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.


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.

Gillman’s Top 10 Games of 2011

10. Marvel v. Capcom:

Besides the fact that this year was when I finally found a group competitive people and was able to start really learning how to really play fighting games, it is hard to ignore the fact that one of the most requested sequels to a game finally came out—and it also managed to pretty much live up to what everyone thought it should be… at first.  It is hard to ignore the fact that Capcom is quickly burning what good will they have ever built with this game by basically putting out the same thing with more characters a short eight months after it came out. Doesn’t matter, it is still exactly what I wanted it to be.  The dickishness of everything else is why it is so far down my list.

9. Deus Ex: Human Revolution:

If it wasn’t for Stark’s constant insistence, and Steam selling the game for next to nothing, this would not have made the list and would have made room for Gears of War 3.  As it is I have played only a handful of hours in it so it makes up the tail end, and glares at me with desire to be placed higher than it sits.  While it only took about 10 years to make a (good) sequel to one of the best games ever made by man, they did make something that can stand up to what the first Deus Ex game was.

8. Battlefield 3:

I have yet to play the single player, and in all honesty don’t know if I will have that intention ever.  While I am not overly happy paying 60 dollars for a game that, for all intents, is just a multiplayer it does find ways to make me believe it is almost worth that price.  Probably one of the better looking games that hold some odd spell that causes me to come to work and tell everyone highlights of the night before.  Great graphics, a large enough environment for freedom of movement and choice, and chaos on the level that would make most recent wars jealous and it just destroys anything Call of Duty has done.  Remember, when you can’t capture a flag the solution is to always throw more mans at it.  Possibly in helicopters.

7. Super Street Fighter 4: Arcade Edition:

When Street Fighter 4 came out a couple of years ago it was the catalyst that started everyone thinking about fighting games as something that could be done in an current, fun, and enjoyable way– this would be the logical conclusion to that arch.  The game is balanced enough that, speaking from experience, someone who is terrible can play against a tournament level person and slowly start to learn and become better with continued play and not feel like they are getting stomped.  The depth is amazing, but sadly it feels like Capcom figured out how to make it a pivotal experience but forgot marketing and how to please customers.

6. Disgaea 4:

Welcome to Varms.  I like Disgaea.  I like Disgaea a lot.  The odd thing about Disgaea is that I almost never get into it that deeply when I first pick up the game, almost like I subconsciously know that it will suck whatever time I have around me away.  I might have only have dumped about 20 hours into the game when it first came out, oddly enough time to get my characters to a level that could easily beat the rest of the story game with no equipment on, it still wasn’t enough for me to really say that I felt like I had gotten anywhere.  While I haven’t sunk the required 100+ hours into the game that I normally do, I can tell that this seems to be the best one to come out.  Wait for the site to quickly become a Disgaea 4 fan page later this year.  You have been warned.

5. Mortal Kombat:

Striking a balance between rewarding to know what you are doing and happily button mash friendly for drunken people; Mortal Kombat is not the fighting game we wanted, but it is exactly the one that we deserve.  Making a story mode matter in a fighting game is something that should have been done before it was successfully done in a first person shooter. The story is dumb, plays to the lowest standards it can, becomes kind of hard to follow towards the end, and still manages to be the best thing to happen to the genre since the Arcade.

4. Portal 2:

At one point Stark and I were going to do an entire podcast just about Portal 2.  Something happened and that podcast didn’t.  Either way it is everything that everyone should always look for in a game, or something very much like it.  There were certainly times that I put down the game because I was simply stumped on a puzzle that had me launching my character against the same wall for the better part of an hour, only to find that I solved it the moment I went back .  Also, I didn’t mind the multiplayer the way some people now suddenly seem to—but I also played the entire thing with Stark.  Also, it was pretty awesome that purchasing the game on PS3 gave you a free copy on Steam.

3. Atelier Totori: Alchemist of Arland:

The only thing that I have against this game is that the heavily implied lesbian harassment from the previous alchemy teacher is no longer present.  Besides that the game pretty much is everything that I love about Role Playing Games, also it is one of the signature times that Stark has played something directly under my recommendation and completely not understood the pure enjoyment that I found.  Oddly my entrance into the series was a fluke of Gamefly sending me something I had put on my list as a joke because they had nothing else, and ended with me buying about a dozen games tangentially related to it.  In all honesty I kind of think this one is my favorite series ever.

2. Skyrim:

If you have listened to the podcast you can pretty much just go ahead and skip this section because I am sure this will just be me repeating myself about how much time I have lost to this game, if not feel free to let me talk about how little I have played the main story.  The fact that beyond the very first quest there isn’t really much forced on the player in the way of advancing the plot is one of my favorite things about this series of games.  It might sound boring to most people, and probably is worse than getting teeth pulled to watch, but my master blacksmith/alchemist has no regrets about so far learning no combat skills while still basically owning entire towns due to my government grade wealth.

1. Saints Row the 3rd:

The only game that has come out in the last several years that I could probably put above Skyrim, Saints Row manages to be a game that feels like it has possibly everything that you could ever really want from a Grand Theft Auto style game.  Probably the major fault of every street thug style game is the chunk of the time spent playing is trying to put your entire gang together, Saints Row does away with by just saying you are a world known crew and just killing other gangs.  The first trip to a gun story basically requires the purchase of a rocket launcher, so even the weapon progression of the game is entirely skewed.  By the end of the game the main character is literally invincible with unlimited ammo for all weapons. At one point I described my characters machine guns as a fire hose of bullets. It is pretty awesome.