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Destructoid Originals

Jed Whitaker's dank picks for Game of the Year 2015

Jan 06 // Jed Whitaker
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is probably my most-played game of 2015 on an "amount of days played" basis, even if it released in 2014. During the past year alone, the game has added two single-player adventures, Blackrock Mountain and League of Explorers, as well as a new expansion called The Grand Tournament, amounting to over 200 cards. The metagame has changed drastically, which kept Hearthstone feeling fresh all through 2015 and is why it deserves a spot as one of my games of the year. Well played. Her Story can arguably be boiled down to a search engine simulator mixed with FMV, but the narrative presented is so interesting and well acted that it is hard not to love. I purchased it one night during a sale and said to my boyfriend, "I've heard a lot of praise for this game. We should play it for a minute." Over three hours later, I was still playing, engrossed in the murder mystery presented on-screen via interrogation videos. Finding a new clip to watch and piecing together the mystery is exciting, even if on paper the plot almost seems like something you'd find in a Lifetime movie or soap opera. I can't stress enough what an amazing story it is and how addictive Her Story becomes once you get started. YouTube videos can't possibly do this one justice -- just buy it and see for yourself without spoiling anything. Westerado: Double Barreled is a rootin' tootin' heck of a great retro-styled western with a large dose of revenge. Each playthrough is randomly generated, but one thing stays the same: someone you love is brutally murdered, and you're out for the kind of revenge that only cold steel can provide. The style, the music, the writing, and the entire presentation are just fantastic, capturing the feel of old-timey spaghetti westerns better than any game I've ever played. That said, even if you aren't a western fan, you can still find enjoyment in the true-to-cowboy-dialect writing. Yeehaw! Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime was meant to be played with a friend or lover, and when doing so, it is damned amazing. You and your partner work together to control a colorful spacecraft searching through space for kidnapped animal buddies. Controlling the ship is done by moving your chosen character around to various stations that handle specific functions including steering, weapons, shields, and so on. It's hands down the best co-op experience of the year, and possibly the past few years. Lovers is a must-own if you've got a special someone in your life who just wants to spend time with you doing your favorite hobby. I know my boyfriend and I love it. [embed]330637:61722:0[/embed] Did you really think my list wouldn't have Splatoon? Nintendo's first shooter turned out to be the most original one in years and everything about the game is on point from the characters to the music, graphics, single-player, multiplayer, and even commercials. Splatoon launched with what seemed like a small amount of content on paper, but since then Nintendo has continually released new weapons, levels, clothing, modes, and Splatfests to make up for it, and all for the low, low price of free. I just hope the rumored Octoling campaign DLC comes true in 2016! Also, in case you missed it the first time, watch Squid Now 2 here to basically see me naked. I'm going to be honest here: I haven't even finished Yo-Kai Watch, but damn do I love it. Just look at this picture of me in my Jibanyan shirt with my Jibanyan piggy bank and try to tell me I don't love Yo-Kai Watch. What could be better than a game that combines Pokémon with cute and colorful ghosts who speak English? Not many games in 2015, that is for sure. The character designs alone make this one of my favorites of the year, and I'm sure I'll love it even more when I get around to finishing it. Speaking of games I love but haven't had the time to finish, The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes is one of them. Dare I say this is the 'gayest' Zelda game that has ever existed, and I love it all the more for it? So many of the characters are just flamboyant and utterly fabulous. Mix that in with a multiplayer version of that familiar Zelda flavor and you've got yourself a great game. Perhaps the online is sometimes laggy, and other players aren't always so good at communicating, but everyone has, at least, two friends to play with, right? I still laugh every time someone does the cheerleader emote, causing Link to pop up on my screen with pom poms. So cute, so fun, so colorful, and arguably so gay, Tri Force Heroes deserves a spot in your 3DS collection. Castle in the Darkness is the one of those games that flew under the radar for most people while being one hell of a game. If Castlevania and Cave Story had a love child, this would be it. For a game that costs $6, it is packed full of content. It took me around 16 hours just to 100 percent the campaign while unlocking two of the endings, and that is before I touched the other new game plus modes! While you're slaying hundreds of different enemies and giant bosses in this non-linear affair, you'll also be humming along to the best chiptune soundtrack I've heard in years and easily my favorite game soundtrack of 2015. Don't believe me? Then give it a listen. What is more impressive is the game was mostly developed (completely developed?) by one person, Matt Kap, and that includes the soundtrack. Even though it released in February, I've found myself thinking back to my time with Castle in the Darkness throughout 2015. It's easily my favorite single-player game of the year. Halo 5: Guardians is my second-most-played game of 2015 and my favorite multiplayer game of the year. Sure, its campaign is easily one of the worst in the series (what were they thinking having you fight the same boss so many times?), but what shines here is the online experience. 343 Industries took the base multiplayer we came to know and love from previous titles and plucked mechanics from other shooters to make the overall best multiplayer experience in the series. Aiming down sights, unlimited sprinting, clamoring up ledges, spartan charging, and ground pounding are all welcome additions. While there are microtransactions available, they only offer up cosmetics and consumables and are quickly unlockable without spending a dime, however tempting that might be. Because of their inclusion, 343 has promised that all future maps and modes will be provided free of charge. Thus far, it has kept its promise by adding multiple maps and modes since launch.  After putting over 72 hours into the multiplayer, I'm happy to report that this is easily one of the most balanced Halo games, and one that will keep me playing for many more hours to come.  That does it for my main games of the year list, but I'd like to toss out some honorable mentions: Niko: Through the Dream was the best first-person puzzle game I played in 2015. Undertale is the game I'm most likely to fall in love with if I ever play it after having bought it on release day. Rock Band 4 is my most regretful purchase of the year. The Jackbox Party Pack 2 is the best game to play with friends who can't stay off their damned phones. Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is the most innovative and stressful game of the year.  Dr. Langeskov, The Tiger, and The Terribly Cursed Emerald: A Whirlwind Heist is the best walking simulator and free experience of the year. Downwell is the best mobile / cheap game that I love that I may or may not ever beat due to difficulty. Xbox One Elite controller is the best controller on the market (sorry not sorry Steam controller). It Follows is the best movie of the year and features a video game-esque soundtrack by Disasterpeace! [embed]330637:61722:0[/embed]
Jed's dankiest games 2015 photo
Bonus: See me nearly naked, again
I've heard a lot of people say 2015 was one of the best years they can remember, gaming-wise, but I can't say I agree. AAA titles last year were mostly more of the same, and most indie titles just didn't click with me. 2015 w...

amiibo photo
amiibo

amiibo as butt plugs, ranked


Nintendon't
Jan 06
// Brett Makedonski
This world is full of objects you could put in your butt if you are so ambitious. Look around you. Almost anything within an arm's reach, you could try to carefully wedge inside your butt. That's just the cold, hard reality o...
Dongs photo
Dongs

[NSFW] Top five floppy dongs in video games


Swish, swish, swish
Jan 05
// Laura Kate Dale
[The following NSFW feature contains pictures, descriptions, and general frank discussion of dicks. Don't want to see a 3D model of a penis? Don't scroll down or read on.] Video games are an ever-evolving artistic medium, gro...

Josh Tolentino's personal picks for Game of the Year 2015

Jan 05 // Josh Tolentino
The "Old Story, Good As New" Award Pillars of Eternity and Fate/Stay night: Unlimited Blade Works This award goes to games and anime that are in many ways old, but presented in a way that makes them seem new and fresh.  Obsidian's crowdfunded take on the long-quiescent style of the classic Infinity Engine RPGs reaffirmed that the old formula was not only still viable but pretty damn good, adding new ideas and contemporary touches that made its original setting of Aedyr feel as rich and fresh as Faerun did back in the Baldur's Gate days. Studio Ufotable managed a similar feat with its animated adaptation of Type-MOON's 2004 visual novel, and while neither anime nor the Fate property could be said to have been dormant, the twists, additions, and embellishments the renowned studio added to Kinoko Nasu's original tale put a new spin on a story most fans, myself included, had thought thoroughly explored. In fact, it's thanks to that stuff that this series feels like the definitive version of the scenario, deepening the core story of heroism with a bittersweet look at its costs. Runners-up: Wasteland 2: Director's Cut and JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders   The "I'm Having A Great Time, But..." Award Fallout 4 and JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders This award goes to games and anime that I had a blast with, but just couldn't enjoy without caveats, either in retrospect or recommendation. I've got more than a hundred hours logged with Fallout 4, which is kind of scary since I'm nowhere near finished. That's because I consider myself a big Fallout fan, and this is possibly the least Fallout-like Fallout game anyone's ever made (barring Brotherhood of Steel). The tension's never been higher between the way Fallout was as a series and the way Fallout is as a game made in the fashion Bethesda prefers. At the same time, Fallout 4 is some of the most fun I've had with any "Bethesda-style" game. I thoroughly enjoyed exploring, looting, shooting, and the way the studio's typical talent for environmental storytelling has lapsed into self-parody ("Oh, an artfully posed skeleton!"). I'm still not sure how happy I am with Fallout 4 as a representative of the series' future, but despite the changes, it's been as engaging as ever, if in a different way than before. Thankfully, though, the caveats associated with JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders can be blamed on the source material. The latest phase in David Production's take on the long-running series suffers from a meandering progression, an overlong broadcast run, and flat character arcs compared to the first two chapters, Phantom Blood and Battle Tendency. At the same time, it's packed with some of the most memorable moments in the entire saga (like a glorious twenty-second fight that takes ten full minutes), and still remains a joy to watch, start to finish.  Runners-up: Metal Gear Solid V and GATE The "Best-Yet-Least-Informative Opening" Award Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and Death Parade This award goes to title whose (otherwise awesome) early bits practically misrepresent the rest of the (still awesome) experience. The opening hour or so of Metal Gear Solid V is pure Metal Gear as we had come to know it before 2015. Lots of cinematic flair and cryptic nonsense rooted in the depths of Hideo Kojima's mind. The game that followed felt almost nothing like that first blast of familiar insanity. It felt like Peace Walker, which some didn't see as a "real" Metal Gear. That is, until The Phantom Pain seemed to reveal itself as the game Kojima had always wanted to create, freed by technology to be closer than ever to that vision. It turns out he wanted to make the ultimate version of Peace Walker. That's pretty great, since Peace Walker, and now The Phantom Pain, are as much about the stories that players make for themselves as they are about the grizzled soldiers that star in the opening credits, a fact that's not lost on the main story as well. Madhouse's Death Parade also opens strong, but tricks the viewer twice at the outset. The first is in the killer opening sequence, which, despite being superbly animated, featuring a fun song by a bunch of guys who dress like the people you beat up in Yakuza games, barely has anything to do with the show itself, seeming to sell Death Parade as some kind of party anime. The first episode baits the audience more subtly, leading them to think they might be in for a season's worth of voyeuristic glee, watching the newly-dead get judged by a purgatorial bartender over pub games. Instead, what follows is far more thoughtful and even interesting, though definitely not what folks might have signed up for initially. Runners-up: Fallout 4 and Comical Psychosomatic Medicine The "Existential Crisis" Award Invisible, Inc. and One Punch Man This award goes to the rare game or show that does what it does so well that I end up questioning my ability to critique it, and by extension, critique anything at all. Games like Invisible, Inc. and shows like One Punch Man make me not want to do reviews sometimes, because the process of reviewing often means you're aware of things that you later can't ignore in the name of having fun. In some ways this award is the opposite of the one I passed to Fallout 4 and Stardust Crusaders above. In the case of Klei's turn-based heist game and Madhouse's animated take on the popular superhero satire, playing or watching in the critical state of mind leaves me with little to hold against either, causing me to question whether I've somehow missed something or if there's something I've done wrong, because nothing can feel this perfect to play and/or watch. I'm not saying they're flawless, but they do a damned good job of making it look that way, by mastering their narrow niche and seemingly leaving nothing to chance or apathy. Runners-up: The Witcher 3 and Blood Blockade Battlefront The "Actual Best of 2015" Award Undertale and Shirobako OK, hear me out: Yes, I practically just gave a different game and series perfect marks not two paragraphs ago, to the point of stating that I had so much fun playing/watching them that I didn't even feel comfortable exerting critical thinking in their presence. So why are my "actual" favorites these two? Well, the last two were fun, and practically bulletproof in my opinion, but neither made me more excited about games -- and anime -- this year than Undertale and Shirobako. Both took structures and genres I'd taken for granted as "comfortably moribund" and refreshed them in a way that made me feel better about both games and anime in general. Undertale was a delightful, iconoclastic send-up of the JRPG tradition, making hoary old conventions classed even by their fans as "comfort food" feel fresh and impactful again. Shirobako excelled by having more life and heart than most shows that get tagged with the "slice-of-life" descriptor, crafting genuine humanity out of the trials and triumphs of a small-time anime studio.    The "Oh God Why Am I Still Playing This" Special Award Destiny: The Taken King and Star Trek Online Because oh god why am I still playing these send help please Steins;Gate and Steins;Gate 
Game of the Year Lists photo
AKA The Anime Awards
As Chris Carter likes to say, every year is a good year for games if you look hard enough. That said, 2015 seemed particularly fecund, thanks to a particularly diverse selection of things I ended up liking quite a bit. From o...

GOTY 2015 photo
GOTY 2015

Mike Cosimano's personal picks for Game of the Year 2015


The People's Choice(es)
Jan 04
// Mike Cosimano
2015 was a divisive year -- tremendous in terms of media (TV like Master of None and The 100; movies like Spotlight and The Force Awakens; games like...well, keep reading) and a garbage year in terms of my life. Entertai...

How did Destructoid's most anticipated games of 2015 turn out?

Jan 04 // Steven Hansen
At the start of 2015 my most anticipated game of the year was Broken Age: Act 2. As it happens, I actually forgot this came out this year. I was really, really disappointed with it and as a result almost entirely forgot it even existed until sitting down to write this. I maintain that the first half of Broken Age was an absolute masterpiece when released in isolation from its conclusion. A humorously written point and click adventure that featured well paced and designed puzzles, a memorable cast and one of the most gripping cliff hanger endings in any video game, I was damn impressed with it. Act 2 unfortunately threw most of this promise away very quickly. The puzzles became obtuse, often deliberately unfair and just plain unimaginative. The narrative took a turn for the worse with a completely unsatisfying conclusion and many of the characters who had once felt exciting and new failed to bring anything new to the table. Considering how big a proponent I had been for the first act of the game, the second act falling so flat on its face was easily the most disappointing gaming moment of my year. In hindsight, my faith in this game was a little misplaced, it seems.  At the beginning of the year, I was most looking forward to SeaFall, a board game by Rob Daviau. After years in development, it was slated for a 2015 release. The legacy board game idea really started to catch on, and Daviau found himself working on several projects. Sadly, SeaFall was pushed back to 2016. So I didn't get to play my most anticipated game this year. However, one of the other projects that popped up was Pandemic Legacy, a collaboration with designer Matt Leacock. Unlike SeaFall, Pandemic already had its basic mechanics in place, so developing the legacy aspect was all that needed to be done. Pandemic Legacy released in October, and it is widely regarded as one of the best board games of 2015. I haven't finished it, but from what I've played, it's been pretty great and it certainly lessens the sting of not having my top choice available. My most anticipated game of 2015, The Legend of Zelda for the Wii U, was pushed back to 2016. Before you jump to judge me for believing that a Zelda game may actually be released on time, let me remind you that Nintendo announced and released an entirely new title in the series all in one fell swoop this year. In fact, Tri Force Heroes was on shelves just a few months after it was unveiled at E3 2015, proving once again that the only consistent thing about Nintendo is its capacity for unpredictability. Linkle's recent debut as a playable character in Hyrule Warriors is living proof of that.  I'd say Killing Floor 2 because it's basically all I play, but it's in Early Access and everyone's sick of hearing me talk about it. So...hmm. I wasn't sure if The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt would survive the transition to the open world style that it shot for. In a time when "open" usually translates to "lots of repetitive shite to pick up," I was concerned that CD Projekt Red would fill it with half-assed bloat. Instead, both side and main quests were compelling in an unexpected way. Sure, there was a buttload of icons on the map, but because of environmental story telling and dense mythology (the Bloody Baron quest, anyone?) I actually wanted to see every inch of the map. Well done, Poland. Bloodborne turned out about as well as I expected. With series director Hidetaka Miyazaki returning to the helm (after merely supervising Dark Souls II) the project was in good hands, and it managed to retain that classic Souls feel while forging an identity all of its own. Our staff agreed, and voted it our overall Game of 2015 -- not a bad endorsement! As the year went on, Bloodborne got even better. Multiple updates fixed woes such as long load times, and added a ton of quality of life changes, like enhanced multiplayer. Augmented by The Old Hunters DLC, there's even more of an excuse to replay it annually. Looking back, I have no regrets pegging Life is Strange as my most anticipated game of 2015. The potential I saw in that gamescom 2014 demo was realized without question, sometimes ten times over. By the end, I was invested in the lives of these characters and that's the absolute most you could ask of a game like this. That's why it stung so much to watch the finale stumble the way it did. Episode 5 wrapped things up in a way that directly contradicted the slow pace and exploratory nature of the first four chapters. It was almost like playing a different game where you already knew the people and places. That's a shame, but it didn't sully my fond memories of Max, Chloe, and Arcadia Bay. Spending time with them every few months was a joy, as I found myself looking forward to every new episode's release. When I think back on Life is Strange, I won't think of the game's climax. Instead, I'll remember Max popping in her earbuds to walk down the school hallway, her and Chloe taking a midnight swim in the pool, and Warren's relentless pursuit of just one date. Those were the type of moments that made this such a special game. Even though it fell below my admittedly grand expectations, I stand by my most anticipated game of 2015, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. The uneven story pacing and lack of location and side-quest variety were a letdown, but just about every other facet delivered. I'm not a Metal Gear guy. I'm not even all that into stealth games. But I had such a fun time improvising my way out of mistakes and poor decision making. Although Bloodborne ended up being my favorite title of the year, The Phantom Pain was the one I was most curious to get my hands on. My most anticipated game of last year, Bloodborne, turned out to be our site's pick as GOTY, so I'd say I was pretty dang pleased with my choice. I put my faith in werewolves and pitchfork wielding mobs and was not disappointed. A life lesson I'm sure we can all take to heart.  I wasn't exactly Nostradamus when it came to my runner-ups though. Evolve squandered its amazing potential and post-L4D goodwill by managing to be mediocre in every single way. Batman: Arkham Knight was a fine game sabotaged by sequel-fatigue, repetition, and detestable Riddler-racing sequences. My final pick, Star Citizen, well, the less said about how I feel about Star Citizen at the end of 2015, the better. Maybe 2016 will be the year that mankind finally takes to the stars, but I'm not getting my hopes up. I'll confess: I wrote about how No Man's Sky was my most anticipated game of 2015, mainly because I wasn't allowed to be the second person on last year's list to write about Persona 5. No Man's Sky was my second choice. Either way, that's egg on my face, since neither game came out this year. At least, we have a timeframe to go on, now. No Man's Sky hits in June 2016, and Persona 5 for a more nebulous "Summer" of the same year. In the meantime, my enthusiasm has cooled ever so slightly for No Man's Sky, now that more information has begun tempering runaway expectations. Plus, with Elite Dangerous releasing its Horizons expansion and Star Citizen promising its own take on planetary landings, Hello Games' baby is no longer the only surface-to-space action to be found.  My other most-anticipated games - the ones that came out, anyway - turned out quite well, though. Metal Gear Solid V is one of the best stealth-action games ever made, and I enjoyed Bloodborne more than any Souls title since Demon's Souls. I was also quite happy that Satellite Reign turned out to be even better than the Syndicate titles that inspired its developers. All in all, it was a good year for seeing my (game-related) hopes realized, and here's to hoping 2016 turns out similarly. As a diehard Metal Gear fan, of course I'm going to get excited when a new entry is announced. Many have tried and failed, and when it comes to creating a tight, deep gameplay experience that encourages you to play with the toys and mechanics it gives you in interesting ways -- no one other than Hideo Kojima and his gang have managed to hit that mark. Metal Gear Solid V had been on my mind for literal years. It released while I was at PAX Prime 2015, and you can imagine the six-hour bus ride home was grueling. As for how it actually turned out, it far exceeded my expectations and let me down in others. I'm not one to agree with the general populace on something like this, but let's face it - the story is a little weak. Even the harder hits like the Truth ending failed to leave me with any sense of closure, it really ended up just opening up more questions and a few plot points left untouched or unsatisfied for me. Regardless, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is hands-down one of the most satisfying and devastatingly dense games I've ever had the joy of playing, and I can rest easy knowing it was worth the wait for the gameplay. Two years ago I picked Gravity Rush 2 as my most anticipated. Then I had to write about how it hadn't actually come out (and still hasn't). Last year, I picked Persona 5 as my most anticipated game of 2015 and guess what didn't come out in 2015, yep, you guessed it, Persona 5. My runners-up didn't do much better: "Gravity Rush 2, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Kentucky Route Zero, getting decapitated, Tetsuo & Youth, baseball." Swing and miss on Gravity Rush again; Metal Gear was good; KRZ, hah!; didn't get decapitated; it was fine; Giants miss playoffs. I think there's some attraction in the idea of both of these games just based off my strong reaction to their predecessors. I also campaigned strongly for Kentucky Route Zero in the 2013 Game of the Year awards despite only one episode having been released in the multipart adventure game (three years later and only the first three episodes out of five are available). On the other hand, I parlayed my love of Invisible, Inc. in 2014 early access into one of my favorite games of 2015, so I'm not all betting on distant promise. Plus, Gravity Rush 2 and Persona 5, my last two years' of most-anticipated, are both definitely coming out in 2016. Can't wait! -- What were you looking forward to in 2015? Did it actually come out? Was it everything you ever wanted, setting your heart a flutter? Are you now planning the perfect Roadhouse theme wedding with it? Just make sure you do not tell me what you're anticipating in 2016. I will upload another post for you to do that in. Please understand. 
2015's most anticipated photo
Either pretty good or not at all
While it is currently several days into 2016, I am still writing 2015 on all my checks. Rent's past due, by the way. Speaking of 2015, it was a year wherein a lot of video games came out, many of which we were dog-whose-owner...

Chris Carter's personal picks for Game of the Year 2015

Jan 03 // Chris Carter
Bloodborne What an amazing year for Souls fans. In addition to announcement of Dark Souls III coupled with a solid release date, we also got the fantastic Scholar of the First Sin, and of course, Bloodborne. Sony and From Software were absolutely genius with their timing of the latter. It was released earlier this year, leaving plenty of time to develop The Old Hunters DLC, just in time for our Game of the Year voting process. With a more twitchy action-based combat system in tow, Bloodborne felt significantly different from its predecessors, but was still a Souls game at heart. If the series is to truly end with Dark Souls III, it will end without one bad game under its belt. Yo-Kai Watch I've developed a full-on addiction to this franchise. I watch the TV show, I've acquired a few pieces of merchandise, and I love the first game. Yo-Kai Watch managed to make its way into my heart for one simple reason -- Level-5 put so much effort into this series that it truly shows. Whether it's the endearing references to the basically-but-not-technically Japan setting and hilarious cast, I'm usually smiling when I'm experiencing something Yo-Kai related. Heroes of the Storm When Blizzard first started talking about a "casual MOBA" years back, I never really took the prospect seriously. I was a devoted vanilla DOTA fan (and years later, League of Legends enthusiast), and the concept really didn't resonate with me. Until I played it, of course. The fact that the roster is made up of classic Warcraft, Diablo, and StarCraft heroes and villains is only the icing on the cake, because as a whole, the game works. I love that I can boot it up for just a bit, play a game that's only 15-20 minutes, and move on, instead of dedicating hours upon hours for it to truly get anywhere. The team-based XP system is brilliant as well. Fellow players are still able to keep up with everyone without getting left in the dust because they didn't last-hit every creep throughout a match. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Expectations were through the roof with Kojima's last project with Konami, but man did he and his team deliver. With open-world gameplay that absolutely smashes so many of its competitors, Phantom Pain was one of the most engaging games I've played in years. It also helped that it looked gorgeous, as every bullet, explosion, and setpiece was beautifully designed and orchestrated. While Metal Gear Online and the sum of its other, seedier microtransaction parts leave much to be desired, the campaign has earned a rightful place among the best work from Kojima's long, storied career. Ori and the Blind Forest I don't think I'll ever get tired of Metroidvanias, and Ori and the Blind Forest is a perfect example of why the formula still works. The platforming is spot-on, the environments are engaging and vivid, and the minimalist story is so well done that it hurts. Clocking in at 12 hours or less, there isn't any fat on Ori -- you need every bit of that game for the package to work. Shortly after completing it the first time, I went back and did another run. I can safely say that it will become part of my annual replay routine. Xenoblade Chronicles X Ah, Xenoblade. I still remember the very moment I knew how polarizing the game was going to be. I had cleared out an afternoon to do a story quest, only to find out that it needed a sidequest as a prerequisite. Having no idea how the flow of things operated, I thought it would be a mere diversion, and I would be able to power through the main questline. Oh how wrong I was, and six hours later, I still wasn't ready to continue the campaign. But you know what? That entire six-hour block was a joyous session. I found a heap of hidden areas, fought gigantic looming world bosses, unearthed a ton of useful loot, and just generally had a blast roaming around the sprawling maps. It's so easy to get lost in Xenoblade Chronicles X, and although it can be a bit too old-school for its own good, the journey is its own reward. Resident Evil: Revelations 2 I usually have one oddball pick every year, and this is it. It sounds like a cop-out to say recent Resident Evil games are better with friends, but damn it, they are. Even Resident Evil 6, despite its general garbage multi-campaign approach, had redeeming qualities with its "Mercenaries" component. My wife and I were hooked from start to finish, and the asymmetrical co-op characters really worked for us. The episodic format was a bit jarring, but ultimately fine, and I liked that some sections had multiple outcomes or endings, among the hundreds of other extras and goodies packed in. I must admit, though, most of my enjoyment is derived from the game's raid mode, which is probably my favorite incarnation of the game-type to date. I've spent more time playing it than practically any other game released this year.
GOTY 2015 photo
Another rad year
As I've said in the past, every year is a great year for gaming if you look hard enough. I see "this year sucked" so many times around the web and just can't relate, because while there may be disappointing releases on a cons...

The best games of 2015 you didn't play

Jan 02 // Patrick Hancock
Else Heart.Break()Available from: Steam, GOG, HumblePrice: $24.99 Alright, so this game is difficult to explain. At its core, it's a lot like an adventure game. You click to move, interact with people using branching trees of dialogue, and have an inventory. However, the player gets an item early on that allows them to hack in to just about anything in the game's world. This means that the player can change the code that operates various objects. Allow me to give you an early example: the player is tasked with changing the code of a cup of coffee. Instead of making the coffee make a person more awake, it's possible to change it so it makes them faster, more charismatic, and even smellier. This game slowly teaches the player how computer science language works, and that is absolutely brilliant. The fact all of this is integrated into the overarching plot just makes it that much more enjoyable.  BaronyAvailable from: Developer's website, Steam, DesuraPrice: $6.99 Please, don't look at the screenshots of Barony and assume it's a Minecraft knockoff. Yes, everything is cubes, but this is more NetHack than anything else. Okay, I've never played NetHack, but that's what everyone else keeps saying, so I'm trusting them. It's a very difficult first-person roguelike with online co-op. Players choose from a number of classes and go through various floors in order to, well, I'm not too sure.  Barony is incredibly difficult, and I've never made it too far, even with my buddies helping me out. But that being said, each romp I've taken through its worlds has been incredibly entertaining, with the random elements constantly keeping us on our toes. Just make sure you know how to find your IP and potentially open ports if you're planning to play online. 3x0ngAvailable from: Developer's websitePrice: FREE Developer David O'Toole has a history of making games I enjoy. 2x0ng and The Testament of the White Cypress both caught and held my attention in the past, and this year it's his newest game in the "x0ng" series, 3x0ng.  This time, the game is head-to-head, as players attempt to throw a "squareball" at an opponent's goal. The problem is, there's a lot of colorful bricks in the way. The end result is part Breakout, part Pong, and part soccer. Things get intense very quickly, even against the CPU. This is definitely a game that needs to be added to your local multiplayer library. TowerClimbAvailable from: SteamPrice: $14.99 Think of this as reverse Spelunky. The object is simple enough: climb out of the tower by going up. In reality, it's really freaking difficult. What I love about TowerClimb is how it demands patience and dedication from the player. Many Spelunky players zoom through the levels incredibly smoothly; not possible in TowerClimb. Moving up is a slow process, one that takes careful planning and no lapses in focus. While it may come off as boring at first, those who take time to appreciate what TowerClimb is teaching will come away with a sense of pride. There are many great mechanics at play here, all intermingling so well together that many players may not even notice. Plus, it has multiplayer and you can jump off of other players' heads to reach new heights! ClandestineAvailable from: SteamPrice: $24.99 I've written about Clandestine plenty in my review, but I'll reiterate a few points here. While it's far from perfect, I haven't experienced such a great story-driven cooperative game in a very long time. Laughing at the cutscenes is a great juxtaposition to intensely planning out our next mission and makes me appreciate each moment throughout the game. It's true asymmetric gameplay -- the two players cooperating are doing completely different things, but both aiming to achieve the same objective. It forced us to think in different ways and more importantly, forced us to actually cooperate in a way that we haven't since Left 4 Dead. Telepath Tactics + HighlandsTelepath Tactics available from: Developer's website, Steam, GOGHighlands available from: SteamPrice: Both are $14.99 So, these are pretty different games, but I've lumped them together because they are both very difficult strategy RPGs. Seriously, I can't beat either one of them. Really, I got through a few levels before my ass was devilishly handed to me on a silver platter by the AI. Telepath Tactics is probably the closest thing to a Fire Emblem game available on PC, but it still introduces its own mechanics that make it stand out from the crowd. And yes, it does have a "casual" difficulty setting for anyone worried about never finishing it. Highland has more going on than just its beautiful art style. It's also an interesting take on the strategy RPG genre. It focuses on using the land as its own resource. The enemy will continually spawn on territories it owns, while players will continuously generate resources off their territory. Both of these games challenge players to be at the top of their game, and both are great additions to the genre. Infinifactory + TIS - 100Infinifactory available from: Steam, GOGTIS-100 available from: Steam, GOGPrice: $24.99 (Infinifactory), $6.99 (TIS-100) These are lumped together because they are both puzzle games by the same developer, Zachtronics, and they are both way too smart for me. These are the same people who made Spacechem, which is another brilliant puzzle game. Infinifactory tasks players to get blocks from point A to point B. Simple, right? Thing is, the blocks need to be arranged in a specific fashion, and oftentimes players need to use the 3D space and conveyor belts available to them in creative ways. It challenges spatial reasoning in ways that make me feel real dumb, and I love that. TIS-100 is an entirely different beast. This teaching players to understand programming logic by forcing them to learn an entirely unique programming language. It also tasks players from getting things from point A to point B, except this time it employs things like integers. Players must order, multiply, and change data using the coding functions that the game permits. Just be warned: you must read the manual. It lists the functions and how they work, which is required to actually complete a level. The Curse of IssyosAvailable from: Developer's websitePrice: FREE  Ben has written about this game before, and now that it's out, I'm reminding you to go get it! It's old-school cool, and reminds me a lot of games like Castlevania or Ninja Gaiden. The difference is, I can actually do well at The Curse of Issyos. It's definitely difficult, but not unbearably so. It does a great job, as many games do, of introducing enemies and obstacles to the player in ways that are harmless at first, only to really test their skills later on. I love anything to do with Greek mythology, so naturally I adored Issyos. It's not terribly long, but there's a lot to love here, including a secret that can change the ending. It's an old-school idea blended with more modern techniques that really shine, just like the sweet armor powerup! Little PartyAvailable from: Itch.ioPrice: Pay what you want This little game had a big impact on me. There's not much to it: you play as a mom in a cabin in the woods while your daughter is throwing some sort of party. All players can do is move and interact, so it's a bit like an adventure game. I found myself making a lot of assumptions about where things were going, only to find out that, damn, it's not easy being a mother. The aesthetic is beautiful and the music is a key component to the story, and delightfully so. It's not very long, so please, go be a mom and make some guacamole for your daughter and her friends. It's worth it. As always, just because a game is "free" or "pay what you want," don't forget you can always donate to the developer if you enjoy their work! Good things deserve to be supported.
Flew under the radar photo
You monster
2015 was a fantastic year for video games. There were so many great games vying for an opportunity to occupy your time. Personally, my backlog increased more than ever due to the influx of "games I just gotta play." There are...

When is no advertising the best advertising?

Jan 01 // Jonathan Holmes
[Art by Nibroc-Rock] By shying away from trumpeting the merits of his game, Toby has unintentionally sent a message to Undertale's potential audience about himself and his work that has apparently resonated. If Toby had taken a more vocal tact in trying to communicate exactly what it's like to play his game through words, screenshots, or videos, it's not likely that his potential audience would have felt the same optimism about the game, or gotten as accurate an idea about how strange and mysterious it feels. By not trying to convince us that his game is worthwhile, he sent the message that this is a game by and for people who want something that you have to play to understand, and that personally learning about the game from someone who has not been paid to talk to you about it is the best way to learn about it. It was a similar situation with Minecraft and Five Nights at Freddy's, before they became too big to remain out of sight from the mainstream world. Compare that to game like Rise of the Tomb Raider, which reviewed well and looks to have had an ample marketing budget. If rumored sales numbers are an indication, consumers just weren't hungry enough for Lara Croft's biggest and arguably best adventure to prioritize it over all the games they had to choose from in the last few months of 2015. The fact that a game like Undertale may have turned more of a profit than the latest title in the Tomb Raider series is pretty amazing, and says a lot about how much marketing matters compared to how inherently marketable a game may be. Strangely enough, one of Toby Fox's favorite games is one of the earliest examples of how a game can sometimes sell better when we aren't being told by a multi-million dollar publishing company that it is "special." When EarthBound was first released in the United States in 1994, it was accompanied by an expensive ad campaign, featuring scratch and sniff stickers and the unconventional, anti-braggart catch phrase "Because this game stinks." Nintendo's attempt to sell the game as a scrappy, rebellious underdog backfired, and the series lay in dormant outside of Japan for years in the wake of its failure. Flash forward to 2016 and EarthBound is more popular in the West than ever, despite Nintendo's relative abandonment of the franchise. We have legions of creative, genuine, passionate fans who have spent years sharing personal stories of what EarthBound means to them to thank for that. Regardless of how "conventionally marketable" a game might be, passion and trust are still contagious. Oxytocin is still something we can spread around. It's just that with some games, multi-million dollar ad campaigns may not be the best way to try to do that.  We all know, but don't always understand, that special feeling that can drive us to fully commit to spending our time and money on an unknown game. We may think we know where that feeling comes from (nostalgia, attractive scenarios and characters, suspension of disbelief, ego-stroking, and of course, good marketing), but like Malcolm Galdwell spells out in Blink, our knowledge of what we're going to like and why we're going to like it is often totally off. Assertive advertising campaigns regularly try to prey on that uncertainty by telling us what we like and why we should like it, but for many of us respond to a less ego-driven message. Though some of us may struggle to understand our own tastes, I'd like to think that most adults know that we can't always accurately predict how much we'll enjoy a game based on how its marketed, and instead choose follow a more independent and accurate internal compass. That said, I'm a notorious optimist when it comes to people, and I'm completely prepared to be told that I'm wrong. Do you think a nationwide ad campaign for Undertale would have caused it to sell even better, or do you think that would it have destroyed the game's underdog status, causing the people who currently love the game to eventually ignore it? Would games like The Wonderful 101 and Shadows of the Damned have sold better if they were marketed as unassuming little indie darlings? Is there a way to sell your game as both a "#1 best-made AAA product" and a "special little snowflake" at the same time? 
Undertale photo
The art of talking without talking
[Art by Momoppi] Earlier this year, I booked Undertale creator Toby Fox for an appearance on Sup Holmes. Shortly before the show was set to air, he asked if it was OK if he canceled because he "hates answering interview quest...

Dtoid Designs photo
Dtoid Designs

Dtoid Designs: Mario at the Movies Challenge Winners


Get some popcorn & check these out!
Dec 31
// CJ Andriessen
Before the big ball drops tonight and we close out December and 2015, I must reveal the winners of this month's Dtoid Designs contest. For December, I issued a challenge to see what kinds of wonderful levels you could make ba...

2015 recap: The ten most popular posts on Destructoid this year

Dec 31 // Brett Makedonski
Ten most popular posts 10. Here are all the names Fallout 4's Codsworth can say Admit it: You clicked on this because you wanted to see if Codsworth can say bumbledick or shitsandwich or fuckface (he can say the latter). Just because Codsworth can say it doesn't mean you can say it, though! We'll wash your mouth out with soap and we're not bluffing this time. 9. The Last of Us multiplayer DLC is not okay Darren has thoughts. Opinions, man. Takes that are hot. He doesn't like the free-to-play multiplayer elements in The Last of Us -- a game that is absolutely not free-to-play. Over the course of, like, a million words, he explains his beef. I don't know if most agreed with him, but a whole lot of people wanted to see what he had to say. 8. E3 2015 press conference schedule They call him SEO Steven* for a reason. I don't have the hard statistics to back it up, but I'd wager that the old Google machine looked kindly upon this post. *No one calls him SEO Steven; they call him Arch Deluxe Steven on account of the crazy high arches in his feet. They're weird. They freak me out. 7. Where to find companions in Fallout 4 Word on the street is you need some friends. Loser. 6. Bethesda doesn't mind if you don't like Fallout 4's graphics Fallout 4 doesn't look great. It's not terrible, but it's not wowing anyone who's used to gaming on a PC, PS4, or Xbox One. Bethesda's perfectly fine with that. Let's face it: If you're playing Fallout for the graphics, you're playing Fallout for the wrong reasons. 5. Some jerk ruined Pixels' perfect zero Rotten Tomatoes score Adam Sandler's summer movie Pixels didn't fare all that well. For a while, it had a zero percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. I don't know much about movies and percentages, but that seems bad. Until some jagoff ruined all of that. Also, I'm pretty sure that I gave Darren the headline for this article, so he owes me a beer the next time I see him. Do me a favor and hold him to that. I'll take my beer in the form of a bottle of vodka. 4. Here are all the amiibo waves and figures we know about I can confidently say that amiibo are bad and Chris is a bad man for writing about them. Some would say that I'm also a bad man for writing about them, to which I'd threaten to sue my defamers for slander. 3. Nintendo's cracking down on speedrunning and ROM hacking videos Speaking of lawsuits, a little copyright talk brought all the attorneys to the yard. And they're like "Actually the purpose of copyright law..." That's not as catchy and I can definitely see why the other song was about milkshakes instead. 2. Man hate-buys Rosalina & Luma amiibo in bulk so fans can't have them Okay, you're right: I am a bad man for writing about amiibo. Almost as bad of a man as the Internet troll who bought a bunch of Rosalina & Luma amiibo so that other people couldn't have them. (In reality, he was probably just flipping them for megabucks.) 1. Bungie gets salty defending Destiny's expansion price Understandably, it didn't go well when Bungie asked Destiny players to re-buy content they'd already bought to get full access to the upcoming expansion. One of the biggest games on the market gouging its user base in this unthinkable manner was bound to be one of the most popular stories of the year. Five most popular reviews 5. Bloodborne Chris Carter does everything around here -- including the top five trafficking reviews of 2015. 4. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Chris, did you ever know that you're my hero? 3. Fallout 4 And everything I would like to be? 2. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain I can fly higher than an eagle. 1. Dying Light For you are the wind beneath my wings. Also, how the hell did Dying Light, with a modest score of seven, end up beating those other titans? I don't understand the Internet, like, ever. This shit more or less makes no sense. Staff picks for five enjoyable posts (in no particular order) 5. 'Is that a Game Boy?' Navigating simple questions as a socially awkward adult Here's a little inside baseball: Darren wasn't even sure he should post this quick editorial he wrote. It wasn't really video game-related. Instead, it was more "How do I describe the nuances of gaming to a naive audience-"related. I'm glad he did because it tackles such an innocent, basic, yet all too familiar scenario: That awkwardness when trying to figure out when explaining becomes over-explaining. It's one that's tough to elegantly deal with no matter how many times you run into it. 4. Experience Points .25: Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars I love Ben's Experience Points series. Too often, I realize that it has been a long time since I've had anything too nice to say about video games. The magic isn't the same when you deal with covering the industry every single day. Ben's Experience Points pieces come from a place of pure affection and appreciation, though -- an attitude that makes them a joy to read and helps recapture the feeling that got many of us into this gig in the first place. We went with his Super Mario RPG entry because, gosh, that game is so good. 3. Cell games: I tried to build a pacifist utopia but the Internet ate me up Agar.io is a game about being a cell and trying to grow. This is done either by devouring smaller player-controlled cells or by gobbling up an abundance of tiny non-player-controlled cells. Really, it's kind of the very essence of online multiplayer -- everyone out for themselves, hoping to eventually be the biggest dog in the yard. Steven found himself trying to subvert that. He wanted to play as a pacifist, seeing how big he could grow just from eating those insignificant small cells. What transpired was a mutualistic relationship with a fellow player, an unlikely friendship in a game meant to show as little human personality as possible. It's the kind of story that conjures memories of an unknown buddy helping you through the emotional highs and lows of Journey. 2. True Life: One man's descent into deliriumiibo This was the most therapeutic piece that I can remember writing in a long time. Having recently fallen victim to the amiibo craze, I kept stepping back and wondering what the hell I was doing before continuing right along my troubled path. It was a lighthearted reprieve where I could laugh about this sudden obsession while in the back of my mind thinking "Fuuuuck, I'm really doing this, aren't I?" 1. Nintendo announced a new Metroid so we gave Zack a haircut This bucks the editorial trend set by the other four posts, but that's okay because this is one of my favorite things that happened all year. Nintendo (kind of) announced a new Metroid title at E3 -- Metroid Prime: Federation Force -- so, we shaved the iconic alien into the back of Zack's head. Poorly, might I add. Zack, you're gonna go far, kid. -- We wrote a lot of good stuff in 2015. Only five got listed in this round-up, but there was far more that we were proud of. If you'd like, check out the Destructoid Originals tag to rediscover some of it. Now, onto 2016, the ten-year anniversary of your favorite Robot.
Popular posts of 2015 photo
So fetch
Even though the tradition is exactly two years running at this point, I look forward to closing up the calendar year by writing about the most popular posts on Destructoid. It's no secret that we, Internet people as we are, h...

New Year photo
New Year

What are your New Year gaming resolutions for 2016?


If you say 4K or 1080p, I'll cut you
Dec 29
// Zack Furniss
Just three more days (for me, I don't know about you weirdos outside of California) and 2015 is over. Any New Year's Resolutions you have that are related to gaming? I personally want to start playing Rocksmith at least ...

Cell games: I tried to build a pacifist utopia but the Internet ate me up

Dec 27 // Steven Hansen
And so I'm not quite sure how I ended up back on Agar.io, a free game you can play in your browser. You are a cell, a circular blob, and there are other cells floating about controlled by other real-life people. Ostensibly the goal is to get as big as possible because larger cells can devour smaller ones and self-preservation, I'm told, is a natural human instinct despite how frequently I eat food that is clearly past its expiration date (I cut the mold off, I'm not stupid). There are, however, even smaller blobs littered around Agar.io's grid that are stationary and not controlled by other people. Eating them will make you bigger. So, an experiment. What if I got big through non-violence? Could I eat my way to the top in peace and then, plump on vegan balls, force my philosophy onto the others? Would I be able to do that by example, or would that require force, undercutting my moral high ground? I pondered these questions as I casually jetted around with the extra speed being small affords. When you start out it's easy to avoid the lumbering behemoths and you're not a substantial meal, so while I occasionally hightailed it away from folks with names like "idecidewholives," things were pretty uneventful for a while. The big boys squabbled between thmselves for rank and I was able to find plenty of balls to gobble in the southern section of the grid. I even placed on the leaderboard (10th) and that's when things started getting dicey. Once you become a big player on the board, the folks atop you are looking for an easy meal to plump their girth. At one frightening point I had reached the left most edge of the map and a slightly-bigger-than-me "usa" was coming up my rear. But as I fled north I was running straight into "GREAT KOREA," then just below me on the leaderboard. I had a choice: devour the weaker "GREAT KOREA" unfortunately blocking my escape, or get et up by "usa." I had a moment of weakness. If I offed "GREAT KOREA," I could double right back and absorb the trailing "usa," too. Instead I took a hard right and lost half my gut to a fixed spike ball. Now smaller and faster, I made a full escape, and went back to consuming the non-living resources. At some point I have to address the radical militant group in the room and, look, I realize that naming myself "howcanijoinISIS?" is probably not the best idea when trying to run on a platform of peace and nonviolence, but the latter notion came to me after I had already started my campaign and chose my name. I thought it was funny. Especially in an election year, "ISIS" oft repeated is a "Bloody Mary" boogeyman uttered in your bathroom mirror to scare your youngest, most gullible cousins until it starts to sound like a nonsense word. Coca-cola coca-cola coca-cola coca-cola coca-cola. Ok. Here's when things got surprising. I continued to build myself back up through non-violence until I hit a score of something like 906 and the counter stopped ticking. I might have been too big to notice, but eating up little pips didn't increase the ticker and didn't seem to be affecting me growth. I was bumped out of the top 10, seemingly unable to get back there without devouring others. I wandered aimlessly thinking my experiment a wash. And then I ran into two similar-sized cells. They were both a little smaller and as we converged accidentally from three different points, I pumped the brakes to show I wouldn't eat them. As a show of friendship I ejected a little orb of mass in their direction and then headed away. Then, they both did the same. One of them, a blue ball called "JakeFromSt.Farm," started following me. You can call it an alliance, but I think "Jake" noticed I was a friendly green orb spinning my wheels on this earth and copied my example. We kept enough distance for his safety, occasionally blasting mass each others' way not dissimilar from Journey's delightful chirp. I was not aggressive towards any smaller balls we passed and neither was "Jake." We were just palling around the petri dish. Jake about caught up to me in size so he must have realized I was stagnant, at which point something even more surprising happened: Jake split in two and sent half of his mass rocketing towards me. I couldn't avoid eating it. He gave up half of his body for the cause. I had an honest-to-goodness acolyte on the path towards Agar.io non-violence. I placed as high as 7th on the leaderboard. I knew I could grow stronger yet if I could convince more players to join the cause. Suddenly I didn't have to be a stagnant, say, Switzerland, but I could maybe one day roam the board, followers in tow, turgid. A global power. I could be the USA of Agar.io except my $670 billion in "defense" would, truly, be working towards everyone's defense because I will have done it through non-violence. A world not even Big Boss himself could envision; he, instead, choosing nuke-as-deterrent instead of leading by example. It was a nice hope. I lost Jake in a taut dogfight (or dogflee?) and part of myself, too. I was erased from the global leaderboard. Not too long after I would be wholly absorbed, chased by "doge," a circle with the shiba meme painted in the middle, right down the gullet of a giant red circle called "hola." War. War never changes.
Asshole internet photo
I don't know Split from Atom
The Internet. It's a place where cats reign, where strangers will give you DIY tips for making fucking machines [as in machines to sex; I am not being overly enthusiastic about the general idea of machines], where Silicon Val...

Score attack! Mario, Metal Gear, Witcher, and more games better than Star Wars

Dec 21 // Steven Hansen
Now, at year's end, Destructoid's Brett Makedonski rekindled this bonfire in my head with an innocuous tweet, "How does Rotten Tomatoes work? If something's a 6/10 or better, does that review count as 100% fresh for the aggregation?" I replied, "yeah." And then, [embed]328101:61584:0[/embed] What Brett gets at seems like a no-brainer concern for anyone who works in video games. What happens when the average games gets across-the-board 7s and then comes up as a perfect? Well, thankfully movie reviewing is a bit less insular than video game reviewing and there's a bit more disagreement. There are more people giving negative reviews -- even to almost universally praised things. And that's okay! Let's look at 2015's common Game of the Year award candidates and, via Metacritic, see what their RottenTomatoes "freshness" might look like (the percent of reviews that are positive, versus the average score). The closest thing to a negative review among the 874 total are two instances of 5/10. The lowest Metacritic score here is an 81 (Splatoon) while the highest is 93 (Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Undertale) for an average of 88. For a more direct comparison, Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Metacritic score (they do movies, too) is 81. RottenTomatoes, which also displays an average rating, albeit less prominently, has the film at 83. I don't think anyone who worked on the project is going to miss his Xmas bonus. This isn't to rail on Metacritic, a common target for its reductionism, for game developer bonuses contingent on its averages, for failing to include individual writer names on its listings. Nor is it to kick the tires on the "do review scores matter" question, crossing up hypothetical opponents and swishing a "read the words" as if it were a mic drop. What these trends point to is a blind spot in game reviewing and the lack of diverse opinion. There are reasons for this, but first, note that the above comparison is, admittedly, not one-to-one. There are publications rating games not on Metacritic, there are game and movie publications that don't score reviews, movie aggregate sites have a wider pool to cull from because of the prominence of movie reviews as newspaper/magazine staples. But the Metacritic sample size is still a large representation of major outlets writing about games. Okay, so, why? Oh, man, so many reasons, most of which overlap in various ways. First let's try this out: You can be smart about games, but absolutely terrible at actually playing Bloodborne, for instance. And that's not me projecting -- I'm the best Souls player on staff. It does get to a good point, though, which is how game reviews are assigned. Familiarity with the French New Wave canon may inform your thoughts on the new CGI Samey Explosions, but lot of styles and techniques work across eras, genres, etc. This knowledge is more cumulative. Games? Content, style, presentation, physical means of interaction vary so wildly. Someone joked they need a community college course on Xenoblade Chronicles X. Twitch shooters and Devil May Cry-style action games require additional physical skill and execution. Sure, knowing about RPGs and progression systems helps a critic working on a sports or action game when those genres started adopting those systems regularly, but god damn, some people just can't do a Dark Souls. And so there are often experts. There's "the Dark Souls woman," or the "the JRPG guy," or the "the MOBA person." And that's not all bad. Sometimes the expert or genre fan has broader context or deeper insights. However, the setup is fated towards homogeneity. Especially when coupled with -- I'd be remiss not to mention this -- the tendency of major video game writing publications towards hiring middle-class-and-up white dudes. Similar types of people with similar experiences all reviewing the same stuff. And there are reasons for this, too: members from that group are most likely, especially in this economy, to be able to work unpaid internships or for the bum rates that writing gets these days, period, while having financial security or backup otherwise. Sometimes it's just a Rolodex problem, as Jenn Frank noted.  It is much more sane to write a review of a 100-minute movie for $50 than a 100-hour game for $50. With its shorter history, gaming media exists more so in the current era of devalued writing that has felled everyone from, well, all the game sites that have closed down recently, to the best film (The Dissolve) and sports/pop culture outlets (Grantland). I think this translates -- to the sincere dismay of everyone involved -- to a lot more "good enough" writing than we'd all like, especially when most of the people who are writing about games are underpaid, hustling freelance, or both. This is a general publishing woe perhaps exacerbated by games writing's shorter canon and fewer agreements on how even to talk about games (aside from the established, book report-y "is it fun?" style). Demanding more rigor from overtaxed, underfunded writers and editors working in a devalued, fraught industry within a generally struggling economy, well, damn, it's tough. A doable step, though, is actively hiring from a wider pool of applicants than your typical just-graduated-22-year-old-Nick. I think here at Destructoid we do a good job simply encouraging our reviewers to be as straightforward and honest as possible without kowtowing behind cookie cutter review formulations and tasteless writing that goes down without a fuss, but serves no one (I'm cautiously optimistic that fans of the genre will enjoy this return to the series roots). Average starts at 5, and all that. Some of the biggest holiday releases (Fallout 4, Halo 5, Rise of the Tomb Raider) came in under 8. But it's almost more disheartening for the state of gaming as a whole that folks across the net will point to an incredibly good score like a 7/10 as rabble rousing, as trolling for hits, and that collectively -- as in the Chart Chart Binks above -- it's rare to even end up on the "negative" side of the spectrum. Someone has to dislike something.
Fun with graph photo
Yes, they all reviewed better
There are exactly 100 professional reviews culled on the Bloodborne Metacritic page. Of that 100, 99 are "positive" and 1 is "mixed," a lowly 7/10, which I'd suggest is still positive. Oh, so nobody dislikes this game? When I...

The Haters Guide to GOTY Season

Dec 20 // Nic Rowen
Bloodborne Bloodborne is a thrilling action-adventure game set in a dark gothic world. Blending monster-mash aesthetics, eldritch terror, and From Software’s uniquely brutal flavor, Bloodborne is a masterful return to form for director Hidetaka Miyazaki. Why it secretly sucks: Wow, the story is “there is no story?” What a fucking concept. Here, take a look at this blank page I just pulled out of my ass. Am I a master storyteller too? How many times are we going to recycle this formula anyway? We get it From Software: you hate gamers and want to punish them. Take off the gimp mask already. The Witcher 3 The Witcher 3 is the biggest and most ambitious entry in The Witcher series. An open-world role-playing game done right, you can easily lose yourself in the world of the Northern Kingdoms and Geralt’s thankless job as a slayer of monsters. Deep but accessible combat and a murky world of moral greys made this game stand out in a year where it seemed like another open-world game came out every other week. Why it secretly sucks: Sure, The Witcher 3 got to be a good game, eventually. Gotta love a developer that “supports” its game right? Especially when “support” means “fix everything that was broken at launch.” No thanks. When I spend $60 on a game, I expect it to work on day one, not day 76. BT-DUBS, I still think Geralt moves like he has potion bottle up his ass. Heroes of the Storm A MOBA by the brain trust at Blizzard, this objective-based action bacchanal takes all of your favorite Wolrd of Warcraft, Diablo, and Starcraft characters (along with a few others) and throws them into a mercifully fresh take on the MOBA genre. Easy to jump into, but with as much depth as any other MOBA, Heroes of the Storm is quickly positioning itself as a serious alternative to League of Legends and Dota 2. Why it secretly sucks: Don’t you get it? MOBAs are intentionally designed to be inscrutable to screen out the riff-raff. Why the hell would I want to play with a bunch of filthy casuals? Also, I can’t communicate with the enemy team at all? How the hell am I supposed to tell them how much I appreciate their mother on a nightly basis? Rocket League A breakout indie hit, many people got their first taste of Rocket League for free on the PlayStation Plus program, but it quickly established itself as a game people would pay good money for on PC and soon Xbox One. A video game ass video game, Rocket League is a smart, lean, competitive team game that’s easy to jump into but has a seemingly endless skill ceiling. Why it secretly sucks: Well, it, you know… Cars are stupid. Metal Gear Solid V The swansong of series director Hideo Kojima. The drama surrounding Metal Gear Solid V’s development might have overshadowed a lesser game, but The Phantom Pain proved it could speak on its own. Trading the carefully manicured set-pieces and lengthy cinematics of the series’ previous titles for open-world espionage sandbox and a focus on uninterrupted gameplay, MGSV feels one part wild experiment, one part perfection of an established formula. Why it secretly sucks: Remember everything I said about The Witcher 3? Now say it in reverse. MGSV might have been an awesome game when it came out, but ever since then Konami’s been working it over with a crowbar and a pair of pliers. Look at it, all broken with microtransactions and marred by economy rebalances. Who would want it now? If we held the GOTY’s in September, maybe it would have had a chance, but if I got this turd under my tree now I’d want to do a little wet work on Santa. Also, Kiefer Sutherland blows. Fallout 4 Long awaited and much hyped, Fallout 4 is Bethesda's follow up to both the beloved Fallout 3, and the mega-successful Skyrim. Set in a more colorful take on the post-apocalyptic world of Fallout we saw in the Capital Wasteland or desolate New Vegas dunes, Fallout 4 is a behemoth of a game with an unbelievable amount of side missions to unearth, companions to meet, and odd little slices of life from the end of the world to stumble upon.  Why it secretly sucks: My dog got stuck in an elevator's doors and I never saw him again. 0/10.  Rise of the Tomb Raider Rise of the Tomb Raider is Lara Croft’s second post-reboot adventure, and by far her best. While 2013’s Tomb Raider felt like a functional (if weirdly torture-porny) re-imagining of what the series used to be about, this one feels like Lara’s back for real. A focus on tomb exploration and puzzles while still hitting hard with jaw-dropping action showpieces, Rise of the Tomb Raider might just be the series high point. Why it secretly sucks: We consider GOTY’s for dead systems? Maybe you could say this is the best game nobody played. How many copies have they sold now, like 30? Nice job on that exclusive deal guys, really worked out. Call me when the PC version is ready. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate Massive beasts? Brutal difficulty? Impenetrable mechanics? We’re not talking about another Souls game, we’re talking about the other red meat - Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate. The juggernaut of a series continues to find impressive new ways to go over the over-the-top action of previous installments. Why it secretly sucks: Sorry, I don’t live in Japan. Batman: Arkham Knight Supposedly Rocksteady’s last entry in the Arkham series, they didn’t leave anything on the table with Batman: Arkham Knight. Set in a positively gorgeous vision of Gotham City under siege, Batman faces down his greatest foes (and greatest failures) in this final adventure. Why it secretly sucks: The Batmobile, the Batmobile, the Batmobile. How could they have thought that forcing the Goddamn Batman to fuss around with a bunch of fiddly puzzles in his car was a good idea? It’s a little difficult to “be the Batman” when you’ve flipped your whip over trying to navigate a stupid little ramp the Riddler set up to collect a meaningless trophy (which you need if you want to see the real ending). Also, shout-out to all you PC players! Keep chasing that dream. Evolve A cooperative/competitive five-player monster hunt from the team behind Left 4 Dead. A game that demands smart teamplay and clever mind games from every player involved, Evolve could be a gaming heaven or hell depending on who you played with. Why it secretly sucks: *Continuous, mean-spirited laughter until they leave the room*
Haters GOTY photo
The lump of coal in your heart
Destructoid’s Game of the Year awards are upon us. It’s a time to celebrate another year of excellent video games, share what surprised us, and evangelize the forgotten gems and stealth hits that may have gone unn...

Hooray for Digital Hollywood?

Dec 19 // Stephen Turner
Cinematic aspirations have gone hand-in-hand with gaming since the '90s, maybe even before with the advent of tie-in merchandise. It sounds crazy, but you can easily spot a bit of Night Trap in Until Dawn’s roots, and you can even trace the elements of Take-Two’s previous post-war mystery, Black Dahlia, in its recent publication of L.A. Noire. But while those past games were influenced by movies, the more recent are clearly drawing from the current “Golden Age of Television.” Film has always been a bad fit for gaming, where the three-act structure is stretched out for the sake of long-form interaction, and it’s definitely a medium that developers are turning away from. Now we’re in an era of episodic games, serialised chapters, ensemble casts, and cliffhanger beats every hour. Even Microsoft tried to turn the Xbox One into an entertainment studio. In a way, the industry’s new approach to making its own TV shows is partially why licensed titles are all but dead. You could argue Telltale Games is keeping the dream alive with Law & Order: Legacies or Game of Thrones, and yet you could also argue that its model still follows the TV show formula. And as big-name actors move to cable for storylines missing in current cinema, there’s also migration of younger actors towards an interactive medium they love and understand. Personally speaking, TV show licenses and tie-ins are a guilty pleasure of mine. From Alias to Lost: Via Domus, from 24: The Game to The X-Files, they’ve all been completed more than once, even when some didn’t deserve 15 minutes of anyone’s time. More often than not, they’re rush jobs with contractually obligated stars dragged into the recording booth on their days off, aimed at enthralled fans during a show’s most profitable zeitgeist. But for the bit-part actor in us all, that’s where the fun really lies. While the likes of Blade Runner, Ghostbusters: The Video Game, and The X-Files work because you’re in the supporting cast (and those three are genuinely worth a look), games are becoming increasingly photorealistic to the point where there’s no room for the fan-fiction insert. It’s all about the audience member playing the actor playing the main character; an immersive disconnect that’s becoming far too common. Seeing a character as just, let’s say, Peter Stormare doesn’t have to be that way, though. Take Rockstar Games’ recent output, where a lesser-known actor’s face is used for character colourisation. James McCaffery was the voice of Max Payne long before he became the face and Ned Luke put on the pounds to give literal weight to his jaded industry experiences in Grand Theft Auto V. What an experienced stage/film actor brings is a quality performance, in both motion capture and dialogue delivery, and it’s this all-rounder type that has established voice-only actors running scared. We’ve seen them on social media, tweeting out job-saving hashtags and inflating monetary fees to make up for their years of complacency (not to name names, but after seeing several attempt improv-comedy on YouTube, the complacency has been real for some time). There are still those, however, who prefer the old ways when it comes to digitised acting. FMV has tried to make a comeback recently, though it hasn’t been truly successful. In fact, because of so many advances in technology and the current games already mentioned, we’re now in a position to see why FMV is antiquated with the likes of Telsa Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure, Missing: An Interactive Thriller, and Contradiction. None of these mentioned are awful, just limited. FMV used real actors on virtual stages, and so the main problem lied in the passive-to-interactive transition, between third-person cutscenes and first-person control. When you compare Tex Murphy to Until Dawn, the latter succeeds because essentially it’s an animation, from actor to set dressing. And it’s those developers that believe FMV should still be utilised if it means bringing out the kind of human nuances that get lost in digital translation. Remedy’s upcoming Quantum Break is a merger of live-action television and digitised acting, as the former fleshes out the backstory and the latter does its immersive work in-game. Alan Wake’s American Nightmare was the studio's first attempt at this, using FMV as a quick and cheap alternative to animated cutscenes. It’s hard to say if Quantum Break’s televisual gimmicks will work, given how diluted or confused multimedia storytelling has been in the past (and downright disastrous in the cinematic case of Southland Tales), but at least it’s an exciting proposition in an ever evolving industry, showing us that developers are willing to take the risks as long as they understand past failures. Known actors have orbited in and around video games for a long time, far too many to name here, only now they’re being squeezed into body stockings and made to march around cold warehouses; basically the Hollywood of today. Their current digitised guises might be a trend, might even be a fad, but they’ll always be that odd surprise in an IMDB search on a lazy afternoon. Whatever the argument, for or against, an actor can only bring so much credibility to the table. And that’s something we still strive for in this infantile industry. But for any of this to work, we need good writers and great directors to put these complicated pieces together. And despite a gaming industry closing in on its Hollywood dreams, especially with the what-could've-been star power of Silent Hills, it’s still a long way off when it comes to great minds, good eyes, and sharp tongues.
Feature photo
*Mo-Cap Jazz Hands*
Until Dawn’s success is much deserved, considering it was co-written by the guy who gave us The Last Winter, in which Ron Perlman and Connie Britton are terrorised by a ghost moose. Jokes aside, and regardless of the st...

The best new IPs of 2015

Dec 18 // Laura Kate Dale
Undertale While Undertale's release this year was a complete surprise to most people who played it, a turn-based JRPG bullet hell game that remembers your actions, allows you to avoid murder, and has dateable skeletons is a pretty easy pitch to get people to check it out. The game has quickly amassed a rather large and dedicated fan following, and it's not hard to see why. The unusual blending of genre mechanics, the homages to EarthBound, the stellar writing, and the screenshotable nature of the cast was just prime for spreading like wild fire. Undertale may not be the longest game, and it's unlikely to ever get a direct sequel, but it has firmly cemented itself deep in the hearts of many a gamer this year. I laughed, I cried a bit, I screamed in frustration, and I walked away guilty. That's more of an emotional ride than can be said for most video games. Even if I now do feel my sins crawling on my back. Bloodborne While Bloodborne had a considerable head start on many of our best new IP contenders, as the spiritual sequel to the highly successful Dark Souls games, this particular IP did not take the easy design route. Taking Dark Souls' unforgiving combat style and pairing it with a rich new lore, additional mechanics that incentivized aggressive combat techniques, and a considerably upped gameplay pace, Bloodborne invites players to fight their way through a world that was memorable, challenging, and surprising on a regular basis. While there is a new Dark Souls on the way, Bloodborne is the franchise I'm more excited to see a sequel to. Splatoon Splatoon is the very embodiment of Nintendo looking at what other people were doing, and creating something fascinating by adding its own Nintendo Twist. The idea is simple: make a competitive online shooter where players' primary aim is not to shoot other characters, but to shoot non-sentient structures and surfaces. Online shooters are incredibly popular as a genre, but there's very little in the way of options for younger players to get into playing (you know, unless they play Call of Duty in spite being seven). It's an under-served market, and Nintendo seized it perfectly. Splatoon not only managed to capture attention with a unique art style and colour palette, its consistent long-term roll-out of new content has kept players engaged longer than many other comparable releases. Life is Strange Okay, I'll be the first to admit my beloved Life is Strange isn't perfect by any stretch. It's melodramatic, it's at times stilted in its writing, and it has some major issues with pacing. Still, the series is also one of the most memorable things I played this year, and it does things no other games are daring to do. Life is Strange managed to get a lot very right. It used time travel as a gameplay mechanic to get around not knowing the context of your choices in episodic narratives, allowing players to properly commit to choices they made. Pick a choice, watch it play out, rewind, check out another choice, decide which you want to commit to, and go ahead fully in favour of your actions. Life is Strange also managed to tackle some tough themes in a tasteful way, giving agency over real-life situations to powerful effect. Oh, and I really, really like Chloe. I played the entire game constantly trying to kiss her at every possible moment. Her Story Her Story is an ambitious game that tried something untested, and managed to pull it off. Set on a late-nineties British Police computer database, the game tells a nonlinear narrative through tagged, live-action video files. The concept was simple. Start with the word "murder," search the database for any relevant clips, investigate a woman's statements to police, and unravel a deeply bizarre crime. The performances of the game's leading lady were truly top notch, as was the narrative and the natural structure for unraveling plot threads. There was always something to look for more information on, and as additional clues became visible, the plot had numerous unexpected turns. Seriously, Her Story is really damn strong. SOMA SOMA is a terrifyingly grounded horror story about themes of desolation, humanity, sacrifice, and what it means to truly exist. Yep, those are heavy themes to tackle, but SOMA handles them admirably. Giving a wholly bleak view of humanity's future, it makes a strong case that everything we do is ultimately meaningless. Not a depressing thought at all. Besides the strong story, it also wowed with its presentation. From elaborate degrading structures to creature designs that twist expectations, I was constantly impressed with the cohesive structure of the game. Also, SOMA is just plain scary. Until Dawn Until Dawn is an interactive horror movie game, built from a collection of well-known genre tropes mashed together. Throw a bunch of kids in a spooky remote cabin with nightmare monsters, and see what happens. The genius of Until Dawn's design is that the tropes being drawn from are not consistent or predictable, making plot turns hard to see. Experienced horror genre fans will at times see what's coming and be able to make informed choices regarding what to do. Personally, I was a fan of deliberate murder. Let's see what we can do to kill everyone off as gruesomely as possible. I suppose you could try and keep people alive too, if you want.  I just hope we get new Until Dawn games in the future that are not on-rails VR shooters. Ori and the Blind Forest On a simple mechanical level, Ori and the Blind Forest is decent, but nothing special. It's a side-scrolling metroidvania that does everything solidly, but doesn't push much in the way of new ground. So, why is it on this list? Because it was god damn beautifully, visually and as a narrative. Picture those Rayman games from a little while back, but done to a much higher level and accompanied by a Ghibli-esque soundtrack. Ori and the Blind Forest is a technical masterpiece and I can't wait to see what the studio works on next. The Beginner's Guide The Beginner's Guide is a weird game, in that it caused a huge splash upon launch, with many reviewers hesitant to say anything at all about it. People were affected by it, not always positively, and it clearly had a strong impact on many players. A few months on, it's still unclear how genuine the narrative told is, or how much we can rely on the narrator of the experience. But if you have around and hour and a half and want to be floored by an unexpected narrative, you'll be hard pressed to do better than The Beginner's Guide. Just make sure to complete it within your Steam refund window, as there are legitimate reasons to want to return this game after purchase. [To clarify the above statement regarding refunds, while I view this game as a work of fiction, and recommend people play it as such, many players view the narrative as an accurate work of non fiction. If you fall into the camp that view this as non fiction, an aspect of the narrative implies that the content is stolen wholesale from another developer. While I paid for the game and believe doing so is a morally acceptable action, what I wish to make clear is that if players disagree with my reading of the narrative and feel I reccomended them an experience they didn't morally agree with, there is a financial way to back out of that purchase. This is not an encouragement to back out of payment due to length, but simply me pointing out that if you finish the game and believe the narrative to be non fiction, and if you believe that you purchased stolen goods, there is a way to avoid your money remaining with that developer in this very specific case. My initial vague comment was an attempt to avoid a major spoiler for the narrative, but has unfortunately left the reasons for my recommendations open to wider interpretation]  Dropsy In the lead up to launch, many people following Dropsy assumed that before its end, it would take some upsetting or dark horror twist. A point-and-click adventure, it is actually anything but a horror experience. It's a simple game about a socially isolated individual who wants nothing more than the simple joys of companionship. Beneath the initial appearance of Dropsy the clown is an individual whose primary interaction with the world is a hug button. Quests are told through pictorial desires. You bring people together, people see the good in you, and you hug. Dropsy is one of those games that's a beautiful palette cleanser. If you're feeling video game murderer fatigue, it's an experience poised to make you feel just a little better about the world. Gravity Ghost Gravity Ghost is a simple game mechanically. You play the ghost of a young girl, jumping among planets and stars to reunite animal bodies and spirits. It's relaxing. There are no punishments for failure, and the experience is almost mesmerically smooth and simple. It is a gorgeous, laid-back experience hiding a deep and relatable human story. The game deals with themes of growing up. It deals with taking responsibility for the consequences of your actions, processing loss, and the connection that remains to those we lose. Gravity Ghost's narrative is simple, elegant, and resonant in a way few games manage. Read Only Memories Read Only Memories is a charmingly written, wonderfully stylised, instantly memorable point-and click-adventure that released earlier this year. It tells a cyberpunk story of crime, politics, technology, and relationships that's super intriguing from start to finish. Oh, and it also happens to have a cast full to the brim with simply handled diversity. You've got gay characters, trans characters, a bunch of other different types of characters, and the fact they may be gay or transgender never becomes the forefront of who they are. They just happen to be those things without any fanfare, and it's wonderful to behold.
Best New IPs photo
Not every series is Assassin's Creed yet
Video games are increasingly expensive products to create. Every generation as graphics increase in quality, the sheer size of teams required to put together new amazing, fantastic worlds grows dramatically. With video games ...

GOTY 2015: Best logo

Dec 16 // Brett Makedonski
Immutable as I am in that belief, one game this year had the most brilliant logo that I've seen in a long time. Maybe ever, honestly. Gross as it is to shine a light on these marketing efforts, it's an easier pill to swallow given that the logo might be the best thing about this game. Pat yourself on the back, 2K marketing team; Evolve had the best logo of 2015. At first glance, Evolve's logo is nothing to write home about. It's minimalistic in its presentation, nothing more than some squares, rectangles, and a modest font. Actually, if you didn't know anything about the game, it'd be easy to mistake it as a really dull and uninspired look. At least Fallout 4 sprung for a lightning bolt in the "o." So, let's get just a little backstory on Evolve. It's a four-versus-one asymmetric multiplayer game. A team of four players takes on one giant monster. That's what's happening in the logo -- four letters in small squares are pitted against the final "e" in Evolve, a letter that gets a rectangle as long as the first four boxes combined. That rogue "v" represents a legal system-style "versus," as if this should be the way all court cases are determined. It's tough to remember a video game logo that's so on-the-nose, yet so clever about it too. Usually, understatedness is left wanting. Dead Island has a palm tree so you know there's an island, Rage has an anarchy sign so you know that there's anarchy, and Sonic Boom boomed so hard that it cracked all the letters. These are not examples of good logos. Even though it's almost 2016, so many game logos are stuck in 1996. They are hellbent on having attitude (or, 'tude as the designers might say). It's why so many gleam of gun-metal gray or have electricity shooting from the letters. Whatever it takes to let you know that This Is One Of The Cool Video Games. It's the equivalent of box art with a man toting a gun slung over his shoulder looking slightly away from the camera. Evolve skirts that and it does everything right (well, as far as its logo is concerned, anyway). Instead, it's simple and elegant and functional and restrained. More simply put: Evolve's logo was not dumb while most other logos were very dumb.  It's not like the competition was any good, but Evolve ran away with the best logo of 2015. In a wasteland of bad video game logos, 2K and Turtle Rock created one worth looking at and one worth thinking about. The game's legacy probably won't last a whole lot longer, but hopefully its logo's legacy lasts for years to come.
Best logo photo
More like LOTY
As media, we have no business caring about the marketing of video games. In fact, we actually have a professional obligation to parse through it, finding the good information and discarding the bullshit. That's, like, half th...

Devil's Third photo
Devil's Third

Is Itagaki's career in AAA development over?


Did the devil do him in?
Dec 13
// Jonathan Holmes
Tomonobu Itagaki got his start at Tecmo back in 1992 working as a graphics programmer on Tecmo Super Bowl for the SNES. It was a fitting start for a man whose career would be largely defined by creating games that fuse Japane...

Experience Points .28: Pokemon Red/Blue

Dec 12 // Ben Davis
The Big Six Every trainer has their own method of choosing a team in Pokémon. Some players choose only the most powerful Pokémon, such as legendaries and whatnot. Others choose Pokémon based on stats and abilities, in order to maximize their fighting potential. Some people might even just go with whoever they find first, without swapping them out for something different. Or maybe they want to try using only certain types, such as having an all Water team like Misty. I always chose to use my favorite Pokémon, regardless of strength or stats. Sometimes I'd even keep them from evolving, because I simply preferred how they look unevolved. Cubone was always a staple in my teams, since he's my favorite one. Marowak is cool too, but he loses some of Cubone's charm in my opinion, so I never let my Cubones evolve. Other common choices for my Red and Blue teams included Haunter, Scyther, Cloyster, Weepinbell, Omastar, and Mr. Mime (it's true, I like Mr. Mime!), among others. I never used legendaries, and I usually dropped my starter Pokémon at the earliest opportunity. I'm probably kind of weird in that regard. My teams may not have been the most powerful, but they got me through the main games easily enough, and I loved seeing them all in the Hall of Fame. Battling other players was another story, however. I was terrible at fighting my friends' Pokémon. I even entered a tournament once, and lost in the first round. But at least I went down with a team I cared about! Bringing the legends down a peg I may not use legendary Pokémon on my teams, but I do enjoy hunting them down and catching them... only to let them sit in the PC forever, remaining completely useless to the world now that they're in my possession. You thought you were hot shit, Mewtwo? Think again! Ahem... as I was saying, coming across a legendary Pokémon in the wild was always thrilling. Finding Articuno, Moltres, and Zapdos just chilling in their respective locations got me really excited, and I knew I'd be in for a difficult fight. It's almost impossible to catch them until they're at the very last sliver of health and also asleep, and trying to get them to that state without killing them or being killed by them in the process can be quite tense. And then I'd just start chucking Pokéballs at them. Like hundreds of Pokéballs, because I never wanted to use my one Master Ball. Sometimes I'd go through my entire stock of Ultra Balls, Great Balls, and regular balls before finally capturing a legendary Pokémon. I always thought it was funny when I'd catch one in a regular Pokéball, because then they don't even get to enjoy the luxury of living inside of a nicer ball. They're doomed to live in the cheapest home, stuck in the PC forever, like they deserve. I'm such a jerk. All Pokémon go to Heaven My favorite Pokémon actually gets his own little storyline in Red and Blue, so of course it was one of my favorite moments in the game. In Lavender Town, the player comes across the Pokémon Tower, which is essentially a seven-story graveyard for deceased Pokémon where trainers come to pay their respects. It's also home to wild ghost Pokémon, as well as wandering Cubones. While exploring the town and the tower, the player will hear about a Cubone whose mother was killed by Team Rocket while she was trying to protect her child. A man named Mr. Fuji apparently went to the tower to stop Team Rocket and help the Cubone, but hasn't been seen since. Towards the top of the tower, the player will suddenly be stopped among the gravestones with a creepy warning: “Be gone... intruders...” A battle with a ghost ensues, which turns out to be Marowak, the Cubone's deceased mother. She cannot be captured, even with a Master Ball (she's DEAD, you heartless trainer!), but defeating her in battle will ease her spirit and allow her to pass on to the afterlife. Afterwards, Mr. Fuji can be found at the top of the tower, and he's happy to hear that Marowak's spirit has been calmed. I always assumed that the Cubone in question was whichever Cubone I ended up catching, since I made it my mission to catch one as soon as possible. That way he would have friends to cheer him up and help him cope with his mother's passing. Poor little guy... Did I mention how much I like shorts? One of my favorite things about the Pokémon games are all the weird comments that the random trainers make whenever they're encountered. They usually manage to bring up something completely unexpected and off topic, giving the player unnecessary information about their lives without being asked. We just met, and you're bragging to me about how cool your boyfriend is? He sounds great, but maybe introduce yourself first before diving right into your personal life. The most memorable line comes from a Youngster outside of Pewter City. He walks up to the player and the first thing he thinks to say is, “Hi! I like shorts! They're comfy and easy to wear!” …Ummm, that's cool, I guess. It's always a good idea to start a conversation with a stranger by talking about your pants, right? This kid is so fired up about shorts, it's like we're suddenly in some kind of clothing commercial. And now I can't stop staring at this kid's pants... maybe it was really a clever distraction strategy all along! In the zone I was always a big fan of the Safari Zone. It had lots of cool Pokémon to catch and I didn't even have to fight them. Just throw down some bait and toss some Safari Balls and hope for the best! I spent a ton of time there trying to catch all the rare Pokémon the park had to offer, like Scyther, Pinsir, Tauros, Chansey, Kangaskhan, and Dratini, and picking out the best hunting spots to find each of them. I always made it a point to catch Scyther before I left (or Pinsir, depending on the game), since he was one of my favorites. Plus, chucking rocks at Pokémon felt pretty good sometimes. Especially if they were being obnoxious and refused to be captured. Don't want to be my Pokémon, Tauros? Maybe some rocks to the face will change your mind! Sometimes I threw rocks at them just because they were appearing too often and annoying me, like all those Nidorans when all I wanted was a Scyther. Too bad there aren't any Zubats in the Safari Zone. It sure would feel nice to throw some rocks at those guys! The truck Pokémon Red and Blue were rife with rumors of secret things players could find. While not actually a part of the game per se, some of the rumors still have significant value when I think about the time I spent with the game as a naive youngster. I remember trying desperately to access Bill's “secret garden,” a hidden area located behind Bill's house which supposedly housed many rare wild Pokémon. It was somewhat believable because there appeared to be a path leading offscreen right behind his house, even though there was no visible way to access it. I also remember trying to pull of a specific sequence of events in order to discover a leaked Pokémon named “Pikablu,” which actually turned out to be Marill. Both of these rumors were false, of course. But the biggest rumor of all involved the truck near the S.S. Anne where Mew was supposedly hiding. This rumor was particularly convincing because of how tricky it was to access the area, and because of how weird it was that the truck even existed in the first place. In order to find the truck, players have to faint on the S.S. Anne after obtaining HM01 from the captain by losing a battle before leaving the ship. This will bypass the short cutscene of the ship leaving port, meaning players could go back at any time to visit the ship again. Later, return to the S.S. Anne after teaching a Pokémon to use Surf, and surf off the boardwalk right before entering the ship. The player will be able to freely surf around the harbor, which contains nothing except for one very conspicuous truck, which strangely doesn't appear anywhere else in the game. According to the rumor, the truck could be pushed aside by having a Pokémon use Strength, similar to moving a boulder. And in the space where the truck used to be, it was possible to encounter the legendary Mew, which at the time was impossible to obtain without going to an official Pokémon event. The rumor was false, but that didn't stop me from trying everything I could possibly think of to move that truck. It had to be there for a reason, right? Why would there be some random truck in a hard-to-reach area for no reason at all? There must be something! Unfortunately, the only thing to ever come out of that truck was severe disappointment. Glitch in the system However, there were some rumors that actually turned out to be true. I heard talk of a secret Pokémon named Missingno, who could be found under special circumstances by surfing along the coast of Cinnabar Island. So of course, I had to check it out for myself! Missingno did, in fact, exist. After completing a sequence of events involving the old man in Viridian City and surfing along the coast of Cinnabar, I finally encountered the fabled creature... which turned out to be a weird mess of random pixels. It was a glitch. The glitch Pokémon, whose name is short for “Missing Number,” could actually be caught, raised, and used in battle. It could even be used for item duplication, meaning it was possible to get infinite Rare Candies by simply encountering Missingno. But being a glitch, it also corrupted some of the game data, so finding and catching one was rather risky. I still did it anyway just to see what would happen, and while it did interfere with some stuff, like scrambling sprites and messing with the Hall of Fame data, nothing particularly bad seemed to happen. Maybe I just got lucky. Regardless, Missingno is still one of the coolest video game glitches ever. Past Experience Points Level 1: .01 - .20 .21: Katamari Damacy.22: Tomb Raider.23: Mother 3.24: Deadly Premonition.25: Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars.26: Dark Souls.27: GoldenEye 007
Pokemon Red/Blue photo
Welcome to the world of Pokemon!
Experience Points is a series in which I highlight some of the most memorable things about a particular game. These can include anything from a specific scene or moment, a character, a weapon or item, a level or location, a p...

Brutal Mode is the best thing to happen to Rock Band in years

Dec 11 // Brett Makedonski
[embed]325866:61490:0[/embed] Take a look at this video of me playing. It'll give you a greater sense of what actually makes this difficult. Sometimes I play well, other times I play poorly. At no times, however, am I playing comfortably. For those who have spent countless hours honing their Rock Band proficiency, this is the perfect addition to the game. It forces the hardcore community to play differently than they've played before, but while still using the same skills. This is built for the people who chase full combos and won't accept anything less. It taps into their meticulous drive to play well, and beautifully flips it on its head. Brutal Mode is maddening and it's not because of the vanishing notes. It's because of the psychological mind games the mode plays. Any well-versed player will tell you that they don't watch the notes reach the bottom of the track. Instead, they reach a sort of inner-harmony where they immediately internalize the note and play it in time while doing the same for every other note that flows downward. It's not a sensation that can be easily explained to anyone who hasn't felt it. This mode's brilliance lies within the fact that it changes the Rock Band experience from a visual one to an audial one. Sure, there's a preview of the upcoming notes, but it's on you to know the correct time to play them. Feeling the music is necessary; disconnecting from the music and trying to brute force the notes on what seems to be the right beat will just result in awkward plunks and wails. Overthinking it is a formula for failure. Ironically, when you're failing is when Brutal Mode is maybe at its toughest. It'd seem natural that the inverse is true; the worse you're doing, the longer you can see the notes. That should be easiest. It's not, though. Not even close. Any fluctuation in the process can temporarily damn you. Seeing those notes and thinking about them switches your mindset back from audial to visual. As it turns out, your brain can adjust to sticking to one of those; flip-flopping is where you get confused and freeze up. The invention of Brutal Mode is a staunch informer that being able to see the notes is a huge crutch, even if it doesn't seem that way.  In 2010, Harmonix tried to advance the Rock Band experience by introducing Pro Mode -- a way for players to actually learn the instruments they were simulating. It didn't fare all that well. The barrier to entry was high and the learning curve was steep. As it turns out, a lot of people who spent a bunch of time mastering Rock Band and Guitar Hero didn't want to start from scratch on a new skill; they wanted to build on the ones they already have. Brutal Mode feels as if it were built for that audience. It's an extension of the toughest Rock Band has to offer while managing to change the way the game is approached. Anyone who's good enough at Rock Band to take a serious try at Brutal Mode has long ago lost the magic that comes with improving at the genre. This helps recapture some of that. That's a win by any measure, brutal as it may be.
Rock Band 4 photo
And the toughest
Harmonix rolled out an update for Rock Band 4 earlier this week that included a whole bunch of unexpected additions. It's impressive in its scope. A lot of the changes were meant to make Rock Band 4 feel more like a...

Animal Crossing amiibo Festival Drinking Games

Dec 05 // CJ Andriessen
Miller’s (Light) Crossing We start with a game for the lightweights among us. You know who they are, the boys and girls who begin to slur their words before they’ve finished their second drink. For them, I present Miller’s (Light) Crossing. This game keeps it simple by utilizing only the most basic aspects of the board game. For Miller’s (Light) Crossing, any type of light alcoholic beverage can be used. White wine, Zima, Bartles and Jaymes, Mike’s Hard Lemonade, Redd’s Apple Ale… basically any drink you’d find in a Connecticut sorority house refrigerator. Take a drink when: You miss a special space Roll a one twice in a row Come in second, third or fourth in a bug catching/fishing contest You’re the last to complete the stamp square (or don’t complete it at all) Share a spot with another player (both players drink) It’s a Holiday Finish your drink when: You come in last place at the end of the game. Crazy Redd Solo Cup For those of us who can plow through a six-pack before we even start to feel it, I present Crazy Redd Solo Cup. This game goes a bit deeper into the amiibo Festival experience by adding the “excitement” of character visits. Throughout a single session of the game, you will no doubt be visited by a few characters, sometimes multiple times. These characters, should you land on their space, will offer up opportunities or games that can help or hinder you. For Crazy Redd Solo Cup, how you fare with those characters will either keep you sober, or get you drunk. For this game you’ll need step up the alcohol quality and quantity. Ditch the light stuff and grab a case of your favorite mass market beer. If it has a commercial featuring people in their 20s partying, a guy eye-fucking a Clydesdale, or some dude droning on and on about the water in Colorado, it's perfect for this game. Couple that drink with your favorite hard alcohol for shots and you're ready to go. Take a drink: If you fail to land on a special space Do not win the Phineas game If the number card you win from Katie is less than four If you get a number card from Dr. Shrunk If someone has a tarot card from Katrina and you help them by rolling their number Give money to Joan When you land on a Purple Happy Points & Bells space Somebody takes Bells from you Share a pink spot with another player (both players drink) Take a shot: If you go into debt. Share a purple spot with another player (both players take shots) Opposite Day puts you on a purple space Fail to roll more than six on Twice Dice Day Finish your drink: Sell your turnips at a loss When you come in last place at the end of the game. A Whole Lottie Alcohol For the heaviest of heavy drinker, we present A Whole Lottie Alcohol. There is a lot to remember with this game, so it’s best to have your designated driver around to remind you of the rules 30 minutes in when you’re long past shitfaced. For A Whole Lottie Alcohol, we’re combining some of the rules found above with new ones guaranteed to have your head in the toilet by the end of the night. Just like Crazy Redd Solo Cup, you’ll need to pair your favorite shot with a beer. Take a drink: If you go into debt and each day after you’re still in the negative When you come in second or third in a fishing/bug catching contest. If you fail to land on a special space Do not win the Phineas' game If the number card you win from Katie is less than four If you get a number card from Dr. Shrunk If someone has a tarot card from Katrina and you help them by rolling their number Give money to Joan outside of buying her turnips When you land on a Purple Happy Points & Bells space Somebody takes Bells from you Share a pink spot with another player (both players drink) Roll a one twice in a row Take a shot: If you go into negative Happy Points When you don’t roll doubles on Twice Dice Day When you come in last in a fishing/bug catching contest. When you’re the last to finish the stamp square (or don’t finish at all) Share a purple spot with another player (both players take shots) Opposite Day puts you on a purple space When you don’t collect the most candy (during October) Finish your drink: Anytime someone asks you why you bought this game When your character in the game takes a correspondence course. When it's a holiday. Finish everybody’s drink: If you come in last at the end of the game Now, if you don’t have an hour or so to enjoy any of the games I’ve listed above and you’d rather just get drunk as quickly as possible, I got you covered. In as little as five minutes you can get soused through Sunday with one of these drinking games that utilize the mini-games found in amiibo Festival. Wet & Wild World Balloon Island will probably be the mini-game you play the most after Desert Island Escape. This Plinko-style game is easy to play, tasking you with dropping a character onto a small island while bouncing off of balloons worth different points. The island isn’t that big, which means there’s always a chance you’ll end up in the water. Take a drink when: You end up in the water This game only lasts three rounds, so you want to make sure the liquor you’re drinking is strong. I mean really strong. So strong an old man would say this alcohol puts hair on your chest even though you’re a girl, strong. Are You Drunker than a 5th Grader? Quiz Show is both the most obvious mini-game found in amiibo Festival and the most poorly implemented. Not only do you have to know the correct answer to the question (which sometimes requires an encyclopedic knowledge of the Animal Crossing series), but you’re also required to time your guess correctly in order to have the opportunity to answer. Eventually the game breaks down to just four people fighting over one NFC reader, even when sober. It’s really a mess, but the Are You Drunker than a 5th Grader? drinking game celebrates that mess. Take a drink when: You try to answer a questions when it’s not your turn You don’t attempt to answer the question at all Take two drinks when: You get the answer incorrect You choose who takes a drink when: You get the answer right Because this game could have you taking north of 15 shots in just a few minutes, our lawyers have informed us we cannot tell you to play this with hard alcohol. Something about alcohol poisoning, criminal negligence, yadda-yadda-yadda. Instead, try beer shots. I suggest a higher caliber of beer, like a porter from your local microbrewery or one of those craft beers that thinks it invented hops. Just try not to spill too much on the Wii U controller, those things are expensive. Schlitz Family Robinson Desert Island Escape is made for one player, but when you get two friends involved it can turn into an easy co-operative drinking adventure. The object of the game is to find the pieces you need to make a raft and get off of one of thirty different islands. As you traverse these isles, you’ll find tools that will aid you in your journey. You’ll also find creatures that attack you, holes that swallow you up and bees that can sting you. For Schlitz Family Robinson, each player controls one character and you punish those who don’t pull their weight. Take a drink when: You fail to defeat a wild creature (or run away) You fail to catch a fish You fail to get some honey (or run away) You fail to get out of a hole You waste a step going onto a square you didn’t need to Finish your drink when You fail to get off the island As easily the most worthwhile game found in amiibo Festival, Schlitz Family Robinson is meant to be played over several rounds. Stick with your favorite beer or wine and get buzzed slowly throughout the night. This game isn’t a race to see who will be first to pray to the porcelain God, it’s a journey. *This is, obviously, a joke as there is no amount of alcohol that can make watching baseball enjoyable.
amiibo Festival photo
Fucked up, gonna get fucked up
Driving, sex, and watching baseball: what do these three things have in common? They can all be made better with alcohol.* The same can be said for board games. From beer checkers to battle shots, mankind has found fun and ...

The 'Nintendo in-print' Holiday gift guide

Dec 04 // Jonathan Holmes
Rhythm Zinegoku A quick disclaimer: I contributed a couple of pieces to this collection, as did former Destructoid editors Topher Cantler and Colette Bennett. I didn't get paid for my work though, and I don't get a cut of the sales either. In fact, I had to buy my two copies of the zine with my own bucks. You'll get no complaints from me about that, though. As a diehard Rhythm Heaven/Tengoku fan, this collection was a must-have for me from day one. Every stage from the first three games is represented in some way or another, so regardless of which is your favorite, you're sure to see plenty of familiar faces. The biggest star artist here is probably Natasha Allegri, creator of Fiona and Cake and Bee and Puppycat, though there are plenty of other contributors that fans of the series may recognize. The zine is currently out of stock, but it should be available for purchase again any second now, so keep your eyes peeled. [embed]322553:61380:0[/embed] Legends of Localization Book 1: The Legend of Zelda Clyde Mandelin is probably best known for spearheading the fan translation of Mother 3, so it's no surprise that he's partnered with Fangamer to create a series of books dedicated to examining the process of translation and localization. He's started off with the Legend of Zelda series, and it's not just the video games he's looking at. There is plenty about the Zelda board games, the breakfast cereal, and other bits of related merchandise that make up part of the franchise's massive history. Though these diversions into the obscure make for plenty of enlightening moments, the book does well to regularly return its focus to the original Legend of Zelda. So much was done to transport that seminal title from its first home on the Famicom Disk System to the Nintendo Entertainment System and the Western audience that played there, with much of that work inadvertently helping to spawn the lore and literal "legend" that makes up the series today. It's hard to imagine an invested Zelda fan being disappointed with what Mandelin and his team have produced. Nintendo Force: Iwata tribute issue Here's another one I contributed to, but again, Nintendo Force's sales numbers don't affect me financially in any way. I work for the magazine because it's really fun to share my interest in Nintendo's past, present, and future with the Nintendo fan community. This issue is without a doubt our greatest success in meeting that goal to date.  While we were all deeply saddened when Nintendo president Satoru Iwata passed away earlier this year, his passing did a lot to bring fans of his work together. Case in point, with this tribute issue, we worked our butts off to compile a detailed history of Iwata's career in game development, all while reflecting on exactly why he was such a great role model to gamers and game developers. I'm not totally happy with my personal output for this issue (there are at least two sentences on one page that still look wonky to me), but I have no hesitation in recommending every other page of it to diehard Nintendo fans (and I think I only worked on like four pages, so it's easy enough to skip over my stuff if you want). Splatoon Ikasu Artbook Splatoon has been out for less than a year, and it's already developed a larger fan base than some Nintendo franchises that have been around for ten times as long. While many were hoping that the game's popularity here in the U.S. would lead Nintendo of America to publish the official Splatoon Ikasu Artbook outside of Japan, it's looking like their hopes may have been in vain.  Thankfully, importing it is easy enough, and the only bits that really require literacy in Japanese to fully appreciate are the Twitter logs and comic strips in the back. My biggest gripe with the book is there are a ton of pages dedicated to showing off renders of clothes and weapons that are taken directly from the game. That feels a bit like a waste of space. That said, the bulk of the book's 320 pages are filled with rare or unique storyboards, character design documents, and visual plans that have plenty to offer Splatoon fans everywhere.  The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past Nintendo Power manga Shotaro Ishinomori is most famous for creating Kamen Rider and Cyborg 009, but he's also one of the creative minds that helped shape the Legend of Zelda series as it moved beyond its first few entries. While we don't know exactly how influential his A Link to the Past manga was for the games that followed it, there are plenty of ideas that debuted here before going on to become mainstays of the Zelda series. The core story more or less follows the events of A Link to the Past on the SNES, but the manga also marks the first time the Zelda series depicted a fairy as a ball of glowing light that helps lead Link forward in his adventures. It's also the first time Link ever traveled under the light of a death-faced moon, his face hidden behind a Zora mask, while working to infiltrate a monster's fortress. To tell more may lead to spoilers, but trust that there are plenty of eye-opening ideas here, new and old, for Zelda fans to chew on.  Good Nintentions Jeremy Parish is one of the most passionate, well-informed video game experts in the industry today. He's been writing about games for over ten years, covering everything from level design analysis to current game news to charting the history of gaming as a whole. He's already put out a number of books, but Good Nintentions is probably his biggest and best work in print to date.  Though the title doesn't make it totally clear, the subject of the book is the Nintendo Entertainment System. Literally everything about the console is examined, from its inception, its eventual demise, and everything in between, including detailed descriptions of of over 200 NES games and their developers. Few are able to keep a keen eye on the past, present, and future of gaming as well as Parish, so those interested in any and all eras of the medium would do well to check out his work. Second Quest There's been plenty of chatter lately about the idea of a Legend of Zelda title that stars a woman. Second Quest, a Kickstarter-funded comic book from writer Tevis Thompson and artist David Hellman, gave the idea a detailed look earlier this year with a story that deftly turns multiple Zelda conventions on their heads. If "history is written by the victors," then it's fair to guess that the legend of Zelda, Link, and Ganon may be skewed towards demonizing the losers of those conflicts. Second Quest tells the story of a young woman who discovers that guess to be true, and in doing so, sets forth alone on a journey to the unknown.  Though the story doesn't technically star Zelda or Link (likely due to obvious copyright issues), Second Quest still manages to think on two characters, and many other Legend of Zelda mainstays, in multiple thought-provoking ways. Concepts of sexism, matriarchy, xenophobia, religion and myth as method of societal control, and other more sophisticated sociological concepts are explored, but not at the expense of telling a tense and thoughtful standalone story. While only those true Zelda experts will likely get more out of all the parallels between Second Quest and The Legend of Zelda series, the only real prerequisite to enjoying this story is an interest in lovingly crafted, hand-drawn fantasy comics.  [embed]322553:61381:0[/embed] A Guide to Village Life Animal Crossing is like knitting. Both involve relaxing, repetitive interactions with soft, warm materials that can eventually lead to the creation of something much more substantial. While the series has never gone the literal route of Kirby's Epic Yarn or Yoshi's Woolly World, any fan of the games will tell you that playing Animal Crossing can feel just as comforting as a putting on a hand-made sweater.  It's that hand-crafted feeling that makes Kari Fry's A Guide to Village Life such a perfect fit for the series. This 256-page hand-drawn catalog of the flora, fauna, villagers, and other Animal Crossing attractions is about as affectionate of a love letter as any video game could hope to receive. If you also love Animal Crossing, you'll find a lot to relate to here. 
Shopper's guide photo
'Buy my book!' ~ Jay Sherman
While much of modern society has moved on to the world of "electrons and information", there are two demographics that still eat up the printed page: kids and old people. Interestingly enough, these are also the two age group...

Kojima photo
Kojima

Konami gives Hideo Kojima an entire hour of outdoor time (Fauxclusive)


To celebrate his Game Awards win
Dec 04
// CJ Andriessen
Saying it's not the monster the media has made it out to be, Konami confirmed today it let Hideo Kojima out of his cell for one whole hour as a reward for his win at The Game Awards. Kojima and his team took home the award fo...
Super Mario Maker photo
Super Mario Maker

Dtoid Designs: The Mario at the Movies Challenge


Let's make some Oscar bait!
Dec 01
// CJ Andriessen
Update: The submission period has expired. Thank you to everyone who entered. Dtoid Designs is back for the threequel and this time, it's personal. Originally for the third month of the contest I was going to go with a festiv...

The Goon needs a video game, and so do these comics, too!

Nov 30 // Stephen Turner
The Goon What’s it about? The Goon runs a protection racket out of a Depression-era port town with his partner and only friend, Franky. It’s easy money until the zombies show up, and The Goon has to face the demons of his past in order to protect the sort-of-innocent. Did I mention the giant talking lizard, roller derby girls, and even a man made of wicker? Yeah, that happens along the way, too. How would it work as a game? You could easily set it up as a co-op brawler, where The Goon and Franky fight, shoot, shank, wrench, and quip their way through the zombie hordes, before tackling the more serious issue of werewolves, burlesque house killers, and Lovecraftian parodies. Think Hellboy: The Science of Evil, but more fun. Why isn’t there a game, then? It’s all about timing. Whereas the similar Hellboy broke the glass ceiling with a movie, during a time when obscure comics were worth a risk, The Goon hasn’t had the same chance. Years after its announcement, The Goon movie is still stuck in development hell and creator Eric Powell is currently slowing down his output, opting to do mini-series runs instead of monthly issues. So, in a way, the heat has died down on what is otherwise one of the best comics around. Fell What’s it about? Detective Richard Fell is maverick cop with plenty of book smarts and an ego to bolster it. But after he gets his partner seriously injured, Fell is transferred to Snowtown, a crime ridden burg where madness prevails and the good rely on magic to protect them. The more methodical and cynical Fell figures it's down to him alone to clean up the streets, even if it means being just as violent as the criminals he's chasing. How would it work as a game? I adore detective games, but unfortunately most punish you for not following the developers’ train of thought. Act too clever or arrive at the same solution from a different angle and you’re slapped on the wrist for not sticking to the script. Phoenix Wright and L.A. Noire were notorious for this, while Hotel Dusk and Heavy Rain were far more forgiving, allowing you get back on track with a roundabout line of questioning. The idea of Fell being too smart for his own good (and at times, to his own detriment) perfectly falls in line with the player's own inventiveness. So having a game where you're free in drawing your own conclusions, but having to know when to hold back information or lay it all down for the best sentencing would make for an intense balancing act; one that credits the player for being smart on their own accord. Why isn’t a game, then? Fell was short-lived at 9 issues long, released sporadically over 3 years (2005-2008). It’s probably too much of a risk for such a dead comic, and Warren Ellis is either too busy rocking out with Grinderman (Edit: Not the same Warren Ellis!) or writing another book to check his emails. Stumptown What’s it about? Dex Parios is the sole proprietor of Stumptown Investigations, a P.I. agency based in Portland, OR. She’s perpetually stubborn, witty in the face of danger, and not afraid to get into a fight. She’s also damn good at solving mysteries, which is pretty useful as she’s in deep with the casinos, has to look after a brother with Down syndrome, and owns a Dodge that needs repairing on regular basis. But as much as she needs the money, she never gives up on a client and her cases usually shine light on the darker side of Portland; the one all but forgotten in the midst of a hipster boom. How would it work as a game? I wasn't a fan of Life is Strange, but that’s really down to me wanting a straightforward neo-noir set in the Pacific Northwest than a Donnie Darko homage with bad dialogue. However, its point and click/choice-and-consequence gameplay perfectly suits Stumptown and Dex herself (brilliantly written by Greg Rucka, a man who understands solid female characters). In the comics, she’s constantly strong armed by client compromises and her own addictions, so it would be nice to see a game where a modern day white knight is bent out of shape as loyalties to one person has a knock-on effect to others. Plus, the episodic nature would be ideal for standalone cases. Why isn’t it a game, then? The straightforward detective game is a rare beast. It has to have a gimmick to work, to keep the player engaged and allow a broad audience to win. I’d love to see a no-frills experience happen, though, and the Portland backdrop has currently been refreshing mysteries in the media from Backstrom to Cold Weather and even the police procedural elements of Grimm. Look, I'm just obsessed with going to Portland at the moment, okay? DMZ What’s it about? The near future: America has been torn apart by a second Civil War. Manhattan is now a demilitarised zone, with its poorest citizens trapped in a Westernised No Man’s Land. Reporter Matty Roth enters the zone to get the scoop of a lifetime, but ends up becoming the news as the DMZ heads towards revolution. How would it work as a game? The Walking Dead and This War of Mine have both shown there’s an audience for moral choices and tough decisions. You could go either direction for DMZ, either as a Telltale adventure or as a survivalist scavenger hunt. Much like The Goon, this one writes itself with a rich lore without you knowing every little detail to buy in. Why isn’t it a game, then? Eh, This War of Mine already exists and does an excellent job of highlighting war from a civilian perspective. Plus, The Division, which is basically all the action parts of DMZ in one condensed package, is on the way. Got to love Ubisoft for taking existing IPs and tweaking them enough to pretend it was their idea all along; see also: Watch_Dogs and Person of Interest. Girls What’s it about? Petty bitterness and primal urges threaten simple common sense when a town is invaded by identical naked alien women who just want to procreate. Trapped in a giant dome, a battle of the sexes erupts between its human cast. Their very survival depends on telling the men to keep it in their pants. Guess how that turns out. How would it work as a game? Girls would be controversial as a video game, but played right, it wouldn't be anything more shocking than what Catherine achieved with its sexual dilemmas. Video games shine when they’re allowed to be reflective of player interaction, even throwing back excuses for our Machiavellian nature. There’s a scene in The Walking Dead: Season One’s finale, where Clem’s kidnapper goes over the choices Lee has made, and at times, breaks the fourth wall. Think about it: Did you really save Carley over Doug because she had the gun, or because she was a potential love interest? Imagine a game like Girls having the same “don’t bullshit me” attitude as you doom a whole town with your virtual dick. Why isn’t it a game, then? It’s a comic about naked alien women and the men who take advantage of them. Stark naked lady bits and all! As much as I’d love a game like Girls, it’s probably not going to be on Steam any time soon. 100 Bullets What’s it about? Several wronged people across America are given an offer by a mysterious old man named Agent Graves: One untraceable gun, 100 spare bullets, and a carte blanche for revenge. Some buy into it easily, others chew over the morality of it all, but those who impress Graves end up being taken under his wing and into a conspiracy that's integral to the country's violent history. How would it work as a game? Despite the snappy title, 100 Bullets is more of a hardboiled thriller than an action series. It's a saga where every pull of the trigger has a far reaching consequence, where loyalties shift, and just about every character struggles to see the bigger picture. When the violence does happen, it's the end result of some messy choices and the gory outbursts are nasty periods at the end of every chapter. As a game, 100 Bullets would work best as a cocktail of third person shooting and tailored choices, much like Blues & Bullets. It would make for some nail-biting decisions and morality plays, where killing someone actually means something, good and bad. Why isn't it a game, then? Well, it's not like someone hasn't tried already. Personally, the cancelled game had it all wrong from the start. Yes, Cole Burns is probably the second famous character of the series, but that doesn't make him a good fit for a shootbang protagonist. He's actually the kind of shit stirrer you'd find on an episode of The Apprentice. Also, making 100 Bullets a generic third person shooter just takes the depth away from, in my mind, one of the best comic books ever made. Criminal Macabre What’s it about? Cal McDonald is a junkie private eye and monster slayer for a bunch of ghouls living in the L.A. sewers. He's a total badass, and this is before he gets wings. How would it make a good game? Despite the umbrella title, The Cal McDonald Mysteries are usually solved with a lot of guns and even more painkillers. I can almost see a Max Payne-meets-Constantine shooter with moments of crime scene investigation and crazy demon boss fights. But mostly crazy demon boss fights. Why isn’t it a game, then? Cal's creator, Steve Niles, worked on F.E.A.R. 3, and I'm guessing that terrible game has scarred him for life. That, and as much as I love the series, it would have to be a stellar third person shooter to be remotely successful; something that's gone the way of the B-tier developer. Crossed What’s it about? Post-apocalyptic, rape and murder nightmare fuel, one that makes The Walking Dead look like a camping trip. Forget making any decisions, you’ve already been buggered and God knows what else. How would it work as a game? I don't know, try asking uber-fan and Community Manager, Occams Electric Toothbrush, because he's a sick son of a bitch. Why isn’t it a game, then? Because as I've already said, our Community Manager, Occams Electric Toothbrush, is a sick son of a bitch. Right, enough about my choices, what comic would you like to see made into a game?
Comics as games photo
Eric Powell, call me, yeah?!
I’m not a fan of “The Capes” when it comes to comic books, but I understand why they’re such an easy fit for video games. Superheroes are proactive investigators and brawlers with adventures based sole...

Dtoid Designs: The five best Un-Mario levels

Nov 30 // CJ Andriessen
[embed]323057:61316:0[/embed] Thank you to everybody who entered this month. We will have a new contest starting on December 1. If you'd rather play these fine levels than watch, here are the level IDs you need: #5 Out of Another World (v 1.1) Disqus User: Algator C8B5-0000-00E0-E743 #4 DonkeyKong Country Jungle Hijinx Disqus User: Anikid 443B-0000-00B9-9B52 #3 Mario RAMPAGE *Post Your Score!! Disqus User: Alfonso Navarro B36A-0000-00E1-CFB3 #2 Pitfall II - The Lost Caverns (Atari) Disqus User: GameMakr24 A4B4-0000-00EC-8BCA #1 Super Sniper Bros: Aim & Fire Disqus User: CTMike 16E0-0000-00E0-4AF8   If you would like to try out the level I created for the Un-Mario Challenge, check out Arino Hawkins & the 1001 Flames here: 43AF-0000-00DD-02F8
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Check out the winners of round two
This month for the second Dtoid Designs contest, I challenged you to use Super Mario Maker to create the Un-Mario level. How exactly does one create a level that doesn't play like it comes from a Super Mario game using only S...

What're you playing? IS IT FALLOUT 4?

Nov 28 // Steven Hansen
I was playing Fallout 4 recently, but I think I’m going to leave it for a while for some decent mods and bug fixes to come out before heading back into it. Instead, I’ve been slowly trudging my way through my first run of Bloodborne (currently trying to beat the Shadows of Yharnam), as well as the recent PC rerelease Sonic Lost World. Playing something as grimdark as Bloodborne and then immediately hopping into a Sonic level based on colourful tasty treats can feel like being hit by a freight train sometimes, but both games are a lot of fun!  I can't stop playing Rise of the Tomb Raider. I think it might be a sickness. I know I have a tendency to fall in love with games (even crappy ones), but there's something so soothing and zen-like about exploring the Geothermal Valley and scouting for Survival Caches. It makes me not wanna finish; in order to delay the inevitable, I've taken to returning to old paths and gathering all the collectibles and finishing up all the Challenges. Besides the diving. Lara will not fecking dive for me. Otherwise I'm playing Destiny. I did leave it for Halo 5 for a bit, but there's still no better multiplayer experience. Like a booty call, I came crawling back to Bungie, a bunch of wilting flowers in one hand and shrugging off my jeans with the other.  I've been a bit restless with my gaming recently, so I've gone back to play a couple of games that I know I enjoy, having a little bit of comfort gaming in among the big reviews season. Revisiting Danganronpa 2, replaying To The Moon and even briefly jumping back in to Half Minute Hero. Other than that I've been sinking some time into playing Dynasty Warriors 8 Empires for Destructoid which should be getting some coverage toward the end of this week and playing the odd game of Peggle on iOS while travelling. I just want to get through all those challenge puzzles again. I'm so bad at playing video games, folks. I've got probably six or so hours clocked on Fallout 4, and after my save being erroneously deleted I think I might wait a month or two before coming back to it. Meanwhile I've been dragging myself kicking and screaming through a genocide run in Undertale, as well as putting a few runs into Sublevel Zero before I sleep most nights. I went on a shopping spree a week or two ago and grabbed a bunch of Dreamcast games, so I'm finally learning Street Fighter III: Third Strike as well as finally getting around to playing Jet Grind Radio for the first time. Oh, and that Shovel Knight: Plague of Shadows DLC is dope. I've been in full-blown "gotta catch 'em all" mode with Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon and Yo-Kai Watch. I'm pretty much done with Yo-Kai Watch, but I'm still trying to beat some of those post-game bosses. They're really hard! I'll probably have to find a good place to grind if I ever want to beat them all. Apparently if I lived in the world of Pokemon, I would be a Mudkip. Who knew? I'm a bit disappointed that I haven't been able to recruit Cubone yet, but I'll manage (I guess). I like that Super Mystery Dungeon lets me see a side of the Pokemon that I don't often get to see. They all have personalities, quirks, and opinions and it's really fun to get to know them all. It's like that episode of the anime where they all wash up on a desert island and Ash's Pokemon end up hanging out with Team Rocket's Pokemon and you get to hear what they're actually saying to each other. Except in the game, you don't have to listen to all that "Squirtle Squirtle!" "Charmander!" "Bulba Bulbasaur!" nonsense. Thank god. At my real job, we're entering what is known as the busy season, aka hell month, aka all employees on suicide watch month. That's right, I work in retail. So after eight stressful hours of people telling me I ruined their Christmas or I made their children cry (both of which just make me laugh, laugh, laugh), I like to come home and play a game that really relaxes me; like Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson. Nothing helps me get through the holidays better than pretending the people I'm slicing and dicing up in that game are the customers who annoy me so much. What's that Mrs. Stevens? Your Christmas is a bust because we ran out of Monopoly sets and you decided not to order until December 22nd? How about I make it up to you with a katana to the face? Oh Mr. Peters I'm sorry. You were supposed to get that package before Thanksgiving so you could give it to your daughter as a Thanksgiving gift, as if that should be a real thing? Eat boot, asshole! Baby life has kept me from playing any game solo for more than 30 minutes at a time, but I've been playing Nintendo Badge Arcade every morning while I'm in the bathroom (70 badges so far and I haven't spent a cent), and I've got a new record on Super Graviton in VVVVVV (19.43 seconds!). I also finally managed to get through Plague Knight's campaign in Shovel Knight, and was shocked by how sincerely touching many of the cut scenes were. When other people are around, we've been popping in Runbow, Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival, and Sportsball while swapping off turns keeping the kid happy. Juggling games and child care is like a game unto itself, and so far, I haven't lost any lives. Maybe I should go pro. My backlog's now ballooning to include the likes of Metal Gear Solid V, Assassin's Creed: Syndicate, the last episode of Game of Thrones, Destiny and other games which I know are really good and fun to play, and it's all because of Fort Construction Simulator 2287 Fallout 4. About 30 of the 40-or-so hours the savegame timer is telling me I've had with Bethesda's latest have been spent with the game's gratuitously deep settlement system. On the one hand, it's dreadfully unnecessary and essentially cuts the legs out from under Bethesda's most accomplished main story so far (though that isn't saying a whole lot in the grand scheme of things). On the other hand, my Sanctuary Hills settlement is really coming along, in that romanticizing-shantytowns kind of way. Check it out below (complete with royalty-free music courtesy of Youtube's copyright enforcement thingamabob): [embed]322272:61236:0[/embed] I've spent every spare moment of the past two weeks as a post-apocalyptic hoarder in Fallout 4. Just like grandpa working on his train sets, the miniature model enthusiast in me has surfaced in a weird way and I've gone deep on the settlement building aspect of the game even though it's really, genuinely, terrible. All of my settlers have cute little ramshackle apartments, access to clean water, and all the laser guns they could ask for even though I'm still not sure what (if anything) they can do for me after 20 hours in. Please send help. After spending around ten hours getting the elderly Mama Murphy high as fuck in Fallout 4, I fell back into my own personal addictions: Halo 5: Guardians and Hearthstone. I can't help it, I just love opening card packs, as well as the rush of having close matches which both games provide. Recently played through the first episode of Tales from the Borderlands with my boyfriend which was surprisingly hilarious, plus it fed my newfound obsession of Hunter S. Thompson, as there is a character that looks and dresses like him.  Other times I'm lying in my bed with my Vita playing through Superbeat: Xonic for review obsessively, while loud techno and metal fill the air alongside my swearing.   I want to say I'm re-experiencing Undertale's charming pacifist run. A game chock full of so many secrets that I'd replay the entire game to see the things I missed like Sans' room or beating Thundersnails. Or I could say I'm replaying Bayonetta 2 and trying to unlock the other, extra hard secret characters like Rosa or Rodin. But I'm not. I'm playing Nintendo Badge Arcade. I put a dollar in to grab the Animal Crossing badges just now, because of course I will, I have the Isabelle and signboard 3DS theme. You can also never play too much Super Smash Bros. 4, especially with Cloud on the horizon. I recently finished up the latest Minecraft: Story Mode episode for review, and it was all right. I have a few games on my list to get to before we start working up our Game of the Year lists, like Undertale and Life is Strange, but I haven't started either of those. Right now I'm on vacation, away from my PC and consoles, so all I'm really playing is stuff on my 3DS and my phone. I've been getting through Hitman GO, which is dressed up like a cute little board game about murder. Also still chugging away at Ultimate Angler on the 3DS, because StreetPass games are always going to be the best. What am I playing? More like what aren't I playing, right?! But, can we talk seriously for a minute? I'm begrudgingly playing Fallout 4. Have a bunch of people above me already talked about Fallout 4? I haven't bothered to look, but I bet they did. You're probably reading this article while you take a break from Fallout 4. It's goddamn everywhere. I'm not sure I have a lot of nice things to say about it but I'm still playing it. I guess that counts for something. I think it's my favorite Ubisoft game ever. The missus and I are currently burning through The X-Files, just in time for the new mini-series in January. You know, I'm amazed at how well the entire show holds up (though, I say this as we currently work our way through Season 7, a.k.a. David Duchovny's last full season, a.k.a. it all goes to shit) and I've totally fallen back in love with Gillian Anderson, reigniting my first TV crush from all those years back. Not even her awful wig in those new trailers can diminish it, now! Anyway, as part of the binge, I played The X-Files FMV game in its intended place during Season 3; between Wetwired (where Scully goes coco-bananas due to broadcast signals) and Talitha Cumi (the finale where Mulder befriends that guy from The Invaders). As a game, it has all the hallmarks of why FMV failed, but also it works remarkably well in trying to emulate the show within such limitations; especially when it came out just as The X-Files loosened up, got cool, and put out its best work. Also, I'm currently playing through Breach & Clear: Deadline, which isn't too bad considering the Steam Sale price. It's a spin-off of a tactical shooter in the vein of Rainbow Six/SWAT/Doorkickers, but the fact it involves rushing zombie hordes makes a lot of your tactical decisions, and the very title, a tad redundant. But, hey, it's actually a fun little game if you're not too cynical about the planning and light RPG elements. Also, also I'm still playing PAYDAY 2 because I'm a monster on par with Hitler. If you've followed my quickposts of late, you know I have been on a huge Castlevania binge, which will be concluding soon with Rondo of Blood, Order of Ecclesia and then Symphony of the Night's Maria Mode. I also recently finished Dawn of Sorrow and Portrait of Ruin. I've also been playing Child of Light, Fire Emblem: Awakening and Super Smash Bros. for 3DS. This will be my third time through Awakening, which is starting to become something of an annual tradition for me. It's just such a charming game and I usually lose Vaike along the way, but maybe he'll live this time. Sadly, I can't marry Tharja, but Nintendo will let me marry her prior incarnation in Birthright next year. Smash is the main obsession right now, though. Just unlocked Jigglypuff and I'm maining Zero Suit Samus, Robin and Pikachu so far. Mostly Zero Suit Samus since Samus is the best ever when she's not in Metroid Other M. Robin is an interesting challenge with the limited use of tomes and swords, I just have to get over Robin not looking like my Robin in Awakening. It's like seeing a Commander Shepherd, but it's not your Shepherd. I'm hoping Shovel Knight and Shantae get to join the fray through the Smash Ballot, too. If some sulky, spikey-haired, fake soldier with glowy eyes can get in, the Cerulean Spader and a bellydancing half-genie are fair game. I guess we'll see. My experience of Fallout 4 as read by SNL’s City Correspondent, Stefan: The hottest new experience in video games right now is Fallout 4.  This post-apocalyptic thrill kill club has it all. Ashes. Crab people. Mad Max Scarecrows. And just when you think you’ve seen it all…what’s that? Teddy Bear Night Light! (It’s that thing where you kill a Glowing One then cover it in teddy bears.) Thanks to The Old Hunters DLC, I'm back into Bloodborne. I left off months ago with a new game+++ save file, so I had to start fresh and work my way back up to even access the expansion, much less make any real progress in it. Far too many hours later, I'm so close to the end. I've done everything but take out the optional boss, and I can hardly imagine that ever happening without summoning a near-flawless co-op player. It's such an unforgiving fight! As much as it's a total slog and I've become exceedingly impatient, I'm too stubborn to give up. I also got one of those $20 PlayStation TVs and, after scrolling through the online system library, I'm now just playing old favorites like What Did I Do To Deserve This, My Lord? and Patapon. Worth it. People can pretty much see what I've been playing through reviews, but in addition to the Bloodborne DLC and Xenoblade Chronicles X, I'm peppering in some Final Fantasy XIV and Destiny. The latter is really winding down though as Bungie hasn't introduced anything new in a while, and since my normal raid group is starting to get pissed at the triple-RNG involved in hard mode (getting the item, then getting the right level, and the right roll), they don't play as much. Beyond that my wife and I still play Pikmin 3's bingo versus mode on occasion, as well as Black Ops III via split-screen. Whenever I'm in the middle of college finals, I tend to gravitate towards games that can be played in the space between cram sessions. And every year since 2012, the game I pick to fill that void is the regular Call of Duty release. I am part of the problem.  Black Ops III is difficult to come back to after the similarly-themed Advanced Warfare. The gun sight that lit up enemies and the corner-friendly boost in Advanced Warfare were cornerstones of my almost 1:1 K/D ratio (impressive for someone who is normally very bad at shooters), and losing those tools in the transition to Black Ops III was a blow. Plus, as of Thanksgiving, we've officially hit the point where people have those maps memorized from every angle. Call of Duty's progression system continues to be immensely satisfying on a macro and micro level, culminating in a cycle that's difficult to escape when there's an upgrade perpetually right around the corner, so it's not like I'm going to quit any time soon. I barely have time to play anything else! I'm still playing Dragon Age: Inquisition. Is it just me or does this game not have an end? Sure, I picked it up in the summer almost a full year after release -- but I'll be damned if I haven't given in to my completionist mindset trying to pick up every last shard. Is it worth it? Almost 100 hours into the game and at this point contemplating ways to conjure up a mass kool-aid suicide in Skyhold just to keep something -- anything -- moving along in the plot. That Cullen though. He's no Alistair, but you can't deny that fur mantle. BioWare - 3; Caitlin - 0 (let's not forget about Thane). Reporting live from Santa Teresa, New Mexico! This forced vacation has allowed me more game time than usual. On the way over here in the RV, I played Eldritch Horror and Dungeons & Dragons with my lady and her brother. On the digital front, I brought my laptop and I've been playing more Killing Floor 2 and some Downwell. If you think the latter game is difficult, try it on a bumpy ass RV with poor weather stripping. Before the trip, I finished Rise of the Tomb Raider, which I enjoyed, but might as well have been called Tomb Raider: The Exact Same Narrative Beats as the Last Time, or even Tomb Raider: Why are the Only Good Parts of the Story Buried in Shitty Audio Logs? Obviously, I have some thoughts about this. You'll be hearing from me soon. And gosh, I haven't even started playing Fallout. I might just wait until next year.  I've been eclectic. I jumped into some first-time-in-months Rocket League that dulled after winning at least 10 in a row. I turned on XCOM, got in that save where I was naming everyone after Destructoid staff, remember I'd fucked up last time I was streaming it, and proceeded to watch everyone I work with impaled and vomited on by chryssalids (only Caitlin and Darren survived by virtue of having been in the infirmary). Kicked around some Downwell but it wasn't pulling from the cloud save and knocking off rust sans Levitate style was taxing. Stopped myself from mindlessly playing more Resident Evil 4.  After all the hit 'em and quit 'ems I settled into some The Testament of Doctor Mabuse because I wanted to watch more Fritz Lang and fell asleep during Stromboli. All substitutes for Rififi and other Criterions not in Hulu's collection. I've also been watching that Jessica Jones program, the only superhero thing I've seen since Guardians of the Galaxy (and before that, the first Avengers, and part of some X-Men movie in the airplane window reflection of the guy in front of me). I appreciate the reduced scale and attempts at not sharing the same visual style as others of its ilk (all the action looks the same! They're all shot and edited the same!), I'm torn on always having "Basketball Jones" stuck in my head. - What in Sam Hill are YOU playing?
What'cha playin'? photo
With my heart?
Lord on a skateboard we did it, that's it, the year's over, there's nothing left to get through in 2015 (year 3 of Luigi). I'd like to thank everyone who got us this far and let's just coast into 2016, done completely with ho...

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Sup Holmes

Rally 'round the family with Runbow and Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime


Sup Holmes every Sunday at 2:30pm EST!
Nov 25
// Jonathan Holmes
[Sup Holmes is a weekly talk show for people that make great videogames. It airs live every Sunday at 4pm EST on YouTube, and can be found in Podcast form on Libsyn and iTunes.] With Thanksgiving almost u...

The Silent Hill Retrospective: Origins

Nov 21 // Stephen Turner
Origins is, without being too harsh, a Xerox of the original. The big picture is always in frame, but many of the details, what made the original Silent Hill so special, are faded. Familiar faces fulfill their established roles, locations are revisited and remixed, and the journey from the outskirts of town to the middle of nowhere seems oddly comforting. It's Silent Hill re-told by fans; a closeness that robs Origins of an outsider perspective and player alienation. Narratively speaking, Silent Hill's success was down to its "one-and-done" attitude. For all the weirdness on display, its character motives were clear and the important historical aspects were found on every street corner; allowing us to fill in the blanks with little conjecture. Origins, as the name suggests, fills it in for us at the expense of brevity and credibility, as all those detours into exposition and connections actually harm the original's acts of desperation and improvisation. Be honest: Do you need to know exactly how a baby girl ends up at the side of the road in Silent Hill? Isn’t it more tragic and disturbing when the Masons stumble upon her, and letting our imaginations run wild? That's the major narrative flaw of all prequels, though. They can only embellish, not establish. Silent Hill never needed Travis Grady. While he’s actually a likable protagonist, and his profession as a trucker is quite metaphorical (motel suicides and freeway escapism go hand-in-hand), his story is, sadly, just an excuse for new gameplay ideas and player agency. Origins is Alessa Gillespie’s story, from the house fire to the rear view mirror. One passes into lore, the other is just a footnote, but both vie for your attention in an act of narrative dominance. Unsurprisingly, it seeps into every scene between Travis and Alessa, as he struggles with her manipulations, before succumbing to the role of catalyst. To its credit, Origins made good on its use of mise-en-scene when it comes to giving Travis definition. The various locations were grandiose, gothic, and theatrical - each one a conspiratory labyrinth beyond the understanding of a small blue collar man - with only the Riverside Motel being intimate and claustrophobic for the sake of acceptance and heroism. For a character dragged along by established events, Travis' only form of control is through the use of mirrors, now portals to The Otherworld and back again. Though it reinforced his strength to rebel against the ruling class of Silent Hill, the act also dampened its most foreign aspect. The Otherworld (here, a fire-damaged mess until the familiar rust-and-blood takes hold) was no longer this conceptual tour-de-force that made the audience endure for its narrative riches. Now it was a tourist attraction, one that could be appraised at the flip of a switch. Though their appearances are little more than novelty, seeing Silent Hill's cast all young and fresh faced left us with a wistful yearning, not unlike finding old snapshots of family and friends. Dahlia Gillespie was a white-trash brunette, while Dr. Kaufmann looked a little more dashing without the spare tires. Sure, their stories were already told, but if Origins couldn't escape the past, at least it would have fun reveling in nostalgia. Most affecting, though entirely arbitrary, is Lisa Garland. Instead of being seen through the eyes of a child, we see the drug addict once alluded to in her diary. At the motel, that sound of her having sex in a nearby room perfectly deconstructs the naïve adoration of her fanbase, bonding them to an equally heartbroken Travis in the process. Personally, it's one of the better parts of Origins, a subtle, real-time moment that Climax would refine in every one of Shattered Memories' car journeys. From then on, a grittier, gut-punch characterisation would permeate all of the Westernised Silent Hill games. Origins isn't an awful game, nor is it a stellar one. It simply exists. There's always a shallow memory waiting to strike, deep in the mist, lost to the shadows. Psycho-sexual images roam the halls, lumbering beats loosely touch upon its protagonist's travels, nurses make their return and substitutes like The Butcher step in for missing icons. Origins works best at conjuring up warm feelings when revisiting Central Silent Hill, left to your own devices and Akira Yamaoka's bite-sized score (which is more of throwback, than throwaway). But for every right, it's bound by a necessary wrong. Personally, that's what make the game so middle-of-road, rather than outright terrible. But it's impossible to ignore the fact Origins was meant to reboot the series with a fresh set of eyes, and sell a few PSPs in the meantime. Instead, it only served to strengthen the trepidation in its fanbase. Silent Hill would go through a difficult time, of which much is still up for debate, before Konami gave up on this outsourcing malarkey. From Origins to Downpour, as much as they tried new ideas, they were always reliant on what the fans liked to sell as many copies as they could in the face of dwindling interest. And who knows if P.T./Silent Hills will get that resurrection it deserves. But no matter what happens, just like Travis Grady, Origins will always remain the little guy in the big burning house, almost consumed by the flames of the past.
Silent Hill photo
'You all left that girl to burn!'
Silent Hill: Origins opened with an outsider saving a little girl from a house fire. But when you look back on its place in the series, it meant so much more than a simple rescue. Travis Grady had problems of his own, but the...


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