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When has any other game ever included offbeat, observant moments like these? These sequences are not only moments to breathe in between breathless action sequences; they are moments to truly imbibe the sadness and stillness that permeates the entire experience. In that sense, Heavy Rain is very much a game about depression.
What makes a game more fun than others? After being pointed to it by Kotaku, I’ve read Brian Hertler’s problematic piece on “Why Games are So Weirdly Fun” at GameCrashers about five times now, and I still have no idea what he’s trying to say.
Despite the overwhelming fear of being assailed by the Georgia Tech game studies mafia for criticizing one of their graduate students, I’ll opt to take this argument on part by part. Note: Excerpts from his piece are bolded.
To say Sony’s PlayStation Vita has a had a tumultuous first year would be putting it mildly. By some estimates, Sony has sold only two million units of the fledgling handheld worldwide. To put that figure in perspective, Sony would have to sell roughly five times the current number of Vitas in order to match lifetime sales of Sega’s ill-fated Dreamcast (and the Dreamcast was certainly not available for five years).
Despite a mediocre critical reception, Earth Defense Force (EDF) 2017 managed to attract something of a cult following for its “so bad it’s good” cheesiness when it launched on the Xbox 360 in 2007. Games that are unintentionally or ironically “fun” aren’t typically my thing, yet the game had been recommended to me more than once over the years. Fans would tell me that its dirt-simple gameplay and relative ugliness were all part of its charm — that for all the pretense of being a “next-gen” title, it was arcade action in its purest form.
2012 was by most accounts a rather underwhelming year for gaming. In terms of critical reception and end-of-year awards, there were several lauded indie titles and a handful of triple-A successes, but little in the way of undisputed masterpieces.
Then again, in a year when critics strained to heap praise upon a select few games, some were bound to be oversold for their good points. Similarly, a few diamonds were left hidden in the rough, overshadowed by the critical darlings. These underrated gems weren’t necessarily low-profile independent releases, but they were largely ignored by audiences and undervalued by critics.
So here’s my humble list of the games that stood out to me as overrated or underrated.
Of all the lofty ambitions possessed by game developers, trying to make a game that appeals to multiple age groups must be one of the toughest. Such a game has to capture the elusive “Mario” quality of being imminently accessible without being dumbed down – challenging, engaging, and meaningful for children and adults alike. It’s an incredibly precarious balancing act for any developer to attempt, much less one trying to make a puzzle game about vocabulary.
Yet when it comes to the Scribblenauts franchise, developer 5th Cell is clearly onto something. The series, now in its fourth installment, has gone from a famously problematic DS game to a major multi-platform release. True to its promise of family-wide appeal, Scribblenauts Unlimited has now found a home on the one platform most families own: the personal computer.
Whenever I sit down to play a new card-based video game, one title immediately comes to mind as a gold standard in the genre: SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters Clash for the Neo Geo Pocket Color. With its lengthy solo campaign and elegantly simple setup, Card Fighters took the best aspects of Pokemon and trading card games like Magic: The Gathering and turned them into something eminently polished and approachable. Unfortunately, it was a game that too few players got to experience (and its name was unceremoniously tarnished by a wretched Nintendo DS remake), but I long for another card game to come along and recapture the sheer addictive brilliance of SNK’s masterpiece, this time on a platform offering more exposure and a larger community.
Usually, when a game I dislike gets critical acclaim, I can see – albeit in a detached way – what reviewers liked about it. Perhaps the story grabbed them, or the game’s aesthetic was bold and unique, or the controls were fluid. I can recognize that even when a game has glaring flaws, its stronger assets usually add up to a pleasant, memorable sum for a large chunk of its audience.
Hotline Miami is not such a case.
It’s the grand finale of Dorked and Matt’s going out with a bang! Expect drama, intrigue, romance, laughter, tears, explosions, and plenty of surprises. Guest stars include celebrity chef Guy Fieri and the dude who played Eddie in Family Matters! Okay, so there’s actually none of that in this podcast. But, hey, console predictions and a recommendation that MS and Sony team up in the future – that’s sort of interesting, right? Right? C’mmon. You know you want to. Last time’s free.
This week, Matt examines the popular lumber sport Backlog, in which gamers strap heavy piles of timber to their backs in an effort to stop themselves from paying for games they don’t need during Black Friday. Or something like that.
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