"We constantly have to revisit 'Why would Donkey Kong do this?' or 'Why would this environment be like this?' And then we start thinking: 'We're making a game about a gorilla wearing a tie.'"
-Michael Kelbaugh of Retro Studios on Donkey Kong Country Returns
"I have to say it's kinda scary how much you know about this game."
-Nicolau Chaud creator of Marvel Brothel
This post is a direct response to the super awesome Stephanie K and her blog titled BIG BANG BUST. I just got a bit too wordy in the comments. Read hers first for any kind of clue as to what mine is kinda about. You can watch the episode here and judge it yourself. Tunnel Bear it if you are outside the country.
Big bang bust was a bad episode all around, that I had quite a few issues with. I'm just going to type this out at work and hopefully it all makes sense.
Firstly, this line here: "Raj suggests that the men partake in an forty-eight hour gaming marathon playing The Old Republic."
Technically they just played "star wars MMO." I find it more insulting that they had to explain what the Star Wars MMO was to a person like Sheldon Cooper who I would argue knows quite a bit about the game. This irked me because these people have hobbies that shouldn't need to be explained this half assed. That alone made this episode reallllly annoying to me. Anyway, on to your fine points.
I think the show has hit its pushback point. They set up a major plot twist as the finale to season 3 when Penny "slept" with Raj in Leonard's bed, and they've since been attempting to work around a lot of the issues the show creates. Penny's an alcoholic now, Amy's a stalker and Bernadette is now the strong female, without any alpha personality. I'd argue it's more character assassination than anything these past two seasons, but still I actually enjoy watching the show.
The ladies on the show are actually played to the ideal female for their gents. Penny is the hot girl a guy like Leonard could never get yet does. Amy is the girl Sheldon would date, because she essentially is Sheldon (note this has been changed recently to give Amy more personality quirks for better and worse). Bernadette is Howard's mom. Able to take care of Howard and boss him around whenever she wants.
These are the roles the women fulfill. When Bernadette went to the playdate, it was akin to somebody's over assertive mother coming in to see what her boy was doing all this time. It set up the fact that the lone guy just wanted a guy's weekend. I'd argue with the way that Bernadette played this out, she did exactly what a mom would do. Pew Pew Pew and all. The rest was just noise.
What was more insulting was the way they handled the Amy/Sheldon relationship at that moment. Amy was hurt by Sheldon's complete and utter disregard for her and when the show ended, she was never really satisfied. She never got what she wanted, she settled in to the submissive abused wife role which frankly irked me. This is a character that should be akin to Sheldon in terms of what she brings to the table. Sure she needs to be submissive to him as he's the bossy one of the 4 focal characters, but to be as dismissive to her feelings as he was was terribly played out. A simple phone call from Amy to his mother could have been one of many situations that would have fixed this in a jiffy. Instead, he was never wrong about being a selfish ass. That kinda annoyed me.
Also, about the whole nerd girl under representation. Big Bang Theory is all about 4 nerds and their girlfriends. That's what the pilot brought forward and that's the basic overlying theme running throughout. The show brought a girl on who was nerdy, cute, and funny earlier this season. However, that was played to counter Leonard's long distance girlfriend. She was an ideal fantasy girl that could not last on the show. Reason she couldn't last was putting a normal personality on a show about people who are absurd archetypes is counter productive.
I'd also argue against the fact that Chuck Lorre can't write women. This dude wrote Roseanne, Grace Under Fire and Dharma & Greg. All strong female lead shows. Out of all of his shows, the prevalent theme is to match up odd pairings and see what kind of fireworks appear from this. I think that's why they attempted to bring Bernadette in to the guys night. Sometimes this all works and some times it goes horribly wrong. This time, it was just a bit dumb.
However, I will posture that demographically speaking, having a girl gamer on TV isn't worth the risk writing her. At least not without a guide to bring her in to the fold. I mean this as a public image thing. Girls are smart, attractive and are usually played either to comedic stereotype or true ideal. It sucks, but guys are usually stupider in respect. This is still the case with the Big Bang Theory, though the guys are stupider socially. I said above what this show does, but I think there is an overall disdain for gaming in public consensus. It's a guys hobby would be the cheap and dirty way to describe it.
It essentially is a waste of time in a decent enough group of people's eyes. This is CBS so the show is trying to hit the 14-65 year old range, and perception I would argue is geared towards trying to hit those older notes. My mom doesn't want to see normal guys and girls staring at a TV and pressing buttons. That's not entertaining. What seems to work in formulaic fashion is guy gets girl to enjoy his hobby and girls response is played to laughs.
This works because most people can correlate doing something new with their date that they don't want to do. With perceptions of gaming still being male dominated, I understand the logic of this. It's an easier theme to produce for laughs, which is why they do it here. It's lazy, don't get me wrong, but it does the trick all the same. This segment would be akin to the old shopping at the mall gag.
Obviously this could all have been alleviated with a female "nerd" that came in to the group. That's unfortunately not possible in this case. The core 4 are the focal points and the new girl member would be akin to Poochie. I'd welcome her on, but she's unnecessary. Meanwhile, Penny as a character still needs help and I'd throw someone her way instead of the other.
The only possible way is to have Raj get the only normal girl the show has produced, but he can't since he has an impairment (and he's the most feminine of the group). So, we're stuck at a friend because obviously a normal girl wouldn't stick around these people. See: anybody that has ever dated Leonard.
I guess I wrote this all up because I didn't see anybody else that watches the show reply to you, so here is my long winded response.
Ugh...I am tired. I left the hospital not too long ago because my Mom is having chest pains and her PCP refused to see her. EKG/Bloodwork shows nothing serious, but they are keeping her overnight for observation purposes. She's kinda pissed about that.
I've been tired all week. It's like my brain just isn't working intelligently and I can't get it to click on. My head knows what it needs to do, but mid-sentence the words drop off. It's debilitating when you have an idea for a time sensitive piece and nothing you write want to write can come out of your fingers.
I figured I needed a brain dump and well, this is where my brain gets dumped. Apologies in advance.
I'm going to South by South West (SXSW) this weekend which is partially why I'm tired. I've been pulling extra hours to get time off for the weekend so I can cover it. I'll be staying at my sister's place since she has to get together with her band mates to practice for the first time since she left for American Idol.
Since she doesn't perform at SXSW til Thursday, I've got a place to crash all by my lonesome which is nice. This means I can finally make time for a Dtoid NARP. I hear those things are...well things, so it'll be a pleasure to experience it. Huge kudos to whoever is running the thing (Sean Carey?). I'll look it up tomorrow. Still, that guy (or gal since I haven't met you) that's hosting it is awesome. I'll try not to mess up your house.
I kinda wish SXSW were cheaper. The interactive event runs $900+ for panels which is a bit ridiculous. However, the majority of gaming things happen at ScreenBurn which is free. So...while I don't get to see some awesome Funimation panels, I do get to see them at the Funimation happy hour and booth for everything else. Hopefully I can trick them in to literally translating everything their panel discussed in like a 5 minute conversation.
I guess this whole brain dump thing is to clean me out before I take in SXSW. Hope it works so I can play through some Starhawk with a clear head.
I've also been a bit in the creative spirit recently. After Wolfire ran their Humble Mojam Bundle, I began testing some of the techniques I had seen over their live stream. While I couldn't code a game to save my life, I have been playing around with XNA a bit.
Using some coding offered by Oneksoft and a few others, I think I have starter code for a bare bones platformer I can tweak. This means literally nothing without a real sit down to understand the code, but I have a start. From there, I've been doing a bit of pixel work for a silly game idea I came up with.
I'm calling it the Kite right now, and since I don't have much to show for it, I'm going to leave it as is. Maybe one day I'll have a real game to show you all (or more realistically, I'll have an unfinished mess on my computer for years).
I did however make a game for Pirate Kart this year. Well, by game I mean level, but you get the idea. Originally, there was a collaboration Knytt Level that I just couldn't get open for some reason on my laptop. Instead of quitting, I just made an entire level myself after asking around.
I wanted to base it on some pixel art and big exploration. I wish I had more time to work on it, but in Glorious Trainwreck fashion, I put it up under a deadline to let it be judged by all those real developers at GDC.
I think it's a really cool thing to be able to put an event together that just takes any game made in a short bit of time and showcase it in front of the biggest creators in the industry. I really would like to think that people like Cliffy B, Phil Fish, and Yoshiro Kimura sat down to play some of these.
So download it and judge it. I worked hard trying to create a theme built around the concept of twins in gaming and I made a really large level in a short amount of time.
Speaking of stuff I did, I wrote an article on Avengers vs X-men. I'm not sure I'd consider it something to be proud of, but the article was a lot of fun to write. Probably the most fun I've had writing in a while. It essentially was a history project on both the official Avengers vs X-men crossovers, but it was really all an excuse to talk about the first trade I ever owned.
It's one of my favorite books in my collection, mostly because absolutely nothing about it was familiar when I first read Marvel books in the early 90s. The X-men have Mohawk Storm who has no powers, Magneto in a cabana shirt and a dude named Dr. Druid on the Avengers. It's a book trapped in a bizarre chunk of history where lots of things should be explained out, but its really not necessary.
The one thing I did begin to notice between the two crossovers is that it features both the strongest and weakest Avengers teams ever assembled. I mean seriously.
Weakest Avengers Team ever: Black Panther, Hawkeye, Giant Man and the Wasp
Strongest Avengers Team ever: Captain Marvel, Captain America, Thor, Dr. Druid, She-Hulk, and Black Knight
I used the article as a stepping stone to catch me up on the AvX event this spring as I'm kinda getting an itch to read some comic books again. Like on a regular basis. I'm a bit tepid at burning through AvX as the kick off to getting back in to the painfully expensive habit that comics has become, but it does seem like an interesting thing to read.
I've been watching a lot of Netflix and not playing games recently. I think I've tapped the well on everything I want to actually see, so I tried out Archer and Better Off Ted. Surprisingly, I have enjoyed these.
Better Off Ted's first season was masterful. It was brilliant, smart, and had a nice little love triangle thing testing the waters. I was almost happy to say it was the worst cancellation I had ever seen in the history of television. Then I watched what was season 2 and I was starting to get it. The show was still cute and funny, but it lost a lot of the brilliance the original series brought.
In essence, it got lazy. Characterization started to become unfocused and they started hitting line drives instead of home runs with the comedy. It was still a quirky show and kinda fun, but that was all.
Archer on the other hand I tried on a whim. I hate H. Jon Benjamin (the voice of Sterling Archer) in almost every single role he plays. He just pulls me out of the shows I'm watching. Nothing against the man, it's just the phonetics of his voice seem to do that.
I didn't seem to have that issue with Archer. I don't know why, I just think the way his tone is paced works excellently with Benjamin's role. Archer is surprisingly witty? Smart? That's not really it. I'm kinda drawing a blank on this one. It's surprising.
It's surprising me, which is always a compliment. I'm not sure if the show will grow legs like Venture Brothers or not, but so far I'm enjoying it. Now if only I had FX to watch the current season.
That I guess is all I've got on my mind. Mass Effect 3 has dropped and I know you kids are all playing it. I might do the same one day, but for right now I'm just tired. The multiplayer deal is turning me off since I'm forced in to buying this on a console that doesn't play online unless I pay it to.
I just don't feel the want to finish the fight. I'm not overly impressed with the single player ME3 demo and I'm having to replay Mass Effect 2 to get to the Arrival DLC to learn specifically what's connecting the two. I'm not really stoked to play ME2 again as it is long and excessively repetitive.
I can't believe Madonna was the classy one in the sandwich
It's been a long week and I've not been sleeping very well so I'll try to keep this somewhat sensible. It's only Wednesday and I'm already kinda burnt out. Anywho, words...
Did you all watch the major sporting event of the weekend? After looking at my twitter feed that's probably a no. I'm not much for talking about it as I didn't care for either team so it was really a lose lose situation.
However, people seemed to get in a tizzy over some lady that flicked off the camera at half time. I was shocked by this because I thought the big controversy was going to come from the N-word that kicked off their duet.
Apparently I was the only one who heard that. I guess suburban white women with no time on their hands can't understand rappers rapping. Go figure.
Bah, enough with the sports talk. Actually, I'm not sure what all that has to do with Valentine's Day. I'll have to get around to it later I guess.
I marathoned through Breaking Bad Season 1 last night. It was enjoyable. It takes the exact formula that Weeds took, but turned it up a notch. It's honestly quite a show to watch. See a good drama will draw you in with it's people. Something that usually explains why I hate shows like NCIS over shows like Bones.
I could care less about any cast member on NCIS as they all annoy me to an extent that I force other people to change the channel when it is on in their homes. Sure, I feel like an asshole for dictating what their TV can show them, but their TV can show them better.
So Breaking Bad is all about a brilliant chemist in his mid-life crisis dealing with the fact that he has just learned about the cancer spreading through his lungs. So, looking to raise some money for a child on the way, a wife without a job and a handicapped son that probably will have a hard time in life providing for himself and his family, he starts making meth.
And like most of our first job's in a field, he has a really bad first week. Throw in a DEA asshole of a brother-in-law, a narcissist sister-in-law and his lack of funds paying for his problem, you have a fantastic little drama. It starts off a bit uneven, but by episode 4 it gets solid.
The super awesome Christine that gave us codes for Extra-Life posted up a Valentine's writing contest from The Behemoth. Despite giving the game out to you all for the event, I don't actually own a copy of Castle Crashers which makes entering this event impossible. However, I want somebody here to win them an awesome Pink Knight figurine so I'm spreading the word because it's cool and I always love a good writing contest.
DETAILS: There will be two categories: Doubles & Singles.
To enter into the Doubles: Write a blog post about how Castle Crashers contributes into bonding with your significant other, your favorite moments together, etc!
To enter into the Singles: Write a blog post about why itís better to play on your own, battling enemies/friends, to rescue and kiss online princesses (which is perfectly okay)!
You can write in any style that you want.
RULES: - Entries must not exceed 500 words in length.
- You many only enter into one category.
- You publish a Cblog online and send the link to Christine@TheBehemoth.com.
- The deadline to to enter will be February 13, 2012 at 5pm PST.
- Winners will be announced on the 14th.
- Emotion must be felt.
- You must be okay for the prize to arrive after February 14, 2012.
- Winners must be okay with us reblogging your post (linking it to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr).
Oh yeah, game stuff.
Apparently, someone who has translated Sakura Wars in to Russian is attempting to do the same in English. Now currently we've only got a sampling of pics and I don't even know this guys translation quality. HOWEVER, this is something super awesome amazing and I hope it bears fruit since the PSP version of I and II aren't coming over after V's shoddy sales.
Speaking of translations, Monkey Paw Games is fishing for Sega Saturn games ideas on Twitter for some really weird reason. Seeing as how they have a good relationship with Vic Ireland, I asked about Dragonforce. They responded something akin to buy more Vanguard Bandits *wink wink*, but ideally their is somebody out there at Monkey Paw that could bring this out. I had a Saturn a long time ago and played only garbage on it like Bug. I missed out on excellence and I want this to come out.
I was recently reading through the Iwata Asks with Hironobu Sakaguchi and was intrigued by it. While I've not been paying attention to the title outside of the trailers, it was interesting to actually read an interview of his. As a fan of his works, that hasn't been necessary before. However, since this is his first billed directorship since Final Fantasy V, it was an interesting read to see how he responds to his project. Highlight of it all was when Hironobu Sakaguchi used the word "highfalutin." Just wouldn't expect that from the father of Final Fantasy.
Finally, thanks to Gamespite, I found out that the Super Gameboy was actually originally a development kit to test the regular game boy games on a TV. I don't know why this was a revelation to me, but that kinda blew my mind. Somebody at Nintendo had sat down and seen all these people testing Gameboy games on the TV and had an epiphany. Let's sell it. I don't know of many development tool hardware that really get circulated outside of a company, so this was just pretty cool to me.
Found these strategy guides at Half Price Books. I went in looking around for something when I was forced to go home early from work one day because I had covered somebodies shift earlier that day. I walked around only having seen a good deal on the Mahou Sensei Negima Omnibus and decided I wasn't interested. Then I went to clearance and found these all marked down to a dollar a piece. The highlight is the LoZ Spirit Tracks hardcover which came with a map.
I don't know what I'll do with these, but I always love a good strategy guide so it was a good haul.
I guess I'd figure I'll take a quick second to highlight some of my twinfinite articles I would probably have posted with you all. One of the main reasons I took the job was because of the Watchmen article I wrote. Personally, I felt I needed to condense my articles to certain content in the Modern Method network. This is giving me a bit of range to expand on and while I know I could have done it here, I don't think I my brain would have.
The other reason is that I can attempt to get me some press passes. Sorry, but I don't go to cons. Like ever. This is a reason to expand my horizons while reporting on fun events.
I also like to be on podcasts, but I still haven't gotten over my initial public speaking timidity.
Fun thing, the Watchmen article is the first time I've ever been called a mongoloid. I've seen the internet use the word before, but I was thankful it was never in regards to me. How naive I was. Jim Davis shocked me with that one. Over 3000 words reduced to nonsense with one word.
I have been called shitbird though. That one's not new to me.
The fact that all Californians now have the right to marry was a really cool way to get in to the Valentine's Day spirit until Rick Santorum stomped that parade down. I dunno how somebody attempting to run for an office that represents all Americans posts something like that.
My wife got an early Valentine's present in the form of a tablet. She seems to like it and I haven't actually seen it in an official capacity. She deserves it though, she's works hard in a suburban retail store.
Those people are animals.
Fun story, there apparently was a shooting in her parking lot in front of their store. Nobody hurt thankfully, but her loss prevention manager now has a bullet in his car bumper. Freaking recession man.
To make up for that depressing news, this comic made my week. Drawn within a single day no less. Unbelievable.
I dunno, this was just some random stuff going through my head this week. Since I won't probably have another article up before V-Day, I leave you this old post of mine and a wish that you all have a Merry Valentines.
So yeah, I went to Disney World. This is like my 3rd time going, but it was my first time going to Epcot. We only went for a day, but we were able to see the Animal Kingdom and all of Epcot, so I say we did what we wanted.
Also, I forgot how expensive it is at Disney. It's magical and whatnot, but when your money starts evaporating out of your wallet, you know you are in trouble. Thankfully the carnies (or whatever the Disney equivalent of carnival games folk is) only take credit cards so I was able to leverage my debt on to my cards.
I don't know if I'll be buying any new games any time soon is all I'm saying.
Fun trip overall though. We ate with Mickey, Daisy and Goofy. Got to see some lions. Road on a dinosaur. Typical Disney stuff. It was a good trip.
Well, I also got a side job writing with Law of Thermal Dynamics and a few other interesting people at a small startup called Twinfinite. While I'm not paid any sort of real money, it does afford me the ability to try and write news articles which I'm not really used to. I can also write some features that are outside my norm and it gives me some crew to bounce ideas off of. The bad of all this is that I'm not going to be writing as many Cblogs. I could try crossposting, but I already know how that's received round here.
However, unlike a lot of people, this isn't goodbye or whatnot. I figured I'd keep you all informed, I'll leave some links to blogs that actually would have been posted here Dtoid, but I'm not going to force you all to read that nonsense in a real blog. I'm just going to refine my focus more on personal blogs. So, you'll be seeing more of these and less of the long blogs about boring stuff like . Not sure how long it will take me to adjust between the two, but this is still my blog. That's my work blog, this is my me blog.
Alright enough of that crap. On to real bloggy blog stuff.
I got Netflix.
Not as impressed with it as I thought I would be, but my wife is LOVING the TV backlog that she can now watch. The kid has Pocoyo and Super Why to keep company when I'm busy doing things around the house. It's a big distraction around here, but at least it gets me using my Wii more.
Yup, streaming this through the Wii because I'm not Gold Microsoft. Your competitor is currently getting more playtime than you are within this household.
You wanna know the strangest thing about Netflix? Whenever I ask somebody about something to watch, they always recommend TV shows. No actual flix have really been recommended. Ah well.
I've been watching Being Human. US version for the 14 year old girls that read my blog out there. It's basically like Twilight, but more CW style TV drama with Sam Huntington. You most likely know him as the kid from Jungle 2 Jungle (the somewhat shoddy remake of Little Indian, Big City). Well anyway, Sam Huntington and Doomsday (Smallville) are like the Odd Couple who happen to rent a haunted house. He's a werewolf, Doomsday's a vampire, it's all just dripping with issues and angst.
My wife loves this and at least its better than having to actually watch Twilight. It's better because Sam Huntington can actually act.
So there's that. That and my disappointment at the overall lack of decent anime offered on Netflix. It's like they scraped the bargain bin anime licenses and snatched them all up. The only good stuff is the stuff I've already seen on numerous other distribution networks.
They have 2 ghibli's and one is not a Miyazaki product. The other? I already own it.
Not sure how you people have subscriptions to this service for more than a year. I did get to see Superman/Batman: Apocalypse finally and it was mediocre. High action, shoddy line work due to translating thin pencils and straight jaws in to animation. The last bit of the film is worth the price of admission to see the Superman Darkseid fight, but watching the rest of the film to get there is just not fun.
I dunno, it's like DC has the perfect opportunity to fix a lot of the issues they have with their books and they cop out and make some cheap fun. Is it fun? Maybe. Is it rewarding? Not usually.
Superman/Shazam was a collection of shorts so I was unimpressed, even if they were decent. They all kinda felt like fully realized pitches to Warner Bros.
Enough TV/Movies/Netflix. Games. This is a games blog and I do play them.
I was burning through Knights in the Nightmare (PSP) on my flight to Disney World and I don't have a clue how to play it. I went through the tutorial 3 times and nothing came of it. There is nothing more infuriating than flying for 3 hours in cramped quarters and not being able to get something. I don't know if this was a lot easier on dual screens, or if I'm just stressed from flying, but it just didn't connect for me.
Thank goodness it came with Yggdra Union so I could at least boot that up from my memory stick. Seriously, this was disappointing. It's like Resonance of Fate all over again. I'm completely interested in the game, I just don't know how to play it. My mind isn't wrapping around this correctly.
I've been seeing a lot of sexism in games blogs running around and I have a lot of things to say about it. Unfortunately I'm a dude so I have this fear of coming off like a douche and I know how easy it is to look like that on a topic like this. I dunno. It's like one wrong word can sink a ship so quickly that the world will ultimately crush you, yet every time I read these things my opinions tell me to stand up. "SPEAK YOUR MIND" it shouts.
I guess what I'm saying is that I'm a wimp. Blah.
I went on a tangent about the infuriating archetypes that sink a reasonably sane woman in video games, and nobody seemed to complain. Can I do a post on this?
It'll probably take a while though. Worse comes to worse, if you ask me a question in the comments, I'll probably have an answer on it. Needless to say, this blog is on my mind and the lovely Elsa really pushed the idea of doing one of these blogs back in to my head.
I guess I'll just end this all on a few things about SOPA. SOPA apparently is dead, PIPA is still up in the air. I know there are a lot of people out there that were calling for an active protest from Facebook and Twitter. Unfortunately, social networking is the life blood of movements in protest. Not sure if people would have spread this idea with out it. I mean sure there is the chance your mom and dad might wonder where Facebook is and yes they could have done something more, however ultimately we used these sites to communicate our message.
I don't know how well as "Save Porn" was trending in my area, but at the very least, I spread my message through to my congressmen. So my SOPA message went out, hopefully my PIPA message did the same.
The year that was 2011 has come to pass. Gaming has taken many great leaps forward this year (and some backwards), but overall the year has been another smash hit for the industry. With all the amazing things that happened this year, I figured I would take a break and highlight some of my favorites for the year.
This was my 2011.
BEST GAME I DIDN'T GET AROUND TO UNTIL THIS YEAR NOMINEES:
999: 9 hours, 9 persons, 9 doors 999 is one of only a handful of visual novels that have reached American shelves. Phoenix Wright was a series that showcased what VN's were capable of and 999 showed up and surprised western markets with a crazy story and some really smart little puzzles. Aksys did a fantastic job translating this wildly interesting title. The end result was something that was phenomenal.
Game Dev Story Game Dev Story is a small title for smartphones that tasks you with growing your company from a fledgling developer to one of the biggest studios in the world. To do so requires you to manage various different aspects of running the company to finally craft the Game of the Year. It's a fun little management game that is incredibly addicting. My phone battery is constantly low because of this game.
Nier Nier is quite possibly one of the most interesting action RPGs I've ever played. It is a combination Bullet Hell Shmup, Puzzle and Role Playing Game. It has a soundtrack that could be considered one of the best ever. It has shockingly beautiful backgrounds and design elements. This game is woefully one of the most underrated games I've ever played.
Yggdra Union Yggdra Union is a fairly simple Sting SRPG that combines Fire Emblem with card game mechanics. What makes it really smart is that it's not overly difficult in implementation and it doesn't offer a rich customization system. It's a straight forward game that allows itself to present smarter ideas in the differentiation of cards and map layouts. It's brilliant in it's simplicity and that allows the gameplay to really shine through.
WINNER: GAME DEV STORY
All 4 of these games are fantastic and are terribly underappreciated. However, I don't know what happens in the hours of my life that disappear when I'm playing Game Dev Story. I start it and then 3 hours later, I'm looking around wondering why it's suddenly dark out. This game is an addiction that I often have to distance myself from to make sure I can actually do things I need to do in life.
BEST MARKETING STRATEGY NOMINEES:
Ken Levine at E3 Ken Levine, here's an idea. You have one of the most interesting, gorgeous and well crafted games coming out for a console next year. Do you ever wonder how you can get people to remember this? Just show up to E3 like you own the fucking place. No need for expensive booths or dueling dragons. Just show up at Nintendo and Sony right after you wow everyone with your trailer.
Phoenix Wright and Ghost Trick Ghost Trick is a very interesting game with a fantastic creator in Shu Takumi. However, some people missed out on Phoenix Wright, the game that got him international notoriety. How do you gain him some more fans Capcom? Reprint the original Phoenix Wright and try to meet demand for the title from new comers. Package the thing with Ghost Trick making it one heck of a deal. Now all I can ask is that they reprint the 2nd and 3rd games.
Serious Sam Indie Strategy Serious Sam is a series that has replicated the Doom/Duke Nukem formula and created a pretty spectacular franchise with it. This year as a marketing ploy they decided to get a trio of indie developers to create Serious Sam: Kamikaze Attack, Serious Sam: Double D and Serious Sam: The Random Encounter. These three games transformed the Serious Sam formula in to something new and unique. It's just smart to give us interesting new games to ramp us up for Serious Sam 3: BFE. It's as smart as this Double D trailer.
Strategy Guide Strategy Vanguard Bandits is an obscure Working Designs SRPG that has just been rereleased on PSN by Monkey Paw Games. Working Designs was synonymous with super awesome collector's editions back in the day and this game is no exception. To replicate some of that feeling, Monkey Paw decided to officially release the full Strategy Guide along with the game. That's really really cool, especially with a game that has multiple paths. I'm a big fan of Strategy Guides and this was icing on the cake for my purchase.
WINNER: SERIOUS SAM INDIE STRATEGY
Ken Levine almost got this nod for being a badass. However, I don't know anything about Serious Sam games. Well at least I didn't until this cool little barrage of awesome started happening. Best way to advertise any game? By just giving us more games. It was creative, it was smart and now I know Serious Sam. Foot Punch!
GAME OF THE YEAR (that I haven't actually played yet) NOMINEES:
Bastion Bastion is colorful, interesting and truly an audible wonderbar of gamer candy that was the highlight of the indie game scene. I just haven't actually...played it. I've been buying indies at the low low price of $1, so even though Bastion looks like a walk right up my alley, the little guys have been taking care of me. New Years resolution time: make sure stumble in to the store and buy myself a $20 MS points card and pick up this beauty.
Radiant Historia Radiant Historia has been compared to Chrono Trigger. This can only be considered as a good thing. The 3d work on the DS looks pretty amazing and it's an Atlus creation and translation so the story has to be good. It's a game that was developed with both Tri-Ace and Shin Megami Tensei teams, and I just keep adding more words that make me wonder why I don't own this.
Tactics Ogre -Let Us Cling Together- Tactics Ogre Let Us Cling Together is a remake of Yasumi Matsuno's genre revolutionizing SNES/Playstation SRPG. I have never played said game, however I would go to my grave defending the brilliance that is the Final Fantasy Tactics series. I'm a huge fan of this man's work and I have been aching to play this game for years. Now that it's on PSP and I finally own one of those, I need to get it.
Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception Uncharted 3 amazed me at E3 with it's ship gameplay. The only thing holding me back from this game is the fact that I have yet to play through Uncharted 2. Being the chronology buff that I am, it would be obscene to try and play one with out the other. I do want to play this though. It looks like something you would hand to someone to explain the word "entertainment."
WINNER: TACTICS OGRE -LET US CLING TOGETHER-
A Yasumi Matsuno SRPG will always win out on a list unless he has another mental breakdown in the middle of development. This man is an idea man and his implementations created the most interesting things in Final Fantasy for me. I badly need to play through this, but I just haven't gotten around to pick up my copy yet. That will soon change.
BEST PUZZLE GAME OF THE YEAR NOMINEES:
Catherine Catherine is something you get when the Persona team needs to fiddle around with a new engine. That's pretty impressive. Catherine is a pure tower climbing game and it gets legitimately hard at some points. What sold the game was the sex appeal, but the game they created is amazingly solid. It's not a game for everyone so that attention to story created something that really pushed people to keep pushing forward to get to the top of the tower. It's probably the finest concept of taking a simple game system and making something exceptional of it.
Ghost Trick Ghost Trick is a brilliant little puzzle game. Essentially the idea is to manipulate background items to solve mysteries. This leads to a cause and effect style of gameplay and the entire system was brilliantly put together. Though the story isn't nearly as good as the Ace Attorney games, the game does have an interesting hook to keep you moving from crime scene to crime scene. This hook makes the game more fun to play through as you aren't broken up in to chapters like Phoenix Wright forced you into.
LA Noire LA Noire was a title plagued by internal issues in Team Bondi. The game that we got was something that had much of Rockstar's over the top story telling wrapped up in an interesting new crime solving mechanic. Not many games take you across mechanics like this while staying in the same engine and it is definitely a lot more interesting than Grand Theft Auto IV was. Figuring out the little ticks of a witness is pretty cool.
Portal 2 Portal 2 is the sequel to Portal, one of the greatest games crafted this generation. How do they top their predecessor? By being Valve and designing something that feels eerily similar and completely unique. For fun, they then added some co-op multiplayer just to pad the game out. If you don't quite get why people lick the shoes of Gabe Newell, the work that they've put in to this game shows why.
Cole Phelps is batshit insane and so his little interrogations usually went nothing like I wanted it. Portal 2 has somebody that's a bit too catty for my liking in the beginning which dragged the game down early on. Ghost Trick just didn't really capture me like Catherine did with it's story elements. Maybe it's my preference for dating sims or maybe it's just the fact that it was structured in such a way that broke up the tedium of the puzzles to maximize enjoyment. Catherine is batshit insane like LA Noire, it's catty like Portal 2, it's kinda brilliant like Ghost Trick in gameplay. It's something unique and even at it's laziest, I still was extremely interested with it.
SHOCKER OF THE YEAR NOMINEES:
Corpse Party Corpse Party is an odd little horror visual novel created in RPG maker. What they do with this game is incredible. The audio work involved accentuates the exploration system and crazy story. Playing this game without your good headphones on is a crime. I'm not a fan of horror games in the slightest, but this truly shocked me with some of the smart techniques they used to get thrills.
King of Fighters XIII King of Fighters XIII is absolutely gorgeous and if you play fighting games, you know this already. What shocked me the most though is the system to unlock customization options for the characters. My only KoF game was 99 which had a terrible color customization system. The way this one works is it allows you to gain custom colors the more you use your favorite fighters. This leads to more usage of characters that aren't as popular like Chin in an attempt to create something unique. This system is really fun and keeps me coming back for more as I think up more costumes. I keep thinking new costumes for everyone and it's getting me to play and learn this system more and more.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky The Legend of Heroes is like every Falcom game that has been woefully ignored by everyone but the hardest of the core in the west. Trails in the Sky actually plays more like a Japanese PC RPG than any other RPG I've gotten to play in the west. It's smart and a bit long winded, but ultimately Trails is one of the few pure RPG's I've gotten to play in a while. That's something that I found myself missing recently.
Wizorb Wizorb was something I downloaded after looking at a few screenshots. A minute after playing the game, I bought it. I don't usually do that. I usually think about my purchases, but this game was good and I wanted to give money to it. The brilliant sprite work paired with the challenging Brick Breaker mechanics makes Wizorb something fun and unique to play. It does enough to create something really refreshing.
I did not plan on buying Wizorb when I downloaded it. I did and that shocked me. All of these games are surprisingly good, but I probably could see myself buying them at some point. Wizorb really shocked me with the quality put in to it. Best $3 I spent all year.
Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai Haganai is about a group of lonely hearts have banded together to create a club to learn how to gain friends. The first place this group of outcasts decides to start with is games. Trying to feed off the social multiplayer games, they take to Monster Hunter to disastrous effect. Throughout the season they expand on this and try dating sims and even drop in to experimental VR gaming. The first half of what should be a simple Harem Comedy turns in to an exploration of popular Japanese gaming tropes.
Imaginary Range I've written about Imaginary Range already, but it simply takes e-reading and adds a great little mini game twist to it. This breeds something interesting and with the writing style, I can't wait to try the sequel to see how they improve.
Jimmy Olsen Oneshot Jimmy Olsen is Superman's best friend. Hearing a fantastic and witty first person accounting of his day to day relationship is entertaining. With Superman on vacation, it's up to Jimmy to save the world from Alien Invasions and cross dimensional weirdos while trying to salvage his relationship with a girl way too good for him. He'll do all this just as soon as he gets off his butt and stops gaming.
The World God Only Knows TWGOK is all about the King of dating sims using his masterful video skills to capture loose souls. It's a silly plot, but this has turned out to be one of the most refreshing harem comedies in a while. This year aired the second season which handled the series as masterfully as the first. To be able to turn simple romantic tropes and give them a video game twist is brilliant.
WINNER: JIMMY OLSEN ONESHOT
Expect a Comics in Games on this bad boy.
BARGAIN DEALER OF THE YEAR NOMINEES:
Best Buy Best Buy decided to dissolve their Gamers Club earlier this year which reduced the amount of bonus points gamers could get. I had feared this would reduce the amount of extras I could get, but instead they retooled their games to gain a bigger advantage in the marketplace. This means they are shifting more units of games in and out of their stores. This is good news for gamers. They also started selling used games, but I don't walk in to Best Buy to buy used.
Indie Bundles The Humble Bundle was a smart idea to raise a little extra change for developers and for charity. From this concept we've now received quite a few different bundles this year which has given us great games like Jamestown, Super Meat Boy and Cthulhu Saves the World bundled with other games for dirt cheap. A deal that's good for charity is a super deal.
Nintendo 3DS Price Drop Nintendo got a lot of flak for their huge 3DS price drop. Why? The price right now is fantastic for consumers. More units moved means more games that can be created and sold. Even if you feel wronged by the plunge, you were eligible for 10 free downloadable titles on top of it, making for one of the best deals for consumers. This was one of the greatest price drops to ever happen for consumers.
STEAM Steam is steam. If you haven't heard the term "Steam" in conjunction with "deals" then you don't PC game. The deals are outrageous and developers that made ports from smaller platforms like XBLIG are able to see how much more profitable Valve can make them.
WINNER: BEST BUY
I don't PC game all that much and I'm not interested in a 3DS. I buy the Humble Bundle every time, but I'm not really paying for the games. Those are like added perks. Best Buy on the other hand has given me tons of opportunities to use my reward zone account to get bonus points with work purchases. Any time I get a $10 certificate I flip it for a $10 PSN card. Getting deals like Golden Sun and Dragon Quest IX for $5 is a steal and whatever deals their competitors advertise, I price match. Major retailers being more aggressive in the market can only be good for gamers and Best Buy was really good to me this year.
GAME OF THE FUTURE
Bioshock Infinite Bioshock Infinite looks so unlike Rapture that I'm astounded by it's beauty. Throw in the intrigue of a game built around an escort mission and I don't know what Infinite is going to be like. I just want to play it. It's like they are making something more fantastic than Bioshock. How can somebody not be excited by this.
Gungnir Gungnir is a Isometric Tactical SRPG from Yggdra Union's creators. I already have Yggdra Union in this post and I'm not even a big fan of the Fire Emblem style of SRPGs. To have Sting give me an SRPG in the style that I want greatly pleases me. Having a focused Tactical SRPG will be nice after FFTA2's unfocused mission structure.
Mass Effect 3 Mass Effect 3 is the final send off to the ME universe. If you aren't interested in how this all ends, you must be insane. I want so many things out of this game it's unreal and I can't wait to put it in my hands and judge it for what it really is. I want to kick ass with a team of aliens and save the Universe. That's it. Also, there better be a harem route this go round.
Ni No Kuni Ni No Kuni is the gorgeous new Level 5/Studio Ghibli JRPG. I for one have been itching for a real console RPG for a while now so this seems like a beautiful way to reward me. Half the games I've been buying recently, I can't play in front of my kid. I now don't have to play in secret with this and I'm excited about that.
WINNER: BIOSHOCK INFINITE
Game looks sooooooo GOOD. I mean honestly, there were only a few really big issues that Bioshock had when it came out. If the guys at Irrational Games can fix just a few of those problems, you already have a potential game of the year contender. These games all look amazing, but Bioshock Infinite looks like something fantastic.
CONSOLE OF THE YEAR NOMINEES:
Microsoft Xbox 360 The Xbox 360 has the definitive console online experience paired with the best console marketplace. That is unless you are an indie developer. Then they tucked you away somewhere on the dashboard. Gears and Halo came out to satisfy the first party while 3rd party specials still popped their head up. Not much done amazingly well this year, but they didn't do much wrong either. Since I'm silver, all these perks like Youtube mean absolutely nothing.
Nintendo 3DS The 3DS came out to lukewarm sales. Launch games like Pilotwings and a Super Street Fighter IV port were a few of the only must have games on the list. While the design and though process put in to the game was interesting, Nintendo had to push a massive year long marketing campaign to really drive sales. Eventually they were forced to offer a price drop. They have gained some choice games like Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7 to really start pushing the benefit of the lower price point.
Nintendo DS The DS is still that system that keeps on chugging with Kirby Mass Attack, Radiant Historia, Ghost Trick and a new Layton game. Don't let the fact that Nintendo marketing ignored the system make you think that the thing is dead.
Nintendo Wii The Wii of course didn't fare as well as the 3DS in marketing or the Wii in games. There was roughly one good game for the system about every quarter and that is about it. The successor was announced, but with such shoddy handling of the Wii this year, did anybody really care? Following the tremendous year in games with this is kinda sad. Maybe 2012 will prove the Mayans correct and we'll get a great year for the Wii.
Sony Playstation 3 The Playstation 3 had a pretty darn good year in games. Uncharted 3 and the definitive console version of Portal 2 pushed Sony ahead of Microsoft. If only they didn't have that one nagging little outage that freaked out the entire gaming populace. If only.
Sony PSP The PSP has become a niche publisher stomping ground as Corpse Party, Trails in the Sky, and many other games proved this little baby is far from dead. PSN finally came around to be big for PSP downloads as the UMD is not accessible on the PSV. While the PSP still isn't able to grab the US market the way it wanted, the price drop certainly helped and we have some late comers still moving their way over the ocean.
I can't award anybody Console of the Year this year as I wasn't overly impressed with anyone. Microsoft did the least damage to themselves and I'm not awarding them 2 years in a row for that. Meanwhile, on the PC front we are getting deals on top of deals. Humble Bundles are offering up XBLA and PSN ports in pay what you want packages. Indies are getting really aggressive in pushing their games and I now have probably as many games on my PC as I have on a combination of 2 or 3 consoles. Japanese studios like Capcom are now trying to replicate Carpe Fulgur's success and it's really starting to get interesting. I got a virus on my computer this year and I still think that PC gaming has had a better platform. Also, Minecraft finally came out.
I'd like to take a moment and focus in on some of the worst things to affect the games industry in 2011. Obviously, there is no award for this category.
PSN Hack The Playstation Network hack earlier this year halted all business on Sony's marketplace. While this might not have played a crucial role in Capcom's side of the business, it greatly affects smaller companies solely dependent on the network like Monkey Paw Games. The hack took personal account information of many PSN users and eventually showed the weakness that is relying on major online marketplaces. Sony did make up for it by offering many rewards to customers, but the affect was a solid month of down time and it shocked the entire industry.
Japan's Earthquake Japan's massive earthquake and tsunami crippled many industries and ruined thousands of lives. The effect on the industry was immediate. Games like Zettai Zetsumei Toshi 4: Summer Memories (the 4th in the Disaster Report/Raw Danger games) was canceled. Capcom was the only Japanese publisher to actually bring people to E3 this year. Games were delayed and many of the fine tuned electronic components the country makes were ruined, causing shortages.
Thailand's Flood Following the tragedy of Japan was Thailand's tragic flooding. The flood destroyed many production facilities and the toll on the country was devastating. Thailand is the 2nd largest producer of Hard Disc Drives in the world which led to an eventual shortage world wide. Any device using a built in disc drive now had to cut in to their production times throwing a delay in profitability. The industry has yet to catch up to this event even today.
Recession-era Gaming The recession is still on people's minds. While the games industry seems to have risen in the wake of the financial crisis, recession mentality is still there. Many studios were closed this year like Bizarre Creations and EA Visceral. This is because a focus on margins has become ever more present in a shaky economy. Make or break has been the name of the game and unfortunately a good studio can make a decent selling game and still get forced out like Kaos Studios.
The year has had a lot of ups and downs, but the industry is still able to prove once again that it is a more than credible form of entertainment. While I'm sure this list doesn't represent the best of the best, this is my list. It represents what 2011 looked like to me and through all of this, I'm even more proud to be a gamer.
Microsoft showcased a major advertising promotion this week for what they referred to as the "Best of 2011." The purpose of this event is to highlight the best and brightest of Microsoft's online catalog and boost a little revenue as well. The banner has taken over Xbox.com and has a fairly large advertisement on the dashboard itself.
It wouldn't be Microsoft however if they didn't somehow mess up their Indie Games portion of an event. What we have been given is a Top 10 list of games that consists of 2 Lacrosse titles, 4 Minecraft clones, and 2 avatar RPGs. At one point there was even an XBLA title from 2009 on the list, which thankfully was eventually taken down and replaced.
Now I'm not usually one to criticize a group's "Best of" list, but I'm a bit shocked at the fact that 4 Minecraft clones can make a top 10 list. One can only be left to assume that this list was compiled as a biggest sellers list instead of trying to prove what is the best content on the system. With the complete lack of diversity being offered, I figured that I would share 10 Xbox Indie games that were not considered as the "Best of 2011". These however do deserve recognition.
This is by far one of the best looking indie games on the marketplace. The visuals are great and the mechanics of the game are solid. It's essentially a futuristic take on an obstacle course and as your momentum continues to build the game gets harder and harder to control. T.E.C. 3001 is pretty and it's fun. What more do you want?
Game Description: T.E.C. (Tesla Energy Collector) 3001 is 3D action single player game. You are guiding a robot through a virtual space to collect leftovers of energy for human kind. There are 20 levels and each one of them brings unique challenge to the player. Player will master in guiding a robot (T.E.C.) on level through series of trials and repetitions.
I don't usually go out of my way to play violent games that are violent for no reason. Cute Things Dying Violently most certainly lives up to the name. It is however a very simple physics based sling shot style puzzler with a unique (albeit gruesome) take. If you haven't tried it out, the game is good enough to push past the pointless violence.
Game Description: Flick hapless Critters around to get them safely out of each level! Dodge all sorts of lethal goodies like spikes, buzzsaws, and fire, and use a variety of wacky items to pull it off. Play through 60 mind-bending, reflex-testing singleplayer levels, 6 bloodthirsty challenge levels, and 1 murderous bucket-headed robot! Want more? Try out the local multiplayer and the built-in level editor.
Astralia takes the standard top down shooter mechanic and adds minor RTS elements making for a truly unique game. You build ships and change weapons in real time to defend your base and fight off swarms of enemies. It takes a bit of getting used to, but is well worth a look.
Game Description: Astralia is "A Real-time Strategy Shooter Experiment", a top down space shooter with RTS elements; in addition to your own ship you control a squad of drone fighters with multiple formations and weapons. You also get to manage a couple of capital ships that can be moved around to attack the enemy and can build other things like weapon platforms and bombs.
Escape Goat is from the same creative developer that gave us the Soul Caster titles. The game offers the players a lot as a puzzle based platformer, especially once you create your own puzzle rooms. As a Goat, you have to escape your persecution with the help of a rat, a magical hat, and a lot of planning. It's shocking what one single developer can create and this is indeed a good game.
Game Description: Imprisoned for the crime of witchcraft, you must use your skill and intellect to overcome the Prison of Agnus. Fear not, Brave Goat, for you have a friend on this journey...
If I'm going to make a list about games that differentiate themselves from Minecraft, Blocks That Matter is the only one that truly uses one of the ideas Notch capitalized on in a creative new way. In the game, you drill through blocks of various qualities and utilize them to advance further in the level. The different properties of the blocks provides the game with some strategy needed in collection and positioning. It's a smart little platformer that many have overlooked on the indie games marketplace.
Game Description: Combine your platforming and puzzle-solving skills in this incredible mashup! Playing as the Tetrobot, you can collect blocks of matter, recycle them into new shapes and trigger chain reactions. Contains 100% natural Slime extract.
Sequence does so many smart things that it's hard to really fault the game in any form. The RPG based DDR style mechanics work wonderfully and the overall presentation this game has is shockingly good. If there is a highlight of the year from a creative standpoint, Sequence deserves that nod. All the work that was put in to Sequence paid off and you can see it throughout the game. It's one of the rare games fully voiced on the marketplace.
Game Description: Sequence is a rhythm/RPG hybrid, featuring full voice acting and a soundtrack by Ronald Jenkees. Ascend the Tower and uncover the mystery surrounding the girl tracking your every move.
If you are looking for a video game adaptation of Joe vs the Volcano, Volchaos is all you will ever need. The platformer controls much like Mario, but uses a high challenge system and level design similar to Super Meat Boy. This combination makes it as addicting as it is frustrating. For anybody that is looking for a cheap challenge, this game was made for you.
Game Description: Volchaos is a challenging old school platformer. Playing as a heroic explorer, you must navigate through dangerous volcanoes in search of precious gems you can use to pay off your mortgage, bad investments, and alimony. To further complicate matters, the lava is continuously rising and an array of enemies stands in your path. Will you become rich? Heck, you will be lucky to survive.
Hidden in Plain Sight is only good when a few friends have come over to play with you. The game is unplayable without a player 2. A local multiplayer only title has a high barrier of entry, but the game itself is worth it if you can fill the prerequisites. There are 5 distinct game modes that all play on the catch a thief concept the game creates. You and your opponents all are hidden among the multiple AI characters of the board and must find each other and accomplish the game task. If you have had any interest in games like Spy Party, this game is for you.
Game Description: This game is local-multiplayer ONLY! A tense game of subtlety and intrigue... try out what some are calling the best local multiplayer game to hit the Xbox Indie channel!
I've been jokingly running around Destructoid claiming that Wizorb is 2011's GotY. Well partially joking. I enjoy brick breaker games, but not much is usually done with them and they rarely come out on consoles these days. Wizorb is a fun, fantastic little game with actual RPG elements built in to really turn it in to something new. It looks gorgeous and you are missing out on one of the top games of the year by not playing it.
Game Description: The once peaceful Kingdom of Gorudo is threatened by an evil presence. The only hope for salvation is Cyrus, a wizard versed in a secret magic art called Wizorb! Explore many strange places from the derelict monster infested town of Clover to Gorudo Castle atop Cauldron Peak. Danger lurks around every corner so you'll need to keep your wits about you and have quick reflexes in order to survive.
Stealth, strategy and zombie rarely are paired together, but this game does it so well that I'm shocked I haven't played it before. You as a lone zombie must infect the humans on screen. Once infected they join your ranks and give you strength to overcome stronger enemies. It's a simple design style similar to an Angry Birds or other mobile game, but I found this to be much more satisfying. I, Zombie is one of the better Zombie games of the year.
Game Description: Quite a different zombie game - this time YOU are the zombie! Command your infested comrades, fight your way to freedom and let the zombie kind dominate the world!