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Best Video Games of the Decade [Game Overview]
Dec 30th, 2009 by Dan

You may notice some games that are missing from this list and are on every other list. Well, I didn’t play everything because I didn’t have the time or the money, so that accounts for some of the big misses like Pyschonauts or Resident Evil 4. Other games are deliberately omitted :cough: HALO :cough:

This list is also way long, but I didn’t want to limit myself to an arbitrary number like 10 or 20, so here it is:

Half-Life 2 (2004, 2006 – Episode 1, 2007 – Episode 2)

There are two divergent paths for shooters in the aughts. Halo and Half-Life. In the first corner you’ve got everything on the consoles since then: Regenerating health, aim assist, silly physics, and general jackassery. In the better corner you’ve got everything that’s come out of Half-Life and the Source engine: more realistic weaponry, realistic physics, and a much better legacy. Say what you will about the future of shooters and the PC market being antiquated, but this is a damn good shooter. I’d call it the best I’ve ever played. Valve has completely mastered the art of environmental storytelling and player manipulation. They can make you look where they want you to look and feel what they want you to feel all without ever wresting control from the player or relying on cutscenes. This game has brilliant pacing and amazing characters that you actually care about. Who’s ever heard of an NPC sidekick that you don’t hate? H-L 2 and its episodes are among the greatest gaming experiences I’ve ever had.

Rock Band 2 (2008)

Ok, so rhythm games are kind of saturated now, but Rock Band 2 is the pinnacle (only because The Beatles: Rock Band doesn’t let players bring their dlc in) of music gaming. It hits at just the right sweet spot, four players, and its filled with music from all kinds of genres. Better yet, the interface and note tracking isn’t sloppy like that other franchise and it’s a fantastic way to get people together for a fun time and even grow as a person. It’s probably the game I’ve played the most since 2008 and a ridiculously fun time.

Left 4 Dead (2008) and Left 4 Dead 2 (2009)

There are a lot of Valve games on this list. The Left 4 Dead series is on it because it has done cooperative, first-person multiplayer right in a way I’ve yet to see done better elsewhere. Everything about these games is top notch, tons of fun, and worth returning to time and time again. Beyond the mechanics, the games also feature great environmental storytelling and fantastic voice acting putting it at the top of my list for the best games of the past two years. Zombies may be getting old, but this series will always feel fresh.

Braid (2008)

Jonathan Blow didn’t revolutionize video gaming when he released Braid last summer. What he did do was bring indie games (and XBL games, in general) firmly into the spotlight for consideration. A self-funded and self-made game, Braid proved that one man (and one hired artist) could still create a top-notch, professional caliber game. Braid is deep and complex and tons of fun to play, especially when you’ve figured out a tricky puzzle.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (2005)

OBJECTION! This game should be higher on the list. Overruled, this list has no numerical ordering.

The Japanese sensation that brought visual novels and a resurgence in adventure games to America may have a niche audience and play real loose with the legal system of the real world, but it’s tons of fun. Just think quirky anime and you’ll get the idea of what playing this game is like. It just feels right to present a damning piece of evidence while Phoenix screams OBJECTION!

Shadow of the Colossus (2005)

I have yet to beat Shadow of the Colossus, but I absolutely love what I’ve played so far. Ueda is among the genius game designers in how well he understands presentation. The game world feels absolutely empty, as it should. All you come across, as the player, are the giant Colossi and man, they are wild. Each one is a dungeon/level to itself and the player is tasked with taking them down to save his love. But what have these giants done to you? Each one I take down makes me feel sad inside and a little empty. I usually find myself thinking What have I done? What did he ever do to me? The best art makes you think.

Final Fantasy XII (2006)

I had my choice of any Final Fantasy game between 9 and 12 for this spot, but I really couldn’t go with anything but the best. X was definitely a close second, but there are just so many things that XII did right in its evolution of the series that I couldn’t pick anything else. Maybe it’s because I’m in love with the world of Ivalice, but everything about this game just grabs me in a way I hadn’t been grabbed since VI. Maybe it was because I wasn’t being assaulted by too many belt buckles and leather by Nomura. It was probably because the story was mature, the characters way less annoying than before, and the battle system was finally revamped and moved into the 21st century. In any case, the best FF game of the decade.

Portal (2007)

Portal really does everything right. The game gets you acquainted with its mechanics quickly, gets you doing neat things with them right away, and then finishes up with a climactic and cool boss fight all comfortably within the span of 5-8 hours, if you’re slow. With mechanics and dialogue that are beyond brilliant, the only thing that could make this great game better would be to give it a hilarious end credit song penned by Jonathan Coulton. Oh wait, you’ve gone and done that already, haven’t you Valve? Bravo.

Burnout Paradise (2008)

Realistic racing games are kind of boring to me. Until Burnout Paradise, I would have said that I only enjoyed Mario Kart games, and those were starting to wear on me too. Then Criterion put out the first open-world racing game (that I can think of). Burnout Paradise would be tons of fun if all we had to do was run into walls and other cars. The fact that the game is so easy to get online and play (and purchasable as a digital download on the PSN) is brilliant and makes for tons of fun.

Mass Effect (2007)

Shepard. Wrex. It’s brilliant. It really is. Hard science fiction is always tons of fun to me, but when you go and flesh out this world to the nth degree, you’ve got me drooling already. Add in characters I genuinely cared about and enjoyed having in my party and a morality system that was finally free of cheap moral choices and I’d say that Bioware had a genuine hit on their hands. I anxiously await the sequel in January.

Eternal Darkness (2002)

I’m really not a big scary games guy. It’s simple: I’m too jumpy and I’ve got an overactive imagination. Those things don’t combine to make a pleasant gaming experience. Now you want me to play a game that’s actively trying to mess with my head to freak me the hell out? I’d normally say “No thanks,” but I was eventually convinced to try this Lovecraftian horror game and I found myself loving it. The plot is interesting and the characters are neat, but the insanity effects are what stick with me to this day. I can still see that image of Alex lying dead in a bathtub filled with her own blood when I think about it and it still gives me the chills.

New Super Mario Bros. Wii (2009)

You know what? I really loved the old-school Mario games. Those 3D ones are way too easy. This game does it right. What makes it even more awesome is that you can play it with four dudes, making it both infinitely harder and easier while also making it more fun and frustrating. Use the multiplayer mode at your own risk, it may start fights.

Rhythm Heaven (2009)

Scratch-O, HA! The Rhythm Heaven (Paradise in Europe) series is loosely based on the bizarre Wario world, which is totally obvious after three minutes of play, which is great, because that series is brilliant (if stale by now) too. This game features simple rhythm mini-games, but man are they fun AND catchy. As I write this I’ve got the Moai statue song stuck in my head. Go play this.

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (2004, Subsistence – 2006)

I love this game. MGS 2 may be the biggest practical joke (and most significant of the four), but this is undoubtedly the best. The epic cycle of the Metal Gear universe is made clear in this game that does its best to subvert war in every way possible. I do truly find it significant that in a Cold War game focused on stealth action, you can make it through from start to finish without killing one person. Well, almost. Metal Gear Solid 3 is almost heartbreaking when you play it non-violently and the ending still has a strong effect on me to this day. Definitely Kojima’s finest work.

World of Warcraft (2004)

I would give anything to get the time I spent playing this game back, but I definitely can’t deny how truly great it is. We’re talking about a bona fide phenomenon here. The absolute refinement of social engineering to such a degree that escape is nearly futile. Blizzard has truly outdone itself with this one.

Team Fortress 2 (2007)

What a surprise, more Valve. The Orange Box was a groundbreaking offering in value and Team Fortress 2 continues to be a huge part of that. I bought this game at launch back in 2007. Since then they have added achievements for nearly every class, new weapons for nearly every class, new game types and maps, hats, and an item crafting system. I’ve never seen so much free support for a game in my life. It’s no reason that Valve is my favorite developer of all time. They really know how to treat their customers and put out a great game.

The Sims 2 (2004)

Yes, I did create Sims of my friends and family. You’d better believe I killed some of them, turned one into a vampire, another into a werewolf, one into a zombie, and bargained with death to revive another. The Sims certainly don’t feel as relevant as they did at the start of this decade, but man were they a success and tons of fun. Sure, I should feel a little guilty that I spent so much time in what amounts to a digital dollhouse, but I really don’t. It was fun.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl (2008)

If you don’t think that this is the best in the series, you’re wrong and you’re clinging to the past. Tons of characters, great level design, fantastic music, and all the right refinements to the battle system are what makes this great. The fact that I can listen to Snake Eater or the Love Theme from Mother 3 is just icing on the cake.

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (2003)

I know most of you saw that Spaceworld Zelda trailer and expected another realistic LoZ on the Gamecube. When you saw that it would look cartoony did you A) Claim that you would never play it or B) Realize that maybe you should give it a chance. If you were an ‘A’ person, you’re too impulsive and need to lighten up a bit, because you missed out on the best Zelda game since Majora’s Mask (another one that most people hate). Celda, as it became known, was a great retelling of the Zelda story and actually kind of explained the world somewhat. It was also really fun to sail around and hunt for treasure.
MLB Power Pros 2008 (2008…obviously)
For some reason I really can’t get into the next-gen baseball games. The pitching and hitting just don’t make sense to me and I’m overall just not that fond of it. Lucky for me, the Japanese are still keeping it real with their Pawapuro and Pro Spirits line of games. I wish I actually had gone and picked up the 2009 editions in Japan, but I’m sure these will come out in the states again someday.
Mother 3 (2006)
Masterpiece. Shigesato Itoi really outdid himself with this game. It’s dark and serious, but also lighthearted and funny. It’s a game that has actual authorial control and, therefore, is a game that is actually art. Itoi’s fingerprints are all over the scenario and the little quirks. It’s no wonder that anyone who’s played a game in this series instantly falls in love with it.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (2009)
I really credit Amy Henning most for the great decisions behind Uncharted 2, a game whose characters are so fully realized that they’re almost real people. It’s not that surprising to me that hearing Nolan North voice other characters makes me wonder why Nathan Drake is moonlighting as a voice actor. Everything about this game is just fun and every aspect of it was polished and enhanced from the previous version. The showcase came for this generation.
Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos (2002, The Frozen Throne – 2003)
WCIII was the last great RTS I played. I don’t expect to play anything better until StarCraft II comes out later next year (if it comes out). While the story seems mostly lifted from StarCraft, it’s still quite good and an innovation in the way that RTS stories are told and plotted. It also lead right into the most successful game of this decade, WoW.
Dead Rising (2006)
The first game I ever bought for my Xbox 360 and the best (non-L4D-related-) zombie game I’ve ever played. Trust me, I’ve covered wars, you know.
Street Fighter IV (2009)
When you’re reviving the most loved fighting game franchise in history, a lot can go wrong. Do you stray too far from the original and innovate too much or do you go back, reevaluate what was good, and make incremental changes? Sure, the latter is a bit more cowardly, but I love Capcom more for it. I’ve never been much of a fighting game guy, but the instant familiarity of SFIV made it the perfect game to try and break into and I really got into it. My twitter became a repository for my win percentage after each day of play and I devoted hours upon hours of time into developing my Cammy playstyle. In the end, I’m still pretty bad at the game, but I also have tons of fun with it and I’m awaiting Super Street Fighter IV in 2010
Sid Meier’s Civilization IV (2005)
The best series I’ve ever played, bar none. I mean, the number of hours I’ve sunk into Civilization has to dwarf any other game, I’m sure of it. The number of days and nights spent completely developing one civilization is ridiculous. My favorite part of this fourth incarnation was the loose competition Eric and I developed as we would send each other save files intended to compare winning scores against each other. One more turn syndrome got its start here and this is a game that I find myself returning to at least once every year.
Persona 4 (2008)
Remember the days when I was posting every episode of the Giant Bomb Endurance Run on this blog? That series motivated me to finally finish this fantastic RPG and to really get into its characters and events. I’m especially proud of the review I wrote because it feels like my first foray into New Games Journalism, but this game is great for more reasons than that. A fine return to the world of hard RPGs that should be on every person’s queue to play.
Tetris [GO]
Oct 7th, 2009 by Dan

Eric came up with an idea to write parallel reviews of the same video game to see how similar our reviews came out. You can see his at Eric’s Binary World 2.0

Tetris is…”video gaming distilled to its core

The most fun a person can have playing Tetris is completing this drop

The most fun a person can have playing Tetris is completing this drop

A Tetris Review (In Four Lines)

Tetris is a game where you try to clear lines from the screen using six different shapes.
The highest number of lines you can clear with one shape is four (called a Tetris).
There is no narrative reason for you to clear lines.
The reason for you to clear lines is because it is fun.

There’s absolutely no reason to review Tetris. The game has existed longer than I’ve even been alive. Most everyone who’s played video games has played it at least once. Everyone I know who has played it loves it. What is there to say about a game like that? I could write about tetrominoes, but I’m pretty sure most anyone who reads that word will say, “What the hell is a tetronimo?” (protip: it’s what the individual Tetris shapes are called) or I could talk about Tetris syndrome, a repetitive stress symptom resulting from endlessly watching these blocks fall into place to clear lines.

None of these actually express the point of Tetris.

The Game Boy launched in 1989, only three years after my birth and too soon for me to experience it until far later. The system sold on the market until 2001 and the original iteration came bundled with Tetris. I don’t remember the year that my older brother, Eric, got his hands on a Game Boy nor do I remember the year that I got one, but I know that we had one in 1992 and I know that I played the hell out of that game, both alone and with Eric and David. I have distinct memories of straining my eyes in the car, playing a few seconds at a time between the streetlights in Miami, probably causing the severe vision problems I’m beset with today.

Before we get any further, I think it’s time for a digression.

For the first time since 1978, the entire oeuvre of The Beatles became available again for people to buy. Just about everyone who was alive during the brief seven years that the band released albums went out and paid what former 1UP editor Jeff Green affectionately called the “60s tax” to relive the blessed music of their youth. While I’m definitely not a flower child in any sense of the word, I happen to be a pretty big fan of The Beatles. I went out and paid my dues to nostalgia to bring home the works of The Greatest Rock Band of All Time. With deliberate caution I opened up the packaging and began systematically ripping and listening to the catalog in strict chronological order. I discovered something that I already knew, but had neither the equipment nor the resources to effectively conclude: The Beatles are fucking amazing. Note that I didn’t use the past tense there, there is something undeniably timeless about their beats, their beautiful bass lines, those perfect harmonies, and the sublime percussive talents of one Mr. Starr.

I’m no audiophile, I’m no serious student of music, I’m no musician, but I fancy myself a true lover of music. It’s rare for me to entirely dismiss a genre of music, I’ll listen to it all and I do my best to collect music from as many different sources as I can. Music is something that resonates with the basic, primal, inherently human parts of me. Before there was society, before there were cities, before there was an Internet (mind-boggling, I know!), there was music. Before we knew how to rock, there were The Beatles.

The first track on Please Please Me is “I Saw Her Standing There.” Within that short, 2:54 song, a pure, simple, but complex sound bursts from speakers. From Paul’s frenetic bass line, to the clean, non-threatening vocals, the harmonies from John and George, and the pure perfection of the backbeat, it’s clear, at least from my vantage point in 2009, that I’m listening to a group that had so mastered their medium that the only logical progression was for them to take music and irreversibly change it. The Beatles may have started with a medium that was established, but they would go on to create early forays into almost every modern genre. Just glancing at the bits of trivia contained within The Beatles: Rock Band shows a group unafraid to experiment with technology and push the medium to its furthest reaches. They found ways to implement the new until they ended with Let It Be sounding almost nothing like when they started.

It’s the astute reader who already sees where I’m going with this.

A Tetris Review (In Haiku)

Four lines disappear
A never-ending supply
The fun never ends

Pong is a simple game. Its spartan simplicity was necessity. When it comes down to it, it’s really just two lines at the edge of a screen bouncing a pixel back and forth. You couldn’t really do more than that, but it was the 1972. Comparatively, Donkey Kong is a ridiculously complicated game released in 1981. As Jumpman, you’re required to scale ladders, hop over barrels and fireballs, possibly smashing them with a hammer, and go toe to toe with a gigantic ape to save a damsel in distress. In 2009, I’m a huge fan of Left 4 Dead, a game that requires me to keep track of my health, the health of my allies, maintain situational awareness, know how to deal with six different types of zombies, each with unique attack/AI behavior patterns, navigate huge, 3D environments, and be able to aim and fire eight or so different weapon types. Tetris requires me to manage six shapes (two pairs of which are mirror variations on the same theme) and arrange them into lines. It’s not Pong, but it’s not even Donkey Kong complex. One joystick and two buttons that ostensibly serve one purpose.

There’s a reason almost everyone alive today has played Tetris and that people who don’t play video games still love Tetris. The barrier of entry is so low that anyone can play, but, thanks to the complexity created by the interplay of these six shapes, (WARNING: cliché approaching) very few can truly master it. When you combine that with the pure joy of taking that line piece you’ve been waiting almost twenty blocks for, while your tower sits mere millimeters from the top of the screen, and slamming it as hard as you can into place, generating that happy little sound effect while instantly eradicating four lines, well you’ve got yourself some magic there, don’t you?

Eric has a house, a wife, cameras that probably cost more than an unfortunately large proportion of the population makes in one month, multiple, powerful computers, a High Definition (TM!) television, a Nintendo Wii, and countless other distractions, but, inevitably, when I ask him if he’s watched this box set I lent him or had a chance to check this or that out, he’ll tell me, often enough that this isn’t that big of an exaggeration, that he didn’t get much done on a given night because he was busy playing Tetris online against his sister-in-law. It’s just something that calls to people, gamer or not, to play and try to master. It is timeless. It is a force of nature. It is rock. It is video gaming distilled to its core.

A Tetris Review (In One Word)

Perfection

Back to Business for a Bit [Game Overview]
Aug 28th, 2009 by Dan

Insert another credit, because it’s time for your weekly video game news and you’ve just hit the Game Overview screen.

I was originally just going to post another video and not write anything, but then I realized that there was Left 4 Dead 2 news this week and I couldn’t let another week go by without mentioning the game (did you know I’m excited about its release?).

Obvious, but nice to hear…

When releases are imminent, people get impatient and want to know what’s coming next. When asked about Harmonix’s plans for next year, the question revolved around whether it would be another iteration in the Rock Band series or another band-style game like The Beatles: Rock Band. In typical PR fashion, Harmonix reps said that both were in the works and both might see the light of day next year. Way to be specific guys! You mean you’re working on another project that would capitalize on the success of your previous projects? Where do they get some of these questions?

I answer my own question with the excitement I feel in hearing about new games in the franchise.

I’m like Tiresias!

Ok, so I didn’t really predict these things and I heard them from the rumor mill, but I was right about all the WoW rumors I reported on last week. Go me!

Starcraft II News Bundle

Blizzcon was last weekend and, naturally, we have a lot of Starcraft II news to report on (we also have plenty of Diablo III and WoW stuff to say, but I don’t really care about those games, so…). The biggest news, for me, involved the new Battle.Net and the innovations behind creating one of the most interesting backends for games since Steam.

Rather like Steam, the goal of the new Battle.Net is to integrate Blizzard’s multiple properties and keep players connected. An instant messaging client will be a part of this new service and it will allow you to see what people on your friends list are doing in other Blizzard games, including World of Warcraft, allowing you to chat from within the game with people playing Starcraft or Diablo. The WoW achievements are also due for a slight upgrade to sync with the more general Blizzard achievement system that’s being created so that every character doesn’t have to go out and earn achievements on its own.

Another interesting innovation has to come from Activision. The aforementioned monetization of the service will make its debut as a Custom Maps marketplace. No more will players play free mods like Defense of the Ancients and love them. Now they’ll be forced to buy certain custom maps to enjoy their non-core gameplay.

In non-B.Net-related news, it was announced that the new voice for Sarah Kerrigan will be Tricia Helfer, whose last work was the little known project Battlestar Galactica. The former Cylon will be taking up the mantle of Queen of Blades for the foreseeable future, which is pretty awesome. She’s really got the commanding, scary voice down when she was Six on BSG.

Last, but not least, Blizzard has announced that Starcraft II can be played offline. Not the multiplayer, mind you, which requires an internet connection, even if played locally, but the single-player. You’ll be able to opt out of logging in, but you’ll lose out on all of the B.Net goodies. Your choice.

Did you really expect anything different?

Wii Sports Resort has crossed the million sales mark in Japan…and America…and Europe. It’s only been a few weeks, but man, that’s incredible. Way to go Nintendo!

Shepard?

If you love Mass Effect as much as I do, then you’re probably super excited to see the latest DLC, called Pinnacle Station, added to the game.

In what will probably be the last DLC pack for the series, you can now head to a space station and battle against the clock to set records, etc. and earn achievement points. Combat is nice, but it’s not really the focus of Mass Effect, is it?

Glad to see more content added to the universe! Can’t wait for ME2.

Another ban story

Out in Venezuela they don’t like objectionable content hitting the eyes of their children. Despite the violent and damn near despotic and tyrannical things that come out of the mouth of Hugo Chavez, the government is concerned with the sale of toy weapons and violent video games.

Should this ban pass, Venezuelans would have no access to toy weapons, which can be used to fake robberies, etc., nor would their people be subject to the corrupting forces of video games. Way to go guys, you’re really focusing on what matters.

You asked for it! Well, I did…

And here’s your weekly L4D2 news! Valve will make playable the creepy fair level, now called Dark Carnival, at PAX next week! Yeah, I wrote the previous 800 words just to talk about a playable level. What can I say? I love L4D2!

If that’s not enough, you can check out some sweet concept art at Kotaku.

Let’s close with another recent obsession of mine, The Beatles: Rock Band!

Buy One Game, Get One You Don’t Want Free, Beatles: Rock Band Track List [Game Overview]
Aug 14th, 2009 by Dan

Insert another credit, because it’s time for your weekly video game news and you’ve just hit the Game Overview screen.

Microsoft made a very intelligent move last Friday by introducing PayPal to Xbox Live for US users. From Friday onward users could use the online service to add points to their Xbox Live accounts. Those of you who don’t have credit cards rejoice. Things just got easier for you.

The Numbers Keep Climbing

As of last Friday, sales of Wii Sports Resort hit 600,000 copies. It’s also racked up at least 500,000 in the US and 350,000 in Japan, again, as of last Friday. We’ve got a big seller on our hands here.

I Really Wish They’d Stop Doing This…

Square Enix announced last week that they would be announcing the release date for Final Fantasy XIII in the coming weeks. Instead of rejoicing, most people said “Yeah, ok…How about you just tell us the release date when you know it?” Popular opinion is that the date will be revealed during Tokyo Game Show 2009.

Your Mother Lied, There’s Only So Much Love to Go Around

Ever wonder why you’re limited to a scant 100 friend on your Xbox Live buddy list? The answer lies where it always lies with Microsoft: legacy support. Keeping Halo 2 on the roster of games played over Xbox Live requires that the 100 person cap be met. Since tons of people still play Halo 2, the artificial limit continues.

Really?!

Nintendo has announced that the DSi outsold the DS, DS Lite, and Wii in its first three months of sales. Since the buzz seemed to be so muted, I was personally way shocked by this news. Who knew the new iteration was so popular?

Exclusivity

Xbox continues to lock down Netflix by getting exclusive movie streaming right to the service. PS3 users are out of luck as are Wii users in the USA, despite similar streaming services being available in Japan.

Pre-Buy One, Get One Free

In a move that screams lack of confidence, Activision has announced that anyone who pre-orders the upcoming Guitar Hero 5 will get…a free copy of Guitar Hero: Van Halen.

It’s definitely the first time I’ve ever seen a company outright give away a brand new game should the consumer commit to buying another game. It’s a move that’s got me scratching my head and wondering just how bad the projected Van Halen sales are supposed to be, but it could easily be a response to the nosediving sales numbers of rhythm music games.

Open SD

Nintendo has finally opened up the SD card slot in their system for booting DLC, allowing Guitar Hero and Rock Band fans to cry out in joy. No longer will players have to leave space open on their hard drives to swap data, they can now launch and play DLC directly from the SD slot. The new feature will debut on 1 September concurrent with the launch of Guitar Hero 5

A Good Old Fashioned Competition

The latest iteration of the classic Wolfenstein series will launch next week, a mere four days after August behemoth Madden NFL 10, which launched at 0000 today. Manveer Heir, a designer at Raven Software, would like to make a deal with you involving these seemingly disparate events.

If Wolfenstein outsells Madden in August, he will personally pay for any and all copies of Wolfenstein sold that month.

Good thing for his wallet that it will never happen. Like Kotaku said when they reported the story, he may as well just use that cash to buy copies of the game for himself to drum up sales.

Sgt. Soul

Harmonix has announced/confirmed that The Beatles albums Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Rubber Soul will be among the first albums released as DLC for the upcoming The Beatles: Rock Band (09/09/09)

While we’re on the subject, Game Informer Magazine has announced 44/45 of the track list for the upcoming game.

Singles
I Want To Hold Your Hand
I Feel Fine
Day Tripper
Paperback Writer
Revolution
Don’t Let Me Down

Please Please Me (1963)
I Saw Her Standing There
Boys
Do You Want To Know A Secret
Twist and Shout

With the Beatles (1963)
I Wanna Be Your Man

A Hard Day’s Night (1964)
A Hard Day’s Night
Can’t Buy Me Love

Beatles For Sale (1964)
Eight Days a Week

Help! (1965)
Ticket To Ride

Rubber Soul (1965)
Drive My Car
I’m Looking Through You
If I Needed Someone

Revolver (1966)
Taxman
Yellow Submarine
And Your Bird Can Sing

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band/With a Little Help From My Friends
Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
Getting Better
Good Morning Good Morning

Magical Mystery Tour (1967)
I Am The Walrus
Hello Goodbye

The Beatles (White Album) (1968)
Dear Prudence
Back In the U.S.S.R.
While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Birthday
Helter Skelter

Yellow Submarine (1969)
Hey Bulldog

Abbey Road (1969)
Come Together
Something
Octopus’s Garden
I Want You (She’s So Heavy)
Here Comes the Sun

Let It Be (1970)
Dig a Pony
I Me Mine
I Got a Feeling
Get Back

Love (2006)
Within You Without You/ Tomorrow Never Knows

Most surprising to me is that last entry, Love. This album is from the remixed Cirque du Soleil show Love and it’s interesting to see that such modern additions are being made to the game.

Almost Nothing Creepier Than a Carnival

You really didn’t think you’d get through an edition of Game Overview without mention of Left 4 Dead 2, did you?

Gabe Newell announced on Gametrailers last night that one of the new campaigns for L4D2 will be The Fairgrounds, an amusement park-style level. All I can say here is that I’m already decently terrified by clowns. Please don’t make me cry in the corner Valve. Please don’t make clown zombies.

I’m going to go not think about zombie clowns for a bit. Have a week.

Evo 2009, Rock Band Network, ESA vs CTA [Game Overview]
Jul 24th, 2009 by Dan

Insert another credit, because it’s time for your weekly video game news and you’ve just hit the Game Overview screen.

We’ve got a lot of ground to cover this week, so let’s get cracking right away. Will I mention Left 4 Dead 2 again? Read on to find out:

Thank God Atlus Made a Mistake

Video game companies take note: countdown timers suck. No one likes them. Stop teasing your announcements and just make announcements like normal people do.

Or you could do what Atlus just did and tease an announcement and follow it with an accidental premature reveal. The cat is out of the bag, Atlus announced another new spinoff iteration to their MegaTen series with the upcoming (comes out 8 October) Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey. Story details indicate that the main character is a member of a UN research team deployed to investigate some weirdness at the South Pole. I’m a fan of MegaTen in general, so I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on this one.

Big Numbers

It seems that Dragon Quest IX has sold another 600k or so since last week. Good on them, keep it up and localize that game faster!

Rock Out!

Guitar Hero fans were so smug about the music creation tools within GH: World Tour. It turned out to be a rather niche feature that created midi-representations of songs that vocals couldn’t even be recorded for. Clearly not what everyone was expecting. Harmonix announced the Rock Band Network this week, allowing bands who hold copyrights to songs to chart their own songs and release them within Rock Band, fully realizing their vision of making Rock Band a platform for music distribution. It’s very exciting and I can’t wait to see if some of my favorite underrepresented bands will start submitting their music to the game. There are a few caveats with submission, namely that the content must remain rated T, but it’s still some of the best news I’ve heard from the company not pertaining directly to The Beatles: Rock Band in a while.

While I’m on the subject of Rock Band, research is showing that sales of boxed copies of Rock Band and Guitar Hero are down 49% in no small part due to the Guitar Hero glut diluting the marketplace. Thankfully, Harmonix’s music platform idea has caught on, earning them a cool billion dollars in revenue. They’ve sold over 40 million tracks online. Good on you HMX.

Get Rock Band 2!

Evo

Evo 2009 came to a close this year and if you know anything about Street Fighter, you can probably guess who won. Daigo “The Beast” in the West and “Ume” in Japan Umehara, playing as Ryu, faced off against America’s Justin Wong, playing as Balrog, in a fight that truly went the distance.

Known around the world for his almost psychic shoryuken deployment, Daigo squeezed past Wong with truly expert execution.

If you want to see more Daigo vs Wong, check out Daigo’s most famous moment from Evo 2004. The epic action begins at about 2:43:

Confused by what you just saw? Daigo, as Ken, parried all 15 of the hits in Justin Wong’s Chun-Li super move. This is no easy feat, especially considering that he had to jump to do one of them. He then takes advantage of Chun-Li’s recovery time to unleash a super of his own, winning the match and Evo 2004.

While they haven’t faced each other as many times, I like to think of Wong and Umehara as the Federer and Roddick of the fighting game world. Good luck next year Justin.

Swamp Fever

Come on, you knew I was going to mention it? New L4D2 details have emerged thanks to SDCC. Valve has released details and footage of the Spitter at Comic-Con.

The Spitter seems to fall into Valve’s “split up groups” policy in Left 4 Dead. Not content to allow players to sit on their haunches with the same tactics from L4D, the Spitter will disperse survivors by lobbing spit balls in a mortar-like fashion that cause continuous damage when players stand in the same spot. Combined with the Charger, this game is looking to be a lot harder.

Other announcements include the common-uncommon infected, modified common infected specific to each level. One can guess that the hazmat, fire retardant infected are one example of this innovation, but Valve has specifically named Mud Men from, I assume, Swamp Fever as common-uncommon infected. They will crawl and move very quickly.

That video actually shows off quite a bit. You can see the residue from a Spitter quickly take down Coach and Ellis and Nick is knocked away from the group and savagely beat against the ground by a Charger (the little arm is so funny looking) while Rochelle is overwhelmed by common infected. It looks intense.

The Fortress

Everyone loves Dwarf Fortress-related comics. Matt and Ian at Three Panel Soul have put together yet another strip.

Man Do I Love “Paperback Writer”

While we’re far away from the subject of The Beatles: Rock Band, how about I post the new gameplay trailer?

I need this game when I get back from Japan.

Time for Updates!

The Xbox 360 dashboard will be updates on 11 August. New features seem to be their games on demand service, movie parties (think MSTK3000), and an avatar marketplace so you can buy gear for your Mii knockoff.

Grand Theft Advertising

Chicago poked the bear by prohibiting the advertising of games rated M on their public transportation ad spaces while not also prohibiting the advertising of R-rated movies. The suit comes from the ESA who claims that the whole thing defies the first amendment. Nice work getting yourselves in trouble Chicago. Was it really worth it to get rid of GTA IV ads?

Beatles, Konami Discrimination, Uncharted 2, and, Oh No Mai! [Game Overview]
Jun 19th, 2009 by Dan

Insert another credit, because it’s time for your weekly video game news and you’ve just hit the Game Overview screen.

Let’s start with a little NSFW. Remember that game Left 4 Dead? Remember how Zoey was a great example of a non-sexualized hero, something Valve specializes? Remember no more, because diligent modders have released the Nude Zoey mod (Kotaku story mildly NSFW, but no actual nudity in it).

The designer of the mod wasn’t happy with just slapping on a nude skin, nope, apparently it wasn’t complete until Zoey featured realistic boob jiggle. Modders have too much time on their hands, perhaps?

Three Part Harmonix

Want to learn some interesting tidbits about The Beatles: Rock Band? Check out this interview, courtesy Gamasutra, with Harmonix’s Josh Randall for more.

!

Konami, developer of hits like Metal Gear and Castlevania, have come under fire for being giant jerks. Yoko Sekiguchi is suing the company because she took maternity leave and, upon return, found that she had been demoted and docked ~$2000 for her time off. She rightfully believes that this is discrimination and is now suing Konami for $344,000. Yep, that was brilliant Konami, you were assholes and saved $2000 only to have to pay legal fees and potentially $344,000.

Voice Talent

Interested in learning a bit about the two female leads in Uncharted 2? Here’s a longish interview by Sony with Emily Rose and Claudia Black:

No Mai?

Kotaku is reporting that Mai will officially not be in King of Fighters XII. I am announcing that I will not be buying KOF XII until/unless Mai Shiranui is added via DLC. So much for that…

Says Ignition Entertainment’s Shane Bettenhausen:

I think the thinking is that they are making you wait because you want her.

Looks like I’ll be making them wait because they want my money.

E3 Extravaganza [Game Overview]
Jun 5th, 2009 by Dan

Insert another credit, because it’s time for your weekly video game news and you’ve just hit the Game Overview screen.

E3 is a magical time for video games. So much news happened in this past week that this is gonna be an epic post filled with tons of trailers and news. In no particular order, here it goes:

Look! A three-headed monkey!

First off we have the Monkey Island news again. Tales of Monkey Island will be debuting next month (!) on 7 July from Telltale Games. Yes, it’s super exciting…yes, Telltale has proven that they can have moderate success and timely release with episodic adventure games…but I don’t feel the humor of Ron Gilbert in the trailer.

I just hope the game is quality and we get to see a lot more MI.

Legendary

Speaking of former Lucasarts comedic geniuses, Tim Schafer’s Brütal Legend (mind the umlaut) has had production suspended in what can only be known as a dick move by Activision. The litigious Activision dropped Brütal Legend not long ago when they merged with Vivendi and they claim it was because they never met milestones. Supposeedly they still retain the rights to release the game and will suffer “irreparable damages” for this.

My favorite part of the story, Tim Schafer’s response:

“Hey, if Activision liked it, then they should have put a ring on it,” Schafer said. “Oh great, now Beyoncé is going to sue me too.”

Seriously Activision? You guys look like major tools. I already don’t play much anything by Activision and I just might consider this a permanent decision. It’s unbelievable.

Back in Black (and Red)

Nintendo will be selling the Wii in black starting this summer in Japan and the DSi in red at the same time. Not a bad idea, considering that sales of Nintendo systems have started to lag behind some of the Sony stuff. It’s just the kind of Nintendo thing to do in this situation.

NEW SMB

New Super Mario Bros. Wii is on the way! It will not feature online play =[

Left 8 Dead?

Left 4 Dead 2 is coming! A bit sooner than most expected, that’s for sure, but I think even Valve deserves to make some money every so often.

Melee weapons, incendiary ammo, new special infected, new AI Director sadism, new/updated weapons, and new survivors.

What’s more, you won’t be able to just camp for alarm moments, some won’t turn off unless you advance and complete tasks.

Nick reminds me of GOB. That makes me happy.

Metal Gear?!

New MGS games announced. Rising will be on the PS3 and Xbox 360 and Peace Walker will be on the PSP. I’m kind of bummed about PW being a PSP game, since it focuses on Big Boss, but maybe I’ll end up asking for a PSP for Christmas or something.

NEVER

Funny tidbit from the Nintendo conference

Jedis go Boom

It’s just the cinematic that opens the game, but it sure gets me excited for the release.

Walrus?

Some more The Beatles: Rock Band info.

XIII

Also: Final Fantasy XIV?

Uncharted!!!! OMGOMGOMGOMG

Random Games

OBJECTION!

Tangled up in BlazBlue:

More Samus, No T or A

New Metroid game being made by Team Ninja?! Nintendo will probably keep the ridiculously large, bouncy boobs and thongs to a minimum, so calm down.

Galaxy 2?

New Mario Galaxy game. 90% new levels, some old ones remixed.

As a corollary, no new Zelda or Pikmin games announced today. Maybe next time.

Fallout 3 DLC


Alan Wake…FINALLY

Seriously, this game has been in development FOREVER.


Heavy Lluvia

Still looks good.

Sunny Gold

Coming to the DS is Golden Sun! The RPG is BACK! I hope this iteration is more interesting.

Misc News

Social networking was the big theme of the conferences. From Facebook on DSi and Xbox 360 to Twitter making an appearance on the latter too, it seems like the next big thing.

Microsoft is also offering full games on demand on Live for real, non-MS point money.

All in all, a great conference. I know I missed some big news, but, hey, you’ve got the internet too, so quit being so damn lazy. Now if only we could rush to the fall and make these games come out already!

E3 Craziness…Tomorrow [GO]
Jun 4th, 2009 by Dan

It’s not quite time for the big E3 blowout, that will come tomorrow.

How about some quick bad news: word on the street is that The Beatles: Rock Band will not allow you to play non-Beatles music in it nor will it allow you to transfer Beatles songs out. That’s a pretty serious bummer for me! I love The Beatles as much as the next guy, but the thought of being restricted to only one band’s repertoire is unnecessarily limiting and kind of disappointing. This probably isn’t Harmonix’s fault, but it still stinks. I hope that LEGO Rock Band won’t be similarly crippled.

Speaking of The Beatles: Rock Band, how about those trailers? Wow! Word on the street is that the cinematic one is the opening movie for the game.

How cool was it that Paul, Ringo, Yoko, and Olivia were all at the presser too? Neat dev interview below:

Uncharted 2 also impressed me to a ridiculous degree with its action-packed trailer. Nathan Drake is probably my favorite video game hero nowadays and it just feels right to see him being just as awesome in a new setting.

Speaking of my favorite video game heroes, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker comes as rather disappointing news to me. It’s not because it won’t be a great game or that it looks the most promising of the two that were announced in the big press conferences, but I’m bummed it’s on PSP. I don’t have one. Stupid Sony making me want to get a PSP…

Oh yeah, I finally went and beat the Endless Setlist 2 last night. It was a pretty epic ordeal; started at 1700ish and finished around 2330. Not for the faint of heart, let me tell you, but worth the 100 achievement points for beating it on expert (with minimal help from Darek), 24M fans, and 45k$ that allowed me to also get the “Spend 100k$ on clothes” achievement too. I also went and beat a guy in Score Duel, bringing me about four achievements away from full completion. Unfortunately, one of those involved beating the Endless Setlist without pausing or failing…there goes another six hours of my life…

The Beatles: Rock Band [GO]
Jun 2nd, 2009 by Dan

Amazing. These The Beatles: Rock Band trailers will rock your socks. The cinematic is my personal favorite.

More later. I’ll try and figure out why it breaks my theme too…

EDIT: Fixed? Still pretty annoying.

The Beatles: Rock Band Bundle [GO]
Apr 14th, 2009 by Dan

The Beatles: Rock Band was announced not long ago, but with a hefty $250 price tag that had many wondering just what was going to be in the box to make it worth that much.

According to Kotaku, the game will be shipping with lots of nice, band-relevant instruments. The bundle includes:

The Beatles: Rock Band game
Höfner Bass controller
Ludwig Rock Band drums with classic pearl finish, metal kick petal, and replica drumheads
Microphone with a stand
and apparently “additional special content”

I’m holding out to find out what this additional content is supposed to be, cause $250 is a LOT of money for what is otherwise just the same instruments I’ve already got with Beatles branding on them. I don’t even know what I’d want it to be though. Remastered Beatles CDs? Naw…

I would like the ability to transfer my songs into Rock Band 2 though. That would be pretty sweet.

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