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Madden Ultimate Team photo
Madden Ultimate Team

California dad betting on big lottery win to pay son's Xbox One bill (Fauxclusive)


Son totally not to blame here
Jan 13
// CJ Andriessen
Millions of people across the country will be watching tonight when the winning numbers for the biggest Powerball jackpot in history are announced. California father Gerald Present says he hopes the $150 he spent on tick...
GOTY 2015 photo
GOTY 2015

Mike Martin's picks for games that he picked in 2015


My picks bring all the boys to the yard
Jan 11
// Mike Martin
Hello everybody! Your (not so) favorite, foul-mouthed, perverted, shit-posting Community Manager here. 2015 was a helluva year for games. All bullshit aside, we are starting to see some truly amazing games come out. When I wa...

The top 33 indie games to look for in 2016

Jan 11 // Patrick Hancock
Let's start with a handful of games I listed in 2013 that have still yet to come out. They aren't counted for this list, but you should still look out for them and I hope they come out this year: A Hat in Time, Distance, Intruder, New Game+, Overgrowth, Owlboy, Project Zomboid, Quadrilateral Cowboy, Routine, Scale, The Iconoclasts, The Magical Realms of Tír na nÓg: Escape from Necron 7 – Revenge of Cuchulainn: The Official Game of the Movie – Chapter 2 of the Hoopz Barkley SaGa, The Moonlighters, The Witness, Under the Ocean. Wow, so that's 15 games that have taken at least 2 years longer than I thought they would. Whoops! Anyway, here's some more that will be sure to disappoint me when they release in 2020. [embed]330358:61679:0[/embed] BombernautsDeveloper: Eyebrow InteractiveFollow it: Steam, Twitter, FacebookCan I play it now? Yes It would be easy to write Bombernauts off as just some Bomberman clone, but you'd be doing yourself a huge disservice. While this is a large departure from the studio's last game, Closure, the pedigree is there. Bombernauts is online, voxel-based mayhem that reminds me more of the multiplayer in Super Monkey Ball than traditional Bomberman. It's wacky and zany, and is even available now on Early Access. [embed]330358:61678:0[/embed] CogmindDeveloper: Grid Sage GamesFollow it: Newsletter on official site, TwitterCan I play it now? Yes  Please, don't let the aesthetic turn you away. I get it, ASCII graphics are a turnoff. But think about the beauty of Dwarf Fortress! What I'm trying to say here is that gameplay is everything. Cogmind's world is procedural and challenges the player to think strategically to navigate it. And really, it's not pure ASCII graphics. As the website puts it, it's "ASCII evolved."  Seeing the aesthetic in motion clears things up a bit, and in fact, it's rather beautiful. It's a roguelike with permadeath and turn-based combat, which is like taking the highway straight into my heart. All the little things start to add up in Cogmind: a destructible environment, lack of grinding XP, stealth as an alternative to combat, and its apparent "living world" that will evolve as the player exists within it. This is definitely one to look out for. [embed]330358:61680:0[/embed] Courier of the CryptsDeveloper: Emberheart GamesFollow it: Mailing list, Steam, Twitter, FacebookCan I buy it now? Yes Courier of the Crypts is one of the most intriguing games on this list to me. Players guide a courier through crypts (duh) using his handy-dandy torch, solving puzzles and killing enemies along the way. But the way it's presented making it look slower and more methodical than you might think. For example, it seems that the primary way to kill enemies is leading them into traps that, from the looks of it, are likely designed to kill the player instead. It's got great pixel art and a wonderful premise, and I'm very interested in these "magical torch mechanics" the game mentions...   [embed]330358:61681:0[/embed] CRYPTARKDeveloper: AlientrapFollow it: Steam, Twitter, FacebookCan I buy it? Yes  I've played CRYPTARK in its current Early Access stage, and it's easy to see this game's bright future. Made from the same team that did Apotheon, one of my favorites of 2015, CRYPTARK brings players into space as they search through "alien space-hulks" with their space mech. It's got a lot of customization, a great art style, and most importantly, wonderful impact behind the gameplay. Going through these alien vessels is a blast, thanks in large part to the combat mechanics at play. [embed]330358:61697:0[/embed]  CupheadDeveloper: Studio MDHRFollow it: Blog, TwitterCan I buy it?  No Cuphead is all style. If you're not enraptured by the complete dedication to its aesthetic, well, I have nothing more to say to you. While aesthetic can only go so far, I think the level of love poured into a project like this speaks volumes. We can only hope that Studio MDHR has put the same amount of time and dedication into the actual gameplay as they have the aesthetic. [embed]330358:61698:0[/embed] Darkest DungeonDeveloper: Red Hook GamesFollow it: Steam, TwitterCan I buy it?  Yes This one is coming out soon! January 19, to be exact. Darkest Dungeon has been in Early Access for most of 2015, and has certainly had its ups and downs. Fans were very disappointed at an update that made the game incredibly hard, but Red Hook Games responded appropriately and listened to its community. Long story short: the disliked elements have been turned into options that can be toggled on or off, depending on an individuals preferences. This is a brutal roguelike that focuses on heading into dungeons with a handful of party members and doing your best just to make it through alive and sane. Party members can have mental problems creep up and take over them, hindering their abilities. Definitely worth it for fans of brutal challenges. [embed]330358:61699:0[/embed] Dead RealmDeveloper: Section StudiosFollow it:  Steam, Twitter, FacebookCan I buy it? Yes I've had my eye on Dead Realm ever since it was added to Steam. My friends and I have spent a good amount of time in Damned, a clunky, yet enjoyable multiplayer horror game, and Dead Realm looks like a great addition to that genre.  It's basically a horror-filled version of hide and go seek or manhunt (the outdoor game, not the video game). The asymmetric gameplay and the environments are key here. The humans need to escape from the ghost in any way possible, which includes moving objects around and building little forts. I'm hoping this is a little more complete and fluid than Damned is, but it looks to be a fun time with friends regardless. [embed]330358:61700:0[/embed] DrifterDeveloper: Celsius Game StudiosFollow it: Steam, TwitterCan I buy it? Yes I've mentioned this a lot in the past, but Freelancer is one of my favorite games of all time. Drifter looks to capture a lot of the same vibes with space trading, exploration, bounty hunting, piracy, all in a procedurally generated sandbox galaxy. It's been in Early Access for quite some time, and is currently in version "0.6.3." The last time I booted it up it was genuinely enjoyable, but incredibly clunky. With those clunks ironed out, this might be my go-to game to kill time in. Oh, and the music is by Danny B, so you know that will be great. [embed]330358:61701:0[/embed] Due ProcessDeveloper: Giant Enemy CrabFollow it: Blog, Twitter, FacebookCan I buy it? No, but there is an alpha sign-up I want this game....so bad. It's a multiplayer strategy first-person shooter where one team must defend an area while another must infiltrate. What's unique is that there is a planning phase beforehand where players literally draw on the map to orchestrate their plan, all while choosing weapons and discussing strategy with the team. All of this culminates in (hopefully) everything being executed and seeing who had the better plan. It's brilliant and simple to the point where IT NEEDS TO BE OUT RIGHT NOW. This is easily one of my most anticipated games of the year. [embed]330358:61702:0[/embed] Dungeon SoulsDeveloper: Mike StudiosFollow it: Steam, Tumblr, TwitterCan I buy it? Yes What I love most about Dungeon Souls is its pace. It's quicker than many roguelikes out there, which forces players to really think on their feet. When last I played it, it was a bit easy, but the game is still in Early Access. It's more hack-n-slashy, which contributes to the fast pace, but attacks really feel like they pack a punch. With various classes and an amazing art style, Dungeon Souls stands out in an incredibly over-saturated genre. [embed]330358:61736:0[/embed] DuskersDeveloper: Misfits AtticFollow it: Steam, Twitter, FacebookCan I buy it? Yes Duskers is...sort of hard to describe. Players remotely control various drones inside of empty spaceships in order to find out what has happened to the ships and possibly the universe. What's unique is that all drone commands are given by legit command prompts. Oh, and don't worry, the game has an auto-complete feature for typing, so players won't have to type the same things a million times during a playthrough. What makes Duskers worth keeping an eye on is its atmosphere. Everything is seen through the drone's motion sensor, and there's always a lot of unknowns out there. This stuff gets creepy real fast. It also forces players to continually think of and implement new strategies to tackle the obstacles in their way, which helps prevent things from getting stale. [embed]330358:61737:0[/embed] Dying EmberDeveloper: Private Beats NinjaFollow it:  Twitter, TIGSource ForumsCan I buy it? Nope Dying Ember is described by its creator as "2D/3D isometric action RPG inspired by Dark Souls."  That have your attention? Good, it should! Now, I'll admit, this one could easily be pushed into a 2017 release date, as stated by its developer, but it's too interesting to not put on your radars right now. The animations look smooth as butter from what's been shown, but unfortunately it's all in small chunks. Scrolling through the Twitter page reveals plenty of short GIFs that exemplify my point. As long as the combat feels as good as it looks, this is sure to steal the hearts of many. [embed]330358:61738:0[/embed] Enemy StarfighterDeveloper: Marauder InteractiveFollow it: Twitter, NewsletterCan I buy it? No Space games are hot right now. as evidenced by this being the fourth or so game already on this list that focuses on space. Enemy Starfighter is being developed by ex-Bungie employee Mike Tipul, and focuses more on the combat portion of space travel (hence the name). It's great to see a project more focused than the tradition "do all the space stuff!" pitch. The aesthetic looks wonderful, and from the videos produced so far, much of the fun will come from unscripted events, which are pretty much my favorite. [embed]330358:61739:0[/embed] ErnestoDevelopers: Daniel Benmergui, Jeremias Babini, & Hernan RozenwasserFollow it: Twitter, Dev Blog (tumblr), NewsletterCan I buy it? No Note: The video above gets the concept across, but the art is very outdated.  Ernesto is a puzzle game with combat, loot, and riddles, oh my! Sorry that was lame. Regardless, Ernesto puts many things into its design blender and the result, so far, looks wonderful. It's a game about dealing with the punches and optimizing a path through the enemies and chests in order to get the best result. Perhaps the best news is that it's coming to PC, Mac, and tablets, since this game looks perfect for a touch-interface and could also be great in small bursts! [embed]330358:61741:0[/embed] Gang BeastsDeveloper: BoneloafFollow it: Twitter, SteamCan I buy it? Yes Oh boy. Where do I begin with Gang Beasts? It's a game of goofy physics and relatively complex controls that my friends and I have played for hours on end, even past the point where sanity was still with us. I guess it's a 3D fighting game? But that sort of sells the game short. It's a physics-based local multiplayer combat game, where players can individually control arms and grab things. You can pick things up, including other players, climb walls, jump around like an idiot, and even get thrown into meat grinders. The game sets itself up for some of the most hilarious unintended consequences during these fights, and the animations only play in to the fact that you will be grinning ear-to-ear if you get some buddies around the TV to fight each other. [embed]330358:61742:0[/embed] Hyper Light DrifterDeveloper: Heart MachineFollow it: Twitter, FacebookCan I buy it? Pre-order Damn, is this game gorgeous or what? A "2D action RPG" that oozes personality, this is sure to make any list similar to mine. It just seems to nail the feel of the every move. Even just watching the trailer, there's so much umph to things! I mean, I just can't stop italicizing words! Dang! Our past preview had great things to say, and boy am I jealous that other people have played it who aren't me! Also, the music is by Disasterpiece, so fuck yeah! [embed]330358:61744:0[/embed] KrautscapeDeveloper: Mario von Rickenbach, PlayablesFollow it: Steam, Newsletter, TwitterCan I buy it? Yes I absolutely love Krautscape. It's a racing game that actually feels innovative and enjoyable. First of all, the leader of the race dictates how the track is set up. The track is built as players race on it, and the next "chunk" is created depending on where the leader drives when they reach the end of the current track. If they are all the way to the right, it'll be a hard right turn. In the center? Keep it going straight! Slightly to the left? Slight left turn is next. You get the idea. OH AND DID I MENTION YOU CAN FLY? At any time, players can sprout wings and take to the skies. This is especially helpful for the players who fall behind, and adds a new layer of strategy to track creation. Oh, the leader is making a harsh right turn next? I'll just jump off the edge and fly straight there! The music and overall aesthetic are soothing and beautiful, and I hope that more people enjoy Krautscape as I have done in its Early Access period. [embed]330358:61745:0[/embed] Lethal TacticsDeveloper: SkyBox LabsFollow it: Steam, Twitter, FacebookCan I buy it? Yes I've already written about Lethal Tactics before, and I'll take any opportunity to do so again! It's very much like the amazing Frozen Synapse, though does enough to differentiate itself. Plus, more of a great thing is still a great thing! The environment plays a key role in Lethal Tactics, since various objects can be destroyed during play. I just hope they add enough singleplayer content to satisfy a large chunk of potential customers. [embed]330358:61769:0[/embed] LiegeDeveloper: Coda GamesFollow it: Twitter, FacebookCan I buy it? Pre-order I finally got to try out Liege at PAX East last year, and now it easily tops my list of most anticipated games. Though it describes itself as a "JRPG," I'd say it's more along the lines of an "SRPG" because of its turn-based tactical approach to the battle system. Actually, developer John Rhee just came out with a blog post talking about the battle design. He transitioned the battles to have player and enemy turns happen simultaneously, but has recently decided to move back to the separate turns design. As I played through a tutorial-ish area at PAX, I couldn't help but fall in love with the game's aesthetic and accessibility. I understood the mechanics quickly, but could tell that things would go way deeper further into the game. As a huge SRPG fan, this game feels made for me. [embed]330358:61771:0[/embed] MiegakureDeveloper: Marc ten BoschFollow it: Newsletter, Twitter, Facebook, feedlyCan I buy it? No I don't understand what the fuck is going on in this game and I love it. (There's actually a really well written explanation here and you should all read it and be super stoked for Miegakure) [embed]330358:61772:0[/embed] No Man’s SkyDeveloper: Hello GamesFollow it: Newsletter, Twitter, FacebookCan I buy it? No I've always wondered if it's difficult to go from making games like Joe Danger and its sequel to making No Man's Sky. Not only is the scope a billion times bigger, but just about everything is drastically different. Unless maybe there are motorcycles and jumps hidden away on planets? Or maybe we can be giant cupcakes and race our friends through loopty-swoops and fire pits! Yeah, definitely thinking that last one is true. [embed]330358:61773:0[/embed] OverlandDeveloper: FinjiFollow it: Newsletter, TwitterCan I buy it? No When the creator of Canabalt is making a new game, you know it belongs on this list. Overland is a survival strategy game that has players on a "road trip through a ruined continent." Players will be scavenging for supplies in randomly generated levels in order to complete their journey. After watching the gameplay overview (embedded above), it looks like players will have to make a lot of smart and challenging decisions. This is yet another game where the art is wonderful. The whole thing gives me a bit of a Kentucky Route Zero vibe, which is probably one of the best compliments I can give! [embed]330358:61774:0[/embed] Paradise NeverDeveloper: Kitty Lambda GamesFollow it: TwitterCan I buy it? No Playing Paradise Never at PAX East and speaking with developer Calvin French made me realize that this game is going to be big. It has a repetition cycle reminiscent of Majora's Mask, with a cellphone that keeps data between time skips. Judging from French's work with The Real Texas, I expect wacky and memorable characters alongside meaningful mechanics, with a good dose of goofy thrown in for good measure. [embed]330358:61794:0[/embed] ParkitectDeveloper: Texel RaptorFollow it: Twitter, TumblrCan I buy it? Yes Parkitect is taking something that many people hold sacred, the rollercoaster management sim, and attempting to make it worthwhile in 2015. If this were some run-of-the-mill sim game, it wouldn't make it on this list. Parkitect seems to nail every aspect. It uses a light-hearted aesthetic to create a beautiful atmosphere that fits perfectly with the theme (heh) of the game. I'm not sure I trust any major players to re-ignite the love of theme park sims, but I believe that this indie team can do exactly the right thing!  Plus, it has mod support! Just think of all the crazy crap the community can come up with. [embed]330358:61795:0[/embed] SpeedrunnersDeveloper: DoubleDutch GamesFollow it: Steam, TwitterCan I buy it? Yes Similar to Gang Beasts, Speedrunners has been on regular rotation at my local multiplayer game night for quite some time. There is nothing as intense as a match of Speedrunners. Players race laps around a 2D platforming level and can run, slide, jump, and most importantly, grappling hook their way into first place. Jumping and nailing a perfect grappling hook to get around obstacle is easily one of the best feelings in competitive gaming. I think my favorite thing that Speedrunners does is slowly brings in the edges of the screen to focus on the remaining racers and eliminate the one who are too far behind. What you're left with is two racers with no peripheral vision where one mistake means losing. God damn, what a thrill! [embed]330358:61796:0[/embed] SquadDeveloper: Offworld IndustriesFollow it: Steam, Twitter, FacebookCan I buy it? Yes I'm a sucker for games that go for a strong cooperative experience. Squad is all about coop. I mean, it's called Squad! Reading experiences from those who have been playing it in its Early Access phase, it's somewhere between Counter-Strike and Arma in terms of realism, leaning towards Arma. In other words, it's pretty realistic but not inaccessible. It's a game that relies on solid communication, so prep your headsets and get ready to COMMUNICATE! [embed]330358:61797:0[/embed] StarCrawlersDeveloper: Juggernaut GamesFollow it: Steam, Twitter, FacebookCan I buy it? Yes I haven't played StarCrawlers since its early days, but even then I knew it was something special. The atmosphere is wonderful, regardless of whether you're exploring ships like Legend of Grimrock or sitting in the hub city talking to NPCs. The gameplay goes back and forth between roaming spaceships and turn-based combat. This is a game that I briefly lost myself in, and forced myself to stop and wait for it to be more completed. ....is it completed yet? Stephen’s Sausage RollDeveloper: Stephen LavelleFollow it: TwitterCan I buy it? No It's a puzzle game. With a sausage. What else do you need to know? Also, please do yourself a favor and check out the website.  [embed]333190:61809:0[/embed] STRAFE Developer: Pixel TitansFollow it: Tumblr, TwitterCan I buy it? No DISCLAIMER: I BACKED THIS SHIT ON KICKSTARTER Personally, I'm excited that more indie developers are going for the 90s low-polygon count models. I don't want it to get abused, but I enjoy it as of now. STRAFE is a fast-paced shooter that doesn't take itself too seriously. It's "90s retro" as hell and makes no apologies about it. It's got attitude that only 90s kids will remember lololololol ;) This also has an amazing website which you need to check out ASAP. [embed]330358:61800:0[/embed] Sub RosaDeveloper: Cryptic SeaFollow it: Steam, TwitterCan I buy it? No One of my favorite things is to watch people play Sub Rosa. It's not a competitive eSport or anything that I usually watch, but the events that happen are completely player-driven. It's a game that gives the players a world, objectives, and mechanics, and let's the rest happen naturally. Players work for corporations and have to make deals with other players for colored discs, which grant the players and corporations bonuses. The result is tense deals, double and triple crossing, and plenty of hilarity. [embed]330358:61806:0[/embed] TacomaDeveloper: FullbrightFollow it: TwitterCan I buy it? No This is another game that deserves attention by pedigree alone. Fullbright, the team behind the game Gone Home, is back with a more Rapture-esque feel to it, except it's in space and not underwater. If anyone can create an atmosphere and own it, it's Fullbright games. I look forward to rotating many space things in 2016! [embed]330358:61807:0[/embed] Tooth and TailDeveloper: Pocketwatch GamesFollow it: Twitter, FacebookCan I buy it? No Tooth and Tail has had a couple of name changes so far. Announced as Armada, it later became known as LEADtoFIRE. Now, it's Tooth and Tail, which is leagues ahead of both of the previous names. This is a real-time strategy game by the developers of Monaco: What's Yours is Mine. The goal is to create an accessible RTS that feels comfortable on a controller. Very bold goals, since the RTS genre is notoriously difficult to get into for many. If Andy Schatz and company can pull it off, this could be a breakthrough game of the genre. More accessibility is a great thing, especially in such a tough genre. [embed]330358:61808:0[/embed] The Long DarkDeveloper: Hinterland Studio Inc.Follow it: Steam, Twitter, FacebookCan I buy it? Yes I bought The Long Dark during the most recent Steam sale, and absolutely fell in love with my first experience with it. It's unforgiving as hell, which is ironic because the game world itself is cold as....ice? It's a survival game that tasks the player to simply survive while dealing with the elements. I'm terrible at it, but that hardly prevents me from thoroughly enjoying my time dying. I'll likely never forget my first venture out into the wilderness. I left my cabin behind in search for something, anything, to help my sustain my future. Well, turns out that night wasn't too long off. So I headed towards a broken down cabin I came across, hoping it had a stove. It did! However, it also had a corpse right next to it. So, with no other real options, I opened my bed roll, threw some wood and tinder into the stove, and slept all night next to some stranger's corpse. It was a bit of a harrowing experience, and I can't wait for the game to be completed. -- So, what did I miss? What indies are you pumped for in 2016? Oh, and I made a convenient Twitter "list" of all the games and developers mentioned here in case you want to use that.
Top 2016 indies photo
Or 2017, or 2018...
Alright, last time I did this, most of these games didn't come out the next year. In fact, some of the "top indies of 2013" according to me still aren't out. That's the indie lifestyle I suppose, releasing a game "w...

Nic Rowen picks the best of 2015

Jan 10 // Nic Rowen
Best game of the year: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is one of my favorite games of all time. As I've shared before, I've replayed it at least ten times over the years. I didn't keep coming back to it just because it was fun, I kept coming back to it because it was surprising. Every time I played through it I'd find something new. I feel like I haven't even scratched the surface of The Phantom Pain's surprises. Forget replaying the entire game, every time I replay one of  The Phantom Pain's missions I find something new. Every other week someone posts a YouTube video of some outrageous tactic or bizarre mechanic I never even considered before. The other day, I found a new cassette tape despite having plunged more than 70 hours into the game already. Let that sink in, I've played this game for 70 hours and I haven't even uncovered all the easy to find stuff yet. Of course, it's also an amazing game to play. The Phantom Pain is a total leap for the series, a massively needed redesign of Tactical Espionage Action that finally, FINALLY, makes you feel like the super-spy Snake was always trumped up to be. Instead of the hurky-jerk movement of previous entries that saw Snake frequently kneeling in front of a a two-foot high obstacle and then somehow accidentally dropping a flashbang at his feet while searching for the right button, this Snake moves just like how you'd expect of the world's greatest soldier. He effortlessly hurdles barriers, dives into cover, slides down hills, and climbs sheer walls, and you never find yourself reaching for the manual. Combat is fast, fluid, and accurate, the enemies smart and responsive. A never ending supply of gadgets, gear, partners, and chopper support options provide an answer to almost any situation you could get yourself into. The Phantom Pain is one hell of a game. Despite Konami doing everything it can to ruin the game post-release, it still remains the best time I had playing video games this year, and I wouldn't be surprised if I end up coming back to The Phantom Pain just as much as I did with Snake Eater. Best spoooooky: Bloodborne Dark Souls is still my favorite From Software game to date, but Bloodborne certainly gave it a run for its money. While some elements of Bloodborne's design disappointed me (the PvP never felt as well developed and I would have loved a few more sets of clothing and armor to choose from), I was absolutely enamored with the Victorian Gothic look of the world. Yharnam is a scary place, and the population of werewolves, fallen priests, and creepy eye monsters never let me drop my guard for a second.  Best budget anatomy lesson: Mortal Kombat X I like to learn. I've always considered myself an eternal student, but have you seen the cost of post-secondary education these days? One can't afford to just take up a medical class as a hobby anymore! Which is why I was so delighted to see how detailed and painstakingly rendered the bloody viscera of Mortal Kombat X was. If anyone ever needs an emergency whole body bisection via a razor-bladed hat, I'm the man to call. I feel like MKX didn't make a lot of GOTY lists, and that's a shame. For my money, it's the best Mortal Kombat game ever made. Sure, it has balance issues and the PC launch was an absolute travesty, but the core gameplay is best the series has ever offered -- fast, brutal, and mean, the way Mortal Kombat should be. The variation system that gives each character three distinct fighting styles with different strengths and weaknesses is something I'd love to see more fighting games adopt. Best interior design options: Fallout 4: Happy Home Designer I have no idea why I put so much time into the settlement system of Fallout 4, but I did and I loved it. Fallout 4 is a magnificent game (even if it is lacking the role-playing options of New Vegas and the quests work a little too hard to funnel you down certain paths) with an amazing sense of exploration and surprisingly fun gun-play. But it turns out if you put a half-baked doll-house simulator in a game, I'll focus on it nearly exclusively to the abandonment of all else. Maybe I should just start playing The Sims and get it over with. Best descent into nihilism: Nuclear Throne Something about this game brings out the worst in me. It's my “2:00am, I should go to bed but I've been drinking and feeling sad, so why not do another run (or twenty)” game. A blitzkrieg of furious action and pointless violence that I'm more than happy to wallow in at the end of a long frustrating day. If Fallout 4 was my chipper little game about optimism and rebuilding life after a disaster, Nuclear Throne was its dark shadow, a celebration of defeat and chaos. Best dinosaurs: ARK: Survival Evolved Yeah, this is technically a Steam Early Access game, but who cares? It has dinosaurs! Who would have thought watching a mutant caveman getting devoured by a Carnotaurus could be so much fun (even when you are the mutant caveman in question)? I didn't play tons and tons of ARK, but my time wandering around the jungle jabbing my pointy little stick at anything that moved left an impression. I still think of heading back into the wilds every now and then. Best “I should play more of this”: Galak-Z: The Dimensional I love everything about Galak-Z; the way the ship moves, the rogue-lite structure of the missions and power-ups, the retro '80s anime aesthetic, it's all great. I just haven't played a ton of it. I got into the second season of the game (when you get the big robot), died, and never quite got back to it. It isn't that I haven't wanted to, it just seems to keep getting buried under something more pressing (or convenient) to play. I have a feeling if I played a little more, Galak-Z could end up being my next Binding of Isaac. Best argument to buy a Wii U: Super Mario Maker Why the fuck didn't I buy a Wii U!? I'm such a moron. Can I borrow yours? C'mon, just for a week or two? I've been watching all these videos and I have an idea for a level that uses P-switches in a really fucked up way and I'm just dying to try it and... Best way to find out your friends are total monsters: Jack Box Party Pack 2 Everything is all fun and games until someone makes a punchline out of Boko Haram. Best use of fingers: Fingered The stubby digit of justice.
Nic's best of the year photo
I mean, you've seen the rest
It's like the middle of January and you've read about five thousand GOTY lists at this point, so let's get to brass tacks. There were some great games released last year, but which ones were the best? I have no idea. Sorry,...

Experience Points .29: Skies of Arcadia

Jan 09 // Ben Davis
Sky's the limit Skies of Arcadia has one of the most intriguing worlds I've ever explored in a video game. Civilizations of people living on floating islands, traveling between them via airships, with fish and other creatures normally associated with the sea flying around in the clouds, and entire sections of the world blocked off by powerful air currents and other obstacles that could tear ships apart. It was all very exciting and mysterious. I constantly wondered what secrets lay hidden on the other side of those currents, or past that ominous rift. Would it be possible to descend under the clouds, or perhaps fly even higher into the sky? Eventually, Vyse gets to explore all of these places, satisfying every last bit of the player's curiosity. Each new area discovered is a thrilling experience. Everything from the lost civilization of Glacia, the thriving society of Yafutoma that had been cut off from the rest of the world, the terrifying depths lying beneath the clouds, and the bright, open atmosphere above. I kept wondering what I might find next. The most powerful moment for me was when they dive beneath the clouds and enter Deep Sky for the very first time, by flying through the huge maelstrom known as the Vortex. Entering the land beneath the clouds was unheard of for Vyse and his people, but they attempt it anyway in order to retrieve Fina's lost ship, even though they run the risk of damaging their own ship in the process due to atmospheric pressure. The area under the Vortex resembles a deep ocean abyss. It's incredibly dark and murky, and almost looks alien compared to the bright, airy world above. The crew of the Delphinus must use sonar to navigate the area and locate Fina's ship, but they also need to be wary of the giant bioluminescent creatures known as Raja which lurk in the darkness! There's nothing more terrifying than the unknown horrors of the deep. Wonders of the world Continuing the theme of exploration, my favorite activity in Skies of Arcadia was flying around and making Discoveries. This involves searching the skies for hidden landmarks, rare creatures, forgotten shipwrecks, and other special locations which don't normally appear on the map. Once Vyse makes a Discovery, he can then sell the information of its whereabouts to the Sailor's Guild for cash. But he also needs to be mindful of other Discovery hunters, such as the famous explorer, Domingo, who might find them first if Vyse takes too long. I've always been the explorer type while playing video games, keen on visiting every last location and wandering around all edges of the map to see what I might find. So games that try to reward that exploration really make me happy, and Skies of Arcadia is just about the perfect example of that with its Discoveries side quest. It may not seem too exciting for some, searching for hidden objects which don't really do anything except float there and are only good for making money, but I found it to be oddly captivating. In the world of the game, Vyse is the usually first person to have found these things. Lost landmarks like the Giant Throne spoken about only in legends, fabled creatures like the Ancient Fish which many believed to be extinct or pure fiction, shipwrecks that no one had been able to locate, slowly fading from memory. Finding things like that in the real world would be truly awe-inspiring, and it made me really get into playing the role of Vyse because I loved the idea of living that kind of life. From Hell's heart I stab at thee The story of Captain Drachma and Rhaknam is heavily based on my favorite book, Moby Dick, so it's no surprise that it left an impression on me. But even for those unfamiliar with the themes of Melville's classic novel, Skies of Arcadia's take on the relationship between man and whale was quite powerful in its own way. Much like with Captain Ahab and the white whale, Drachma had dedicated most of his life to hunting down the giant purple arcwhale, Rhaknam, who not only stole Drachma's right arm from him but also caused the deaths of his crew, his wife, and his only son, Jack. The hunt eventually proves fruitful, when the crew of the Little Jack confronts Rhaknam and manages to spear it with the ship's harpoon. Unfortunately, an enemy ship manned by Ramirez takes the opportunity to fire upon the Little Jack while they're distracted with the whale, setting the ship aflame and forcing Drachma and crew to evacuate. But at the last moment, as Vyse and the others are getting into the lifeboats, Drachma pushes them overboard. He remains on the burning Little Jack, dragged along by the harpoon stuck in Rhaknam's back, presumably to his death. Of course, that wasn't the last we would see of Captain Drachma. Vyse and crew eventually meet up with him again in the most unexpected of places, the abandoned ancient city of Glacia. Rhaknam had apparently made the place its home, and fled to the icy fortress with Drachma in tow. Realizing that the whale had actually saved his life, Drachma had a sudden change of heart and decided to care for and comfort Rhaknam, who had been mortally wounded during the attack by Ramirez. Vyse and friends arrive just in time to witness Rhaknam's final moments, as the whale sings mournfully and sheds a single tear before passing on. Afterwards, Drachma decides to live out his days as a fisherman now that he no longer has to spend his life hunting down his arch-nemesis. Even though the death of Rhaknam is rather sad, it's still heartwarming to know that the two lifelong enemies were able to make amends. It's actually a much cheerier end than the one Captain Ahab received. Kraken the sky While most of the battles aboard the ship are fought against other ships, there are a few optional engagements with huge, frightening sky beasts which are particularly exciting. My favorite is the battle against a certain blue cephalopod. For a game centered around sailing (even though it takes place in the sky), you just know there's going to be a giant squid encounter, and Skies of Arcadia doesn't disappoint. Of course, any game with a giant squid is going to get a shout-out from me, because giant squids are awesome! Once Vyse's ship gains access to certain parts of the map, the crew might happen upon an open area with nothing but some floating rocks and an ominous Discovery called the Giant Squid Nest. Nearby lurks a beast named Obispo, a huge blue squid floating lazily through the clouds. Flying up to Obispo, who is larger than the Delphinus itself, will initiate an optional ship battle. Obispo will attack the Delphinus with huge bursts of ink, but it's probably no match for the ship's cannons. Cause enough damage, and the giant squid's tentacles will begin to fall off one by one, sinking to the clouds below. Upon death, the animal actually bursts into flames and falls out of the sky. I almost expected it to go out in a glorious explosion! Build-a-base At one point in the story, Vyse finds himself stranded on a desert island where he is forced to figure out a way to survive while rebuilding a lifeboat to escape. This island, called Crescent Isle, later becomes the base of operations for Vyse and his crew. A small settlement is built for crew members to live while not aboard the Delphinus. But the coolest thing about Crescent Isle is that the player actually gets to customize it to their liking. Players can choose which buildings to upgrade, decide who should rebuild them (which changes the architecture), add decorations like fountains or cliffside reliefs, bring animals to the island (like fish, flamingos, alligators, and pandas), and pick a flag to represent the crew. I had Kirala construct most of the buildings in the exotic Yafutoma style, with fish and pandas to liven things up. I decided to forgo the cliffside reliefs, because having a character's giant face looming at everyone seemed kind of unsettling to me. I also went with Fina's flag design, which features a super happy flying dolphin, because duh. I loved being able to give the island my own unique flair; it made the place actually feel special to me, rather than just some rock that I could return to every once in a while. I wonder how many others spent as much time designing their islands as I did. Trial by dragon Skies of Arcadia's battle system featured Super Moves, which were special attacks that had short cinematic sequences to go along with them. They were all pretty cool. Vyse had a bunch of pirate-themed moves, Aika's were named after the Greek alphabet for some reason, Fina called upon the power of the moons to help them out, and Drachma straight up body slammed dudes. But my favorite Super Move belongs to Enrique. Upon activating his final move, “The Judgement,” Enrique summons a huge colosseum full of roaring spectators, announcing, “Your trial shall be swift and just!” as if this is a perfectly normal thing to just suddenly appear out of nowhere. He then calls upon a dragon-shaped sigil on the ground, which opens up a portal in the sky above him to release an actual dragon. The silver beast spirals through the air before flying face-first into the enemy, slamming into them for massive damage as Enrique yells, “Face your punishment!” And then he ends the attack with a confident flourish of his sword. Wow, Enrique. Way to make everyone else look bad! Past Experience Points Level 1: .01 - .20 .21: Katamari Damacy.22: Tomb Raider.23: Mother 3.24: Deadly Premonition.25: Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars.26: Dark Souls.27: GoldenEye 007 .28: Pokémon Red/Blue 
Skies of Arcadia photo
Cutlass Fury!
Experience Points is a series in which I highlight some of the most memorable things about a particular game. These can include anything from a specific scene or moment, a character, a weapon or item, a level or location, a p...

GOTY 2015 photo
GOTY 2015

Games CJ would have played in 2015 if he weren't so goddamn lazy


I'll totally get to these in 2016
Jan 09
// CJ Andriessen
2015 was a very weird year for me. Back in January I was just another blogger trying to be funny by making light of the industry we so love. When Jonathan Holmes first asked me to join the main page, I told him no saying that...

Myles Cox's dope picks for Game of the Year 2015

Jan 07 // Myles Cox
10: Nuclear Throne Huge props to Vlambeer for pulling out all the stops on Nuclear Throne. I don't necessarily have a lot of time to sink into huge games (unless it's a mainline Metal Gear title), and Vlambeer games have usually always been the staple of my Friday nights. It's exactly what I want out of a twin stick shooter, and it's even better that it feels vaguely like a cross between Hotline Miami and The Binding of Isaac, two games I hold very near and dear to my beating heart. There's something to be said about a game that not only looks and plays well, but a game that just straight up feels good. Nuclear Throne is addictive as hell and I could write paragraphs and paragraphs on the subtle things and incredible attention to detail that make the player-feedback loop feel so incredible.  9: Splatoon If you turn off motion controls in Splatoon, you're a baby and deserve to get splatted. Splatoon is one of the cutest and genuinely fun video games I've had the pleasure to play in a long while, and the pure sense of style this game constantly throws at your face is incredible. I had just as much fun playing around in the different online modes as I did offline, with the game's stellar single player campaign (which has one of the greatest songs to grace a Nintendo game). A small portion of my immense love for this game might be due to the Jet Set Radio-esque vibes I'm picking up throughout, which really just reminds me once again that we definitely need a new Jet Set Radio title. Don't you dare tell me otherwise or I'll cry. 8: The Beginner's Guide If you haven't touched this game or looked anything up about it, please close this webpage, point your web browser here and play The Beginner's Guide right this instant. Go ahead, I'll wait. There's not even much I can or should write about this game. A part of me almost didn't even want to give it a ranking among my top ten games of the year. I went in expecting a spiritual sequel to The Stanley Parable, and it left me with tears on my face and a slew of emotions I had to deal with lying down. As a content creator, one of the most important things is to show your work with other people and accrue feedback from others, as well as to strive to hit your own goals and show your own personality through your work. The Beginner's Guide plays heavily on the theme of exploring the process behind the creative process, and touches gently at human relationships as well as the effects one might not know they have on others. If you've ever lost a friend for a reason unbeknownst to you, I'm sure The Beginner's Guide will tug gently at your psyche until you're on the edge of your seat and then punch you square in the face, unraveling you like a ball of yarn. 7: Super Mario Maker Level design used to be something I loved to do in my spare time when I was younger, so much that I designed levels for a Portal mod years and years ago. Don't bother looking, you won't find it. Being able to try my hand at creating my own Mario levels had been a dream of mine for so long -- but be careful what you wish for. I just can't get over Super Mario Maker's ability to look innocent and cute, masquerading as a simple level editing tool, and ensnare you in its gaping maw of expert levels and Cosimano traps once you've shown literally any sign of weakness. It'll catch you off-guard and tear you apart, and I think the unpredictability of the Maker community really drives home the point that humans are fucked up and dangerous.  Super Mario Maker was single-handedly knocked down a few spots by the devastating torture level that Mike unleashed upon me in September. I will not forgive him. My heart goes out to Patrick Klepek for enduring the gauntlet of madness that is Dan Ryckert and his cruel Super Mario Maker creations. Pouring one out for you, buddy. 6: Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes Pure. Adrenaline. This game makes me sweat and I love it. No other game to my knowledge nails the pure essence of tension and urgency quite like Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes. Think of the drowning song from the original Sonic The Hedgehog games, distilled and refined into a playable title about bombs and wires and yelling and absolute chaos. It fits very nicely into a small collection of games I keep around for parties, like SpaceTeam and Quiplash. I ended up playing this game a lot with my roommate, using an Oculus Rift and Skype from separate rooms to increase the immersion and difficulty factor. Don't get me wrong, it's stressful as all hell, but nothing beats the sigh of relief you get after clearing a bomb with eight modules in five minutes, all the while knowing exactly zero Morse code and not knowing who's on first. Keep Talking is an endlessly fun experience that's predictable yet fresh with every new bomb you take on, and it's a perfect way to wake up your neighbors on a Saturday night. 5: Bloodborne Bloodborne was, admittedly, completely out of my radar for a long period both before and after release. Only my best buddies Braden and Cameron were able to push me in the right direction, and after some drunken arguing and mumbling I created a character in the guise of beloved Twitter user @dril. I went into Bloodborne with much hesitancy, having previously failed to grasp Dark Souls and Dark Souls II. Muddling my way through the first few hours of the game did end up proving to be an increasingly enjoyable experience, but it all got kicked into twelfth gear once I got my bloody hands on the Kirkhammer. Hell, this section could just be me gushing about how I think the Kirkhammer is one of the most enjoyable and satisfying weapons in all of video games, right up there with the double-barreled shotgun in Doom II.  What started out as a joke playthrough quickly evolved into something far more engrossing. Absolutely everything I love about Bloodborne lies in the animation-prioritized combat, and boy do I like taking huge risks to accomplish most things (hence, the Kirkhammer). With fun weapons, a fantastic art direction, and seemingly bottomless depth, Bloodborne is a magnificent experience that I very much wish I could spend more time with in 2016. 4: Rocket League Now, I don't necessarily see much appeal in the prospect of eSports (or real sports, for that matter), but Rocket League certainly makes a strong and undeniable case to the contrary. Hooting and hollering usually doesn't occur too often within the House of Cox, but when it does, somebody probably just scored a sick goal from across the field with only seconds left to overtime. These are moments I cherish in the form of saved replays I can then use to stroke my own ego over and over again. Rocket League meshes extremely well with most of this list in the fact that it controls like a dream. There just hasn't been a game since Super Smash Bros. Melee that seems so accessible at first, and hides the inner complexity far underneath its tight controls, even though the depth is a bit more apparent in Rocket League. Even if you completely suck at the game, I guarantee there will be at least one moment where you felt like you pulled off something seemingly impossible, a sweet-as-hell move that pretty much nobody saw because screen peeking is a dick thing to do. It feels so good. 3: Downwell Continuing further down the list of games that control great and have tight gameplay loops, Downwell is, penny for penny and hour for hour, the best investment I've made in a game during the whole year. I do a ton of commuting via bus these days, and it's thanks to Downwell that I look forward to sitting with a bunch of strangers inside a large smelly rectangle. If I'm being quite honest here, even I'm surprised that this game is so high up on my list. But what can I say, some of the most joyful moments I've had in 2015 were the constant cravings to play just one more run, visit just one more shop, just one more gem high. In fact, I'm not even going to write any more, because Downwell is cheaper than a coffee and one of the best video games released in 2015. 2: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Goodness gracious, it finally happened. I was alive to experience the release of Metal Gear Solid V, as well as witness the apparent death of the series shortly afterwards. Like it or not, this is what we ended up with, and for the most part it exceeded my expectations built up over the years of waiting.  Yes, yes -- I know, you want to know what I thought of the story. I'm afraid... the series has definitely seen better. Since The Phantom Pain sits right smack dab in the middle of the transitional period between Big Boss' story and Solid Snake's story, we all knew how it was going to end, it was just a matter of subtlety and details, of exactly how the loop is closed up nice and tight. Even the Truth ending left much to be desired, and the entire existence of The Skulls was a complete pain in the ass. Now that I'm done talking shit about The Phantom Pain, I can tell you just how much I loved it. The game is absolutely huge in every way, and it's almost illegal just how much content, love, and care that was packed into it. Backed with the best gameplay of any Metal Gear title, the open world breathes so much life and diversity into the tactical espionage operations we've all come to know and love that I never wanted to stop Fultoning soldiers and resources to build my Mother Base all big and strong. The Phantom Pain has soured my taste for any other open world game at this point, since it actively encourages experimentation and clearing obstacles in drastically different ways. I'm not talking about picking between going in stealthy and rushing in loud and hot, I'm talking about experimenting with traditional Metal Gear guards in an open world context with Metal Gear toys you're familiar with. I think probably 20-30 hours of my playtime with V consisted of straight up fucking around in the world, trying to cause trouble in the stupidest ways possible. Even replaying missions is a joy with self-placed limitations (try a grenade-only run sometime, it's a blast). Despite the less-than-stellar story and questionable characterization of pretty much the only female in the game, the gameplay alone solidifies its slot as my second favorite game of 2015. 1: Undertale Toby Fox, if you're reading this, I wanna give you a kiss on the mouth. Undertale is without a doubt the most enjoyable and delightful experience I've had over the year. I don't know how you did it, man. Somehow you managed to surpass Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door in terms of writing, which is something that is incredibly hard for me to say with a straight face. It's filled to the brim with clever moments, amazing music, charming characters, tense boss battles, all tied together in a nice bow that's actively designed to make you smile, as well as question your own motives and play style. Here's a testament to how much I love Undertale: I have purchased this game nine times, as gifts for several different people who all ended up loving it. I named my cat after Undertale's player character. Replaying RPGs is not something I do very often. Undertale hooked me so deep that I ended up playing over and over to get every possible ending and see as much of the dialogue and world as possible. Did you know that reloading a save file five or six times right before one of the final encounters both establishes context and explanation for a certain character's powers, as well as grants you a key to a locked door in Snowdin? Did you know that during a genocide run, silly inventory abbreviations such as "ButtsPie" (Butterscotch Pie) turn into just "Pie"? That the final boss is foreshadowed in an optional secret room during a pacifist playthrough? What if I told you that saving the aforementioned Butterscotch Pie for a later fight will make the encounter drastically easier? Undertale is filled with so many subtleties and tiny details that are so specific and fleeting -- just when you think you can predict what's next, it throws something entirely different at you. I cannot write enough about how much I adore Undertale without either spoiling it or boring you all to death completely. It's a delightful game that managed to stick with me closer than any other game on this list, and I sincerely hope that you'll give the game a shot. [Undertale header art credit: palidoozy-art on reddit]
GOTY 2015 photo
It's a good one!
Another year, another dollar -- that's what they say, right? More importantly, who is this mystery entity giving you a dollar every year? What the hell am I supposed to do with this dollar, slide it into my piggy bank and sav...

Destructoid's most wanted games of 2016

Jan 07 // Steven Hansen
Last year I wrote about my anticipation for Rob Daviau's next legacy board game SeaFall, but it got pushed back to 2016. It would be easy to just use that one again, because I am still looking forward to it (though I don't seethe with hunger for it since Pandemic Legacy has me sated on that front for now). So instead of that copout, I'm going with an entirely different copout! I'm looking forward to basically my entire friggin' Kickstarter queue of backed projects. Some of these were originally scheduled for 2015, but they aren't out yet. Heck, some of these were supposed to come out in 2014! Good grief. Kickstarter, am I right? The big one for this year is Yooka-Laylee, which I hope lives up to its Rare pedigree. Then there is also the Castlevania-esque Timespinner (originally scheduled for November 2015), beautiful pixel art metroidvania Heart Forth, Alicia (May 2015), cartoony narrative Night in the Woods (January 2015), stealth metroidvania Paradise Lost: First Contact (December 2014), grow/shrink puzzle platformer Scale (December 2014), neon action Hyper Light Drifter (June 2014), and dark hand drawn Metroid-like Ghost Song: A Journey of Hope (May 2014), among others. Yep, maybe a couple of these will release this year. Maybe. I think 2016 will be one of the best calendar years for gaming in the history of the medium; in part because so many of the games seeing release were delayed from 2015. Looking at this year's release calendar it's fucking hard to just pick one. Do I go for The Legend of Zelda NX or 2017's The Last Guardian?  Hell, I could write for days about how excited I am for either of those games, but if I'm being honest with myself I must admit the game I'm most looking forward to is Treasurenauts. Renegade Kid is one of my favorite platformer developers out there and I have been anxiously waiting to get my hands on this title since it was announced two and half goddamn years ago. The run-and-gun platformer is my favorite pick-up and play genre, and if the developer's work on Xeodrifter is any indication, Treasurenauts will be yet another instant classic for my 3DS. Now there is no guarantee this title will come out in 2016, but if the last reports on the game are to be believed, Renegade Kid is hard at work on it in-between sessions of writing blog posts. I've been walking the Kentucky Route Zero beat for a while. You might even say I've been walking it my entire life, if you had a very loose grasp on the concept of time. Over the course of the game's lengthy development cycle, I've made a fuss about Kentucky's rich atmosphere, its fully realized characters, and its re-contextualization of modern adventure game mechanics. There are many adventure games -- most of which have the Telltale name attached -- that allow you to forge a character through immediate choices. If the conclusion to Episode 3 is any indicator, Kentucky Route Zero is more concerned with a shifting past and an immutable future. Here is the part where I attach an asterisk to this prediction; there is nothing to suggest Kentucky Route Zero will release a new episode in 2016. Previously, there was one per year -- but 2015 flitted by with nothing more than a handful of updates from the developers. We may never see Episode 4, let alone the conclusion to the series (which is alright, I think Episode 3's finale works if you've got a melancholy streak), so this entry may be entirely moot. In which case, pretend I said [INSERT WINNER OF DESTRUCTOID GAME OF THE YEAR 2016] instead! I sit here egg on face. My entry for "most anticipated" last year (Persona 5) is coming out this year. My entry from two years ago (Gravity Rush 2) is also coming out this year. I can't do either again, right? Ok. Let's be safe. XCOM 2 is definitely coming out in 2016. What are they going to do, delay it all the way out of February? Ok. XCOM 2. Hell yeah. I have to keep myself from playing XCOM: Enemy Unknown/Within because I know it'll suck up dozens of hours I don't have, but every few months I slip and play a few hours of the campaign. My favorite thing I've written about XCOM has to do with the game's setup, which lets you completely fail to stop the alien invasion, rather than let you brute force through 100 game over screens. Losing is viable narrative, too. And what does XCOM 2 do? It takes the god damn losing route as canon! And, lo and behold, we've got a heck of an interesting thing going on here. There are swords and snake people, damn it. Snake. People. The future is dope as hell. Runners-up: Persona 5, Gravity Rush 2, The Witness, Firewatch, Fire Emblem Fates, Mirror's Edge Catalyst, Dishonored 2, Final Fantasy XV, VVitch It's no secret that I love Monster Hunter. I've made friends, bonded over hunts, and absolutely adore the nostalgic combo system that's both rigid and flexible. Monster Hunter X is the newest release of the long running series that is currently Japan only. Cross introduces more flamboyant and flashy moves to make the normally deliberate looking combat look cooler to watch. With actions like springboard jumps, diving evades, and plenty of explosive looking effects coupled with several brand new monsters and variants, western fans are gnawing at every piece of information they can get as we're left waiting on the edge of our seat for news of a western localization. I'm also a die hard fan of fighting games. I loved my time with games like Marvel 3, Injustice, and Street Fighter IV. With only Smash Bros. 4 to sate my appetite for glory and salt, I'd all but given up hope for something substantially new to come to the Wii U. Then Pokkén Tournament was revealed and it eventually received a 2016 release date. While I've never been much of a Tekken fan, like everything else Nintendo has done in the past few years, I'm absolutely ready to jump into something different thanks to a coat of Nintendo paint. If I could love Hyrule Warriors, which is Zelda themed Dynasty Warriors, I can give Pokkén Tournament a shot. Persona 5 has been my most anticipated game for the past three years, since its release keeps getting pushed back. Hopefully, 2016 will be the year it finally appears, because I cannot wait to dive in! Persona 4 is definitely in my top ten games of all time, and Persona 3 is up there on my list of favorites as well, so I have exceptionally high hopes for the fifth installment. I'll be going in completely blind, having only seen the initial teaser trailer and actively avoiding all other info, so I won't know what to expect. Let's hope it's not a let down, although I can't imagine it will be! I don't know what could top my excitement for Persona 5, unless Shigesato Itoi suddenly takes back his word and announces an official Mother 4 or Capcom suddenly decides to bring back Mega Man Legends 3 (I know neither of those will ever happen), but Nier: Automata comes pretty close! I honestly never expected to see a sequel to Nier, so the announcement was both very surprising and super exciting. If both Persona 5 and Nier: Automata come out this year as planned, it's going to be one hell of a year for me! My pick last year was The Legend of Zelda for the Wii U, and that's still the game I'm anticipating the most at the moment. That text has already been written though, so just for the heck of it, I'll tell you about my second most anticipated game for 2016, even though it's already out in Japan and hasn't been announced for my region at all! Rhythm Tengoku: The Best+ is the latest, and some would say greatest game in the Rhythm Tengoku/Heaven series. It offers up a collection of the best stages from prior Rhythm Heaven/Tengoku games, plus a selection of all new levels. There's even a series of unlockable Wario-themed remixed. Seeing as I still regularly play the previously released games in the series, I have no doubt that Rhythm Tengoku: The Best+ will end up being one of my all time favorite games. I'm giving Nintendo until Dec 31st, 2016 to announce it for territories outside of Japan. If they fail to comply, then I may have to tickle Reggie's feet until he cries for mercy.  And even if they do comply, I still may have to tickle those feet. I bet they're huge... My most-anticipated games of last year got pushed back to this year, so for me, it's Persona 5 and No Man's Sky by default. Barring some kind of disaster - it is an election year -  I'll be able to write about something else this time in 2017. That said, there's plenty to GET HYPE for elsewhere this year, as well. XCOM 2 and Firewatch are due in a few weeks, while playing Gravity Rush Remastered has me excited for what they can do with Gravity Rush 2. And I'm strangely excited about Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth, despite the fact that I know virtually nothing about Digimon other than that some of the 'mons are too damn lewd. Then you've got other franchise heavy-hitters like Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and Final Fantasy XV, alongside less-known quantities, like What Remains of Edith Finch, Wild, and Boundless, though those latter ones may end up pushed back as well, seeing as they've only recently been announced. And let's not even start whatever Sony, Oculus, and Valve are planning for their respective VR rollouts, all scheduled to pick up steam this year. I just hope they can all agree on some kind of common standard or something because fuck if I'm gonna pay for more than one set of hardware to enjoy that stuff. Also, I really want to play Summer Lesson. It's everything I want. Traditionally, I use this opportunity to talk about how much I'm looking forward to the next Souls game, and 2016 is no different in that regard. In this case I've actually played Dark Souls III by way of a Namco Bandai event, and I know that it's already looking like it will live up to its name, so I don't think I have a whole lot to worry about here. But next year I may have to find a new franchise to move on to as this might be the end of the Souls series as we know it. I'm willing to bet that Sony and Namco Bandai are going to have a say in that decision too, as Bloodborne and Souls have been huge hits for them, but for now, From Software and series director Miyazaki are keen on possibly stopping it. We'll see what happens, but before then, we'll have Dark Souls III to play. And it looks fantastic. Unsurprisingly, Shin Megami Tensei IV Final rests at the top of my list. I'm looking forward to Persona 5, Fire Emblem Fates, Zelda Wii U, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and the updated version of Odin Sphere as well, but the heart always yearns for post-apocalyptic, crapsack worlds. I'm not sure I buy SMT IV Final's idea of multiple "neutral" paths, though, given one path favors anarchy and another peace. Nocturne pulled a similar stunt with its "Reason" alignments. Chaos and Law weren't really gone, they were just named differently. Just don't let players harm a hair on Nozomi's head. Flynn worked hard to make her queen of the fairies. This is the first time I’ve been able to look at the year ahead for Destructoid, and wow are there some exciting games coming out! The big one I’m looking forward to the most is Mirror’s Edge Catalyst. I love the original game, and have played it to death, but I was unsure of what I played of Catalyst at EGX. At the time, it was due to be released in February, but now that it’s been delayed to May I’m hopeful those extra few months of polish will do the world of good. Taking the original game’s fantastic movement and adding it into an open world with expanded lore is a recipe for greatness, so I really hope they pull it off. I’m also really excited for Mafia 3. Mafia 2 was pretty barebones as an open world game, but everything else about it was fantastic. Exploring a new criminal underworld in New Orleans sounds awesome to me, so I can’t wait to get my hands on it. Other games I’m pumped for are Street Fighter V, Dishonored 2, Horizon Zero Dawn, and Cuphead. There're so many other games coming out this year that I’m sure I’m forgetting a few as well! If there is one thing I want this year, it's closure for D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die. During the game's final moments, there's a big character reveal -- but then it drops a "To be continued..." and raises even more questions in a post-credits sequence. Where's that second season? At this rate, I'd be happy just to get an officially sanctioned plot summary, Carnivàle-style. This year is very special, for me and for you, whether you choose to care or not. More special than awaiting a new console release or a long-anticipated game -- within a few months a brand new paradigm of entertainment finally comes to fruition. Of course, I'm talking about virtual reality. Call me whatever names you want, call me insanely optimistic, but it's undeniable that VR is one of the biggest fundamental changes to how humans consume media and interact with technology in a very long time, perhaps ever. The switch to smartphones or high definition displays wasn't as disruptive as this, and if I'm being completely honest I'm just excited to be around when it happens. Oculus, HTC, and Sony are tasked with bringing VR to the masses in 2016, and even through it might be a bit of a bumpy ride during the early years, it's safe to say that nothing is going to be the same again. That is what I'm looking forward to this year. If I had to name a few video games I'll definitely be purchasing and playing over the coming months, Persona 5 and Street Fighter V are absolutely on that list.  That reminds me, where the hell is Frog Fractions 2? As someone who can't stand to be let down, I often avoid letting myself get hyped over games, but there are still a few I'm looking forward to. As a huge Zelda fan I'm always looking forward to the next iteration(s), which this year will be both Hyrule Warriors Legends and the upcoming title for Wii U. Legends because of the ability to play as Linkle, while not exactly female Link she is probably the closest we will get. I just hope Linkle makes an appearance in the next home console-based title, be it on Wii U or the NX. Outside of Nintendo, I'm looking forward to Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2, as the original is easily one of the best and most original shooters in some time, certainly way better than Titanfall, which occupied around a week's worth of time before I went back to PvZ: GW.  Other games that I'm pretty pumped about that is probably flying under most people's radars is Gearbox's hero shooter, Battleborn, and Fable Legends, both of which I may or may not have played. All I can say is I'm looking forward to them because they look hella fun. Last but not least No Man's Sky, the sci-fi game so ambitious that I'm not sure it will be fun at all, but I have some hope. Surely a giant MMO-like space exploration game couldn't possibly fuck everything up could it? If it includes a bunch of dull survival or crafting elements then, in my opinion, yes it could. I've been hopelessly waiting for for XCOM 2 like a prom night date worried she's been stood up since I first heard about all the soldier customization options. As you might know if you've read what I thought about Enemy Unknown and Enemy Within, I take a particular delight in fashioning my squad of alien hunters to resemble my friends, family, and co-workers, and then watching them get massacred by Mutons and Sectopods. In my more reflective moments I worry there might be something really wrong with me. I'm also really looking forward to Street Fighter V. The closest I ever got to being competitive in a fighting game was Super Street Fighter IV with Vega, so I'm pretty excited that by most accounts he is going to be a serious threat in SFV and I plan to get in early and stick with the game this time. Maybe, possibly, if I wish upon a shooting start and practice till my fingers bleed, THIS will finally be the year and the game that I feel confident enough to enter a fighting game tournament.  Also, I may have to buy a Vita, in 2016, thanks to Gundam Vs Extreme Whatever. Sometimes I hate myself. When I was 18, I broke my wrist. Stubborn and still very much not an adult, I refused to go to the hospital. "It's just sprained," I insisted as my ability to use my right arm waned. This went on for eight months when my mother finally convinced me to get it fixed. I now have a two-inch crooked surgery scar to serve as a monument to my idiocy. That is to say, I'm not one to seek medical attention. For three years now, I've skirted Obama and have gone without health insurance. You may think of me as a god-fearing, law-abiding American but I am just the opposite. Steven's a family man; I'm a goddamn rebel. Quick parable: Before working at Destructoid, I was employed at a law firm. One day, I was working on a case with the firm owner when his property manager interrupted. She started talking to him about insurance on some vacation homes he was renting out. I told him verbatim "Insurance is for people who plan to lose." He looked the property manager in the eye and said "Yeah, insurance is for people who plan to lose." She left in a huff and I stifled a laugh about the absurdity of the situation. I bought health insurance this year. I plan to finally lose. That's what I'm anticipating most for 2016: Some sort of physical and emotional trauma, a pain or ailment so great that I can't just ignore it. Good tidings to you and yours, friends. -- New year, new me! What games are you looking forward to getting your slimy, suction-cupped hands on in 2016? This is the first time I’ve been able to look at the year ahead for Destructoid, and wow are there some exciting games coming out! The big one I’m looking forward to the most is Mirror’s Edge Catalyst. I love the original game, and have played it to death, but I was unsure of what I played of Catalyst at EGX. At the time, it was due to be released in February, but now that it’s been delayed to May I’m hopeful those extra few months of polish will do the world of good. Taking the original game’s fantastic movement and adding it into an open world with expanded lore is a recipe for greatness, so I really hope they pull it off. I’m also really excited for Mafia 3. Mafia 2 was pretty barebones as an open world game, but everything else about it was fantastic. Exploring a new criminal underworld in New Orleans sounds awesome to me, so I can’t wait to get my hands on it. Other games I’m pumped for are Street Fighter V, Dishonored 2, Horizon Zero Dawn, and Cuphead. There're so many other games coming out this year that I’m sure I’m forgetting a few as well!
2016 most anticipated photo
What to expect when you're expecting
While 2015 might have been a rathole of a year, a terrible time for all parties involved, it at least had better games than 2014. That year sucked. With the current generation of consoles finally hitting their stride (and a p...

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Rift reactions

Local man stunned to learn virtual reality requiring high end PCs is a niche luxury


To some, $600 is a lot of money
Jan 06
// Steven Hansen
Facebook-owned Oculus stopped playing coy today and announced the price and release date for its Oculus Rift "virtual reality" headset. At $600, the barrier to entry is steep, and that's if you already have a powerful persona...

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

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

amiibo photo
amiibo

amiibo as butt plugs, ranked


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

[NSFW] Top five floppy dongs in video games


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

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

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

GOTY 2015 photo
GOTY 2015

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


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

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

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

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

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

The best games of 2015 you didn't play

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

When is no advertising the best advertising?

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

Dtoid Designs photo
Dtoid Designs

Dtoid Designs: Mario at the Movies Challenge Winners


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

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

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

New Year photo
New Year

What are your New Year gaming resolutions for 2016?


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

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

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

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

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

The Haters Guide to GOTY Season

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

Hooray for Digital Hollywood?

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

The best new IPs of 2015

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

GOTY 2015: Best logo

Dec 16 // Brett Makedonski
Immutable as I am in that belief, one game this year had the most brilliant logo that I've seen in a long time. Maybe ever, honestly. Gross as it is to shine a light on these marketing efforts, it's an easier pill to swallow given that the logo might be the best thing about this game. Pat yourself on the back, 2K marketing team; Evolve had the best logo of 2015. At first glance, Evolve's logo is nothing to write home about. It's minimalistic in its presentation, nothing more than some squares, rectangles, and a modest font. Actually, if you didn't know anything about the game, it'd be easy to mistake it as a really dull and uninspired look. At least Fallout 4 sprung for a lightning bolt in the "o." So, let's get just a little backstory on Evolve. It's a four-versus-one asymmetric multiplayer game. A team of four players takes on one giant monster. That's what's happening in the logo -- four letters in small squares are pitted against the final "e" in Evolve, a letter that gets a rectangle as long as the first four boxes combined. That rogue "v" represents a legal system-style "versus," as if this should be the way all court cases are determined. It's tough to remember a video game logo that's so on-the-nose, yet so clever about it too. Usually, understatedness is left wanting. Dead Island has a palm tree so you know there's an island, Rage has an anarchy sign so you know that there's anarchy, and Sonic Boom boomed so hard that it cracked all the letters. These are not examples of good logos. Even though it's almost 2016, so many game logos are stuck in 1996. They are hellbent on having attitude (or, 'tude as the designers might say). It's why so many gleam of gun-metal gray or have electricity shooting from the letters. Whatever it takes to let you know that This Is One Of The Cool Video Games. It's the equivalent of box art with a man toting a gun slung over his shoulder looking slightly away from the camera. Evolve skirts that and it does everything right (well, as far as its logo is concerned, anyway). Instead, it's simple and elegant and functional and restrained. More simply put: Evolve's logo was not dumb while most other logos were very dumb.  It's not like the competition was any good, but Evolve ran away with the best logo of 2015. In a wasteland of bad video game logos, 2K and Turtle Rock created one worth looking at and one worth thinking about. The game's legacy probably won't last a whole lot longer, but hopefully its logo's legacy lasts for years to come.
Best logo photo
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Experience Points .28: Pokemon Red/Blue

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

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

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


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