Stark’s Picks: Game of the Year

While I typically do not participate in Varms.net’s GOTY rankings outside of our annual Spoony Bard GOTY podcast, this year Gillman asked me to put up an article with my choices for GOTY.  This time around I get my chance to share my shit taste in games with the internet in top five format, for your reading pleasure/anger.  In typical Varms fashion, you won’t find this ranking dominated by GTA and Cowadooty like every other publication *GASP!*.  Try not to take it too seriously, my taste > your taste.

5)  Dragon’s Crown
CONTROVERSY!

Dragon’s Crown is a beat-em-up with RPG elements that came with a controversial release thanks to the fact that “gaming journalism” websites will do ANYTHING for web traffic, even if that means creating artificial controversy.  If you are smart enough to rise above the stupidity of yellow journalism, you will find that Dragon’s Crown is a really fun brawler with amazing artwork.  This game makes the grade because of awesome gameplay, RPG-like elements, beautiful graphics, and a well done, yet rarely seen D&D-esque fantasy setting.

4)  Far Cry:  Blood Dragon
Yes, this game is THAT awesome.

Blood Dragon is a stand-alone addition to Far Cry 3, and some would even argue that it is even better than the game it is based on.  Blood Dragon takes the engine of Far Cry 3 to present a story based entirely on the insanity of 80’s action films.  This game brings us all back to an era when political correctness wasn’t a thing in movies, and justice came in the form of killing bad guys in the coolest possible manner, as long as an equally cool one-liner was dropped after the deed was done.  This game is worth playing for the intentional cheesiness, action-flick references, ridiculous weapons, and dinosaurs that shoot fucking laser beams.  This game can also be picked up for 15 bucks or less, and it is worth every penny.

3)  Pokemon X & Y
You WILL catch them all.

Just when you thought Pokemon was getting old, this series continues to improve itself with its latest entry.  A few tweaks to the leveling system and awesome online trading and battling features help make this one of the greatest Pokemon games of all time.  Catching and training Pokemon is as addictive as ever, making this a hard title to resist for gamers young and old.

2)  Disgaea D2:  A Brighter Darkness
These adorable demons will steal your soul (or at least a shitload of your time.)

Disgaea D2 is a direct sequel to the original game that started it all, meaning Laharl and company are back!  Much like Pokemon X&Y, some simple tweaks and a bit of streamlining to some of the Disgaea franchise’s more tedious tasks are what make this game really shine.  Being re-united with Overlord Laharl and his legion of cute demons is a pleasant trip down memory lane for fans of the original, and the improvements to the gameplay make this game just as addictive.  Prepare to lose potentially hundreds of hours of your time to an overlord’s never ending quest for power.

1)       Tales of Xilla
 I still think Jude is way too trusting of Alvin.

While Square-Enix has completely fumbled with Final Fantasy for the entirety of this console cycle, Namco’s Tales of franchise continues doing what it does best.  Tales of games aren’t out there to break the mold of JRPG’s, or bring about a paradigm shift with every new entry into the series.  Tales games simply set out to tell the story of a group of adventurers in colorful, carefully crafted worlds, with simple, but engaging real-time combat and character-driven side-stories.  Xillia continues this tradition successfully, making it one of the best Tales games since Vesperia.   Even with a few technical issues here and there (mostly draw-in, especially in towns), I had a great time playing this game.  A must have for any Tales fan, and probably anyone with a thing for JRPG’s.

Special Categories

The entries here are for games that didn’t quite fit in as GOTY material for one reason or another, but are noteworthy under certain circumstances.

Best Bang for your Buck
Metal Gear Solid:  Legacy Collection
The adventures of a soldier and his otaku friend will never be this awesome again.

This box contains the Metal Gear HD Collection, Metal Gear Solid 4, a voucher for the digital download of the original Metal Gear Solid and VR Missions, and a few extra bonuses, including a book with art from the entire series.  This nice little box pretty much contains all that is Metal Gear, minus a few odd titles here and there.  I’m not going to repeat how awesome the Metal Gear games are, but I will say that for 50 bucks, this collection is money well spent.

The “Not Giving a Fuck about Feminism” Award
Senran Kagura Burst
The creation of EVIL WHITE MEN (That are actually Asian)

2013 has been a terrible year for video game “journalism.”  It has become more and more difficult to look up a preview for upcoming games without some sort of “article” written by white men making the claim that video games oppress women, because they are made by white men.  It has become hard to read a review for a video game without a game’s perceived views on equality, social standing, and political correctness factored into the review score.  Add the YouTube rants of a certain internet diva making herself into a “damsel in distress” while denouncing the trope of “damsels in distress,” and you will find game “journalists” have waged war on fun here in America.

However, in a world gone mad, one hero amongst publishers stood up and localized Senran Kagura Burst, with not a single fuck to give for political correctness and social justice.  Senran Kagura is a simple, yet fun beat-em-up with some RPG elements.  It’s about ninjas, Sexy ninjas with huge, bouncing boobs and clothes that rip apart as they continue to fight.   Is this the best game ever?  No.  Is this game cute, sexy, and still lots of fun to play?  You are damn right it is.  Thank you for bringing this game to the west, Xseed.  You have done great things for fun, freedom, and your nation, and I applaud you for that.  Also, just for the record, Hibari is best girl.

Biggest Disappointment
Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory
Microsoft should really consider making Green Heart the official Xbox mascot.

Neptunia is a series that had a rough start, but suddenly became amazing when the second installment came around and rebuilt everything in the game from the ground up.  Neptunia V set out to bring this series along even further, and in some ways, it did.  V gave us a refined battle system, better graphics, more great characters, and even more of the series goofy storytelling.  Unfortunately, with most of the graphical assets, and even a good chunk of the soundtrack, ripped right from the second game, this became more of a glorified expansion pack for Neptunia MK. 2.  This entry in the series is even further marred by some serious balancing issues and a crafting/scouting system that is nothing short of a pain to deal with, even though it is necessary for equipment upgrades.  It also doesn’t help that NISA practically scrapped the original dialogue script and replaced it with their own for sake of jamming in more game references that weren’t there to begin with, along with other bits of western pop-culture nonsense that have nothing to do with the game or the characters.  This is a blunder that took INTERNATIONAL effort to create, but I will still hold up hope that future entries in this franchise will improve.  The universe of Gameindustri is too fun to run into the ground.

Varms.net’s expert on anime and just about anything else you should not discuss with friends, family, and co-workers. I also play some video games so I can complain about them with Gillman.