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My Awards of the Generation (Part 2)

Best New IP

Winner: Mass Effect


Mass Effect achieved everything BioWare originally wanted it to. After developing Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic BioWare had already set their sights on creating their own sci-fi universe, and Mass Effect was the culmination of their efforts. Contrary to popular belief the universe BioWare created wasn't original in the slightest. In essence it was a rip off on Star Trek and Star Wars, with a lot of Star Control thrown in. But despite its unoriginality the universe absorbed you. The Mass Effect games are the type of experiences you never want to end. They are the sort of game you will sit down for an hour to play, but then realise 5 hours have passed. Questions have been raised multiple times as to whether or not the games actually do qualify as being RPGs, but the games are so goddamn good it really shouldn't matter. Mass Effect is easily the best new IP of the seventh generation.

Best New Developer

Winner: Platinum Games


Platinum Games' titles aren't phenomenal, but they are hugely enjoyable. MadWorld was ridiculously gruesome and hilariously fun; Vanquish was about as Japanese as a shooter game can be; Bayonetta is one of the best modern beat 'em ups. And their take on Metal Gear was also enjoyable, despite lacking in comparison to previous efforts. No new developer outside the Indie scene has enthralled me as much as Platinum over the course of the generation.

Best Developer

Nominations: BioWare, Irrational Games, Level 5, Nintendo EAD and Valve

Winner: Level 5


Nintendo EAD have made more good games over the last 7 years than Level 5, but their quantity to quality ration isn't as high as that of Level 5. Whereas EAD made poor games like Wii Play and Wii Music, the worst we got from Level 5 was White Knight Chronicles, which was at least still playable. From Dragon Quest IX and Ni no Kuni to Professor Layton and Inazuma Eleven, the fun that can be had with Level 5 titles is incredible. The Professor Layton games themselves have proven to be some of the best puzzle games in years, while Ni no Kuni and Dragon Quest IX have cemented Level 5's reputation as the greatest JRPG developer in the world. Many have stated that the seventh generation marked the decline and fall of Japanese developers, but Level 5 have bucked the trend. They have been the most consistently brilliant developer for years.

Best Xbox 360 Game

Nominations: BioShock, Fallout 3, Limbo, Mass Effect 2 and Super Meat Boy

Winner: Mass Effect 2


Because of the quality of their past efforts, expectation were high for BioWare to deliver on all fronts with Mass Effect 2. Luckily they did just that. Mass Effect 2 isn't my favourite BioWare game, but it certainly improved upon the original in pretty much every way, which was an achievement in and of itself. The game play was streamlined to near-perfection, and the overall experience was heightened. You could argue that the original was a purer RPG, a point I would have to agree with, but Mass Effect 2 was such a strong experience that BioWare need applauding for their achievement. Without question, Mass Effect 2 is the finest time you will ever spend playing on your Xbox 360.

Best Wii Game

Nominations: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Rayman Origins, Super Mario Galaxy, Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Xenoblade Chronicles

Winner: Super Mario Galaxy 2


Super Mario Galaxy 2 is the result you get when a company spends 25 years perfectly honing their skills developing platformers. Nobody does the genre as well as Nintendo, and Super Mario Galaxy 2 is the ultimate example of this. To call it one of the best games Nintendo has ever developed wouldn't quite do it justice. No other 3D Mario game has had as much variety in level design, and none of them compare in precision of game play. This is what gaming is all about. Super Mario Galaxy 2 is the epitome of the medium. Super Mario Galaxy 2 is essential gaming for anyone who even remotely considers them self a gamer.

Best PlayStation 3 Game

Nominations: Dragon Age: Origins, Journey,  Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, Ratchet & Clank: Tools of Destruction and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Winner: Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch


Ni no Kuni was a great game on many levels, but the one reason above all I loved it was because it harkened back to the glory days of the JRPG genre. The game feels a lot like the classics of the genre we had the honour of playing for the SNES and PlayStation, and that is a claim I haven't laid at a JRPG in a long time. While Xenoblade Chronicles for the Wii took JRPGs in to new realms, Ni no Kuni was the perfect refinement of what came before it. Level 5 are wonderful RPG makers, and Ni no Kuni certainly borrows off their past efforts. Aesthetically it feels a lot like Dragon Quest VIII, but the artwork, by the fantastic Studio Ghibli, really gives it a feel of its own. Its action-based combat system was also very enjoyable, and seen as though combat is a huge aspect of the genre that is only a good thing. And the game has a charm to it that pretty much no other game this generation has matched, a sort of charm that makes masterpieces such as Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VI so enjoyable. I can't praise Ni no Kuni highly enough without sounding like a raving JRPG fanboy.

Best Nintendo DS Game

Nominations: Animal Crossing: Wild World, Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies, Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, Mario Kart DS and Professor Layton and the Curious Village

Winner: Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies


Many argue that Japanese RPGs are held back by their traditions, but in regards to Dragon Quest IX the traditions are what made is so utterly enjoyable. Unlike other JRPG contemporaries, such as Final Fantasy, Phantasy Star and Tales, Dragon Quest doesn't alter much in between each new numbered instalment. Instead it makes precise tweaks, constantly refining upon what came before. Hell, until 2006 the series still had random battles. Dragon Quest IX could be argued as being antiquated, but to fans it was everything we could have asked for. Some were annoyed that the game would make its debut on the DS, instead of a home console like all the main series games before it, but the swap to the DS was a positive. If you've played any Dragon Quest game before you'll know what to expect here, but Level 5 did change things up a bit. Gone are the random battles, for the first time in the history of the main series, and in comes a system in which you can see enemies on screen, much like EarthBound or Chrono Trigger. Also, the game approaches playable characters in a similar manner to that of Dragon Quest III (the series most widely acclaimed title). Instead of recruiting new characters as the story progresses you get to fully create your own squad, from looks, class, design and even name. Some would find this approach a weakness, as none of the characters other than the main avatar have any involvement in the story, but it allowed you to stamp your own authority on the game. Oh yeah, and the game also has great multiplayer capabilities too. Dragon Quest IX isn't my favourite game in the series, but it may possibly be the most complete entry to date.

Best PlayStation Portable Game

Nominations: Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, Daxter, God of War: Chains of Olympus, Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories and Metal Gear Solid: Peacewalker

Winner: Daxter


The appeal of Daxter, as far as I'm concerned, all came down to my love of Jak & Daxter in general. You could make a serious argument against Daxter being the best game on PSP, but there's no other game on the console that I have utterly enjoyed playing as much. And isn't enjoyment the main aspect of any game? And unlike Clank, the spin-off Ratchet & Clank title for PSP, Daxter is just a damn good platform game in its own right. It would be difficult not to recommend this game.

Best PC Game

Nominations: Amnesia: The Dark Descent, Portal, Portal 2, To the Moon and The Walking Dead: A Telltale Games Series

Winner: Portal 2


Portal 2 is the sort of game that, in an era of over-exaggerated war shooters and over the top violence, really gave me an experience I was in serious need of. Nobody does first-person action games as good as Valve, and Portal 2 showcased their mastery of the genre at its finest. And dare I say that, in many ways, Portal 2 was just as good as the hallowed Half-Life 2? From puzzles to action, from humour to emotion, Portal 2 is a master class in game design.

Best Indie Game

Nominations: Fez, Journey, Limbo, Super Meat Boy and To the Moon

Winner: Journey


Journey is a special game, the sort of which you'll never forget playing. As far as Indie games go, nothing this generation can match it, purely because it gave us such a visual, surreal adventure that was enjoyable from start to finish. You could make an argument that it was a rather short game - only 2 hours or so. But for what it was Journey delivered on all fronts, and in the process became one of the best games in general for some years.

My Awards of the Generation (Part 1) EDITED

Seen as though this generation is pretty much over I got the desire to do my Awards of the Generation in preperation for the next one truly hitting home. We already have the 3DS, Vita and Wii U, and once the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 hit store shelves it the transition will be complete.

Anyway, on to the awards.

EDIT: I missed out one category that I was supposed to add in this part, which was most difficult game. So I've edited the blog and added it. Parts 2 and 3 will be up within the next week or so.

Most Surprising Game

Winner: Sonic Colours


Sonic Colours was the most surprising game of the generation purely for what it was. It was a good 3D Sonic game on a console. Only Sonic fans will realise how significant this was. I'd argue Sonic Generations was probably better, but Colours was the game that showed me that, with a little love and simplicity, Sega could still create a game that did the blue hedgehog proud. I just hope to see greater console Sonic games in the future (so far Sonic: Lost World looks awesome).

Most Under Appreciated Game

Winner: Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure

Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure - Wii Cover & Box Art

Zack & Wiki was a fantastic throwback to the classic graphic adventure genre of the late 80's and 90's, a game so jam-packed full of charm and enthusiasm you can't help but love it. It isn't the best adventure game youre ever likely to play, but any fan of the classic genre that hasn't played Zack & Wiki is doing themself an injustice. It is easily one of the most overlooked games of the generation. When the game was released I can't ever recall seeing a single advert on television for it, and the bad marketing clearly showed in its abysmal sales. And it's a shame it never sold well as Capcom, who seemed most content with milking Resident Evil dry, will probably never make a follow up. At least Zack & Wiki can be remembered as one of the best, but sadly most overlooked, games for the Wii.

Most Overrated Game

Winner: Heavy Rain


Heavy Rain isn't a totally bad game. I've played many games that I thought were worse, the vast majority of which were also from this generation. But Heavy Rain certainly didn't deserve its acclaim, and I'd also argue that it isn't really much of a video game. The best way to describe Heavy Rain would be to say it's an interactive movie. You can move the four playable characters around the game world, in a rather clunky manner which requires you to press the R2 button on the PS3 controller just to move and the analogue stick to control which way to go. But the main chunk of game play revolves around a bunch of quick-time events. Now, contrary to popular belief, quick-time events aren't all that bad. I've played many games, most notable Shenmue and Resident Evil 4, that have utilized QTE's well, but Heavy Rain uses them heavily, and after a while you get sick of them. I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a huge fan of cinematic gaming experiences (I even hold my own reservations about Metal Gear despite the enjoyment the series has given me), but I also make a point of approaching every video game I play with an open mind. So while I'm not really all that enthusiastic on cinematic games I won't let this cloud my judgement. I have played other cinematic games that I have enjoyed. But unluckily for David Cage and his team at Quantic Dream, Heavy Rain isn't one of them.

Most Disappointing Game

Winner: Metroid Other M


As one of Nintendos premier franchises, fans always anticipate the release of a new game in the Metroid series. And when Other M was announced, and was shown to the world to look a lot like the SNES classic Super Metroid (a title widely considered one of the greatest video games ever made) the excitement was high. But deep down a lot of fans still held reservations, because unlike all Metroid games before it neither Nintendo or any of their internal studios develop Other M. The responsibility was left to Team Ninja. Now, I'm a fan of Team Ninja, and while they tried their hardest Other M was a huge disappointment. The game delved deep in to Samus Arans back-story, and her relationships. But in the end the whole story felt lacking, and did nothing but belittle Samus as a character. And the game play was weak too, which didn't help cover up any of the flaws in the narrative. It has been three years since Other M hit store shelves, and no other Metroid game has even been hinted at since. I just hope the failure of Other M hasn't put doubts in the minds of the top brass at Nintendo as to whether the series still has a future ahead of it.

Almost, But Not Quite

Winner: Mirrors Edge

Mirror's Edge - Xbox 360 Cover & Box Art

I enjoyed Mirror's Edge a quite a bit, mainly because it felt like a breath of fresh air in an industry saturated with poor Call of Duty clones. Mirror's Edge was a great new take on the first-person shooter genre as it brought elements of park our to gamers. The players played as Faith, a runner tasked with carrying information across the city. She eventually gets caught up in a plot that sees her trying to prove the innocence of her sister, who has been set up in a murder case. Overall Mirror's Edge was a good game, but it also had many problems. It was a good first try, but it didn't quite do everything DICE probably wanted it to. I'd place bets that the recently announced Mirror's Edge 2, as long as EA don't force crappy multiplayer features in to it, really brings out the potential the first game had.

Most Difficult Game

Winner: Super Meat Boy


Despite having no lives, therefore being unable to officially game over, Super Meat Boy was a brutal game. Many would argue it was too difficult, but I felt it walked that fine line between good difficult and cheap difficult very well. The level design was ridiculous at times, yet you never felt cheated when you died. It was always your fault. Getting good at the game required pinpoint precision with your platforming, and when you finally did that one, annoying, level you really felt like you achieved something.

Best Visuals

Winner: Journey

journey screenshot

Stunning on many levels, Journey really shines in its visuals. In many ways Journey took visual beauty to a new level. It isn't a technical marvel by any means, but its simplistic approach really paid off. Its one of the most beautiful games ever made, and one of the few games that showcase fancy graphics in an awe-inspiring way.

Best Music

Winner: Super Mario Galaxy/Super Mario Galaxy 2

File:Super Mario Galaxy - Original Soundtrack cover.jpg

Choosing which of the Mario Galaxy games had the best soundtrack would be like choosing which of your two children you liked most. You just can't do it. Therefore I had to make this a tie. Galaxy and Galaxy 2 are phenomenal games on many levels, from level design to the perfection of their game play. Yet despite all the other things they have going for them, the music in both is so sensational it stands out just as strongly as the technically more important aspects. Composed by Mahito Yokota and Koji Kondo, and performed by The Mario Galaxy Orchestra, the soundtracks for both games really are stunning on every level. There's not one composition across both I dislike. The games introduced many new songs to the Mario series, and also reinvigorated all the classics, making them sound better than ever before. They are both so good that they have joined an elite group of video game soundtracks that call my iTunes their home.

That's one massive 360 from Microsoft.


I do realise it's more of a 180 then a 360 that Microsoft have done, but I just wanted to get some reference to the Xbox in the title :P

It's official. After getting it's arse handed to it on a plate by Sony at E3 last week Microsoft has announced they will be scrapping the required 24 connection, blocking of used games and all the other crap they first announced the Xbox One will do. I'm not surprised about this one bit, I'm more surprised it has taken them this long after Sony's press conference to announce the changes, if anything.

Over the last few years us good, honest gamers have had to put up with some bull s**t policies placed upon us by companies such as EA and Ubisoft, companies who feel used games are the vein of the industry. These companies place all their woes and financial flops on used games, instead of taking the flack for themselves. At the end of the day, if a company is bloating their game budgets and setting ridiculously high sales forecasts how the hell is it the fault of used games, or those gamers who buy them, if the games tank?

So Microsoft, rather reluctantly I believe, have had to admit they were wrong. Many would argue they listened to their consumers - I'd argue they changed it at the sheer thought of all the money they would have ultimately lost as people spent their hard-earned cash on the PS4 instead.

But you know, I really don't care anymore. Microsoft's original stance with the Xbox One showed they don't care about us, the people who pay their f*****g wages, at all. This is just them clutching at straws, trying to regain the lost trust of the millions they have p****d off. I wonder if this news will mean the Xbox One will now launch in the countries it wasn't initially going to launch in? You know, like Poland. Or anywhere in Africa.

My Games of the Year (1977-present)

I was recently thinking about what game would so far be my game of the year. I won't disclose who is the number one contender just yet (mainly because we're only half way through 2013), but thinking about this made me want to write a list, dating back to 1977 (the year the Atari 2600 was released) and document my favourite game from each year from then until 2012.

So after careful consideration, and a lot of hard thought, here's my list:

1977 - Combat (Atari)
1978 - Space Invaders (Taito)
1979 - Adventure (Atari)
1980 - Pac-Man (Namco)
1981 - Donkey Kong (Nintendo R&D1)
1982 - Pitfall! (Activision)
1983 - Jetpac (Ultimate Play the Game)
1984 - Elite (Braben and Bell)
1985 - Super Mario Bros. (Nintendo EAD)
1986 - Castlevania (Konami)
1987 - The Legend of Zelda (Nintendo EAD)
1988 - Ninja Gaiden (Tecmo)
1989 - Mega Man 2 (Capcom)
1990 - Super Mario Bros. 3 (Nintendo EAD)
1991 - Super Mario World (Nintendo EAD)
1992 - The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (Nintendo EAD)
1993 - The Legend of Zelda: Links Awakening (Nintendo EAD)
1994 - Final Fantasy VI (SquareSoft)
1995 - Chrono Trigger (SquareSoft)
1996 - Super Mario 64 (Nintendo EAD)
1997 - Final Fantasy VII (SquareSoft)
1998 - The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (Nintendo EAD)
1999 - System Shock 2 (Looking Glass Studios/Irrational Games)
2000 - Pokemon Gold and Silver (Game Freak)
2001 - Halo: Combat Evolved (Bungie)
2002 - Metroid Prime (Retro Studios)
2003 - Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (BioWare)
2004 - Half-Life 2 (Valve)
2005 - Shadow of the Colossus (Team Ico)
2006 - Okami (Clover Studios)
2007 - Super Mario Galaxy (Nintendo EAD)
2008 - Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Hal Laboratory)
2009 - Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (Naughty Dog)
2010 - Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Nintendo EAD)
2011 - Portal 2 (Valve)
2012 - The Walking Dead: A Telltale Games Series (Telltale Games)

For the purpose of making it easier for myself, I chose the release dates of each game in their English teritories. For instance, Pokemon Gold and Silver were released in Japan in 1999, but in English in 2000. So they were my choice for 2000 instead of 1999. So the same thing applies for all the games in this list. And if a game was released in America before Europe I chose the year it was released in America, and vice versa if the game was released in Europe first. I have also placed, next to each game, the company who made it in brackets.

What do you think? How would your list vary if you did one? 

Sony May Have Won Back this Disillusioned PlayStation Fan

From the moment the PlayStation 3 was announced it really didn't appeal to me. I did eventually buy one, because the pull of Sony's exclusives is a little difficult to resist, but as a package I really wasn't impressed with the PS3. And this annoyed me, because I am a huge fan of both the PlayStation and PlayStation 2.

But Sony may have just won back this disillusioned PlayStation fan.

There has been a lot of complaining recently about the Xbox One, which seems to be a DRM-laden console that will do nothing other than piss off consumers. Of course there are those who think the Xbox One is not all that bad, but I can't buy in to a console that will periodically require me to be connected to the internet, or that may very well block used games.

So when Jack Tretton walked out on stage at Sony's E3 press conference, and declared to the gaming world that the PS4 wouldn't require online checks and won't block used games, and will allow you to lend games to friends, I really felt happy. As did the audience too, as just about everything he said was met with rapturous applause.

The only negative thing to come from the Sony press conference was that PlayStation Plus is now required to play games online, which relinquishes one of the biggest draws of the PS3 by not allowing a free-to-play option. But in many ways I expected this, and from what I have heard PlayStation Plus is more worth the fee than Xbox Live is anyway.

EDIT: Shuhei Yoshida has also confirmed, via Twitter, that the PS4 will also be region free. Again, another win as far as I'm concerned. 

A Fire Emblem Virgin.


I'm a big fan of Intelligent Systems, which is why I included them in my lost of my top 50 favourite developers, but Fire Emblem is a series that I've never touched before Fire Emblem: Awakening. A few years ago, when the GameCube and Game Boy Advance were Nintendo's current hardware line up, I saw advertisements for Fire Emblem and Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance in Nintendo mags, and instantly wanted to play them. But once I read they were tactical RPGs I changed my mind. Tactical RPGs were something I didn't touch back then.

But my tastes have greatly expanded since then, and now I'm itching to finally give the sub-genre a try. Despite an aching feeling to play Shining Force and Disgaea, Fire Emblem was always going to be my first port of call when it came to the genre, simply because I showed interest in them back when I was younger. As soon as Fire Emblem: Awakening was announced for the west it was on my radar, and I finally got my hands on it a few days ago.

At first I considered playing the casual mode, but after careful consideration I chose classic mode instead, because none of the other games in the series offer a casual mode, so I may as well get used to playing the series for what is it. I just have a strange feeling I will be resetting my 3DS fairly often, as I hate to see characters die permanently.

So, Sonic is Now a Nintendo Exclusive.

For a few years now I've felt it would be beneficial for Nintendo to buy Sega. In recent times Sega haven't been the force they once was, but I feel this comes from the fact that the company are trying to release games on too many platforms. Back when they still made hardware their games were fabulous. Even Sega's best games for the Saturn were just as good as anything for the PlayStation or Nintendo 64. If Nintendo bought Sega I feel they would benefit because they would only have one, or two consoles including the 3DS, to develop games for. It'll be just like it was back when the still made hardware.

But the chances of Nintendo buying Sega are slim, and I accept that. Still, it seems Nintendo may be getting the next big thing. During the most recent Nintendo Direct it was announced that a new Sonic game, Sonic: Lost World, will be coming exclusively to Nintendo hardware. What was most significant about the announcement though was that Satoru Iwata announced that Nintendo and Sega have enterend a partnership to make Sonic a Nintendo exlcusive for the forseeable future. Also Lost World is a collaboration between both Sega and Nintendo, meaning that Nintendo's mastery of the platform genre will come in to the fray.

I feel this news bodes well not only for Sonic: Lost World, but also for the prospect of seeing a Mario and Sonic cross-over platform game - which wuld be awesome.

Now That is One HUGE Game


I've recently heard that the world of Grand Theft Auto V, including all the underwater levels, will be bigger then Red Dead Redemption, Grand Theft Auto IV and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas combined. Now, that is one HUGE game. Grand Theft Auto V is my most anticipated game of 2013 that is still to hit store shelves, and after hearing this news I can't wait to get my hands stuck in to all that lovely exploration.

I Really Want to Play This Game


I have been reading a lot about the Star Control series recently, and the one that sticks out the most is Star Control II. Just from reading about it, it sounds like it is the ULTIMATE sci-fi video game experience. And that's something I can climb on board with. I've seen a few snippets of game play and several screen shots so far, and on the surface it seems that BioWare copied a hell of a lot of Star Control II's ideas when creating Mass Effect. You can travel to 500 unique star systems, as long as your ship has enough fuel, and scan planets for research and search thousands of planets for minerals. The game is completely open-ended, but has a strong narrative to back it up (with branching discussion options ala Mass Effect), and all this is mixed together with elements of role-playing.

I've known about the Star Control games for a few years now, but I had never read extensively on them until recently. All three of the games are available on GOG, with Star Control 3 as a stand alone title and I and II as a double-pack. I seriously need to get these once I get paid this week from my job. As a huge fan of both science-fiction and video games I feel I will be doing myself an injustice if I don't.