I really enjoy Adventure Time. It's one of my favorite animated television shows of all time. To me, it's right up there with The Simpsons and DuckTales. Sure, Regular Show might have more edgy humor and a firm grasp of retro-pop references, but when I turn on Cartoon Network, I do it because I'm watching Adventure Time. I watch Regular Show because it happens to be on. There are a couple of AT mobile games out there, and I decided on a whim to add Jumping Finn Turbo to my collection.
Man oh man, do I want to get some city building on, and I want to get it on, like, NOW. So you can imagine how excited I was to learn about a new iteration of SimCity, the city simulator. It takes all the addictiveness of cocaine but makes it cheaper and arguably less detrimental to a healthy heart. The reviews came out and the game was deemed "GREAT" by excited city-building nerds everywhere.
Kids and adults alike waited for the game to be released so they could join in the fun of building and destroying cities; cities filled with people like you and me. Maybe those people in the game are sitting in their virtual apartments, on their virtual computers, playing a virtual city building simulation. Or maybe WE'RE the SIMULATION! Is your mind blown yet? Good. Because now we have to go into the dimension that exists on the side opposite the screen to your virtual city: reality.
By now you've probably seen the reviews or heard about the horrible mess that is Aliens: Colonial Marines. Five years in the making, Aliens: CM was poised to be a AAA mega blockbuster number-one-selling game of the year. I remember at last year's PAX East, the line to see the game was much, much longer than I felt comfortable standing in, but boy oh boy was I excited nonetheless. I figured it was going to be a slam dunk. I mean, a game where you play as a Colonial Marine and shoot xenomorphs? Who doesn't enjoy the movie Aliens? Or its sequels, Alien 3 and Alien Resurrection? Just kidding to those last two. But they’re certainly more enjoyable than A:CM.
But that isn't saying much, honestly. I've pitted A:CM against every other game because it is quite simply the worst game I have ever played. There are worse games out there, there must be, but none that came with such high expectations. When Duke Nukem Forever finally shipped after 10 years, we all knew it was going to suck. But so many of us gamers truly expected A:CM to be everything gaming dreams are made of. Coming on the heels of Gearbox's Borderlands 2 (one of my favorite games of last year), A:CM promised to take gamers on a riveting, action-packed first-person adventure through distant worlds, in a universe already brought to life in four movies, several comics, and other games. Instead A:CM is so utterly horrendous that it makes me question my belief that Borderlands 2 is a good game.
Is there anything in the gameosphere (a word I just made up) that is more annoying than a holier-than-thou PC gamer? You can't have a discussion about a multi-platform game or the shortcomings of a console without some jerk breezing in and exclaiming the superiority of the PC PLATFORM. "Oh, [great game] is being released for PS3? It was pretty fun three years ago when I was playing the beta on my PERSONAL COMPUTER." Console gamers usually just ignore these comments and go on with their lives, but that doesn't stop the PC Gamer from always trying to derail any conversation that has to do with games. "Ha! Those supposed 'good' graphics look like what I was getting five years ago lol lol," is something they would say. You see, owning a gaming PC is a lot like only watching PBS: sure, it might be technically superior, but no one cares.
Christmas has come and gone, as it tends to do thanks to the cyclical nature of time. Santa was kind to my children this year, dropping down the chimney into our furnace and emerging from the boiler to drop a Wii U beneath the shiny plastic Christmas tree. When you're four and eight, Santa is the maker of dreams, and they gleefully thanked him (because he is all-knowing and all-hearing) and I got none of the credit. Of course, I'm not upset by this. My wife and I have chosen to perpetuate the myth that a magical fat man who eats cookies exclusively breaks into our house and leaves gifts. But if only the kids knew what I had to struggle with to make their Christmas truly special (despite what TV and movies have taught us, the true spirit of Christmas really is just getting presents).
Turn up the Nelly, because it's getting Hot in Herre with the iOS release of 2002's 1980s crime simulator Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. It's two kinds of nostalgia, wrapped into one package that's just begging you to Catch Me if You Can! So put on your parachute pants or perhaps don your pastel suit jacket as you stand in line to see Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Or go see Usher ft. Kajagoogoo... wait, that isn't right. This time-space continuum rift is really difficult to keep track of.
Game Fight! is back and I'm happy to announce that this week's column will be about the much anticipated Game Fight Game of the Year. This is the time of year when every outlet polls its staff to come to a consensus on which game will be crowned. Since it's mostly just me writing about games here, I went ahead and asked myself, "hey, which game did I love the most in 2012?" Before I get into that, however, I need to talk a bit about the great games that didn't quite make the cut, and since I want to at least pretend to have some level of professionalism, I'm going to follow the GotY formula and let you know which games I really liked, but not enough to make the GFGotY (geh-FIG-ottee).
Did you know that Minecraft has collectively sold NINE MILLION COPIES? Did you? You do now. Why is Minecraft so popular? There is no objective answer. Oh wait, yes there is-- it is the funnest game ever made by humans. I know, I may be accused of mistaking objective with subjective, but I assure you, as a hard-hitting journalist my brain is only capable of seeing facts and eschewing judgment calls. Try to remember that whenever you read my works or look up into the night sky (I like to call myself "The Night Writer").
So we have established the fact that Minecraft is the world's funnest game in all of history. For those of you who perhaps are unsure of what Minecraft is, I'll tell you first what it isn't. Minecraft ISN'T Warcraft for dwarves (the fantasy kind of dwarves, I mean (the non-sexual kind of fantasy, I mean)). Minecraft ISN'T a first-person shooter about modern armed conflict. Minecraft ISN'T a game you can just play for an hour. You see, you will end up playing it for many, many hours. At its most very basic, Minecraft is a game where you make things out of other things.
Is there any rivalry in video games more legendary than the Nintendo/Sega schism of the '90s? That's not a rhetorical question: I'm at a loss to think of any others, so if you have any ideas, post them to the comments. Since the Nintendo/Sega rivalry is the biggest that comes immediately to mind, I've decided to focus on the two games that defined an era, those games being Sonic the Hedgehog and Super Mario World, both available right now on Wii's Virtual Console for less than ten bucks.
The worst thing that ever happened to Japanese RPGs was Final Fantasy VII. In 1997, Square had grown weary of Nintendo's bold and crappy experiment with chunky cartridge-based entertainment and jumped the Nintendo ship to land the next game in their enormously popular franchise in the calm, welcoming Sony port-of-call. For those of us who cut our teeth on RPGs with the Final Fantasy franchise, this move seemed like the ultimate betrayal...for about three seconds until we saw the screen-shots and any allegiances we may have had went careening off a cliff on a snowboard.
It had three-dimensional graphics! The game spanned like seventeen discs! There was a black guy in it, and he cursed! Final Fantasy VII wiped clean our preconceived notions of what an RPG was supposed to be. Until then, they were 2D, top-down dungeon crawlers with battles taking place on a mostly static screen with animation limited to a sword slicing or some sparkling pixels (the sparkling pixels meant magic). But it wasn't just the graphical leap that captured our stupid imaginations, it was a whole new convoluted storyline with a twist right there at the end of disc one. You know, the part when Aeris dies. (THE PRECEDING SENTENCE MAY HAVE CONTAINED SPOILERS).
The unintended consequence of that story-telling decision was to create a world in which many gamers point to the Aeris-dying moment as the moment some gamers point to as the moment when a game was able to make them cry. For those of you not "in the know," a game making you cry is a very important event for gaming. You see, if a game can draw from its player the same sort of emotion that a book or a movie can, then games will finally be art. This is extremely important, for some reason, that games be considered art, and so those people who cried when Aeris died consider FFVII to be the moment when games crossed the threshold from electronic distraction to high-art. Have you ever been on a gaming message board ? There's going to be a Sephiroth variant among the users. Sometimes, more than one.