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Alexisonfire
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Re: Top 5
« Reply #360 on: October 02, 2012, 03:10:01 pm »

I'd like to repost here a Top 20 I made at the start of the year, containing the games I was looking forward to in 2012.

Yeah, is it relevant now that most games are out? Not really. But I wrote in the style of what I would write here, so I thought I should post it.
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Re: Top 5
« Reply #361 on: December 29, 2012, 03:56:23 pm »

Bottom 5 Games of 2012

Not a banner year for games. I'm struggling to find five titles I actually enjoyed - a lot of what I played this year was either incredibly superficial or tried WAY too hard not to be superficial (sacrificing gameplay as a result). I'm very close to actually foregoing the list altogether for 2012, but we'll see.

What was easy, however, was finding five games this year that either disappointed me or truly pissed me off. Here goes.


5. Pokemon Black/White 2 (3DS)
A major step backwards from their surprisingly solid predecessors. Consistent with many of the games I played this year in that it penalizes you for actually caring about a series by wilfully abandoning all momentum and returning to the same bland formula they once tried to innovated.

4. New Super Mario Bros. 2 (3DS)
The already-uninspired NSMB series hit a new low with this boring retread of the 2006 DS original, now featuring a meaningless coin-collecting gimmick.

3. Borderlands 2 (Multi)
Simultaneously the most obnoxious and the most emotionally insincere game of the last year. Shallow and vapid is fine, as long as it's consistent. This game has no humanity, and I resent its underhanded attempts to inspire compassion and introspection amidst a barrage of aggressive, outdated internet memes.

2. Paper Mario: Sticker Star (3DS)
A nigh-unplayable mess that's an insult to the franchise. The worst manifestation of the point and click adventure game: it's tedious, incomprehensible, and aimless. Only by understanding the specific thought processes of the developers (or using a walkthrough or devoting hours to trail and error) will you make headway through this slog. A shockingly awful battle system and a script that's neither cute nor funny
don't help, either.

Nearly any other year, Sticker Star would be guaranteed to clinch my "Worst of..." list. But not this year.

1. Mass Effect 3 (Multi)
A debacle on every front: piss-poor action set pieces (complete with Shepard-seeking rockets), a horrible UI/map system (why is this guy marked on my map and he's not there?), and one of the most egregious narrative missteps in the history of the medium. I used to think that giving us Mass Effect 3 at the beginning of 2012 was a mistake - I felt like had the game been released in November, Bioware would have had time to resolve some of the quirks to deliver a more polished experience. Now, I'm starting to think it should have been gutted completely and rebuilt from the ground up. Like its "War Readiness" screen, Mass Effect 3 is ostentatious but doesn't actually mean anything: your reward for building a connection to this universe/these characters is to have interactivity and morality stripped away for the sake of some asinine catch-all conclusion. Mass Effect 2 is still one of the finest games of this generation, but if the trilogy is going to end like this, why bother playing in the first place?
« Last Edit: December 30, 2012, 02:50:03 pm by Depressio » Logged

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Re: Top 5
« Reply #362 on: December 29, 2012, 07:21:42 pm »

Let the listing commence!

I didn't actually feel that bad about 2012. It was no 2011, but that was a year that was, in my eyes, one of the best year of releases we've seen. It had its fair share of great titles though, enough so that I'm having trouble cramming titles into my usual Top Ten for GOTY of the year (check back here for that in March, kids!), but I have to agree that this year had its fair share of stinkers. I still have a long list of games to play this year, but I hope that none of them end up being as bad as these.

Bottom 5 Games of 2012

5. Paper Mario: Sticker Star (3DS)
I don't really hate Sticker Star. It's got a gorgeous visual style and animation, great music, a fantastic localization (good job as always, Treehouse), and uses 3D fairly well (It's no 3D Land, but still). It even has a cool battle system mechanic, though one that is not utilized terribly efficiently or effectively. Yeah, it's a large step back from previous titles (not including Super Paper Mario), but at least it was trying something unique.

Which is fine, but having some nice mechanics here and there doesn't really matter when the whole thing is a mess. The game is an RPG that actively discourages you to go into battles. It is a game that has no form of progression except stage progression, but erects large roadblocks (usually a boss) you have to grind out a better inventory to overcome. To do that, one abandons the current level and scours previous levels for stickers and money. The fastest way of getting money? Battles, which diminish your inventory stock. Can you see how this is a problem? Yeah, the game floods the world with free stickers to flood your inventory, but when you don't need them, the games become a process of walking 5 feet, finding a good sticker, bringing up your inventory, throwing out a worse one, picking up the new one, and rinse/repeat.

It's a game that drastically needed someone to come in there and just gut the whole design. Or maybe that's exactly what happened when it desperately didn't need gutting? Who knows. Either way, I agree with Depression on this part: it's an aimless, boring, tedious mess of a game that, while charming, isn't really worth your time and effort.

4.Borderlands 2 (360/PS3/PC)
I would give this game so much more slack if it was an original title. The gameplay is a huge improvement over the first, but its all iterative improvement over innovation or unique mechanics. Which is fine, the game is better for it, but its not enough to hold up the game for its lengthy campaign. Borderlands 1 was pretty much unplayable outside of co-op and Borderlands 2 is almost worse. It gives you the illusion that its a better game, that it can stand on its own two feet, but by the time it becomes overwhelmingly obvious that this is NOT the case, you are only 60% through the game. Considering BL2 is just as terrible for scaling enemies when players are at different levels, this basically leaves you stranded, unwilling to finish the last 40% of the game and unable to find useful help. It doesn't help that the absolute worst level and quest design happens to appear at this point in the game, ramping up the difficulty while giving you very little reward (both in terms of loot and satisfaction) for playing the game.

So you make your way through the rest of the game begrudgingly, as the writing that has been clawing away at you finally breaks through your skin. There are some funny lines in Borderlands 2. There are some amazing plot twists and interesting plot elements in Borderlands 2. Unfortunately, those same jokes are told 30-40 times by the time you leave the tutorial area of the game and the interesting reveals all appear in the first 5 or so hours of the game. The rest of the writing and story in the game, as Depressio hinted at, is obnoxious, toxic, insincere, underhanded, and just plain ol bullsh*t. Despite the failings of other games on this list, Borderlands 2 wins for the worst story and writing in games this year.

3. Fez (XBLA)
Let me just say something: Fez is half of a good game. It's got a solid platforming mechanic to it with a nice, gorgeous world to explore. But the second half of the game? Man. For a lot of people, that's why they love it. It forced them to grab some loose leaf and go to town, deciphering all of the meaningless puzzles in the game. I'm sorry if I sound like a jerk when I say this, but I didn't like Myst. That's not the type of Adventure game I like to play. Even King's Quest is too much of a trial and error piece of crap system for me to get into it. But when you make the second half of the game basically Myst with all the obtuse design of Castlevania 2, I don't exactly classify that as a good time.

2. Street Fighter x Tekken (360/PC/PS3)
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/EG2wvzyypvU?version=3&amp;amp;hl=en_US&amp;amp;rel=0" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/v/EG2wvzyypvU?version=3&amp;amp;hl=en_US&amp;amp;rel=0</a>
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/k1zijGXHJo0?hl=en_US&amp;amp;version=3&amp;amp;rel=0" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/v/k1zijGXHJo0?hl=en_US&amp;amp;version=3&amp;amp;rel=0</a>
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/iHLv6uqnYgw?version=3&amp;amp;hl=en_US&amp;amp;rel=0" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/v/iHLv6uqnYgw?version=3&amp;amp;hl=en_US&amp;amp;rel=0</a>

1. Mass Effect 3 (360/PC/PS3)
I had my doubts about this game ever since it was announced. It seemed rushed, hurried to store shelves in order to capitalize on the feverish bloodlust for the series. Everyone was clamoring for this and it would have to take a masterstroke for people not to be underwhelmed.

I was not underwhelmed by Mass Effect 3. Underwhelming is an adjective reserved for titles that don't meet your heightened expectations, but can still be enjoyed. I was just straight up shocked by Mass Effect 3's lack of any sort of fulfillment in its promise as a game (not to mention as the capstone to a series) and the way Bioware thinks this garbage is able to stand next to the games before it is both laughable and insulting.

There is not an element in the game that I don't have issue with. I can list off many, many items I do like about the game, moments or dialogue here, but it would instantly be cut short by the laundry list of complaints I would have surrounding it. For example: I do like the way they handled loadouts in the game, allowing for any class to use any weapon, but the game is far too limiting and constraining preventing there from being any reasonable choices when you are looking to mix/max your characters (as you are wont to do). It also doesn't matter which weapons you choose when every other system around the gunplay is worse. Enemy AI is worse. Enemy variety is nearly non existent. The level design is not quite balanced. The game is incredibly buggy. Ally AI is terrible.

You get the picture. It is a game I do have some fond memories about playing, but every single time I think about them, dozens of terrible gameplay, story, and design decisions are brought right to the surface to make me angry.

Mass Effect 3 is so bad, that if you completely remove its worst aspect (its ending), it is still easily the worst game of 2012.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2013, 01:25:28 pm by Devourer of Time » Logged



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Re: Top 5
« Reply #363 on: January 05, 2013, 01:07:50 pm »

Before I look at the top games in the past year, I'm looking at all dem 2013 games I want to play.
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Re: Top 5
« Reply #364 on: January 12, 2013, 04:37:51 pm »

Well, I don't know too much about these video games.

But as a professional music critic, I can tell you about some music. No video embeds because I have a lot of songs to cover.


Top 5 Soundtracks of 2012

5. Soul Calibur V
Let me start this off by saying that this soundtrack wholly represents my least favorite trend in video game music: the need to imitate film. Very few game soundtracks benefit from having orchestral music throughout, but an alarming number of them use it anyway. It's cheap and overused in the same way that faux 8-bit soundtracks are becoming. As a result, most orchestral soundtracks sound similar to other ones to the point where I can't tell them apart and the music becomes white noise that washes over me with little effect.

Soul Calibur V is one of the very few games with this type of soundtrack that works. Each stage and character has a unique theme with melodies that made me go "Oh, I love that part!", and the music for the Story mode had the proper amount of emotional impact and restraint. Most soundtracks in this style are melodramatic and forgettable to me. Soul Calibur V's soundtrack actually felt epic, had some catchy melodies, and had emotion without feeling overblown.

Also, it has the best version of Ezio Auditore's theme in any game. Meaning that Jesper Kyd took a near-perfect song and made it even better somehow!

Key Tracks: Venice Rooftops, Samsara- The Wheel of Eternity, Where Springs Not Fail

4. Skullgirls
I don't have nearly as long of a passage to write about this. This soundtrack is full of jazz and I love jazz music. That's about it!
You probably wouldn't hear it if you jumped straight into versus mode, but this game's story has all of its musical cues on point. There's upbeat tracks with kinetic drumming for "I'm about to punch you in the nose" scenes, a comedy theme that fits the tone of the game's goofy humor, and one particular piece that plays over dramatic scenes/the credits that's just heartbreaking. Even if you don't like jazz, you'll have to admit that the songs in this game fit the setting perfectly. Or you don't, I'm not sure about you weird non-jazz liking people.

Also, that Character Select music. I've caught myself listening to it on loop for hours at a time to this day. Now it's stuck in my head again and I am fine with that.

Key Tracks: Pick of the Litter, Moonlit Melee, In A Moment's Time

3. HELL YEAH! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit
Oh, HELL YEAH! I wish I could like you more than I did. Really, the game did everything right except for the gameplay...
One thing it did very right was the music (you can get a partial soundtrack here for free!). The beginning of the game is the best example I can think of, as you start off defenseless and surrounded by enemies. The music is a very understated piece that's mostly a palm-muted guitar and ambient noise.

Then you get your BLADED JETPACK OF DEATH and the music just lets loose. The ambient tune turns into a full-blown punk rock song, you start slicing through enemies with no trouble, and you just feel incredibly powerful.

This soundtrack also gets respect for the variety. In addition to the songs I mentioned above, it covers hip-hop with a song that I can only imagine was inspired by Saints Row, tropical, electronic, a few creepy horror game-esque songs, and more I forgot because there's just SO much music. You go to a lot of visually distinct places in this game, and the soundtrack matches the tone of each world perfectly. Especially the Bunny Song in Cute Zone, which is so sickeningly sweet that the main character even takes pause to comment on it.

Key Tracks: Synthetic Chill, The Bunny Song, Pimp it Up!

2. Lollipop Chainsaw
This isn't cheating is it? Lollipop Chainsaw basically IS a music game. Not in the sense that you press buttons in time with pop songs to make rectangles disappear, but in the sense that this game was pretty much built around the soundtrack. Each level and boss are themed after a particular musical genre, and their stages are filled with a mix of licensed and original songs that fit the themes perfectly.

This game won my heart when I was dashing along rooftops in a thunderstorm, avoiding lighting strikes, and then The Way of the Fist kicks me in the teeth. I really can't remember the last time I was so excited playing a video game, and it was all because of the music. The game has a fantastic original soundtrack, but what makes it even better is the use of licensed songs. I don't even want to say any more in fear of spoiling some of the best moments in the game, but just know that Lollipop Chainsaw contains the best uses of Dead or Alive's "You Spin Me Round", Buckner and Garcia's "Pac-Man Fever", and Skrillex's "Rock N Roll" in any game I've ever played.

Whenever they break out a licensed song, it is totally appropriate and enhances the events on the screen just by being there. This game is why I decided to do "best soundtrack" instead of "best original soundtrack" because it uses licensed music so well.

Key Tracks: Viking Sea, Zed, Stage 4-2

1. Hotline Miami
Another reason why this is "best soundtrack" instead of "best original soundtrack". Very little of Hotline Miami's music was composed for the game, but whoever chose these songs and put them into this game's stages deserves one of those little gold trophies.

This is not a nice game that you can feel good about playing around...anyone else, really. The best way to get points in this game is to knock people down and bash their brains out with a blunt object. Yet, the soundtrack somehow lightens the mood. If this game had no music, I would probably be more disturbed about how I just stabbed a dog and pushed a sharpened pool cue into a man's brain. Instead, I'm tapping my foot and nodding my head to the pulsing electronica soundtrack. There are times when the music gets more serious to show how messed up everything is; at the end of each level, it cuts the track to little more than a droning hum as you step over the piles of dead bodies. It's hard to not be disturbed by that.

The songs seem to be tuned to the mental state of the character, an interesting contrast between the joyful high of getting away with murder and a sense of regret and confusion as to why you are doing terrible things.

To put it simply, Hotline Miami wouldn't be nearly as memorable if the soundtrack was not so excellently crafted.

Key Tracks: Paris, Miami Disco, Hydrogen
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Re: Top 5
« Reply #365 on: January 13, 2013, 12:48:35 am »

Top 5 Games of 2012

I guess I'm doing this now.


5. Don't blink. Just rock.

Rock Band Blitz (Harmonix, XBLA/PSN)

Rock Band lives! The included setlist is largely mediocre (though a few tracks stand out for sure), but Blitz nicely syncs up to your existing library of tracks. (Though without an export feature, you can't play Rock Band 3's songs, which is a bit disappointing). I don't think this is the right direction for the series at all, but the frenetic, single-player only gameplay works pretty well. It's also worry-free: no more fretting about failing songs, so I could finally get through all of those VVVVVV tracks I downloaded without the shame of downgrading to "hard" rather than "expert." Ultimately, this is Rock Band for depressed loners with no friends, so naturally it secures a spot on my best of the year list.

4. The walls are shifting.

Spelunky (HD) (Mossmouth, XBLA/PC)

Spelunky is fun, even though it's maddening (and often flat-out unfair). It's engaging and unpredictable, though the lack of online multiplayer is somewhat of a deal-breaker, especially when I hear how much fun it is to play offline with friends.†

3. You're still a good person.

Spec Ops: The Line (Yager, 360/PS3/PC)

I only have like two friends, and they've heard me talk about Spec Ops at length. As a shooter, it's mechanically stunted, but as a deconstruction of war simulations and a critique on violent games themselves, it's pretty impressive.

2. I think I can get through to them.

Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy (3DS/Mobile)

This game was made for my 18 year old self. A loving piece of fan-service that pays homage to the work of legendary composer Nobuo Uematsu (who is said to have cried while playing it). It's more of a mobile Final Fantasy music museum than a game - it's solid and fun, but it's repetitive enough that anyone not obsessed with this music is likely to grow tired after a while. Not me, though. The track list itself is very solid, and every instalment in the main series is represented well (except for XIV but that's a whole other problem, isn't it?) Bonus points for several months of consistent downloadable content. I would've loved if they kept going with it (or offered downloadable characters - I want Theatrhythm Auron, Theatrhythm, Steiner, and Theatrhythm Umaro the sasquatch).

1. The rules have changed.

Mario Party 9 (NDCube, Wii)

Is there a medal for "Most Improved?"

After over a decade of stagnant (or flat-out bad) instalments, Mario Party is fun again, thanks to some daring new design decisions. Rounds are faster. The boards are great. You no longer need CPU bots to get a full game going. The mini-star mechanic replaces the lopsided stars/coins system while preventing runaway victories. The minigames are almost uniformly excellent - even the waggle is handled tastefully. MP9 might be worth it for the boss battles alone: rarely do games accomplish a balance between cooperation and opportunism this effectively. Again, the lack of online player is a problem (this seems to be an issue across almost whole list this year. I thought these were 2012 games...), but I really would've appreciated some downloadable maps. Still, this game is a blast.
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Re: Top 5
« Reply #366 on: February 03, 2013, 11:43:13 am »

I decided to take on the stupid task of posting my entire Top 25 Most Anticipated Games of 2013 from my tumblr. So here it is.

DoT's Top 25 Most Anticipated Games of 2013


#25 - Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers (3DS)



While technically an updated port of a 16 year old Sega Saturn game that never came out here, I'm excited to get a chance to play anything "new" in the SMT series. The look back at the 32-bit era Persona ports on the PSP were not exactly enjoyable, but they were interesting to at least examine, especially when you contrast them against the critically acclaimed series Persona is now. So I guess mark this one down as more of a historical curiosity than a game worth being excited about.

#24 - Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (PS3)



Iím not really much of an anime fan. Itís a weird thing to admit, given how many elements Japanese games just straight up lift from anime and how much enjoyment I get out of those Japanese titles. Itís like saying you donít like chicken, but you eat KFC all the time.

However, much like most of the world, Studio Ghibli is the one source in anime I will always pay attention to. They make fantastic films with powerful storytelling, but how much of their moviesí magic will transfer into a video game is what really matters. My hopes arenít exactly set incredibly high for that, as I donít really trust that they can effectively capture the Ghibli essence without really understanding the medium.

But I do trust Level-5. Theyíve had some stinkers in the past, but theyíve risen to quite the powerhouse in Japanese game development, especially in JRPGs with their involvement in the Dragon Quest series. Regardless of how much Ghibli is actually in the game beyond the art style, I know that this will be a mechanically solid RPG.

P.S. What in the hell is going on with that guyís face?

#23 - Tearaway (PSV)



Media Molecule has been nothing but a house of disappointment. I never could look past LittleBigPlanetís loose and frustrating base platforming mechanics in order to enjoy its incredible creative tools. Its sequel solved none of the originals problems, only adding a larger variety of disappointments.

This is their big second chance and I think it might just win me over. The animation in the game and the commitment to that papercraft style is stunning. The gimmicky Vita real world interaction seems to be used in at least cool ways. Most of all? The game doesnít look like it will depend on tight controls to explore its cool landscapes. I have my doubts, but maybe this will work out.

#22 - South Park: The Stick of Truth (360, Win, PS3)



Ni no Kuni and South Park are basically the same pitch: a popular name in animation and a top rated RPG developer join forces to create a simplistic RPG with the animation, style, and story worthy of the animation it is based on.

Now, I donít really think South Park is going to be a better game than Ni no Kuni, especially considering the absolutely awful run of South Park games over the years, but I have a little bit more faith that the South Park essence could be successfully captured in a video game. From the moment I first saw Stick of Truth, it reminded me of all the reasons why I loved the show. While I donít I watch South Park regularly anymore, Iím still very excited to see how this one turns out.

#21 - The Witch and the Hundred Knights (PS3)



There is a golden rule* that I have learned when it comes to one of my favourite developers, Nippon Ichi: Never. Ever. Ever play a game in which they collaborate on or in which they purely publish. Mugen Souls, Last Rebellion, Hyperdimension Neptunia, Trinity Universe, Cross Edge. All of these games? Complete and utter pieces of <BALEETED!>. Almost offensively so. To the point that if someone were to look at the catalogue of Nippon Ichiís games, these stinkers would almost invalidate the great games they have produced.

(*The only exception to this rule is System Prisma, who are actually owned by Nippon Ichi. They released the Cladun games which were actually pretty good. Simplistic, but good.)

Thankfully, despite not being a Strategy RPG, Witch and the Hundred Knights is purely a Nippon Ichi developed game, so I am expecting quality. Not much has been shown of the game yet, but it looks to be a vibrant, stage based action RPG that almost reminds me of Little King Story with the the RTS aspects toned down. Plop a dark, yet still Disgaea-like, story on top of that and I can definitely get behind this.

#20 - Dark Souls II (360, PS3, Win)



Confession time! Iím not done Dark Souls. I mean, Iím not even close. Iím only a few hours in, but I played enough of it to ďget it.Ē I see where the appeal lies, why so many people were enraptured by this brutally difficult and masochistic series. Iím honestly excited to play more of Dark Souls, and its spiritual prequel, when I get around to it.

Dark Souls II offers more of that, but with the opportunity to improve some of the rougher edges of the series. Iíd be lying if I said that Dark Souls was a perfect game, as there were many aspects that rubbed me the wrong way. Another attempt with a nice coat of polish seems to be exactly what this series needs, even if the end product only amounts to being "just more Dark Souls".

#19 - Monster Hunter 4 (3DS)



Much like Dark Souls, I havenít played enough of this series as I should, but Iíve still invested well over 20-30 hours into Freedom Unite and Tri. Again, the appeal of the series has clicked for me. I know why I should be playing these games and I understand why so many others sing its praises. So Iím excited to jump into a new start for the series. With no multiple versions or expansions, everyone will be starting off on the same foot here and Iíll be there in the thick of it, finally being able to play the series both online and on-the-go.

#18 - Shantae and the Pirate's Curse (3DS eShop)



Again, a series I have not played enough of. I never had a Game Boy Colour back in the day and, since Shantae is quite rare now, my ability to go back and play that WayForward classic is unfortunately hindered. I have played quite a bit of its DSiWare sequel (Riskyís Revenge) though. Itís a great game to have on your DS whenever you boot it up, always available for you to hop in for some metroidvania goodness here and there. My relaxed pace through the game hasnít lead me to completion yet, but it does have me very excited for the sequel.

#17 - The Cave (XBLA, Win, Mac)



With this (kinda) spiritual sequel to Maniac Mansion, except with more platforming and character focused storytelling, itís looking like Ron Gilbert will finally be working on a title worthy of his history and legend. Not to say that Deathspank was utterly terrible, but itís just that Monkey Island and those other LucasArts classics will always have a special place in heart. To see Ron working back in that realm again is reason enough for this game to be on my list.

Also, I have always had a soft spot for ďBe careful what you wish forĒ, monkey paw-esque storylines and The Cave is promising three different ones each playthrough, along with some clever puzzles built around each characterís special abilities and the interaction between the three heroes (?) of your journey.

What is there not to like?

#16 - Monaco: What's Yours Is Mine (XBLA, Win)



Couch Co-op is one of the greatest joys in gaming. You have some friends over, cook a nice meal, then all sit on a comfy couch, and proceed to start yelling, punching, screaming, and laughing at each other until the early morning. Itís something that I get to do less and less as I grow older, but it's always been the time I value most with games.

Unfortunately, games with good couch co-op have become few and far between since the glory days of N64 and Dreamcast, being replaced by online interaction. Online certainly has allowed genres like shooters and fighting games to flourish, but when youíre playing these types of games, these experiences meant to be shared by friends in the same room, online feels more like a compromise than an easier solution. Monaco, thankfully, has the best of both worlds, but coordinating, infiltrating, and escaping with the loot with the three friends beside me is what has me eagerly awaiting this game's release.

#15 - Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time (PS3, PSV)



Sly is still one of the best 3D platforming series out there. It had an incredibly solid stealth-platforming base established in the Thievius Raccoonus that morphed into open world shenanigans sprinkled with incredibly varied and unique missions that constantly both exploited and twisted that platforming you grew to love. It was one of my favourite series to come out of its era and, while I think that the Sly series earned its little break in order to keep it from getting stale, itís sad that Sucker Punchís current generation efforts didnít resonate with me as much as Sly.

Now the series is in relatively untested hands and Iíd be lying if I said I was confident in this game. This fourth title seems to have taken the story at the end of Honor Among Thieves and tossed it out the window. With the time elements and multiple members of the Sly Cooper family, it seems that the gameplay is going down a quite gimmicky route, even as compared to the original trilogy. Worst of all, from my very limited time playing it at PAX, it just doesnít feel like that solid platforming core has been maintained.

This was a hard game to put on this list, purely because, like I said, I lack confidence in it. I remember how the Jak series ďcame backĒ on the PSP, never even coming close to recapturing the original trilogyís charm. Iím worried that the exact same thing is happening here.

Ultimately though, this list is not a manner of whether I think the game will be good or bad, but how excited I am to see the final product and determine its quality first hand, rather than through pure speculation. And I am way more excited than I am apprehensive to dive into a new Sly adventure.

#14 - Guacamelee! (PSN, PSV)



This game needs to be on this list purely for that name alone. I mean, thatís just brilliant. Also, itís really fun to say. Guacamelee. Guuuaaaacamelee. Gua-ca-me-lee. GUACAMELEEE!

But to bring it back to the game itself, metroidvania games are always welcome in my book. Add into it some cool melee combat elements, the old standby of parallel worlds ala Link to the Past that impacts every aspect of the game, fluid platforming, and some absolutely gorgeous art and animation with a fantastic sense of style.

I mean, look at dat standing pose. Look at it. LOOK AT IT!

#13 - Super Time Force (XBLA?)



Tagging out Guacamelee for the other Toronto indie superstar, Capybaraís new game is looking to be something special. Super Time Force is one of those games where at any point in the game, anything can possibly happen. Anything. Get a mission to go back in time to fight a cyborg T-Rex? Stopping the dinosaur extinction by destroying the meteor? Meteor turns out to be some sort of robot? All of that happened in the PAX demo. When that is presented to you as the standard experience within the game, anything is possible.

But whatís best about this game is just how fun it is to play. There have been quite a few Contra-esque games in the past few years from indie and small japanese developers, but Super Time Force shines due to its Super Meat Boy approach to death, difficulty, challenge, and level design. Death comes quickly on any stage, against any obstacle, but the stage itself is only seconds long. Quick and easy refreshes, along with the ability to save past selves (who are still interacting with the environment simultaneous to you) to create checkpoints, allow you to die again and again and still feel like youíre making progress. Plus, being able to choose classes at each respawn, with each giving you a completely different way of approaching combat, just adds layers of depth, strategy, and enjoyment onto the game.

All in all, it looks like a simple game with cool mechanics and an infinite possibility for insanity. But it looks like it will be incredibly solid, simple, cool, insane game and I cannot wait to play more.

#12 - The Last of Us (PS3)



The Last of Us is a strange beast. Since the very first trailer of the game, the focus has always been on the characters. Itís been pushed as a personal story, a journey following the gruff, Troy Baker voiced Joel and the young, somewhat naiive, Ellen Page-look-alike Ellie through a post apocalyptic America filled with fungus zombies, supply shortages, and groups of thieves and highwaymen. Oh, and they (and the world around them) will be very, very pretty.

And that is pretty much all we know about the game. Like at all. There have been early promises of this and that, but from the footage we have seen, thatís all we really know. We donít know how important any of the systems are. We donít know whether the game is extremely linear, ala Uncharted, or how much choice is played into the game. How deep are the repercussions for playing in a brutal manner? What is even the whole point of this journey of Ellie & Joel? Weíre gonna have to wait until May, I guess.

But I know what The Last of Us is striving for. Like all forms of The Walking Dead, it is digging into the way-too-popular post-apocalyptic story and grabbing the human story out of it. Like Bioshock Infinite, it is trying to push the lives, the decisions, and the interactions of two individuals into the spotlight and watch them grow and struggle to overcome their obstacles. Like Uncharted, it is chasing after that cinematic element and weaving it into every aspect of the game, for better or worse.

Even if I donít know everything I would like to know about it, The Last of Us is still one of the most promising AAA titles this year. Naughty Dog has proven themselves in the past and I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt despite the uncertainty of a big budget new title at the end of a consoleís lifespan.

#11 - Skulls of the Shogun (XBLA, Win, WinMob)



Look, 17-Bit. We need to talk. I know youíve had a weird development cycle for this game. I know youíve been trying to put this out for what seems like ages. But of all the games on my list that should have been out by now, this is the one. Iíve played it before. Itís great. Itís a game that is right up my alley and it seems like a game that will have a lot of content to it.

But címon guys. I know that the end-of-game crunch is killing you, so Iím not mad at you for not getting this out. But I canít say Iím not disappointed. So I can see that you probably need some encouragement after missing the Windows 8 launch. But thatís over now. Itís in the past. Youíve got a kick ass game coming to a plethora of platforms. Itís got a killer style to it with mechanics that remind me of greats like Advance Wars, Fire Emblem, and Phantom Brave. Guys, this game is gonna rock.

So tie the f-cking bow on this title and get it out there. Itís gonna be great.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2013, 01:37:03 am by Devourer of Time » Logged



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Re: Top 5
« Reply #367 on: February 04, 2013, 01:35:34 am »

#10 - The God & Fate Revolution Paradox (PS3)



I think Iím going to hate this game.

I mean, watch the trailer and see how long you can last. Seconds? Maybe even a minute? Itís hard to stomach it.

Itís almost everything I hate about anime and Japanese video games in one trailer: Voice acting that causes a steady stream of blood to drip from my ears, maid outfits, annoying J-Pop music with a grating vocalist, a female cast that all follow stereotypical anime personality tropes with character designs that are degradingly oversexualized, etc. etc.

Actually, itís mostly that last one. I mean, just looking at some artwork and screenshots for the game is enough to depress the hell out of me. Itís the worst kind of pandering to the worst kind nerds in Japan, a market that unfortunately has an affinity to these types of games and, somehow, the money to consistently buy any merchandise surrounding them. Itís shiit like this that makes me want to give up on Japanese games altogether.

But on the other handÖ

The God & Fate Revolution Paradox is a spiritual sequel to the PSP game Zettai Hero Project, an excellently goofy spin on the roguelike genre that featured all of the insanely deep mechanics and customization that youíd expect from Nippon Ichi. And thatís pretty much all I needed to know about God & Fate to be excited. ZHP was one of the best games I played on my PSP and one of the reasons why Iím excited to see Nippon Ichi break out from the Strategy RPG genre with games like The Witch & The Hundred Knights.

So God & Fate is basically ZHP again, but improved upon and made more insane. A more Disgaea-like roguelike, if you will. One of the biggest changes is that you now have party members that follow you around (which you can also customize to an insane degree) much like in other roguelikes like Shiren. This adds a ton of elements and strategy of positioning, picking up allies, and throwing them across the map, all elements Disgaea fans should be familiar with. Lots of special moves have been added that will affect the positioning of your characters, allowing you to string special moves one after another to progress across the floor, decimating everything in your path. Heck, it even has the vibrant graphics and art are on par with Disgaea 4.

At the end of the day, I donít really enjoy or approve of adding even more anime influence when Nippon Ichi loves to saturate their games with them anyway, but if it gets me an improved spiritual sequel to ZHP, Iíll play it regardless of how the aesthetic looks or how the story plays out.

I think Iím going to love this game.

#9 - The Next Great Sequel in the Saints Row Franchise (PS3, 360, Win)



Well, this is awkward.

When I made this list, THQ was in dire straits, but was looking to come out of it whole and in one piece. Now, itís in the middle of being chopped up and sold for parts, so who knows where Volition and the Saints Row franchise itself will end up.

So letís look at the best case scenario here: Saints Row and Volition end up in the same place and their new owner sits down with the heads of Volition and just says ďkeep doing what youíre doing.Ē Yeah, I know. Itís a longshot to the point of fantasy, but due to how ed this situation has become since I started writing this, I have no choice but to deal with ideals.

In that case, hallelujah, weíve got the king of open world games back from near-death. The Third was such a big leap in quality for the series that it took a couple of boring, tired, and old Grand Theft Auto clones and made a unique and hilarious take on a genre I pretty much hate. It was the first time in an open world game where the first and last thing on my to-do list wasnít ď aroundĒ and I actually stuck around to play it longer than your average movie. It had an interesting story filled with insanity, it improved upon the base gameplay mechanics of the genre to the point of actually being fun (an unfortunate rarity), and a sheer variety of ingenious mission and level design that had me gobbling up all 30 hours of perfectly paced content.

So Volition did the impossible and made an open world game I could actually like (love?). Props to them. Now comes the hard part: making a sequel to that game without losing any of the magic. Oh, and they have to do it by adapting a failed piece of The Thirdís DLC into a full game.

Good luck.

That all sounds like a recipe for disaster, but at this point, Iíd accept a Assassinís Creed: Brotherhood-esque sequel: a sequel that hits all the right notes of the original experience, even if it feels more like an expansion pack than a sequel. And thatís why this is so high on my list. If Volition is able to make a sequel that doesnít flop, proving that The Third wasnít just lightning in a bottle, then Iíll be impressed.

I might be asking too little from this sequel or setting the bar a bit too low, but remember that this is after the spectacular destruction of THQ and the improbable case where this game is shipped. So maybe just asking for this game to be made at all is asking too much.

#8 - Double Fine Adventure (AKA Reds) (Win/Mac)



I really like the direction Double Fine has gone in the past few years. As much as I love Psychonauts and BrŁtal Legend, the smaller, unique downloadable titles allow them to explore an expansive and insane list of settings, themes, audiences, and genres.

But there is something about those old LucasArts adventure games that never really transferred over to Double Fine. Yeah, there is a completely different group of people working on these games and Tim Schafer wasnít the one wholly responsible for games like Grim Fandango and Full Throttle becoming masterpieces of the genre, but you can tell that Tim Schafer and co. have been trying desperately to recapture that balance of uniqueness and quality that LucasArts once symbolized. Unfortunately, Double Fineís aforementioned diverse spectrum of titles hasnít really let them specialize in any one genre. This jack-of-all-trades approach is probably why their quirky, unique titles are usually heavily flawed as well.

This is why it is so exciting to see Double Fine go back to the genre that started it all, 15 years after the critical darling, and commercial failure, Grim Fandango. There are plenty of old hands left at the studio who get to return to the genre they once loved. And that is not an insignificant event. Itís one of those things that people have been wishing, wondering, and whining about on message boards, podcasts, and blogs for years. Itís a game that, as a developer, you have to wait until the stars align and just the right opportunity comes along in order to make it.

This is also why Double Fine Adventure has a lot of weight on its shoulders. Itís the return to form for old masters of the craft, the resuscitation of a genre long thought dead, and the poster child for that whole 2012 Kickstarter phenomenon. There is no way this game wonít disappoint those who shovel this mountain of expectations upon Reds. But for me, Iím hoping that I can just be content with what it is, even if it fails to live up to those greats that came before it and continues the Double Fine tradition of making great, but flawed, games.

#7 - Pikmin 3 (WiiU)



Okay, these write ups have gotten way out of hand. Time to reel it back in and just basically say this: Pikmin kicks ass. It is cute, it is challenging, it is stressful, and it is everything that an RTS on a console should strive for. The sequel made significant changes to the pacing and core strategy of the game and while it lost just as much as it gained, it was an entirely different experience that was just as enjoyable.

Pikmin 3 is making a lot of changes to the formula that has me shaking my head, but I look back at the jump from Pikmin to Pikmin 2 and I canít help but have faith in Nintendo. Yeah, they havenít been batting 1.000 as of late, but Iím hoping that during the gameís long development cycle, they were able to innovate with the title just enough to create an enjoyable new take on an old favourite.

#6 - Etrian Odyssey 4: Legends of the Titan (3DS)



Etrian Odyssey is the opposite of approachable and modern game design. There is little in the way of checkpoints and there is no auto-save. Game overs are frequent and can leave you with hours of lost progress. There is only rough indication on where you need to go to progress or to complete quests. You frequently are backtracking and revisiting old content. Character progression can easily be botched without a plan, leaving you with a near useless teammate. To top it all off, the game is punishingly difficult, with a steep difficulty curve that forces you to be prepared for anything and adapt.

All of the above is deliberate and why the series works so well. Etrian Odyssey does not hold your hand or talk down to you. It asks you to be an adult, figure it out yourself, and roll a new healer because you ed up the last one. If anything goes wrong in Etrian Odyssey, it is your own damn fault. Trapped in a dungeon with a healer with 0 MP? Shouldnít have progressed onwards without an item to warp out. Canít take down this boss because your front line keeps dying? Shouldnít have specced that warrior in pure offense now, eh? Canít find the exit? Well, you would be able to if you mapped the dag yo route out correctly.

All of this sounds semi-abusive, but its actually, somehow, quite the relaxing title. Progressing onwards into the unknown, working hard to get that new piece of armor or finish that quest, exploring the nooks and crannies of each floor, and slowly, steadily becoming stronger and more confident in your team as you progress is one of the most rewarding feelings you can find in gaming. And due to the nature of portable games, itís always there for you. You can set it down at any time and just as easily flip it open to continue your quest. Thereís no huge commitment to it, there is no huge reward for finishing it, as merely progressing through it, bit by bit, is reward enough.
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Re: Top 5
« Reply #368 on: February 04, 2013, 01:36:14 am »

Wow, I couldn't even fit this in two posts. Here's Part 3.

#5 - Shin Megami Tensei IV (DS)



For the past decade, western gamers have turned to the Shin Megami Tensei series (and its offshoots) for a consistent source of quality titles year after year. From fantastic JRPGs releases like the crushingly difficult Digital Devil Saga to experimentation with RPG sub genres like Devil Survivor and Devil Summoner to the much beloved and critically acclaimed Persona series, the Shin Megami Tensei name is on the box of some of the best games to come out of Japan.

This is all largely due to the influence of Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne, the third game in the main series. Not only was it one of the earliest SMT games to come out in North America, it established and refined much of the tone, style, and, most importantly, gameplay mechanics that persist throughout the SMT series. The biggest change? Transferring the series away from the traditional first person dungeon crawler into the standard third person JRPG. Honestly, I think the series is much better for it, as it is now focused on the mechanics that matter, letting one-offs like Strange Journey return to and explore the roots occasionally.

Now, I donít expect Shin Megami Tensei IV to have a huge revolutionary impact on everything MegaTen for the next decade, but anything that is attempting to be Nocturneís successor is no doubt going to be important for the series going forward. If you have any interest in the eventual new Persona, new Devil Summoner, or new SMT subseries that comes out 3-5 years from now, play this game. Itíll give you a glimpse at the changes, and quality, to come.

#4 - Ace Attorney 5 (3DS)



While weíre still waiting for that magical Professor Layton crossover to come over here, we at least have early confirmation that the long awaited fifth game in the Ace Attorney series will make it to international shores. Which is great, since the last game in the series, the often hated for no reason Apollo Justice, was released just shy of 5 years ago. Yeah, there has been an okay live action adaptation, a manga series that never interested me (because manga), and those boring Miles Edgeworth spinoffs stuffed full of fanservice and little else, but there hasnít really been a true return to the roots of these somehow amazing courtroom adventure/visual novels in quite some time.

Enter Ace Attorney 5, Phoenix Wrightís return to the spotlight after a brief stint of piano playing and tuque wearing in Apollo Justice. He has a lovely new sidekick, ready to be embarrassed by Wrightís stints of incompetency in all of his cases. The visuals have been moved to 3D, but perfectly convert the expression and animation of the original trilogy. Heck, thereís even a new magical special ability to suss out the truth for witnesses and suspects.

But are any of those really what makes Ace Attorney work? Nah. The mechanics and visuals have always been second to the gripping storylines full of colourful characters, mysteries to unravel, and some truly amazing plot twists. Do they have the best or most mature writing and storytelling in the medium? Hardly. Yet, the series has never failed to produce fun and suspenseful tales that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Or bed. Or bus seat. Or wherever you play 3DS games.

Anyway, these are all elements of the Ace Attorney series that we canít really identify the quality of until it sits in our hands. So regardless of the new screenshots, trailers, import previews, and convention demos, Iíll remain stoked to just finally be able to play this on my own terms.

#3 - Animal Crossing: New Leaf (3DS)



I like to think that Animal Crossing in the same boat as Katamari Damacy, Pokemon, or Harvest Moon: each series has a magical and approachable game design that has gone through very few changes and only minor improvements across multiple titles. Yet, no matter which game hooks you into those series, youíll find a wonderful, memorable title unlike anything else out there. Try to play any more of the series though, and youíll find that youíve quickly had your fill. Animal Crossing especially, as it just doesnít have the room to expand on its original concept nor the depth in its gameplay to keep you coming back with each new game.

Yet, there is a solid reason why New Leaf is so high on my list and a reason that, despite what I said above, I am willing to jump into another title: Time. Simply put, itís been a decade since I really got hooked on Animal Crossing for the Gamecube. And I mean hooked. I enjoyed the hell out of Animal Crossing back in the day. Jumping on at any and all hours of the day to see all of the cool events, helping out my best buds around town, checking Tom Nookís stock before school every morning, and making sure that I hopped on every Saturday night to grab a new K.K. Slider song.

But my excitement for New Leaf is not exactly based on me trusting that the series has evolved and overhauled enough in the past 10 years to warrant revisiting. From what Iíve heard of the game, itís still the same core experience. Instead, I feel that I have had a long enough vacation away that I can appreciate it again.

I mentioned Pokemon in that list above for a reason, as it is a series that I have similar feelings towards, but have managed to find a renewed interest in it regardless. I was part of that generation of kids who got struck hard by the Pokemon craze, but I personally stopped before the second generation even ended. I just had no drive to play those games anymore. Yet a decade later, I jumped back into Pokemon when White launched and was rewarded with hundreds of new Pokemon to catch, dozens of interface improvements, faster gameplay, and a boatload of new features added to a series I last played on a good olí brick Gameboy.

But more important than the details, Pokemon White got me to enjoy the core of the Pokemon experience again and ended up being one of the most enjoyable times I had with games that year.

And that is what Iím hoping New Leaf can achieve: restoring a long lost passion for a series I once loved. Maybe thatís putting too high of expectations on New Leaf, but I eagerly await my life to be taken over by talking animals and interior decorating if it succeeds.

#2 - Disgaea Dimension 2 (PS3)



Moving from Animal Crossing to Disgaea is a harsh jump, as they are opposites in almost every conceivable way. Disgaea is not approachable, incredibly complex, can be punishingly difficult, and has more gameplay systems than it is possible to keep track of in your head at one time. It is a series that has somehow survived on an incredibly small audience, as you wonít really get much out of it unless you are really, really into Strategy RPGs. It is the pinnacle of complexity in the genre, with very few SRPGs managing to top its breadth, depth, and insanity.

But to make an odd comparison between Disgaea and Animal Crossing, both series do suffer from the same stagnation. Each game comes with only mild improvements, the series having changed very little over the past decade beyond UI changes, some streamlining here and there, graphical upgrades, and some new gameplay mechanics attached to that stubborn core experience.

The difference is that it doesnít matter to me with Disgaea. I love to advocate games to try new things, to push new IPs, and to genuinely expand the capabilities and experiences within the medium, but there will always be titles out there that we will want more of. Disgaea could feature the same core experience for many, many years to come and Iíll still buy and play every single one of them. Unlike Animal Crossing, Disgaea does have that fundamental depth within the core experience that allows its appeal to persist.

So what is this, the fifth Disgaea game in ten years? And itís the first direct sequel in the series, forsaking even creating new casts and storylines? Bring it. Judging by all the new mild changes and the consistency of this series so far, I will happily squeeze hundreds of hours of strategic goodness out of Dimension 2.

#1 - Fire Emblem: Awakening (3DS)



So hereís where I almost ed up and released this list after one of the games had come out. But I made itÖ. barely.

Disgaea might be a series I praise for its consistency, but its always exciting to see a series that has so much potential finally getting everything right. Fire Emblem has had such a rocky and inconsistent path ever since itís debut in North America on the GBA. Simply titled ďFire EmblemĒ, that seventh game in the series was pretty much a perfect, albeit fairly simple, representation of everything Fire Emblem had to offer.

Subsequent games, however, have failed to live up to the expectations put forth by that first taste. The problems have been numerous and varied, ranging form a lackluster jump from crisp pixel animation to underwhelming 3D, terrible voice acting, failed overhauls of the conversation system, slowing the pacing of combat to a crawl, imbalance brought upon by removing the rigidness of the progression, making the recruitment of characters needlessly obtuse, a large pool of characters that are near useless, outrageous difficulties being excused by less rigid saving structuresÖ. yadda yadda yadda. The list goes on and on. While I will defend Path of Radiance and Sacred Stones as at least enjoyable games, the series hasnít exactly produced an amazing title since that first non-Japanese release.

But perhaps now, my faith in the series will be rewarded. Awakening has had unbelievable praise in Japan, well beyond the expectations of one of Nintendoís most niche and least approachable series. Even from diehard fans of the series, near universal acclaim for Awakening has been echoing out from Japan for the last year.

From what Iíve seen/heard, Awakening is the game where Fire Emblem finally overcomes those problems and hurdles. And it is doing so at a perfect time. When I was made this list, I thought that with all of the love for X-Com: Enemy Unknown from the gaming community, winning numerous awards and creating thousands of new X-Com fans, there would be a willingness for more players to jump into games like Fire Emblem. But I could not imagine the overwhelmingly positive reviews already pouring out for Awakening from sources youíd never expect to cover this fairly niche title.

I have always thought that Fire Emblem: Awakening had the potential to be one of the best games of the 2013, but now I see that it also could become one of the biggest.

If youíll excuse me, Iím going to go boot up my GBA to pass the time until Monday, whilst crying softly that I missed my chance to pick it up when it was leaked early across Canada.
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Re: Top 5
« Reply #369 on: April 08, 2013, 01:34:41 pm »

If you would like to read my Top 10 games of the year, check them out here.

« Last Edit: December 07, 2013, 11:57:44 am by Devourer of Time » Logged



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Re: Top 5
« Reply #370 on: December 12, 2013, 09:35:09 am »

DevourerOfTime's GOTY of the Year List


























...For the Year 2003

Sooo.... My Game of the Year 2013 list won't be done for a while. I tend to take my time with it every year until I'm pretty damn confident in it. I find that rushing into Game of the Year in December both prevents me from playing all the games I want to in a year and leaves me frustrated about the final outcome, as it seems like my list is currently shuffling every day. Plus, I don't feel the need to participate in the December GOTY of the Year rush because it's not my job to deliver these silly lists.

So: Ha!

But I want to! So instead of looking at the games I enjoyed most in the past twelve months, I'll look at my favourite games from the wonderful 12 months that was 2003.

Now, 2003 is not exactly the first year to pop into your head when you think of great years in video games. Especially since the very next year saw Halo 2, Half-life 2, San Andreas, World of Warcraft, Metal Gear Solid 3, Pikmin 2, and Unreal Tournament 2004. '04 was a HUUUUGE year for games... if you were a console or PC player. I've always been drawn to the portable side of gaming and 2003 was the year the GBA peaked. Six of the best games on that beloved handheld came out in 2003, all of them classics of that generation.

So while people have fond memories of 2004, 2003 holds up for me as one of my favourite years for video games.

-------------------------------------------


#10. Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter - PS2 - Capcom

Lots of people hated this game. And I mean HATED this game. Something I've noticed in the past two years or so on Giant Bomb is that there is a pretty good chance someone who is still so butthurt that Breath of Fire 5 is not a typical turn based JRPG has taken their frustrations out on the wiki page, vandalizing due to their now decade old fanboy hate.

And I'll admit the game is not the best game ever made. Dragon Quarter has a ton of problems, especially with its pacing and its difficulty curve. But man, was it a fun game to play. You'd have to set aside a huge chunk of time to really feel like you're progressing (kinda like Dark Souls), but it told an interesting story, had a great sense of atmosphere, and its combat system was unique, strategic, and incredibly fun.

It's got some hurdles, but I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Dragon Quarter, even if I had to restart the game a few times and never did quite finish it.




#9. Golden Sun: The Lost Age - GBA - Camelot/Nintendo

Okay, it may be a little hypocritical to make fun of the fanboys for hating Dragon Quarter for not being a stereotypical JRPG, then place a stereotypical-ass JRPG right above it. Whatever. Golden Sun: The Lost Age doesn't have the same unfortunate downfalls as Dragon Quarter. It's just a straight up solid JRPG with a neat setting, a well done (if a little annoying) save transfer mechanic from the original game, and some solid combat.

Nothing more, nothing less.




#8. Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga
- GBA - Alphadream/Nintendo

I swear, this is the last JRPG I'll talk about on this list. Just bear with me.

Mario & Luigi was the first time I felt Nintendo's mustached mascot came close to matching Mario's original RPG experiment, Super Mario RPG for the SNES. Mario & Luigi was funny, well written, had a great aesthetic, and had a memorable cast of characters, but what really impressed me was how it mixed the RPG combat with Mario's platforming roots.

SMRPG may have given us timed hits, but Mario & Luigi gave us the ability to actively hop on a koopa shell as a special attack in a turn based JRPG. Or to jump on a goomba to avoid its attack. Or smack a piranha plant with a hammer to prevent it from biting. Using a button for each brother made both the combat and platforming a weird and enjoyable exercise of simultaneous control that, even after 3 more games in the series, still hasn't gotten old.




#7. Jak II - PS2 - Naughty Dog/Sony

A little bit of a black sheep on this list. While you'd think that with my love of platformers and... lukewarm feelings on GTA-like games that Jak II wouldn't sit too well with me, especially since it went for a laughably "edgy" look after the cute and innocent original.

But here's the thing: the first Jak wasn't a very good platformer. It was a shallow and unsatisfying attempt that filled its holes with needless collectibles, a ton of running around too big environments without much to do, boring combat, and a plot that was charming, but a bit paper thin.

With Jak II, on the other hand, Naughty Dog decided to throw Jak straight into a vat of 100% angst and make a game masochistically difficult, but, shockingly, it was a better game for it. The guns were fun to use and a nice balance to the game's challenging platforming. The world was a lot less colourful than the original, but it was more interesting, providing a good backdrop for a better story and offered a ton of variety in its missions. Heck, even hoverbiking around the environment was fun.

Game design has progressed a lot in the past decade and a lot of Jak II's mistakes would be pretty much unforgivable by today's standards, but it was still a game I had a fantastic time with, warts and all.




#6. WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$!
- GBA - Nintendo

I remember a lot of people rolling their eyes at Warioware when it was first announced. The minigame collection was dying a painful death (or, at least, most people wanted it to) and Nintendo creating a minigame based franchise outside of its already milked to death Mario Party franchise didn't really impress people.

But then you played it. And you didn't stop. The stressful and lightning fast nature of the minigames meant that your full attention was necessary to get through each set of them, especially when you had no idea what was coming next. It was frantic fun that made you crave more, well after you unlocked everything and beat every minigame to a pulp.




#5. Final Fantasy Tactics Advance - GBA - Square Enix

Okay, remember when I said no JRPG's? Yeah, there aren't any. All that's left are Strategy RPG's! Awwww yeaaahhh!

Final Fantasy Tactics Advance was my first time jumping into the genre. It wouldn't be until 2005 that I'd pick up the original, fall in love, and try to play every single SRPG I could get my hands on, but FFTA functioned as an excellent entry point into a very complex genre. Mostly because Square Enix boiled away much of the complexity and difficulty that the original was known for.

This admittedly made FFTA a pretty poor and disappointing sequel, but for someone new to the series and genre? It was a godsend. It allowed me to get the basics down and be completely sucked in. I sunk several hundred hours into the game, even going so far as to complete the awful co-op missions with friends. I remember one day playing this game after coming home from school and finally putting it down ten minutes before my alarm went off for the next day of classes.

Needless to say, FFTA was the start of me sleeping through a lot of high school classes.




#4. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker - GCN - Nintendo

This is where this list gets really good. Of the top 4 games of 2003, all of them have a spot on my favourite games of all time. And it begins with my favourite Zelda game.

When the HD version of Wind Waker came out this year, all everyone talked about was fond memories and it's incredibly impressive cel shaded look. Yet, back in 2003, Wind Waker still had a ton of hate being thrown at it. The very mention of the game would get the internet so riled up that, as an impressionable young teen, I felt bad or wrong for liking it.

People on the internet who hated this game because it looked "kiddie": F*ck you.

Kids, never let some assholes on the internet tell you what you can and cannot like. Including me.

Wind Waker was easy, it was slow, and the triforce quest sucked, but the game was f*cking awesome. It did something different than the now normal Zelda experience and not just in how it looked. Its story was charming as hell, its characters were diverse and memorable, and just the general relaxed pacing of the game was refreshing. Once the game opens up, you weren't forced to immediately tackle those handful of badass dungeons. You could explore the high seas, finding a new island to explore or jumping into a moblin submarine to give them a smackdown for a piece of heart. Or you could bomb a kraken in the face. Or jump on a ghost ship. Or fight your sword master so you can spin violently with your sword until you spin so much you want to puke.

These were what made Wind Waker memorable. While popular choices like Ocarina of Time or Majora's Mask may be better games in the series, nothing in the series has matched the starry-eyed wonderment that I felt when playing this game for the first time.

Or match the feeling of stabbing Ganondorf right in his f*cking head. God DAMNIT that was badass.




#3. Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow - GBA - Konami

Believe it or not, Aria of Sorrow was the second Castlevania game I played. And that was only because I decided to give Harmony of Dissonance a shot first when I bought their combined re-release. As boring as Harmony of Dissonance was, I'm glad I played it fist, because it allowed me to have some perspective on just how amazing Aria of Sorrow is.

The game has pretty much everything I could ever ask for in a metroidvania: interesting world design, fantastic power ups, and impeccable controls. That's not even mentioning the highly customizable souls system. Sure, it quickly could make you grossly overpowered, but when you discover you can cancel backdashes into certain abilities, you'll feel like a god.

If I have anything bad to say about Aria of Sorrow, it's that I wish I played Symphony of the Night first. Aria ruined my expectations for metroidvanias and while Symphony is a classic for some, I felt that Aria improved on it in every single way.

Except in the case of speedrunning. SOTN speedruns are the shiit.




#2. Fire Emblem - GBA - Nintendo/Intelligent Systems

You know what? I'm not even mad that we didn't get the first six games in the Fire Emblem series, because Fire Emblem 7 is pretty much god damn perfect. It's a simple and addictive SRPG system on the surface that is deep down just as brutal, punishing, and unrelenting as X-com: Enemy Unknown. It had a perfect difficulty curve and created an immediate investment into each of your troops with the Support system, making their inevitable and permanent deaths all the more heartbreaking.

Unfortunately, the series stagnated after its North American release. Sacred Stones and Path of Radiance, while great, didn't quite capture the magic of FE7. The series then hit a pretty dark period with Radiant Dawn and Shadow Dragon reaching new lows for the series and Heroes of Light and Shadow's Japanese only release making it seem like there was no hope for the series going forward.

If only a new Fire Emblem was released... one that saw a worldwide release that lived up to the series's potential... a new title that simultaneously kept what made Fire Emblem 7 so wonderful and fixed what made it so unapproachable... a sequel that would bring Fire Emblem to a wider audience and into the current era of video games... if only such a game existed on, say, the 3DS perhaps...




#1. Disgaea: Hour of Darkness - PS2 - Nippon Ichi Software/Atlus

If Fire Emblem embraces and perfects the simplistic side of the SRPG genre, Disgaea has always dived head first into the genre's complexity. And none of the Disgaea games have been more enjoyable than this classic.

Disgaea has a dumb, annoying anime storyline with awful characters, stilted voice acting, and some terrible attempts at humour, but that's not why I play these games.

Ignoring the gross anime inspirations, the trite storyline, and the barely-dressed characters, you'll find the deepest rabbit hole in the Strategy RPG genre. If you're a huge fan of these types of games, you can't ignore Disgaea. While Final Fantasy Tactics is a game where, if you know what you're doing, you can break the backbone of its combat systems over your knee, Disgaea is a game that will not only teach you how to break its back in a more efficient manner, but give you the tools to break every other bone in its body. Disgaea makes breaking its gameplay systems the only gameplay system that matters. Sure, it becomes horribly unbalanced, but does it matter when seeing the game systems crumble is the most enjoyable part of the game?

I will never be done playing this game. I have sunk, all told, 750+ hours into the original game over three platforms, yet I have still not seen all the endings, unlocked all the classes, beaten all the bosses, or upgraded my units all the way. Once and a while I will load up these old save files and be greeted by my team of units whose levels are in the hundreds/thousands. I'll beat the game again to see a new ending or jump into the item world to level up my team and equipment, all in an effort to, one day, tackle all of the insane challenges Disgaea's end game has to offer.

While Disgaea: Hour of Darkness isn't my favourite game of all time, it's damn near close. And it's certainly my favourite game of 2003.

-------------------------------------------

Now back to finals.  Are You Asking For A CHALLENGE!!!!
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Re: Top 5
« Reply #371 on: January 03, 2014, 02:43:17 am »

Top 5 of 2013

"This is a game you cannot win."
5. Pause Ahead


Why #5? Askiisoft's spiritual sequel to their near-faultless Tower of Heaven is sneaky and inventive. I just had to beat it in one sitting.

"Saints rule even here."
4. Saints Row IV


Why #4? In its own, deranged way, this game is therapeutic - it's a giant stress relief, and despite its lust for violence and mayhem, it's a fundamentally silly (and maybe even good-natured) game.  At its heart - and yes, this game does have one - Saints Row IV makes a case for the vital need for leisure. We all need to unwind and relax every now and then

"Oh yeah. Mario time."
3. Super Mario 3D World


Why #3? Never satisfied to rest on its laurels (a major problem with the New Super Mario Bros. games), 3D World is the freshest and most exciting Mario game in nearly 20 years.

"Will the circle be unbroken
By and by, by and by
Is a better home a-waiting in the sky
In the sky?"

2. BioShock Infinite


Why #2? Ken Levine's love letter to his own franchise is the most self-indulgent and hubristic game you'll probably ever play, and the gaming industry has not seen this level of self-appointed essentialism since Metal Gear Solid 2. Ken Levine has a lot in common with fellow nutjob auteur Hideo Kojima - they both assume a level of fanboy devotion that's completely unrealistic yet somehow wholly achievable. Infinite is smug and self-aware, and it flashes the BioShock name like a crooked cop on the take. And by the end, Levine's game gives itself carte blanche to say or do literally anything while simultaneously deifying BioShock as possibly the important thing to happen to video games in the past decade. It's not the best game ever made - and it's probably the weakest of the three - but I was still floored by it.


"Welcome back."
1. Fire Emblem Awakening


Why #1? Awakening has everything I want. From the balanced, involving combat to the the excellent new Support system to the terrific soundtrack to the mostly functional localization (you dastards). Fire Emblem games are all about building relationships between your soldiers, and thanks to the new team up system, this is easier than ever. It's immensely satisfying to bunch two units together and watching as they fight side-by-side, knowing that they're building a friendship (or romance) in the process. It's rare for me to play a game that does almost everything right, that leaves me stunned by just how great and fun it is. Awakening is a masterpiece - one of the best portable games I've ever played, and absolutely the greatest game I played in 2013.
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Re: Top 5
« Reply #372 on: January 03, 2014, 05:31:53 pm »

Dude. D-man. Pause Ahead is so brilliant-- thank you OH so much. I've been at it since last night. I'm at Level 19. I got this on the last level.


EDIT (1/3/2014):




I love the random 450 deaths. I even got that one recorded proper.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/lD3LLHMXzJs" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/v/lD3LLHMXzJs</a>
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Re: Top 5
« Reply #373 on: January 16, 2014, 09:48:59 am »

I could critique Grand Theft Auto V all day, but I don't actually know anything about video games. No one wants to read a blog about that. It's a waste of time!

You know what I do know about? Music.

Top 5 Radio Stations in Grand Theft Auto V

5. WorldWide FM- Chillwave, Jazz-Funk, World
This is the station to turn on when you're making an incredibly long commute from the desert back to the city to start the new mission. Really relaxing stuff and quite varied too. It covers some chill electronic music, jazz, and indie rock.

But the biggest reason this station made the list? "Mirror Maru" is a masterpiece, and by far the best song on any radio station in the game. I still get goosebumps when it comes on the radio, after 200 hours of playing the game.

Key Track- "Mirror Maru" by Cashmere Cat

4. Radio Los Santos- Modern Rap
This station had quite a pedigree to live up to, sharing the same name as the beloved 90s hip-hop station in San Andreas. But Rockstar's sound engineers nailed it here, getting songs from the best new hip-hop acts and some relative unknowns that you'll definitely hear from in the future. It's a perfect snapshot of the genre in 2013.

Key Track- "Slow Down" by Clyde Carson & The Team

3. Space 103.2- Funk Music.
I really only need to say two things here.
One: Bootsy Collins hosts this station.
Two: It has "Party All The Time" by Eddie Murphy.

I could say more but...do I even need to?

Key Track- "Party All The Time" by Eddie Murphy

2. Non Stop Pop FM- Pop, R&B, House Music from the 80s, 90s, Naughties, and Today!

This is the type of radio station I want in real life. I'm not ashamed to admit that I listen to a LOT of girl pop and darn it, this is the best darn girl pop out there. It does an excellent job of covering the best pop singles of multiple decades, not just the current one (because that would be awful!)

Side note: Cara Delevingne is an excellent DJ. She sounds genuinely excited about the music, has a charming British accent, and drops the Realest Talks out of any DJ in the entire game. Go listen to this station until you hear her speech about people who try too hard to look cool. It's a life changer.

Key Track- "Rhythm of the Night" by Corona

1. West Coast Classics- 80s and 90s west coast hip-hop

I have, and always will have a soft spot for San Andreas' Radio Los Santos. It's one of my favorite radio stations in any video game, and this is a more than respectable followup. They couldn't just put the same Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg songs from that game in, but they did what they should have done: included the OTHER classic songs that couldn't fit on that little old PS2 disc. There's no better station for cruising down the city streets of Los Santos, escaping police pursuit, and running over that jerk who just stole a woman's purse. Only thing that could have made this better is if all those deleted songs made it in.

Key Track- "The Next Episode" by Dr. Dre feat. Snoop Dogg & Nate Dogg
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Re: Top 5
« Reply #374 on: January 25, 2014, 05:43:44 pm »

Grand Theft Auto V wasn't the only soundtrack I listened to last year.

Top 5 Soundtracks of 2013


5. DmC: Devil May Cry
The whole time I played this game, I thought "I can't believe I'm liking this soundtrack". Dark gothic metal and dubstep infused rock is not the type of music I listen to regularly. But I cannot deny that the music is excellent in the game, and complimented the grimy atmosphere and bad attitude of Dante perfectly.

Key Tracks: Barbas Theme, Hunter Theme, Lilith's Club


4. Grand Theft Auto V
Grand Theft Auto rarely comes to mind when I think of great original soundtracks. I recall missions in the older games being mostly silent if you turned the radio off. Not anymore! The score of Grand Theft Auto V is massive, with new themes popping up all the time to fit the action. The best part is the dynamic nature of the score, as each song changes its intensity to fit what's happening in the scene. The example that sticks out to me most is the chill spy music in the mission "Complications" that peaks when you finally steal that car and drive off. It doesn't quite stack up to the acoustic bass charms of Bully's soundtrack, but it got surprisingly close.

Key Tracks: His Mentor, The Grip, No Happy Endings

3. Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
I'm not gonna BS you here. I know nothing about the 1980s. I wasn't born then, and most of the 80s movies references in this game flew way over my head. But the soundtrack just FEELS 80s. I wanted to learn how to play a keytar from a Betamax "How To Play Keytar" tape after playing this game, and that's the highest praise I can give to Power Glove's amazing soundtrack. Also, it has "Power Core", the best battle theme of any game I played all year.

Key Tracks: Blood Dragon Theme (Reprise), Power Core, Sloan's Assault
 
2. Anarchy Reigns
The clear winner for "soundtrack I listened to the most in 2013". If you make a fighting game that doesn't have music that gets you hyped up for combat, you missed the point. Luckily, Anarchy Reigns nailed this combination of hard hip-hop and rock with the best soundtrack of any 2013 fighting game. It's so good that I turn on this soundtrack when I'm playing other fighting games, even in training mode. The perfect backing tracks for the sweet sounds of punching people in the face.

Key Tracks: Gotta Get The Cash, Days Of Old, Kill 'Em All

1. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
During the first boss battle, I knew this was a special game. A pretty legit rock track is playing during the first boss fight, then you start to lift up this giant robot...the vocals kick in and some guy is shouting "RULES OF NATURE!" as you throw a multi-ton mecha into the air and slice it to bits. The use of music in Metal Gear Rising follows a pattern: the song starts off normally, grows in intensity as the fight reaches its climax, and then the vocals kick in as you're delivering the final blows. So why is it so exciting EVERY SINGLE TIME? I've replayed the game multiple times and the "Rules of Nature" moment, along with many others, never fails to get my blood pumping. The game is significantly enhanced by its music and the manner in which the songs are edited and used. I even liked the bosses more from reading the lyrics, as they explain parts of their backstory that aren't explicitly stated. It's not even close here: this is by far my favorite soundtrack of 2013.

Key Tracks: Rules of Nature, It Has To Be This Way,† A Stranger I Remain
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