Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Weekly Top 5: Games of the Year 2014 + Random Categories

2014 comes to a close later today, so what better way to close it out than by giving you a games of the year edition of my weekly top 5 series? But before we do that, I've assembled some random categories and assigned each of them a winner. Because of the nature of the blog, each entry is a bit shorter than what you have come to expect from my normal top 5 lists. I hope you enjoy it, and let's get started with my biggest disappointment of 2014.

Biggest Disappointment

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel

I love Borderlands. I've written about Borderlands probably more than any other game. The Pre-Sequel doesn't even feel like a Borderlands game until the second half. That being said, I did enjoy this game, it was just a disappointment when coupled with my expectations. Every area looks the same, every character is analogous to a better character in one of the other games, and overall it just felt like a halfhearted effort.

Biggest Surprise

South Park: The Stick of Truth

I used to be a huge fan of South Park, I had every box set of the show up to season 16, then a few years ago I just kind of lost interest. But this game reminded me why I loved the show for so many years. I was a little scared for it when considering the type of development it had with the death of THQ, but it turned out to be a solid RPG and a great compliment to the show.

2014's 2013 Game of the Year

Super Mario 3D World

I was late to the party getting a Wii U, only receiving it this past Christmas. Not being able to play Super Mario 3D World for so long was really starting to irk me. But alas, my lovely wife pulled through with a Wii U/Super Mario 3D World bundle. Saying I love it would be an understatement. I still enjoy Super Mario Galaxy more, but that doesn't take away from just how good this game is. It's pure joy from top to bottom, even if the cat suit does entirely break the game.

Best Moment

Shadow of Mordor empowerment

It's 99.99999999999% likely that this moment only happened in my playthrough, as it was non-scripted, but when it happened, I felt like jumping off my couch and pumping my fist (I may or may not have actually done that).

I was stalking a Warchief's captain, waiting to pounce on him from a rooftop above. Doing so resulted in a great deal of his health being depleted. But as soon as we began our official battle after the initiating trash talk, another captain made his way into the fray. Before I even had a chance to figure out how I was going to change my strategy to accommodate for two captain, the action stopped and I was greeted by a third captain. Needing to think fast, I noticed the caged caragor nearby. I shot open his cage with my arrows, and focused by attention on the first captain, who was nearing death at this point. After taking the head off of the Uruk, which was met with a satisfying slow-motion death, I was almost immediately shown a second death screen, as the caragor had dispatched of the second captain. Now, it was down to just the captain that was left...or so I thought.

This captain had a fear of caragors, which sent him running to the hills. But instead of running to the hills, he actually ran into the fire pit that was right behind him, killing him seconds later. I had never had such a quick turnaround from feeling outmatched to empowered in my gaming life.

Best Retro Game

Super Metroid

I've covered this in a previous weekly top 5, and I've also dedicated an entire episode of my podcast to talking about my experience with it. There's nothing I can say about Super Metroid that hasn't already been said a thousand times over. I finally got around to playing it for the first time this year, and it was just as good as everyone said, it certainly lived up to the hype.

Best/Worst Name

Super Ultra Dead Rising 3 Arcade Remix Hyper Edition EX Alpha

So stupid.

Best Club Nintendo reward that took 6 months to get to my house:

Mario Hat Pouch

Seriously, it took 6 months.

Free game I still felt ripped off by.

Proteus

I'm sure this "game" has its audience, but it's definitely not me. When I play a game, I want a game, not an experience. Get out of here with that garbage. It very well may be my least favorite "game" I've ever "played." Instead of "playing" this walking simulator, how about you just go to an arboretum and walk around? You'll get some vitamin d from the sun and burn a few calories. It's a win-win.

Game I'm giving an award to just for being awesome.

Kirby Triple Deluxe

Awesome...and adorable. Easily one of the most overlooked titles of the year.

Game I'm most sad about not playing this year.

Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy

It pains me that I haven't yet experienced the Layton finale. Once I knock out some of these games I got for Christmas, I plan to go back and finish the story for my favorite professor.

Game that gets an award because my wife is hogging the 3DS and I haven't been able to play it yet, but she says it's really good

Fantasy Life

I sure would like to play Fantasy Life, I just can't right now.

Now that I've gotten those out of the way, let's get on to my Top 5 Games of 2014

Final games to be cut from the list: South Park: The Stick of Truth, Infamous: Second Son, Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes

5. Shovel Knight

This is how you do a retro-styled videogame in this day and age. It has music that rivals the original Mega Man games, a difficulty that was challenging and sometimes frustrating but never felt unfair, tons of secrets, great codes, beautiful sprites, and great humor. I purchased it on the 3DS and couldn't put it down. And now, with the recent announcement of a PS4 and Vita version on the way, I'll definitely double-dip on this one.

4. Mario Golf: World Tour

I hate golf, but I can't get enough golf when it comes to videogames, the more cartoonish, the better. Funny enough, this is the first Mario Golf I've ever played, and I enjoyed it so much that I wound up getting rid of the one physical Vita game I had: Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational. I even purchased the season pass so I could get all of the extra characters and courses. The single-player challenges are a great time-waster while I'm waiting for new online tournaments to arrive. I would rank this as best sports game of the year if I had made that a category.

3. Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze

I may only have had the Wii U for less than a week now, but I've been playing more Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze since Christmas than I have anything else. My favorite genre of game is the 2D platformer, and this could possibly be one of the best ones ever made (perhaps that could be a future top 5 list). It has the trademark tight controls that one expects from Nintendo, great humor without the use of words, fantastic music, and the game just looks beautiful. It also gives you both Dixie and Cranky Kong (in addition to Diddy) as companions, each with their own unique abilities. I've only made it through the first 4 worlds so far, but I have no doubt that this game belongs on my list.

2. Far Cry 4

This was probably my second most anticipated game this year, but unlike Borderlands, Far Cry 4 never came close to disappointing. At this point, I'm 30 hours in and my completion percentage is just over 70%. There are a lot of things to do in this game, so much so that it almost circles back around and becomes its biggest detriment. There's almost too much to do, but I'd rather have too much than not enough. I wasn't as into the antagonist, Pagan Min, as I was Vaas in Far Cry 3, but near the end of the game, I became more and more interested in him, and (SPOILERS) at the end of the game, despite having multiple free opportunities, I just couldn't bring myself to kill him. The last mission was very well done. Also, screw those eagles...and the demon fish.

1. Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor

This is the game that I purchased when I got my Playstation 4, and what a great first impression the system made on me because of it. I'm not at all a Lord of the Rings fan, and I had very little interest in the game prior to release. In fact, if I didn't work at a game store, I probably wouldn't even have known that it came out until I scanned the front page of Destructoid to find a review. I already spoke about how empowered the game made me feel, and that was just one brief moment. Those moments are all over the game, and I wound up beating the game 100% before it was all said and done. The clock told me I had played for 30 hours, but it felt like a very short 30 hours. I started the game on a Thursday and then had to go to a friend's wedding who lived about 4 hours away. That whole weekend I was just waiting in anticipation to get home so I could continue playing. I haven't had a chance to play the recently released DLC yet, but once I knock out some of these other games I need to get to, I'll definitely be going back.

Thank you guys so much for reading, and thank you for an awesome 2014. Don't forget to follow me on Twitter, and you could listen to my podcast, where we also did a Best of the Year episode.

-Dustin

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Error Machine Podcast 38 - Game of the Year 2014

And since I can't get the scripting to work the way I want to, here's some better formatting for the categories.

Biggest Surprise - 10:00

Biggest Disappointment - 16:40

Best Retro Game - 22:20

Best 2013 Game We Played in 2014 - 25:30

Dumbest Name - 26:45

Best Name - 29:45

Biggest Mess Up of the Year - 31:55

Game We Wish We Would Have Played 37:00

Game We Wish People Would Shut Up About - 44:15

Best Overall System - 47:15

Best Value - 52:00

Coolest New Weapon - 56:40

Why Doesn't This Game Exist Yet? - 1:01:10

Why Does This Game Exist? - 1:06:45

Game of the Year Honorable Mentions - 1:11:55

Game of the Year - 1:14:05

Don't forget to rate and subscribe on either iTunes or Stitcher Radio

@TheDustinThomas

@FakeChrisCramer

@BygJuce

Monday, December 22, 2014

Weekly Top 5: Special Christmas Present Spectacular

(Some of you may remember that I wrote this blog last year, but I decided to revise and update it this year, so enjoy.)

Good morning everyone, TheDustinThomas here. A very Merry Christmas to you all, I hope everyone is enjoying the holidays as much as I am. As I'm writing this, Christmas is 3 days away, and I'm so excited I can almost taste it. What exactly I'm tasting, I'm not sure, I may need to get that checked out because it's kind of weird.

Anywho, I just wanted to do a top 5 this week where I recount some of my favorite Christmas presents from the past. These days, I'm much more into the giving aspect than the getting, but I've still received some pretty sweet gifts in my days, so let's check some of them out, shall we?

5. A portrait of my late, great pup.

Every year, my wife and I get together with friends and family and do the whole Secret Santa thing. My brother-in-law has been one of my best friends from the moment we met, and he knows my tastes pretty well. Last year, he got me a NECA two-pack of Rocky and Apollo, which is proudly displayed in my game room.

By happenstance (or maybe not at all), he wound up drawing my name again this year. If you've read some of my recent blogs, then you already know that I lost my best bud, my boxer Muldoon, back in October. This year, rather than spending money, my brother-in-law went with the sentimental approach and painted me an awesome portrait of my late, great pup:

It's pretty dead on, and I'd be lying if said I didn't thank him with a tear in my eye.

4. The Eliminator TS-7

Before I say anything, just watch this commercial:

How could a child of 7 possibly resist this thing? There's seven different weapons in one! Don't you understand what kind of value that is? In one box you get: a knife, a bigger knife, a...round knife?, a machine gun, a machine gun with a knife, a machine gun with a bigger knife, and a machine gun with a...round knife? AWESOME!

Not only was there 7 weapons, but they all had super rad sound effects. The knife had two buttons on it, one button made a "slice" sound, and the other (I believe) made a "thrust" sound. But, when you plug that bad boy into the machine gun attachment, you feel like you're back in Vietnam!

3. Resident Evil 3

I think Resident Evil 3 is the most underrated in the series. Nemesis is such an awesome villain, and the feeling of having an enemy that was pursuing you instead of the other way around was something new and different. Even though Resident Evil games never used to make you feel empowered by any means, whenever you found yourself staring a boss enemy in the face, you felt like you had the firepower necessary to take it down. But with Nemesis, my first thought was "How do I get as much space as possible between Jill and this guy?" Plus, he carries around a rocket launcher, how was I supposed to defeat an enemy who's carrying the very weapon that I probably needed to defeat it?

My love for the Resident Evil series is well documented. At the time of this game's release, it was probably my favorite series. I remember seeing the commercial for it leading up to Christmas and waiting with frothing anticipation for Christmas day to finally arrive.

Alongside RE3, I also received NCAA March Madness 2000 and Driver: You Are the Wheelman, but I spent far more time with Resident Evil 3 than any of them. In fact, I probably wound up playing more Resident Evil 3 than I did the previous two in the series. It had branching paths, and I loved going through and making new decisions and seeing where it would lead. I never got tired of delivering those final bullets into the body of Nemesis before escaping Raccoon City in a helicopter piloted by Barry Burton, which is sadly Barry's last appearance in the story of a Resident Evil game. Perhaps that will change with Resident Evil Revelations 2.

2. Real Ghostbusters Figures

When I was a child, the two cartoon series that I absolutely loved were Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (duh), and The Real Ghostbusters. Don't be fooled, as there were actually two Ghostbsters cartoons back then. There was one just called Ghostbusters, which, inexplicably, had a gorilla as part of the crew. But then there was The Real Ghostbusters, which was the true cartoon based on the films. Naturally, there were tons of action figures based on the show, and I specifically remember Christmas 1991 where I received all kinds of them. I missed out on the original run of figures, but I got in the game with the "Super Fright Features" line of toys.

In addition to the Ghostbusters themselves, I also received a lot of the ghost characters, my favorite one being this guy:

Then there was a bunch of the appropriately titled "Monsters" line.

Of course, no Ghostbusters fan can get by with just the Ghostbusters and a few ghosts. How were they supposed to get to the scene of the incident without their trusty Ecto-1?

And lastly, the grand finale of the whole show was the Ghostbusters Firehouse HQ playset. I was never the kind of kid to get huge playsets, I was always satisfied with just the figures, but imagine how wide my eyes got and how far my jaw dropped when I opened up my largest present under the tree and saw this thing:

Out of all of the presents that I've received in my life, this is the one that I wish I still had, because it would be prominently displayed in my game room right now if I did. December 25th, 1991 was a really good day for a six year old Dustin Thomas.

1. Nintendo 64 with WCW/nWo Revenge

The Nintendo 64 isn't the best videogame console ever. As a matter of fact, I consider it a letdown. I wasn't very savvy with the gaming industry back then, so I didn't know what games were good and which ones weren't. But I played an N64 for the first time at a friend's house on his birthday the previous month, and we spent the entire evening playing one game: WCW/nWo Revenge. That was enough for me to ask for an N64 and a copy of my own for Christmas. It's still, in my opinion, the best wrestling game ever made. I was always more of a WWE/WWF fan than WCW, but I had actually already gotten rid of the console by the time the allegedly superior WrestleMania 2000 and WWF No Mercy were released.

I was coming off of the PSone wrestling games, which were a mixed bag. There was WCW Nitro (awful), WWF War Zone (the most average wrestling game ever), and WWF Attitude (pretty alright). So when I went from those three to Revenge, it was like I was playing a wrestling game for the first time again. It felt like what a wrestling game was supposed to be. I spent hours upon days upon weeks upon months playing Revenge. It was one of those games that I would start playing when I got home from school on Friday and continue to play until I passed out. So many times I woke up with an N64 controller in my hands and my television screen informing me that I had lost the match.

The highlight of the game was the 40-man battle royals, and it was always a great way to earn bragging rights among my group of friends when you won a few of them, especially if you were able to run the table and win with the wrestler you originally started with. I was such a beast with Kevin Nash, you simply don't get up from a Jacknife Powerbomb.

I still think that Revenge is the be-all and end-all of professional wrestling videogames. There wasn't a better one before it and there hasn't been a better one since. If the WWE2K series would go back to controlling like these THQ classics, I would buy them on day one.

Merry Christmas everyone, and thanks for reading. You can follow me on Twitter and you can listen to the latest episode of my podcast, where we finished our retrospective on the PSone.

-Dustin

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Weekly Top 5: Dustin's Essential Christmas Viewing

So you may be thinking that a better title for this blog would have been "Favorite Christmas Movies", but the problem with that is that some of the things I'm about to list aren't actually Christmas movies, and one is a television episode. Sure, there are some Christmas movies on this list, but other things I have here are movies that I associate with the Christmas season for one reason or another. Christmas is easily my favorite time of the year, and I've been trying my hardest to convince my wife to let me open a present, but she's holding it down better this year than in years past.

Let us begin.

5. Groundhog Day

With the exception of Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day is quite possibly my favorite Bill Murray film. Obviously, since the movie is titled after a completely separate holiday, it's not a Christmas movie at all, but it does take place in the winter, and it has all the fixings of what make a great Christmas movie: guy is a jerk, he learns lessons, has a change of heart, gets the girl, and saves the day. And by "saves the day" I mean "gets out of that weird time loop."

It's not known exactly how long the character of Phil is trapped in this loop, but several outlets have made guesses, and they range anywhere from 8 to 34 years, and when the original script was written, the writer had it in mind that it would actually be around 10,000 years. However, according to director Harold Ramis (R.I.P.), it's in the vicinity of 10 years. And ever since I first saw this movie, I've often sat and wondered what I would do in a similar situation. What would I do if I had all of eternity to waste away on earth with no repercussions? I'm almost afraid to imagine just what kind of person that kind of madness would drive me to be. But, in all likeliness, I would probably just sit down and master all of the ridiculously hard videogames from my childhood.

But if you're looking for a Bill Murray movie about Christmas, you can't go wrong with Scrooged, a modern retelling of the classic Dickens novel, A Christmas Carol, but with more Bobcat Goldthwait.

4. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Scott Pilgrim gets a spot on my Christmas viewing list for a few different reasons, but the main one being that the first time I watched it was on Christmas Eve when I received it as a gift. I'm not sure how everyone else feels about the film, but it's one of my favorite movies ever, and I find something new to love every time I watch it. I felt like the casting was great, and it wasn't until I watched it just recently that I realized that Captain America, Superman, and Punisher are all in the film, which seems fitting seeing as how the Scott Pilgrim franchise began as a comic-style graphic novel.

Speaking of the graphic novels, don't be that guy who says things like "the graphic novels are better." Yes, I agree with you, they're fantastic, but this is a 90-minute movie and not a six part book series, so some concessions needed to be made. There's also some neat trivia hidden throughout, which goes to show that a great deal of thought went into the making of this movie.

I also feel like the character of Scott Pilgrim is an easy person to recognize with for any guy who grew up in the gaming culture and struggled to be cool. But I think my favorite part of the movie is the world. I love the way Toronto is portrayed. Personally, I hate the winter, I can't deal with the cold, but this movie makes a winterized Toronto seem like a magical place. But for all I know, it's always winter in Canada, and I just wouldn't be able to handle that.

3. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

I love the majority of the Vacation films, and while there's an argument to be made for the original, I feel Christmas Vacation is the king of the series. The great thing about it is that I get more and more of the jokes as I get older. It's still kid-friendly enough that I would feel comfortable watching it with my 7 year old nephew (the TV version, at least), but with enough adult humor to still be enjoyable for all ages. It straddles that line better than most films, not just Christmas films. It's not A Charlie Brown Christmas, and it's not Bad Santa, it's right in the middle.

For some of you younger folks, you may not be able to appreciate just how great of a comedic actor Chevy Chase is, but if you ever get curious, Christmas Vacation is a great film to help you understand. In all of the Vacation movies, he plays the role of an out-of-touch father perfectly, and I see a lot of how my own dad gets around Christmas time when I watch Christmas Vacation.

Not to mention that it was one of the greatest rants ever put on film.

2. The Simpsons - "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire"

The Simpsons played a great part in shaping the personalities of my generation. There's a reason the show just won't go away even when it hasn't been good for a decade. Actually, that's not fair, the show is still good by modern television standards, but it's not as good when compared to its early-to-mid 90s heyday. But no television show takes me back to my childhood the way early episodes of The Simpsons do. It's easily my all-time favorite show, and I would likely crush most people who would dare challenge me to a game of Simpsons trivia. While the first couple of seasons are a little rough, as the show was still trying to find its voice, I consider this episode to be an essential one.

This is actually the first episode of the show after making the jump from The Tracey Ullman Show shorts to its own series. It wasn't supposed to be the first, but due to some problems with the animation of what was supposed to be the first one ("Some Enchanted Evening"), this episode took its place, and I'm glad it did. It's hard to imagine another episode that better conveys who the Simpsons are as a family. Sure, they aren't perfect, but they love each other. Homer isn't the All-American father, but he loves his children, and will do whatever it takes to give them a great Christmas.

There are some really great Christmas episodes of The Simpsons, but I still feel like this one is the definitive one.

1. Home Alone

I'm just going to get this out of the way: Die Hard is not a Christmas movie, and TNT has ruined A Christmas Story for me by showing it for 24 straight hours every Christmas. I love Christmas movies, and I had other titles like Elf, Ernest Saves Christmas, one of the Boy Meets World Christmas specials, and Jingle All the Way all vying for a position on this list, but Home Alone was never in danger of not taking the top spot. It's the alpha male of Christmas movies, and it still holds up just as well now as it did 23 years ago.

For my wife and I, this will be our third Christmas together, and we already have a Christmas morning tradition. I wake up early, make peanut butter pancakes with a side of bacon, brew some coffee, pop Home Alone into the blu ray player, and we open our presents after we finish breakfast. I've never been a big fan of the Christmas classics like It's a Wonderful Life or Miracle on 34th Street, but I think at this point Home Alone should be mentioned right alongside them.

I even enjoy the sequel, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. It's basically the exact same movie except they swapped out the creepy old man for a homeless pigeon lady, but it still puts the warm fuzzies in my heart. I'm glad they stopped making Home Alone movies after that, it would have been a shame if they milked one of the greatest films of all-time for all it's worth.

Oh, wait...

Thanks for reading. You can follow me on Twitter and listen to my podcast.

-Dustin

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Gift of Gaming: The World's Greatest Coping Mechanism

A couple of months ago, I lost my best buddy to cancer. It was my boxer, Muldoon, and he had been my best friend for the past nine years. I dedicated an entire blog to him, explaining how he was with me through a lot of the best gaming moments in my life. It was a rough time for me, and now my wife is going through a similar situation with her cat. Unfortunately, death and other types of tragedy are things that I've had to deal with a lot in my life. Through all of it, though, I always had gaming.

I've never used videogames as a way to escape from the realities of life, I don't find that to be a healthy way of dealing with things, at least it isn't for me. I don't like to push things under the rug and pretend like they didn't happen, I instead choose to use videogames as a way to cope with loss, rather than to escape from it. I understand why some people would choose to do it this way, because I have friends and family that do, it's just not my style. Videogames and writing are the things that have always helped me to make peace with situations, that's why I wrote the blog about Muldoon the same day he passed away, I just needed to write about him and let everyone know how awesome he was.

He was indeed pretty awesome.

The first death I remember is my grandfather when I was four. I don't really remember him much, but I was with he and my grandmother every day while my parents were at work until I started kindergarten. I remember being sad, and I remember playing Super Mario Bros. because it would cheer me up. Shortly thereafter, my family's house blew up--not burned down, blew up--from a gas leak. The day after the fire, we went back to where the house used to be to try and salvage whatever we could. I remember picking our copy of Super Mario Bros. 3 from the wreckage. It was blackened from the smoke and soot, but you could still make out the smiling, raccooned Mario on the cover. I didn't expect it to work, but it didn't matter, our NES wasn't as lucky and didn't make it out alive. A while later, in one of the greatest acts of kindness I've ever experienced, my mother's coworkers pooled money together to buy my brother and I a new NES. As luck would have it, that copy of SMB3 still worked like it was brand new, which is why I'm convinced that NES cartridges will continue to flourish long after Skynet has become self-aware.

And when that happens, Fear Factory is the only band that will be spared.

Fast-forwarding a little bit, during a two year period beginning in late 2006, I lost my best friend to cystic fibrosis, my grandmother to natural causes, and my uncle to liver disease. Then the girl I was engaged to at the time and I split up. I was working a full-time job on the graveyard shift that I hated, I was working a part-time job that I enjoyed but couldn't get a promotion from, I was going to school full-time, and I was in the wrestling ring every chance I could get. I had a lot on my plate and had very little free time. I was battling a great deal of depression and anger, I was struggling with an eating disorder, I was frustrated because I felt like I deserved to be better off with my wrestling career than I was, and for the first time in my life, despite always being a believer, I was questioning my faith in God. There was one week that was so bad that I slept from the moment I got home from work to the time I had to go back every day.

But at the end of the day, I had videogames to help me. My friend Chris and I explored every inch of Pandora. We dispatched thousands upon thousands of zombies in Cajun country. I soared through space with a Lombax and solved platforming puzzles with his metal sidekick. I ran alongside the ghost of Sparta as we trekked through Greece in search of Zeus.

Kratos knows my pain.

That's around the time I started writing CBlogs on Destructoid after months of just being a casual observer and leaving the occasional comment. I knew I was a good writer, but would the DToid community think so? Well, there was only one way to find out, and I was amazed when the second blog I ever posted here on Destructoid made the front page. It felt awesome to see something that I had worked so very hard on make it to the front page, and trust me, I put a lot of work and research into that particular blog. It was cool seeing the comments rolling in, praising my writing. It only fueled me to write more and more. That was the first time I ever thought "Hey, maybe I could do this and get paid for it one day." Over the years I've had my fair share of blogs make it to the front page, and every time I get that same rush and it only pushes me to want to keep writing and keep getting better.

Ever since that very dark time in my life, I've lost other family members, I've lost more friends, and I've been hurt, either by people or by life in general. Today, I'm in a much better state spiritually, mentally, physically, and emotionally, but that doesn't mean that I don't still use videogames and writing as some of my coping mechanisms. I put God first in every aspect of my life now, but sometimes, this guy needs to cope by riding an elephant and liberating outposts in Kyrat.

Seeing how happy destruction makes that elephant also makes me happy.

I don't get through tough spots in my life by watching movies or television. Music helps sometimes, but it doesn't take my mind off things. Videogames do, thanks in great part to the interactivity and having to constantly be on my toes. Eventually I get tired of watching the same movies or listening to the same songs, but I never grow tired of hitting buttons on a controller and watching Mario jump around and stomp goombas. Videogames are, to me, the gift that keeps on giving.

Thanks for reading

-Dustin

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Weekly Top 5: Dustin's Videogame Pitches

I don't have the technical know-how to create a videogame, but I have the writing ability and a noggin full of ideas. I feel like every gamer has those ideas that they would love to see come to life and find a home on their favorite gaming console, and I'm no different. The ideas sometimes come out of nowhere, and then other times I'll get a little nugget and build on it over a period of time.

During the last week, however, I found myself coming up with idea after idea, and I'd like to share some of them with you. This week's top 5 are my videogame pitches. Although I'm being comical for some of these, I would legitimately love to see these games get made (except for one, which shouldn't be too hard to figure out).

Mario-Vania

This is an idea I had about two years ago, and I devoted an entire blog to it back then, but I'm still so convinced that it's a moneymaker that I'm going bring it up again here. The premise is very simple: combine two of Nintendo's best franchises, Mario and Metroid. How awesome would it be to play a metroidvania-style game as Mario? It would be very awesome, that's how awesome.

I wouldn't want the tone to be dark like in the picture up there, what I'm picturing is a huge world that gradually changes from the Sky World to the Water World to the Desert World and so on. Mario could defeat a boss and earn a new ability, like the fire flower, for example, and use that to burn down some pirahna plant weeds to make his way into the forest area. He could switch to the various abilities on the fly and backtrack to find previously blocked secrets. Even though I'm still a huge Mario fanboy, this would definitely give the Mario series a shot in the arm that it needs. If you want more details, click on the link above.

There has to be someone reading this who has a foot in at Nintendo. Someone call Chad Concelmo right now and tell him to get on it. I don't even want royalties and I promise not to sue if they use my idea, I just want this game to happen.

Malice in the Palace starring Ron Artest

In case you're not the sports type, a little over 10 years ago, one of the biggest brawls in sports history took place between the Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons. An altercation began near the end of the game between the Pacers' Ron Artest (who later changed his name to the incredibly stupid Metta World Peace), and the Piston's Ben Wallace. It eventually escalated into an ordeal that involved most of the players' teammates. After things had sort-of-but-not-really calmed down, Artest sprawled himself onto the commentator's table. We don't find this shocking in retrospect because we've already established that Metta World Peace loves two things: attention, and being weird.

While on the table, a Detroit fan hurled their coke at Artest, which hit him in the chest. This prompted Artest to proceed into the crowd and punch a completely different fan in the face. The ensuing chaos led to several players receiving suspensions and fines. Artest himself was suspended for the rest of the season and lost over $4 million in the process.

So my thinking is this: If Shaquille O'Neal can get a fighting game, Michael Jordan can get a side-scroller, and Charles Barkley can get a decent basketball game and two RPG computer games, then why can't we have a brawler where Metta World Peace--reprising his role as Ron Artest--literally brawls his way through the 22,000+ fans in attendance that evening at The Palace of Auburn Hills? The brawl itself has even been dubbed "Malice in the Palace," so it already has a title. Obviously, just fighting your way out of the arena can't be the whole game, so you would then take on the mean streets of Detroit. It's then that Artest tries to win the fans back by taking on thugs and ridding the city of crime.

The final battle would see Artest in a situation reminiscent of the final scene of Batman Forever, where he must choose between saving one of two Detroit musicians: Kid Rock or Eminem. If you save Eminem, the city rejoices and you win the game. If you save Kid Rock, however, you wind up dying because everyone in Detroit will kill you for making the wrong choice.

No one likes Kid Rock, not even Kid Rock.

Saved by the Bell: The Adventure

My wife's favorite show is Saved by the Bell. I loved it as a kid, but it's not the type of show I would go back and watch over and over again like The Simpsons or Boy Meets World. Because she loves the show so much, many nights before we head to bed we'll be sitting on the couch and she'll put on Saved by the Bell in the background while she's playing on her phone and I'm playing something on the 3DS. I can't help but look up every so often as it does bring back a lot of childhood memories.

About a week ago, we had another one of these nights, and I couldn't help but think that it's amazing there was never a Saved by the Bell videogame. There do exist a few homebrew PC games, but I'm talking about a real videogame from a real company that has a box in a store. How did that never happen? If Saved by the Bell was popular enough to be on Trapper Keepers then surely it was popular enough to have a game. And I noticed that a lot of the elements of the show are perfect for a point and click adventure game.

I imagine you would either play as Zack or wind up controlling all six of the students at some point. I'm not counting Tori because literally nobody liked her, and you likely forgot she even existed until I reminded you just now.

Just think of all the different scenarios: there's the episode where they create fake IDs (which could easily be implemented), Zach needs to outsmart Mr. Belding, the gang needs to find a way out of detention, they have to do battle against the Rigmas at some point, they need to convince the nerds to help them out of a sticky situation by fishing their retainers out of some hard to reach spot. Of course there would a teenage villain, who would preferably be voiced by William Zabka, and two endings. The "good" ending would see Zack saving the day and ending up with Kelly, with the polar opposite "bad" ending resulting in Slater winning the girl.

Kanye West Fashion Designer

This is a mobile "game" that costs $120 to download, and it's just a picture of a plain white t-shirt. There are also microtransactions that consist of 120 different pieces of a plain white t-shirt that cost $1 each.

Pro Wrestler Story

If you listened to episode 12 of PStoid, then you've probably already heard this idea, but now I have the opportunity to expand upon it. Given my past with professional wrestling, one thing that really bothers me about "realistic" pro wrestling games these days is the fact that they don't show the day to day life of what it really means to be a professional wrestler. Sure, you can create storylines and they'll show backstage events, but what about when the cameras turn off and you have to deal with things like backstage politics?

I want a game similar to Game Dev Story about pro wrestling where you do everything except the actual pro wrestling. It could lead down a potentially dark path, because the wrestling business itself is full of horror stories and men and women who are completely broken in one fashion or another. That's not the case with everyone, but the ultimate goal would be to create a Sim Wrestler so good at all the other aspects of wrestling that you eventually reach the heights of a Hulk Hogan. But if you're not careful, you could lead yourself down a road similar to Scott Hall.

I was referring to the alcohol problems, but this works too.

The game would be full of decisions, and each one could go one of several different ways. Let's say your wrestler got hurt, what do you do? Do you take painkillers that weren't prescribed to you, wrestle through the pain, potentially hurting yourself even further and possibly getting addicted, or do you take the time off you need to recover and possibly lose your place on the roster, in turn making less money and losing fans? There's the chance that you won't get addicted and you'll actually reach new heights, but do you really want to take that risk?

Or maybe because you're away from home so much that you miss your wife, which brings down your morale, but you need a high morale to perform better in the ring and increase your chances of getting better. Do you cheat on your wife? It boosts your morale but it could tear your family apart if they were to find out, which in turn makes your morale go even lower.

Let's say you're just trying to check into a hotel and a fan tries to pick a fight with you, do you fight the heckler or ignore him? Each decision could have possible repercussions or rewards. This would be something that I would pay full price to see if it were handled properly.

Every idea I've listed probably has little to no chance of ever getting made, but a man can dream. Anyone else have any ideas for games? I promise I won't steal them...maybe...probably not...okay I will.

Don't forget you can follow me on Twitter and you can also listen to my podcast, we just did a retrospective of the original PlayStation.

Thanks for reading.

-Dustin