Best New Game - Star Fox
1st Runner Up - Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon
2nd Runner Up - Defense Grid: The Awakening
Hey, a Final Fantasy didn't win this year, although it's not like they could have because the only ones I played this year were replays. Star Fox utilized the Super FX chip to create colorful, abstract graphics, but knew it needed to be more than a tech demo and provided one of the tensest rail shooters ever. Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon ironed out the interface issues of the NES and to a lesser extent SNES versions, my only real beef being that I wish it used sprites or anything besides those ugly cel-shaded models. And yeah, I went through most of Defense Grid last year, but it's a sweet game and shouldn't be disqualified from both years because of my play schedule.
Worst New Game - LEGO Batman
1st Runner Up - Neugier
2nd Runner Up - LittleBig Planet
LEGO Batman totally sweeps the #1 slot, but I was a bit conflicted on which game should be runner up. LittleBig Planet had Stephen Fry's voice acting, while Neugier had the mercy to end quickly. But at the same time, Neugier's shocking brevity could also be taken as a sign of its lack of ideas.
Best Replay/Alternate Version - Final Fantasy IV
1st Runner Up - Final Fantasy V
2nd Runner Up - Dragon View
So yeah, here's where all the Final Fantasies ended up. I dropped VI because I've gone through that so many times before and wanted to give something else a chance, even if that "something else" wound up being IV.
Worst Replay/Alternate Version - Super Smash Bros. Brawl
1st Runner Up - Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins
2nd Runner Up - Shadow of the Beast
If there was anything I got out of replaying Brawl, it's that it got me interested in trying out the Fire Emblem games, and Shadow Dragon was one of my favorite games of the year. Super Mario Land 2 introduced Wario, but otherwise it's a completely unremarkable waste of time. I mean, hell, Super Mario World introduced Yoshi, and while not Mario's best outing it was still fairly decent. The TG-CD version of Shadow of the Beast is the most playable of all the versions I've tried, but really, it's a style over substance sort of game and you're probably better off playing the Amiga version with an invincibility cheat.
Best Soundtrack - Star Fox
1st Runner Up - Jamestown
2nd Runner Up - NIER
Two shooters and an RPG, although NIER in third comes with a huge disclaimer - I actually think that game's soundtrack is overrated, and it's only being included because there weren't more great soundtracks this year. For all the praise the vocals get, I think they just make all the songs sound alike. Also, you have to listen to the field song so much it was actually driving me nuts by the end of the game, and this song sucks. But it's always nice to hear a modern game where the soundtrack isn't forgettable ambience, I thought the actual music parts of the songs were kind of catchy, and I did like the song for the town of Facade, one of the only ones that didn't have vocals.
Most Pleasant Surprise (Games) - NIER up to the endgame
1st Runner Up - Jamestown
2nd Runner Up - Fable III
First impressions of NIER were pretty poor, and even after I warmed up to it didn't find the gameplay particularly outstanding. Also, when I wrote my quickie I completely overlooked NIER using teeny tiny HD text, because unlike previous encounters with that bullshit I had access to an HD TV when I played this. But the boss fights were actually kind of cool when they stopped taking forever to defeat, and the writing was so solid that, truth be told, I was ready to give the game another full Skitty until... well, I'll get to that in a minute.
I'm not much on bullet hell shooters and I wish the game was more focused on its goal, but Jamestown had plenty for both newbies and veterans of the genre, and as I mentioned before I've grown quite fond of the soundtrack. Response to Fable III was pretty negative so I went in low expectations, and maybe it was just because I also went in knowing the dick move the game was going to pull at the end and was able to dodge it, but I thought it was alright.
Biggest Disappointment (Games) - NIER's endgame
1st Runner Up - Black Sigil's endgame
2nd Runner Up - Ufouria
While Black Sigil had a final boss and ending that were the very definition of anticlimactic, that's all they were; anticlimactic. NIER's endgame, meanwhile, was the most I'd felt like I'd been kicked in the balls since Rogue Prime, and it left me wanting to hunt down whoever was responsible and slap them until they came up with something that actually made sense.
Regarding Ufouria, it wasn't a bad game by any stretch of the word, and being such a big fan of Blaster Master I probably just expected way too much from it, but so much of it really needed to be tightened up. But again, maybe just playing it in the correct framerate would make a difference, espcially now that I've found a Hebereke ROM.
Most Satisfying to Finally Finish After Tormenting Me For Years - Star Fox
Runner Up - Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon
And since these were also my favorite games of the year, you'd think I should have gotten around to them sooner. Although Shadow Dragon might need an asterisk since I hadn't been trying to get through that version specifically for years, but bailing out on the SNES version years ago haunted me ever since.
Funniest Game - NIER
1st Runner Up - Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law
2nd Runner Up - Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale
The hysterics NIER's dialogue often had me in only make it all the more upsetting that I also have to award it with...
Most Insulting Plot Twist - NIER (Despite their ability to feel love, anger, joy, pain, and other emotions, everyone you've come to care about are all soulless shells and the shambling monsters killing the world are the real humans!)
Some time after finishing the game, a random Bing search turned up a forum topic comparing NIER's ending to freaking Mass Effect 3's. Not having played any of the Mass Effect games I didn't look into it, but ME3's ending must be pretty damn rancid.
In NIER's defense, I probably never would have found out that absolutely everyone dies horribly if I hadn't gone poking around the Internet. Maybe it was also revealed in a packet of documents you were given at the end that I never bothered to read, but at least the ending itself doesn't imply that.
Game That I Put A Decent Amount of Effort Into, But Never Got Around to Finishing of the Year - Lemmings Revolution
I've made several cracks at Lemmings Revolution over the years, but they all eventually ended when the levels got too complicated. This time I cleared out a lot more of the map than I ever have before, but still hit a wall. It's certainly a more successful attempt at bringing Lemmings to the third dimension than 3D Lemmings, but after a while the levels get so hectic it's hard to keep track of everything, although I tend to make the levels too hard on myself when I go into them trying to figure out how to save as many lemmings as possible, rather than trying to figure how to just clear them.
One thing I'm not entirely keen on is, in the original Lemmings you had all the information you needed for a level as soon as it loaded, and could (in theory) clear any level on your first try. With Revolution, you don't know which switches have what effect or what teleporters go to each other until you try them, so basically you'd need clairvoyance to beat many levels on your first try (and hell, some switches are actually traps and need to be avoided completely). There's some other dick moves the game pulls, like how that level in the screenshot might look stupidly easy, but the catch is you can't pause that level. Except you don't know that until the level starts and several lemmings go splat as your futile attempts to pause the action and get your bearings only generate a cackling noise.
Game That I Put A Decent Amount of Effort Into, But Decided Could Go Fuck Itself of the Year - Pier Solar
Like anyone's surprised. But here's several things I never mentioned in either of my rants:
Just to illustrate how sluggish this game is, I was eleven hours in when I decided to shitcan it, and I still had no idea what I was working toward, what calamity was going to befall the earth if everyone just went home, or why I should care. The only thing even resembling a threat I'd seen was that knight in the gold armor from the unwinnable fight, but all I'd seen him do was repel all my attacks and kill a couple goat men in a contrived attempt at shock that meant nothing to me because I'd only known them for the time it took me to get through one dungeon. Compare that to Final Fantasy VI, where eleven hours in Kefka has poisoned an entire city, led an assault on another, menaced you constantly, killed an important character and a bunch of Espers, backstabbed his boss, blown up the world, and is now ruling over the ashes as a god and nuking anyone who looks at him funny.
So the game is paced like a fat man dragging a walrus across the Sahara, but I think the speed I was going through was actually hustling. Characters kept joining me at much higher levels than my current party was at and after the first area the enemies would always go before my guys (I also kept getting Ambushed practically every fight in that forest with the trolls after the monkey desert, but I don't know if that was a character stat thing, or an intentional "feature" of that area). When I first got to the canyon and that cliff area with the giant slides it took me a while to realize were supposed to be trees, I had to spend an hour power leveling so I could survive more than two or three fights and get the latest equipment. This all led me to believe the game wanted me to spend hours grinding myself retarded against the same two formations of the same three or four enemy species everytime I got somewhere new.
Regarding the music enhancement disc, the way it was presented I thought it would be like going from this to this. About the last thing I was expecting was MIDI renditions hitting all the same notes at the same time, only with less energy (nevermind how generous it is to compare the cart's soundtrack to Earthworm Jim's to begin with).
That monkey desert has a serious design flaw that makes me wonder how much WaterMelon playtested this game, or at least makes a convincing argument for RPGs only letting you save in towns. When you enter the desert, you fall through a hole you can't get back out of. There's no inn until you pass through this desert and the following forest, and the only shop is between the two. And if you save and reset, you'll still be within the desert. So if you enter this area underleveled and underequipped, save, and can't survive the monkey and troll attacks you run into every five seconds and can't run from without enduring a round of poundings (if your characters even run away after it all), your game is dead and that's eight hours plus however much time it took you to run out of supplies of your life in the shitter.
While looking through the posts I made at FO's while playing this, I discovered I'd completely forgotten about that town of lemming children where one of them asks you how many times you've farted in your life. High brow comedy there, folks. That's even worse than ganking a line from Zero Punctuation (and while we're on the subject, could somebody explain to me the logic behind quoting an avid hater of JRPGs in your JRPG?)
I will confess there are times I consider picking the game back up, not because I actually give a shit about the story or how it's going to unfold (especially not when I imagine it's going to play out like a cross between Secret of Mana and a bad 90's anime), but because I blew fifty-six bucks on the fucker and dammit, I want that money to mean something. And then I ask myself, do I really want to waste $56 and how ever many hours of my life I could be spending on another, less horrible game? And then I ask myself, would this really be a bigger waste of time than Smash Bros. Brawl, LEGO Batman, or Super Princess Peach?
And finally, this has been quite insightful on what delusional hypocrites WaterMelon are.
Best Live-Action Movie - The Muppets
1st Runner Up - Star Trek: The Motion Picture
2nd Runner Up - My Fellow Americans
Dedicated readers might be wondering about The Great Escape. I'm leaving it off because I spent the movie feeling like there was this little gnome on my shoulder yelling "You have to like this movie" into my ear throughout the whole thing, and I was so distracted by said gnome I wound up having no reaction to the movie, other than the ending was a real downer.
Worst Live-Action Movie - Nim's Island
I didn't care much for Robin Hood or Batman Begins and I was massively underwhelmed by Young Frankenstein, but those were all just meh. Nim's Island was the only live action movie that made me want to hurt somebody.
Best Animated Movie - How to Train Your Dragon
1st Runner Up - The Cat Returns
2nd Runner Up - Brother Bear
Interesting how my two favorite animated movies of the year were about dragons that act like cats and well, cats. After those two, I had a bunch of movies I gave the same score to. I gave the bronze to Brother Bear just because it was probably the prettiest movie I saw this year. Toy Story 3 crossed my mind, but while the good parts were good, the dodgy parts were really dodgy.
Worst Animated Movie - Robots
1st Runner Up - Karas: The Prophecy
2nd Runner Up - Shark Tale
It was really hard to narrow this down to just three because I saw a lot of real stinkers this year - I also gave The Professional Golgo 13 and Metropolis half a Skitty. I finally went with these three because Robots made me the angriest of the five, Karas didn't have the decency to end properly, and Shark Tale because I sometimes forget I watched Golgo 13 so I guess Shark Tale was more traumatizing?
Best TV DVD - Bob's Burgers: The Complete First Season
1st Runner Up - Angry Beavers: Season One
2nd Runner Up - Mystery Science Theater 3000 Vol. XXII
I guess 2012 wasn't the best year for TV DVD volumes. I mean, Bob's Burgers was pretty good, and Angry Beavers makes the list for the Day the World Got Really Screwed Up episode alone. But I was having trouble deciding what should come in third. There was Hogan's Heroes, but I'm having a hard time remembering specific moments of the show aside from the chimpanzee episode, and both it and Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog have the same issue where the "bad guys" are a lot more fun than the heroes, although Hogan's crew aren't anywhere near as as bad Sonic and Tails (except maybe Hogan himself, but my opinion of him might just be tainted by his actor). I wound up settling on Mystery Science Theater 3000 Vol. XXII because it was nice to see Shout Factory put out an MST3K set that didn't have a season one episode for a change.
Worst TV DVD - Little Britain: The Complete First Series
1st Runner Up - Aqua Teen Hunger Force
2nd Runner Up - American Dad! Volume 2
More shit I sold to Hasting's in exchange for movie rentals.
Best Book - Year of the Griffin
1st Runner Up - Men at Arms
2nd Runner Up - The Underneath
I'm probably a bit biased towards Year of the Griffin since griffins are my favorite mythological animal and books about them are hard to come by. I really need to get back to reading as much as I was back in 2010.
Worst Book - The Dragonslayer's Apprentice
1st Runner Up - Dragonsdale
2nd Runner Up - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
I skipped the initial quickies of those first two because I couldn't be bothered to write more than a couple sentences about them, so here they are: Dragonslayer's Apprentice was a disjointed mess of telling instead of showing that read like it was written by a nine year old. Dragonsdale was a book about horse riding disguised as a book about dragon riding with some of the most two-dimensional characterization I've seen since Sorcerer's Stone.
Most Pleasant Surprise (Everything Else) - Hugo
Take this with a grain of salt because nothing really surprised me the way Just Shoot Me did last year. But this probably still had the biggest gap between how reluctant I was to sit through it and how much I wound up enjoying it anyway, although the fact I couldn't think of any runner ups should tell you how wide said gap is.
Biggest Disappointment (Everything Else) - The Adventures of Milo and Otis
1st Runner Up - This is Spinal Tap
2nd Runner Up - Armitage III
Milo and Otis only sort of creeped me out when I was done watching it, but then a reader sent me a very... um, informative little video showing the horrors that went on behind the scenes. And This is Spinal Tap was like watching a perfectly decent film while somebody hired by the studio kicks the back of your seat for the entire duration of the movie.
Regarding Armitage III, I didn't go into it expecting it to be any good, because I already had it on good authority that it was pretty bad. But when I actually watched it, I wound up more frustrated at what a massive waste it was than anything.
Since I'm sitting here writing this and you're reading it, obviously the world didn't end. For me, 2012 was the year of the movie, I guess to make up for only having watched five last year while everything else sort of got neglected. I know this is a really weird thing for me to pick up on, but I didn't play any Ys games this year. That's sort of a yearly thing I do, along with Final Fantasies.
I guess the plan to do the quickies every other month worked out, as I got more on the rest of the site done. I also got some articles published on Cracked and TopTenz, and pissed off an indie game developer. Oh, and that whiny kid from the beginning of the year? Not long after I posted the last email exchange with him he started sending me emails that were repeats of older ones, so I finally blocked him. So yeah, if you've been sending me emails all year kid? Complete waste. And move on with your life already.
So, what are my aims for the next year? Well, I really want to focus on cleaning up Lemmings Forever. The writing there is some of the oldest, and thus clunkiest on the site, and since it's supposed to be a dedication to one of my favorite game franchises, I need to clean it up to those standards. And I also aim to get more stuff published on other sites. So here's to another year, and hopefully more.