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Aspiring writer and 2010 Penn State Triwizard Champion. Sometimes I make funny lists.
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Time marches on. A tide sweeping over us in seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years. Orchestrating the rise and fall of civilizations. Establishing cities of elaborate wonder before reducing them to dust and ashes. The cruel mistress to which we must all one day succumb. Inescapable. Inexorable. Mortality.

Which means it’s time to tell everyone about the videogames I really liked in 2013!

That’s right! December is “Best Of” season, the magical part of the year when we attempt to capture the essence of the last 365 days by crowning something “Best Cooperative Multiplayer SRPG FPS 3D Soundtrack.” Because how else are we to define the intangible human experience if not by the pop culture we enjoyed? You can’t make a year-end list of the “10 Best Infant’s Smiles” or “Top 20 Sweet Nothings Whispered in the Early Dawn After an Evening of Lovemaking in Which You and Your Lover’s Souls Were One.” I mean, you can try, but unless you spice that dish up with some Nene Leakes GIFs a la BuzzFeed, ain’t nobody clicking.

Thus your good pal UsurpMyProse is here to offer up his own list of favorites, so that you may look upon them and be satisfied in the knowledge that a no-name blogger’s adoration of Grand Theft Auto V has heralded another step closer to your grave.

So without further ado, I give you...

USURPMYPROSE’S BIG, STUPID, HONKING LIST OF 2013’S BEST VIDEOGAME... THINGS



Best Game I Watched a Complete Stranger Play - The Last of Us

I don’t understand the whole “Let’s Play” phenomenon. As someone who barely has enough time to actually play videogames, the notion of devoting a portion of my day to watching someone else have fun doesn't make much sense. But the cavalcades of noble YouTube gamers do have their uses, as I learned after an entire weekend spent watching a playthrough of the not-quite-zombies-but-okay-they’re-totally-zombies classic The Last of Us.

Lacking the bags of Sony bribe money that come with being a “real” videogame journalist, I do not own a PS3, and thus had to resort to experiencing Naughty Dogs’ tragic tale of spores and survival through 15-minute chunks of low quality video. Which was fine, considering The Last of Us is as close to a cinematic experience as a videogame can get, albeit one where a considerable portion of the running time is devoted to watching people scrounge for gauze and rubbing alcohol.

The hours I spent squinting at the trials of Joel and Ellie were worth it, however, as The Last of Us is a beautifully bold spin on the “bleak and unforgiving apocalypse” genre, with the kind of potent moral ambiguity usually reserved for cable network dramas.

Runner-Up: Dota 2: Alliance vs. Na’Vi Championship Game – I don’t understand a single thing about Dota 2, but that didn’t stop me from watching three-plus hours of The International finals for no other reason than the infectious enthusiasm of announcers David “LD” Gorman and David “Luminous” Zhang. The dynamite duo combine the amateur earnestness of college radio DJs with the hyped-up jargon of WWE commentators.



Best Game I Paid to Not Play in 2013 – Armikrog

I arrived a year late to the crowd funding party, as Kickstarter rose to prominence in 2012 when Double Fine raised approximately enough money to secede from the US and start their own secret psychic summer camp (which, by the sound of Broken Age’s development issues, is probably what really happened).

But 2013 saw even more big name Kickstarters, and I was no longer able to resist the allure of playing pretend Shark Tank by having developers vie for my pledge money. I helped fund six projects this year, chief among them Armikrog, the spiritual successor to claymation cult hit The Neverhood. While I’ve expressed some concerns about the involvement of Doug “Icky Homophobic Elf” TenNapel, ultimately my inflated sense of social justice is trumped by my love of talking alien dogs voiced by Yakko Warner.

I mean, come on, we’re getting a pseudo-sequel to The Neverhood. In 2013. Because of the internet. Barring the sudden invention of cancer-curing hoverboards, that’s the best damn proof we’re living in the future that we’re going to get.

Runner-Up: Torment: Tides of NumeneraMighty No. 9Shantae: Half-Genie HeroHyper Light DrifterParadise Lost: First Contact – Officially making 2013 the best year for games from 2014!



Best Non-2013 Game I Played in 2013 - Final Fantasy IX

2013 was a big year for many of my friends and family. I watched as loved ones got engaged, announced pregnancies, were hired for dream jobs, and just generally developed as people. But more importantly, I finally got around to playing the best JRPG of 2000!

I’ve seen many people claim that Final Fantasy IX is their favorite of the series, and it’s easy to see why. The game captures the simple magic of SNES-era Final Fantasys, while benefiting from the striking pre-rendered backgrounds of the PS1-era. Plus, as the last entry before the franchise began to look more and more like a J-pop music video with every new Roman numeral, I can see why FFIX might have a special place in the adolescent memories of some gamers.

Though I did have a few quibbles. Namely, the standard Final Fantasy plot that doesn’t make a lick of sense, the cartoonish one-dimensionality of a few members of the cast, the urge to set fire to my brain every time Zorn and Thorn popped up. But FFIX’s zealous charm covers for any shortcomings, and Vivi’s struggle with identity was the rare instance of me emotionally investing in a Final Fantasy character, easily making it the best JRPG I played all year.

Runner-Up: Dead Rising 2: Off the Record – On a scale from one to seeing Blue is the Warmest Color with my parents, how uncomfortable were the Psychopaths in Dead Rising 2 supposed to make me?



Best Game I’m Going to be Defending in a Comments Section in Five Years – Grand Theft Auto V

I’ve noticed a troubling trend with modern blockbuster releases. These days, big titles will be released with a tremendous deal of fanfare, all the reviewers will whip out their highest grades and their “Masterpiece!” superlatives, and the game in question will have seemingly cemented its coveted spot in the greater videogame canon.

Fast forward a few years, and an inexplicable backlash has festered in the community. Any mention of the game will prompt cries of “Overrated!”, and an unspoken consensus has been reached that the critical darling was actually a towering monument of suck the whole time. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, try striking up a conversation about Skyward Sword, or Skyrim, or the original “next-gen Grand Theft Auto,” GTA IV, and see how quickly you get shouted down by naysayers.

So to the inevitable future detractors I say this: Grand Theft Auto V is an amazing game. Yes, the game has its issues: a writing team apparently comprised of porn-addled fourteen year olds, a plot that’s more wacky caper than thrilling crime epic, and satire that’s as subtle as a Kanye West track. But the sheer scope and the, I don’t know, that thing, that magic of Los Santos cannot be understated. Rockstar crafted one of the most compelling and absurdly detailed videogame worlds in recent memory, and the unpretentious joy of terrorizing a herd of helpless cows with a forklift was unmatched by anything else I played this year. And in Trevor, the GTA series finally gave us an honest-to-god protagonist, a messy, complicated, whirling dervish of chaos and sadness.

Maybe I’m not exactly bold for defending the game when it’s about to be drowned in an avalanche of “Best of the Year” awards, but I assure you I’ll be a hero when the time comes for “Best of the ‘10s” deliberations.

Runner-Up: The Last of Us – Okay, hypothetical future tough guy, you can pretend like those opening ten minutes didn’t make you bawl your eyes out all you want, but that would make you a filthy liar.



Best Insta-Death That Still Haunts Me in Waking Nightmares –Tomb Raider’s Quick Time Tracheotomy

JESUS MOTHER OF GOD DID YOU JUST SEE THAT?! HOLY CHRIST THAT THING JUST TORE THROUGH HER THROAT LIKE WET TISSUE PAPER. OH MY FUCK SHE’S STILL MOVING HOW IS SHE STILL MOVING OH JESUS I CAN HEAR HER CHOKING ON HER OWN BLOOD WHY DIDN’T I MOVE THE JOYSTICK LEFT FAST ENOUGH WHAT DID I DO TO DESERVE THIS MAKE IT STOP PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF HUMAN DECENY I JUST WANTED TO RAID SOME TOMBS WHAT THE FUCK

Runner-Up: Spelunky – I’ll just gently ease myself off this cliff edge here aaaaaand an arrow ricocheted by body into a bed of spikes again ffffffffff-



Best New Pokémon - Dark Lord Klefki, Devourer of Souls

Allow me to direct your attention to a little article that was published on this very website shortly before the release of Pokémon X & Y. In this article the reveal of Klefki, one of the new Generation VI Pokémon, was met with disbelief and derision. Many, myself included, wrote off the sentient key ring as definitive proof that Game Freak was scraping the bottom of the monster design barrel. We all laughed Klefki off. Because we didn’t know any better. We didn’t know.

Now, anyone who has faced this eight inch behemoth in battle can tell you that it’s evil incarnate. It is steel forged in hatred. Its keys unlock nothing but madness.

For those of you who are not Pokémon masters, allow me to explain. Klefki is equipped with the Prankster ability, which gives priority to all status moves. Klefki can potentially paralyze and confuse an entire team before they’re able to land a single hit. This turns the finely-tuned chess match of Pokémon battling into a miserable game of luck. Twitching, crippled opponents struggle to attack while Klefki gorges itself on Leftovers and pops off Substitutes like a mogwai after a spritz.

Klefki is basically Rage Quit: the Pokémon.

Some people will tell you that Klefki is just an irritating gimmick that can easily be countered. Those people are hiding the deep scars this malicious, jangly bastard has inflicted on them. When Generation VII rolls around and the series inevitably turns another useless inanimate object into a Pokémon, we should all be prepared for that thing to be Satan made manifest.

Runner-Up: Hawlucha – It’s a luchador bird. Why would I even need to explain the appeal of a luchador bird to you?



Best Blatant GLaDOS Ripoff - The Stanley Parable’s Narrator

If there’s one emerging videogame trend I love even more than cramming Ellen Page or Ellen Page approximations into every major release, it is the inevitable spawning of countless GLaDOS clones. The sardonic narrator is a rich tradition that dates all the way back to the very dawn of time. Or at least, dates back to Monty Python and the Holy Grai. Which, if we’re being honest, is when time only just started to get interesting.

GLaDOS was a legendary addition to the pantheon – half omnipresent color commentator, half classic villain. The droll Brit serving as The Stanley Parable’s Narrator is a worthy successor, and with Portal references sprinkled liberally throughout the game, there’s an explicit acknowledgment that he’s a shameless parody of everyone’s favorite homicidal AI.

What puts The Stanley Parable’s Narrator over the top is how he operates as GLaDOS in his own uniquely meta way. He’s an antagonistic force running the player through obstacles like a rat in a maze, yes, but his primary purpose is to highlight the game’s greater points about narrative limitations. The Narrator’s most chilling moment isn’t when he’s mocking your futile attempts to stop a doomsday countdown. It’s when he’s pleading for you to get back on the one “true” path, showing the seams in The Stanley Parable’s grand design, and revealing that even the gentlemanly voice dictating your every action with effacing British wit is a prisoner to the shackles of story and structure.

Runner-UpBattleBlock Theater Narrator – I’m fairly certain Will Stamper was chosen purely for his exquisite pronunciation of the name “Hatty Hattington.”



Best Ending I Needed a Diagram to Understand - Bioshock Infinite

I’m an intelligent guy. That is to say, I ain’t no dummy. I enjoy the occasional cerebral stimulation, the occasional hoity-toity foreign film, the occasional rumination on the day’s sociopolitical events over a glass of cognac and a pipe packed with flavored tobacco.

But even I – esteemed paragon of sophistication and culture that I am – needed a godforsaken map to navigate the choppy waters that were Bioshock Infinite’s metaphysical mind fuck of an ending. Now, the particulars of the game’s closing minutes weren’t necessarily difficult to discern. Alternate dimensions, yadda yadda yadda, murder myself so I can be murdered by my daughter, blah blah blah, who are we but carbon copies carrying out our predetermined fates across infinite parallel universes, something something ragtime R.E.M.

It was the motivations of the whole sordid affair that eluded me, particularly those of aloof brother and sister comedy duo the Lutece twins. I felt as if I had missed a voxophone or twelve that explained why the cosmic pranksters were setting the whole doomed rescue mission in motion when they, y’know, were mostly responsible for Elizabeth’s role in the “drowning in fire the mountains of man” business in the first place.

Someone eventually explained to me that it was partly because Comstock had the Lutece twins killed, but finding that out just made me want to curl up and watch Duck Dynasty until I fell into a coma.

Runner-Up: The Swapper – So... hive-minded space rocks and disembodied talking brains try to make me have an identity crisis. No thanks, guys, that’s what high school was for.



Best Game I Should Have Played More and Will Probably Lie to People About Finishing to Sound Like More of a Discerning Gamer Than I Really Am - Monaco

Fantastic co-op games are the bane of my existence. It’s not like I don’t have friends. I have plenty of friends. I have more friends than you! But what I don’t have are friends who salivate over the idea of cooperative heists staged in a glorious orgy of color and 2D pixels. I know, I know – any friends who can’t appreciate Pac-Man as filtered through a cool French heist flick aren’t really your friends. But the two-bit boosters I played with in random online games weren’t my friends either, which took some of the excitement out of Monaco’s madcap thievery.

Going it alone was certainly a viable option, as Monaco’s addictively simple mechanics and gorgeous visuals are more than enough to buoy a single-player campaign. But a one-man job almost always ends in disaster. Rather than an intricate clockwork of color-coded archetypes executing a perfect plan, you’re usually reduced to a panicked, painfully unhip dash through multiple tripped alarms and tenacious guard dogs. It’s less The Italian Job and more The Thomas Crown Affair. The lame Pierce Brosnan one.

I’ll still tell everyone I beat the game, and that I didn’t just drop it after the first few levels, because not playing Monaco is a bigger crime than... whatever it is the characters do in Monaco. I don’t know, I didn’t really get that far.

Runner-Up: Don’t Starve – As someone who bursts into apocalyptic hysterics when the Wi-Fi is particularly slow at a Starbucks, the survival genre is a little too stressful for me.



Best Game That Consumed Hours of My Life I Could Have Better Devoted to Literally Anything Else - Cookie Clicker

Cookie Clicker isn’t a game; it’s a state of depression. The amusing thrill of establishing a confectionery empire draws you in, but the novelty lasts for all of five seconds before giving way to an endless slog of gradually rising digits. And just like depression, you find yourself unable to claw your way out of the misery, sinking deeper with each passing second into a morass of numbing banality and unlockable antimatter condensers.

You can interpret Cookie Clicker as a clever deconstruction of the meaningless number games that power most videogames, but to do so is to admit defeat. The compulsive click-a-thon actively mocks the “bigger numbers are better than smaller numbers!” principle that governs our lives as gamers, revealing that the hours you’ve whittled away plumbing for cookie dough in other dimensions is nothing compared to the lifetime you’ve wasted on electronic entertainment. Sure, we connect to the stories and characters and fantastical settings, but Cookie Clicker strips all of that away to reveal the cold, merciless engine running beneath.

“You feel like making cookies. But nobody wants to eat your cookies,” the game tells you before you make your first click, as fitting a tagline for the unfillable void in our lives as any in all of literature.

Runner-Up: Surgeon Simulator 2013 – Time I spent learning how to tear out a man’s kidneys with my bare hands is time I could have spent learning how to better communicate in a relationship.



Best Game I Want to Buy Based Entirely on Hearing 60 Seconds of the Soundtrack - Super Mario World 3D

It is the year 2013. An antiquated Italian stereotype should not still have the power to move consoles. And yet every single second I’ve seen of Super Mario World 3D has made me want to run out and buy a Wii U, a system I spent a solid year thinking was some kind of Sega CD-esque add-on for the original Wii.

I’m not likely to follow through on my impulse anytime soon, but Super Mario World 3D has guaranteed that I will pick up the console at some point, and that every second until that point will be spent in agonizing anticipation. The game just looks fun. Pure, unadulterated, Nintendo-brand fun. The catsuits! The Saturday morning cartoon visuals! A whole gaggle of Marios! (Flock of Marios? Herd of Marios? Murder of Marios? Whatever.)

But more than anything else, it’s the bombastic, jazzy score that has me foaming at the mouth. I’ve seen comparisons made to Studio Ghibli soundtracks, the undisputed kings of highly concentrated, swelling orchestral crack. But no comparison can adequately prepare you for the sheer joy of hearing Super Mario 3D World’s opening cut scene for the first time. It’s like a 1920’s screwball comedy distilled into its purest musical notes.

The game’s aural prowess shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering this is the series that gave us “Swing! Your! Arms! From side to side!” But seeing the old plumber rock a horn section like that is still nothing short of amazing.

Runner-Up: Rayman Legends – Whoever thought to combine '80s power ballads with a desperado-led mariachi band deserves a Nobel Prize in Goddamn Everything.



Best Decision I Made - Writing More Blogs on Destructoid

2013 marked the first time I had a blog post promoted to Destructoid’s front page, a validating achievement that I’ve been trying to recapture ever since. It’s like seeing your work put up on the refrigerators of hundreds of anonymous strangers. Only the refrigerators are computer screens, and all the anonymous strangers call you an idiot for saying Gaping Dragon was a difficult Dark Souls boss.

My first promoted post motivated me to write even more blogs. Some were also promoted, and some weren’t. The important thing is that I wrote them, putting forth the time and effort to bring my opinions squalling into existence in the bright, beautiful ether of the web. And I hope to do even more of that in 2014! Which certainly beats the plan I originally had before getting my first blog post promoted: wandering into the sea never to be seen again.

But I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank the community for providing a word of encouragement here, or some thought-provoking words there, and paying even a modicum of attention to my dumb thoughts. The reason I consider Destructoid to be the best gaming news thing out of all the other gaming news things is due in no small part to all you magnificent bastards who call this place home. You people are the real heroes.

I’m just grateful to play some small part in the madness, and hope to do so until this website is nothing but a shambling shell of its former self, overrun by spyware bots advertising cheap PC parts, eventually returning to the loam as we all one day must. Which, by my calculations, will probably happen sometime... March-ish?

Runner-Up: Seeing 12 Years A Slave – What are you doing reading another useless "Best Of" list? Go see 12 Years A Slave and do something important with your life!










Heroes will always disappoint you. I don’t mean to sound like a fourteen year old who just discovered Morrissey, but the sad truth is that no amount of faith in the inherent good of humanity can guard us against inevitable heartbreak by those we look up to. The ones we admire most – the shining paragons of everything we value – will eventually crumble before our eyes like false idols. Elmo will solicit sex from minors, Lance Armstrong will inject tiger blood into his veins, Will Smith will flirt with Scientology, and the world will keep on spinning, some terrible truth about someone we believe in just waiting to come to light.

So I was hardly surprised when I found out two years ago that Doug TenNapel, creator of Earthworm JimThe Neverhood, and some of my most cherished videogame memories, is actually a staunchly religious, homophobic wingnut. Because of course he is. Of course the brilliant imagination behind one of my favorite adventure games is brimming with hatred. Of course the man who gave us Klaymen, Big Robot Bil, Bob the Killer Goldfish, and The Evil Queen Pulsating, Bloated, Festering, Sweaty, Pus-filled, Malformed, Slug-For-A-Butt would deny gays the right to marry, because we can’t ever have nice things.

Yet as much as it pained me to discover that an artist I respected was a bigoted monster, his misguided personal beliefs didn’t retroactively invalidate the joy I had once derived from his work. Maybe the theological undertones of The Neverhood took on a more sinister meaning, but because I had played TenNapel’s games long before the internet gave him a platform to turn into everyone’s overly opinionated uncle at Thanksgiving, I was able to preserve my memories in a hazy bubble of ignorant bliss. Besides, the dude hadn’t been in the gaming business since the ‘90s. I could just go on not buying any of his comics and be satisfied that I wasn’t supporting his bible thumping with any of my money.

But then came Armikrog.



A spiritual successor to The Neverhood. An old school adventure game made entirely out of clay. Classic stop-motion animation. The vocal talents of Yakko Warner and Mike Fuckin’ Nelson. Soundtrack by Terry S. Taylor, the man responsible for the single greatest song ever recorded for a videogame. A talking alien dog named Beak-Beak.

I pledged $45 the second it was announced.

I wish I could tell you that supporting Armikrog was a difficult decision. That I spent days mired in an internal struggle to even consider the idea. That ultimately I stuck to my values and decided having a really cool videogame wasn’t worth supporting a man who likened same-sex marriage to a guy taking a dump in a women’s bathroom, a statement that makes me feel dirty just typing out.

But I can’t. I just told you the exact opposite of that. No matter how I try to rationalize my choice, I’ll have to live knowing that I’m willing to sell out my morals for a few tons of clay.

Though let me try rationalizing it anyway.



At the most basic level of the Armikrog Kickstarter, we have a classic scenario of having to separate the art from the artist. That’s step one, because unless you adhere to TenNapel’s beliefs that roving gangs of commitment-seeking gays are terrorizing our idyllic American towns, every dollar contributed to the campaign requires you to weigh the value of the product against the continued success of a man who would deprive people of their rights because of their sexual orientation.

Now, this is a conflict that’s raged since time immemorial, beginning with the first caveman to scrawl a couple of bison on a wall before declaring bison shouldn't be able to marry other bison. We’re not going to solve the conflict between creations and their creators in one half-baked blog post and a boycotted Kickstarter campaign. Personally, I’ve always been of the opinion that art should be able to stand on its own, viewed independently of any and all outside factors. In terms of videogames, this means ignoring every delusional word that comes out of the mouths of people like David Cage or Phil Fish, and playing their games separate from the influence of their embittered Twitter rants. 

Though the issue with Cage and Fish as examples, besides the combination of their names sounding like a TV show about a pair of crime-solving longshoremen, is that while they’ve said some pretty incendiary things, they haven’t said them out of outright hatred for another group of human beings. Well, except Fish, who seems to have a grudge against the entire nation of Japan. But TenNapel is an entirely different beast. He can gussy up his intolerance as unassailable religious belief all he wants, but the fact remains that he’s trying to impede a basic liberty that should be afforded to everyone. I stand by my argument of always separating art from the artist, but I acknowledge I’ve had to do some serious mental back flips to reconcile my desire for a unique and innovative videogame with my desire to not give money to a raging asshole.



The next stop on this beautiful sightseeing tour through Suspect Reasoningville is the kneejerk argument you’ll see anyone defending Armikrog make, and that is that a videogame is not the work of one person. No artistic endeavor is, except maybe those street performers who pretend to be dancing robots in Times Square, but even those people are the product of years of neglect and abuse by the whole of society. Armikrog is the work of Pencil Test Studios, an independent game and animation company founded by Mike Dietz and Ed Schofield, two people who worked with Doug TenNapel on Earthworm Jim and The Neverhood, but who are very much not Doug TenNapel.

Then there are the previously mentioned voices of Rob Paulsen and Michael Nelson, men I grew up watching on Saturday mornings, and who I’ve idealized to the point where I firmly believe their off hours are spent inoculating sick children and spreading hope and prosperity to the disenfranchised, hopefully through the use of robot puppets. And the entire reason I jumped in on the $45 tier is because that’s the first tier the game’s soundtrack is available on, and I can’t begin to describe the pure, unadulterated pleasure Terry S. Taylor’s honky tonk guitar strumming and charcoal-smoked babbling brings me. Just take a listen to “The Neverhood Theme,” or “The Battle of Robot Bil,” and try to resist the urge to throw money at your screen until this man makes more music.

Yes, it’s possible all of these talented people are part of one big, shadowy cabal who meet every Tuesday to bemoan the loss of “traditional values” and discuss the best way to rid the world of their archnemesis Neil Patrick Harris. Or, more likely, they’re all individuals who are putting forth an immense effort to lovingly craft a work of art that they believe is special and worth their time. Doug TenNapel may be the creative voice driving the project, but he’s a single part of a team, and the money put into Armikrog will go toward helping that team bring a fictional clay space fortress to life, and not toward supporting one man’s awful, myopic bigotry.



All of this isn’t to begrudge anyone for not supporting Armikrog out of principle. I wish I had the strength to stand by my convictions like that, and not sell out like a total consumer whore. Because by the look of countless comment sections, think pieces and, most tellingly, a pledge total that's going to need some kind of Daddy Warbucks miracle to reach its $900,000 goal in two days, it seems there are plenty of people who are much stronger than I am.

I’m simply trying to talk through my own decision in what is unfortunately a complex issue. This should be a no brainer. I mean, we’re talking a full-fledged semi-sequel to The Neverhood, the kind of weird, hyper niche game that could have only been put out by a major studio in the experimental days of the ‘90s. They just don’t make ‘em like that anymore. Or if they do, they’re made by an indie developer on a much smaller scale, like The Dream Machine. Which I’m sure is an absolute delight but, no offense, kind of looks like what would happen if Ben Wyatt finally finished Requiem for a Tuesday.

But while Armikrog promises to provide the kind of indelible, imaginative experience that I crave in videogames, it comes at the price of knowingly supporting a man with some reprehensible ideas. I mean, he wrote an article on how Republican women are happier than other women because “they don't mope around like victims or screech about how terrible men are for being men.” Seriously. He wrote that. That awful thought occupied his head, and then he transcribed it for other people to see. Horrible, right? I just gave $45 to that. How do you think I feel? 

I wish this was easier. I want so badly for there to be a correct, clear cut stance on this issue. Armikrog looks like a lush, colorful blip of hope in the endless slog of military shooters and mindless face-stabby murder simulators, but the loathsome qualities of its primary creative mind place the adventures of Tommynaut and Beak-Beak squarely in a moral grey area.

Which, I guess for a videogame made entirely out of clay, is kind of fitting.










I’m cheap.

Frugal. Miserly. A man of generic brands and packed lunches. Of 2-for-1 deals and 10% tips. Someone who feels a twinge of regret over every cent that leaves their bank account. 

Naturally, my penny pinching methodology extends to my gaming habits. I am an unabashed bargain bin gamer. When I patronize one of my three dozen local GameStops, I stride past the shiny new releases and go straight for the pre-owned racks. I even peruse that sad row of misbegotten titles stacked along the floor, where unlovable shovelware and old editions of Madden are banished to languish forever. 

Hell, I admit to actively warranting GameStop, an act that in and of itself is a declaration that I'm willing to throw my scruples to the wind if it means saving a few dollars on someone’s chewed-up copy of Mass Effect 3

But while I acknowledge some trepidation whenever I opt for the sad sack of knockoff Honey Nut Cheerios over the real deal, I'm perfectly at peace with never spending $60 on a new videogame ever again. In fact, I’d argue that being a gamer on the cheap is not only pragmatic, but a lifestyle the entire community should be embracing. 

That’s right. I’m about to get preachy on all y’all. Obnoxious vegan friend preachy.

First and foremost, we can all agree that the monetary value of videogames depreciate at an alarmingly fast rate. The only thing that loses value quicker than a $60 videogame is my stock with women once they find out I look nothing like my JDate profile picture. I won’t pretend to understand the economics behind how videogames are priced, but what I do know is that I could have picked up Tomb Raider on Steam last weekend – a game which came out a little more than two months ago – for a full $35 cheaper than if I had purchased the grungy Lara Croft reboot on its release date. 

What incentives, then, did I have to buy Tomb Raider before its price crashed harder than a boat full of adventurous multiethnic archetypes? Those who pre-ordered had the Sophie's Choice of deciding between a snazzy in-game bomber jacket, a throwaway challenge dungeon, and the option to make Lara Croft look even more like Andy Dufresne after he crawled through a river of shit, minus the redemptive rain storm. I'm not sure any one of those is worth $35 and 60-some days free of the traumatic experience of having to kill my first innocent deer.



In addition to underwhelming pre-order incentives, there's also the increasing sense that the red-blooded consumers who are happy to pay full price for a brand new videogame are spending their money on incomplete products. The debate over downloadable content will rage for millenia, but there's no denying the now common money-grubbing tactic of releasing “Game of the Year” editions is beginning to diminish the base worth of today's popular releases.

From a business standpoint, there’s an understandable need for companies to wring a few extra dollars out of an aging property by dressing it up in a tantalizingly more robust package. “Game of the Year” editions – or “Legendary,” “Prepare to Die,” “Ultimate,” or “Overzealous Superlative of Your Choosing” editions – offer an opportunity to pick up any straggling customers who have been holding out for a sweeter deal. But by releasing a definitive version a year or two down the line, loyal early adopters are being forced to put together their games piecemeal while the jerks who have waited for companies to come crawling to them bearing tribute are the ones being catered to.

For instance, this past month I picked up Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen. I had been waiting for the original game's price to drop and, lo and behold, during that time Capcom announced they’d be releasing an updated version loaded with extra content and a number of technical improvements, all at a respectable $40. What's more is that the expansion would only be available as a standalone retail disc, meaning those players who had helped make the IP a surprise hit in the first place would have to essentially buy the game twice if they wanted to experience any of the new content.

What would I have gained from buying the game at full price when it was first released? The satisfaction of knowing I had bought an inferior Dark Souls with a menu layout more complicated than Building Stories? That warm feeling you get when you know you contributed in some small way to the marble counter tops on a Japanese business man’s luxurious dirigible? The chance to once again enable a company who has turned shameless rereleases into a business model?

No, I would have felt like that schnook who buys his groceries right before the 10,000th customer. The one stuck with a bottle of hand lotion and a stack of Lean Cuisines without an oversized novelty check to show for it.



Besides the obvious quantifiable benefits, there’s the intangible upside of gaining a greater appreciation of games that are cheap by nature. Those who subsist off a diet entirely of triple-A titles may disregard the indie scene as the work of a bunch of art house elitists with severe emotional issues – which, sometimes, yeah – but it’s astounding what smaller developers have accomplished with products they’re going to sell for, at most, $15 and, at least, two ha’pennies as a part of some bundle. 

Many of my favorite games of this current generation have been cooked up by a handful of intrepid DIYers. Fez, Shadow Complex, Super Meat Boy, Binding of Isaac, World of Goo – I spent more on the standard indie gamer turtleneck and scarf than I spent on all those games combined.

But I'd be remiss if I didn't mention one niggling downside. As someone who only buys games months after their release, I’m constantly falling out of conversation with the gaming community at large. I would have loved to offer an opinion on why BioShock Infinite was or wasn’t a face-grinding assault on good taste. I would have loved to offer any opinion on BioShock Infinite, seeing as how it apparently touched on every topic from racism to quantum physics to the unappreciated genius of Cyndi Lauper.

But nobody is going to care what I have to say when the game’s price is slashed six months from now and I finally find out what all the ludonarrative think pieces are about. I’m in a perpetual state of being that guy at the office who only just watched The Wire and is trying to explain the “king stay the king” speech to everyone.



I'm aware that money is an expansive and multifaceted subject in videogames. Not everyone is coming from my income situation. There are those who can comfortably afford the latest releases, along with the jewel-encrusted chalices from which I assume they sup the tears of the impoverished. Idealistically, we should allow games to stand on their own merits, never factoring their price tag into how we engage with them. And, yes, I know buying used is not helping matters, as companies are now scrambling to find a way to make the most out of their initial sales.

But with evolving technology and bloated budgets and the advent of DLC, games are only growing more expensive.  And with those rising prices comes an equally rising tide of bullshit. We live in an age where we have to honestly ask ourselves if we should expect videogames to be playable at launch. Where games that ship more than 3.5 million units are considered colossal failures. Where mom and pop developers are creating imaginative and indelible gaming experiences for a fraction of what it costs a major studio to stamp out another generic Assassin’s Creed or Call of Duty

These are the reasons I preach bargain gaming. It’s pure. It’s liberating. It frees you from the toxic expectations you attach to a game you've devoted a sizable chunk of your paycheck to. It allows you to combat the rampant consumer abuse perpetuated by companies who view their customers as rubes to be swindled. A bargain gamer is a better, happier gamer. 

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a chewed-up copy of Mass Effect 3 to finish. And you won’t see me complaining about the original ending, because I now have like twenty different DLC conclusions to choose from, and one of them has to end in the Shephard and Wrex dream wedding I’ve always wanted.
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Look Game Freak, we need to talk. I know you’re hard at work on Pokémon X and Y – after all, that umpteenth boulder puzzle isn’t going to lay itself out – but we need to address this past weekend’s, shall we say, events. On this Sunday’s episode of Pokémon Smash, the weekly Pokémon variety show whose existence is apparently still warranted, you revealed what appeared to be a new form of Mewtwo, but what was in actuality a flagrant assault on my childhood.

I like to think of myself as a rational man, Game Freak. Open-minded, even. I consider myself to be someone who does not react to the announcement of a new character in what is ostensibly a children’s game with intense feelings of blind rage. But what the hell am I looking at here? People have been quick to label this offensive monstrosity as some kind of Dragon Ball Z reject, but that’s giving it too much credit. You just slapped Mewtwo’s tail on to its head. Then you added a weird futuristic flesh hood for, what exactly, aerodynamic reasons? Not only do you have the gall to repurpose the titan of the original 151 for your nefarious purposes, but you have the sheer chutzpah to do it in the most half-assed way possible.

Mind you, this is not coming from a fierce Generation I loyalist, either. I actually like Pokémon beyond Red and Blue. You know what my favorite Pokémon is? Garchomp. What’s there not to like about a face-eating land shark that moves at mach speeds? I also have a Milotic that I’ve used to beat the Elite Four in every region. I always make sure a Metagross is a part of my team, I have a Rotom that’s gotten me out of a lot of jams, and I think Victini is downright adorable. I look down on anyone who hasn’t played any of the series beyond its Game Boy days, because they’re missing out on the soul-enriching experience of catching a Bidoof.

But as much as I defend the nearly 500 other entries in the National Dex, there’s no denying that not every one of them is a winner. You made an ice cream cone Pokémon, Game Freak. You made three of them. You just slapped googly eyes on Mr. Tastee and you have to go to bed every night with that on your conscience. And that’s fine, really. You make all the sentient garbage bags you want. What’s not okay is applying the same level of forethought that you put into Stunfisk into an unnecessary update on my cherished childhood memories.



Listen, my frustration isn't entirely your fault. I’m in a very weird place right now. It just seems that recently the entire world is hell bent on stomping all over the things I once held dear. First Devil May Cry gets an Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show-style reboot with a Dante that has black hair and chugs energy drinks and, I don’t know, probably uses Snapchat to defeat Hell's unholy army. Then I learn that David Hayter wasn’t asked to voice Solid Snake for Metal Gear Solid 5, as if anyone could even fathom replacing that gravel-voiced angel. And now Disney is going all “Uncle Owen’s farm” on Lucasarts and torching the place, reminding me that nothing is forever and that everything beautiful in life eventually decays into a husk of its former glory before succumbing to an ignoble death.

Can’t we just have one thing that’s sacred in videogames? One thing that isn’t reimagined or replaced or ruined for the sake of a few easy bucks? I’m not saying Generation I Pokémon are some kind of untouchable ideal. They’re not. You guys made a transvestite in blackface that we all just kind of pretend never happened. And it’s not like updates on the original 151 can’t be done right. Electivire is pretty awesome, and Magmortar is a glorious realization of all the Pokémon I designed in 4th grade that had flaming cannons for hands.

But Mewtwo is different. Mewtwo is untouchable. Mewtwo represents everything I loved about Pokémon. The wonder I felt when I navigated Cerulean Cave’s labyrinthine passageways in search of the hulking genetic experiment lurking miles beneath Kanto. The triumph of capturing the telekinetic behemoth without chumping out and using a Master Ball. The escapist power trip of leveling that attempt-at-playing-God-gone-awry all the way to 100 and repeatedly tearing through the Elite Four to watch Professor Oak disown his grandson and crown me Champion in a delicious Schadenfreude loop.




Sure, maybe this Newtwo nonsense will provide a generation of kids all the same thrills I experienced. And sure, maybe this is all just the insane ramblings of someone who is ascribing too much meaning to a fictional children’s monster as the encroaching tide of adulthood threatens to sweep over them completely. But screw it. Let me have this, Game Freak. Mewtwo was a legendary back when that word still meant something. This abomination is only a reminder that the symbols of our youth – these silly totems that once held such significance – can be manipulated for a cheap nostalgic kick that keeps us chasing a feeling that we can never get back.

Seriously, seventeen years of fire/water/grass starters and this is what you jerks decide to change? I think it’s time you reevaluate your priorities Game Freak, and this is coming from a grown man who just took to the Internet to write a near 1,000 word rant about a new Pokémon.










I can’t be the only one who feels a twinge of guilt every time they open Steam. Playing a game on my laptop means having to search through a sea of grey for a handful of bright spots. I realize that’s true of a lot of things in life, but I don’t need to be reminded of the banality of my existence whenever I want to sink a few hours into Binding of Isaac.

I feel a perpetual sense of buyer’s remorse, the equivalent of waking up the night after a drunken Amazon shopping binge and having to ask myself, “When the hell did I buy Lugaru HD?” Because after years of Steam Sales and Weekend Specials and Crazy Uncle Gabe’s Low, Low Prices, I have amassed a library of videogames that I will never, ever play.

Plenty has already been said about how Steam deviously encourages a compulsion to collect games, which results in a backlog that does nothing but gather dust in the nebulous ether of digital distribution. But while some people may look to their bloated library with pride, I can’t suppress that aforementioned guilt whenever I have to scroll past the likes of Company of Heroes, Dragon Age: Origins, and S.T.A.L.K.E.R. People poured their blood and sweat into those games. Untold hours of entertainment lay within those games. I spent money on those games!

So to honor the titles I’ll never touch, I’ve decided to spotlight ten indefinitely uninstalled games in my Steam library. Perhaps in the hopes that acknowledging their existence will relieve me of their haunting presence, or that the infinitely knowledgeable Destructoid commentariat will tell me what I’m missing out on and convince me to give one of these suckers a whirl. Whatever the reason, here’s my therapeutic look at the top ten games in my Steam library that will never feel my sweet embrace.



10. Command and Conquer: Red Alert 3

Tim Curry and tactically deployed armored bears are the peanut butter and chocolate of my fantasies. Combine that with fond memories of my basement-dwelling childhood spent devising military masterstrokes in the original Command and Conquer – I attacked bases from two sides! – and the third Red Alert entry in the classically campy RTS series becomes an irresistible siren song.

But I forgot one crucial fact: I am a Bay of Pigs disaster when it comes to real time strategy games. My chief plan of attack consists of spending hours churning out the equivalent of Russia’s populace in ground units and then sending my forces to overwhelm the opposition by dying meaningless deaths. As a result, countless ore mines go undepleted and I have to sate my Tim Curry lust with YouTube clips of Clue.



9. BRINK

The dark period of videogame history during which studios tried to turn first person parkour into a legitimate mechanic will be regarded with the same bemused scorn currently reserved for the NHL’s glowing puck and Hollywood’s miserable attempt to turn Colin Farrell into an action star. Misguided street acrobat gimmicks aside, Brink is at least buoyed by a lively junkyard metropolis and an absurd amount of customization for characters with 30-second life spans.

But all of that is moot, because after dropping a measly few bucks on Brink I discovered the game lacks controller support. “But FPS’s are meant to be played with a mouse and keyboard!” rises the indignant cry of the noble PC gamer. And yes, they probably are, but when you’ve spent your entire life nursing from the teat of console shooters, trying to switch control schemes is like trying to learn how to drive stick. Telepathically. In a car full of angry bees.



8. RAGE

Because I wasn’t really of age during id Software’s heyday, Doom and Quake are little more to me than crude cave drawings depicting our earliest grizzled space marine ancestors begin their eternal struggle with low resolution aliens. I can respect the significance of a new IP from the grandfathers of gib, but I was more sold on the idea of being led around a mutant-riddled wasteland by John Goodman. Plus, how could I resist anything endorsed by Jesse Pinkman’s existential angst?

It’s just a shame that Rage had to be so late to the post-apocalyptic party. Releasing after Fallout 3 and Borderlands means I have very little space in my heart for any more arid ruins of civilization. And you’re telling me that the most innovative contribution to first-person shooters that the creators of the genre can muster is a godforsaken boomerang? When they give this generation its Mecha Hitler, we’ll see if I’m willing to play through the hundredth game that thinks the world ends not with a bang, but with dune buggies.



7. Rochard

I have no idea what Rochard is. A puzzle platformer? A run and gun in the Metal Slug vein? A silent foreign film about an impoverished Italian winemaker who must struggle to overcome the loss of his hands? My impression of the game is based entirely on its mystifyingly elegant title and its promotional artwork, which I always think is for Dustforce because of the protagonist’s unmistakable custodian vibe.

Incidentally, Dustforce is the only reason I own Rochard, as the two were lumped together in the underwhelming Humble Indie Bundle 6. That’s the indie grab bag that gave my library such other never-installed classics as Vessel, Space Pirates and Zombies, and Shatter. While those titles may one day engender enough interest for a playthrough, Rochard is the unquestionable complimentary flavor injector of the group, a curiosity to be marveled over but immediately buried in a drawer and forgotten about forever.



6. Lead and Gold: Gangs of the Wild West

My interest in team-based shooters is one of pure vanity. “Look at those Halo and Call of Duty troglodytes with their kindergartener free-for-all antics,” I scoff over my cup of chamomile tea and dog-eared copy of Zarathustra. “Thanks, but I prefer a thinking man’s FPS.”

Except in practice, the very notion of being relied upon to do anything more than spastically spray bullets sends me into a crippling panic. Even if Lead and Gold appeals to my natural love of anything Western and features a class that deals heavily in bear traps, it isn’t enough to get me over the fear that I might have to interact with people in a capacity more cooperative than calling them a homophobic slur.



5. Shank

A 2D beat ‘em up with a Saturday-morning-cartoon-by-way-of-Robert-Rodriguez aesthetic is the kind of stylized reimagining of a classic genre that gets my indie-loving heart throbbing. Yet as happy as I’d be to play a game whose very name conjures the delightful image of a shiv being buried in the kidney of an unsuspecting snitch, I’m hesitant to give Shank a try.

Brawlers have a reputation for getting boring after you’ve taken a lead pipe to the head of your 50th generic baddie, which usually happens around the fifteen-minute mark. As awesome as choking an oversized butcher with his own meat hook sounds, I fear Shank may match a masterpiece like Castle Crashers in terms of sheer personality, but not in depth. I’d rather not deal with all that blood-spattered disappointment.



4. S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. gets a pass from my Armageddon exhaustion because it released right before the recent deluge of end-of-the-world games. It also gets points for going with a The Road-style collapse of humanity, which I’ve always found much more believable than any kind of Mad Max badlands imitation. Piece of advice: if you’re bracing for doomsday invest in windbreakers, not dog skull codpieces.

What I’m less eager about is the equally realistic approach to gameplay. Guns that jam, a hunger system, the inability to withstand more than a few bullets? Hey, I get it. Being shot would be a total bummer. I don’t need a videogame that pits players against whatever the hell this meaty ray of sunshine is to try and teach me real world lessons. I’m all up for a challenge, but the reason we don’t have to constantly feed the characters we play is the same reason they never show people going to the bathroom in movies.



3. Amnesia

Amnesia showed major developers that they had learned all the wrong lessons from Resident Evil 4. The plucky Lovecraftian indie reminded us all that survivor horror games aren't about jump scares or quick time events, but rather the unshakable dread that a creature of unfathomable terror is always seconds away from wearing your skin as a lovely Sunday.

Though while I’ll admit that all those reaction videos of people emotionally breaking down more than I did at the end of Silver Linings Playbook sell me on Amnesia’s horror chops, I’ve always thought the game looked like a glorified simulator of that scene in every slasher flick where our teenage hero believes they’ll escape harm by knocking a bunch of furniture over in the path of 200 lbs of lumbering chainsaw-wielding hillbilly cannibal. That, and I kind of spoiled myself by looking up a screenshot of the game’s chief monster. Things are a lot less scary when you realize you spend the entire time being stalked by Oogie Boogie.



2. Greed Corp

I wish I was the kind of person who could play Settlers of Catan without quitting halfway through having the rules explained to me. Unfortunately, any board game that doesn’t strictly adhere to dice-based tile movement or involve an overly complicated Rube Goldberg contraption designed to catch mice is out of my league. Greed Corp may have caught my interest by offering a challenging strategy game doubling as a critique on unchecked capitalism, but I’ll never make it past the game’s tutorial.

Besides, I’ve always found something depressing about playing titles specifically designed for multiplayer by myself. And when the alternative is actually being friends with the kind of person who knows how to play Greed Corp, I’m not sure I want that either.



1. Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale

There was a very dark period of my life where I played Lemonade Tycoon every day for two weeks straight. I once stayed up until 5AM during a marathon session of Game Dev Story. Do you remember RollerCoaster Tycoon? Because I remember. I remember watching loan collectors circle like buzzards as I tried to keep Dr. Moosington’s Funporium Park afloat by courting the fickle needs of a never-ending parade of greedy little monsters.

The business simulator is my heroin, a genre that preys upon my self-destructive compulsion toward turning arbitrary numbers into better numbers. For this reason, a discounted Recettear was at once impossible to pass up and impossible to play. Cutesy item shop economics and a heaping helping of RPG elements are the ingredients for a sim speedball, and the moment I start this game is the moment I disappear down the rabbit hole forever.


Okay you beautiful, opinionated angels: tell me which of the games currently languishing in Steam purgatory deserves a better shake. Or perhaps you have your own shameful list of uninstalled titles you’ll never play? Share ‘em in the comments, and let’s all try to calculate how much money could have been better spent on charity.








Being a Nintendo fan is a unique brand of insanity. As an owner of a Nintendo system through every generation of consoles, I’m someone who has been playing the same video games over and over again for the last 24 years. I've essentially been buying updated versions of Pokémon Red ever since I was 10, and I don’t know if it’s just some form of arrested development that makes me believe they’ve changed the Legend of Zelda formula in a meaningful enough way to justify shelling out money for Skyward Sword. But there’s no denying there’s some sort of mental deficiency at play whenever I’m excited to see they’ve given Mario a new flying rodent costume.

Though I don’t think anything exemplifies my issues as a Nintendo fan quite like my anticipation for the upcoming Wii U. As a (debatably) fully functioning adult with a (relatively) sound, rational mind, I should be regarding Nintendo’s new console about as seriously as people regard Carly Rae Jepsen as a musician. I mean, you all saw the same E3 I did, right? A useless touch screen add on that makes the Kinect look like the Monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey? The only noteworthy launch title an overdue sequel to an eight-year-old game about micromanaging sentient plants? A social media system that is some combination of Twitter and the scrawled penises and racial epithets usually found in bathroom stalls? The Wii U isn’t a next-gen console, it’s Nintendo recreating the money burning scene from The Dark Knight.

And yet, despite everything indicating a colossal waste of a future paycheck, I know beyond a doubt I’ll have one sitting in my apartment one day.



I may not be elbowing the throat of some spoiled kid’s grandma to nab a box on release day, but I know somewhere down the line it’ll be sitting there in a Gamestop window, refurbished and significantly slashed in price. And like an alcoholic returning to his sweet boozey mistress, I won’t be able to help myself. I will buy a Wii U, its corresponding iteration of Smash Bros., and whatever steering wheel and inevitable Touch Screen Plus peripherals are needed to make the console semi-functional. Because if there’s one thing every Nintendo system since the Gamecube has taught me, it’s that I will happily fork over cash to wade through the company’s endlessly yawning shit swamp in search of the few gems they produce.

Take the DS, for instance. Touch screens have now become the norm in handheld gaming, but at the time Nintendo was introducing the usurper to the Gameboy line it seemed like they were touting technology that had been used by ATMs for years as revolutionary.The use of dual screens and touch controls really only appealed to Shigeru Miyamoto’s whimsical sense of childlike wonder, while everybody else just wanted games that didn’t try to awkwardly shoehorn them in. And confidence wasn’t exactly instilled by the DS’s starting lineup, which boasted repurposed Nintendo 64 games and a dog simulator that proved a hypo-allergenic alternative for people who could never know the love of a real pet.



Fortunately, as the DS winds its eight-year life to a close, we can now say with certainty that Nintendo’s grand experiment... wasn’t a totally unmitigated crash-and-burn failure? Look, the DS may very well go down as the last great handheld system, but a near decade later and poorly implemented touch controls are still screwing up the likes of Kid Icarus. And out of its bottomless wealth of cheap movie tie-ins and Bratz dress-up games, you’d be hard pressed to find a top 25 of titles that used the DS’s features to their full potential. Only a handful managed to take advantage of the touch screen to create something uniquely satisfying, while the vast majority used it for seemingly no other reason than to serve as evidence in a future class action lawsuit for inducing early onset arthritis. I look forward to my day in court, Geometry Wars: Galaxies.

Those titles that did figure out how to build a game around the DS, however, are unquestionable classics. See, it’s not entirely a sense of self-loathing and resignation that always brings me back to Nintendo. For all they’ve gotten wrong these past few years, the things they get right are the sort of brilliant games that bring you back to the days you spent inseparable from the end of an NES controller. When you weren’t such a jaded, cynical twentysomething, and you didn’t write angry blog posts about how the Zapper was an overblown and ultimately useless piece of hardware.

I’m talking about The World Ends With You, one of the few modern day JRPGs I managed to beat, because the fast paced swipe-and-tap battle system kept me from quitting out of sheer boredom. Elite Beat Agents and its Japense precursor Ouendan, which are still my all time favorite rhythm games and managed to save me a bundle on fake plastic instruments. And, of course, Kirby Canvas Curse, with which I spent more time playing with rainbows than an adult heterosexual male probably should.



And then there were those games that, while mostly shunting the touch controls off to the side, proved Nintendo’s other great strength. That is, as I said, convincing people to buy the same games they’ve played hundreds of times. I honestly can’t tell you what New Super Mario Bros. does differently than Super Mario Bros. 3 did in 1988, but that almost isn’t even the point. Nintendo has distilled the most standard genres – platforming, adventure, roleplaying – into their purest forms. Playing Spirit Tracks or Phantom Hourglass isn’t so much about experiencing something new as it is about getting a fix. The tried and true formula of dungeon crawling, light puzzle solving, and bosses with giant glowing weak points prone to boomerang shots are scientifically proven to hit all the right pleasure sensors. All the developers have to do is slap on a fresh layer of paint and they’ve got a best seller on their hands.

The Wii is an even greater example of this “diamond in the rough” phenomenon because motion control technology is gaming’s greatest monster. In fact, the entire console is an amalgam of short comings and inadequacies, and while I relate to that on a deeply personal level, it does not make for an enjoyable home entertainment system.

While Sony and Microsoft were busying exploring ways to deepen players’ online experiences, Nintendo clung to it archaic Friend Code system that was like the alt newsgroups of online multiplayer. Its library was a veritable breeding ground for low-res cash ins of more popular games that replaced everything fun with segments where you got to realistically turn a doorknob. And Reggie Fils-Aime should publicly shamed for any part he played in convincing the industry that the future of video games resided in virtual bowling.

The Wii’s legacy will forever be that of the puppy every family was excited to get for Christmas, only to be dropped back on to the steps of the SPCA two weeks later when they grew bored of it.

But its gimmicky trappings didn’t stop the system from releasing some seriously essential games. Waggle controls may never have transcended in quite the same way that the DS’s touch screen did, but the Mario Galaxy games are still the closest 3D platforming has come to perfection. Niche titles like Little King’s Story and Zack & Wiki provided the kind of cutesy all-ages fun that’s become rare now that developers are chasing graphic engines that most realistically render Lara Croft getting impaled on a rusty pipe. Donkey Kong Country Returns and Punch-Out!! were nostalgia-soaked security blankets.



And, again, it was Kirby that really figured the system out. Epic Yarn provided one of the rare motion controlled games that didn’t make players want to rend their Wiimote asunder. Why the pink blob has become the company’s chief innovator is beyond me, but it probably has something to do with having no established formula from which the slightest deviation would send fan boys into a frothy rage.

Okay, maybe I don’t have anything other than precedent to explain why I’m excited for the Wii U. Because, yes, dropping blocks into your friends’ Mario game sounds about as fun as jabbing them in the eye while they play, and half as useful. And, yeah, the recent stumbling of the 3DS proves the company can only go so long providing an inadequate package. And, I know, there’s still no denying the company is responsible for paying whatever backwoods ‘90s improv troupe created that Miiverse marketing atrocity.

But none of that matters. There will be a Legend of Zelda game for this system, and I am going to buy it. There will be a Smash Bros. game, and I will buy that. I don’t know what they have in store for Kirby, but it’s going to be revelatory. And I’ve already got my heart dead set on whatever insanity is going on in Project P-100.

So why am I excited for the Wii U? Shut the hell up, that’s why.