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ShadeOfLight's blog

It's not the size that matters: My first Con + Walking Dead Season 2 Giveaway!
6:12 AM on 07.10.2014
Because MARIO KART: 5 New Tracks I'm Excited About!
8:00 AM on 06.06.2014
Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright review: "That reminds me of an OBJECTION!"
4:02 PM on 04.09.2014
NVGR: Shade is coming to the States! (and I'd love to come say hi)
3:34 PM on 02.25.2014
Shade's 2013 GOTY award winners! (are all Mario)
7:02 PM on 12.20.2013
Contest WINNER: Congratulations to...oh dear...YOU?!
3:30 AM on 11.09.2013





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About


On the wings of death, by the hands of doom;
By the darkest light from the darkest moon;
On the wings of life, by the hands of hope;
By the brightest light from the brightest sun.

And vice versa.

I'm ShadeOfLight.
I'm a Dutch law student who loves to play the vidya. I'm a Nintendo-fanboy at heart, but I don't feel that I'm blinded by that, at least not very often. I am also currently on the Cblog Recaps team for Thursdays, so if for some voyeuristic reason you want to know more about me, check out my weekly Shadeisms.

I'm obsessed with the Monolith Soft RPGs Xenoblade Chronicles and the Baten Kaitos series. I will not pass up the opportunity to mention them, ever, and I consider myself Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean's biggest fan. Finally, as is to be expected I'm super excited for the new WiiU "Xeno-" game!



The Wii is one of my favorite systems of all time, and my favorite games on this system include, but are most certainly not limited to;
Xenoblade Chronicles (see also: Baten Kaitos - Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean for GC)
Zelda: Twilight Princess / Skyward Sword
Smash Bros.
Super Mario Galaxy 2
Madworld
Muramasa - The Demon Blade
Wario Land: Shake it!
Sonic Colors
and Metroid Prime Trilogy.

I love my WiiU as well, and even though the library still needs expanding, I had tons of fun with:
New Super Mario Bros. U
Darksiders II
Mighty Switch Force: Hyper Drive Edition
Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD
Pikmin 3
Super Mario 3D World
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
Mario Kart 8

Apart from Nintendo, I'm a huge indie game enthousiast. Give me a game like Trine, VVVVVV, Sequence or Recettear, and you've made me a happy camper for sure. You can keep your shooters to yourself.

Favorite indie game round-up:
Trine (+ Trine 2)
Super Meat Boy
The Binding of Isaac
Antichamber
Dungeons of Dredmor
Thomas Was Alone
Mark of the Ninja
VVVVVV
Sequence
Cthulhu Saves the World
Recettear - An Item Shop's Tale
Bastion
To The Moon
Cave Story
LIMBO
FLY'N
Dustforce
Orcs Must Die! 2
Primordia
Machinarium
Botanicula
The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom
and many, many more!

Besides gaming itself, I like reading up on gaming-related news on my favorite website in the whole wide world: Destructoid. I love all the people here, and I'm glad that I get to be a part of this. Wouldn't know what to do without you!
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Yesterday I had to spend almost the entire day on the train, so I figured I might as well do something productive with my time and get a head start on this week's recaps. This week was pretty special for me, so there would be plenty to talk about. However, as I was working the feeling crept up that I might as well blog about this. And since I have something to give away too, I want to make sure people take notice. Besides, since I'm posting this on my own Recaps day, that's at least one more blog to make the whole thing seem a little less barren. Because I'm smart like that.

So what's this all about? Well, last Sunday I went to a gamer's convention for the first time ever. That probably isn't too special for you guys across the pond, but I didn't know we even HAD Cons in the Netherlands, so for me it was quite the pleasant surprise! The thing was called EpiCon (kinda lame, but what can you do?) and it was mostly for gamers but with a little fantasy stuff and zombies thrown in. It was not very large at all, but despite being a relatively smalltime event the organization had managed to use the available space efficiently, so there was still plenty to do. The Netherlands is a tiny country, so a huge event isn't exactly to be expected anyway.

Besides, it's not the size that matters, it's how you use it.



The event would surely pale in comparison to what other people might be used to, but I had a lot of fun regardless.

For one, I got to play a bunch of upcoming games, including a demo for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! That was one of the highlights for me, because it's looking to be a great game. I got to play as the Enforcer class, who can summon two drones to help him out: Wolf for offense and Saint for healing. And by "can summon" I basically mean I had them out at all times. I really like classes with pets in RPGs so this one suited me just fine. Wolf and Saint certainly don't have the same "sawblade with wings" quality that Bloodwing had, but they serve their purpose well. I also got to check out the gravity mechanic and the limited oxygen. Basically, you can jump really high and cannonball back to the ground to do decent damage to anything near the impact site. It's pretty fun, and it definitely helps if you get swarmed by enemies. Finally, while we were running around killing dudes, we received instructions from a cockney kid called Pickles, who I swear is voiced by Luke Triton from Professor Layton. It's not just that his voice is the same; he talks exactly like Luke, except with more swears. Hearing normally well-behaved and gentlemanly Luke swear got a few chuckles out of me, that's for sure. The Borderlands demo wasn't very long (although I could swear everyone in front of me in line took at least twice as long as I did), but overall I was down with the low gravity and my class. Looking forward to the full game!



There was also a booth to play Evolve, but the line was so damn long it wasn't worth it. Instead I played a little bit of Mortal Kombat X (which is Mortal Kombat, but now with X) and some indie games by up-and-coming Dutch developers. I saw a shmup inspired by Geometry Wars, another shmup that let you switch between two different locations on the fly, and a very slow Zen game where you control a group of adorable floating creatures who you can split up in two groups (after which you control them with the two control sticks, like in Two Brothers) to solve puzzles. Not the most impressive games around I guess, but they seemed worth my time when they eventually get released. I do love shmups, after all. Some of them are on Steam Greenlight already, so keep an eye out! Already established Dutch devs were also present to talk about their games and the development process at large, like Abbey Games (Reus). No Vlambeer though, unfortunately. Would've loved to meet those guys.

Finally, some eSports were hosted, so I took some time to watch the Starcraft 2 finals. I know buggerall about Starcraft, but the matches were pretty fun to watch and decently easy to follow. Ignite vs. uThermal, if anyone knows those names. Afterwards some Hearthstone matches were hosted, but I know even less about Hearthstone than Starcraft, so I didn't stick around to watch those.

Overall, I enjoyed myself at the game stands for quite some time, even though the choices were pretty limited. I didn't even have to make use of the big lounge area they had set up, because I was kept occupied at all times. It's a shame there was no chance to play upcoming WiiU games or something, but in the Netherlands you take what you can get.



Apart from games, there was a stand where you could buy replicas of all sorts of video game, fantasy and anime swords. They had Sting and Orcrist, Kratos' Chaos Blades, Keyblades, and lots and lots of others. I was THIS fucking close to buying a Master Sword, but my friend dragged me away before it was too late. I did manage to get the seller's card, so who knows! I'd love to own a Master Sword, you have no idea. There was other swag as well at different stand, but most of it wasn't really for me. I eyed an Attack on Titan shirt for a while, as well as Thorin's key, but ultimately left with only a new GameCube controller to show for it (gotta prepare for dat Smash Bros!). That fucking Master Sword though. Goddamn. It wasn't even that expensive either.



One other thing they had was a large set where people were LARPing some Game of Thrones, including the throne and everything. It was a little silly, but everyone involved was having a good time. Besides, you could get your picture taken on the Throne, which even as a non-fan I just couldn't pass up.

Speaking of pictures, there were a lot more cosplayers around than I expected! I honestly didn't think we had it in us, but I guess the Dutch are a little more creative than you'd think. I saw lots of Star Wars people, a Lightning, Chell, Link and Zelda, two or three Lara Croft, Catwoman (Tim Burton version) some folks from League of Legends, Elizabeth, a couple of female Assassins (I wanted to tell them that they shouldn't exist because they're too difficult and too expensive, but I contained myself) and a bunch of others. I told myself in advance that I wouldn't bug every cosplayer for their picture, but that was pretty difficult to hold myself to. At one point I saw a Nazgűl wandering around and I couldn't keep myself anymore. So now I have photographic evidence that I was stabbed by a Nazgűl. That's a win in my book!





- After which he offended Fantasy puritans everywhere by sitting on the Iron Throne

All in all, I had a terrific day. The atmosphere at EpiCon was MUCH better than expected. You see, I have a terrible image of Dutch gamers, Dtoid members excluded. Our one gaming magazine is almost entirely geared towards shooters and sports, with hardly any Nintendo love, let alone indies. It often seems like the new Call of Duty and the new FIFA are the only games that matter, while Shovel Knight can go fuck itself. Dutch gaming forums aren't much better either. As such I was worried that the whole Con thing would be swarmed by dude-bro gamers who don't know their Zelda from their Link, which wasn't helped by calling the thing "EpiCon" and devoting a good chuck of attention to Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead. Fortunately, my worries were unfounded. Apparently there are many more "real" gamers in the Netherlands than I gave them credit for. The people there, most of them my age so early 20s, were genuinely excited for the eSports, gave the indie devs the attention they deserve, weren't above lounging somewhere to play some Pokémon on 3DS, absolutely fucking REVELED in the swords and other swag, and all in all seemed like the kind of people I don't know nearly enough of. Props to all of you! Thanks!



GIVEAWAY TIME
Ah yes, but I promised to give something away, didn't I? Well, upon entrance to the Con everyone received a Steam code for a Season Pass of The Walking Dead Season 2. As I understand it, this will net you all the Episodes already out, as well as giving you the new ones once they release. Now I haven't even played Season 1 yet, so I might as well give this away! Checking the store page for this game, I see that I already have three Dtoid peeps who want this game in my Friends List; you are automatically entered! Everyone else can just leave a comment here saying that you want in. No hooks or challenges or whatever (although I guess you can if you really want to), just ask. I'll collect all the entries next Monday and draw a winner!

Raffle is over, Sir Davies won!
Photo Photo Photo








Remember when we did "Because VIDEOGAMES" (here), when we all took a moment out of our days to appreciate that videogames are pretty amazing? Well, I feel like it's been way too long since then, and I'm sure we all have new things to be excited about. Come to think of it, it's been way too long since I blogged, period. So let's fix that.

For me, that new thing is definitely Mario Kart 8. Goddamn it's so much fun. I really enjoy the anti-gravity mechanic, the visuals and music are great and overall it's just nice simple racing goodness. It's been ages since I played a Mario Kart and I'm not even sure if I've ever owned one before, but the new one has been worth every penny already. So what better game is there to take the first steps in delivering more excitement?! None.



And with that, let's see if we can kickstart some "Because [INSERT VIDEOGAME HERE]" excitement, with my 5 favorite new tracks in Mario Kart 8, and perhaps next week I'll follow it up with my 5 favorite retro tracks.

"But Shade, I want to hear about the things you hate about videogames! I feed off nerdrage and the tears of the fanboy! Surely even Mario Kart 8 can't be all good?"

Oh alright, fine. I know how to deal with jaded Internet assholes. The WiiU's messaging system sucks a fat one so it's hard to get your friends to join a game, the roster is severely lacking, and Blue Shells still ruin your day if you don't have a Super Horn.
There. You happy now? Then let's get to the fun part!

______________________________________________________________________________

5 New Mario Kart 8 Tracks I'm Excited About
First things first, what does it take for a track to get me excited? Three things, for the most part: visuals, music and fun. None of these should come as any surprise. It's been duly noted by pretty much everyone that Mario Kart 8 looks amazing, I mention my love for video game music all the fucking time, and fun just speaks for itself. Any stage that manages to combine all of these aspects is almost guaranteed a Top 5 spot, but even having one of the three can be amazing in its own right.

See for yourself!

- 5. Mario Circuit



I can't think of a better stage that exemplifies what Mario Kart 8 is about than Mario Circuit, the first course in the Flower Cup. Its design is based off of a Möbius strip which twists and turns all around Peach's castle. While the course itself is fairly straightforward, I find it to be a lot of fun. The track transitions from being upside-down to rightside-up seamlessly, so you'll barely notice that anything's amiss until you're cruising straight past the castle tower which may or may not be obeying the laws of physics. Definitely a nice touch from a visual standpoint there. There's a good reason why this track was chosen for the game's cover art: Mario Circuit is Mario Kart 8.  

But the main reason I enjoy this track so much? I smoke people here. I don't know what it is about this track, but it feels fast. My main character at the moment is what I like to call Shooting Star Rosalina. I use Rosalina on the Comet Bike with Cyber Slick wheels and one of the gliders that ups acceleration. This gives her great top speed, decent acceleration, weight and handling, but terrible traction (what does traction even do, though?). Let me tell ya, she's right at home on Mario Circuit. Nice long stretches to put her top speed to work, and the few turns you have to make are just wide enough to smoothly drift along the inside. Lots of fun all around!

- 4. Bowser’s Castle

 

I used to hate Bowser's Castle in earlier Mario Kart games. I remember doom and gloom, annoying 90-degree corners, and everything trying to kill you everywhere all the time. Fortunately, the latest installment of the dreaded fortress is much better this time around.

It might be less colorful than the other tracks in the game, but it's as fun to race in as any, with obstacles that are actually cool this time around. Take another look at that picture above and tell me that a giant flaming stone Bowser Golem thing punching the track isn't epic as balls.

It also has pretty damn bitchin' music if you ask me.



So, Bowser? I know you like renovating and all, but please try not to change too much for our next go, alright? Your place is great just the way it is.

- 3. Electrodrome

Electrodrome is quite possibly my favorite track in the game from a visuals point of view. Which kinda sucks, because it's incredibly difficult to capture in screenshots. Youtube to the rescue!



There's a lot of neat touches to this level that are hard not to appreciate. From the neon everywhere to the giant disco balls and boomboxes along the tracks, the rainbow trail your kart leaves behind on certain parts, and the NPCs "groovin' to da beat" (that is a thing that people say, right?), it all comes together to make a wonderful themed stage. This being a disco-level, due attention was obviously also paid to the music, which is both a lot of fun and fitting with the theme.  

But now that we're getting to my Top 3 favorite new tracks in Mario Kart 8, a track will have to do more than just be visually and musically interesting to earn its spot here. Fortunately, Electrodrome is also quite fun to play indeed, and another nice example of a track where Shooting Star Rosalina is at her best. Corners that are just tight enough, anti-gravity bump boost thingamajigs (<-side note: Word actually knows "thingamajig" and even has synonyms for it. What the shit) scattered all over the place, and enough opportunities to stretch that top speed to its limit, for Electrodrome you can keep those silly low weight class characters to yourself.  

- 2. Sunshine Airport



Admittedly, I have no idea whatsoever how Mario & crew got permission to host kart races at an active airport. I imagine the paperwork must've been horrendous. Still, I'm glad they persevered, because Sunshine Airport is one of the most fun stages in the game. And be honest, if in real life you could race at an airport, wouldn't you do it too?

There are quite a few things that make this stage my second favorite stage in Mario Kart 8, but the most important ones all stem from the "active airport" bit. Not even 10 seconds into the first lap you're already driving underneath a Boeing 747 decorated with Mario imagery, and not 10 seconds afterwards you get to drive across a plane's left wing, through its body and out at the other side. Additional planes come and go in the background, and some will look like they just barely missed you. Very cool. But one of my favorite things is actually far more simple, and that's the sweet little shortcut you can take if you drive straight across the luggage conveyors at the very end. You skip a turn and get a trick boost as a bonus, at least as long as you don't slam your face into someone's suitcase!

The music, finally, is not exactly one of my favorites in the game but very serviceable nonetheless. It's nice and summery, not unlike what I would play if I were to go on holiday, started to lounge in my massively uncomfortable airplane seat and OH FUCK WHY ARE THERE PEOPLE DRIVING ON THE WINGS?!

- 1. Eevee



Never mind, wrong blog.

1. Mount Wario



Ah, Mount Wario. Without a doubt my favorite track in the game, and not just from the new ones. First of all, I really like the setup here. This is the only stage in the game where you're not driving around in a lap but have a single long course with a distinct beginning and end. And when said beginning is inside a helicopter and said end is all the way down at the bottom of a mountain, it becomes even more fun!

I like this stage a lot in that you're always driving at a downwards angle: it gives a nice sense of speed and a feeling that you're getting somewhere new. Along the way there are lots of other cool things to do as well. You get to drive on waterfalls, through a cave, you get to do tricks on fallen trees and snow hills, and you get to slalom through gates that must have been left-overs from Mario's run in the winter Olympics. The final approach to the finish line, where you're gliding off of a huge slope, is especially satisfying (if you're in first place doubly so), and it's neat that you can wait for the other players to arrive after you've finished rather than just watching the CPU make a mess of your victory run.

And the music? Why, inspired by Super Mario 3D World of course!  



Greatness.

Honorable Mentions:

In fact, "greatness" is what I would use to describe almost all of Mario Kart 8's new stages. Like I said, I'm not exactly on expert on this series, so I'm not sure how the good-to-bad ratio was in previous games, but for the most part this game nails it. Water Park with its giant underwater O-turn, Cloudtop Cruise based on Mario Galaxy's Gusty Garden, Sugar Rush Sweet Sweet Canyon ripped straight out of Wreck-it Ralph, Shy Guy Falls making you drive up and down waterfalls, the new Rainbow Road's sweet-ass satellites, all of it is fun. I think the only stage I actively dislike is Dolphin Shoals, but even that's more because I suck at it than anything else.

As for the retro stages, lots of great stuff here too, but maybe I'll save that for later. It does need saying though that Royal Raceway looks absolutely fucking gorgeous in this game. What with all the flowers and everything? The WiiU can do some sweet visuals if it puts its mind to it.

____________________________________________________________________________

These were once again just a couple of things I was excited about. Why? Because MARIO KART!

Video games are still amazing, fun, exciting and all the other good stuff. So what have all of you been playing? Are you excited Because MORTAL KOMBAT, Because DARK SOULS II, Because WATCH_DOGS, or something else? Or perhaps, of course, just Because VIDEOGAMES?! Let me know in blog or comment, because I love reading all about it!

In the mean time, me and Shooting Star Rosalina are going to be found on the tracks.


- Goddammit Yoshi, stop checking out Rosalina; she's not even the same species! Hell, you're barely humanoid!








"Every murder has an answer"

It is not every day that two visual novel gaming icons meet face to face, and it is even rarer to find a case where both icons fit well together despite their vastly different art and gameplay styles. Nonetheless, Level 5 and Capcom have managed to give both puzzle fans and aspiring lawyers just that with Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright. It might still be a bit of a wait for any US fans, but the game is worth the wait in gold.



It goes without saying that a British professor of archeology and an American/Japanese lawyer don't just meet by pure chance. Even though it appears that the Professor Layton and Ace Attorney series share the same universe, what ultimately brings the two unlikely heroes together is nothing short of magic. Literally. The story begins when one of Layton's old students has managed to find a strange town called Labyrinthia and in the process rescued a girl from the witches hunting her. The witches catch up to them though, and ultimately it is up to Layton and Luke themselves to keep this girl, Espella, safe. This proves to be their undoing, however, as the witches suck them into a magic book that instantly warps them to Labyrinthia.

Meanwhile, Phoenix Wright and Maya Fey are just chillin'. Phoenix has been enlisted in a lawyer's exchange program with the UK. While there, he has to defend a strange absent-minded girl from being found guilty of (for the first time in the series) something other than murder. During those proceedings Phoenix and Maya are confronted with the same magic book and find themselves in Labyrinthia as well.

From there on out a tale of magic, witches, murders, Stories and much more unfolds. In Labyrinthia magic and witches are very real, and there is a mysterious figure called the Storyteller who basically writes the future. It will require both the puzzle-solving skills of the gentleman professor and the outside-the-box thinking of the ace attorney to get to the bottom of the many mysteries of the town stuck in fantasy.



The above is just about all that I can share about the story without going into spoiler territory. That said, the plot of Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright takes some definite twists and turns throughout its 20-hour run. Some of them you'll see coming, others definitely not. The story is also quite dark this time around. Witch trials are very real in Labyrinthia and those found guilty will be burned alive without hesitation. We also see several counts of (attempted) suicide as well, with one instance of attempted child suicide. For me this only served to draw me ever deeper into the story, as I find "dark as fuck" to be just inherently gripping, but I'm warning you all the same. All in all, the story is well paced and well told. New mysteries keep popping up even up until the final hours of the game, and you're given plenty of material to work with in order to forge your own theories. Moreover, story progression isn't just restricted to the Professor Layton portions of the game. The Ace Attorney-style court cases have an major bearing on the story as well, causing them to feel just as relevant as anything the Layton team comes up with if not more so. Don't be surprised if a major revelation isn't the result of an investigation but rather of a witness spilling the beans. The game's endgame is particularly well done; when you hit the final chapter you will not want to put your 3DS down until you've seen it all the way through. To be honest I always find the endings of Professor Layton games to be kind of hit-or-miss, but I'd place this one squarely in the "hit" camp. Although it's probably still advisable not to think about it too hard.

The characters that inhabit this magical world feel like they came straight out of the Professor Layton-verse. They tend to have their own little quirks and mannerisms, but you will meet more serious people as well. In my opinion they're not quite as funny as the characters you would find in the Ace Attorney series, but they fit well within the bounds of Labyrinthia and interact well with both sets of characters. It helps that all of them have beautifully animated 3D models and are still expertly written. The same goes for the voice-acting. There are quite a bit of voice-acted lines this time around; with one or two exceptions they fit very well with their characters and bring some much-appreciated life to the cast. Professor Layton himself is (still) the standout in this field, but even one-off witnesses sound completely believable. The one downside presentation-wise is that Phoenix' model looks like a step down from the one we have already seen in Dual Destinies and his voice sounds a little bit off sometimes. On the other hand it is incredibly nice to see Maya fully animated and voiced.  

Despite how good any side characters are, the main draw of this game is inevitably going to be the interaction between Layton, Luke, Phoenix and Maya. Rest assured that there is indeed plenty of interaction and it is without a doubt the highlight of the game. While Phoenix and Layton have vastly different personalities they work very well together, and the lovely assistants hit it off almost immediately, with Luke even adopting the moniker of "ace apprentice". Over the course of the game you'll also see some mixing and matching of characters, so that you won't be stuck with the two distinct duos throughout the entire game. This even transitions into the gameplay. The good professor is very helpful during the court cases (in which he even gets to shout "OBJECTION!" at multiple points), and the ace attorney likes to try his hand at a puzzle every once in a while too. As far as crossovers go you can't get it any better than this and honestly I didn't expect the IPs to intertwine as much as they do. The final few hours of the game in particular are a shining example of how crossovers should be done.



While the story and the characters are arguably the biggest draw for any fan of Layton or Phoenix, this game wouldn't be complete without a healthy mix of puzzles and cross-examinations. Fortunately, Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney delivers plenty of both. In fact, the game provides an almost 50-50 split between the two different gameplay styles.

During one part, you get to walk around the town of Labyrinthia. You will search the background for hint coins, talk to the quirky characters mentioned above, and research the many mysteries of Labyrinthia. Most importantly, of course, you get to solve the characteristic Professor Layton puzzles. In what I thought was a nice touch, many of these puzzles have a medieval theme, dealing with knights and witches and the like. Unfortunately, this time around the puzzles are almost all quite easy. Many of the puzzles you can't actually fail because they only end when you've found the solution, and even the few pure logic-based puzzles that have been included are unlikely to stump any seasoned gamer. Out of the 70 puzzles that are in the game there was only one occasion where I legitimately failed, and only a few that took me longer than a couple of minutes to solve. In contrast, there were only a handful of puzzles that I would count among the better ones of the series. Anyone playing this game purely as a Professor Layton fan will probably find the game lacking in this regard. That's not to say that solving puzzles isn't still fun, but it definitely would've done the game good if the difficulty had been upped somewhat.  



During the investigation/puzzle-solving parts of the game, there are several points in the story where shit hits the fan. For the most part, that means that people get murdered by witches. What follows is a full-on Ace Attorney trial done in the style of the infamous witch trials. This brings with it certain noticeable changes to the gameplay. First of all, everyone in the courtroom is more hostile towards Phoenix than ever. Everyone, judge included, has already made up their minds that your client is guilty as sin and should be burned on the spot. They're not called witch trials for nothing, after all! They tend to ease up towards the end of the game, but for the most part you're fighting a steep uphill battle. This isn't helped by the fact that in medieval times there is very little evidence for Phoenix to work his magic with. You can't check a magic staff for fingerprints, because there's no such thing as fingerprinting in Labyrinthia. Crime scene photos don't exist either, and the artist sketches you do get contain dubious information at best. Fortunately, the ace attorney gets a few new tricks up his sleeve to deal with a world in which magic is real. For one, you get a tome of magic that explains how every magic spell works, which you can then use to your advantage. This leads to some interesting scenarios, as it becomes perfectly viable to claim that the real killer was simply invisible. If such a spell exists and there is evidence that it has been used, all possibilities are still on the table.

Perhaps more importantly, you get to cross-examine multiple witnesses at once. In doing so you can set the witnesses up against each other and see whether their stories match up to your liking. Because of the number of witness that you have to examine, however, they tend to be less interesting than those you’d expect to find in an Ace Attorney game, with most having one defining quirk and little screentime. The final case has one instance where the system works brilliantly, but I can't help but feel that it fell a bit short during the rest of the game. There is one witness in the prologue case that channels the Ace Attorney spirit with gusto, fans of the original game and/or Dual Destinies will find a few funny familiar scenarios and the participation of Professor Layton and Luke helps to soften the blow significantly, but the cross-examinations don't reach their full potential.


- The witnesses are most certainly not above conspiring against you.

One final thing to mention is that both the background art and the music managed to stand out in my mind. Backgrounds are always highly detailed and particularly towards the endgame you will come across some startling backdrops. The music meanwhile is a great selection of both familiar Layton and Wright music, with some original work thrown in. Anyone who has played either of these series will doubtlessly find some familiar stuff in here, as you'd expect from any good cross-over game. My personal favorite was a beautiful music-box version of the Turnabout Sisters theme from the original Ace Attorney, which played at exactly the right moment to make me tear up a little.  

Ultimately, Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright delivers an excellent Layton-esque story complemented by court cases that feel right at home in the setting. With puzzles that are easier than they needed to be and cross-examinations that are not as wacky as one might expect, the gameplay won't astound any longtime fan. Fortunately, the interesting story and especially the great interaction between the two IPs makes this a game that is nonetheless more than worth playing. For the price of one you get a good Professor Layton game paired with a good Phoenix Wright game, joining forces to make a great crossover experience.









So here's a little update about me outside of my usual Thursday Shadeisms (because I like to pretend that people care). I just felt like sharing the good news without having to wait for my "turn". Also, random thought: this is the third blog I've written in a row which title starts with my name. I dunno what that says about me. That I still like my internet-name, I guess.

ANYWAY.

Ever since I started law school in the Netherlands I wanted to participate in one of my university-wide exchange programs. Basically, our university has official relations with a number of universities abroad (ranging from Japan to Canada to everything in between) and they will help us get a placement abroad, funding, housing and the like. Everything to make it easier for us to actually go somewhere. Myself, I was even luckier than most: because I finished at the top of my class in my very first year of law school, I received €500 extra to study abroad.

However, between my first year and now, I hadn't been able to participate in one of these exchange programs. Every year something would come up that prevented me from going. Some of it was my fault, some of it was not, but at the end of the day I was still stuck in boring old Holland. But since this year right now was the last time I could possibly go anywhere, it was now or never. I made extra sure that my application was in order, that my grades were up to stuff and that I took an English as a Foreign Language Test (which I aced, by the way).

Well shit paid off, because after all these years I finally got in.

I get to go to the United States!



Specifically, I get to go to the George Washington University in Washington DC.
I'm going from about the start of September to somewhere in January, so one full semester. During that time, I'm going to be brushing up on my American Law and I'm going to further pursue my own interest in Human Rights Law and in ICT Law. US Human Rights Law in particular sounds fascinating to me because of how different you peeps approach basic human rights compared to how we do in Europe. Whereas your First Amendment is almost sacred, us Europeans are of the view that there's definitely a certain limit to fee speech and that you can't just say any ol' bullshit and get away with it. But on the other hand, gay rights are far more developed in Europe than the US, and we've seen last year that if there's anyone we shouldn't trust to respect our privacy, it's the US government.  

It's all so strikingly different that I'd love to get some first-hand experience in the one city where it all happens. That city, of course, being DC.

But as we video gamers understand better than anyone, all work and no play doesn't make for a very exciting trip. So during those months I'm going to be in the US, I'd love to go see things, do things. So if you've got any tips on what to do when in DC, by all means share them. Or any tips on which video games to bring on the plane or anything else you can think of. Just shoot!

But perhaps more than anything, I want to meet you!


- Yes, you.

Even though I'm far from the only "foreigner" on this little internet-home of ours, the vast majority of us are still American. So I figured, what if some faithful Dtoid visitors were located in the DC area? I could totally go say hi when I'm there!

And that's what this blog is for, really. I've been on Destructoid for years, but never really had the chance to meet the people behind that avatars that have come to mean so much to me. With my upcoming half-year trip to the States, now would seem like a better time than ever to do exactly that.

So, do any people here live in the Washington DC area? Of course in the city would be best (that way I wouldn't have to pay for a tour guide, duh), but if you think you're worth driving a couple of hours for, I'm sure I can squeeze you in (although that may or may not depend on your willingness to play Super Smash Bros. with me). For example, I definitely plan to visit New York during my stay; that's a kind of distance I could easily deal with. Note that I'm not asking for housing or funds or whatever, I can manage that on my own just fine. Still, it would be nice to have a friendly face in unfamiliar territory, to hang out with sometime or just to show me around once and then deny any connection.

So if you're in the area and want to meet a 'toider from the legendary land of hookers and blow, that'd be awesome! I want to take the time to see all that I can, and that includes you!



(I'm probably also posting this on the forums later, but the Cblogs feel like my eHome more than any other part of the site, so it's only fair to post here first.
Finally, on an unrelated note: I'm sorry for being so absent from the site lately. I'm going to try getting back in the game here. Reading and commenting on you Cblogs is on the top of the list. You guys so deserve it. Tell you what: if I forget I want you to come to my house and punch me in the face. Or watch me sleep, if you're into that. That'll teach me!)
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As we approach the end of the year, we must obey the ancient video game law of coming up with our GOTY awards or risk spending an eternity in gamer hell (which I'm pretty sure is just a room with only a Virtualboy and a CD-i in it). However, whereas other people will tell you dirty lies like that The Last of Us had the best story this year, or that The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds was the best portable game, I am here to dump a bucket on TRUTH over all of you. You see, none of those games deserve to win. There is only one GOTY this year, and it should win in every single category.
That's why I'm here, the only objectively objective award awarder on the internet. So let's get started with the first award!

Spoilers for Super Mario 3D World. Yes, seriously. I'm putting a spoiler warning up for a Mario game. I have my reasons. Long story short, if you have not yet beaten the final boss FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WHY HAVEN'T YOU BEATEN THIS BRILLIANT GAME YET?! Do you actively hate having fun or what!? But other than that, please do skip past "Best New Character". Trust me.
__________________________________________________________________________________

- Best Platformer
There were a lot of great platformers this year. Rayman Legends is a very notable one, and even New Super Luigi U might deserve a shot at the title. However, there was another game this year that simply ran away with this award. Not only that, it put on a catsuit and played with the award like a ragdoll.
And that game is Super Mario 3D World!



I can't remember the last time I had such fun with a game. The level design is spot on, there are a ton of cool mechanics to play with and Mario's cat suit arguably adds more to the platforming genre than it has any right to. Moreover; multiplayer in a 3D platformer! Surely, no other game this year was able to compete.

- Best FPS
Okay, so you're going to have to help me out with this one, because I wouldn't know a good shooter if it slapped me in the face and then teabagged me.
Anyway, I think people liked Bioshock Infinite this year. That was a good one, right? Does The Last of Us count as a shooter? Because I guess then it might have a shot as well.
...Actually, you know what? Fuck it. I've got a much better idea.

You know what this is?



This is a Fire Flower. You know what it does? It lets Mario, or Peach, or whoever, shoot fireballs from their hands. That's right, shoot fireballs. Not only that, the Mario gang can also pick up Boomerangs to throw at enemies and they can even wear cannons on their heads to really put the hurt on all the baddies coming their way.

There can be only one conclusion. The best FPS of the year is none other than Super Mario 3D World.

"But surely", you say, "3D World's shooting mechanics aren't in first person?"

...
Now look here, if you're going to split hairs you can go bugger off and make your own damn GOTY list. Super Mario 3D World is the best FPS of the year and that's all I have to say about that.

- Best Racing game
There were many great racing games around this year. At least I think there were? Yeah, probably. But look at the top right corner of this screen and tell me what you see:



That's right, Super Mario 3D World has a timer in every level. Do you know what that means? It means you could totally speedrun this game if you wanted to. In other words, the game gives you a special incentive to race through every level. Hell, it even added a character to the roster whose defining ability is being able to run faster than the others! And what about the level where you're running across a track from Mario Kart? It even has the right music! And surely you must have noticed Bowser's sweet ride in the screenshot above?

Truly, there was no racier racing game than 3D World in 2013. As such, it would be nothing short of completely and utterly unfair not to reward it with the Best Racing Game of the Year Award.

Congratulations Super Mario 3D World, you deserved it.

- Best Fighting game
Before handing out the next award, we have to take a look at the essence, the very core, of the genre. What makes a fighting game a fighting game? Is it the quick combos and the super moves? Is it the mind games you play with your dreaded opponents? Or is it simply killing your enemies stone dead by whatever means necessary?

Clearly, it must be the latter. Otherwise, why do spam tactics exist? Riddle me that, Batman!
So the question must be, which game allowed you to kill your enemies stone dead by whatever means necessary more or better than any other game? Let's see now; jumping on people's heads, scratching them to death with your claws, throwing shit at them, swiping at them with your tail, attacking them with your galaxy-enhanced spins, multiplying yourself and doing all of the above with twice the power, the list is virtually endless.

No Divekick, Injustice or Killer Instinct is going to match that. As such, they are clearly unworthy of the title of Best Fighting Game of the Year.
It rightfully belongs to one game, and one game alone. Super Mario 3D World.


- And until you can find me another 2013 game in which you could grow huge and stomp the shit out of everyone, that's the way it's going to be.

- Best Action-adventure
Action!


- Adorable, ADORABLE, action.

Adventure!

- And deceptively military-based adventure at that.

Put them both together, and you simply cannot deny that Super Mario 3D World wins! You CAN.NOT.

- Best JRPG
As we all know, JRPGs are about one thing, and one thing only; dressing up your characters. Leveling up, you say? Intriguing plots in large open worlds? Don't be ridiculous. As Square-Enix is quickly showing the gaming world, the quality of a JRPG is measured by its dressing-up features. The more eccentric and unpractical the better!



However, even though it looked like Final Fantasy XIII-3 had the JRPG category in the bag for 2013, it didn't come out in the West this year. Tough luck, Barbie Lightning! Even if it had though, there was one game this year that managed to trump even Final Fantasy in its dressing-upability.

Because while Lightning may have had her moogle suit, the Mario crew was already taking dressing up to the next level. They famously dressed up as cats, they could wear Goomba hats, Boomerang bros were among their targets and even Tanooki weren't safe from being turned into a costume. Let's see Lightning match that! (she can't)

But more than that, Mario's costumes all had something that Lighting's severely lacked: functionality. Now I'm sure that her outfits do something in her latest games, but I refuse to believe you would even notice it with all that hammering on the "Auto Battle" button you're going to be doing. In contrast, Mario's cat suit alone let you climb up any wall and do bad-ass lunge attacks and dive kicks. Indeed, Mario's cat-suit is quite possibly one of the best pieces of clothing to dress up your characters with.

Thus, Super Mario 3D World is objectively the best JRPG of the year. You can't fight me on this.

- Best WRPG
Did any good WRPGs even come out this year?! No? But that won't do at all, we gotta have a winner at least!
...
Hold on, I think I got it.

For lack of any worthy entries, I'm going to have to give this to Super Mario 3D World by default. Congrats!

- Best Strategy Game
And the winner is XCOM: Enemy Within!
In what may very well be one of the best expansion packs ever released, XCOM Enemy Within shows tha-



The winner is Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm! Starcraft II may very well already be one of the best strategy games of all time; the fight between the Protoss, Terrans and the Zerg has captured many a gamer's imagination, and has led to a multitude of sleepless nights. So when a huge expansion comes around, you can bet your butt that we will sit up and take notic-



The winner is Fire Emblem: Awakening! 2013 was a great year for the Nintendo 3DS, and perhaps nowhere was that fact as evident as with the latest installment in the Fire Emblem series. With a story that transcends time itself and the addition of many new gameplay mechanics, it truly showed what turn-based strategy could be. Moreover, its characters were hard not to fall in love wi-



The winner is Super Mario 3D World, just because.  

- Best Sports game
Ah, and here we are at what must surely be the single most boring category in every edition of the video game awards. Because come on, who the hell cares whether FIFA or Pro Evolution Soccer was the best soccer game of the year? Or did you want to go the route of American Football and give it to Madden onehundredandeleventyseven-2? Fuck no.

Fortunately, this year there was a game that can make even a shitty category like sports worthwhile. It is a game in which you can play sports like a sporty...sportsman. Person. Whichever. Anyway, you wanna throw baseballs at people? You can! You'd rather take your best aim with exploding soccer balls? Sure deal! Or are you well enough in touch with your feminine side that you'd rather simply stick to gymnastics? Well, sorry, but I don't think we ca-OF COURSE WE HAVE THAT.



It has the MOST sports. All of them. All of the sports. How could I ever live with myself if I did not award it the victory?! I couldn't. Super Mario 3D World is by far the Best Sports Game of the Year. Sports.

- Best Story
I believe it was Abraham Lincoln who once said that "brevity is the soul of wit". And if he wasn't, fuck it, he may as well have. Still counts.

The point is this; if brevity is the soul of wit, then obviously the brevityiest game must obviously be the wittiest. That's just grade school logic right there, no way around it. And it was without a shadow of a doubt Super Mario 3D World that had the briefest plot this year. Bowser kidnaps fairies. That's it. We get no context, no motivation, no nothing. In fact, let me show you all of Super Mario 3D World's dialogue.



Can you feel all the brevity coming through your computer screen RIGHT ONTO YOUR FACE?! Don't answer that, off course you can. And what's more, along with that brevity comes just a total SHOWER of wit. Don't lie to me, you're completely covered in wit right now and you damn well know it.

I think I've said enough. Super Mario 3D World clearly has the best story of the year. Now go clean yourself up. Wit stains horribly.

- Best Multiplayer (co-op)
Co-op games are always a lot of fun, especially if it's on-the-couch-style. Nintendo for many years now has been absolutely killing it in this field. From the multiplayer in New Super Mario Bros., to Donkey Kong Country, to Kirby's Epic Yarn and Return to Dreamland. But 2013 was the year in which co-op really shined. The latest Mario game gave us the possibility of playing four player co-op in a 3D game, with each character having their own little ability no less.



Super Mario 3D World particularly encourages players to work together. Getting all of the green stars and the stamps in each level requires a keen eye and a little platforming prowess, which your friends are sure to be able to help you with. Each friend can even use his or her character to compensate the weakness of your own. In the end, you can carry each other across dangerous chasms, earn a crown for helping your friend defeat a bunch of bad guys or collect some coins, and you can wait for your partner at the end of the level so you can have the satisfaction of reaching the goal together.

Can't get more cooperative than that! So Super Mario 3D World wins!

- Best Multiplayer (competitive)
Alternatively, you can toss your buddy in a pit, steal his crown and screw him out of reaching the flag pole with you. Can't get more competitive than that!

Super Mario 3D World wins....again!

- Best Music
Now, you know what, I think I'm just going to let this entry speak for itself.
Please Mister Music, will you play? (<- cookie for the reference)






- bbain take note.



Enough said, it's Super Mario 3D World.

- Best New Character
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you...Meowser.



No contest. I don't even care anymore about any suggestion you wish to make. BOWSER IS A GODDAMN TIGER. Super Mario 3D World wins.

- Best Boss fight
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you...Meows-

Wait. Didn't we already do this? I think we have. You see, Meowser isn't just the best new(ish) character, you also get to fight him! Obviously, right? Anyway, if you didn't think that a Mario could deliver an epic final boss, you are sorely mistaken. Being chased up a building by five of those guys makes for an intense experience that is only rivaled by...
by....
Well, nothing!

So Super Mario 3D World wins....again.

___________________________________________________________________________________

And now, we've arrived at the winners for each individual console. Which of the above games will take the prize for best game of the system, and possibly the best Game of the Year? The suspense is killing me!
So let's start, off course, with the WiiU.

- Best Wii/U game
The winner is...
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD!

Congratulations, Mari-
Hold up. That can't be right. I mean, Wind Waker HD was a great game and all, but best WiiU game of the year? I kinda expected some other game here.
...
Just wait here for a second, I'm going to go talk to the jury, see what's up.



...Okay, so me and the jury had a little "heart-to-heart", and it turns out that the actual winner of Best WiiU Game of the Year is none other than Super Mario 3D World! Congratulations!

Apparently every single member of the jury meant to say Mario from the start, but simply misspelled it. They're all dyslectic, you see? Easy mistake.  

- Best Xbox 360/One exclusive
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.



No but seriously, nobody cares.
...
Oh, and it's still Super Mario 3D World.



- Best Playstation 3/4 exclusive

....I got nothing.This is harder than it looks, alright?!

- Best PC exclusive
I want you to play along with a little experiment of mine. Put your right hand fingers on your keyboard's arrow keys, and the left ones on two neighboring buttons of your choice. I prefer Z and X, but just do whatever. Now, close your eyes and pretend you're playing Super Mario 3D World.

...

Congratulations! You just played the best PC game of the year.

- Best Handheld game
Come on, I don't have to explain this to you, do I? You've seen the WiiU, haven't you? And you have noticed the GamePad.



It has a screen on it, and you hold it in your hands. Ergo, it is a handheld. Also I just used the word "ergo" which means I won the argument just now. I'm pretty sure that's how discussion works.
So now that we have irrefutably established that the WiiU GamePad is a handheld console, what game would deserve that title of the Best Handheld Game of the Year? The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds? Tearaway? Shin Megami Tensei IV?

Oh who am I kidding, you already know that it's Super Mario 3D World.  

__________________________________________________________________________________

-- Overall Game of the Year

And here we finally have it. The Game of the Year, the game of games, the one game to rule them all, 2013 incarnate. Which of the diverse titles above will achieve this great honor and go down in history forever (because that is how history works)? Will it be Super Mario 3D World? Or maybe Super Mario 3D World? Or perhaps we'll see a stellar come-from-behind victory for Super Mario 3D World? Or will fan-favorite Super Mario 3D World claim the prize? Place your bets now!

And the winner, of the 2013 Game of the Year awards...

is...

dramatic emphasis

...

SUPER MARIO 3D WORLD!

In what must be one of the biggest surprises of the year, the latest Mario adventure, which had already snagged the trophy for every single other category, even somehow those it had no reason being in, wins the most prestigious award of the entire year: a star shaped ball of yarn!
Have fun with it, you guys! But do be careful.



I SAID BE CAREFU-
Well shit.
...

Oh well, I guess you can always come back next year to try your hand at becoming the Game of the Year 2014. Your odds are looking great!








Thanks to everyone who entered my contest! We had great entries all around, and I hope the developers of The Typing of the Dead took notice of that blog, because the game would become all the more amazing if all of your brilliant words were to make it into the game.

By the way, my own words would have been "hijinks" and "shenanigans" because those are straight-up the best words in the English language. They're completely perfect for what they are.
....yeah, you see why I asked you guys now?

Anyway, enough small talk! Let's get to what we're all here for, the winner!

It's!  



Congratulations PhilKenSebben!

Well, you know what this means. Time to start sucking up!
In the contest thread Phil announced that he just wanted The Typing of the Dead, but what he does with the rest is completely up to him. I sent him the rest of the list, so who knows, you might get contacted after all. But just between you and me; I hear that Phil likes to get his butt fondled. Who knows, it might help.

By the way, Phil's words were:
Waffle Meat
Worm Dingle
Testicular
Rabbit Chungus
Savory Gravy
Manly Pickle
Choke Fornication
Massive Mexicans
Bottled Chum
Mayonnaise Taco
Leaping Pus
Frisky Dingo

Truly a worthy winner.
Congratulations again, and have fun typing zombies to death!
Finally, another round of thanks to Wrenchfarm and OpiumHerz for giving most of these games away in the first place.
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