Wednesday, March 25, 2015

List of video games that have grown the most with time

Many games grow with time. Some become outdated and bested and do not. But perhaps it's not that simple. Super Mario Bros is certainly outdated and bested by its many successors, yet  in hindsight it seems even more impressive for its time. This list is more on-the-fly than well-thought-out, although I've taken the above into consideration while making the (chronological) list.

Super Mario KartI haven't played any other racing game which I've enjoyed as much as Super Mario Kart, and that  includes Mario Kart 64. So I guess it has to be on this list.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time/Super Double Dragon
My two favorite sidescrolling beat em ups have yet to be beaten!

Super Probotector: Alien Rebels/Contra
Yep, still my favorite run n guns.

Soul Blade
I thought that after having a bunch of Soul Caliburs around, this game would become moot. Well, I still love it. It has a slower pace compared to the newer titles, and I enjoy it much as I enjoy Street Fighter 2 after many years.

Micro Machines V3
We need more (racing)games with the main mechanic of Micro Machines! The running game Speedrunners utilizes it, and so should others.

Super Mario 64
They got so much right on the first try at 3D platforming it's crazy. The manveuering and camera controls aren't the best by todays standards, but the platform design is still super fresh.

Planescape Torment
Was not disappointed when replayed a couple of years ago. Still my favorite RPG.

Fallout 2
Although it's very buggy and I don't wish to play it again, the open world structure of the game is still very impressive. I don't like open world for the sake of open world, but this game has reactivity and makes the open world feel like one world, manages to fill it with narrative and soul.

Unreal Tournament
This is probably just me, but I still love this game and don't bother with any other area shooters, basically.

The Legend of Zelda: Majoras Mask
Could not appreciate the adult themes of Majoras Mask first-time around. It seems to have gotten a bit of a revival in the critical community the last couple of years due to its artistic integrity.

Metal Gear Solid 2
What made me appreciate Metal Gear Solid 2 on a whole new level and really see the MGS franchise in a different light was this article. Since then, the game has for me become the pinnacle of subversive play.

Silent Hill 2
Silent Hill hasn't delivered very much in the last 14 years, and I've gotten tired of most horror anyway. So this game, couched in psychonalytical themes, is still the gold standard.

Parsec47/rRootage/Noiz2sa (Kenta Cho)
After a couple of years playing a lot of shmups, I started getting tired of the lack of procedurality in most games. These three have a lot of it, and thus it never completely feels like starting over and just waiting to getting back to the level you were on before to give it another shot. Sadly, I've been searching for this type of game ever since and come up with, well, Geometry Wars, and nothing else I enjoyed.

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3
The formula was completed with this one, I believe. After that it was just a bonus, and not always a good one either.

The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker
It was the first Zelda game for a new console that I played "as a grown-up". It couldn't have been anything else than disappointing, since the Zelda franchise (basically just A Link to The Past and Ocarina of Time) was such a big part of me growing up. I haven't replayed it since its release, but I have come to view it in a different light due to all the critical writing on it. And in retrospect it has perhaps even more weight, considering that the games that take place chronologically after Wind Waker don't have Ganondorf in them. So in a sense it's a goodbye to that villain.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

List of good games with bad review scores

Games that are enough critically recognized as to be ranked on metacritic/gamerankings and are far from critically acclaimed but would certainly get a higher review score from me if I were to review them. Well not necessarily, but all of these games have a special place in my heart and didn't get very good aggregate review scores, even if some of them are indeed critically acclaimed nonetheless. Most of these games mostly focus on story and narrative, to the detriment of graphics, sound, and general production values.

Pathologic (66%) 10/10 - my score
One of the most astounding and intriguing gaming experiences in my adult life. I'm awaiting the remake with anticipation, which will have a better translation/localization and more resources for the technical side of things.

Dear Esther (71%) 10/10
Very beautiful and haunting, even more so with the updated graphics of 2012. The music still rings in my ears.

Unrest (69%) 9/10
An adventure RPG which has some of the most intricate political intrigues I've ever seen, and you're dropped right in the smack middle of it all. But it's not just clever, there is actually a lot of wisdom in the game as well. It leaves much to the imagination, but I can live with sparse graphics and a lot of text when it's done this nicely. I'm awaiting the first AAA-title with this kind of narrative ambition and focus.

Consortium (66%) 9/10
This one's fresh, so I might be infatuated beyond the point of reason right now. It's a very suspenseful one-room (or rather one ship) title with lots of depth and interactivity. The characters may look alike, but they are very fleshed-out due to backstory, the events in the game, and the voice actors. The sci-fi mystery of the game is super exciting, the lore is well-written, but perhaps the game doesn't have much worthwhile to say in the end. It's leaves one puzzled in a different way than say Pathologic or Unrest, two titles which are really existentially relevant for me. And it doesn't touch me the way games such as Dear Esther or The Novelist do for example. Maybe it's a case of having more style than substance, which is definitely the case with Device-6, an awesome experience, but yeah, I wish it would lead to something more in the end.

Knock-Knock (57%) 8/10
From the creators of Pathologic, this kickstarted experiment is definitely something else. I didn't even understand all main gameplay elements (how do I progress in the forest?!), but the experience in itself was different and worthwhile, always leaving things unsaid, the mystery unresolved. Maybe it attempts something similar to P.T, a game which has murky affordances, players never sure why they got a specific ending or how they made the game progress. There is potential in that kind of experience, and some of it is realized in Knock-Knock.

The Novelist (69%) 8/10
A game about responsibilities, about marriage, about child-rearing. A sober yet affecting story about the inadequacies of people and life in general. Main mechanic of the game is kinda forced (why would I be a ghost in a game that has nothing to do with ghosts otherwise?) and doesn't need to be there for justification, but I was touched by the fates of respective family members. It's not as fresh, well-made and designed as Gone Home, but there is a moving story here too.

Journal (59%) 8/10
A game about a young girl and her troubles, with divorce, disease, school, etc. Slice of life game with much warmth.

Borderline Cases

Due to nostalgic blindness:
Hexplore (66%)
One of my favorite games from my childhood. It's an ok dungeon crawler but these are dime-a-dozen. Still, I love it.

Castlevania 64 (72%)
I realize it's not the best game out there, but it's actually still one of my favorite Castlevania games, up there with Symphony of the Night. Another case of just having the game and loving it at a time where quality wasn't as important for enjoying myself.

Because the score isn't all that low:
Jazzpunk (75%) 9/10
Super childish game which made me laugh out loud quite a lot of times. That doesn't happen often, so I have to commend the game!

Because the game isn't all that good:
Contrast (64%) 7/10
Even though I would only give the game a 7, my seven is probably much more worth than the seven of the general video game community. The game had its magical moments and touched me with its story and presentation of it. But, as often is the case with the games on this list, the technical side of things wasn't very good. Buggy as hell.

Dark Eye (67%) 7/10
A pain in the ass to play, since progression comes down to clicking all interactable items on all screens quite often, and you get stuck because you can't find all items to click on, basically. No really, it's horrible. But if you manage to get the tempo up and play through it, it's certainly one of the most chilling subdued horror games I've played. The slowness of it all almost makes it more creepy.

Thursday, March 19, 2015


Unrest has a point to make. The game takes place in a kingdom that is suffering drought, and food has become scarce. You play as several individuals in the kingdom, from peasants to diplomats to commanders and queens. The point of the game is: individual actions can not change the course of systematic problems./.../
The consequences are simpler, and so the decisions are guided more by what “feels right” instead of what is “correct”. By choosing what “feels right”, you are more in tune with the character you are playing, and as such the consequences have more personal meanings rather than systematic ones.

Jazzpunk feels different than Schafer’s games. It isn’t a game that solely tells jokes in cutscenes and through dialogue. It more often involves the player in the jokes and depends on the player to complete actions necessary to complete those jokes. It is a comedy that hinges on the fact that games are more interactive than other media. The comedy becomes a collaborative act between the game and its player.
In Jazzpunk, we don’t laugh at the clown, so much as we laugh at our own clowning around.


Interestingly, the lamp on the cabinet begins the game turned off. This seems contrary to the received wisdom of level design: use light to guide the player. In this case, having the light begin lit would draw the your eye and encourage you to interact with the cabinet. With this guidance specifically absent, you are more likely to fumble around, unsure what to do. However, this “fumbling” serves a didactic purpose.


There’s a pervasive idea that procedural storytelling and arts are somehow less “authored” than linear narrative, which is bullshit. I love Transistor because it skewers this idea mechanically and thematically, and while many games ask us to question what we consume (a la Spec Ops: The Line), Transistor asks us to question what we make.


The Bestest Best Being Pleasantly Lost Of 2014: Bernband


... if I had to draw a conclusion here, it is that what I failed to really see was how utterly trivialized gender is by standard games, and how it would never occur to any given male player that playing as a woman might actually make a difference in what (or how) a game makes meaning.  Instead of explicitly deconstructing the privilege I set my sights on, I sorta feel like I gathered my firewood and forgot to strike the match.


if the S3 plan is a crucible through which the Patriots are recreating Snake as embodied by Raiden (or at least doing so as a benchmark for the *real* S3 plan), I was not only a participant due to my connection as a player to Raiden as an actor, I was now an active collaborator with the Patriots.
And sure, my will overlapped with Raiden’s character goals but the way in which they overlapped was perverted by the nature of ranked play. Both Raiden and I want to defeat Vamp. However, I want to do this to assert my technical mastery as a player while Raiden actually wants to do this to save lives.
I want to complete the game according to the simulation mapped in my head. The one where Raiden achieves perfection. My emotions threaten to distract me from that. I need to pull back. Like the Patriots, I cannot choose to see Raiden or any other character as anything other than things I can manipulate to get a result. Austin Howe pointed out to me that the Big Shell is shaped like an infinite loop. Each Shell is a circle. Combined, they form a lemniscate. I run around and around, repeating simulation after simulation. Mr. Howell notes that the level design of Shell One is a reaffirming myth space where Raiden fallaciously continues to enact his fantasy of being Solid Snake. A hypnotic mold.
If the Big Shell is about affirming my control as a player over the simulated space of the game, Arsenal Gear is where the simulation starts to run wild.
This specifically is because there is an rogue factor in the program that I cannot afford to ignore any longer: Snake.
What was I not engaging on if not my own S3 plan? Both to mold Raiden into the perfect actor but also to control the flow of the digital information that made up the game. I wanted to censor anything that didn’t fit into the narrative of “my playthrough”. I wanted everything that the villains wanted. Perfect data, perfect control. In the end? I got what I wanted. I “won”.

And I’m not going to lie: I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not.


This video is my explanation why I am leaving MGS criticism due to the series' sexism.


When we grasped this new dual-grip controller we did something that Goto might not have ever imagined: We placed our right thumbs solidly over the X button. Without the benefit of so many years of cultural reinforcement we didn’t know that the X was not the affirmative button. We couldn’t have.


I spent most of my life religious—Christian, to be specific. Semi-recently, however, that small part of me died. Or maybe I killed it myself. I know one thing for sure, though: video games had a hand in it.


Extra Credits - What Makes Us Roleplay? - When Game Worlds Feel Real


Extra Credits - Asymmetric Play - Can One Game Cater to Many Playstyles?