Archive for the ‘Console’ Category

Best of 2016: Top 10 Gaming Moments

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Not every game worth playing brings a single standout moment worth talking about separately – Oftentimes it’s the consistent elegance of the mechanics, presentation and/or story flow that makes a game worthwhile. But many will have standalone gameplay sequences, story twists or bits of content that stand out from everything around them, either because the rest of the game is not quite as memorable, because everything just seems to come together in that moment, or even because when you played them you were in exactly the right mood to be affected by them. As a result, everyone’s lists will likely be pretty different, but these are my picks for the most memorable videogame moments of 2016. Spoilers are everywhere here.

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VR BEST OF 2016 DISCLAIMER
This list represents my opinion only. I am not asserting any kind of superiority or self-importance by presenting it as I have. My opinion is not fact. If you actually agree with me 100%, that’s strange. Fun, but strange. Respectful disagreement is very welcome.

Big videogame spoilers follow!
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10. Getting Schooled – Pokemon Sun

Opinion seems to vary wildly on the difficulty of Pokemon Sun & Moon relative to the last few games in the series – and in truth a lot of that always depends on team composition – but at least for me and the five people I played alongside on launch day, it presented a challenge for which we weren’t quite ready. You can pretty much nail down the start of that difficulty spike to the first trial of the second island, where the player comes face-to-face with a School Form Wishiwashi – a gargantuan fish with boosted stats roughly equivalent to the most powerful legendaries in the game. Its raining when you fight it and it will summon allies to use Helping Hand – all of which combines to ensure that even its Water Gun is strong enough to one-hit-KO every Pokemon in your party that doesn’t resist water moves. I was lucky enough to have it summon an Alomomola, too – a Pokemon capable of healing the son of a bitch for half its health whenever it felt like it. The whole thing was a tense struggle that felt tremendously refreshing.

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Best of 2016: Top 5 Game Consoles

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2016 was a year of transitions for console gaming. With at least one – possibly two – machines on their way out and another pair going through significant physical changes, there was a lot on offer for owners and prospective owners of the five main dedicated gaming consoles alike this year. Because it’s fun to do so, I will now rank them once again. Exclusive games on each were plentiful, helping to draw lines in the sand between the consoles, but I’m also counting versions of non-exclusive games that I feel are different enough from their siblings to warrant a mention. Needless to say, new versions of existing hardware weigh heavily as well.

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VR BEST OF 2016 DISCLAIMER
This list represents my opinion only. I am not asserting any kind of superiority or self-importance by presenting it as I have. My opinion is not fact. If you actually agree with me 100%, that’s strange. Fun, but strange. Respectful disagreement is very welcome.

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5. Wii U

(LAST YEAR: 3rd)

 

At the start of 2016 there was a pervasive feeling that the Wii U was on its last legs, but we had no way of knowing just how barren the year would be for the ailing console. Its relatively bare schedule of major releases throughout the year only kicked off in March, and though Pokken Tournament turned out surprisingly well, a slightly-tuned HD remaster of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess wasn’t exactly the kind of release to attract new buyers (even if that remaster was pretty damn good). Then April marked the death knell for the console, as that brought with it the combined disappointment of Star Foz Zero and the announcement that the Wii U’s successor – then codenamed NX – would release in March 2017.  From then on, only three first-party games came out on the platform at all. Admittedly, Paper Mario: Color Splash and Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE were fantastic, but that simply isn’t enough to make a year worth celebrating, sadly. Onward to the Switch, then?

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Best of 2016: Top 5 Gaming Trends

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It’s all good stuff from here on out. Well, in my opinion anyway.

Every year in videogames is eventful, and looking for patterns around these events is something I’ve grown to enjoy a great deal in recent times. Looking at trends – which, for the purpose of this list, are positive or at least neutral – can help us better remember a year in gaming as more than just a collection of months, and maybe even get a glimpse at where the medium is going. Here are five I thought worth mentioning from 2016.

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VR BEST OF 2016 DISCLAIMER


This list represents my opinion only. I am not asserting any kind of superiority or self-importance by presenting it as I have. My opinion is not fact. If you actually agree with me 100%, that’s strange. Fun, but strange. Respectful disagreement is very welcome.

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5. JRPGs Are Back!

Here’s an easy one; it’s only what I spent most of my blogging hours this year covering, after all. Likely due to a combination of simplified game delivery channels, crowdfunding culture, a YouTube-boosted nostalgia wave, a set of opportunistic smaller publishers stacked with localisation specialists, and the likes of Square Enix/SEGA trying frantically to get their act together, the Japanese role-playing game is currently more prolific than it has perhaps ever been. Players looking for a mechanically satisfying grind with zany characters and a narrative to match are refreshingly spoilt for choice whether they gravitate towards PC, consoles, mobile or dedicated handhelds (especially dedicated handhelds). Want examples from 2016? I’ve got you covered.

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Best of 2015: Top 5 Game Consoles

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Here we go again with my opinion on how the big videogame consoles stacked up against one another over the calendar year. It was a hell of a year for console gaming, and as someone who has access to them all these days, I’ve got to say it was tough at times to choose where I wanted to spend my time playing.

This is a difficult list to explain, as it largely comes down to how I feel about what each console offered to consumers that was unique from its contemporaries. That said, the main quantifiable factors that usually go into this list are volume and quality of console-exclusive games (read: Steam not counted), major console-exclusive features in multi-platform games and any relevant improvements to the experience of using the console made year over year. There’s a lot to say, so let’s go.

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VR BEST OF 2015 DISCLAIMER
This list represents my opinion only. I am not asserting any kind of superiority or self-importance by presenting it as I have. My opinion is not fact. If you actually agree with me 100%, that’s weird. Cool, but definitely weird. Respectful disagreement is most welcome.
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5. Playstation Vita

(LAST YEAR: 5th)

In a year that saw Sony admit its first-party support for the PlayStation Vita was all but dead, the company’s third-party relationships really came through for the beautiful console in a big way. If you’re a fan of high-profile indie games and/or interesting Japanese fare, the Vita had you covered in spades throughout 2015. A PlayStation Plus subscription was just about enough to keep Vita owners covered for fun and intriguing experiences over the course of the year, as exclusive or not, there are few digital games I can bring to mind that don’t improve just by being on Sony’s magnificent handheld. I played Broken Age, Grim Fandango Remastered, Lost Dimension, Hatoful Boyfriend and Stein’s Gate on Vita in 2015 and couldn’t imagine playing them any other way.

Of course the bona fide exclusives were few and far between – pretty much just Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls and Persona 4: Dancing All Night in terms of exclusives that made any waves whatsoever – and the Vita-playing experience didn’t really change in a meaningful way. So unfortunately I can’t match my enthusiasm for the handheld in 2015 with a high position on this list. It sucks that the Vita also suffered a discouraging number of delays this year, both in the port and original game categories. I just want Severed to come out, already!

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Best of 2015: Top 5 Gaming Trends

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Time for a brand-new list. As much as I’ve enjoyed writing the list that has been in this slot for the last three years, my Top 10 Game Cases, I found that I had to come up with a smaller list this time around to make up for the forced expansion of another list later on. And on that intentionally vague note, let’s talk about some of my favourite trends that defined 2015 in videogames.

No real qualifying conditions to mention here – These are just some of the patterns that I noticed forming in and amongst all the announcements, news and actual content that found its way onto gaming machines all around the world this past year.

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VR BEST OF 2015 DISCLAIMER
This list represents my opinion only. I am not asserting any kind of superiority or self-importance by presenting it as I have. My opinion is not fact. If you actually agree with me 100%, that’s weird. Cool, but definitely weird. Respectful disagreement is most welcome.
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5. Games Actually Worked

2015 wasn’t just a massive improvement over 2014 in the videogame sphere because of the sheer volume of great releases. It was also a gigantic improvement in the way said games performed. Perhaps it was a product of all the big-name delays out of last year, but the titles to which gamers were treated this year actually ran fairly smoothly with very little catastrophic bugs to speak of. Sure, there was the odd exception, but they were just that – exceptions. Compared to the veritable parade of dead-set unfinished late 2014 games, 2015 was a breath of fresh air, and as much as it sucks that this is worth talking about at all, credit where credit is due.

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Best of 2014: Top 5 Game Consoles

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A very merry Christmas to all! I’m celebrating with the return of another list that debuted last year – my personal opinion on how the seven major videogame consoles stacked up against one another in 2014, with sales successes taken out of the equation. I like to think I played a decent amount of everything relevant to this list in 2014, so hopefully I’m qualified for a balanced opinion. It is still an opinion, though.

Once again, the two biggest factors that go into ordering this list are overall user experience and quality of 2014 games released on the console. Exclusive games are given priority over platform-agnostic ones unless there is a significant difference in functionality and playability between versions of a game. Also, because a PC doesn’t really count as a console, I may mention certain games as “exclusives” even if they also appear on Steam.

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VR BEST OF 2014 DISCLAIMER
This list represents my opinion only. I am not asserting any kind of superiority or self-importance by presenting it as I have. My opinion is not fact. If you actually agree with me 100%, that’s spooky. Respectful disagreement is most welcome.
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5. Playstation Vita

(LAST YEAR: 3rd)

The short-lived era of Western-developed “Triple A” games for the Playstation Vita appears to be over after just two years in the wild. However, it’s still my favourite console on which to play games. Portable, sleek, very pretty and supported by a near-constant stream of high quality smaller titles and big Japanese games, I spent an awful lot of time with my Vita in 2014. Sony actually released two new models of the Vita hardware this year – the even more convenient if slightly less visually capable PS Vita Slim in June, and then the rather odd but quite cool Playstation TV last month (which I reviewed on this site). It may have been completely missing a universally eye-catching new exclusive game, and its operating system may look near-identical to the 2012 launch version, but there were plenty of reasons to love the Playstation Vita in 2014 and it easily slides into my console Top 5 this time around.

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A Public Service Announcement for Wii U Owners

Though it’s really, really difficult to believe right now, the Wii U just turned 2 years old a couple of weeks ago, and that means there is something you should probably look into rather soon if you happen to own a Premium version of the console (that’s the black one).

You see, whether you’ve realised it or not, ever since you’ve had your Wii U you may have been earning points towards what ultimately amounts to free money. And in a matter of weeks your ability to earn said points will cease, so now would be a good time to have a look at your point haul.

As long as you have a working Nintendo Network ID (which is required to use the Nintendo eShop online storefront in any case), every digital purchase you have made on your Wii U since you got it, whether we’re talking GBA games, SNES games, original titles like the NES Remix twins, full downloadable versions of retail titles, right out to Mario Kart 8 DLC, Hyrule Warriors Season Passes etc, has earned you points towards an “activation code” for $7 AUD eShop credit. Now I’m not exactly sure how much you need to spend to get this activation code, but I do know that I’ve earned three of them since the Wii U launched, and that I’m very, very close to my fourth:

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So how do you find out what you’ve earned? Easy. Just go to p.nintendo.net/, choose your country, and sign in with your Nintendo Network ID. You’ll be met with a screen like the one pictured above. Note the text in the red box. Though you will have until the end of the coming March to redeem any codes you may have earned, your ability to earn those codes expires on the last day of this year. So depending on how close you are to a code, now may be the time to pick up Earthbound, Shovel Knight, Advance Wars and the like.

The more you know.