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    • Goodbye Gametrailers

      10 months ago


      Well. That came out of nowhere

      I think I’m hardly the only shocked by the sudden closure of, with head honcho Brandon Jones revealed in a tweet that he would be leaving the website. That was an shock already, since he’s been the voice of the website near its very inception, but soon, it turned out things were far bigger than expected, as the official Gametrailers twitter announced that today (now yesterday at time of writing) would be the last day of the site. A site that has been running for 13 years, changed the way a lot of how other websites did their coverage, and not only produced great original content, but also provided a platform for many others, including our very own Screwattack.

      I can only really talk about my own experiences, but since its downfall has gone public, I’ve heard many stories similar to mine. I discovered Gametrailers in early 2006, and for me personally, was very much the gateway drug to the widespread gaming community. I considered myself a gamer, but it was Gametrailers that taught me that there was a whole community of likeminded individuals all around the world. That blew my mind back in the day, and with Youtube still very much in its diapers, it was THE place to go and see the latest trailers and videos.

      I still remember the first video I ever watched: their Top 10 Best and Worst Games of All Time. It was produced for television, featured guest stars like Seanbaby and Fatal1ty. The list is…. very dated (there’s a Peter Jackson jab when they talk Halo, when that was still a thing that was happening), but it proved to be a gateway to learn about all other game related things. Soon their Top 10 videos became an obsession, and it helped me learn about the history of video games, the people behind them, and plenty of other things.

      Through their Top 10 videos, I ended up discovering Top 10s from another company. Not ones produced by Screwattack, but done by these guys called Stuttering Craig and Handsome Tom. That rabbithole led me to the likes of the AVGN and Video Game Vault, until finally, I bit the bullet and looked on the main site. Like many in the pre-Death Battle/Youtube days, I discovered Screwattack through Gametrailers, and ended up joining a community I’m still a part of today. For that I can’t be more thankful.

      That’s not to say GT themselves didn’t end up producing great content. Their reviews usually were some of the better produced of their kind, and there’s some really good ones in there like the utter destruction of Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust (their lowest scoring game of all time) or their Bioshock review which ultimately convinced me to buy the game. Reviews however, were far from the only thing they did. Pop Fiction took the format of Mythbusters and applied it to video games with some very fun and unexpected results (sometimes. Usually it was just bullshit). Timeline was an incredibly well produced and amibitious, if short lived series about trying to tackle the timeline of the likes of Zelda and Kingdom Hearts. The Bonus Round was the first podcast-y show that I watched that discussed all the current events, and their E3 coverage was second to none for a while.

      That doesn’t even mention their GT Retrospective, which were pivotal to me learning more about franchises like Castlevania and Final Fantasy. Seriously, they are crazy long, but well worth your time checking out if you want a good dose of gaming history. Some of them have become slightly dated due to franchises continuing, but it’s worth giving them a watch. And of course, there was the Angry Video Game Nerd, the granddaddy of pretty much every video game content creators out on Youtube today. Gametrailers was one of the first to give him a platform, and while not a official level, Gametrailers also gave platforms to the likes of The Completionist, PeanutButterGamer, ProJared, Game Theory, and many more who went to do bigger and better things.

      That a website that created so much great stuff and has had such a legacy to suddenly die just like that is rather disheartening. The relationship with the former owners over at MTV and Spike wasn’t that great at the end of its run, but its buyout to Defy Media (who own the likes of Smosh and Escapist Magazine) ended up doing more harm than good. Much of the staff got gutted and afterwards more effort was put into making more personality driven content with the likes of Kyle Bosman and Brandon Jones, and there were certainly some highlights there like the Shenmue 3 reaction. That it all just suddenly ends (the GT staff was only informed about an few hours before it would be closed) is, to mince words, really fucking shitty from Defy Media, and shows disrespect to a website which has done a lot for the sector it’s in.

      I can’t deny that this personally really stings. I stopped going to Gametrailers when Screwattack grew further, when Youtube became more accessible for video content, and Destructoid filled my news needs, but even then, to see that legacy just go away, for a site that has helped change me into the way I am today. Without Gametrailers, I would’ve never discovered Screwattack and meeting such cool people who I end up considering my friends. So here’s to you, Gametrailers. You’ve inspired an huge amount of people and gave plenty an stage to showcase their content. You may be gone, but your content and its legacy will.

    • Ode to Xbox: 10 Year Anniversary of Xbox 360

      1 year ago


      Boy it sure has been a while since I’ve done a solo blog. G1 Features and school work have made that well dry up fast, but today I want to write something a little special about the console that changed the way I played games, helped me explore my boundaries in games more, and all in all, is just a special console all on its own: The Xbox 360 . Why? Well because on November 22nd, 2005, Xbox 360 would make its debut on store shelves, with Europe falling in a long week later on December 2nd.

      If you’ll excuse me for getting a little autobiographical, 2005 was a weird time for me. I just found out I would be moving to a different country, saying goodbye to the friends I made and home I cherished. Also, I was on the cusp of puberty, which is an awkward time for absolutely everyone. I was getting to that age where everything had to be mature, edgy, or hardcore, because “oh look at me, I am such an adult”. Despite all of that, I was still an hardcore Nintendo fanboy, mostly cause of Pokémon, but I chose Gamecube over the PS2 and Xbox and would choose the Wii over the 360. At least, that’s what I thought.

      Yes, I did have a Wii, I got one relatively soon after it launched (early 2007ish) and I don’t regret it, sort of. The Wii was home to some great games that I enjoyed playing like Twilight Princess, Mario Galaxy, and at the time, Wii Sports. But as I was getting more and more into video games, partially cause the country where I lived, video games were dirt cheap, and because I began to get drawn more to sites like Gametrailers, and yes, Screwattack, I also noticed something about the Wii: the droughts.

      Now ths is something I’ve experienced less on the Gamecube because I wasn’t a big enough gamer at the time, or the Wii U era since that’s been a peripheral console with my PS4, but goddamn, there were months where literally nothing good came on Wii, and as I grew up, it did make me jealous of what was on the 360 and PS3. Games like Halo, Uncharted, Mass Effect, Final Fantasy XIII (I was still excited for that for some reason) while we got Wii Music. By 2008-9, I had enough, and made the ultimate decision to get an Xbox 360.

      I ultimately chose the 360 out of a weird case of Nintendo fanboyism. I saw Sony as some sort of ultimate rival that I could not support for… some reason and therefore picked the other option. Granted, I don’t regret getting a 360 over a PS3, despite some great exclusives on there, but it kinda shows how silly console fanboyism can get sometimes. Not my proudest moment, but hey, I had another non-Nintendo console now. Neat.

      There, that’s the story how I ultimately got the 360, but what made the 360 so interesting in the gaming landscape? Microsoft was still very much the new kid on the block after the Xbox, and succeeded due to being a relatively easy console to develop for (it being largely based on a PC infrastructure) and playing with ideas like online multiplayer on the console. But Sony continued to dominate with the PS2, still the best selling home console of all time, and everyone was excited for the PS3, but as we all know, things went very, very different.

      See, PS1 and PS2’s success made Sony arrogant (can’t blame em, I mean just look how successful they were) and made them lose sight of what made them successful in the first place. The PS3 was hard to develop for with its complex Cell processor, its advertising was nuts, and that price of 599 US dollars. Microsoft took full advantage of this, and because of some really smart moves, became the dominant “gamer’s machine” for the dominant part of the 7th console generation, whilst Wii was leading the casual and Nintendo pack. Suddenly, Xbox were a true worthy opponent and a market leader, and there’s an irony to how the tables would turn in the next console generation.

      It’s hard to really comprehend how innovative the Xbox 360 was at the time, introducing concepts that we now almost take for granted with the other consoles. The way a console uses online was probably one of the biggest changes in the industry. For the very first time on a console, you could buy your games online (hell, Steam was still in its infancy at the time), and not just the big AAA stuff, but it also opened the floodgates for smaller and independent developers to find a place, which led to games like Braid and Castle Crashers getting out there in a market that might’ve otherwise ignored them. Yes, they experimented on this with the original Xbox, but that one required a disc you had to order, while with this, it became available to everyone as long as they had an internet connection. Patches, DLC, and more all came because of the online infrastructure of the 360 (hey, it aint all great).

      Speaking of online, Xbox Live. While you had to pay 60 dollars compared to both the Wii and PS3’s price of free, there was no doubt who had the better online mode. Yeah, this unfortunately got marred by loudmouth 12 year olds using every swear word in the dictionary, and the general abuse we unfortunately associate with online multiplayer, but I think we all have some great online multiplayer memories on 360, be it Call of Duty or Gears of War.

      Lets also not forget the achievements. They seemed so silly and pointless, but sooner or later, our Gamerscore began to mean a lot to people. Suddenly, your gaming skilz were there for the entire world for see. The achievement hunt got so crazy that people bought terrible games just because they had an easy achievement list and they had to beef up their score, otherwise Roger from Connecticut would have more. It was pretty crazy. So crazy that even Sony went “hey, we can do that” and patched in the Trophy system later on. Nintendo still seems stubborn enough not to do it.

      How weird that 2005 feels so 90s now

      For me personally, the 360 represents me maturing as a gamer, crawling out of the Nintendo fanboy I had built for myself most of my life and never left except when I was at a friend’s house. Nintendo is still very much my company of preference in gaming, because no one makes games like them, but Microsoft and Xbox 360 helped me get into other franchises and genres I never knew I would enjoy otherwise. That’s not to say Xbox 360 is without its messes. Releasing the console as early as they did meant that the 360 was laden with problems, especially the dreaded Red Ring of Death. It would be foolish to have a tribute without also acknowledging the flaws.

      Then of course there’s the Kinect, an obvious attempt to both differentiate itself from the competition as well as grab that casual market that the Wii had all to themselves. It worked for a while, and Kinect is in fact a pretty neat little peripheral. It’s just that Microsoft kept pushing us down our throats forcing to like a thing that ultimately did not get used for many other games, and most Kinect games ended up being not all that good.

      There’s plenty more faults, like how Microsoft messed up with independent developers once Sony decided to get its act together and appeal to that market, and how they let that slip, but I do want this to remain a  positive tribute, because as mentioned, the Xbox 360 had a genuinely big impact on me. What’s crazy that, 10 years later, we are still getting new games for the system. And not just the standard FIFA/Madden games that even the PS2 was still getting. At time of writing, Rise of the Tomb Raider came out on 360 and was a fine port of the Xbox One version. Games like Metal Gear Solid V also made it on the system mostly uncompromised That’s genuinely impressive considering the Xbox 360 is 10 year old hardware. Granted, this is probably the last time we’re gonna see any of these ports, with most gamers having moved on to the newer hardware of the Xbox One or PS4.

      With that in mind, I would like to talk about some Xbox 360 exclusives that had a big impact on me as a gamer, and are recommendation should you ever decide to get a 360, but with Xbox One having introduced backwards compatibility, maybe that’s not even necessary. ANYWAY, here’s some Xbox 360 exclusives (timed or otherwise) that I really like.

      1.       Kameo: Elements of Power

      One of the launch titles of the Xbox 360, having moved from being originally a Gamecube, to an Xbox, to eventually a 360 title. Because of that, the game has aged quite a bit, but it was an interesting new IP from Rare that I wish could’ve been explored more (a more mature sequel was in the works but eventually canceled)

      2.       Lost Odyssey

      The 360, or the Xbox brand in general, never became a success in Japan (the One launch is especially) but boy did they try, partnering up with Hironobu Sakaguchi’s Mistwalker for 2 exclusive games. The flawed, but enjoyable Blue Dragon, and Lost Odyssey, which is the best Final Fantasy of the console generation not named Final Fantasy. It’s in my opinion a super underrated JRPG, and if you’re interested in something old school, its really hard to go wrong with this.

      3.       Fable 2

      I DON’T CARE WHAT PEOPLE SAY! I LOVE THIS GAME! Fable 1 suffered from its developer’s over-ambition and promises they could never live up to, and Fable 3…… lets not even go there (amazing voice cast though), but Fable 2 was a genuinely fun action RPG that had me hooked for hours on end. Its ending is kind of garbage (there’s nothing all that epic about it, it just kind of ends), but I found hours of enjoyment in the game and in the world of Albion.

      4.       Mass Effect 1+2

      Yeah yeah, Mass Effect would eventually come to PS3 (hell, 3 even made it to Wii U for some reason), but Mass Effect was initially one of the deciding for me wanting to get a 360. What’s funny is that the first time playing it, it wasn’t clicking with me. I put it down, played Fallout 3, and that was it. It took me starting over with Femshep where suddenly everything started clicking together, and I fell in love with the universe Bioware had created. The characters, the story, the world, I fell deep into the Mass Effect lore, more so than probably any other franchise, and I got my first experience with them on 360.


      So yeah, the Xbox 360. As it reached its decade of existence, and slowly enter the fold of a retro gaming console (admit it you nerds), lets celebrate what it has brought to the gaming landscape, both the good and the bad. To you Xbox 360, for making me mature as a gamer, to making me spend 100s of hours on you, and for having one of the best damn controllers ever. Here’s to the future!

      (Nobody tell em I chose to get a PS4 this generation)

    • The Wasted Opportunity of Playstation All-Stars

      3 years ago


      I think everyone here may have played a Smash Bros game at some point. If you haven't, go do so right now, because the series is absolutely fantastic. The crazy fighting style which makes it feel like everyone can play, and yet there's a huge ammount of complexity, the huge ammount of content (I've played over a 100 hours of Brawl, and am still unlocking things), and a sense of nostalgia only the crazy folks of Nintendo can pull off.

      With the series' popularity, there were several different people asking the same question: Why hasn't Sony done anything with this formula? I mean, Sony has plenty of iconic that could work great in a fighting game. It should be easy to do, right....... right?

      When Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale was announced, I thought to myself: wow, that's a long title. My immediate second thought was: about time. This is what fans have been clamoring for. A party fighting game that Sony fans could call their own. As a Nintendo fanboy, I wished Sony the best of luck with this.


      I'm sorry, do I know you?

      The first batch of characters announced proved to be interesting. Obviously Kratos was going to be in it, Sweet Tooth also made sense with his latest game having just released at that time, Sly Cooper was a Playstation icon, those characters all made sense. Parappa the Rapper as well, even though the franchise has been dormant for a while. But then you had characters like Fat Princess, which confused me.I know that the game was enjoyed a lot when it came out in 2009, but you rarely see people talk about it these days. And Colonel Radecc from Killzone? Killzone is a popular franchise, yes, but is Radecc that popular of a character? I'd never even heard of himI shrugged it off though, thinking that Sony would have plenty more characters up their sleeve.

      And they did, sort off. Of course there was Nathan Drake and of course there was Ratchet and Clank, and there was Sackboy too. But I started to notice a disturbing trend with some of the choices made. Soon we got characters like Spike from Ape Escape, Nariko from Heavenly Sword, Sir Daniel from Medievil, and even Toro, who is one of the Japanese mascots of the PS3. Ask any normal person, hell, ask any modern gamers who these characters are, and they'll just look at you funny.

      This made me realize something. Sony may have quite a bunch of franchises, but when you get right down to it, has only very few iconic characters. I mean, yeah, Kratos is a icon. Sackboy has found its way as a icon, Ratchet and Clank still is, lots of people know Nathan Drake. But after that, it kind of stops. Most of these characters either haven't had a game released in a long time (Medievil, Jak and Daxter), another was part of a failed franchise (Heavenly Sword, though it definitely deserved better), or are simply not recognizable unless you're a big gamer (Radec, Cole McGrath to a certain extent). And even then, where was Wander from Shadow of the Collosus? A character from Resistance? What about Ethan Mars from Heavy Rain (after how Podcast Beyond described how he would fit in, it would be awesome)


      But hey, everything would be ok, because Sony would also add a bunch of 3rd party characters. While Smash only had 2 (granted, they were Solid Snake and Sonic, which is a big deal), All-Stars would have a lot more. O boy! Does this mean the return of Crash Bandicoot and Spyro? Those were the big mascots of Playstation back in the day? Will we see Cloud from Final Fantasy VII, or maybe Squall? Maybe we'll see Lara Croft or Ezio? The possibilities were endless.

      Now this obviously couldn't live up to the hype. The ammount of iconic 3rd party characters on Playstation. But even then, we were disappointed. In the end, there only 4 3rd party characters. Yes, Big Daddy was a cool announcement because it sort of came out of nowhere. But then there were characters like Raiden (guess Snake was sleeping at Nintendo's camp), which was alright, and Tekken was largely seen as a PS franchise, so Heihachi made a bit of sense. The elephant in the room however is Dante. Not the original Dante who you could call a icon and would perfectly fit, but the new Dante from DmC, a whole 2 months before that game was even out. I'm not one of those people who's against the new Dante, at all, but why was he chosen for this game instead of the original? It just seems more like a marketing ploy for DmC than a celebration of Sony

      Suck it fanboys, I've got a video game to sell

      Speaking of marketing ploy, why was Columbia a stage in the game. Bioshock Infinite is not out yet, and won't be for another month. This just seems incredibly forced marketing, and more of a way to get Irrational to make more content for Sony rather than its competitors (when are we going to see more of that Bioshock Vita Game?). Just a small nitpick I guess

      So I've gone on and on about the characters and how they kind of underwhelm, that's of course far from it. Superbot couldn't simply copy Smash Bros' fighting style, otherwise it would jump into plagarism. I thought a simple life bar would suffice. What Superbot came up with though, is kind of dumb. For those that don't know, you basically have to hit your opponent to fill up a Super Meter. That's the only purpose for those hits, because the only way to kill your opponent is via those super moves. That's it. I cannot fathom the idea that went behind. This means that only 3 of the attacks really matter, and the rest makes you feel like the Sack from Smash Bros. It doesn't matter that you get hit, it won't kill you, just avoid those Super Moves.

      Despite all of this, Sony could've still marketed it well and made a franchise out of this, and make this the supposed jumping of point. After all, the original Smash Bros is barely a shadow of the giant that Melee is. That's not dissing Smash Bros, that's just pointing out how revolutionary Melee was. But that did not happen. Sony barely marketed the thing, and only people who follow gaming knew it was coming out. There were some ads released on tv (at least here in the Netherlands), but they only appeared late at night. This is not how you market a game. Remember, people have been clamoring for a Sony Smash Bros for years. Make a parody of the famous Smash Bros ad or something. Use that to your advantage. Its funny, a few months back, a fired playtester from Sony said that Sony was sending out some titles to let them die, releasing them with very little marketing as they were greenlit in a time of different management. It seems like All-Stars was part of that list (Sly 4 seems to be as well, considering how that game came out of nowhere with very few trailers and ads)

      What is the inevitable result of all this? A wasted opportunity, that's what. To date, All-Stars has only sold 400K (500K if you count the Vita version) copies in the 2 months that its out. It didn't even crack the Top 20 in the UK charts when it was released. Since then, Superbot has to fire nearly a third of their staff, and Sony effectively severed all ties with them, and Superbot will most likely dissolve in the process. This kills most chances of us ever seeing a sequel to this, and you know what? That sucks.

      I wasn't looking forward to All-Stars, especially after I had the chance of playing it at a convention, and I too confused by it. Despite that, I wanted to root for it. I wanted it to do well so that Smash Bros may get a legitimate contender in its market. But it was not meant to be. What we have here is a wasted opportunity that could've been another great franchise for Sony, but will eventually end up forgetten. 



    • Final Fantasy VII: should it be remade?

      3 years ago


      If you consider yourself a hardcore gamer, chances are that you've played a Final Fantasy game. When you think of the JRPG genre, chances are that's the very first game series to pop into your head. That's partially because the truly great ones are also incredibly influential. In the SNES era, we got Final Fantasy IV, which really revolutionized story telling in games even though that story has shown its age as time went on. Final Fantasy VI improved on almost everything, and some consider it the best in the series.

      Of course, Final Fantasy, in terms of popularity world wide, hit its tip with the release of Final Fantasy VII on the original Playstation. When it came out, it didn't just revolutionize Final Fantasy, it changed the whole JRPG landscape for better or worse. It was the game that made the JRPG genre popular into the west. It was nothing short of a game-changer.

      One of the most influential games ever. No doubt about it.

      With that exposition out of the way, let's talk about what the title reads: should Square Enix remake Final Fantasy VII in HD and bring the game to modern audiences? After all, a game that is considered such a important one must be re-experienced, right?

      Its not like the fans haven't been teased. In 2005 at Sony's E3 conference, Square Enix released a tech demo of the opening of the game, throwing fuel at the fire that this game could someday get a remake.

      One of the biggest cockteases in gaming.

      This... is not happening.

      Let me be perfectly clear: I LOVE Final Fantasy VII. I think it's an absolutely fantastic game. It has a great story, well written characters and a type of world that really hadn't been explored at the time. It's a very well made game -- Not my favorite Final Fantasy game (that is 6), but a damn good one.

      But why the hell does it need to be remade?

      The fans are asking for a full on HD remake -- one that will push the power of whatever platform it would release for (most likely PS4). This is a terrible idea. In the case of HD remakes, all the characters, areas, locations etc are only slightly upgraded. They'll look good in HD, but only in some cases will you see some actual differences. It will look smoother, but that's about it).

      This probably didn't cost Square Enix a bajillion dollars to make

      This obviously doesn't work with Final Fantasy VII. If there's one thing that hasn't really held up, it's the graphics. The characters having kinda expressionless eyes and those Popeye arms. Obviously, they want to see a Final Fantasy VII character with the exact amount of detail as the characters in Final Fantasy XIII.

      Consider this: just how expensive do you think that's going to be? I mean, a HD remake is probably not that expensive considering that just takes the original game and makes sure it looks nice on current television, but to fully remake a huge game like Final Fantasy VII from the ground up would be an incredibly expensive affair. It would likely cost more than Square would earn from sales.

      Consider the position Square Enix is in right now. Its latest releases haven't been big successes financially. Tomb Raider was barely out for a month, was the best selling in the entire series and STILL lost a lot of money. The same goes for Hitman Absolution. In the position the company is in now where careful evaluation of financial strategies is necessary, you think Square would blow all its cash on a 16-year-old game?

      This game sold almost five million copies and didn't make its budget back. Think about it.

      But I know what you will say. “Final Fantasy VII is their most successful game to date. Obviously a remake would attract tons of people to make it financially viable?” Here's a big problem. The people craving for this Final Fantasy VII remake PROBABLY HAVE ALREADY PLAYED FINAL FANTASY VII! Why would the majority who played that game back then pay $60 for a game they already played just because it looks way prettier? The amount of newcomers simply wouldn't be as big as you think. Sure, those fans wanting it will account for about, maybe, 2 million sales (which is generous in my opinion). That's way too little to turn a profit.

      But what about Final Fantasy X? That game is probably a lot easier to remake considering the type of character models. While some characters will be completely remade, most parts will get the normal HD collection-style upgrade. It also helps that X is the most popular title in the series in its native Japan, which most likely has a lot more say than its international appeal.

      Mock them, Titus! MOCK THOSE BUTTHURT FANBOYS!

      And really, when you get down to it, getting a copy of Final Fantasy VII is very easy.

      On sites like eBay, you can find an original copy of the game for many varying prices, but the cheapest is a measly $10. And if you don't own a PS1, you can actually play it on PS2 or PS3. Even better, you can download the game on PSN, thanks to PS1 Classics, on both your PS3 or Vita for a measly $10.

      You don't own a  Playstation system? No problem. The game is available on PC on both Square Enix's Online Store and, just recently, Steam. Sure, you'll have to deal with SE's shitty DRM policies and even tads of lag. Its a inferior version, but its still the same game that's so widely renowned. Go get those versions if you really want to get the game.  With all those options available, there's really no need for a remake.

      Let me be perfectly clear: I am not against the idea of a Final Fantasy VII remake. As I said before, I love the original, and I think it would be amazing the adventures of Cloud, Barrett, and co. all over again with the graphics of that tech demo. But to say I NEED it? No, I don't. When I want to replay Final Fantasy VII, I'll go and replay my original PS1 copy. A remake could never catch that same spark even with all the money in the world. Square Enix may be the king in pushing its old games for nostalgia's sake, but the company isn't stupid enough to do something that risky. Final Fantasy VII will not get a remake (at least not for a while), and if it does, I'll be very, very surprised. But, maybe, not getting that remake is for the best.

    • The VGX: Why Gamers Deserve Better

      3 years ago


      Editor’s Note: What do you think g1s? Do you agree with MadHero's assessment? Or do you feel Spike did a good job this time?

      Some of you guys may not know this, but I'm a sucker for award shows. Well, just the Oscars really, but that's because I have an abiding love for cinema and love to see films that were really good get the credit they deserve. Yes, it is basically Hollywood self-congratulating itself, and has so many dumb policies and biases. Still, I like it.

      Which brings me to the VGA's. The VGA's are pretty infamous for being, well, shit. Many believe it to be an award show that seems to really go for the dudebro crowd and instead of celebrating the medium, it seems to have an awkward disdain for it. Usually relying on its "World Premieres," awkward celebrity cameos, and crazy amount of product placement.


      I have to be honest: I never saw the VGA's. I heard they were terrible, so I decided to just wait for the trailers to come and watch them in the morning. Now however, the VGA's had changed to the VGX. A fresh start, so I decided to see it just for shits and giggles.

      How wrong of an idea it was.

      For those that didn't see, the VGX was more than a simple renaming. They changed the entire setting, making it pretty much an extended version of Attack of the Show or X-Play and add some awards, The Dewrito Overlord Geoff Keighly, and Jeff Winger from Community into the mix. That is not as great as it sounds unfortunately.

      Obligatory use of this image after the words Geoff Keighly were uttered.

      The awards portion itself was kinda lame. Game of the Year (which was given to GTA V) was given in the middle of the show, with no real buildup or excitement. Stuff like Best Shooter and Best Character were given away after or before the show. Does that  make any sense to you? It sure doesn't to me.

      So it was up to the reveals to make it all work. Those are usually pretty awesome. Skyrim, Metal Gear Solid V,  Last of Us, Mass Effect 3, the list goes on and on when it comes to cool games being announced. This time? Not really, all we got were mostly trailers and gameplay footage of games we already knew about, such as The Division, Witcher 3, Stick of Truth and Quantum Break. The only new things came from Telltale (they're making a Borderlands game and a Game of Thrones one) and Hello Games' No Man's Sky (which looks unbelievably awesome and was the best thing shown). That's it. No big announcements. The one thing that made people want to watch your show and you failed to deliver.

      The announcements may have disappointed, but this gave me all of the boners!

      I get the feeling that many of us want to like the VGA/VGX because it probably is (well, now was, since it's barely an awards show anymore) the biggest ceremony celebrating video games that isn't a trade show like E3 or Gamescom, and it's frustrating to see it be done so poorly, in a way that doesn't celebrate, but opposes gaming culture, not to mention trying to appeal to the lowest common denominator. All of this would be fine, if this wasn't the most well known video game award show, but it is, and that's sad.

      We gamers deserve an awards show that treats gamers, and most importantly, the people behind making these wonderful video games, with some dignity and respect. Luckily, I've got just the thing.

      If you're a film fan like myself, you may have heard of the BAFTA's, or the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Now you may be wondering why I'm mentioning them if you don't know them, and it's because they also have a Video Game Awards portion, something they've been doing since 1998. There may be no fancy world exclusive trailers and it may be more focused on Britain, but it actually celebrates the medium in a classic fashion. THE PEOPLE WEAR TUXEDOS AND EVERYTHING! It's not by any means perfect. It seems to be lacking in certain nominees (nothing for Best Writing for instance, or Best Studio), but it's a definite step in the right direction, and I urge you to check it out (the Awards are always streamed, and you can watch the old awards on Youtube).

      Seriously though, watch it. It's awesome!

      So yeah, the VGX were disappointing, unfunny, mean-spirited, and just kind of boring. We may have lost the pointless celebrity cameos and overabundant product placement (No Mountain Dew or Doritos in sight), but what we got was just..... lifeless. Now that it doesn't even have all that great reveals (well, besides No Man's Sky and Telltale working on Borderlands), why are we still watching? There's now less need than ever. We deserve more than this. That may sound whiny and overly-entitled, but it's the truth. With the BAFTA's around, there's no need whatsoever. And unless Spike TV and the Dewrito pope take the criticism they got on Twitter to heart (which I doubt), we'll probably see the end of the VGX by the end of 2014, and NO ONE will be sad about it.

      Now if you'll excuse me, I'M GONNA MAKE MY OWN VIDEO GAME AWARDS SHOW! WITH BLACKJACK! AND HOOKERS! In fact, forget the awards show.

    • The 28 Video Games That Defined 2013 (For Better or Worse): Part 1

      3 years ago


      Hello everyone. Madhero here. As you can see on your calendar, 2013 is almost over, and boy o boy, was it a good year for video games. When I first posted about wanting to do the Games that Defined 2013, I could not imagine the response it would get, not to mention the sheer variety of games. Heck, while we may have 28 games, you won't see games like Stanley Parable, SimCitry, Brothers, or Ni no Kuni. That's how insane the amount of great (and not so great) titles that came out. Part 2 will be up on a later date (before 2014, I can promise you ), but now, enjoy the first part of the 28 Video Games that Defined 2013 (for better or worse)!

      Aliens: Colonial Marines - The Stickman     

      There's a golden rule in the world of Gaming, "The longer you have to wait for a game, the less likely it'll be worth it...unless it's made by Nintendo". This rule almost always turns out to be accurate regardless of genre, publisher or console, but still we always get our hopes up for these long anticipated releases even though the likelyhood of disappointment is higher than the likelyhood of joy. One studio has taught us this more than any other recently, first came the car crash that was Duke Nukem Forever a couple years back, a game 15 years in the making turned out to be little more than a crude reminder of why we don't live in the 90's anymore beyond the very basic principals of time, and secondly came the 7 year atrocity that was Aliens: Colonial Marines, a game that reminded us of many sad truths about the industry, and obliterated the reputation of one of the more community heavy "developers," Gearbox Software.

      To understand the sheer assholery of Colonial Marines, you have to look back to when it was first announced back in 2006 as the first of several new Alien franchise titles to be announced/released by new I.P holder, Sega. It wasn't until partway into 2008 that we finally got a true glimpse, but even from the early announcement, the promise of a AAA Aliens title from a trusted developer like Gearbox made a lot of people very excited. When it was revealed to be a sequel to Aliens? When we were shown these gorgeous screenshots that just seemed...too good to be true (Funny that)? FUCK. YES. This was the Aliens game...hell, the Aliens product people had been waiting for! It looked great!

      And theeeenn...we heard fact it wasn't until 2010, after the release of the new Alien vs Predator (Which turned out to be the first one out the gate despite less development time), after the release of Borderlands, and after the shock reveal of Duke Nukem Forever that we got out next glimpse at the game, in the form of 5 screenshots...and...DAMN DID THEY LOOK GOOD! ALLLRIGHT! And then, at E3 2011 the game was officially re-revealed and put back into the release schedule, with a truly stunning trailer, AND a jaw-dropping hands-off demo being shown off to the masses, peaking the excitement yet again, the wait was almost over...early we come!

      Aaaannd..then it got delayed...and then delayed again...and then Borderlands 2 came out...and then...FINALLY...the actual, final release date for the game was locked down for February 2013, but...inbetween all the initial amazing trailers and footage and the release, the quality of what we were showing had started to decline, not noticeable to everyone, but certainly to me and many other excited fans, the visuals seemed to have taken a huge plunge in the final months running up to launch, and people STILL hadn't had hands on with the game!, it was about January this year where I started to have my doubts as to whether or not this was going to be worth the wait, so I didn't pre-order it, and then the reviews came...and it was a disaster!

      The game didn't look or play anything like Gearbox had promised, or even shown off in trailers/demos, it was buggy as hell, poorly designed and, despite the promise of a 'true sequel' from 'true fans' of Aliens, what we instead got was a true mess, going so far as to not only damage the Aliens brand and the brands of Sega and Gearbox, but also to damage the very film it professed to loving for SO LONG. And then we found out it wasn't even made by Gearbox, instead it'd mostly been outsourced to another inexperienced studio, and then we found out Gearbox had been accused of siphoning money from Sega to fund their own Borderlands I.P, which if true, would explain why they managed to make both of those games in less time than the shitty Aliens game they'd been working on for OVER 5 YEARS.

      Colonial Marines was a disaster...a lie, a sham of a game and a shameful display of greed by a studio that tried so hard to come across as down to Earth and community friendly. We were lied to, both verbally and visually by Gearbox Software, the game was trash, it was panned and now resides in the bargain bins where it belongs. Instead of giving us a crowning hallmark of Sci-Fi Horror gaming, we got a shady cash in on a popular brand. To think that less than half a year after its release Randy Pitchford went on a live talkshow and laughed off the disaster makes me sick to my stomach. Aliens: Colonial Marines defined 2013 because it showed us NO studio can truly be trusted, promises and integrity mean NOTHING in big business, no matter how hard they try to convince us otherwise, and NO game is worth waiting almost 10 years for, even if it has got Aliens in the title.

      Animal Crossing New Leaf - dudesterravensfan     

      "I haven't really played too many games from 2013. Mainly because this was more of a year of me catching up on games I haven't played. From the games I've played (Stanley Parable, GTA V, Pokemon Y) I feel most obliged to talk about Animal Crossing: New Leaf

      I'm going to say this right here, Animal Crossing: New Leaf isn't close  to being the most innovative game of 2013. There are way more deserving games of such a prestigious title. But I would be lying if I said this isn't one of the most immersive games I've ever played. It is the definition of an experience.

      In case you don't know, Animal Crossing is about you moving in with your animal neighbors and doing day to day tasks, whilst it runs on an internal clock. Sounds like nothing special, right? That's kinda the beauty of the series: it's so simple and so enjoyable it puts a smile to your face.

      Some small adjustments like improved character models (may not sound like much, but it's a big deal for the series), a few new characters like your assistant Isabelle or Reese and Cyrus of the ReTail shop. And of course, you are the mayor of your town (in my case it's called Arlen, like from King of the Hill) which adds ways to design your town your way and putting up shops and public sights. It adds a few more minor things like the Island and the extremely implemented SpotPass and StreetPass for the 3DS.

      And there are always secrets to find and you can do normal things like fishing, bug collecting, improving your house, giving gifts to your neighbors, talking to neighbors, and more. There is so much content in this it shifts from being a game into an experience. It's one of the most immersive games I've ever played and it focuses on the player and what the player wants. It may not be the best game ever or of 2013. But it's one of my personal favorites."

      Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag - ?Kaibaman41     

      Assassin's Creed, a franchise whether you love or hate it has given us a lot of good times, but when the third of the franchise launched, it almost killed it due to random desynchronization bugs to well a lot of bugs and an unlikeable protagonist that was Connor Kenway...and of course the death of a certain Modern Assassin left many fans regardless if you liked or hated him in shock.

      Enter Assassin's Creed 4. A game that fans wanted the 3rd titled game to be. by that I mean it kicks ass in every way! If you thought Ezio Auditore was badass, just wait till you play as Edward Kenway. 4 enhances the Naval Battle system of 3 and kicks things to high gear with a power level of over 9000! The World map is huge, you can hunt Legendary Ship, find secret Treasure like a Bad Ass Ninja Pirate you are.

      Take it from me lads Assassin's Creed 4 is a game that defined 2013 in a good way.

      Beyond: Two Souls - ?Ferret75     

      I’m aware that David Cage’s past video games, which are indeed games and not films despite what some people might like to pretend, have received mixed opinions due to their cinematic elements, story narratives, and different kinds of controls than what are more commonplace. But whatever others may think, I really loved his latest title Beyond: Two Souls, and enjoyed its unique presentation that it had to offer this year. Beyond: Two Souls is a story-heavy game that explores the life of Jodie Holmes and a spiritual entity Aiden who is linked to her, and despite her best attempts to be a normal person, she has to gradually come to terms with this connection that changes the entire course of her life. We traverse emotional moments in her memories ranging from her early years of alienation from family, to failed attempts at fitting in with other members of society, to homelessness caused by trying to flee forces that seek to use her, and all throughout these various instances we can piece together a story that shows a strong coming-of-age tale. We also participate in physically enduring moments of her life such as government-organized missions in the CIA, to the intermixing of the physical world with a parallel spiritual realm, and even to moments of conspiracy within high-ranked organizations. And we interact with various other areas of her life, all while making choices through controlling not one but two characters within the same scenes.

      One of the defining things for Beyond: Two Souls for me was its narrative, which was partly due to its excellent actors. Especially with people like Ellen Page and the Green Goblin himself, Willem Dafoe (who previously didn’t really think much of video game stories). Without giving spoilers, I’ll just say that the performances in the game moved me, such as with Jodie’s true loneliness caused by fleeing from a government that seeks to use her, or with the paranormal researcher (and surrogate father figure to Jodie) Nathan Dawkins’ personal struggles with his own family. Many of the outcomes of the scenes are affected based on decisions that you choose between, such as letting an embassy mission end with success or purposeful chaos, choosing to get violent revenge for harassment at a party or walk away in sadness, impacting the ways that Jodie can cope with being alone, affecting the stability of a paranormal complex, and various other scenes. Most chapters can be played in different ways, and several events affect later sections of the story not only through dialog, but sometimes with endings like the life statuses of certain side characters. And while the controls do still involve quick time events, the psychic gameplay from Aiden increases the number of ways that you can affect settings, and it also leads to some fun moments including a surprisingly unexpected stealth mission which makes good use of the spiritual abilities.

      It’s particularly fun from a narrative perspective to participate in a scene where Jodie and Aiden are at odds with one another; you end up role-playing the two characters and try to find a balance between both sides while staying true to their wants. The characters grow up side by side, and they transition between disliking one another to relying on each other for their continued existences. Aiden is simultaneously Jodie’s main reason for many of the troubles in her life, and also her greatest protector from the people who seek to exploit her. I also liked the nonlinear ordering of story chapters, although I can see why some might not as much; for me though, it improved the pacing and let the story be like an exploration of memories with location variety.

      But at the end of the day, Beyond: Two Souls is a game that will probably continue to divide some people due its gameplay conventions that might deviate from the norm, or maybe due to unique reactions on the narrative. Personally though, I found it both fun and expansive. The visuals including the performance capture are strong, the soundtrack is memorable, the acting is great, the narrative covers various themes ranging from corruption to self-identity, and the gameplay has its mix of fun but also emotionally impacting moments. I felt strongly for Jodie and wanted to help guide her through her life, and it was great getting to play a role in that. And the close relationship she had with Aiden was one that I will remember for a long time. Beyond: Two Souls was and still is a really memorable game for me that I consider pretty unique, and I honestly wouldn’t mind seeing more storytelling experiences like this one in the future.

      BioShock Infinite - Sidesmash     

      For the longest time, video games have had a very miscalculated relationship with the presence of “High Art” within its boundaries. Not the mere title of “art,” mind you, but the presence of art’s ultimate form. The industry, as well as its community, has struggled with the notion of its products being taken into the same consideration for artistic study as something as powerful as Ingmar Bergman’s Persona or Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.” The aura of “maturity” had not settled with the medium and its makers as of the beginning of this year, despite so many outspoken critics, developers, and gamers saying otherwise. The blockbuster triple-A installments in popular franchises didn’t have as much to say as the less popular independent titles that had some “artistic merit,” or at least defined under the popular connotation for the phrase.

      This year, however, something felt… different.

      Among the many fantastic titles that enraptured the video game enthusiasts of the planet, one game finally held the merits of both the triple-A and independent sub-industries; in other words, a blockbuster that genuinely meant something surfaced from the depths of development.

      That game was BioShock Infinite, a rousing adventure that not only guarantees the beauty and bombastic bliss of an amazing first-person-shooter, but also simultaneously questions the very nature of our existence and the paths we take while on this planet. What does it mean to have free will? Are we truly the ones who pull the strings of our own destiny? Is the will to choose all just an illusion? BioShock Infinite drags all of these layered questions into the light, forcing the player to come to terms with the role they play as main character Booker DeWitt and the meaninglessness of the choices they make.

      O, and the cover songs are excellent.

      An array of incredible imagination and attention to detail, BioShock Infinite excels in all areas of modern game design: Its gameplay mechanics all serve each other beautifully and in turn culminate in a phenomenally fun experience; the powerful display of creativity presents an amazing eye for authenticity and surrealism; and its protagonist and his companion make for one of the most powerful pairs in all of video games. But more than anything else, BioShock Infinite completely embraces the uniqueness of the video game medium, creating an experience that simply cannot be read, watched, or heard: it must be played.

      Bioshock Infinite is not the first game to bring such powerful ideas into a mainstream title, nor will it be the last. But its release marked the first time that those in love with the video game medium collectively looked up and saw a beautiful glint of light in a sky of doubt and uncertainty; a glimpse of a future in which video games are taken just as seriously as the finest piece of literature or cinema. And, for the very first time, no one doubted its legitimacy. 2013 was a year of hope for a better tomorrow for the video game industry, and BioShock Infinite proves that the industry’s fight for legitimacy will one day come to an end, and the victory will go to the army with the controllers in its hands.

      Dead Space 3 - ?MadHero15     

      The game industry often places itself in a sense of pity. O, game budgets are getting too high! O, we don’t make enough money! O, we get pirated all the time! Please buy our games! PLLLLLLLLLLEEEEEEEEEEEEASE! It seems all everyone can think of is making games as big as possible, not thinking about the fact that not all games have to do Call of Duty style business.

      Cue Dead Space, a franchise that has shown to be somewhat of a revival of the AAA horror genre. Sure, it took many cues from Alien and Event Horizon, but it was a wonderfully realized horror game. The 2nd one went into more action territory, but was still firmly a horror title, this time adding a more psychological edge to it.

      3? Well they decided to screw all of that. At E3 2012, it was revealed to be more action based than ever, with large set pieces taken straight from Uncharted. It seemed the scares had disappeared. Not only that, but now co-op was a thing (cause everything is scarier with 2 people right), and one of the things gamers seem to hate the most right now: MICROTRANSACTIONS! Furthermore, an EA representative said that Dead Space 3 had to sell 5 MILLION COPIES in order to survive. How much did 2 sell? Not even close to 3. It seemed like a failed mission, and everyone could see that, and sure enough, it was.

      2013 saw many so called disappointments, with Tomb Raider probably the biggest example of them all. Its true that game budgets in the AAA market continue to expand, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we have to go all out. Dark Souls was a game that had a limited budget and sales target, and ended up being a HUGE success. Dead Space 3 tried to appeal to everyone, and ended up being just another action game on the market, alienating its former fanbase.

      That’s ultimately why I think it defines 2013. Its an example of trying to expand a game to make it something its not, and then self destructing in the process. Many IPs have fallen cause of this trend, and I hope game designers learn not to go big or go broke. Let Dead Space be Dead Space and let Call of Duty be Call of Duty. Horror ain’t dead you know, just look at Outlast.

      DuckTales: Remastered - Prowler64    

      Remade games played quite a large role in the market in the second half of the year. With The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker being re-released on the Wii U to Sonic 2 getting a new level that wasn’t in the original game, remakes were popular this year. Despite that, it was a huge surprise that Capcom were remaking the NES classic when it was announced back in March. What we got was a magnificent nostalgia trip, with updated cartoony graphics, catchy updated music still with chip tunes as an essential part of it and a story line that filled up a couple of plot holes the original game had. brentalfloss finally got his question answered; how is Scrooge supposed to breathe in space? With oxygen filled gum of course!

      I never got the chance to play the original game on NES. I had only seen the ScrewAttack team playing it and enjoying it on Screwin’ Around. I told myself that at some point, I would play this game. I was excited when the game was first announced – almost as much as Craig was! When I eventually played it, I spent a whole night beating it (on easy because I wanted to beat it in one night). I loved it, and apparently a whole lot of other gamers who have never played this style of NES-hard game loved it as well.

      The remake itself played in a near identical way to its original game, with a few tweaks in each level and some extra interaction to explore the levels further. On top of that, two new levels were introduced to the game. One is a tutorial level to introduce newcomers to the concept, and a difficult final level. On top of that was a gallery with original and new art and music, and even art from the show. As an extra bonus, you can swim in the money bank (and get an achievement for it)! The game felt like it was true to its roots, the TV show. The cutscenes came across as if they were just an episode of the show.

      To really understand how Ducktales: Remastered represents 2013, watch brentalfloss’s “Just One Duck” video. This game bought ‘classic’ gamers together to share memories and play new games together, and it brought new gamers together as well. Even as a one-player game, this game is a great game to show off to other people and play with others. The community feel and playing with others that the best games attempted to achieve this year. DuckTales: Remastered represented 2013 in ScrewAttack’s Iron Man of Gaming alongside Killer Instinct. If you saw the reaction when it was revealed you knew that this was going to be a game that was going to be well remembered for how it represented 2013.

      Evoland - Bigjoe91     

      2013 was a strong year for retro-gaming enthusiasts. We’ve seen more remastered classics, Kickstarter spiritual successors and more ports than we can count. Another particular genre could be called the homage. Evoland definitely comes across as the prime ambassador of this genre.

      Embracing the proposed theme of Evolution and classified under the action-adventure banner, Evoland starts off in the skin of an unnamed hero on a 2D grayscale plane surrounded by two treasure chest. Only one direction is available, forcing you to claim the right-hand chest. This reward will grant you the power of going left. Opening the left-hand chest will open up all 4 directions and your first taste of adventure. Navigating through that familiar looking forest, you will start noticing many more chests that each unlock different basic features such as enemies, music, color, attacks, story, all brilliantly showcasing the evolution of the action-adventure genre. The evolution continues until you reach 3D graphics and orchestral versions of the early chiptunes. Along the way, you will meet companions, ride airships, travel a wasteland Diablo-style and even play a few games of the obligatory optional card game.

      So why pick Evoland out of all the amazing indie games Steam keeps spurting out on a daily basis? I learned a lot playing this game. Not about the history of video game development, but about the industry, about game design, about myself. Evoland deserves its time in the spotlight, even with its flaws.

      First of all, as mentioned above, Evoland clearly presents itself as an homage, but not without creativity. The evolution process within the game screams innovation as it explores a gameplay mechanic never seen beforehand. Not only does it feel fresh, but the increasing features also greatly vary the actual style of the game. One moment, you are slashing bats and pushing blocks on a 2D plane and the next you’re summoning a giant dragon against a boss; and it makes sense! Unlike many games based on old titles, Evoland feels new, but familiar. You can, with good reason, argue that most of the evolution takes place in the first few parcels of the game, but it will allow for young and old to immerse into the world presented to them.

      Unfortunately, when trying to stir up familiar feelings in the player, Evoland often falls into some tropes of its own. Like many homage titles, it tends to float along the border of plagiarism presenting enemies that need no introduction and some other that just don’t relate to the story. Despite the creativity of the general idea of the game, the characters, enemies, locations, dialogs lack originality. The level design stays on the simple side, barely escaping tediousness thanks to its short completion time. The story comes off as nothing more than a last minute excuse to give meaning to the otherwise bland protagonist. Some shameful references to internet memes are included, as if to cash in on a trend that has already passed.

      Even if you wished for more out of this game, you will learn to love the game for what it is: a true homage to video games. And although the short completion time and the obvious potential for expansion to the very modern era of dialog choices and open world will leave you wanting more, this game will stick in your head. Whether you remember it as a love letter to your favorite games, the greatest fan project you experienced in the current year or even your personal game of the year, you will remember Evoland for its original ideas and its nostalgic roots. Just like many, MANY, other titles this year. That, my friends, is why Evoland defined 2013.

      Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon - Noble Team 1     

      Blood Dragon to me defined 2013 as it just seemed like such a dumb comcept that was surprisingly real. While parodies are nothing new to gaming, it seemed so strange that the follow up to Far Cry 3, which looks like a game that has a pretty serious tone, would be a game that truly feels like a greatest hits album of 1980’s action movies. Once this game came out it still seemed like some strange joke that Ubisoft wanted us to believe, but it worked out as many people enjoyed the cheesy nature of Blood Dragon more than its predecessor.

      As for the actual game itself. Well, I say it’s so much fun as while it plays tribute to 80’s action movies, its gameplay should be very comfortable to a modern gamer. I found myself addicted to just killing any object within my range as that meanT more experience, and that meant an even deadlier Rex Powercolt . If you ever wanted to have a ninja star that shoots out a laser that causes enemies to explode or see a Blood Dragon completely wreck a base just so you can capture it for your own purpose, then there isn’t a better choice than Blood Dragon.

      Fire Emblem Awakening - ThePonchoNinja     

      2013 has been a great year for video games, and for the Fire Emblem series, it is no exception. Fire Emblem: Awakening is one of the many games that defined 2013 for mainly two reasons:

      1: After a decade since its release in the West (which felt like an eternity), the franchise is FINALLY getting some of the recognition it deserves, and it has become better known to a wider audience! I guess you could say many gamers have been...AWOKEN to a great series? Eh?.....That was awful, I'm sorry...

      2: More importantly, it saved the franchise. The developers had decided that if FE: Awakening didn't sell well enough, they were going to discontinue the series. I.E. FE: Awakening saved the series from death...but at what cost?

      All the games before Awakening (including Sacred Stones) had a very linear progression; for those of you who know the series, you had to be careful about the choices you made. Everything from purchasing weapons/items, leveling up your characters, etc. stuck with you throughout the campaign. So if you spent all your gold on weapons early in the game and couldn't find a means of acquiring many funds after, your supplies would run low, and your situation would be dire. If you relied mostly on your paladin throughout the game instead of trying to raise your puny level 1 archer or fighter, then you would suffer consequences later on as your paladin wasn't as strong as he/she originally was. As a result, you would probably start over or throw away the game in frustration.

      Awakening breaks down and simplifies a lot of the gameplay formula to a point where it is almost reminiscent of Shadow Dragon, but at the same time, incorporates elements from later entries (open world from Sacred Stones) and adds some completely new ones (pairing-up system). The game also gives players the choice to play it on “Casual Mode,” where permadeath is turned off. You can also leave a level at anytime; something you could not exactly do in previous installments. Some of these DLC chapters are levels specifically made to farm, E.G. “The Golden Gaffe” to acquire more gold and “Exponential Growth” to grind and level up your characters. Having this kind of free roaming ability and replayable DLC chapters make a HUGE impact on how the overall formula of how Fire Emblem is played. The choices you make don't exactly have the same consequences as previous titles. These choices in game design also help make the game much more accessible to newcomers; the accessibility for newcomers is also one of the elements that Awakening is praised for.

      Fire Emblem: Awakening is a fantastic game, but I can't help but feel that some of the praise it receives is unfair, especially when compared to entries like Shadow Dragon, or even Radiant Dawn (yeah, I said it!). So did Fire Emblem: Awakening define 2013 for better or worse? Well, both really. While it's great to see the series is getting more recognition and that it's going to stick around (for now at least), I can't help but feel slightly disappointed and fear of what path it might head down in later installments. I.E. if the challenge/reward elements are sacrificed for the sake of accessibility, statistics, and numbers.

      Forza Motorsport 5 - APPL3JU1C3     

      How do I define 2013? Well here's how I experienced it; the year Nintendo got their shit together. Seriously, the Wii U got out of its initial drought phase with games like Pikmin 3, Wind Waker HD and Super Mario 3D World, and the 3DS became more than just a relevant platform, it became THE relevant platform, delivering on both quantity and quality. But Nintendo consoles currently make up less than a third of relevant platforms at the moment. So how do I define 2013 for the other consoles? Well, I do so using Forza Motorsport 5.

      Let me get one thing straight, Forza Motorsport 5 is not the worst game of 2013, far from it. In fact, you could say this is quite unfortunate for this game, because it isn't a particularly bad game, yet at the same time it manages to embody everything I dislike about gaming in 2013.

      Lets start with the genre. It is a car sim. With this in mind, lets go back to E3 of this year. If you weren't swept up with Sony stating that you can play used games on a PS4 (keep this in mind for later on), you would notice that there were a lot of car sims (Driveclub, Gran Turismo 6, Need For Speed Rivals, The Crew). This emphasis on such a tired genre reminds me of the seventh generation's focus on first person shooters, which seems to have simmered down as of recently. If the car sim genre does become the next big genre, I will be disappointed, because car sims simply aren't any fun. The learning curve is far too steep for newcomers, and once you do get into it, you realize that mastering the controls was the only challenging part of the game. Surely a good game should be easy to play and difficult to master, not the other way round! And this is just a personal complaint, but if you have a DeLorean DMC-12 in the game, this should be incredibly fun to play, not the worst car in the game.

      Back to Forza 5, this is pretty much the same as previous Forzas, in fact, there is LESS to do in Forza 5 than in Forza 4. The only thing new about this Forza is the games new pronunciation (Fort-sah, instead of Four-zah).  This was an Xbox One launch title. In fact, you could say that this is the main attraction (alternatives include Killer Instinct: buy every character separately, Quick Time Events in a Roman setting & every multiplatform release of Q4 2013). The Xbox One is a flawed console. It relies too much on being a multimedia system, it is too expensive and the less said about the whole DRM/Xbox 180 fiasco the better. But one story I remember regarding Forza 5 being an Xbox One title was that you would have to download a piece of mandatory DLC to play the game, because the developer was not prepared for the 'Xbox 180.' This is a flaw in the game, and it just looks bad for Microsoft.

      But the real stinker about Forza 5 are the microtransactions a.k.a. the worst trend gaming is currently following. Developers noticed that mobile and browser games were ripping their players off, so they decided to follow their lead and let this gaming disease infect your favourite games, such as Dead Space 3, Final Fantasy and, you guessed it, Forza Motorsport 5. But Forza 5 takes this one step further, by having prices that would be laughable, if it weren't such utter shit. To buy an in game car from the in game store, you use in game credit, earned either by playing the game, or paying for it. So how much real life money does an in game car cost? 60 US Dollars.

      60. US. Dollars.


      Can I remind you that the game itself, without any additional cars is 60 US Dollars, so the game with ONE additional car is 120 US Dollars. But hey, I mentioned the ability to unlock it in game, without any extra funds. So how long does it take to unlock one car in game. 60 hours. So pay too much or play too long. What a load of crap.

      So there you have it, humble reader. This is why Forza 5 to me is the game that defined 2013. It is an uninspired car sim on Xbox One that contains the bane of gaming. I hope you enjoyed my 2 cents.

      Foul Play - theweirdomaxim     

      Foul Play is a perfect example of how game became so entertaining, yet so simple and unique. It made it in such a way that the games you play are fun, and it also made it possible to get simple, yet challenging rewards, such as “Get 50 Combos on a certain place.” Yet, it's not "easy" to get those. It will test your skills, but it won't test it to your death.

      It is also a good example that I want to complete this game. I am a gamer who has a very rare habit about wanting to complete a game 100 percent. Why did I want to do in this game, and other 2013 game as well.

      1: It is fun and addicting.

      2: It is plausible to do it without making you frustrated to death.

      And some you may think, "I can't do it." But you can without even knowing! For example, "Hanging in the wire" is an achievement in the game, where you need to be in air for 15 seconds or more without touching the ground. At first I try to do it, but later on, without knowing, I did it!

      I believe that 2013 was, not only the year of Luigi, but the year where genres like indie, not only made games so much fun, but so entertaining as well, yet keeping it so simple. I have played many games this year, and yet I feel like I did not get confused, instead, just memorize moves or something related, and did not even need to pause the game and see the Instructions, and still trying to complete games that I want to!

      I love to play it just like that, and 2013 did it.

      Gone Home - The Windwaker     

      Gone Home was a game that seemed to come out of nowhere. Arriving on August 15th of this year, all that I had heard was that this game was extraordinarily well done and was receiving widespread critical acclaim. That was it. I didn’t know a genre and I wasn’t completely clear on what the overall premise of the game was, but I was intrigued. I wasn’t even a PC gamer, and there I was starting up my journey through an empty house that genuinely had me terrified. Where was everyone? Why are there notes scattered across each room and why are these doors locked?

      I began exploring, expecting something to attack me or drag me to my doom. No such thing happened. I just walked around the house, collecting notes from my little sister who had disappeared along with our parents. The mystery slowly came together as my exploration of the house became more thorough, and before I knew it, I was completely hooked on Gone Home.

      After searching every inch of that house and actually finishing the game, I just sat back and smiled. The storytelling techniques, the nearly perfect dialog and an incredible attention to detail made Gone Home a fantastic and heartwarming journey that I’ll not soon forget, and I believe that it defines this year for several reasons. This game surprised the industry; it surprised gamers in general. And, for me personally, this year was absolutely full of surprises. From games not being as good as expected (Aliens: Colonial Marines or maybe even Call of Duty: Ghosts) to games like these that came out of nowhere and shocked the hell out of us (like Fire Emblem: Awakening or Ratchet and Clank: Into the Nexus) this year was full of fantastic surprises.

      Furthermore, Gone Home had a phenomenal story, as did many of the biggest AAA games we’ve experienced this year. Games like BioShock: Infinite and The Last of Us are proof of this. Finally, this has been an amazing year for the video game industry, and much like Gone Home, this industry has refused to hold anything back, supplying us with unforgettable moments and great content throughout the year. Regardless of what game defines it, this year will truly go down as one of the industry’s finest.

      Grand Theft Auto V: Gear12     

      2013 was a big year for gaming. It was the last year of the console generation, some serious and intelligent conversations were started, and a number of highly anticipated games were released. This includes the game I'm talking about today: Grand Theft Auto 5. By all accounts, this game was going to be massive. It boasted a huge open world to explore with about 100 hours worth of content. Anticipation was at an all-time high when Rockstar released a long trailer that explained all of the cool new features and mechanics that fans and newcomers alike could enjoy. It looked like it was going to send the current gen off with a bang. Needless to say, many people were very excited for GTAV's release.

      A few days before its release, the embargo was lifted and all of the big sites released their reviews. As was to be expected, the game received glowing praise on almost all fronts. But there was one review that stuck out amongst all of the other ones: the one from Gamespot, written by Carolyn Petit. She gave the game a 9/10, praising the game's graphics, gameplay and writing. Except there was one little niggling flaw that she found with it: the game was a little sexist at times. Upon reading this one line, a hurricane of condensed burning rage erupted in the comments section. Carolyn was accused of everything from simple bias to using her review for liberal political activism. Comments were made about the fact that she was not only a woman, but a transgender woman. She was threatened with various unspeakable things that I cannot in good conscious rewrite here, and were thankfully removed by GameSpot's vigilant moderators.

      So why do I bring this up? Well, I believe that GTA V defined 2013 because its reviews brought out the absolute worst that the gaming community had to offer. Despite all of our talk of maturity and progress, GTA V showed that we can still be as toxic and hostile as before, maybe even more. No matter what you may think, sexism and representation of women is an undeniable issue within the games industry, and should absolutely be called out when it happens. The very idea that sexism is somehow okay "because it's GTA" (which is nonsense) or "because it's satire" (which by my understanding, it wasn't) is downright depressing. It's time for the industry, and the gaming community, to realize that women are just as human as anyone else, and that doubting or downright insulting or threatening someone because she's a woman is just wrong. If GTA V is any indication, we still have a long way to go with that. We apparently still don't understand subjectivity, satire, sexism, or basic human decency. It was a sad day for gaming 


      And that's it for Part 1. Don't forget to take a look at Part 2 when its out, which will feature games like Pokemon, Last of Us, and much, much more, so stay tuned! For now, what was your Game that defined 2013? Please tell so in the comments! Also don't forget to subscribe and share and stuff. Stay tuned for Part 2!

    • The 28 Video Games That Defined 2013 (For Better or Worse): Part 2

      3 years ago


      Hello everyone, and welcome to the 2nd and last part of the 28 Games That Defined 2013 (For Better or Worse). If you haven't read the first part, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?! HERE IT IS! COME BACK WHEN YOU'RE DONE!


      You done? Good, then let's start the final part!


      Last of Us - WhatThePuck

      There are a lot of negative doomsayers about gaming out there, even among those who claim to love it. Claims that everything is heading towards a crash, that unless we have constant innovation, the industry will have nothing to offer and die. When The Last Of Us was announced, in unison these detractors all scoffed, saying that at this stage, no zombie game could ever be impressive. When it was released, the game silenced all critics – without having to reinvent the wheel, it became a shining golden beacon of excellence in gaming. It represents what gaming in 2013 is all about to me – taking what has worked, building on the past, and polishing that to a shine like a diamond, and surpass the beauty of anything that came before it, and truly surpass it.

      The mechanics at play in TLOU are things that have been present in other games that came beforehand - a way to see enemies through walls, taken from the Arkham games. Crafting of weapons from random debris, taken from Alone in the Dark. Stealth and misdirection taken from the Metal Gear solid series. Using a side character for puzzles taken from Resident Evil 4 and Ico. Hand to Hand combat as done by Uncharted. Yet each and every single piece in the game feels so perfectly, flawlessly done, that it feels as if this game is the natural home for all of them, and that the other games were just holding on to them. Each and every mechanical feels as if it blends seamlessly with the others to make them feel like a perfectly natural part of the game, thus making each mechanic its own.

      The enemies have the same effect. We've seen zombies in games over and over in recent years, and yet none of them got it right, always showing Zombies as just convenient slow moving bags of rotting meat for your invincible protagonist to destroy. The Clickers, on the other hand, will inspire terror in the undead once again. Hearing just one coming will make you begin to sweat, as you know your options are to either break your only weapon, or run for your life. Where an enemy had been reduced to a laughingstock, now it is once more a thing that inspires pure dread and terror.

      The post-apocalyptic setting is, again, a thing that was old, that The Last Of Us renders new again. Where before it was all twisted black heaps of metal and smouldering rubble, here we have lush brilliant greens, pristine, untouched snows, and blooming flowers. Each area is simply a joy to look at, and really puts the lie to the idea that all games nowadays look like brown and grey. This reclamation of the land by nature even plays part in one of my favorite scenes - the interaction of the characters with a wild giraffe. It presents a moment of spontaneity that I felt I would share if I were seeing what they were seeing.

      However, the plot and characters is the area the game truly shines in. Without giving too much away, the game see's humanity enter into an apocalypse, sheltered in government run camps and praying not to be infected by the virus. In the midst of this, a young girl, Ellie, is found to be immune, and mankind’s last hope. A grizzled old smuggler with a dark past has to travel with her across the country, and along the way they will bond. And yeah, this sounds like a mix of every apocalypse movie and buddy cop movie you've ever seen, but what truly sets it apart is the characters. Everyone here is fully fleshed out, having their own backstory, dreams, goals - they all feel very human, even down to the way they move, thanks to Naughty Dogs unparalleled skills at animation and motion capture. And the story shows, for the first time, what would happen if this story played out with real people - for good, or for ill, down to its final moments.

      Without giving too much away at the end, this game managed to do something I'd only ever seen done in a game one other time - make me do something horrible that I know was wrong, yet I did it anyway, because I knew I had to, The only other game that has done that is Shadow of the Colossus, making me kill the great colossi despite knowing that doing it was wrong and evil. But where SotC relies on its minimalist design to make you imagine your justification, and engrained videogame instincts to make the player do it, The Last Of Us gives you a true justification for doing something so wrong, yet so inevitable.

      The Last Of Us proved that you don't need to reinvent the wheel when its possible to build one of the greatest games of all time from what amounts to spare parts off of other games. And that is why I believe it, more than any other game, embodies 2013.

      Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds - ComicKing428 

      With Nintendo characters like Mario, Kirby, and Donkey Kong returning to their platforming roots in the last couple of years, it was only a matter of time before the Hero of Hyrule could return as well. The Ocarina of Time is considered the best Zelda game by the public, many argue that the title should go to the SNES classic, A Link to the Past. Over the last decade, Link has seen numerous adventures on the consoles that base their model off of Ocarina of Time, while the portable Zelda games experimented with different gimmicks and utilization of the DS’s touchscreen. Though these were well received, Zelda fans still found various flaws that held them back from being as acclaimed as the two titles before the 2000s. The release of Ocarina of Time 3D could have meant death to 2Dd Zelda games, but Nintendo still had a trick up their sleeve. With Nintendo’s new nostalgia trip, the Zelda fans not only get a satisfactory new adventure, but we also get a game that in a lot of senses defines 2013.

      The combat is very fluid and thankfully does not rely on the 3DS touchscreen like the DS titles did. The graphics are also considerably one of the best titles on the system thanks to its 60 fps, and also contains a great orchestral soundtrack. The game is also the most open-ended Zelda game by providing all the necessary items at the beginning and allowing you to visit dungeons in any order you’d like. Upgrading Link is more satisfying than ever, and his new ability to become a painting on walls allows for great puzzle opportunities. The vast world of Hyrule and Lorule offers many Rupees and mini-games making it a very replayable and enjoyable game.

      In many senses, A Link Between Worlds is not a sequel as much as it is a re-imangining of A Link to the Past, which is why I believe it to be the game that represents 2013. The year was all about different gaming franchises and video game companies to reinvent themselves and enter the new age. Some franchises wanted to completely change the formula like DmC and Tomb Raider, and others want to bring back the classics like DuckTales: Remastered and Castle of Illusion. An update or a re-imagining of a game can be a huge deal in the world of gaming, An update on something old by using modern technology is important, but what is more important is that the update offers gamers more freedom in their decisions to explore this new world and have fun in this new decade of gaming. That is what A Link Between Worlds does so well and why I consider it to represent 2013, it’s an update on something old gamers love and allows new gamers to explore it’s beauty.

      Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destines - LousyTactician     

      Consoles and PC games will sadly always have the majority of video game community's attention. So let me be the one who makes sure we don't forget the handheld side of the industry, particularly the Nintendo 3DS' onslaught of big titles this year. I loved Fire Emblem Awakening and Shin Megami Tensei IV, but think the climax to this onslaught for me was Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies.

      After over 5 years of absence, another main entrant in the Ace Attorney franchise finally came to us this year. Taking place 1 year after the events of Apollo Justice, Dual Destinies now follows the story of Phoenix Wright, Apollo Justice, and a new lawyer named Athena Cykes as they enter a ‘Dark Age of the Law’. Cue courtroom bombings, adventure game style murder investigations, and legal shenanigans that, while very silly, are oddly reflective of Japan’s own court system. Fans were initially skeptical at the use of 3D models over the classic sprites, but most found that, if anything, the change made the characters all the more vibrant.

      Big-budget console titles have become more and more desperate to form halfway decent narratives that fill players with ‘emotions’. Some succeed, but a lot completely fall on their ass, delivering what's at best a convoluted mess *CoughBeyondCough*. Ace Attorney 5 does a far better job than any of those titles, and does so not with photo-realistic CGI body dolls stuck in the uncanny valley, but with sharp writing and good art direction. With new mechanics, new visuals, a cast as colorful as ever, and a twist in the final case that some fans still have their jaws dropped over it’s probably my favorite in the series as of now. Particular mention has to be given to Athena Cykes, a new addition to Wright’s lawyer team, and one of the best new characters from this year.

      Dual Destinies also had DLC, including an extra case fans not only liked, but that many found to be the best case the game had to offer...I cannot remember the last time Capcom released DLC that not only didn't piss off fans, but got positive reception.

      The DLC case has a Sharknado reference. Need I say more?

      That isn't to say Dual Destinies faced no controversy on the download scene. While a damn good game, it also represents the first notable title to follow a trend many folks are hesitant to support. Despite all its predecessors receiving a localized physical released (except Investigations 2 *Sniff*), Dual Destinies was released as a download only title. There was a brief push to get it distributed in physical form, but it ultimately fell through. On one hand, I understand the costs of making and distributing physical carts can be a pain, and that Ace Attorney is a relatively niche series. On the other hand, I look at companies like Atlus and XSEED, both of which have become well-known for giving well-localized physical releases to the most niche and obscure junk out there, and wonder what stops Capcom from doing the same. Though admittedly some PAL region gamers are probably bitter I'm using Atlus as an example when their great localization track-record only applies to the NA region.

      This lack of a physical release not only annoyed many physical copy purists, myself included, but led to a lot of worries. Unlike literally every other console manufacturer and game distribution network, Nintendo still has yet to make an account system that is specific to each person, and instead has accounts specific to each gaming device. What that means is if my 3DS breaks, and I want to play all the games I downloaded onto it, I'll have to buy a new 3DS, and all those downloaded games, rather than simply buy a 3DS and redownload said games using the account I already brought them on. Granted, Nintendo has improved this somewhat with their most recent update that removes system transfer limits, but a system transfer won’t be an option if my precious handheld suddenly gets smashed to pieces...Not inspiring thoughts.

      The fact that Wright’s much anticipated crossover with Professor Layton is coming outside of Japan as a download only title makes them all the less inspiring. But were the thoughts bad enough to keep people from playing Dual Destinies? It would appear no because the game not only met its projected sales, but was well-received among fans and critics alike. Personally, despite still pushing for an improved account system, despite the fact that a physical release would have been preferred, and despite half my SD card’s memory being full because of it, I have no regrets making the purchase.

      Pikmin 3 - Candian Brony     

      2013 was one of those years where we got games we've been waiting a long time for, namely sequels. GTA 5, Dead Rising 3 and, most importantly, Pikmin 3. Judging by the fact that we haven't had a new Pikmin game since 2004, I'd say it's about damn time!

      First off, Pikmin 3 is gorgeous to look at, one of the most esthetically pleasing games of the new generation in my opinion. It sums up how far graphics have come this year color and realism-wise. Second, it sticks to the common trend in games now where the ending is determined on how well you do during the story. You gotta collect all the fruit to get the best ending. Third, introducing new mechanics to an old franchise. The "Go Here" and dividing labor options fall under this category (although technically you could argue that dividing labor was in Pikmin 2, but it wasn't as stressed, so I don't count it). And finally, it felt different from its predecessors. Obviously it felt different because it used a different controller, but the inclusion of Winged and Rock Pikmin (a weak Pikmin and a Pikmin that can't latch onto things) gave the game a different feel and the different weather that changed every few in-game days added variety.

      Pikmin 3 is THE game that defined 2013. The graphics, gameplay and atmosphere are exactly the kind of things you'd expect to find in a game from this year. Now all we need to do is wait for Pikmin 4...

      Pokemon X/Y - IsseiGremory     

      Pokemon X/Y for the 3DS and 2DS is not only a defining video game of the year 2013; but also for the Pokemon franchise as a whole.

      The new graphical elements that separate X/Y from other similar games within the year 2013 is that they clearly show a leap from their predecessors. When it comes to sequels of most games, the sequel’s graphical style and/or capabilities are likely to be similar to its preceding title - with Pokemon X/Y however, this is not the case. The evolution of Pokemon from 2D into 3D was a big leap, one that Game Freak embraced well. X/Y is the biggest jump between any game since it first started 18 years ago. Battles now resemble the Stadium and Colosseum franchise, with fully animated 3D fights, and the feeling of adventure in Pokemon games is brought out well in beautiful moments that would have never been possible in past entries. With changes like these, Pokemon reinvents itself as well as shows that for games, there is still graphical innovation to be had without trying to just go for the most powerful graphics.

      X/Y introduced the never before seen Mega Evolutions. Although only twenty-eight evolutions exist in total and only twenty-six different Pokemon can mega-evolve to date, the evolutions bring stat boosts, different abilities, and extra or new typing to a Pokemon. This newly introduced battle function allows for more battle styles and a need for veteran players to have to rethink what they do and do not know about battling.

      As Game Freak expanded upon the available functions of battle - so too did they to gameplay - with features like Super Training, which allows people who are both new and veteran to EV-Training to easily concentrate on EVs they want to enhance, and in a more focused environment where they can have fun while doing it. While Pokemon has had EVs present since Gen 3, it was something that a large number of Pokemon players had never heard of, and only the more devoted gamers understood. With Super Training, X/Y has done something that many people have claimed to be impossible for games as a whole - bridging the gap and bringing together the casual and hardcore fans of a game franchise.

      Pokemon X/Y also introduced another new gameplay feature that allows a person to interact with a Pokemon called Pokemon Amie, by feeding, petting, and playing with the Pokemon, a person can expect more from that Pokemon by deepening the bond and raising their affection. By expecting more, that means battle performance as well - Pokemon with high enough affection do better in fights and show amazing feats, such as shaking off paralysis or survive otherwise likely deadly strikes. With Amie, X/Y finally makes good on Pokemon’s message of the bond between Pokemon and Trainer being a powerful force in battle.

      The lasting appeal of this game is high, with a very emotional and unforgettable ending. The story flowed nicely, while never missing a beat. From beginning to end you never feel left out of the action, fully and completely immersed into the story. Even after the story ends you will never forget the ride, and one could easily start over and play again multiple times while still enjoying it. Thus Pokemon X/Y can very well be considered one of the defining videogames for the year 2013.

      Rayman Legends - akalink      

      Earlier this year I picked up a game that forever changed the way I thought about game design. Rayman Origins is in its own right an excellent 2D platformer with amazing level design, animation, controls, and music. To the games misfortune it was released alongside many other big games that well and truly buried it among the other great releases that year. I didn’t even know the game existed until it got a demo on the 3DS eShop. After playing though Origins I was more than excited to play its sequel Rayman Legends. At first I was very doubtful that Legends could match, let alone surpass that greatness of Origins. The spam of demos released this year put those apprehensions to rest. What makes Rayman Legends an important part of video game history in 2013? In my mind its the music.

      The music in Legends is one of the best soundtracks I’ve ever heard, I can honestly say this soundtrack is in my top three video game soundtracks. The collaboration of Billy Martin and Christophe Héral have created not just a soundtrack with great melody and harmony, but equally wonderful orchestration (the assignment of instruments to the music) and production (how the sound is edited and mixed). The percussion alone sets it apart from all other soundtracks, ranging many different spectrums of percussion; classical percussion, electronic percussion,  and much more is all present in the score. The orchestration when compared to other video game scores is very traditional. It is mostly orchestral; but not Hans Zimmer orchestral, I would put it along the lines of a John Williams type orchestration. What makes the orchestration so successful in my mind is that the game doesn’t need an epic soundtrack, because the game is about running and jumping it allows itself a eclectic mix of orchestral sounds. There a moments that are epic, jazzy, happy and that are just plain strange. The production is absolutely incredible, instruments pan from left to right to emphasize runs and other musical techniques. Everything is mixed so well you can listen to the soundtrack and hear all the counterpoint and individual instruments very well. What probably is the coolest part of the whole soundtrack is the leitmotif (reoccurring theme) that appears through out the games soundtrack. The theme itself is very distinct because its harmonically unstable due to its tritone relation.

      But the music itself isn’t only what makes this games music distinct and important in 2013. The video game music business has been changing in recent years. Publishers and studios currently never pay royalties for game music, its always been upfront payments. Because of unions and other complicated matters studios rarely hire Los Angeles orchestras to record video game soundtracks. There are some exceptions, Diablo III was recorded by the Pacific Symphony of Orange county for example. I don’t know for a fact that Rayman Legends was recorded by an American orchestra, but if it is, it may be one of the last soundtracks recorded in Los Angeles as financing in video game music become more and more of an issue.

      Ride to Hell: Retribution - Shoggoth8852     

      How in the Hell does Ride to Hell define the year 2013? Ride to Hell: Retribution is an absolute mess made out of wasted potential, under-developed assets and, obscene caricatures of what humanoid puppets might be if they were made by a race who had just heard of our existence. This game tried to have it all; combat 'inspired by' the Arkham series, driving sections that seem more like rail-road sections than motorcycling and, free-roaming sections that offer little to no freedom. The stale icing on this cardboard cake is the presentation; character models look like they were taken from Brutal Legend's beta and the voice acting makes the acting from the film The Room look like Tarantino dialog in a summer blockbuster.

      Let's start with a little back story before we begin; Ride to Hell: Retribution was originally developed by Deep Silver Vienna. It was announced in 2008 but when no news emerged after the reveal and the Vienna studio closed down the general opinion was that Ride to Hell had ridden into a proverbial wall. Earlier this year however, rumblings came out of the Australian Classification Board suggesting that this biker was still roaming. Sadly, it seems to have traded in its Harley for a moped as the open world elements were revealed to have been removed from the 2008 build shown off in that early trailer.

      Now there's nothing wrong with linearity in games in itself but that was the first warning sign that this was going to be one of those games. Along with the announcement of Ride to Hell not being dead was the dual announcement of a mobile game and, launch-day DLC called Route 666 which to this day (December 2013) is still nowhere to be seen, likely to emerge in five to seven years. It's worth noting that at this point, the game was being developed by Eutechnyx, who are famous for Pimp my Ride on the PS2 and 360 and, a handful of NASCAR games that I can't even joke about because of how easy that target is. Deep Silver still published the game but it's safe to assume blame can be lain at Eutechnyx's feet when it came to Ride to Hell's release 4 months after the announcement that this game wasn't dead.

      Upon its release, Ride to Hell was immediately stricken by a barrage of negative reviews by professionals, websites and, the average gamer alike. If you follow Metacritic, then it will come as no surprise that no version of this game (PS3, 360, PC) couldn't score higher than 20. Another theme with this game's reviews is the fact that people who play it insist that despite how awful this game is, it is one which must be seen to be believed. Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw even went so far as to recommend everyone buy this game; that it could be the gamer's Plan 9 From Outer Space. I was fully prepared to believe this statement and everything else I had read about the game but I absolutely had to play it myself, if only to feel like I knew what I was talking about here in this article.

      Yet I have only just realized I haven't yet gone into how Ride to Hell encapsulates this year in gaming! Well, like with Alien: Colonial Marines, Ride to Hell had a lengthy development cycle. Like with Dead Space 3, we got something completely different than what we were expecting. Like with Ni No Kuni or, Beyond Two Souls Ride to Hell wanted to sell itself as a cinematic experience that is also fun to play. Ride to Hell promised fast motorcycle action, dynamic beat-em-up action and, snappy gun play...but unlike Colonial Marines, Dead Space 3, Beyond Two Souls or anything else released in 2013, Ride to Hell perfected the art of spectacular failure. SimCity failed for the first couple of weeks. Dead Space failed when it came to selling itself on micro-transactions. Colonial Marines failed to deliver upon the creepy atmosphere it promised. Ride to Hell however absolutely failed at everything it set out to do, be and, accomplish. Like with every other project that absolutely failed; The Room, Plan 9 from Outer Space, The Christmas Tree or, any of the animated Titanic films, Ride to Hell: Retribution needs to be experienced. It needs to be played, looked at, examined, studied and ultimately it never needs to be forgotten. Every medium needs an absolute zero and 2013, a year which gave us quite a few flops and quite a few games that demand attention, gave the medium of video games that lowest of low points that absolutely needs to be seen to be believed.

      RockSmith 2014 Edition - PuppetMasterIX   

      Rocksmith: 2014 Edition is an anomaly in its genre for two different reasons. To start, it reached a level of cultural unity that, to me, seemed nearly unheard of in the regionally schismatic genre it represents: the rhythm genre. Rather than simply preserving popularity in specific territories, Rocksmith: 2014 Edition has a consistent following in North America, Europe, and even Japan. It pushes to appeal to the interested ethnicities without emphasizing exclusion or uncomfortable isolation; that's a good thing, because it helps support its focus on educating its aspiring musicians and/or interested players.

      That word is the catalyst for the second reason: "education". Like the rhythm game sequels that preceded it (like Guitar Hero II, Rock Band 2, and Dance Central 2), it takes the foundation of its ambitious predecessor and improves on them in literally every possible way, while adding other features to facilitate that foundation's intention. The series is known for modifying the teaching process for guitar while preserving its essential components, but the sequel made significant strides in both its intent as a game, and its realization as a viable learning tool. My pick is Rocksmith: 2014 Edition because it not only marries the essentials of fun and education into a graceful fusion, but it epitomizes the notion that the blend can be appreciated by anyone of any background.

      Saint’s Row IV - zman419     

      I feel like Saints Row 4 represents 2013 because it's a perfect example of what a game can be when it has no limits. It shows that despite all of the uninspired Call of Duty knock-offs and uninspired motion control cash-ins, there are still games that have heart and soul put into them.

      I feel like we don't have very many games that represent this caliber of carefree game design. Sure, we have a lot of indie games that fill the void nicely, but a lot of them did show a lot of restraint in order to appear artsy, whereas Saints Row 4 didn't even care what it was. It just wanted to be an insane, over the top, creative mess of a game.

      I'm not going to say it doesn't have it's problems because it has a lot. Enemy A.I. is horrible, some mini-games are just horrendous and the game is buggy as hell, but it's one of those games where you're enjoying yourself to much to care.

      Overall you can tell a lot of heart and soul was put into Saints Row 4. It's one of those games when you play it you feel like "this is what gaming is all about." With aliens, super powers and dubstep guns the creativity in this game knows no bounds

      That is why I feel like this game represents 2013.

      SteamWorld Dig - CazTheGamerGuy     

      If one word could summarize a theme for this year in gaming, it would be surprises.  Perhaps it was the year transitioning between generations so slowly from the Wii U's release to Xbox One's  that such oddities could slip in, maybe it was some unseen force adding more variety to an already packed year of releases, but for whatever reason, this year was filled with more left-field hits than ever before, for better or worse.  Most surprising of all, however, was a little title that came out of nowhere and became one of the most successful titles on the most successful next generation console of this year.

      It's doubtful anyone saw this title becoming the hit that it was, and it's still hard to believe it was as big as became in the summer season.  It had no press.  It came from a studio whose most well-known title prior was more well known for its accusations of being offensively racist over its quality.  It was on the Nintendo 3DS eShop at a time where big name series were dominating the charts and sales and smaller, more well-established studios were filling in the rest of the spots.  

      But by mere word of mouth and a pinch of luck, SteamWorld Dig came out on top, taking the number one best selling position around the world from then-dominant Animal Crossing:  New Leaf off its mighty perch and making this Image&Form title a massive, unexpected hit across the eShop.  That was all on top of SteamWorld Dig being a solid title, a Metroid-esque title with a pinch of Dig Dug hidden underneath.  An indie hit like no other this year, SteamWorld Dig may not have been the biggest or the best, but it most certainly was the most surprising title to come out in 2013 and succeed where so many others have failed.

      Super Mario 3D World - ?Blackmaniac     

      Super Mario 3D World defined 2013 for me, because it showed me just how wrong you can be about a franchise. When I first heard about it, my reaction was like "Meh, another Mario game." But as the release drew closer, it became more and more apparent that this is actually worth getting excited for. And then I bought it. And I loved it.

      It proved my initial perception of this game wrong in a good way. What we got here is a must own title for the Wii U and just anyone who enjoys Mario games. It also proved that the most important aspect of a platformer is the level design. New Super Mario Bros U was severely lacking in that department, whereas 3D World shines. It defined this year, because it stands tall as a great fun game amidst all the serious entertainment we got to enjoy this year.

      Tomb Raider - Overloading Toaster     

      Many people didn’t know what to expect from the new Tomb Raider game. It wasn’t just a new game in the series, but a reboot. It was a big risk to try to reboot the series, but did it succeed? Square Enix called it a failure, due to slow sales, even though it sold millions of copies and got great reviews. In the whole game, you’re stranded on this island, and you have to find your friends, which is filled with bandits and beasts. You have 5 weapons, a handgun, a bow, a rifle, a shotgun and a pickaxe. It’s only 5 weapons, but they are all upgradable. You will need salvage to upgrade your weapons, which you can loot from bodies or find in the wild. You can also level, which gives you a part, which grants new abilities and makes you stronger. The game offers an open world with linear paths, meaning you can explore the island a little. You’re able to explore and find secrets and tombs on the island, which does makes the game a lot more enjoyable, than just shooting all the time, even though, I find the combat very fun. The game takes ideas we have seen before, but improves them.

      The game even changed Lara Croft, one of video games’ biggest icons, into a person. She was a person before this game, but she was kind of dull. The new Lara has emotions and feelings, and you watch her become stronger on her adventure. At first, she is a very unsure on herself, but becomes stronger and stronger. And at the end, you feel like the strongest person alive. She makes a better Nathan Drake than Nathan Drake. This is how you do a reboot people! 2013 have been a great year for gaming, and Tomb Raider showed 2013 how to do a reboot just right!

      Typing of the Dead: Overkill - Icipall     

      “Light shooters, light shooters, where art thou my light shooters?”

      When Typing of the Dead: Overkill appeared on Steam for the first time, I was dumbstruck: “A new Typing of the Dead? Isn’t this something the fans of the original have been waiting for years? Why was this barely advertised?” This is not something you see normally these days. Usually, in this day and age, companies are more than ready to inform people of brining old franchises back to get the old fans excited and spread the word. But not now.

      As a game, TotD:O is really no different from the PS3 version of the House of the Dead: Overkill, aside from the fact you can now kill the zomb-, sorry, mutants by typing. It also includes the original game and its Director’s Cut version, so you can still kill mutants with your mouse. In the game, you step into the shoes of Agent G and Detective Washington, in order to stop the mutant hordes and to bring end to the mastermind behind it all, Papa Ceasar (yes that really is his name). The game is homage and a love letter to the old black and white b-horror movies and makes sure that you realize it.

      Now some of you must be thinking: "Why exactly I chose this game to represent 2013?" Mostly because of the shock and surprise it got. Let’s for example, look at another old game from a beloved franchise that just got an updated re-release on Steam, Final Fantasy VIII. No matter where I go on the net, I can’t help but keep stumbling on ads about it, yet TotD:O barely got anything, and from what I gathered from the gamers, people were more eager of having a new Typing of the Dead than updated re-release of FFVIII (although it is a good game). I simply find it hard to wrap my head around the fact that even though gamers wished so hard for a new TotD, anyone was barely informed of it coming to existence.

      So, the release of Typing of the Dead: Overkill may not have been the most important or influential gaming phenomenon of this year, but it still deserves its place among the games that defined 2013.

      Wonderful 101 - Steve Gregson (from Safety First)  

      Let me tell you about Wonderful 101. Firstly: It’s not the best game I’ve ever played, hell it’s not even my game of the year (That honor goes to Super Mario 3D world) but it does manage to sum up the year in gaming of 2013 for me...


      Simple. There’s a very good chance you haven’t played it. If you haven’t then I doff my hat to you sir or madam, as this means that not only have you picked up a game destined for obscurity, but you have also picked up a Wii U.

      Now I’m not a fanboy, I own all the last gen consoles, I have a PS4, both current portables and have the ability to play a fair amount of the most recent PC games, but the simple fact is that it’s ‘cool’ to hate the Wii U. I’m not sure where this started, but seemingly, the fact it’s underpowered compared to its rivals is the be all and end all to some people and “LOL Nintendo games are all the same and are for kids” seems to be an actual argument for some people. Being the technically inferior machine had no impact on the PS2, the DS or the Wii, they were fantastic selling consoles, but suddenly power is everything!

      Ah, but good games sell consoles don’t they? Pikmin 3, Mario 3D World, Wonderful 101, Nintendo Land, ZombiU, The definitive version of Rayman Legends, Monster Hunter Ultimate etc. These games not good enough? (I know ZombiU didn’t have the best time with the USA press, but I loved it! True survival horror… play it before you write it off). And let’s face it, the PS4 and Xbox One with no universally acclaimed games are selling millions… So it’s not the games.But who cares, Nintendo just make games about a cartoon plumber jumping on things and that’s all they make right? Samey old Nintendo making Samey old games…

      Let’s not forget for a second that in a relatively small period of time how many Gran Turismo, Halo, Gears of War and God of Wars there have been… and Jesus Christ if you want to talk about a set of games that don’t change please tell me the massive step up in any of those games that wasn’t visuals or story! I don’t get it.

      I’ve never seen such disdain for a modern console! (Ok, maybe the OUYA.) Anyway, like I said, I own the other machines… I even bought a PS4, basically because I want Metal Gear Solid V to look as good as possible (and I can’t play MGS without a Playstation controller) but I’d never had bought one if I didn’t have a Wii U already!

      I guess all I’m really saying is: Don’t hate the Wii U just because other people do… give it a try.If you don’t like it, well that’s alright too, and at least you made your own decision! So there you go.

      How does this work back to the Wonderful 101 you ask? Simple. I saw a lot of reviews that simply didn’t ‘get’ it, or just passed it off as something it wasn’t. Many people seemingly expected it to be Pikmin and then were put off when it turned out to be something else. But it’s truly fantastic, with tons of variety! It’s great fun and blends old school action gameplay with an all new twist! It’s a mix of old, and new, and was mostly misunderstood or mistaken as something it wasn’t... and no one bought it. A bit like the Wii U itself then, and like the Wii U, I’d fully recommend it.

      Also, if you DO have a Wii U look me up on the MiiVerse (I’m ‘PaRappa’ on there by the way… also notice that’s a PLAYSTATION name before I have more people screaming fanboy at me). Who knows, maybe we can all play Mario Kart 8 together and play games for fun, like the good old days! The blue shells are on me!


      And that's it. The conclusion of the video games that Defined 2013. I'd like to thank everyone that sent out a piece and hopefully we can do this again next year. Are there any games we missed? Please say so in the comments, but for now, bye, and have a happy New Year!

    • Separating Art from Artists: The Fez Problem

      3 years ago


      Who directed E.T? I think even the ones who haven't seen E.T., or know very little about cinema, knows who directed the sci fi classic. Mr. Steven Spielberg. Just saying that name makes me think of a ton of different movies. Saving Private Ryan, Jaws, Schindler's List, Minority Report. The man has made a ton of films, and we instantly recognize them as Spielberg films.

      Gaming..... doesn't have that as much.

      Now before you go to the comment section and list your Shigeru Miyamotos and your Tim Schafers, let me be clear that I do believe that there are game designers to which the public has a general awareness to, But this blog is not about that. It does have to do with creators though.

      A few days ago, Fez launched on the PC after temporarily being only available on XBLA. For those that don't know the game, its a 2D Platformer which is actually 3d and you spin the world around. That's a very vague description, I know. Just watch the trailer.

      Seems fun right? Well it is. I found Fez to be a very enjoyable game. Hard, very creative, and a blast to play. However, the game is being voted down in the GOG (Good Old Games) Ratings. Why is that? Do they simply not like the game? Maybe, but the written reviews seem to suggest its because of Fez's creator: Phil Fish.

      Here he is, most likely sneering at the blog he'll probably never read

      If you haven't watched Indie Game The Movie, let me break it down to you. Fez was made by 2 guys, with Phil Fish being the alpha dog. He worked on this game for over 5 years before it was finally released. Its his game. He's also kind of.... eccentric.

      During a conference, a Japanese reporter asked him what he thought about games from Japan. His response: they're all terrible. This of course got the internet's knickers in a twist. After all, without Japan, there wouldn't be much of a game industry. He later said that people misinterpreted him, and he felt all modern Japanese games sucked. Still quite the stretch.

      Then, he went for another target. While he was playing Monster Hunter on the 3DS, he complained about the lack of a second analogue stick. Then, he went on a whole tirade on Twitter about how the 2nd screen DS design is bullshit and the touchscreen is nothing but a gimmick, all the while praising the Playstation Vita. Nintendo fans, being a fierce bunch, didn't appreciate this one bit. Again, he semi-apologized saying he was taken out of context, and that he loves Nintendo. I would post a image of all the tweets he sent, but it was a fuckton, so here's a link

      Now here comes the big question: do you want to support this guy? For the 10 dollars you spend on FEZ on Steam or GOG, a part will go to Fish to help support his other projects. The question, knowing what he has all said: do you want to?

      For some, that's going to be a definite no. They don't want to support this supposed douchebag, so they're not going to support his game. Others don't really care what the creator says as long as he makes good games. Its a strange idea, yet one we deal with more often cause of the rise of the indie scene.

      I think the first game designer I boycotted because of his beliefs was Doug TenNapel, the creator of Earthworm Jim.

      Here in all his douchy glory

      When I say this,  people often wonder why. Well, because he's a big homophobe, calling homosexuality "unnatural". While I am not gay myself, I am firmly against discrimination, and knowing that he said those things has, as stupid as it sounds, affected my enjoyment of Earthworm Jim, as great of a game as it is.

      There are 2 major ones that are also talked often when it comes to being boycott: Jonathan Blow of Braid fame, and David Cage (Heavy Rain, Fahrenheit)

      I'm Jonathan Blow, and explosions are shit

      Blow is essentially the indie game's godfather, having, along with Castle Crashers, paved the way for tons of indie game developers. Many feel that Blow is, like Fish, kind of a asshole. They say that he thinks that he's the Messiah of the game industry. That he feels most AAA games are "shitty action movies" (that is actually mostly true). Personally, I felt Braid was a solid platformer that tried way too hard to be something meaningful, and came off as pretentious. That's my own personal opinion, and I know plenty of people who think Blow is a genius, or think that's he's a idiot. Its all a matter of perspective.

      Here we see David Cage doing the Emotion Dance. Very emotional and stuff.

      Same goes for David Cage, who's different in that he's part of the Triple-A development world. David Cage has become the internet's punching bag, not completely undeserved thanks to some rather odd comments about how games need to be more like films and how we need to use more polygons to get more emotions out of the characters. He has the image of a frustrated filmmaker, not really helped with his games being Quick-Time Event extravaganza. What also doesn't help his games is that he's a terrible writer (Fahrenheit completely falls apart in the end).  Is that really a reason to boycott him? I don't think so. He's trying to do something different and should be commended for that. He just doesn't really do it well. He's a visionary, not a pioneer. 

      So we're stuck with a dilemma. How can you separate art from the artist? It seems impossible, and yeah, it kind of is. How do you separate something that is so important to its creation. It all boils down to this: Do I give enough of a shit?

      If you're bothered by their comments, and then don't feel you can support them, then I completely understand. If you don't care and just want to play the game, go for it. There's no right answer for all of this. As game development, especially indie development, continues to grow, we're going to get a few eccentric types who believes they're the only ones who are right and everyone else is a sellout. Other times, we get a new Edmund McMillen and Brian Provinciano who make fun games and also enjoy talking about games. 

      There's no right answer. I find the concept of boycotting someone for the things they say is silly, yet I refuse to buy games from Doug TenNapel, and similarly refuse to watch films with people like Kirk Cameron or Chuck Norris in them, yet I'm fine with watching crazy people like Tom Cruise despite his beliefs. I'm a walking hypocrisy. What do you guys think? Should we shun someone's work because of their beliefs, or are we making too big of a deal out of this? Now if you'll excuse me, I'll go and play some Fez on my Xbox.

  • About Me

    Current Head-honcho of G1 Features, and host of stuff such as At the Screwvies and G1 Previews (all of which is on g1 Features). G1 since 2009.

    *insert current pop culture reference here*

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