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Sean’s Game of the Year List

This was an amazing year for gamers.  With follow-ups to some of the biggest franchises in gaming, like BioShock, GTA, and Zelda, we were all spoiled with great games to play.  With next generation consoles arriving we have now begun to see just what the future of gaming is going to bring, but this year was all about the current generation consoles and their final farewell.  When writing this list of my games of the year, I tried to not to look at  just what brought the biggest impact to gaming but also the ones that kept me playing.  With a large majority of people trading-in or selling their old consoles to make way for the next generation, it is games like these that will keep my retro consoles plugged in for years to come.

Game of the Year – Animal Crossing: New Leaf

ACNL Winter

It was hard for me to go a few days without picking up my 3ds this year.  When I look through my play history on the 3DS I see a ton of great titles, but there was one that kept bringing me back.  I loved how Animal Crossing always had something for me to do, I never felt like I was wasting time. It had that great balance of time spent playing and reward. Coming back to my town after a couple days and seeing what had happened was always exciting. It was the things that happened behind the scenes of my town that I loved the most though.  Getting a new neighbor that was from a friends town, or when my neighbors would start wearing clothes I designed and adopting catch phrases from other neighbors all kept me interested.  No it wasn’t the most emotionally moving or best gameplay I have seen this year, but …

PS4 Launch

How is The PS4’s Launch Going?

PS4 Launch

There’s no denying it — Sony slaughtered its rivals at this year’s E3. Though most of their work was cut out for them when it came to competing company Microsoft’s corporate suicide, their lighthearted jabs at the Xbox One’s then-current always-on DRM and used games policies won them the favor of the gaming community at large. But all the good press in the world doesn’t mean a thing without good sales. Now that the PlayStation 4 has been released, how has Sony held up?

ps4usedgames
Who can forget Sony’s E3 used games commercial?

The numbers don’t lie. Upon its North American release on Nov. 15, the PlayStation 4 sold over 1 million copies in 24 hours. At $399 — $100 cheaper than top competitor Xbox One — and possessing the unique ability to convert smartphones and tablets into a second screen by connecting it to the system with the PlayStation App, the PS4 caught the collective attention of the hardcore gamer crowd. Its non-imposing approach on trading used games and strong launch line up didn’t hurt things, either.

So, now that you have your PS4, what games should you buy?

“Knack”, a colorful platformer that had the honor of being the first PS4 game to have gameplay footage released to the public, is a charming, if somewhat flawed, take on the genre with gameplay not unlike that of “Crash Bandicoot”. Taking on the role of the eponymous Knack, players discover his “knack” for changing size and absorbing elements into his body.

Knack-Robot-and-man

Another interesting launch title is Guerilla Games’ “Killzone: Shadow Fall”, a first-person shooter released exclusively for the PS4. The sixth game in the “Killzone” series, it follows protagonist Lucas Kellen, an agent in the Vektan Security Agency. Tasked with fighting off the villainous extra-terrestrial Vektans, he sets off to …

Xbox One

Future Retro: Our Top 4 Xbox One Launch Picks

Xbox One

With the Xbox One scheduled to hit shelves on Nov. 22, the arrival of the eighth console generation is just around the corner. (The Wii U didn’t count, and — let’s not kid ourselves — the Ouya was dead on arrival.) Despite its disastrous reveal and rather draconian approach to managing used games and always-online DRM (thankfully now defunct), there’s a lot to look forward to from this over-sized VCR. Here’s my top picks for the Xbox One launch titles, including both multi-platform and exclusive games.

Dead Rising 3

There’s no denying it, we love zombies. More importantly, we love killing zombies. Shooting them, stabbing them, cutting them down with a running lawnmower like so many gangrenous dandelions — you want it, Dead Rising 3 has it. With dozens of missions and a variety of wide-open locales, Dead Rising is bigger and better than ever. Appeal to your lust for undead bloodshed in this action-survival horror hybrid exclusively for the Xbox One.

Dead Rising 3

Forza Motorsport 5

After it stole the show at the Xbox One reveal (which is admittedly rather like saying George Carlin stole the show at a Dane Cook performance), Forza Motorsport 5 became one of the most highly anticipated games of 2013. Sleek and shiny, it positively oozes style. With over 200 different vehicles to choose from, you’ll be seeing a lot of high-speed crashes in this Kinect-supported racer.

forza

Killer Instinct

Hard to believe that it’s been almost 20 years since the last Killer Instinct game. In this action-packed reboot of the popular fighting game franchise, players can choose from eight fighters total. That doesn’t seem like much, but Killer Instinct will be a budget game available for purchase at the Xbox Live store. The basic one-fighter package is free for download, while the $39.99 “Ultra Edition” will …

FTL

Why Do I Suck? FTL: Faster Than Light

FTL

One game I never thought I would get into was FTL: Faster Than Light.  I’m more of a shooter/platform type of gamer.  The idea of a “space sim” seemed, well, boring.  However, I was quickly addicted to FTL after I gave the tutorial a fighting chance!

The only problem?  I’m really horrible at this game.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve only dumped 3-4 hours into it, but that equated to a few dozen broken-ass Kessler ships and way more dead crew members.  I know most “experts” have played for over 100 hours, but still! I feel like I lose to the most random things.  I guess this is the nature of the beast, though.  The game is extremely random, the only way to hedge against these events is to prepare your ass off.  I can’t seem to get a good stockpile of scrap, though, before stuff really starts to hit the fan.  I also have none of the better ships at my disposal, so I’m somewhat stuck.

Any pointers on one of my random missions?  Check out the video below!

Animal Crossing: New Leaf – Gotta get them bells!

I felt like writing a review for Animal Crossing: New Leaf for the 3DS would be difficult.  The main problem is this game is experienced throughout an entire year with different events and seasons changing the way the game is played and enjoyed.  After a couple months with the game, lots of repaid loans, tons of public work projects, a few hundred bee stings, and a knack for having my villagers say awkward things I feel confident I know what this game is all about.

It is easy to look at this game and just point out that its just another Sims/Farmville/Animal Crossing game, but I don’t think thats the point.  In something like the Sims your main priority is keeping your Sim from losing their job, losing their relationships, or peeing their pants.  In Animal Crossing their is no real forced timeline.  You are never stressed about having to get something done in a certain time (unless you are playing one of the mini-games on the island) and you certainly have no bodily function issues to focus on.  There are no crops to plant or harvest, although you could do that if you wanted (I got rid of most of my fruit trees after realizing you could plant non-fruit bearing trees).  The way I am explaining it sounds like their is no real point, but bear with me as I will try my best to explain its hooks.

One of the easiest way to describe life in Animal Crossing is to relate it to World of Warcraft.  I know that sounds crazy but if you look at secondary professions in WoW like fishing, cooking, etc. that is exactly what Animal Crossing feels like.  Although you don’t gain skill points in your fishing, bug catchings, balloon popping, flower watering, you …

Pikmin on the mind

Pikmin 3 – Bite Sized Enjoyment

Pikmin on the mind
Pikmin on the mind

As someone who has never played a Pikmin game, I was way too excited to play the latest release from Miyamoto. I assume part of it is because of the lack of games to play on my WiiU but I think it mostly has to do with the amount of media/marketing Nintendo has put into this game. I honestly believe that the “Nintendo Directs” have been one of the best things Nintendo has been doing the last couple years.

On to the game! Story is: a group of space adventurers crash on a planet, ship breaks up, they need to recover a blah blah blah I’m already bored. Listen, if you are playing a Miyamoto game for its story you are going to be disappointed. Yes, the narrative drives the game but the fun you will have comes from the gameplay and the world.

Pikmin-3

One of my favorite things about the WiiU games so far have been the sheer amount of control options at your disposal. For Pikmin you can use gamepad with TV, gamepad alone, wiimote + nunchuck, pro controller, pro controller w/ gamepad, & wiimote + nunchuck w/ gamepad. My choice is the last. You use the nunchuck to control your space dude and pointing at the screen with the Wiimote controls your aiming reticule. With MotionPlus the accuracy is amazing. The game pad acts as a map with some random messaging stuff built in for some cool second screen features, but most of its use comes from the map feature. On the map you can assign your space dudes to move to a location so you don’t have to control them, which is great considering you are multitasking between three characters.

WiiU_Pikmin3_2_imgeP01_E3

Pikmin 3 is a game that combines RTS with an action/adventure/puzzle game …

Never Forget: Mr. Bones’ Wild Ride

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“Never Forget” is a new ongoing segment that is meant to highlight obscure gaming memes or pieces of gaming history that flew under the radar. 

The Rollercoaster Tycoon (RCT) franchise is arguably one of the best simulator games in history.  It was, without a doubt, the best Amusement Park simulator.

However, the gem in the collection was always Rollercoaster Tycoon 2.  This game took the familiar graphics style and mechanics of the first game, and added tons of new rides and coasters.

In RCT, one of the best features is the ability to create your own coasters from scratch.  You lay down the track, pick the optimal speeds, and let it rip.  Most people stay within their guest’s limits and don’t create something too scary, so they can get optimal profits.  However, sometimes our morbid curiosity takes over, and we create rides that terrify, and sometimes kill people for OUR amusement.

Enter:  Mr. Bones’ Wild Ride.  A forum post that appeared on 4Chan’s /v/ board in 2012.  The OP (original poster) created a rollercoaster that his park’s passengers rode for 4 years of game time.  The exit to the coaster led to the entrance, so they had no means of exiting the queue.  Brutal.

8ca

Below is the thread in all of it’s glory.  There are screenshots of the ride and hilarious commentary by the OP.  Have fun, it’s worth the read!  Now excuse me while I go and finish my death coaster that catapults people into the sky…

Mr Bones 1 Mr Bones 2 Mr Bones 3

 

 

Pixel Press Will Let You Draw Your Own Video Game

Did you ever sit around as a kid and draw video game characters?  Let’s take this one step further:  Instead of characters, did you sit around and draw platformer (Think:  Super Mario Bros) levels that you hoped would one day be real somehow?  I think the guys at Roundthird software did these things too.

My best drawing
Mine always ended up looking like this.

Pixel Press is an upcoming iOS (and hopefully Android) app that will let people take their game-design ambitions to real-life, even without any coding experience.   How it works is this:  The subject prints out a 2-page .pdf file.  One page is instructions, and one page is a proprietary “grid” that the pixel press app recognizes.  The user draws the level on the grid using the guidelines on the instructions page to draw the correct shapes (the app will need to recognize certain shapes, so they can be obstacles, blocks, etc. when translated to the game).  Once the level is drawn, a picture is taken with the iOS device, and the level is scanned into the game using the same technology that makes handwriting recognition possible.  For a full breakdown by the developers, check out this video:

 

The idea reminds us a lot of something like Little Big Planet.  Both games are more than a “game”, they are a “platform”.  The developer of Pixel Press promises to have user creations downloadable by the entire community so everyone can challenge each other.  Soon after the game is released the best levels will rise to the top via ratings – all of this makes the replayability virtually limitless.  Don’t like drawing by hand?  You’ll be able to play all the levels instead of create them.  Currently, the developers are toying with the idea of an “in-game” level editor that …

Some More Kickstarters Worth Your Interest

Kickstarter has emerged as one of the best ways for a small developer to seek attention for their independent game project.  I would like to share and give a rundown of a few that I’m giving my hard-earned Washington’s to this month:

 

Boston Festival of Indie Games 2013 – Not your “typical” Kickstarter because this is for an event and not a physical product.  However, this is interesting because of how accessible the event is; and how inexpensive each pledge is compared to the value that you receive in return.  For only $5, you get an “advanced” attendee pass and your name on the website.  Double that ($10), and you’ll get your name in the physical program as well.  They have a number of more tiers after this which give a wide variety of rewards – ranging from concept art and t-shirts, to playable game bundles from independent studios.

A pledge is not required for attendance to the festival, as it is FREE for anyone who wishes to attend.  The festival is on Saturday, September 14, 2013, at MIT in Boston, Massachusetts.

A.N.N.E – A pretty cool-looking game that brings me back to to my SNES and NES days.  As the creator professes, it’s a “Metroid-Vania” game, which means it’s most closely related to platforming games like Metroid and Castlevania.  However an open-world RPG element is promised – with the ability to gain XP and level up your character’s abilities.  The pixelized art-style is gorgeous and the game has some unique presentation, such as a camera that zooms in or out, depending on if you are in a vehicle or on foot. 

The cost to back the game starts at $1 (to high-five the developer), but the game can be purchased at a starting pledge of $10 …

so_retro_by_mathiole

What is Retro to You?

By: Marth

so_retro_by_mathiole

If you looked in the dictionary (which is retro in itself now), or more likely google’d the word retro, the definition you would find is:

“Imitative of a style, fashion, or design from the recent past.”

Could be anything right? Now to this Macklemore character and all of his thrift shop raiding hipster friends, im guessing the term retro pertains mainly to clothing. As I think of it, you know what? Don’t touch my grand dads clothes Macklemore. He was a grumpy, grizzled, now deceased war veteran. Do you really think he wants some weird white kid with a fur coat and a half shaved head to prance around in his cardigan while he films his new music video? I assure you, he would not. But to someone like me, a lifelong video game/fantasy movie enthusiast, retro means something completely different.

He wants your Granddad's clothes
He wants your Grand-Dad’s clothes

When someone starts talking to me about retro video games, I’m immediately drawn back to my past. Sitting on my dad’s fold out couch playing Super Mario Bros, River City Ransom and some submarine game that no one else seems to remember. I would give it a shout out except I cant remember the name of it either. Come to think of it, it may have never existed. The point is, those original NES games hold some sort of strange emotional value to me. If I sit down and pop in an NES cartridge, or even a SNES, SEGA or PS1 game for that matter, I am immediately transported back to that time in my life. Not physically of course, but mentally and emotionally. I can vividly remember what the rooms looked like when I was playing. Rooms that existed in houses I haven’t lived in or even seen in over 15 …