By Jeff Neuenschwander / January 24th, 2013
Digital has become the new norm for media distribution. Gaming is no different. And here to talk about it is writer Rose Weitz.
|BEST DOWNLOADABLE GAME|
ROSE: Downloadable games have become something of a trend recently. They save developers money and save you a trip to the store, so we decided they deserved their own category! (Yes, some of these titles are available in physical copies but they were released as downloadable titles first!) Here are the Nominees in the best order there is (which is to say, alphabetized):
Our first nominee is WayForward’ and Majesco Entertainment’s Double Dragon Neon. One to two players can play as Billy and Jimmy Lee to fight their way through ridiculous (in a good way) locales on their way to save Marian from the Shadow Warriors and their dastardly leader, Skullmageddon. Players can enjoy the scenery of everything from city streets to an outer space dojo as they beat the living crap out of any idiot dumb enough to get in their way.
- Dust: An Elysian Tail
HumbleHearts brings us Dust: An Elysian Tail, our second nominee. Take on the role of anthropomorphic amnesiac, Dust, in this sidescrolling adventure. Team up with your flying sidekick Fidget to discover your past and come into your role as hero. There is a vast army threatening the world of Falana and it’s up to Dust to save it.
Our third nominee is thatgamecompany’s Journey. A unique experience, Journey’s engrossing story is told through nothing more than images and sound. There is no text, only subtext. The music is phenomenal so really, no words are needed. You play as a little red cloth person trying to make your way to the mountain in the distance. Along the way you learn about your people and the past. Journey boasts excellent cooperative play (online only) and promises a thought-provoking experience.
- Mutant Mudds
Mutant Mudds from Renegade Kid takes the spot as our fourth nominee. Max has awoken to discover mutant alien mud creatures disturbing the peace of earth and sets out with his water gun and jetpack. The game boasts old school graphics to go with its old school platforming. Besides the normal tricks, there’s also certain areas where players can also jump between the foreground and background to advance. Mutant Mudds is an excellent platformer with quirky characters and plenty of goodies to discover.
- The Walking Dead
Our final nominee is Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead. Made up of five episodes, starting in the first hours of the zombie outbreak and ending exactly where it needs to. You play as convicted murderer and former Professor Lee Everett, a man lucky enough to escape from prison before ever arriving. The game boasts a wonderful cast of characters and forces you to make heart-rending decisions throughout. Each episode further develops the world and characters around you, and each has its own story arc within the main goal of simply surviving.
AND THE WINNER IS…
The Walking Dead
No points for guessing. A popular franchise that utilizes a popular theme (zombie apocalypse) plus an amazing story, diverse cast and awesome choice system? It’s really a no-brainer. While I have seen some hate on The Walking Dead for just having that title and using the over-played zombies, this game is truly incredible. The game puts you in charge, meaning you get to make all the tough decisions (and take all the blame for making unpopular ones). The Walking Dead will make you laugh, make you cry and everything in between. Congratulations, The Walking Dead and Telltale. You guys earned it.
JEFF: Let’s take a minor tangent from the awards for a moment. In the last post, we talked about the best heroes from the past year. Today, we’ll bring up two more that celebrated major milestones this past year, Kirby and Mega Man.
Kirby and Mega Man were created in the early days of the modern video game era (post-1983 crash). Mega Man would come first in 1987, created by the trio of Akira Kitamura, Tokuro Fijuwara, and Keiji Inafune at Capcom. Kirby would come later in 1992, created by Masahiro Sakurai, now the director of Super Smash Bros. and Kid Icarus. Both would start on Nintendo consoles.
Kirby would be one of the driving forces behind Nintendo’s success, bringing in sales with his numerous games. It would also be one of the more unique series in terms of game styles. The Kirby series would include games based around the circular shape of the character such as a pinball game called Kirby’s Pinball Land, a Breakout-style game called Kirby’s Block Ball, a puzzle game you move around to get Kirby to move called Kirby Tilt ‘n’ Tumble, and a golf game where you guide Kirby to the hole called Kirby’s Dream Course. Of course, there would be unique platform games to the series as Nintendo would appear to experiment with the franchise. Such games would include Kirby: Canvas Curse where you don’t control Kirby’s movement at all but you guide him to different platforms (a style that would be replicated in Ivy the Kiwi?), Kirby’s Epic Yarn where Kirby would be transformed from his normal self into a yarn-based character (a style we’ll see again soon with Yoshi on the Wii U), and Kirby Mass Attack where you control a large number of Kirbys.
For Kirby’s 20th anniversary, Nintendo went the more traditional route and released the compilation Kirby’s Dream Collection. Similar to Super Mario All-Stars, the compilation features games a number of games from Kirby’s early days, such as the Kirby’s Dream Land series, Kirby’s Adventure, Kirby Super Star, and Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards. It also includes challenge stages based off of Kirby’s Return to Dreamland, a soundtrack with music from the series, and episodes from the anime Kirby: Right Back at Ya! All in all, a very traditional celebration.
As for Mega Man, the Blue Bomber would appear in well over 50 games, most of them starring himself. The original series has 10 entries going from 1987 to as recently as 2010 with the release of Mega Man 10. It would also spawn a number of spin-offs with numerous entries in each series, such as Mega Man X, Legends, Battle Network, Zero, ZX, and Star Force. Mega Man would also appear in a few animated series, including Mega Man: Upon a Star, the Mega Man TV series, Captain N: The Game Master, MegaMan NT Warriors, and Mega Man Star Force.
Yet, despite all of this saturation of Mega Man product–or maybe because of it–there seemed to be no hurry on trying to celebrate the Blue Bomber’s 25th anniversary on Capcom’s part. That became apparent to most fans with the cancellations of Mega Man Legends 3 and Mega Man Universe. However, that didn’t stop fans from celebrating.
Enter Seow Zong Hui, a fan developer from Singapore. He began working on a game that took Mega Man from fighting the robot creations of Dr. Wily to fighting characters from the Street Fighter franchise, which ironically enough was also turning 25 last year. He presented a build to Capcom’s Christian Svensson and from there Capcom would fund and market the project. And what do we as fans end up getting? A crossover platformer called Street Fighter X Mega Man, released in mid-December and patched in January.
While both games were good–for a while, we considered having Kirby’s Dream Collection be a part of the Best Wii Game final–we decided against both of them. However, neither of these games are just about one game in general. They are the culmination of decades of love and game designing.
So while we celebrate those that were the greatest of one year, it’s important to remember that longevity counts for something when determining the greatest of all-time. To that, we say thank you to two of the greatest heroes of the past 20-25 years of gaming.
AwardsCode of PrincessDouble Dragon NeonDownloadableDust: An Elysian TailGameplayGravity RushjourneyLa-MulanaMusicMutant MuddsRhythm Heaven FeverStoryTales of Graces fThe Last StoryThe Walking DeadWiiXenoblade ChroniclesZero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward