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Friday, Jan 16



Community Spotlight: Insanity Prevails' Top Games of 2014

11 comments Rory Young - 10:10pm (PST) Like (3) Share

Insanity Prevails, but his picks are consistently great

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As part of Neoseeker's Game of the Year celebrations for 2014, we're spotlighting several community members' lists of their favorite games from the year. These are are community-written articles and the opinions there-in do not necessarily reflect those of Neoseeker. With that said, we certainly believe they show just how diverse the tastes of the community are, as well as just how much everyone here on Neoseeker loves games -- from the writing staff through the moderators and down to the casual new members. Thanks to everyone for contributing.

Back in the old days of 2002 a young pup was having a lot of fun with a Nintendo 64 game called Pokémon Snap, but was having a spot of trouble with a particular 'mon. He would eventually find his way to Neoseeker in search of an answer and somehow remains here to this day. Of course, I've long since found my way out of the Pokémon Snap forum, although gaming in general remains as a long standing passion of mine. Over the years I've worked on and developed other hobbies, some of which I can safely blame entirely on Neoseeker such as my love for anime, taking to writing and dabbling in other content creation. Much of this is reflected in the places I hang out on Neoseeker, with forums like Pokémon and Site Related being the most prominent.

2014 has proven to have had its ups and downs in gaming. It's hard to ignore some of the high profile games whose releases were swiftly followed by reports of buggy gameplay or being unplayable entirely, with companies like Ubisoft and Blizzard ending up in the firing line. The usual hype machine happily built some projects up to being something they could never live up to, fostering disappointment even in the games that turned out to be good. Several key series also found themselves without a big hitter, either releasing the previous year or being pushed into 2015. Yet other killer titles were more than happy to fill that void, creating scenarios where gamers were counting down the days until their favoured title hit the shelves. Amiibo became a thing, which is pretty much Nintendo's take on the Skylanders concept to the frustration of parent's bank accounts everywhere, but for me just being able to collect little figures of them alone was enough to garner interest. PC gaming found itself growing in strength as well as companies seem more willing to embrace this gaming market while marketplaces like Steam became more welcoming of otherwise niche titles.

This list isn't about the PC though. I'm someone with a massive back catalogue of games to play, which means that when I put in a preorder then that game has to be promising something pretty damn special to convince me to ignore that ever growing pile of games. This year the 3DS provided three such titles where my mindset switched over to an "I want it now" mentality, drawing on a combination of fond memories of older titles and an enticing drip feed of news before release. Here are my thoughts on how well that turned out.

Mario Golf: World Tour

When it comes to spin-offs no video game character can even come close to the sheer reach that Mario has achieved over the years. Not satisfied with bounding from platform to platform he has since tried his hand at role-playing, racing, matching three of a kind, mini-games and a wide variety of sports. Golf is one such sporting endeavor that I first experienced on the Nintendo 64, taking a fairly serious spot and applying the usual Mario magic to engage those who weren't looking for a serious simulation. The handheld entry on the Game Boy Advance similarly held my interest but the GameCube version wasn't quite able to deliver the same kind of experience I wanted. Nevertheless, as news seeped through on the 3DS entry I felt excitement building once again, hoping to recapture the excitement I felt from the first game with some tasty new upgrades.

When I played the demo early on I could feel that the game wanted to embrace the style applied to the rest of the series. The usual cast of characters were present giving the visuals all the extra flair it warrants, even if I did have to fork out extra to play as Rosalina (no Amiibo hoarder's going to taint my appreciation of her elegant design). The mechanics are designed in such a way to be easy to learn while offering that slight extra degree of control for players wanting to curve their shot around that tree. The courses offer a mix of standard designs to get players into the swing of things and moving onto the more eccentric options like shooting for the green underwater or navigating your ball through a minefield surrounded by lava. Then there is the local and online multiplayer component, allowing fans to take each other on both in direct matches and through various official and unofficial tournaments. Sure, I had absolutely no chance of taking the top spot in those contests, but picking up trophies for doing well was still a great experience.

The more I played though the more the experience faltered. Those crazy courses provided a lot of entertainment trying to get the ball to the green, but actually putting the ball in the hole was another matter. Perhaps it's part of my own changing tastes, but the wildly erratic slopes and dips in the greens on these kinds of courses can make scoring well very difficult if you don't happen to drop the ball right next to it on the approach. The Castle Club held potential as bringing in the highlights of the previous handheld golf entry but seems to suffer from a lack of content and was forced to pad itself out through repetition. The game also seems to forget it's on a handheld, as you simply have no option to save in the middle of a course. If you can't work around it then you're left having to put the console in sleep mode, which strikes me as very odd when the older games had no such problem offering this.

Sadly, this has resulted in it slipping onto that pile of games that sit by my computer, forever to sit in obscurity until such a time that curiosity gets the better of me and I try to figure out what they are.

Pokémon Alpha Sapphire

From one powerhouse series to another, there can be no denying just how important the Pokémon series has become to Nintendo. I've been with the games since Yellow on the classic Game Boy and, aside from one blip during the Kanto remakes, have thoroughly enjoyed each one. Remakes of the Game Boy Advance entries weren't my ideal for the follow-ups to X and Y, but I was nevertheless excited to find out just what the new mechanics could do for the region of Hoenn and seeing what new content Game Freak would work into the title.

While I held no doubt that much of the gameplay would mirror that of X and Y pretty close, I was very eager to try out the new Mega Evolutions introduced for ORAS. Yes, 6-0-ing scrubs with my Primal Groudon would be the ultimate "haha," no, of course I was looking forward to seeing the likes of Lopunny and Pidgeot find their chance to shine. Along with the return of the move tutors to greatly expand move-pools of Pokémon obtained in the 3DS titles, these helped to change up the battle scene, if not as drastically as a generational shift. Contests made a grand re-entrance as well, giving players a reason to team build with an entirely different goal in mind. How mind boggling it is to find basic moves like Tackle suddenly enticing to put onto move-sets while switching level grinding from battles to force feeding your creatures PokéBlocks.

Exploring the region as part of the story managed to get so much right but still hit some notable obstacles along the way. Certainly the beginning of the adventure is a lot of fun, showcasing many of the successful staples of the series that makes exploring regions fun. The latter parts of Hoenn though are filled with water routes, which are often very open and barren aside from the odd NPC trainer paddling about making them boring to go through. The bigger issue is the much greater need for HM moves to progress through the story, which greatly hamstrung team and move selection as players are forced to use Pokémon that can learn very specific moves and forced to keep them in the move-slots to continue onward.

Yet, it is Alpha Sapphire that I continue to play while Y barely gets to see any activity these days. For the problems I encountered in the story, I cannot deny that there is simply more to do in Hoenn that it is worth bearing those burdens. The endgame competitive and trading element is also stronger, with Mega additions and tweaks to make the experience that much more engaging.

Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS

No title on the GameCube sucked away more of my time than Super Smash Bros. Melee and for good reason. Not only did it present a playable cast from various Nintendo franchises, but dropped them into a fairly unusual game style that was just immensely fun to play. No, I couldn't wave-dash for the life of me, but I was a master at flailing around in the middle of a kerfuffle and successfully triggering a bomb that blasts everyone away. Having missed out on Brawl-ing on the Wii I was extremely excited when news broke that a fourth game was releasing and that it would hit the 3DS as well as the Wii-U. Release day could not come fast enough.

The roster for the game is very satisfying. Like anyone there were omissions that I was saddened over, but these were overruled by what characters did make the cut. Rosalina? Palutena? Robin?! Additions I was keen to play as alongside returning favourites made for an awesome battle, heightened by the attention to detail when creating the move-sets for the fighters that make reference to the source material. Old game modes return with new twists along with the stadium mini-games. Smash Run is the new kid on the block and is basically Smash's answer to City Trial mode in Kirby's Air Ride. That is to say it's an awesome mode that involves scrambling around a large stage collecting stat buffs in preparation for a random final event, hindered only by the need to customise characters ahead of time and the lack of an online option for it.

The online component is perhaps the most exciting part of Smash. Being able to just jump into battles with people all over the world and get to smashing is worlds apart from simply setting up a match against the computer. What's better is how they even seem to acknowledge the two sides of Smash - if you're here for random chaos then For Fun is happy to oblige, while For Glory is there for all your competitive needs, making battles a pure test of skill. You can play with strangers, set up battles with friends or kick back and spectate a random match if you want to take a break from making Pikachu do his best Team Rocket impression. Yes, at times the connection is iffy and causes battles to lag-spike or simply run slow which can really ruin the battle, but for the most part the experience is smooth enough to make "just one more go" far too tempting.

Playing from day one there was never really going to be any doubt. Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS is easily the best game to come out of 2014, delivering just the kind of brawling experience follow-up I've been waiting for since Melee. Now please excuse me, I need to go do something important. Ness isn't going to smash himself off the stage.

Insanity Prevails is coming up on his twelfth anniversary as a member of Neoseeker's community. He hails from England and currently moderates the Pokemon Trading forum, among others. Check out his Neoseeker profile here.



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Community Spotlight: Stitch's Top Games of 2014

7 comments Rory Young - 5:53pm (PST) Like (4) Share

The more Stitch rambles about a game, the more he loves it

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As part of Neoseeker's Game of the Year celebrations for 2014, we're spotlighting several community members' lists of their favorite games from the year. These are are community-written articles and the opinions there-in do not necessarily reflect those of Neoseeker. With that said, we certainly believe they show just how diverse the tastes of the community are, as well as just how much everyone here on Neoseeker loves games -- from the writing staff through the moderators and down to the casual new members. Thanks to everyone for contributing.

Hi, I'm Stitch! I'm a simple gamer that plays for fun and usually on easy mode -- I'm not a fan of challenges. :3 I only had a few games to look out for in 2014, so my list might be a short one. =P

Assassin's Creed Unity

Lets start with one I, like many of you, expected to be a great game. I got on the hype train only to crash and burn when the game was in fact a peice of ****. =P It was the bugs, glitches, and Ubisoft representing themselves as the next EA -- it was totally unacceptable what they released. Personally I didn't like how Arno was such a weak little **** that needed to learn skills in order to sit down on a bench and throw money. Like seriously, who thought that was worth spending skill points for? Oh, but it's easy to earn skill points! Not when you play the game offline, then those co-op skill points are basically there to taunt you.

The battle system ain't no fun, at least not for me. For some they like how they get gang banged by several guards at the same time while also getting shot at, in which case, spamming smoke bombs was the only way to get some enjoyment out of the battle system. Otherwise it's just suicide. And Snipers can instantly kill you with one single shot. Oh yeah, that's fun.

"But you need to be stealthy!" I know, but I'd rather kill them all. =3

Still, I sure love the graphics. The environmental lighting and the animations of people you see on the streets -- in that regard it's next gen. I sometimes stood still and watched what someone was doing, like two guys unloading meat off a wagon or some guy getting his shoes shined. Even though the random pedestrian shoe shine-ee I saw was wearing cloth around his feet. Seems weird he needed a shoe shine. XD

And of course watching a guillotine event in which the same person walks off the wagon onto the ramp, with different animations in how he approached the guillotine, or on the ramp, or even during the guillotine being activated. I only once saw the guillotine being activated and then they had to reset it and reactivate it again, since it seemed like something went wrong with the procedure. :3

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag

This, is, the best Assassin's Creed game ever! =3 I love Pirates, I like everything pirate stuff. Well, pop culture like Pirates of the Caribbean stuff. =3 This game is awesome. I have absolutely nothing bad to say about this game, because it's awesome. Unity? No way, I have more fun commanding a pirate ship, wearing an assassin outfit with a skull on it's back, attacking and boarding ships for their booty. Yarrrr, that's the stuffff! Now that's what I want to see.

It's not from 2015, but I had more fun the with the time I played Black Flag than the time I had with Unity. You can keep that weak-ass assassin that can't fight or doesn't know how to sit, as I'd rather have an assassin that can wield two swords, fight sharks, and take over a ship on his own after a glitch prevents the crew from boarding. :3

One of my favorite games I played a ton of in 2014.

Watch Dogs

My first next gen game. :3 Oh, Ubisoft, Another game you hyped us up with, preparing ourselves with next-gen graphics with this little beauty, only to realize they toned it down for some reason. What we saw at E3, that's not what we got in the final product. =P GTA V had better graphics and that was on Current gen. :3

Gameplay was interesting, but got boring quick. It looked awesome to hack the system with a Smartphone and all, and E3 kinda look like best game ever, but in the end it didn't quite feel what we expected. But it still was enjoyable, to an extent. My only complaint would be that I hate the save corrupt bug that would delete my entire progress. :<

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes

My most anticipated game of 2014, since this game was only the prologue to the full game -- Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Unfortunately that game is still under development and Konami isn't kind about announcing a release date. Ground Zeroes was a nice respite for the fans that couldn't wait any longer. I have respect for that. That's something you should do, Ubisoft

lol, anyway... there was a little trouble with Ground Zeroes and that's having to pay a large price for a small game. Since launch there has been a price cut, but even then there were people that didn't buy it because of the price. That's understandable, considering you can beat the game within the hour -- or even less then that. You might as well wait for Phantom Pain! I bought it when it was released. and it might come again with the game when you buy Phantom Pain, and I would feel like an idiot. =P

However, for a short game I was very satisfied. The story was interesting and the graphics with the new Fox Engine Kojima developed looks amazing -- both on next and last gen platforms. Gameplay was what you'd expected with such a game: you can sneak and plan your moves strategically, but you can also go in guns blazing and take a whole bunch of people out to clear a path. I really enjoy it, though it can be difficult. Snake is more vulnerable to attacks, and can get killed easily if not careful. For example if you're surrounded by guards, it'll be tough. Oddly lying in a corner, so you only have to face the front view, you can easily kill a whole bunch of groups coming at you... unless they have rocket launchers. 

People complained they removed the box and knocking-on-wall features, but apparently that's only for this prologue. Those will return in Phantom Pain. Instead, for Ground Zeroes you have unlimited ammo clips to throw for distractions or luring. Combining that with CQC is awesome. Hiding behind a wall and then take someone out is sweet. Even if a guard is near the guy, he'll be like, "WTF just happened?" and comes in to investigate, only to get his head smashed to the same wall his buddy did. *bleep* yeah. 

Ground Zeroes does have a big, random downside and that's that the voice of Snake, David Hayter, was replaced by a big Hollywood actor, Kiefer Sutherland. Not everyone is happy with that decision. Personally I didn't mind it. To me, Big Boss in his 40's would sound a bit more aged and having someone with a naturally rough voice would fit better. But they also Sutherland because of the facial motion capture. I can understand the facial motion would look weird if David stretches his mouth and all to speak the words in Snake's voice, like voice actors can tend to do.

Yet in Ground Zeroes you hardly see Snake from the front during his lines. You're almost always looking at his back. And another thing, he barely speaks at all. In Ground Zeroes the only person that talks a lot is Miller and in some cases you wish he would shut up. Perhaps Sutherland has more performances in Phantom Pain, because Ground Zeroes only makes him half likable. He's not a bad actor, he's actually doing a good performance as Snake, but we aren't shown his full potential yet.

Would it make a difference if David was involved? Personally, I don't mind either way. David and Kiefer would both do a good job as Snake, but I still want to hear more from Kiefer in the next game to see how well he really did.

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is one of my favorite games of 2014. :3

The Evil Within

Yeah, I was surprised myself that I purchased this game. I'm not a fan of horror or puzzles, but for some reason this game kept calling me. It was like it was Psycho Breaking me. =3 This game has high difficulty, like insta-kills, minimum ammo, lots of strategy, as well as traps, so running around like an idiot going call of duty style on it is not the right thing to do here, obviously. =P But I like it, even though I do hate some chapters and bits that are like total bull****.

Like Chapter 9 for instance, where you roam around a mansion looking for ways to open a big-ass door by activating some stuff in other rooms located elsewhere in the building with the occasional zombies here and there. This should be no problem, except scary villain Ruvik could randomly show up out of nowhere at anytime and when he touches you, you're dead. It's a situation in which you either save often or try to move forward fast as possible to get to the checkpoint/auto-save so you'll have some progress before you might have to start over again if you failed to avoid him. I had the pleasure of opening a door, walking a bit forward, and bam, he'd show up in front of me and before I could run or respond, he'd already killed me. That's how annoying it can get.

The game also is shown in letter-box format, which is annoying, but a narrow view of your surroundings kind of adds to the scary atmosphere, I guess. For example if you try to aim your gun at something high to activate a trap or puzzle and there's something that crawls around that can insta-kill you, then having a black bar obscuring the lower view can feel quite tense.

I managed to finish the game with several long breaks, since I really don't like horror games and the dark and scary settings are making me uncomfortable, but I made it! =3

The Evil Within is awesome, also on my favorites of 2014.

Grand Theft Auto V on PlayStation 4

I played the PlayStation 3 version of Grand Theft Auto V to death and now I have it for PlayStation 4 and it's even more awesome. It now has first-person mode, upgraded graphics, and more content, more music, more everything! Do I really need to explain how awesome this game is? I find it awesome and there're no words I can use to explain how much I love this game. =3

I just hate it that I need to pay for Grand Theft Auto online on PlayStation 4. :3 For PlayStation 3 it's free online, but with a 12GB PS3 and the space needed for all of those GTA Online patches and updates it's also not available for me, sadly. Luckily I'm an off-line gamer. 

Well, that's so far my list, I guess. :3

Told you it was short. =P

Stitch is a ten-year Neoseeker veteran hailing from the Netherlands who currently moderates the Loungin' forum, among others. Check out his Neoseeker profile here.



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Community Spotlight: Lorx's Top Games of 2014

8 comments Rory Young - 4:01pm (PST) Like (6) Share

Our first community Game of the Year list has arrived

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As part of Neoseeker's Game of the Year celebrations for 2014, we're spotlighting several community members' lists of their favorite games from the year. These are are community-written articles and the opinions there-in do not necessarily reflect those of Neoseeker. With that said, we certainly believe they show just how diverse the tastes of the community are, as well as just how much everyone here on Neoseeker loves games -- from the writing staff through the moderators and down to the casual new members. Thanks to everyone for contributing.

Hi all, I'm Lorx. I'm one of the super-moderators here on Neoseeker in-charge of the forum community and I've been asked by the editorial staff to pick out what games stood out to me in 2014. I'm mainly a PC gamer with some time on a few choice 3DS and PS3 exclusives, which will be reflected in what games I've chosen. I'll start off with a look at what the year looked like overall and then dig in to my top games.

This year was really quite wonky. There were an abnormally large amount of games that crashed and burned rather badly upon release in some way, especially among big budget companies. Assassin's Creed Unity is still widely broken on PC, Watch_Dogs an abysmal time on PC as well, and of course Sonic Boom released this year as well and that's just a whole different story. This made AAA titles that simply didn't get a sustained market like Titanfall look quite good in comparison. Many of the major powerhouses were games from years past which were continuing to pump out content and new installments of long-continuing series, like World of Warcraft, League of Legends, and Call of Duty. However, there are some standout titles which look capable of mattering into 2015 and beyond. Games like the ones I'll be shedding light on here showed us there were some great titles to be had. This upward swing in topic brings us to my top games of the year, listed in no particular order except for...

Transistor 

Getting the obvious out of the way first. It's hard to be the next title released after a major hit from a developer. It means being judged not on the merits presented within the game space itself, but also in comparison to the previous game. That Transistor managed to be a worthy title to come up alongside Supergiant's previous release of Bastion is quite astonishing. Bastion was ridiculously well received by players and critics alike, and Transistor managed to take on many of the aspects which are unique to the company's style -- while still being a fresh and new experience.

Transistor has a killer soundtrack by Daniel Korb, a really engaging story, and still has the unique art-style which the developer is making themselves known for. This is coupled with a rather deep combat experience which allows for many different kinds of play-styles to emerge, as not only is a player's skill load-out incredibly customizable, but it's also able to be played as a real time action game or as a more strategy-centric title, taking some cues from turn-based titles. Out of any game released in 2014, this is a game I would label as the standout release in most every category. If you have not played it, definitely pick it up here in the next month or so. We're in the post-holiday release lull anyway, a perfect time to look back on this game and understand why it was received with such open arms.

Dark Souls II

Going from a worthy successor to a grand title to one which has a bit of a problem fitting into it's predecessor's shoes, next up is Dark Souls II. This is a very iterative sequel, if you are at all familiar with the first Dark Souls then this game will be very familiar, which makes talking about it a little more specific as to changes made. Lets get this out of the way first: the first Dark Souls had flaws. That's not to say it's bad -- it's fantastic. Many consider it a stronger title than Dark Souls II, but it had some flaws in how it worked, which the new development team tried to find solutions for. In doing so, they made a game that is... more flawed than it's predecessor, with the largest being its change in how online matchmaking functions. So this game gets some flak from the fan-base, but it has definite strengths which make it stand well of it's own right.

At the end of the day it's a really astonishingly good game that just can't quite live up to it's predecessor, a slight damper on what is otherwise quite a strong release. Perhaps the most important strength of all in terms of what they changed would be weapon diversity. There's lots of interesting and cool items to be found, the combat definitely benefits as a result. Online play is well thought out as well, even though much of it hadn't changed since the previous title we saw the developer actually find a way around the cardinal sin for online games -- segregating players. When From Software released DLC, players who don't own it can still join in on players who do under specific circumstances, which is a solid way to get around that cardinal sin. And while From Software is not the first to use it, the implementation is very solid, and I hope we see it noticed by other developers facing similar design challenges.

Really though, most everybody knows what Dark Souls is as a series -- a hardcore action game that will punish players who don't think about what they're doing. In this way, the series still delivers true to it's word and is well worth playing. If you haven't picked it up yet, a GotY-ish edition named Dark Souls II: Scholar of the first Sin is releasing in a couple months for next-gen systems and PC, which I highly suggest picking up.

Nidhogg

A very small game, simple, not impressive from a technical standpoint in any way, but really well-crafted and the most fun I had in a LAN atmosphere the entire year. It's quite easy to pick up, and is both engaging to play against friends, as well as watch. I think what separates this game to me from other quirky small releases this year is that it's mechanically sound.

Games like Mount Your Friends, I Am Bread, and Friday Night at Freddy's -- these games all were quirky in some way and caught the attention of Youtube (in some cases this was perhaps the intention from the ground up), but Nidhogg is the one I found truly fun and engaging beyond the spectacle placed before me as the player. I've played many rounds of it's tournament mode over the year, and every time the gaming session ends in laughter and a feeling of time well spent. It's a really good game for engaging with others and being a part of a group. This game is worth playing if you ever find yourself in that kind of environment.

Valkyria Chronicles 

This game? That really niche strategy title that was released on the PS3 back in 2008? Yes, that game. I'm cheating here really, because this game was released on the PC in 2014 without major upgrades -- it's just a port. But this is a game that widely flew under the radar of a lot of people, so when I have the chance to plug it, then I will always take that chance. This game is a mix of a third-person shooter and a turn-based strategy game. Think of it like Fallout 3's VATs system combined with Fire Emblem. It's a unique gameplay experience that's fairly well-crafted. Not the most balanced thing in the world, but it is a single layer game, so that's not really a big deal.

This is a game that really shouldn't be missed if you're a fan of strategy titles, and the PC release is the perfect excuse to go back and look at it once more. On top of it's unique gameplay it has actually a surprisingly good story. It begins with what could best be described as any old anime plot, but grows into much more serious themes, touching on WWII concentration camps and racism in a way which I haven't really seen a game dare to try before. It's a foray into territory we rarely see properly represented in video games and this game does quite well. Making it unique both in gameplay and story, all under the visual aesthetic of art drawn on a canvas, courtesy of the custom graphics engine which was built for the game, aptly named Canvas. I've used this word plenty of times so far, but again, this is a very unique title, you won't find much like it elsewhere, so if it sounds interesting, definitely give it a go.

Pokemon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire

Marketing teams get paid to hype games and certainly there's something to be said after 2014 that they can perhaps oversell their product, but in this year no game had more hype with me than ORAS. I've been playing Pokemon games since their original run back with Red/Blue/Green, but Generation 3, the Hoenn region, is my quintessential childhood Pokemon game. It's the one I spent far more time with than any of the others, and my favorite region to date in almost every respect. So when Generation 4 came out, I was already looking forward to when I would see my favorite region return.

Lo and behold, many years later, it has returned spectacularly. Most of the changes are for the better as well and I found myself appreciating a lot of what was changed, especially the Eon Flute and how some areas were bought to life with new visuals. As an example, Sea Mauville specifically is a fantastic sight to behold with vivid colors and a landscape which just screams explore me! My only major gripe is the choice to auto-walk in segments of the story, for instance when completing the 5th badge you have the option to teleport to the "start" of your journey to the 6th. I find fault with this because Hoenn is designed with many shortcuts, it's a dense world with multiple paths to any given objective, and things like that only serve to 'shrink' it, not using the strength is has in it's geography. But really, this is nitpicking, and that I have to nitpick to find fault is certainly telling. ORAS is a successful new imagining of the Hoenn region and I'm glad it's finally here.

Honorable Mentions

These games didn't quite make it into the above list for one reason or another:

  • Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance: Already had one cheat title listed, didn't want to do two. This was ported to PC in 2014, amazing spectacle fighter and an even better soundtrack. If you like spectacle fighters or are a PC gamer who wishes they had access to Bayonetta or God of War, pick this up.
     
  • Smash Bros 4: What is perhaps most impressive is the quality of the 3DS port. It doesn't feel shoddy or lacking in any way, which is definitely not what I was expecting. Beyond that, it's a solid game and exactly what anybody would expect a SSB game to be at this point.
     
  • Alien: Isolation: I'm not a fan of the horror genre, but this is one of those rare games that stood out for remembering that suspense is scarier than stuff jumping out from a hiding place suddenly. It needs a mention as it was quite good, but simply not my cup of tea.
     
  • Shovel Knight: Actually still playing this, just picked it up the other day. Had a lot of positive feedback upon release and I'm beginning to see why, but I'm not even close to done with it, so it's not on the list.
     
  • Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes: A short but really well crafted experience. It's quite impressive how much they manage to do with a single map. Really interested to see how well The Phantom Pain does now that the first taste of the new experience has been released.

Lorx is an 8-year veteran of the Neoseeker community and currently holds the position of a  Super Moderator, the highest-ranked position granted within Neoseeker's community. Check out his Neoseeker profile here, or follow him on Twitter at @Lorx_n.

 
 

December NPD Number Crunch: Xbox One maintains sales lead, but PS4 still top console of 2014

5 comments Leo Chan - 10:52am (PST) Like Share

Microsoft's $50 price cut proved to be a pretty good idea, and it's still running

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It's a holly jolly Christmas for Microsoft as the console giant confirmed earlier today that its Xbox One managed to keep hold of the title of best-selling console hardware at U.S. retail for the second month in a row. The company also boasted that Xbox One outsold the Xbox 360 by 50 percent on a weekly basis throughout the final two months of calendar year 2014.

No doubt Microsoft's generous $50 price cut on the Xbox One which was originally launched as a holiday promotion and will now continue to apply (starting today) played a key part in ensuring it remained the top selling console during the lucrative holiday shopping season.

While the Xbox One retained its throne as top seller of the month in December, Sony reminds us that the PlayStation4 was still the better selling console of 2014 overall not only in the U.S., but on a global basis as well. The electronics and console giant reiterates that PS4 hardware sales are sitting at 18.5 million units after 14 months in the market; the holiday 2014 sales period alone accounted for at least 4.1 million of the total.

Nintendo confirmed the Wii U enjoyed its best December on record yet, with hardware sales growing 29 percent from last year. Wii U software sales meanwhile jumped 75 percent year-over-year.

To be sure, the industry as whole didn't exactly explode during December 2014, with overall sales barely slipping to $3.25 billion USD compared to the $3.28 billion earned back in the end of 2013. Even hardware sales saw a four percent year-over-year decline to $1.31 billion, and monthly (physical) software sales similarly fell 2 percent to $1.25 billion.

As you'll see, the software top ten for the final calendar month of 2014 was dominated by multiplatform titles, though the latest one-two Super Smash Bros. punch was technically only available on Nintendo platforms. NPD notes that the Xbox One versions of multiplatform titles outsold their PS4 equivalent in nearly every case except for Far Cry 4.

December 2014 Top Ten Software Sales
  Game Publisher Platform Release
1. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Activision PS4 / Xbox One / PS3 / Xbox 360 / PC 11/2014
2. Grand Theft Auto V Rockstar PS4 / Xbox One / PS3 / Xbox 360 11/2014
3. Madden NFL 15 Electronic Arts PS4 / PS3 / Xbox One / Xbox 360 08/2014
4. Super Smash Bros. for 3DS / Wii U Nintendo 3DS / Wii U 11/2014
5. NBA 2K15 2K Games PS4 / Xbox One / PS3 / Xbox 360 / PC 10/2014
6. Minecraft 4J Studios PS4 / Xbox One / PS3 / Xbox 360 / PC 11/2014
7. Far Cry 4 Ubisoft PS4 / Xbox One / PS3 / Xbox 360 / PC 11/2014
8. Just Dance 2015 Ubisoft PS4 / Xbox One / PS3 / Xbox 360 / Wii U / Wii 11/2014
9. Destiny Activision PS4 / Xbox One / PS3 / Xbox 360 09/2014
10. FIFA 15 Electronic Arts PS4 / Xbox One / PS3 / Xbox 360 / Wii / 3DS / Vita 09/2014

 

 
 

Thursday, Jan 15



Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin DLC screenshots arise, saves won't transfer on new-gen

8 comments Lydia Sung - 8:53pm (PST) Like Share

Coming soon... in April!

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Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin, the updated re-release of Dark Souls II, received a new batch of screenshots today highlighting some of the game's unforgiving combat and new features. Well, not entirely new features so much as improvements upon the old ones, but the spirit is the same.

Also a big deal? Scholar of the First Sin will also mark the game's debut on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 in April, alongside an updated PC version. The one thing you'll need to keep in mind, should you move over to the current-gen version, is that your save files from Dark Souls II can't be transferred, even on PC. The graphics bump will be nice to see, but you'll also be losing all that progress from before.

The re-release comes included with the three previous mission add-ons as well, basically throwing more hours of Dark Souls than any sane human being should be able to handle. Keep an eye out for Scholar of the First Sin on April 7, 2015.



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WildStar 'moves forward' into 2015, Carbine Studios focused on investment, enhancement and growth

5 comments Rory Young - 6:00am (PST) Like Share

Mike Donatelli's letter to the WildStar community has few surprises

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In bold letters, Carbine Studios' product director Mike Donatelli writes the WildStar team's focus will be in 2015. The points are not surprising to anyone familiar with WildStar's somewhat tempestuous launch. They're not exciting, perhaps to the chagrin to some disenchanted WildStar abandoners. They are, however, exactly what needs to be said. "Moving forward, the team has a clear and fixed focus," and what follows in bold is perhaps not as important.

This morning Mike Donatelli published a letter to the WildStar community detailing Carbine's focus going into 2015 and what the team has planned for the months ahead. Some specifics regarding content, such as the upcoming Protogames Initiative drop and what that will include, but I'm much more interested in the more figurative, "rah-rah" portion of the post.

See, I was a fan of what WildStar stood for at launch, when it was led by Jeremy Gaffney. A promise of hardcore, challenging content and a "no bullsh***" approach to developing an MMO were ideas I supported. Ultimately, those ideas, or perhaps just their implementation in WildStar, proved unsustainable. The story since then, since Gaffney's resignation, has been and continues to be: What comes next?

Since then Carbine has kept WildStar in a state of transition. There are many ongoing optimizations designed to broaden the scope of WildStar, to make more content accessible to more people, to open up the endgame and to ensure that endgame isn't the only place for players to end up. Donatelli's plans for 2015 perpetuate that state of transition -- there's still a lot of work left before WildStar is where Donatelli believes it needs to be to get what I believe he's aiming for. A second chance.

While I may not yet be persuaded that this is the correct course for WildStar, I can't deny that something had to change. Donatelli's goals, as outlined in this letter, seem to be encouraging. I'm not certain, but where I lack confidence I find I'm growing to trust in Donatelli's confidence.

In bold letters, Donatelli's three bullet points read as follows, in order:

  1. We will encourage and listen carefully to your – the player’s – feedback and focus development on making WildStar a more fun, less grindy, game. 
  2. We will make these updates with both present and future players in mind, to support a multitude of play styles, durations, group sizes and levels.
  3. We will invest in, enhance, and grow this game. 

Individually, it's easy to nod and agree with each point. Again, they're not particularly inspirational or moving. They're matter of fact and a like vague by intention. Yet small things stick out in my mind, like the way Donatelli starts each point with "we," or how he sets the controversial point related to WildStar's grind at the top of the list. Again my eyes hover back to the sentence that precedes the bullet points.

"Moving forward, the team has a clear and fixed focus."

Stay the course, Carbine.

Categories: PC Games
 
 

Obsidian's Pillars of Eternity will launch March 26, a Baldur's Gate inspired RPG for the ages

1 comments Rory Young - 1:15am (PST) Like Share

Following up last year's South Park: The Stick of Truth

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It has now been well over two years since Obsidian Entertainment, to the surprise of many, crowd-funded a Baldur's Gate-inspired RPG to the tune of $4.5 million named Pillars of Eternity. They only asked for a quarter of that, but a voiceless community was heard that month and so Obsidian has since toiled. Today publishing partner Paradox announced that the long, cold development process was wrapping up. Pillars of Eternity is launching on March 26.

Feargus Urquhart, CEO of Obsidian Entertainment, takes the stage:

"Everybody at Obsidian has been dedicated to ensuring that Pillars of Eternity is the game we said it would be ever since we launched the Kickstarter campaign. The community has been incredibly forthcoming with their feedback, and we want to thank all of our fans for being so engaged with the game’s development – and for giving us the time to implement their suggestions and ensure Pillars of Eternity is a game we can be proud of. We’ve used that time well, and the results will be worth the wait. The end is finally in sight, and our journey is nearly complete – at which point yours can begin."

As a bit of a celebration, though I imagine there will be many more in the weeks from now until March 26, Obsidian will be hosting a bit of a teaser show on Twitch today, January 15. Airing at 1:00 PM PST (9:00 PM GMT), Obsidian will be showing off "a selection of never-before-seen-content" from Pillars of Eternity. It'll be a great opportunity for those who weren't able to back two years ago to see just what Obsidian has put together.

Pillars of Eternity will be available on PC starting March 26. It was initially funded via Kickstarter on October 16, 2012.

Categories: PC Games
 
 

Super Mario Bros. line of Amiibos announced to follow current Super Smash Bros. run

6 comments Rory Young - 12:23am (PST) Like Share

Taking bets on how many Mario Amiibos will be available by the end of 2020

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Nintendo has struck gold with Amiibos. Figurative gold made of plastic and painted by machines overseas. Amiibos are hugely successful, despite being relatively useless as supplementary game peripherals. They're popular because they're outstanding collectibles, capitalizing on legions of nostalgic Nintendo fans. The admittedly huge Super Smash Bros. run of Amiibos comes to a close this spring. Nintendo isn't just going to let that lapse without announcing another run, so...

During this morning's Nintendo Direct, Nintendo announced the next run of Amiibos! To follow-up the Super Smash Bros. run with its Mario and Luigi and Peach and the whole gang will be a run for... Super Mario Bros.! Featuring such unfamiliar faces as Mario, Luigi, Peach, Yoshi, Bowser and introducing Toad! All of the figures will be posed in entirely different ways, so collectors will be forced to buy them all. Everyone should have expected this by now.

The final wave of Super Smash Bros. Wii U figures, including Robin and Lucina from Fire Emblem: Awakening, PAC-Man, Wario, Ness of Earthbound fame, and Charizard will be released in May. The second to last wave, with Rosalina, Bowser, Lucaria, Toon Link, Sheik, Ike, Shulk, Sonic, Mega Man, King Dedede and Meta Knight will hit in February, but everyone probably already knew about that.

The Super Mario Bros. series of Amiibos, oddly enough, has a more specific release date of March 20. I guess this will be a run of reliable sales, whereas the final Super Smash Bros. wave might be a bit more of a riskier venture? I guess that's fine for now, but when Nintendo's releasing the fifth Super Mario Bros. run of Amiibos, folk might start getting a little frustrated. Or they'll just sell out and sell out forever and Nintendo will live happily ever after.

 
 

Wednesday, Jan 14



Wii comes to Wii U starting with Mario Galaxy 2 today, Punch-Out and the Metroid Prime Trilogy soon

13 comments Rory Young - 11:43pm (PST) Like Share

Who needs new Wii U games when we've got Mario Galaxy 2?

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While the Wii U news was surprisingly disappointing during this morning's Nintendo Direct, there was one really cool announcement made that no one was really expecting. Oddly enough, the news is about Wii games. Starting, well, now, Nintendo will be offering Wii games digitally on the Wii U through the eShop. Three Wii games were revealed for the program today and they're outstanding. Get hyped for Mario Galaxy 2, Punch-Out!! and the Metroid Prime Trilogy.

Wait, wait! Don't skip over the rest of the text, because that's not all of the awesome news. The other half of the story is that each of these games will initially be available for just $9.99. While that's sadly just a week-long introductory rate, where after the price then jumps to a permanent $19.99, that's a pretty amazing deal. Especially a good deal since Nintendo's cheap and rarely discounts their products.

Wait, wait! That's not all! Mario Galaxy 2 is available starting today. That means everyone has about six and a half days left to take advantage of the $9.99, 50% off discount. Punch-Out!! will be next, launching on January 22, and finally the Metroid Prime Trilogy to close out the current wave of announced Wii releases on January 29. I'd put money on another wave being revealed during a February Nintendo Direct.

Wait... err, no, I think that's about it for now. Wii games are now going to the Wii U digitally. They'll be priced at $9.99 for their first week of availability and then jump to $19.99. Mario Galaxy 2 is available now and Punch-Out!!, the Metroid Prime Trilogy will be out in the weeks to come. Play them with your GamePad! Play them however you like. Don't play them at all, if you prefer. Just, hey, now you have the option.

 
 

Introducing Pokemon Shuffle, it's Pokemon, it's free-to-play, and it's a match-3 puzzle game for 3DS

6 comments Rory Young - 11:07pm (PST) Like Share

This is the first sign of the apocalypse

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It hurts me to say so, but the biggest Nintendo 3DS release announcement of this morning's Nintendo Direct may be the one the least amount of fans are talking about. Nintendo certainly thinks it's a potential big hit, as it followed up the big Fire Emblem announcement to open the show. I'm talking about Pokemon Shuffle, of course. It's kind of Pokemon, it's a match-3 puzzle game, and it's definitely free-to-play, though that might mean something different than the literal definition. It seriously cannot fail.

Pokemon Shuffle is also arriving soon. Nintendo announced that the puzzle game will be downloadable starting in February, which means we only have a month before we find out whether playing any other games this year will be pointless or not. 

Nintendo has dabbled a bit in free-to-play already, with their most notable release being Rusty's Real Deal Baseball. As a free-to-play game it was kind of a mixed bag, but in practice it was a pretty brave and inspired reflection on the format. That's probably another conversation for a different place. What matters is Pokemon Shuffle is authentically free-to-play. Like, iOS try-hards are crying that it might start stealing their market kind of free-to-play. Like, I'm actually pretty disgusted kind of free-to-play. The good stuff.

In Pokemon Shuffle, players will be given a certain number of moves or matches to use in order to defeat a Pokemon. With each match, the health of the Pokemon goes down. Of course, the tiles the player uses to match are Pokemon themselves, so matching certain Pokemon will take advantage of typing strengths and weaknesses. There's also mention of evolution, including mega evolution, and other Pokemon mechanics in Pokemon Shuffle. What kind of monster has Nintendo created.

We'll find exactly what kind of (pocket) monster Nintendo's created this February, when  Nintendo launches Pokemon Shuffle for free on the Nintendo eShop.



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