Archive for the ‘Video Games’ Category

Shootmania Mania

January 6, 2013

A lot has changed in the FPS scene in the last ten or more years. Where arena shooters like Quake and Unreal Tournament reigned supreme in the competitive scene, were slowly nudged aside by the tactical/arcade shooter like Call of Duty, Rainbow Six, Counterstrike, Gears of War and the rise of Major League Gaming (MLG). It’s argued that early Halo was a combination of arena/arcade style shooter but it’s latest incarnations have fans leaning more in the direction of tactical/arcade with its load-out system similarities to Call of Duty – regardless, Halo is still iconic in the competitive scene. The current competitive scene has a lot of people asking “Is the Arena shooter dead?” and the answer is no.

For those of you that aren’t aware, I’m currently sort-of-really-absolutely obsessed with Shootmania right now. Shootmania is an arena style “twitch” shooter. A lot of players are drawing comparisons between Quake and Unreal in regards to style and game play, and for this reason it’s giving many players a lot of comfy nostalgic feels. Shootmania is still in beta, and recently launched beta 2 adding many more options within the game allowing for more defense tactics and movement options. Shootmania is made by Nadeo, the same people who made the acclaimed Trackmania. Trackmania got Nadeo a lot of attention with its basic but by no means simple game play. Both Trackmania and Shootmania offer easy to understand map building capabilities, and Shootmania has many customization options – whether you want to customize your player skin, cross-hair or design your own map. Shootmania boasts an impressive amount of play modes, too. The competitive mode is “Elite” which is a 3v3 mode where the attacker must either eliminate all 3 defenders or capture the pole before the time runes out. There are many other modes, including several free-for-all modes, training modes and time-attack modes.

Me and some friends, casters and pro players at IPL5.

Myself, some friends, casters and pro players at IPL5 for Shootmania!

Something I like a lot about Shootmania is the the simplicity of it. There are not a ton of weapons or power-ups to worry about; your main focus is understanding your movement, learning your maps and formulating a strategy that works for you and your team. The game is still extremely challenging, and you’re constantly faced with players with different play styles than you which keeps you on your toes. Another interesting aspect of Shootmania to me is how the terrain affects your game. Your base weapon as a defender is a sort of arm cannon with a 4 rocket burst, but if you stand on a rail-pad you can “snipe” using an instagib laser that is a one hit kill. If you find yourself underground or in a tunnel, you now can shoot what is called a “nucleus” which is essentially a grenade that explode on impact, or after a certain amount of seconds. Using the terrain properly for cover and weapon usage can certainly amplify your game. The simplicity but constantly learning curve is definitely appealing to many players, and keeps the game fun and engrossing no matter what mode you’re playing in. Just watch over for those laser hits – getting picked off early on is the worst!

Pixxel of the Frag Dolls with some Shootmania community news.

I love every aspect of this game and definitely plan to practice way more this year! I had the pleasure of working Shootmania for IPL5 and introducing new players to the game. I was really elated to see just how many people saw the game and wandered in to check it out. It was really great to get a tournament going and sit down with them and talk to them over the mic about how to play, instruct them on strategies and shit talk them when they failed miserably. It was fantastic. It was great to come home, log into Shootmania and see so many new players that were recruited from IPL5. Shootmania is already pretty hot on the competitive circuit, with a lot of amazing North American and European teams. At IPL5, European team “Colwn” took the win. I watched the European qualifiers, and they were my pick to win! I am excited about how well they did against a lot of the impressive NA teams, too. The matches were intense and it was fantastic seeing Nadeo, players, fans and new-comers cheering everyone on. These moments were a true testament to what Shootmania has in store for the competitive circuit. A great community and a game that is unreasonably fun to watch – there is so much ahead for Shootmania and I can’t wait to cheer-lead every step of the way.

Valkyrie of the Frag Dolls interviewing Colwn after they took first place at IPL5

Valkyrie of the Frag Dolls interviewing Colwn after they took first in Shootmania.

Shootmania will be released January 23rd and I strongly encourage you to pre-order now. Here are some helpful Shootmania related links:

Shootmania Reddit

Official Site

Frag Dolls

IPL Shootmania Twitch

Shootmania Twitter

Advertisements

Violence and Video Games: Scapegoatism

December 16, 2012

I usually stray away from blogging about sensitive content that may offend people. I would never want to offend any of you, and always try to keep my blogs fun, light, personal and informative. I decided tonight to make a slight change and blog about a relatively unpopular opinion. Now please, before I begin, let it be known I value and appreciate other people’s opinions. I am open-minded and friendly in all my debates, and I do not want anyone to read this and feel I am being patronizing. I write on the subject hoping it will be regarded as an open forum and would love to hear all your opinions on this.

I’m sure by now everyone has heard of the events regarding the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. The news of this shook me to my core. It’s always a huge loss for humanity when events like this occur, and unfortunately it seems these events happen all too often. These were children. These children could not have any inclination that when their parents dropped them off at school and kissed them on their foreheads – that this would ultimately be the last time. Their lives were taken from them because someone was sick. The shooter was a 20-year-old boy with a history of mental illness and other disturbances. Now, we will never know the full story of his upbringing and we will absolutely never, ever understand him. We will never know his thought process, his feelings or his motives. Not only did he take the lives of 20+ children, he took the life of his own mother. It’s hard to wrap ones head around because the vast majority of humanity can not relate to this behavior at all. The shooter was more disturbed than we will ever be able to cognitively understand, and that essentially is wholly the reasons for his actions.

More like, Video Games: Society's scapegoat.

More like, Video Games: Society’s scapegoat.

For some reason though, it seems that people are so quick to look past the fact that this child was mentally ill, and rather start placing the blame on other unrelated issues; primarily the finger is pointed at video games. Sure – you can cut me off right now and say that I’m biased because I am a martyr of sorts for the video game industry and community. I can say that I grew up on video games and am extremely well-adjusted, but this isn’t about video games. It should never be about video games. It’s being reported that because this child played Mass Effect 3 that he was “encouraged” to commit this act. What about the millions of others that played Mass Effect 3 – what crimes have they committed? Why whenever there is an act of violence by a young adult are video games thrown into the fray of excuses? What about the young adults not exposed to gaming, what is their excuse? To blame video games for encouraging violence is just a scapegoat for inattentive parents and an easy way out for society. Instead of addressing actual issues like mental health, which is a way bigger issue in regards to violence than it seems anyone wants to admit. We don’t need less video games. We need to be more attentive and offer more support to young adults suffering from any of the array of mental health issues plaguing children. I realize this is easier said than done, but what has been done? Whenever a mass shooting happens people continually talk about the changes that need to be made, but once it’s out of the news it seems to go completely out of mind again until the next incident. It’s so easy to use video games as a distraction from the real issue but let’s be real:

The world has been an extremely violent place since way, way before video games.

The world is a mess. We are so quick to turn away from violence occurring in real-life physical wars going on and place blame on a war simulator instead. Remember when the Columbine shooting happened, and everyone blamed Marilyn Manson? They hardly focused on the two shooters. They immediately blamed Marilyn Manson – not because he was there, not because he personally encouraged them to commit this act, but simply because he made music that these two kids happened to listen to. What if these kids listened to Enya – would she be to blame? I doubt it. Here is an interview with Marilyn Manson from the film Bowling for Columbine. I happen to feel he makes extremely poignant points on actual issues.

Humanity has a lot work to do. A lot of the time I feel embarrassed to be a person. I wish I could just go back to being star-dust and float through space and time unencumbered. Despite the violence, the blaming – the omnipresent sadness that floats in and out of all our lives, there is still so much good in the world. More importantly there is so much good YOU can do as a person. You are an individual and you have so much to offer. We as people have so much power. The power to destroy, but also the power to repair and rejuvenate and make a difference. We are the one species capable of so much on such an individual level. I think if we all stopped being stoic and malcontent, we could really make a difference.

Here are 26 great examples of positive humanity in motion.

Extra-Life: Play Games, Heal Kids ( Now with more FragDolls! )

September 18, 2012

For those of you that are unaware, I am a Frag Doll finalist. I am one of 9 girls in the running to be the next Frag Doll, and for me that means making my gaming career dreams come true. Beyond career dreams, I will be attaining personal and moral goals of reaching out to people in the gaming community, competing again and working with a group of girls to help build excitement in the industry by organizing events.

One such event is the Extra Life charity they are partaking in. I personally love this charity, and have donated and participated in streams to raise money for a couple of years now. If you’re not familiar with Extra Life the idea is simple – play games, heal kids. You can donate at any time, but most participators organize events in which they stream gaming and work to earn your donations. A lot of these streams go for 12 to 24 hours. All proceeds go to the children’s hospital of the streamers choosing. The Frag Dolls are running several events to raise money to reach their goal amount which they will donate to Oakland Childrens Hospital.

Check out the Frag Dolls YouTube channel and their website for more videos of the girls and more information on their Extra Life shenanigans! This year, whether I make it as a Frag Doll or not I will be supporting Extra Life through the Dolls’ – so please join me for all their streams, and donate! Even if its just a couple bucks, it makes a difference. The beautiful thing about gaming is our community. We are a huge community and we can and do make a huge difference. Think, if you just put off getting that DLC for one more week and donate that money you will quite literally be changing a child’s life for the better. It feels good – I promise! The Dolls reward charitable behavior by offering rewards and give-aways. If you support me and the Dolls, I will be doing my own 12 or 24 hour stream! I know a lot of you have been asking for me to do a 12 hour stream, and if you tweet the Frag Dolls and let them know you’re supporting them through me, I’ll do a personal stream. I have a huge library of games across all sorts of consoles, and would love to play with anyone joining the stream. All money I raise will also go towards the Dolls efforts to helps kids at Oakland Children’s Hospital. Help me help them help kids! Say that three times fast, phew!

Follow the Frag Dolls!

Twitter

Facebook

Website

YouTube

Twitch.Tv

Lets all harness our inner Dr. Mario and help kids.

By playing video games.

I won’t take no for an answer!

Seriously.

Thanks For Playing: Bastion, Quantum Conundrum, Terraria

July 25, 2012

Oh, hey! So, I was kidnapped briefly by a band of Jawa’s, but after some bartering and slave labor I am back home, blogging safely. I have been asked a lot recently about my YouTube channel and if/when I would ever put content up on it again. I had really only wanted to review The Tester episodes as they aired, because I don’t quite understand the YouTube universe, but people keep subscribing and asking, and I figured hey – it would be another way to get content up on my blog, so why not? Everyone wins. I think.

Regardless, I want to get as much content as I can up on here again, and this would be a great way. Maybe I’ll even get the hang of it. I’ll basically be reviewing and discussing games I’m playing, experiences and eventually I’ll try to get some streams up. I get asked every day what I am currently playing, and making a video and a short blog entry is not only great for me, but an easy way to answer that question. It would be awesome if you guys would answer in a response video, or a comment with what YOU are playing – give me ideas! I am crazy and video game hungry and NOTHING CAN STOP ME.

+10 internet points if you make it through the entire thing.

E3: Where Console Rumors Go To Die

April 17, 2012

It’s that time again, gamers. With E3 just around the corner, it’s no surprise there are so many rumors floating around within the community. With talk of new additions to our favorite franchises, to totally new [exclusive] titles – E3 is definitely the queen bee when it comes to game gossip, and putting the rumors to rest. Every year we see new titles and other additions to our current generation, but it’s been nearly seven years since we’ve had a “console war”. This year marks the first in seven that we’ve started to really hear some next-gen console rumors, and it’s only a little suspicious that it all starts a few months before E3 is set to open its doors.

My favorite part of console rumors, is fan created images of their ideas!

Many people feel it’s “too soon” for next-gen, saying that our current gen is more than capable of going strong for many more years what with DLC and downloadable games from new studios giving our current-gen more staying power. Others argue it’s been seven years and that’s the longest we’ve gone between a console war, and that we are due for “next” next-gen, so to speak. My personal opinion? I don’t necessarily think we need next-gen within the purported year they are speculating, but I think now is a good time to start “thinking” about new consoles. The Xbox 360 was released in 2005, with the Wii and Playstation3 released a year later in November, and for some this feels like eons ago while for others it feels like only yesterday. I do feel that with the addition of DLC and online capabilities, that it makes sense to put more time between new consoles. Ultimately, companies want to make money. Even with the inevitability of new consoles, how many people would be able to realistically afford it? If they plan to push the technology of new consoles to the limit with expansive hard-drives and pricey memory, how many people would even be able to afford the launch price? One of the rumors going around is the consideration of doing away with disc drives, and proceeding with games just being downloadable. If that is the case, the price inflation of adding a larger hard drive alone would be caustic, not to mention not being able to play any of your previous consoles games that you’ve already paid for. Also, what if the competing console keeps their disc-drive as incentive to buy their console instead? Would that sway you? While Steam is successful in their download only set up, I feel that success is based largely on the fact they cater to a PC audience. While more downloadable options is never a bad idea, going solely downloadable could prove to be detrimental. Why not just get a high-performance PC, then? In defense to our current generation of consoles, I feel more people would rather play a game that gives an overall fantastic and provoking experience over a game that just delivers gimmicks and impressive graphics. So why the rush to next-gen? I feel we have so much opportunity with our current systems. That isn’t to say that I don’t get excited at the thought of new systems, the very idea of new games or technology within this industry makes my heart flutter. As a matter of fact, I was at E3 in 2005 when our current gen was at its peak right before release!

As E3 approaches, the collective imaginations and hopes of gamers are running rampant with just what possibilities lie in wait just around the corner. For a lot of gamers, E3 absolutely feels like the pinnacle event of their year, with overwhelming announcements and insights to the gaming industry, a plethora of informative press conferences and the honor to go hands-on with unreleased games and technology. This E3 will no doubt give us some solid perspective on what to expect in our gaming future.

3 Games I’d Love To Remake

April 14, 2012

There are a lot of games that get the opportunity for a remake. Some aren’t as hot as the originals; such as Golden Eye, while some hit the spot like Kid Icarus and even Donkey Kong Country: Returns. Obviously, these are my own personal opinions, but if I had the opportunity to captain a proverbial game development ship, I’d remake  following three. What would you remake?

1. Contra


As a kid I really loved this co-op game for Super Nintendo. Like a lot of American releases, it differs a bit from its Japanese title. Regardless of the difference between releases, either would make a fantastic remake. In 2002, a remake was released for Playstation 2, and while not awful it did not truly deliver to its fullest potential in my opinion. With this current generation, and its graphical and diverse engine capabilities, I visualize it as a FPS with the option of third person. The unique and alien-esque levels would translate well both in a campaign as well as online maps. The array of different specialty weapons you can collect throughout Contra would add a lot of interesting depth to online battles. The weapons are more futuristic which reminds me more of Halo or Unreal Tournament, and less like the realistic Military shooters like Call of Duty and Killzone which are popular today. With weapons like the Fireball gun, Spread gun and even protective personal barriers – I can see this playing out so fantastically in a FPS environment. My one pet peeve with FPS is how short the campaigns always seem to be. Yeah, I get it, FPS games are all about the multi-player, but I’d selfishly like to see both a long (even co-op! ) campaign and innovative online play. The story is simple and sweet Sci-Fi, two government soldiers are on a mission to investigate and neutralize what they believe to be a terrorist agency called “Red Falcon”. In reality, Red Falcon is actually the code-name for the main alien entity. I think this game would do fantastic as a remake, and I can already envision myself buying new maps off PSN. Last year around this time during a pre-E3 release, Konami teased what seemed to be a new Contra. Well, consider my fingers crossed.

2. Pokemon: Trading Card Game


While this obviously isn’t a traditional “video” game, the release of Magic The Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers has proven that turning a card game into a video game can be pure gold. Pokemon has an absolutely huge and long running fan-base, and I know so many people who would love more current gen titles. In a style similar to MTG:DotP I can envision a colorful solo campaign, in which you defeat random trainers and gym leaders, collecting new and one-of-a-kind cards with every win. You could even implement a “badge” system, so that when you collect so many or all the badges, it awards you with rare cards or perhaps a promo code for a game related DLC. Besides the obvious online mode where you could play against friends, I think it would also be interesting to implement a chat room of sorts where people could discuss and trade cards, or duel each other while gambling cards. I know a lot of people are Pokemon “purists” and there could even be a region amongst the game for just the first 150 Pokemon. Another unique way to earn cards could be through a tiered system of X hours of play, or also completing certain goals within the game, such as playing so many rounds with a Ghost type Pokemon deck, etc! With Pokemon garnering such a large fan-base, this game could allow kids to continue to play with each other. My deck? Oh, psychic type. I love me some Psyduck.

3. Earthbound


As one of my favorite RPGs, Earthbound separates itself from the rest of the SNES RPG age by being quirky and hilarious. I can see a remake of this so vividly in my mind that it almost makes me nerd rage that it hasn’t already been done. I’d be content with a remake being for Wii, or a more ideally, DS or 3DS. I could absolutely see the looney animations of hitting a neighbor or a feisty lamp-post with a frying pan burst in 3D hilarity. Regardless, I don’t think Nintendo fully realizes its fan-base within this series in the US. We got Ness in Super Smash Brothers, but that’s not nearly enough. Nintendo recognized him as iconic enough for Super Smash Brothers, so I don’t feel a remake would be so far-fetched. The game is set in modern-day suburbia, which is quite different from most RPGs and definitely lends a hand to the humorous atmosphere of the game. While most the playable characters have psychic abilities, most the weaponry and attacks in the game are from normal items such as a yo-yo, slingshot or a frying pan. One of my favorite elements of this game has to be the pop culture references peppered throughout, I can only imagine the references that could be implemented in a remake nearly 20 years later. Even though the game is pretty humorous, the plot is still gripping and even thought-provoking. The main antagonist is a creature named Giygas who is turning humanity against each other using our own innate evil. Turns out, Giygas isn’t weak to frying pans or slingshots – but to pure human emotions! To me, this is such a wonderful plot that could be fleshed out into more detail while lending more to character development. To really give it a face lift, I think the idea of making it third person perspective could be interesting. This game is such a gem, and now with the release of another classic remake, Kid Icarus, I really feel now is the perfect time to resurrect some of our generations favorites for both ourselves and a younger generation to enjoy.

BioWare: To DLC, or not to DLC?

April 9, 2012

That is the question. Mass Effect is a popular Trilogy with a prominent and loyal fan-base. Recently, Mass Effect 3 was released and graced with fantastic reviews across the board – that is, until people completed the game. People were upset enough about the ending to the trilogy to petition BioWare for a new one. Back in previous gaming generations, before the luxury of DLC, the ending you got was definitive. You either liked your ending, or hated it; there was no petitioning developers to appease you. I remember when Final Fantasy 7 came out, everyone was up in arms over the death of Aerith, but that event was accepted as part of the game dynamic. If FF7 had been released in this current gen, would we petition a DLC to keep her alive? In my opinion, I respect developers creative integrity within their games and take my gaming experience for what it is, and appreciate what I’ve played. I view video-games as art and would never tell an artist to do a “better job”, so to speak. To me, the act of petitioning is a great example of mob-mentality. This wouldn’t of been prevalent before the DLC generation. When you watch a great movie but are left unfulfilled by the end you dont ask for your money back or petition the writers or director. At least I would hope not. I feel this should be no different with gaming, as I almost feel this could potentially be a setback to the industry. If we complain enough, will we get what we want from developers in future games? No matter how you feel during your game, or upon completion, the game is doing it’s job by evoking any sort of emotion within you.

On the other hand, I think downloadable content is a fantastic addition to current gen gaming. The ability to download free or relatively cheap add-ons to games you already own breaths new life into gaming. I think the fact that BioWare listened to fans and is willing to entertain them by compromising and releasing a free DLC that clarifies plot points in the game is interesting. While it is not an entirely new ending, it sheds light on a lot of points that players were critical of. I can only hope that players will respect this fan-service and this DLC. I also hope that this is not going to be a new trend in gaming, relying on DLC to soothe our ennui in situational gaming.

From the press release, posted to EA’s official news site:

BioWare, a Label of Electronic Arts Inc. announced Mass Effect™ 3: Extended Cut, a downloadable content pack that will expand upon the events at the end of the critically acclaimed Action RPG. Through additional cinematic sequences and epilogue scenes, the Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut will give fans seeking further clarity to the ending of Mass Effect 3 deeper insights into how their personal journey concludes. Coming this summer, the Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut will be available for download on the Xbox 360® video-game and entertainment system, PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system and PC for no extra charge.

I asked some of my Twitter friends for their opinion on the matter, and the responses were diverse and fantastic:

“I think it’s ridiculous that the fans complained, but I think it’s polite for Bioware to confront / fix their #halfassery.”

“I think Bioware is doing something that most companies don’t. They are actually considering what the fans think and feel.”

“I don’t think it’s as reactionary as people think. I think @bioware had it planned all along.”

“I liked the first ending, so this is just more awesome. Then again, I just love Mass Effect, good and bad.”

“No one has the right to demand change to an artistic vision. If u don’t like it, don’t buy it or what they make in the future.”

“Some people think Bioware caved in to pressure, while others are glad about it. Personally, I think about breasts and girls.”

“I think the way they are doing it is perfect. I mean yeah the ending wasn’t that great, but thats their prerogative, what i really wanted was more explanation of what happened, and thats exactly what they are giving me.”

“Doesn’t look too promising. We want much more than closure: Plot holes being filled, endings that pertain to our choices, etc.”

“Even if the ending was terrible, I don’t see why people feel like it should be altered. That doesn’t happen with other games.”

“It makes me think that Bioware is a pussy company and doesn’t have a single backbone in the entire corp.”

“I think its a shame. We shouldn’t be dictating art.”

So, what do you think? Does BioWare ows us something? Are we just greedy in an age where fresh content can become so readily available, or should we just accept our endings just like “the good ole’ days”?

Journey to the center of my heart.

April 5, 2012

Image

While it is debated whether or not that video games could be considered art, games like ThatGameCompany’s “Journey” put up quite a visually stunning fight. While the main campaign is considered relatively short in comparison to most games, it effortlessly delivers a more thought-provoking and emotional connection throughout. Journey is unique in its simplicity. You play as a caped figure waking without memory in a desert, and the controls are basic; you can run, jump and “glide”. By tapping the circle button you can “chirp” and if you hold the circle button down, upon release you let out a larger, louder chirp which displays your characters unique symbol. These chirps allow you to communicate with what appear to be tapestry, and tapestry creatures which can seemingly aid you in your adventure. You can openly explore the world at your leisure, discovering archaic drawings that slowly paint a picture of your lost civilization, and collecting glowing glyphs that allow you to grow your scarf which enables you to glide higher and for a longer duration. With no memory or distinct direction within the game, you are simply shown your destination – a bright light at the top of a very distant mountain. Your destination is nearly always in view, acting as both a map and a monument of motivation.

Image

Image

The true beauty of this game lies not within the gorgeous landscapes or beautiful real-time lighting that turns something as simple as sand into glittering gold – but within the online experience. While on your journey you can run into other anonymous online players. You can only differentiate each player by their unique symbol when they chirp. This lack of direct communication makes for a compellingly sincere experience. Some players rather journey alone, while other experienced players will gladly show you the way, and some new players will look to you for help. The magic of playing with another adventurer, is that every single experience is different. You will come up with different systems of communicating with one another through chirps and jumps, some players will protect you and ultimately some players will tragically lose their way, leaving you with an poignant sense of loss. You can very easily play through the game in one sitting, which some people mistake as a possible weakness in a game – but not with Journey. Every play-through is so extraordinarily different and emotionally compelling, giving this game a true sense of fortitude among other current blockbuster games.

Image

As a whole, Journey soars and sings beautifully with a perfect combination of an emotionally thought provoking story, radiant graphics, expansive and engrossing levels and sweet and simple mechanics. You are carried through all of this by a whimsical soundtrack composed by award winning Austin Wintory, who also composed the soundtrack on ThatGameCompany’s other hit, fl0w. I believe Journey is a perfect example of “video games as art”. It softly argues so many compelling ideals: life, death, loss, loneliness, companionship, and identity. Journey truly shines light and showcases what a fantastic industry the video game market is. This game truly is all about the journey, and not the destination.

Top Ten: Video Games

April 3, 2012

This list took me an unreasonable amount of time to put together, and was incredibly difficult. I have played so many games, and so many have impressed me for different reasons. To make myself feel better I have included a long list of honorable mentions. Godspeed getting through this! In no particular order:

10. Mystic Quest

Image

This game is technically part of the Final Fantasy universe, which amazes me now as an adult. Mystic Quest is a simple, fundamental RPG. You explore 4 different Element based worlds, defeating 4 bosses and retrieving an elemental crystal from them in hopes of fulfilling the Knights Prophecy. This game provided my first solid memory of a “true” boss fight. The final boss fight took me about 45 minutes; I had to use potions liberally and timely, I had to divide certain tasks between myself and the second player under my control, and my palms were sweaty and my tiny child brain was fried by the end of it all. It was truly the greatest. While this RPG may seem Juvenile in comparison to other great SNES RPGS of it’s time ( Secret of Mana, Earthbound ) it hit the spot for me.

Favorite Part: Meeting Phoebe and exploring with her.
Least Favorite: The last boss fight and his “mirror” attack. Just – stop! STOP. FUCKING STOPPPPPP.

9. Jet Grind Radio

Image

I worked a shitty summer job one summer vacation during High School, and most the money went to video games and anime. No shame. I bought a Dreamcast, and with it I bought Jet Grind Radio. I’ll admit I bought it because of the flashy cover and obscure game premise – but I am glad i did. The game-play is unique, combining skating physics and exploration, and the ability to perform dancing/spray painting combos. What a genius idea. It just works. The controls were easy to grasp almost immediately while guided by an array of eclectic music by DJ Professor K, the DJ for the radio station that all the “Rudies” listen to. Another fantastic feature was being able to create your own personal graffiti. My friends and I got really creative and…uh, juvenile with that feature. With expansive skating environments and the music being the heartbeat of the game, the replay value of this game alive and well for me.

Favorite Part: Hitching rides by grabbing onto cars
Least Favorite: Not enough levels for my liking.

8. Little Big Planet

Image

If you can dream it, you can ultimately create it in the world of Little Big Planet. This imaginative platform may be short on the campaign side of things, but the million of user created online levels more than makes up for that. Collecting stickers, props and costumes becomes an integral part of the adventure. Playing this game co-op is never NOT hilarious. The more people you play with, the more chaotic. I tend to panic and grab onto the nearest Sackboy and drag them down with me.  I’ve played this game for an embarrassing amount of hours, and picking up another player and throwing them is still just as funny as when I did it the first time. While living in The Tester loft, we had a 4 player Little Big Planet game going – and I am pretty sure we were all laughing so hard that we were crying.

Favorite Part: Playing with a friend(s)
Least Favorite: Needs more collectables! MORE CLOTHES.

7. Infamous 2

Image

I tend to like “sandbox” style games for the freedom and ease of game-play, and Infamous 2 is my favorite one. It also doesn’t hurt that Cole is a handsome bike messenger – that is my bias speaking as a fellow cyclist. I remember watching the opening scene for the first time and trying to figure out what bike it was that Cole was riding. He also has several bike related tattoos, and as a bike nerd that appeals to me. I enjoyed the modern day setting of this game, and the idea that some people contain a “conduit” gene within them. The story of this game different and impressive, and I found myself enjoying and caring about every single mission. I have played this game both as a “good guy” and a “bad guy” – and what is remarkable to me is I didn’t enjoy one more than the other, as they both bring a lot of difference and excitement to the game. I knew I was going to love this game immediately when it throws you right into the excitement immediately by starting you off with a “boss” fight. With the addition of user made missions and the ability to upgrade and acquire new powers, this game has me wanting to ride a Tandem bicycle with Cole himself.

Favorite Part: Throwing cars at everything/everyone
Least Favorite: The boss fight with the Hive lord in the swamp. Ouch.

6. Braid

Image

This game is so impressive to me I almost don’t know what to say about it.  It’s truly one of those titles that you need to experience to fully understand. I feel this way about Journey, as well. It’s a puzzle platformer with stunning art and music, a thought provoking story with difficult but fulfilling game-play aspect. You can control various aspects of time throughout different relating levels. While frustrating, I have never wanted to understand and play a game so fully. The various time-manipulations in the game along side the romantic yet dark story, and the twist at the end….uhg. Just play this title. Please. Whatever you do. You can download it for both Playstation and Xbox – even PC! Do yourself the favor. If you hate it, just go back in time and pretend it never happened.

Favorite Part: Putting the puzzle pieces of the story together.
Least Favorite: The headaches I got while trying to figure some of the puzzles out. 6 bottles of Advil later…

5. The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker

Image

I know the “fan favorite” of the franchise tends to be Ocarina of Time – but Wind Wakers sincerity and cel-shading won me over hard and fast. As much as I love Ocarina of Time, it was a true battle of nostalgia and over-all experience. Wind Waker won because it was so much different than what everyone was expecting, yet still stayed close to the true Legend of Zelda formula. I valued the simplistic whimsy of the cel-shading and the sense of wonder sailing around the map gave me. Link and Tetra, who is later revealed to be Zelda, have a fun relationship throughout the game. The last fight with Ganon is hands-down my favorite of any Zelda game in the franchise, ending my adventure on a fantastic note – no pun intended.

Favorite Part: Discovering and exploring the Tower of the Gods.
Least Favorite: Tingle. You are the Jar-Jar Binks of the Zelda universe.

4. Zombies Ate My Neighbors

Image

I had this game on both Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo. My little brother (co-op partner) and I would play this game for hours, until our parents had to literally pry the controllers out of our hands, or shove a hot pocket in our mouth to prevent starvation. We would go into full on gamer tunnel vision with this shit. You could play this game 1player, but it wasn’t nearly as fun. Working as a team to save cheerleaders, tourists and even dogs from a plethora of B-movie horror stereotypes was way more fun than it should of been. Armed with comical weapons such as squirt guns, and cans of soda – the sheer campy-ness of this game was damn near perfect. With over 50 levels to survive, becoming more and more challenging – the replay value on this game is probably one of the best in my opinion. Every level was so different and unique in it’s difficulty, making it hard to get bored. I loved this game so wholeheartedly, the only time I’d take a break from it, was to try and recreate its iconic music in Mario Paint!

Favorite Part: Drinking potions and Hulking out.
Least Favorite: The “Giant Baby” level. Oh god. Just let me get through this level..

3. Metal Gear Solid

Image

Oh, Solid Snake. How I love thee. I could write Shakespearean sonnets about how much I love this game and the entire series. My dad picked this game up for me while on his way home from work one day, after I had showed him a review in a issue of EGM. I immediately took it to my room and got down to it. Holy motherfuckin’ shit. What the fuck. Within the first 5 minutes I was enthralled. Fantastic music, engaging intro and controls that made sense. The excitement I felt when the Genome Soldiers could notice and track my foot-prints was incredible. Never in my life was I so excited to spend so much time in a game, waiting, hiding, sneaking, planning – This game was engrossing right from the beginning. Collecting weapons became a thrill. Putting the story together piece-by-piece was all I could think about in my Junior High classes. The characters were all dynamic, that you even found yourself sympathizing with them. I’d listen to the OST on my CD player on my way to school, planning my course of action for when I returned home and back to the game. After relentlessly trying to save Meryl, to my confrontation with Liquid – no game has ever had a hold on me like Metal Gear Solid did. I love all the others in the series, and hope that Kojima never relinquishes creative input into the series. I wear my FoxHound patch proudly.

Favorite Part: The fight with Revolver Ocelot. He’s awesome.
Least Favorite: Mashing that O button to save Meryl.

2. Final Fantasy 9

Image

One of my favorite RPGs and easily my favorite Final Fantasy. As a person who is primarily driven by story and experience within games, this delivered and exceeded my expectations. With a colorful and moving cast of characters set in a sprawling and whimsical fantasy Utopia, the essence of this game is self discovery and innocence. I have played this game in full multiple times and at different ages. It touched me and taught me something different every play through. This is rare for a game to touch me so continually. From the unique character story arcs, to the battle system, to the music – this RPG is near perfection to me. In fact, it truly is perfection. I can listen to the Final Fantasy IX OST and it immediately takes me back to all those familiar places that were to me, more like home than the house I was playing the game in.

Favorite Part: When Garnet reinvents herself by cutting her hair, and embracing uncertainty and adventure.
Least Favorite: The uncooperative “Trance” system could of been a little better.

1. Journey

Image

I have so many feelings towards this game that if I could marry it – I probably would. Despite it being a short, downloadable title for PS3, it contains more emotion and delivers a much more fulfilling experience than a lot of titles I’ve played. The heart of this game lies within the anonymity of the online play. Through your Journey, you come across other players. You can not communicate directly with them, but you can “chirp” to them, displaying your unique symbol. Some players may not be interested in going through the game with you, while others will depend on you, and sometimes lose their way. You can tell new players by their robes, the more you play, the more elaborate the pattern on your robe will become. You can even achieve a white robe. You can help new players with their Journey by holding their hands, so to speak. Every Journey is different. I met a player at the very start of the game, we chirped to show appreciation and concern and eventually completed the entire Journey together. Before walking through the final light, we stopped and stood next to each other for a minute. My partner then drew a large heart in the sand with their feet, by running the pattern around me. I have never been so mentally and emotionally stimulated by a game experience. This game truly is all about the Journey, and not the destination.

Favorite Part: Guiding new players to glowing glyphs and helping them grow their scarf.
Least Favorite: Acknowledging that a player you were helping has lost their way.

Honorable Mentions!

Portal

Ikaruga

Twisted Metal

Silent Hill 1, 2 and 3

Resident Evil 2

Battlefield 3

Donkey Kong Country

Final Fantasy Tactics

World of Warcraft

Diablo 2

Half Life

Chrono Cross

Skies of Arcadia

Mass Effect 2

Uncharted Series

Metal Slug

BioShock

God of War 2

Ultima Online

Marvel vs Capcom

Quantum Conundrum.

January 22, 2012

I am a huge fan of Valve. Half-Life is one of my favorite games, and I don’t think I’ve every truly disliked much about any game that Valve has put out. One of their best, in my personal opinion, being Portal ( and Portal2! ). Kim Swift was one of the lead developers and level designers on Portal. Portal was even based on the core mechanics of Kim Swifts personal project called “Narbacular Drop”. She has since left Valve to work as a lead over at Airtight games, working with a small creative group on a new title – Quantum Conundrum. I have been watching game-play footage of this game for a few hours now, and I am really, really excited for Kim’s new project. It still has a Portal “feel” to it, and is a relatively comical first-person puzzle shooter – which seems about right considering Kim’s lead involvement in it.

Let this games release be Swift and victorious. See what I did there?