We’re back with Part 2 of this list! Let’s not waste any time and jump right into the games!!
Developed by Insomniac Games
Am I getting too old for this? I might be getting too old for this. As I’m sure is a common consensus among those of us over twenty-five playing this game, I still feel a stronger connection to Spider-Man 2 from all the way back in the stone age than this one despite it still managing to be one of the best games I’ve played this year even if it can’t quite surpass my nostalgia for the one with Bruce Campbell in it. I don’t know, I just feel that the new game is guiding me too much in my web swings; pulling visual tricks or redirecting my momentum to minimize mistakes, and while I will never claim that harder games are inherently better (or that players just need to “git gud”), I found the hectic and less controlled web slinging in Spider-Man 2 to be more rewarding and much more engaging on long trips to far off objective markers. Other than that, the game is an improvement in every way. The combat is fluid and allows for lots of varied combos, I LOVE it whenever a level has multiple levels so you can swoop in, kick butt, swing away, and come back to smash some faces one floor below, and even though the stealth sections are pretty unengaging, they at least function well enough. That said, it can get a bit monotonous with some of the combat sections and I would have gladly traded all the battle challenges on the map for just one more fine-tuned and well-crafted story stages like the skyscraper one that was shown in the trailer. Also, it felt a bit… anachronistic I guess to have the bad guys be SO defined by their Asian culture especially since the game doesn’t have much to counterbalance that. When a minority group of people is almost exclusively shown to be terrorist (Yuri Watanabe is the only other Asian character of note), well at that point you’re basically recreating that one episode of Sherlock that’s always gonna be a bit uncomfortable to watch. Still, this is a Spider-Man game that, at least for the modern era, will define what it means to be a Super-Hero game, and while I’ll always carry a torch for the PS2 game I won’t begrudge the new generation for having a version made for them to enjoy.
Now that we’ve got the movies of 2018 out of the way, it’s time to tackle a subject I very much enjoy but have much less experience in. Very rarely will I talk about video games on this site as my focus is almost exclusively on movies and television, but I do play a lot of games throughout the year and as a critic I can’t help but have opinions on them, so what I do is I save up ALL those thoughts and put them right here for you to enjoy! Well, either enjoy or utterly detest me for. I’ll take either one! Let’s get started!!
Call of Juarez: Gunslinger (PC)
Developed by Techland
Man, was THIS a fun little surprise! The only thing I know about the Call of Juarez series is that it was as series of ho-hum cowboy shooters that eventually jumped the shark when they went to modern day and made it SUPER racist. This game on the other hand, while admitting that there is a level where you track down a Native American, seems to have been a total course correction or at least something of a soft reboot; a la when they did that 2D Blood Rayne Side Scroller or when Sonic the Hedgehog took a brief respite from being awful in Sonic Mania. From what I saw of the other Juarez games, they were mostly drag and went for an authentic aesthetic where this game is all about charm, wit, and stylistic excess. The character designs are bright and colorful which is not only more appealing but a practical improve since it makes them stand out more prominently against the landscapes, and the overall feel is that of an over the top spaghetti western; encouraging you to make the big moves and go in guns-a-blazing just to see if it’ll work. That’s actually something I think game developers should explore a bit more; how aesthetics and style can change the way that players make decisions in the game which may be a more powerful incentive than more straightforward gameplay design incentives. In something less fantastical and more serious I probably wouldn’t have even bothered dual wielding pistols and unloading them into a group of enemies when my trusty rifle can do the job with fewer bullets and at a safer distance. With the visual design, the UI interface, and ESPECIALLY the story which is a series of flashbacks conveying a story that your player character is narrating as you play through it made me feel more inclined to try and be the BIG HEROTM than play practically. It can be a bit buggy at times as I’m pretty sure I ran into one enemy who was shooting me through a wall, but despite its modest scale it’s still one of the most enjoyable First Person shooters I’ve played in a while!
Pokémon: Detective Pikachu is owned by Warner Bros Pictures and all the images you see in this trailer talk are the property of their respective owners
Directed by Rob Letterman
We knew this was coming and yet it still feels totally unreal, doesn’t it? They’re FINALLY going forward with a live action Pokémon movie and frankly they seemed to have made the smart move by going with one of the Pikachu spin-offs rather than try to encompass the entirety of the Pokémon experience into one movie, but hey! Just give it a few years and we’ll surely get our Pokémon Trilogy followed by a Pokémon Expanded Universe, so for now let’s take a look at the trailer for what will surely be one of the biggest films of next year! The first thing I’m sure everyone noticed is HOW FREAKING DARK THE TONE OF THIS MOVIE IS!! I mean sure, it’s not Bladerunner, Sin City, or even Who Framed Roger Rabbit, but the aesthetic here is unlike anything I’ve ever seen associated with Pokémon; even that Pokémon Coliseum game with that broody looking protagonist. It’s ridiculously incongruous in so many ways; especially where this dude who looks MAYBE sixteen is supposedly a grown ass man on the police force (maybe?) and lives in Daredevil’s apartment complete with overbearing neon lights constantly seeping through the cracks of his blinds, and we have moody cinematography with wistful music over freaking Pokémon posters on his walls! It’s utterly ridiculous and frankly feels about on par with the Super Mario Bros movie as far as strange yet oddly compelling design choices for such a kid friendly franchise. Yeah, I said it! Super Mario Bros THE MOVIE looks pretty cool!
Is that the Umbrella logo!? THE EXPANDED UNIVERSE IS ALREADY HERE!!
Are you ready to close the book on 2017 once and for all? I certainly am, and with this last look back at the games I played for the first time that year, I can not only close that book but toss into a fire and then kick it a few times for good measure! But hey, I guess not EVERYTHING was bad that year; even if half the games I’m referencing in this list are from different years altogether! Heck, even the bad ones managed to distract me from the nonsense going on in the world every freaking agonizing day, so why not take one last look at them to see what we can learn from them? Let’s get started!!
Developed by Sonic Team
Here’s the thing about this game which I played for the very first time in 2017. As much as it has the reputation of being THE WORST GAME EVER, it honestly isn’t THAT bad of a time. It’s not GOOD by any stretch, but I never found it to be flawed enough to be more than just boring which is STILL better than offensive garbage like Hatred or Call of Juarez: The Cartel. Heck, on a fundamental functional level, I actually found it to be sounder than something like The Evil Within which ALWAYS felt extremely uncomfortable to play; like it was some sort of facsimile of a video game made by people who had only ever heard of such a thing. Sonic 06 is absolutely terrible, but in the pantheon of bad games I find it to be more amusing than painful which I GUESS is an achievement of sorts; just ask Tommy Wiseau! Sonic is always a fascinating character to think about as there’s something… engrossing about him and the myriad of stuff that has built up around him, and maybe it’s this weirdly unique identity that has allowed it to preserver despite numerous setbacks like this game, Sonic Boom, and even the rather poorly received Sonic Forces. The fact that ANY character survived the monstrosity that this game ended up being (even if I don’t think it’s THE WORST thing ever) is a testament to the longevity of Sonic’s success and the way he managed to connect with fans. It’d be impressive if it weren’t for the fact that it basically let Sega get away with releasing such terrible games with impunity.
I tend to play a lot of video games whenever I’m procrastinating on whatever movie review I desperately need to get finished, or whenever I need to settle the existential panic of the world collapsing around us in some horrifying slow motion train wreck that many of us have been cheering on for terrible reasons and everyone else is trying desperately to prevent. Needless to say that this was a VERY good year for constant escapism, but that’s not all that video games are good for considering how many great can be just as life changing and inspiring as any movie, television show, book, or other creative work! Some games I enjoyed this year, others I hated, and most of them didn’t actually come out in 2017, but I’m gonna talk about all of them anyway because it’s the start of a new year and we ALWAYS have to take just a few looks back before we can head into the future! Let’s get started!!
Developed by StudioMDHR Entertainment
I don’t get it. I don’t get how THIS game, which truthfully is pretty good, managed to be yet another hill for the ETHICS IN BULLSHIT crowd to rally around for whatever perceived grievances that supposed haters had with the game. I’ll tell you right now that, while I love the art direction and think the game play is solid (if not OVERLY inspired), the difficulty is a legitimate detriment to the game. Never in my life have I heard people defend so vociferously the idea that a game being overly frustrating isn’t an actual flaw in the experience; especially since that’s basically been the consensus for over a decade now when it comes to critiquing retro games. Just look at any given AVGN video and chances are you’ll find that one of the major breaking points for the guy is an unforgiving difficulty! Maybe this is a conversation that NEEDED to happen regarding accessibility (especially for those with disabilities) and how much a potential lack of inclusivity should impact how we evaluate and rate games which will hopefully be one positive outcome of this whole fiasco. To me, the problem could have been sidestepped entirely if they bothered to have an ACTUAL easy mode instead of the fake one in the game right now where you CANNOT PROGRESS IF YOU USE THAT MODE! I would have been annoyed if the game just had the one level of difficulty (which is extremely hard), but the fact that they put in a mode that the developers clearly have no respect for (why else would they gate keep progression?) is what got my blood to boil and made the whole experience that much more miserable. This is a really solid run and gun game with amazing bosses and a very cool art style (which in and of itself is a conversation worth having that the gamer babies were up in arms about), but I can say with absolute confidence and certainty that the game is worse for not having difficulty levels so that players of all skill can enjoy it.
Here we are with the second and final part of my look at games I played in 2016 (part 1 can be found here) that were interesting enough to talk about! Like before, any game that I didn’t play on PC will be note specifically which platform I did play them on because it was way easier for me this year to play on my computer than to do so from a console. I mean, I’m ALREADY sitting in from the damn thing most of the time! Anyway, let’s not waste any more time and just get started! This is gonna be fun, right?
Developed by Game Developer X
Sigh… You know, this game was a lot funnier when we weren’t months away from a tax payer funded Thunderdome or some asshole House Rep putting forth a Purge bill. Still, the fact that Bossa Studios hasn’t jumped on this is kind of surprising as I was reminded of games like Surgeon Simulator and I Am Bread while playing it even though it’s clunky and as all hell and riddled with poor design decisions. The game’s primary purpose is political satire, so naturally the timing of the game’s release was just as important as making a good game, but behind all the frustrating elements and damn near impossible stages, there’s a brilliant physics based puzzle game to be made here. I don’t know who Game Developer X is or if they’re even interested in this concept outside of its use as a political lightening rod, but I do want to see what they end up making next; whether it’s a refinement of this formula or if they’ll continue to push buttons with even zanier games. If it’s the latter though, PLEASE let someone else make a sequel to this so we can see its full potential!
Pixels and all the images you see in this review are owned by Columbia Pictures
Directed by Chris Columbus
You know, it’s actually not that bad. No, I’m kidding. This movie is absolutely dreadful. I can’t imagine how you could have made this worse. It didn’t give me a terminal illness so at least there’s that much, but this low effort cash grab by Adam Sandler and Chris Columbus is probably the worst thing I’ll see all year. Yes, this is worse than Terminator Genisys. How bad is it? Well you probably already know if you’ve heard anything about this film, but let’s find out JUST how low Happy Madison can sink with this heinous train wreck of a movie!!
Pixels is about Sam Brenner (played by America’s favorite hack, Adam Sandler) who was a video game wiz during his childhood but never lived up to his potential as a… good video game player I guess, and is now a forty something loser who installs electronic equipment for rich people who can’t be bothered to plug in an HDMI cable. Not that his JOB makes him a loser; It’s his entire personality and outlook at life that makes him one of those. Sam is a smartass, doesn’t take responsibility for his own life choices, and blames everyone around him for his failures. His best friend is the god damn President of the United States (Kevin James) yet he still treats him like the fat kid he used to know when they were younger. Not in a “you’re still my best friend” sort of way, but in a “remember when I was cooler than you?” sort of way. Anyway, this pathetic loser is going through his sad life until one day aliens start to invade the Earth and for reasons too convoluted to even bother describing here, they’re doing so in the form of arcade games from 1982 and earlier. Because no one else in the world is as good as three guys who played games in the eighties (therefore conferring the idea that being a Gamer is an exclusive club of badasses who need a minimum level of skill and conformity before being granted the prestigious label), the President enlist Sam, another creepo friend of theirs called Ludlow Lamonsoff (Josh Gadd) and eventually Sam’s rival from his childhood Eddie Plant (Peter Dinklage) to fight the alien menace.
Can we get The Last Starfighter instead? Hell, the Wing Commanders would be preferable to this. The MOVIE version of Wing Commander.