2014 Video Games Report and Game of the Year

This year I did not play as many new games as in previous years. I was deep in my graduate degree and most of my free time was during work travel. Since I don’t have a powerful laptop (and Steam on Linux was just taking off early on this year anyway), most of that time was spent reading. Still, I did play some great games and still managed to log in quite a few hours.

Civilization V - against Dave - Founding Shanghai - 2440 BC
Civilization V – against Dave – Founding Shanghai – 2440 BC

Civilization 5 (95 hr): The year started off strong with the fun online games I was playing with Dan and Dave. Then Dave moved and we didn’t play for a while. Then GMR lost a month or two worth of turns. We have the turns on our computers, but we haven’t gotten the system back up yet. I hope we recover the games, I was having a lot of fun. Shoot, I almost spent 100 hrs on this game this year.

Poker Night 2
Poker Night 2

Poker Night 2 (13 hrs 30 min): I played here and there when I just wanted to play a quick game. Also sat by Danielle while she played to see how she thinks about Poker strategy. Still haven’t gotten more than one player’s token.

Hate Plus - Mute sees The Death of Mute
Hate Plus – Mute sees The Death of Mute

Hate Plus (8  hrs): Sure, it’s a visual novel and somewhat (par for the genre) a dating sim. But that’s way too reductionist. This is a powerful reminder that video games are no less valid a medium for talking about important issues than books, movies, and TV shows. Comics have been fighting the same fight, but are further along with more people considering them art than with video games. This is old hat for readers of this blog, I’ve been declaring various games as examples of art for a while now. However this sequel/prequel to Analogue: A Hate Story is a cautionary tale of how just a few unchecked changes here and there lead to a world that’s worse of for all except those in power. Games like this remind you that Rome didn’t go from Republic to Empire overnight.

Analogue: A Hate Story - The Pale Bride's Diaries
Analogue: A Hate Story – The Pale Bride’s Diaries

Analogue: A Hate Story ( 4 hrs): It seems as though there’s at least one game each year that really pushes and pulls at my emotions. I found myself caring deeply about the fictional characters in this game, especially the main character. Her deep inability to understand how profoundly the world has changed and for the world to understand her was just so sad.

Poker Night at the Inventory
Poker Night at the Inventory

Poker Night at the Inventory (2 hrs) – Played to get all the items.

Xenogears - "Sometimes I wish I were a man"
Xenogears – “Sometimes I wish I were a man”

Xenogears (1 hr) – Just started this. Looks like it has a lot of potential, but I’m not sure how much patience I still have for the Square style. We’ll see.

Team Fortress 2 - Halloween 2014 - Bumper Cars
Team Fortress 2 – Halloween 2014 – Bumper Cars

Team Fortress (1 hr 30 min): This year mostly only logged in for holiday play.

Mario Kart Wii - I won the whole cup
Mario Kart Wii – I won the whole cup

Mario Kart Wii (1 hr 15 min): The Dolphin emulator revives my interest in my Wii games and I bring the discs up to the computer room. Now that Nintendo has turned off the servers, the emulator may be the only way to play online.

Guitar Solo

Beatles Rock Band (1 hr): Since Scarlett seemed to get a lot out of a concert film of I Fight Dragons, I figured she might enjoy the game. She did and asked me to play a few times. I figure she’ll really enjoy it when she’s older. Too bad the plastic instrument genre died. Maybe it’ll be back one day.

Cities in Motion 2
Cities in Motion 2

Cities in Motion 2 (45 min): Never did play it again in 2014 after that one time. Maybe 2015? I doubt it, I have so many games to play. Maybe 2016.

 

Super Meat Boy (30 min): I got this in a Humble Bundle after seeing the Indie Game movie. It was neat, but too intnse for me.

Guacamelee Bilingual Bonus! (If you speak spanish you will get a bit more out of the game)
Guacamelee Bilingual Bonus! (If you speak spanish you will get a bit more out of the game)

Guacamelee (30 min) – I’ll very likely play this some more. Just need that time. 2015’s going to be an extremely busy year (at least for the first half) so  we’ll see.

Oil Rush
Oil Rush

Oil Rush (30 min): For the moment I’m mostly over RTSes so I don’t see myself playing this again.

To the Moon Holiday DLC (30 min): The sequel was on sale for the Steam Sale. Maybe I’ll get it this summer.

Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island
Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island

Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island (30 min): We’ll see if the bug bites me again and I play some more.

Game of the Year

This year my game of the year is Analogue: A Hate Story. Christine Love creates this amazing and compelling world full of alliances and betrayals; Secrets kept from spouses. The generation ship gone awry is such a great science fiction trope and Love uses it to its fullest. As I mentioned above, this game was able to mess with my emotions and get me to care. That’s always the mark of great storytelling. If you can get over any biases you may have with the manga art style and the bad rap that visual novels have, you can experience a world unlike any other you’ll experience this year while at the same time being familiar enough to be anchored in emotional reality.

Analogue: A Hate Story - Hyun-ae begins to explain her genocide
Analogue: A Hate Story – Hyun-ae begins to explain her genocide

April – August 2014 Video Games Report

April:

Civilization V (7 hrs): Met Dan in Mesa Bros; Waiting in Lefties Game

May:

Civilization V (11 hrs): More of the multiplayer games.

June:

Civ V (3 hrs): More multiplayer games.

Super Meat Boy (30 min): I played a few levels until it began to get too hard for me. It is a very well-designed game, but I was never that good at platformers. Really, I just stuck to Mario and Sonic growing up. The others were often too hard for me; at times even Mario and Sonic were too much. I don’t think I ever beat a Sonic game although with one of them (3 or S&K) I used to always get to the final Robotnick.

Guacamelee Bilingual Bonus! (If you speak spanish you will get a bit more out of the game)
Guacamelee Bilingual Bonus! (If you speak spanish you will get a bit more out of the game)

Guacamelee (30 min): To say that this is a fun action game filled with fun Mexican stereotypes is possibly to sound a bit too harsh. Then again, I’m Cuban, not Mexican, so I’m not in the best place to say what is and isn’t cool for stereotypes. However, it all seems to be in good fun – I only played the first few areas so far. My character is a tequila distiller who saves the governor’s daughter and ends up putting on a luchador mask that gives me special powers. Each area has a regular version and a land of the dead version. Overall it’s fun. I intend to get back to it in 2015 after I graduate.

July:

Civ (30 min): More multiplayer

Aug:

Beatles Rock Band (1 hr): I’ve been trying to help Scarlett make the connection between instruments and music and one of the best examples I have (since I lack music-playing talent) is Rock Band. Scarlett actually really enjoyed both playing the drums and the guitar (even though she wasn’t really doing anything)

Mario Kart Wii (I won!)
Mario Kart Wii (I won!)

Mario Kart Wii (1 hr): I was experimenting with getting the Wiimote and the PS3 remote working with my main Linux computer (Supermario) and it paired over Bluetooth perfectly. My Kubuntu machines are using an older version of BlueZ so they didn’t work, unfortunately. I don’t yet have an IR source, so I wanted to see if that would affect driving since the steering wheel has a hole for the IR receiver. Nope! I was able to drive perfectly. I’d forgotten some of the controls but quickly learned them and took the cup.

Mario Kart Wii - I won the whole cup
Mario Kart Wii – I won the whole cup

Civ V (1 hr): A little more multiplayer.

Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island
Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island

Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island (30 min): Scarlett’s been obsessed with Mario so I figured it’d be fun to show her a game with Baby Mario. She enjoyed the heck out of it for a about 10 minutes. (Which is pretty good for anything that isn’t a cartoon she already likes)

2010 Game of the Year

I played a lot of games this year.  Perhaps more than in any previous year since leaving high school.  Since I usually don’t buy games when they first come out, the winner will not necessarily be a game that came out this year.  I went to my raptr page and took a look at all the games I played this year.  Following is a list of the games and a little about what I thought of them.  At the end will be my pick for 2010.

I started off the year continuing my indie game trend.  These were small downloadable games that were quick to get a game or two out of.

Zuma:  Another pop the bubbles by matching colours type of game.  This game is a lot of fun and overall, I spent 13 hours playing it.  The use of achievements kept me hooked a little longer than I might have been otherwise.

Fat Princess:  I played a total of 19 hours of Fat Princess (probably some of that in 2009).  It’s a really fun game.  It’s chaotic, has a great sense of humor, and you can finish a game in 15 to 30 minutes.  I haven’t played it since the beginning of the year because I’ve been so busy with other games.  Every once in a while, I think about playing, but I just have too many uncompleted games and hobbies for that.

Beatles Rock Band: Played 15 hours (some of which may have been in 2009).  See my review here.

Worms (PSN): I’ve always loved Worms on computer.  Played 8 hours.  I really like this game a lot, but it’s not fun without others.  I tried playing with random people and it just wasn’t as much fun as playing with friends/family.

Batman: Arkham Assylum:  I borrowed this game and beat it in 14 hours.  The game was a lot of fun and it reinvigorated my desire to beat Uncharted.  Basically, it was the game that showed me that I could play third person games.  I had been frustrated ever since the Nintendo 64 as games had become too complicated for me.  However, my love of the Batman franchise caused me to soldier on.  I mastered it and then went on the play and beat Uncharted.  And, without this confidence boost, I would have never gotten into the Assassin’s Creed series.

Valkyria Chronicles:  I played this game for 3 hours and realized it wasn’t for me.  The story seemed interesting and the idea of an anime-style 3D game was interesting, but I found it boring and tedious.

Colonization:  This was an update of a game I LOVED as a kid.  I sunk 16 hours into it.  Most of that was spent playing “play by email” game with Dan.  It was a pretty good game, but lacked polish in enough places that I ended up never playing it again, nor having the desire to.

Civilization IV:  I’ve said a lot about it and I’ve played hundreds of hours.  It’s a great game.

Peggle/Peggle Nights:  Great innovation on the Breakout/Brick Breaker style of games.  I have really enjoyed playing them.  They’re more fun with others and, unfortunately, the challenges don’t hold my attention that well – even with Playstation trophies to earn.

Little Big Planet: I bought this game when I got my Playstation as it was one of the biggest reasons I wanted to buy a PS3.  But after playing a bit of the story mode and a bit of the online content, I regretted wasting my money.  However, in a bid to play all my games before buying new ones, I gave it a chance.  I really ended up loving the story mode.  The soundtrack was especially great.  I still am not that impressed with MOST of the online content.

Super Mario Galaxy 2: Spent 11 hours playing this game.  I didn’t beat it.  I really, really enjoyed it, but I feel like this is the first Mario game in a LONG time where you can’t be sure you’ll beat the whole game.  I basically got stuck unable to earn any more stars.  I got all the standard ones and, to me, that should be enough to advance (even if you don’t get the best ending).  Right now I’m stuck with some of the bonus challenges as the only way to get stars and I can’t beat any of them.  It’ll be the first Mario game I couldn’t beat since Mario 3.

Pixel Junk Shooter:  This game is fun.  But it just didn’t pull me in like it did for Dan.

Bejeweled 2:  It’s Bejeweled.

Starcraft:  Started playing this game so I could get up on the story as well as the experience before playing Starcraft II.  The game hasn’t aged well.

Puzzle Quest:  Bejeweled meets RPG.  Fun concept.  I’d probably play a bit more in 2011.  Nothing to really pull me back in, though.

Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune:  Started this game in Dec of 2009.  Finished most of it mid-2010.  I really enjoyed the game and the story, once I got my third person video game “sea legs”

Diner Dash:  A fun little game where you are a waitress/enterprenuer and have to earn money to improve your restaurant.  It is a great concept, but it could have used a bit more Theme Hospital-like depth

Plants vs Zombies: Awesome game about keeping zombies off your lawn.  Sunk many an hour into this game.

The Secret of Monkey Island: Bought this game because my brothers really loved it.  Love the Monty Python-esque humor.  Realized I hated how hard all these old point and click adventures were.  Played for 1hour. I’ll probably get back to it when I’m done with everything else – with a FAQ/Walkthrough

Civilization V: Amazing followup to Civ IV.  Covered extensively on here.  Played for 46 hours.  Haven’t played much since the week it came out, but that’s typical for me and Civ.  I’ll probably be back to it for another straight week or so sometime this year.

Pac-man Championship Edition DX:  I didn’t think this game would be as exciting as I’d heard from the Giant Bomb guys, but bought it on a lark.  It is pure joy.  If you ever loved Pac-Man, you will love this game.  It is impossible to describe the sheer joy of munching on a row of ghosts.  You either get it or you don’t.

Assassin’s Creed/Assassin’s Creed II:  Got Assassin’s Creed because the Giant Bomb guys kept talking up Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood and I wanted to start the story from the beginning.  I’m not going to get into these games too much because I’m planning on writing up a blog post comparing and contrasting  the different styles of gameplay in these two games.

My pick for game of 2010:  Batman: Arkham Assylum for it’s great gameplay and for getting me into 3rd person games and opening up 3 other games to me.  Read my review of Batman: Arkham Assylum.