Category Archives: EDITORIALS

ANDREW’S MOST ANTICIPATED TITLES OF 2015: THE MOVIE

Disclaimer…not all games are officially coming out for 2015, but they’re announced and this is me hoping.

2015 so far looks to already be leaning towards a year of incredible releases, as long as the trend of releasing half finished games or delaying the games until 2016 doesn’t continue. Nonetheless, my hopes are held extremely high and I can’t wait for a few games in particular. So why not just jump into that list. This list is in alphabetical order and is not rated by how much I want the game.

1. ) Arkham Knight – If you haven’t played the previous two Batman entries from Rocksteady studios, I don’t know why you’re reading this list, because clearly you don’t love video games. So everyone should know how amazing the first two games were, with tight combat that really put you into the shoes of the Dark Knight as well as solving puzzles to find those damn Riddler trophies and the predator missions, being able to take out a room of guards, never once being seen. That is the stuff that I used to dream about as a kid. With Arkham City, they let you do this, all while exploring an enormous city. While Arkham Origins wasn’t a bad sample to keep us heldover, it wasn’t quite what we’ve been expecting considering how Rocksteady has been spoiling us. Now with even more gorgeous graphics on the next gen consoles and the chance to drive around the city in the batmobile. I can’t wait to don the cowl once again.

  1. Battleborn – Here is one most people probably aren’t going to even know what game I’m talking about. I will admit that I’m a borderlands fanboy through and through and I love those games. I’m also a big MOBA fan. So when I hear that Gearbox is throwing it’s hat into the ring creating a hybrid, MOBA shooter, it’s piqued my interest at least a little bit. Honestly, this game will probably end up like so many other MOBA’s that get thrown at that cash cow. I’m hoping that a studio like Gearbox though, can pull out something creative and memorable.

  1. Bloodborne – I’m so excited for this game that I can barely contain myself even looking at screenshots. I don’t consider myself a good gamer, and I play a lot of games very averagely. So when I play games like Dark Souls and Demon Souls, I find myself dying constantly. Somehow, I can never stop playing them though. From Software as far as I’m concerned has put out some of the greatest titles of the last 10 years, from games dripping with atmosphere, lore, haunting music, insane boss fights and difficulty that never feels unfair rather challenging. Now with the announcement of Bloodborne, Miyazaki is back in control and this game from his description is faster paced with no shielding to hide behind (suck it Havel users), and a terrifying and creepy victorian midnight atmosphere that already has me shitting my pants. Miyazaki….my body is ready.

  1. Cuphead – A game quite frankly, I still don’t know much about. A game though that when Microsoft flashed through a montage of games coming to there system quickly, managed to catch my eye so strongly that I had to find out what it was. Cuphead has one of the most beautiful art styles I’ve seen in a game in a long time harkening back to the old Walt Disney cartoon days. Now I learn it’s a puzzle platformer as well, and this game is on the top of my Steam pick up list, as a non AAA game, the price tag for art couldn’t be cheaper I imagine.

  1. Final Fantasy 15 – While most people after the Final Fantasy Hallway that was 13 are probably not expecting a great game, I like to look at the positive. XIII-2 and Lightning Returns were vast improvements on the original game of the same name. While the story might as well been written by tumblr fanfic’ers in terms of how much I care about it, the gameplay was made to be an incredibly fun experience. And now after the success of Bravely Default, I think Square Enix is once again understanding that gamers don’t just want a beautiful movie (though it’s not too awful), but we want a fun game that can be simple. This game also seems to a decently different game from the series, if riding around in a car with a bunch of weaponed up buddies through a desert is anything to judge. While I still have a my reservations, here’s hoping that Square pulls their heads out of their ass and really does this game justice.

  1. Kingdom Hearts 3 – Call me a fanboy….cause I am. I’ve played every Kingdom Hearts game and am even now playing through 1.5 and 2.5. It’s because as stupid as the plot gets and as childish as it can be because of all the Disney tie ins, what this game does best, is provide you with one hell of a fun game. With surprisingly deep combat considering how simple it seems on the surface, as well as awesome creative worlds, flying around in your gummi ship, to even board games, and fun mini-games (that’s an accomplishment in most games). This game was the reason I bought a ps3, but of course they waited an entire generation. This is the game I’ve been waiting for since I beat KH2 when I was in 8th grade. Now that Disney owns Marvel and Star Wars…I know it’s a long shot, but think of the possibilities. Square Enix has the power to really make my year this year, and they better not screw it up.

  1. Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain – I had never played a Metal Gear Solid game prior to 4. I figured that I was a very unstealthy player and that the games just seemed uninteresting to me. I have never been so wrong about a game in my life. This series is brilliant through and through. If Kojima is good at one thing, it’s blowing your mind to pieces. The story once again, is a little absurd through the series, but the stealth gameplay, the creativity and easter eggs thrown throughout the game. The beautiful hour long cutscenes which provide just enough time to cook and eat dinner, (That’s just considerate). But seriously, this game, I don’t know what to expect, but if ground zeroes is any indication of what we’ll see, I don’t imagine a single fan of the series will even be close to being dissapointed.

  1. Mighty No. 9 – After Mega Man was all but abandoned these last few years by Capcom, Inafune finally said, Peace and left to work on his own projects. So what does he do? He makes a slightly different MegaMan type game. And I’m so happy that he is. I personally am a kickstarter backer for this game. I have never been a great megaman player as the only ones I was ever good at were the Battle Network games. But from the amazing artwork being put into the game and the design feedback that the backers are being allowed to put in, even getting to pick the design of certain characters. It’s going to be coming out on so many different platforms and considering my current love of Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze and Shovel Knight, another 2d platforming masterpiece will be very welcomed.

  1. No Man’s Sky – When I look at this game and hear about it after all this time, I’m still not sure if I’ve ever seen anything like it. While I’m not sure how well it will end up doing, this game may be one of the most creative ambitious games to be put out in recent memory. I need to see this game paired up with Oculus Rift and give you the opportunity to become a space explorer. Traveling to the far corners of the galaxy, and actually naming and finding your very own planets. Manfiest Space Destiny Mother Fuckers!

  1. Nuclear Throne – Now it’s time to play a game called, talk about a game that I’m pretty sure I might be the only one to know about. With the recent explosion in rogue like’s in recent years, this game has followed in those footsteps, though a little later. With the success of games like Rogue’s Legacy and Binding of Issac, incredibly difficult games with randomly generated maps just do something to my brain that I like. I have put too many hours into those games, there is no other way to put it. Nuclear throne has the difference of allowing you to choose one of many wasteland monsters with different powers and then it becomes a bullet hell rogue like with gun play and insane quick levels that leave you breathless at the end. While this game is currently in alpha on steam I believe, the actual release is supposed to be later this year. I for one will be checking this sucka out.

  1. Splatoon – If you had told me at the end of last year, that I’d be excited about a Nintendo multiplayer shooter, I would have straightjacketed you then and there for the horrible memories that Red Steel gave me. But low and behold, Splatoon is just another game on the Wii U’s list on why it’s making a comeback that so many people did not see coming. A shooter that doesn’t primarily focus on taking out other players, but as a combination of area control and shooter with a unique movement mechanic which could lead to all kinds of crazy strategies. I can almost guarantee some 12 year old will find a way to tell me he fucked my mom and that his dad works for Nintendo so he’s going to get me banned, but this game might actually be worth all of that.

  1. Tomb Raider 2 – But Andrew, it’s Rise of the Tomb Raider. No, no it’s not, because that’s a dumb name which sounds like an origin story, but the last game already was the origin story, so no, it’s Tomb Raider 2. That being said, I thought that the original Tomb Raider re-imagining that was released last year was going to be a useless attempt at revitalizing an old game with mediocre success. But I was proven wrong. As soon as I picked up that controller, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Stealth, good shooter mechanics with tight controls and platforming which felt good. Even the atmosphere was perfect for the game. That game may have ripped off the Uncharted Series, but it did so with a spin that made it it’s own, and I’m okay with it. If this game is within even a mile of the original, I will be picking it up as soon as physically possible.

  1. Uncharted 4 – If you know me, I consider myself a fanboy of 3 series. Kingdom Hearts, Zelda, and this masterful series. When Naughty Dog first put me into the shoes of snarky but loveable Nathan Drake, I fell in love with a game that had amazing platforming and fun mechanics, (while being difficult at times), but a script and characters who I genuinely cared about and liked. Then they did what I didn’t think possible. They put out Uncharted 2, and it blew the first game away. When a game almost universally wins Game of the Year and is as gorgeous and fun as a slutty prom queen, people take notice. With the third game, I thought I was seeing the end of one of my favorite series for good. Then without warning, Uncharted 4 was announced and I was ecstatic. Nathan Drake wasn’t going to be the protagonist though. It just didn’t feel right. Clearly, Naughty Dog knows has a connection to my brain, because Nathan Drake is out of retirement for one last ride. I can’t even put into words how much I want this game.

  1. Zelda U – I said that I had 3 series that I was a fanboy for. I couldn’t have picked a better year to be a fanboy with Nintendo completing the trifecta. Though we haven’t seen much about this game and if Tumblr has it’s way, it’ll be called FemZelda U , I couldn’t care less. The vistas are magnificent and the cell shading is spot on. If what’s promised is real the world truly is as large as they say, this puts the great sea to shame and truly puts you on an epic quest like there hasn’t been.

Honorable Mentions: Other games I think you should look forward to in 2015, but I really didn’t have the energy to write about : Evolve, The Order, Witcher 3, Mortal Kombat X, Yoshi’s Wooly World, Scalebound, Xenoblade X, Star Wars Battlefront, Below, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse.

THE ONLY NUREVIEWS TOP 10 GOTY 2014 THAT MATTERS*

Man, what a year, am I right? I mean, I haven’t posted any articles in a year, but if you follow our FaceBook page you’ll have seen we were at least semi-active this year.  But really, all that matters is the last post of the year, the traditional 2014 GOTY Top 10 List.  I’ve played a handful of games over the year, mostly good, some bad, and then there’s Assassin’s Creed Unity, but narrowing down what I could consider my Top 10 was certainly harder than I thought it’d be.  I’ll provide a small insight into the game and why I think it deserves the place on my list for each game, and much like The Octopus from The Spirit, I like to start from the bottom and work my way up.  So let’s start with the metaphorical toes of my Top 10 List, entry number 10.

NUmbeR 10 – South Park: The Stick of Truth


Duh

South Park: The Stick of Truth finds you, the new kid on the block, in the middle of a war of the imaginations between the children of South Park, Colorado.  Initially enlisted alongside Cartman and Butters, you eventually team up with Kyle, Kenny, Stan, and even Jimmy as you fight to try and reclaim the all powerful Stick of Truth, a weapon so powerful that anyone who wields it can bend all of reality to their whim.  Written by the brains behind the show, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and animated to look just like the show, the game blends wonderful visuals, crude humor, and simple yet solid gameplay mechanics to craft a game worthy of praise.  My biggest complaint with the game, however, is that it’s so short, in just under 12 hours, I was able to complete the main campaign and most, if not all of the side quests. For an RPG, that certainly leaves things lacking.  Some will say that making a 40 hour RPG out of South Park material would be stretching the source too much, and you know, they’re probably right. But I wouldn’t let this issue deter me from recommending people buy the game.  However, if you can’t get it for anything less than $15, I’d highly recommend you hold off on it. That really is the best way to get the most bang for your buck for this otherwise great game.

NUmbeR 9 – Hyrule Warriors


Stupid Sexy Link-senpai

When announced at E3, Hyrule Warriors looked to just be a Dynasty Warriors game with a Zelda skin, which if it were only that, would still have made my list.  But instead, what we got was a game crafted around both the gameplay elements of the two completely separate series, while maintaining the feel that comes with a game that the developers truly loved to make.  The Tecmo Koei people have perfected the Dynasty Warriors gameplay to an art, almost, being able to create these spin-offs of the series while lovingly crafting them around the source material that they’re being based on.  Each of the characters hold weapons that are pulled from the 3D Zelda Games (with the exception of some 8-bit weapons to throw in as a treat to fans), along with giant boss monsters that sometimes invade the field require a bit of easy puzzle solving to do massive damage to them, as it would take with any Zelda game.  Packed with hours of content past just the main story, as well as a gameplay style that doesn’t really get old in my eyes, it’s one of my GOTY titles.  You may be wondering why, with such high praise, it’s so low on my list. Well, the reason is because at its core, it’s still a game from the Dynasty Warriors series, whose games aren’t for everyone.  Many people get tired of the Hack-n-Slash, mow-down-an-entire-army gameplay the series provides, rather quickly.

If you love Zelda, it’s worth the look just for the care that was put into the game. But if you’re not a fan of Dynasty Warriors as a whole, you won’t be able enjoy the game to its full potential.  Also, how can you not include Groose? He demands to be let loose.

NUmbeR 8 – The Evil Within


I really feel you SeaBass

I guess it’s time to admit one of my greater gaming sins: I have never played Resident Evil 4, the last Resident Evil title before the series went, objectively, to the shitter (though I still liked RE5 a little, despite its terrible AI).  When The Evil Within started showing it’s face in the gaming world, I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention. But towards release, I started to get pretty hype by trailers and screens, and post release the hype was intensified by watching other people play. It ended up being one of my better purchases of the year.  Following the story of Detective Sebastian Castellanos, you find yourself in a life or death struggle against crazed, zombie like people and a mad man with mysterious powers called Ruvik.  If you’re wondering why I had to start this by bringing up Resident Evil 4, it’s because anyone who has played the two will tell you of the huge similarities the two games hold.  Even putting aside the fact that they share the same director, gameplay elements and sections, which  The Evil Within seemed to have almost carbon copied from Resident Evil 4 (though they took out the ability to do sick suplexes on stunned enemies, the fools).  The story is a bit of a cluster-fuck and doesn’t explain a whole lot, but the visuals are great and the gameplay is solid.  Despite my terrible skill at the game, I enjoyed every minute I play of this wonderful title.

NUmbeR 7 – Jackbox Party Pack


Shameless ripping of Steve’s image

You’ll start to notice something from this point on, so I’ll give you the heads up now.  Starting with this entry, I really don’t have many negative things to say about the rest of the games on this list.  While clearly all these views are subjective and your thoughts may vary, if I can make a top ten list, and run out of negative things to say by number 7, then I’ve clearly had a good year.  The Jackbox Party Pack is exactly that kind of game. It’s a collection of five games by the developers behind You Don’t Know Jack (which is also included in this collection).  Each title can be played solo with a controller, or with multiple people with each person using a smart phone, tablet, computer, or anything that has a browser as their controller.  Because of this set up, some games are able to support up to eight consecutive players. One game can even supporting up to 100.  It’s a perfect game to have when you have a lot of people over, as none of the games require any real amount of skill. I guarantee that everyone will have a great time playing it.

NUmbeR 6 – Mario Kart 8


So much wasted potential in a single roster, wheres my Rawk Hawk?

What is there really to say about this that’s not already known? If you just read the title of the game, you would know what you’re in for.  Mario Kart 8 brings the classic karting fun the series is known for to the Wii U, in beautiful high definition.  The worlds are lovingly crafted and each race is a load of fun, no matter how good you are at the game.  Another great game to play with your friends, fun for all without as much of the relationship crushing nature that comes with Mario Party.  If I had one complaint for the game, it’d be the waste of character slots (seriously, who thinks putting every Koopa Kid and Pink Gold Peach in was a good idea?), but I’m not going to let that ruin my view of the game.

NUmbeR 5 – Dark Souls 2


I really have nothing clever to put here, but I’m on a roll and won’t stop now

There is so much that can be said about Dark Souls 2, it’s a little hard to think of a place to start.  Even if I started with a rough overview of the story, that in and of itself is complicated.  You play an undead, someone who can not die, who is on a quest to try and find a cure to your condition.  You find yourself in the land of Drangleic, an ancient kingdom that has all but fallen apart, where you are tasked to seek the king of Drangleic, for it is he who will have the answers.  Your quest takes you all around this strange world: from deepest darkness of The Gulch, to the strangely high and seemingly geographically misplaced Iron Keep. As your quest goes on so does your goal.  However, it is not the ideals of the character that changes, it feels more as if the world is just guiding you on your way, and as you continue on, you start to forget why you set out on the journey to begin with.  Featuring the action RPG combat that started way back on the PS3 with Demons Souls, Dark Souls 2 is refined in some matters while faltering in others.  Many will argue on how the game compares to previous entries in the series, but I enjoy it all the same.  Where it falters, its previous entries rise to the challenge, and where they falter, Dark Souls 2 sits high above them.  The inclusion of the DLC is easily the best part of the game, showing design and artistic methods that show what the team is truly capable of.  If you haven’t played this game yet, then I would highly recommend you do, don’t let the claims of its insane difficulty deter you away.  The key to playing any “Souls” game is patience and learning. Keep those in mind, and you can overcome any obstacle in your path.  Dark Souls 2 will be re-released around end of Quarter 1 and beginning of Quarter 2 of 2015, with the Scholar of the First Sin edition, which will include new story elements, NPCs, and gameplay balances.  This edition will be released on PS4, Xbox One, and PC with DirectX11 support, which will include enhanced visuals and alternate enemy placements. So if you’ve been putting off playing the game or are just considering playing it, wait for this definitive edition to be released.

NUmbeR 4 – Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD Remix


Yes, good, that’s the word.

When I was constructing this list, I found that there were a couple of HD remakes that I played over the year that I considered for the list, but I really couldn’t put any of them above Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD Remix.  While its close contender, the FFX/X-2 HD Re-master, was an excellent remastering of some excellent games, updating their visuals for more modern systems, I didn’t really get all that much more out of it.  While the editions did come with the extra content from the “International” editions of the game (which were kind of like Final Mix versions of Kingdom Hearts, except only not released in the US), all of that extra content was end-game, so I didn’t see any of it until well into my playthrough.  Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD Remix brings the Final Mix version of two of the best games of the Kingdom Hearts series stateside for the first time, and these versions are of course the reasoning this has made it so high on my list.  Kingdom Hearts has been my guilty pleasure game since its release. I’ve played every title, save for the Japanese only mobile game, and at one point even imported Kingdom Hearts 2 Final Mix.  To be able to play these enhanced version with new forms, gameplay balances, difficulty levels, cutscenes and secret bosses in a language I understand, is almost like a childish dream come true.  As a fan of the series, there’s no reason for you not to own this game. If you’re looking forward to Kingdom Hearts 3, but don’t quite grasp the story, these HD Remix versions are the best place to start.

NUmbeR 3 – Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc


It’s Un-Bear-able~

Danganronpa: Goodbye Despair is another example of many of why the Vita is actually a handheld worth investing in.  While the number of big named titles doesn’t reach the expectations one might have for it, the sheer force of the niche Japanese titles is what really drives the system.  When I first bought Danganronpa, I didn’t expect to really enjoy it, since I heard it was kind of like Phoenix Wright, but that’s all I had known about it.  What I got was another entry into the small list of Visual Novel-esque titles that have become some of my favorite handheld games.  Danganronpa is about a class of “Ultimates”, students who are the best of the best in their given field, trying to survive imprisoned in the very school they thought they were safe in.  You take on the role of Makoto Maegi, the “Ultimate Lucky Student”, that is to say he has no particular skill of interest, he just got accepted into the school because he won a lotto drawing.  Inside the school you’ll encounter your fellow “classmates”, including the “Ultimate Programmer”, “Ultimate Martial Artist”, “Ultimate Otaku” and more. You’ll be lead by the sadistic, pun throwing, monochromatic mad-bear, Monokuma.  There’s only one rule to surviving this dark situation: Murder your fellow classmates.  The gameplay is split between two different states. There’s what I’ll refer to as the “Peaceful State”, where you spend your days spending time with your classmates, getting to know them and building friendships ala the Persona Series.  And then there’s the “Murder State”, which takes place when ever someone has been murdered.  Your job in the “Murder State” is to find clues as to who committed the murder, and then bring them to justice in a trial.  If you win, the murderer gets punished and you continue playing, however if you pick out the wrong person, everybody but the murderer gets punished, and the murderer gets set free.  The story is full of twists that even I didn’t quite see coming(And I’m pretty good about spotting twists, I figured Vader was Luke’s father a whole minute before he said that line), and the characters are eccentric to the point where you can’t help but feel love for all of them, even the sadistic asshole that is Monokuma.  If you want a game similar to 9 Hours 9 Persons 9 Doors or Virtue’s Last Reward: Zero’s Escape, but with a more light-hearted tone to it, be sure to pick this up.

NUmbeR 2 – Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor


8 out of 10 witty comments isn’t too bad right?

Let’s be frank with each other: franchise games are rarely good.  I’m, of course, not talking about video game franchises. I’m talking about video games based around franchises that pre-existed in other mediums, such as movies or books.  Short of an original story not told in other mediums, or being a LEGO game, franchise games are essentially doomed to be at the bottom of the barrel for eternity.  So it comes as a surprise that Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, a franchise game that takes gameplay directly from two of the biggest AAA game franchises on the market right now, can do it better than both of them and come so close to my personal GOTY.  The story of Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor follows Talion, a ranger in charge of defending the Black Gate.  All is going well with him and his family, but everything changed when the Fire Nation… I mean… the Black Hand of Sauron attacked.  After watching his family killed before his eyes, Talion himself is killed, but his spirit remains in the world of the living.  An Elvish wraith tells him that his soul is cursed, much like the wraith, and that if they were to team up, they could take down the armies of Sauron, the Black Hand, and then finally reunite with their families.  So begins a quest across the lands of Mordor, slaughtering Uruks and retrieving fragments of the Wraith’s memories to discover his hidden past.  Exploration in Shadow of Mordor is taken almost directly from Assassin’s Creed, with the ability to stealth at will and climb up buildings like a professional climber.  The similarities in this system are so abundant, that sometimes I thought I might have actually been playing an Assassin’s Creed game (which was quickly rectified by the fact that it wasn’t Assassin’s Creed IV and I was having fun).  Meanwhile the combat is a carbon copy of the Batman Arkham games of recent fame.  In combat, you’ll find yourself surrounded by Uruks that will try to attack you one or two at a time. You can press ‘Triangle’ to counter their attacks at the last minute, ‘Square’ to issue strikes, ‘X’ to bound over your enemies, and ‘Circle’ to stun them, which, while stunned, you can issue repetitive blows using the ‘Square’ button.  After you get a high enough combo, you can press a combination of two buttons to perform a finishing move, which does things like knock out a single opponent or stun enemies in a radius around you (seems pretty familiar huh?).  The inclusion of a Bow with a bullet time mechanic allows you to take out a group of enemies swiftly and from a distance.

But the real meat of the game comes from the much acclaimed Nemesis System.  Each Uruk captain is generated to look and sound different, to fight differently, and to have different strengths and weaknesses.  Killing a captain opens up his spot in Sauron’s army, allowing another captain to move up in the ranks.  Combine this with the late game ability to turn Uruks into your own minions, the game quickly becomes finding Uruks you particularly like, beefing them up and turning all of Mordor under your control.  The game is loaded with side challenges to distract you from the very few main quests (only 20 total), so much so in fact that I had completed all the side challenges I could complete in the first half of the game before I was even done with the first half of the story missions.  It never feels like a chore to do these side quests, unless you wait until the end and that’s all you have left to do.  While the story isn’t particularly engaging, the gameplay is almost perfect in all aspects.  If I had two complaints about the game, it’s that you don’t get the ability to control enemies until very late in the game, and that the DLC they added trophies which ruined my 100% completion rating.  I worked very hard for that Level 25 Rune, damn it, and you took away my pride!!

NUmbeR 1 – Shovel Knight


It’s both cozy, and lonely at the top.

Here we are, Numero Uno, The King of Kings, the 100%, Indisputable** 2014 Game of the Year: Shovel Knight.  What a game, where can I even start?  So often Indie games try and pander off their work by giving it that “retro” look, but rarely is a game so expertly crafted as Shovel Knight is.  Taking elements from the classic side scrolling action games of the 8-bit era (see Megaman, Ducktales, etc), Shovel Knight is as much a love letter as it is a stand alone title.  You play Shovel Knight, a once proud Knight of the Spade who, after the loss of his companion Shield Knight, retired to a life of easy digging.  However, after an evil Enchantress started rising to power with the aid of the Knights of No Quarter, Shovel Knight takes it upon himself to bury these evil doers and dig up some Justice!  Starting off fairly weak (classic 3 heart containers), each level sees Shovel Knight traversing the 2D planes, defeating enemies and collecting cash, which he can then use to buy relics and upgrades.  If you die in a level you lose a percentage of the gold you have on you, but similar to games like Dark Souls, if you make it back to the place you died you can reclaim all that lost gold.  While a single playthrough won’t last you too long, the game has a New Game+ feature, which allows you to start again with all your upgrades and stronger enemies.  Attached onto that are a number of challenges and achievements that will have you playing the game for hours on end.

Despite being an 8-bit Indie Game, the difficulty matches and, in some cases, exceeds modern AAA titles.  Enemies make platforming perilous yet fair, and Bosses do large amounts of damage but have fairly predictable move sets.  The game is perfectly balanced to be both fair for those who are possibly new to games, but also challenging and rewarding to the more experienced gamer.  There is nothing I can possibly say wrong about this game, which makes it a one of a kind diamond in the desert that has been 2014 in gaming.

*: NUReviews does not stand by that this is the only GOTY list that matters, there are a lot of lists out there and they are all respectable opinions, NUReviews doesn’t condone the idea that we’re better than everyone***

**: It is completely refutable if Shovel Knight is indeed GOTY because this is based off Brad’s personal preference.

***: Except Kotaku, we’re better than Kotaku

A SMASHING OLE TIME: A PERSONAL SUPER SMASH BROTHERS RETROSPECTIVE PART 2 (SUPER SMASH BROS.)

BIFF

This is a multi-part editorial about my experiences with the Super Smash Brothers series and the importance it played in my life. Click here for the introduction.

Side-note: You know, even though this is the first actual entry for the editorial series (aside from the intro), it’s kind of hard to figure out a proper place to begin. I could just delve straight into the first Smash Bros, but I believe I do need some build up before I get to that. I apologize if the next paragraph or two seems out of place or feels like filler.

______________________________
In the introduction, I said that I got my start with video games with arcade games. But the place where I played the most was at home. I started off if a Sega Genesis, since the local Blockbuster Video Store had one set up to try out games. I only owned two games for it: Toy Story and Sonic 3D Blast. But every weekend, I’d rent out a game from Blockbuster. Of course, being about 5 or 6 at the time, I really had nothing to go off on in terms of selection except for what I saw on TV, which was why a lot of the games I rented were games based on TV shows or movies, like ‘Ren and Stimpy’ and ‘Ninja Turtles’. I really didn’t get much too many of the big Genesis games aside from the Sonic games and Vectorman. Same thing happened when I got my next console, the Playstation(I got the Crash Bandicoot demo kiosk at KB Toys to thank for that.) Hell, I didn’t even have a memory card for it. But thankfully, I believe I had a fuller console experience with the Nintendo 64, especially since game saves don’t need a memory card.

The Nintendo 64 had a quite of bit of first for me. Aside from my GameBoy, it was my first Nintendo home console. I didn’t have Super Mario 64 (though I rented it) or Ocarina of Time (since I didn’t even know what it was at first), but I did get a well rounded experience with its library. I played games like Mario Kart 64, Mario Party 1-3, F-Zero X, Donkey Kong 64, Goldeneye, Kirby 64, Paper Mario(still need to beat that), and so on. It was really the first time I really enjoyed multiplayer on a home console as well. Many of those games mentioned before were memorable because of the appeal of 4 player multiplayer. For me, I played multiplayer N64 games with my friend, Pat, and his two brothers at his house. If we weren’t outside playing basketball or on the trampoline, it would be video games. I would like to say that we were evenly matched…but that just might be me repressing memories of constant losses(nowadays, there’s too many to count). But after a certain game came out, the level of competitiveness reached a whole new level between us. Furthermore, this game helped tighten the friendship Pat and I have, since has been going for almost 18 years now (I’m currently 22 now). To put it in simple/relevant terms, we are Smash Bros.

Of course, no article about Super Smash Bros for the Nintendo 64 would not be complete without that commercial. Just seeing the Nintendo characters that I was able to recognize at the time, all in the same frame no less, was mind-blowing. Pokemon was still huge at the time, so even just seeing Pikachu was awesome. Finally, a Nintendo fighting game? I’m in. I played Tekken 2 and Marvel Super Heroes quite a bit at the arcade (OK, more like button-mashed). I was never amazing at fighting games (I’m still only decent now), but since it’s a fighting game I can actually practice whenever, it could be cool.

Although I didn’t get the game until my birthday, which was 6 months after the game was released, I did get very familiar with it at Pat’s place. It became a staple of our hangouts. We’d all have our main characters; I typically used Pikachu and Mario, while the brothers would rotate between Kirby and Samus. We’d play it until my dad came to pick me up. Once I got my hands a copy of the game, I got a much better look at the game, aside from the Multiplayer mode. I’d do speed runs of the game without a timer just for fun. I learned the movesets of all of the characters. I’d do 1-on-3 matches against computers just to see how I fair (still can’t win against three level-9’s). I’d go to Training Mode to see how much damage I can deal out with the fan without KO’ing the CPU player.I’d look at the character profiles to learn the backstories of the characters I wasn’t familiar with and made note to check out their games. That last part really helped me familiarize myself with Nintendo’s franchises. I honestly don’t think I would have checked out any Kirby or Legend of Zelda games if it wasn’t for Super Smash Bros.

But my initial love for Smash Bros didn’t stop there. At school and at summer camp, I wouldn’t shut up about it with my friends. I would ask how to get unlockables, the best way to speed through single player mode, whose the best character in the game is, and so on. It even led to a semi-creative project that a friend and I worked on. One year, I spent a summer at a different summer camp than the usual YMCA day camp. This camp was held at the campus of a college, so many of the activities we did took advantage of that, like the bowling alley and the Olympic-sized pool. But the coolest thing there, and I apologize if this seems lame, was the computer lab. I didn’t have a home computer until 2004, so I didn’t spend too much time on them except from at school. The lab instructor encouraged used to work on creative projects like making birthday cards or banners with computer programs. I did remember working on a door hanger, since I didn’t have much of a clue on what to work on. However, two guys in my camp group were showing everyone what they worked on. It was a Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time card game. It kind of played like the Pokemon TCG, except without the evolutions or energies. After playing it a few times, I asked how they did it. It was actually rather simple. They made the cards in PowerPoint. They switched the orientation of a slide to portrait (taller rather then longer), and add things like a picture, health, and attacks to the card. Then they printed out the cards in groups of 6 per page, so the cards came out at a decent size. On top of that, the lab instructor offered to laminate the cards as well, so the cards came out very slick. Impressed and slightly jealous that I didn’t think of doing that sooner, I turn to my friend said asked “You know what video game would be perfect for a card game adaption?”

This was the background used for the back of the cards. Everyday, for a while now, though, I regret not keeping them in a place where I’d know where to find them.

Of course, being around 10 years old, and realizing that you were actually suppose to play with Pokemon cards, not just collect them, the Smash Bros cards had no sense of balance whatsoever. I think Sonic, you know we had to have had a Sonic card, was overly powered, due to his dodging ability and quick attack. But nevertheless, I was ecstatic that an idea of mine became something tangible, as in I can actually hold and show people what I made. However, we literally had the cards printed out and laminated at the last minute/day of camp. So we did one or two quick rounds before we got picked up. But since we both had a set of the cards, along with the template saved on floppy disks, we both decided to make new cards ourselves and play each other next summer.

Nowadays, when it comes to playing Smash 64 in its purest form (as in being played on a console connected to a television), that is something that occurs occasionally. Currently, my video game backlog is quite overwhelming, so it doesn’t get as much playtime as it used to. If I got friends over, we’d opt for Brawl, since it’s the most accessible game in terms of controllers and gameplay. Although now, thanks to smartphone technology, I’m able to play a quick round or single player run on an N64 phone emulator if I’m waiting on a line or something. Every time I boot it up, I however, I can’t help but be amazed that I’m able to play a game that defined my childhood at any time, any where. Sure, there are some things like graphical issues and touch screen controls that slightly damper the experience, but I’m appreciative, nevertheless. In fact, I’m appreciative of all the ways I can enjoy Smash 64, whether it’s on a couch, on a phone, or on a computer, being played online. That last part, though, is a writing entry for another time.

In a sense, the next two parts of this editorial series branch off of Smash Bros 64, due to both parts being intertwined. The next part is obviously Super Smash Bros Melee. However, the part after that is a revisit of Smash Bros 64, but now with online play. Online Smash Bros 64 is something I feel is significant enough to warrant its own part, since it brought an new element that would change the future of my gaming experiences.

Until next time, smash on!
(I’ll get a better sign off phrase for next time, promise!)

LAN GAMING IS IN DIRE TROUBLE

LAN gaming is downplayed too often for the success of games. It was vital to the success of Doom in the 1990s, and until recently it was how PC games were played in tournaments. Even on consoles, the original XBox’s allowing of LAN multiplayer made Halo a lasting franchise. Yet now developers that had previously included the option are ditching it in order to fight piracy; the result is a game that will be completely dead as far as multiplayer goes once a central server is removed.

I’ll start by blaming Starcraft 2, the Call of Duty franchise, the Battlefield franchise, and the numerous Defense of the Ancients clones. Both the Battlefield and Call of Duty franchises started requiring a dedicated, non-LAN server for games; the LAN club at my university had people that would play the game, but we would never have the full room involved. Call of Duty was already shunned (we were PC gaming elitists), but Battlefield, a game that was known for it’s large player battles, was never played officially once Bad Company 2 hit (although we played it a lot on our own time). We reverted back to playing UT2k4, TF2, and CS:Source instead. Old games do get old eventually though, and nothing could prepare LAN events for Starcraft 2 and Dota 2/League of Legends.

Starcraft was played often along with Warcraft 3. It was common for one person to even get a Diablo 2 speedrun going in the middle of a day-long LAN party. They were loved games, and when Starcraft 2 launched it nearly killed LAN events for one of the largest universities in the USA.

It’s worth mentioning that removing LAN capability was a great anti-piracy measure. It killed the need for anyone to pirate it in the first place. Piracy happened at a LAN party unofficially. No one was allowed to talk about it, but if you didn’t have a game you just needed to speak up; someone would get it to you and get it working.

Starcraft 2, and after it Diablo 3, proved that you could force players to be online always to play with eachother and not suffer sales. Any boycott, same with Call of Duty, Medal of Honor, and Battlefield, would be ignored once the hype train arrived. It not only didn’t involve LAN options, but it was one of the most competitive games to date. The original game is/was a national sport of South Korea. Starcraft 2 almost killed my LAN club in everything but name only, and this is university that hosted the CSL Grand Finals in 2012.

It wasn’t just the DRM that Starcraft 2 incorporated, but it was the very competitive nature that made it popular. LAN parties were now segregated between SC2 players and everyone else; rather than try something new, or attempt to get a free game like Savage working, one game would be played all day. People stopped showing up as SC2 player took officer positions, because what’s the point of going to a LAN if you could play at home? Dota 2 and LoL only exacerbated tensions further. LANs that used to include over 100 diverse players were now down to 20-30 at most.

One of the disgruntled members started holding private LANs with a vast array of classic games, but anti-piracy gave him a headache at least once very LAN party. Westwood has been the worst (defunct) company so far; Nox has problems with the latest GOG version, and Red Alert 2’s anti-virus has completely broken it. Westwood Online would be the other option, but with the company gone it’s a non-option. These games are hardly viable any more because of the anti-piracy measures, and no one wants to give money to the IP’s current owner for supporting similar measures.

Anti-piracy and DRM effectively killed the multiplayer aspect of these games. Nox eventually worked, but only because someone grabbed an older version of it.

LAN gaming needs to be brought back. Valve has done a good job of keeping it in CS:Go. Smaller companies like Tripwire have been great about including it their games; if you haven’t played on a hacked (over six players) Killing Floor server at a LAN party, I actually recommend it (you’ll probably die due to the lack of perks, but it’s a great amount of fun). A few of us still enjoy the larger releases, but without LAN play they’re severely lacking an aspect that made the previous games fun. Diablo 3 hasn’t been played once. A Use-Map-Settings creation from Starcraft: Brood War is preferred over it’s sequel. Red Orchestra or Battlefield 1942 is played over 3.

EA is already facing troubles for it’s measures against gamers. Blizzard and others can’t survive on good name only. It’s not just LAN gaming on the line in the end. It’s games surviving their decade, and the consumer being able to actually use their purchase. The latest Sim City release is the biggest example of the horrific troubles of anti-piracy DRM; if EA ever went the THQ/LucasArts/Atari route, it’s doubtful they’d pull a Relic and incorporate the game into Steam. Diablo 3 and Starcraft 2 set that precedent for EA. When the companies fall, their games will too. All because a person may pirate it at a LAN, and they might derive joy from the multiplayer without paying for it.

tl;dr: DRM and anti-piracy is bad and evil. LAN games are fun, and you should buy them even if you ignore my rant.

LAN GAMING IS IN DIRE TROUBLE

LAN gaming is downplayed too often for the success of games. It was vital to the success of Doom in the 1990s, and until recently it was how PC games were played in tournaments. Even on consoles, the original XBox’s allowing of LAN multiplayer made Halo a lasting franchise. Yet now developers that had previously included the option are ditching it in order to fight piracy; the result is a game that will be completely dead as far as multiplayer goes once a central server is removed.

I’ll start by blaming Starcraft 2, the Call of Duty franchise, the Battlefield franchise, and the numerous Defense of the Ancients clones. Both the Battlefield and Call of Duty franchises started requiring a dedicated, non-LAN server for games; the LAN club at my university had people that would play the game, but we would never have the full room involved. Call of Duty was already shunned (we were PC gaming elitists), but Battlefield, a game that was known for it’s large player battles, was never played officially once Bad Company 2 hit (although we played it a lot on our own time). We reverted back to playing UT2k4, TF2, and CS:Source instead. Old games do get old eventually though, and nothing could prepare LAN events for Starcraft 2 and Dota 2/League of Legends.

Starcraft was played often along with Warcraft 3. It was common for one person to even get a Diablo 2 speedrun going in the middle of a day-long LAN party. They were loved games, and when Starcraft 2 launched it nearly killed LAN events for one of the largest universities in the USA.

It’s worth mentioning that removing LAN capability was a great anti-piracy measure. It killed the need for anyone to pirate it in the first place. Piracy happened at a LAN party unofficially. No one was allowed to talk about it, but if you didn’t have a game you just needed to speak up; someone would get it to you and get it working.

Starcraft 2, and after it Diablo 3, proved that you could force players to be online always to play with eachother and not suffer sales. Any boycott, same with Call of Duty, Medal of Honor, and Battlefield, would be ignored once the hype train arrived. It not only didn’t involve LAN options, but it was one of the most competitive games to date. The original game is/was a national sport of South Korea. Starcraft 2 almost killed my LAN club in everything but name only, and this is university that hosted the CSL Grand Finals in 2012.

It wasn’t just the DRM that Starcraft 2 incorporated, but it was the very competitive nature that made it popular. LAN parties were now segregated between SC2 players and everyone else; rather than try something new, or attempt to get a free game like Savage working, one game would be played all day. People stopped showing up as SC2 player took officer positions, because what’s the point of going to a LAN if you could play at home? Dota 2 and LoL only exacerbated tensions further. LANs that used to include over 100 diverse players were now down to 20-30 at most.

One of the disgruntled members started holding private LANs with a vast array of classic games, but anti-piracy gave him a headache at least once very LAN party. Westwood has been the worst (defunct) company so far; Nox has problems with the latest GOG version, and Red Alert 2’s anti-virus has completely broken it. Westwood Online would be the other option, but with the company gone it’s a non-option. These games are hardly viable any more because of the anti-piracy measures, and no one wants to give money to the IP’s current owner for supporting similar measures.

Anti-piracy and DRM effectively killed the multiplayer aspect of these games. Nox eventually worked, but only because someone grabbed an older version of it.

LAN gaming needs to be brought back. Valve has done a good job of keeping it in CS:Go. Smaller companies like Tripwire have been great about including it their games; if you haven’t played on a hacked (over six players) Killing Floor server at a LAN party, I actually recommend it (you’ll probably die due to the lack of perks, but it’s a great amount of fun). A few of us still enjoy the larger releases, but without LAN play they’re severely lacking an aspect that made the previous games fun. Diablo 3 hasn’t been played once. A Use-Map-Settings creation from Starcraft: Brood War is preferred over it’s sequel. Red Orchestra or Battlefield 1942 is played over 3.

EA is already facing troubles for it’s measures against gamers. Blizzard and others can’t survive on good name only. It’s not just LAN gaming on the line in the end. It’s games surviving their decade, and the consumer being able to actually use their purchase. The latest Sim City release is the biggest example of the horrific troubles of anti-piracy DRM; if EA ever went the THQ/LucasArts/Atari route, it’s doubtful they’d pull a Relic and incorporate the game into Steam. Diablo 3 and Starcraft 2 set that precedent for EA. When the companies fall, their games will too. All because a person may pirate it at a LAN, and they might derive joy from the multiplayer without paying for it.

tl;dr: DRM and anti-piracy is bad and evil. LAN games are fun, and you should buy them even if you ignore my rant.