Online I go by the alias of Shuuda. I am currently living North Yorkshire, England. In 2011 I graduated from the University of Hull with a first class degree in Design for Digital Media, where I studied both the creative and theoretical sides of the digital technology and the internet.
As someone who is passionate about about video games than the fantasy genre, I am highly interested in how stories can be told through interactive media. I concern myself with how the genre is portrayed within the medium and its implications. I give it both criticism and praise, but mostly criticism. Writing fiction has been my hobby for many years, and I feel that video games have influenced and inspired the content of my work in recent times.
So 2013 draws to a close, and everyone's putting up their best games and moments and such. I figured I might as well join in. It seemed like a quaint little idea.
There's a problem though.
As I've said in the past, I'm terrible with putting things in actual order, and I doubt I could point out which game I enjoyed the most this year. So instead of doing a list, I'm going to offer a retrospective on some of the games I've played this year. What did I think of them, and more important, how I feel about them now.
So, with some reluctance, I present to you, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of 2013.
In retrospect, I realise the game's lack of difficulty might put a lot of hardcore hack and slash fans off. Despite that, I loved Driftmoon. It's a quirky, light-hearted adventure. It's Something that seems all too alien to the current RPG scene, that's over saturated by Witchers and Dragon Angst. For those who aren't particularly fond of the grindy style of hack and slash, Driftmoon provides something more gentle.
Driftmoon won me over with its charm. It's got a cast of humorous characters, each with a distinct personality (with little moping in sight). The puzzles are creative, and the short nature of the game means I didn't get bored with repetition. It's aesthetics are simple, but delightful, and full of colour and variety. Driftmoon has a lovable Discworld like quality to it.
This short fantasy joy ride has everything you could ask for; dungeons, skeletons, talking crabs, everything.
Kerbal Space Program
While I haven't had the chance to play with the newest update, I will definitely vouch for this game. No other game I played this year has the same sense of achievement. Yes, I did have to read a lot of guides to get things moving, and yes, the failures vastly outnumbered the successes, but it was worth it.
Half the fun of course is in building the most ridiculous rocket you can imagine, and them watching it try to take off in shambles. Many, many good Kerbals died in the name of comedy. There can be no regrets.
In retrospect, a part of me wonders whether I was a bit too generous with this game. While I certainly found the game-play both challenging and entertaining, there was never anything that stuck out as exceptional. Even the comparisons to old, top down Zelda games comes up short due to Anodyne's lack of items.
Despite those doubts, Anodyne left a lasting impression on me. Naturally, it's overshadowed immensely by the big budget ďmatureĒ games, like Bioshock and The Last of Us. I think the Destructoid review did Anodyne an injustice by calling it pretentious. Bioshock and The Last of Us speak to an older audience, with their father-daughter themes, which more reviewers would account themselves as. Anodyne, I feel, speaks more to younger adults, a group which I find myself more sympathetic towards.
Perhaps it's that difference in audience that leaves reviewers with a less favourable view of Anodyne.
There's no doubt about it, the rebooted Shadow Warrior is the most fun I've had from the a first-person shooter for eons. With the exception of the lacklustre boss battles, there was nary a thing I didn't enjoy about this game. The levels were diverse and often a feast for the eyes. The guns all had their unique roles and styles.
Of course, it would be criminal not to devote some time to the fantastic swordplay. It's mindless and violent, but so damn fun. If there's something more fun you can do with demons than slice them apart, I frankly don't want to know about it.
I've vowed not to give this game another reply until it's in a more developed state. Maybe when beta comes around, I'll write about it again. In the meantime, I was impressed with that I saw of Telepath Tactics.
With mechanics bearing a close resemblance to Fire Emblem, with a couple of twists to call its own, and some simple, old school looks, Telepath Tactics tickled me in all the right places. I've got high hopes that the slightly sparse alpha will path the way for an in-depth turn based strategy game.
If memory serves me correctly, which it so often doesn't, then Proteus was in fact the first game I played this year. In fact, I think I played it on New Years Day. I've harped on about it on quite a few time in my entries. I'm rather enamoured by this title.
It's a relaxing experience, to sum it in brief. There's little else to do beyond walking around and taking in the sights and sounds, but the atmosphere is magical and bright. The changing tunes and ambient noises are a feast for the ears.
Proteus was the game that convinced me that there's something to these art games.
Another in a long line of indie puzzle games, InFlux is a game I found rather disappointing. It's has the trappings of your typical artsy puzzle game, but I failed to find any of the meaning in the time I was playing it.
The puzzles were highly repetitious, and all too often were fraught with frustrations from the physics. Getting the little balls to roll around in an orderly fashion, only to watch them roll over a railing, was a headache, and not in any intellectually stimulating way. Everything else about the game was too generic. It's show of strange happenings were dull when compared to the abstract events of other puzzle games out there, and the visuals were all right at best.
InFlux did have one mystery that still eludes me. Why, oh why, did it always feel the need to tell me it was loading something, sight unseen. That little ring in the bottom corner is more engraved in my mind than anything else InFlux had to offer.
Another downer of a game I played this year. While I love Inquisitor in concept, I found it too weighted down in hack n' slash clichťs to be enjoyable. The idea of playing the role of the inquisition was fascinating, and the atmosphere of the game's world hit the mark perfectly for the subject concerned. Unfortunately, the investigative aspect of Inquisitor was squashed under the unbearable battle system. Even on the easiest difficulty, enemies were spongy, and dealt fatal damage too quickly. In the end, Inquisitor felt like drudgery.
Sadly, right from the very start, where I was force to circle a town and kill all the bats, my hopes for this game were fading. While the sound effect of my spell was amusing, it was not nearly enough to keep me interested in the terrible combat.
If only Inquisitor had been a different sort of RPG. Something less combat focused, and more scope on the investigations.
Fire Emblem: Awakening
Let's not mince words here; Fire Emblem: Awakening was a fantastic game. The visuals were polished, and the soundtrack was absolutely wonderful. There's plenty of variation with the difficulty, satisfying both the needs of the newcomer and the veteran. The skill system and promotion trees offered plenty of ways to build my army how I wanted, and there was never a shortage of battles to be had.
All is not well however, and I can't quite explain it. Even though I thought the game was a blast, I've had no urge to buy many of the DLC for it, or give it another play through. It's not the big picture, but rather lots of little things that nibble away at the thought of holding this game higher.
You see, the first Fire Emblem released in the west (which was the seventh in the series), was one the most important games I've ever played, and sits on the mountain's summit with many other games I rank as my favourites. While Awakening satisfied a lot of itches, it also felt rather lukewarm compared to the Game Boy Advance's interpretation of the series.
It's basically the same as how I feel about Skyrim in comparison to Morrowind; a brilliant game, which I enjoyed thoroughly, but couldn't fill the shoes of the predecessor. I suppose you can just call it nostalgia, if you're looking for a name for the face.
(I could fetch a screenshot for this, but that would require me a download a big, many gigs, patch. Not on my internet I ain't.)
I spent a good potion of this year sticking with this MMOFPS. I don't really consider myself much of an MMO fan by any stretch, but this game did draw my interest. Last year, I hooked up with the beta, and continued playing right up until October.
Planetside 2 feels like a masterpiece jig-saw with just a few of the key pieces missing. There's too much potential to just ignore, but it's so rough around the edges it cuts me open. The open world combined arms is a tonne of fun, as battles could take unexpected turns and intrusions that would not happen in the likes of Battlefield. Sadly, this pleasure was constantly hindered by the game's many faults.
What really made me pack it in was the bugs. Not any massive, game breaking bug, but just lots of little ones that eventually got on my nerves. I remember the moment that finally broke the camel's back. I had just been killed round a corner, due to the game's lag compensation, and when a team-mate revived me, I was forced to stare the menu screen without a mouse cursor, until I was killed again.
It was at that point that I turned Planetside 2 off, and I haven't started it up since.
This was a concept that really grab my interest a while back. The alpha came out, and I had a bit of fun with it. Ultimately however, Cube World has taken a downfall for me.
Perhaps you think this is because of the complete lack of updates, until very recently, from the developers, but that's not the case for me. Sometime after getting my first taste of Cube World, I just figured it really was not what I was looking for. It felt too MMO for my liking.
There's certainly a lot to like, make no mistake. The colourful, cubist visuals were surprisingly stunning, and some of the less typical races were amusing in their designs. I still believe it might be something worth keeping an eye on, just not something I'm all that interested in playing anymore.
And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen, many games in brief summary. Some opinions changed, and some remained constant throughout the year. It's been a very interesting year, with a great sense of variety.
What does next year hold, other than an assorted array of disappointments and controversies? Well, hopefully plenty of games, some of which I might take the time to play and write about. Naturally, there will be a boat load of AAA games, emotional games, and of course more games that are the Citizen Kane of gaming.
All of those will be promptly be ignored by my pretentious self.
While I had written something else for this week, it has unfortunately been put to one side for the time being. Instead, and because I don't already see it being mentioned, I wanted to bring a little something to your attention.
It's the first public video, displaying the progress made on Sui Generis.
Sui Generis, currently in development by Bare Mettle, is an RPG that was successfully funded on Kickstarter last year. The project was rather overshadowed at the time by many of the celebrity Kickstarters that were going on during that period. It did make enough to succeed, but it did not gain the attention I feel it deserves.
While other RPG Kickstarters were aimed at reviving old school gems in this now mixed genre, Sui Generis offered something a bit different. While the project still looks like it has a long way left to travel, this video gives me hope that n fantastic game may see the light of day. If nothing else, I at least want see some light shone on Sui Generis around here.
This video shows some of the excellent work done by the Bare Mettle team, including the rather awesome chair tripping physics, an example of thaumaturgy, and its real time melee combat.
Note: this post has spoilers for Fire Emblem: Awakening.
First impressions matter. If a game fails to hook the audience then it can wind up being banished to the pit of the forgotten (though frankly, I have a soft spot for slow starting games). Unfortunately, the emerging trend in recent games is to pour too much on the start, causing the game to be front loaded. The result is a one night stand of a game. Something that's bouncy castle levels of fun, but only for a few hours. To put up a more sensible, and less suggestive definition; a front loaded game is one with a spectacular opening few hours, which is used for the purpose of masking the shallowness underneath.
Of course, the most recent Sim City game is a the perfect example of a front loaded game. The game ran impressively for the first few hours, and everything was dandy. It's only after a while that things began to fall apart. The obvious flaws in the game's AI became ever more apparent. A torrent of disgust followed, but it was too late by that point; EA had taken the money of many. Games that are front loaded don't lack on mechanical levels alone. This attitude to game design can infect all facets.
Examples of front loaded games are not always as obvious as EA's disaster of a city builder. Even games of good quality show signs of being front loaded. One such game that I've been thinking about is the most recent Fire Emblem title, Awakening. A lot of you might find that confusing, but when compared to the Fire Emblems of yesteryear, the evidence is there.
The first point of call is the visual design. More specifically, the character designs. Up until Awakening, Fire Emblem opted for modest designs. Rarely were they overblown. Most importantly, everything stuck to a consistent tone. The games were set in medieval fantasy realms, and the appearance reflected that. Awakening however, goes more in the direction of what I see as pop-fantasy. Many of the characters Ė let's just be honest, mostly the female characters Ė are full of fan-service. It's not Scarlet Blade by any stretch, but when you compare Awakening's designs to Fire Emblems of the past the intention becomes rather clear. It's the zazz factor; the developer's attempt to dazzle with flashy, overly decorative designs. Of course, it doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure that suits of armour that don't cover the back, or see through robes hardly fit the setting. It's style over substance, designed for marketing in mind more than world-building.
The story is perhaps the most jarring example of front loaded design I could find in the game. For the first ten chapters, it holds true to the staples of Fire Emblem. Villainous monarchs, a merry band of valiant heroes, and at least one boss who's purpose is to remind you that not everyone you're killing deserve it. After that, it jumps the shark with time travelling antics and certain characters not being so dead after all. The plot lost consistency and began to drag on for the rest of the game, which I think is contrary to past entries in the series.
But let's move on, before I get too ranty on that topic.
The promise of grand features, which in reality do little to improve the game is another calling card of front loaded games. Worse yet, is when a game tries to prop itself up entirely on these shallow features. Naturally, Sim City's online features provide a pretty apt example. The whole game was built around additions that no one really wanted or asked for. The end result was an extremely watered down single player experience, which was what nobody wanted. Every new MMO promises to change up the old model, but all of them devolve back into being inferior versions of WoW. With the onset of a new generation, open worlds looks like it's set to become the next turd chalice, though that might have already become the case.
Even small, or independent games can fall into the trap of being front loaded. I think back to InFlux, and how it's few mechanics wore out very quickly. This seems to be run of the mill for these kinds of puzzle games. They're sold on a single gimmick, with the hope that they might be the next Braid or Portal. It's not the number of mechanics that's important however, it's the depth of the mechanics that are present. The key difference between InFlux and Portal, is that the latter's mechanic did not grow as tedious.
Naturally, we can't close this until we take a look at the reasons. The motive in suspect became clear after an old article about Creative Assembly came to light regarding Total War: Rome II. The short story is that they did not want features in the game unless they thought they would yield a good Metacritic score. It comes down to developers and publishers wanting games that appeal to reviewers before the players.
Of course, the etiquette at this point is to point the finger at that braggart of a website, Metacritic. Curse you, Metacritic!
It makes sense; if everything looks swimming in the reviews, then the average gamer is none the wiser until they buy the game. We could blame the reviewers for this, because they might not be thorough enough to spot the faults. Given how many games they might have to go through a week, I don't think it would be fair to chide them for not being able to devote the tens of hours necessary to find these issues. At the end of the day, front loaded games are built to fool these people as much as the buyers.
The fault rests, as it so often does, on the publishers, though judging from the story with Creative Assembly, the developers need to take some of the footing as well. In their eyes there's little room for cult classics, like Beyond Good & Evil. A front loaded game has no room for subtly, or niche audiences. Short term success and profits appear to be at the forefront of their minds. Perhaps so much money is being spent on these games that they need to make it look like it justified the cost. It's an understandable viewpoint, but also one that I believe is directly opposed to the wishes of many others, who want games to aspire to artistic levels.
The most disappointing thing of all, is that these front loaded games sell very well. It's the trumiph of marketing over art.
In case you havenít noticed yet Ė which is always a possibility Ė thereís a new Pokťmon game out. This means two things for me. Firstly, it means the Alt Gr key has seen a spike in usage. Secondly, and more relevantly, it means Iíve been pondering on what are some my favourite battling pocket monstrosities. Since writing a review of the new games feels rather pointless now, Iíve decided to share my list of beloved Pokťmon with you.
So hereís a top ten list, which once again has no particular order. Itís not that Iím lazy, but rather because Iím the dogs bollocks. Iím above societyís petty need to order the things it loves, man.
So, in brief, a list of Pokťmon I seriously adore.
This little fella was enough to convince me that Gamefreak were far from out of ideas. Itís probably my favourite grass type, in terms of aesthetics at least. Itís a gingerbread man with puffy, white hair. Quite frankly, if you donít find it adorable, then I question your humanity. Its design and Pokťdex entries make its personality all too clear. Itís a cheeky little bugger. It was also first Pokťmon to make use of the Prankster ability. Of course, nowadays itís outclassed in that regard, but I still remember this Pokťmon well for being a fun little gimmick.
I feel like I might be a bit of an oddity, because the third generation games were my favourite when it comes to Pokťmon that were added. Aggron hits high on the list of my favourite Pokťmon. I remember catching an Aron during my first run of Sapphire. It was at Victory Road where it finally evolved into its third stage, and I was blown away by it. Itís a big dinosaur, with steel plating all over its body. Without a doubt, itís the most beastly looking bastard from the third generation.
Whenever someone points out that Gamefreak are running out of ideas, Magneton is one of those candidates you could look to as proof that not everything in the first generation was pure inspiration. Itís literally just three Magnemites floating together. That said, I think itís rather cool. It looks robotic, without over doing it. Thereís no denying that its design is very simple, but I think it fits nicely. Itís a magnet, so itís evolution revolves around attracting other magnets around it. Pondering on that for a moment, I actually think itís clever. It almost makes me disappointed by Magnezone.
Put away your rubbish bags and ice cream cones, because Zubat is king of the hated Pokťmon. Despite that well deserved title, Zubat does come with one big redeeming quality. It evolves into this awesome, four winged bat out of hell. Firstly, its design is leagues above Golbat. Crobat actually looks like a swift flyer, rather than a large mouthed victim of overzealous dentistry. Also, knowing a tiny bit about breeding Pokťmon, I do know Crobat can get its wings on some ridiculous stuff, including Brave Bird and Nasty Plot. Seriously, donít let your hatred of its younger self fool you into overlooking this guy.
For those who believed that nothing after the first generation mattered and stopped cared, Salamence is basically like Dragonite, only better. I remember being rather disappointed when I saw that the beautiful Dragonair evolved into the Puff the magic dragon. Gamefreak did not repeat that mistake twice in Ruby and Sapphire. Salamenceís design suits the colourful, cartoon appearance of Pokťmon, with those big red wings and blue body. Despite that, it still manages to hold the air of a mighty. Add on that the fact that itís destructive and tough. Everything adds up to Salamence being the dragon Pokťmon deserved.
Itís a chinchilla, with a white scarf. Without any question, Cinccino is the among the cutest of Pokťmon. Thatís not to mention its neat party piece, with its hidden ability, Skill Link. This ability makes all those questionable multi hit attacks, like Bullet Seed and Tail Slap, always hit the maxium five times. All right, so Cloyster pulls of that strategy better, but at least thereís nothing naughty about Cinccinoís design.
A Pokťmon whoís famous for not being as good as Garchomp. Flygon still an upright guy though, boasting plenty of power. I think its design is many times better than Garchomp, who looks garish by comparison. Flygon looks like a cross between a green lizard and a dragonfly, which I suppose results in something that looks vaguely like a dragon. Flygonís Pokťdex entries also stand out more than Garchompís. The whole ďdesert spiritĒ schick make Flygon sound more mystical.
Letís just get this one out of the way; that mega evolution is absolutely kingly. Its posture is noble and dignified. Itís hair is golden and belongs in a Líorťl advert. On top of that, it also becomes a dragon type. When I first saw it, I would have meant that compliment jokingly. As time went on, I began to love the stunning beauty of its new form. Iíve always sort of liked Ampharos, but X and Y pushed it straight into the middle of my heart. Mega Ampharos is undoubtedly the most majestic Pokťmon ever conceived. Go stare at the picture until you love this†Pokťmon†as much as I do.
Iíll let you in on a little secret; I think all the first generation starter Pokťmon looked pretty stupid. Seeing them again while playing through Y just reminded me why Iím not terribly nostalgic for the days of Red and Blue. When I got the chance to put my Fennekin up against a Charmander, it really hit home for me how much itís actually improved.
ďWait,Ē you might say. ďDidnít you just express your contempt for Dragonite earlier? Then why is this Pokťmon from Lollipop Lane on the list?Ē
Well firstly, Goodraís design is consistent with the rest of his evolution line. Unlike Dragonite, I found Goodra to be an sweet upgrade in appearance. Secondly, I just think Goodra looks a sugar-dumpling cuter. Itís a big, cuddly dragon made of goo, which is really quite strange considering itís meant to be a pseudo-legendary. He also bucks the trend of the pseudo-legendary dragons, by being defensively orientated rather than offensive. While that might result in it being less popular, I think it adds a nice bit of variety to the selection of powerhouse dragons.
And there you have it. A fine and dandy list of my top ten Pokťmon. Some are cute, and some a mighty. There are many more I could list as ones I like, but I donít think Iíll regret the answers I put on this list. Iím actually surprised by how easy it was to think up most of this list off the top of my head. Most importantly, Iím glad that I was able to make a list that span almost all generations. A shame Iím not a huge fan of Diamond and Pearl though.
So, if you had to pick your favourites, what would they be?
Surrender to pointless delusions, and post in the comments! Because youíre worth it!
Hype is, without any doubt, among the scourges that I loathe the most in gaming. Whenever a game becomes the subject of ludicrous hyping, I lose all interest or desire to play it. People who fall for its honeyed words turn into frothy mouthed, walking billboards. Hype campaigns are basically paper tigers, where marketers pour their efforts into getting the audience riled up for no good reason. Unfortunately, these seem to work all too well.
For this reason, I wanted to write up some golden rules for dealing with the nasty hype monster. Thereís nothing too complicated. Itís just a few things for people to keep in mind really.
If a trailer doesnít show any significant game-play, you should probably disregard it entirely.
Very common among the AAA industry is the notion generating hype through the use of a cinematic trailer. Most of these are pretty worthless. Either theyíre just flashy CGI spectacles, or they show only the tiniest bits of play. Itís just enough to impress, but not enough to make viewers realise the gimmick is exactly that. If a trailer doesnít demonstrate anything significant about what the game is actually like, you might as well have been staring a two year oldís macaroni art instead. Itís just like fireworks, only more sinister rather than colourful. So, much worse.
A trailer showing plenty of game-play will win over the audience itís looking for. A sensible gamer wants to see the game in action. When I saw the Kickstarter video for Hyper Light Drifter, I was sold on the concept by the end. There was nothing fancy or elaborate, just a few minutes of watching the character exploring and fighting. Thatís all I needed to see though. Thatís not the say the video wasnít trying to sell itself, but it felt more honest and genuine.
Remember that developers/publishers are going to say what they think will sell the game.
That sounds obvious, but itís vital to remember. For an example, I was recently reading an piece on Rock Paper Shotgun with Mike Laidlaw, the lead designer for Dragon Age Inquisition. In short, he claimed that one of the big influences for the next Dragon Age was that classic gem of RPGs, Planescape Torment.
Now I donít want to flat out say that Laidlaw was lying. Who knows, maybe Dragon Age Inquisition really will take cues from Planescape. The issue isnít whether he was being truthful, but rather what motivated him to say it. There are obviously a lot of people out there whoíd kill for another game like Planescape Torment. A quick look at some of Kickstarterís most highly backed games is clear evidence. If those people honestly believe Bioware were capable of making such a game, they would go out and buy it in a heartbeat.
Of course, you have to look at the likely reality. Can a game with voice acting in this day and age possibly be as verbose as Planescape Torment was? Forgive me for not being a believer in Bioware, but I highly doubt it. Itís pretty obvious heís just trying to generate hype. and not much else.
To get back to the point, developers and publishers are always trying to sell their game. Even if theyíre being honest, theyíre going to try and frame things in a positive light. Everything they say needs to be taken with the understanding that they have that agenda.
Read multiple reviews, and donít ignore the more critical ones.
Thanks to the internet, we have access to a range a varying opinions on whatever game is soon to be released. Itís a shame that most people donít seem to have quite grasped this idea yet.
Weíve seen all too much what happens when a review has the audacity to suggest that whatever hyped up game theyíre writing about might not be pure perfection. These people are pretty much in one of two camps. The first is selective exposure; they only want to read reviews that confirm their opinion, and they become angry when a review they thought would agree with them doesnít. The second is what most people would call ďbuyers remorseĒ. Theyíve rushed out on day one to buy the game, or pre-ordered it, and donít like it when a review implies they may have made a bad decision.
Letís establish a few rules. Firstly, if you care about the reviews might say about a game, then read them before buying said game, not after. Secondly, if someone writes something critical about a game, they might have done so for reasons other than because theyíre absolute gobshites. Lastly, scores below ten of ten are still considered good by sane people.
Just about every extra you get by pre-ordering is shit.
Allow me to join the voices of those telling you to stop pre-ordering games. There are almost no benefits to doing it, and more often than not has become just another engine for marketing. The common practice nowadays is to offer something ďspecialĒ to those who pre-order. In most cases these range from unique cosmetics, or weapons that are more power than almost everything else in the game. Shiny skins are nice and all, but theyíre hardly worth throwing money blindly at. Special items can wind up being detrimental to your experience of a game, because they always break the balance of progression.
What if a pre-order deal offers something more substantial? If itís a piece of day one DLC you could just buy later then Iíd still suggest not going for it. After all, the fact that the publishers are happy to cut out content to sell back to people should say enough about their attitude towards the customers.
People who havenít played the game probably donít know jack.
Of course, the writhing nest of hype are places like Reddit and forums. In their giddy excitement they tend to become overeager about getting the next big thing. Theyíll talk about how itíll be the greatest game ever, and theyíll rip apart anyone who tries to imply otherwise. Itís important to remember that their attitudes about a game have likely been formed by the marketing hype. In reality, these people have not played the game themselves, so they donít actually know how good it is.
Well, thatís one rant over and done with. I get the guilty feeling that all anti-hype stuff is obvious to most people. I hope that youíll remember these points next time youíre being confronted by the next hype. Getting overexcited for a game is the easiest way to ensure disappointment. Iíve found that having more realistic expectations vastly improved my appreciation of games.
The most important thing I want to say is that immunising yourself to hype does not mean becoming a downer about everything. I donít believe that being overly cynical is any better than eating out of the hands of corporations, unless your goal is to look as hip as possible. It certainly doesnít mean you canít anticipate new games. Immunising oneself from hype is not a matter of expecting disappointment or hating everything, but learning not to get excited for no good reason. You should grow excited about games on your own terms, rather than because someone jangled a bunch of shiny keys in front of you.
In my eagerness for the next Pokemon games, I couldnít be arsed to play anything that was worth writing about. To make amends, Iíve written up another top five, which isnít really a top five, because Iíll be buggered if I have to put in the effort to actually order them.
This top five in tribute to our beloved David Cage, will be very emotional. This top five is devoted to the games that made me feel the most emotions, or rather, the particular moments in those games that made me feel deeply. They may be games, and they might not have a lot of polygons, but theyíre all evocative. Some are joyful, and others are haunting.
With that said, letís move onto the first in my line upÖ
5. The Atmosphere of Metroid Fusion
Looking back, it doesnít seem so scary. When I was twelve (or thirteen, whenever it was) however, this game redecorated my underwear. I think it was the first game where I encountered an enemy that you could not fight, but had to run from instead. When the eerily calm music suddenly exploded into a rush, it made me jump each time.
The whole atmosphere of Metroid Fusion was haunting when I first played it. The harrowing music, the set pieces that juxtaposed natural habitats with laboratories, and the sense of loneliness came together to put me a great unease. A split second of the SA-Xís glaring, dead eyes sealed the deal. That image is forever engrained into my memories. Iím not really into horror games, because Iím feckless, spineless coward, so this game is pretty much as creepy as Iíll touch.
Of course, this game wasnít nearly as horrifying as Other M. Eh! Eh!
4.Golden Sunís Ending
I arrive here once again. Sorry that I have to keep harping on about this game, but this was a seriously beautiful ending. The four heroes stand before an ancient boat thatís been risen from the bottom of a pool of water, and the reminisce about their journey. Thereís also the realisation that Isaac and Garet have reached their personal goal of getting to see the ocean. The scene plays out to the most soothing, enchanting piece of music in the entire soundtrack. The game clearly has a sequel planned at this point, so it was far from over. At the same time, it did feel like something special had come to a close.
The heroes aboard the vessel and set sail the credits music, which is an expanded version of the gameís main theme. The credits roll back on all the locations visited throughout the quest in the form of the battle backdrops. Thereís no amazing spectacle, or plot twist trickery (not until after the credits at least). Itís all rather simple and played straight, which is what I find so nice about it. The ending encapsulates everything I think Golden Sun is. Beautiful, forlorn, and adventurous.
3.Kerbal Space Program
I said in my impressions of this that it was one of the most engrossing games Iíve played for many years. This is a game which evokes a grand sense of gratification. There are no set missions, but thereís no end of goals you can make for yourself. Whether it was getting a ship into orbit, or putting a rover on the Mun and beyond, there were few moments in this game that did not feel spectacular. Watching my attempts fail over and over again made me want to push harder against gravity. Seeing a vessel almost reach orbit, only to burn up was almost heart-wrenching. Even the very act of constructing a rocket felt exhilarating.
In terms of games I keep going back to, Morrowind is the cream of the crop. Itís the champion of my heart. It was the first open world RPG that I played, and the first that opened my eyes to the possibilities that such a game could offer. The greatest pleasure of Bethesdaís games is in the exploration of the landscape. Vvardenfell delivered an alien world, full of ash wastelands, mushroom trees, and blight storms. Often, I was take long detours from my quest to take treks up and down the island.
Today, that experience is enhanced by boat load of graphical improvements (and Iím not just talking about a a few textures either). Iím not going to stand here and say that it looks as good as current generation games. No matter how much the old engine gets tarted up, it will always look aged. Itís like seeing an old banger come back with new parts and a paint job. Itís the most heart-warming thing to me.
At first, I was not sure I wanted to put this one down. I really donít endorse most ďartsyĒ games, like Dear Esther. I put them in the same column as cinematic games as something Iím just not interested in.
Proteus is a game I fell for, hook, line, and sinker. Everything about this game was awe-inspiring and beautiful. Whereas other art games go for a sombre tale, Proteus is an explosion of colour and sound. Every step you take alters the music in some way.
The gameís island paradise goes through four seasons, and each is as stunning as the last. At night, I was even frightened by some of the strange events I witnessed. At one point, the starry sky turned a violent red. I donít know what I did to make that happen, but it freaked me out. What happened following that is something Iíll never spoil, but it was the most mystical thing Iíve witnessed in a game.
Itís a game you can only really play once before the magic wears off, but I think itís well worth it. There was not a single moment that did not fill me with wonder.
There you have it; a five long list of pure emotion. I feel much better about this one because the list of potential entries was much shorter than my last top five. If the Cagey one is out there, just know that this one is for you. Naturally, I thank you, the reader, for taking a look. Once again, I want turn this around asking a simple question.
Whatíre your most emotional moments in gaming?
Surrender your senses and post a comment!
And yeah... a lot of images there.
You can also read this on my personal blog.
(Metroid Fusion images taken from http://metroid.retropixel.net/)