(April Fools) Video Games is Bad and You Should Feel Bad

  1. Women have rights and video game don’t respect ideals

Wake up, AMERICA

Name one person that has ever been a lead in a video game that was also a women.  You can’t.  You also can’t name someone that was transgendered that was even IN A VIDEO GAME.  That is because the moment that you start to make video games you become part of the machine.  You don’t care about the feelings or rights of others, you only want money and to make sale.

  1. Video Games is not ART and can’t be

Does this look like art?!?

Art is something you go to school for.  It isn’t something that you can make in your parents basement with a couple of friends in your free time.  Ebert beat cancer, but he couldn’t beat into gamers heads that their hobbies didn’t matter.  Things that matter are well made movies, like the ChiPs TV series  and paintings of things that are hard to look at and difficult smells.

  1. No one Famous Likes Games

The most famous man in the world

We all know that the famous are trend setters and do everything correctly.  They are the best of everything in America.  The only way that you could be better would be to be European, or better yet! Bruce Jenner! Not only do no stars ever play video games, and we know because there has never been a single picture of oen of them EVER WITH ONE but the entire hemisphere of Europe has outlawed them so much that the tax makes one game cost almost 10 times as much as over here.  They have made all drugs legal in their wisdom of gay marriage, but they refuse to let games be discounted.  Isn’t America backwards?

  1. IT IS A wastE OF TIME

Who Ever this GUY is IS RIGHT

There is nothing that can be made better by sitting in front of something else.  You can’t learnt, you cannot built, you cannot even build a relationship with someone of your own sex.  The only thing you can do is avoid others while being fed messages from a source that claims to be interactive, but I have proven it is not!  All the freedom it expresses to have is simply different shades of grey, you are only their to devour the message that the MAN is forcing you to pay for.  An average new game for the newest system, the Wii, costs 15 dollars!  That isn’t even the upper limit!  Games can cost as much as a new car!  Why?  So you can devour the self hate that is vomited by a single thought organizism.

Go to college instead.

Varms TV: Saturday Morning Cartoon Stream

Something like this

Longing for the days when Saturday morning meant something, Stark and Gillman woke up first thing and started streaming some retro style games for the pleasure of all of our fans. The games might be new, but you will think that this is stuff from the 90s.  We start the stream by playing through Ultionus: A Tale of Petty Revenge, a heart warming story of a hero that is trolled on space-facebook and travels to that person’s home planet to kick his ass.  That is the story, and that is all you need because video games.  I end up dropping the difficulty down to easy and beating the game, after awhile.  Not feeling done we play some Guacamelee and I prove that I am terrible at all things that are jumping puzzles.  Don’t worry, the Gilman and Stark commentary runs throughout, mainly about topics you may or may not care about. Also passingly about the games.

Watch live video from Varms on TwitchTV

Gillman’s 2013 “Special” Awards

Most Disappointing: 

Don't be surprise

I don’t want to do the sad parent thing where they explain that they aren’t even mad, they are just deeply disappointed in what has happened—that has always felt like a cover for saying that you are mad, and disappointed, and changing the will for your STD infected youth.  The truth is that I don’t even know what I expected this game was going to be aside from what we ended up getting.  At its base it is solid and interesting and tells a great story; move away from that even a little and things start to get hazy and starting dropping off cliffs like so many bodies left near Trevor.  Sometimes I wonder if it is me that has changed and the games are still delivering the same great content and I am just blind to it, but then I hear one of the ads on the radio and remember that it is the same humor, and almost exactly the same jokes, that they were delivering two console generations ago (almost three) and I know that I am the one that has changed and that isn’t wrong or bad. It was one thing to be making jokes about massive SUVs destroying the world and being entirely more than anyone on the planet would ever need, save possibly an entire team of marines taking a full soccer team to a warzone away game, but doing it again all these later with almost the same exact delivery isn’t interesting in anyway.

It knows what it did

The game annoyed me to the level that I started to wonder if the only thing that I ever found amusing in my early 20s was anything that was anti-establishment sentiment.  Then I feel dumb.  Thankfully I can only feel that way for so long before Rockstar was nice enough to drop the terrible and broken online mode in my lap and tell me to go fuck myself with a handful of glass shards.  Sure, it launched broken and that could be forgiven. Sure, they pretty much delivered what they promised.  The problem was that they found a way to turn the promise into almost the same hot street trash that the last game had, while remaining entirely less interesting and kind of making me hate the game in the same exact instance.  I am almost glad that this mode didn’t start functioning until I was done with the single player as I would probably not have bothered to spend more than 15 minutes inside of the game after I booted it up.

Harvest Moon Award for harvesting the most Moons:
Rune Factory

Day to day life has... No, most people will still think it is boring...

Considering the fact that there were two Harvest Moons this year, and I didn’t even force Stark to play one of them, I would consider this a victory for Rune Factory to get this nod over the standard HM (as those of us in the know call it)—save the fact that the company went out of business directly after shipping this product to North America. For years now there have been off shoots of the core farming games set in other genre conceits, one was the future and several have been in a Fantasy realm: the only thing that they have in common is that they are normally not made by the same company that makes the standard game.  I think the fact that this is probably the best one of these non-core games to come out in over a decade, by a large margin, should say something to the weirdness of the company going belly up when the game was released and greeted with pretty favorable sales.

Sure, the game still has strange callbacks to when it first came out—like attacking ghosts and orcs with your fully upgraded hoe because you have ignored upgrading your sword and all your farm tools, including watering can, now do more damage—but it is also the first time that one of these games felt like there was something pushing the player forward instead of just asking them to exist in this weird and strange world where they had to farm and kill tons of monsters.  So this decade long experiment has concluded in producing the first real and stable experience in the series, but also managed to drive everyone at the company that made it insane.  I don’t really get the management strategies in Japan, but I can tell you that I approve of their results.

Year of Luigi Award for Best Luigi:
Luigi Mario

Kitty Kitty Kitty Kitty Kitty Kitty!

If you were a child of the 80’s at all, in any way, even if you can look back and enjoy some of the pop-culture moments that they managed to give children, you should probably have been sadden to learn that the entire cast of the Super Mario Super Show is now dead.  Danny Well’s had a career that spanned longer then some countries, and managed to be part of the greatest movie of all time (Shaft), but he will probably always be known for acting as Luigi next to Mario.  The show wasn’t good, the cartoon was something that was farmed out to the lowest bidder at that exact moment, and all of the guest stars were whoever Captain Lou Albano was representing with his talent firm that week.  Mr. Wells died in this, the year of Luigi, giving us possibly the best ending this side of a sequel to the live action movie where everyone does the dinosaur.

I know it came out last year, it was new to me

The fact that Nintendo managed to start this year off with a Tuesday announcement stating that they were going to double down on everything and make you totally want to buy every system they have made, and that they were going to do it with their number 2 guy, seemed like a stroke of pure insanity and genius and retardation and the best E3 press conference that took place 6 months before E3.  It was like they loaded an old and rusted shotgun full of candy and made kids believe in Santa by killing hobos with jolly ranchers, it was an act of pure will that worked so in their favor I can’t even believe I want say that Nintendo won this year simply by promise alone—that an by giving me a cloning Mario in a cat suit.  I have seen many things in my life, but the brothers Mario dropping on all fours and meowing at the screen after hitting the top of a flag pole is probably a high point.

Best Call Back:
Legend of Zelda: Link Between Worlds

2D Link... It works so well

There is a fine line that needs to be walked between remaking an entire game, save with better graphics, and doing something completely different and just slapping the number 2 at the end of it.  This generation has seen tons of examples of both of those, and while some are great games they are still basically not what you want from a sequel.  A Link between Worlds is what the kid who played A Link to the Past thought that the next game in that series was probably going to be, exactly in the same place but with totally different dungeons and puzzles and new mechanics that changed everything.  There are about two companies on the face of the Earth that could pull off this game without messing it up so badly that the company would be declared a war crime the next day, and I am pretty sure that Nintendo owns both of them. Oddly one is a love hotel.

It is pretty much one of the only games I wanted to play again after I finished it

It is strange in the most off beat ways too, because the over world map is almost identical to the previous game in tons of ways, as is much of the music—but in the same instance there are pieces and moments scattered throughout that make it just different enough that it stops feeling surprising that something completely different and unexpected is around the corner after the first dungeon.  It seems odd that a game would lift, with such love and care, exact and impactful moments from a game and implant them in another, and still manage to make it this wonderful and worth playing.  There are times that I swear all of this companies design documents are just letters from children taped to the wall with the words “make this happen” above them.

Spent Way too much time with:
Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate

Check it out, a rare victory!

Earlier this year I picked up a copy of Monster Hunter 3 and the second stick add on for my 3DS and proceeded to spend amazing amounts of time slapping creatures in the face with entirely underpowered weapons in hopes that they might drop a fraction of a piece to make a sword that would do more slightly more slapping damage.  It is less a quest about being the most OCD and completion-ist to gather up every single piece of monster excrement to form something that finally feels useful and powerful, and more about the continual refinement of play throughout the life of the game.  I will happily be the first person to admit that Monster Hunter is not a game for everyone, but it is oddly a game that is designed to prove the point that video games can make you gain a feeling of accomplishment through play, even if that is just making a virtual persons that much more interesting while your own life suffers.

Run away, always run

For me the game seems to be about fits and starts as well, long periods of passion where my boss basically has to tell me that I am not allowed to have the 3DS at my desk as it has seeped past “just playing at lunch” and ignoring my wife while she watching crime shows on the Television, to forgetting about it for months at a time.  I would lie if I didn’t say the entire reason for picking up a Wii U was to secretly get back into it, but with better controls and the possibility for people to tell me directly online how bad I am at the game.  Fans of the stream will also notice that I have picked up a rather devoted friend that is insistent on getting me through the trials of late game hunting, so as far as I can tell this game is probably going to be a part of our lives for the foreseeable future.

I just want to talk about this game Award:
Senran Kagura

Boobie boobie boobie

I wrote a review about this game about a month ago and went clearly out of my way to avoid talking about how much fun it is to play a game with ninja that run around with giant breast that beat the ever loving hell out of each other.  It is the kind of thing that I would have written as a design document when I was a teenager and then spent the rest of my life working towards to make a reality.  There are moments in your life that it all becomes clear, and you are suddenly happy that people who grew up in different countries can grow up just as perverted as you and strive to make the world as wonderful a place in the same odd and entirely deranged methods as you.  Sometimes I wake up in the morning smiling, thinking about these things—then I drive to work and have 8 people cut me off and someone jay walk in front of my car in a clear attempt to kill themselves and that is all forgotten for a while.  Senran Kagura has a weird way of bringing me back to that happy place though.

This game is totally about ninjas

Did I mention that Nintendo didn’t want the game to come out; because they actively did that exact thing I just said.  When it was released they put on such a back shelf in the virtual goods store that it would literally be like having to walk into GameStop and ask the clerk for a game, then spell it correctly before they sold it to you.  Joke ended up being on them as about three days after it came out it ended up being the hottest selling game of the week in the store and was automatically promoted to the front page, which is like if Karma wasn’t just the name of a really good stripper but also the doctor that you saw because of that rash you got from her.

Worst Game of the Year:

Do it the same way again, total success

So you take one game that is pretty universally beloved by anyone, Trials HD, but slightly in the back of most people’s minds, as it came out a couple of years ago, and then you slam the most generic physics system in the world on a cheap copy that you had some third world high school students—who’s only contact with the original was on low resolution YouTube video— make for you in a day.  Don’t QA test it, make sure there are some conditions that levels are unbeatable and then throw it out the door.  Oh, and over charge and hint at micro-transactions.  Kids love those.  Everyone loves those.

That barrel from earlier in the level, randomly following the player around

The truth is that I am given a ton of terrible games to play throughout the year, most of the time I am able to either say no or pass them along to someone farther down the food chain of the site.  Every now and then, though, I get something that I get stuck with that has manage to so completely missed the point of enjoyment it is a wonder that my system didn’t eject the disc at top speed in an attempt to kill me like the classic 1990 film “I come in Peace”.  In all honesty most of the time it would be a sweat and joyful release, and something I will be sad I can no longer hope for in our all digital and downloadable future.

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

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.