Thursday, December 31, 2015

Month Overview: December 2015

Games played in December:

Senran Kagura - Shinovi Versus                              5.0
LocoRoco 2                                                              7.0
Soul Sacrifice                                                           7.0
Bioshock                                                                   8.0
Bioshock 2                                                                8.0
Binary Domain                                                         9.0
Puzzle Quest - Challenge of the Warlords               7.0
One Piece - Unlimited World Red                           5.5

 With holidays comes.... more games to play, I guess? There was decent variety, and one of the best games in the year, and one I adored, Binary Domain, made it's late appearance. I also started playing Dragon's Dogma, but very sparingly, so I've barely made a dent in the game, heh!

 Better late than never, eh! Bioshock 2 finely tuned Bioshock's combat, which was already fine in its own right. It's funny because, as far as I know, the Bioshock series pride themselves in their story, but this game's story was pretty weak... however, the improved gameplay made up for that, making it an altogether slightly more enjoyable game than the first one.

 I can't stop singing this game praises, for I instantly fell in love with it. I've already talked a lot about it, so anymore would just mean repeating myself.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Archile's End of the Year Awards 2015 Part II

 It's time to finish the fight. For the third time.
 Roll the drums please....

Worst Game of the Year:
 I played so many bad games this time around, it was actually hard to select la creme de la creme of the worst.

 Let's assume, for a second, that the atrocious framerate issues weren't present, y'know, both in the town-hub which you absolutely must traverse in order to access any of the game's modes and in 80% of the mandatory battles.... You'd still have to deal with the insane difficulty of some of the quests, mostly due to the CPU's incompetence, so if you are not gonna play online you are out of luck, the insane drop rate of equipment and skills, there's a Random Number Generator for the RNG behind certain drops. What the hell? Oh, and the character creator, the game's biggest draw, has equipment affect your stats, so either you compromise your build and look how you want to look, or go for your ideal stats. The game had great ideas, but the execution was terrible and the last gen versions shouldn't have been made in the first place, not like this anyways.

 Not only is the game unfinished, having abrupt cuts in between certain scenes, missing sound effects and/or music, not only is it incredibly buggy... it's also flat-out boring. And the worst part about it? I can sorta see what they wanted to do, and the idea itself isn't so bad, but even if the game had been finished, even if it was bug free(And most of them, at least on the console versions, aren't gamebreaking) it'd still be boring as sin.

 I would've liked to be in Konami's offices when the planning for the game took place. 
'Remember how we made a fairly good beat'em up? Well, the sequel should be totally different because why not?'
'Totally. How about having the Turtles start unarmed and unable to defend themselves as hordes of enemies jump on them?'
'Niceeeee, so they have to explore the maze-like levels, find their weapons, and then somehow manage to make it to the end with what little health they have left?'
'Nah, not annoying enough. How about locking their progress behind collectibles? That way players HAVE to re-explore the levels with their weapons and collect a certain number of crystals if they want to proceed.'
'Still not annoying enough. I know, make it so that only certain Turtles can grab certain crystals, that way we'll force them to replay the annoying levels.'
'Yes, that'll show them. It's not like we have a story of particularly fun beat'em ups since the Arcade/NES/SNES era, and the previous game was pretty fun on its own right.'
'Amen to that. Games are not supposed to be fun, they are supposed to be a chore!' 

 It's one thing to make a bad game, but it's another to ruin one of my favorite games of all time. The crappy framerate I could've dealt with, I mean, I was playing one of my favorite games. On the go!. The sometimes unmanageable controls I could've dealt with as well.
 But then the game starts freezing. Continuously. And that's when the game becomes broken and... nah, the state this game was released in is unacceptable. Unacceptable.

 TMNT isn't broken. It doesn't have an unbearable framerate, questionable design choices, or frequent freezes. This game is just soulless and boring. This is a mobile game released on a handheld platform. Seriously. It's a one-trick pony that oozes of bad quality. This is the kind of game you play on a mobile phone to pass the time, something you can't take seriously because it's not meant to. It's not meant to hold your attention for more than a couple of minutes or even seconds. And somehow it made it into a DS cartridge and a UMD. For shame Ubisoft, for shame...

Oldschool Nintendo Game of the Year:
 I didn't play enough games, or enough good games, for each of this consoles(DS, Gamecube, GBA, Wii) to get their own award, so I grouped the best of them in one category.

 While Bit.Trip Complete is not the kind of game I play, I can appreciate their creativity, and some of them got me hooked, which I didn't thought it'd be able to. The storyline told through the six games, however, is the type of story I like, and the way it is told.
 Bit.Trip Complete is proof that you don't need large budgets to make good games.

 I don't think that 'challenge' is something that's usually tied to racing games, but F-Zero GX doesn't care about that, it only cares about appealing to the hardcore speedfreaks. And to be fair, if I could unlock most of the stuff(Barring those AX tracks), then anyone can!
 What makes F-Zero GX so good is the emphasis put on speed, it's one of the fastest racers I've ever played, and from what I could gather, ever made. There's no power ups here, just you, your vehicle and your skill.

 TMNT on the GBA is a beautiful throwback to the Beat'em ups of old. It's got all the face-smashing goodness one comes to expect of the genre. It's fantastic in its simplicity, giving you slightly more tools than your average beat'em up. It's also worth noting that it's relatively challenging, so you can't mash your way through the game, you are gonna have to learn how to space your enemies and how to tackle them in order to minimize the damage you receive.

 I've talked plenty about this game in the previous part, so suffice to say that this is a great fighting game for fans, casuals and... dare I say competitive players? While this game never made it to any tournaments, that I know of anyways, I think that it should've been given a chance. It's not the most balanced of games, but I think it has enough depth to keep'em busy for a bit.

 It's so sad. So sad that this game didn't garner enough sales to justify bringing over the sequel. Where to start? The original and fantastic presentation? How it sets you up as a kid and his buddy playing oldschool videogames on a CRT TV? How all the games featured are much more than just simple 'mini-games' and easily could've passed as full games back in the NES era? RetroGame Challenge is an absolute gem of a game that deserves much more attention than it ever got.

3DS Game of the Year:
 I'm not gonna lie, I'm still not completely sold on the 3DS. It's a great system, but I still haven't found that ONE game. Still, now we've got Sma...

 Pokemon Omega Ruby is a Pokemon game. This is the thing, I was slightly disappointed with it. For every new awesome thing that it adds to the franchise, it also took away thing that made Y good. Sure now you can Soar, which is fine and dandy, but you can't customize your trainer. And the Battle Island-thing let's you fight the trainers again every day.... but Y had the Battle Resort with trainers that refreshed constantly. But as disappointing as it is, at the end of the day, Omega Ruby is a Pokemon game, and Pokemon is pretty good.

 I like hack-and-slash loot-based rpgs like Diablo and I like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Someone thought that it'd be a great idea to mix'em both, and somehow... they made it, and they got it right, and it was great. It's so good, and so short that it made me want more. More enemies, more skills, more weapons, more stages, more!! Now a second movie is coming out, I wouldn't mind Activision coming back to this engine, polishing it to a sheen and give us, well, more!

 There's something to be said about Nintendo, with most of their franchises, they innovate very little with each installment, but... the games always manage to be undeniably fun, so much so that it's hard to complain about coming back for a slightly different variety of more.
 And that's Super Mario 3D Land. There's little new for fans of Mario, but do we really care? What we've got is awesome, and change for the sake of doing things differently would only give us... Sonic. Do we want Mario to go the way of Sonic?

 Come the end of 2015 and I still haven't finished all the challenges. Which speaks volumes about the amount of stuff to do in the game... even if a lot of it is a bit repetitive....
 But I digress. Super Smash Bros on the 3DS is exactly that, Smash on the 3DS. It looks amazing, plays well and has a lot of content crammed in that little cart. And I'm sure that nobody ever expected to have Smash on the go, hell, who'd have said that we get every character and item as its home console counterpart?

Playstation Vita Game of the Year:
 Maybe I've turned into a grumpy, jaded gamer, but... as with the 3DS, I've yet to find that one game on the VITA. 

 Shinobido 2, the successor to Tenchu, is a good, but flawed, little game that's fantastic for playing on the go thanks to its mission-based gameplay. It's easy to focus on the negatives, like sloppy combat, how both characters are basically different skins, but I won't. Even though I kinda mentioned them. But it was a very superfluous mentioning. Anyways, it's better to focus on what the game got right, the stealth-based mechanics, since they actually got it right. And hey, maybe the combat is so bad as to veer the player into remaining stealthy?

  Soul Sacrifice may not be my favorite Monster Hunter-clone out there, but I can appreciate it for what it is. Unlike other games of its ilk, it has a strong narrative with a very in-depth lore, and I can give it extra points for daring to be different, even if I'd rather have a more traditional Monster Hunter game.

 Tales of Hearts R presented me with quite the conundrum when it came to rating it. On one hand, it's a really good game, but on the other hand, it doesn't do anything to set it apart from other Tales of games. And that's the thing, as good as it is, why would you go with this one instead of the others? And I don't mean to rain on its parade, because I had a ton of fun with it, particularly with the combat system, but even then, why settle for this one when other Tales of games got it even better?

 Hey, there's something to be said when a different developer takes over a franchise and they get it just right. As a matter of fact, this game is even better than Uncharted 1(Not that that's saying much, considering how bad Uncharted 1 was...). Uncharted GA's got everything a good Uncharted game's got to have. The story-line, the character interactions, the parkour, the shoot-outs. It's every bit worthy of the name as any of the numbered, console sequels.

 I'd love to say 'Persona 4 got even better!', but I don't think it did to be honest. But even if you, like me, don't particularly care about the new additions, you can ignore most of the bad ones, namely the new social links.
 Persona 4's got a fantastic fast-paced turn based system that favors exploiting weaknesses to earn extra turns and engaging storylines, not just the main story but the optional Social Links that present you with an engaging slew of side characters, everything a JRPG needs to be awesome.

PSP Game of the Year:
 I was relatively happy with the PSP games I played this year. Sure, it included the awful Crisis Core and the Worst game of the Year, but the rest where fairly good.

 Power Stone is, probably, one of Capcom's weirder original fighting games. You've got a colorful cast of characters that can transform into zanier creatures with wacky special attacks. I also found it interesting how both games had different philosophies, Power Stone 1 is more methodical, even while being arena-based, and toned down 1-on-1 fighting. But then you've got Power Stone 2 with crazy 4-man free for all, reducing attacks to only one button, with moving terrain and more weapons and interactibles. Which means both casuals and hardcore players can get what they want.

 Alright, so the Judgment beat'em up was more of an experiment than anything else. Interesting, fun even, but an experiment non-the-less. After you are done with it, you get Guilty Gear XX on its entirety at the palm of your hand. One of the fastest and most convoluted fighting games out there. What's not to love?

 Probably the best version of Lunar out there. Probably, y'see, Lunar is a game series held dear by many gamers, specially the PSOne and Saturn remakes, and it's hard not to look back at those versions. So yeah, Lunar - Silver Star Harmony might just be the best way to experience Lunar yet, but the PSOne version will forever hold a spot in my heart.

 I don't know what I was expecting with Gods Eater Burst. First I was completely enamored by its setting, albeit slightly turned off by how anime-fanservicey the character designs were. But by the end of my journey, I think I actually preferred some parts of the game to Monster Hunter. It's a really good alternative to Monster Hunter, a much more accessible one at that. And while I don't particularly care about the remake('Resurrection'), we are finally getting the sequel localized!

  Half-Minute Hero is amazing, every part of it is. Hero30, the main mode, is a blast, Princess30 and Knight30 and great, Villain30 is Ok, but then you unlock Hero300 and Hero3 which are phenomenal. The self-aware humor, tied with the simple but addictive mechanics make for a very unconventional JRPG that's hard to put down.

Playstation Game of the Year:
 Almost everything I play on the Playstation was amazing, as per usual!

 Einhander's tough, like real tough. But it's the kind of tough that keeps you coming back for more. As you learn how to deal with the different obstacles, and then get to the boss that stumps you. And then you start clearing stages without getting hit once. And then you hit another roadblock. Rinse and repeat. Eihander is awesome in a very masochistic way.

 Blood Omen is a game that, while it shows its age, it still manages to impress. Delving into it means having to deal with tons of rather lengthy loading scenes, with sometimes obtuse level design and, let's be honest, a rather poor presentation. But it's all worth it, an intriguing story-line filled with very original ideas integrated into its gameplay that leads into...

 ...Legacy of Kain - Soul Reaver. I will admit that when I first played it, over 10 years ago, I disliked it. But this time around, I gave it a real chance, and I loved it. It might've been a bit too ambitious, for a PS1 game, proof of it being just how much stuff never made it outside the cutting room floor. But that's alright, because said cuts would lead us into the subsequent games....

 Tomba is the unlikely pink-haired hero of the Tomba! games. Tomba! is a delightfully charming adventure. It's sort of like a Metroidvania-like game in which you try to trigger quests and solve them to earn rewards, or sometimes, more quests! There's a ton to do and find, that should keep you busy for a long time.

 And then there's Tomba! 2, which is almost exactly the same game, but even better. Now it's in 3D, and you get more abilities. You can also tell the production values where higher, with crisp, colorful 3D characters and fully voice-acted, and pretty decent at that!

Playstation 2 Game of the Year:
  Just as with the PS1, most of the games were pretty good. There's a reason the PS1 and PS2 are so fondly remembered: They've got tons of great games!

 While the game is only now starting to show its age, Half-Life remains a fantastic first person shooter that, unexpectedly, offers a very different flavor than it's sequel, Half Life 2. This one is a bit more action-y than the second part.

 Haunting Ground is so good. SO. GOOD. I don't remember the last game I played that got the horror setting SO damn well. Sure, the needless pandering sorta takes away from it, and it's not like you can ignore Fiona's breasts going all over the place, but when you get into the game, you really get 'into' it. It's scary, it's creepy, it's amazing.

 Now THIS is when it gets interesting. It's funny, because as far as gameplay goes, this is probably the weakest game in the Legacy of Kain franchise. As a matter of fact, there aren't even any bosses on the game. But the story? Now it gets all twisty and interesting, now this is when we get all the epic quotes. And this is a game, that if you haven't at least played Soul Reaver 1, you are gonna find terrible. You'll be trying to keep track of what's going on tied to the fact that as far as gameplay goes... it's fairly bland.

 Soul Reaver 2 gave us the excellent set-up, now Defiance gives us the epic payoff. If you've been following the franchise, this is a game that won't disappoint. And unlike Soul Reaver 2, Defiance actually has competent gameplay, even if it can get a tad repetitive and unrewarding by the end of the game. Just like Soul Reaver 2, on its own, the game doesn't hold much merit, but as a part of the entire Legacy of Kain, it's amazing.

 Fans call it the black sheep of the series, I call it one of PS2's finest. It's got a gripping storyline, a phenomenal setting and great gameplay to boot. As far as I'm concerned, it's one of the most memorable games I've ever played.

Playstation 3 Game of the Year:
 Now... there were a LOT of fighting games, goddamn!

 I remember playing this game at release and loving it. And I dare say that the six new characters make it even better. Each one adds something new to the table, and they are pretty fun to use, particularly Scorpion, Zodd and Batgirl.

 UNIEL is badass. It's probably the best animu-fighter released in the previous generation. It lacks needless pandering(Arcana Heart, Blazblue, Xrd, I'm looking at you), looks glorious and plays like a dream. It does fall into one of the pitfalls of animu games, convoluted storytelling, but being a fighting game 'n all you can just ignore it. Here's to hoping they port the the new characters!

 Ridiculously awesome, that is how I would describe Binary Domain. The story is set up like one of those generic, ridiculous over-the-top action movies, with a very noticeable Japanese flair, married with tight gameplay that made for one of the most memorable games I've played.

 Dynasty Warriors 8 is made up of everything that makes Dynasty Warriors awesome. Firstly, the story follows closely the story from the novels, as far as Shu is concerned, while basing the other Kingdoms on both the novel and historic versions, so that in the end, we get a more or less neutral view on all four. Sure, Shu is still the 'good' Kingdom, but the game doesn't shy away from some of their more... shady actions. The gameplay is a fine-tuning of what we've seen since 7 to Warriors Orochi 3, for a total of almost 80 unique movesets, that are both flashy and offer enough depth to have fun around doing combos. Basically, the best Dynasty Warriors yet.

 Half Life 2 is one of the best games ever made, and one of my favorite games ever. With The Orange Box not only do you get Half Life 2, you get the two Half Life 2 episodes that were released later(Your mileage may vary on these ones), you get Portal and you also get... a very outdate version of Team Fortress 2. Basically, you get the cake, and the frosting and the cherry on top.

Game of the Year 2016: 
 Well, the winner and runner-up are very predictable if you know me. But hey, this category celebrates the best of the best, so why not get on with it?

 I love Tomba! 2, not only was it a fairly unique game when it was released, it still is to this day, as, as far as I know, no other game has copied its formula. Although I'm not surprised, as I can see how, without proper direction, it could fall apart into an annoyingly dull game. But Tomba! 2 nailed it, right on its head, you want to explore, and re-explore every area in search of items and quests!

 As someone who isn't particularly fond of Survival Horror games, I just adore Silent Hill 4. It's got one of my favorite set-ups I've played, I just can't help but to find the whole idea behind being trapped in your apartment as pure genius, as well as how the game develops from there.

 Speaking of pure genius, that's the idea behind this game and how they went about it. It sounds silly on paper, but it's very addicting.

 And then there's Half-Life 2, which wasn't particularly original at its time, despite of its-then-novel use of physics. But who needs to be original or innovative if you are a tight, well designed game? I love the way the game moves, how you are always moving forward in the game's world, makes it feel like an epic adventure.

 And then we've got Persona 4, which is another of the best games I have ever played. While Atlus' milking of the franchise has made it almost un-bear-able for me to look at anything Persona-related without cynicism, but even then, Persona 4 is Persona 4 and Persona 4 is awesome for all the reasons I have mentioned above and before.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Archile's End of the Year Awards 2015 Part I

  I'm gonna make a tradition out of this! So... : ' Oh, I'm doing this. I'm so doing it.'
 That's Kyle Bosman. Because I love his show, I use him as my header image. It's love in its purest form. And this year's tally is.... 82. Not bad, but a bit short considering how much I've gamed previous years. Oh, and from this year onward, I'm gonna list my nominees in order of awesomeness, because why not?
 This year was host to the second Turtle Month... and now I find myself short on Turtle games for 2016! Maybe I'll go retro? Only time will tell. Oh, oh! And 2016 had me replaying through two of my all-time favorite games ever... although a ton of other games I played were unremarkable or forgettable, sadly. Still, it's list time!

==== Playstation ====
Action                             Einhander                                                   8.0
Adventure                          Tomba!                                                      8.5
Adventure                          Tomba! 2 - The Evil Swine Return                            9.0
Adventure                          Blood Omen - Legacy of Kain                                 8.0
Adventure                          Legacy of Kain - Soul Reaver                                8.0
Adventure                          Mega Man Legends                                            7.0
License/Fighting                   Inuyasha - A Feudal Fairy Tale                              4.5
Action/RPG                         Threads of Fate                                             6.0

==== Playstation 2 ====
RPG                                Megaman X Command Mission                                   8.0
Other                              The Sims                                                    5.0
Action                             Half-Life                                                   8.5
License/Action                     Power Rangers Super Legends - 15th Anniversary              5.5
Adventure/Horror                   Haunting Ground                                             8.5
Action                             Red Faction 2                                               7.0
Adventure                          Soul Reaver 2                                               8.5
Adventure                          Legacy of Kain - Defiance                                   8.5
Platform/Adventure                 Maximo - Ghosts to Glory                                    8.0
Adventure/Horror                   Silent Hill 4 - The Room                                    9.0

==== Playstation 3 ====
License/Fighting                   Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Full Burst          8.0
License/Fighting                   Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution            7.0
License/Fighting                   Injustice - Gods Among Us - Ultimate Edition                8.5
Adventure                          Escape Dead Island                                          5.5
Fighting                           Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late                               9.0
License/FIghting                   Dragon Ball Xenoverse                                       3.5
Action                             The Orange Box                                              10
Fighting                           Persona 4 - Arena Ultimax                                   7.5
License/Fighting                   J-Stars Victory VS+                                         6.0
License/Fighting                   Saint Seiya - Soldiers' Soul                                6.0
Action/Beat'em up                  Dynasty Warriors 8                                          9.0
Fighting                           Guilty Gear Xrd Sign                                        7.5
Action                             Ride to Hell: Retribution                                   2.5
Action                             Bioshock                                                    8.0
Action                             Bioshock 2                                                  8.0
Action                             Binary Domain                                               9.0

==== PSP ====
Beat'em up/Fighting                Guilty Gear Judgment                                        8.0
Fighting                           Power Stone Collection                                      8.0
Platform                           LocoRoco                                                    7.0
RPG                                Lunar - Silver Star Harmony                                 8.5
License/Beat'em up                 All Kamen Rider Generation 2                                7.5
Other/RPG                          Half Minute Hero                                            9.5
Action                             Gods Eater Burst                                            8.5
RPG                                Crisis Core - Final Fantasy VII                             4.0
Action                             Kenka Bancho - Badass Rumble                                7.0
RPG                                Jeanne D'Arc                                                7.5
License/Other?                     TMNT(PSP)                                                   1.5
Platform                           LocoRoco 2                                                  7.0

==== Vita ====
Fighting                           Street Fighter X Tekken(Vita)                               6.0
Other                              Touch my Katamari                                           6.5
Action                             Uncharted Golden Abyss                                      8.0
RPG                                Borderlands 2(VITA)                                         2.5
RPG                                Persona 4 - The Golden                                      10
Adventure                          Tearaway                                                    6.5
Action                             Shinobido 2 - Revenge of Zen                                7.0
RPG                                Tales of Hearts R                                           7.5
Beat'em up                         Senran Kagura - Shinovi Versus                              5.0
Action                             Soul Sacrifice                                              7.0

==== Wii ====
Other                              Bit.Trip Complete                                           7.0
License/Fighting                   Bleach - Shattered Blade                                    3.5
Action                             SoulCalibur Legends                                         4.5
License/Beat'em up                 Nickelodeon's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles                  5.5

==== DS ====
License/Other                      Retro Game Challenge                                        8.5
License/Beat'em up                 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Arcade Attack                4.0
License/Action                     Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3 - Mutant Nightmare(DS)       4.0
Other                              Animal Crossing Wild World                                  4.0
Puzzle                             Puzzle Quest - Challenge of the Warlords                    7.0

==== 3DS ====
Platform                           Super Mario 3D Land                                         8.5
RPG                                Pokemon Omega Ruby                                          7.5
Fighting                           Super Smash Bros. for 3DS                                   8.5
License/Adventure                  Nickelodeon's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Danger of the Ooze6.5
License/RPG                        Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles(Movie)                         7.5
Adventure/Platform                 3D Classics - Kirby's Adventure                             5.0
License/Adventure                  One Piece - Unlimited World Red                             5.5

==== GBA ====
License/Beat'em up                 TMNT(GBA)                                                   8.0
License/Beat'em up                 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles(GBA)                           7.0
License/Action                     Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 - Battle Nexus               2.5

==== Gamecube ====
RPG                                Evolution Worlds                                            3.5
Other                              Animal Crossing                                             5.5
Racing                             F-Zero GX                                                   8.0
Action                             TMNT(GC)                                                    5.0
License/Fighting                   X-Men - Next Dimension                                      8.0
Racing                             Mario Kart Double Dash!!                                    6.0

RPG of the Year:
 My favorite category, no lie

 Wait, what? A licensed game? What can I say, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was an Ok-ish movie, if you are a turtle's fan anyways, but the game was surprisingly fun. The mechanics were tight, and the skillset per turtle was well thought-out. The only thing the game needed was more. More equipment, more stages, more enemies, basically, more of everything.

 Wait, what? A spin-off from a jump-and-shoot plarform videogame franchise? What can I say, Command Mission was a blast. Usually, when I like JRPGs it's because of their stories, their characters and how they develop both. Command Missions' characters are bland and bidimensional, while the story is incredibly forgettable. But the gameplay? Fanastic. This game is proof that turn-based combat still works.

 Wait, wh---just kidding. I've been a fan of the Lunar series ever since Silver Star Story on the PS1, and I've never looked back. Sadly, the PS1 Lunar games' prices have skyrocketed, but just as the cycle of life and death is eternal and everlasting, so is Silver Star's destiny to get remade. The latest remake being Silver Star Harmony on the PSP. It's a more than adequate alternative to the PS1 remake of the Sega CD original, featuring the same story, but with dolled up combat mechanics.

Runner Up)
 Half-Minute Hero is one of the most original JRPGs you will find. An entire JRPG worth of story has been condensed in several 30 seconds(kinda) stages. It's filled with humor and 16-bit charm, that makes it as memorable as it is unique. And if, for whatever reason, you ever get bored, there're alternate modes, like Villain30 and Princess30. Oh and Hero300 is a blast.

 At first I was a bit scared. What if upon a second playthrough my love for the game diminished? But it didn't, I binged the entirety of the game as much as I could muster, much the same as with the PS2 original. I hesitate to call it the 'definitive' version, for as much as I liked the new Personas(MAGATSU IZANAGI!), I don't quite agree with the new Social Links, Marie is a terrible character as well. But hey, they are optional!

Action Game of the Year:
 I played plenty of great action games this year, which made it a bit hard to select these games, but choices must be made, and dreams must be destroyed. Or something.

 If only all Vita exclusive could maintain this level of quality, eh! As per usual, since I'm a stick-in-the-mud, I wasn't a fan of the touch-screen mandatory actions, like melee-ing, but the rest of the game was top-notch. Surprisingly, it wasn't made by Naughty-Dog, but it feels like Uncharted all the way through... on the palm of your hands!

 While I enjoy good stories on my videogames, gameplay comes first, all the time. Which is why I chose Bioshock 2 over Bioshock. The sequel's story can't hold a candle to the original's, but the gameplay has been polished and tightened so much that it's hard to go back to Bioshock 1. What makes Bioshock 2 so good is a mixture of the smooth combat, allowing you to eviscerate your enemies will both bullets and the different spells, plus the decadent beauty of Rapture itself that never fails to impress.

 Alright, so I wasn't particularly fond of the animu aesthetics, with all its fanservice and what not. But the setting was excellent, and the gameplay made for a nice alternative to Monster Hunter. A more accessible alternative at that, being far more lenient on your mistakes than MH, as a matter of fact, I'd consider this one the best as an entry point into the subgenre. You get all the things that make Monster-Hunting games so good, with added leniency.

 I got to this one very late in the year, which I regret immensely. This game is like a generic, ridiculous action movie that's so dumb in all the right ways. And that's pertaining to the story, as for the gameplay itself, it got it almost perfectly on-point. There were a couple of quirks that were easy to ignore in the grand scheme of things. 'Let the good times roll'!

 Half-Life 2 remains, to this day, one of the finest First-Person shooters, nay, games, ever made. EVER. While most FPSs have become parodies of themselves(Like seriously, can we stop trying to ape Call of Duty? It's almost 2016 already) few games have tried to copy Half-Life 2. Probably because not everyone can make a thinking man's FPS, while a by-the-numbers Call of Duty clone can be made within a heartbeat. But I digress, Half-Life 2 feels like an epic adventure filled with memorable moments and deadly shootouts. It's worth experiencing at least once. And Episodes 1 and 2 are pretty good, but as pieces of something bigger fall a bit short by themselves. And I guess Portal was alright too.

 Adventure Game of the Year:
 So I might've fused 'Adventure games' with 'Survival Horror', since I didn't play many of the latter, and they are most akin to adventure games than Action games.

 I'm gonna admit that, by itself, Defiance is a mediocre action game at best. By itself. But as the culmination of the epic Legacy of Kain series, it's everything it needs to be. This is the culmination of one of gaming's best stories, even if a bit convoluted at times(And even then, not nearly as convoluted as Kingdom Hearts.) Remember how I said earlier that, in my book, gameplay triumphs over story all the time? When it comes to Legacy of Kain, it's the story that keeps you moving, not the gameplay. And what a story it is...

 Haunting Ground was amazing, as someone who isn't particularly fond of Survival Horror games, lest of games in which you must avoid rather than fight your enemies, this game hooked me right away and never let go. It manages to set a creepy setting, even if the needless fanservice tries its hardest to ruin it, with even creepier NPCs. I will admit that the second half of the game wasn't quite as good as the first, but it never felt into mediocrity.

 Y'know about all these PS1 classic games that have gone upwards in price, some even beyond the hundred dollar mark? Tomba is one of those games. But what if I told you that it was worth every penny? Fun, charming and original, there's few games quite like Tomba.

 Fun fact: Swery 65, of Deadly Premonition fame, actually worked on this game! So, Tomba! was pretty much excellent. It was a fun little adventure game that had you fulfilling different quests around the Island. Tomba! 2 is pretty much the same game, but slightly better. Only slightly, and this tiny gap I attribute to more interesting quests and power ups, even if it reuses some of the previous game's ideas.

 I love Silent Hill 4. It manages to be even creepier than Haunting Ground, but in a different way. Haunting Ground was a mixture of the setting and the stalkers, which were married together perfectly. In Silent Hill 4, the enemies are alright, and Walter Sullivan's more of an 'interesting' character than a 'creepy stalker', but the game gets the setting right. You are trapped in your room under mysterious circumstances, and scary stuff starts happening. Tell me that you are not already interested, I dare you. And just when you get used to having your apartment as your safe space, the game takes it away. Because the game hates you. But its a fun game. But it hates you.

Fighting Game of the Year:
 A few years ago, Fighting games were my thang. Nowadays? Not so much, but I still enjoy a good fighter every now and then.

 Let me start with my biggest gripe about the game: In order to fight against other people, you need to find someone who owns a PSP. Let's assume the impossible and say that you found one, this mythological being also needs to own Power Stone Collection. Good luck, my friend. That out of the way, Power Stone is surprisingly fun, and the collection offers both games. Do you favor traditional fighting games? You've got Power Stone's 1-on-1 fighting. You prefer chaos and multiplayer goodness? Power Stone 2's got you covered!

 Western companies rarely get fighting games right. Even Netherrealms had a rocky trajectory, I'd say that they never really got it right until Mortal Kombat 9. That said, X-men Next Dimension reeks of 'Western Fighting Game', but, buuuuuuuuut it's actually fun to play. It's not very balanced, pulling special moves is odd, to put it lightly, and as with most Western Fighting games, some animations can be a bit on the ugly side. But, buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut it's fun to play, what can I say?

Speaking of Netherrealm Studios, I had forgotten just how good Injustice was. As per this edition's particulars, all six new characters bring something new to the table. I was particularly fond of Scorpion's new look, and wouldn't have minded an Injustice Sub-Zero to be honest...

 Smash on the 3DS wasn't just quite exactly what I was expecting, although I can't quite point my finger as to what the game was missing for it to meet my expectations. That said, Smash for the 3DS is an undeniably quality game, with tons of characters, stages and stuff to do. Oh, and now it's got Cloud from Final Fantasy VII, so it got even better.

 Under Night In-Bi... No, I give up, I refuse to type that mess of a name on it's entirety, so I'm just gonna call it UNIEL. UNIEL took me by surprise, I mean, I was expecting a good fighter, it's from the makers of Melty Blood after all, but the game went far beyond anything I expected. It's a fast and furious fighter that rewards being on the offensive, and while it is a bit light on extra modes, it gets everything that matters right.

Beat'em up Game of the Year:
 How I miss the days of the Beat'em up. Remember the SNES era? You couldn't go a week without a new one being announced or released. Those were the days of the beat'em up.... Luckily, we've got Dynasty Warriors to continue their legacy, even if I sometimes ache for a good 2D beat'em up of yore.

 I was under the impression that Konami had made great Beat'em ups for the GBA based on memory alone. I was wrong. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 was atrocious, and the third one was a mess. But the first one? It was flawed, yes, but a more than acceptable foundation for future games. Shame they did away with the best it had to offer, and added terrible, terrible ideas for its sequel.

 Guilty Gear Judgment made for a surprisingly decent beat-em up. Sure, it wasn't anything to write home about, but it worked and it was interesting seeing how they reenvisioned the characters' movesets for a Beat'em up game. And heck, if you ever get tired of it, you get an excellent port of XX!

 All-Star Kamen Rider Generation 1 was a decent, but unremarkable, beat'em up. ASKRG2 further differentiated all the characters, even if only a little bit, added more Riders, more stages, more enemies, more abilities, more of everything, for a surprisingly fun little game. I'll admit that it's probably a much better game than it really is when looked at under the eyes of a fan of the franchise, such as myself, but I'd say it's worth a look if you like the genre.

 Ubisoft did a lot of wrong by the TMNT license, but if they did something right, if they got a single thing right, it was TMNT for the GBA. An excellent beat'em up that reeks of quality and love. It could've used a couple more stages, and done without limiting the player to Raph on a couple of them, but hey, I'll take what I can get when it comes to Ubisoft's TMNT games.

 The finest Dynasty Warriors yet. It has everything that made 7 good, but expanded upon it to make it even better. There's a unique weapon for as many characters there are, and each one has a unique EX attack with their signature weapon. It also features what I believe to be the best redesigns and stages yet, and the Story Mode follows the excellent structure left by 7, only expanding upon it to add both a historic and a 'what if' route. Basically, if you've ever been a fan of the franchise, or ever been interest in getting into it, this is the game to get.

Platforming Game of the Year:
 I definitely didn't play as many of these as I would've liked, and what few I played weren't exactly fantastic games, even if they were good.

 LocoRoco! Not exactly my cup of tea when it comes to games, but I am glad that it exists. If anything, it's disgustingly cute, and the music is so infectiously happy you can't help but to smile when the LocoRocos begin singing.

 Did you like LocoRoco? I've got great news for you, LocoRoco 2 is more of the same. So, maybe not all of the new additions were knockouts, but at least the game offered more variety, heck, even a new LocoRoco which meant a fantastic new little song. And maybe the silly stamp mini-game charmed me.

 HAGOROMAN SORII! Alright, so what is Robot Ninja Haggleman 3? It's only one of the many 'mini-games' features in Retro Game Challenge, a painfully overlooked and ignored game on the Nintendo DS. Haggleman 3 is a delicious throwback to the NES platformers, a mixture of Blaster Master and Ninja Gaiden, it requires grinding for money, it can be painfully cheap with enemy placement... but I loved it.

 I liked Ghost and Goblins, as well as Ghouls and Ghosts, but I wouldn't call myself a fan of the franchise. That said, I loved Maximo back in the day when I first played it, and I loved it all over again when I replayed it this year. It's a painfully challenging game, but it's incredibly fun. There's plenty of strategy when it comes to your power-ups, as well as to when to accept death, or just restart the console in order to keep your skills. And sure, it's a bit on the cheap side, but if you've been gaming since the 90s, like me, you've probably been through a lot worse.

 As much of a Nintendo fanboy as I am, I am not above admitting that Nintendo really likes to stick with what works. There's little Mario aficionados haven't seen before in this game, but dammit, why change what works, and what works excellently at that? I'd like to mention that 'The Perfect Run'(Maybe I'm confusing the name with Galaxy 2's last level?, regardless, I mean 3D Land's bonus last level) is awfully overrated as far as 'challenge' goes, but damn it, was it a fun level!

Other Game of the Year:
 Other is a label I use to bunch all the games that have hard-to-label genres, or even games of genres I didn't play many games of, like say Racing games. I don't really like racing games.

 Bit.Trip Complete is a collection of six mini-games that are really far from what I usually like to play, outside my comfort zone if you will. But I liked them, some where a bit better than others, but I don't remember outright hating any of them. Plus, the overarching story that tied all six games together was fairly entertaining. And I might've gotten Runner2 since I liked Runner so much.

 Whenever I play one of Square's older, non-rpg, PS1 games, it always makes me want to gnaw at my knuckles and curse at the heavens: 'Dammit, Square, you really could do no wrong back in the day!'. Einhander's fantastic, it's unapologetically hard, but dammit, you are gonna love every second of it as you learn the stages and the bosses patterns, plus, as you collect different sub-weapons to take on future launches.

 As much as I claim to dislike Racing games, I can appreciate speed in my racers, and ammit, F-Zero GX's got speed in spades. The game might a bit too hardcore for casual speedsters like myself, so much so that I accepted that I will never, ever unlock the AX tracks. But for those speedfreaks that just can't get enough, this is a game that will challenge, nay, crush them.

 Based on Arino's excellent GameCenter CX TV series, RetroGame Challenge is a blast from the past. It tries to emulate the feeling of sitting in front of a NES, with your buddy, rumors about the games abound, and magazines that release every month with tips and tricks to make it through the game. And the collection of games is top-notch as well, most of them mimicking some NES game of yore. It's a shame this game didn't get more love, since a Sequel was released... only in Japan, due to poor sales in the West.

 Ah! We meet again, Half-Minute Hero. As much of an RPG as it is, it's hard to completely pigeon-hole it into that label, as the game is so much more. While the RPG-like component is the main-feature, there's a slew of alternate modes that add more life into the whole package. You really can't go wrong with Half-Minute Hero, it has something for RPG fans, for shooter fans and for strategy fans.

Licensed Game of the Year:
 This was my year of licensed game, Jesus, I went through a lot of them. Some where good, most of them were bad, but hey, a games' a game.

 I'm gonna admit that as soon as I was done with the game, I uninstalled it and went straight for Revolution. As a matter of fact, I kept on playing Revolution further down the year with friends, while I neglected Storm 3. But why? Easy, because Revolution's got mostly the same mechanics, plus, even more characters. But why is Storm 3 'better' than Revolution? Easily, because this game has a proper story-mode, with bonafide cut-scenes, quests and other thingies to make Naruto fans squeal in glee. Storm 3 is better as a 'game', but it's Revolution the one you'll be playing for fun, simply because it has more characters.

 This is how you do a license justice. You get both popular and unpopular characters, there's tons of costumes, either from the comics or the Ultimate comics. Plus, it helps that the game itself is fun to play and not a quick cash-in.

 I'm not sure if I dare say that the developers showed love for the franchise itself, but I can assure you that the game itself was a work of love. Gorgeous animation, charming call-outs to other games in the genre, like River-city Ransom, and tight gameplay that's very unlike of Ubisoft's tenure with the franchise.

 When you think about it, besides featuring Arino's likeness, the game has little to do with the show itself. But dammit, what a great stand-alone game it is. Or rather games. A package of retro goodness made by retrogamers for retrogamers.

 When it comes to licensed games, there's two things that matter: Gameplay and making the most of the franchise. Most licensed games tend to either favor one of the other. Some are great games, but don't do the franchise justice. Take Super Dragon Ball Z, I love it to bits, but most fans hate it because how un-Dragon Ball Z it is. Then there are the games that focus too much on the franchise, so that only die-hard fans can like them. Injustice is both, not only is it a great game, it also does its license justice AND make the most of it. You get a fantastic story-mode, that might even be a bit too comic-bookish for some, and top-notch gameplay. It's the best of both worlds.

Best Character of the Year:
 Certainly not as many as previous years, but hey, they were good ones.

 Easily the most memorable of all the Stalkers in Haunting Ground. At first, she is just this eerily weird maid in the mansion, but the closest thing to a non-enemy in there. And then she starts going bonkers. And her theme song? Phenomenal. Plus, she's mad, she can go from wanting you dead, to being too busy cleaning to deal with you.

 A bit of Nall's personality was lost with the new translation in Lunar - Silver Star Harmony, but he still remains an irreverent, loveable sidekick to Alex. Plus, he is so fluffy, and tiny and yet manages to be a sassy jerk when he wants to. You just can't not love him.

 Cain is the french robot badass from Binary Domain. The last of the Rust-Team's member to be introduced, he manages to impress and leave a mark on what disappointingly little time he spends with the team. This guy can take a punch, and deal them in spades, so do not let his small frame fool you, there's a reason his class is 'Juggernaut'.

 There must be some kind of rule that if you are named Kain, or any variant there of, you are destined to be a badass. Legacy of Kain's Kain is a delightfully deep character, at times selfish, at times just, at times just plain evil. It's hard to talk about him without going into spoiler territory.

 Legacy of Kain wasn't happy with just giving us one badass, so they gave us another in the from of Raziel. Raziel is a bit more angsty than Kain, a bit more naive, but still determined to fulfill his goals, even if he has to go against fate itself. As a matter of fact, he is the only character that actually can go against fate itself...

Biggest Surprise of the Year:
 Games that surprised me, in a good way!

 I don't really remember what I was expecting with Haunting Grounds, but it was one of those games that I kept repeating to myself, as I played it: 'Dammit, this game is so good. Dammit this game is so good'. If only the latter half of the game was just as great as the first one!

 When I laid eyes upon this game, I said to myself: 'It doesn't look very good, but it looks like something I would play'. The game made it into a ton of 'Worst 10 games of the Year' last year. A year in which many cried that games had been bad. If Escape Dead Island made it into 'Worst 10 Games of the Year', then it couldn't have been such a bad year, because EDI is competent at least. Nothing is fundamentally broken about it, it can be quite a blast at times, and I didn't come upon any particularly nasty glitch, if any.

 IT'S SO DAMN GOOD. LIKE, SERIOUSLY. Look at the cover, and you may judge it harshly. Read about the story, and dammit, it sounds cheesy and action-flick generic. But it's hard not to fall in love after playing it.

 It's silly to expect much of a movie tie-in game, but TMNT manages to impress. So much care went into the different skills, and it feels like Diablo-lite, not an altogether bad thing. It payed off to put the license around the game and not the other way around.

 UNIEL quickly became one of my fighting games of the past generation. Easily. This is probably what I wanted Guilty Gear Xrd to be....

Biggest Disappointment of the Year:
 In which I pay my respects to the games that let me down the most. I hate these game, because I actually expected better of them.

 I gave it two chances, on the Gamecube and on the DS and... I just couldn't get into them. I mean, I'm obviously in the minority seeing how many sequels it got, but I actually expected to fall in love with it. Heck, I even bought the 3DS version as well....

 On the PS2, Konami's first TMNT iteration was pretty good, for what it was. The second one... well, it was different(Some would say worse. I would admit my red-tinted glasses tainted my opinion of the game), but when it came to the third one, they knocked it out of the park. Konami's first GBA game was pretty good. The second one was all kinds of terrible, so I actually expected Konami to pull the same save-gracing throw the managed with the third PS2 game. I was wrong. Mutant Nightmare builds upon the worst elements of the first game, and only adds terrible mechanics, and terrible graphical inconsistencies. It's a bad, baaaaaaad game.

 Sigh. Sigh. Remember Final Fantasy VII's characters? Well, cover them under new layers of paint and rename them. Boom, you've got the entire main cast of Crisis Core. Remember Sephiroth? Now you've got notSephiroth, I mean, Genesis. There's even a notHojo to go alongside not Sephi. And some of the reasonings behind certain characters are so nonsensical it ain't even funny, heck, a ton of things don't even make sense, don't let me get started on the opening sequence. And who thought it was a good idea to build the entire game around luck-based slots? Like seriously, this game is a mess and a huge disappointment. If I never see this game again, it'd be one day to soon.

 Throughout the N64-PS2 eras I used to buy gaming magazines to keep up to date. Usually, I would come across ads for these two Rpgs, Evolution and Evolution 2 on the Dreamcast, and I've always wanted to play them. With Evolution Worlds on the Gamecube I finally, after years upon years of waiting, got my chance. And both games were terrible. TERRIBLE. I doubt that even back in the day I could've like them, even though I would eat anything RPG-related.

 This one hurt so deeply. Borderlands 2 is one of my favorite videogames ever(If not top 10, top 15), and they ruined it, they ruined it so badly. And the kicker is that you can be incredibly happy, as you play Borderlands 2. On the go. And then it freezes, and you become miserable, because it's probably your 15th freeze already. And at first it's soo good, because, framerate issues aside, it runs so well, but as you get further into the game, freezes become mainstays, and you start cursing at the gods. Godammit.

Best Cover of the Year:
 As someone who loves art, hand-drawn art at that, videogame covers are something I enjoy, well, when they are good anyways. But as years pass, covers get worse and worse....

 LOOK AT ALL THOSE CHARACTERS. AND THEY ARE HAND DRAWN, NOT UGLY 3-D MODELS. You may call me easy to please, but in this day and age, I'll take what I can get.

 Look at X's badass new design. Like, seriously, it's badass. Plus, you get Zero and Axl looking badass as well.

  For anyone who has been following the series since the start, or at least since Soul Reaver, this is the moment we've been waiting for, Raziel and Kain kicking butt together, and that's what you get with this cover, which looks phenomenal to boot.

 Alright, so the game itself was bad. But I love how the four turtles look, it's a very retro-style look. It would've been neat if they had gotten Jim Lawson or Paul Laird to draw the cover as well, since they did, or at least emulated their styles, the in-game cut-scenes. But oh well.

 Alright, the game was trash, but dammit, I love this cover. I loved it in 2014, when they used this cover for the PS2 game, and I love it now. Easily my favorite cover of the year.