slowing down time, and punching..that's it. Surely enough, every boss and enemy I decided to do this too quickly became a joke.

Zone of the Enders: Second Runner(PS2)

2nd Runner

Wait wait, a mech game that's fun? That can't be right. There's gotta be something wrong with it. Oh, I see it's really fucking hard.

I'm not real up on the story of Zone of the Enders, and haven't played the first one since a rental when it was new. I'll give a little bit of an introduction to this one though, and I apologize if anything is wrong. You take control of a guy named Dingo, who discovers Jehuty during a mining operation(?). He refuses to ally himself with the bad guys of the story and gets himself shot. A woman he defeated in the opening of the game turns out to be a double agent and saves his life...as long as he does what she says. If he disconnects from Jehuty he will die, and she can kill him at any moment so he's forced to go on a suicide mission.

I didn't get far. I'm on Mars after defeating Leo piloting Vic Viper. I will blame part of it on the camera making controlling yourself and effectively maneuvering a large amount of enemies difficult, but I'm willing to accpt that I'm bad at the game. Badness aside it's a lot of fun and I would love to see someone take this idea and run with it to create a badass, mech-based, stylish action game.

God Hand(PS2)

God Hand

I'm not sure if I exactly missed God Hand, but side objectives got me really frustrated and caused me to quit for probably about a year so I'm counting it.

God Hand was the final game to be released by Clover Studio. This game is strange, absurd, dumb, and completely awesome. God Hand is 3D brawler with one important twist; there's no block button. In order to avoid damage you MUST dodge. Tapping the right analog stick in a direction will make your character dodge in that direction. The game relies heavily on reflexes and counterattacking and just trying to mash your way through will see you very quickly defeated. I'll talk more about the gameplay in a bit.

With some interesting bosses along the way

In God Hand you take control of a 23 year old man named Gene who at some point had one of his arms cut off. He encounters a young girl named Olivia who is a descendant of a clan of people charged with protecting the God Hand, which she entrusts to Gene. Other than that the story is basically a powerful council of demons(the 4 devas) wants your God Hand, and that's not cool so you set out to kill them along with Olivia. God Hand runs on a map of self-contained levels with a casino you can go to at any time to upgrade yourself, gamble, or take on side missions.

The gameplay in God Hand, as I talked a bit about earlier, is really unique but there's a bit more to it. You start off with some basic punches, maybe a kick, and a drop kick thing. Throughout the game you'll collect money which you can use to upgrade your health, your special orbs, buy new special abilities, buy new attacks, and I believe you can buy new combo slots. Each attack has a damage number assigned to it, but higher isn't always better. You want to mix in some fast attacks, some that hit multiple times, or guard breakers so that you can complete your combo on your enemy without them attacking you or blocking your attacks. Your combo is mapped to the square button and will automatically progress through it as you press square. You can also map single attacks to the X and Triangle buttons(I think both). Generally, I found it useful to put a guard breaker on one, and a launcher on the other for crowd control. Gene's special abilities get more absurd the further you get the game. They range from a basic shockwave to kicking your enemy into space(sorry Chie).

I should mention that this game is dripping with sexuality. Aside from a couple extremely flamboyant boss fights and one of your main antagonists being a succubus, this game probably contains more testicular violence than the new Mortal Kombat. I'm looking at you, Johnny Cage. Also, mash circle to spank. Really.

All said, I highly recommend this game to anyone looking for something fun and different to play this summer.

Grandia II(PS2)

Grandia II

I...ok. Yeah, I beat this game. I won't say a lot on it because I'll probably just get sad.

You take control of Ryudo, your average scoundrel. You are tasked with escorting Elena, your average anti-scoundrel priestess lady to purify a tower. But wait! Things have gone terribly wrong! Elena gets possessed by the Wings of Valmar, a piece of an evil god. If all his pieces are assembled, he will awaken. You then need to escort Elena to see the pope to have her cleansed. Along the way you meet a..diverse cast of characters consisting of a kid in short pants, a beast-man, and a robot, as well as the Wings of Valmar who occasionally completely takes over Elena. Also along the way you find other places cursed by body parts of Valmar and stop to defeat them..at which point Millenia(the wings) consumes them..I think you know where this is going.

The story in Grandia is extremely predictable and the characters are pretty basic. Ryudo was ok, but the rest were sort of "meh". Saying all this, I'm really not understanding why I decided to play through all of it.

Maybe it was the gameplay? Ok, Grandia II is an RPG with RPG combat, equipment, leveling up, etc. However, the combat is pretty different and easily the most interesting part of the game. Each participant in a battle has a small portrait and arrow pointing directly above or below their portrait to a location on a bar. Depending on one of the character or enemy's stats the arrows will move at different rates along the bar. When it reaches a certain point(probably about 3/4ths) you then issue a command to that character. Each command(also affected by your speed stat) will then take a certain amount of time to cover the rest of the distance on the bar. After a command is executed(or interrupted), they are reset to the beginning of the bar. Timing can actually be somewhat important in this game. If you a combatant is struck while they are going to attack they will take extra damage. There are also several abilities as well as a basic attack that will knock the target back on the meter so in some cases you can stall out enemies for an entire battle. The combatants also have the ability to move around on a 3D plane during the battle, though all movement is done as a result of commands and is not free. Due to this, multi-target abilities can become situational depending on how well you control the position of your enemies. Unfortunately(or fortunately), each character has these dumb phrases they say every time they execute a special move. The phrase is specific to the ability and is always the same. The worst(or best) exmaple is the kid in short pants, Roan, will throw a large snowball on top of the enemies and exclaim "Get ready for an early winter!...With lots of snow!" Every. Single. Time.

In terms of production quality for this game, the voice acting is poor and the frame rate is miserable on the playstation 2. So this is a game that I played...still not entirely sure why.

Skies of Arcadia:Legends(Gamecube)

Skies of Arcadia

I wrote of a review of this if you're interested.

Valkyria Chronicles(PS3) Last one!!

Valkyria Chronicles

Valkyria Chronicles is one of those games that makes me upset that sometimes I miss things. I'm pretty sure I was already a year or 2 behind when I got this, but I even stopped probably a little less than half way through due to losing the same mission too many times only to pick it up again way later.

The story in Valkyria Chronicles I don't want to talk a lot about because I highly encourage that anyone even slightly interested picks up and plays this game. The game follows the story of Welkin Gunther(also known as Fishy Mcsketcherson), the son of a war hero and nature enthusiast, and Squad Seven of the Gallian Militia. When his home town is dragged into the war between Gallia and Valua he joins the militia as a tank commander with his "sister" Isara as his pilot. The game does a good job of fleshing out the major characters and even giving some personality to your disposable squad through what is essentially a codex. I found myself really caring about the characters by the end of the game.

Valkyria Chronicles has a visual style, especially during cutscenes, that I thought was absolutely beautiful. It might not be the most technically advanced game, but something about the art style really clicked with me(aside from the jiggle physics which seemed out of place. Luckily they were only on one character).

The gameplay combines that of a cover based shooter and and grid based RPG. Each unit has a meter that drains as they move to limit their mobility. The size of the bar varies by class. Scouts have the largest bar. They are highly mobile units with decent killing power but not very durable. Next comes mechanic, mine usually just sat behind my tank but I assume they're the overall weakest. Following mechanics is the lancer who is there basically to kill tanks. After the Lancer is the Shock trooper, a durable close ranged unit. Finally, the sniper. The sniper is extremely fragile and can not move far but can kill most enemies with a single head shot.

In order to actually attack, you must line up a reticule somewhere on the target(head shots doing extra damage) then select "fire". Your unit will shoot a number of shots depending on their class and all the bullets will connect somewhere in your targeting circle. Being in cover such as grass or behind sandbags will cause a unit to take less damage and counter-fire after the aggressor's volley is complete. Moving through the line of fire of idle units will also cause them to begin shooting and is the best way to get your units killed. When a unit is downed, you may bring over another to call a medic and evacuate them before an enemy goes over to them and causes them to die for good. Your tank can not be revived and will result in a game over. Each turn will consume a turn counter whose number is based on the number of leader characters active on your side. If one of those characters falls you will gain 1 less turn each round until they are back on the field. Tanks consume 2 turns.

Between missions there is a large number of cutscenes to progress the story and some optional ones that can be purchased for extra character development. You can also return to HQ between missions to spend earned experience to upgrade your classes and spend money to upgrade your weapons or tank. You can also visit the graveyard at HQ to spend experience to learn orders(special battle tactics) from an old retired general.

Anyway, enough rambling. Valkyria chronicles has a great cast of characters and really unique gameplay. I would reccomend this game to anyone. Despite the someone cartoony presentation the game is deceitfully mature.

Special Mention: Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars.(SNES)

SMRPG

I don't believe I actually missed this game but I wanted to make a brief mention of it. I'm generally not one for replaying games but I've completed Super Mario RPG at least 5 times. I realize it doesn't fit what this blog is for, but I've gone back to it enough I wanted to throw in a mention of it. Anyone who's a fan of RPGs or Mario should play this game without question. Even today I think the presentation and gameplay hold up strongly.

Anyway, this blog is long enough so that's all I'll say on it.

10 Comments

Games I missed Part 1.

This blog is for games I didn't play when they were new but went back to at some point. I didn't beat all of them, but I wanted to give them some recognition in case people are looking for games to play during the summer drought. I decided to cut it into multiple parts because it was looking kinda long after Persona 2.

Digital Devil Saga 1 and 2(PS2)

Digital Devil Saga

Digital Devil Saga 2

The Digital Devil Saga games are part of the Shin Megami Tensei Which I admittedly may be a little bit in love with. I actually first heard about these games when Unskippable did an episode using the opening cut scene of the first game. It looked weird from that, but I had no idea. If you want full plot details they're out there so I won't use this blog for that, but I will say that basically you're demons. Also, you eat other demons. Though the overall plot is about warring tribes attempting to ascend to "Nirvana" by being the last one standing, they take a heavy focus(especially the second one) on identity and what it means to be human.

Warning: Quantity and location of mouths may vary

The gameplay is your basic SMT battle system with the strengths and weaknesses and such, though there's a different mechanic at play here. Along with your normal EXP, you equip each character with essentially a title that gains it's own EXP from battles. The exp they earn is split between each active one(characters not in the active party still get EXP) or a character can kill an enemy with a devour attack to get a bonus, but not share any of the exp. Oh, you can also shoot things in human form, but why would you wanna do that?

Unfortunately, this game forces you to use almost everyone at some point and seems to expect you to build up everyone equally based on the design of the boss encounters. I of course chose to focus on as few people as possible which made a few encounters frustrating, but it was all doable with minimal purposeful grinding.

The cast of characters were interesting enough that I managed to grow some form attachment to most of them and care about how the story played out. Although, I also managed to grow attached to my custom characters in Final Fantasy Tactics. Take that how you will.

If anyone decides to play these games. I warn you. The ending sequence for me was a huge "what the fuck?" moment.(Or "I do not comprehend")

Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne(PS2)

Nocturne

Yeah, another SMT game. This one is actually very different and way more punishing. Nocturne is actually probably one of the most difficult RPGs I've played to date. Nocturne has a lot of similarities to the Persona series (minus the social sim stuff), so if you're a fan of those games for reasons other than the incredible writing, Nocturne might be worth checking out.

I actually quit this game for about a year after going through some dungeon, forgetting to save, and getting my ass handed to me by Mot. But eventually I went back and completed it with relative ease.

Put simply, the game begins when the world ends. You take control of a self-named, silent-protagonist, demi-fiend. Throughout the game you will come in contact with a number of different factions who all have their own ideas of how to create the new world and you will make choices that will trigger "flags" along the way to result in one of the 7 or 8 different endings. Basically, it's up to you to decide how you want to create the new world.

Or this guy.

Yep, it's an SMT game. That means it's an RPG with all the strengths and weaknesses and other fun stuff that comes with it. That includes the high levels of party customization. You yourself will recieve stat points whenever you level up to allocate however you like(I maxed out my strength. fully buffed/debuffed and focused ironclaw made for fun times on boss fights when it got a crit.) Also, there's a plethora of magatama for you to ingest which grant different stat bonuses, strengths, nulls, weaknesses, reflects, etc as well as grant new abilities when you level up depending on which you currently have ingested. Your party does not consist of any other characters. Your other 3 party members are demons you recruit or fuse along the way. I ended with a party of Yurlunger, Pale Rider, and Garuda.

The combat plays out like it does in DDS with turn counters, 1 for each party member. A crit or a weakness consumes half a turn. A dodge/miss/reflect/null consumes 2 turns. This game gets hard. Especially if you pursue all the candelabra so you will need to take full advantage of this system.

As far as story and character development go I don't remember it being real heavy, but it was still a fun journy.

Persona 2(PS1) Last Atlus game, I swear!

Eternal Punishment

I'll start by saying, I didn't beat this game, but I really really want to.

You take control of 20something reporter Maya Amano(I hope the name Mayumi Yamano from Persona 4 wasn't a coincidence) who is sent to report on a murder in a high school..I think. From there things start to get strange. You are confronted by Joker who's basically a dude with a paper bag on his head. He prompts you to call out your persona. From there, it becomes a Persona game without the social sim.

Persona 2 keeps with a theme that seems to present in 3 and 4 that is a "will of man" type thing. In this game, it is said that rumors become true. Joker is originated from the rumor that calling a certain phone number will get someone that you want dead killed. Turns out, this becomes true, just like every other rumor. This is actually a gameplay mechanic. You are able to go into what is basically a rumor shop and have a guy there circulate rumors such as "this shop is selling weapons!" and hey, it becomes true.

He'll hear your excuses down at the station.

Now, I should say exactly how far I got. I am literally right after the museum sequence where you first get to control Tatsuya in a battle. The reason for my stopping is 2 things. One, the next dungeon took a stupid leap in difficulty and it seems like they want me to grind. Two, I really don't like the persona system in this game. The velvet room and Igor still exist, which is awesome, but in order to create personae you need to get tarot cards from monsters you encounter. A lot of god damn tarot cards. How do you do this? Everyone has their own special tactic for doing so. Maya interviews them, Katsuya interrogates them, Ulala tells their fortune, and other such shenanigans. If you make the right choices, you can evoke different emotions from the monsters. Based on this you can get items, tarot cards, or have them form a contract which benefits you when you encounter more of that same type of creature.

Combat: It's a Persona game.

I really wish the shortcomings I talked about earlier weren't so detrimental to my will to play this game. The plot to me seems really interesting. The Joker storyline is something I could see myself getting invested in and all this rumor nonsense seems like it could make for some interesting twists. Not to mention all the crossover stuff with Innocent Sin. The characters from as far as I got, even if the randomly timed and echoy voice acting is kind of silly, seem like they could become well developed later in the game. Unfortunately, I just can't bring myself to play it.

1 Comments