Amna Umen was born on the luscious planet known as Earth. Born in the latter parts of the 9th decade of the 20th century (the 80's in case there is any confusion). Amna's first console was an NES which he almost beat Super Mario Bros. 3 on...until his mother accidentally dropped a box on it making it reset. 17 lives were lost that day. Fast forward to his first new console, a Nintendo 64 where he beat his first game "Star Fox 64." But the good times were not to last, soon Super Smash Brothers would be released and he would fall into a deep dark addiction that would last 10 long years. His addiction would lead him to buy a Gamecube alongside his PS2 just to simply play Melee and Star Fox Assault, much disappointment lie in Star Fox Assault.
In the depths of his addiction his PS2 was a shining beacon of hope for a free life one day. But it was also not without it's vices, Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy X and XI, and Xenosaga all grasped their fingers around the young gamer and dragged him down into the depths of JRPG hell.
LO did he receive a gift from the gods at Playstation Underground one day in the form of a demo for Shadow of The Colossus. Countless times he replayed the demo, wishing each time that the demo would be the whole game. His eyes were finally opened to the true potential of gaming as an art. Going from friend to friend he proclaimed the majesty and beauty of the game and even though his demo disc was lost in his tribulations, his will was not broken. Speeding at over 20 MPH over the speed limit he rushed to his local game store on the day the game was released, and he did play the game, and his life was changed forever. No longer could he play the generic JRPG or cookie-cutter shooter without wishing for more from them.
In the modern age he has turned into a frugal gamer, no longer able to play games for as long as he used to when he was in high school, he picks his games carefully. He can be found reading up on the history of the Fallout universe or speculating about the downfall of Rapture.
And he has retired from Super Smash Bros., seriously fuck that series. Eat a dick Sakurai.
Going into this year I had no big expectations for big name gaming releases, The Last Guardian was nowhere to be seen and seemingly sinking, BioShock: Infinite was already looking to be delayed and I had no interest in the big name AAA titles that were in the pipeline. My focus for the first time was in the independent game market. I had already been captivated by the trailer for Journey and was looking forward to the oft-delayed I Am Alive, for me 2012 was the year I discovered a different side of gaming. That being said my most memorable moment in gaming comes from the 2D Puzzle Platformer Fez.
My roommate decided to get Fez after I downloaded the demo and we all fell in love with the games calming power. Taking turns we each made our way through the mysterious society, continuously being marveled by the ingenuity that Phil Fish put into each of the levels. One by one we each beat the game and for most moved on to other games. But I was so in love with the feeling of a relaxing video game that didnít make my heart beat become jacked due to getting shot from 4 places at once that I continued to play the game past the story ending and started to pursue the elusive 32 Anti-Cubes. For those who havenít played the game, the Anti-Cubes are Fezís equivalent to the other 64 stars in Super Mario Galaxy. More challenging to get and not necessary for completing the game, but rewarding for fans and able to extend your gameplay time exponentially. Slowly I started gathering the cubes, and when I say slowly I mean there would be some days where I wouldnít get anything and play for two hours without making any progress. For I knew where I had to go to make progress in my quest but I had no idea how to go about it, to help myself get through my low spots I started writing down notes about my puzzles and theories I had to solving them. This made Fez the second game ever to make me write down notes for a game, the other is one you might have heard of by the name of Myst. The notes helped but there was still something blocking my progress, a code I had yet to crack. Which leads me to my most memorable moment in gaming this year.
The Cracking of the Code
For days on end my roommates told me to just look up the answer so I could make some kind of find but I continuously refuted their cries, then I discovered a room that responded to every action I made with a symbol. Quickly grabbing my notes I scribbled down what each move corresponded to, and then went to where I had seen the symbols that were similar to the ones on screen. Trying what I thought was right didnít work at first but then I noticed that the symbols were not perfectly what I had written down. Making an adjustment, I tried a new codeÖ
You know that scene in I <3 Huckabees where Jason Schwartzman discovers that Jude Law and him are the same person and then he is seen dancing around the lawn as leaves fall and the music swells? Yeah thatís about the same feeling I had when my code worked. Unfettered, pure joy. Not since the adventure games of old had I felt such an accomplishment, with all my roommates asleep and with no one to brag to in real life I immediately texted my more than likely sleeping girlfriend and my best friend who shared an equal love of video games with me. I wanted to shout to the world that I had done it, but I had to sit there quietly in my dark living room smiling to myself as I looked down at the cracked code which now sat on my paper. The next day I went to each puzzle that had plagued me and quickly solved most of them, I say most because Iím still stuck on a few and to be honest have no clue what Iím doing but loving every minute of it.
Iíve said this many times when people ask me what I think of Fez. I say itís a calming almost nostalgic game that I love to play after a long day of working and wanting to grind Olive Garden customers into bone dust. It calms me and makes me happy, and holds my most memorable moment of 2012 in gaming.
[[Originally wrote this for my Tumblr but it feels more at home here among fellow gamers, enjoy]]
It seems that Nintendo has been cropping up in my life a lot recently, what with my girlfriend receiving a Gamecube for Christmas (a request that was only made so she could play Animal Crossing I think) and my roommate receiving her copy of Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, it seems Nintendo found a way to worm its way back into my life. Just watching the opening cutscene for Skyward Sword and watching Stef start off on her quest to pay off that dastardly loan shark Tom Nook made me reminisce about days gone by when I was one of the biggest Nintendo fanboys on the block. A broken DS and a very disappointing showing by the Wii (in my opinion) has pushed me away from my past love of Nintendo and into the more rough burly arms of Sony and itís warm powerful PS3, but it should be known that I did not go quietly.
I purchased my Wii with the express intent to play Super Smash Bros. Brawl, which quickly moved from the recreational play that I had with Super Smash Bros. Melee into the realm of ďprofessional gaming.Ē With a mission to prove myself as one of the great I took up the mantle of Ganondorf, dubbed by the community as the worst character in the game I took to learning him to the fullest extent that I could. The game became less fun and soon I was no longer smiling or enjoying my time with the game, I was instead listening to music (Opethís ďDamnationĒ on repeat to be precise) to drown out the outside world and doing nothing but practicing techniques and glitches in the hopes of perfecting the character. Matches with my friends were no longer the 4 player fun tumbles we used to have, they were now strict 1 on 1 battles with no items and set stages on old TVís so as to not incur a lag from controller to screen. The game much as life had become more about the work needed to succeed than the fun of it all. It only took one tournament filled with with BO ridden smash fans and a profound lack of social skills from said fans to forever push me away from the Smash series and in turn my Wii.
If you think about it, with gaming being pushed more into the multiplayer realm, games have ceased to be just about fun and now it is primarily about being the better player. Who can get their Level 70 Rank on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 the fastest? Who can survive more rounds of Horde in Gears of War 3? Which band can score the highest score on a song in Rock Band? How does any of this differ from work? Sure itís fun, but in multiplayer you are just continuously practicing to be better than the next person you meet on the battlefield or leaders board. Multiplayer in my opinion takes the whole relaxation aspect out of gaming, and turns it into a chore. Because of this Iíve relegated more towards strictly single player games like LA Noire or the Fallout series.
Along the lines of single player games I recently have been purchasing nothing but Mature rated games which donít shy about with their rating. Iíve filled my life with deep thought provoking games, that almost all share the same motif of taking place in a depressing setting. For countless hours Iíve roamed the wastes of the Fallout universe, or killed my way through the halls of Rapture, or fought against the combine and headcrab legions in City 17 and the surrounding areas. And though I would not ever give up these games for the amount of entertainment and enjoyment I have gotten out of them, there is something to be said about escaping to a world that is less bleak and more about the happier things in life.
Which brings me around to my final point and the closing point of the circle, Nintendo invokes a sense of nostalgia in me that harkens back to an easier time. I grew up with Nintendo games all around me, my first system was an original NES, and from there I went on to get the N64, a Gamecube, and a Wii as well as pretty much every handheld Nintendo put out since the original Gameboy up until the 3DS skipping of course the Virtual Boy because that thing sucked. Throughout that long line of Nintendo consoles I gained a lifelong love-hate relationship of the Star Fox series, mostly because it hit itís peak with Star Fox 64 and has just been struggling along ever since, developed crippling addictions to Animal Crossing playing the game everyday for almost 2 years straight, and played one of the most unforgettable adventures of all time in the Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker. With Nintendo seemingly creeping back into my life, I think itís high time I leave the dark, dismal worlds of my current generation game library behind and embark on another adventure on Sauria, or open a new home in Stefís town, or maybe even finally beat the Water Temple. Whichever I choose, Iím sure I will be happy with the fact that these games were all part of my childhood and can bring me back to that time even in my mid 20ís.
Late last year I read an article that I stumbled upon called "58 Reasons Why Your Wallet Is Going to be Raped in 2011" Since then I have been checking off games on the list as they release and I play it, or as they get cancelled or delayed to 2012. And as I look back, this was one of the best years in gaming in years. We saw new installments in both the Elder Scrolls and Legend of Zelda saga, a revitalization of the Deus Ex series, and we even finally answered the life long question for some as to whether or not Duke Nukem Forever would come out. Statistically this year I bought more games than I have in years, and that says something because statistically I'm poorer than I was a few years ago. So picking my annual game of the year is proving to be a tough task this year. To preface this post lets see what games have received my extremely high distinction of getting the fabled Greasy Gringo (It's like the astronaut for MTV Movie awards, only crappier)
2010 - Fallout: New Vegas
2009 - Batman: Arkham Asylum
2008 - Fallout 3
2007 - BioShock
2006 - Kingdom Hearts II
2005 - Shadow of The Colossus
2004 - Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
2003 - Final Fantasy Tactics Advance
2002 - Kingdom Hearts
2001 - Final Fantasy X
Without a Fallout release this year I actually have to think about which game was the best combination of all things writing, music, fun and overall non-shittiness. So which games made the cut this year for me? Let's take a look.
LA Noire - Team Bondi
Being a lifelong fan of noir films and adventure based games made evident by my love of Grim Fandango. So when this game came out it was almost a dream come true, a detective game with more investigation than action and an amazing recreation of 1940's Los Angeles? How could it get any better? Wait I can play it in black and white? [Audible orgasm]
Portal 2 - Valve
When originally released as a fluffer to the already stacked release of The Orange Box, I'm sure Valve had no idea that this graduate based game would achieve the level of success that it did. Capitalizing on that Valve worked hard to top the fun and ingenuity that was the original Portal. Without doubt they succeeded and surpassed their goals with what I have said is the most entertaining game I have ever played. After beating the game 3 times in a month long span I had to give away my copy to stop myself from playing it a 4th. The fact that some of the best written characters of video game history are computers and AI's from this series says something about how well the writing is in this amazing sequel.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution - Eidos Montreal
To follow up a classic such as the original Deus Ex in this modern day of gaming is no easy task, but Eidos went head first into this challenge and came out with a stellar work of video game art. With a beautifully bleak world and a truly unique experience for each person playing it, this game made good on it's trailer hype (ahem Dead Island take notice) and became one of the most philosophically deep games I have played since BioShock.
Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Bethesda Game Studios
I will be honest I haven't had the time to play this game yet, as soon as I find the money and time to commit to this game I will be playing the shit out of this game. I have seen quite a bit of it being played and graphically for an open world game it is stunning, and the sheer amount of stuff that you can do is amazing. Call me swept up in the hype of it all but I am truly looking forward to diving balls first into this fish filled western RPG and could possibly name this a postmortem game of the year.
The ICO and Shadow of the Colossus Collection - Team ICO
Call this cheating but the improvements made for this collection did truly blow me away, I was just expecting an update to the graphics and a quick grab for money missed out on limited runs of ICO. But this was a truly amazing set, bringing new gamers into the realm of Team ICO's genius.
And now for the fabled Greasy Grino award for AmnaUmen's Game of the Year!
Deus Ex: Human Revolution
At the end of this game I felt the same feeling I felt when I finished Shadow of the Colossus for the first time, a sense of playing something different from the rest of the games of it's time. Human Revolution made me think hard about what my thoughts were on human augmentation, it made me think of the ethical and moral implications of making ourselves better through computer integration into our bodies. Also as stated earlier, each experience I have played and watched my friends play has been different from each others. Until I watched my roommate play through the game his first time I never knew that Wayne Haas will attempt to shoot you if you get him fired, or that the battle with Namir can be made extremely harder if you get the new chip that the game prompts you to get (which thankfully I skipped over completely by accident). With so many options and a absolutely engrossing world that sucks you in and almost depresses you, this game was an absolutely amazing experience to be had and will truly be one that I replay for years to come.
Welcome folks to something I do every year, but instead of putting it on a blog that no one will read, I decided to share it with the D-Toid community. This also means I will not blow up my followers on twitter's news feed. It's almost 8:15 PM here on the East Coast, nearing 5:15 PM on the West Coast and the Sony Press conference is just about to start. Initial hopes for me are some more info on The Last Guardian, a demo of Uncharted 3, and at least some news on Kingdom Hearts III but I don't know if that will be here or in the Square conference.
8:17 - Conference starts off with a dubstep driven 3D montage of what appears to be coming in the next 12 months for Sony. Ah yes forgot about Human Revolution which is going to be awesome.
8:20 - Jack Tretton as always starts off the conference. Makes mention of the PSN debacle first and foremost. Which is very nice that they brought that to light in the beginning, it shows that they are not trying to push this one under the carpet. He apologizes to the consumers the most and acknowledges that we were the most affected by it. You're damn right! I couldn't get my Fallout DLC until last week.
8:25 - Tretton talking about how well connected the PS3 is to the world outside of gaming entertainment. New service coming that gives free movies and TV shows, I can get behind that.
8:27 - Naughty Dog given the honors of presenting first for the conference. A demo of Uncharted 3 coming up on screen now.
8:28 - Demo opens up with Nathan on a ship that is swaying back and forth, possibly sinking. Lighting effects are stunning as it is come to be expected with Uncharted. Although a beautiful demo, so far it's not doing much for impressing me more than Among Thieves.
8:31 - Ok now things are getting impressive, the gravitational shifts when mixed with the battle is amazing to see. New move seems to be where you can activate a grenade on an enemies belt, all this happened before the ship seemingly rolled and Nathan was forced to swim out of the water. Demo ends with Nathan outrunning a wall of water.
8:34 - Subway will be running a promotion in October where you can play the multiplayer, 5-Dollar Footlongs and Freaking Awesome Multiplayer? That's a win-win situation.
8:38 - Insomniac games is next up with Resistance 3. I was never a huge fan of Resistance, don't get me wrong it's a good series but I'm just not big on FPS games.
8:40 - One of the voice actors sounds like Randy Marsh, just sayin'.
8:41 - Finishing up with Resistance 3 now, never played any of the originals so it's very unlikely that I will play this.
8:42 - ICO and Shadow of the Colossus remakes will be released this fall and be in 3D. Hooyah for Fall! Meh for 3D since I think 3D is kind of a gimmick.
8:45 - 499 for 3D? Eh I'm good with my primitive 2D games.
8:50 - A step out for a second to finish making dinner and now KB 24 is on stage?
8:51 - Don't know how I feel about what KB 24 was saying about NBA 2k12....mostly because I don't play sports games.
8:52 - I guess we are moving into the PS Move part of the conference, despite the price, I still like the Move over the Kinect as the Move seems to allow more control to the player and isn't just an expensive peripheral to play on-rails games (I thought this before Sterling constantly made mention of the trend)
8:55 - If Umrao Mayor got laid in his life before 30 I would be surprised, the man has quite the mouth breather voice.
8:58 - inFamous 2 up now, the original is definitely on my to get list from the PS Welcome Back Package.
9:00 - User-created missions for inFamous 2? Giddy up.
9:01 - New third person shooter coming to the PSN, looks to be a mix of Transformers, and Borderlands
9:02 - Sly Cooper returning in 2012, I know a few of my friends will be more than stoked for this news.
9:05 - Hilmar Petuson comes from Iceland. Dust is an MMO that will truly cross platforms...didn't FFXI already do that or did I piss away 3 years of my life on an imaginary game? Oh nevermind it looks to be a shooter.
9:07 - They aren't Space Maurines! They are space mercenaries.
9:09 - BIOSHOCK INFINITE! Ken Levine I will have your brain babies!
9:11 - PS Move from the sounds of it is going to be implemented into BioShock Infinite. Levine is talking about how Sony talked him into the move to get more casual gamers into the world of BioShock. Ehhhh I can see the appeal...hold up...new BioShock game for the NGP.
9:14 - Ok so I can see the appeal of getting more casual gamers, but I don't see many casual gamers falling in love with the world and story....wait BioShock comes with Infinite?! FUCK! I already own it!
9:16 - New Star Trek game, right I'm a Wars guy, no interest in this, sorry. I'm sure a few Trekkies wet their pink panties when they heard that a move controller will be shaped like a phazer.
9:18 - EA games being given the run down right now, SSX, Need For Speed and Battlefield 3...Battlefield 3 will come with 1943! Ok they sold me on that game, BF 1942 was my shit back in the day.
9:20 - Up now is the NGP, being a DS man myself, I'm gonna check out for a second and pull my dinner.
9:24 - NGP now officially known as PS Vida, this may possibly be a buy for me in the future, especially with a BioShock game coming in the future.
9:26 - God DAMNIT! AT&T?! Really? Goody it's the iPhone all over again.
9:28 - Ok getting a little close to the end and I'm not feeling like Ueda is going to come on stage. I will voice my problem with this in a short while.
9:29 - Ok the graphics for the PS Vita Uncharted game are amazing. And the combination of touch screen and dual analog might be the killer for Nintendo's reign over the portable market.
9:50 - Like Bender, I'm back baby!
9:51- Oh effeminate Japanese man, although I know a lot of people are excited about this game, I gave up on Tekken long ago.
9:52 - Ok so the Vita definitely sold me on it's future. I'm excited to see what it can do when released. The Vita part of the conference ends with a video montage.
9:56 - Wi-Fi version of the PS Vita available this holiday season for 249 dollars. Alright Nintendo, you now have to step your game up (yes I resurrected that old PSP ad) to hold onto the market, (299 for the 3G version)
9:59 - Alright that's the end of the conference...snubbed again for Ueda, that makes two years of no show for the genius. Also absent was Journey and Infinite for more than just the PS Move addition.
That's all from me for right now, overall a mediocre conference with very few surprises from Sony, but they did accomplish what they set out to do. They sold that Vita like it was pure water after the apocalypse.
I am a man who grew up a Nintendo Boy, year after year I would play all the best offerings that Nintendo put up, and as I got older and gained more money I also acquired a love of Sony products starting with the PS2. But even still as I got older I remained a Nintendo Boy at heart, with a high love of Star Fox, F-Zero, and Super Smash Bros. But now as we are nearing the revelations of the next gen of consoles, I am at an impasse. The Wii was a disappointment to me as a Nintendo fan so far with my game collection for the Wii measuring in at a measly 4 games. I just have not seen the need to buy anymore than the 4 games I have as the library is terrible. Hell I opted to use the only AV input on my HDTV for my PS2 rather than use my Wii because I play more PS2 games than I do Wii games. I don't want to bitch too much about the Wii so I'll just sum it up with this, the Wii has shook the very foundations of my Nintendo Fanboyism. I have no idea whether I even want to pay attention to the new system if it's game library is going to end up filled with a ratio of 100:1 for shovelware to decent innovative games on the Wii (To possible haters: Yes I pulled numbers out of nowhere).
So with my views on the current Nintendo console known, let me get into what I'd like to see from E3 this year.
Nintendo Shows that Project Cafe will appeal to both casual gamers and old school Nintendo fans alike
I remember my friend saying as the Wii came out that he was worried that it would just be overrun by crappy motion control games, and lo and behold it happened. Please Nintendo, give us fans that grew up with your systems something to scream (in joy) about. Show us that some of the older series will be seen on the new system using the (I'm sure to be) innovative controls.
Also if you could just kick Sakurai off of the next Smash Bros. game that would be swell as well, thanks!
Square at least attempts to offer a hint that Kingdom Hearts III is being made
Seriously, it's now been oh 5 years since Kingdom Hearts II has come out and we haven't heard a single peep out of Square about about a true sequel to it. I'm tired of these crappy spin-offs that have stories that are worse than some fanfictions out there (that's right I said it, 365/2 was pure crap). By this time after the original Kingdom Hearts we had a sequel already, and I know that coding for the new system has made it hard to pop out a sequel in a reasonable time but for the love of God! At least give me some hope that it will be out by the time the new consoles roll out. Forget Versus XIII it's doomed to fail, just admit defeat and move on.
New information from Team ICO
I'm being very patient with my favorite development team because I trust their vision and judgement above all other in their field. But at least a little more information on what's going on with The Last Guardian and the ICO/Shadow of the Colossus HD remake would be nice. Specifically why the HD collection was delayed. Not complaining, just would like a little insight. Oh also some news that the planned Shadow of the Colossus movie was canned would be nice. I'd like to be able to sleep again without having nightly nightmares about how detrimental to the original game it is going to be.
Massive amounts of news from Valve
Gotcha! You have earned your rest Valve. Just don't get too drunk and reveal whatever F-STOP was supposed to be.
A private 1 on 1 dinner with Ken Levine
Seriously, someone capture him for me and send him back Pennsylvania way. I want to know how this man does what he does. But in all reality I am really excited to see that demo.
Completely insane wantA straight adventure game from Lucasarts
I know the adventure genre of old is essentially dead, but there are still some of us out that replay some of your old games year after year because they are just that good, so why not strike gold again and stop churning out saga altering action games?
And finally absolutely nothing from the follow developers
You had your turn to speak, and you lost your privileges. Sit down and shut up.
Oh, I guess that's it on the developers that have lost all of my respect this year.
And there you have it ladies and gentlemen, a man's desires for the upcoming E3. Happy pre-best week of gaming ever!