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Sunday, December 8, 2013

RIP Last Gen

With the release of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One last week, I have to finally make amends with the fact that we're done with the generation of vidcon that brought us eight years (EIGHT YEARS) of fun for the whole family in at least one case I'm sure. So here are my ten favorites from last gen. All cover images are from I will point out for posterity's sake that I never owned a PlayStation 3. Handheld consoles are not counted for this list.

10. Tony Hawk's American Wasteland (XBOX 360)

THAW came out right at the beginning of the XBOX 360's lifespan, and it really didn't get much of any benefit at all from the new, more powerful 360 hardware. It's nothing that I would consider a yardstick or a barometer or whatever instrument of measurement you'd like to use (I prefer a rain gauge, personally) of the consoles themselves. The control of of THAW was probably the tightest that the series ever had, and the level design (while not as varied as some of the previous releases) was as good as ever. Definitely my favorite entry in a favorite series of mine on any of these platforms.

9. NCAA Football 14 (XBOX 360)

We're getting off to a high-class start here on the list with skateboard and football games (but what do you expect from me really). This series really dropped off after the jump to new consoles in around 2007, and had to figure out how to properly adapt to a new engine. It reached peak gameplay performance in NCAA 12, but it finally figured out what made for a really good NCAA Football (I'm defining "really good" as "something I'm not getting from Madden") game in 2014. That was as simple as having a single season mode again for those who don't feel like dealing with recruiting, easier defensive playmaking control, and the ability to make the option work.

8. WarioWare: Smooth Moves (Wii)

This is exactly what I wanted from WarioWare back in 2007. On a console whose main feature was swinging your arms everywhere, I can't think of a better use of your time than swinging your arms everywhere. WarioWare often ends up being some exhibition of a new feature (see: Basically every WarioWare game after the first), and I'm okay with that.

7. You Don't Know Jack! (Wii)

A trivia game has made it on the list ALERT A TRIVIA GAME HAS MADE IT ON THE LIST. This series was actually a favorite of my parents' in its original form during the '90s, and I'm glad to see it make a comeback like that. I only can explain why I like this so much via personal anecdote, so here it goes:
Out at the camp where I worked this past summer, I brought out my copy of the PlayStation version and played it against 2 of my co-workers (to protect their anonymity we'll refer to them as "Mighty Mouse" and "Joe"). We enjoyed that, and when we got to the Wii version, we enjoyed it just as much. Consistent quality even over a fifteen year gap, especially on a game based around humor, is hard to do.

6. Mirror's Edge (XBOX 360)

I went through a really snobby rebellious phase back in 2009 and I went searching for a game that was "different" from the "generic" games that all the "douche" kids in my middle school liked (those games were Halo 3, Call of Duty: WAW, and Madden 2009) so I went and tried a bunch of "different stuff" (Tony Hawk's Project 8, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts, and Portal), some of which I liked, and some of which I didn't. I liked Mirror's Edge back when I first tried it, but it's one of the only games from that period that I tstill think sticks out as a really good one. (and, for what it's worth, I still haven't played anything similar to it since)

5. College Hoops 2K7 (XBOX 360)

Really killing it here on the whole "hardcore gamer" crowd. But hey, it's about everything I could want from a basketball sim. Really expansive legacy mode, gameplay sliders, that weird chant creator thing that I absolutely didn't abuse, and almost every Divison I school. I couldn't want much more than that. It's just a very fun game to sink hours into and find yourself with a team somewhere unexpected, trying to build a winning program. I absolutely recommend it to anyone who is me.

4. Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition (XBOX 360)

So this is a great game with a great story and excellent humor from the early 1990's. I know some people weren't a huge fan of the added voice work, but I like the person who played Guybrush, and I didn't have all that much of a problem with the cursor system (though I will admit that it didn't work quite as well in a few bits as SCUMM would have). Easy to get into a classic series such as Monkey Island through a remake done as well as this one (especially at 10 dollars)

3. Rhythm Heaven Fever (Wii)

Another one of those that I played at work, and another from the guys who made WarioWare. Catchy and memorable music comes from just about every one of my favorite games, but there's something different when that music makes the game work. You'll see this in similar rhythm-focused titles like PaRappa The Rappa as well, where people remember the fun music along with the  action. I think I had so much fun with this one because my friends were playing it at around the same time, and we all got very much into it.

2. Call of Duty 2 (XBOX 360)
I like to imagine the guy here's like "LETS GO LETS GO STORM THE HILL THERE'S A BAD THING ON TOP"

There are two XBOX 360 games from 2005 on this list somehow but I'm not ashamed. The second COD game was probably the game that killed the World-War II "genre" to a certain extent. The developers left no stone unturned when it comes to knowing exactly what made a good game based upon a bloody, generation-destroying war such as WWII. The single-player mode perfected the formula that the Call of Duty series ran on (or would have run on had the games not changed dramatically in the fourth entry), moving from character to character, most of whom were simple people involved in a war much bigger than them. It managed to be cinematic, but not too cinematic to the point where it didn't feel like you were "playing." The XBOX Live multiplayer was great as well, the first that I ever experienced.

1. Skate 3 (XBOX 360)

I would lose so much street cred if anyone were to ever read this list. But Skate 3 is exactly what I wanted from skating games. It didn't feel as restricted as the original Skate (one of the main reasons that I asked for an XBOX 360 back in 2008 for a Christmas present), and I vastly preferred the setting Port Carverton to San Vanelona after a few hours of trying it. The fact that the setting was named "Port Carverton" added to why Skate's still my favorite: a stupid sense of humor. Also: Shameless product placement from Miracle Whip (they really wanted to get in cool with the kids for a while).
Also: These videos I made-

I can go for a really long time with this but I'll spare you. That was me having fun with a cool game that I like a lot, pure and simple. I've beaten it about twice but I've put more than a few extra hours into it. Highest recommendation from me.

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