The Year in Review Reviewed

When I conceived this site I already knew I wanted it to be not just about games, but about the industry and game media. Actually, those high ideas came after my initial idea of, “If I have a site I’ll get rich, famous, and have 12 wives without becoming a Mormon.” But the thing about the different parts of gaming came soon after. To the cynic, which you should be unless you’re one of those brain-dead optimistic people, an article reviewing other websites material is simply a desperate gesture by a bottom feeder. I assure you that while this is true, I really am dedicated to the idea of reporting on reporting. So look forward to more articles on magazines and other sites (or just read other magazines or sites, they’re far better).

Major sites generally do an annual roundup and give out awards for the ending year. After reading Gamespot’s and Gamespy’s awards I have come up with some observations, complaints and kudos. In the last paragraph I mentioned some crap about reporting on reporting, that was all a lie. This article is just comparing my opinions with someone else’s and explaining why I am right and they are dumb. Enjoy.

First and foremost, exactly how many people played each of the game’s these sites vote on? With the number of games out there it only really makes sense if they spread out their staff pretty thin so most games get covered and reviewed. Running wildly with this assumption, it seems like these awards are at least mostly a joke. Imagine voting on the best games and you’ve played A, B and C, one of your colleagues has played D, E and F, and another has played C, D and G. How exactly does a fair voting process come out of this situation? Clearly market trends, hype, word of mouth, and other publications heavily influence these awards. Since I have only played a finite number of games, my comments will be very limited.

Bullets blend into the background
This controller is competing with the Dragon Quest Slime controller for “Most awkward of the Year.”

Gamespy gave consumers the finger this holiday season by declaring Civ IV the game of the year. While most professional reviewers ignored or did not encounter technical problems with the game, a number of users did. Take a look at Amazon’s user reviews of the game for personal accounts of Civ IV being a broken game. By bestowing its highest honor on the new Civ, Gamespy has given its blessing to publishers who want to push faulty products on consumers. Are they out of touch with the average user or just using super computers donated from nVidia?

Resident Evil 4 won second place overall at Gamespy and first place at Gamespot. I can’t complain much since the game probably deserves the accolades. I can mention that the GC versions won and not the PS2. I have noticed Capcom has a long history of pretending their games are console exclusive. Street Fighter 2 was SNES only, but then Street Fighter 2 Championship Edition, which was a completely different game, was released on the Genesis. Slick.

Intelligent Systems, one of my pet developers, did very well this year with Fire Emblem for the Cube winning the number three spot on Gamespy’s console specific list and ending up a finalist for Cube games on Gamespot’s list. Granted, the Cube had a shitty year, but IS also had two of their titles, both Fire Emblems, in Gamespot’s top five RPGs of the year category, as well as a best strategy game finalist with Advance Wars DS.

Something worth noting is the style of the best GBA games this past year. Both Gamespot and Gamespy include Wario Ware: Twisted, Fire Emblem: Sacred Stones, Gunstar Superheroes and Zelda:Minish Cap in their list of the top titles for the system. All of these games are deliberately childish looking, or as Nintendo detractors love to say, kiddy. Even more intriguing, though, is that most of these games will destroy the average 10 year old. I find Fire Emblem to be quite a challenge and have had to use a walkthrough more than once on Minish Cap (spin attack in front of the left guard, what obscure bullshit) and I’m in my 20’s. The perceived notion that Nintendo systems are for kids often seems accurate but then just as often seems to be only perceived and not actually factual.

Mr Burton
Glenn from Deicide is said to enjoy playing the Minish Cap while decked out in his own home made Link costume.

I was happy to see Gamespot sing endless praises for Psychonauts, awarding it with best art design, best voice acting, funniest game, best game no one played, best platformer for all consoles, and a host of other nominations. I am slightly upset that Shadow of the Colossus did not win the art design award, though, because that was a fucking beautiful game. Shadow managed to not win anything but these same writers who didn’t give it any awards are going to end up dropping references to the game in articles for at least a year.

Now to the overrated games. I’m still not done with Indigo Prophecy but I can already tell I’m getting close to writing it off as a “could have been.” Maybe I’ll change my mind, expect a review soon. Killer 7 is another game I haven’t finished. I can’t tell if its terrible or a masterpiece, but apparently Gamespot has decided it’s the latter. I applaud them for honoring such an out-there, artsy game. Guitar Heroes is both awesome and disappointing. This may be only because the concept is so good I can’t help but want a lot, lot more. I want more songs, better songs (Symphony of Destruction? How about something off Rust in Piece) and more modes. I want a band game that blends karaoke, dancing, bongo playing and guitars. I want a friggin’ Iron Maiden song. I want full on metal, but I know the best we’ll get is White Zombie.

Fuck this, I’m gonna go butcher some Deicide songs on my real guitar.

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