My backlog is insanely large and keeps growing with each sale or used game I find that I just have to have. It's at the point where every time I go to play something new, I feel a sense of panic rush through me, as if my choice will determine some vital part of my future that is unchangeable and could doom us all to a firey fate.
So, to help me face up to my daunting backlog, I decided that my goals for spring break, was to finish a game per day. Not just new games, but a bunch of games Iíve had sitting around unfinished, and in some cases completely unstarted. I sprinkled in a few newer releases as well, to keep it feeling fresh and exciting, and over the course of my ten day break, I managed to beat a decent amount of games and whittle my backlog down just a bit.
So here is my list of conquered games. Be prepared to weep with joy due to the sheer amount of awesomeness:
Enslaved: Odyssey to the West It was a birthday gift this past December that I just never started. So I started it the day my break began, and in two very long sessions of gameplay, I knocked it out without much trouble. Very satisfying story, fun gameplay, and a great way to kick off my break. The ending was a bit too disjointed with the rest of the game for my taste, but I'd definitely play another game in the series without hesitation.
Raskulls I pushed through most of World 2 right after it's release, but immediately got distracted by ilomilo and A World For Keflings upon their releases, both worthy games (and beaten games), so I went back and kicked this games ass so I could play as Mr. Dtoid. It was worth it. The platforming puzzle genre could use some more games like this and I really hope that HalfBrick makes more stuff like this and less stuff like their PSP Minis (which weren't this good).
Solitaire (Vegas, 3-card draw) I had never fully beaten a game of Vegas Solitaire on my laptop. In fact, my stats were insanely depressing to look at... so I deleted them, granting myself a fresh start, and after a few days of playing everytime I had the TV on, I was victorious. And then I was victorious again!!! AND AGAIN!!! ...and since that third victory I haven't come close. In fact, I've mostly just been watching as my stats fall off the face of the earth again. It was good while it lasted though.
Homefront Against my better judgment (and my empty wallet's protests), I picked this up when WalMart was selling it for $40 the weekend after it released. It was pretty fun while it lasted, but the story feels like the first quarter of what the full game should have been. And since I'm not super into online stuff, I started a playthrough on the hardest difficulty to get some achievements and milk the game for more time, but was very disappointed at how cheap it felt. That'll teach me to ignore review scores, lol.
Dead Nation I don't remember why I picked this up, but I think it was on sale and I'd been drinking. It was a sound decision though. There really isn't much to the game, but it's a fun take on the zombie/apocalypse genre. Instead of being in the first or third person modes as zombies rush you, the view is from above and those bastard zombies are coming from everywhere at just about all times and you're just spinning around in a dark, fearful panic trying to kill them before they get you. I had a blast with it, even though it's pretty shallow and was feeling a bit played out by the last levels.
Penny Arcade Adventures: On The Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 1 My save file for this game was from 2008, right after it released on the PSN. That feels like forever ago. But instead of restarting, I just read up on what happened up to my point and then pushed forward. I can say without hesitation that it is one of the funniest games I've played and was well worth going back to. I'm definitely gonna play the sequel (which I also own for some reason) next chance I get... maybe for my next break?
Resistance: Fall of Man Bought this and GTA4 when I first got my PS3 in the summer of 2008, and I hadn't even unwrapped the poor, ignored thing. That alone kinda threw me for a loop, so I ripped the packaging from it, threw that sexy bluray disc in the PS3 and then for the next day and a half couldn't get over just how good it was for a release day FPS. Not only was it was about 5 times as long as Homefront but the game felt just as solid (if not better). What a shock. Guess I need to play the sequel sometime (which I don't currently own...).
Angry Birds Seasons: Go Green, Get Lucky This is kind of a cheat bc of how short it is, but I downloaded and completely played this new addition to Seasons from start to finish, getting 2 and 3 stars on pretty much everything. I also finished a ton of other Angry Birds levels I had been stuck on, so I felt like it was worth adding. When I wasn't eating, on the consoles, or asleep, I was playing this (I didn't stop gaming for the whole break, lol). Plus, who hasn't spent a ton of time with Angry Birds?! It's a game. It's worth adding to the list.
Red Dead Redemption Picked this up on its release day last May, played a bunch of it before I moved back to Kansas City that June, and then just never picked up where I left off once the dust settled from my move (I blame job hunting and family vacations for that). I was in the middle of the Mexico missions, so it didn't take a ton of time to finish up the story, but I've got a lot of cleaning up to do. I'll definitely be going back to this one. Even if I don't get to play as the baddest badass in the west...
Hydrophobia It was on sale. It was controversial. I was intrigued. And in the end, it wasn't that great. It showed some potential in spots, but if they manage to get some other episodes made, they have a lot of work to do to make them worth buying. Or at least a lot of work to do to convince me to buy them. Maybe someone thought it was worth their two hours. I did not.
Banjo-Kazooie I've beaten it on the N64 more than once, but having it unfinished on XBLA just didn't feel right, so I returned to my N64 roots and rocked the shit out of that ugly witch. But, when you think about it, wouldn't you rather have a super hot witch around than a puny, annoying little sister? If I were Banjo/Kazooie, I think I'd let her keep my sis as long as I got a girlfriend out of it. Or some sweet magical powers at least...
And with that, my list comes to an end. If that doesnít count for a successful Spring Break, I honestly donít know what does. Now, just another hundred or so unplayed/unbeaten games to go and Iíll be caught up with my backlog! Wish me luckÖ
After gathering all my birthday money, I decided it was time to get a Playstation Move. Since I already own the the PS Eye, the only thing I needed was the glowing, vibrating, bulbous controller, so I went down the street to the local GameStop with $50 set aside for just that. The only kink in my plan was that I hadnít decided what game to buy with it.
So, upon walking through their doors I quickly weaved through customers and racks of holiday sales to the PS3 section in the back of the store where I scouted out games with the blue "Move Compatible" stickers on them. Sports Champions was bundled with the $100 pack I didnít need, and was the obvious pick since its a demo of different things you can do with the controllerÖ but I already have WiiSports and itís Plussed counterpart, so I really didnít want to spend more money on sports stuff (especially since I donít care for sports in the first place). There were several games with motion controls recently tacked on, but I owned several of them and couldnít imagine the experience being any better than a traditional controller. And there were a few casual games that lookedÖ mediocre... at best. And thatís where my purchase came to a grinding hault.
There wasnít a single game that demanded my purchase of the Move. Here it is, almost three months after the devices launch, and right in the prime Holiday buying season, and Sony has practically left their new motion controller to die among first party Wii titles and the super hyped launch of Microsoft's Kinect (which also has nothing I'm interested in playing and which I refuse to spend money on).
So, instead of wasting my money on a glowing, vibrating motion controller that would sit ignored and collecting dust under my TV, I picked up three used GameCube games for $15 and went home to put them in my Wii, where I wouldnít even use itís motion controls to play them.
This isn't to say that I want to see the Move and Kinect fail, because I'd love to see them do well. After all, it's always in our best interest to see systems/games/peripherals succeed; the better they are/do, the more fun we have and the more money developers and publishers have to make more great stuff. But when you put out a new peripheral that can't even compete with games from a last-gen system three months after its launch (and during the holiday buzz), you might have pushed it out the door a little early.
(If you know of good Move games, please let me know in the comments. I'm still itching to pick one up for some reason. Maybe I hate money?)
As everyone who follows me on Twitter or Facebook already knows, Iím in love with Super Meat Boy. Since it hit XBLA in late October, Iíve logged some 50 hours in my quest to beat every level, grab every bandage, and unlock every character. Sure, I may have developed an ulcer (which Iím calling Dr. Fetus), but it was a ton of fun and constantly left me wanting moreÖ even after I decided to call it quits.
But when I placed my preorder for the PC version on Steam, instead of jumping back into the XBLA version to pass the time, I decided to look up the games from which SMB's unlockable characters are actually from and play the hell out of them until November 30th finally gets here. Each day I picked a game, read up on it some, played and recorded a 5 minutes clip, and did a short post about it. And, since it's almost the 30th, and the countdown is thus over, I decided to share them with you wonderful people at Dtoid.
Day 1: Mighty Jill Off
So, Mighty Jill OffÖ what a fantastic game. Iím sure some of my indie friends tried to share a link with me at some point or another and I put it off until I completely forgot, but damn do I wish Iíd have played it before now.
If you didnít watch the video, itís a massacre platformer where you take control of Jill, a perverted fiend of a hero, who is kicked out of the Queenís castle for licking her boots and must race back to the top toÖ wellÖ probably lick her boots again. She seems like the kinda person that pushes that border, just begging for punishment; and Iím not just saying that because sheís in S&M gear either! (yes I am)
Day 2: Jumper!
If you havenít played something by Matt Thorson, youíre probably just confused. Everyone has played something by MattÖ maybe you just didnít know it at the time. But thatís alright, because you can click on his name and see all the wonderful games heís made (which you can play for free!) and then youíll not only be informed, but youíll be a better person too.
Today, Iím playing Jumper! because Ogmo, the main character, is featured in Super Meat Boy and just happens to be one of my favorite unlockable characters. Watch the video for more info, and definitely check out all the Jumper! games (there are 3 of them, a redux of the first game, and a fourth one on the way) over on his site. You wonít be disappointed.
Day 3: Flywrench
The games that SMB borrowed characters from arenít easyÖ but Flywrench can be downright evil. You play as a mechanical bird-ship-thing that has encountered a malfunction and must be piloted through space manually. Sounds easy enough, right? Wrong.
You canít touch the walls/floors/ceilings unless you are holding the down button to bounce or roll or whatever it is doing. To stay in the air and gain momentum, you must press up, which turns you red and flaps the wings. And to go through the forcefields, you have to match their color (red is up, green is down, white isÖ the rest). At times, I really thought that the developer, Messhof, just hated the world and this is his ďfuck youĒ letter.
But itís fun, addicting, and the simple mechanics help you get through the challenging gameplay. Definitely check it outÖ itíll help to prepare you for the rage/frustration that SMB will smash you with on the 30th.
Day 4: VVVVVV
When the guys at Team Meat announced that Captain Veridian would be an unlockable character for the SMB PC release, I about peeíd my pantsÖ not only because VVVVVV is one of my favorite games of 2010, but because I canít wait to see how he plays in the SMB levels. However, knowing that he's only unlocked after you collect all 100 bandages might mean I'll have to wait a while to find out myself.
As for VVVVVV itself, itís a must play. The music, the atmosphere, the simplicity of the gameplay coupled with the awesome level designÖ it comes together to make something truly amazing. Something that really has to be experienced. So go play it.
Day 5: Machinarium
Although I like the idea of games focusing on adventures (Iím a Flapjack fan, after all), I havenít had the chance to play many. However, [url=http://machinarium.net]Machinarium[/iurl] is one that a friend showed me soon after itís launch last year and in an attempt to stay cool, I bought it and let it devour my life for quite a while.
In it, you take control of a funny little robot named Josef who has just been dropped off at a trash pile. After putting him back together you head back towards the city to make your way back in, do some uncovering of mysteries, solving of puzzles/problems, and eventually you save your cute little robo-girlfriend. D'awwwwww!
Day 6: Runman
In RunMan: Race Around The World, pretty much all you do is run, jump, blast through enemies, and escape from bosses. Itís simple. Itís beautiful. And the old timey folk music only adds to the awesomeness of the gameÖ and this is coming from a dude who hates most folk music.
If you havenít already clicked the link, do so now. Download this game and play it until you win everything forever. Itís fun to play with a keyboard, but I find it more fitting to make fullscreen,lean back in my chair, plug in a 360 controller, and then jam on it like I would Super Meat Boy. But, to each his/her ownÖ
Day 7: SUPER MEAT BOY!!!
A few hours after posting this, the game will be out and PC gamers everywhere will be yelling at their screens and wanting to throw keyboards at the closest wall. And since I obviously I didn't get through all of the unlockable characters games in just 6 days, the following list links to the other games which weren't played in this countdown...
Thanks for joining me on this meaty journey and hopefully you'll take some time to check out these awesome indie games for yourselves sometime. Just remember, if you like them and have the cash, click the donate button on their pages to help them out. They gave you awesome game love without any strings attatched, so why not toss them some awesome money love in return.
After something like 13 games, youíd think that Mario would learn to start his quest in world eight. I mean, just think about itÖ when you lose something on a regular basis, donít you start looking in the places youíve found it before?
My keys have never ended up in the fridge, theyíve never stumbled their way into the back of my toilet, and theyíve certainly never been in the old VCR that we only use to watch Dead Man On Campus once a year. They have, however, found their way into my dirty clothes pile/bin, in between and under couch cushions, and even inside my pillow case (I was really drunk that night). So, when I canít find the jingly bastards, I donít check the former oneís until the latter ones have been thoroughly scoured, thus saving myself time and effort.
So, it would make a lot more sense if when the Princess goes missing, Mario would just take a shortcut to the dark, lava filled areaís of the Mushroom Kingdom. I mean, heís gotta have a tube that gets there without all the detours. I would have built one of those the second I got back from the first or second kidnapping ordeal. That way, Iíd only have to visit the other castles once Iíd been to the one Peach has been in before.
And since I know Nintendo is reading this right now, I think we can all expect a huge change in the layout of the next Mario game. In fact, I fully expect to start at world eight, defeating Bowser right off the bat, and then having to work my way backwards, before finding her giggling under the royal bed with a slice of cake next to her, just waiting for my fat, Italian ass to find her.
But if that isnít what happens, then, wellÖ I guess Iíll just have to play it anyway. They may be the same old games over and over again, but one of these days, weíve gotta find out why her name is Peach and what her weird obsession with cake is all about. And since Iím pretty damn sure theyíre both sexual, you know Iím not gonna miss out on that sweet cutscene.
I joined this site because, unlike most of the blogs about games and the gaming industry, the staff and most of the community on Dtoid doesn't take themselves as seriously; choosing instead to use humor and satire to make points that would otherwise make for somewhat dull articles. But it seems like the more popular/hated Dtoid gets, the dumber the bulk of comments become (on the main site, at least).
The most recent article whose comment section infuriated me, was one by Rev. Anthony Burch about Avatar not changing anything for gamers. The sheer lack of critical thought by most of the commenter's was just mind-numbing (I'm used to that sort of crap on posts by the ever-hilarious Jim Sterling, who encourages it by replying to his detractors, but generally expect more thoughtful responses to more serious posts). But whether they were agreeing with Anthony or calling him an idiot, there was just so little real discussion going on that by the end of skimming all 183 comments I felt like I was back in middle school, arguing about whether Limp Bizkit was better or worse than ICP. I decided to leave a comment, against my better judgment, but felt like it would work as a cblog with just a little work. So let's break down the logic of how that article deserves to be on a game site, and why Anthony Burch was the perfect person to have written it.
To start with, lets have a very basic lesson in logic: when making a logical argument you must work within certain bounds and avoid all assumptions. A classic example of a logical argument is as follows:
A) Socrates is a man, B) All men are mortal, therefore: C) Socrates is mortal.
In that example we have tried to assume nothing. We started by acknowledging that Socrates, if he was indeed real, was a man, based on all accounts we have of him. As history has proven over and over again, all men are mortal (with certain exceptions based on your belief system, but then we can argue whether they were men or divine entities), and therefore, if Socrates is a man, and all men are mortal, it follows that he is mortal as well. (Sure we could have just said he was mortal since he's been dead for thousands of years, but that's not a sound argument.)
Now, let's apply that lesson to the argument for Avatar being revolutionary:
A) if the games/game-makers is to aspire to be like popular/successful movies, and B) Avatar is not only popular/successful, but changes movies forever, then: C) Avatar will change videogames/game-makers forever, as well.
Obviously it will take some time to see if anything Avatar did will actually become a trend among movie makers... but the point of Anthony's article is that Avatar's "revolutions" have no real basis for effecting the gaming industry because they already employ many of the technologies and have a stronger focus on immersion since we are playing as characters in games, making us part of that world and experience; watching a movie, even one as expensive as Avatar, still leaves us as an outside observer, unable to interact with that world, move at our own place, or act as we want.
The issue, then, is that the logical Avatar argument doesn't seem to work. And when that happens, you don't just throw the whole thing out, but examine each part, looking for where the flaw is and evaluating whether it's salvageable or not. So, let's start with the first line: do games/game-makers really aspire to make their games more like movies? If you are to believe quotes by many game-makers of the past decade, then yes, its true. Obviously there are exceptions, but its a hard fact to ignore when you look at many huge games today (eg: Uncharted, Metal Gear Solid, Halo). So it would seem that our first proposition is fairly sound.
As already stated above, the second proposition can't really be tested as of yet (but it does seem to be pretty popular already); yet how the third proposition works can directly effect the ones coming before it. So, that question is: how would/should Avatar effect games and their makers? Although I haven't seen it, the plot sounds very typical and I have only heard about how good it looks and how immersive it is (games look good and, as stated above, are infinitely more immersive). And, since the big hype about the movie has been its technology, much of which is already used in the gaming industry on a regular basis, it seems more likely that games effected Avatar more than Avatar will effect games.
And therein lies the real crux of the article, the argument, and most readers misunderstanding: if Avatar learned it's "revolutionary" trickery from games, and the rest of it is mediocre, how do games learn anything Avatar? And on a larger scale: can movies apply things they learned from videogames in a way that is successful, or are some things better left to games and others to movies? And maybe on the largest scale: if movies start trying to be like games, and games are trying to be more like movies, what the hell is the result going to be!?
They are questions I won't pretend to have real answers for. But if you want my opinion, I think that the game and movie industries should focus on doing their own thing and not try to copy their media brethren too heavily. They're attempts to be more like other industries just ends up watering down their own efforts as a game... if you want to make movies, make movies not games that wish they were movies.
And as for why Anthony was the perfect person to write that article? Well, maybe it's because he works for a game blog and a movie site. Duh.
One of my most anticipated releases of the holiday season was New Super Mario Bros Wii. Not just because the DS title was amazing, and this basically looks like a Wii upgrade of that game, or the fact that I've been actively looking for an excuse to dust off my Nintendo console to no avail, but because my brother and I had grand plans to rock the shit out of this game on coop. There's only one problem... he doesn't live near me and it doesn't support online play... at all. No online coop. No online versus. No online leaderboards. No online chat. Nothing. Sure, it's an amazing game and I don't regret spending the money on it (yet), but I feel like I didn't get the full product, like its incomplete in someway, like I was lied to by the corporate bastards pushing coop gameplay in my face and never explicitely saying I had to have real-world friends that are willing to put on pants and come over.
I paid the same amount for Borderlands, which boasted coop gameplay and has online content as well, and I've wasted every weekend since I got it playing with friends online. Now, sure, I can play it by myself, but doing so with friends, or even against friends, is way more fun. And the best part is I don't have to be dressed and neither do they cause we're in different parts of the damn country. What I mean to say is that I've got 3 coop missions going with different groups and have spent, and will spend, hours and hours playing this game. Once I finish NSMB by myself, its pretty red box will sit on my shelf among its dusty white friends, and will soon be forgotten like all the others.
I don't really mean to write just another Nintendo bashing post (of which there are too many on the web), but I really feel like this title illustrates how stuck in the past Nintendo truly is and that pisses me off because I come from such strong Nintendo fanboy roots. Hell, except for a PS2 which died a couple of months after I got it at launch, I never had a console or handheld that didn't have the BigN's logo on it until 2007. So I hope you understand I love Nintendo and really want them to do well and keep making games, but it's getting to the point where I don't think they even comprehend the benefits that they, and their publishers/developers, are missing out on by not supporting online play and a more active marketplace. Lets just take a look at some of this generations numbers to see if they support this line of thought at all.
Nintendo's Wii has sold around 56million units, which is close to twice as many units as the PS3 or the 360 (both around 30 million), and with their main focus being on the casual crowd, most of their top selling games reflect that focus. Of the Wii's best selling videogames, only a handful have any online support (SSBB, Mario Kart, Animal Crossing, rhythm games). However, of the best selling PS3 and 360 games, all have some sort of online features (whether it be coop, versus, or DLC). That alone isn't surprise since they both put such an emphasis on the community features. But the sales figures for some of the top games really are quite jawdropping.
Super Smash Bros Brawl, one of this generations best "hardcore" Wii games from Nintendo has only sold around 8.79 million units. Not only is that just barely 16% of the install base, but it's less than Halo 3 (10.33 million) and not that much more than MGS4 (4.31 million) or Gears of War (5.92 for the original, 5.31 million for the sequel). Even Super Mario Galaxy (8.2 million), the savior of the 3D Mario franchise, has fallen upon a similar fate (and don't even get me started on the sequel, which shouldn't be anything more than downloadable missions and map packs). Sure, there is MarioKart Wii (18.24 million) which has sold well to casual and hardcore markets alike, and gained quite a boost from the new WiiWheel peripheral I'm sure... but when compared to multi-console titles like GTA4 or COD:MW (both around 13 million) it isn't so impressive because, although it's still a difference of 5million units, the latter have paid DLC, communities that are still very active, and sequels that are sure to sell as well (if not better) than these installments (points to MW2's record setting release).
What I'm trying to say/show here isn't how awful Nintendo is or how they've doomed themselves to fail, but to make obvious three related points: first, that although the PS3 and the 360 share the same market, that they are matching or beating most of the Wii's sale numbers with a substantially smaller install base. Second, that this isn't because people with a 360 or PS3 have more money to waste, it's because the games on these two systems give users more of a reason to play and are aimed at the larger gaming audience. And third, that the bulk of users buying games for the Wii own another console which they probably use much more frequently because they offer titles to the "hardcore" market whereas Nintendo isn't. Mario, Zelda, Metroid, StarFox, and Kirby might have been the "hardcore" titles in their own time, but they are the new middle ground, having been replaced by Halo, MGS, GTA, COD, Fallout, and their brethren.
With their dynamic online communities, much better marketplaces, and reliance on DLC to help push games longevity to a new level, Microsoft and Sony have pushed gaming into a new era that necessitates a different focus and a different business model. Nintendo cannot rely on gimmicky controls, new peripherals, and a casual gaming market forever, because as soon as the Wii is old news and there's a new console on the block, the number of people willing to drop another $250 on another toy they barely use won't be nearly as big as it was this time around (after all, they'll still have their dusty Wii sitting under the TV). Eventually, the casual market Nintendo is milking with the Wii and DS will either move on and forget about gaming, or they will "grow up" and demand a more involving experience. Without offering something to appease these growing gamers during this console generation, Nintendo will once again become nothing more than the gateway drug and guilty pleasure of this next generation of hardcore gamers.
All it would take for Nintendo to start making some forward progress is to abandon their retarded friendcode system, incorporate some sort of online component into more of their games, utilize WiiSpeak in all online games, offer downloadable content via their marketplace (the SD card support they already expanded upon should be more than enough to support this), and some sort of trophy/achievement system wouldn't hurt. I honestly want to be a fanboy again Nintendo, but you're making me so hard to even justify owning your current console. How about throwing your longtime, loyal fans a bone. I promise it won't hurt your sales. Scouts honor.