Thursday, January 26, 2012

Yearly Gaming Analysis: 2011

2011 went by very fast, like a blur. When it comes to gaming, I only remember one thing from last year however: League of Legends for the Personal Computer - everything else seems less memorable. I practically play that game almost every day and with the exception of Nights: Into Dreams... on the SegaSaturn and the Culdcept games, no other games could be this interesting for this huge amount of time. Of course 2011 was a very special year because yours truly now calls the significant other a spouse. I did induct a whole lot of games this year but I couldn't have possibly go through all of them of course. I could always put that blame on LoL but actually, I am the one responsible for my inaction. As I went through the list of games from last year, something really hit me hard: the idea of "owning" and "playing".

It's funny. The game that I play the most, LoL, is actually free to play. It doesn't cost me anything - though I do spend some cash on it to buy those delicious alternate champion skins which is not necessary to play the game to the fullest. The games that I actually paid money for to access them give me limited entertainment value. Sure, this goes back to my want to have access to a huge gaming library but I don't know, maybe I have just gotten wiser these days and that resulted in my cancellation of the frivolous X-Box LIVE Gold service and that rather somber time commitment analysis to go through all the games I do have. At this point in my life, I believe that I am ready to accept that I am just a mortal being with a very limited lifespan. I always say that we all live once so do whatever it is that you want to do while you still can. The same can be applied to video gaming but I have to be careful not to turn that into an overcommitment. These games deserved to be played and they only have one person who is supposed to be playing them all.

This analysis will include all games that were inducted in 2011, even if the games were released prior to that year. The brackets shown in the number counts signify the difference between 2010 and 2011. I hope you will find this report informative and an entertaining read.


Total Year Inductions: 3 (-7)

Total Year Inductions: 3 (+3)

Total Year Induction: 1 (-3)

Favorite Handheld Game of the Year:
Kirby: Mass Attack
Induction Date: 11/08/2011

And you thought one Kirby was fun. A whole orgy of them? Just wow.

This game is proof that with a little bit of creative imagination, you can make a touch-control game work flawlessly. It's the kind of polish and innovation that can only be accomplished on the Nintendo DS system. It is extremely satisfying to control up to 10 Kirbys using just the stylus, especially when you instruct them to gang up on the enemies - they all jump on the enemy and started beating them up mercilessly. It may not be a real Kirby game but it is definitely one of the best Kirby-featured games ever made.

Disappointment of the Year:

That PlayStation Vita announcement. Sony should not have returned to the handheld market and just stick with focusing all of their attention on the PlayStation 3. Sure the technical specifications of the Vita sound remarkable but do I really need a mini PS3 in my hand? The touch screen seems tacked on and unlike the Nintendo's dual screen layout, it doesn't make sense to have your fingers all over that tiny screen when all you want to really do is look at the pretty graphics. The touch sensitive back of the system is cool but realistically, it's a desperate attempt to make the system unique. The final nail on the coffin came in the form of the Vita's inflexible internal memory where you must buy overpriced Vita-specific memory cards. Even its big brother, the PS3, doesn't have a proprietary internal hard drive so why do it on the Vita? This one is doomed to fail folks and perhaps Sony will finally learn their lesson this time: Just leave the handheld market to Nintendo. The bigger fish to fry is the PS3.

Total Year Inductions: 3 (-11)

Favorite Game of the Year:
Kirby's Return to Dream Land
Induction Date: 10/30/2011

You know with a cover that whimsical that you are going to have fun.

What is this, the year of the fat pink blob? It is a close call however because The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword also got released last year but between the two, I spent a lot more time with Kirby rather than with Link. Return to Dream Land is simple and sometimes easy but it contains that classic platformer magic that is just sorely missing in a majority of game releases these days. Let's hope that such a game design will never be lost in the future.

Disappointment of the Year:

I suppose it's inevitable... The announcement of the Wii U means that the Nintendo Wii is living its last breaths. I just feel that the Wii's potentials haven't been utilized to its very limits. The console has proven again and again that you don't need HD resolution to birth remarkable looking games - the Super Mario Galaxy series, Sin & Punishment: Star Successor, and Muramasa: The Demon Blade are great examples of this - so why the sudden hunger for graphical boost when we know that the new console's raw power would not be fully maxed out as well. As a person who has been gaming for such a long time, I am really hating the idea of buying new consoles. Now if they make these consoles like the Personal Computer where you can upgrade them after several years, then I'm fine with that but we know that will never happen. I have a feeling that I will probably stick to PC gaming eventually because it offers the best stability in the entire spectrum of this gaming hobby.

Total Year Inductions: 123 (+55)

Favorite Game of the Year:
Induction Date: 02/22/2011

The stealthiest surprise of the year. Never saw it coming.

Just because League of Legends reigns supreme on top of all other games on the PC (as well as the other platforms), it does mean that I will deprive providing proper accolade to a deserving new PC addition from 2011. Two World II fits that bill for being such a unexpected delight. After a mediocre first game, who would have expected the sequel to end up being one of the best open world action role playing games ever made? It may not be as hyped up as The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim but it certainly plays and looks a lot better. It may not have that crazy RED Engine from The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings but it offers an adventure that is a lot more engaging and less pretentious.

Disappointment of the Year:

It's ironic isn't it? It seems like game developers are always looking for bigger and better graphical technology as console makers always seem to be scheming in the background waiting to unleash new systems but then when it comes to making the actual games, they often opt for the the lowest common denominator. Such is the case with The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Though it cannot be denied that this is a fun, wonderful game, it is disappointing that the game was really built with the X-Box 360 in mind - as exemplified by the horrible stutter problems on the PS3 version. Though the PC version is still the best looking and best performing out of the bunch, PC owners have to rely on the works of modders to truly make the game look up to par to modern standards. Thankfully, Steam will make modding the game easy thanks to their willingness to allow mod application through the Steam client but this is a clear example of why new consoles are not necessary - developers will always find a way to cut corners. Skyrim could have been so much more...


Total Year Inductions: 2 (+1)

Total Year Inductions: 45 (+11)

Favorite Game of the Year:
Mortal Kombat
Induction Date: 05/01/2011

It's always about Scorpion and Sub-Zero!

Any game that allows you to kill off Kratos in a variety of gruesome fashion should always win some sort of awards in my book and of course only the PS3 version of the game allows you that pleasure. Of course, those who didn't play the complete God of War trilogy would not understand the pleasure behind killing off Kratos over and over and over again. But on a serious note, this new Mortal Kombat not only manages to become the best in the series, but it is also one of the bests in the genre. The collision detection is spot on and the combos are deliciously vicious. There are a lot of unlockables and the cheesy story mode, though extremely difficult, is rather rotten and awful in that entertaining way. The fatalities could have been better presented without the need of camera cuts and hopefully, that would be implemented in the eventual sequel.

Disappointment of the Year:

What a way to ruin a game by implementing a horrible online multiplayer system! Yes, I am of course talking about Dark Souls. Unlike the first game where it is possible to play with friends, or anyone else that is, despite the stringent level requirements, in this sequel, players are dumped randomly into multiple servers. What does that mean? It is quite impossible to play together with your friends and it also reduces your chances of playing with random strangers whenever you are unlucky enough to land on an unpopulated server. Thankfully, the game is playable solo and no, don't believe for a second to those claims that the game is hard. It's not. Thanks Namco Bandai for stealing the publishing rights to this game from Atlus because I am sure that the latter would have done a better job with the online aspect of the game.

--- X-BOX 360 ---
Total Year Inductions: 13 (-14)

Favorite Game of the Year:
Developer: Treasure
Induction Date: 09/14/2011

You may think this scene is funny... Until you get to the game's horrifically tragic end.

Quite frankly, this re-release is so good that it should be a system seller. If I didn't have a 360, I would have gotten it to gain access to this game. Ranked second on my Top 10 Favorite Games of All Time, Radiant Silvergun has it all: a heartbreaking, powerful storyline, nonstop action, amazing graphics made even more incredible with the HD upgrade, and some of the most memorable soundtrack to ever grace a video game. It's a legendary game and its re-release exclusivity feels somewhat undeserved for the 360 market, at least for the console's North American audience who are mostly just obsessed with first person shooters.

Disappointment of the Year:

Well, since I started my abandonment of the X-Box LIVE Gold service in early 2011, there was nothing that I got disappointed about with the console. As a matter of fact, this section should be called Enlightenment of the Year. With the very little time I spent on the console these days, paying money for the online services would have been wasteful spending. So I can't play Culdcept Saga online anymore but it's not like there's anyone who wanted to play that with me anyway when I was actually on LIVE even throughout the time that I activated my free month of Gold. Well, I suppose that is a bit of a disappointment.


Games that have been played for 10 days or more within the year:

2011 had 365 days. I played some LoL during 313 of those days.

13.1 % of the entire collection as of 01/14/2012

8.0% of the entire collection as of 01/14/2012


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