As I wrote before, Nintendo surprised everyone with New Super Mario Bros. Wii when they released it on the heels of Mario Galaxy, if only because everyone at that point was expecting Nintendo to 1-up themselves and expand on the Galaxy series they established, or at least continue with the 3D style of their next Mario game. But, as I so eloquently pointed out, Nintendo isn't one to cave to pressure, and continues to do things their way, whichever way they feel is best.
I really do think that they were super happy with NSMBW and how it turned out, specifically how it finally encouraged players of all ages and skill levels to sit around on the couch and play a Mario game together, cooperatively, sharing the same gaming experience at once. Despite what they personally thought about the game, however, Nintendo decided to keep true to their philosophy about keeping things fresh and new, and decided not to make another game like NSMBW, instead, going back to their newest bread and butter for the Mario franchise.
That's right, they took Mario back to outer space for another adventure within the cosmos, with a sequel to the best reviewed Mario game ever, simply titles Super Mario Galaxy 2. With the release of this game, Nintendo actually pulled back the curtain on the development cycle of this game, admitting that it was first being designed as an add-on or expansion type of game to the original Galaxy, tentatively to be titled "More Super Mario Galaxy." But apparently, once the development team got rolling on the title, they were inundated and flooded with dozens of new ideas for the game, everything from new levels, to gameplay mechanics, bosses and even power ups. It was then decided to make what they were creating into a full-fledged game and an outright sequel to the original game, which pushed development back another year and a half or so.
Usually, this kind of decision can mean bad news for the title. First of all, when a title is delayed over a year or so, people freak out and usually sour on the title by the time it is released. With Nintendo being so tight-lipped about their development of games, however, nobody knew it was delayed as it was only ever shown off and previewed as Galaxy 2. Personally, I wish more companies would take this approach, as it would eliminate over-hyping a game and just allowing it to organically build momentum, and would actually prevent development teams from rushing their work and stop publishers from pushing out unfinished products for the sake of meeting deadlines. Think about it: how often does Nintendo ship out broken or buggy games that need countless patches after release? Hardly ever, as the only example I can think of is the crazy game breaking bug in Zelda: Skyward Sword, that was promptly fixed when noticed. Other than that, when Nintendo games are released, they are finished products. Crazy notion, right?
Secondly, when studios try to create more from something small, it can get sketchy real quick. If a development team is told to take what is essentially DLC for an existing game and turn it into a full retail game, you better believe that game will be overflowing with filler content, and usually ends up feeling like a rip-off when looking at the what you get in the game compared to the price tag. For Nintendo to do this, they would have had to be absolutely certain they could transform all of their new ideas into a full game, or they wouldn't have ever pulled the trigger. Despite Nintendo liking money and doing what they can to make it, they always strive to deliver what they feel is an acceptable product for what they expect customers to pay for.
So how did they do with Super Mario Galaxy 2? Well, they completely outdid themselves, creating yet another game that proudly sits near the very top of the all-time best highest review scores list on Metacritic. Not only that, but personally, playing Galaxy 2 doesn't ever feel like an expansion or DLC, but feels like a brand new game. Actually, it doesn't even feel like a full sequel to Galaxy, as there are so many new and different things in the game, it could have a completely title and not feel weird or out of place at all. Sure, it is in space like the original, but the game is so good, it deserves to had a stand-alone name, not be in the shadows of the first game.
The biggest difference between this game and the first is the inclusion of Yoshi. Finally, after all these years, Yoshi is back in full form. He doesn't just feel like a power-up as he did in New Super Mario Bros. Wii, but rather an additional character, or partner if you will, to Mario on his adventure. He isn't in every level, and doesn't act like a companion character, but when you get him, especially his different versions, it adds a new and exciting wrinkle to the gameplay mechanics that couldn't be possible without the lovable dinosaur friend.
Galaxy 2 also added an increased difficulty to the game, especially when playing additional and bonus levels, or going after those pesky green stars. While the difficulty could be nauseating and frustrating to some, I absolutely love replaying levels of this game over and over again in hopes of finally succeeding. In fact, I went back and attempted the hardest level possibly ever created for a Mario game, which I could never beat before. Well, after a few years of not touching it, I am proud to announce that ... I stilli can't beat the level, despite my best efforts and many lives spent. Oh well, maybe in a couple more years I'll give it a shot once again.
Another thing I want to point out, which I honestly had forgotten about until playing it again, was how amazing the musical score for this game is. The first Galaxy game had fantastic music too, but in this game, there are points where you just want to put the controller down and listen to the music, letting the sound and environment sweep over your senses. What makes it so good, you ask? Well, it's entirely composed by a symphony orchestra, and the entire soundtrack was available in a 2-disc set over in Japan. Yeah, it's that good.
Overall, not once did I ever feel like Galaxy 2 feel short of expectations or failed to live up to the first game in the "series." While a Galaxy 1.5 would have been great, I am so very thankful that Nintendo had the wherewithal and confidence in the development team to allow them to put out a full game, even though it meant a delay in release. And just like the first Galaxy game, this was a statement game for Nintendo, as they clearly set out to prove just how awesome games could look in the console everyone else thought was under-powered and lacking in technical specs.
By the time Super Mario Galaxy 2 was released, there were Wii's in pretty much every living room across America. They didn't use Galaxy 2 to help sell systems, but rather just show off what a development team could do if given the proper time and confidence. It was actually pretty rare for Nintendo to not use Mario to help sell a system, but true to tradition, they wouldn't make it a habit of repeating themselves going forward.
After such an amazing, awe-inspiring game like Super Mario Galaxy, Nintendo put it's self and the developers of the Mario games into quite a pickle. On one hand, they completely exceeded everyone's expectations for what a 3D Mario game on the Wii console could be, and they should be commemorated and congratulated for that tenfold. What they pulled off with that title is nothing short of amazing, and thankfully, the critics around the world universally agreed how amazing it was, thus rewarding the team for their accomplishments with the game. On the other hand, however, they raised the bar so high for themselves for any future Mario games, it almost seemed impossible for any Mario game to get better, or even equal, of what Galaxy accomplished.
So when they announced New Super Mario Bros. Wii as the next Mario title, which wasn't a follow up or successor to Galaxy at all, fans everywhere balked at the news and immediately started judging the game for not being as good or as creative as Galaxy. Gamers seemed to adore Galaxy so much, that no matter what Nintendo revealed, it wasn't going to be enough to satisfy the craving that Nintendo themselves established in the first place. It felt like a no-win situation for the company, and the criticism and negativity started right back up.
The thing is, however, that Nintendo never claimed to want to make another Galaxy game, or a game similar to it. Remember, they like to shake things up, keep things creative and new and fresh feeling, and not dwell too heavily on one style of gameplay, despite how successful it might be, I mean think about it, how often does Nintendo put out back to back Mario games of the similar style? Exactly. Yet everyone, even to this day, continues to say that Nintendo just recycles the same old, tired formula over and over again. Weird how perspective and assumptions can differ so greatly from reality some times.
Anyway, with New Super Mario Bros. Wii, they went back to the successful formula that the DS game established, providing the classic 2D side-scrolling gameplay in a very stylish, modern style of design. With Galaxy, the clear focus was on adventure and 3D exploration of the worlds traveled to, and while it was an amazing experience from start to finish, I can totally see why it isn't a game for everyone. Remember that the Wii was a household staple all across the country, and not just in the living rooms or bedrooms of "hardcore" gamers. The install base had branched out into casual and first-time gamers, and for those not used to controlling video game characters around a 3D axis, it could surely prove to be difficult without the proper hand-eye coordination or years of practice. And just because Galaxy was so successful didn't mean that Nintendo would be complacent and just be satisfied with Mario reaching out to some of their customers, but not all.
With that idea in mind, New Super Mario Bros. Wii was born, hoping to reach out to that audience that was turned off by the complex game play of Galaxy. NSMBW was developed with families in mind, hoping to bring everyone together on the couch for game play sessions in a Mario co-op experience like no other. At first, it's easy to label Mario as a family game, but in reality, no Mario game was ever truly developed with multiple gamers in mind. Sure, they would have a second player option in some of them, allowing two players to take turns playing levels, which are really just two individual gaming experiences, instead of one shared experience. With this game, however, they wanted to change all that, and allow four players at once to share one gaming experience, however hectic it may be.
And when thinking about this game, my first memories are always how chaotic and hectic it was playing with my three kids. We would sit around and play it together, because we could, and because they loved it. Sure, it was as frustrating as you could imagine for a gamer like me, but when you sit back and just experience the game as nothing but fun times with your kids and not worry about collecting everything, or doing the best as possible, it really is a blast. It's pure madness, but it's fun nonetheless.
Playing with my daughter on this Christmas day afternoon, all I could think about was all those times I got to play it with them, and how I may have taken that time for granted. Hindsight is dangerous if you let it get to you, but I wish I could go back and appreciate all those moments I had with my kids while playing games, especially now that my time with them is far more limited, especially for playing games with them.
I remember the younger ones always "bubbling up" on the tough parts of each level, which just encapsulated their character in a bubble that would follow the other players through the level, until popped. This prevented them from dying or getting stuck on jumps they couldn't make, and really made the game playable for everyone of all ages. It prevented frustration from my end, and it kept them entertained and in the game without worry of them getting bored due to difficulties.
It's not the best looking Nintendo game, or the most creative. It's not the most ground breaking game, or at the top of the list within the franchise. But it will always be remembered and appreciated for opening doors to everyone who wanted to experience a Mario game, that wasn't just satisfied watching or playing as a second player, alone. It brought people together on the couch for a full game experience, and while online gaming was climbing higher and higher in popularity, it was refreshing to see a company still value in-person human interaction.
Of course, maybe it was this game that made Nintendo remember that loneliness is tough thing to handle, even for video game characters. I mean, space is a pretty lonely place if you don't have a companion by your side, don't you think?
Over this year-long project to play a different game every day and write about it, I have played a wide variety of games. I have played most of my favorites, played old and new games, and even ventured in to some genres I didn't care for to start or just didn't know much about. I've played games I never knew existed, games I never would have pictured myself playing or liking for that matter, and games I had in the back of my mind all along, that I wanted to write about for one reason or another. I've played good games and bad games, games that could hardly be considered games and games I don't even remember playing, if I were to go back and look through all my posts.
Most importantly, I have played the biggest and broadest variety of games possible for me, to give you all, the readers, something new and different each day, each week, each month. I always tried to avoid getting stuck in repeating and uninteresting patterns, and always did my best to keep it fresh and exciting, from day one up until now.
And because of that, I want to throw yet another curve ball your way, with a game that very few people remember even hearing about, and even less actually played. In fact, I would be shocked and surprised to find anyone who has played this game, and I challenge you to write in and let me know if you played it, because honestly, I feel all alone on this one. I have since I bought it, and because of that, I want to share a hidden gem with you.
Endless Ocean: Blue World is a sequel to the original Endless Ocean game, both of which graced the Wii console as Nintendo-published games. If you aren't familiar with the series at all, which I totally anticipate, the game features you as a diver as you explore the waters and marine life. In this game, there is a legit story that progresses you through the game, taking you to diving spots all over the world, even including arctic waters and a fresh water river. While diving, you just swim around and check out the underwater environments, interacting and photographing all the sea creatures you come across.
Of course the collector in me made sure I found and documented every kind of fish and creature, even the "legendary" ones that usually require you to fulfill some act or objective in order to bring them out. There's an aquarium where you are given the power to pick whatever type of sea creatures you want to fill the tanks, and you can only select from the ones you encountered, giving you more incentive to find them all.
In this game, unlike the first one, there are predators that actually pose a threat to you as playable character, like sharks, crocodiles and electric eels, to name a few. This was a nice addition to the game, as it gave it more of a gaming vibe, as the first one literally had not threats to speak of, thus making it feel like a diving simulator as opposed to a "real" game.
For a Wii game, it is gorgeous. The textures and graphics of creatures up close and personal might not be groundbreaking, but the distant views and vast areas to explore and enjoy really are the crowing achievement for this game. For me, falling in love with this series was a piece of cake, as the ocean and animals are my favorite thing in the world. The thought of studying marine biology intrigues me to this day, and I can't always help but wonder what else is out there to explore and discover. We spend so much money as a country on exploring space when we know just as much, if that, about our deepest oceans. They are full of things to discover for the full time, and while I'm not putting on a wet suit any time soon, this is a nice alternative.
Now if I can just get a follow up to this game on the Wii U, with the use of the GamePad, and I would be one happy camper.
This blog post is going to be confession time, with a trip down memory lane as well. Just wanted to let you all know right off the bat so there is no confusion at all why in the world I picked this game, of all games to play this close to the end of the year. Now with that heads up warning out of the way, let's get down to it.
First of all, I don't like James Bond. I have never liked James Bond, and have zero emotional connection to the character, the actors that have played him or the franchise itself. I've seen a handful of James Bond movies, from all eras and several different actors, and none of them have ever held my attention. I know it's pretty taboo for a guy to not like James Bond, but the movies just never did it for me. The storylines are always pretty cheesy, the action is over-the-top, and I can't seem to get over the fact that despite spanning over half of a century, the character is the same character over all generations it has covered.
I realize that this happens all the time comic books and other fictional stories, but they have never portrayed Bond to be anything other than a spy in whatever day and age it is at the time. It's fictional, but not sci-fi at all, so the fact that the character has been around for over 60 years and there isn't continuity between anything just flat out bugs me.
Also, on a podcast a few weeks back, I told a story about how I flat out refused to play a game my cousin rented for us to play together because I was planning on buying it and didn't want it spoiled or ruined before I had a proper chance to play it. The game was GoldenEye 007, which I eventually got for my birthday from my cousin, which made me feel even worse because of how rude I was to him a few weeks before then. He even got the limited edition version which included a gold-colored Classic Pro controller with the game, which was ideal for first person shooters, if only for the dual sticks. I didn't deserve it from him, but he thought I should have it, especially with how much fuss I put up about the rental copy he picked up. To this day, I still feel bad about it and wish I had enough clarity at the time to realize I was wrong.
But, c'est la vie, as they say.
The reason I was so excited for the Wii game, which wasn't quite a remake, but rather a rehashing of the classic Nintendo 64 game, is for obvious reasons. As a kid, I played more GoldenEye with my cousins and friends than any other multiplayer or co-op game. We would play for hours at each others' houses, always filling up all four slots of players. Special rules, modified matches and arguments about using Oddjob consumed our play sessions. We had a blast playing together, as I don't ever remember playing that game alone. Of course, that was far before the heyday of online multiplayer, back when kids actually went outside and rode bikes to their friends' houses and play next to them on the couch. Crazy times back then, that these youngins nowadays will never understand.
Anyway, when I eventually played this Wii version for the first time, it would be an understatement to say I was severely disapointed. The game itself was OK, as it was Wii graphics after all, but it just didn't feel right. I had my two boys and my cousin all sitting around the television playing multiplayer, and it bummed me out. They didn't care about how cool paintball mode used to be, or how lining an air duct with proximity mines was an awesome strategy. Needless to say, the game just didn't hold up to modern first-person shooters, as the only thing it had going for it was nostalgia, at best.
So this weekend I dusted it off and gave it another shot, just to see how jaded I was then or still was. I'm sad to report that it still doesn't hold up, and might be even worse with each time I try to play it. While Punch-Out!! the other day was a pure gem and a fantastic representation of a classic game, this Wii version of GoldenEye 007 just makes me want to pull out the old 64 version, call up my friends and play, even though that wouldn't help at all to get this bitter taste out of my mouth.
Sorry, Bond. The one thing I liked about is slowly fading away into the sunset, probably for good.
If there is one thing that Nintendo has always done well, it's capitalize on their intellectual properties. I've argued this point for years, but even with the release of new Legend of Zelda and Mario games recently, the only chatter I have heard from non-Nintendo fans is that Nintendo only recycles their franchises over and over again, never adding anything to them and basically just making money off of nostalgia. What those people fail to release is that why their argument about never adding anything new to the franchises is ridiculous, the fact that Nintendo lives and breathes as a company because of nostalgia is completely accurate.
Nintendo is so successful in the video game industry because of the hard work and dedication they have put in to establishing franchises and characters and game universes, and making gamers continue to care about them and want to play the newest versions. It's smart business, and while they can't always be relied on for third-party titles, their in-house published games continue to strike interest in fans, touching on the nostalgic part of the heart every time. Truth is, Sony and Microsoft would kill to have several first party franchises they can reward their fans with on a regular basis.
It's not like Nintendo is lazy and puts out annual games that use the same formula over and over again and slightly upgrade the graphics every title, like other well known games are becoming notorious for. No, Nintendo treats every new game they release as if it was the first game of the series, hoping to capture the hearts of minds of new gamers with every release, never banking on the fact that there are established connections with the characters and worlds already. They take the time and care to create each game from the ground up, whether that be creating the next chapter in a series or recreating an old favorite.
One of those old favorites I decided to play again, to remind myself how special Nintendo is, was Punch-Out!!, which was an NES classic that is at the forefront in the minds of all kids from that era. Whenever a list of best sports games is ever compiled, Punch-Out!! regularly finds itself at the top or near it, and for good reason. It is a fantastic game and one I will always adore. But enough about the original - I already wrote about it once before.
No, I want to talk about the newest iteration of Punch-Out!!, which came out a few years ago on the Wii. I remember the announcement for this game, and I clearly recall being scared to death to think of a remake for such a classic. They weren't just making a new game, they were trying to recapture the magic the original one offered, by bringing back the old roster of characters. But if there is any company I trust to bring something back from the dead and remake it with the risk of disappointing an entire generation of gamers, I would trust Nintendo implicitly every time.
And boy did they deliver a knock out of a game. (Sorry for the bad pun, but I had to. You understand, right?)
Everything you liked about the original game is back in this newest version, from Little Mac being impossible to root against, to Doc Louis encouraging you all the way to the top, to Glass Joe and his winless record and of course King Hippo and his AH-HA moment when you discover the key to victory when pitted against him. It's all there, and then some, and never once did I feel like they were doing the classic game an injustice. Conversely, if this was the first Punch-Out!! game I had every played, I could totally fall in love with the franchise with just this one game. The proof is in the pudding when it comes to Nintendo delivering the magic once again.
The only thing missing from this game that the classic game had is Mike Tyson, even though late adopters of the classic game only knew of Mr. Dream as the final boss. Tyson was undoubtedly the epitome of a final boss, as when you finally beat him, if you ever did that is, the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that would rush over you would be impossible to recreate. It's completely understandable that Nintendo chose to distance itself from Iron Mike all those years ago, but a part of me wishes that they could at least give a wink or a nod to the baddest man on the planet in some form or fashion one of these days. It will never happen, and I know that, but the thought of it just makes me smile.
This remake of an iconic classic NES title was refreshing, and a great way to remind everyone how deep the Nintendo catalog is in which they can call upon at any time if they feel so inclined. In fact, I would love to see more from this franchise in the future, as I think they could do some cool things with the GamePad of the Wii U. Heck, I would even take a 3DS version, as the 3D effects could be awesome.
But again, I'm just daydreaming here. Of course, I have only Nintendo to blame for that.
Over the course of the year, I have wrote extensively about overall lack of skill and constant ineptitude with fighting games. I've played a few of them, and some of which I really liked (despite my futility) and others were utterly frustrating. Either way, its a genre of games I usually hate playing but love immensely at the same time. It's really hard to explain, but I don't want to harp on it anymore either.
With the year coming to end, I had to make sure I got this game in my year for the sheer fact of it being hands-down my favorite fighting game of all time. I poured more time and energy into this game back when it was first released than any other fighting I can remember, including the Mortal Kombat games back on the Super Nintendo as a kid. Hours and hours spent playing, practicing and unlocking everything possible, and just when it got to the point where there was nothing else to do in the game, I kept playing, if only out of love for the game.
Super Smash Bros. Brawl was the third installment in the franchise, but far and above the best of the series. It was the biggest, the most expansive and for obvious reason, the best looking game of the series. Looking back, it truly is a crowning jewel for the Wii generation.
I feel in love with the franchise back with the first game on the Nintendo 64, but never had as much time with that game as I would have wanted, much less the time needed to get good at it. When Melee came out for the GameCube, it was one of the games I played most on that system, and as great as it was, it always felt like it was missing something. With Brawl, however, everything I always wanted from the franchise was fully accounted for, and I couldn't ask for more.
Just in case it hasn't been perfectly clear in this crazy year of gaming, I am a HUGE Nintendo fan. I love everything about the company, and their first party games that they develop are easily some of my favorite franchises and their games, despite other games think they are just repetitive, continue to enchant me even after all these years. So naturally, a game featuring a mash-up of all the classic Nintendo characters is sure to strike a chord.
Don't get it wrong, though, because it isn't just about the playable characters that make these games magical, especially when talking about Brawl. Once you add in all the stages that accurately represent the games that the characters come from, the weapons and items that you are already familiar with and the addition of seemingly countless numbers of non-playable yet still participating characters that pop up all throughout the matches, and it's almost a Nintendo sensory overload. But if my senses are ever going to be overloaded, what better cause than Nintendo, right?
In Brawl, the addition of the Smash Balls was an excellent choice, and might have been the biggest ingredient missing from the previous two titles, and certainly something that I didn't even know i wanted until I saw it in action for the first time. Throughout each match, Smash Balls will randomly generate and float around the stage, waiting to be hit to the point of breaking. Not every Ball has the same damage tolerance, and each one is randomly generated it seems. One Ball may take one or two hits, while the next one may take up to five. And generally, as if not to over-saturate the gaming experience, you will see about two Smash Balls per match on average, which can always be adjusted in the match settings if you choose.
So what do the Smash Balls do? They give your character, if you are lucky enough to break it open, a super charged super special ability, with each characters having their own unique Smash attack (for the most part, as there are a couple of exceptions, but don't get my started on that). Each special move is awesome to watch and experience, and you can't help but sit back and watch each one as they happen with a smile on your face, even if you're on the wrong end of one. They aren't finishing moves, however, just automatic knockouts, and like I said before, can be used several times per match. Better yet, if you or an opponent has a Smash move available and is running around trying to get into the best position to use it, it can be stole with a single attack, thus making the anxiety of having one or seeing one in play that much more heightened.
The single player story mode, called the Subspace Emmisary, has always been a point of contention for most gamers, and while it isn't the best mode to play, it's certainly not horrible as many would lead you to believe. I actually enjoy playing through it, despite it making little to no sense, but honestly, what fighting game as a great storyline that makes perfect sense? Go ahead, think about it. I'll wait right here until you come up with one.
Unlocking characters, stages, items and everything else, however, is the best part of the game for me, without question. Sure, there are ways to farm them and speed up the process, but that takes all the fun out of it. And once you unlocked everything, which is a lot, I still never felt like there wasn't any reason to play. If anything, it just made me want to play and explore everything that much more, enjoying all the unlockables that were now available to me.
Before this game was released, Nintendo decided to start the hype train themselves, by creating the Dojo website, which released screen shots, bits of information and made character reveals on a daily basis, leading up to the release of the game. Sure, it was filled with spoilers and for those people who wanted to be surprised by what they were unlocking, it wasn't for them. But it is a fighting game, and Nintendo banked on the reveals as a good way of marketing, and I think it worked. In fact, Nintendo is so confident in the strategy that they are doing it again for the upcoming Smash Bros. game coming out next year, as they release a new screen shot every single day, which have included some previously unannounced characters and stages.
Truth is, I simply can not wait for the next game. Just playing Brawl again made me want the next game that much more. There is a version coming out for the Wii U, which looks absolutely gorgeous, and a version coming out for the 3DS, which features a slightly different and more cartoon/comic art style, which looks like it will be beautiful and perfect on the handheld system. They are still vague on the details of the game at this point, but of every game we know about being in development, this game is at the top of the list. Is it 2014 yet?
I have been waiting to write this blog literally all year. This has been the culmination of 317 days of waiting for just the right time to finally - FINALLY - write about this game. Going into this year of gaming, there were a few games in my library that I absolutely insisted writing about, for one reason or another. Metroid: Other M was one of those games I had picked out ahead, patiently waiting to speak my mind on something that I have had burning inside of me for over three years now.
You see, there used to be this television show called X-Play, that aired on the G4 network. It usually followed the wildly popular Attack of the Show, and was focused entirely on video games and the industry itself. It was a TV show version of like an IGN, or other popular news sites. I watched the show whenever I could, despite them usually being a day or two behind on the news ad reviews. I really liked one of their hosts, Adam Sessler, but unfortunately I couldn't say the same about his co-host, Morgan Webb.
From the get-go, there was always something about her that didn't sit right with me. I'm pretty sure a lot had to do with her self-proclaimed disinterest in all things Nintendo, as she more often than not made it point to let everyone know where she stood on that subject, and always talked about their games in almost a demeaning fashion. So when she was pegged to do the review for Metroid: Other M, I was perplexed to say the least. Why would someone who had no interest at all in Nintendo game be reviewing a big game from the Nintendo publishers?
I was down-right appalled by her review. She completely assaulted Other M, mocking it for its design choices, game play elements and overall experience of the game. She was cold, ruthless and unrelenting, almost to the point where it felt like she was actually trying to upset Nintendo fans. Of all the things she complained about, I was most taken back by her disgruntlement over the Samus character and how the new developers, Team M, decided to portray her.
By not being able to find solid, substantial quotes she actually said about the game, she basically said that the developers made Samus more human and more feminine than past games, mainly pointing out the cut-scenes throughout the game make her more into a woman and strip her of her overall solid and stable frame of mind. By this point, everyone knew Samus to be this strong, independent lead character who is seen as a pioneer for equal rights for female characters in video games. But according to Webb, the development team stripped her of her toughness because they portrayed her to be emotional, loving and a little needy. You know, they basically showed her as being human. *spoiler alert!*
I played Other M, and I absolutely loved it, and while I understand that all types of opinions matter and have some merit, I can't say that I take Morgan Webb's opinions too seriously from here on out. Sure, they showed Samus without her gear on, creating a more feminine character than the bounty hunter we all knew and loved, but that's one of the things I liked most about it. Other M didn't make Samus less of an awesome lead character, but instead made her more human, more realistic and easier to attach yourself with.
It's important to remember that this game takes place after the events of Super Metroid but before Fusion, so it is totally realistic to think that the entire ordeal messed her up a little, caused some emotional breakdowns and made her more like you and I. Of course once you start playing the game, you are shown a cut-scene of the events at the end of Super Metroid for those unfamiliar with it. Then the game turns her back into the familiar bounty hunter role. So yeah, Samus has some issues and she needs them resolved.
The game play switches back and forth between first- and third-person perspective, which adds a certain level of challenge to the game, trying to see the world in a different light than we are used to. The graphics are great, and the controls work well once you get them all figured out. What's funny is that most critics loved the game play and loathed the cut-scenes and dram put into the game. But by today's standards, with storylines being the most important thing in the world, this game may have gotten perfect 10s if it had come out today instead of three years ago.
I guess it's just hard for me to let go of a grudge. I mean really, three years later and I am still obsessing over this game with sketchy-at-best attitude when it comes down to the amount of money they have and plan to bring in. I don't hate Morgan Webb as a person, but as a gamer, I feel like she bit off more than she cared to chew with Metroid: Other M, and that's the real shame, because it is an all-time classic in my book.
Speaking of which, I did do this blog on the eve of the Playstation 4 release. While that observation has no real baring on what I've typed down on this blog, it's important to say one thing. Greatness Awaits ... me, tomorrow.
The Nintendo Wii will always be highly regarded for revolutionizing the way we look at gaming controllers. This isn't just my opinion, pretty much the consensus from the industry as a whole. Trust me, I did the legwork, conducted the research and polls, and decided that yes indeed, I am right in my opinion.
Sure, the Wii will forever be known and remembered for bringing in the largest casual gaming audience since possibly the original Nintendo, but far more important was the Wiimote and it's motion-sensing control configuration. Up until then, controllers were always just about the buttons, and while the Wiimotes had buttons of course, the ability to just move the controller around in different motions in order to control different functions of the game was mind-blowing to most. At first, people labeled it as just a gimmick, but eventually people came around to the idea of it being a legitimate way to control a game.
Many crappy, "shovelware" games that were pushed out for the Wii eventually turned the motion controls of the Wiimote back into gimmicks that worked poorly, thus souring the entire taste of the console for "hardcore" gamers forever. Somewhere in the middle of the roller coaster ride of respect given and taken away from the controls of the Wii, Retro Studios reemerged and brought the Metroid series over to the newest Nintendo console in the form of Metroid Prime 3: Corruption.
Using the Wiimote and Nunchuck controller scheme was a match made in heaven for now familiar style of game that Metroid had become. The First-Person Adventure game had been completely figured out by now, with the only missing up until then being great controls. The GameCube controller and control scheme worked well enough for the most part, but it always seemed like the weakest part of the experience for the two Primes.
Well, the Wiimote controller with the motion controls was all Metroid Prime 3: Corruption needed to instantly make it one of the finest games to ever grace a Wii console. On top of the amazing controls was possibly the best storytelling from the series since Super Metroid, as Dark Samus returned, and with her, a dark presence that would corrupt the great bounty hunter and push her to unthinkable limits. It was truly captivating, and a remarkable reminded of how far the series had come.
Also, for a game on a system that had no sort of trophy or achievement system, it is ridiculous how much time I spent in the game trying to get 100% by scanning every single thing possible in the game. Activate the scan mode and look around, scanning everything from landscape to equipment, organic material, creatures and of course enemies. Scanning stuff would unlock information, which ultimately only appealed to the completionists playing. It got vary tedious after a while, I have to admit, but after spending so much time on just that task alone, I felt like I would be wasting all of it if I just gave up half way through.
Overall, Corruption was by fay my favorite Prime game, and an amazing conclusion to a fantastic trilogy from Retro Studios. Nintendo clearly made the right choice in handing over the reigns to them, and it severed everyone well. Samus was here to stay, and the Metroid series had cemented itself as one of the elite.
Does Corruption owe the Wiimote a thank you, or does the Wii owe Metroid a thank you? Either way, they were both better because of each other.
I've wanted to write about this game for a while, but honestly, with the seemingly endless pile of games to play, both new releases and ones I've stashed away to play for this blog, it was hard to actually be inspired to play this game. Because as much as I adore this game, and would easily have it in the top ten of my list for Wii games, the game is totally not made for me, the serious gamer. Even though my love for all things Nintendo runs deep, this game wasn't developed for me to play as much as it was for me to simply enjoy.
It was developed for kids, and for parents to enjoy with them as they play. Sure, it is a legit game with actual gameplay, story and all the other elements that make a video game, a video game. But while the game itself is phenomenal, and there is some challenge in it for those who are collectors/perfectionists, the game is easy. Like, really easy. In fact, it's so easy, you can't die. Ever. There is restarts or continues. There is no punishment for failing or being bad at the game, or even for not having a clue what you are doing. The game continues to be charming and endearing, cute and whimsical, despite how well you do at the game.
And that's why it was perfect for my five year old daughter to play, and perfect for me to watch her and enjoy the father/daughter time.
She has played games before. We actually play Disney Infinity every time she comes over, and she has a couple of pages of games she likes to play on my iPad, so gaming isn't a completely foreign concept to her. But just because she plays games, doesn't necessarily mean she is good at them. She tries, and she is much better at tablet gaming then she is at console-based gaming with controllers. She knows the basics, but remembering which buttons do which, how to maneuver with joysticks is challenging for her, naturally.
So watching her play this game was fun, as she didn't know what she was doing, but because it is so forgiving, she never got frustrated with it. She just kept at it, moving along at her own pace, without worry or fear of failure. This is the type of game every kid deserves to play. This is the type of game that will encourage joy and enthusiasm with gaming for young kids, not discourage them and fault them for their failures and learning curves. This is the type of game that kids will have fun playing, enjoying their experience and just having fun.
And as a father, as much fun as I have with games, and as much fun as I had playing this game, just experiencing it with my daughter was far more rewarding than any achievement or trophy would ever be.
Several months ago, I put together a list of possible franchises I would like to a "Week Of..." series about, in hopes of having some planing going forward with the blog. I know I've been pretty spontaneous and unpredictable when it comes to which game I would be playing each day, although I still contest that there are some patterns and subtle hints I give every so often than can aid in guessing which games to look forward to seeing me write about. The thing is, with the popularity of my week-long series, I wanted to ensure that I was ready for each month, and I could make the each week something special, something of an event.
I shared this list of franchises with a few of my closest friends to get feedback on what they wanted to see, what they thought the readers would like to see, and what kind of stories or experiences I could share with each franchise, as all the ones I picked not only fit my criteria for having an entire week dedicated to it, but also had special meanings to me and my gaming history in one way or another. After spitballing and brainstorming the list, I was pretty set on the franchises I would be writing about for the rest of the year, even going as far as to decide which months each franchise would be spotlighted in.
Long story short, I put more planning into the "Week Of..." series for the rest of the year than I had put into the entire blog all year. And as they say, the best plans always look good on paper. Going into October, I had pretty much stuck to my plans, but as the month started to get underway, I realized how excited I was for the new Batman games to be released. I started doing some research and realized I could easily do seven days of Batman games, even though one of my favorite ones I had already written about. In hindsight, I'm glad that I made a post about the NES classic Batman game, as that blog was one of my favorite one's I've written all year, so I'm not regretting it. I just wish I could have incorporated it into this week.
But alas, c'est la vie.
With that, I want to kick off my Seven Days in Gotham with the game that actually completely reformed my opinion of the Lego games overall, as before this one, I didn't care for them at all. Sure, they were serviceable, and my kids like them, but I guess I just didn't see the overall broad appeal of popular franchises being redesigned in the Lego universe. But then, Lego Batman: The Videgame came along, and I not only fell in love with the game, but I finally understood what all the hubbub was about.
I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that this was the first Lego game to replicate a well-known franchise that didn't follow the plot or story of the movies those franchises had. For Lego Batman, they created their own storyline and plot for the Caped Crusader, not forcing him to follow movie plots, but simply creating their own story within the Batman universe. And they did a fantastic job of it, also.
Being as long as it has been since I played this game, I forgot how much it truly captivated my fascination. The ability to play as all the characters from the Batman universe than I knew and loved, both heroes and villains, was an awesome feeling. I can't ever remember playing as Batman's villains before, and if I did, it obviously wasn't a very memorable experience. This time, with the combination of all the iconic characters combined with the whimsical charm of the Lego series, and it was a match made in heaven.
It was clear from right then and there that Lego games were meant to feature comic book characters.
And sure, Gotham city has always meant to be dark, seedy and little sketchy, but sometimes it's okay to step back and just enjoy Gotham in a different light, and laugh a little about what all makes it the best fictional city in the world. There is no way a Lego game could replicate the grim state of the city properly, so instead, they just went the other way with it. In the end, it's an exceptional Batman game, and one that truly depicts how great the franchise is.
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Games played for project : 365