The last generation's weirder, uglier side.

I guess since the final wave of new consoles is arriving this month, now might be a good time to reminisce and say something about how awesome video games are or how influential these handful of games changed the way we think about and play games. I can describe the feeling I first played Wii Sports and seeing the joy on the faces of my friends and family as they were trying to bowl a strike. Or share my feelgings on the final moments of Portals 1 and 2. Or explain how estactic I was when I gathered all 240 Stars in my personal best game of the generation, Super Mario Galaxy. Or show how much time I wasted/spent with Team Fortress 2 or Borderlands or Terraria. I can find my list of my favorite games of the generation and write a simple paragraph about why that game is awesome or changed my life. I can dig through the news archives looking at all the reactions to various announcements, trailers, etc.

Or I can go in a completely different direction and blog about all the strange, stupid shit we had to suffer through the past 8 years or so.

Like this game and the musical syles of Jonathan Davis.
Like this game and the musical syles of Jonathan Davis.

Nothing Is Certain but Death and Shovelware

We always look back at the best of what was offered and we like to forget the worst of the worst, but those shitty games exist in somebody's closet stuck between your old tax returns and some old porno mags. Licensed games will always exist and even though Batman managed to buck the trend, many licensed properties kept the tradition of bad going. And as always, bad games extend to original properties based on the trends of the era, Rock Revolution. No console is immune to shovelware, but the Wii in particular became the dumping ground for awful games thanks to its popularity, cheaper development costs and its simplified control scheme. Oddly enough, some games actually sold well while most probably made enough to make a profit from the gullible Walmart bargain bin Christmas shopper. The Wii made Calvin Tucker the redneck he is today and Jerry Rice the dog football lover we never expected. I can list several more games, but the ultimate example of shoddy game design came from Data Design Interactive, makers of Ninjabread Man and about 30 other terrible games IGN were forced to review. Later on, the shovelware migrated to the Kinect and made for some great material for the Giant Bomb crew, but it was the Wii that ruled over the land with some of the best games along with some of the worst.

Deadly Premonition... Depending on Who You Ask. Right, Zach?

A surprisingly normal scene from Deadly Premonition.
A surprisingly normal scene from Deadly Premonition.

This one gets its own spot in the weird category. On one hand, Deadly Premonition is a broken piece of hot garbage with a story that is too ridiculous to comprehend. On the other hand, it's a broken piece of hot garbage with a story that is too ridiculous to comprehend... in a good way. Many of us here are familiar with the Endurance Run and many of us have memories of that giant ghost dog or Thomas and his dancing, but there was a clear love/hate relationship with Deadly Premonition from all sides, virtually no middle ground whatsoever. There are actually some crazy people out there who are trying to make a case for Deadly Premonition as Game of the Generation, but there are even crazier people who think Swery 65 should hang from a hook through his face. In any case, Deadly Premonition is a game too horrible to play with a story too good and surreal to ignore.

This Part of the Blog Is Sponsored by Doritos and Mountain Dew

Product placement and advertising isn't new to games, but advertising and promotions took some odd turns this generation. As stated above, Doritos and Mountain Dew became the de facto products to ridicule this generation since it became synonymous with Microsoft, particularly the Halo and Call of Duty franchises, although Sony attempted to retaliate with its love affair with Taco Bell and poorly planned giveaways. Call of Duty went so far as to associate itself with Jeep for Christ's sake. In general, in-game advertising was limited to sports games and the occasional Cool Spot or Yo! Noid, but now we see ads everywhere, even on the Xbox Dashboard. Even the President of the United States put up ads for his re-election campaign.

Corporate advertising is difficult to avoid in daily life, but video games used to be a place to escape the bombardment of ads, but now we must live like hermits and renounce technology in order to get away from Pepsi ads and Obama.

Phil Fish

That's really all I need to say, really. NEXT!

The Derailing of the Hype Train

All games have to start somewhere and unless you're Typing of the Dead: Overkill, they get a press release or a big reveal at E3. And before a game's release, we are surrounded by trailers, gameplay footage, news, celebrity endorsements from Kid Rock and other wackiness which is done deliberately to boost hype and ultimately sales. For example, Final Fantasy XIV was officially announced at E3 months before Final Fantasy XIII was released. Want another one? How about Wii Music and the infamous Ravi Drums? One more? How about just all of Sony's E3 press conference in 2006? I can divide this into a separate blog if I had the manpower.

Video game companies often pitch their games to the public in unusual ways as they attempt to capture a certain demographic or their fanbase, but often announcements and demos go awry like the live demo issues for The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword in 2011 or BAM! the Kudo incident of 2009 or this.

The industry never ceases to disappoint sometimes, but then I think of Cammie Dunaway and I just fucking smile. If you're wondering where she is, she's an executive for KidZania, a Mexican kid... job thing where they dress up and... work or something? Child labor maybe? Just be glad she's not selling statues of bloody, headless torsos... or is she?

Several Generations in the Making

Never forget.
Never forget.
Not actual gameplay footage.
Not actual gameplay footage.

Duke Nukem Forever began as a game slated for the 5th console generation of consoles, but somehow through sheer ineptitude it found its way onto shelves during the back half of the 7th generation. There are often games that get delayed or go through major shifts in development, but Duke Nukem Forever took that to the extreme by shifting from the Quake Engine and eventually to its own version of the Unreal Engine, yet the game itself felt stuck in the 90's, just not in a good way. It was the game that wouldn't die, but should have been shot in a Detroit alley years ago.

Thanks, Gearbox.

Conclusion

Let's end this farce already and open up the floor. What about this generation made you question our species as a whole? I know I missed some crucial WTF moments like all the company closures and broken launches, but I don't have all day to research it all so have at it. And with that, here's something about Too Human.

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