2015 Game of the Year Picks

750px-Elongated_circle_2015.svgDon’t have time for a 3+ hour podcast. We get that. Here’s a list of the Top 5 lists from the show:

Tom Sheppard

  1.  Undertale
  2.  Life is Strange
  3.  Crypt of the Necrodancer
  4.  Axiom Verge
  5.  Super Mario Maker

Tony Divito

  1. Halo 5: Guardians
  2. Rocket League
  3. The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt
  4. Ori and the Blind Forest
  5. Fallout 4

Neil Waggoner

  1. Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture
  2. Life is Strange
  3. Fallout 4
  4. Tales From the Borderlands
  5. Rise of the Tomb Raider

Mike McFadden

  1. Rocket League
  2. Crypt of the Necrodancer
  3. Ori and the Blind Forest
  4. Affordable Space Adventure
  5. Yoshi’s Wooly World

Nick “Kaz” Kosareo

  1. Kerbal Space Program
  2. Ori and the Blind Forest
  3. Rocket League
  4. Rise of the Tomb Raider
  5. DiRT: Rally

Justin Hemenway

  1.  Super Mario Maker
  2.  Undertale
  3.  Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
  4.  Splatoon
  5.  Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate

“Nickydino”

  1.  Tales From the Borderlands
  2.  The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt
  3.  Undertale
  4.  Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
  5.  Splatoon

The Rumble Reader Episode 9: Scottaholics Anonymous

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“Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” releases nationally in theaters today, potentially turning the underground graphic novel series into a money-making franchise. But while the flashy fights and spirited cast may put butts in seats, it’s the heart at the center of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s work that will keep people talking. This week, Justin and Nick tackle the entire story, looking at it specifically through the gamer’s perspective. They discuss their favorite moments, the recent game tie-in and why Edgar Wright was the right man to direct the film adaptation. It’s time to level up and discover the power of love.

Relevant Links:

“Spaced” on Hulu

UGO’s SP Video Game References List

Boing Boing’s Yakuza 3 Review (from the Yakuza perspective)

The Rumble Reader Episode 7: Strangers on a Raid

After Blizzard’s “Real ID” fiasco, Nick and Justin wouldn’t dream of asking you to give up your Rumble handle, but they can’t help wondering how a more open community might work. Luckily, a Gamasutra analysis serves as a worthy devil’s advocate. The guys also discuss 1up’s tribute to the ROM hacking underground and fan translations. Those English patches for old Super Famicom games are definitely appreciated, but how can future projects survive in a post-DRM era?

Relevant Links:

Kris Graft’s “Why Was Blizzard’s ‘Real ID’ Such an Issue?”

Bob Mackey’s “Found in Translation”

Tom Bissell’s “The Grammar of Fun”

The Rumble Reader Episode 6: What Would Yamauchi Do?

Though some gamers may not want to admit it, everyone loves Nintendo. As Justin, Nick and Tony point out, that’s never been more apparent, as both the company’s E3 press conference and new handheld generated lots of positive buzz a couple weeks ago. In this week’s reading assignment, “Nintendo Magic,” Japanese journalist Osamu Inoue examines how Nintendo reclaimed the industry spotlight, and how Satoru Iwata’s management style helped facilitate an internal shift.
 
Relevant Links:
 
“Iwata Asks” Interviews

Thank Heaven for El Shaddai – Why you should be excited.

Sometimes you have to dig to find gold.

I know I’m not the only one who found himself a bit dazed amidst the constant noise of gunfire, headshots and sword slicing present at this year’s E3. Perhaps I echo Justin Hemenway and Jeremy Parish’s thoughts when I walked away from the show slightly turned off at our not-so-magic-bullet theory of how to problem-solve and entertain in our medium – bigger guns, heightened realism and blood-splattered violence just aren’t doing it for me.

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Where are my games that use more than 15 shades of grey, green and brown? The games with thought-provoking ideas, that feature some genuinely interesting characters and don’t leave me feeling either cold-blooded or (sorry, Nintendo) somewhat childish? It was with a huge sensation of relief then, that I was able to see more of Ignition Entertainment’s El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron. Although it wasn’t prominently featured in any one big press event, the more I learn about this surreal, pseudo-religious adventure, the more intrigued I become – it’s playing to almost every strength of the Japanese development scene, and doing so in a very unique way. Read more

The Rumble Reader Episode 5: God of Snore

Heroes like Kratos and Marcus Fenix have garnered a lot of attention in recent years, but this week, Justin and Nick chat with Christian Nutt, Gamasutra’s Features Director, about why he thinks these guys are just empty cranky-pants. Instead, the guys salute* games like Heavy Rain and Mother 3 that emphasize character depth and humanity. Nutt discusses how solid writing can go a long way towards creating a more believable, fleshed-out world. Perhaps we’ll see a shift at E3, just as long as the marketing muscle doesn’t get in the way.

*Also, their shorts, of course.

Relevant Links:

Christian Nutt’s “Characters. the Building Blocks of Your Reality”

The Rumble Reader Episode 4: Yippie Kai Yai What?

In an industry that often demands too much from its creators, we may need more than sheriff to keep everyone in line. As Justin and Nick explore the wilderness of Red Dead Redemption, an essay from above the 49th Parallel forces them to think about fair trade and that particular game’s stressful development. However, the crunch-time blues can work both ways, as they see in a blog entry from Raven’s Manveer Heir. In the second half of the show, Justin and Nick explore a 1up feature that asks why there aren’t more interactive Westerns. Should we heed the author’s Mad Dog decree?

Relevant Links:

Nels Anderson’s “Do We Need Fair Trade Games?”

Manveer Heir’s “Reflections of a Five Year Vet”

John Constantine’s “Manifest Destiny”

Your Next Reading Assignment: Nintendo Magic

The Rumble Reader Episode 3: The Wrong Place at the Wright Time

As gamers mature, so must the industry. That’s the general theme for this week’s Reader, which has Justin and Nick pondering how developers can cater to broader audiences without abandoning the core gamer. They first look at a recent opinion piece from GamePro’s John Davison, in which the industry veteran suggests that “more content” doesn’t necessarily mean “better game.” In the second half of the show, Justin and Nick talk about the challenges of localizing the Ace Attorney series. Who knew that such a ridiculous game could work as a sly satire, too? Not Americans, apparently.

Relevant Links:

John Davison’s’ “Too Big and Too Hard”

Fintan Monaghan’s “Phoenix Wright’s Objection”

The first details on Best Buy’s @Gamer

The Rumble Reader Episode 2: Shamitsu

In the second installment of the Reader, Nick and Justin tackle the “mystical” world of Japanese game journalism. The 40/40 Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker score in Weekly Famitsu recently stirred up controversy, but the guys delve into what that magazine used to stand for. They also shed light on Xbox Live Indie Games through a developer blog on 4 Color Rebellion. Lastly, GameFan is once again sitting in magazine racks across the country, but the guys are still trying to figure out why. (No copy editing makes Justin angry.)

Relevant Links:

Brian Sowers’ “Inside the Indie Game Development Cycle”

Kevin Gifford’s “The Way Cross Reviews Work”

Nintendo Magic – a future Reader selection

Why must the Fantasy be Final?

If there’s any one takeaway to pull out of Final Fantasy XIII, it’s that it’s an incredibly divisive game. In fact, it’s difficult to discuss or express an opinion on any one aspect of the highly anticipated Japanese epic without almost immediately receiving the opposite viewpoint from someone. To be quite honest, in all of the years I’ve been gaming, I’m very hard-pressed to think of a single title that’s been so loved and hated, appreciated and dismissed, and admired and looked down upon at the same time as FFXIII. It truly is an intimidating task then, to write something concrete about this game, knowing all of the emotion, expectation, hope and disappointment that will be wrapped up in any semblance of a response floated my way. Almost everyone “important” has already had their say, and, at least to a large degree, it seems to be less about how cautiously you word your opinion than what side you ultimately fall down upon. And this, I think, is both the most fulfilling and disappointing aspect of Final Fantasy XIII – its critical reception.

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Expectations are sky-high.

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