What can I say about Chrono Trigger that hasn’t been said on one of the many podcasts on which its been brought up? I knew I had missed a lot by not owning an SNES as a kid, but I didn’t know I missed a game that would fundamentally change how I felt about an entire genre. It’s easily one of the best games I’ve ever played, and I want more! And with that in mind, I’m now ready to proclaim that my next step in my rehab program is Final Fantasy III (or VI, depending on how worldly you’re feeling). Continue reading
From your first introduction to Ginger and the world he inhabits, it’s clear that Ginger: Beyond the Crystal draws heavy inspiration from some of the best 3D platformer franchises of all time. Staples of the genre like colorful environments, charming NPCs, and challenging platforming elements return, but so do tedious collect-a-thons, a barely-there story, a camera that proves very difficult to control, and a framerate that leaves a lot to be desired. With Ginger, Drakhar Studio did not improve on the formula established by the franchises that inspired it, and because of that, we’re left with a fun experience that feels distinctly dated. If you’re looking for a deep experience, look elsewhere, but if you’re looking for a fun way to satisfy your insatiable thirst for nostalgia until Yooka-Laylee comes out in March, Ginger: Beyond the Crystal does the trick nicely. Continue reading
There’s only one October! We spent it ranking horror movies.
Keith and Steve played through Left Behind, the DLC episode of The Last of Us, on the same day. Here’s a conversation they had about it. A spoiler warning is unnecessary for anyone who has already played through The Last of Us.
Steve recently played The Last of Us, one of Keith’s all time favorite games. In this Double Take, they discuss the game’s ending along with other highlights and frustrations. There are heavy spoilers, naturally.
It’s time to purge the drafts folder and unleash some hot Game Boy takes on the world wide Internet. More than a year in the making – alright fine, the takes are cold, ice cold – here are gametimebro’s thoughts on the Game Boy and Game Boy Color catalogues.
After so many hot video game takes, it’s time we took a late summer breather here at gametimebro. As August draws to a close, we’re cooling things down. We’re chewing on something sweet and juicy. Today, we’re talking fruit.
I thought I hit rock-bottom about four months ago. After a brief stint of sobriety earlier in the year, I fell off the wagon. I found myself spending more time with Destiny than with my loved ones. Worse still, I found myself spending more time with Destiny than any other video game. I wasn’t eating. I wasn’t sleeping. I was just chasing that max light level dragon. And then one day, it just clicked in my head. This was a colossal waste of time.
Finally, with this monkey off my back, I could refocus my energy on our podcasts, this website, and the games that I had been ignoring. I played Uncharted 1, Uncharted 2, Uncharted 3, Uncharted 4, Until Dawn, Rise of the Tomb Raider, and Inside. And it was great. I felt like a real gamer again.
Then someone messaged me about two weeks ago. Someone from my past. Someone who enabled me time and time again.
“It’s Iron Banner this weekend in Destiny. You can get the gauntlets you need to hit max light level.”
And with those few words, I was back. Just for two hours, but I was back. I haven’t played since, but it forced me to admit to myself that I’ll always be a Destiny addict. I was left with no choice but to check myself back into a more intense version of Retro Rehab. I’ve added an extra step to make sure my sobriety sticks for good this time, but for now, it’s time for step 3, Super Mario World. Continue reading
Premise: What if you set The Office at a Walmart?
Premise: BoJack Horseman is an anthropomorphic horse who starred in a hit family sitcom back in the ’80s and ’90s called Horsin’ Around. Twenty years later, he’s got all the fame and fortune he could want, but also a sometimes-crippling case of depression. Season 3 loosely revolves around BoJack’s goal of winning an Oscar for his recent role as Secretariat – if he can just win that Oscar, he’ll never be forgotten, the thinking goes, and that’ll be enough to snap him out of this deepening existential crisis. (But will it really?)
Premise: It’s November, 1983, in a quiet little Indiana town. Something nasty has escaped from a nearby research facility working on top secret projects for the federal government. Meanwhile, a local boy goes missing just as a peculiar traumatized girl with no discernible origin appears. The boy’s frantic single mother works with the local police chief to find her son and his twelve-year-old friends mount a similar effort of their own – bicycles, walkie-talkies, and all. Oh, and there’s a love triangle brewing between a good girl, a jock, and an outcast. Hey, I said it was 1983!
Somewhere near the middle of Final Fantasy VII, Cloud endures a one-on-one date at the Golden Saucer with one of his comrades. Who he selects as his lucky partner for the evening depends on several seemingly meaningless decisions the player has made up to this point in the game. There’s an algorithm working behind the scenes throughout the first disc, tallying up unseen “relationship points” for each of Cloud’s four possible partners based on the actions he’s taken and the words he has said. A certain drink order at the bar after the story’s very first mission, for instance, may end up being the difference between an enjoyable outing with Tifa and an exasperating one with Yuffie. An offhand comment about snoring might ultimately lead to a bro-down with Barret at the expense of a night to remember with Aeris. In all, some forty or fifty apparently meaningless individual choices will ultimately contribute to Cloud’s decision.
Take that concept, apply it to high school kids, stick them on a haunted island, and you’ve got the basis for Oxenfree.
Welcome back to Rank & File, where we rank things and then file them away. Today, we’re ranking Nintendo 64 games.
You know how it works. I asked a bunch of the bros to rank Nintendo 64 games and then I combined all of our ballots to come up with a final ranked list. Every title included by more than one bro qualified for our final list with the most popular and most beloved titles appearing toward the top of the list.
Sources vary, but there were about 300 games released for the console in North America. Our final rankings include 69 of those titles (ha!) and our individual ballots collectively span 111. More than a third of the console’s library can thus be found below. Wow!
Without further ado, here is the singular consensus take from a record-setting 15 Rank & File contributors, followed shortly thereafter as always by the many various individual takes.
After a shamefully long hiatus, it’s time for another edition of Rank & File. Today we’re ranking Mario Kart.
Two years ago, the eighth game in the Mario Kart franchise (aptly called Mario Kart 8) was released in North America. To mark this minor anniversary, we asked several of the bros to rank the titles in the franchise from best to least-best. Twelve ballots later, our compiled set of rankings was finished and finalized. And you won’t BELIEVE the results – number nine will shock you!
When Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End was first teased at the PS4 launch event in November of 2013, it was met with some trepidation from fans. After all, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception seemed to be a fitting end to the then trilogy as Nate, Sully, and Elena quite literally rode (a plane) off into the sunset. Fan concern grew as Uncharted 4 lost some of its most key personnel during development, including Justin Richmond, game director, and Amy Hennig, creative director and head writer. On top of that, when Neil Druckmann and Bruce Straley, the leads of The Last of Us, came in as the new co-directors, they threw out eight months of story on which Hennig and her team had been working. In the hands of a less capable developer, this game would have crumbled under the weight of this type of upheaval, but with Uncharted 4, Naughty Dog proves once again why many consider it to be the preeminent developer in the entire industry. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is a massive achievement. With its gripping story, unrivaled character development, satisfying gameplay, and the very best graphics that have ever been produced on console, it not only justifies its existence as a sequel, but it unseats Uncharted 2: Among Thieves as the best Uncharted game there is. In fact, when the dust settles, this could very well be this generation’s best game, period.
Steve, Keith, and Sweeney recently spent an evening with Webber playing through The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary Edition together. What follows is a group chat they had a few days later. It’s the first ever gametimebro Triple Take!
Welcome back to Rank & File, the latest and greatest GameTimeBro feature – it’s not your father’s listicle!
Two months ago, seven bros lent their opinions on how the television landscape stacked up in 2015. Today, those same seven bros are pleased to provide takes of a similar nature. With the 88th Academy Awards right around the corner, the time is right for us to reflect on the movies we saw in 2015 – or perhaps more accurately, on the movies released in 2015 that we mostly saw in 2016. Normally I let Keith come up with all of our brand-centric forced puns, but this one’s just staring me right in the face, so without further ado, ladies and gentlemen – welcome to the Broscars!
I know, right? Anyway, here’s our collaborative list: letterboxd.com – gametimebro-ranks-film-in-2015
Our individual lists can be found after the jump.
After the first two episodes made a strong start to Telltale’s Game of Thrones series, episode three saw the story slow to a crawl, as most characters encountered little action and excitement. Episode four, Sons of Winter, fares a bit better for three of the playable characters, with one notable exception in King’s Landing. Still though, with two episodes to go, it appears Telltale is capable of righting the ship and delivering a strong finale, thanks to the legwork performed here in episode 4.
Just Cause 3 has a simple ethos at its heart: every moment in a video game can be made better with an explosion, and the more explosions the better. Just Cause 3 is absolutely loaded with things that blow up, and somehow each explosion feels more visceral and beautiful than the last. But like any Hollywood blockbuster that relies on pretty special effects to wow an audience, the overall package can seem kind of hollow once the smoke has cleared. Just Cause 3 has a few more tricks up its sleeve to complement its bevy of explosions, but the series still has a ways to go before it can measure up with the best open-world games on the market.
Never afraid of providing content in a timely manner, we the bros are proud to present our consensus opinion on what was worth watching on TV in 2015.
It’s a new year here at GameTimeBro, and Rank & File is a new feature that more or less replicates (replaces? supplements?) what we did last year in Hall of Fame Time Bro: sharing and comparing our takes on how things compare to other things. Here’s how it works. For the given topic, all the interested bros submit secret hidden ranked lists, in which they’ve meticulously considered the proper position of any number of applicable items. Then, using a secret and proprietary* algorithm on this collection of ballots, we end up with more than just a compilation of opinions; nay, we arrive at a beautiful tapestry of consensus, woven from many individually held takes, and far greater than the sum – well, the weighted average, at least – of its parts.
Then we post the individual submissions and hang everybody out to dry.
Without further ado, here’s our stance on how television measured up in 2015: trakt.tv – gametimebro-ranks-tv-in-2015
Even before it was released, Final Fantasy XIII was already being both criticized and defended by a divided fanbase. Development for the game began in 2004, only a year after Final Fantasy developer Square was acquired by Enix. The game was revealed at E3 in 2006, where Square Enix also announced that it would be just the first in a series of games built around the same engine. Originally envisioned as a PS2 title, Final Fantasy XIII was bumped to the PS3 and delayed when it became clear that Final Fantasy XII would barely make it to the PS2 before the PS3’s launch date. A further delay came when Square Enix decided to release Final Fantasy XIII on the Xbox 360 in addition to the PS3, and longtime series fans began to complain. Their patience, spoiled by a run from 1997-2002 in which Square had churned out Final Fantasy VII through XI (and the acclaimed Tactics spinoff to boot), was strained. Many people had already gone sour on the franchise after Final Fantasy XII, which saw the series transition from command-based to AI-based combat. When Final Fantasy XIII finally arrived in the West in 2010, several pockets of a frustrated fanbase tore it to pieces, criticizing everything from the story to the characters to game’s utter lack of nonlinear exploration. The one aspect of the game met with nearly universal praise was the battle system – and even that consensus compliment came with the caveat that the first twenty hours of gameplay were an elongated tutorial on how to use it. Most rational people agreed that Final Fantasy XIII wasn’t a straight-up bad game; it was just a disappointment in a variety of ways, particularly given its development timeline and the strong legacy of the Final Fantasy series. To make matters worse for Square Enix, they were on the hook for two sequels to the game after investing so much time and money in the Final Fantasy XIII engine. Development on Final Fantasy XIII-2 began immediately, and the design team was painfully aware of the previous game’s perceived shortcomings.
It’s no coincidence, then, that Final Fantasy XIII-2 feels like a self-aware direct response to all of the complaints levied against Final Fantasy XIII. But in addressing so many flaws, Final Fantasy XIII-2 swings far enough the other way to create a few new ones.
The ongoing cultural conversation over video games and their place in our culture is a fascinating one with many separate components. One of the less interesting topics that seems to come up constantly is whether or not video games can be considered “art.” I mean, of course they can be! But not all of them should be. Most probably shouldn’t be, but then, the same can be said, broadly, of most movies, most photographs, most drawings, and most human creations in general. I don’t want to spend much time defining my stance on this one, but art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder – and so is quality. For instance, I consider Braid one of the most memorable and thematically complex games I’ve ever played. Soulja Boy, meanwhile, gives it high praise from an entirely different perspective. (Watch him do so here. Seriously.) Now, granted, I’d have linked to that video for just about any reason, but my real point here is that whether or not a video game has any artistic merit doesn’t really matter as much as whether or not the game is any fun to play.
Advance Wars isn’t art, nor does it pretend to be; instead, it’s just a confidently great strategy game.
There’s probably an official name for it floating around somewhere, but one of the greatest trends in recent gaming occurred from 2008 to 2011 when consoles saw an explosion of high-quality downloadable games. Generally created by independent studios, many of these offerings provided gamers with new and original experiences too bold and risky to find in big-budget games. The importance of this little golden age of indie console games can’t be overstated. The idea that ten-dollar, five-hour games could be both critically and commercially successful didn’t even exist ten years ago, and yet now it’s essentially the foundation of Steam’s business model. In fact, many of the most acclaimed downloadable games now available on Steam or iOS were initially exclusive to Xbox Live Arcade (Braid, Limbo, Super Meat Boy, Bastion), WiiWare (World of Goo), PlayStation Network (Trine), or some combination of the three during that 2008 to 2011 window. It was an exciting time for console gaming, and the creative gems just kept coming.
Of course, not every downloadable game released since then has been an innovative work of art.
What makes for a good mystery? It’s an inherently subjective question with no clear cut answer, but general guidelines have existed for as long as the mystery genre itself. At the most basic level, the goal when creating a fictional mystery is to entertain an audience by inviting that audience to solve the mystery for themselves alongside the detectives in the story. In practice, this involves striking a delicate balance when it comes to respecting the audience’s ability to reason, to intuit, and to problem solve. Make the answer too obvious, and there’s no fun to be had in cracking the case. On the other hand, if the conclusion can only be reached by making drastic assumptions or leaps of faith, an audience may feel cheated out of a satisfying resolution. Of course, the willingness and ability to solve any mystery varies drastically from person to person. A conclusion that one person arrives at effortlessly may not even be a consideration for someone else. At the very least, ideally, an audience should have all the same information as the mystery’s protagonist. That way, even those who couldn’t put everything together on their own can still respect the paths of deduction once they’ve been revealed. Not everyone will try to figure everything out as the story progresses, but even those who are merely along for the ride will feel cheated out of a good story if the resolution comes entirely out of left field or if the narrator withheld any amount of essential information. Perhaps above all else, everything should make sense, from the perpetrator’s motive down to the very laws of nature. There’s no foolproof way to create memorable mystery fiction, but most good mystery fiction abides by these general guidelines.
As mystery fiction, the Professor Layton games are absolutely terrible. As video games, they’re still largely enjoyable – and The Last Specter is no exception to either of these rules.
Back in the early ’90s, when Capcom began to develop a Mega Man game for the new and impressive Super Nintendo console, the company initially chose to ditch the franchise’s familiar protagonist entirely. Instead of merely sprucing up the look and feel of the happy little blue android, lead character designer Keiji Inafune opted to give Mega Man a full-scale redesign for the upcoming Mega Man X. The result was a substantially more aggressive-looking battle robot with red armor, a horned helmet, and long blond hair. Inafune was pleased with his creation, but ultimately decided that this new character was too different from the original Mega Man to serve as the new face of the franchise. So Inafune tasked another designer with creating a Mega Man X more in line with the legacy protagonist. Rather than scrapping his own design, however, Inafune doubled down on his fierce-looking red automaton and decided that he should serve as X’s superior, mentor, and idol.
Thus, Zero was born, and he was born a total badass.
Like the previous episodes, Episode Three: The Sword in the Darkness of the Game of Thrones series suffers from an aging engine and a severe lack of compelling gameplay… and that’s by design. Rather than investing the time and resources it would take to compete with AAA titles on those fronts, Telltale focuses its effort on creating engrossing worlds with deep characters that you help develop through a slew of dialogue-driven decisions. More often than not, that strategy pays off as Telltale has told some of the most emotionally rewarding stories in video game history. However, when an episode of a Telltale game fails to present decisions with far-reaching effects on the main conflict of the story, you are in for a rather boring experience. Such is the case with Episode Three of Game of Thrones, an episode that never quite reaches the standards set by Episodes One and Two.
Though the Assassin’s Creed series has seen its share of highs from its inauspicious debut in 2007 to the soaring highs of the Ezio trilogy, it hit an all-time low with the miserable face-plant that was Assassin’s Creed III. No doubt suffering from the apparent annualization of the franchise, Assassin’s Creed III got almost everything wrong. As such, the announcement of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag didn’t inspire much confidence in 2013. Combining the stealth and parkour-heavy gameplay the series was built on with island-hopping and naval combat in the salty seas of the Caribbean shouldn’t have made any sense; however, against all odds, it did, leading to perhaps the best game the series has delivered so far.
I bought The World Ends with You recently, not out of the blue, but specifically after holding off for several years after its release in 2008. Any RPG from Square merits at least a strong consideration on my part, but there was always something generally unappealing to me about this game. The thing that finally got me to buy in was a recommendation from somewhere on the Internet, based on how much I had enjoyed the deep and complex storytelling in the Zero Escape franchise. The two titles in that series had blown my mind with their mysteries and twists, and if I could play a JRPG with an equally impressive story, why wouldn’t I?
Unfortunately, when it comes to video games, story isn’t everything.
Few things get the gaming world interested quite like a free game on a console. Unlike on the PC, where free games are given away constantly, there’s an allure of quality (whether earned or not) to a full game available for free to download onto a console. Surely the makers of the console wouldn’t offer a new game for free that was broken or unfinished. Right? Well, Xbox challenges this notion with #IDARB, a.k.a. It Draws a Red Box. In the right hands, its unique concept could have helped it become one of Games With Gold’s more memorable titles. Unfortunately, in the hands of the developer Other Ocean, this game is an all-but-unfinished broken mess.
Gaming’s preeminent weirdo, Swery65, made the leap from cult video game director to full-blown phenomenon with the 2010 release of Deadly Premonition – a horror game that scared almost nobody, but managed to form an almost beautiful train-wreck of oddball ideas and storylines that still generates acclaim and controversy to this day. The newest game from Swery (a.k.a. Hidetaka Suehiro), and his first as sole writer and director since Deadly Premonition, is D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die, a title that lives up to his notorious level of weird. D4 is episode-based, and as such only two full episodes have been released, so it’s tough to judge the game considering it doesn’t have an ending yet. It’s even tougher to say whether an ending is coming at all – D4 didn’t sell all that well upon release in late 2014, but a recent give-away as an Xbox “Games with Gold” and a port to PC may have renewed enough interest to get the rest of this game made. Even with a lack of clear-cut ending, it’s hard to imagine any of Swery65’s fans being disappointed with D4, although the general public looking for a more traditional gameplay experience may find it a tedious chore.
Step 4: WWF Royal Rumble
Forgive me readers for I have sinned. It’s been four weeks since my last rehab session. As you might have guessed, I’ve fallen off the wagon. I can’t shake my Destiny addiction and my rehab is suffering. In an attempt to get back on the wagon, I’ve temporarily skipped steps 2 and 3 in favor of step 4, the quicker-to-beat WWF Royal Rumble. It might be a cop out, but what do you expect from an addict?
With our Sega Dreamcast Hall of Fame in the books, it’s time to wrap things up by revealing our ballots.
Last month, the bros lent their opinions on the best Super Nintendo games and our consensus list was unveiled in the inaugural gametimebro Hall of Fame class. We’ve done it again, this time for the short-lived but fondly remembered Sega Dreamcast. Though it lived for just a few years and was unable to amass a library the size of the PlayStation 2’s or the GameCube’s, it still put forth many games at the turn of the millennium worth remembering today. Here are ten such titles.
Ubisoft has been releasing games for nearly 25 years, and yet it took until 2014 for the developer to release its first ever full-fledged RPG, the downloadable title Child of Light. For their first foray into the genre, Ubisoft ended up reusing the Rayman engine and managed to build a simple and short role-playing game around it. This is the most unique twist on the formula Ubisoft provides, ditching the top-down perspective used by almost every single 2D RPG in existence in favor of an open-world side-scroller, and while the presentation here is phenomenal, there just isn’t enough depth to the gameplay and story to give Child of Light a strong recommendation.
The field of first-person shooters is extremely competitive and overcrowded these days, with new intellectual properties showing up seemingly every month and established juggernauts like Halo, Call of Duty, and Borderlands constantly churning out new installments that sell in droves. The Battlefield series has long played second fiddle to the Call of Duty series as a straight military shooter, so it makes sense that developer Electronic Arts was willing to hand the series over to a new developer, Visceral Games, and let them take the series in a completely different direction to stake out its own territory. Battlefield Hardline is that new direction, a game that trades traditional warzones for the more small-scale war on drugs in Miami. There’s less of a focus on big-budget action sequences and cut-scenes, and more emphasis on stealth, gathering evidence, and peacefully getting suspects to surrender, while still retaining the core first-person shooter gameplay that made the series famous. Unfortunately, while these new ideas mostly work well, a half-baked story and Visceral’s inability to fully commit to the small-scale joys of a police simulator keep the game from realizing its true potential.
I have a confession: I was a deprived as a child. I wasn’t deprived of food or shelter, but of video games. Though I begged my parents ever since the moment I could first speak for a Super Nintendo to call my very own, they refused to break. In fact, I think they derived just a little bit of enjoyment out of watching me suffer through a childhood without a SNES to keep me company. And though I finally broke my parents by the Christmas of 1997, the Super Nintendo had all but faded into irrelevance. My parents were seduced by the allure of 3D, and though I loved my new Nintendo 64, I’ve been chasing the dragon that is the Super Nintendo ever since. With the love and support of my bros, I’ve admitted myself into the Retro Rehab 10-Step Program:
(Spoiler alert! The following feature reveals many plot details from Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. Any readers interested in experiencing the game firsthand for themselves are encouraged to do so before continuing.)
Resident Evil: Revelations 2 has steadily improved as its first three episodes progressed, going from a by-the-numbers imitation of the older and better games in the series to a game that truly offers up something new. Though episode four has a few flashes of greatness, it is ultimately marred by some odd choices that keep it from being a truly great finale. Claire and Moira take up the first half of the episode, which can disappointingly be finished in fifteen or twenty minutes as it consists of a little exploration and a short chase scene without any boss fight or real challenge at all. Barry and Natalia get a much heavier focus, but it takes a long time before anything that’s happening truly feels like the ending of a memorable journey. The pacing feels off as far too much time is spent in the sewers and mines, areas that both suffer from poor level design. Eventually the two stumble onto a combination research facility/mansion that serves as a strong homage to the original Resident Evil mansion; at this point the game finally picks up just in time for a solid final boss fight. Nothing here is going to stand out to gamers weeks after the game is beaten as most of the creative moments of Revelations 2 occurred in previous episodes, but episode four provides a serviceable enough conclusion to the adventure even if it leaves some story threads dangling and can’t strike the right balance between its two sets of characters.
Chapter 4: 3.5 Chicks out of 5
Resident Evil: Revelations 2: 3.5 Chicks out of 5
Now that our Super Nintendo Hall of Fame reveal has finished, it’s time to reveal our ballots, describe the ranking procedure, and wrap things up with some final thoughts on the exercise and the results.
There’s no need to beat around the bush. It’s time to reveal our top ten Super Nintendo games and wrap up the inaugural class of the gametimebro Hall of Fame. In case you missed them, or simply need a refresher, the first ten games on our list can be found here, and the next ten games are listed here.
After a nine-year period of Capcom focusing on side-stories and spin-offs, everyone’s favorite anime lawyer Phoenix Wright finally made his return to the center stage of his own video game in 2013’s Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies. Though the Ace Attorney series has always been an oddball of the gaming world thanks to gameplay focused on scouring for evidence and defending clients at trials, the wild stories, memorable characters, and bizarre game-world logic have kept fans coming back for more. Still, it’s been tough for any game in the series to live up to the original Phoenix Wright trilogy, and while Dual Destinies can’t quite hit the mark either, it’s the best new entry to the series in years.
On a recent gametimeshowbro podcast, the bros were asked to provide a ranked list of their top five Super Nintendo games. The conversation that followed was illuminating, lengthy, and provocative. It continued after the microphones went off and as the number of games mentioned continued to grow we soon realized that limiting ourselves to five games each was an impossible task.
So here’s our newest feature. We’ve asked all of the bros for ranked lists of ten to twenty-five of their favorite Super Nintendo games. Ten responded, listing sixty-six games in total. After combining, comparing, and smoothing out the ten lists, we’ve reached a consensus opinion on the thirty greatest SNES games of all time. Though our tastes and takes were wide and varied, together we have created a list much stronger than the sum of its original parts. Today, we proudly present the first ten games on that list – our first ten inductees to the gametimebro Hall of Fame.
Between 1998 and 2007, Nintendo released ten games in the Mario Party franchise including eight in the main series and two for handhelds. While the first title was arguably a revolutionary party game, each successive title has been less and less inspired. By 2007, considerable series fatigue had set in and Nintendo decided to take a much-needed break. The series did not lie dormant for long, however, as Nintendo was back with Mario Party 9 for the Wii in 2012. Still, many reviewers were disappointed with Nintendo for not doing more to change up their stale formula. With Mario Party 10, Nintendo looks to break from tradition and deliver a unique experience with two entirely new game modes: Bowser Party and Amiibo Party. Unfortunately, though these modes do differ from the also-included Mario Party mode, none of them differ enough from the Mario Party modes of the past to make Mario Party 10 anything more than mediocre.
With the rise of first-person shooters and real-time strategy games in the late nineties, adventure games all but disappeared. Starting in 2005, however, Telltale was able to begin reviving the genre by focusing on more episodic gameplay. Using intellectual property with established fan bases (Wallace and Gromit, HomeStar Runner, Back to the Future) Telltale released games of between four and six ‘episodes’, usually about two hours in length each, with releases separated by a month or more. This made their games feel more like shared, cultural events rather than something you can pick up and finish off over the course of a weekend. It also helped that Telltale smartly focused all of their resources on what makes adventure games great – story and dialog. The graphics and animations in your typical Telltale release are consistently below average for their time, but they offer up storylines and characters and well-designed puzzles that you’d be hard-pressed to find outside of smaller independent releases. Though this newfound formula for adventure games proved to be marginally successful, it wasn’t until 2012’s The Walking Dead: The Game that Telltale experienced its first true smash hit.
Resident Evil: Revelations 2 has done a fine job in its first two episodes of recreating the same beats that the series has long been known for – terrifying zombie encounters, a frustrating lack of ammunition, and fairly cheesy dialog. Yet it took until the third of its four episodes for the game to finally try out a few new tricks of its own. As such, episode three stands out as easily the best in the game so far. The central gimmick to the game has been its two duos of characters with different abilities – Claire and Barry are more adept at combat while Moira and Natalya are better at exploring their surroundings, allowing the player to freely switch between characters at any time. Until now, little has been done to take full advantage of this mechanic. Episode three features two separate instances where the duos must split up for significant lengths of time and fend for themselves, while struggling to help each other from far away. This is especially well done in Claire and Moira’s first half of the chapter, in which the two of them must separately navigate through a burning factory on the verge of exploding. The landscape in episode three is also filled with puzzles and hidden items, rewarding players who are willing to take the time to fully explore their surroundings. Finally, each half of the chapter is capped by a boss fight more memorable than any in previous chapters. There’s a feeling that the action is ramping up just in time for the home stretch. For the penultimate episode, it’s hard to ask for much more.
4.5 Chicks out of 5
Telltale is back in the Game of Thrones Universe with Episode Two: The Lost Lords roughly two months after its release of Episode One: Iron From Ice. While Iron From Ice had to live up to the lofty expectations set by HBO’s hit show, The Lost Lords has the added burden of living up to Telltale’s initial entry to the series. Unfortunately, though it does a few things better than before, Episode Two’s story fails to consistently hit the emotional highs and lows of its predecessor.
Back in 2008, the now defunct Midway Games tried their hand at a professional wrestling game. The problem is that they didn’t try very hard. TNA Impact! begins immediately with the masked wrestler Suicide. He’s holding the TNA World Championship above his head as confetti rains down on him. The celebration is cut short, however, as the tag team of Homicide (yup they have wrestlers named both Homicide and Suicide) and Hernandez, known collectively as LAX, beats him within an inch of his life. After waking from the beatdown-induced coma, Suicide finds himself in a hospital bed. His red and blue mask has been replaced with a mask of bandages and a body cast to match. He’s informed that he has been beaten so badly that emergency plastic surgery is required. This is where the player comes in. You are now tasked with reconstructing Suicide by creating your own wrestler. This premise sounds somewhat interesting (albeit ridiculous), but really loses steam when you realize that the create-a-wrestler system has less depth than systems from dated wrestling games like Wrestlemania 2000. If you’re not careful, you’ll end up with a tattooed man in purple tights, tasseled Ugg boots, and a white mask. He is an uninspired creation, but then again, so is this entire game.
Like clockwork, Activision has been publishing new Call of Duty games every holiday season since 2003, and nearly every year they continue to smash sales records and dominate the video game landscape with a combination of thrill-ride single player campaigns and addicting multiplayer competition. But despite all of this, the franchise has a reputation for not being innovative and is cited as often as the Madden series as a major cause of stagnation in video games. The staleness reached its peak with 2013’s Call of Duty: Ghosts, which seemed to coast on its brand name alone. As a result, the series saw a major downtick in sales for the first time. The downward sales trend continued here with 2014’s Advanced Warfare, which is a shame because the series hasn’t reinvented itself this well since the original Modern Warfare.