Monday, April 14, 2014

Bravely Default Review

Japanese role-playing games (JRPGs) have a long and illustrious history.  Among the most dominant forces in this genre was arguably Square Enix.  As the JRPG fell out of favour for the freedom of Western RPGs like Elder Scrolls, Fallout and Mass Effect, Square Enix has had an incredibly tough time adapting with the times.  Recent entries in their long-running Final Fantasy series has tirelessly tired to modernize the JRPG genre to varying degrees of success.  Funny enough, the company's recent entry into the JRPG genre, Bravely Default, has captured the hearts and minds of gamers by going back to the basic storytelling and gameplay of early entries in the genre.

Bravely Default's premise is very similar to first few Final Fantasies.  You control the four Heroes of Light (Tiz, Agnes, Ringabell and Edea) as they purify four elemental crystals in order to save the world.  On their journey to purify the crystals, the Heroes of Light must combat the forces of the Duchy of Eternia and discover the truth behind the Crystal Orthodoxy.  On the surface, the story and the protagonists seem to fall under many classic JRPG tropes such as a heroes' hometown getting decimated and one of the heroes conveniently suffering from amnesia.  As the story advances, the depth and complexity of the huge cast of characters becomes evident.  The conflict between the Crystalism and Anti-Crystalism is not as black-and-white as the game originally makes it out to be.  Bravely Default offers a good amount of twists and turns to keep gamers interested.  While the story provides motivation to keep playing, it is not the most compelling feature of Bravely Default.

Bravely Default truly shines above other entries in the JRPG genre through its combat and job systems.  The combat is similar to other turn-based RPGs as the player and their opponents takes turns attacking, defending and using items.  The creative twist in Bravely Default's combat comes from the brave-default system.  Default acts like defending as it decreases damage taken, but also increases battle points (BP).  You use BP to brave, which allows a character to unleash multiple attacks in a single turn or spend on job-specific attacks and abilities.  Braving and defaulting is a risk-reward system that adds an extra layer of strategy to battles.  You can try to dispatch enemies in one turn by attacking multiple times, but you risk leaving your party vulnerable to multiple attacks if they survive your onslaught.  Managing when to brave or default can be the difference between life or death in Bravely Default.  The game's job system has clearly been inspired by the systems implemented in past Final Fantasy games.  Although the inspirations from other titles, Bravely Default's job system is much more approachable than other RPGs due to the improvements Square Enix and Silicon Studio has made.  Jobs level up independently of the character's actual level so changing jobs does not reset a character's overall level.  While characters can only be employed by one job at a time, you can equip the attacks and abilities from another job to use as well.  This feature allows for tons of customization as you can have a white mage that can cast black magic on top of healing spells or a knight that can imbue their blade with a spell fencer's sword magic.  Going along with the customizable jobs, you can equip any special attribute learned through levelling up jobs or those your friends have learned through the Ablink feature.  These two systems are only just one slice of the great suite of features that Bravely Default gives you to play with.  From the excellent StreetPass and online features like rebuilding the town of Norende with the people you StreetPass and connect with online or summoning friends to help in battle to the incredible ability to change encounter rates and game difficulty at anytime, Bravely Default offers tons of features to keep players satisfied.

With all the great features and systems Bravely Default has to offer, it has one critical blemish that almost derails the entire experience.  What easily could have been an excellent fifty to sixty hour experience receives some completely unnecessary padding that doubles the length of the game.  What makes this padding even worse is how tedious it is.  Instead of adding some worthwhile quests to elaborate on the story, you repeat the same exact tasks over and over again until the game deems it time to move on to the true final chapter.  After the second time repeating this process, the story stops advancing altogether until the true final chapter which makes a good twenty hours of the game feel like an absolute waste of time.  You can break from the tedium at anytime to complete the normal ending of Bravely Default, but that does not give much closure to the story of the game.  Funny enough, the normal ending of Bravely Default is more satisfying than the true ending of the game because it lacks the drastic difficulty spike the true ending has and it makes more sense than most of the plot points inserted into the true ending with little to no explanation whatsoever.  The true ending is not worth the time and effort needed to reach it.  In fact, trying to reach the true ending could compromise your enjoyment of Bravely Default as a whole.

Aside from the unnecessary padding, Bravely Default is a great game.  There are enough great features packed into this small 3DS cartridge to keep anyone satisfied for days, possibly months on end.  The one thing holding Bravely Default back from being the definitive RPG experience on the 3DS is the major misstep taken in the most crucial hours of the game.  Padding the game by a few hours is understandable, but by close to fifty plus hours cannot be easily reconciled.  While the padding may leave some upset and disappointed, Bravely Default's strengths more than make up for the underwhelming endgame.  For those looking for an old-school RPG with some excellent modern twists, Bravely Default is definitely a game worth picking up.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Bit by Bit: March 2014

March has always been a hectic month in terms of both gaming and schooling.  March is the month that game publishers love dumping all the games that were not ready for the holiday.  It is also the month, universities love dumping projects, tests and presentations on students as the semester comes to an end.  Much of this month has been spent studying for a test or working on a project in between classes and shifts at work for yours truly.  Even with all the craziness, I have luckily made time to relax by playing a game or watching some television.  Although, relaxation was sometimes mixed with school work as I would do my anthropology readings during commercial breaks.  While March is almost over, April will be just as crazy for this writer as things ramp up for final exams.  Before we move on to the next month, let us look back at the month that was March 2014.

TV Show of the Month
Well, I spent the majority of my game time playing Bravely Default this past month.  As it took up the majority of my time, it is easily my Game of the Month yet again.  Instead of repeating myself by talking about Bravely Default (I will save it for the review hopefully), I wanted to share another facet of my passions this month--television shows.  As I have grown older, my time watching television has cut down to just the shows I want to watch such as Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Persons of Interest and Reviews on the Run.  I barely spend time endlessly surfing through channels anymore.  As I gravitate to the shows that interest me the most, there a few I do not get to watch when they first run or they never make it to television in the first place.  One of those shows is Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood.  Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is an anime which adapts the story of the original Fullmetal Alchemist manga into glorious 2D animation.  Brotherhood follows Edward and Alphonse Elric on their quest to acquire the legendary Philosopher's Stone in order to restore the bodies they lost when trying to resurrect their deceased mother.  Ed and Al's journey is not an easy one as they get caught up in a conspiracy that engulfs the entire country of Amestris.  I watched the first half of Brotherhood years ago when Funimation started releasing them as 13-episode DVD sets, but never got the second half of the series because how expensive each set was.  Then I got the second season of the 2003 Fullmetal Alchemist series for Christmas.  After watching that series over again, I got this huge urge to finish Brotherhood.  When I found the Complete Collection Two for 30 dollars at The Beat Goes On, I did not hesitate to buy it.  A week and a half later, I watched all the 31-episodes included in the set and it was well worth it.  While I already knew the entire story of Fullmetal Alchemist from reading the manga, watching the same story play out in motion was just unbelievable.  The mix of excellent voice acting, superb music composition and incredibly beautiful animation just made everything feel brand new.  The devilish twists and turns of Fullmetal Alchemist's endgame were perfectly adapted for the animation.  There were moments in the anime that just work better in motion than in the panels of the manga.  I was literally blown away by Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood.  While I do not watch many animes, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is among the best I have ever seen and I highly recommend watching it.

Most Anticipated Game of the Month
I have shared my love for Mega Man here on Silver Bit on multiple occasions.  Among the many Mega Man series Capcom has created over the years, the Mega Man Zero games are some of my favourites.  Considering Capcom would rather keep the Mega Man franchise dormant than develop new titles starring the Blue Bomber, Mega Man fans have had to look elsewhere.  In particular, they have gone to the Father of Mega Man, Keiji Inafune himself, to get their fix with Mighty No. 9, but it is not the only Mega Man-like title Inafune has in the works.  Announced at the beginning of March, Azure Striker Gunvolt is a new 2D action-platformer from Comcept and Inti Creates coming to the 3DS Nintendo eShop this summer.  Azure Striker Gunvolt looks very similar to the fast-paced action of Mega Man Zero just with a brand new character to control, psychic powers to acquire and crazy bosses to battle.  As somebody who has fond memories of the Mega Man Zero series, I am really looking forward to what Comcept and Inti Creates has in store for Azure Striker Gunvolt.

Video of the Month
Ken Kutaragi was a dashing young man with a dream to revolutionize gaming.  That dream was the PlayStation, but Kutaragi's dream was challenged by the corporate powers of Nintendo.  The short film Kutaragi's Way from Mega64 chronicles the totally true personal story of Ken Kutaragi's trials and tribulations in becoming the Father of the PlayStation entirely filmed with classic 80s film grain.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Hump Day Music: Flossophy Impressions

When I updated Silver Bit six times a week back in 2012, Hump Day Music was one of Silver Bit's staples much like Bit by Bit.  Every Wednesday, I would share a piece of video game music or music loosely related to video games to help readers get through the middle of the week.  As things got busier, Hump Day Music sadly became a thing of the past.  I could never update Silver Bit enough to keep Hump Day Music as a recurring article.  After picking up Brentalfloss' newest CD Flossophy a few weeks back and listening it on repeat ever since, I am glad to bring back Hump Day Music for a special review of this CD.

For the uneducated, Brentalfloss is a musician who became popular amongst gamers for his "With Lyrics" videos which add lyrics to video game music from games like Mario, Mega Man and Castlevania.  Flossophy is Brentfloss' third studio album following What If This CD... Had Lyrics? and Bits of Me.  Flossophy contains twenty tracks including album versions of songs previously released on Youtube, iTunes and Bandcamp like The Team Fortress 2 Song and Cave Story with Lyrics and brand new, never before released songs such as Earthbound with Lyrics and Metroid: Fight for Love.  The album has a great variety of tracks that range from comedic songs to serious songs and fast blood-pumping songs to slow soothing songs.  The album's variety makes each track feel special and fill a different void.  There are no songs that sound the same or produce the same feeling within the listener.  First and foremost, Flossophy is made for those who love video games and video game music.  With that audience in mind, there are a lot of great jokes and parodies found throughout the album.  From giving light to the downfalls of modern console releases to making fun of how awkward the messages transferred through StreetPass are to portraying the Link from A Link to the Past as a self-centered obnoxious hero, there are plenty of jokes and parodies to keep any gamer smiling throughout.  Aside from the variety, jokes and parodies, one's enjoyment of Flossophy will come from the songs themselves.  The selection on this album are some of Brentalfloss' best.  While every track on Flossophy is at least worth a listen, there are seventeen this writer believes are well worth listening to more than once.  Among those seventeen, the tracks that stand out above the rest are Super Mario Land with Lyrics, Ken's Theme with Lyrics, Cave Story with Lyrics, Zidane to Vivi, Ballad of the Mages and Metroid: Fight for Love.  Like with most albums, there are a few tracks that add little to one's enjoyment of Flossophy.  In particular, those tracks are Game Launch Rock!, The Game Over Tinies and The Bioshock Song.  Each track tries to be drastically unique, but the attempts do not resonate like the other tracks on the album.

Although it may be for a niche audience, Flossophy is a great album and serves as a excellent homage to the video games that inspired it.  No matter if you pick the album up digitally for ten dollars or physically for thirteen plus shipping and handling, Flossophy is well worth the asking price.  If you are interested, you can pick the album up digitally on iTunes, Bandcamp, Amazon and Google Play and physically from Level Up Studios website. Hump Day Music would not be complete if I did not leave a song for everybody to enjoy.  In particular, one of the songs featured on Flossophy--Ballad of the Mages.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Looking Past the Surface: The Pros & Cons of CG Trailers

The biggest news to come out of this past week was the announcement of Batman: Arkham Knight.  As the final Batman game in Rocksteady's trilogy, Arkham Knight is being hyped to be more expansive and epic than the previous two entries in the series (one of them being easily the best superhero game of all-time).  Scheduled to release this October, WB Games decided to release a trailer for the game.  Considering the game is less than year away, it would have been nice to see how exactly Arkham Knight would run on the next generation systems with a gameplay trailer.  What we got was a computer-generated (CG) trailer that did a decent job of showing what the game would be about, but did little to impress this writer.  In fact, this trailer got me thinking about the video game industry's love of pre-rendered CG trailers.  There are pros and cons to CG trailers which I would like to discuss in this article.  Personally, I lean more towards the con side of this debate, but I can see the pluses of CG trailers as well.

As the video game industry has evolved, trailers have been given much more prominence than in the past.  Video game trailers are so prominent nowadays that websites dedicate obscene amounts of time dissecting each frame and highlight every big trailers on the front page.  There is even a website which focuses solely on highlighting game trailers in GameTrailers.  With a lot more importance put on game trailers nowadays, game publishers want their trailers to be the best even if the game is not ready to be shown yet.  These publishers employ animation houses to make a trailer that best captures the ideas of the game.  When the game is early development, a CG trailer works as an appetizing teaser for gamers.  It gets gamers excited for the upcoming game as they see all the grand possibilities which they can eventually play.  These trailers work as a great way of eliciting gamers to pre-order the game well in advance.   As a money making machine, CG trailers serve their purpose well.  Another pro of CG trailers is the quality as most of them can easily rival that of Hollywood's best.  The quality of these trailers can produce great amount of hype no matter the actually quality of the game.  The CG trailer for Dead Island is an excellent example of this type of situation.  It easily produced enough hype to put Dead Island as one of the most sought after games of 2011.  CG trailers are a very profitable business for game developers and serve as a form of entertainment for gamers.  They will definitely be the norm of the video game industry well into the future.

While there are plenty of pluses to the use of CG trailers, they are not all that they seem to be.  With CG trailers, the quality can serve as a double-edged sword which many a game have fallen to.  Sometimes, the CG trailer is too good that it overshadows the quality of the game when it finally releases.  Dead Island fell into that trap as the game was marred with numerous glitches, some that even halted gamer's progress indefinitely.  Another example is Killzone 2.  The infamous trailer shown at E3 2005 had such amazing graphical fidelity that Guerilla's game could never achieve those great heights.  The expectations brought on from Killzone 2's first trailer caused many gamers to feel betrayed by Sony and Guerilla Games.  As these CG trailers are created by animation houses outside of the actual developers, it is easy for these trailers to include certain aspects such as supposed mechanics or weapons that are not even in the main game.  This mixed messaging can deceive gamers into believing that exactly what they see in the CG trailer will be in the actual game and most of the time that is not true.  As much as CG trailers can help boost the hype and possibly sales of the game, they can be just as damaging if games rely too much on them.  As game graphics continue to advance, an argument can be made that in-engine graphics can be used without hurting the quality of video game trailers.  Already there have been many games that use in-engine graphics for their trailers to great success.  Every trailer for Grand Theft Auto V including the very first one from 2011 was produced with in-engine graphics.  Mass Effect 2 and 3 used in-game graphics for both of their launch trailers and produced some of the best video game trailers in years.  The Mass Effect 2 launch trailer was the sole reason I hunted down a Collector's Edition of the game the weekend after launch.  Using in-engine graphics for trailers might not always be a possibility especially earlier in development, but they can alleviate some of the trappings of relying on CG trailers to convey the concept of the game.

 Although this writer would love to see in-engine gameplay trailers become the norm, CG trailers are not going anywhere.  In the early years of this new console generation, CG trailers will become more prominent as publishers build hype for games that are years away from completion.  As CG trailers become more prominent, gamers need to become more critical of these trailers rather than taking them at surface value.  Gamers need to stop blindly getting excited for a game because it had a great CG trailer.  Instead, they need to start taking them as they are, just proofs of concept, and waiting on gameplay footage, previews and possibly demos before making a definitive decision on how these CG trailers represent the game they are promoting.

Friday, March 7, 2014

A Link to the Wrong: Nintendo's Problems

Nintendo's current situation has been well documented for months now.  The Wii U is currently the worst selling console on the market and despite incredible sales, the 3DS is not selling enough to make up for the Wii U's dismal sales.  A part from those points, third-party publishers this side of the Pacific are abandoning Nintendo and their systems like they are a sinking ship.  The talk surrounding Nintendo is in such an ugly place that an article that either praises or dismisses the Wii U is front page news on any video game website every week.  As an avid fan of Nintendo, I personally do not like the battle between positive and negative press flying around all mediums of communication.  Even if the Wii U does not pan out, Nintendo has an enormous amount of money saved from their successes like the Game Boy, DS and Wii to support themselves into the future.  Another point, the Wii U is only in its second year on the market.  There is still time for Nintendo to turn things around with the system.  The 3DS is a prime example of the possible turnaround that could happen with the Wii U.  With all that said, Nintendo's current situation is entirely their fault.  While the marketing for the Wii U has been a mess since the very beginning, it is not the main cause of their situation.  There are a good number of issues that Nintendo as a company has not been aggressive in tackling or have avoided altogether which have created this perfect storm.  These issues are not independent to one of Nintendo's systems; they involve Nintendo as a whole.

1)  No Party for Third-Parties
Nintendo's problems with securing third-party support has been an ever-present issue with their systems since the days of the Nintendo 64.  One would expect this issue to be solved sometime between the three console generations since the N64.  Funny enough, it has only gotten worse.  Third-party support outside of Japanese publishers and Activision is nearly non-existent.  Even Ubisoft, which has been a big supporter of Nintendo products the past couple generations, is severely cutting back their support aside from downloadable titles and yearly Just Dance installments.  Third-party publishers seem to be moving away from Nintendo products because they believe they cannot make a profit on them.  That impression is not one Nintendo should continue to let foster.  The Big N has shown off some of the partnerships they have forged with Japanese companies like Sega, Atlus and Tecmo Koei, but Nintendo needs to make strides with the publishers in which they have had problems enticing in the past.  First-party games, no matter their great quality, can only take you so far.  Third-party games are needed to pad out the times where there are a lack of first-party titles.  Better for Nintendo to aggressively seek fixing this issue now rather than let it fester any longer as it will be hard repairing these relationships later.

2)  Stalling with Online Multiplayer
Nintendo has dabbled in online multiplayer with games like Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart.  Compared to the efforts of their competitors, Nintendo's efforts have been lacking.  More games in their portable lineup have received online multiplayer to great success.  These portable games show the great potential of Nintendo-crafted online multiplayer.  Now Nintendo just needs to start adding an online component to games that should have it.  The lack of online multiplayer in games like Nintendo Land, New Super Mario Bros. U, Super Mario 3D World and Pikmin 3 is a missed opportunity in this writer's honest opinion.  Personally, I am a huge advocate for local multiplayer, but those days have been replaced by playing with others without leaving the comforts of your home.  Nowadays, online multiplayer is expected to be included in most games.  Nintendo does not need to add online multiplayer to all their games, but they need to start adding some sort of online component to those which already include local multiplayer.  I have had great times playing games like Nintendo Land, New Super Mario Bros. U and Super Mario 3D World with my friends locally.  Just imagine being able to recreate that fun at anytime without the hassle of trying to gather a group of people every single time you wanted to play some multiplayer.

3)  Stuck on Gimmicks
Nintendo has never been a powerhouse when it comes to graphics.  Their strength has always been gameplay, but sadly the world has become obsessed with the amount of polygons you can cram on a screen.  It is hard to communicate gameplay without giving people the game to actually play.  Case and point, Super Mario 3D World.  Upon first impressions, everybody thought 3D World would just be a up-scaled port of 3D Land.  Once people got their hands on the game, their opinions completely changed for the better.  Nintendo combated this superficial obsession with cutting-edge graphics by introducing unique gimmicks to their consoles and games from the two screens of the Nintendo DS to the motion controls of the Wii.  Nintendo's focus on gimmicks did pan out with the DS and Wii, but they have become a little too reliant on gimmicks to push their games and consoles.  Gimmicks work only when you design games that take advantage of those gimmicks in new and creative ways.  In the Wii U's case, Nintendo has not made any games that truly take advantage of the hardware within the Wii U Gamepad which has caused it to backfire on them.  Gimmicks are not a bad thing, they just become tiresome when you rely on them far too much.  If Nintendo is going to stick with using gimmicks to separate themselves from the competition, they need to be more careful in adding gimmicks that truly institute creativity and innovation rather than just adding gimmicks for the sake of having them.

4)  Wanted:  New Blood
It is hard to think of the last new franchise Nintendo introduced on such a large scale.  You would have to go back to 2006 with the introduction of Wii Sports.  In all honesty, nobody thought Wii Sports would spawn into a franchise which would include Wii Play, Wii Fit, Wii Music and Wii Party.  Looking at that fact, it has been eight years since Nintendo last introduced a major franchise.  Nintendo has introduced new IPs such as Rhythm Heaven, Professor Layton, Pushmo/Crashmo and HarmoKnight, but they all have been confined to handheld or downloadable space instead of major releases on their consoles.  Although it is only one game, there is hope in the mysterious new IP Shigeru Miyamoto is currently working on.  Hopefully, the possible success of this unknown game could spur Nintendo into taking more risks in developing games outside their comfort zone of Mario, Zelda and Pokemon.  Nintendo can even dive into their back catalogue and make new entries in series such as Star Fox, F-Zero, Earthbound or Metroid to alleviate some of the franchise fatigue affecting their most relied upon series.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Bit by Bit: February 2014

Coming off of the two biggest features I have ever done, it is hard to get back in the swing of regular writing.  I have so many ideas spinning around in my head of articles to write, but no true direction of where I want to take Silver Bit next.  It is a very peculiar position I am currently in with Silver Bit.  Personally, I think getting back into the regular of schedule of work and school after Reading Week will get the creative juices following in this writer's brain.  For this week, I like to revisit an old staple of Silver Bit, Bit by Bit.  Now let us break down yours truly's favourite games and videos of the past few weeks.

Game of the Month
Nintendo always knows how to get people playing their handhelds during February.  Last February, Nintendo released Fire Emblem Awakening, a game which engulfed an enormous amount of this writer's free time and earned Silver Bit's 2013 Game of the Year.  Early this February, Nintendo brought Square Enix's Bravely Default to North America and it has easily won over this gamer's heart.  Bravely Default harkens back to the early entries in Square's legendary RPG franchise, Final Fantasy.  The story is very familiar as the player is sent on a quest to purify four elemental crystals.  Bravely Default's job system pulls a lot from the systems implemented in Final Fantasy III and V.  While Bravely Default does share a lot with Final Fantasy, it captures a sense of fun and wonder that modern Final Fantasies completely lack.  The battle system is turn-based like many RPGs, but it offers an incredibly creative twist.  During battles, you are able to brave or default.  Default acts much like defending as it decreases damage taken, but also increases battle points (BP).  You use BP to brave, which allows a character to unleash multiple attacks in a single turn.  Braving and defaulting is a risk-reward system that adds an inventive layer of strategy to battles.  The choice of braving or defaulting can be the difference between success or failure in battle.  The battles are only just one piece of the great pie that Bravely Default offers from the incredible StreetPass features such as rebuilding the main character's hometown with those you walk past or summoning friends to help in battle to the innovative ability to change encounter rates and difficulty at anytime.  If you own a 3DS and are fond of RPGs, I highly recommend picking up Bravely Default.  It is well worth the price of admission.

Most Anticipated Game of the Month
Usually around this time of the year, I put up my Most Anticipated Games of the Year article.  2014 has been different.  When I write those articles, I personally enjoy writing about a variety of games made by different developers, usually for various devices.  Sadly, there is not much of anything that has gotten me truly excited outside of Nintendo's offerings this year.  With the new consoles, it is going to be a waiting game until E3.  A few announcements may trickle out before then, but nothing too substantial in my opinion.  In the midst of all my pessimism, there is one downloadable game I am really psyched for.  Take some old-school Castlevania gameplay, add in Scrooge McDuck's pogo jump from DuckTales and meld in the themed bosses from Mega Man.  From this crazy concoction, the game you get is Yacht Club Games' Shovel Knight.  Taking inspiration from classics of the 8-bit era, Shovel Knight looks to modernize these amazing elements while keeping the look and feel of these classics.  The more I see of Shovel Knight, the more excited I get.  If you are looking to get in on the excitement, I will share the trailer for Shovel Knight below.  March 31st cannot come soon enough.

Video of the Month
Whoever the person at Nintendo that creates the trailers for Super Smash Bros. deserves a raise.  These trailers are among the best I have ever seen.  Each new character reveal feels like an event and rightly so.  This time around Nintendo pulled the curtain back on one of the most requested Smash Bros. character, Little Mac.  This veteran of the boxing ring will make his first appearance on the battlefields of Smash Bros. in the Wii U and 3DS entries of the series.  Even though it is his first time, Little Mac looks up to the challenge with his all fisticuffs move set and Doc Lewis at the the pink sweatsuit-wearing pugilist's side.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Year in Review 2013: Game of the Year

It has taken a long time to get to this point, but we are finally at the very end of Silver Bit's Year in Review 2013.  To end off this month long journey is the most prestigious award of any year, the Game of the Year.  There were many Game of the Year caliber games that released in 2013.  Tomb Raider, Rayman Legends, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds and Super Mario 3D World were all in top contention for this writer's pick for Game of the Year, but they were all beat out by one game.  Released very early in 2013, this game could not be dethroned as the best video game experience of 2013 in my humble opinion.  I easily dumped well over one hundred hours into this game and could easily dump hundreds more.  This game is Fire Emblem Awakening.
What have I not already said about Fire Emblem Awakening?  While Awakening might not be the 3DS's killer app (that title easily belongs to Pokemon X and Y), it is the greatest game released for the handheld to date.  Fire Emblem Awakening easily combines the past, present and future of the series in one game.  There are tons of nods to older entries in the series even allowing you to battle and recruit characters from past Fire Emblem games.  Awakening takes on the present with key refinements to the core Fire Emblem mechanics to create some of the most superb tactical gameplay found in any game.  The future of the series comes in the drastic improvement of the support system from boosting stats in battle to even marrying other characters (along with the results of the marriage) and the game's incredible StreetPass and SpotPass functionality.  On top of all the great mechanics, there are hundreds of hours of content packed on Awakening's 3DS cartridge from sidequests to extra skirmishes and even more to download from SpotPass or the Nintendo eShop.  Although all the Fire Emblem games are all excellent games in their own right, Fire Emblem Awakening is hands down the greatest game in Nintendo and Intelligent System's storied strategy series and the 2013 Game of the Year.