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Top ten best THQ games: Remembering a giant

Jan 31 // Allistair Pinsof
Anyone who knows me, knows that I loves me strategy games. I love StarCraft, Rise of Nations, Sins of a Solar Empire, Civilization -- you name it. Company of Heroes was probably the first one that got me really into WWII from a strategy perspective. It is also one of the first games that took advantage of advanced graphics -- namely, destructible environments -- that have a huge effect on gameplay. As tank shells create craters, for example, your infantry can use the modified terrain as cover. Subtle details like that keep gameplay fun and dynamic and also provide a refreshing twist on the classic RTS. - Daniel Starkey [Take a look back at our previous Company of Heroes coverage.] Licensed games, as a general rule, tend to be rather uninspired affairs. Relic Entertainment's acclaimed Warhammer 40,000 titles fly in the face of that trend. Space Marine and the Dawn of War series are genuinely entertaining titles that pay homage to Games Workshop's license rather than abuse it. Relic has delivered quality experiences time and again, developing games capable of standing on their own merits while still providing ample amounts of fan service for the already initiated. As someone who has spent more than a fair share of hours painting miniatures and rolling dice, it's clear Relic has a great deal of reverence for the source material. Captain Titus' battle with Ork and Chaos forces on Forge World Graia brought that universe to life for me. I wish Relic the best and hope that their new overlords at Sega allow them to keep making these games for a long, long time. - Kyle MacGregor [Take a look back at our Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine review.] While the game was initially buggy, a heroic modding community has managed to make S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl into something worth celebrating; despite its dreary setting and almost constant peril, the Zone was a place that oozed life. It is a brave game both mechanically and tonally, considering no FPS has come close to what S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl attempts is slightly sad; the singular highpoint of the whole Call of Duty franchise is when the series visits Pripyat in the irradiated zone. - Alasdair Duncan [Take a look back at our S.T.A.L.K.E.R. coverage.] It feels wrong to love Saints Row 2, but it feels even worse not to. The presentation lacks polish, the writing is tasteless, the focus is aimless ... but it's so fun!  Where Saints Row made a marked improvement on the GTA series' controls, Saints Row 2 makes a remarkable improvement on almost every other level. GTAIV offered flawless presentation but boring combat; Saints Row 2 is just the opposite. It's the sandbox game I've always wanted, where nothing matters but the player having fun. Want to surf on a car for no reason?  Hell ya!  Want to ride golf carts through a mall while doing a drive-by?  YES! Even the music is awesome in this game. GTA is great but nothing compares to firing infinite rockets at cop cars while driving to Hum's "Stars". If only I could merge Saints Row 2's gameplay with GTA4's presentation and story, I'd have the greatest game ever. For now, I'll take Saints Row 2 over GTAIV.  After all, I can watch The Wire if I want inner city drama.  - Allistair Pinsof [Take a look back at the only Saints Row 2 video that matters on the internet.] Lock's Quest is one of the most unique games released on the Nintendo DS. It spices up tower defense with direct character control and RPG elements.  Long before Iron Brigade and Starhawk, Lock's Quest had players building walls and constructing turrets to later fight among them. The ability to directly control Lock on the battlefield may seem trivial at first, but it adds an entirely different prioritization element to tower defense, where Lock's location, health, and special abilities all factor into the decision making process.  As a tower defense game, it really shines in that it's not unforgiving in its difficulty, but the later levels really feel like they push you to your limits. While it's satisfying to have a great base built that easily repels the hordes of robots, it doesn't get much better than feeling all is lost only to scrape by with a well timed electrical explosion that takes out the last of the advancing enemies. Lock's Quest is pure fun, whether you are a fan of tower defense or not. - Darren Nakamura [Take a look back at our Lock's Quest review.] 50 Cent: Bulletproof was an awful waste of time. 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand, on the other hand, stands as the greatest guilty pleasure for any person who was brave enough to try it back in 2009. 50 Cent and G-Unit are playing a venue somewhere in the Middle East where his payment is in the form of a diamond skull, because why the hell not? As luck would have it, that skull is stolen and 50 Cent goes on a bullet hose rampage, destroying the country and yelling "you fucked up!" at everyone until he finds it. Because no one takes Fiddy's skull. No one. - Brett Zeidler [Take a look back at our 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand review.] Red Faction: Guerrilla is initially interesting for its building destruction mechanics. It's quite a hoot to blow up a building's support beams and watch it tumble down into pieces on top of anyone around it. I might die in the process, but it hardly matters since I'll just get a new guy and have at it again. That's when it hit me: these thoughts and ideas have a lot, perhaps too much, in common with those of terrorists. After all, the goal is to drive these uninvited invaders off of the planet, since they're only there for economic reasons. Guerrilla explores terrorism in an almost uncomfortable way, by executing it perfectly. Throwing away a life in an explosive raid is okay to do within the game, though it does make me a bit uncomfortable. And I love that. - Patrick Hancock [Take a look back at our Red Faction: Guerrilla review.] Very few games have warmed my heart like Costume Quest. There's just something about it. Although many people were quick to point out it was a very basic RPG experience, for a downloadable title it was perfect. Subtle changes to RPG tropes, like candy as currency and trick-or-treating as quests, helped showcase that the game wasn't merely a homage, but a labor of love. Combat has elements reminiscent of Super Mario RPG and exploring the whimsical world never felt like a chore. Double Fine did a great job recapturing the spirit of every child's favorite evening, and THQ did the right thing by publishing it. - Chris Carter [Take a look back at our Costume Quest review.] Until the arrival of Darksiders 2, drawing comparisons to Zelda was used interchangeably as a slight and compliment. Whether shamelessly cribbing from God of War, Portal, and Panzer Dragoon made the game stronger or not was also a point of contention. Never before had a game attempted such blatant copying of contemporary, popular games. Though some resisted Darksiders -- and still do -- for me, it showed that there is no shame in copying others when quality and holistic design come before tribute. The variety of level design comes from copying other titles, but Vigil Games is what made all the disparate parts come together in a game that continues to surprise until its end. When stripped away from its idols, you get Darksiders 2, the equivalent of a dried-out sponge. - Allistair Pinsof [Take a look back at our Darksiders review.] Some people may say that its predecessor, Saints Row 2, was a funnier and better game. These people are afraid of change. The Third is the full realization of what the series had been working towards. It is utterly ridiculous and doesn't pretend to be anything but. By doing this, the actions of the player outside of cutscenes fall in line with the character's actions within them, unlike a certain other company's open world games.The http://deckers.die mission in particular is what skyrockets this game above any other. In a single mission you become a toilet, a sex doll, use the Mega Buster, participate in a text adventure, and fight a boss that simulates lag. I truly hope that when future generations talk about the best levels in video games, deckers.die is sitting alongside the classics. - Patrick Hancock [Take a look back at our Saints Row: The Third Dildo Baseball Bat review.]
Top Ten THQ Games photo
From wrestlers to panda-suit-wearing sociopaths
When assessing a publisher's impact on the industry, we tend to focus on the highs rather than consistency. THQ was anything but consistent, putting out Nintendo DS shovelware, rushed licensed games, and taking part in one of...

Destructoid's dream list of Wii U remakes

Jan 24 // Tony Ponce
Viewtiful Joe 1 & 2 Watching the latest trailer for The Wonderful 101, I get a sudden urge to replay director Hideki Kamiya's original tokusatsu game, Viewtiful Joe. Ever since Clover Studio was shuttered, Capcom has let this marvelous property go to waste, trotting Joe out only for crossover fighters. It's time to bring the "henshin" hero back with an HD compilation of the two mainline titles! Viewtiful Joe was every bit as stylish as its titular star, rocking that cel-shading like the world was ending. As two of the most visually striking games on the GameCube, an HD overhaul would only make them look more amazing, with thick bold lines and nary a sharp polygonal corner. I also see a great opportunity for Capcom to tweak the games for the GamePad in order to incorporate touch abilities from the DS installment, Viewtiful Joe: Double Trouble! In that game, Joe could split the screen in half by drawing a line, swap the top and bottom screens, and manipulate objects in the environment. It might sound a bit gimmicky, but I strongly believe that there is potential for some clever puzzles and gameplay across two screens. But perhaps that's leaning too far into sequel territory. I really just want a Viewtiful Joe 1 & 2 combo pack so that maybe Capcom will wake up and complete the trilogy. Killer7 Killer7 is one of the most celebrated games to come out of Japan, but it can be a bit polarizing for some, particularly with the control scheme. That wouldn't be an issue with the Wii U, however, with the ability to customize multiple control options and tweak them into perfection. Think about it -- changing personas on the GamePad? Viewing all the pertinent information you need without having to pause the game? Those who wish to use IR controls would also have the Wii Remote at the ready thanks to the Wii U's diverse control options. Visually, although the original is still relevant, a nice HD sheen will do wonders in bringing Killer7 to a new generation. Now is a great time to strike while the iron is hot, as Suda has enjoyed immense success since No More Heroes. Suda, I hope you're listening! Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem You'd be hard-pressed to find a videogame mindfuck as crazy as Eternal Darkness. I mean, it can be done, especially if you dig deep into the PC's recesses of adventure titles, but there was something special about playing Eternal Darkness on a Nintendo console that made it delightfully macabre. Think of the possibilities with the Wii U GamePad! The insanity effects when your character's sanity bar drops too low, a staple of Eternal Darkness, could be even more absurd as the game plays tricks on your GamePad and TV in tandem. Given the large number of items and weapons, on-screen equipment capabilities also have the potential to improve combat. The only real Achilles' heel of the original was the graphical limitations of the GameCube and Silicon Knight's development tools, both of which are rectified on the HD Wii U. Chibi-Robo! Plug into Adventure! When this game was first released, videogames about "relationships" and "achievements" were a rarity. These days, they're all anyone can talk about. Chibi-Robo! did all that first, and in this writer's humble opinion, it did it all best. What appears on the surface to be a simple game about a tiny robot making his way through a suburban home quickly evolves into an adventure into family dysfunction. The husband is out of work and obsessed with escapism through watching TV and collecting toys. The wife feels lost and alone, with only little Chibi-Robo to confide in. The daughter thinks they're all awful and spends most of her life pretending to be a frog. Only Chibi-Robo can save them from divorce and despair. You also get to play a game of Tamagotchi. Think of how amazing that would be in HD! This under-appreciated masterpiece deserves a second chance, in high definition or otherwise. Cubivore: Survival of the Fittest Hey, you know that Tokyo Jungle game that's so trendy right now? Back in the day, there was a game just like that, but with added heaven, poops, rainbows, and cubes. That game was called Cubivore. Can you imagine seeing them cube-faced dicks in HD for the first time with no jaggies? Mega Man Network Transmission This game is awesome in theory, but pretty messy in practice. What better time to clean up by changing the character run speed and tweaking the enemy damage threshold / power than during Mega Man's 25th birthday? For those who haven't played it, Mega Man Network Transmission is a 2D platformer that features a Battle Network-style remix of multiple characters and bosses from the classic Mega Man series. It feels like two or three old-school Mega Man games in one, with the addition of polygon-based graphics and Zero from the Mega Man X series thrown in for good measure. It's a shame that more fans of the series haven't played this one. It would be hard to imagine an HD remix of this obscure title selling well at retail, but throw that thing down on the Wii U eShop for $10, and the game could finally find the audience that it always deserved. Odama This quirky combination of pinball and battlefield tactics was one of the last titles published for the GameCube, and it remains one of my favorite titles from that platform. As Yamanouchi Kagetora, a young general in feudal Japan, the player leads a small force of men against a massive army using their secret weapon, a huge stone ball called the Odama. A great combination of action and strategy, the player has to issue commands to their troops (by voice -- Odama made use of the GameCube microphone peripheral) while simultaneously directing the Odama by way of flippers and tilting the landscape. A remake of Odama on Wii U could be extraordinary. For starters, there's no longer need of any peripheral devices to play, as the GamePad's built-in microphone addresses the need to issue voice commands. Likewise, tilt controls could be managed with the GamePad's accelerometers rather than buttons, and I expect that such action would feel quite satisfying with that broad controller in hand. Of course it will never, ever happen. Smashing together two niche gameplay genres seems like a good way to make a game with an even more limited audience, and Odama did not fare well either critically or commercially upon release. Still, if we're dreaming, I'd love to see another stab taken at this unique game. The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures When the Wii U was first revealed, one of the first games that came to mind was The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures. For the fortunate few who could muster all of the necessary hardware to play a four-player game, this was one of the most hectic cooperative-competitive hybrid experiences of its time. The GamePad seemed like it was built for Four Swords Adventures, with action moving between the main screen for outdoor environments and individual screens for indoor areas. That's not even mentioning that the hand-drawn Wind Waker-esque sprites would look incredible in HD. Sadly, when Nintendo announced that support for four GamePads wouldn't be included in the Wii U's capabilities, the dream of having more people with access to such a unique style of gameplay was dashed. With online capability, it's still technically plausible, although a lot of the charm would be lost without the ability to have four players smashing pots and throwing each other into pits all on the same screen. Star Fox Adventures Despite all of the flak that it gets for its departure from on-rails shooting, Star Fox Adventures was actually a pretty great action-adventure game. As Rare's last game for a non-handheld Nintendo system, both its mechanics and its world were expertly crafted. Remade on the Wii U, the aptly, if not unimaginatively, named Dinosaur Planet and all of its scaly inhabitants could look fantastic. The GamePad wouldn't have to do much more than display a map or function as Fox's inventory screen, and it would be a streamlined experience. However, in the spirit of a true remake, Star Fox Adventures could be revamped to include more uses for Fox's sidekick Tricky, promoting him from a useful tool to a fully controllable cooperative partner. With the GamePad screen, Tricky could explore areas independently, aiding Fox in more meaningful ways. P.N.03 Combat is often described as a dance, and few games epitomize that rhythmic struggle more so than P.N.03. Vanessa Z. Schneider is a graceful heroine, one who responds to the ebb and flow of combat with acrobatic leaps and stylish moves, dodging and hurtling over gunfire with the elegance of a figure skater. It's just too bad that she handles more like Jill Valentine than Michelle Kwan. Tank-like controls, a holdover from Shinji Mikami's work on the Resident Evil games, make for a steep learning curve. However, it's mastering P.N.03's systems and working within its constraints that makes the game such an enjoyable experience (and the pulsing techno and synth-rock soundtrack doesn't hurt either). I wouldn't mess this stylish arcade shooter's addictive formula for the world. Save, perhaps, for a fresh lick of paint and change of venue. Vanessa would look mighty pretty in high-definition on the Wii U. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles is my second favorite game on the GameCube, falling right behind the near-perfect Resident Evil 4. It was infinitely more charming than I had expected it to be. The art direction is among the best the series has seen, and I think, even in its original form, the game still holds up today. The stylized, impressive visuals are ripe for an HD remake and wouldn't expose any unsightly seams. A lot of the game's personality also comes from Kumi Tanioka's brilliant score, which is earthy, ancient, and incredibly unique. Still, while I got an uncommon kick out of playing the game solo, cooperative play is where it's at. Crystal Chronicles featured up to four player co-op and used the Game Boy Advance link cables so each player could access their own menus and deal with typical RPG fare without a convoluted system that burdens everyone else. The Wii U essentially offers a more advanced, standardized version of the Game Boy Advance-to-GameCube connection, making the parallel a no-brainer. Allowing for both local and online play also mitigates the hurdle of getting four people together in a room, though I feel the journey might lose a little luster without that inimitable, personal couch co-op feel. I've been disappointingly unimpressed by what I've played of follow-up entries in the Crystal Chronicles series, so going back to where they got everything right would be a nice way of introducing a more accessible version of the series to a new set of fans ready to caravan across the lands.
Wii U remakes photo
These GameCube titles deserve an upgrade!
Oh Nintendo. Now you've done it. In announcing The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker Reborn, a hi-res upgrade of the classic GameCube adventure, Nintendo has set a precedent for Wii U remakes. The gloves are off and everything ...

Game critics collective top 10 games of 2012

Jan 14 // Allistair Pinsof
The Process Each site’s game of the year receives 3 points. In the rare case that there were two winners (ugh), those 3 points were split (i.e. 1.5 points each). I split 4 points among nominees, cutting off nominees to four entries where possible. In the cases where nominees were unranked, I included all nine (or whatever number) and split four points between them (rounded to .4 points each). If a site had more than nine nominees, I didn’t include them at all because having 20 nominees is just silly. In the case that two games had the same number of points, I favored the one with more votes (i.e. those that appeared on the most lists).Finally, I must point out that some sites were left off this list because I couldn’t find their list or they opted out of doing one this year (see: 1UP). The List 15. Black Ops 2: 2.4 (3 votes)14. Spelunky: 2.4 (4 votes)13. Guild Wars 2: 2.8 (4 votes)12. (tie) Spec Ops: The Line: 3 (1 votes)12. (tie) Xenoblade Chronicles: 3 (1 votes)11. Trials Evolution: 3 (3 votes) 10) 6.7 (5 votes) "Can you remember when you first found out that the game was going to be set during the American Revolution? There was a good chance that sales of adult diapers skyrocketed as a result. Ubisoft, we salute you." - Complex 9) 7 (5 votes) "It's a perfect, wordless sci-fi parable - and an elegant comment on the development of video games themselves, expressed in a way only a game could articulate." - Eurogamer 8) 11.1 (9 votes) "Halo 4 showed that a fresh set of hands couldn’t hurt a franchise so strong and so loved." - GameRevolution 7) 13.5 (13 votes) "In a medium where narrative threads commonly go unresolved, BioWare should be commended for concluding most of the major sub-plots that were introduced in earlier games in the series." - Polygon 6) 16.7 (14 votes) "If you are up for a good laugh while shooting things in the face, Borderlands 2 is a worthy game to add to your collection. Soon enough, you'll see numbers popping above people's heads in real life and will feel compelled to search every Porta Potty on the street for cash." - Destructoid 5) 19.6 (16 votes) "Every part of Dishonored works in exquisite concert, every system complementing the others with a graceful cohesion that speaks of Corvo himself, and of the generosity in freedom and participation Dishonored extends to its players. Few games burst as fully formed from the ether – perhaps Dunwall’s most remarkable achievement is that it feels so inevitable." - Edge 4) 20.6 (15 votes) "A multiplicity of tactics and paths provide the player with a sense of true psychosomatic and terrestrial exploration. Far Cry 3 is a intrepid sequel that eschews the series's previous mistakes and leans on its strengths with the relish of a practiced hunter." - Slant Magazine 3) 28.7 (17 votes) "I could accuse developer thatgamecompany of obvious manipulation, warping the environment and the very light to instill emotions within me, but isn't that the point? To master the language of the medium, to be evocative and to make us walk a steep path and then let us savor the views from its peak? In Journey, world building, writing, and design feel like they're the same thing." - Joystiq 2) 29.9 (19 votes) "The game is deep but intuitive. It rewards planning and focus, it penalizes failure. It requires patience but can still be exciting. It's an easy game to start playing and a tough one to stop. Plus, that music when you're going into battle, always gets us pumped." - Kotaku 1) 38.9 (23 votes) "I want back the hour of my life I wasted on this game.First, this isn't a game. It is an interactive movie. It is one of those inane "push the right button when it flashes on the screen" snooze fests. It is about 90% cut scenes with the occasional button push. If you like CoD type games or open worlds, you will HATE this "game".Second, even for the genre it is terrible. The game has two modes: 1) an easy mode where it gives you hints about what is expected of you; and 2) a hard mode where there few if any hints. Not knowing what to expect, I opted for the hint mode. I would have actually been better off going it on my own.The first time this barely interactive cartoon lets you do anything, you have to get out of a car, get off your handcuffs, and deal with a cop-turned-zombie. After you have crawled to where your back is up against a police car, the screen starts flashing "look at cop". Ok, I look at the cop. The character says something and the zombie keeps coming. So I look at cop again. Same result. The screen says again "look at cop". So I look at the cop again. And he jumps on me and eats my brains -- "You are dead" says the game. After it reloads, when it tells me to look at the cop, I DON'T look at the cop, but look to my right and left and find a shotgun with a shell. Then I get to shoot the zombie. So what you actually have to do is the exact opposite of what the hint on the screen is blaring at you to do.And this is the VERY FIRST TIME you interact with the game. It does not get any better. I thought this style of game went out of vogue 30 years ago with the old Dragon's Lair quarter eater of the 80s. Sadly, it appears that this particular developer is going retro.If you are a fan of the Walking Dead and this review makes you mad (as seems to be the case based upon the feedback I have seen on the negative reviews), after you get done downvoting me, download it for free, realize I was absolutely right, and go spend your money on the next season of the Walking Dead TV show or some other merchandise. I PROMISE you that you will thank me for it. If you buy this game you will be throwing away money that could be used to actually satisfy your Walking Dead fix and entertain you.Don't say you weren't warned." - Angry user reviewer Gary, who did not factor into our ranking The Rest FTL: 2.4 (3 votes)Mark of the Ninja: 2.4 (3 votes)Super Hexagon: 2.4 (2 votes)Max Payne 3: 2 (2 votes)Sleeping Dogs: 2 (2 votes)Hotline Miami: 1.4 (2 votes)Diablo 3: 1 (1 votes)FIFA 13: 1 (1 votes)DOTA 2: 1 (1 votes)Tribes: Ascend: 1 (1 votes)Awesomenauts: 1 (1 votes)PlanetSide 2: 1 (1 votes)BlackLight Retribution: 1 (1 votes)Zero Escape: .8 (2 votes)Hitman: Absolution: .7 (1 votes)Crusader Kings II .4 (1 vote)Papa & Yo .4 (1 vote)The Unfinished Swan: .4 (1 votes) The Oddballs Xenoblade Chronicles received rave reviews, accumulating to a Metacritic score of 92. Yet, it only appeared on one list: Slant Magazine's, which gave it game of the year. Likewise, Mark of the Ninja and Trials Evolution have 90+ Metacritic scores but only managed to appear on 3 lists. The biggest shock is our #10 and #9 entries. Assassin's Creed III divided critics almost as much as Resident Evil 6, but still managed to make this list (mostly due to receiving top honors on at least one list). Fez, on the other hand, is one of the most well received games in 2012 in terms of reviews and social media buzz (I can't think of many other games discussed so fervently on Twitter.) The Sites Kotaku: XCOM    Noms: Super Hexagon, Crusdaer Kings II, Journey, Papa & Yo, Spelunky, Walking Dead, Zero EscapePolygon: The Walking Dead    Noms: Dishonored, XCOM, Journey, Far Cry 3Joystiq: Journey    Noms: Super Hexagon, Walking Dead, XCOM, FezGames Beat: Walking Dead    Noms: XCOM: Enemy Unknown (Xbox 360, PC)Journey (PSN)Borderlands 2 (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)Far Cry 3 (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)Halo 4 (Xbox 360)Dishonored (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)Gamespot: Journey    Noms: Dishonored, Guild Wars 2, Halo 4, Mark of the Ninja, Mass Effect 3, Spelunky, Walking Dead, XCOM, Zero EscapeMachinima: Halo 4    Noms: Borderlands 2, Black Ops 2, Dishonored, Mass Effect 3, Walking Dead, XCOM, Game Informer: Mass Effect 3 XPlay: Borderlands 2    Noms: Journey, Halo 4, Assassin’s Creed 3, Black Ops 2, XCOM, Hitman, IGN: Journey    Noms: Borderlands 2, Hotline Miami, Guild Wars II, FTL, Dishonored, The Unfinished Swan, Mass Effect 3, The Walking Dead, Halo 4Game Spy: XCOM    Noms: DOTA, Guild Wars 2, Planet Side 2, Borderlands 2GameFront: Walking Dead    Noms: Dishonored, XCOM, Tribes, Borderlands 2Yahtzee: Spec Ops: The LineNoms: Dishonored, The Walking Dead, Far Cry 3, XCOM,Total Biscuit: Journey    Noms: Awesomenauts, PlanetSide 2, FTL, BlackLight RetributionLazy Game Reviewer: Far Cry 3Noms: Sleeping Dogs, Dishonored, Mark of the Ninja, Borderlands 2 EDGE: Dishonored    Noms: Trials Evolution, XCOM, Spelunky, Super HexagonComplex: Walking Dead    Noms: Journey, Far Cry 3, Assassin’s Creed 3, FIFA 13Game Planet: Far Cry 3    Noms: Borderlands 2, Walking Dead, Mass Effect, Guild Wars 2Game Focus: DishonoredOXM: Walking Dead    Noms: Trials Evolution, Mark of the Ninja, Fez, Mass effect 3Dark Zero: Journey    Noms: Halo 4, Mass Effect 3, Walking Dead,Borderlands 2The Guardian: Dishonored, XCOM    Noms: Journey, Borderlands, Far Cry 3, EuroGamer: FezRev3: JourneyTelegraph: Walking Dead    Noms: Journey, Dishonored, XCOM, Far Cry 3GameRevolution: Assassin’s Creed 3    Noms: Halo 4, Far Cry 3, Mass Effect 3, The Walking DeadSlant Magazine: Xenoblade Chronicles    Noms: Journey, Walking Dead, Borderlands 2, Far Cry 3Thunderbolt: Walking Dead    Noms: XCOM, Hotline Miami, Far Cry 3, Max Payne 3Gamestm: Borderlands 2    Noms: Dishonored, Fez, FTL, Halo 4GameCentral Video Games: XCOM    Noms: Journey, Dishonored, Mass Effect 3, SpelunkyDigital Spy: Walking Dead    Noms: XCOM, Far Cry 3, Mass Effect 3, Trials EvolutionDtoid: Walking Dead    Noms: Borderlands 2, Dishonored, Journey, Mass Effect 3Giant Bomb: XCOM    Noms: The Walking Dead, Far Cry 3, Fez, Halo 4    Noms: The Walking Dead, Max Payne 3, Borderlands 2, Mass Effect 3 Gamesradar: Walking DeadAction Trip: XCOM    Noms: The Walking Dead: Season One (Telltale Games), Diablo 3 (Blizzard Entertainmentl), Far Cry 3 (Ubisoft Montreal), Assassins Creed 3 (Ubisoft Montreal).EGM: Far Cry 3    Noms: Borderlands 2, XCOM, Walking Dead, Sleeping DogsGameTrailers: XCOM    Noms: Assassin’s Creed 3, Black Ops 2, Journey, Mass Effect 3, 3DJuegos: Dishonored
Critics top games of 2012 photo
You probably can guess #1
My insatiable hunger for tracking and displaying the most revered games of the year will not end. I blame Metacritic. I also blame Metacritic for not doing a proper job in aggregating the best games of the year. While the sit...

A look back at 2012's most wanted games

Jan 04 // Allistair Pinsof
These are the games where our expectations were happily met by glowing reviews from Destructoid and other sites. Overall we were "right" about 21 out of 27 games. What we said in January: Prior to playing the beta, I wasn't so sure about Diablo III. All these years later, could it compare to the fond memories we have of its predecessors? My doubts disappeared almost immediately. It's funny how quick I was to forget that Blizzard takes its sweet time for a reason. What we said in our review: Even if it's not a perfect game, there's something special about Diablo, and it's something that keeps people playing beyond just a basic addiction to loot. That I've already sunk over 40 hours into the game in just over a week and I'm not even close to being bored of it yet is a testament to the magic of Diablo, and something that can't be ignored. [8.5] Metacritic: What we said in January: Arkane Studios make the type of games I like to play. It so happens that these are the type of games that rarely get made these days. Beyond Irrational Games, Bethesda, and Valve, no developer wants to take the risk of spending years crafting a rich, varied world that you can explore. It takes time, money, and a whole lot of skill. And, finally, Arkane have all three of these, which is why I think Dishonored will shape up to be one of 2012's most memorable single-player games. That, and I was blown away when I saw it in action at QuakeCon last year. What we said in our review: Dishonored is that game of 2012. It's the big intellectual property that comes to retail and shows up the competition by being bold, original, and -- more importantly -- brilliant. [9.0] Metacritic: What we said in January: Jenova Chen, Kellee Santiago, and their studio thatgamecompany made a name for themselves with their 2009 PSN title, Flower. It was a fundamentally simple game that nonetheless elicited passionate emotional responses from players, and few (if any) other titles since have matched it in those respects. What we said in our review: Journey's interactive, visual, and aural elements work together, rather than fight with each other, in order to provide a flowing, seamless, influential, and utterly exhilarating experience.    This is interactive art. This is how it's done. [9.0] Metacritic: What we said in January: See what happens when a company digs out its ears and listens to the fans? It was pretty much like pulling teeth with Nintendo, but now Xenoblade Chronicles is on its way to the US. Sure, I could have imported the European version, but having a cheaper option is always nice. What we said in our review: I am incredibly grateful to Xenoblade Chronicles, for it has rekindled my love for console JRPGs, a love that had been systematically throttled by the likes of Square Enix and tri-Ace for the past few years. [8.0] Metacritic: What we said in January: I could probably talk about Far Cry 2 all day. Despite all its failures and unrealized ambitions, its design supported player agency and offered nonlinear gameplay in ways that few games even dare to try, much less realize with a modicum of success. Allowing the player to approach a situation from any standpoint with any strategy and essentially design their own experience in such a vivid and immersive game world made Far Cry 2 an exciting step forward for the medium.  What we said in our review: One of those rare games where I feel no mode has been damaged by the inclusion of any others, Far Cry 3 is a well-rounded package that provides a mass of content clearly produced by developers who cared deeply about what they were doing. Far Cry 3 is going to be the last major mainstream release of 2012, and after quite a spotty year, I can at least say this industrious triad of amusements ends the past 12 months on a high note. [8.0] Metacritic: See also: Rhythm Heaven Fever La-MulanaRetro City RampageUncharted: Golden AbyssGravity Rush SSX Max Payne 3 Lollipop Chainsaw Borderlands 2  Resident Evil Revelations Paper Mario Pokémon + Nobunaga's Ambition Zero Escape: Virtue's Last RewardTheatrhythm Final Fantasy Quantum Conundrum Guild Wars 2 These are the games we got horribly wrong. We aren't gambling people for a reason. Sorry if you purchased any of these. If you did, you should have read the review first, ya dummy! What we said in January: I genuinely love the Kinect system and have managed to maintain a high level of optimism for it, but the games designed typically suffer from a severe lack of complexity. Developers are still testing the boundaries, seeing what design implementations work with full-body motion controls and which do not. For my money, I have long maintained that the solution lies in combining the control options of Kinect with the traditional controller.  What we said in our review: At its core, it's a basic mech game with a "realistic and gritty" feel to it that you've seen a million times before. Maybe at some point, the Kinect requirement can be patched out of it. Until then, piloting these Vertical Tanks even while sober may result in a loss of brain cells. [3.0] Metacritic: What we said in January: This game looks like an absolute delight, and is a shoe-in first-day pickup for me. A delightfully vicious little puzzle game in which two differently sized creatures have to escape from various Saw-like traps, Escape Plan marries intricate environmental puzzling to beautiful, stylized graphics to create something very unique looking. The protagonists, Lil and Laarg, are some of the most unusual game heroes I've seen in a while, and the ability to play around with them using touch controls ought to make for some remarkably tangible characters.  What we said in our review: Escape Plan never aims to be anything more than a showcase of the PlayStation Vita's touch controls, but said controls are so insensitive and poorly implemented that the best it can hope for is to be used as an example of what not to do when designing a Vita game. [4.5] Metacritic: What we said in January: Oh shut up! Dynasty Warriors is the greatest game series ever developed, and anybody who says otherwise is a thieving liar! In any case, Dynasty Warriors NEXT looks to inject some fresh ideas into the franchise, utilizing as it does every single mode of input the Vita boasts.   What we said in our review: Awful obligatory minigames aside, there's a solid game to enjoy at the core. You'll just have to be a really big fan to suffer through the dire moments. [6.0] Metacritic: What we said in January: Pikmin and Overlord fused together in the fires of Hell, set to music that makes you want to whip your hair around in a headbanging fury? Smart dual stick controls, big bosses and hilarious dialogue move this title to the top of my launch list. Where do I sign? I'll sign in blood! What we said in our review: It may not be the best-looking game in the Vita's launch line-up -- and it's definitely lacking in the variety department -- but the frantic gameplay and the insane death metal soundtrack help take the sting off. [7.0] Metacritic: See also:  The Last Story I Am Alive Many of our anticipated games have moved on to 2013. Even worse, some of them we haven't heard from in a long time. Let's check back in and see what's going on. What we said in January: I haven't watched an episode of South Park in about a year. Outside a couple episodes, it's never held my interest (You Have 0 Friends" was the last great one). The episodes typically start off with a good premise, but then run that premise into the ground through repetition and dull writing. Yet, here I am looking forward to Obsidian's attempt to RPG-ify the beloved brats and bring new life into Matt Stone and Trey Parker's ever-aging lovechild. Last update: There was an awesome new gameplay trailer at the Spike VGAs. The game now has a release window of Spring. Hopefully, we'll hear soon and THQ will manage to get it out without collapsing (we believe in you!) What we said in January: It wouldn't be a "most anticipated PS3" list without The Last Guardian, right? This game's numerous and lengthy delays -- I've put it on this list for three straight years, now -- haven't reduced my anticipation for it at all. What does have me somewhat worried is the departure from Sony of the project's visionary director, Team Ico's Fumito Ueda; at least he'll finish the game, and at this point, we're still assuming that that'll happen this year. Last update: They're working on it or so we have been told.   What we said in January: I played the game at E3 and absolutely fell in love with its crisp visuals and addictive gameplay. I can't wait to play more of Luigi's Mansion 2 when it comes out later this year! Last update: Chad Concelmo, who wrote the above piece, now works for Nintendo's PR. 1) That shows how much can change in a year. 2) TELL US WHEN THE GAME IS COMING OUT ALREADY, CHAD, WON'T YOU!??    See Also: Dragon Quest X Killzone VitaThe Last of Us Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance BioShock Infinite Professor Layton vs. Ace AttorneyRodea the Sky Soldier DOTA 2 [Images via Pixelitis, Garage Door Fail, and Retriever Man]
2012 Reflections photo
Remember Last Guardian?
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Remembering studios that closed in 2012

Dec 22 // Sterling Aiayla Lyons
Hudson Soft Founded on May 18, 1973, Hudson Soft has been a force in this industry for so long that it seemed as if it would always be around. By 2003, the company had over 500 employees, with studios in both Tokyo and California. Throughout its history, Hudson designed a vast amount games and characters, including the iconic Bomberman, as well as less-iconic-but-still-identifiable Bonk. This story was one that was drawn out, as last year saw the closure of the offices in California. The final nail would come this year, when even the Tokyo offices would also be shut down. It’s something that is definitely heartbreaking for many a fan of the company's works, as well as people who loved the classic bee logo -- doubly for people in both categories like me. With the closure came the announcement that Konami would be absorbing what was left of Hudson, and retiring the name. So while the cute bee might be put out on the rocker on the front porch, hopefully the properties that bee ran won’t be neglected in the future. THQ & THQ San Diego Yesterday we reported that THQ had filed for bankruptcy. The company may not intend to reduce its workforce size during this period, but it's not a very optimistic situation. In March, the company reported a net loss of $239.9 million for the end of the fiscal year, which was over $100 million greater than the previous year's loss. Shortly after, THQ publicly made a deal with Electronic Arts to sell off its license to the UFC franchise. This directly lead to the closure of the THQ studio located in San Diego, the team behind the UFC games. This is one of those times that just goes to show you how fragile some things are in the industry. One deal sealed the fate of a whole studio, and all the workers there. While this might not be the end for THQ yet, the company's long-term survival is by no means guaranteed. I don't usually root for a publisher, but my heart is out for this one, if only for Saints Row 4. Black Hole Entertainment Black Hole Entertainment might be known for a few different games. It developed a couple of Warhammer games: Mark of Chaos and Black March. The company's most notable recent achievement would be Heroes of Might and Magic 6, which can be claimed as the reason for its downfall. Shortly after filing for bankruptcy, an insider from the company came out with claims that Ubisoft, the publisher they worked with, was at fault. The claims laid down include a lack of accountability from Ubisoft for missed deadlines, consistently sudden changes and feature removal demands by Ubisoft, and Ubisoft restructuring the key development team numerous times. Supposedly, the penalties from the missed deadlines, as well as the losses from money spent on features taken out of the game after completed made it so that an unreasonable 200 million copies needed to be sold before Black Hole would see any profit. Whether these claims are true is unknown, but the fact that the company went bankrupt still remains. Radical Entertainment Radical Entertainment is mainly known for the recent series Prototype, but it has been around since 1991, getting passed between multiple publishing companies through its history. There were layoffs, and many claimed that these layoffs lead to the crash of the Vancouver game design market. It was the oldest studio located in Vancouver, after all. This story happens to have a silver lining, as it appears that the company is still partially intact, functioning as a support studio for Activision Blizzard. Rockstar Vancouver/Barking Dog Rockstar's Vancouver studio is known for Bully and the recently released Max Payne 3. Shortly after the release of Max Payne 3, it was announced that Rockstar would be dissolving the studio to refocus its efforts in Canada on its Toronto-based studio. This story does not bring the saddest news of closure though, unless you're someone complaining about the decline of the Vancouver market. All 35 of the Vancouver employees were offered positions within the Toronto studio. With the additional claim of more positions being created afterwards, hopefully this leads to big new projects coming from those folks. Sony Liverpool/Psygnosis Sony Liverpool, perhaps better known as Psygnosis, is the studio behind the WipEout series. At the start of the year, Sony Worldwide Studios came out with an announcement that they would be restructuring the Liverpool studio. Many of the projects they were working on were halted as a result. It wouldn't be until August when the announcement finally came about the studio's closing. The studio employed roughly 100 people across two development teams. The studio was reportedly working on two projects at the time, each for the next-generation Sony console. While the facility at Liverpool remains functional, it is only to house other Sony Computer Entertainment Europe departments. The status of the two projects, one being a new WipEout, is unknown. BigBig Studios BigBig Studios, I feel, is mainly known for Pursuit Force, one of the better launch games for the PlayStation Portable. The studio was formed from a core team of four former Codemasters employees. Sony acquired the studio in 2007, and assigned them to work exclusively on games for the portable system. That might have been the major component in the downfall of the studio, due to the generally dismal life of the portable device itself. The last game they made would be the recent Vita game, Little Deviants which released to less-than-stellar reviews. The studio would be shut down at the beginning of the year as part of restructuring of Sony's European studios. Zipper Interactive Zipper interactive started out making computer games before it became tied to the franchise that would rule the company for the most of its life span, SOCOM. In 2006, the studio was acquired by Sony Computer Entertainment and would go on to make games exclusively for the PlayStation brand.  Not to let SCE Europe have all the fun restructuring studios, SCE Worldwide Studios announced in March that Zipper Interactive would be shut down. The reason given was that it was part of a normal cycle of resource re-alignment within Sony. The studio had roughly 80 employees at the time of closure. Its recent games, SOCOM 4, MAG, and Unit 13 are still going to be supported, according to Sony. Paragon Studios NCSoft is one of the few companies that almost exclusively deals in MMOs. Of course, most of that is acquiring studios that make those kind of games and just putting the monetary system on top of that. There are two things that usually happen. Either the game becomes too bloated to sustain from a financial standpoint, or the people calling the shots shift their focus to something "new." Such is the case with City of Heroes, which was finally shut down this year, much to the outrage and disappointment of its players. The really sad part comes with the liquidation of Paragon Studios, the developers behind the game. As of now, I don’t exactly know what happened to the folks who worked there, whether they were reassigned, or just let go entirely. At the very least, I hope that they are all still out there making games. 38 Studios and Big Huge Games 38 Studios started in 2006, originally named "Green Monster Games." Founded by Baseball star Curt Schilling with a dream to make his own MMO, he seemed to start out the right way, hiring talent that had great experience in the game world. In addition to writer R.A. Salvatore and artist Todd McFarlane, former general manager of games at Comcast Jennifer Maclean, former lead engineer at EA Jon Laff, and a former lead designer of EverQuest Travis McGeathy were in the employ of the studio. To further bolster the prestigious talent base of the company, 38 games acquired studio Big Huge Games, of Rise of Nations fame. The single-player RPG that BHG was working on at the time would be turned into a tie-in to Schilling's MMO. It all looked like it was going the right way, and in 2010, the studio received a $75 million dollar guaranteed loan from the state of Rhode Island to relocate their business to the state, in the hopes of creating new jobs. In February of this year, that RPG would see release in the form of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, which received favorable reviews. A missed loan payment just a few months later, and very shortly after, the entire 379 person workforce was laid off, with 38 Studios entering bankruptcy. Schilling and his studio has come under investigation since then for criminal charges, though at the time of writing, no federal charges have been filed against him. A state-level investigation is still underway. As for the folks under Big Huge Games, they're still happily together as Epic Baltimore.
Studio Closures in 2012 photo
Taking a sec to pay respects
This year was great in general for videogames. Beyond the predictable success of games like Halo 4 and Call of Duty: Black Ops II, there were a ton of hits that came out of nowhere, including not just big publisher titles, bu...

Overlooked games of 2012

Dec 21 // Allistair Pinsof
Thomas Was Alone (PC, Mac) It's really no surprise that Thomas Was Alone flew under the radar for most gamers.  As an indie puzzle-platformer starring a bunch of single-colored rectangles, it isn't immediately apparent what makes Thomas Was Alone special.  While the puzzles themselves aren't particularly difficult, the real element that shines is the narration and storytelling.  The rectangles that make up the cast have more distinct personalities than some blockbuster game protagonists, and despite their minimalist representations, I found myself identifying with and even caring about each of the characters. Thomas Was Alone does more with its character development over its three-hour play time than other games do in 30 hours.  The fact that the story itself is unique and interesting is just icing on the cake.Sine Mora (PC, PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade) Sine Mora is one of the best games I've played all year and almost no one I know has heard of it. Simply put, it's a shoot 'em up that handles extremely well, looks great, and provides a solid challenge; if you let it. Akira Yamaoka's beautiful soundtrack augments the amazing gameplay which is mostly hinged on the concept of slowing down time.Instead of a regular health bar, you'll take what I refer to as "time damage" which is tied to your time manipulation mechanic. The better you do, the more power you'll have to utilize -- which means relying on it can get extremely risky. All of this will play out in front of a fairly well done mature story that involves unique anthropomorphic creatures and heavy themes, such as genocide and sexual assault.It's a shame so many people will miss out on it due to their preconceived notions of shoot 'em ups, but if you're just the least bit curious, I'd recommend giving it a shot during the next Steam, PSN, or XBLA sale.Tribes: Ascend (PC)"It looks like Halo," said a distinctly un-impressed Mikey Turvey, when I suggested he play Tribes: Ascend. Aesthetically, he was right; it's red vs. blue power-armoured dudes shooting each other with guns, but the other game that I though of whilst playing Tribes was Tiny Wings. Yes, the charming iOS title had the same sense of momentum and constant movement I got from Tribes. It's just so damm fast! You're constantly on the move, and the large arenas mean you're not simply spawning and getting killed within seconds. You've got some time to find the fight and swoop in for an immediate impact.Tribes: Ascend even managed to redeem Capture The Flag for me which is usually my least favourite multiplayer mode. Matches turn into lunatic chases, especially when carrying the flag. Mid-air duels became frequent, flying in from seemingly out of nowhere to snatch victory. With short and frantic matches being the order of the day, Tribes: Ascend became my multiplayer quick fix game in 2012. Long may it continue into 2013 and beyond.The Real Texas (PC, Mac) The Real Texas is a game that constantly fills my mind. You know, like when you say "Gurl are yo' legs tired? Cuz you been runnin' through my mind ALL day!" The Real Texas' legs must be super tired at this point, is what I'm saying. I replay events from the game in my head, approaching them from different ways.  Some things still remain a mystery to me.The Real Texas is a criminally overlooked game, one that will make you smile, laugh, and best of all, think! It's a quirky journey through one of the best settings in video games. It also has one of the best boss fights of all time, towards the end of the game. You need to play it, sit back, and enjoy yourself.  Natural Selection 2 (PC) I absolutely love competitive games. I grew up on Counter-Strike, Team Fortress Classic, and Day of Defeat. These days, I spend the majority of my time in Dota 2, TF2, SpyParty, and now Natural Selection 2. The combination of both real-time strategy and first-person shooting allows for such a degree of depth that necessitates teamwork and creates for some amazing gameplay moments. The amount of teamwork that is required and performed consistently astounds me. The game's community, including the developers, is very nice and make what would otherwise be a daunting competitive game into a warm, welcoming experience. If you're at all interested in competitive games, whether they are FPS or RTS games, you owe it to yourself to jump into Natural Selection 2.Sound Shapes (PlayStation Network)Why is a game that's essentially a music sequencer in your pocket (or on your TV) presented through a simple platformer with a beautiful art style so criminally overlooked? Even Deadmau5 and Beck were intrigued with the game enough to sign on and provide exclusive new sounds/songs to Sound Shapes. The game's only goal is to pick up all the sound pieces, completing the sonic landscape until the player makes it to the end. It's a simple idea, but the way Sound Shapes presents the idea makes it like no other game out there. But, what really makes the game special is the level editor, and the community that supports it with creative and amazing levels that truly provide limitless entertainment.Spec Ops: The Line (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)On the surface, Spec Ops: The Line looks like a typical military shooter where you're tasked with taking out the bad guys and saving the day -- and that is exactly what it wants you to think. As you progress through the the game, you slowly begin to realize that the inner workings of the main character's mental wellbeing clash with the reality he and his comrades face, or rather the reality they're led to believe. Spec Ops offers the most haunting and horrifying story of any military shooter of this generation. By emphasizing player's expectations for a hero experience, developer Yager tears it all down by forcing players to face the grim nature of war in the worst ways possible. In one of the game's many cryptic messages, the following question is presented to the player and helps to shed on light on what Spec Ops: The Line is all about: "Do you feel like a hero yet?"La-Mulana (PC, WiiWare)Just when we thought the WiiWare remake of La-Mulana would never leave Japan, it finally made the journey, first as an enhanced PC port then later in its WiiWare incarnation. I'm so glad it did, because this is a game that needs to be played by retro purists the world over.And damn, is it ever retro! Typically, people hear "retro" and think super hard bosses and insta-kill death traps. While that is a very accurate representation of the game's enemies and platforming, La-Mulana also hearkens back to days when players were given next to no instruction on where to go and what to do. Think finding the hidden paths in the original Zelda and Metroid was tough? Try solving the myriad puzzles that La-Mulana's ruins toss your way with only the barest of clues. If you think you'll be able to beat this game without a pad and paper handy for note-taking and map-making, you are dead wrong!But for all its challenges, La-Mulana is never outright unfair. The next move you need to make is right there if you are willing to invest the time and effort, and should you do so, you'll be rewarded with one of the richest Metroidvanias ever made, with an incredible pixel art style and an even more incredible soundtrack. Akai Katana (Xbox 360)Is it too early to call Akai Katana Cave’s greatest achievement since the ‘90s? Well, I’m going to go ahead and say it anyway: It's Cave's greatest achievement since the '90s! After supplying some of the greatest bullet hell shooters to reach arcades, Akai Katana refreshes the format with its innovative system that encourages players to consider bullets as possible lifesavers along with life-enders. The new Climax mode makes things even more exhilarating by providing superior weapon power and scores through controlling enemy bullets. Akai Katana is about so much more than dodging and firing. There is a metagame that surrounds the core mechanics of the genre, making for a thrilling arcade shooter that continues to excite me.The Darkness II (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)I threw up a little in my mouth when I saw The Darkness II arrive in my mailbox. “Why did I want to play this?” From watching the private E3 demo to reading reviews, I couldn’t be less impressed by the game. I was shocked when I found myself legitimately drawn into the game’s story, charmed by the visuals, and addicted to its unique, brutal close-quarters combat. In contrast to Halo 4, the campaign has a great pace and made me genuinely interested in the mysteries that the narrative presented. In contrast to Black Ops 2, the combat gave me freedom and challenged me with new enemy types and scenarios. Ironic then that I once found the year’s most charismatic first-person shooter to be uninspired. Follow my lead and give it a chance. Gotham City Impostors (PC, PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade)I haven’t had more fun with a game this year. Surely, that’s enough for GCI to earn my #1 spot and it did for some time. Even so, I must concede that I likely won’t have as much fun next year with it. This isn’t the game’s fault but its developer and publisher, who have left one of the most refreshing, joyful competitive shooters of 2012 out to die. With a limited map section, half-assed transformation to free-to-play, and very small community (on PC), I don’t see a bright future for Gotham. But, let’s remember the good days: The days of rappling across building tops like a madman, gliding down with bat wings, double jumping over enemies and unloading a shotgun into their back, and trampolining our way to victory. [Do add me on Steam if you’d like to play: Lonelyspacepanda] Binary Domain (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360) Most people ignored Binary Domain, likely dismissing it as just another shooter. But under the skin of this absurd and entertaining action game, there's a fairly nuanced story that makes for one of the more interesting experiences of the year. Amidst some brief commentary on climate change and nationalism, Yakuza Studio poses a very poignant question regarding humanity: specifically, who is human and who is not? The crux of the story centers on Hollow Children, robots that are programmed to believe that they're people and for all intents and purposes appear as such. Set in a society that was built on the backs of robots and featuring characters that are disgusted by them, Binary Domain draws some pretty interesting parallels with societal roles surrounding oppression, specifically slavery in 19th century America. With the Hollow Children, a grey area exists. One that nobody is willing to recognize or accept. That is, until the issue hits too close to home and forces people to re-evaluate the prejudices they've lived with for a lifetime. Gravity Rush (PlayStation Vita)It's hard to contain my love for Gravity Rush in a paragraph. I was instantly smitten with its visual style, a masterful blend of cel shaded anime and French comics; it has some of the most stunning, inventive art direction I've ever seen. Deftly careening through a lively, full realized cityscape never loses its appeal. There's something strangely hypnotic, comforting, and invigorating about the gravity shifting mechanic, as you fall in every which direction at breakneck speeds. The level of detail and manner in which everything -- gameplay, narrative, aesthetics, music -- coalesces is nothing short of an artistic and stylistic triumph, and I particularly loved the shift from a whimsical, colorful narrative to a surreal, existential meditation that simultaneously, obliquely deals with some fascinating topics like fascist militarization and political upheaval. It's one of the best games I've ever played and alone reason enough to own a Vita. Thirty Flights of Loving (PC)15 minutes. In a pithy 15 minutes of gameplay, Thirty Flights of Loving, is more affective and effective in its story-telling than most bloated big releases are in 15 hours. Between abrupt French New Wave style jump cuts, Thirty Flights packs a thrilling heist and gunfire concerto, a surrealist dance party, a surprisingly developed relationship, and oranges. The non-linear editing style requires the player to piece things together, though there is plenty of ambiguity and intrigue left over. There’s a lot going on here despite the deceptively simple visual style and succinct narrative. At 15 minutes long, you don't have much reason not giving this indie gem a shot.Papo & Yo (PlayStation Network)E3 may be gaming's highest pantheon of pomp and circumstance, but my personal game of the show was Papo & Yo, an allegory for Minority Games' creative lead Vander Caballero’s childhood, during which he dealt with an alcoholic father he loved, but also feared. The surrogate players in the allegory are Quico, a young boy living in the favelas of Brazil, and his fearsome pal Monster. Papo & Yo, wearing its inspirations from games like Ico and Shadow of the Colossus on its sleeve, is palpably personal -- a rare feat in the too-many-cooks-diluting-the-broth realm of video games -- and its final act hits hard. Caballero's goal was to make this world a little bit of a better place and provide a space of both escape and understanding for people dealing with similarly tough scenarios and he succeeded.
Underdogs of 2012 photo
Meet us at the bargain bin
When a stack of releases lands on our desks every week, they can't all be winners, but that doesn't mean the rest have to be losers, either. Prowl your local bargain bin, make some eBay searches, and keep your eyes out for a ...

Five reasons you need to go to MAGFest 11

Dec 21 // Jayson Napolitano
While the merchandise area at MAGFest used to be crammed into a small lobby area, it's now expanded into an entire hall dedicated to everything from game music CDs to hand-painted 8-bit pixel art and everything in between. Whether you want to satiate your late night craving for Pocky or take home a souvenir from the event, you'll likely spend a good amount of time (and money!) on the awesome stuff being sold. Videogames! It's great to meet up with a friend you haven't seen in a long time and catch up over a friendly game of Mario Kart. Or Halo. Or Smash Bros. Whatever game it is that you like to play, it will likely be in the 24-hour game hall. Nearly every console is represented along with a ton of arcades (the newly-released DJMAX Technika 3 was available last year). And did I mention you can play ANY TIME you want? The major draw for MAGFest has always been the music. There will be over 40 acts performing this year, including special guest Yuzo Koshiro's DJ set and the new futuristic funk stylings of The OneUps. In fact, there are so many bands and artists performing that they have three separate stages for the event! Of course, there will also be Metroid Metal, The Megas, Armcannon, virt, Danimal Cannon, the Video Game Orchestra, and countless others on hand playing at all hours of the night and early morning, so don't miss out! While the special guests often get the most attention (Yuzo Koshiro, Kinuyo Yamashita, and Chris Huelsbeck are pictured above), there are tons of others who will be on hand, including Jake "virt" Kaufman, Jon St. Jon (voice of Duke Nukem), and more. And that's only the official guest roster. Over 6,000 people attended MAGFest last year, and those included all sorts of people from the gaming industry, so don't be surprised if you run into somebody you know or have heard of, or make new friends with the numerous attendees who share your passion for games and music. If you want to know where the official Destructoid meetup is for MAGFest, this is it. Destructoid Live! is scheduled for Friday, January 4, at 3PM and will feature Destructoid staff -- and of course you -- in an interactive session with fun, prizes, and memories that will last a lifetime. Be sure to join us, and don't forget to stick around for the group photo afterwards! --- MAGFest is really something special. There are other events out there that do gaming and music, but not like this. Come out to National Harbor in just less than two weeks, meet some cool people, play some games, listen to some great music, and have a great time with Destructoid and the rest of the attendees! Get your tickets and learn more here: in and let us know your favorite MAGFest memories if you've attended in the past, and let us know what you're most looking forward to this year. 
MAGFest photo
And the music is just one of them!
MAGFest is hands down my favorite event of the year. The music and gaming festival not only features an endless buffet of both these things, it also has a lot more on offer as it grows each and every year. We've already menti...

The worst videogame covers of 2012

Dec 19 // Allistair Pinsof
Paws & Claws Pampered Pets Resort 3D [Nintendo 3DS] Before we mourn the golden years of THQ, let's remember all the shovelware with awful covers it put out. Football Manager 2013 (PC) Porn Site Pop-up Ad: The Videogame Let's Ride Best in Breed 3D (Nintendo 3DS) I can't decide what's more disturbing: CG horse or the girl's Photoshop'd hair. 007 Legends (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360) Someone probably went to college to learn how to make covers like this and here you are, reading this article. That must make you angry, huh? Batman: Arkham City: Game of the Year Edition (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360) This would be on our list even if Destructoid was featured on the front, and we are shameless people. Ghost Whisperer (PC) One day your Jennifer Love Hewitt deviantART page may also grace the cover of a Legacy Games classic. Capcom Digital Collection (Xbox 360) I feel pretty confident in saying that the bootleg boxes in Taiwan are probably more imaginative and appealing than this piece of crap. FIFA Soccer 13 (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC, Wii, Wii U, Vita, 3DS, PSP) Billy: "They have corndogs in the stands! YAAAAY COOOORN DOOOGGGGGIIES!!" FIFA Manager 13 (PC) Coach Jimmy: "GODAMMIT, BILLY! Get your sweet little retard ass back on the field before I put my corndog in your dillhole!" Kinect Nat Geo TV (Xbox 360) Once you imagine him without pants, you can't unsee it. A 2-way TV experience, indeed. The Hip Hop Dance Experience (Wii, Xbox 360) It's rather unfortunate that its target audience of beat-loving meth addicts doesn't know how to read. Reality Fighters (PlayStation Vita) You have to appreciate the honesty on display: "You will look like a complete jackass while playing this game." Giana Sisters: Twisted Dream (PC, PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade) This cover reminds me that The Banger Sisters and Hot Topic exist. Need I say more? Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir (3DS) On the list for false advertising. (It is not a groper simulator.) ProCycling Manager Season 2012 (PC) "No, wait! That's my thermos filled to the brim with boiling hot coffee!" Imagine Babyz (3DS) [Insert your joke about touching babies in 3D here.] Purrpals Purrfection (3DS) The "This game will make you believe in God!" quote on the back seems a little strong. NBA 2K13 (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC, Wii, Wii U, Vita, 3DS, PSP) I'm all up in your cyberspace, doing cyber-dunks. Lucius (PC) After five weeks of refusing to buy Lucius a Nintendo 3DS Red Flame bundle, he will now stare angrily at you until you feel compelled to look away. Heroes of Ruin (3DS) Even a mere glance at this cover instills such a pang of nihilism and apathy, that I have to wonder what dark wizards made such a wonder of mediocrity possible.
lol, videogames, lol photo
20 embarrassments
Most game covers are forgettable and generic, but a select few transcend into levels of such awfulness that they stick with us all year long, like a never-ending scab. From cheap shovelware to incredibly awkward sports photos...

The 25 most memorable Mega Man moments - Dtoid ver.

Dec 17 // Tony Ponce
Tony: You're just marching along, pew pew-ing mechanical minions into oblivion as you make your way the boss' chamber. Suddenly, you find yourself in a room with no visible way to reach the exit in the top corner. You're given but a couple of seconds to process your predicament before... BUUUUUUUUUN! BUUUUUUUUUN! BUUUUUUUUUN! What in the blue hell are those things!? BUUUUUUUUUN! BUUUUUUUUUN! BUUUUUUUUUN! Are you serious!? BUUUUUUUUUN! BUUUUUUUUUN! BUUUUUUUUUN! There's no escape from the Appearing Blocks -- they are sprinkled throughout most every Classic Mega Man title as well as several from the other sub-series. They force you to stop and learn patterns like a sadistic game of Simon. Sometimes, the sequence extends beyond the edge of the screen, and you end up hopping blindly over bottomless pits, only to plummet to your death because the level designer trolled you with a block that spawned just above your head. For this reason, we have support items. I mean, what kind of a masochistic freak would willingly cross Heat Man's infinite lava field without the use of the Item-2 jet board!? LBD: While this may not seem like much today, it was mind-blowing in 1989. So much so, in fact, that this late-game boss was often previewed in gaming magazines of the day as something of a selling point! But even if you saw the screen, nothing could prepare you for what was to come as you scaled the walls of Dr. Wily's fortress and began leaping from one platform to the next. The pace changes to a slow auto-scroll, and you know something is coming. What you don't expect, however, is to have the enormous Mecha Dragon suddenly teleport up from below and begin chasing you across a precarious series of blocks, with one false move meaning instant death. Truth be told, this battle is one of the easiest in the game -- perhaps in any Mega Man game, for that matter. But as the saying goes, "It is not the destination, but the journey," and just reaching the point of confrontation is a journey no Mega Man fan is likely to forget. Tony: Five simple notes. That's the calling card of the enigmatic Proto Man. Is he friend or foe? He insists on testing your abilities during every encounter, yet he always opens the path to the rest of the stage once he deems you worthy. Whatever the case, he looks pretty sweet rocking that shades-and-scarf combo! How many of you paused the game right when the whistle starts blowing just so you could listen to the extended version of Proto's theme? I did that all the time! It's just that good! So good that I made it my "incoming text message" jingle on my phone! And once you beat the game, you were treated to that glorious ending song as you learned the shockingly awesome truth -- Proto Man is Mega Man's super cool older brother! LBD: The original Mega Man series is a group of games with a very simple premise: run left and right, climb ladders, and jump across platforms while shooting just about anything that moves. Simple, effective, and fun, it worked for seven console installments, five Game Boy titles, and even a spin-off series -- there was no need to question it. Yet question it Capcom did in Mega Man 8. In Frost Man's stage, things start as normal, but then you come to an odd device which looks like the offspring of Back to the Future's hoverboard and the DeLorean. Unfortunately, this device neither hovers nor travels through time; instead, it speeds you ahead to a portion of the game most would rather forget. It begins well enough, as you're basically doing the same old platforming while moving forward automatically. Then the obstacles start coming, and Capcom gives you helpful hints on what to do as beacons appear, telling you to "JUMP! JUMP!" or "SLIDE! SLIDE!" And it's okay, for a while. But then the level speeds up, and the beacons come faster and faster. Your reflexes are put to the greatest test Mega Man has ever faced, and the jumping and sliding are coming so fast that the beacons are literally talking over each other, not even allowing one a chance to finish before the next prompt is issued. The section soon ends, however, and you're able to put it all behind you. Or so you think. As it happens, the second half of Frost Man's stage also includes a rocket-powered snowboarding section, complete with irritating, nagging prompts in a voice so grating that even Microsoft Bob would tell it to put a sock in it. And if you're lucky, you'll make it through and be done with that -- just defeat Frost Man so you'll never have to worry about that part again. That is, until you reach Wily's volcanic lair, which inexplicably opens with the accursed device despite a complete and utter lack of anything so much as resembling snow around. Tony: Trying to fool our heroes into thinking he isn't responsible for the current Robot Master outbreak is so typically Wily that it's now something of a running gag. Like how Inspector Gadget's mission assignments keep self-destructing in Chief Quimby's face. Wily attempted something a little different for the fourth outing. Right from the opening cutscene, we are lead to believe that a new villain by the name of Dr. Cossack has decided to try his hand at this whole world domination business. There seemed to be no mistaking who was running the show this time when we defeated the Robot Masters and were greeted by Cossack's Citadel rather than the usual Skull Fortress. Something was amiss when there were no boss rematches in the final Cossack stage. Our suspicions were confirmed when Cossack gave up the fight once he learned his daughter Kalinka was safe and sound. Turns out Wily was controlling the Russian doctor via extortion. Instead of battling you right then and there, Wily escapes to a second castle! Damn, another one!? This makes the "endgame" almost as long as the main Robot Master stage sequence! Wily pulled this stunt again in Mega Man 5 and 6, but after that the developers at Capcom decided to scale back to a single castle. Two castles is too many castles! [embed]240763:46125:0[/embed] LBD: You knew this one would be here -- it's the moment that has been burned into many a fans' minds for over a decade. At the end of the game, Mega Man Volnutt ventures to Elysium to save everyone on the world below, to fight for their right to survive and to honor the wishes of an old friend. As it so happens, Mega Man's trip was apparently one-way -- despite Data finding a way to get back (hmm...) -- and now he and his new friends are stuck waiting for anyone to find a way to get them down. The credits roll, and we're treated to a stinger which shows Teisel and Barrel looking on as Tron and Roll work together / fight over how to rescue their shared love interest from an eternity of MoonPie, Moon Shoe, and moonwalk jokes. Data has some ideas, but they aren't interested -- they would rather wreck many more rockets than have him make a monkey of them. And that's where the Legends series ended, remaining that way for over a decade -- save for a few prequel side games. It's a moment we won't soon forget, one which makes us want to spit whenever Capcom -- or any publisher, but especially Capcom -- chooses to "end" a game series on a cliffhanger. Yes, we're looking at you, Mega Man X8 and Mega Man ZX Advent! Tony: In the Classic series, Wily is always the main villain. Always. And the final battle is always against one of his contraptions. Always. Except that one time... Mega Man V on Game Boy flipped the script by pitting Mega against an army of alien Robot Masters called Stardroids. Though Wily was pulling the strings as usual, the Stardroids actually were aliens that he dug up one day and reprogrammed for his own purposes. Deep within Wily's Death Star knockoff, you confront the madman for yet another ultimate showdown. But Wily has one last trick up his sleeve -- a final Stardroid more powerful than all the others combined. A literal doomsday weapon. Sunstar. Sunstar is in a league of his own and can't be controlled, as he demonstrates by trying to kill Wily immediately upon activation. Wily escapes, realizing that his plans have once again ended in failure, but Sunstar remains and targets Mega Man as an inferior being that must be eradicated. What follows in an epic showdown in which Sunstar fires massive "Final Flash" laser beams, zips around the room as a giant fireball, conjures acidic rain, and destroys the floor multiple times, bringing the fight to the levels below. The battle itself isn't all that challenging by series standards, but it's the first time Dr. Wily isn't the final boss, not to mention a refreshing way to cap off one of the more unique installments in the franchise. LBD: It's like that movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito, only Arnold is a computer program and DeVito is a boy in the fifth grade! In the first Mega Man Battle Network, we're treated to a series of self-evident world-building facts. Everything is hooked up to the Internet, and almost everyone carries a Personal Terminal (PET) that houses a sophisticated artificial intelligence that interacts with a virtual reality environment, because this is 200X and clicking links and stuff is so 1999. Oh, and they like to fight a lot, making "virus-busting" a rather literal term. Over the course of the game, you see the relationship between MegaMan.EXE and Lan develop. By the end, when they really need to pull together in order to save the world from devastation, you learn that MegaMan is actually Lan's stillborn twin brother, Hub, who died from a rare, fatal heart condition. Lan's father managed to merge the DNA and soul of his brother with a NetNavi computer program so that he could still live in some fashion. That's some heavy stuff, especially for a game series aimed primarily at kids. Too heavy for companies otherwise interested in licensing it, it would seem, as this little facet seems to have remained exclusive to the games. While the anime and manga based on Mega Man Battle Network -- released here under the MegaMan NT Warrior banner -- still depict MegaMan and Lan as sharing a very close link, they not only avoided the whole issue of Hub's death, but also didn't make the duo related at all. The former is just a simple NetNavi -- an exceptional one, yes, but not in the way the games portrayed. [embed]240763:46120:0[/embed] Tony: When the Mega Man series made the jump to the PlayStation, it got spruced up like it was going to the prom. Best of all were the new full motion video sequences that made kids yearn for a brand new Mega Man cartoon. Fully voiced cutscenes are a dime a dozen these days, but it was still a fresh concept in the mid-90s and worth getting excited over. But that voice acting? UGH! Both Mega Man 8 and Mega Man X4 have their share of facepalm-worthy blunders -- Elmer Fudd as Dr. Light, anyone? However, it's the infamous "Death of Iris" scene in X4 that encapsulates everything that was wrong with the early years of videogame voice acting. What should have be a pivotal moment in Zero's development is marred by poor casting and even worse delivery. Just like that, tragedy becomes comedy and an Internet meme is born. Thankfully, the Legends games were far better in the voice acting department, a necessity for such a character-driven series. Shame that the team in charge of localizing the X games couldn't pick up a few pointers. LBD: If there is one thing that the Mega Man franchise largely is known for, it's not knowing when to quit. Granted, opinions will vary on that front, but the fact is that many of the Blue Bomber's games feel more episodic, ready to continue in perpetuity, than part of any sort of overarching narrative. Hey, remember Mega Man X5, the game designed to hastily wrap up the X series to make way for Mega Man Zero? Yeah, that worked out really well. Capcom delivered a new X game after a bit of a gap and people flocked to it, but rather than going out on a modest note -- the game seems to have about an equal number of lovers and haters -- the company decided to keep that ball rolling. Inafune's plan? Pfft! Not when there's money to be made! Then of course, there was Mega Man Legends 2, whose open ending left us knowing that there was meant to be more, whether or not we ever see it. Strangely enough, Capcom is far less interested in that money, but I digress. And then there's the Classic series, which simply is. Maybe Mega Man has more adventures, or maybe he doesn't. Things weren't left hanging wide open, nor was the book closed, leaving it so that the series could go either way. This is what made Mega Man Zero 4 and Mega Man Battle Network 6 such a surprise, as for the first time ever, an actual end had been penned to not one but two different Mega Man series, and they looked like they were going to stick. Zero had "died" before, sure, and for a while, people thought this was just another one of those instances where he's somehow able to escape the law of probability and return to fight anew. But he didn't. Not exactly in such a way that anyone expected, anyway, but that's another story... which was entirely the point. Meanwhile, Mega Man Battle Network 6 offered a look at what happened to the characters we had come to know and love over the course of the series. Granted, there is still room for some adventures in the intervening years if Capcom so chooses to explore, but just about everything regarding what had come before felt nicely wrapped up. Tony: Two years ago, Chad Concelmo wrote a wonderful feature entitled "Six completely irrational things I do in videogames," and first in his list was "Jumping through boss doors in Mega Man." I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge such a vital element of the Mega Man experience. Unlike the other moments on this list, this isn't something you encounter in the normal course of play. Rather, it's an emergent event to you trigger on your own, and it has no bearing on absolutely anything. Ever. But it's so much fun! Maybe it's the pointless thrill of seeing Mega frozen in the air as the gate opens, looking all the world like Trinity at the start of The Matrix. Maybe you think it'll improve your probability of victory, sort of like mashing the A and B buttons in Pokémon to supposedly improve a Pokéball's successful capture rate. Whatever the case, you've got to jump through those doors! Let's not forget it's close cousin: sliding through boss doors! For some reason, this doesn't always work, as Mega Man 3 demonstrated. Why kill our fun, Capcom? And for the X series fans, there's dashing through boss doors! Oh, what fun we're having! [embed]240763:46126:0[/embed] LBD: Mega Man ZX Advent was released in 2007, marking the 20th anniversary of the Mega Man franchise. To celebrate, developer Inti Creates decided to include a little something extra in the game. Behold "Mega Man a" ("a" for "ancient"), an 8-bit styled mini-game which featured ZX Advent's heroes going through classic-styled stages in pursuit of Master Albert. Of course, this treat came before the releases of Mega Man 9 and Mega Man 10 and may have even helped serve as a proof of concept, though Inafune had stated before that he hoped to go more old-school with the downloadable titles. Nonetheless, at the time, "Mega Man a" was a unique experience and a suitable way to give a nod to the origins of the franchise on its two-decade anniversary. Even now, seeing the style applied to other characters, enemies, settings, and themes is fun, and it sets the mini-game apart from its fully-developed successors. Incidentally, if it really was a proof of concept that helped get Inti Creates the job of making Mega Man 9, then it's a bit of a shame they didn't manage to sneak in a similar mini-game based on Mega Man Legends, isn't it? --- That's it from me! Don't forget to check out The Mega Man Network for the next set of 13! Happy 25th birthday Mega Man! You knew this one would be here-- it's the moment that has been burned into many a fan's mind for over a decade.   At the end of the game, MegaMan Volnutt ventures to Elysium to save everyone on the world below, and fights for their right to survive and to honor the wishes of an old friend. Things happen, and we learn that MegaMan's trip was apparently one-way (despite Data finding a way to get back. Hmm...), and now he and his newfound friends are stuck waiting for someone to find a way to get them down.   The credits roll, and we're treated to a stinger which shows Teisel and Barrel looking on as Tron and Roll work together/fight over how to rescue their shared love interest from an eternity of Moon Pie, Moon Shoe, and Moonwalk jokes. Data has some ideas, but they aren't interested-- they would apparently wreck many more rockets than have him make a monkey out of them.   And that's where Mega Man Legends ended, remaining that way (save for a few prequel side games) for over a decade. It's a moment we won't soon forget, and which makes us want to spit whenever Capcom (or any publisher, but especially Capcom) chooses to end a game (we're looking at you, Mega Man X8 and Mega Man ZX Advent) on a cliffhanger.
25 Mega Moments photo
A look back at 25 years of PEW PEW PEW
Exactly 25 years ago today, my favorite videogame hero of all time was born. Exactly 25 years later, my passion has never been stronger. He may have had some rough patches in recent times, but I've never forgotten the joy he'...

Sound Card 011: Ten awesome, underrated Mega Man songs

Dec 16 // Tony Ponce
[embed]240668:46101:0[/embed] Jayson: If you read my staff bio, I talk about having hummed videogame music and driving my friends nuts as a kid. This was one of those tracks. The snappy percussion and decisive bass will have you bopping your head as the synth guitar and pads kick major ass. It actually gives off a rather spooky vibe that is only heightened by the lengthy and awesome buildup that features bell tone arpeggios -- one of my favorite things in life -- and some ethereal pads that seemingly call out from beyond. Given the highly over-remixed nature of "Dr. Wily Stage 1" from Mega Man 2, this has long since taken over as my personal favorite Wily stage theme, and you should consider it for yours as well! [embed]240668:46102:0[/embed] Tony: I've regularly professed my love for the Sega Genesis' FM synth audio. As a Sega child, I have a fondness towards the raw, crunchy sounds of games such as Comix Zone, Thunder Force IV, and Konami's Genesis line. Include Mega Man: The Wily Wars in that list as well. The Wily Wars was to Mega Man 1-3 what Super Mario All-Stars was to Mario 1-3, so the soundtrack for the most part consisted of arrangements of older tunes. However, there was a bonus fourth game called "Wily Tower" that included original bosses, levels, and music. And "Wily Tower 4," which sets the "this party's goin' down tonight" vibe for the final stage, is definitely the standout of the lot. [embed]240668:46103:0[/embed] Jayson: This one has the typical bell tone trappings of an ice stage then throws in smooth saxophone, galloping electronic percussion, and a bumpin' bassline that are pretty damn cool. I certainly wasn't expecting that. This "cool" atmosphere is supposed to go along with the hip rocket snowboard segment of the level, although the computerized "JUMP! JUMP! SLIDE! SLIDE!" directions get in the way of the music. You may also be interested in checking out Joshua Morse's remix, "Frost Bossa," which is actually how I first became aware of this track. [embed]240668:46104:0[/embed] Tony: Hands down, this is the best boss theme in the entire series. Whereas Wily stage bosses in most Mega Man games have an element of "cute" about them, like ginormous goofy eyes or bright color schemes, the ones from Mega Man IV are surprisingly cold and faceless, with detailed designs that contrast with the simplicity of the Yellow Devil or Mecha Dragon. And the music that plays during their encounters is every bit as dark and grim as their appearance; you've gotta love the intense keyboard section that runs from 0:21 through 0:47. [embed]240668:46105:0[/embed] Jayson: Two ice stages? Yes! This one takes a different approach to the stereotypical ice stage by laying a foundation with a subdued chugging bass and a rather solemn melody. There's something foreboding and moody about it, and I appreciate the fact that it's not forcing itself upon you by going all-out rock. I think that definitely makes it memorable in my mind, although some out there may have forgotten about it. It's time to get reacquainted! [embed]240668:46106:0[/embed] Tony: The creepy, imposing tune from the first three endgame levels gives you the impression that this will be X and Zero's final stand against Sigma's forces -- and it would have been had Capcom actually respected Keiji Inafune's wishes and ended the series with X5. Then for the final level, the music changes to an electric dance number that gets everyone up out of their seat. And just when it couldn't get any better, cue the guitar solo at the minute mark! Have you even seen what the final level looks like? It's literally a robot rave! [embed]240668:46107:0[/embed] Jayson: Okay, this one is amazing. The epic brass in the intro actually made me chuckle as it sounded like I was listening to a Rocky anthem -- or perhaps Europe's "The Final Countdown" -- but the rock quickly rolls in with chugging bass, wailing electric guitar, and some great bell tones. It's all somewhat laid back, giving off a cool vibe as you battle your way through one of the most interesting Mega Man stages of all time. Check out a playthrough of the level to get an idea of its awesomeness. There are a couple great tracks from this game, and I admit that I didn't get far enough in the X series to enjoy it -- I got tired of all the additional characters and voice acting. But given some of the great music from the game, I may need to go back and give it a chance! [embed]240668:46108:0[/embed] Tony: This recurring piece of music from Mega Man Legends has been used as Legends characters' themes in Namco X Capcom, Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, Marvel vs. Capcom 3, and Project X Zone. But considering how next to nobody played Legends, to call this song "popular" would be like calling an ant the strongest in its colony. Which is a shame, because it's an excellent song. Just as Legends is a vastly different Mega Man game, "Flutter VS Gesellschaft" is not your typical Mega Man jam. It's got a very Caribbean vibe that sticks with you. I especially love the We are ROCK-MEN cover version, which goes in a slightly more chill but -- in my opinion -- superior direction. [embed]240668:46109:0[/embed] Jayson: Call me crazy, but this could very well be my favorite Mega Man tune of all time, and I just recently discovered it! The Network Transmission soundtrack, composed by electronic guru Shinji Hosoe and his team at SuperSweep, was never released until SuperSweep Records came to the rescue just last month. This track in particular blew me away. There are snazzy arpeggios, smooth bell tones, and crazy synth sweeps that accent an incredibly catchy melody and bassline. It's pure aural heaven! As I'd never played the game, I took a peek at StarMan.EXE's Zero Gravity Area to get a sense of the track in context -- it's funny how great of a track this is for such a boring area. Then again, the entire game looks slow-paced and uninteresting compared to SuperSweep's hip electronic score. [embed]240668:46110:0[/embed] Tony: From the gradual buildup until 0:39, this song makes you feel the weight of Zero's lonely struggle. Then the main melody kicks in and it's all like, "There's the badass Zero we all know and love!" Definitely among the better opening stage themes in the entire franchise, second only to that of the original Mega Man X. I'm not a fan of the GBA's sound capabilities, and I don't think it does this song enough justice. Thankfully, Zero developer Inti Creates has released several arrange albums of its game soundtracks, and the version of "Departure" off Remastered Tracks Rockman Zero Mythos may just be the definitive one. [embed]240668:46111:0[/embed] Tony: Surprise! Bonus eleventh song! I didn't include this among the original ten because it's never actually heard in any game. It was only used in commercials for Rockman's Soccer, known out West as Mega Man Soccer. It's also the secret best Mega Man song. Why is the song so good? Take the lyrics of Japanese comedy singer-songwriter Tatsuo Kamon, toss in an English rap by a non-Japanese artist who -- to the best of my knowledge -- has never been acknowledged, then compose a duet about breaking down the walls between Tokyo and New York City so that our people can come together as one. That would be a very positive message, if it weren't for a very "special" moment at 0:46 -- you'll know it when you hear it. "We Are Rockman" raises many questions, the least of which is, what the hell does any of this have to do with soccer? But that's what makes it so great! It's the perfect encapsulation of Japanese weirdness, with only a tenuous connection to the Mega Man series. A true masterpiece!
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Because Mega Man 2 is played out
If it wasn't obvious from the many musical references throughout the series, the Mega Man games are as much about excellent tunes as they are about tried-and-true action gameplay. He's not called "Rockman" for nothing! But de...

Sound Card 010: Top ten game music tracks for Christmas

Nov 26 // Jayson Napolitano
[embed]238989:45848:0[/embed] Ahhhh, let's start with something measured and relaxing. A lot of the music featured on this list will be upbeat and sticky sweet, but this track from Xenoblade Chronicles captures the whimsical essence of the holidays while retaining a mature sound, making it one of my modern favorites on this list. [embed]238989:45849:0[/embed] And off we go! This is easily one of the first songs that comes to mind when I think about Christmas-appropriate music from videogames. The icy strings and playful tambourine create a perfect backdrop for what's really a pretty jazzy Christmas theme. It's actually so much more soothing outside of the game, as I can't help but be reminded of the slippery road and those damn penguins always getting in my way! [embed]238989:45847:0[/embed] Well, let's just say that Koreans know how to write Christmas music. All of the Korean titles featured on this list (there are four in all) had numerous tracks that were theme appropriate, but I wanted to spread the love and give other games some rep. "Snowfield" is jubilant and poppy, working in elements of "We Wish you a Merry Christmas," which should go a long way towards helping those non-gamers around you accept your "weird" music preferences. At least, that's what my friends and family call my unhealthy obsession with game music! [embed]238989:45850:0[/embed] This one is near and dear to my heart. I absolutely adore Ragnarok Online and its soundtrack, composed by Korean sound studio soundTeMP. I remember playing the game when Lutie was first added to the servers and being instantly blown away by this track as well. Now it's just not Christmas without hearing it regularly on my Christmas iPod rotation! I appreciate that this one is rather subdued and doesn't beat you over the head with the holiday atmosphere. [embed]238989:45851:0[/embed] There aren't many tracks out there more appropriate for this list than "Jeuno ~Starlight Celebration~," a song that accompanied an in-game FFXI event to celebrate the holidays. This one opens with jingle bells and jubilant brass before icy bell tones and a funky bassline roll in, remaining upbeat and classy at the same time. [embed]238989:45852:0[/embed] What kind of list would this be without Christmas NiGHTS? To go along with the game's vibrant visual appeal, there's a flashy arrangement of "Joy to the World" with some great improv work. It's jolly, funky, and a great way to get into the season! [embed]238989:45853:0[/embed] I have to shamefully admit that I've never played Shenmue, but that hasn't kept me from loving the music from the series. This track is so warm and encompassing while also sporting an icy quality that captures both the winter cold and the essence of the holidays all at once. It definitely has me wanting to bundle up and play through the game this holiday season. [embed]238989:45854:0[/embed] Surprised to see Parasite Eve? You shouldn't be! The game takes place around Christmas, and there are actually several great tracks that could have made this list. This one in particular is a little jam session featuring several composers at Square Enix. It has a loose jazz structure with a lovely xylophone melody and some snazzy rhythm guitar. [embed]238989:45855:0[/embed] While there was a lot of talk as to what should be on this list, we all agreed that this minimalistic track from Secret of Mana was a must. It's so pure and beautiful, a perfect accompaniment to a chilly winter morning. And even though it's the oldest piece of music on this list, I still think it withstands the test of time thanks to its minimalism. [embed]238989:45856:0[/embed] A few years back, Jinbae "ESTi" Park posted this track on his Twitter account as a Christmas present to his fans. As it turns out, it was a track from his work on TalesWeaver, and it remains my favorite Christmas theme from any game. The original "Feliz Navidad" is such a fun Christmas song, and ESTi takes it in a more serious direction with a full pop treatment. As I mentioned, there are several tracks from the above titles and more that we wanted on this list, but alas, we had to pick just ten! Here are some others you can check out, and please also chime in to let us know which of your favorites didn't make the list. Maybe we'll put together a round two for next year! Bar Oasis 2 - "Silent Night" Chrono Cross - "Dimension Breach" Lord of Vermillion - "Spiege Snow Plains" (for the hardcore winter experience!) Super Mario Galaxy 2 - "White Snow" Valkyria Chronicles II - "Winter in Lanseal"
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'Tis the season!
It's the most wonderful time of the year! And I truly believe that. While Thanksgiving is easily my favorite holiday, Christmas is a close second, and I've always made an iPod playlist with tons of holiday music that I roll o...

Watch five classic Nintendo system launch clips

Nov 17 // Allistair Pinsof
1. Super Mario Bros. 3 Launch, February 1990 [embed]238853:45822:0[/embed] Look at those mustaches! Yup, it's the early '90s. TV news media still awkwardly reports on game launches, treating those that stand in line as deviants, but not to the degree media did in the '90s. It's as if the newreporter wants to say, "What the hell is wrong with you!?" The part when the little kid nerd rages on the newsreporter makes it all worth it: "You don't know! You're a grown-up! You hardly do this!" the kid yells. Hell yeah, kid! You tell him! 2. Parents Upset Over New Nintendo Console, August 1991 [embed]238853:45823:0[/embed] Instead of standing in line for the Super Nintendo, these kids are stuck in a room with a hack therapist because they are too "Nintenpendent". This is one of the most laughably sensationalized displays of news media exaggerating the effect games have on kids. The news station uses the launch of the Super Nintendo as a way of scaring its audience of the perils of videogames. Keep an eye out for the stunning green screen effects that put the newsreporter into F-Zero. 3. ITV News reporting on Nintendo 64 release, September 1996 [embed]238853:45824:0[/embed] The Nintendo 64's early years was my favorite time with a Nintendo system. I remember bringing it home and being blown away by all them friggin' bits. This news clip on the system's launch is pretty dry but worth watching for seeing some old talking heads. It's always amusing to hear a game journalist from 1996 saying, "These are the graphics we always hoped we'd be able to see." But, seriously, some one tell those kids to not sit so close to the TV. I mean, c'mon. That's like basic parenting, right there. 4. Japanese launch of the GameCube, September 2001 [video link] Billy "Louie the Cat" Berghammer has been in the industry for longer than most journalists. I love the guy! Here's Billy at the Japan Gamecube launch, showing the event from a Westerner's perspective. The launch took place just two days after the Sept. 11 attack in the US, which explains the somber opening of the video. Either Billy visited the wrong store or the GameCube had a really sad launch in Japan, going by the video. Watch the following videos in the series for more. 5. Toys R Us Wii line, November 2006 [embed]238853:45825:0[/embed] Back in 2006, before Destructoid was sent multiple early pre-launch console for review, we did stupid stuff like stand in line with people during a system launch. Here's a buried Dtoid video of us hanging out at Toys R' Us for the Wii launch. You know, just because. I have a feeling the Wii U launch won't be quite as intense as the Wii's but who knows until it happens. Be safe out there, people! Keep your Wii U close and your riot shield closer. [image]
Nintendo Nostalgia photo
From NES to Wii U
Today, Nintendo launches the first next-gen system or last current-gen system, depending how you look at it. Things always appear different in retrospect, which is perfectly illustrated in these bizarre, ancient clips of Nint...

Sound Card 009: The top ten Castlevania songs OF ALL TIME

Oct 31 // Tony Ponce
[embed]237711:45606:0[/embed] Every franchise has "that one game" that makes everyone scratch their head and exclaim, "What were they thinking!?" For Castlevania, Judgment is that game. Everything about it is just wrong -- the wrong genre, the wrong platform, the wrong art style, etc. But the soundtrack is oh so right! Most of the tunes are high-octane arrangements of iconic themes from throughout the series, but there is a small handful of original pieces. The opening theme, "Darkness of Fear," is so intense that it might actually sucker you into playing this filth! [embed]237711:45607:0[/embed] Speaking of the wrong art style, who at Konami thought it was a brilliant idea replace Ayami Kojima's brilliant character designs with that? Thankfully, the rest of the game didn't fall prey to the same lapse in sensibility. "Condemned Tower" is one of those tracks that starts off slow and forlorn then crescendos until it reaches a mighty crash. It's a prime example of how Castlevania music is as much about building atmosphere as it is about delivering infectious, head-bobbing melodies. [embed]237711:45608:0[/embed] Symphony of the Night was the start of a new Castlevania era in more ways than one. The music in particular took on a whole new dimension, thanks to composer Michiru Yamane. This was neither her first game nor her first Castlevania title, but this was the project that properly demonstrated her range and expertise. Blending classical, techno, and rock styles, she forged a spirit all her own. Players are introduced to that spirit in "Dracula's Castle," heard as Alucard tears through the opening section like a... well... like a bat out of hell. [embed]237711:45609:0[/embed] Of the NES Castlevanias, Dracula's Curse is the undisputed leader. It also packed quite a punch in the audio department... if you were playing the Japanese version, that is. Listen to the first stage theme, "Beginning," and tell me you don't feel that extra "oomph." In Japan, a special audio chip called VRC6 was included in the cartridge, bestowing upon the game  a couple of extra sound channels. That meant the music was richer and deeper than other games in the Famicom library. Unfortunately, the NES hardware out West could not support the VRC6, so our music sounds inadequate by comparison. [embed]237711:45610:0[/embed] The song that started it all! I doubt composer Kinuyo Yamashita had any idea how influential her work on the original Castlevania soundtrack would become when she scored Simon Belmont's first battle against the undead horde. To this day, "Vampire Killer" continues to worm its way into just about every Castlevania game, arranged and re-imagined in various styles. It stands as one of the most iconic pieces of game music, alongside such memorable melodies as the overworld themes from Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda. [embed]237711:45611:0[/embed] I will put my foot down and claim that the soundtrack to Belmont's Revenge is the best Castlevania soundtrack of all. It is so criminally underrated, simply because the title is for the Game Boy. People seem to forget just how powerful the Game Boy's audio capabilities are. Why do you think the Game Boy is the tool of choice for many chiptune musicians? What makes the Belmont's Revenge music so amazing -- "New Messiah," in particular -- is the deep, booming bass that you can only really appreciate by plugging a set of headphones into your portable. It's speed metal! On a friggin' Game Boy! C'mon! [embed]237711:45612:0[/embed] Before Symphony of the Night arrived to rock our world, Rondo of Blood demonstrated what clean, high-quality CD audio could bring to the table. In that opening stage, as "Divine Bloodlines" plays and Richter marches past a besieged European town burning in the background, you get the sense that an epic challenge unlike any you have ever faced before awaits. And no, the version that appears on Castlevania: Dracula X on the Super Nintendo doesn't cut the mustard. [embed]237711:45613:0[/embed] Symphony of the Night, the game so nice I mentioned it twice! "Lost Painting" may be the calmest song on this list, but it's precisely that haunting beauty that I find so incredible. This is Michiru Yamane once again showing off how talented she is, making all other music composers look like chumps. Contrast this with "Dracula's Castle" earlier in the list, and you begin to understand the scope of Symphony of the Night's groundbreaking soundtrack. [embed]237711:45614:0[/embed] Next to "Vampire Killer," Kenichi Matsubara's "Bloody Tears" is the second song people tend to associate with the Castlevania franchise. Because it's damn good. Let's be honest: "Vampire Killer" will always be a classic, but "Bloody Tears" is a musical triumph. That rhythmic bass line, those pounding drums -- they send a chill down your spine. Not out of fright, but out of sheer excitement and anticipation of the struggle to come. [embed]237711:45615:0[/embed] Whoopsies! Looks like I ran down the timer because I was too busy flailing my whip in eight directions to the beat of the GREATEST THEME SONG IN THE HISTORY OF MAN! Castlevania has some of the greatest videogame music of any franchise, and a simple top ten list was never going to be enough. I'm sure you'll argue about some of these inclusions and wonder why you personal favorite track didn't make the grade. Still, I feel that this list gathers a solid selection of the best music in the series. Of course, there are other songs that barely missed inclusion, but I'd like to honor them anyway. These aren't in any particular order, but you can consider them "further listening." "Awakened Soul" - Castlevania: Symphony of the Night "The Gears Go Awry" - Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin "Ripe Seeds" - Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge "The Silence of the Daylight" - Castlevania II: Simon's Quest "Wicked Child" - Castlevania Enjoy the tunes and have a happy Halloween!
Sound Card photo
Celebrate Halloween with awesome music!
This Halloween, you might feel like turning down the lights and cranking up the frights with a run through of a classic game like Resident Evil or Silent Hill. But for my time and money, nothing beats the premier name in acti...

The ten best videogame detectives EVER!

Sep 12 // Chad Concelmo
There are two things I love in this world: dolphins and menu-based point-and-click adventure games on the NES. And the movie Babe. Oh, and Souplantation. Okay, there are many things I love in this world. But one of these things is definitely menu-based point-and-click adventure games on the NES. There may be only a few in existence, but they are all grand. One of the best in the bunch is Déjà Vu, a surprisingly dark and challenging adventure that follows around Ace Harding as he tries to solve the mystery of who he is and why he is being accused of murder. Players never get to see the main character since the game is entirely in first-person, but if the box art is any indication, Ace is one slick (and narcissistic!) detective. Trench coat review: Very Carman Sandiego-esque. Love the bright color and sharp fedora! Grade: B+   One of the most underrated and sadly forgotten PC games of all time is Blade Runner. The game is gorgeous, moody, and a perfect extension of Ridley Scott's original science fiction universe. In the graphic adventure game, you play as Roy McCoy, a gritty, hardened detective who, like Deckard in the film, is assigned to track down a group of potentially dangerous replicants. If you haven't played Blade Runner, track it down. It's a real gem. Trench coat review: Disappointing. You would think a trench coat from the future would have some glowing TRON lights on it or something. Or at least a less frumpy silhouette. Grade: C   Sissel is not technically a detective, as much as a [SPOILER] coming back to [SPOILER] his [SPOILER]. But I love him (and Ghost Trick!) so much that he had to make this list. Plus, he is a phantom detective, which is inherently cooler than a regular detective. Trench coat review: The stark red is unconventional and super fashion-forward. Grade: A   I love Hotel Dusk on the Nintendo DS. I really do. It is one of the most interesting and original games on the handheld. But, man, is it depressing. The sad story, gloomy environments, and morose characters, combined with the black and white art, make for one downer of an adventure. A pretty great adventure, don’t get me wrong, but one that takes itself very seriously. Main character Kyle Hyde is just as serious. But he has a right to be! When he was a child, his father was killed. Years later, when he became a detective, his partner betrayed him and sold inside information to some bad people. So Kyle shot him. And then the body disappeared, leading Kyle to the mysterious Hotel Dusk, where some really crazy things happen. He’s had a tough life. Time for someone to get a puppy! Trench coat review: As disjointed and messy as the inner-workings of Kyle’s tormented mind. Grade: C+   Sonny Bonds, main character from the classic Police Quest series, starts off as a simple traffic cop, but eventually (and rather quickly) works his way up to narcotics detective,  tracking down a homicidal drug dealer and saving his girlfriend's life in the process. He is also constantly ridiculed in the game by his superiors, called a "pig" by every rowdy citizen he meets, and dies -- yes, actually dies -- if he tries to walk out of the police station locker room naked. Not that I tried that or anything. Trench coat review: What Sonny Bonds lacks in trench coat, he makes up for in one beautiful head of hair. Grade: N/A   Oh, Inspector Chelmey, you are such a bumbling, endearing detective. While you are trying to solve mysteries, Layton and Luke are rearranging matchsticks, sliding around blocks, untangling rope, and still end up beating you to the end goal. PULL IT TOGETHER, CHELMEY! Trench coat review: Surprisingly dapper. Also, bonus points for that bold purple tie! Grade: B+   Tex Murphy is a private investigator and star of a series of adventure games in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Well, “interactive movies” would be the better way to describe them, as they feature real-life actors playing the parts of all the characters. In fact, Chris Jones, the actual designer of the game, plays Tex Murphy himself. How awesome is that?! I think this whole concept needs to make a comeback. Can you imagine Cliff Bleszinski as the star of Gears of War? Or Miyamoto with a flower on his head as the mysterious and feared Pikmin King? Classic. If you are wondering why Tex Murphy is so great, just watch this hardboiled trailer for The Pandora Directive and bask in all its glory. “Where the line blurs between loyalty ... and desire.” Trench coat review: Well, it’s a trench coat! It also looks like something my dad wore to a Halloween party when I was a kid. Grade: D   If my parents named me Dick Gumshoe, I would ... well, first thing I would do would be to hug them for naming me something as awesome as Dick Gumshoe. But after that I would become a detective. I mean, what else is there to do with a name like Dick Gumshoe? Porn star? Candy store owner? Porn star/candy store owner? Nah, detective is the best option. Fan favorite detective Dick Gumshoe from the Phoenix Wright games may not be the brightest bulb in the box, but he is such a loyal and lovable guy that you can't help but love him. Trench coat review: Popped collar? Check. Loose fitting tie? Check. Is Dick Gumshoe a bro? Grade: C-   Pennington is a penguin detective from awesome GameCube RPG Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. And he has a magnifying glass and a cute little hat. Now, I am often accused of overusing hyperbolic, all-caps statements, but, seriously, HE IS A PENGUIN DETECTIVE! LOOK HOW ADORABLE HE IS! Calm down, Chad. Breathe. Trench coat review: His flippers wouldn’t fit through a trench coat, but look at that bow tie. And his little messenger bag! AND THAT HAT! MY GOD HERE I GO AGAIN! Grade: A+   To not put Sam and Max as the number one detectives on a list dedicated to them would just be cruel. Luckily, they actually earn this spot by being two of the most memorable videogame characters of all time. Sam may be the one that does all the crime-solving, but Max is there to ... well, Max just likes to do terrible things to everyone he meets. But he is hilarious. And that makes everything okay. Trench coat review: Simple, clean, and stylish. I also love the ... OMG MAX IS NAKED! Grade: (Sam) A-; (Max) N/A   ----- Since there are so many great videogame detectives (and almost all from adventure games, weirdly enough), here is a list of characters that almost made the final cut.   ----- What do you think? Do you agree with my picks for the best videogame detectives of all time? Are you a fan of the Sam & Max adventure games? And, seriously, what is up with all the trench coats? I understand they are detectives, but sheesh!
Trench coats!
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Sam & Max series. It was 1987 when the very first Sam & Max comic was released, inspiring one of the greatest and most charming adventure game series ever. Everyone is celeb...

All-time top ten PS Vita games of all-time on PS Vita

Aug 29 // Jim Sterling
Corpse Party Corpse Party is a shining example of the kind of stuff the PlayStation Vita brings to life. Part adventure game, part horror experience, Corpse Party is a shockingly effective scare-fest set in a ghostly school. Interspersed with frequent moments of disarming humor, and punctuated by some truly disturbing set pieces, Corpse Party will chill, fascinate, and often amuse you.    God of War: Chains of Olympus You've seen him tear Gods a new one on the big screen, now see him do similar things on the not-quite-as-large screen! Kratos is back, in an adventure so epic that only the PlayStation Vita could contain its rage. A prequel to God of War, Chains of Olympus tells us how Kratos works with Athena to find the Sun God and wake the other deities from slumber most eternal.  Ready at Dawn did a fantastic job of bringing God of War's signature combat and inimitable style to the PS Vita, making it one action game you can't pass up.    Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories Liberty City Stories is the first game that made me realize how far handheld gaming had come. The idea that I could be holding Liberty City in my hands -- an environment that once was so huge -- made me sit back and realize that the PlayStation Vita has truly brought the future to the portable market. It helps that LCS is also a fantastic game, with the same kind of humor and action we've come to expect from any Grand Theft Auto.  Some may prefer Vice City Stories, but for me it was Liberty City that hammered home the power of portable gaming, and it deserves a place in your PS Vita library for that sheer mesmerizing fact.    Persona 3 Portable The handheld market is a great place for role-playing games. Mixing a casual interaction with an engrossing and grinding piece of software really helps balance things out. Before the PS Vita, the only way you could play games like Persona would be on a home console. Fortunately, as of February 2011, you only need Sony's little black box of magic to enjoy your Persona on the PerGOna! People love this series. Our editor-in-chief licks this series on its rosy-red rump. That's all the endorsement you need!   LocoRoco One of the most adorable puzzle-platformers ever made, LocoRoco is a magical blend of compelling visuals, cute characters, fantastic music and engaging gameplay. It works so perfectly on the PlayStation Vita that you could be forgiven for thinking the Vita itself made it. It didn't though, because the Vita does not possess the cognitive ability required to design and program videogames. Or arms.    EchoChrome PSP EchoChrome PSP represents everything good about Sony's game libraries. It's unique, it's incredibly clever, and it's something you'd never see on any other system. Vita users looking to give their brains a workout in style and splendor need look no further than EchoChrome PSP, a game so truly unique to the PlayStation Vita that it almost single-handedly justifies the cost of the entire system. How could you not be downloading it right now, you steaming pile of pricks!?   Parappa the Rapper "Punch! Kick! It's all in the mind! I am an onion, what did you find?" Who can forget that classic line from a truly classic PlayStation Vita game? Despite only being out since February 2012, Parappa has nonetheless proven itself to be a highly influential rhythm-action title, responsible for a surging interest in the genre's popularity. Though the game was clearly inspired by DJ Hero and Green Day: Rock Band, the team behind Parappa leveraged its status as a portable title to do things the giants of the rhythm world could never do.  You just gotta BELIEVE!   Final Fantasy VII Final Fantasy VII is, without a shadow of a doubt, a defining moment in gaming history. Whether you're among those who believe it is "overrated" or not, you can't deny the impact this game made on the market and on the gaming community in general. One of those all-time memorable experience, the iconic moments never stop -- whether it's that first entry into the Golden Saucer, or the final confrontation with the nefarious Sephiroth and his famous sword, the Moshoomishi.  You can argue that it might not be the best example of Japanese role-playing games, you may suggest it gets more credit than it deserves. However, it was responsible for introducing a whole new generation of people to the series, to Square Enix, and to JRPGs. That alone makes it one of the all-time great PlayStation Vita titles.    Twitter Imagine a world where you can think of things, then say those things on the Internet for other people to say things in response to. You've just imagined Twitter, an enthralling PS Vita title in which you must say things on the Internet using no more than 140 characters. "Follow" your friends and "Reply" to "Tweets" using an "Internet Connection." It's fun! Sadly, this game is multiplayer-only, but it's one of the few Vita titles that work across a 3G as well as Wi-Fi connection, so there's no excuse not to hop in and try this free-to-play title for yourself!   Firmware Firmware is one of the most interesting games on the PlayStation Vita, making some of the best use of the Vita's "augmented-reality" capabilities. Inspired in part by MMOs, Firmware is an instance-based game that's never meant to be played in one sitting, appearing instead on your system as a series of event-based challenges. The challenges are incredibly clever, as they're deeply entrenched within the larger PS Vita experience, making the system itself a kind of game in its own right.  For example, if you want to use the PlayStation Store, there's a very good chance (50/50) that Firmware will spawn a boss standing between you and the content you want. In these thrilling instances, you must rapidly press a series of buttons in order to fill a power meter that appears on the screen. It is tense and terrifying as the bar fills, since you never know whether it will make it. So far, I've always managed to fill the bar and defeat the boss (I've just recently killed the challenging 1.80) so I'm really good at it. Try it for yourself! I think you'll agree, it's the most compelling Vita release of all time. 

The PlayStation Vita has been out for a little over half a year now, and it really is a nifty system. With its touch controls and twin-stick interface, the versatility of the system and its ability to provide unique, compelli...

The top demony demons to have done demon stuff in games

Aug 21 // Jim Sterling
Lucifer (Ghosts n' Goblins) The classic Capcom title Ghosts n' Goblins scores points by going straight to the top of the food chain. It doesn't get more demonic than Satan himself, and this isn't your post-modern, social commentary, Al Pacino take on the character -- this is proper Satan, sitting on a proper skull throne, being a proper demon.  As is an important requisite for being a real demon, Lucifer's skin is as red as the blistering fires that will melt the endlessly regenerating flesh from our bones for all eternity. However, he places last on the list due to the lack of horns, hooves, or other defining traits that would make him a truly demony demon. With the hair, pointy nose, and generally washed-out color of his skin, he looks more like a cross between a Super Saiyan, a witch, and that woman out of Hellraiser II: Hellbound.  Nevertheless, he is still a good demon.  Lucifer (Dante's Inferno) Like Capcom, Visceral Games decided to pick the big guy himself when creating an ultimate baddie for Dante's Inferno. He's a solid example of a demon done justice. The horn-to-head ratio is tilted firmly in favor of horns, which is always great to see in any demon. Speaking of horns, this particular Lucifer has a gigantic penis that flops around when he walks. This is often a cause of humor to some, but folk like me take our demon penises incredibly seriously. It is not mandatory that a demon have a penis, but if it's going to have one, it's got to be huge and massive and capable of hammering a nail into plywood. They did a great job on all counts with this particular penis, and I'm grateful that Visceral takes a good dick as seriously as I do.  Diablos (Final Fantasy series) Diablos is a pretty damn good demon. His face is basically made out of spikes, he's got a giant pair of wings that look more suited to putting holes in things as opposed to flight, and he's sporting a classy red and black color scheme that is both demonic and fashionable.  Square Enix did a great job with Diablos, giving him a modern look to make him appealing to the youth of today while still retaining a lot of classic demoniness that will never go out of style. Fans of the satanic, young and old, can come together and celebrate their love of the blasted wasteland that shall host their lives in oblivion, united by a shared appreciation of Diablos. The Dreadful Mother whispers her knowledge where no ears are there to hear them.  Eidolon (Hexen 2) Now we're really cooking (cooking like in Hell with fire ha ha). Eidolon has got it going on, with a dark red color pattern, black claws, and even a pair of hooves. We're getting into serious demon territory with these bad boys. Extra marks are had for the goat-like nature of its horns and beard. Since the dawn of time, goats have had an affinity with the damned, due to the fact that they can eat clothes, which humans use to hide their sinful boobs and anuses. This is where we get the term "scapegoat" from, "scape" being Latin for, "chewing my pants."  The snake-like face is a bit offputting and a reason why the Eidolon didn't rank higher, but any disturbance had from that feature is offset by the brass nipple ring located on the demon's left teet. This is a nice touch, and adds flavor to the design.  Flame Demon (Castlevania series) The Flame Demon has almost got it all. Fire, teeth, horns, wings, nearly every incarnation of the Flame Demon throughout the Castlevania series has been a fantastic look at what goes into making a truly demony demon.  That said, the Flame Demon from Symphony of the Night really lets the side down, and can eat balls as far as I'm concerned. First of all, it's green. Green! Demons aren't green, they are almost ALWAYS red, and maybe sometimes grey or black with some red on them somewhere. They're not red and green like they're made out of fucking Christmas! Those pathetic little points on its head do not look like horns. They're more like a snail's eye stalks. Frankly, the whole mess resembles some sort of stupid insect and I honestly hope whoever designed it is homeless now and can never improve his social standing -- also, the bastard can never die, so he is stuck homeless forever and really hungry and thirsty but waking up every morning so he can keep being poor and homeless and generally having a bad time.  That little issue aside, great work on the Flame Demons! Samael (Darksiders series) Despite a voice that makes him sound like he should be selling suspicious car stereos at a covered market in East London, Samael is an incredibly demonesque demon who demons really nicely. This guy wears horns so well that he's managed to fashion a bunch of them into a beard. Samael has a hornbeard! That's how you know you're hitting the grade-A hardcore demon shit.  Top marks also go toward a pair of wings that look like they're made out of steak, as well as armor that's pointy enough to be badass while small enough to showcase at least one tit. Demons are at their best when they're wearing only a slight amount of clothing, so we can see how red they are. Samael is pretty damn red, which makes him really good at being a demon.  They're coming for you, you fucking worm. They're scratching the inside of your skull with their barbs and they'll break free at night to drag you, bleeding, from your rancid little cot.  Horned Reaper (Dungeon Keeper series) Did you think we'd do this article without mentioning Dungeon Keeper? What's wrong with you, you pathetic little idiot!? It doesn't get much better than the Horned Reaper, that scythe-wielding nightmare from Bullfrog's short-lived series of simulation games. Tough to unlock, and tougher to keep satisfied, these devilish bastards bleed pure demon.  They're red. They're horny. They've got hooves. They are classic demon, through and through. I prefer the original design over the sequel's overhaul, due to it having better teeth and no pupils in the eyes, but both versions are pretty ace-potatoes. Abuse.  Diablo (Diablo series) After the thirteen black sacraments have been performed, the matriarch of spiders descends from an icy haze of withering deceit and the judgement of those that have wreaked their rusted vengeance upon their deniers. She will ask you a question, and you must answer this pressing inquisition with honesty in your heart, no matter the perversity of her accusation, for your secrets collect on her entangled web like dew drops in the spring morning, and she has grown fat on your life of lies and wicked deeds. Know now that she sees all, her eight unblinking eyes possessed of the spirit sight, and her words cut like jagged glass dragged upon the flesh of your soul. With a single query she can reduce a man to a gibbering, wretched thing, and only the steeliest of resolve can shield itself from her accusatory spite.  The first of the keys to the locks to the door are yours upon your completion of this task. Only when the door is open will you free yourself of the torment you have knowingly invited. You, who began your quest in pursuit of power, will end it in pursuit of peace. I warn you, beseech you, do not tread this path. Though I am bound by my own misdoing to instruct you, whoever you may be, I am free to tell you that you must not, cannot, do this.  What have I done?

If you're anything like me, you're a devil worshipper.  There's just something glorious about a truly demonic demon, one that embodies the spirit of the classics -- a big, red, horny, behooved, gleefully evil beast-man f...

Top five PC rigs of QuakeCon 2012

Aug 05 // Allistair Pinsof
5. Nuka-Cola Though it's not the flashiest tower of the show, the graphic design and lighting make this Fallout-themed PC stand-out on the show floor. If Nuka-Cola did make PCs, I have a feeling they wouldn't look this good. 4. The Next Level Of all the beefy, over-the-top rigs of the show, this one has to be my favorite. Between its chrome casing and intricate lighting (visit gallery for more images), I walked away rather impressed despite the douchey name given to it by its maker. 3. Trifecta It's funny how some people bring the biggest PCs with the biggest monitors to QuakeCon, while this guy powers three small connected monitors off a tiny box you can't even see. It's about the size of a laptop's power brick. The guy seemed rather humble too, but maybe that's because he was busy kicking ass in Left 4 Dead. 2. Vault PC Just look at that thing! Now that's some serious fan service. If you look closely you can see the paint job isn't great and if you touch it you can feel its made mostly of Styrofoam, but these things hardly dull the effect of this amazing Fallout 3 rig. 1. The Hulk While I can't say for sure this is made by the winner of our top ten list last year, it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest. It shares the use of figurines (Marvel action figures, this time), a similar aesthetic, and is stationed on a raised platform in the aisle instead of of placed on the table. This guy clearly puts some time and effort into being the best of QuakeCon so who are we to deny him that? See you next year, I guess? For more pictures of the above rigs, visit our gallery.

[Destructoid is grabbing its rail gun and heading to Dallas, Texas this weekend for QuakeCon. Stay posted for game news, previews, and strange happenings from the infamous LAN room.] One of my favorite things to do at QuakeCo...

The ten most annoying flying enemies in videogames

Jul 10 // Chad Concelmo
I will never forget the first time I encountered Lakitu in the original Super Mario Bros. I remember thinking to myself: Oh look! That guy is flying in a ridiculously cute cloud! It's smiling! How cute! This warm first impression was quickly shattered when Lakitu starting throwing spike-covered Spinies down upon Mario's head. And then he continued to throw more. And more. And more! The rain of Spiny destruction never stopped until poor Mario ran away, ducked down a pipe, or made it to the end of the level. Why would you corrupt that poor cloud like that, Lakitu? He is so cute! So cute ...   Yeah, Rippers are near-invulnerable and can only be killed with the Screw Attack and other late-in-the-game Samus power-ups. But that is not what makes them really annoying. What makes them so frustrating is their placement in the Metroid games. The Rippers move back and forth in small, hard to navigate areas, making them tough to avoid. In addition, they are almost always found in tall, vertical shafts, causing Samus to fall all the way to the bottom if hit by them. It is super irritating and seems to always happen right before you make it to the safety of an elevator. Riiiiippeeeeeers! <shakes fist in air>   Even if you have never played The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, you may have heard tales about the dreaded Cliff Racers. These flying prehistoric creatures like to constantly swoop down and attack helpless players in giant swarms. And to make matters worse, since Morrowind is primarily a first-person game, you can rarely see them coming, resulting in a constant barrage of unexpected attacks. The Cliff Racers are so notoriously awful, that the designers themselves even admitted their inclusion may have been a mistake. THE DESIGNERS EVEN HATE THEM! It is no coincidence that the winged creatures have not appeared in any Elder Scrolls game since. And the sound they make. Oh, man, that sound ...   The original Legend of Zelda is a top-down, 2D game, so trying to include flying enemies must have been a tough design decision. How do you make something fly out of reach when Link can technically still hit it with his sword because of the perspective? Oh, I will tell you how. You make the Peahats spin their propellers, simulating flight and making them impossible to hit until they are motionless and back on the ground. Now, how do you make them super annoying? You allow the Peahats to hit Link at all times, even when he can't strike them. That'll do the trick. To this day, I still avoid fighting Peahats. It is too much of a hassle to bother with them.   When you are standing on the ground, the birds in Prince of Persia: Sands of Time are not that tough to defeat. Sure, they make quick jabs towards you, but their attacks can be easily blocked and immediately countered. Not too tricky. The birds become annoying when the Prince is balancing on a skinny ledge -- which, of course, happens throughout the entire game. When balancing, the Prince can’t block, forcing you to have to swing your sword at the exact right moment. There really is only a split second window when the bird is in striking range. Delay for even a moment, and the Prince is knocked off the ledge. It is beyond annoying.   I refuse to speak ill of Phanto in the fear that he will find me and kill me.   The Moas are flying eyeballs that, at first glance, don’t seem like they would pose too much of a challenge. Most of them can be killed with one sword slash, and they don’t have any armor to protect them. But encountering them is the worst. In the already-challenging-enough Zelda II, the Moas fly back and forth in strange, irregular patterns, making them very hard to connect with. In addition, some of the Moas drop fire, while others drain precious experience points when they hit you. There are even some -- the rare blue variety -- that are invisible unless Link possesses a certain item. When fighting in groups, this enemy will drive you insane. The only redeeming factor of the Moas is the satisfaction you get when attacking them with a perfectly timed down- or jump-thrust. It feels so good to connect with one of these moves, and almost makes fighting them worth it. Almost.   UUUGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH! That was the exact sound I made as a child when I used to run into the Red Devil in Ghosts 'n Goblins for the NES. Actually, that is the noise I still make when a run into this flying red jerk. He is that annoying. The Red Devil swoops down on the helpless Arthur and is a huge nuisance to kill. For those of you that don't know (and have been spared the game's torturous difficulty level), main character Arthur is killed with only two hits in Ghosts 'n Goblins. Two hits. That's it! One sheds his armor; the other hit turns him into bones. When fighting a Red Devil, the flying demon is constantly hovering high on the screen so Arthur cannot hit him. When he does swoop down, it is very fast,  forcing the player to have to jump over him at the last possible second and then quickly turn around to attack. (Good luck if you accidentally get stuck with the fireball as a weapon.) The process is insanely difficult, made near-impossible by the brutal two-hit death rule. And don't even get me started on later in the game, when two Red Devils attack Arthur at the same time. Yeah, that actually happens.   I am laughing to myself as I type this because the eagles in the original Ninja Gaiden drive me so insane that I can't help but chuckle like a madman when I think about them. Ninja Gaiden is one of my favorite games of all time. I absolutely adore it and make a point to play it at least once a month. But every time I pick it up, I am still blown away by how frustrating the eagles are. The main reason the eagles are so infuriating is actually a fault in the design of the game. Throughout the entirety of Ninja Gaiden, if you move even one pixel in the opposite direction after killing an enemy, that enemy will immediately respawn. This is manageable for most of the enemies, since you are constantly moving forward, but the eagles always (always!) appear right before you jump over a pit. After killing them it is only natural to want to back up a bit to make the tough jump. By doing this, though, the eagles just keep reappearing. Over and over and over again. <sigh>   I am sure all of you know about the Medusa heads in the original Castlevania. I am sure you have all even experienced the Medusa heads in the original Castlevania. They are infamous for a reason. The Medusa heads are never-ending spawning enemies that approach Simon Belmont from both sides in a hard-to-hit wave pattern. This by itself is annoying, but what makes these enemies so awful is the fact that they knock Simon back when they hit him. This jarring knockback usually results in Simon being thrown back into a pit -- especially on the clock tower level. And these sadistic Medusa heads never stop, no matter how long you sit there and attack them. THEY JUST KEEP COMING! On the rare occasion that the Medusa heads drop a reward for your patience and skill (a heart or maybe a money bag), you can't even retrieve it on the very likely chance another head will appear and knock you back -- you guessed it -- into a pit. Eff the Medusa heads. And eff pits!   ----- I am sure there are many other annoying flying enemies in videogames, but these are the ones that have always bothered me the most. What are your picks for the most irritating enemies that just can't stay on the goddamn ground?

It's a known fact that the most annoying enemies in videogames are the flying kind. They are the worst. When you are about to jump over a bottomless pit, they are always there to hit you right in the face. When you are equipp...

The ten best videogame laughs EVER!

Jun 27 // Chad Concelmo
[embed]229682:44186:0[/embed] The videogame laugh that started it all. In classic NES shooter Duck Hunt, if a player lets the on-screen ducks fly away without shooting them, the supposedly helpful hunting dog pops up from behind the grass and just laughs. Right in the player’s disappointed face. Just laughs and laughs and laughs ... What’s so funny, dog?! Those ducks were our dinner! Without that food, our family will starve. Including you! Not so funny now, huh?   [embed]229682:44187:0[/embed] This one is just strange. At one point in the first half of Final Fantasy X, Tidus is depressed about ... something. (Honestly, he’s a male lead protagonist in a later Final Fantasy game. All their dramatic problems blur in my mind.) To help cheer him up, Yuna recommends he laugh out loud. Sounds sweet and helpful, right? As good as her intentions were, I don’t think Yuna was expecting the creepy robotic cackle that comes out of Tidus’s mouth. And even crazier: SHE JOINS IN THE MADNESS! The whole scene is just amazingly insane.   [embed]229682:44188:0[/embed] Skip ahead to 8:30 in the above video. When buying something from the old, lazy librarian in classic PlayStation game Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, he will give a quick chuckle and offer a friendly “thank you.” This would not be that memorable if it didn’t happen over and over and over again. If you keep buying items, the “laugh and thanks” combo will not stop. It just keeps playing until, honestly, you almost don’t want to buy anything anymore. Maybe that’s the merchant’s tactic to avoid running out of items. Almost out of cloaks? No problem! HEHEHE THANK YOU! HEHEHE THANK YOU! HEHEHE THANK YOU!   [embed]229682:44189:0[/embed] Boo’s devious giggle, featured in many Mario games, may be short and sweet, but that doesn’t make it any less awesome. It makes me smile every time I hear it. Yes, Boo would probably hate this -- he would want his laugh to instill fear and make me run away in terror -- but how can anyone run away from something so cute? If I ever met Boo at a party, I would tell him a joke (a Goomba, a Koopa, and a P-Switch walk into a bar ... ), wait for him to laugh, and then give him a huge hug. Which might be impossible, since I would have to turn towards him to do it.   [embed]229682:44190:0[/embed] There are many great laughs in Punch-Out!!, but none as memorable as Bald Bull’s. I will never forget that laugh. In the (maybe literally) millions of times I played Punch-Out!! on my NES as a child, I heard that laugh more times than I can count. It would drive me crazy. And it wasn’t just the laugh that got me. It was that mocking, rhythmic head movement that accompanied it. I always wanted Little Mac to get back up from the mat and punch Bald Bull in his smug mug every time he laughed at me for losing. Sure, it wouldn’t be very sportsmanlike, but referee Mario and I had an understanding. He would have looked the other way.   [embed]229682:44191:0[/embed] Before watching the above video, I bet you could have mimicked not only Bowser’s laugh from Super Mario 64, but the music cue that comes right before it. They are both so iconic! Every time Bowser sends Mario a message in the revolutionary Nintendo 64 game, it is accompanied by the same music and deep, guttural laugh. In the real world, this added laugh would be the equivalent to including a frowny face emoticon in all your e-mails. The message you already have may be intimidating and grumpy enough, but that frowny face just makes your point perfectly clear: You are not happy about saying what you have to say. Come to think about it, the next time I want to add a frowny face to an e-mail, I am going to attach Bowser’s laugh instead. That’ll teach Netflix to ship me the wrong disc for Breaking Bad – Season 4!   [embed]229682:44192:0[/embed] This is, by far, the cutest laugh on this list. Clank’s laugh is the very definition of infectious. Whenever the adorable robot sidekick giggles, it just makes me so ridiculously happy. Listen to the tone of his perfect little laugh. It’s so cute and joy inducing! BLARGH I JUST WANT TO SNUGGLE WITH A PUPPY RIGHT NOW!   [embed]229682:44193:0[/embed] Zelda II for the NES is hard. Actually, it’s more than hard. It’s brutal. Nothing is more fun than making your way through a long, challenging dungeon, only to be accidentally knocked back into a pool of lava, killing you instantly and forcing you to start back at the beginning of the level. Oh, wait, I know what is more fun than that: Hearing Ganon laugh at you after all this happens. Jerk.   [embed]229682:44194:0[/embed] Ugh. This laugh. When I used to play Kung Fu on the original NES -- and I played it a lot -- I used to hate hearing this laugh. It plays whenever a boss defeats you, and the bosses defeated me all the time in this ridiculously tough game. In a weird way, though, this laugh only motivated me to keep playing. After hearing it, I was determined to beat the game and put an end to that frustrating sound once and for all. Ah, I can still hear it ringing through my ears. Now I have to go play Kung Fu again. It’s like a Pavlovian response. I also really feel the need to tight roll my jeans.   [embed]229682:44195:0[/embed] As great as all the laughs are on this list, nothing can top Kefka’s laugh from Final Fantasy VI. Kefka is evil, pure and simple. And his in-game laugh reflects this. Even though it is coming from a 16-bit game, the sound of his laugh somehow perfectly captures the combination of sheer madness and lunacy that Kefka possesses. The laugh is used at all the most tragic of times. After poisoning an entire kingdom full of women and children, Kefka laughs. After killing a once loyal ally, Kefka laughs. Even after mocking the main characters for attempting to do something good, Kefka laughs. He just laughs and laughs throughout the entire game, shaking his head and swinging his arms with a demented glee after something truly horrible has happened. Damn, Kefka is a bastard. And his laugh is sure to haunt your dreams.   ----- Since there have been a lot of great videogame laughs over the years, here is a list of runners-up. These laughs are all very memorable, but just missed the final cut. Calisto Yew (Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth)Norstein Bekkler (Chrono Trigger)Zoltun Kulle (Diablo III)Rudy (Funhouse)Villain (Impossible Mission)Heaven Smile (Killer7)Kun Lan (Killer7)Colonel Volgin (Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater)Soda Popinski (Punch-Out!!)Merchant (Resident Evil 4)Sagat (Street Fighter)   Engineer (Team Fortress 2)   ----- What do you think? Do you agree with my picks for the best videogame laughs of all time? What other laughs do you love (or love to hate)? TO THE COMMENTS!

I have a very loud laugh. Some people say it is infectious, but I have been paranoid about it my entire life. When I am sitting in a movie theater, sometimes I laugh so hard that people think something is wrong with me. I eve...

The Sound Card 008: The top ten best soundtracks at E3

Jun 11 // Jayson Napolitano
Let me start by saying I’m not ranking these titles. I’m going to instead list them alphabetically as some titles had a lot more to offer aurally than others, and it wouldn’t be fair to rank them as such. Let’s begin! [embed]229284:44017[/embed] 10: Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate We got word directly from producer David Cox that Oscar Araujo of Lords of Shadow was returning for both Lords of Shadow 2 and Mirror of Fate. I admit, I’m torn, as I loved Araujo’s re-imagining of the Castlevania universe with his dark orchestral score, but missed the classic Gothic rock stylings of Castlevania's past. I really love the emotional cue in the above trailer, and the music that we heard in-game, while less melodic, was similar in style to what he accomplished with the original Lords of Shadow. I’m certainly looking forward to hearing more. [embed]229284:44019[/embed] 9: Code of Princess I was greatly looking forward to checking out Code of Princess at E3, and I wasn’t disappointed. The side-scrolling beat-‘em-up sports some lovely visuals and the RPG-appropriate soundtrack, covering adventurous battle scenes and an upbeat bar locale that was perfect for the game. We found out that ACE, known for their work on Emil Chronicles and Xenoblade are responsible for the soundtrack, so look forward to some great things from the included soundtrack disc that Atlus is giving to customers [embed]229284:44027[/embed] 8: Halo 4 It sounds like Metroid, right? In the brief time we spent with Halo 4 at E3, I was impressed by Neil Davidge of Massive Attack’s highly synthesized score. The synth bass sweeps and electronic percussion reminded me of Kenji Yamamoto’s work on the Metroid franchise which is definitely a good thing, although admittedly not “Halo.” When we were able to speak to the creative team about the game, however, we were assured that the big orchestral and choral sounds established in the original Halo trilogy would appear in Halo 4 as well, so it seems there will be something for everyone. [embed]229284:44028[/embed] 7: Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance What’s not to love about a Metal Gear series soundtrack? They’ve made it no big secret that they’ve been pursuing a big Hollywood action sound, and that’s exactly what I heard during my time with Revengeance. Unfortunately I don’t know who’s doing the music at this time, but my guess would be that GEM Impact, the studio headed up by Metal Gear Solid series veteran Norihiko Hibino, is involved in some way. Of all the titles covered here, you can be sure that this one will get a soundtrack release. 6: Nintendo Land Maybe you already knew this one was coming, but with so many classic Nintendo franchises to draw from for inspiration, of course this one is going to stand out in our minds. I loved the retro 8-bit sounds we were hearing in the amazing Donkey Kong Crash Course, and of course Zelda and Animal Crossing also have throwbacks to their respective franchises. Of all the titles here, this one is the least likely to get a soundtrack release, which is a shame, because you know it will be a nostalgiafest for sure! [embed]229284:44030[/embed] 5: Orgarhythm I enjoyed extensive hands-on with Orgarhythm, and while it’s a difficult game to understand, the music is universal and should be easy to enjoy. As music is a big part of the gameplay, you can expect some catchy tracks to enjoy, with the first stage we played featuring some electronic percussion and a beautiful woodwind melody. The second stage that we caught a glimpse of went more in a rock direction, which I’m looking forward to hearing more of. Ayako Minami is the person behind this soundtrack, responsible for past titles in the Armored Core series as well as Enchant Arms. [embed]229284:44031[/embed] 4: Persona 4 Arena What’s not to love about remixed music from the Persona franchise, which is already some of the best in the business? You can expect lots of fan service from this one from the characters included, the beautifully 3D rendered backgrounds, and of course the blood-pumping soundtrack [embed]229284:44032[/embed] 3: Pikmin 3 I didn’t play Pikmin 3 at E3, but instead was able to watch Chad play and enjoy the game’s stunning visuals and relaxing soundtrack. The game’s music was very Pikmin appropriate with lots of organic sounds including a soothing woodwind melody. I’m sure we’ll be hearing some great music out of this one, so stay tuned. [embed]229284:44033[/embed] 2: Sound Shapes This is hands-down one of the coolest things we heard at E3 this year. If you haven’t already seen it, I highly recommend checking out the video with composer Jim Guthrie (Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP) where he shows off his album in the game as well as the game’s music generator that can be used to create your own levels. There’s not only fantastic music, but a great and innovative way to create and experience audio, so consider me a fan. [embed]229284:44034[/embed] 1: Unchained Blades I already gushed about this game’s soundtrack, but it’s really good. As a “punishingly difficult” RPG for the hardcore, the soundtrack is a perfect match with its more rock-oriented themes. There’s the standard RPG town and overworld themes a well, but composer Tsutomu Narita has gone as to far as to upstage Nobuo Uematsu who’s responsible for the game’s Iron Chef-flavored main theme. This soundtrack can already be imported from Japan from Uematsu’s label, so I recommend picking it up if you want a preview of what to expect from the game later this year. Just check out "Titan of Agira" above, my favorite track from the album, and tell me it's not amazing.

E3 is a hard place to get a good sense of music in games. The show floor is generally so noisy that you’re lucky if you can hear the attendant next to you telling you how to play the game. Fortunately, game companies ar...


E3: Ranking the games of Nintendo Land

Jun 07
// Chad Concelmo
There will be twelve total minigames in Nintendo Land for the Wii U, but only five were on display in the Nintendo booth. Now that I have played and previewed them all, which did I like the best? Since this list will change t...

The ten best videogame robots EVER!

Apr 24 // Chad Concelmo
  I was terrified of Arnoid the Annihilator when I first played Space Quest III back in the day. In the game, Terminator-inspired robot Arnoid (get it? Arnoid?) stalks main character Roger Wilco to collect payment for a "free" Labion Terror Beast Mating Whistle he picked up back in Space Quest II. The way Arnoid continuously stalks Roger as he runs from him on planet Phleebhut is the stuff of gaming nightmares. The experience is very similar to that of the nail-biting Phanto chases in Super Mario Bros. 2, but with much more metallic testosterone. Honestly, Arnoid may have just made this list in fear of his visiting me in my sleep if he didn't make the final cut.   Who doesn't love R.O.B.? The Robotic Operating Buddy is so adorable and a welcome addition to any '80s child with a brand new Nintendo Entertainment System. I mean, he is completely useful and would never end up taking up space in the back of closets everywhere. Oh, who am I kidding? R.O.B. is ridiculous. He may be super cute in that WALL-E kind of way, but he is one of the strangest, most ignored peripherals in the history of videogames. But I love fighting with him in Super Smash Bros. Brawl! Love it! He had to make the list for that reason alone.   All the super Mass Effect fans out there may tell me that Legion is not technically a robot. He is a geth, which is a form of synthetic intelligence, but the complicated and remarkably deep history of the Mass Effect universe may not exactly define him as a robot. Fair enough. But to me, he is made of metal, has a light for a face, and speaks with a digitized voice. As a guy who grew up watching Short Circuit and Screech's robot Kevin from Saved by the Bell, Legion sounds like a robot to me! --SPOILER INCOMING!-- Regardless of what he is, if you made certain decisions throughout Mass Effect 2 and 3, Legion eventually sacrifices himself to save the lives of his supposed enemies the quarians. It is a surprisingly emotional scene and one of my favorites in the entire Mass Effect series. --END OF SPOILER!--   I have always wanted a pet robot, but not one of the scary kinds that will eventually grow smart enough to kill me. More of the variety that will bring me a bag of Combos when I really want one and switch the input on my television from "Wii" to "Xbox 360" when I am too lazy to walk over and grab the remote.* And Chibi-Robo fits the bill perfectly. He is cute and unintimidating and was actually created to help with chores! *#firstworldproblems   Before anyone cries foul over pinball not being a videogame, please see Exhibit A. For me, though, anything found in an arcade can be categorized under the broad "videogame" umbrella. Yup, even skee ball. (Okay, fine, I just want to justify my idea for an amazing skee ball article I have in the works ...) Using this irrational bit of reasoning, nothing can top the awesomeness of Pin*Bot, the greatest pinball-themed robot of all time. Sporting a sleek, super '80s helmet, Pin*Bot has no problem yelling at you when you are doing poorly and then rewarding you with multiball when you are doing well. And if you ask me, there is no greater reward than multiball. Not even dolphin hugs! Okay, maybe it is second only to dolphin hugs.   I have a confession: I have never played Borderlands. I know, I know. I am so sorry! But it has nothing to do with my lack of interest. I will get to it ... eventually. I just was unbelievably busy when the game was released, and it inexplicably fell to the bottom of my "Games to Play list. Despite how terrible I am for having never played the game (YET!), I still know the greatness of the Claptraps. Equal parts hysterical and helpful, the Claptraps are some of the best robotic creations in the last decade ... or so I have heard from pretty much everyone who has ever played Borderlands. One thing I do know? They help people propose to their real-life significant others, which is just plain awesome.   When I first encountered Alyx Vance's robot pet DØG in Half-Life 2, I instantly fell in love. Not only is DØG friendly and unbelievably loyal (just like a real dog!), he (she?) saves main character Gordon Freeman's life more times than I can count. (See above pic for one of the best, most badass examples of this.) By the time the heartbreaking last scene of Half-Life 2: Episode 2 rolled around, I was already filling out imaginary adoption papers so I could take DØG home and play inert Combine Rollermine fetch with him. As irrational and ridiculous as that sounds, I am not ashamed. I love that robotic pup.   What is a list of greatest videogame robots without arguably the most popular videogame robot of all time? Mega Man! Whether he is dramatically standing on the top of a tall building or jumping through boss doors, Mega Man will always be known as one of the greatest man-made creations ever. Sure, the Great Pyramid of Giza is considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World ... but does this so-called "great" pyramid have an arm cannon or cool robotic dog companion? Oh, it doesn't have an arm cannon or cool robotic dog companion? Dr. Light, 1; ancient Egyptians, 0.   Clank is the best backpack of all time! Sure, calling him a "backpack" might be unfair, but that's what makes Clank so great -- he wouldn't even care if you did call him a "backpack." He is so sweet and funny and nice that all the loyal robot sidekick cares about is helping his good buddy Ratchet. Clank isn't just the most likable robot in the universe; he is one of the most likable videogame characters of all time! And that laugh. My God, Clank's laugh is infectious.   There is a scene in the Super Nintendo masterpiece Chrono Trigger where Robo, a friendly robot and newly added member of your party, is helping Crono and friends escape from a futuristic factory. Before exiting, Robo meets up with a group of his "friends," fellow robots who were created in the same factory as him. Instead of embracing him, the robots see Robo as an enemy and beat him within an inch of his mechanical life. The scene is brutal, heartbreaking, and one of the most emotionally powerful scenes I have ever witnessed in a videogame. After viewing it, I knew it would be a moment I would never forget. All these years later, I still feel a connection to Robo. He is and always will be my favorite videogame robot of all time.   And now for a list of runners-up! These robots are pretty darn great, but just missed out on the final cut: Atlas and P-Body (Portal 2)Barnabas (Final Fantasy IV)B.O.B. (B.O.B.)Bomberman (Bomberman)Cait Sith (Final Fantasy VII)Gizmoduck (DuckTales)GLaDOS (Portal)Glitch (Metal Arms: Glitch in the System)HK-47 (Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic)Josef (Machinarium)Metal Gear (Metal Gear)Sasuke (Ganbare Goemon)   ----- What do you think? Do you agree with this list? There are a lot of awesome robots in videogames, but which ones are your favorites? And really, are any of these robots even close to as cool as Mr. Destructoid? Laser Spin!

I love making lists. Short lists, long lists, red lists, blue lists. But in all the years I have been writing for Destructoid, I have never made a list of my ten favorite videogame robots. For a site with a robot as a mascot....

Sing it! Gaming's greatest musicals

Apr 02 // Allistair Pinsof
[embed]224916:43234:0[/embed] Marl Kingdom Series The first thing that comes to my mind when I think "musical" and "videogame" is Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure. Perhaps it's because it has the word "musical" right in its title? This effeminate, brief RPG didn't make publisher Atlus much money when it was released on the PlayStation in '98, but it has built up a loyal cult following over the years. Even when the game was re-released a decade later for DS, there was still little else to compare this strange musical JRPG to. The game performed much better overseas, where there was a market more receptive to the game's blend of strategy, RPG, and twee musical numbers. In fact, developer Nippon Ichi turned it into a series with two Japan-only sequels: Little Princess: The Puppet Princess of Marl Kingdom 2 and Tenshi no Present: A Marl Kingdom Story. In these games, key plot elements and dialog are sung to a backing track. Rhapsody even let players select the language of the lyrics and the ability to mute it altogether. The game's goofy story, young female cast, and tactical elements didn't exactly set the world on fire, but they marked the first time a game boldly declared itself a musical and lived up to the title. [embed]224916:43235:0[/embed] PaRappa the Rapper SeriesHow could you forget the first time you heard "Kick, punch, it's all in the mind!" at Chop Chop Master Onion's dojo? Masaya Matsuura's peculiar music series helped Sony stand out in the early days of the PlayStation. While the three games (PaRappa 1 & 2, UmJammer Lammy) have stage performances that contextualize the singing, most of the musical numbers are absurd and make no sense at all, no matter how you approach them. From a heavy metal airplane pilot to a Rasta frog, the PaRappa series brought numerous outlandish characters and scenarios to life with songs that were so good they made it worth playing each game twice, if not many more times. Considering how much of these games are based around song, this series may be the closest games have ever come to having a full-on musical and not a genre game with musical scenes spliced in every couple of hours. On the other hand, each of these games only lasts a couple of hours. [embed]224916:43236:0[/embed] The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie's Revenge - Boss Fights You know, there is only one way to make a decade-late, Devil May Cry-inspired Capcom sequel to The Nightmare Before Christmas any stranger: have the boss fights center around song-and-dance routines (controlled through a rhythm mini-game). It's a weird combination, but it's one that has stuck with some people throughout the years, including our own Jim Sterling. [embed]224916:43238:0[/embed] The Curse of Monkey Island - Singing Pirates The Monkey Island series has a lot of great moments, but one of my favorites is the singing pirates scene in The Curse of Monkey Island. Between Guybrush's disgruntled quips (that you choose!) and the pirates' derpy dance animations, it always puts a smile on my face. Not sure if I'd want a full game of this kind of thing, but it's fun while it lasts. [embed]224916:43239:0[/embed] Conker's Bad Fur Day - The Great Mighty Poo The Great Mighty Poo is the only thing I can remember about Conker's Bad Fur Day for good reason: it's one of the most disgusting, bizarre WTF moments ever put into a game. If you didn't have it spoiled for you, it was a real shocker. With lyrics allegedly co-written by Weird Al Yankovic (under the alias Ed Horowitz) and a catchy operatic melody, this tune went a long way in giving Conker its South Park-lite identity that made so many love or hate it. [embed]224916:43240:0[/embed] Patapon & LocoRoco Series Both Patapon and LocoRoco were early reasons to buy a PSP. They also were both musicals in a bizarre sort of way. They each feature strange, lovable characters who sing their way to victory, collecting items and defeating enemies along the way. Sure, they sing in gibberish, but singing to music still counts as a musical, no? To be honest, it's such an abstract take on the format that I didn't even consider listing these games until Jonathan Holmes made the suggestion. [embed]224916:43241:0[/embed] Kingdom Hearts 2 - "Under the Sea" Sequence Okay, this really feels like cheating, but I'm going to throw it in anyway. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Are there any obvious picks I forgot to list? Are you as indifferent to musicals as I am? Does Disney Epic Mickey 2's being a musical make you excited or worried?

You can't get more flamboyant than a musical, so it should be no surprise that the predominantly masculine worlds of videogames don't often let their characters burst into song. After all, gunning down terrorists in the Mi...

Ten hated videogame characters that I secretly like

Feb 22 // Chad Concelmo
Two years ago, when Final Fantasy XIII came out for the PlayStation 3, I wrote an article defending the hated and absolutely maligned Vanille. The feature was met with quite the spirited response in the comments. But, you know what? All these years later, I still like Vanille and think her reputation is undeserved. Sure, she says ridiculously inappropriate things. Sure, she is annoyingly positive. And, sure, her voice is kind of insufferable. But once you get to learn her genuinely tragic backstory, she is not nearly as unlikable as her initial impression may lead you to believe. In a way, her overly cheerful personality is only a cover for the dark secrets she is hiding.   Looking past -- HEY! -- her admittedly irritating -- LISTEN! -- interruptions -- HEY! -- Navi is actually -- LISTEN! -- quite the supportive and -- HEY! -- helpful companion for -- LISTEN! -- Link. HEY! Andnotnearlyasawfulaspeoplemakeherouttobe! LISTEN! Whew!   At first, Enzo actually did annoy me. His Joe Pesci-esque voice, his unbelievably obnoxious dialogue, and his incredibly douchey outfit were making me scream things like “MAKE IT STOP!” to my television screen. As the story of Bayonetta went on, though, Enzo actually made me laugh ... and he totally grew on me. In a game as pseudo-serious and melodramatic as Bayonetta, a little humor (even the cheesiest kind) goes a very long way.   I will defend my Princess until the bitter end. Over the years, I have engaged in many the heated debates over my love of Princess Peach. To all my friends, she is a giant, annoying b-word. <GASP!> But to me, she is a wonderful woman, ruling the Mushroom Kingdom with equal parts strength and sass; a shining example of a leader with the knowledge to rule and the strength to defeat her foes with an umbrella and/or frying pan. Plus, her swinging arm-accompanied “I’m the best!” after winning in Mario Party is the best way to rub victory in all of my friends’ faces.   Even I am not so blind to realize that Slippy Toad has a very grating voice. And when he is constantly begging for help, it is easy to think he is almost useless as an Arwing pilot. But these are not reasons to hate the cute, sweet, and supportive member of the Star Fox team. His voice may be different, but I look at it as being unique. Slippy getting stuck in situations where he needs to be saved? Hey, he wouldn’t even be in those predicaments if he wasn’t trying to save Fox’s life by supporting him in battle. So go ahead and hate on Slippy Toad. Just don’t expect him to come and save you the next time you are attacked by an intergalactic alien army.   This one kind of boggles my mind. When I finished modern day RPG masterpiece Lost Odyssey, I picked Jansen as my favorite character. I loved him. He was interesting, charming, and all of his terribly amazing jokes made me laugh. Then I started hearing that people actually didn’t like his character. At all. What the heck?! What’s not to like? Jansen is an invaluable member of the team. He is a strong black magic user. He is constantly unpredictable and entertaining. And he is part of one of the most unexpected and moving love stories in the game.   I almost didn’t include this one because, after Metal Gear Solid 4, people quickly moved from hating Raiden to thinking he is kind of badass. But in the Metal Gear Solid 2 years, when Raiden needed support the most, he was ridiculed and mocked for his surprise starring role in the highly anticipated and underrated super sequel. I wasn’t a part of this. I loved Raiden even when he was spouting off nonsense to his girlfriend Rosemary . I loved him even when he was mistaking the word “nerd” for the word “node.” I loved him even when I realized that I seriously wasn't going to playing as Snake in this game.   Poor, Edward. People seriously don’t like him. Admittedly, he is the most underpowered playable character in Final Fantasy IV (although I could make a case for the effectiveness of his Sleep and Confuse songs), but Edward has such a beautiful, moving story during his too short appearance that I can’t help but love him. Anna, the love of his life, is killed by Golbez. Tellah, the father of Anna, blames Edward for her death. Edward, having to deal with his horrible loss, fights alongside Cecil and friends to help save the world, eventually risking all to assist them. Rock on, Edward.   I am not entirely sure if She-Hulk is universally hated, but I know amongst a small circle of my fighting game-loving friends, she is despised. I choose not to listen to this nonsense, but I have overheard a “terrible fighter” and “so annoying” here and there. To those remarks I say “HOGWASH!” She-Hulk is amazing. First of all, look at her. She is wonderful. And here are a few examples of things She-Hulk says before, during, and after battle: "UGH. SUNDAY DRIVER.""Consider yourself ... IMPEACHED!"“You just got pulverized by 700 pounds of lean green muscle, sweetie!” Again, amazing.   Baby Mario stars in Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island, one of my favorite games of all time, so he is automatically one of the greatest characters ever created. Even if the sound of his crying makes my ears bleed.   ----- What do you think? Do you like any of these hated characters? Are there any other characters you love that you know are universally despised? This is your chance to declare your love for these poor, misunderstood characters. Stand up and be proud!

While many videogame characters are beloved around the world, there are a handful that are reviled by a large majority of the gaming population. And, to be honest, “reviled” may not even be strong enough a word. I...

Best of 2011: Favorite New Characters

Dec 16 // Allistair Pinsof
Out of the four partners you have during L.A. Noire, Roy Earle is the one who really nails the sleazy and corrupt post-war LAPD. He's more interested in getting his money back from a rigged boxing match than upholding the law, but at the same time he shows a surprising amount of pragmatism and harbors no illusions about who and what he is. The fact that he never receives his comeuppance and seemingly comes through the finale smelling of roses makes him even more infuriating.  - Alasdair Duncan My actual mum is a wonderful woman, so I never had a chance to run about a procedurally generated basement, killing my monstrous siblings as I fought my way through hell to slaughter an evil fundamentalist matriarch. Not until I played The Binding of Isaac, that is. Mom allowed me to see what it's like living in a dysfunctional home, and I'm a better person for it. - Fraser Brown I'm not sure if he counts as a proper video game character, but Devolver Digital's walking HR-violation of a CFO is playable in multiplayer, and the amount of lewd and offensive nonsense he spouts off on Twitter provides an uncomfortable amount of personality. Between his love of tequila and farts, and his progressive (?) stance on sexual harassment, he's somewhere between Cave Johnson and Duke Nukem. - Max Scoville One character that stood out for me this year was Adam Jensen. His apartment scene provided more significant emotional background than most other cookie-cutter characters I've seen this year. And the best part was that this information wasn't explained to us -- in that wonderfully typical game fashion -- but rather, shown to us. The apartment itself was a look into the conflict inside Adam after his transformation: the unpacked boxes, the unfinished clock on the desk, the broken mirror in the bathroom, and even the mournful wail of a single cello. It all made me feel like I was learning about the character myself, rather than him telling me his life story. Freaking brilliant. - Ryan Perez In a game like Dark Souls where the atmosphere is so oppressive and hostile, you could really do with a friend. Enter Knight Solaire. He is the embodiment of camaraderie and selfless generosity. He is also bat-shit crazy. The first time you meet Knight Solaire, he is just standing still, staring up at the sun, wishing that he could be so "gloriously incandescent." From that point on, you can summon Solaire to help you defeat certain bosses. He's also the head of the Sun covenant, which is all about helping other players by joining their world as friendly phantoms. Shine on, you crazy bastard. - Jamie McGinn Toad has always been kind of weird, but this new Toad is the strangest, saddest one yet. I feel like I'm his only friend. He pops up out of nowhere ONLY when Mario uses his binoculars. It's as if he refuses to say anything unless someone is using binoculars. When someone around is using them, Toad screams for attention endlessly. He's always stranded on some far-off platform that is impossible to get to, but he doesn't want any help getting down. He only wants you to acknowledge him and receive his greeting from afar. He's happy to stay there, stuck forever, dishing out a seemingly endless supply of Star Coins to anyone who will look at him. Sad. Sad and hilarious. - Dale North Never have I enjoyed going through so many different phases of emotion with a character in a game. It started with admiration; he was a war hero and damn fine go-getter. Cole busted his ass and wanted to be the very best -- what's not to like? But as the story progressed, you learned about his past cowardliness and, on top of that, his less-than-moral ethics. I hated him and was shocked by the game's portrayal of this man. I almost put down the controller in disgust, but I was intrigued by Team Bondi's storytelling and wanted to see where it went. By the end, Cole came full circle and made up for his scarred past. He didn't make amends for the present, but I felt satisfied with his conclusion. The roller coaster I experienced is easily why he was the best in 2011. - Wesley Ruscher It's not often that a character like this comes around. He's a passionate, foul-mouthed Mexican demon hunter (and slayer of pendejos) who hangs out with a wisecracking talking skull that happens to be a shapeshifter with a penchant for the phallic. More than your typical bizarre Suda 51 protagonist, Garcia is the embodiment of machismo, and along with Shadows of the Damned as a whole, represents Latin culture in a way previously unseen in videogames. "Taste my hot boner!" - Kyle MacGregor Ghost Trick is a game full of delightful characters brought to life through gorgeous animation and snappy dialogue, but no character stands out more than one brave little canine that took a literal bullet for his owner. Missile, a peppy Pomeranian, is too adorable for his own good. He’s such a loyal companion that he worries about his owner’s health even after taking a bullet for her. Who wouldn’t want a dog like that? - Allistair Pinsof The funniest new character of the year. Wheatley in Portal 2  -- voiced by the incredible Stephen Merchant -- starts off as a well-written, hilarious sidekick to main character Chell ... but slowly morphs into a genuinely fascinating character with a pretty amazing, twist-filled storyline. After the original Portal, I never thought a robot character could top the greatness of GLaDOS. Wheatley sure comes close. - Chad Concelmo ------------------------------- Did we forget to mention a new character you loved in 2011? Of course we did! Why don't you tell us about it in the comments below? What games’ stories lack in substance is often made up with character. Like, actual characters. Although we often identify franchises by their main protagonist, the smallest side character has just as much of an opportunity to work his or her way into our heart. Despite being a year dominated by sequels, 2011 has left us with a wealth of memorable characters brought to life through winning dialog and performances. Whether they are funny, mysterious, or just damn cool, these are our favorite new faces we got to know over the past 12 months.AlasdairRoy Earle (L.A. Noire): out of the four partners you have during L.A. Noire, Roy Earle is the one that really nails the sleazy and corrupt, post-war LAPD. He's more interested in getting his money back from a rigged boxing match than upholding the law but at the same time he shows a surprising amount of pragmatism and harbours no illusions about who and what he is. The fact that he never receives his comeuppance and seemingly comes through the finale smelling of roses makes him even more infuriating. (don't know if this last line is okay to go in, vaguely spoiler-ish)Fraser"Mom" (The Binding of Isaac) - My actual mum is wonderful woman, so I never had a chance to run about a procedurally generated basement, killing my monstrous siblings as I fought my way through hell to slaughter an evil fundementalist matriarch. Not until I played The Binding of Isaac, that is. "Mom" allowed me to see what it's like living in a dysfunctional home and I'm a better person for it."Hawke" (Dragon Age II) - Hawke is different for everyone, but for me he's a sexy, smug, sarcastic bastard who is more interested in the curves of lovely lady pirates and getting drunk than fighting dragons and saving a racist shit hole like Kirkwall. He also has a sweet beard.MaxFork Parker, Serious Sam 3 --I'm not sure if he counts as a proper video game character, but the Devolver Digital's walking HR-violation of a CFO is playable in multiplayer, and the amount of lewd and offensive nonsense he spouts off on Twitter provides an uncomfortable amount of personality. Between his love of tequila and farts, and his progressive (?) stance on sexual harassment, he's somewhere between Cave Johnson and Duke Nukem.Ryan PerezOne character that stood out for me this year was Adam Jensen.His apartment scene provided more significant emotional background than most other cookie-cutter characters I've seen this year. And the best part was that this information wasn't explained to us -- in that wonderfully typical game fashion -- but rather shown to us. The apartment itself was a look into the conflict that resided inside of Adam after his transformation: the unpacked boxes, the unfinished clock on the desk, the broken mirror in the bathroom, and even the dismal song of a single cello. It all made me feel like I was learning about the character myself, rather than him telling me his life story. Freaking brilliant.JamieKnight Solaire of Astora (Dark Souls)In a game like Dark Souls where the atmosphere is so oppressive and hostile, you could really do with a friend. Enter Knight Solaire. Knight Solaire is the embodiment of camaraderie and selfless generosity. He is also bat-shit crazy. The first time you meet Knight Solaire he is just standing still, staring up at the sun, wishing that he could be so "gloriously incandescent". From that point on the player can summon Solaire to help you defeat certain bosses. He's also the head of the Sun covenant, which is all about helping other players by joining their world has friendly phantoms. Shine on, you crazy bastard.Dale NorthMy favorite new character of 2011 is Screaming, Stranded Binoculars Toad, from Super Mario 3D Land. Toad has always been kind of weird, but this new Toad is the strangest, saddest on yet. I feel like I'm his only friend. He pops up out of nowhere ONLY Mario uses binoculars. It's as if he refuses to say anything unless someone is using binoculars. When someone around is using them, Toad screams for attention endlessly. He's always stranded on some far off platform that is impossible to get to, but he doesn't want any help getting down. He only wants you to acknowledge him and receive his greeting from afar. He's happy to stay there, stuck forever, dishing out a seemingly endless supply of Star Coins to anyone that will look at him. Sad. Sad and hilarious.WesleyMine would have to go to Cole Phelps from L.A. NoireNever have I enjoyed going through so many different phases of emotion with a character in a game. It started with admiration; he was a war hero and damn fine go-getter. Cole busted his ass and wanted to be the very best --what's not to like?? But as the story progressed you learn about his past cowardliness and on top of that less than moral ethics. I hated him and was shocked by the game's portayal of this man. I almost put down the controller in disgust, but I was intrigued by Team Bondi's story telling and wanted to see where it went. By the end, Cole comes full circle and makes up for his scarred past. He didn't amend for the present, but I felt satisfied with his conclusion. The roller coaster I experienced is easily why he was the best -- in my opinion -- in 2011.KyleSurprisingly hard to sum up a character in just a couple lines and be happy with it, but maybe you can use this.Garcia "Fucking" Hotspur -- Shadows of the DamnedIt's not often that a character like Garcia comes around. He's a passionate, foul-mouthed Mexican demon hunter (and slayer of pendejos) that hangs out with a wisecracking talking skull who that happens to be a shapeshifter with a penchant for the phallic. Taste my big boner!AllistairMissile - Ghost TrickGhost Trick is a game full of delightful characters brought to life through gorgeous animation and snappy dialog, but none stands out to me more than one brave little canine that took a literal bullet for his owner. Missile, a peppy Pomeranian, is too adorable for his own good. He’s such a loyal companion that he worries about his owner’s health even after he took a bullet for her. Who wouldn’t want a dog like that?

What games' stories lack in substance is often made up with character. Like, actual characters. Although we often identify a franchise by its main protagonist, the smallest side character has just as much of an opportunity ...

Best of 2011: Industry Picks

Dec 15 // Allistair Pinsof
1. Johann Sebastian Joust Between the Bastion launch party, Gaijin Games’ barbeques, and Tiff Chow’s Fourth of July extravaganza, I think Joust has officially taken over more parties than any game I’ve ever played.  It’s truly the best use of the Move controller I’ve seen and is one of the very best multiplayer games of all time.  If you didn’t grab it as part of Brandon Boyer’s Venus Patrol Kickstater, you are definitely missing out. 2. Uncharted 3 I’m a single player story kind of guy, and the folks at Naughty Dog nailed it out of the park on this one.  The sinking ship in particular stands out as something that just blew my mind.  I would have loved to watch whoever came up with that idea tell a programmer they were going to have to make it happen. 3. Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP I loved Point-and-Click Adventures back in the day and am very very excited to see them making a bit of a comeback.  This one in particular took everything I loved about those old games and wrapped it in a super stylish and modern shell.  I bought an iPad specifically to play this game, and it was totally worth it. 4. Portal 2 I’m a huge fan of the original Portal.  I have played it at least five times.  Somehow, Valve was able to not only give me everything I wanted in a sequel but also avoid every potential pitfall I could see.  They were able to add new mechanics that felt as fresh as the original portal gun, they changed up the art style in an interesting and unique way, and they made the writing even more funny and evocative. 5. Work I know, it’s probably not kosher to include your own stuff in a list like this, but I’m really proud of what we’ve done here at Double Fine this year.  With Stacking, Iron Brigade [Trenched], and Sesame Street: Once Upon A Monster, we released more games in one year than ever before, and each is completely different than the last.  It’s been a pleasure coming to work every day with a group of such amazingly talented and awesome people, and I can’t wait until people see what we’ve got coming next! 1. IndieCade This year's IndieCade event in Culver City was the first one I ever attended, and it was a pretty big deal to me. The talks were uniformly informative and inspiring, and the things I picked up over that weekend have shaped the way I've spent the latter half of the year and made me a better person. That sounds like hyperbole, and I don't know how much of that was due to IndieCade specifically, but the conversations I had there have had a long and lasting influence on what I do every day.2. Venus Patrol Brandon Boyer's insanely successful Kickstarter to revive Offworld under a new banner made the news just for how much money it raised, but it also got me off my ass and putting together the first new game I've done in... a while (CAPSULE). I'm really glad Venus Patrol is going to be around.3. Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP Superbrothers & Capy's atmospheric iOS adventure game showed that you don't have to make cute physics games about animals in order to find an enthusiastic audience on the App Store. S:S&S EP is the most important game of the year, at least for me, for this and many other reasons.4. Indies going commercial A few of my favorite game designers finally started releasing full, commercial games to the public. I fervently hope (and in some cases know) that we have not seen the last of Zach Gage (SpellTower) and Stephen Lavelle (English Country Tune), especially.5. Johann Sebastian Joust Johann Sebastian Joust isn't even really out yet, but I think it pretty obviously HAPPENED this year. Tabletop games and folk games are a much bigger part of the indie video game scene this year, and JOUST is basically single-handedly responsible for the folk games part (with a shout-out to Ninja of course).1. Rayman Origins I love platformers, and I've fallen hard for this one. It has incredible music, shit tons of personality and is insanely fun to play.  2. Bastion Made by the super cool guys and gals that make up the small team at Supergiant Games, Bastion is a stellar example of use of story, environment, and narration in a game.  The soundtrack by Darren Korb is also great, and Logan Cunningham's narration is spot on. 3. PAX I love PAX. It's the only time i get to interact with fans, and even though it still feels really weird to say that we have fans, it's great to meet everyone who stops by the booth at PAX to chat about games.  It's incredibly rewarding to talk to people who have played our games and get their feedback.  The entire weekend, though extremely tiring, is a completely uplifting affair.  I always go back to work after PAX completely recharged and ready to make more stuff for people to play.4. Deep Sea Deep Sea is an audio only game I played at one of the monthly Juegos Rancheros meet-ups, here in Austin. You wear a gas mask that completely blacks out your sight and monitors your breathing. You have to echo locate monsters in the darkness by their guttural vocal cues and blind fire your weapon at them. It's incredibly intense. Did i mention that if you breath, you can't hear the monsters? Yeah, intense. 5. Portal 2 I'm picking this one strictly for two little audio touches that i really liked. I love the arpeggiated synth that plays when you slide on the speed boost gel.  And there's a puzzle involving some lasers, some reflective cubes, and some adaptive music that kinda blew me away. Also, Stephen Merchant did a great job as Wheatly. [In no specific order.] Saints Row: The Third This game could have consisted of nothing more than the "deckers.die" mission and the last mission in the game, and it would still be one of my favorite games of the year. Driver: San Francisco One of the rare non-Valve, non-Irrational games where the story honestly and truly works with the gameplay, rather than against it. The fact that the main character is in a coma allows us to (A) immediately accept the illogical, but ludicrously fun "shift" mechanic, and (B) forgive him for taking over the bodies of other human beings before driving them into brick walls at ninety miles an hour. It also doesn't hurt that in general, the game has some of the funniest writing I've heard in a while. I generally hate driving games, but I'm just about to start my second playthrough of Driver SF.Portal 2 Duh.Deus Ex: Human Revolution I like the original Deus Ex as much as the next guy (so long as the next guy likes it just enough to have completed it once, ten years ago, but can no longer bring themselves to get past the "scuttle the tanker" mission nowadays), but I honestly think Human Revolution is the better game. It's got the most satisfying stealth gameplay since Arkham Asylum, and, one time, a character asked me to go kill some drug dealers before he would give me some item I required. So I punched him out and took the item I needed off his comatose body.Rayman Origins After the mild mental crisis I had after playing Skyward Sword for a few hours and realizing I now absolutely hated a franchise that had been incredibly dear to me as a child, Rayman Origins taught me that I am still capable of feeling happiness. Which is good. For us, the best games are generally cohesive, moody worlds that we care about; where we get to make interesting tactical or expressive decisions; where unplanned, unscripted gameplay arises from the player's interaction with systems. [In no specific order.]Portal 2 Each Valve game is a lesson is design. Portal still stands as our favorite in the series, but Portal 2 was definitely one of the best games of the year. Dark Souls Hardcore done right, with feelings of investment that come from hard won progress. Almost no hand-holding; the rare anomaly in modern RPGs. A masochistic pleasure. Skyrim Just wow. I know it's our parent company, but we're all playing this game right now at Arkane and it's just stunning. So much content, so much love; each of that team's games gets better. Standing proof that systemic interaction that allow the player to get creative and solve problems in interesting ways is the way to go. Dead Island This was the surprise of the year. Not a perfect game, but systemically interesting and chaotic. Everyone was blown away by the trailer, a really nice short, and despite the fact that the game was very different, it was worth the initial excitement.Deus Ex: Human Revolution It's always a rare pleasure to play an immersive sim style game that we didn't work on. The game included a lot of love and looked great. It had problems, and was a little too clean for us in terms of systems interactions, but it still belongs on this list because of our personal tastes in games. [In no specific order.] 0Space (PC) 0Space by Beau Blyth is a 2D 2-4 player deathmatch game in zero-gravity. It’s all about floating around in space slowly and perfectly shooting your friends in the face. It’s loads of fun and it’s free. Murder Dog IV (PC) “If murder is a crime, I don’t want to be innocent” - Murder Dog IV is one of the best written games ever.Spacechem (iOS/PC/Mac) We really don’t like puzzle games when there’s only one valid solution. Those games leave no room for player expression. Spacechem is different -- it gives you a problem, some tools and all the freedom to do whatever you want. It also gives you a migraine.Rage Sort of. Rage puts you in a linear level with a handgun and two types of enemies and already manages to be better than most shooters nowadays. Combine that with fancy graphics, a nice world to mess around in and Mad Max. Pretty good.Atom Zombie Smashers This game is so clever, we can’t even start to describe it. Some of the things you can do in Atom Zombie Smashers is naming your landmines, steering a helicopter around and researching a Llama Cannon.[images courtesy of Austin Chronicle and State Press]

You already know what we think about releases this year, and you'll know our Game of the Year pick soon enough. But, what about game developers? You know, the people that actually matter in this industry. Not many game develo...

The ten most difficult Zelda dungeons EVER!

Nov 17 // Chad Concelmo
  The Palace of Winds in the underrated Minish Cap is one of those Zelda dungeons that is just as challenging as it is unbelievably long. One of the later dungeons in the game, the Palace of Winds is home to the Roc’s Cape, an item that allows Link to jump and glide. With the addition of this item, not only does the player have to deal with tricky platforming, they have to contend with tough enemies, annoying fans that make navigating very tricky, an odd cloning mechanic, and a series of complicated switch and block puzzles. F*ck this sh*t moment!: Your long, tedious battle with the (admittedly cool) end boss is almost finished. You only have one heart left. You are about to deal the final blow ... when you accidentally fall over the edge and die, having to start the battle over again. Dag.     No, you are not reading this list backwards. As much as everyone complains about the Water Temple in Ocarina of Time, it actually isn’t that challenging of a dungeon. Annoying? Oh yeah. Switching your boots and constantly adjusting the water level is unbelievably annoying. But difficult? Not as bad as you may remember. F*ck that sh*t moment!: Every time I play the Water Temple in Ocarina of Time there is one key that I always miss. You would think that I would learn after all these playthroughs, but, no. Somehow I miss the same key every single time and have to go back and find it. That key is the bane of my existence.     Although it is not part of the actual dungeon, the journey to get to the Eagle’s Tower in Game Boy classic Link’s Awakening is worth mentioning. To find the tower, Link must travel through the confusing caves of Tal Tal Mountain Range to locate a tough-to-find key. It is a such a long and winding journey, that by the time you find the key and reach the tower, you are already exhausted and not at all ready for the maniacal traps and puzzles that wait for you inside. And when I say “maniacal” I am not exaggerating. Moving tiles. Numerous pits. A giant puzzle that involves knocking down four stone pillars and collapsing an entire floor! They all exist inside this tricky, easy-to-get-lost-in dungeon. And I hate them all. F*ck that sh*t moment!: Losing the heavy iron ball used to destroy the four pillars over and over again. It seriously will drive you insane.     This is a baffling one. The initial Spirit Temple in Ocarina of Time is one of the most masterfully designed dungeons in the game, requiring the player to alternate between young and old Link in a perfectly constructed dance. It is a stellar dungeon and one of the highlights of one of the best Zelda games ever made! The Spirit Temple in the Master Quest -- Ocarina’s bonus quest unlocked after beating the game for the first time in the 3DS remake -- is confounding. Random switch placement; awkward, almost illogical level design. The whole dungeon feels hard just because the designer’s wanted it to be hard. Which is not the Zelda way! F*ck that sh*t moment!: Honestly, the whole dungeon is one giant WTF?!     The final dungeon in the original Legend of Zelda is hard enough, but playing through it during the game’s infamous second quest is just torturous. Not only is the map very confusing, each room is full of the hardest, most infuriating enemies in the game! We are talking an overload of Wizzrobes (ugh!), Darknuts (UGH!), and fireball-spewing statues (ARGH!). F*ck this sh*t moment: There are two: Using all your bombs and not finding any secret passages is bad. But getting all the way to Ganon and wasting all your Silver Arrows in a panic is the worst!     I was one of the few people that didn’t mind the Temple of the Ocean King in The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass. People were angry that you had to keep revisiting the same temple over and over again -- replaying the same parts to get to new, unlocked areas -- but, for some strange reason, it didn’t bother me. This same concept was again applied to Spirit Tracks in the form of the Tower of Spirits. But this time, things were supposedly made easier by not having to repeat old sections and granting the player easier access to new areas. But guess what? While navigating may have been much better, no one mentioned how much more challenging the entire tower would actually be. In the Spirit Tower, Link must possess the body of multiple Phantom Knights, each with different skills. This is usually fine -- fun and innovative, even! -- but on the final floors of the Spirit Tower, everything is so complicated, vast, and confusing that it doesn’t become entertaining anymore. At all. It just becomes hard as balls. F*ck that sh*t moment!: Realizing you directed one of the slow moving Phantom Knights to the wrong location and having to backtrack all the way back to the start ... only to find out that you have absolutely no idea where to go or what to do. Yay! Fun!     This is the water temple people should always talk (and stress) about. I think there is a rule throughout all the Zelda games: If a dungeon is set in a water-themed environment IT IS AUTOMATICALLY AWFUL! The Great Bay Temple in Majora’s Mask is no exception. Swimming through the twisting, current-filled corridors and manipulating frustrating pipes are both time consuming and endlessly complicated. Also, you have to do all this within the game’s “three day” time limit. Ugh. F*ck that sh*t moment!: You finally figured out the tricky dungeon and are heading for the boss. Right before you reach your goal, the time runs out and you have to do everything all over again.     The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past for the Super Nintendo is my favorite videogame of all time. I absolutely adore it in every way imaginable. And even though I have played the game dozens and dozens of times, I still shudder when I have to make my way to the Ice Palace. As well-designed as I think it is, it doesn’t change the fact that it is one very tough dungeon. Slippery floors. Rooms full of enemies, some of which can only be killed with the magic-depleting Fire Rod. Conveyor belts. Pits everywhere. A multi-level map. All of these things add up to one gosh darned challenging Zelda dungeon! F*ck that sh*t moment!: There is one particular sequence that involves you having to activate those annoying red/blue switches, while traveling back and forth between the dungeon’s different floors, trying to push a block through a pit to activate a switch. It takes forever to figure out and has the power to drive you mad. MAD, I SAY!     “I have a really good idea. Let’s make a huge dungeon, fill it with some of the toughest enemies in the game, force Link to constantly change and utilize all his collected mask powers, give the player a strict time limit, and -- oh, I know! -- MAKE THE ENTIRE TEMPLE A GIGANTIC, ROTATING PUZZLE THAT IS OVERLY COMPLICATED AND ABSOLUTELY MADDENING!” In my world, I like to believe the designer who said that was fired the next day. F*ck that sh*t moment!: The mirror room. THE MIRROR ROOM!     This is it. No dungeon in the entire Zelda series is more difficult than the Great Palace in Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. Nothing even comes close. To be honest, all of the dungeons in Zelda II could arguably have found a place on this list. The game is that hard. But let’s count the reasons this specific dungeon is so damn difficult: First off, it takes forever to even get to the Great Palace, the game’s final dungeon. Once you finally do reach the palace, you are in for one of the longest, most confusing dungeons in Zelda history. The layout is brutal. And on top of all that, you have to deal with limited magic, no save points, and a ridiculously tough boss (Thunderbird) followed by a near-impossible one (Dark Link). Oh, and did I mention YOU HAVE LIMITED LIVES IN ZELDA II AND IF YOU LOSE THEM ALL YOU HAVE TO START ALL THE WAY AT THE BEGINNING?! Yeah, so there is that as well. Eff the Great Palace. EFF IT SO HARD! F*ck that sh*t moment!: While running across one of many collapsing bridges, you get hit by a floating dragon head and are knocked back into the lava, killing you instantly. Seriously, eff this dungeon.     ----- What do you think? Do you agree with my picks for the ten most difficult Zelda dungeons of all time? Or do you think some of these aren't even that challenging? (If you say "Great Palace" you are either lying or my hero.) The upcoming Skyward Sword (released this weekend!) is supposedly one of the most difficult Zelda games in years. Do you think any of its dungeons could make it on to this list? TO THE COMMENTS!

All this week, Destructoid will be posting Zelda-themed features to celebrate this weekend's release of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. It's Zelda week! I love the dungeons in Zelda games. Love them. They are one of my fa...

I Can't Believe It's Not Zelda!

Nov 16 // Allistair Pinsof
If you like The Legend of Zelda (1987) ... It's hard these days to play a game involving action of any kind that doesn't borrow many design elements originally found in The Legend of Zelda. Item collection, unlockable areas, world maps -- there are so many ideas that were introduced through this influential game. Unlike its sequels, The Legend of Zelda primarily focused on battles and puzzle-solving within dungeons. Outside of a few hidden items, the overworld existed merely to connect the dungeons together. The games listed below follow the original's structure and graphical style closely. Then you may also like ... James Bond 007 (Game Boy, 1997) Before Batman: Arkham Asylum, we had James Bond 007. It was the first time an established pop culture icon made a jump into games by following the The Legend of Zelda template heavily, and damn if it wasn't awesome! (Sure, Rambo on the NES copied Zelda II, but the less said about that one the better.) 007's combat and bosses may be lacking in retrospect, but the game still managed to capture the adventure and romance of playing as Bond while channeling the magic of Zelda through exploration and gaining new gear. It's hard to return to the Game Boy's graphics these days, but this gem is worth it. 3D Dot Game Heroes (PlayStation 3, 2010) It's hard to believe this charming, retro Zelda throwback is from the same guys who made Dark Souls. Then you get to the later dungeons and realize the final boss is f*ck-off hard! Even beyond its glorious LEGO-like visuals, 3D Dot Game Heroes is a fantastically designed game full of secrets, challenging dungeons, and tricky boss fights. Perhaps it's blasphemy to say I prefer it to its source of influence, but I do. There is nothing more satisfying then clearing a room with a giant sword in one sweep, and nothing worse than losing that ability and getting your ass kicked because of it. Golden Axe Warrior (Master System, 1991) While I'd call the other games that populate this feature "Zelda-esque," Golden Axe Warrior is a straight-up shameless clone. However, it's a good one for a system that was in sore need of one. While it's easy to write off Sega's attempt at mimicking Nintendo's winning formula, Golden Axe Warrior managed to appease both Golden Axe and Zelda fans. With superior visuals, audio, and a world populated by villages, Sega fans got the last laugh with this forgotten classic. If you are more of a Zelda II fan (weirdo!), make sure to check out the Game Gear sequel Ax Battler. Other recommendations: Neutopia I & II, Ys I & II, Willow (NES), Crystalis, StarTropics If you like Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (1988) ... While Zelda II remains a divisive sequel among series fans, there is no arguing that it contains some brilliant ideas (regardless of how well they were executed). Between the addition of experience points, populated towns, and sidescrolling combat, Zelda II presented a unique experience that didn't rest on the laurels of its predecessor. I personally wouldn't touch the game with a ten-foot pole, but I'd happily play the great games it inspired. Then you may also like ... Faxanadu (Nintendo Entertainment System, 1989) Much like Zelda II, Faxandu is a complete left-turn of a follow-up that leaves most of the hard RPG elements from the Japan-only Xanadu out of the picture. Instead, Faxandu favors side-scrolling action without forgoing item-hoarding and experience-grinding. The result is a much more gothic take on the Zelda II format that is well worth playing for its combat and haunting world. The game has received a cult following over the years, and it's now available to a much wider audience via Virtual Console. Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap (Master System, 1989) In stark contrast to Faxanadu, Wonder Boy III is a twee, colorful alternative to Zelda II. It lacks an overworld map, but in its place is a large non-linear world full of shops, enemies, and collectible items. Many consider Wonder Boy III an early example of a "Metroidvania," since you need to acquire specific items to progress through certain areas. However, I liken the game to Demon’s Souls since most of this exploration is optional and mainly there to make battles easier. You can handle levels in order or jump ahead for a weapon that will help you out. This interesting approach, paired with the game's gorgeous visuals, help it stand out as the best in its series (something that will always be contended). You can pick up both the original and the equally good TurboGrafx-16 port on Virtual Console. The Battle of Olympus (Nintendo Entertainment System, 1990) No other game copied the Zelda II formula as faithfully as The Battle of Olympus (also known as "The Adventure of Link in Greece"). Yet there is a strong argument to be made that this obscure, historically inaccurate title is superior to Link's second outing. With improved combat and a compelling story -- fans of mythology will especially appreciate this one -- it's easy to forgive Olympus' grueling difficulty and tiresome leveling. Unfortunately, you'll need to hit up eBay for a $5-10 copy of this lost odyssey. Other recommendations: Ax Battler, Wonder Boy in Monster Land, Rygar (NES), Legend of Princess, Golvellius: Valley of Doom If you like The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (1992) ... Link's Super Nintendo sequel built upon the original while introducing a memorable plot twist, iconic items (the hookshot!), and a world full of details and secrets. It's the first Zelda game that you could get lost in, and like many others, I did just that every day after school in second grade. It's difficult to replicate the perfection of this game, but many attempted and a few came surprisingly close. Then you may also like ... Crusader of Centy (Genesis, 1994) While Crusader of Centy is a much briefer adventure than A Link to the Past, it has its share of plot twists, secrets (Sonic the Hedgehog has a cameo), and mini-games (such as a top-down kart racer). It's kind of amazing that developer Nextech was able to get such colorful, detailed graphics that mimic A Link to the Past quite well, despite the console's limited hardware. Centy's unique combat system is entirely its own creation. Throughout the game, you collect animals that modulate your sword attacks and give you special abilities, and you can even combine them for different attacks. Centy lacks the epic scope of its SNES competitor, but it gave Genesis owners a little taste of Nintendo's classic without feeling like a soulless clone. You'll have to throw down ~$65 on eBay to play this one, though. Alundra (PlayStation, 1998) From its flashy anime cutscenes to its Chrono Trigger-esque visuals, Alundra is everything an old-school Zelda fan wanted in 1998. The story was more mature, the puzzles were more difficult, and the game oozed atmosphere. It's a much different beast than A Link to the Past due to its focus on storytelling, platforming, and puzzles. As a result, the game has an intense fanbase that claims it to be superior to any of Link's 2D adventures. Just don't mention its awful sequel; it's a real sore spot for them. Head to PlayStation Network if you want to see whether the hype is deserved. Beyond Oasis (Genesis, 1995) With its comic book visuals, Middle Eastern-inspired setting, and beat-'em-up combat, there is a lot to like about Beyond Oasis. Whereas Crusader of Centy gave Genesis owners a strong Zelda-inspired adventure, Beyond Oasis feels much more original and innovative. I personally enjoy Oasis' combat a lot more than A Link to the Past's and thought the boss fights were just as memorable, if not as clever. The game also includes a leveling mechanic that should satisfy Secret of Mana fans. It lacks the details and charm of A Link to the Past, but this is a great contemporary for the Genesis. Now Nintendo fanboys can play the game on Virtual Console or Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection for PS3/Xbox 360. Other recommendations: Ganpuru: Gunman's Proof, Guardian of Paradise, Brave Fencer Musashi, Illusion of Gaia, The Twisted Tales of Spike McFang If you like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998) and its sequels ... With the jump into 3D, Zelda increased its ambitions and scope. Now Zelda titles have multiple city hubs, tons of mini-games, and lock-on targeting. Not much has changed since then -- a wolf, a boat, whatever -- but the format for a modern Zelda is just as compelling as the structure that accompanied the 2D entries. If you are looking for a change in setting or some interesting twists on the format, look to these titles below. Then you may also like ... Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon (Nintendo 64, 1998) Mystical Ninja gave N64 owners something to make the long wait for Ocarina of Time easier -- hell, Goemon even has a hookshot! Released six months before Link's foray into 3D, Mystical Ninja gave us a taste for 3D action-adventure through one of Konami's best series ... that they often deprive Westerners of. Between Goemon's golden crack pipe weapon and pointless inchworm crawl ability, he's a lovable character despite not having much sway with American gamers. The game's camera was frustrating, but the world was, nevertheless, a joy to explore due to its unique take on Japanese mythology (sprinkled with elements of sci-fi). Nothing about the game was refined, but it had spunk and many memorable surprises (mech battles!). If you don't fall in love with its terrible theme song, you better move on. This is another game in sore need of a Virtual Console release. Beyond Good & Evil (GameCube/PC/PlayStation 2/Xbox, 2003) For those looking for a more cinematic and mature Wind Waker, Beyond Good & Evil should do the trick. In contrast to Wind Waker's intimidatingly large world and complex dungeons, Beyond Good & Evil streamlined the 3D Zelda approach into a memorable plot full of conspiracy theories, likable characters, and stunning set pieces. As evidenced by its recent HD re-release, the game holds up surprisingly well due to its focused pacing and attention to detail. Every time you revisit the game's main city hub, there are subtle changes that reflect your accomplishments within the game's varied "dungeons." The focus on stealth and sea travel makes this especially worth seeking for Wind Waker fanatics. This is the perfect game to pick-up on PSN or XBLA to prepare you for Skyward Sword. Darksiders (PC/PlayStation 3/Xbox 360, 2010) It's ironic that Darksiders was written-off as being a shallow God of War clone before its release, as it was labelled a shallow Zelda clone afterward. If you hear someone say either, it's because they haven't actually played the game. While I find the game's art direction appalling, the combat, puzzles, and world felt like an intelligent update to the 3D Zelda format. Instead of a circle slash, you have a relatively deep combo system. Instead of pushing blocks, you solve puzzles with a freakin' portal gun! How cool is that? The game lacks the free-roaming aspect of a Zelda title, but it keeps the same dungeon and item-upgrade structure that gives comfort to many of us. Even Jim Sterling loved it, and as we all know, he doesn't enjoy videogames at all! Other recommendations: Okami, Mega Man Legends 1 & 2, StarFox Adventures, Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy, Batman: Arkham Asylum ----------------------- How do you guys feel about the term "Zelda clone"? Should we accept these games as merely entries in a genre and ignore their Zelda influence? Any glaring omissions from this list that you'd like to point out? What's your favorite "not Zelda but still a lot like Zelda" game?

All this week, Destructoid will be posting Zelda-themed features to celebrate this weekend's release of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. It's Zelda week! Can you ignore a Zelda release? I can't. Sure, I've joined the "Ugh,...

The scariest videogame moments of all time

Oct 31 // Chad Concelmo
  There are many videogame moments that have scared me over the years: The zombie dog jumping through the window in the original Resident Evil; the spine-chilling Phanto chasing me through Super Mario Bros. 2; the evil wizard Manannan randomly appearing and killing main character Gwydion in King’s Quest III. As scary and traumatizing as these moments are, nothing will ever top the most terrifying videogame sequence I have ever experienced: one that occurs in Resident Evil 4. I will never forget the specific moment. I had just purchased Resident Evil 4 for the GameCube. I brought the game home during the day, but decided to wait until late at night to play it. It was a Resident Evil game -- and a revolutionary one at that! -- and I wanted to experience it the way a Resident Evil game should be experienced: in the dark with all the lights off. I sat down with the GameCube controller in my hand, started up the game, and was ready for an amazing, chilling adventure. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. When I first started, I was impressed by the game’s incredible graphics and vastly improved control scheme. As I journeyed through the woods in the game’s early moments, I was tense, as I knew something was most likely waiting around the corner. Then I entered the small, European village. Once I saw the deranged villagers burning a body, I knew something bad was about to happen. Once they started chasing me from all angles I started freaking out. What terrified me the most was that there was nowhere to hide. If I climbed onto a roof, the villagers would follow me. If I barred a door, they would climb through a window. Everywhere I ran the villagers would chase me, never letting me rest for a second. As much as this scared me, it was nothing -- and I mean, nothing! -- compared to what happened to me once the chainsaw maniac Dr. Salvador was unleashed. Once Dr. Salvador started coming for me I could barely breathe. I will never forget hearing the chainsaw in the distance, getting closer and closer and closer ... When I ran somewhere to hide, he would find me. And, unlike the villagers, Dr. Salvador has a giant chainsaw that could kill me with one swift swing. Then the moment happened. If I wasn’t traumatized enough, there I was, trapped in a house, nowhere to run. I quickly jumped through a nearby window and ran around a corner to get away from the attacking villagers. As I turned the corner, Dr. Salvador was right there. Before I even had a chance to react, his chainsaw swung forward, ripping the head off main character Leon Kennedy. I screamed. Like, really screamed. As Leon’s bloody body fell to the ground and the words “Game Over” appeared on the screen, I was somehow standing up over my chair and breathing hard. I was noticeably terrified. I was shaking. I had never had such a physical reaction to a game before. I actually had to put the controller down and leave the room. The way Dr. Salvador just surprised me. The way the chainsaw came out of nowhere. The sound it made as it chopped Leon in two. The blood. Oh God, the blood. It was such a visceral, frightening experience for me -- one that I will never forget for the rest of my life. I have played Resident Evil 4 many times since, and still start shaking every time I am about to enter the village. It is the scariest videogame moment I have ever experienced.   Friday The 13th on the Commodore 64. No joke, it's one of the scariest games I have ever played. If you've never played it, the idea is to rescue all the Crystal Lake kids before Jason Voorhees murders them. In a rather stretched case of artistic license, Jason is in "disguise" as one of the kids so you don't know who the killer is. It's all fine and dandy as you get kids to follow you to a safe house, but if Jason gets to one of them before you do, he offs them. When he does this, there's a digitized shriek which, thanks to the aged technology, is one of the most blood-curdling and horrific sounds in the world. Even worse, some of the deaths are randomly accompanied by intricately (for the time) detailed images of heads with machete's going into them and skulls. So, you have this game in which there are vague collections of blocks made to look like people, and every now and then the game will FUCKING SCREAM AT YOU while an image that's a hundred times more detailed than the rest of the game is shoving DEAD HEADS AND SCARY SKELLINGTONS IN YOUR EYES! GOD DAMN IT JASON, YOU'RE HORRIBLE!   My scariest videogame moment has to do with Resident Evil. Now I could just claim that classic "zombie dog through the window" bit, but it’s actually a moment in Resident Evil 3. Up until this game, I was confident in the knowledge that if a room in a Resident Evil game looked like too much trouble, I could just go back through the door and have time to strategize a bit before continuing on. And then I met Nemesis. I remember encountering him for the first time and being freaked out hearing him yell "STAAAAARS" that I immediately went though one of the doors. I naturally assumed I was safe, but then as I continued on in the room I heard the infamous Nemesis music play. HE KNOWS HOW TO OPEN DOORS?! WTF?!?! I ran as far as I could through door after door, never looking back, and he continued to follow me. It appeared that nowhere was safe, until I finally reached an area that he didn’t follow. I still remember that as a moment when I realized Nemesis was an all new enemy. I went throughout the rest of the game in fear of him.   Fatal Frame. I like having control and mastery over my virtual environment, so any game that has respawning enemies, invisible enemies or the like just scares the crap out of me at a very basic level. Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth had a really tense sequence where you had to escape through a hotel in Innsmouth, not having any real tools to survive the mob if they caught you. In Fatal Frame, though, knowing you had to go places and that there were scary ghosts that could hurt you on the way, and THEN having to use a camera to dispatch of them instead of being to shoot them in the face, that was enough for me to go "Ok, yeah this is great but I'm just going to watch something less scary like Ringu now." Nowadays I can rationalize the scary factor of bosses or survival horror enemies in games away with a simple "Oh this is just an annoying design decision to put this in here" or a "Well that boss seems to have a pattern so he's not that scary if I see him as a box with scripts I can work around." Fatal Frame will always be that game I played for an hour and never finished, and probably never will finish. Well done, Fatal Frame.   Underwater sequences in videogames scare the crap out of me. I have no problem with swimming underwater in real life, but put a game character underwater with a little air meter on the side and I freak out. I can pinpoint the origin of this crippling fear with one of my first 3D games, Banjo-Kazooie. After two levels featuring relatively harmless water, the third level forced the player to swim underwater most of the time for the items they needed to reach the next level. "Clanker's Cavern" was drenched in dingy water lit by dim lights, with a giant, grinning, terrifying (albeit friendly) mechanical shark sitting in the middle of the main water pit. As far as my younger self was concerned, there was no telling when Clanker was going to drop the act and chomp down on me with those giant metal teeth! But the always-present threat of Clanker wasn't enough to scare me. No, the jiggies I needed for the next level were always at the very end of a long swim, depleting my precious supply of air. Hell, one of them was at the very bottom of an extremely deep hole in the cavern that you could just barely make it to before your air ran out! Sure, there was a helpful fish that made air bubbles to replenish your breath, but when you figured in the iffy underwater controls, it was too easy to miss those bubbles, never mind maneuver yourself through a key three times. Suddenly, I panicked. I wanted out. I started swimming towards the surface that looked prohibitively far away at the moment, becoming more and more frightened as my air slipped away. It finally ran out, and all I could do was watch as Banjo and Kazooie suffocated what felt like miles below the surface, alone. (Of course, Rare would have guessed at my fear and decide to make things even scarier in Banjo-Tooie with a level that, beyond a few buildings, was entirely underwater -- "Jolly Roger's Lagoon" -- but at least they had the courtesy to turn the water breathable for that level.)   System Shock 2 is a pretty terrifying game, but it’s 10x scarier when you suck at it. The atmospheric hum of the ship, cautionary signs, desolate living quarters, and grotesque “humans” on-board the Von Braun starship disturbed me more than any other game at the time. It’s important that I highlight just how unsettling the hum of the ship can be, especially with a proper setup. I had just received a surround sound, 5-piece speaker set for my birthday which increased the detailed, haunting sound design by a great measure. There is one moment that I remember from the game that I will never forget and, no, it’s not that moment. It’s one that organically came about through the game’s environment. I was a good four-to-five hours into the game, lost in some sort of cargo area with no ammo. I had already cleared the area but was completely lost. Not exactly the proper setup to impress a friend/console-gamer. Despite this, my friend Jeremy was into the game and my journey for an exit. I eventually came across an elevator in one of the cargo rooms. “Finally! Press the button!”“No shit, I’m going to press the button.” Yet, nothing happened. No elevator came down. Instead, I received a text response stating: “Maintenance will arrive shortly.” I tried a couple more times but nothing happened. We decided it was just one of those meaningless messages games sometimes throw at you for atmosphere. There is no maintenance and this elevator will never work. No one was coming. Right? So, we continue to walk up, down, and all around the cargo room in search of something. Anything. All the while, we hear a strange noise in the distance. At first, we think it’s a figment of our imagination or a random sound bite in the soundtrack. But, it grows louder and louder still. “Maybe the elevator is back.”“Is that what future elevators sound like?” So, we make our way back to the elevator. The noise now is deafening. It’s the sound of cogs twisting and turning, grinding metal. It’s like nails on a chalkboard played through an amplifier. The sound is unbearable and the bass is shaking my entire computer table. And … “Oh, no. The door is … closed.” As we stare at the shut elevator door, we notice the deafening noise had ended. Something has arrived. Something? We turn around and before we can even get a good look at it, a towering maintenance bot -- which looked very much like the one Ripley powered at the end of Aliens -- smashes us with a single deathblow. The noise its attack made was the most unnerving sound of all. We were so caught off-guard by the sound and sight of the robot that my friend had dug his fingers into my shoulder and I fell backward in my chair. It seemed like a good moment to look at the FAQ.   Since I reviewed Amnesia: The Dark Descent and called it one of the scariest games in years, I'm practically obligated to talk about that, aren't I? Anyway, one of the best parts of that game was the "flooded hallway" sequence from that game, which is scary and great because all the way up to that point the game's mechanics all contribute to the scariness of the chase, making up a kind of "perfect storm" of fright, where everything makes everything else better. Where light is the one thing that keeps you from going crazy in Amnesia, there are no torches in that area, and you've probably used up all your lamp fuel solving the puzzles that came before that point. Where just looking at the monsters might make you crazy in Amnesia, you cannot see the monster chasing you, only able to hear it breathing and snarling (and I swear that I heard it muttering at some point) as it chases you around. The game's movement-based interaction also made the section extra-frantic. Because you have to open a door in Amnesia by "grabbing" it with your mouse and "dragging" it open, the fact that all the doors in that area open inwards makes you dread opening any room, because you feel like that guy in a horror movie who runs into a door and struggles with the knob until the monster comes to eat him. You've been learning how to play Amnesia all the way up to this sequence, only to find out, to your horror, that the end result is not success, but a reaffirmation of your helplessness and the hostility of your environment. It's like teaching yourself to read the text on a sign, only to learn that the sign says "Dude, if you can read this, you are SO boned."   My scariest videogame moment comes from an arcade title called Chiller.  Chiller is a light gun game from the ‘80s, before the ESRB existed, before people gave much thought on what violent videogames might do to a child's mind. Being a child at the time, I was quite concerned about what videogames might do to my mind, as there was one particular game that would freak me the fuck out to the point where I couldn't even look at it. Chiller was a blast of sexually charged, ultra violent anarchy that completely shorted out all my brain cells. The fact that the game even existed scared me. You know how when you're wandering around in a dark cave, and you see a skeleton, you immediately pee your pants with fright? That's what Chiller did to me (sans pee pants). The skeleton itself isn't a threat; it's the fact that it's there that's scary. Where there is a skeleton, there is something that kills people. That means you could be next. Come to think of it, Chiller was worse than a skeleton. It was like a dead child's naked body, but in videogame form. Chiller is a game where you shoot at things. The way I remember it, you get points for everything you shoot. The things that you can shoot range from ghosts, bats, rats, and COMPLETELY NAKED MEN AND WOMEN THAT ARE BEING TORTURED. You can shoot the implements of torture to activate them (shoot the rack to make it pull a man apart, shoot the vice to make it spin and crush a woman's head), or just shoot the people themselves, blowing their arms, legs, and even faces clean off their bodies. It's pure sadism. The people are totally vulnerable, totally defenseless. The fact that they are mostly naked only adds an additionally perverse, revolting twist on the whole thing. The game was so disgusting to me that, after my first morbidly curious play of the thing, I wouldn't even let myself look at it. I memorized its location in my local super-arcade, and refused to even walk close to that area of the floor. Part of me was scared of the game, another part of me was scared of the people that were playing the game, but more than anything, the fact that this game even existed made me afraid. Even as a child, I understood that it was the responsibility of adults to protect children. The fact that this game was created, bought, and displayed in a public place largely inhabited by children showed me that adults did not always do their job. If this purely evil game was allowed into the arcade, what other things would be allowed? What other terrible experiences would the adults permit me to have, or worse, what would they permit others to do to me. I still can't play a game of Chiller without having the urge to throw up.   The last thing I remember REALLY creeping me out was the part in Limbo when the giant spider slowly follows you through the cave. To be fair, I was playing it projected on a wall in a dark room, with surround sound, and that game has incredible sound design. Also, I'm a gigantic baby and spiders are scary.   Last year, I made a list of eight videogames that frightened me with the caveat that none of the games could technically be categorized under horror. Consider the following an addendum to that piece. The Battletoads series is best remembered as being brutally difficult -- sometimes unfairly so -- yet with just enough leeway to entice players to return again and again. It stands to reason that failing and replaying the same challenges ad nauseam would mess with your head. If you stare up at a wall long enough, eventually you start to fear that wall. For me, that fear exploded into full-blown terror during my time with the Game Boy version of Battletoads. In the fifth stage, you have to race through the seemingly endless intestines of a river serpent while a giant ball of brain matter tries to flatten you. It is a sick and sinister course that twists, turns, and doubles back on itself. Should you make even the slightest miscalculation in your jump or turn just a smidgen too early ... BAM! Toad tostada. I wouldn't have been so frightened had my pursuer been an Indiana Jones temple boulder, but a sentient organ that bounces instead of rolls? That's the kind of B-movie horror that's just campy and irrational enough to tuck itself somewhere in your mind, only to return should you make the mistake of allowing your imagination to wander even for a second. Just remembering the sound that thing made and how the ground would shake as it bounded along, even while it was out of view, fills me with dread as I type this. But the worst part is the very beginning of the level. The trial is set up like a race, and naturally, the race won't begin until you cross the start line. The brain is right there too, hopping up and down in anticipation but otherwise doing nothing. You know that the second that you cross that line, the temporary truce that you and the brain had established will end. The longer you stand there, the more your confidence will wane as the anxiety gnaws away. The brain even has the balls to give you a head start, only to freak the ever-loving shit out of you when it tears into view from beyond the screen border. Watch the longest two minutes in gaming here, then imagine failing and retrying this nightmare until your thumbs crumble from sheer attrition.   Silent Hill, the original. I was a mere child at the age of the game's release, and I had borrowed the title from, let's face it, the coolest high school math teacher ever. My mother didn't know, my father didn't know ... no one knew what I was doing. Alone in my room. Door locked. Furiously paddling my joysticks. The game was eerie, no doubt. And I wouldn't come to understand its sublime take on fatherhood and familial distress until much later in life, but it wasn't exactly scaring me just yet. I was unnerved, but not terrified. Skinless pterodactyls crashing through diner windows would make my heart skip a beat, but that adrenaline quickly boiled over to rage with Harry's inability to fire a fucking pistol. Shoot. Just shoot. Shoot STRAIGHT. He's right in front of you. Shoot! SHOOT! JUST SHOOT THE FUCKING THING, GOD DAMN YOU HARRY!! Finally though, the game got me. And it got me good. Why? Because it knew how to take its time with this lady. Foreplay, gentlemen. Horror foreplay. Walking around an abandoned school creeped me the hell out. It just plain did. My mom was a teacher. My dad was a teacher. I spent plenty of late nights with them working, and I knew exactly what it was like to walk down darkened halls, absent both of light and life. So when Harry entered the locker room (which ought to have been terrifying on its own - SPORTS!!) I was on my toes. A banging sound; but from where? Around the corner there, a small door. Rattling, clanging, groaning as if something inside furiously yearned to be free. Harry reached out with slight hesitation. Was this a good idea? A cat burst from the locker, sprinting and clawing feverishly in its attempt to escape. A sharp yelp from just outside the room. And then, silence. Later, Harry would re-enter a twisted, hellish version of that same locker room, only to hear that same distinct twang of metal on metal as the same locker door banged heavily again. But how was this possible? Had Harry traveled back in time? Or was this some nightmare, reminding me of the jump in my chest that had happened just a few short minutes ago? Harry reached out with that same hesitation, more unsure than ever if he should open this cage. His fingers touched upon the door and... stillness. The locker turned limp; lifeless. No more banging. No more noise. The door swung out with its hinges squealing, revealing an interior caked with blood and gore. Having grown up on a farm, the smell of dead animal was a familiar one. My nostrils flooded my brain, reminding me of the stench. My stomach lurched as the adrenaline from anticipation began to settle. Harry turned to walk away, nothing more to be found here. He took two, maybe three steps toward the exit. Another bang, this one even louder than before, as a blur fell before him; a corpse, twisted and mutilated, its face twisted in tortured agony. While my virtual avatar of Harry Mason only reeled back in horror, I ran screaming from my room, tears in my eyes. Or at least I would have, had I not forgotten I'd locked that door. *WHAM!*   I could go on for forever talking about the scariest moments in videogames. I seek scary games out, and I'd like to say that I've played them all. Maybe that's why my scariest moment came from my imagination. It happened while I was playing the first Dead Space. I was marathoning it for work, so that meant I was playing it for hours a day, late into the night. One night I had a nightmare that fused all of my survival horror gaming memories into one that I WISH would somehow turn into a real game. I still remember a bit of it. It was definitely a Dead Space world, but it was set to music that sounded like it came right out of Akira Yamaoka's head, meaning that there was a lot of rhythmic metal clanging and screeching. I was running from something that I was sure would be the flat, headless, floor-crawling things that would bite your legs but you'd never see in the later Silent Hill games. I felt hopeless in moving around, like in Fatal Frame, but of course, my movement was somewhat hindered like they are so often in dreams, like the first Silent Hill game. It all came to a head when I was trying to move, but running slow as molasses, and then got caught in Dead Space's sliding bookcases. I fucking hated that part of the game, and now it was in my nightmare! If this didn't do it for you, I have a runner-up: The Pyramid Head rape scene from Silent Hill 2. I remember walking into that room and being so surprised that it really scared me from that instant. I thought, " that really what I think it is?!" It was humorous for a second, and then shocking. And then, hiding in the closet, peeping through the slats in the door, made it somehow worse. What would this thing to do you if you saw it? What really brought it home is that I tried to play all of the Silent Hill games while keeping mindful of what each scene and character might represent as symbolism. It reminded me that I was right inside the messed up head of James, and that the scariest things, just like my horror game dream, come right out of our heads.   My moment also came from Silent Hill 2, but since that's a story most of us share I'll lend you my only scared-shitless retro moment. After weeks of wanting to rip my eyeballs out of my face and cursing Mother Russia I had finally arrived at what I believed must be the last boss at Karnov. This weird ass music starts playing in front of these cave-like windows and there's like a 30 second period where nothing happens and you're just standing there, big bellied in a dark blue room, freaking the fuck out. I had no shields remaining so my adrenaline was going insane. I was sweating and pumped to beat this stupid game once and for all so I could return it to the video rental store. If not, I'd be out yet another dollar for being late. The stakes were high. I was fixated on a demon statue in the middle of the screen that I thought was going to come to life like the dog-demons in Ninja Gaiden, but instead these beady little green eyes suddenly lit up from one of the caves directly above me and then suddenly this dick-like dragon immediately beams out with this horrible metallic cry and fucks me in eye! It caught me off-guard so bad that I literally fell backwards from my borrowed patio chair, yanked the controller cord, and the console got unplugged and fell on top of me. The screen goes blue and blinking, and I just stood there looking at the little red power light blinking on the console. I wanted to kill myself. I was so pissed I just ran out screaming ... which got me yelled at by my parents ... at which point then I ran back and pulled out the cartridge. I lost it, sending burning eyes of hatred deep into his stupid mustache, but he ignored me because he was busy yelling at a pterodactyl already. I felt like one of the monkeys in the background. I beat the game later that night with rage and revenge and spite, because video games are FUN. The icing on the cake: do you know what the motherfucking ending is to Karnov? A black screen that says "Congratulations. The End." FUCK YOU, DATA EAST! FUCK YOU IN YOUR GRAVE WITH A DRAGON PENIS!     ----- Now it’s your turn. All of the editors have shared their most terrifying videogame moments of all time. Vhat is yours? Is there any character more frightening than me, DRACULA?! BLAAAAAH! <turns into bat>

Ahhhhhh, velcome to the most terrrrrifying veature you vill ever read. Velcome to ... THE SCARIEST VIDEOGAME MOMENTS OF ALL TIME. I am your host, Dracula. You may know me from such games as Castlevania, Castlevania II, Castle...

The ten biggest asshole videogame wizards EVER!

Oct 05 // Chad Concelmo
  Okay, seriously, nothing annoys me more than fighting the Wizzrobes in the original Legend of Zelda for the NES. Not only do they fight you in giant groups, they teleport all around the room so quickly, that it is almost impossible to dodge their spells and hit them before they disappear again. UGH!   Wait, you had an indirect hand in [SPOILER]'s death?! YOU DICK!   The nasty ice wizard makes an appearance during the very first scene of classic movie Big, as main character Josh Baskin confronts him while playing a fictional computer game. Click here to try out the short, nostalgic game for yourself and see exactly what makes the ice wizard such an ass. Thermal pod? Really?   The first race against Wizpig during the final levels of Diddy Kong Racing is SO FREAKIN’ HARD! AHHHHH! SCREW THAT PIG WIZARD!   Remember Grover Dill, the lackey to Scut Farkus’s bully in the 1983 comedy A Christmas Story? That is Kamek in Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island: loud, obnoxious, mocking, but afraid to actually fight for himself. Every time he confronts Yoshi at the end of every fort or castle, he just uses his magic to mutate an already existing, seemingly helpless enemy. And once this new boss grows to screen-filling heights, Kamek just flies away, laughing.   The eerie music. The strange, twisted house held up by chicken legs. A cryptic rhyme. A timed fetch quest. Being turned into a frog and boiled alive. Confronting Baba Yaga in Hero’s Quest is challenging, tense, and absolutely terrifying.   Possessed by Ultimecia, Sorceress Edea in Final Fantasy VIII is an evil, if misunderstood, villain. But her inclusion on this list is more because of a personal experience than anything. The first time I played through Final Fantasy VIII, I had not drawn a lot of magic or upgraded my weapons. I pretty much did nothing but build up my summons until they were remarkably powerful. It seemed a good idea at the time ... Later in the game, when Ultimecia leaves Sorceress Edea and enters Rinoa, I could no longer use my summons, as they would always attack all and harm Rinoa (something you must avoid at this point in the game). Because of this, I couldn’t beat the game, and had to quit after 30+ hours of playing. I have never forgiven Sorceress Edea since ...   Do you remember the first time you walked into the secret room at the back of Hyrule Castle, only to see Agahnim zap Princess Zelda into the Dark World? Oh, that really chapped my hide! And, is it just me, or did it take you the longest time to figure out you had to reflect back Agahnim’s attacks when fighting him? Oh, it is just me? Whatever, Agahnim is a jerk.   Maybe my second most feared videogame character of all time, the wizard Manannan from King’s Quest III makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up just by typing his name. During the first, extended part of the game, if main character Gwydion is caught in the wrong room, with the wrong item, or in the wrong location, Manannan (who randomly appears) will kill him instantly, forcing the player to restart or load up an old save file. Yup, it is as brutal, scary, and infuriating as it sounds.   Anyone that has played Kid Icarus knows there is no other character hated more than the dreaded, horrible, massive asshole Eggplant Wizard. Not only is the Eggplant Wizard really hard to kill, but getting hit by one of his projectiles turns Pit into a defenseless walking eggplant, a state that can only be cured by finding a hard-to-locate nurse. Oh, and did I mention THE NURSES ARE ALWAYS SO FAR AWAY?! I don’t hate a lot of things. I hate the Eggplant Wizard.     ----- What do you think? Out of all the evil, annoying, nightmare-inducing wizards, did I choose the ten biggest assholes? What other magic-using jerks do you think I missed? Compared to yesterday’s list, are there any wizards that should switch places? And are there any videogame wizards that fall on both lists? Awesome assholes? Magus from Chrono Trigger, maybe? Sound off in the comments!

Yesterday I posted a list of the ten most awesome videogame wizards of all time. But, like anything in life, for every awesome wizard that stands by you, ice staff in hand, as you battle a chimera, there is an asshole wizard ...

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