Pleased to enjoy this list of things I want. They are things. I would be happy if they were real things. Probably they are not.
...Yeah. I've not listed anything we know is coming at E3, nor anything too boring, that we just had or can obviously expect. And in a way this is my wishlist (for Nintendo 1st party/published stuff) for the whole of the Wii U's lifespan. And even then I think these range from wishful thinking to totally impossible. But think if they happened!
10. New Star Fox
I haven't played much Star Fox. I played the N64 game (on VC)... once. I didn't like the whole arcadey play-the-whole-game-in-one-sitting thing, and I don't think I actually beat it, but it was quite fun while it lasted. I think I've played the SNES original a little bit... and not cared. How were the Gamecube ones? Point is, this is a franchise that's skipped a generation, and that I think has a lot of untapped potential and there's room for it to make one hell of a comeback. I want a truly amazing Star Fox game.
9. 2014 Year of Waluigi
Waluigi is my favourite Mario character. Wario has two whole serieses. Luigi's been getting plenty of attention these days. Now it's about time Waluigi got his own game. I don't care what it is. Nintendo's take on the stealth genre? It literally doesn't matter.
8. Super Smash Bros. U includes Travis Touchdown
Super Smash Bros. is to my mind the best party game, hands down, and it's definitely the confirmed thing I'm most excited just to actually see. But my number one wish for it is to include Travis Touchdown as a playable character. Suda's expressed his interest in this. And his existing moveset in his own games already translates perfectly to Smash Bros.
7. Earthbound Bundle
This is already speculated to be coming for the Wii U. I'd love this. Both Earthbound and Mother 3 are games I've tried to play on emulator but I've not gotten far in either. Being able to play them in an official capacity on the gamepad however, may be the motivation I need to really get into these games. We already know Earthbound is coming to Virtual Console, but a Mother 3 release would be more important, and I'd love to be there for some kind of series-celebrating physical special-edition release or something.
6. Battalion Wars/Endless Ocean 3
Though these series have little to do with one another, Battalion Wars 2 and Endless Ocean are both Wii games I got really into way back in 2007, and though they're often forgotten about nowadays, I think they're both ideal for the Wii U. I think the control possibilities for Battalion Wars on the gamepad are limitless, and I think Endless Ocean, more than just about any game I can think of, would benefit from HD photorealistic graphics.
5. Real-time 3D Pokémon Red Remake
This is a pipe dream I've had probably since forever. I want a fully-3D open-world Pokémon game. One in which for battles you control Pokémon in 3D space in real time and use the environment the way Pokémon do in the show. It would be a ridiculous undertaking for Nintendo, having to animate all those Pokémon... but I only really want the first 151 to be in it anyhow. Yeah, this would be higher up if I thought there was even a slight chance of it happening.
4. Skip Ltd. Bundle
I mentioned this in my last blog, how happy I would be if Nintendo localized New Play Control Chibi-Robo and Captain Rainbow and threw them out there, together in a bundle. I don't even care if they're up-resed for the Wii U. I just want to play these games.
3. Gamecube Games on VC, includes Cubivore
Okay, GC on VC is something that needs to happen. Hell, Sony's already got PS2 games on the PS3; there's no reason Nintendo can't keep up the two-generations-behind thing with its Virtual Console library. But more than the usual suspects on VC – Mario Sunshine, Melee, and all that – I wanna see some of the weirder games I missed out on, like Cubivore, Odama, Viewtiful Joe... and imports! The cancelled-last-minute localization of GiFTPiA, if it's not already included in the Skip bundle!
2. New Miyamoto IP
This is what Nintendo desperately needs – a new IP from Miyamoto, like we haven't had since Pikmin. Of course we know the idea for Pikmin came to Miyamoto as he'd recently taken up gardening. What's Miyamoto been up to lately that he can turn into the next brilliant game concept? He's getting older. Maybe an adventure game where your character is constantly and rapidly aging. As his abilities and agility decrease, he has to accomplish tasks to get something to reset his aging before he expires. Heh, a cartoonified Ubik. I'd play that. I would very much play that.
1. Wave Race 3
Remembering Wave Race exists (and having no one IRL to yell at about how much I want a new one) inspired this blog post. Wave Race is the greatest of all racing games. It's been 12 years since the last one. This series needs to come back. Please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please.
When I think back to my time with Little King's Story, one of my favourite games of all time and to my mind surely the best original game of the console generation, I feel something like heartbreak. There is some kind of beautiful innocence to the presentation of that game, and my mind wanders to the positively stunning final level and very final cutscene in the game; I can't say any more for fear of spoiling it, but it is something nobody talks about, despite how deeply it's ingrained itself in my subconscious, like only a sparse few such sequences in games ever do. Equally heartbreaking is it to think of the game's poor performance, and that the main mind behind Little King's Story, Yoshiro 'miserable Japanese guy' Kimura hasn't been able to get another project off the ground.
The latter article has put Kimura back on my mind. I'd totally forgotten his PS2 title Chulip, was announced for PSN. It's apparently been on there for several months now. I've started playing it. I immediately fell in love with the game. There are so many good things in this game; it would take me an hour to explain! That said, the more I play it, the more its gameplay has proven an obstacle in my enjoyment. There's a complete game walkthrough in the software manual which has unfortunately proven entirely necessary, the game is too slow going, I get game over way too often, poopie causes way too much heartbreak... er, yeah, I'm not going to try to explain that one. But despite all these issues, I keep coming back to the game, and I must see it through. It's hilarious, and ferociously unique, and on some other mysterious level, it resonates with me, in a similar way to Little King's Story. It's nowhere near the same level as Little King's Story, and for the record, I think Little King's Story has incredible gameplay to match its presentation, but Chulip is nonetheless evidence of a major talent. One which deserved the resources to reach its true potential in Little King's Story, and one which deserves the resources to make even more games.
Finally playing another game by Kimura has once again reminded me of this Neogaf post I saw some time after playing Little King's Story, which has stuck with me. It is about Moon: Remix RPG Adventure, an untranslated Japanese PS1 game, which seems to be considered by many of those who've been able to play it as one of the greatest games ever made. It would seem that Kimura, back then, was part of a dream team known as 'Love-de-Lic', supposedly at the height of their creativity. That none of their games have made it out of Japan seems almost criminal.
With Kimura and Love-de-Lic on my mind, I've been trying to look into it more to find out exactly where the Moon guys have ended up, what games they've been involved in. It seems the three men most instrumental in that game's making are Kimura, Taro Kudou, and most of all, Love-de-Lic founder Kenichi Nishi.
First off, Kimura, we know, made Chulip and Little King's Story. After Love-de-Lic broke up, he formed his own studio, 'Punchline', which only made two games: Chulip, and the localized albeit very rare PS2 survival-horror title Rule of Rose, which I believe Kimura was heavily involved in but not the main mind behind. He then worked with Cing/TownFactory on Little King's Story, and since has worked briefly at Grasshopper and elsewhere, but hasn't been quite at the helm of another project, that I know of.
Taro Kudou meanwhile formed his own studio along with fellow Love-de-Lic guy Kazuyuki Kurashima called 'Vanpool', which've done a lot of things for Nintendo. Kudou, it turns out, was the guy behind Freshly Picked Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland, which I so wish had made it past Europe. But his first and perhaps most interesting game there, the one selected by the aforementioned Neogaffer as the second best LdL game, Endonesia, is confined to Japan.
Finally, Kenichi Nishi seems to have had the biggest career since Love-de-Lic, but also the most frustratingly unlocalized. He formed the studio 'Skip Ltd.', which've grown and made all sorts of things. But three games in particular were headed by Nishi, the only one to make it outside of Japan being Chibi-Robo. Chibi-Robo! How I want to play this game. But it's kinda rare now. I saw it in an EB Games once, a couple years back, prominently displayed. I was tempted and so wish I'd bought it, but it was $30 which seemed really high for a used Gamecube game, and at the time I still thought there was hope that the New Play Control version would get localized. But it never did. Anyhow, the other two include the Gamecube adventure title GiFTPiA, and, what's long been my most wanted unlocalized Wii game, Captain Rainbow. Anyway, Nishi has since formed another studio called 'Route24', and has made weird stuff like LOL on the DS, and some iOS games or something. Apparently he wants to do a Moon: Remix RPG Adventure sequel.
Point is, these are some of the most talented game developers in Japan, and it's incredibly disheartening that their games are so underrepresented outside their home country. For a minute I imagined Nintendo announcing a bundle with New Play Control Chibi-Robo and Captain Rainbow (and GiFTPiA for good measure why not), and now I'm so depressed I want to cry, because of how badly that's so not going to happen. Games don't have their Criterion Collection, someone to pluck them from obscurity and translate and rerelease them; it's too much work and there's not enough interest. It's awful, but it seems the time has passed on Love-de-Lic's games, unless I'm to learn Japanese...
...That's not entirely true. Moon: Remix RPG Adventure, the "greatest game yet made", has a fan translation underway. If there's one thing I hope someone takes away from this blog... it's to be as excited for this project as I am.
Back in mid-2010 when Monster Hunter Tri came out on the Wii, I was conflicted about whether or not I wanted to buy it. I’d been intending to try the series – it and Dragon Quest these two series that were popular in Japan and not so in the West, I was curious about, and were getting new acclaimed instalments around the same time as one another. But I didn’t take too fondly to Dragon Quest IX and subsequently decided against Monster Hunter. I chickened out at the last minute at the idea of its hardcore difficulty (my being someone who generally plays games on the easy setting), and at the idea that I can just lose a 50-minute fight and not accomplish anything (this is why I stopped playing Advance Wars).
But I’ve still been curious about the series. I thought maybe I’d consider Monster Hunter 4 when that comes out, but seeing as I prefer console games, and I’d like an excuse to use my WiiU, I decided by and by that I should try 3 Ultimate. And liable as I was to chickening out again, the timing was right, and I ended up picking it up, not knowing what I was getting myself into. I popped it in for the first time about 8pm Saturday night, intending just to play for a couple hours at most, and then watch a movie and go to bed. At about 4am I forced myself to quit. I love this game. (Incidentally, I’d just got done playing the very Dragon Quest-like Ni No Kuni, and loved that as well. I suppose this is weird Japanese popular games series 2010 games redux year. I’ll work on that title.)
I haven’t been this addicted to a videogame since Skyrim. I played Monster Hunter most of last weekend, when I could in the evenings this week, and now that it’s the long weekend I want nothing more than to play it some more. …Although my stupid brother’s playing Lego City Undercover at the moment – needless to say my WiiU, which I haven’t had anything to play on for the past two months, has gotten more game-time this week than I’m sure it has in all the time since I bought it on launch day.
Anywho, the community for Monster Hunter is awesome and super-supportive. Whenever I’d comment on some article about how I’m a little intimidated about the game, I’d get replies from series fans encouraging me to give it a go. And now in the game people have been really helpful in initiating me into it. I met my first Monster Hunter friend day one! Also most people use text and keyboard as opposed to the mic (or don’t mind people using keyboard), which is more my thing. So I like that.
But anyhow, I wanted to do my part now in addressing some of my anxieties about the game and encouraging other people to play. The game is not that difficult. Don’t get me wrong, it takes practice, and it can be very hard, but online, it all depends on who’s with you. With three other high-level players, an intimidating monster can be a walk in the park; I can pretty much just focus on staying alive, while they do most of the work. With only 3 in a party, and all on the same level as you, a tough boss fight can be a lot harder, and I have lost a fight after 50 minutes, but so what? I’ve now fought that same monster half a dozen times and it’s not gotten boring. When you’re playing Monster Hunter, an hour feels like no time at all; it’s so fun, and I feel like I’m constantly learning new things about the game and tightening my grasp on what all it has to offer.
The game is not inaccessibly challenging, but my god can those monsters be scary, and so much fun to fight. My first fight against a big monster, a badgery-looking bear, with only my soon to be first Monster Hunter friend, was something darn special. Now I’ve still only unlocked the second difficulty level/set of quests and I suspect the game will become much, much more challenging still. But it’s a challenge I’m looking forward to, and expect I’ll be ready for. Catching up on single-player quests has been a walk in the park after the big monsters in the multi-player. And I haven’t mentioned all the other stuff: I’ve figured out how to use my farm to get me plenty of the ingredients I need to make health potions, so I no longer have to forage for them; I’ve just forged a badass new electric sword (stubbornly insisting on only using the Longswords with the samurai aesthetic)… I could go on forever with this stuff.
But in sum: this is a ludicrously addictive and enjoyable game, like nothing I’ve played before. If you have a WiiU, I can’t recommend any game more highly for the system. If you’re on the fence like I was: without hesitation I say go for it!
Now I wonder how many months before I stop playing this finally. I really wanna try Lego City Undercover…
Well, with the retail version of The Walking Dead game sold out everywhere, I’m losing my conviction that despite my disinterest in the show and comics and the game itself until it started winning game of the year awards left and right, I need to play it. And with the WiiWare version of Retro City Rampage still not out, I’m thinking of giving up on waiting for that to come out before creating a best of 2012 list (technically it will be a 2013 release, after all).
So let’s do this! Here it is, my best of 2012 list! I’m doing it a bit differently than I have in past years because honestly there weren’t enough outstanding games to fill a top 10 list as sufficiently as I have the last four years. Don’t get me wrong, there were a lot of great games, but many were smaller games that didn’t occupy my time as fully, and that ultimately didn’t prove especially memorable. It may be my fault, perhaps lately I’ve been too choosy about what I play – Sleeping Dogs for example is a game I came close to playing and in past years may have, but I changed my mind last minute (same thing with The Walking Dead). Just know that I’m not complaining. After all, what I will probably remember 2012 best for (gaming-wise) is finally getting a chance to finish Majora’s Mask.
So what I’m going to do instead of a top-10 list, is just to highlight three games that I thought were truly outstanding. For a point of reference compared to my 2011 list, I don’t think any of these games are quite as good as my top 3 of that year, but they’d fit in somewhere between those three and my #4 game that year. Whereas no other game of 2012 did I like quite as much as my #10 game on that list. In short, these three games are what I consider the true must-plays of 2012.
In order of release date… and alphabetical order… and, uh, also in order of scale I guess… and obscurity…
I only played Journey once. It was two hours long and I finished it in a single sitting. When I finished, despite how early into the year I played it, I said to myself, with the same conviction as I did Ghost Trick in 2011: This will be my game of the year.
When I started playing it, I had sort of forgotten that you meet other players but can’t communicate with them, and the possibilities of this mechanic had never dawned on me. When I first noticed another character, jumping around the level, it was a magical moment – I immediately got it. And as I followed this mysterious person around the level and he followed me around, and we helped each other find secrets, without actually talking to one another. The bond I felt with this other character, just in this one level, was so strong and so unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before, and immediately I was in love with the game. Over the next two hours, I lost track of partners and other ones showed up, but still I was able to bond with them in this way, and it was truly magical.
The game is drop-dead gorgeous, visually; the music is incredible, and the set-pieces, if I can even call them that, are truly spectacular and one-of-a-kind. Journey was quite a journey. And yet, Journey is not lasting art. It was two hours and I hesitate to play it again for fear that the magic of my first play-through will be diminished on a second go. Eventually, it will get to the point where everyone you play with online knows how to do everything, is just trying to accomplish specific goals, is disinterested in the other player, and that original magic will be lost (before the online community disappears altogether). I’ll have to replay it before that point. I fear it might already be like that, that Journey is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and will never be the same as it was in 2012. But if that may be the case, I’m just glad I was there.
THE LAST STORY
Xenoblade Chronicles impressed me in a lot of ways, with its scale and its world and its energy, and it’s the game I put the most time into this year, but there was so much I didn’t like about it. That game pretty much devolved into spending hours upon hours running across enormous fields hitting every enemy along the way with your sword to gain the necessary experience to challenge the next boss. It’s probably the most ludicrously time-wasting game I’ve ever played; don’t even get me started on the inanity of spending hours in menus to equip the right equipment, gem crafting, or sidequests that are completed by running all over gargantuan levels until a little red ‘x’ appears on your radar. With this in mind, I was pretty trepidatious going into The Last Story, expecting something like Xenoblade Chronicles but not as worthwhile.
Instead, with The Last Story, I got one of (if not) the most enjoyable and brilliantly paced JRPGs I’ve ever experienced. And it makes Xenoblade Chronicles’ excess of filler seem all the more offensive by comparison. Of course, most people seem to like Xenoblade Chronicles more, and I can understand that. The Last Story has much less depth, it is only a little over 20 hours long. The two games are ultimately for pretty different audiences. But for people like me… The Last Story is an action-RPG, and that means something. This game has an auto-equip button, that lets the computer decide who gets what equipment. Yes, this is the JRPG for people like me. No fiddling around in menus. No grinding. Oh yes.
I find The Last Story has much more depth in terms of the range of approaches to combat. The combat is also more enjoyable; I really feel like I’m controlling everything my character does, but the combat system is also unique, in effective ways that add strategy to the game. The bosses are awesome. The music is great. And I ultimately became quite endeared to the characters. And I already said this, but I can’t help saying it again: the pacing is so great! This is a total class gaming experience. Read more in this blog I did about it.
WAY OF THE SAMURAI 4
Way of the fucking Samurai 4, oh my god I love this game. Why oh why did no one tell me about this series when I did my blog about how I wished there was an open-world samurai game? Sure it’s not exactly the Red Dead Redemption of the samurai genre, but in its own, incredibly silly way, it’s almost as good. This is a game where you can run up to the local magistrate and call them “stupidheads”, beat up old ladies within an inch of their lives and then recruit them into your dojo to train and fight for you, and seduce random women (or old ladies) with lines like “You have a nice, firm ass”. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.
When I first started playing, I thought perhaps this game was so little-known for a good reason. The ugly graphics and screen-tearing, and the repetitious clanging of the swords in the background into my headphones while I was reading tutorials was giving me a headache, and I was discouraged by the initial lack of clothing options (I opted for nearly naked over the ugly kimono). But then I clicked something to surrender a battle and suddenly I was tied up on a trolley track engaging in this ludicrous dialogue with a man to help save me, which I liked. And then it was late at night and I really wanted to save and quit and I couldn’t figure out how to save and then I went up to a guy with a camera, who could save my game by taking a photo, and his explanation for saving and the subsequent dialogue choices were amazing. And then he was getting ready to take the photo when suddenly he got hit by the trolley and died. And I was incredibly amused and annoyed.
Anyway, it took me a while and some research to understand and get used to the game’s structure – this is a game you must play through multiple times to get anything out of – on subsequent play-throughs you can side with different factions and get different endings, and, crucially, everything you did on your first play-through is saved. It’s really interesting, and back when it first came out, and Destructoid wasn’t really covering it much, I was planning to do a review of it in my blog until Josh Tolentino finally wrote a great review of it, highlighting that the game’s weakness is in its failure to communicate its strengths, and it takes effort from the player to get into. But gosh, that effort is rewarded tenfold in silliness. I ultimately played this game over 30 hours, and I have so many good memories, from recruiting geisha to my dojo, to opening the language school so I could understand English, to lowering my crime rate so the stores would stock more clothes, to going fishing inside a bucket (and catching the ‘legendary fish’ in there, no less), to completing ludicrous sidequests for the local vagabonds, to playing as an old man dressed in cat ears and cat paws who specializes in martial arts and performing the hilariously creepy sex mini-game. To following the path to the true ending, which, as stupid as the story of this game is most of the time, is actually kind of cool. No, it’s not a serious triple-A samurai open-world game (and you might need to visit its GameFAQs page a bit), but if you like somewhat unpolished open-world comedy games, like, say, Deadly Premonition… this was perhaps my favourite game of 2012.
2012 was one of the weaker years for gaming, for me, in recent memory. There was nothing I played that came close to my top three of 2011. Most of the most worthwhile games of last year were short, downloadable games; there was little in the realm of full retail type experiences that I could get anywhere near as immersed in as the likes of Skyward Sword and Skyrim. Anyway, I still need to play The Walking Dead, to find out what the fuss is about on that one, and Retro City Rampage, when it finally comes to Wiiware, before I finalize any kind of personal 'best of 2012' list (maybe I'll count the latter as a 2013 game). But for now, a most anticipated of 2013 list! If some of the games on this list pan out (not to mention, some of the games not on this list, like Killer is Dead), I see 2013 being quite a bit stronger a year than '012...
10. Fantasy Life (3DS - TBA)
This is a game that hasn't been announced for a release outside of Japan – it just came out in Japan like a week ago after like three years of development – but my fingers are crossed for it. It's a JRPG, but you don't play as a hero, rather, a peasant. There are tons of different occupations you can choose and I'm seriously enraptured by the idea of playing an RPG as a postman. The game looks to capture the simulation game addictiveness and delightfulness of stuff like Animal Crossing and Harvest Moon, and I have high hopes for it.
9. Grand Theft Auto 5 (PS3 - Q2)
I laud Rockstar for taking their immense talent and resources to original settings in riskier games like Red Dead Redemption and L.A. Noire, these last few years, the former being, I think, their best game. But I'm ready for a new GTA now. And they've earned their right to make one. It's been enough time that the game can be a true sequel, not just a new iteration. I had some problems with GTA IV, but I look forward to this new game blowing that one away.
8. Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon (3DS - Spring)
I haven't gotten much use out of my 3DS lately. Why hasn't this come out yet? Since the launch of the 3DS, I've seen this as perhaps Nintendo's biggest first-party title - or at least the most intriguing, since I never played the original Luigi's Mansion, and am interested to see what the green brother's personal series is all about.
7. LEGO City Undercover (WiiU - Q1)
This looks like easily the best LEGO game in years, if not ever. It's not a franchise cash-in, it's its own thing, and it looks awesome. It appears to be a true open-world game – a silly GTA clone, in the tradition of The Simpson's Hit & Run, and I'm frankly more excited for it than the actual new GTA game.
6. Animal Crossing: New Leaf (3DS - Q1/Q2)
It's been many years now since my addiction to Animal Crossing on the DS finally wore off. But now, as I've seen more and more of the new game, I'm starting to feel it again... the craving. Yes, I see myself playing this every day again. And now, I'll have even more motivation to keep with it, since my brother (who played the Wii version until the disc broke) will no doubt get his own copy of the game. Aaarg, I really hope I don't get to that point again where the game just devolves into me logging in every day to spend twenty minutes picking and selling all the fruits that have regrown on my trees...
5. Rayman Legends (WiiU - February 26)
This was to be my big launch title for the WiiU, before it got delayed. Having played a little bit of New Super Mario Bros. U, and the Rayman Legends Demo – Rayman Legends is just so much better. This is the WiiU platformer to be; this is the WiiU game to play with friends. This game is where the fun and creativity is.
4. The Wonderful 101 (WiiU - "Launch Window")
This is a game where you draw circles around unemployed Superheroes to recruit them to form together into a giant fist and punch robots. Yes. This game for me represents the next generation of the kind of unique niche Wii games that made that system so special. The gameplay is immediately intriguing to me, being another new take on the Pikmin style of gameplay that's made for some of my very favourite games. Yeah, this is definitely one of my most anticipated WiiU games.
3. The Last Guardian (PS3 - TBA)
Okay okay, The Last Guardian has been at the top of my most anticipated games lists every year since 2010. So it's getting difficult to include it with a straight face. But c'mon! It's gotta come out this year, right?!
2. Pikmin 3 (WiiU - Launch Window)
This is Nintendo's one big triple-A WiiU game, and it's the long-awaited next instalment in one of their best and most under-loved franchises. The Pikmin games are soo fucking good. I am enormously excited for this game – it is certain to be incredible. And what better way to establish Nintendo's first foray into HD gaming – this game will look glorious.
1. Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (PS3 - January 22)
I debated the order of these top three choices. But, despite some trepidation regarding the turn-based combat and possible grinding that's why I'm not often a big JRPG fan, I'm giving Ni No Kuni the top spot. I mean, the game looks deep and unbelievably beautiful, and I can see myself being absorbed into its world the way only a few of my very favourite games have ever accomplished. The fact that Studio Ghibli is behind this project lends credence to this possibility – the worlds of their films are charming and endearing and beautiful. And seeing these worlds through their films is great, but I'm getting this feeling, that that will pale in comparison to the experience of actually being in one of their worlds. ...And it's coming this month!