Spoony Bard Podcast: Episode 63: The Calender was a Lie

So this is a little late due to various and stupid real life things, but none the less the game of the year podcast with Stark and I is up and ready for a good solid listening too!  What we end up selecting for a favorite game is not something that either of us really expected to be talking about, but when you have a conversation and want to come to some kind of agreement then I guess the one game both of us played for an insane amount of time is the winner. We also have a ton of other game based talk, but we mainly try to stay within the confines of the GoTY award.

We ended up having some weird audio problems, but it was kind of sorted out by the end of the pod. Hope you all enjoy.

[powerpress]

Gillman’s GotY

Hey everyone!  It is the companion article for the podcast!

5. The Walking Dead

If you have read the site you know that I have a pretty healthy disdain for the TV show adaptation of The Walking Dead; you may not know that I also have a pretty large, and slowly growing, hate of the comic series as well.  What once was a thoughtful and well written take on the end of the world has turned into an annoying group of jerks slowly turning what is left of working civilization into functional murder factories, an impressive feat when uninfected humans seem to be rarer than the North Korean unicorn.

Wonderfully the game manages to have nothing to do with the other abominations of the series, mainly because I believe that Kirkman has actively kept his hands off of it.  The story has a ton of bullet pointed events that must play out, but the people that are there, and their attitude during the events are entirely player choices.  It is like a D&D game with an obsessive DM that doesn’t allow that much exploring.  It never feels like it ends up mattering though, because everything that happens in the game just feels like direction intended by the player.

Basically everything else besides the story is either forgettable or mechanically broken, but they did that one thing better than anyone one else and warranted a mention on the top five.

4. X-Com

X-Com managed to make me feel like Firaxis had reinvented the wheel.  Both playing as an unforgiving tactics game and an interactive tech tree, X-Com is as punishing as it was a blast to play.  It sucks losing dozens of soldiers through the course of standard play, but at times I just let them go because it kind of felt like it added to the experience.  Sure, having only one none rookie live through a mission would probably cause a save load, sure, there were times that I am sure I researched the exactly wrong thing and didn’t really know how to progress until I read a FAQ; none of that mattered because it was the perfect replacement/addition to my yearly Civ 4/5 hole that I fall rather deeply into.

3. Atelier Meruru

If you listen to the podcast you know two things, the first is that we had massive audio problems on the game of the year podcast, the second is that I came very close to naming Atelier Meruru my game of the year.  The series has always had some kind of had a crazy warm place in my heart; and those of you who remember might notice that if it hadn’t been for two of the best games in recent memory, Skyrim and Saints Row the Third, Totori would have been my game of the year last year as well.

I won’t bore the loyal readers by going through why this ends up being so high on my list, but you should all know that if it wasn’t for the fact that this came out in the spring this probably would be the reason that things aren’t being update, and not just me being stupid lazy.

2. Far Cry 3

Shooting doods is fun.  Shooting them in an open world environment that I can actively effect down to how certain areas play is something else.  The last Far Cry was a brutal and unforgiving world where nothing ever seemed to change except your ability to exist in it.  This time you are clearing areas to make random bad guys not appear, reestablishing communications with the mainland in areas so shops can stock better/free weapons, and slowly helping the natives regain the island.  Sure the core story of the game is stupid, lazy at times, and seemingly inspired by the world’s worst people having the worst things in the world happen to them, but considering that this is the first year that story made a good showing in more than one game I can’t see that damaging Far Cry that much.

Sure, a RPG shooter isn’t anything new—one year Stark attempted to make Deus Ex the game of always—but the genre isn’t really present enough to be ever really considered overdone.  Something should be said about the game just functioning well, not that that is really enough in this world anymore, but there is something between the lines that seems to just be a little more than other FPS games.  Did I mention that the game is well written in parts?  Sadly it seems to be pretty character specific, but when rescuing the protagonist’s girlfriend from a burning hotel full of angry soldiers, then having an army chase them the argument about her driving and his shooting seems to be pretty spot on—at least from my experience in terrible relationships.

The only real, solid, complaint that I can muster is that when the game works it is mind blowing, but sadly it only happens enough to secure the number two spot.

1. Code of Princess

In all honesty I think I might have been as surprised as everyone else in the world by how much I really enjoyed this game.  I think that some of the experience gathered from any entertainment is the mindset going into it, and considering that I knew little to nothing about Code of Princess when I bought it—besides the fact that I would be the third 3DS game that I owned and would oddly make me feel less empty about having the system—I think that might have something to do with it being in the top five spot.

The rest of the game, a side scrolling brawler RPG with more selectable characters than I will personally ever be able to play, has something to say about it beating the rest of the selection and planting itself at number one.  The main character is wearing next to nothing in the game, which is brought up exactly twice with her both flipping out and defending her choice of ultra-casual wear, and almost the rest of the characters kind of being completely useless and forgettable as a cast somehow is made to work and work really well.

While it might not be true for any other human being on the planet, Code of Princess was exactly the game I wanted to be playing at exactly the right moment.  That is why I am making it my game of the year.

Review: Code of Princess

The 3DS has been out for a while now, but it is still hard to pick up a game that has any form of staying power.  Sure there are the odd titles, normally directly from Nintendo, that manage to entertain for a while—none of them have that must buy feeling.  That was, of course, until Code of Princess came out.

The gameplay is simple enough, 2D beat ‘em up with basic RPG elements, but the nuances that really make the difference.  It might be easy enough to mash the B button and power through the larger chunk of the story missions, but it is when playing through the challenges that the game really starts to require the player to learn the depth of the controls.  Hidden underneath is something akin to fighting game controls, from each character knowing a slew of different combos and special attacks to balancing the right time to use the characters magic to do double damage.  It might not seem like much at first but the deeper into the game one delves the easier it is to see just how much fun it really can be.

Also, as an interesting note, the game allows the players to unlock almost every single sprite that is used in the game as a playable character in the bonus modes.  Playing through the game with the main character that is clearly destined to save the world is all well and good, but beating the last boss on the hardest difficulty with an eight year-old girl is nothing short of designed bragging rights.  What ends up coming out is hidden depths of the game that seem to be willing to reward the player the more that they want to invest in it.

On a side note it should be pointed out that the music in the game is oddly addictive, and one of the only true complaints is that the soundtrack that comes with the game simply isn’t full enough.  It is an odd experience when I had to bring my 3DS over to a friend’s apartment simply to play the shop music so he could fully understand why I couldn’t get it out of my brain.  While that might be the most catchy tune it does set the rest of the soundtrack up, and is helped along the way by a fully voice acted story.

Sometimes there is exactly the right game at exactly the right time, for me that was Code of Princess.  While on the surface it might look like a standard 2D beat ‘em up that takes heavy influence from Guardian Heroes it ends up feeling like so much more.  For a system that was starving for something that fitted the format almost perfectly, Code of Princess is closer to a saving grace than most people will give it credit for.  Sadly it seems to be such an obscure genre and contain such a niche appeal it might be looked over by most people.