Despite what people may say, I thought 2014 was an excellent year. Heck, nearly every year is great for gaming. I played over 300 titles across all platforms, a little more than last year -- but mostly that's because of my pr...
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If we are the world, then technically this award is for all of us. Pat yourselves on the back. Only 12 games are being nominated, though, and only 1 will be winning the award. But it's an honor just to be nominated.
Creating worlds, interactive digital spaces for us to dive into, is one of the strength of games, tying back to that good old feeling, "immersion." These nominees created coherent or otherwise arresting virtual realities. Alien tension. Sweeping scope. Hot Topic's vision of punk rock. Southern Gothic magical realism.
You can have the greatest narrative in the world and sprinkle memorable characters and scenes throughout a game, but all of it's for naught if your mechanics can't shine through. As the great Irving Mills once wrote, "it don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing."
These nominees spotlight the best of games that transcend the simple title of "functional" and instead go for the gold when it comes to making things feel absolutely solid. Pulling off combos is akin to wrapping yourself up in a silk robe. You never have to fight these games in order to complete objectives. They're all titles you'd be playing over and over even if the other aspects were lacking. They simply feel right. We all know I'm talking about Bayonetta 2, but here's a list of other games, I guess.
Someone once told me I talk like Jeff Goldblum. This is not true. I also don't look like Charlie Day, Peter Frampton, Bret McKenzie, Michael Sheen, or Dikembe Mutombo. But at least I appreciated the former (tip: don't tell people who they look like; it is confusing and uncanny at best, offensive at worst). If I could channel a fraction of Goldblum's swarthy, gangly, aloof sex appeal or ability to vomit stomach acid onto his food while his shedding, greasy hair starts to look like a perm, my life would definitely be better. Especially if I had the vomit thing.
And so it is that the third Steven Hansen's Destructoid's GOTY 2014 award is for the Best interpretive representation of Jeff Goldblum. If you missed them, here are the awards for illiteracy (Best willful misspelling in a title) and Best musical.
Because I am being sneaky/horny and using a shirtless Goldblum to adorn this post rather than art from the winner, now it feels like I have the element of surprise on my side and I'm pussyfooting around giving the award. Juking left, juking right. Will there be a world-shattering upset? I can feel you tittering with suspense as if you were hanging on Jeff Goldblum's every word and "Look," hand gestures.
Without further stalling, I hereby award Transistorthe Steven Hansen's Destructoid's GOTY 2014 award for Best interpretive representation of Jeff Goldblum! Supergiant's sophomore effort is almost cool to a fault. It is aloof, but with a sumptuous, angular aesthetic that mirror's Goldblum's icy-hot mystery.
The people at Telltale Games are wizards. There's no other explanation. They have an uncanny ability to coax money men into handing over the keys to some of the most valuable properties in the entertainment business. Then they seemingly have carte blanche to toy with things people hold dear, churning out officially sanctioned fan fiction right and left like there's no tomorrow.
It's impossible to pinpoint exactly what it is that makes for great narrative design. It's just something you know when you see. It's more than an outstanding story (although, that's certainly a requisite). It's the melding of game mechanics with narrative to create an experience that's elevated beyond those two parts individually.
But, the thing is, there's no formula to ensure it'll work in perfect harmony. All too often, games that excel at telling a story fall somewhat flat with gameplay, or vice versa. It takes a special title to work hand-in-hand with itself to create that seamless whole.
When that happens, it's a wondrous feeling. We're left with the games that can keep us on the edge of our seat in delight, or slouched as deep in the couch as possible, gutted with despair. We're left with the games that we can't stop playing, or that we can't stop thinking about when we're not playing. We're left with the titles that cement the idea that videogames are a transcendent medium.
These are Destructoid's nominees for Best Narrative Design of 2014.
What a dismal showing this year. Last year had Frozen, which tailed into this year, world without end, amen, with a long icy tail like Halley's comet. When are we going to have the "Let it Go" of videogames? We'll never have made it as an artform until games can produce a number with such virality and ubiquity that I start to wonder, "Wouldn't my life be better without a son," and "Remember the end of Ichi the Killer, with the sewing needles? That movie had some good ideas."
Here are some of the so-called "big musicals" of 2014 that failed to register a single musical number: Alien: Isolation. Dragon Age: Inquisition. The trailer for the new Star Wars film. Bayonetta 2. Dark Souls II. Embarrassing.
While no one put their bach into it to interrupt all sense of tone and pacing with a barrage of gaudy sung intermissions, I hereby award Kentucky Route Zero Steven Hansen's Destructoid's GOTY 2014 for Best musical, namely for its one stirring musical number in Act 3. This is quality over quantity folks. Kentucky Route Zero's first two parts are enough to make it one of the best games of last year, and the lone Act 3 enough to make it one of this year's best--and the best musical.
First, the number pop ups organically, at a place you might expect song singing to happen, rather than in a prison or a dementia care home or the post office or just generally a place where you might not expect synchronized singing of thoughts and emotions by patrons. Oh, also a hair enhancement clinic. That's another one where a musical number feels out of place. Anyways, the sensibility of the time and place clashes beautifully with the levels of mediation inherent to the genre and toyed with in the mechanics. Just play the damn thing, the whole of it.
Friends can make any game worth playing. Growing up, couch play was a staple in my household. I would often have videogame themed birthday parties, inviting all of my buddies over to have fighting game tournaments and, one time, a Tenchu II level editor challenge.
While a great single-player game can always elicit strong emotional reactions within oneself, a great multiplayer game lets you share those emotions with your loved ones. These are the games that made us feel special this year. The ones that had an impact on our lives as we gamed into the late night hours with the best of company.
These nominees have mechanics specifically designed to facilitate engaging interactions with others, which inherently differs from the design choices found in solo experiences.
Might be your taste makers on this webpage made a Huge™ boner and left Samurai Gunn out of its 2014 game of the year plans. Because of its mid-December 2013 release, it was left out last year, too, and should have had 2014 eligibility. And there certainly isn't a multiplayer game I've had more fun with over the course of the year than the only game trying to carry Bushido Blade's torch.
And there ain't a game that makes better use of a superfluous double consonant neither, so I am hereby awarding Samurai Gunn the Steven Hansen's Destructoid's 2014 GOTY award for Best willful misspelling in a title.
Like a real gun or a decorative katana beneath your anime tits wall scroll, the second 'n' just makes you look cooler. This is how you name a game folks (incidentally, this is how you don't name a game, for the love of my Rouroni Kenshin reverse blade replica katana).
Do you see a lazy, '90s raditude 'z' slapped on the end there? Oh hell no. You may get three bullets per life, but there ain't no god damn, highfalutin pluralization nonsense happening here on the part of developer Teknopants. No. They doubled downn. That shows grit. Character. "You pronounce every god damnn letter," it screams. And you have to, or else you're pronouncing it wrong, like when you pronounce anno (year) as ano (anus). This isn't Samurai Ass. It's Samurai Gunn. Though I wouldn't mind seeing the former. Hit me up.
In the land of MechWarrior Online, Christmas came early last week. Or severely, massively late depending on your perspective. Much like my relationship status with MWO in general: it's complicated.
Community Warfare, the long-, long-awaited “core pillar” of the game finally debuted (in beta form at least) last Thursday. A week ahead of the scheduled patch that was intended to usher in a new golden age of stompy robot combat, and roughly three years behind schedule otherwise. It's finally arrived, the holy guts of the game; the real MechWarrior starts here.
The idea behind Community Warfare has always been to have players recreate and rewrite the history of the Battletech franchise. To combine the qualities of a largely player-run MMO like EVE with a mech combat simulator. The chance to pick a side and become either a noble Inner Sphere pilot fighting to defend your home, or a member of the crusading Clans, deep-space warlords who left the known solar system centuries ago and have returned as almost alien invaders; humanity's past sins come back to haunt them.
You narrow that allegiance down further, pledge yourself to a particular Great House or tribal Clan, seize home-worlds from the others, foster relations you will inevitably betray, engage in a deadly dance of political and steel warfare. Like Game of Thrones in space, but with giant mechs and laser cannons instead of a bunch of creepy dudes on horseback.
If you're already guessing that what's been released has failed to live up to the hype, give yourself a gold star.
All t-shirts on the Destructoid store have been dropped down to $12.95! All the shirts are on clearance, meaning once they're out of print you won't be able to get these shirts again! We're making way for something new, ...
Want to feel old? January 2014 was just about one year ago. That's one whole season of a TV show or a complete Earth's orbit around the sun. Way back then--I can hardly remember it in the shadow of the god awful year--the Destructoid staff did a list of our most anticipated games of 2014.
And what suckers we were! Most of the damned things didn't even come out. Chris was right to go with sure-thing Dark Souls II. It would've been hard to mess up (or not release). And a few folks who picked things way back in the first Year of Luigi (AL) didn't follow up for various reasons, but be assured that Patrick Hancock was definitely happy with Super Smash Bros.
It was a weird year of games, though, rife with big-name delays, big-name flops, and lovely games that came out of nowhere to end up being the most fun (like Invisible Inc.) Maybe 2015 will do right by us (or us by it). For now, let's look back.
Ok, yes we all hate third-party exclusives. It's especially grating for a franchise as venerable and well loved as Street Fighter. This is a raw deal for the world warriors out there who have already plunked down money on an ...
Like I was saying to the creators of Pocket Rumble, the minutia is what will make or break a fighting game. All the little moment-to-moment experiences in a given round of combat have to come together to create a vast psychological landscape. That big picture is easy to take for granted unless you take the time to pick it apart now and again.
For instance, winning or losing a fight doesn't have to be about how the game defines victory. The player can define victory on their own terms if they choose to. Using the old Dan/Servbot/Amingo team in Marvel vs. Capcom 2 and knocking just one of the opponent's characters out of the match is the peak of competitive fighting game majesty for some. For others, taking on all comers with Pichu and surviving a three-minute battle in Super Smash Bros. Melee is the zenith of videogame achievement. Setting a goal and reaching it. That's what winning is all about, regardless of how the game or anyone else judges you.
Maybe the Wii Fit Trainer's unorthodox crawl animation in Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U will become the next great disrespectful fighting game handicap. Doing a quick set of push-ups while in the middle of a super-powered combat scenario really sends a message. It's a message about priorities, about how seriously you take your opponent, and the importance of doing whatever the heck you want. It's beautiful. So beautiful that I had to write a song about it.
With regard to games shown at last weekend's PlayStation Experience, Sony had two noticeable strengths: its first-party mega-titles and the projects of its ever-growing stable of independent developers. While PlayStation fans finally got the chance to go hands-on with the publisher's biggest names like The Order: 1886 and Bloodborne, it was the indies along the length of the entire side wall where the true gems could be found.
In that sense, PlayStation Experience stepped right in line with all the year's other conventions; in relatively small crowds, players got to move from station to station, and fell in love with new games that they knew little-to-nothing about. Checking out the giant booths is all fine and fun, but ask anyone and they'll tell you that talking to passionate indie devs about their games and playing it at their small, humbling exhibits is the glue that holds community shows together.
These were Destructoid's favorite indie games at PlayStation Experience.
My, how time flies. Today, we're 21 years removed from the launch of one of the most influential videogames ever, Doom. It may not have been the original first-person shooter, but it was certainly the most important one in my life. Well, indirectly.
That prestige actually goes to Final Doom. Back in fourth grade, I made a new friend. We went to his house one day after school. The first thing he wanted to do was to boot up his computer and show me Final Doom. I remember being blown away by how awesome it was.
We weren't taking legit runs at Doom, mind you. IDDQD, IDKFA, and IDCLIP made sure that we could run wherever we wanted and kill whatever we wanted with absolutely no problem. Cyberdemons and Arch-viles fell by the hundreds. And, there was always a squeemish glee to watching a Cacodemon die in a messy pile of gloop.