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

Botanicula Review

When I was 11, my parents took me to a theater to see a French documentary about insects called “Microcosmos.” The film showcased exciting time lapse and gorgeous close-up shots, footage of the beauties and grotesqueries of an alien world lurking in the well-manicured gardens of suburbia. It stuck in my mind for a long time afterward, setting itself apart as a different beast from your average nature program. Rather than assigning a narrator to contextualize the action, the miniature insect dramas of “Microcosmos” play out to an amazing soundtrack that wordlessly frames the action and amplifies the natural sounds of the insect world, leaving the viewer adrift to interpret as they wish. Garden slugs slam together and teeter like battling sumos to an operatic aria, and panic-crazed ants scurry to avoid the thunderous pecks of a hungry pheasant; seriously, check it out on Netflix. It’s amazing footage. It confirmed for many at the time something most kids and Henry David Thoreau naturally knew: bugs are interesting little critters who inhabit a bizarre kingdom.
Like “Microcosmos,” the world of Botanicula is at once familiar in surface setting, yet becomes strange and otherworldly in execution. Insects, plants, fungus, seed pods, birds, snails and many other miniature denizens of nature serve as the primary inspiration for the scenery and characters, yet each has an odd twist to it. The art style is vastly imaginative in variety yet so cohesive that each creature becomes part of a larger whole, filling a tiny strand in an improvised Darwinian tapestry. Unlike their sometimes stingy or bitey real-life analogues, each critter on display here exists for you to poke, prod, or otherwise play with. This may seem like an obvious statement (of course games are meant to be played with, right?), but this one captures such a curious, capricious spirit of discovery that I found myself clicking on something over and over again long after solving a puzzle simply to see what would pop out next. Read more

Wizorb Review

Given the current industry climate, claiming a game is “a breath of fresh air” feels like an overused expression. More people are creating independent video games now than ever before, sharing their passion for the medium and introducing new ideas and insightful variations to routine genre themes. Wizorb, a Breakout-style arcade game from indie studio Tribute Games, is no such marriage of clever concepts or daring foray into uncharted territory. Although there are some light RPG trimmings added to the familiar block-breaking action, the basic three-part formula has evolved little since Arkanoid: there are blocks, there is a ball, and a pervading nihilistic credo to eliminate all of the former using the latter.

Instead, Wizorb’s fresh air comes from the fact that every aspect has been crafted to fulfill the purest classic gameplay experience possible. Here is the naked art of the arcade game elevated to the highest level – the challenge of a player’s skills in an arena of singing equations and mathematical variables masked behind attractive, colorful pixels. Read more

Top 10 Most-Wanted Red Dead Redemption DLC Characters

Now that a few months have passed since the release of Red Dead Redemption, most players have probably completed the main campaign and have ridden into the sunset, or at least arrived at a happy stopping point. Rockstar has continued to support the game for those who can’t get enough rootin’ and/or tootin’ by releasing numerous DLC packs, starting with the free “Outlaws to the End” co-op missions and more recently the “Legends and Killers” pack, which adds new multiplayer maps and characters. The next few downloadable additions have already been detailed by Rockstar and are set to include more free-roam challenges and even a zombie ghost town.

Most players could easily rattle off a list of famous gunslingers who would fit perfectly in the gritty world the game presents: Jeremiah Johnson, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Grizzly Adams, Wild Bill, anyone Clint Eastwood has ever played; the list goes on.  But why stop there? If Rockstar itself is already throwing zombies in the mix, let’s pull out all the stops and consider any character who ever made his home on the range as potential DLC fodder. Here’s my own personal ‘most-wanted’ list of outlaws, banditos, cowboys and quick drawers. Read more

Christmas Eve in Brahms: Looking Back at Animal Crossing

The following article was originally published on our site a few years ago and recently was updated for Bitmob. We’re still pretty fond of the piece (and of Animal Crossing), so we thought we’d encourage everyone to take a second look. Enjoy…

The type of snow falling now is the kind rarely seen in anything but movies: Large, round flakes fall slowly in uniform patterns and stick to the grass and pavement alike — perfect for making footprints and snowmen.

At this time of the night, all the shops are closed, and darkened storefronts display attractive arrangements of seasonal items. It’s a few days before Christmas, and the reflections of multicolored lights hanging from the snow-covered roofs of houses give the night is given a dream-like glow. The only sound comes from the snow crunching under my feet and the occasional acoustic guitar strum through my headphones. There isn’t much to do at this hour, but there’s a certain romance I feel wandering this sleeping town on a winter night. Read more

Via Domus: How Not to Make a Lost Game

The time has finally come. Only two and a half more hours of Lost footage remain to be aired before a wild six-season ride comes to a definitive close. As someone who has followed the show religiously since the first season, there are a lot of hopes for closure resting on this last episode. When it somehow turns out to be a “Kate’s Greatest Hits” retrospective, please refrain from leaving nasty comments – I’ll be too dead inside to read them. In the time it has been on the air, Lost has generated the kind of pop-culture merchandising potential that most creators and producers can only dream about. In addition to the officially licensed ABC merchandise that keeps J.J. Abrams’ bedsheets permanently lined with million dollar bills, a plethora of fan created content exists, much of it solely in celebration of the show and the fan community built around it. After the curtain has fallen on our remaining castaways, what remains for the unsated? When making your own knock-off Dharma Oreos and fish biscuits won’t cut it, there’s always Lost: Via Domus, right? Read more

Games Nobody Asked For: Sunsoft vs. Data East

In a recent conversation with the other members of the Pack, I wondered why no other company has ever tried to produce as successful a mash-up of characters and properties as the Super Smash Brothers series.  (Astute readers are sure to identify the Japan-only PS2 game Dream Mix Fighters TV Megamix, which featured the likes of Optimus Prime, Master Higgins from Adventure Island and Solid Snake, all packed into a technicolor nightmare…to which I respond: it’s only a game if someone actually plays it.)

Sure you can point your finger at the many fighting games that follow this formula and declare me wrong – Capcom vs. SNK, Marvel vs. Capcom, even Namco X Capcom, etc.  But these are games where the characters clearly have something that unites them in the terms of game logic: Ryu vs. Wolverine seems a much likelier fight than Pac-Man vs. Dig-Dug, especially since the former pairing already has character sprites and moves for the purpose.  The adaptation of characters who have nothing to do with fighting games to the genre is one of the most exciting and creative aspects of Smash Bros

Mostly for the benefit of poking fun at the shitty companies and terrible games I fondly remember from my youth, I’ve compiled this thought experiment of a game.  Gentlemen, I present Sunsoft vs. Data East.

What have my frail hands wrought?

Mmm, what a gorgeous title screen!  Let’s see which characters from each beloved company made the cut. Read more

Triggered Memories: A History of Pointless Minutia

– Team up for devastating double and even triple attacks!

– Artwork by fan favorite Akira Toriyama!

– Unleash the power of the Epoch to travel to the end of time… and back!

– Over 60 hours of mind-blowing gameplay!

– Multiple endings mean the story never ends!

Since the rise of the RPG in the western world, marketing divisions of software companies have forever been parading out similar claims formatted as bulleted lists on the back of game boxes.  One game will supposedly keep you enchanted for hundreds of hours while another will blow your mind with a new exciting spin on the classic turn-based battle system.  It wouldn’t take any seasoned gamer long to figure out what game the “back of the box” blurbs above are describing.  However, there’s something different about Chrono Trigger: a game that holds a special place in the heart of almost everyone who has played it. What sets it above its contemporaries?  What makes it so memorable that it barely takes more than two notes of the introductory music (or a literal swing of a clock’s pendulum) to send you back to a place where a 15″ color TV and grubby gray Super Nintendo controller were the truest definition of happiness? Read more

Cloverfield

Last weekend, the movie Cloverfield was released in theaters. After hearing about J. J. Abram’s involvement with the film, the Lost/monster movie fan inside me drove me to check it out with some friends. I didn’t see any threads about it on the message board, so I thought I might post a few of my thoughts here since this seems like one of those “you’ll probably end up talking about it with your friends and co-workers” kind of movies.

*Note: Although there isn’t too much to really “spoil”, I will refrain from going into detail about any plot or character details that would be considered such.

As the Good Sir Tony will agree with me, the experience was not a bad one. In case you are unfamiliar with the concept of Cloverfield, I’ve included this handy and highly scientific equation for your benefit. Excuse the large size and my poor skill with image editing…

Cloverfield

I’d say this accurately sums up the concept. Godzilla (giant monster currrently destroying city) plus The Blair Witch Project (film presented as “real” amateur footage) minus Godzuki (I wanted to put a pile of crap as the picture here to symbolize the overall awfulness of The Blair Witch Project, but Godzuki seemed so much more poignant) equals Cloverfield. Read more

Reviewed: 2007

With all of the recent Top Games of the Year discussions going on in our message boards and on other websites, I figured I would throw some of my opinions in the mix for the top media of 2007. Though I started this just as a reference for myself to remember what I played and what came out in 2007, I was surprised at the amount of quality material released only in the past one year. Hopefully seeing some of these titles will jog your memory as well and remind you of what a great year it’s been and all that we have to look forward to in 2008.

1. Games 

I’m not going to spend too much time discussing the big titles of this past year. We’ve already gone over and praised them many times, and they deserve every ounce of that. 2007 saw a lot of big franchise titles including Call of Duty 4, the two Guitar Hero releases, Metroid Prime 3, Pokemon Diamond/Pearl, and Halo 3 just to name a few. However, this year was also marked by a lot of new properties as well: Assassin’s Creed, Bioshock, Rock Band, Zack & Wiki, and Portal immediately come to mind. While I don’t necessarily hope for sequels to all of these newcomers, it definitely kept the gaming world fresh not to just rotate around a few big name releases. I’m glad to see how much coverage these new games got – obviously games like Rock Band don’t need a huge campaign, but it was great to see IGN advertising and supporting Zack & Wiki so much to keep people from overlooking it. Read more

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