Sunday, January 2, 2011

Let's Get This New Year Rolling.

I figure I'll not dick around after New Year's Day and get Chrontendo off to a good start in 2011.  First of all, I hope everyone had a good, or at least safe, New Year's.  For all you young folks out there: enjoy it while you can.  Once you reach a certain age, a certain amount of existential dread kicks in every time you pull down a calender and put up a new one.  This is generally accompanied by a thinking, "Holy Fucking Shit!  It's 2011!  How is that even fucking possible?!"

And thanks for the comments wishing my father-in-law well.  I have pretty ambivalent feelings about the situation myself, for a number of reasons that can't be discussed here.  This is, I believe, at least the eighth time he's been admitted to the emergency room in the last 12 months.  After a while, a certain numbness sets in when it comes to the man's health issues.

It's tempting to kick the year off with some sort of look back at 2010.  If you perused the online gaming media at all recently, you're sure to have seen countless "Best of 2010" lists.  After reading such lists myself, I  realized: I haven't really played any new games recently.  There are lots of things I would have liked to have played, such as the new Kirby and Donkey Kong games, but that simply hasn't happened.  I'm sure many of you have gaming "backlogs."  Since much of my video game time is consumed by Chrontendo, I've pretty much fallen out of the loop when it comes to newer games.  Thus, the Chrontendo 2010 Awards has only one category:

Best Video Game Themed Music Video

What else could it be other than "Who's That? Brooown!" by Das Racist?  Was there even any real competition?

While clearly based on Sierra adventure games, "Who's That Brown?" manages to squeeze in references to tons of old-school NES and arcade games, and even the ancient computer game Snake.  There's even a flash game that goes with it.  Das Racist, I salute you.

The one modern game I have been playing recently is none other than Dragon Age.  Like any Bioware game, it tends to mix in great voicing acting, plot twists, lots of dialog options, and the ability to act like a good guy or a total dick at your discretion.*  Naturally, Bioware tosses in plenty of long loading times, bizarre interface design decisions, and a handful of "how did this get past QA?" bugs.  The most consistent bug I've encountered concerns the wheel-like interface that pops when you want to use an item or cast a spell.  This freezes the action while you go through the various sub-menus, and make your selection.  After closing the menu, the action starts up again, and you then move your character around, attack enemies, and so on.   Not infrequently, when opening up this menu at the start of a battle, a huge glitch occurs where the action continues while the menu is open and freezes when it is closed.

This prevents your main character from moving or attacking and will generally result in needing to reload, even though it can sometimes be fixed by opening another menu.   That fact that the game shipped with a recurring bug like this is pretty amazing.  Not the mention the many other infrequent glitches that have been documented.  As for the interface, it's a bit baffling that someone making games as long as Bioware has still hasn't overcome difficulties with such basic features as inventory menus.  For a detailed and thorough take-down of Mass Effect's crazy interface design, check out this three-part article on Game Design Reviews.  Yet... despite Bioware's lack of slickness, we still love them.

In brief:

Here is one of my favorite "Year End Roundup" articles, perhaps one you haven't seen considering where it was published.  There's a nice bit of bitchy back-and-forth going on between a few of the critics.

Pre-Sonic Genesis is alive and kicking!  After a hiatus of a few months, CJ Lowery returns with two Genesis games.  It's nice the see the "list of death," as I call it (due the number of sites that cease updating after being added to the list), has not let claimed another victim.  Maybe I'll start putting sites I hate on the list.

And I've received a few comments about the Phantom Fighter ad campaign.  I guess the game was advertised in comic books, and those ads generated some attention.  Is this the ad in question?

Image taken from The NES Player, a fine site you should all be familiar with.

So what about you guys?  Did you play an games in 2010 that stuck out?  Any consensus out there about the "big" games of the year: Black Ops, Red Dead Redemption, Mass Effect 2, etc?

*I generally play the "good guy" option in such games.  However, I did play Mass Effect last year, and decided to take the "dick" route.  It helps if you make your character look like a bit of an asshole.


Anonymous said...

Yep. That's the Phantom Fighter ad I saw as a kid.

Unknown said...

That music video was amazing! To me 2010 was the year of the DS. After getting my hands on a DSi XL for my birthday. There were so many amazing games. The DS is the best system for people who love that retro feel and rpgs. Hope you had an amazing christmas and here is to a new year, may it treat us better than the last.

qaylIS aka Nicolas Deußer said...

My 2 favourite games in 2010 were Just Cause 2 (free roam over an big fictional south-east-asian island archipelago and ignite chaos) and Darksiders (lets take the best parts of God of War, Devil May Cry and the Armageddon myth from the old testament, and make a Zelda clone out of it).
Dragon Quest IX for DS was really great, and very retro, just like Pokemon Heartgold/Soulsilver/Liverbronze (wait, what?) or Etrian Odyssey III. All in all, they were some cool games this year.

Luke said...

Think my favorites of the year were Resonance of Fate, Ys 7, and Sin and Punishment 2. With some Super Meat Boy on the side.

Red Dead Redemption looked kinda boring actually, I'm surprised by its praise. Then again, I didn't like the GTA series at all.

qaylIS aka Nicolas Deußer said...

Super Meat Boy is awesome, though I am not sure if I can ever finish it, its damn hard.

Anonymous said...

Ah, I actually do remember that Phantom Fighter ad. I stand corrected!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris Sobieniak said...

I remember getting Phantom Fighter since my mom had to buy it from a shopping channel one night, but don't remember really liking the game at all.