For most people, the holidays are a wonderful time of the year, marked by boundless merriment and pleasant company. For others, it's a deplorable slog in freezing temperatures, a heartless, perhaps even lethal, mad dash for trendy doodads, and a sickening parade of crass commercialism.
Well, I'm not so cynical as to let that noise deflate my Christmas cheer, but you can't let those sour emotions build up inside, either. Wouldn't want to go flip out and go Black Christmas on a house of sexy young co-eds. There must be an outlet for the yuletide frustrations! There must be another way!
Behold! A Fesitvus for the rest of us!
The Destructoid staff has gathered around the 'ol aluminum pole on this day, December 23, to celebrate the greatest holiday popularized by a '90s sitcom. It is now time for the "Airing of Grievances," in which we look back at gaming in 2010 and pick apart in what ways it has disappointed us. Serve yourself a plate of pasta or sushi or whatever food might be available and join us for this most sacred of traditions.
To kick this off, I'm greatly disappointed in how Nintendo has dropped the ball in regards to the Wii this year. Third-party situation aside, Nintendo seems to have forgotten what got people excited about the console in the first place. Despite delivering a helping of high-quality titles such as Super Mario Galaxy 2, Donkey Kong Country Returns, and others, the truth is that any of these could have been GameCube games. Whatever happened to pushing motion controls? Where's the great evolution that has been promised for the past four years? Look at just how little the company gives a fudge about pushing MotionPlus compatibility.
Meanwhile, Sony and Microsoft release their own motion controllers, yet their software is nigh indistinguishable from what Nintendo was providing during the Wii's launch period! It's like someone somewhere slammed the history eraser button and now everyone pretends the last four years never happened. Pathetic.
I've been disappointed in what appears to be a recent trend of game companies spending less and less time on QA so they can shove their games out as fast as possible and use that money for marketing instead. I know, financially, all that really matters are pre-orders and day-one / day-two sales, but it's been pretty crappy seeing some big-name companies release games with horrible bugs and / or game-breaking glitches.
The whole social and mobile gaming trend drives me crazy. I feel like I should care, and I try to keep on top of it as much as possible because of where it all might go. But honestly, I don't care at all. If I want to play a Tycoon game, I'll go play OpenTTD, SimCity 2000, or one of the Caesar games, in my own time, without having to wait for new time resources to allow me to actually play a game.
I like playing "proper" games on a PC or on a console. Watching new generations grow up with mobile and social games just makes me feel like I'm old or something. And when we're lucky, someone at EA or THQ or something says, "It's OK, core games will still be around!" Well, thanks guy. I know core games will stick around, but I hate that it's even become an issue. I'm not that old, dammit! It's not like I only played F29 Retaliator and never grew over it!
As much initial delight as seeing a game get revealed brings us, I'd rather studios hold off on doing so until the time is appropriate. For instance, announcing your hotly anticipated new project and then telling us it won't be releasing for two years is kind of a kick in the groin. Independent developers, bless their hearts, are pretty terrible about this, but at least they have the excuse of having less people. Activision, on the other hand, has traditionally been good about it.
I guess what I'm getting at is when Valve does finally start talking about Half-Life 2: Episode Three, it better not be another long wait full of rage comics and jokes about Gabe Newell being overweight. No one wants that. It puts a strain on us gamers, the developers, and even the PR people. I understand that it's hard to hold in a secret you've been working on for years, but please try.
I'm disappointed in both sides of the debate over how Japan can deal with its declining influence on global development trends. One side behaves as if this were a good thing, for the only thing Japan produces are stale JRPGs, while the other behaves as if the Japanese gaming industry could do no wrong.
My disappointment isn't just with fans but extends to publishers, developers, and even gamers on both sides of the pond. Some pubs and devs in Japan seem to be abandoning the traits that make Japanese gaming unique in bald-faced attempts to cater to what they think appeals to foreigners, *cough*Quantum Theory*cough*, while others increasingly isolate themselves from the mainstream, catering to a slowly shrinking niche of hardcore nerds.
It's hard to think of any specific solution to this issue, but to be frank, the release of Final Fantasy XIII and its lukewarm reception brought it up again, in my mind. And I liked that game, to boot!
I'm mostly disappointed in the weaksauce software launch for PlayStation Move and Kinect.
It just goes to show that only Nintendo can make an "HD Wii" fun.
It's hard for me to find something I'm disappointed in this year 'cause I have such a bubbly personality, but I'll try!
I guess one thing that has disappointed me is Square Enix and their Final Fantasy attempts in the past year. I was totally looking forward to FFXIII to the point where I actually bought it at midnight launch, something I hardly EVER do for Xbox 360 games. But when I started to play it, I just realized that besides the beautiful visuals, there was nothing else of substance that appealed to me (Sorry Chad! Vanille's voice was horrendous!) In fact, it took me so long to play through it because I couldn't play more than five battles at a time without LITERALLY falling asleep at the controller.
I even stopped playing Mass Effect 2 just to play through FFXIII, thinking that I would love it so much that I would quickly get through the story and then go back to Commander Shepard's adventure. FFXIII took me so long that I lost interest in and didn't beat ME2! (Reminder to self: I need to do that, and BAD!)
This disappointment also extends to Final Fantasy XIV. I was a pretty big fan of Final Fantasy XI, despite all of its obvious problems. It was my hope that they'd fix all the problems of their previous iteration and totally improve the FF MMORPG experience. However, in the small amount of time I had with it, it just seemed to take a step backward and totally turn me off from playing it. So much for leveling a cute Tarutaru again!
Damn you, Square Enix!
This was a great year for gaming, and I'll fight you if you say it wasn't! There were (and are) huge amounts of games that I wanted to play, and the quality of many of these experiences were incredibly high. It's just a shame that I had to experience too many of them in pieces.
Games are increasingly becoming impossible to experience with any sense of completeness without what I consider to be pretty ridiculous investments. DLC is the obvious culprit; sure, you get a (usually) full experience on the disc, but if you really want to play everything the game has to offer, you're looking at anywhere between ten and sixty additional dollars. Old news, I know. But what about the ludicrous cost of something like Rock Band 3? With more and more plastic instruments being released for exorbitant prices ($129.99 for that drum kit is highway robbery) and increasing charges for downloadable songs (not to mention the fact that many repeat songs are being re-released and carry yet another charge), it's nearly impossible to keep up.
My true grievance is that as games become more segmented, the more I will find myself unable to obtain all those segments and actually experience everything games have to offer. I'd love to play all of Mass Effect 2's DLC, but where will I find the time and money? I'd love to buy more Rock Band 3 songs to justify my purchase of that expensive keyboard, but I feel like I've already spent too much on that game as it is. Though I may not know where the blame truly lies, I do know this: I'm missing out, and that's a terrible feeling.
I've heard the complaint in years before, but this year, the fact that there are simply too many games hitting the market is a major disappointment for me. Why is that disappointing? Because (a) I don't have time to play them all, and (b) great games get missed by everyone. I feel that in the rush to get out the next big thing, publishers and developers are making it seem odd if we take a few weeks to get through a game. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing, and while I wouldn't relate this back to the crash of the '80s, since that was too much of a bad thing, it's possible to see the overwhelming amount of games launching in such a confined space steering people away from gaming. I'm disappointed in the shortsightedness of most publishers out there. While I understand making money is key, I think that if they balanced a bit more instead of continuing to shove things out, they would both give gaming a better name and get more money over the long run.
I was also disappointed that Blood Stone wasn't that great a game.
Like others have said, this was a great year for gaming, but I'm disappointed that piracy is killing so many games before they even get a chance to succeed. When I heard that certain parts of Europe weren't getting the new Ace Attorney game because they figured everyone who wanted it already pirated it, I was totally depressed afterward.
If we want developers to keep making interesting games, we have to buy them. That's all there is too it.
Jesse basically wrote what I was going to write. The release of Final Fantasy XIV finally brought it home for me that Square Enix no longer makes RPGs that speak to me in the way they did when they were just Square. This sucks because I used to soooo anticipate each of the releases, and it was really exciting for me the day they came out. I don't believe the games are poor at all, only that the focus of the experience they want to present to the gamer is more about deep background story and less about connecting to the characters you spend 60-80 hours with.
Beyond this, I think a lot of incredible titles have come this year, and I feel like the landscape of downloadable titles is especially exciting. So yeah... it's just Square Enix that has bummed me out.
Earlier this year, I witnessed a man buying over two-hundred dollars' worth of Mafia Wars gift cards from a 7-Eleven. Shortly after that, I read an article in which Mark Pincus, Zynga's CEO, was quoted, "I don't fucking want innovation." The article continued with a laundry list of complaints from former employees, stressing the unimaginative and sometimes unethical nature of Zynga's practices. Shortly after that, I heard that Zynga's market value had surpassed that of Activision.
I'd consider that a series disappointments, but only if you mean it in the really harsh, stinging way. Like when parents say, "I'm not mad, I'm just disappointed." I just wish Mark Pincus could feel as bad about his company's behavior as I do about that time I spilled paint in the garage.
What I find the most disheartening is that while video games are just barely becoming a socially acceptable pastime but still struggling to be recognized as an actual art form, Zynga is making a fortune. In the current economy, a lot of extremely talented people have been laid off, and a lot of potentially great projects have been scrapped. Meanwhile, Mark Pincus sits atop his giant pile of money and women saying, "Hey, this totally-unheard-of indie Flash game is really cool. Rip off the idea and buy me another solid gold house!" But that's capitalism for you, I guess.
I actually thought this year was a pretty stellar year in videogames. Nothing really stands out as being a major disappointment!
But... I was slightly disappointed in a few things.
Kinect offered pretty impressive technology, but I just couldn't stand behind any of the games for it -- not a one!
Dead Rising 2, while bloody and over-the-top, had too much loading time and strange pacing to consider it the classic I thought it was going to be.
And, finally, but most importantly, WHERE THE EFF IS PIKMIN 3?!
In terms of the actual games, 2010 has been one of the better years in recent memory. However, the announcement that video coverage exclusivity has been secured by G4 for next year's E3 was extremely disappointing to me. (Insert snarky, unoriginal Cops / Cheaters troll insult here.)
I actually enjoy X-Play's coverage, but they'll only be able to cover so much. Exposure for the more inventive, experimental, or niche titles will be left by the wayside due to necessity. This is bad for gamers who will get a deluge of coverage for games they already know about, bad for developers who desperately need and deserve the press, and bad for the enthusiast press that is beginning to rely on video content more and more as a means of staying competitive and relevant.
I have one more much smaller grievance.
Pre-order bonuses in games that essentially let you "skip" content or ruin some part of the game.
No, I don't want the second-most powerful armor in the game right off the bat in an RPG as a pre-order bonus! That ruins all the fun of collecting new equipment. I don't want a magic ring that doubles my experience gain! That either breaks the level progression or screws people who didn't pre-order. I don't want tools that let me bypass puzzles, or some overpowered one-hit kill weapon! If you're going to insist on giving pre-order bonuses, give me something that's actually interesting and doesn't diminish the fun of the game.
I dunno about that -- I really enjoyed starting off Red Dead Redemption with the three-star War Horse, a code for which was included in my box...
War Horse was awesome and some of the other horses were still better for certain thing. Can't say I've ever actually seen pre-order content that really broke the game either. The major releases this year either had useless item DLC, some stuff that wasn't super useful, overpowered, or just crap.
In Fable III's case, you could argue that spending time on the mobile app gave you a lot of money, but when the game was out, everybody was giving each other money anyway.
Neranjan "Venom" Bissoon:
SmackDown vs. Raw 2011 is crap. THQ made a worse game, taking the fun elements out and trying to make a wrestling sim. The graphics are not even as good as '09's. I would have honestly given the game a 6, and I love the series!
The only improved mode is the royal rumble... and we lost about four good ones.
Wow, a 6? You're more generous than me. Some of what was put into that game, or rather the lack of effort, was an absolute disgrace. They need to take that series back to the drawing board. I couldn't believe it got such good reviews. What a piece of garbage.
Neranjan "Venom" Bissoon:
Part of the 6 is that it has the community creation part that allows for ridiculous matches such as Sonic the Hedgehog vs. Kenny Powers, which we actually did when Sega was here. Overall, it's crap. The Road to WrestleMania stuff was so bad. I agree, absolute disgrace.
Some of the staff couldn't join us today. They claimed they weren't disappointed by anything this year. It's not good to hold that poison in, fellas! So, I reach out to you, dear readers, to post in the comments some of your big gaming disappointments of 2010 and show those party poopers how it's done!
It's all in good fun, though. It's best not to dwell too much on the negatives. This has been a great year, and even if it wasn't, this should be the time to look towards new beginnings. And I'm not just talking about videogames. So go out and enjoy the holidays, and keep on spreading the love!