Monday, January 5, 2009

Yearly Gaming Analysis: 2008

2008 was personally a great year for me because I finally did what I always wanted to do for a long time - write productively about video games. This Yearly Analysis will not include the list of the most played games because I didn't start my Daily Game Log until June 5th, 2008. Here, I will include my purchase statistics and the expected favorite and the least favorite games of the year across all platforms. There is a small amount of older games that were released before 2008 that I just purchased last year and I do put these games into consideration for the overall analysis.

Total Year Purchases: 16

Favorite Game of the Year:

Space Invaders Extreme
Developer: Taito Corporation
Purchase Date: 06/20/2008

Now, you don't have to pretend to like the first Space Invaders anymore...

A clever update to a classic game that everyone is familiar with but would never play in its original form. Though the original gameplay is mostly intact, the improved enemy patterns, psychedelic visuals, and fun boss fights make the game feel new. The infusion of action and music in the game is brilliant, reminiscent of Q Entertainment's puzzle games, and there is also the color-chaining system to give the game more depth. From now on, when I think of Space Invaders, I will only be reminded of Space Invaders Extreme.

Disappointment of the Year:

Why take high-res pictures of your dream vacation
with a digital camera when you can use the DSi?

The announcement and the eventual Japanese release of the NDSi. I don't care too much about the camera - it's so gimmicky - but what I care about is the removal of the Game Boy Advance cartridge slot. Overall, the new version is slightly better than the NDS Lite with the introduction of an internal memory and the ability to use an SD card. The firmware update capability will almost ensure that the previous versions of the handheld would become obsolete when this thing finally arrives in the United States, a very daring and completely unexpected move from a video game company that has been dominating the market these past several years. It looks like Nintendo has gotten very, very greedy... A word that would normally be used when describing Microsoft.

Total Year Purchases: 29

Favorite Game of the Year:
Castle of Shikigami III
Developer: Alfa System
Purchase Date: 06/13/2008

After her weird speech, you get to destroy Yukari.

2008 was a rather quiet year for the Nintendo Wii especially with the underwhelming release of Super Smash Bros. BrawlWario Land: Shake It! may have ended up in this spot but I haven't gotten the chance to play it yet so I will keep that title in mind next year. Though Shikigami III is inferior to Shikigami no Shiro II on the Dreamcast, it is still a competent shoot-'em-up. It's all about memorizing the patterns of the enemy bullets and staying very, very close to them to continuously gain the highest score multiplier. This part of the gameplay alone ensures that the player would remain aware of what's happening on the screen at all times. Kudos to the translation team for the offbeat humor during the character conversation scenes.

Disappointment of the Year:
Wii Fit
Developer: Nintendo
Purchase Date: 07/08/2008

Thank goodness I can FIT it in my closet so that it would never see daylight again.

As disappointed as I am about Super Smash Bros. Brawl, nothing can ever compare to my disappointment about Wii Fit. It costs a whopping $89.99, it's big, it's bulky, and it's completely useless. Unless you are a complete hog who have never done any physical activity at all in your whole life, there is no reason for you to depend on this thing to keep a healthy lifestyle. There is no recommended routine for you to follow and there is no feeling of progress whatsoever because it wants to weigh you every single day - Oh look, my BMI is 0.01 less than yesterday... Wohoo?! Then, it slaps you in the face by asking you to enter information about the exercises outside of your Wii Fit sessions so that it can shamelessly take credit for the real workout that you do.

Total Year Purchases: 17

Favorite Game of the Year:

Fallout 3 Collector's Edition
Developer: Bethesda Softworks LLC
Purchase Date: 10/28/2008

The beauty of a devastated landscape.

I am glad that I have purchased this on the PC because Bethesda's support for making the game X-Box Live enabled made the graphically superior version of the game even better. The X-Box 360 controller support is excellent since the game is truly made to be played with a controller. I still wish that I can play my PC version of Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion with it. The nuclear wasteland is atmospheric and the brutality as well as the humanity surrounding it are captivating. Then, there is the gore... The way the blood splatters and the body parts get blown to pieces are violently bloody. The first person + role playing gameplay mechanics is definitely welcomed: the automatic targeting actually enhances the experience instead of taking away the freedom that most first person shooters try to accomplish.

Disappointment of the Year:
Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures
Developer: Funcom
Purchase Date: 07/19/2008

That should be how I look like after the 100th gankage for the day.

The combat system is good and the graphics are better but I just can't support a developer that doesn't keep their promises. Out of all the massively multiplayer role playing games I have played, the amount of ganking - or high level players killing low level players - in this game is legendary. The developer then promised that a notoriety system would be introduced to take care of the situation. The announcement lacked any real follow up and apparently the word "soon" means several months in Funcom language. What's worse? There is hardly any balance when it comes to the actual player vs. player fighting. Since I chose a mage type character, I unknowingly opted to become an easy target practice for many of the melee classes. The month I spent playing the game ended up feeling like a lifetime of betrayal and disgrace.

Total Year Purchases: 13

Favorite Game of the Year:

Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4
Developer: Atlus
Purchase Date: 12/16/2008

I am sure that'd help with the signal reception.

I haven't put too many hours into this game... yet but I can already feel that "special" feeling when you know that you are about to play through something that is truly remarkable. The character interaction is what really makes this game interesting and of course, the personas that you get to summon are cool too! Though the game is somewhat similar to Persona 3, the new cast of characters and a more intriguing setup are enough for me to forgive Atlus for for their slight laziness.

Disappointment of the Year:
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 FES
Developer: Atlus
Purchase Date: 04/24/2008

No, you don't have double vision. Atlus was just being plain evil.

Atlus should be happy that it has a large community of fans but the act of releasing Persona 3 FES as a standalone product was totally satanic. They could have: 1) release this with the original Persona 3 last year the fact that FES was already released in Japan a year before we even got the original, or 2) release this with Persona 4. To avoid damaging sales for Persona 4, the President of Sales and Marketing for the company had to release this statement: "We are today able to announce that at no point in the future will we announce the release of a FES version of Persona 4". See where greed took you, Atlus? Not pretty, is it? Promise to never do this again or you will return to that obscure place in gaming where you came from before your fans discovered you.

Total Year Purchases: 19

Favorite Game of the Year:
Developer: Media Molecule
Purchase Date: 10/30/2008

If you can dream it, you can create it. No lies.

I love platform games, especially during the golden 16-bit years. With LittleBigPlanet, Media Molecule are not only honoring the memories of the past, but they are also paving the proper platformer experience for the future. Here's a game that is completely future-proof where you can make any kind of platformer you can imagine with tools that are very easy to use. There are already many intelligent levels designed by the community and I am ashamed of the fact that I haven't spent too much time playing the game to create my own kooky levels. I am a big fan of boss fights and even those can be created quite brilliantly here. The mini-transactions in the form of character costumes are negligible but the recently released Metal Gear Solid - Level Kit is an absolute must buy because it introduces Contra-like run and gun mechanics into the game! Gotta play this again pronto!

Disappointment of the Year:
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
Developer: Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc.
Purchase Date: 06/12/2008

Cinematic my a$$. If I want to watch a movie, I'd go to a movie theater instead.

Yes, I have the guts to say it: MG4 is disappointing. Now don't get that confused with me saying that the game is terrible because that is not what I said. The main problem with this game is it's way over-hyped and Hideo Kojima got way over-ambitious. He apparently wants to be a film director and hey, that's definitely a worth-while goal. What's bad though is when he started fusing all of his film-making talent into something that should be a video game. I always cringe when people want their game to be "cinematic" because developers always interpret that word incorrectly. Shadow of the Colossus is an effectively cinematic and epic video game. Comparatively, MGS4 is a video game that wants to be cinematic and thinks that it is a long-winded movie.

Total Year Purchases: 5

Favorite Game of the Year:

Developer: Pyramid/Interlink
Purchase Date: 03/29/2008

A music game that plays like an adventure game that plays like a dream.

2008 was a slow year for the PSP, making it even easier for something as unique and innovative as Patapon to steal the show. It's a rhythm game, where you press the right button at the right moment continuously, but with a twist. The rhythm controls cute Patapons as they go out to hunt animals or battle their enemies. The minimalistic, stylized 2D graphics look beautiful. It's another one of those weird and offbeat games that just work for some odd reason.

Disappointment of the Year:

The lack of good games to purchase. 'Nuff said.

--- X-Box 360 ---
Total Year Purchases: 59

Favorite Game of the Year:
Developer: Treasure
Purchase Date: 04/09/2008

134+ hours of gameplay so far...
And that doesn't include the time I've spent with it on the Dreamcast.

I don't think there is much I can say about this game that I haven't said in the past. All I know is that I have been playing it more than I ever did when got it on the Dreamcast in 2002. The ability to play the game with the TATE resolution intact without having to rotate the screen is noteworthy and climbing up the Leaderboards has been a rewarding endeavour. Even with the large amount of time I have spent playing it, there are several enemy formations that I still haven't figured out yet. Watching the replay videos of top players is fun but copying moves doesn't work - one has to feel and understand the reason why things need to be done a certain way to make them work. It may be a re-release, but it's the best game I purchased in 2008.

Disappointment of the Year:

You don't know what pain is until you have seen this* on your 360... TWICE!
*Red ring(s) location(s) may vary!

The death of my X-Box 360 Elite... Which just happened to be the second time my X-Box 360 died on me. The successor to the X-Box 360 should be backwards compatible - that is the only way Microsoft can redeem themselves from this atrocity. There is a lot of money that can be made by selling the current X-Box 360 games as downloadable games on the upcoming console so the real question is this: Will they be able to say no to money? Oh well.


8.4% of the entire collection as of 01/05/2009


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