How did you feel about this article? Do you think I’m talking a load non-sense? Let us know in the comments below, on our Facebook fan page or tweet us @MissionStartP
Thanks for reading
-Gregg Dietz (@ChubRockGeek)
I recently wrote a review on shovel knight and why it’s one of the best games I’ve played in a long time. There are hundreds of reasons I could list as to why you should buy and play this game but that is not what I want to talk about here. This article is a breakdown of the first level of Shovel Knight and why I feel it’s pure genius. Now it should go without saying that this is a bit of a spoiler alert warning. Yes, it is only the first level but the warning is out there now. Also I would like it to be known that I am in no way a level designer or game programmer, just a guy who has played many games all the way back to the NES. I noticed all this from watching my nephew (age 10) play this game for the first time with little to no knowledge of classic games or how they function. With that preamble out of the way, let us...dig in.
The first board the player is confronted with is a long seemingly empty section. The top of the screen shows everything the player needs plus what they will come across. This gives the player time to become acclimated with how Shovel Knight moves and controls. As the player moves right, they see a shiny mound, when the players strike this, gold and gems come flying out and this teaches the player just how Shovel Knight’s attack works. They are then confronted by a slow moving beetle. This beetle is very reminiscent of the first goomba in the original Super Mario Bros. At this point, the player has learned that 2 buttons work, jump and slash. Well let’s slash the beetle and kill him. As the player moves forward on the first board, the rest is a series of slow moving beetles and jumps the player must make. This further gets the player used to how Shovel Knight controls.
The next section is introduced by a screen transition similar to that of classic NES games. This is a great way to not only introduce the player to a new obstacle, but it also allows the player to understand that they have progressed. The first thing the player sees is a series of dirt blocks, blocking progress. The player will try many things to get around this before discovering that pressing down after you jump does a downward strike. The fact that this is taught to the player by discovery vs a prompt is something that I really enjoy. It give a sense of accomplishment without the player realising that they just had a quick lesson. After getting past that, the bottom of the board has a beetle and a shiny mound, if at this point the player didn’t discover that mounds contain gold, the beetle and the mound are so close together that it’s inevitable that they will hit both. Moving forward shows a new transition with a gap and a bubble rising from the ground. If the player hasn’t figured out what to do with this bubble upon seeing it, they will eventually because they were just taught about the downward strike. The player learns that they can move left and right as they are downward striking. Feeling victorious, they climb the ladder on the right to the next board.
This is the “moving platform” section of the lesson. This is also the first checkpoint that they have come across but this will come back later. After learning how to handle this platform and kill the beetle on the ledge, they will transition to a floor full of spikes and a platform. If they miss, it’s ok because they will just go back to the screen they were on previously at the checkpoint, this shows the player what exactly what checkpoints look like. When they died though, all of the gold they collected at this point will be floating where they perished. Here comes another lesson, as they make the jump to the platform, they will collect all the gold bags floating and regain their money. This is a fantastic lesson that teaches the player that death isn’t so bad. The next board has a Bubble Dragon! Two things are taught here, the first is that this is not the boss that the top of the screen is predicting to. The second thing is that minibosses exist and they have weak points. The dragons head is the weak point and after it dies, the player is rewarded with gems, gold and health. the next screen introduces a new enemy, a skeleton man with a sword. The player will more than likely attack with this new found confidence because they just took out a dragon. However, they will be hit and this is to teach them that some enemies will attack you instead of walking in a straight line. The next transition has a ditch that seems like the player is trapped, but the way the level is designed shows a weird visual. Grass can be seen on a block of dirt that you would normally be standing on. Well the only thing the player can do is jump and shovel strike, swinging the sword around with eventually hit the wall. After destroying the giant dirt block, they will see gems that fall from it. Getting to the top of this board, they will destroy another wall and walk forward with confidence and a desire to collect the gems that will be there, wait, enemies can be inside walls? They sure can.
The next section has a beetle, a spike trap and skeleton with a sword, these are no problem for the seasoned warrior that now lies before you. There is also a wall with the same markings as the walls the player destroyed earlier, this is a very visible secret to show the player that secrets exist so keep an eye out. In the wall is a piece “Sheet Music”, this is something that comes up later in the game. The next board doesn’t have much to teach except that there are what look like covered dinner plates with a whole chicken inside to replenish your health. From here on out is testing your newly found skills that you just learned. All of this leads to a boss fight, the boss fight teaches the player a few things as well. First would be that the health bar is now full to indicate that this is indeed, the boss of the level. The second thing that this teaches the player is that bosses have patterns, you must read the patterns to defeat them. The last thing this teaches the player is that your health and the bosses health work the same, 2 hits per dot. After defeating the boss, you are shown a scene which adds to the story with shovel knight dreaming about saving shield knight. After the dream sequence, the player has control and can move left or right on the screen, the over world map opens new areas to enter and the adventure begins.
This level is what is amazing about good game design, teaching the player by discovery and fun, versus having someone tell you what to do. Having an “AH HA!” moment in a video game is one of the most satisfying things that any developer can do for the gamer. People argue that modern games have a harder time doing this because things are too complex. I say thats a load of bull. Sometimes it’s ok to use a prompt to tell the player how to use a new thing, Shovel Knight does this with magic. After you get the first item, a prompt shows up to tell the player to press up and attack to use it. What makes this acceptable is this is the only time something like that shows up during the entire game. Lets take a very popular game like Halo for example. The first thing you do in the game is “Calibrate the suit”, what is happening here is immersing the player into the role of the character and breathing life into the world they are about to inhabit. Everything about that first stage is a giant lesson on how to play the game without a bunch of screen prompts. Portal is another example of how to teach the player without overloading them with prompts. As I said in the beginning of this article, I am in no way a developer or designer. Just passionate about video games and love to critically think about them.
How did you feel about this article? Do you think I’m talking a load non-sense? Let us know in the comments below, on our Facebook fan page or tweet us @MissionStartP
Thanks for reading
-Gregg Dietz (@ChubRockGeek)
Screen grabs are courtesy of YouTuber notjustinbailey
Nate and Gregg have been playing a fan-made Mega Man game and doing terrible at it but they beat it.
Here is the full playlist where you can watch them get mad at each other.
I doubt there were many people more surprised than me when one of the companies handling the promotion of Yoshiki’s current world tour contacted us regarding advertising and potential review of the recital. After some back and forth emails, Mission Start Podcast was invited to attend the Costa Mesa show near Anaheim and Westminster on Friday, April 25, 2014.
I arrived at the Sergerstrom Center for the Arts about an hour before the concert. This is a very aesthetically pleasing building. It has at least four levels to it, and although the color scheme is full of beiges, cream colors, and whites, there’s something about the architecture that makes me think of water almost constantly. The staff was very helpful, if a bit soft-spoken.
The actual hall can be a bit intimidating. Around the main floor is three floors of upper tier seating. They aren’t deep boxes, but every seat up there is a rail seat to be envious of. The main stage isn’t raised very high compared to the first couple of rows of seating, but behind the stage is an impressive pipe organ that can seem rather intimidating. The sounds of it could probably deafen someone if played with fervor. However, the pipes were obscured by an LED screen and, of course, Yoshiki’s own black piano.
A bit after the scheduled start time, the house lights dimmed and the LED screen sparked to life with a few minutes of Yoshiki being interviewed at the Southern California Grammy Museum asking about his influences, where he remarked on his father buying him classical albums every week, and how he loved rock, but classical was his soul. The video then moved to a montage of Yoshiki during X-Japan concerts across the globe and his interactions with fans, as well as his apparent passion for his music.
After the video, six women walked out to waiting chairs. They were the accompanying strings for the show. They played a striking preamble, and after it was done, the star and host of the evening appeared on stage in garb that could be well-described as gothic. He was in dark slacks and a white button down shirt. Over it he wore a long black jacket covered in strands that made it look reinforced by spider webs. Yoshiki sat down and began playing the first song of the evening.
That’s when I noted the lights. Surrounding the players in a shallow semi-circle were a host of moving stage lights projecting shapes and colors on the walls, along with other lights projecting more colors on the back curtain framing the stage. The LED screen lit up with different backgrounds depending on the song; roses petals falling in a light rain, sparking stardust, an iridescent light flare, and so on.
There was an interesting surprise as Yoshiki and his accompaniment went into the fourth song, an unplugged version of X-Japan’s I.V., a lean man with dark hair, clothes, and sunglasses walked onto stage and plugged in an electric violin. Suddenly, we were treated to Yoshiki being joined by Sugizo of X-Japan to finish the song. After they finished, Yoshiki took a microphone and asked jokingly, “What are you doing here?”
Sugizo said flatly, “I missed you.”
After some back and forth, Sugizo and Yoshiki asked fans what they wanted to hear and the people in the room started naming a bevy of X-Japan songs. In the end, Yoshiki interrupted and said, “Well, those songs aren’t on the schedule, so we’re going to play what we want,” drawing laughter from the room. Sugizo only stayed for the next song, Tears, but it was a fun surprise.
Not long afterwards, Yoshiki took another break before the intermission and said that during the next week, there will be an announcement about plans for X-Japan, drawing more cheers from those in attendance.
I could go on and on about the details of the piano concert, but what you want to hear is it worth going. As a person who doesn’t listen to a lot of classical music in his spare time, I would say it is. Ignore Yoshiki’s reputation as a rock star and internationally known musician. What surprised me is that where a lot of classical recitals starring individuals tends to be somewhat bland visually; they are often the star in a spotlight with their chosen instrument and unless you are very into the chosen pieces of music, it can be very repetitive. Yoshiki was very careful to not only pick songs that weren’t terribly similar to each other, but the lights and screen added a strong visual dimension to the presentation. They’re striking enough to invoke imagery, but vague enough to leave it up to personal interpretation, giving you the ability to take a journey with the audience while leaving the specific road up to each person. My only sorrow from the show is that the performance was only about two hours long. I could have easily sat for another hour of such a stirring show.
Even more surprising is how soft-spoken Yoshiki himself is. For someone with such a reputation as a multi-genre star, you never get the feeling that he is overly confident or demands absolute control of the show. He seems, to me, at least, to be a man who communicates primarily through his passion for music and tries his best to connect with the heart of his audience. It’s a very different feeling than other classical recitals where people often try to show you their vision of music.
As of the date of this writing, Yoshiki’s only other U.S. date, April 28, 2014 in San Francisco will be happening this evening. After that, he leaves for the majority of his tour from now until the last date of June 17, 2014 in Osaka, Japan. Tickets can be purchased by following this link: Yoshiki Classical Piano Tour.
Treat yourself. It’s a show very much unlike many out there.
1. League of Legends Necklace/Choker
Made by Eternalelfcreations
Creator says “I wove this chainmaille choker using 18g silver aluminum and used the European 4 in 1 weave, adding points to both sides for a lace-like effect. It’s 13 inches long with a 5 inch extender chain (total length of 18 inches) will fit most adults. However, should you need it longer or shorter, just let me know and I can adjust it for you.”
2. PORTAL Stud Post Earrings
Made by EarringWorld1
Creator says “Handmade post earrings. Digital images that were printed on glossy photo paper and covered with resin. Earrings are shipped from Europe. You can select from two options: Gunmetal black earring base and covered with glossy resin 12 mm round or Antique bronze plated earring base and covered with glossy resin 14 mm round. These make wonderful gifts.”
3. Bioshock Infinite The Bird and The Cage Bracelet
Made by SunandStarsJew3lry
Creator says “The Bird or the Cage? Perhaps the bird? Or, perhaps the cage? The bird is beautiful and the cage is somber, but there's something special about it...And why not both of them with this beautiful vintage style bracelet, inspired by the famous video game Bioshock Infinite? Bracelet length is 18cm / 7 inches long and the two glass cabochons are 14mm / 0,5 inches each. Will be sent in a beautiful gift box.”
4. Heart Container Legend of Zelda Inspired Locket
Made by GeekDungeon
Creator says “Inspired by one of my favorite video games of all-time, here are my very special handmade glow in the dark Heart Container lockets. A multiple-day process that results in one of my personal favorite pieces of video game jewelry. The Heart Container is a symbol of more than just Link's "health" in the story of Princess Zelda. Heart Containers form when two people love each other and this is a very special gift to show that special Zelda fan love. Each heart container locket is meticulously handcrafted. These beautiful pieces are adorned with Rupee Red Crystal on the outside of the locket. Professionally handmade using jeweler grade material, will glow in the dark for hours after being worn in sunlight for a few minutes! Locket measures about 2 inches.”
5. NES Controller Cufflinks Set
Made by Mancornas
Creator Says “A thoughtful gift idea for weddings, groomsmen, best man, anniversaries, Father's Day, Christmas, birthdays, Valentine's Day or any special occasion. Crafted with care in the USA. Universal fit.”
6. NES Controller Full Skirt
Made by GoFollowRabbits
Creator says “It's perfect for the geek chic wardrobe. The waistband is 2" wide black elastic and very comfortable. This is a made to order skirt based on YOUR measurements for the perfect fit. When you purchase, in "note to seller" put your natural waist measurement. The skirt is 100% Cotton Sateen and the length from top to hem is 18" Long. Due to the printing process, please do not machine wash, should be hand wash warm or cool using phosphate-free detergent. You can tumble low dry and iron on wrong side.”
7. Space invaders Earrings
Made by Alsterbead
Creator says “This earrings are made out of Hama mini beads. Measurements (ca) of the invaders are Height: 2,5 cm, Width: 3,2 cm. If you want this one in another color, or get this one as a pendant or magnet, just write me a message and I will fix that. The earrings is handmade and I use an iron to put the beads together, and then I use a coat of glue for their durability. Therefore, they may differ."
8. Old School Controller Double Flared Stainless Steel Gauges
Made by EarEmporium
Costs between $18.00 up to $27.00
Creator says “Made-To-Order in the following sizes: 2g (6mm), 0g (8mm), 00g (10 mm), 7/16" (11mm), 1/2" (13mm), 9/16" (14mm), 5/8" (16 mm), 3/4" (19mm), 7/8" (22mm) ,1" (25mm). Choose any of the sizes listed; just pick your desired size from the drop-down menu above the "Add to Cart" button, or simply leave a "note" when you checkout. Also available with custom designs, contact me to make it happen! All prices are for one pair of plugs. Inserter assumes all responsibility.”
9. Triforce Stud Earrings
Made by ByIzabela
Creator says “These post EARRINGS are handmade from polymer clay. The base layer of the jewelry is black and the top layer is gold color (golden triangles). The jewelry is designed with great precision and admiration for this beautiful symbol. These Triforce stud EARRINGS have the shape of an equilateral triangle with a side of approx. 0.4" (1 cm). The polymer clay part is glued to a silver toned metal ear-post with clutch. Polymer clay is a lightweight, durable and water resistant material and if treated with moderate care it can last for years without deterioration. Made when ordered.”
10. Pikachu Pokemon Clinging Earrings
Made by FangirlyStorm
Creator says “A must have for any Pokémon Pikachu fan! . These are two part earrings the head and arms are the front of the earring and the body is the back of the earring, they appear to be clinging on to your ears. and have a little tail that dangles .The earrings are made from sealed water resistant hard plastic are very light weight and are hypoallergenic stainless steel post. These Pikachu earrings are adorable and look great on, And would make a great accessory for any geek at heart. Your earrings will come in a adorable themed handmade box.”
11. Portal Aperture Laboratories Etched Shot Glass
Made by ScallywagDesign
Creator says “The design will not wear off or fade over time. Each of our designs start in a clean vector art version of the artwork and then transpired on to shot glasses, beer mugs, coffee cups, picture frames, t-shirts, hoodies, etc. We can do almost any design and come up with a custom design for you as well. Email us if you have any questions.”
12. Glowing Hadouken Necklace
Made by CriticalHotShop
Creator says “Be stylish and show off your love for fighting games with this awesome glow in the dark Hadouken necklace. The arrows glow a brilliant blue, while the plus sign and fist glow in white! In addition, the fist sticks out from the necklace slightly, for that extra visual punch (wink wink, nudge nudge). The necklace is hung on a black enamel chain, which comes 20" long by default but can also be 18" or 22". If you'd like either of the non-default lengths, just let us know at checkout.”
13. Companion Cube Headphones
Made by Ketchupize
Creator says “The Cake is a lie! Hand painted clip-on headphones for the Portal fans out there. I managed to turn the Companion Cube into a Circle for this design. Featuring the same design on both sides these are so adorable and unique and would make a great gift. They are small and lightweight and so comfortable to wear.”
14. Custom NES Controller Canvas Shoes
Made by SuperBitKicks
Creator says “These shoes are men's canvas slip-on shoes. These shoes are printed, not hand drawn, meaning they can be made within a few days unlike other sellers who take up to 4 weeks to work. This keeps the cost down and gets the shoes to the buyer much faster. Each character depicted on my shoes is an exact representation and not an amateur recreation. The image printed onto the shoe is guaranteed to last for the lifespan of the shoe.”
We here at Mission Start Podcast would like to wish all you star-crossed lovers a wonderful Valentines Day.
-Gregg Dietz (@ChubRockGeek)
As I travel through the heart of the internet, I stumble across a few things that make me question why people are given internet access. A few times though, I come across a gem that makes me question what the point of a video game was. These 6 fan theories are very crazy but upon further thought, I realize that they actually make sense.
1. The Companion Cube Has A Corpse Inside
In the first Portal game, Chamber 17 introduces you to the companion cube, you are supposed to keep it with you to complete the puzzle and then discard it in an incinerator to advance. But you are unwilling to because you feel attachment to it, maybe even...love. This is because the companion cube has a human inside.
In Chamber 17, there are walls that are broken and show Rattman’s dens. In these dens, there are scribblings with pictures, on these pictures are cut out and taped companion cubes over the faces of various people. There are hearts around the pictures, words that say “The weighted companion cube does speak” and “I’m not hallucinating. You are.” This is because Rattman isn’t showing love for the cube itself, he’s showing that he misses the dead members of his ill begotten co-workers that are inside the companion cubes. There is also the fact that GlaDOS says clues to this with things like “I believe that one was about to say ‘I love you’, they sentient of course” and “Do not listen to the cube, it cannot speak, if it does, disregard its advice”. She refers to the cubes as “worthless and useless”, the only other time she uses this terminology is when talking about the value of human life.
Why This Makes Sense:
In Portal, you are alone except for the cold, omnipresent voice of GlaDOS. After a period of time, you are going to be accepting of any companionship. This is why you, even as the player, are immediately attached to an inanimate object. In portal 2, this is also a big factor, granted the cube looks different, it still holds the same weight, pun intended.
2. Marcus Kincaid is making the entire story up
Marcus Kincaid from Borderlands 1 & 2 is actually a father and is telling a story of another planet full of violent adventure, Mystical Aliens and tons and tons of guns.
The opening cut scene involves Marcus responding to a request from someone to tell them a story about treasure hunters. At no point in the following cut scene does he mention that the story he's telling is actually true, and considering the number of times he randomly appears it's not implausible that he either made it up out of whole cloth or took a mostly true story and then added his own embellishments. This would also explain the ludicrous amount of Gun Porn in the game. Marcus is an arms dealer and gun nut, and just the sort of person who would work loving, detailed descriptions of his many, many guns into the story. Even more obvious in Zombie Island of Dr. Ned, where Marcus really begins to phone it in.
Why It Makes Sense:
Borderlands is presented to you in a very over-the-top manner and is cell-shaded. You are immediately engrossed and simultaneously given a clear sense of fantasy. As you progress, each area is presented in a manner that seems fanciful. Each creature and bad guy is made to be both scary and fun. There is even a comic relief for the kids, Claptrap. Go to your kids and tell them the story of vault hunters on the planet of Pandora and see if they are super interested.
3. Sera is Mars in the distant past
The fight with the locust In the Gears of War trilogy, leaves the planet a desolate wasteland. The remaining humans spent their last resources to build a way to earth and start anew.
Sera is Ares spelled backwards, which is another name for the God of War, Mars. It's already hinted that the COG use of the Lightmass Bomb at the end of the first game has resulted in an unintentional planetary holocaust, perhaps the destruction eventually spreads to the point that the entire planet becomes uninhabitable. A bit of extrapolation on the last point: The draining of much of Sera's oceans at the end of Gears of War 2 (It'd take a HELLUVA lot of water to flood The Hollow) could have been what started the disappearance of Sera/Mars's Oceans. Another thing supporting this idea from Gears 2, the characters pronounce Sera with a long e, rather than a short e, which would be what you get when you pronounce Ares backwards.
Why This Makes Sense:
The humans on Sera live in a very similar manner as we do today on earth. It would stand to reason that if humans from earth are actually martians, they would try and recreate a world that was very similar. Now you may be asking, what about Earth’s history? My response is that it still happened, humans from Sera came to earth millenniums before modern man and put into motion for humans to live on earth in a very Sera manner.
4. Michael Townley/De Santa is a descendant of John Marston
Michael Townley/De Santa from Grand Theft Auto V is the great grandson of John Marston from Red Dead Redemption.
Other than that both games are made by Rockstar North, Michael has a watered down version of John’s deadeye ability. John could slow time while still retaining normal mobility, target enemies, and increase general combat effectiveness. Michael can just do the same except for the targeting ability.
Why This Makes Sense:
Michael would have taken the last name “De Santa” when going into witness protection because he heard stories from grandpa Jack about the days of the wild west and Great Grandpa John’s run ins with Vincente de Santa. It would also stand to reason that Michael would have a desire for crime like activities due to studies being shown that psychopathic tendencies can be pasted down.
5. The Rookie is a clone of Master Chief
The main protagonist is of Halo 3: ODST is a Clone of Spartan John 117, the Master Chief.
It is well known that when the chosen children for the Spartan II program are taken by the UNSC are replaced with clone versions that degenerate over a short period of time. It’s also well known that Halsey was immediately obsessed with John the day she met him, and that she is known to break protocol often to get results. Who’s to say she didn’t allow the Clone of John to not degrade over time and grow up normally. There is also the fact that The Rookies first name is John.
Why This Makes Sense:
As you play though the games as Master Chief, you come in contact with ODST’s and they are the best of the best, aside from yourself of course. Imagine if Master Chief didn’t go into the Spartan II program, he would have been an ODST. He would have been the best ODST. So it makes sense that a clone of Master Chief that didn’t degrade could have grown up and become a bad ass ODST.
6. Mega man is Robot Jesus
Mega Man sacrifices himself to save the souls of robot kind and bring forth peace of robot and man.
God is normally depicted as an old man with a white beard, whose "son" he sends forth in the world to save it and either bring back or destroy those he created who were once good, but tempted by evil into sin. Dr. Light is depicted the same way; Mega Man/Jesus is the "son", the ones who turned against Light/God are the Robot Masters/Sinners, and the evil which tempted them is Satan/Dr. Wily, whom are also depicted with similar facial hair. Roll, Proto Man, Rush, and the other helpers are apostles. Mega Man X and its games are the Second Coming of Robot Jesus.
Why This Makes Sense:
Mega Man is The robot lord and savior. He will bring peace to all who follow him, and not immediate destruction followed with absorption of abilities. Do not fall victim to Dr. Wily’s advances for he is the true form of all evil. You must love your fellow robot and must not be tempted by corruption. If you follow these laws Mega Man has passed down to you from Dr. Light, you will be allowed in to Robot Paradise. If you do not follow these laws, you will be annihilated.
Have you heard some fan theories that are crazy but somehow make sense? Do you think I’m losing my mind for thinking these theories make sense? Let me know in the comments below, on our Facebook fan page, or on our twitter at @MissionStartP
Thanks for Reading
- Gregg Dietz (@ChubRockGeek)
This is a list of 25 games to be released in 2014 that we are excited for.
NOTE: Not all games have permanent release dates and are subject to change.
Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2
Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy
South Park: The Stick of Truth
Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z
Dark Souls II
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes
Infamous: Second Son
The Elder Scrolls Online
Halo a.k.a. Halo 5
Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U
The Evil Within
The Order: 1886
Tom Clancy's The Division
Wolfenstein: The New Order
Yoshi's New Island
Did we miss a game that you are looking forward to?
Let us know in the comments below, on our Facebook Fan page, or tweet us at @MissionStartP
Thanks For Reading
Editor: Gregg Dietz (@ChubRockGeek)
As 2014 approaches and we see and play a slew of new and more impressive games, I like to look back and reminisce on the games I had the most fun playing. As I run down this list, keep in mind, this is my list, yours may be different, and that’s fine, I don’t expect everyone to agree with me. I should also clarify that I am a console gamer because my computer is the worst. So all of the cool indie games that came out this year, I did not get to play. That being said and out of the way, let’s start with number 8.
8. Gears of War: Judgment
As I talked about in my top 10 franchises article, I love the Gears of War series. What made this one so much fun was the scoring system during the campaign. It was both challenging and competitive with friends. Speaking of friends, the multiplayer was incredibly fun. The past Gears of War games had fun multiplayers, Gears of War was a great system link game, Gears of War 2 introduced the horde mode, Gears of War 3 finally had a matchmaking system and server functionality that didn’t make me want to throw my controller through the wall, and beast mode. Gears of War: Judgment introduced Overrun mode, in this mode, I could play for hours, it was the major reason I bought it and still enjoy playing it today.
7. Lego: Marvel Superheroes
Again, going back to my article of top 10 franchises, I love the lego games, this one is no different. I am especially a fan of the voice work put into these new lego games. It gives the writers of each game a level of freedom to do with what they want. The story in this is one of the best they’ve done yet, and keeping within the context of each character's comic origin while adding the movie stuff in as well. It is family friendly so there are puns strewn about but it works in the lego universe to the point of actually being funny. I also really dig skydiving off the helicarrier into New York City, that never gets old.
6. Super Mario 3D World
For a 3rd time, in my top 10 franchise article, I talk about how important Super Mario is to me. Trust me when I say, this is a perfect Super Mario game. Every aspect of it is very much like being a kid again, I would play this till my eyes bled if I were a child. As an adult, it just filled me with sense of wonderment. The level design is genius with having you think outside the box to get green stars and other treats. The new power ups don’t feel like weird add ons but like legitimate parts of the game you need to complete tasks. The catsuit is so much fun to use and makes each playable character adorable. Speaking of each playable character, having a small but brilliant call back to Super Mario Bros. 2 and being able to play as Toad (fastest character), Princess Peach (ability to float for a small duration), Luigi (Jumps the highest), and of course Mario (rounded out abilities) is a great way to make the game have long lasting playability. If you own a Wii U and don’t have this or plan on getting it, you are a fool.
5. Grand Theft Auto V
Grand Theft Auto has always been a great franchise, I talk about my love of this franchise in the same article i’ve spoken of 3 times now. GTA V was one of the games that I had been excited for for a long time because of Rockstar’s track record. I love the story in this game, it’s the best part to me, even if all 3 characters are completely deplorable. One very interesting thing about it to me is the gameplay is basically Rockstar’s greatest hits. The shooting mechanic is from Red Dead Redemption and Michael's slow motion shooting is from Max Payne 3, the driving mechanic is from Midnight Club and Franklin’s slow motion driving is from the Midnight Club: Los Angeles,Tennis feels very much like Table Tennis, Trevor’s rage mode is from The Warriors game (even though it was awful), Hell, you even do Smuggler Runs. Now I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing because they make the game very fun and playable but a possible bad thing because it lacks innovation like the other games had done. Either way, it’s a great game and one that anyone should pick up.
4. The Last of Us
I was introduced to this game back in E3 2012 long before the reason for the apocalypse in the game was given. After seeing the infected people, Naughty Dog released a small video about the cordycep fungus. This was a huge clue to people what the game was about. I’m telling you this because it made the anticipation for it so much more palpable. After having to deal with the infected and seeing them up close, it was quite clear that naughty dog put a load of thought into every aspect of this game. the opener to the game sets up a perfect mood for the rest of the story that not many other games can do. Having a simple control scheme is great, using that same control scheme to do various things is brilliant. I love that this game can be both an action game, a stealth game, a survival horror and puzzle game. No other game this year pulls this off with such grace.
3. Tomb Raider
When I talk about gaming with my friends, I ask them “In one word, why do you play video games?” The answer I give every time is FUN. This game is simply that, FUN, every second of it was a joy. Now I’m not blind to the irony of calling a game fun where a young woman is constantly injured and almost killed. I just simply couldn’t put this game down and I was sad when it was over. It was the first game where I played with a bow and arrow mechanic that actually worked. I loved the pseudo Metroid style gameplay, it was a great way to have the player think before acting. I’m absolutely awful at stealth games, usually in stealth games, if you are caught, you will die quickly because your health is intentionally low or you just fail the mission, in tomb raider, you just now have to fight more guys and getting out is very possible. The puzzles may not be the most difficult I’ve ever solved but they were still very satisfying. If you haven’t played this one yet, please do, even if it didn’t impact on you as much as it did me.
2. Bioshock Infinite
Now I will be the first to admit, the gameplay in this game is just par for the course, not terrible but not great at the same time. There is nothing the game does to advance gunplay, adding the skyhook and tears does not make for innovation in action sequences. This game makes its way to the number 2 spot because of the story. I have never lost a part of my psyche because of an ending to a game. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who still hasn’t played it but I spend hours upon hours obsessing over this games story. As a matter of fact, I thoroughly analyzed every line of dialog to understand more of the story due to its complexity. I have to stop now before I spoil something, just play this if you haven’t.
1. Saints Row IV
This is probably a huge surprise to anyone reading this list. As I talk about in the Tomb Raider section of this list, this game is just fun. From the opening stage, 3 hours in, all the way to the ending, it never stops being fun. I loved Saints Row 3, it was a surprise to me because I wasn’t a fan of the first 2 due to them simply being GTA clones, Saints row 3 and 4 stray away from that connotation so strongly, they become their own entities. Now I will admit that the game is glitchy constantly, it has problems all over the place but what makes this genius is you are in a simulation the entire time, any glitch is explained away brilliantly. I love to laugh and this game made me laugh all the time. Between the great dialog, the music choices, the subtle references to pop culture, the weaponry, it never stops being amazing, hilarious and highly entertaining. I urge you to play this one because it deserves to be praised for it’s ridiculous brilliance.
What are your top games of 2013? Did you think my list was stupid? What games are you excited for in 2014? Let us know in the comments below, on your Facebook fan page or tweet us at @MissionStartP
- Gregg Dietz (@ChubRockGeek)
Merry Christmas Everyone! We thought it be nice to run down 12 Video Game themed ornaments you can buy now.
Classic Video Game Controller Ornament Set - http://tinyurl.com/l5r2pbp
Angry Birds 3 Inch Ornament - http://tinyurl.com/mu5wzhs
Video Game Console Ornaments - http://tinyurl.com/l5z7wzf
Pokeball Christmas Ornament - http://tinyurl.com/l6sbdv6
Paper Mario Christmas Ornaments - http://tinyurl.com/mts9qhh
Cloud Strife Silhouette Ornament - http://tinyurl.com/q6l364z
Handmade Nintendo Christmas Ornaments - http://tinyurl.com/mm3pa9p
Sword, Creeper Face, and Diamond Christmas Ornament Set - http://tinyurl.com/mquucl7
Bioshock Ornament - http://tinyurl.com/kn9y4de
3D Mass Effect Snowflake Ornament - http://tinyurl.com/k2722vk
Mega Man E-Tank Christmas Ornament - http://tinyurl.com/lzde738
Borderlands Psycho Mask Ornament - http://tinyurl.com/l2c82jk
Are you planning buying any of these ornaments? Let us know in the comments below, on our Facebook fan page, or tweet us at @MissionStartP and follow me on twitter at @ChubRockGeek
- Gregg Dietz
As a long time fan of the Super Mario franchise, there are thousands of things I could run down that make this series great. This list however is all about the music. After hearing the music from the new Super Mario 3D World game, I thought to myself that if everyone knows the music, how come no one talks about it enough? It’s because the music is simply ambiance. It’s there as a tool to help immerse you in the level you are currently playing, to make you feel triumphant or make defeat slightly less painful. The list below are my personal favorite tracks from the pantheon of Super Mario titles, and while I’m at it, I must mention that I only took from the main series. That means no kart games, no sports games and no RPG’s. With that out of the way, lets get started.
10. Credits Theme from Super Mario 3D World
I chose this track because it actually made me very happy. I haven't beat this one yet and I can listen to it for hours.
9. Gusty Garden Galaxy Theme from Super Mario Galaxy
This one is really special because it sets the mood for the rest of the game.
8. Metal Cap Theme from Super Mario 64
Just listen to those bad ass beats! It's basically an invincibility theme remix and it's awesome.
7. Castle Theme from Super Mario World
I love the sense of dread this theme instills but is still so much fun at the same time.
6. Credits Theme from Super Mario World
This happy little tune is a wonderful reward for all your hard work and a huge slice of my childhood.
5. Underworld Theme from Super Mario Bros.
Everyone knows this simple little tune because it created a great feeling of being in an underworld area.
4. Bob-OMB Battlefield from Super Mario 64
Upon hearing this for the first time, it was a great song for the awe I was in to be playing a Mario game in 3D.
3. Overworld Theme from Super Mario Bros. 2
Just listen to how happy this is. Love or hate this game, you can't deny how uplifting this song is.
2. Athletic Theme from Super Mario World
This one just strikes a cord with me. Being very catchy and just a joy while playing makes the top 3.
1. Athletic Theme from Super Mario Bros. 3
This theme is so ingrained in my psyche, it's more recognizable than the main Super Mario Bros theme.
Was there a song or theme that didn't make the cut that would be on your list? What childhood stories do you have from playing Super Mario Bros.? Let us know in the comments below, on our Facebook fan page, or tweet us at @MissionStartP
Thanks For Reading
-Gregg Dietz (@ChubRockGeek)