HEY GUISE! With the arduous task of introductions out of the way I thought what better way to celebrate my new found venue of C-bloggery than to start a new series. SO HERE IT IS! Twelve Step! Its nothing special really, just a simple top ten countdown with a little more room. It will kinda be like Chad's top ten countdowns except AAAMMMAAAZZZING!!! okay. Why twelve? Well aside from being convenient its my favorite/lucky number. The other twelve steps are kind of icky so we be taking it back! Plus its the twelfth month of the twelfth year so WHY THE FUCK NOT? This particular edition is a countdown of my all time favorites. Ya good? Okay, lets get started!
Short disclaimer on number twelve. This is the only game on the list that I didn’t HAVE TO put on. There were a lot of games vying for this spot. STALKER, Donkey Kong Country 2, Resonance of Fate, Demon’s Souls, Super Mario World, KOTOR 1&2, Onimusha, Kingdom Hearts, The Warriors, even some newly acquired games yet to be beaten such as Vampire the Bloodlines Masquerade and Dark Souls were begging for placement. The latter being the first game in almost an entire decade to make me say “FUCK SLEEP” and just keep on playing long into the next day. All those games can fuck off for the time being though because Red Dead Redemption scratches a certain itch unlike any other.
-Best pause menu ever. How Rockstar didn't include this filter as an unlock is beyond me.
.12Red Dead Redemption
The great frontier is brought to life in this western epic. While the story and characters(sometimes even feeling akin to the works of Cormac McCarthy) are enjoyable, if not woefully underdeveloped. The world its self is the true star of the show. The wild plains span on forever into the blood red meridian. Littered with mountain forests, desert canyons, shrubs, cacti, tumbleweed, and most importantly inhabited by the various predators and prey of both man and beast.
Just riding around on horseback and taking in the scenery is my most ideal aspect of this title. Truly a beautiful game. Such beauty is perfectly punctuated by random events such as, shoot outs, robberies, or just the wild life its self. Either prancing by in seductive fashion or viciously striking out at you or a fellow pioneer. The animals really make this game what it is. I got this game when it first came out and like a lot of recent Rockstar titles I grinded through it fairly quick and felt underwhelmed afterword. After double dipping on the GOTY edition for a mere fifteen dollars I gotta say that this one is much better the second time on the saddle. I guess all the wild life had the invisible glitch my first time through because with the recent patches it couldn’t be any more abundant. Fuck the Cabela’s series, this right here is my go to hunting sim.
I love the commentary on morality in this title. There is no good or evil. Just the wicked and the wickedly fucked. Time after time I find myself rolling up on a confrontation in this game while hesitantly caressing my trigger in doubt of who just needs to meet their maker. Can’t end this without mention to the music. It simply just evokes that desert dwelling, whisky sippin kind of attitude that ties the whole thing together. Definitely Rockstar’s strongest open world outing yet and I haven’t even gotten around to touching the zombie stuff yet, NUFF SAYD.
This is probably the best Christmas gift I’ve ever gotten. While other kids around the world in 1998 were unwarping Ocarina of Time I was unwarping this long forgotten gem. I straight up squealed with joy and sprinted out of the room before my moms could even realize that my gramps just gifted me an M rated title, something that he was magnificently unaware of. This game was a fantastic tribute to the series. It managed to encapsulate almost everything great about the first two seasons of the show down to the very weapons. I mean come on, THIS GAME HAS A GUN THAT LAUNCHES FUCKING COWS AND BLINDS YOUR ENEMIES WITH THEM BY LANDING ON YOU ANUS FIRST!
Forget about the memorable bosses and respectively themed levels because the multiplayer(like most N64 titles) was the shit. Hours upon hours of fun were had duking it out in its 4 way death matches. Despite being able to select from a wide array of South Park characters such as Mr Mackey(MMMKay?), Starvin Marvin, Ike(this games version of Oddjob) , and many others, deciding on who got to play as Kenny always sparked heated debate. I wish this game would get a PSN/Xbox live release just so its MP could be enjoyed all over again. They might have to nerf the Terrance and Phillip dolls though. I was a motherfucker with those.
I’m not much of a Star Wars fan. I enjoyed the original trilogy as a kid but it’s the games that were the real event to me. I feel like a scum-fuck-maggot for not putting Dark Forces/Jedi Knight and Podracer on this list but BF2 does something simple yet profound.
I can’t think of a better game to be my first online multiplayer console experience. Battlefront 2 essentially takes an entire universe and then turns it into a digitized set of toy soldiers for you to step in the feet of and have at it. That’s really all I gotta say about this game to do it justice.
It’s fun. As fuck.
.9Resident Evil: Rebirth
This right here is the crown jewel of the series. I love me some tank controls and I’m glad this game kept true to its control scheme because it’s the best it’s ever been here. It should be written into the constitution of every existing nation that THIS IS HOW YOU DO A REMAKE. I don’t even want to talk about this game because I’ll never shut up, and we still got eight more games to go.
Why this exact formula hasn’t been ripped off and resold a million times over is a travesty. It is just so god damn beautiful. The two dimensional screens ooze life and achieve immersion in its most stylistic sense. The addition of Crimson Heads makes you wish that every single RE game had them. While this game does have story altering decisions in some of the cutscenes, it’s the choices of how you want to approach the mansions inhabitants that are truly game changing.
Seriously Capcom, this one is a winner.
Ahaaah-ah Ahaa-ah-uhaa Ahhaaaa-Ahhaaa Uhahaaa-Aha Uhaa-Ahhaaaah-Uhaa! That’s right, this game charms your pants off before even pressing start. If the Super Nintendo 2 was a thing this would be its best launch title/swan song. Pretty much anything that comes out of Vanillaware looks like Holmes’ cock. Their sprites and level design are straight up divine. I’m a stickler when it comes to passing up the sticks but I would gladly watch someone else play this to completion. It’s that good looking.
Don’t just judge this one by its pretty face though. It’s gameplay is superb. While Anthony Burch is too much of a pussy to hold the attack button to block I found the combat to be impressively intuitive for a 2d beat-em-up Rpg. Things never seem to get old either, as you’re constantly leveling up and earning new abilities to unleash on the masses. Did I mention this game has five playable protagonists? Pretty crazy right? Each character’s journey ties into the overall timeline of the story and while it may lead to some retreading of old territories it does a tremendous service to the narrative. What was once a sympathetic character is now a rival nemesis or vice-versa thanks to this type of story telling.
My only gripes are that in order to take on the final bosses you need to do a bit of grinding for each character. Also you have to pair each character with its respective boss, which is subtly foretold in the prophecy. If you don’t do so then ya miss out on the real ending like me.
Get it. Love it. Also preorder Dragons Crown while yer at it ;)
Another graphically gorgeous title for y’all. While VC1 may not be as meaty as its portable sequels in terms of gameplay it makes up and then some with its visual presentation. The Canvas engine is a sorely underused masterpiece that gave this game a sort of magna/water color painting come to life vibe. Its strategy/third person shooter elements make for some of the best Rpg gameplay I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing.
While it may look like a happy, light-hearted affair at first glance, Valkyria Chronicles does not shy away from portraying war in a mature manner and the social/racial prejudice that can stem from it. Yep, Valkyria Chronicles is a class act and the only fault I can give it is that there isn’t more of it. I found some of the decisions it made with its new game plus to be troubling but whatever. We’re lucky to even have this game let alone get a new game plus. Best new IP to come out this generation, hands down.
Everyone has a game that changed the way they saw the medium in a radical way, forever.
I didn’t even know what this game was when I bought it. The media shit-storm around it had yet to be sparked. Like me, the internet was starting to go through the troublesome tribulations of puberty, so I was completely unaware of this so called GTA. I was just eleven at the time and I was shuffling through the collection of games at my local electronics store. It was late in October and my moms said I could pick out a game for my bday which was just a few days off. I had almost come to the conclusion that Oni was the game best suited to my tastes at the time. That is until I overheard several twenty-somethings standing around a title doing nothing but excitedly blubbering praise at it. I cautiously waited for them to move away as I approached this mystery game of praise. Looking just at the cover, confusion came over me. I saw the simplistic colored tiles on the cover and thought to myself “the hell is this bingo shit”. Turning the game over revealed a snapshot of a man firing off a flamethrower and my confusion turned to unbridled enthusiasm as my eyes widened. Knowing nothing other than “FLAMETHROWERS” It was the biggest gamble I had ever made on a game purchase. Little did I know on that drive home that everything was about to change.
So there I was, a freed convict with my man 8-ball telling me to take the wheel. I drove to the end of that bridge expecting a wall of blinking arrows to keep me on the desired path. When I reached that crossroads my head literally exploded. Speechless as I slumped forward off the couch, mouth agape. “I CAN GO ANYWHERE?” … “DO ANYTHING?” my expectations were shot in the head and resurrected from the bloody guts and sinew as phoenix constructed of pure glitterized cocaine.
As much as I loved the missions and characters, they need not mentioning. I played this game religiously and doubt I’ll ever rack up as many hours as I did in Liberty City in any future game. The novelty of open worlds has long worn off but I refuse to hold any less reverence for this masterpiece because of it. Don’t agree? Then get your head straight son. What other game soundtrack has Sean Price AND O Mio Babbino Caro? NONE.
.5Final Fantasy X
Like another game on this countdown, Final Fantasy X receives a lot of unfair hate due to its main protagonist. Personally I found Tidus’ to be a refreshing character when compared to some of his predecessors. Instead of driving the whole “I’m chronically depressed and want to keep everyone away at arms length” act into the ground, Tidus actually embraced his fellow party members with bright-eyed enthusiasm. He wasn’t all about the shits and giggles mind you. His stoic reflections on the occurring events added a layer of introspective depth to his character. Far more enjoyable than the typical “Pfft, whatever” you’d get from a displaced Cloud or Squall.
While the rest of the Final Fantasy series certainly contains many exceptional characters, the partys as a whole usually feel a little uneven. X has the most well rounded cast of characters and it shows through the extended family dynamic that they embodied throughout their journey. You really got the sense that these characters cared for one another, making the story that much more engaging.
The setting of X is one of the more unique backdrops in Final Fantasy. Post-apocalypse worlds are a dime a dozen in videogames but in this one you actually start off with getting to witness the shit hit the fan. Finding yourself a thousand years in the future afterward added a nice fish out of water dynamic that made introducing the world of Spira to the player much more relevant. Spira drew inspiration from the tropical islands of south-east Asia and the end result is like no other.
While this may be the first FF that Nobuo Uematsu shared the role of composer on, the soundtrack definitely didn’t suffer from it. Personally I feel this game contains his greatest works. The chilling meledy of To Zanarkind is hands down my most favorite of his. From the sunny beaches of Besaid to the snowy mountain peaks of Gagazet the sound track never lets up.
I don’t think there is a single aspect of this title that I didn’t like. It’s commentary on religion and the afterlife are great examples of why story matters in games. While GTAIII may have kept my Ps2 powered on throughout the years, it was this game that made me LOVE my Ps2. It’s a shame that the FF series is obligated to constantly reinvent its combat system because the Conditional Turn-based Battle system was absolute perfection. Limit Breaks made a triumphant return as Overdrives and for the first time in the series you actually got to PLAY as the summons. How that feature alone doesn’t make this unanimously the best FF ever boggles my mind. ANIMA FO DA WIN BITCHES!
Really not much else to say other than that this is the best main series Final Fantasy(FACT …at least until I get around to playing VI anyways) and the best love story in any game I’ve played, something the industry shies away from all too often.
This game has a killer beginning. It sets up an epic series with murder and intrigue and does so in a fashion akin to something you would expect to see on the silver screen. Ironically I first experienced Shenmue 1 in movie form with the DVD that was included in the Xbox release of Shenmue 2. Having finally played both games I prefer to think of them as the same game since the first one doesn’t stand up as well on its own.
Had I been lucky enough to experience this series before GTAIII I’m sure my love for it would be even stronger. This game still felt groundbreaking to me though. It perfectly captured that overwhelming feeling of being lost in a foreign city. Yu Suzuki managed to turn tourism into a game mechanic and it’s like nothing else in the medium when experiencing for the first time.
It’s incredibly difficult to sum up just what made this game so special if you didn’t play it in its time. Everything just feels contextual. Weather it was just searching through cupboard drawers or playing Space Harrier in the arcade. Everything felt consistent in trying to create a living breathing world.
Unfortunately Shenmue’s ambition was its ultimate undoing. Its meta-like gameplay proved to be unappealing to the masses which it so desperately needed in order to justify its high costs. Shenmue 3 is a real thing, at least in concept, but we will probably have to wait even longer for it to ever come to fruition now that the once great SEGA is slowly sinking down the shitter.
This games story is a boomstick blast of “What the shit just happened?” to the face and I love it all the more because of it. Its philosophical themes are abundant and act as a reward/mindfuck for player accomplishment. It also has some nice commentary on US-Japan relations and the electorate that are still enjoyable even if you are completely lost. I think I know what it’s all about, but far from certain. After all, it is the obtuse presentation and unexplained mysteries that make this game so charming.
Personally I prefer to play this one via emulation. Not just because the graphics look insanely good with anti-aliasing, but because the original control scheme is a little too archaic for my liking. Once you get over the awkward bits the gameplay is actually very enjoyable which can’t be said for every Suda 51 game out there. Personally I find it to be very similar to some of the more puzzle focused Resident Evil games. Not a very surprising conclusion to come to since Shinji Mikami helped pen the story and overall had a general influence on the games production. I swear everything that guy touches turns to gold.
Killer 7 is one of a kind and I doubt we will see anything quite like it again. Capcom’s total disregard for the IP isn’t surprising and most will probably never know or care just what they are missing out on. If you haven’t played this one yet you need to change that. The laughs of Heaven Smiles justify the price of admission alone.
More than a decade has passed since this masterpiece dropped. I’ve yet to see another title come even close to creating a genuine society of characters that live out their own lives quite like Majora’s Mask did. Discovering new quests simply by stalking the town’s folk was an incredibly gratifying reward for exploration. It felt like there were actual hearts that beat to the tick-tocks of Clocktown.
Being limited to just three days sounds like the worst thing ever when on paper, but in practice it turned out to be a genius game mechanic. The ticking clock brought weight to your every action and was visually represented by the horrific grimacing face of the moon slowly hurling towards Termina.
The art style is mysterious, uninviting, and yet oddly beautiful. It is a world that beckons to be explored against your better judgment. While initially the main plot is just a simple fetch quest for one freakily fucked up mask. It unravels into a pilgrimage of healing. Unlike Hyrule, Termina appears to be cursed by the gods and it is up to Link to ease the suffering of the land.
Greif and healing is a constant theme in Majora’s Mask and when looking closely, each area you go to represents the five stages of recovery. Denial is embodied by the Clocktown villagers who on the first day laugh at such claims that the moon is falling, only to be found on the third day cowering with their heads beneath them begging for their lives. Anger consumes the forest and leads the Deku Kingdom to accuse the innocent of heinous crimes. Bargaining is exemplified by the already deceased Goron patriarck who begs you to resurrect him so that he can defeat the evil that has thrown his tribe into an icy slumber. The Great Bay exudes depression with its stagnant and lifeless waters that spit up the dying Mikau upon first arrival. After defeating the King of Ikana Valley, Igos Du Ikana, he comes to the realization that the reason his Kingdom was thrust into darkness is because he refused the acceptance of failure.
This game is simply greater than the sum of its parts and it’s something you’ll have to play to fully understand and appreciate. Sadly it is another unique experience that we may never have the privilege of experiencing again.
.1Sons of Liberty
In the current digitized world trivial information is accumulating every second, preserved in all its triteness. Never fading, always accessible. It will only slow down social progress, reduce the rate of evolution. What we propose to do is not control content, but to create context. The digital society furthers human flaws and selectively rewards development of convenient half-truths. Just look at the strange juxtapositions of morality around you. Billions spent on new weapons in order to humanely murder other humans. Rights of criminals are given more respect than the privacy of their victims. Although there are people suffering in poverty, huge donations are made to protect endangered species. Everyone grows up being told the same thing. Be nice to other people. But beat out the competition. “You’re special.” “Believe in yourself and you will succeed.” But it’s obvious from the start that only a few can succeed.
You exercise your right to “freedom” and this is the result. All rhetoric to avoid conflict and protect each other from hurt. The untested truths spun by different interests continue to churn and accumulate in the sandbox of political correctness and value systems. Everyone withdraws into their own small gated community, afraid of a lager form. They stay inside their little ponds, leaking whatever “truth” suits them into the growing cesspool of society at large. The different cardinal truths neither clash nor mesh. No one is invalidated, but nobody is right. Not even natural selection can take place here. The world is being engulfed in “truth.” And this is the way the world ends. Not with a bang, but a whimper. We’re trying to stop that from happening. It’s our responsibility as rulers. Just as in genetics, unnecessary information and memory must be filtered out, to stimulate the evolution of the species.
When you think about it, MGS fans are a lot like the Patriots AI, but even more so like Raiden. It’s almost like Kojima knew ahead of time what complaints fans would make on the risky choices he made in Sons of Liberty because at times Raiden almost reads like a parody of the disgruntled fans. The second Snake was taken away from them and their “truth” was broken. They immediately turned around and claimed that Kojima lacked the qualifications to exercise free will. Just like the Patriots, they claimed to know better and sought to rewrite someone else’s legacy.
“Building a legacy involves figuring out what is wanted, and what needs to be done for that goal. All of this you used to struggle with. Now, we think for you. We are your guardians fans after all.”
Sons of Liberty is more than just a game to me. It’s a piece of art. A testament to free will. A provocative experiment on the power of context. To an outsider this game can come off as pretentious psycho-philosophical babel, but to me it encapsulates everything great about MGS as a series and videogames as an art form. Like most truly exceptional experiences, I doubt we will ever see anything like it again. Sadly it is the popular notion that games need to conform to our needs and expectations, not the other way around. I can understand the hate this game gets. Even if most of its detractors end up sounding like whiney little bitches that could give Quinton Flynn a run for his money.
Where most games fail to seek ambition and simply just become a fun simulation of violence, Sons of Liberty triumphs. Its narrative is proof that this medium we call “videogames” has the potential to tell some of the greatest stories of our time. It is quite simply da best.
So there you have it folks! This wasn't nearly as fun as I thought it would be! Now I wana go off and write up twelve more blogs just to do these ones proper justice. What do ya think? Too long? Too short? Any of your personal favorites make the cut?