It’s the third anniversary of PK Bloggin’! It goes without saying this was the worst year for my productivity as far as this blog goes… I was very busy with work for the other sites I write for in addition to lots of other things that I decided were more worth it. Because of that I’m not going to do a “by the numbers” post this year because if I actually quantify how little I did I’ll get really sad. Instead, I’ll do an awards thinger!
2012 is all but over now and everyone is going on and on about their Game of the Year lists. I’ve never really done one myself, but it’s been a while since I’ve written anything and having such an easy topic seemed like a good way to get back on that wagon. While I played a lot of games in 2012, not all of them have been memorable, so rather than just doing my top 10 or whatever, I made up a bunch of categories that were more my style. Enjoy.
Game of the Year – Borderlands 2
There is no game in 2012 that sucked me in as much as Borderlands 2. I didn’t play a ton of the first game, but I did like it more than most games I had played at the time. When I decided to pick up Borderlands 2 it was mostly due to the jealousy that everyone else was playing it, but I immediately fell in love with it and couldn’t put it down. I’d spend hours every day exploring Pandora as my Mechromancer, never getting bored despite the fact that I STILL haven’t touched the multiplayer. I have very few complaints about Borderlands 2, and probably my only gripe is there’s not a Wii U version so I could play it and not feel like I was ignoring my new console.
I also own the coolest copy of Borderlands 2. When I went to Another Anime Convention in New Hampshire back in October, I got my copy signed by voice actors Wendy Powell (Tiny Tina’s mom), Sonny Strait (the psychos), Chris Cason (Mal, Face McShooty) and J. Michael Tatum (Sir Hammerlock). Booyah.
Game that WOULD Have Been Game of the Year if I Played it More – Skylanders Giants
The original Skylanders was my Game of the Year for 2011. I loved everything about it – the gameplay, the music, the atmosphere, the co-op, the rad figures. I was positive that Skylanders Giants would take the honor this year… but I didn’t actually BUY it until a few nights ago.
You see, Christina and I played the original Skylanders on the Xbox 360, and both of us wanted achievements so we had to do all these hard things twice and it did kinda put a damper on things for us. So while Giants came out in October, we decided to wait and get it for the Wii U in November to avoid achievement syndrome. I was signed up to review it for Nintendo Life, so I kept waiting for a review copy and it never came. Once we realized that we decided it would probably be better to just wait until after Christmas to pick it up.
We’ve played a good amount and so far it’s everything that was great about the original Skylanders and then some. I’m really, really tempted to make it my Game of the Year, but with the amount of time I put into Borderlands 2 (as well as how thoroughly I enjoyed it) I can’t do it in good conscience. I still can’t wait to play more.
Game I Wish I Played More Of – Kid Icarus: Uprising
I was SO pumped for this game. I loved the original NES game (and thought the Game Boy followup was pretty okay) and Pit was my main man in Smash Bros so I couldn’t wait for this to drop. The problem is, when it came out I realized just how terrible the controls were and despite how much I loved the presentation I couldn’t bring myself to play it anymore. I got really sick of spending 20 minutes in a level only to die because I couldn’t use the stylus to spin the camera fast enough and losing all of my progress.
This game should have been out on something with dual analogs. Period. The fact that a PORTABLE GAME needed to come packed with a PLASTIC STAND to allow humans to play it is the first indicator that your controls are ass. I don’t want to hear anyone saying “YOU JUST NEED TO GET USED TO IT” because I played for hours and it was so unintuitive I didn’t WANT to get used to it because it was so terrible.
Someone did tell me that using the face buttons in lieu of the stylus winds up being better but I haven’t given it a shot yet. Maybe someday.
Retro Game Most Relevant to My Life Again – Trog!
Trog! earned me about $900.
I had been wanting to do some kind of YouTube show for a while, but I really needed some kind of hook. I didn’t want to do the same things everyone else was doing, especially since SO MANY PEOPLE are reviewing games and trying to be all harsh and sarcastic like the Angry Video Game Nerd (I love AVGN, but guys, he already did it. We only need one). Enter my show The Backlog, where I would talk about forgotten retro games that were inexpensive and easy to find.
I had heard a lot about Kickstarter and how successful people had been with it, so I made a quick pilot episode about one of my favorite NES games, Trog!, and started my own campaign to see if anyone would be interested in donating so I could buy equipment. My goal was $700, the bare minimum I’d need for an HD camera and a capture device. I wound up exceeding it (someone was even generous enough to donate $200, earning them a copy of Trog! signed by yours truly) and my show was born. I’ve done three episodes since then (with a fourth well on the way!) and I’m absolutely loving it. Thanks Trog!.
Game of the Year That I Didn’t Play – The Walking Dead
I’ve never read the comic or watched the show but I’ll be damned if the glowing praise this game is getting doesn’t make me want to play it REALLY bad.
Game Ruining Moment of the Year – Skyrim
Skyrim didn’t really stick with me my first attempt at playing it, but earlier this year when I picked it up again I was able to really settle into it. I was playing a stealth character, one who would use a bow and arrow to kill swiftly and silently from the shadows. It made the game very slow, but I was having a lot of fun with it.
Now, Skyrim is a VERY buggy game, so buggy I’m appalled it won so many awards in 2011. If I hadn’t gotten my copy as a gift I would have been really upset about how broken it is. But after spending over an hour in a dungeon, meticulously clearing it out and picking up lots of loot, only to have the game lock up as I was leaving said dungeon but BEFORE the autosave kicked in, rendering the past hour and a half a complete waste, I never played it again.
Best Game I Played in One Sitting – Journey
Journey could have easily won “Best Game I Didn’t Play” but my sister-in-law gave me the Journey Collection disc for Christmas, which is awesome. I never got around to downloading it mostly because lately I have a hard time justifying spending money and not getting a tangible item in return, so I’m really glad thatgamecompany put all three of their titles on a disc so I could enjoy them.
Anyway, Journey. What can I say that hasn’t been said? It’s art. Plain and simple. Everything about that game is a gorgeous masterpiece. The graphics. The sound. The way it pulls at you emotionally without ever saying a single word. It’s a perfect video game, and one that will definitely change the landscape of the industry. If you have a PlayStation 3, you NEED to download it. That’s an order.
Pure Joy Award – Nintendo Land
Nintendo Land had big shoes to fill as what’s essentially Wii Sports 2. Luckily it’s packed full of far more quality content than Wii Sports was (and Wii Sports remains one of my favorite games of all time), cementing it as an early must-have for Wii U owners. Everything about the game screams love and care, from the main plaza music to the costumes your Mii adorns in each Nintendo-themed minigame. I don’t think I’ve laughed while playing a game as much as I did while playing Nintendo Land with a group. It’s an incredible game and should be the first purchase of any Wii U owner.
The Makes Me Feel Like a Kid Again Award – New Super Mario Bros U
I’m an old man. I typically start falling asleep on the couch around 10:30 or so on an average night, so when a video game has me up until 3am trying to beat it you know it’s something special. Christina and I were nearing the end and decided to plow through it instead of going to bed, which is something I haven’t really done much since I was a teenager. I don’t think I’d have enjoyed that game a fraction of the amount I did if I wasn’t playing it with my wife.
Best Billboard – NBA 2K13
I was playing My Career mode while reviewing this one and my player was drafted by the Phoenix Suns. They put up a billboard to welcome me to town. Awesome.
Bullshit of the Year – Star Wars: The Old Republic
I really enjoyed my time with Star Wars: The Old Republic, but it didn’t demand I pay as much attention to it as I had hoped it would. I’d un- and re-subscribe often enough, but when they announced the game was going free-to-play I decided I’d wait before giving it a try again, because I wanted to see the stories and from what I could gather the only things I’d be missing out on were Flashpoints and PVP, two things I could live without. I also got an email telling me I had earned a good deal of “Cartel Points,” the new currency used to buy exclusive items due to my purchasing the $150 collector’s edition and for all the months I was a subscriber.
When I logged in after the switch, I was enraged to see that I could only GET those points if I re-subscribed. Not only that, I was locked out from just about every race in the game and all the characters I’d made needed to be re-named or deleted because as a free player I was only allowed to have two character slots. So after buying the expensive collector’s edition and being a paying subscriber for so long I had the game ripped away from me.
I immediately uninstalled it and never looked back. Fuck you BioWare and fuck you EA.
Best Game I Watched Christina Play – Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland
I reviewed this one for Push Square and sank a really good amount of time into it. Once Christina booted it up, though, she was hooked. She’d spend hours plowing through the content in order to see the different endings and story scenes. It’s a great game, and I had a really good time watching her play it even after I was done.
The Game I Didn’t Buy Because of Stupid Bullshit – Street Fighter x Tekken
You guys know how much I love Capcom fighters so I was really excited about this one. We all know Capcom has had some questionable DLC practices in the past, so when it came out that there were 12 characters on the disc (including my girl Sakura) that would later be unlocked via a $20 128kb download I refused to buy the game. Capcom spewed a lot of bile about how they put the characters on the disc to make sure that everyone could at least see the characters in online matches even if they didn’t buy them, but that wasn’t what stuck in my craw; they had 12 COMPLETELY FINISHED CHARACTERS that they put behind a $20 wall to further milk their customers. So by trying to get an extra $20 out of me, they lost the $60 I was going to give them in the first place. It’s shit like this that makes me hate modern video games.
Best Farewell – Super Smash Bros Brawl
It’s November 17th. My wife is at a concert so I have the house (and a pizza) all to myself. I get a message from my buddy Jacob (who I had fallen out of touch with for dumb reasons but we had just recently decided not being friends was stupid) that he wasn’t doing anything either. We decided to give the Wii a sendoff by spending the night playing Brawl together online. We had a fantastic night and I can’t think of a better way to close the book on the little console that could.
Best Game on My Steam Wishlist that Someone Should Buy Me – Torchlight 2
Surprise of the Year – Miiverse
When Nintendo unveiled Miiverse at E3 I knew it would be cool. It’s a social network only for Nintendo fans baked into their new console! However, the sheer amount of awesome interactions and breathtaking artwork I see on a daily basis has turned Miiverse into something I do literally every time I turn on the Wii U. I want more Yeahs!
Best Gaming Related Christmas Gift – The box for Tuff E Nuff
I know I married the right woman when I unwrap a present and it’s the box for an obscure SNES game and she knew how happy it would make me.
The “How Did They Miss That?” Award – Mass Effect 3 import glitch
Imagine the disappointment I felt when I started up Mass Effect 3 and discovered that due to a glitch I was unable to import the look of my Shepard because I had been using him since the first game. Considering the entire draw of Mass Effect was how much it focused on your personal Shepard, you’d think someone would have tested the goddamn import system to make sure it worked. That, coupled with some glitchy quests that were unable to be completed made it so I didn’t even bother finishing it. Judging by the outrage over the ending, maybe I’m better off.
Character Select Theme of the Year – Tekken Tag Tournament 2
I may or may not listen to this song on loop.
Crap My Pants Award – Slender
I’ve already chronicled how scary this game is and I felt it was worth noting here.
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Thanks for sticking around and continuing to read PK Bloggin’! even when I’m not paying the right amount of attention to it. I don’t want to make any promises for 2013 but I’m definitely going to make a pointed effort to write more, because I want the blog as well as The Backlog to be my stamp on the internet. Thanks for your support thus far, and I hope you look forward to the future!