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2008 in Review Part 3

posted on January 21st, 2009 by jay

Being an optimistic person, I’d like to discuss some of the things I was disappointed with in ’08. Last year must have been the first since I reached financial independence that I played games on only one publishers system; in 2008 I was a Nintendo fanboy.

Oddly enough, I am not adding the Wii in ’08 to my list of disappointments. No More Heroes, House of the Dead, Mario Kart, Boom Blox, Strong Bad, World of Goo, De Blob, and Dokapon Kingdom all came in ’08 and while I may have quirky, Japan-centric (or shitty) taste, I was content.

I am disappointed that I refuse to learn lessons from past game purchases. The following are games that aren’t necessarily bad, just games I should have known I didn’t need:

Endless Ocean – The idea that games can be anything they want and don’t need to fit into a pre-defined mold is noble. After seeing EGM dismiss Endless Ocean as a non-game because it lacked health bars and points I rushed out to prove them wrong. Well, I was right. It is a game. It’s also coma inducing. I want to be the kind of person who can relax with a beer and Endless Ocean, but I’m really a cocaine and shmup guy. Maybe I’ll like Endless Ocean 2?

More like Endless Boringcean.

Wii Music – I tried to write a review for this game for the longest time but I spent most of that time postulating and not playing so ultimately I really am not qualified. If this is a non-game then most music games are a step below – I recommend we call Guitar Hero unnon-games. I have grown tired of most glorified Simon simulators on the market and hoped Wii Music’s focus on improv would jazz up the genre (get it? jazz?). Unfortunately, to really enjoy Wii Music I would need to have friends. Had Nintendo included a Mario Paint style composition tool, Wii Music may have been among the best games ever made and endlessly enjoyable by a lone gamer, instead Nintendo included Twinkle Twinkle Little Star then forces you to play it. Over and over and over again.

Smash Brothers – Melee seemed fun but overrated but there was so much hype for Brawl I came to rethink my religious skepticism. Perhaps there was a god, and just maybe his name was Sakurai (this may actually be true – see Meteos). The sheer amount of crap stuffed into Brawl seemed to guarantee quality. Tons of music by an all star list of game composers, loads of characters, items, weapons, and a long single player mode all indicated I would be busy for a long time. To its credit I was occupied for a week or two, which is a week or two longer than Melee grabbed my attention. Overall I still don’t really get the (huge) cult following this series has.

Enough pussyfooting around with this “well maybe it’s good but we may just have different opinions and I don’t really want to offend you so I can acknowledge the inherent quality of the product even if it doesn’t really speak to me,” bullshit. The next group of games were bonafied let downs and anyone who tells you otherwise is factually incorrect and overweight.

Final Fantasy My Life As King – This one started with such promise. Building a town, recruiting adventurers, upgrading shops, and all of the actual mechanics are fun. At first. Then hours pass and you begin to realize you’re playing an Excel spreadsheet without the awesome ability to highlight columns in different colors. A war game that removes combat and focuses purely on simulation can work, but it needs depth that is not found in FFMLAK. Had FFMLAK been half the length and 2/3rds the price I’d probably be recommending it wholeheartedly, but there just isn’t enough there to stave off the impending disappointment.

More like Boring Fantasy: My Boring Life As King of Boredomstantinople.

Summon Night Twin Age – This was my first time with the long running, mostly Japan only series and if it weren’t a spinoff with completely different gameplay from the others, it would be my last. You can think of it as the spiritual successor to Legend of Mana – it’s beautiful but less interesting than a preacher at a president’s inauguration. Because borrowing just from Legend of Mana wouldn’t make Twin Age shitty enough, Flight Plan also decided to lift one of the poorer design choices from Shining Tears – each group of enemies is distinct and composed of about five monsters. In order to minimize excitement, they are engaged one group at a time. The overall game flow is: walk into group, tap screen, walk over dropped items, repeat. It’s kind of like Diablo without Satan, constant gear drops, and pointer finger cramps.

Etrian Odyssey II – This series has a vocal following and I feel a little left out. Am I not hardcore enough? Should I give up and just buy Imagine: Bratz Ponyz? I keep trying to convince myself I do like RPGs but if Etrian Odyssey is one then maybe I don’t. Just like the first, EO2 is fun for the first 15 floors or so. Then the lack of plot and variety start to really wear on me. I didn’t finish EO2 so I will wonder for the rest of my days if global warming was the culprit, like in the first, but it is not an inconvenient uncertainty.

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