Game of the Year 2017 Day 3 of 3

Game of the Year 2017 Day 3 of 3

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Best Old Game of 2017

Winner: Firewatch

Firewatch wins this category on a technicality because I simply didn’t play many older games in 2017. I was at odds with Henry’s cowardly ways; it’s very rare that I don’t find any redeeming qualities with the protagonist of an  game let alone an adventure game. He was a coward who ran away from his problems. I made it my mission to steer him back home and away from the allure of Delilah. I related to his growing infatuation with her even though she was nothing more than a voice. 

I came away reinforcing my own definitions of infatuation, love, and unconditional love. And for someone who was in the middle of a budding relationship, that proved to a bit helpful.

Best Game of 2017

Winner: Yakuza 0

Yakuza 0 is a masterful blend of wacky and touching moments. It took me on a wonderful journey through 1980’s Tokyo that left me wanting more. Giving Kiryu’s backstory more airtime was nice but transforming Goro Majima into a more than just a wacky nuisance was the real winner here.

I’ve played my fair share of Yakuza games starting with Yakuza 2 and the sheer amount of stuff to engage with in Yakuza 0 was astounding. Not all of it was of stellar quality but I found myself enjoying the journey and not wanting to end. I even flirted with the idea of returning to 0 to mop up leftovers.

Runner-ups:

2. Super Mario Odyssey – There may have been way too many Moons to collect but for the vast majority of the time, Super Mario Odyssey was a joy to play. My only complaint? It didn’t quite dazzle me like Super Mario Galaxy did but then again, how many games can live up to that masterpiece?

3. Persona 5 – I’m technically still in the midst of playing this game but I really enjoy it. I – like many others – have a strong affinity towards Persona 4 and its cast of characters, so I was curious what Atlus would do to win me over with a new cast of characters. After a bit of an awkward and rocky opening, I’m finally hitting my stride with the game.

I adore the music and style which they unsurprisingly nail. But I’m a bit surprised with how invested I am with the characters and their stories. They’re grabbing with their shocking nature but I’m sticking with them to see how they handle these “classic tales of woe” in these modern times.

4. Uncharted: The Lost Legacy – In a year filled with open world goodness, Uncharted games feel especially antiquated with their restrictive climbing mechanics and instant death pitfalls. But once I got my Uncharted legs back under me, The Lost Legacy was a wonderful way to revisit the mechanics of Uncharted 4 without the long commitment of reliving Nathan Drake’s final epic.

5. Metroid: Samus Returns – Almost any effort would have been seen as a success coming from Metroid: Other M. Metroid: Samus Returns not only successfully remade Metroid II: Return of Samus for 2017 but they also proved capable of taking the franchise forward with fresh new additions to Samus’ core moves.

6. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – There’s a lot of promise shown in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I think Nintendo struck gold with this new take on 3D Legend of Zelda. But I want something more than dazzle. I want more to do and I don’t mean more shrines. Creative types had a ball coming up with clever ways to torment the denizens of Hyrule. If only I had the knack for making my own fun. Then maybe, I would have loved Breath of the Wild a bit more.

7. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe – Mario Kart 8 was number 2 on my 2014 list and it still holds up 3 years later. It’s easily my favorite Mario Kart title and it’s even better with this refined package. This time around, I found additional joy playing the game with friends and family in 4 player splitscreen. It’s the first Switch game that I played like one of those Switch commercials.

8. Nier: Automata – I like many of the individual elements of Nier: Automata but as a whole, it felt short. The soundtrack is phenomenal — I still listen to it on a regular basis. But the bland world and basic combat left me wanting. And while I understand that playing the game multiple times to wring out additional endings is appealing to some, I generally dislike it. I don’t mind replaying exceptional experiences but unfortunately for Nier: Automata, it wasn’t one.

But that soundtrack? Keep that on loop.

9. Puyo Puyo Tetris – I didn’t get around to reviewing this game because I never got around to completing I did enjoy what I played of Puyo Puyo Tetris. The campaign is silly nonsense that overstayed its welcome but I admire their heart. It’s a fantastic game filled with nonsensical characters and great puzzling action. I know I will be returning to it time and time again which is why it currently sits as one of two digital purchases for the Nintendo Switch.

10. Yakuza Kiwami – I experienced the first Yakuza through Yakuza 2’s recap video so while I had an idea of how the adventures of Kiryu started, I didn’t experience it first hand. I rectified that this year thanks to Sega’s remake dubbed Yakuza Kiwami. It was certainly extreme but coming from Yakuza 0’s ridiculous panache, it felt a little toned down and disjointed. Granted this was faithful to the original game but I think they may have been a little too faithful. Still, it was good to see the likes of Yuya brought out of the dark ages of the PS2.

Checkpoint: Switch Reveal Edition

Checkpoint: Switch Reveal Edition

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Nintendo’s Switch presentation was a bit of a downer, if I’m honest. The hardware didn’t surprise me because of the early leaks. The software lineup was shockingly scarce and the price was far too high compared to its contemporaries. But then there was The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey which captured my attention. 

The Price

Let’s address the elephant in the room right away: the price. $399.99 is far too much for the Canadian market. This is well beyond impulse buy territory and into “compare & contrast before I buy” territory. If I didn’t own any of these new consoles, why would I buy a Nintendo Switch when I see Sony and Microsoft offering console bundles with games at a lower price point. At the time of writing, I can buy the PlayStation 4 Uncharted 4 Console bundle for $328.96 — that’s a more powerful console with a quality game for $70 less. Then I can use that $70 to buy another game. For nearly the same amount of money as the Switch alone, I could be playing two games on a PlayStation 4.

Nintendo are asking a lot out of parents and neutral gaming fans with the hardware price.

But let’s say you’re a Nintendo fan and love their first party efforts and don’t mind paying more for a console class portable. Nintendo aren’t playing nice with the accessory pricing either. A Pro controller for $89.99. A pair of extra Joy Cons for $99.99? Apparently, Nintendo believes its ardent fans have deep pockets. The extra Joy Cons are a nice luxury but I feel the Pro controller is a borderline must with certain games. The lack of proper d-pad on the Joy Cons is reason enough to pick up a Pro controller. The Joy Con Grip configuration may be sufficient but it appears very unorthodox and for the sake of comfort in character action games and shooters, the Pro controller may be superior.

Then there’s the matter of paying for online services. The company who notoriously bungles online implementations at every corner is attempting to charge a fee for online services. Good luck with that. And offering a month of access to an NES and/or SNES title is an insult considering the competition’s offerings. 

The Hardware

It’s not as powerful as the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One so anyone expecting third party developers and publishers like Electronic Arts or Activision to bring their heavy hitters to the Switch shouldn’t get their hopes up. That FIFA title for the Switch — EA’s sole Switch title — is presumably based off the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game aka “Legacy Editions”. I believe that’s also the case for 2K’s NBA title as well. 

I’ve seen plenty of photos and videos of the hardware in action and in human hands and I honestly think it looks well made. There’s an elegance to its design that makes it look like hardware targeted at older demographics. Moving away from glossy plastics was a wise move on their part. 

The Software

  1. Super Mario Odyssey
  2. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
  3. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Those are the three titles that I have intentions on buying. Two Wii U “ports” and a new Mario game that won’t see the light of day until Holiday 2017. That’s not a strong lineup whatsoever and if I wasn’t a gaming dork with disposable income, I wouldn’t be able to convince myself to pickup a Switch. I would have waited until the launch of Super Mario Odyssey.

The rest of the lineup doesn’t look too compelling either. Enhanced port of Mario Kart 8 is welcomed but for $79.99? And what about their new title Arms? Is it a $79.99 title as well? The same question could be laid at the feet of Skyrim if it fails to match the offerings of the Skyrim: Remastered which many were able to get for $30 during the holiday sales. The most egregious example of wacky pricing is Puyo Puyo Tetris which sees the Nintendo Switch version command a $54.99 price tag when the PlayStation 4 version sits at $39.99. 

I’m also genuinely shocked by the lack of pack-in game for the Switch. 1-2 Switch seemed like the perfect successor to Wii Sports and Nintendo Land but instead of sweetening the launch of the platform with a hardware bundle, they’re going to charge $64.99 CAD for it. 

Switch Pre-ordered

Despite my misgivings concerning the price, I decided to pre-order one. I would like to play The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey and it is unlikely that Nintendo will budge on the price between then and now. If they do decide to drop price like the Nintendo 3DS, I expect them to conduct another “Ambassador” program

I may pick up Mario Kart 8 Deluxe after trading in my Wii U copy of Mario Kart 8 for $33. Something about a portable version of Mario Kart 8 is compelling to me. 

It may be a long drought between launch and the holidays but as a Wii U owner, droughts like this are par for the course.

Game of the Year 2014 Day 2 of 3

Game of the Year 2014 Day 2 of 3

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There were plenty of disappointments in 2014. On the flip side, there were some genuine surprises for me as well. Kart racers, space shooters, Seattle and sports titles make their way into this year’s awards.

Most Disappointing Game of 2014

Winner: Destiny

Destiny PS4 Box Art

I’ve said my piece on Destiny, so I won’t repeat it again. Instead I’ll point you to towards Jeff Gerstmann’s excellent rant which echoes my sentiment.

If only I didn’t buy a digital copy…

Runner ups: inFamous: Second Son, Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

Most of Surprising Game of 2014

Winner: Mario Kart 8

Mario Kart 8 Box Art

I have to stress, this is a personal list and not one that reflects “the industry” per se. So yes, Mario Kart 8 was the most surprising game of 2014 for me. I tried to enjoy Mario Kart throughout its many iterations but none of them ever clicked with me. But I was drawn to Mario Kart 8 after its E3 2013 trailer and decided to roll the dice on it. I wasn’t disappointed whatsoever. What a fun a game despite the Blue Shell’s bullshittery.

Runner ups: FIFA 15, Hitman Go

Savestate: AAA Sky Falls

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Assassin's Creed Unity Glitch

AAA games faltering

DRIVECLUB, Halo: Master Chief Collection and Assassin’s Creed: Unity are still suffering from technical issues. They have networking issues, graphical glitches, performance drops and sometimes a combination of all the above. And these are just the high profile titles that have severe issues. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare has its own controversy over dedicated servers but it’s being overshadowed.

Instead of dwelling on what is happening, I want to know why this is happening. The easy answer is to blame aggressive publishers that want to make holidays. But we’ve seen plenty of publishers make those timelines in the past.

What’s changed for this year?

Although we’re technically a year into the newest generation of consoles, we’re still not out of the woods yet with regards to console transition issues. Seven years ago, the first Assassin’s Creed debuted to horrible framerate issues and bugs as well.

In the case of DRIVECLUB, you can chalk this up to inexperience with networking. For the folks at 343 Industries, I can’t imagine it’s easy to get four titles humming along nicely (even if they’re remasters).

These are just excuses that I’m making up for these developers. They’re not going to tell us why these games are broken but they’ll continue to ask for forgiveness and patience while you wait.

Consumers are paying money for working products and if they can’t deliver a working product within the launch window, they should be eligible for refunds. It might be tough to convince a retailer to take back an opened game, but those who’ve purchased titles from Sony or Microsoft’s digital stores should receive a refund if they so desire.

Also, thank goodness for built-in recording and screenshot functionality.

Mario Kart 8 DLC Pack #1

Over at Nintendo’s little island of fun awaits Mario Kart 8’s first DLC pack. I bought it the dual pack and look forward to trying the new content. I just don’t know if it’s going to be sooner or later.

Random Thought of the Week

I’m addicted to Florida Natural Fruit Snacks.

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