Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The 2008 Golden Duck Awards

401st post: Slightly less notable than the 400th. Also, this article consists only of this year's games that I played, so if there's another game out there with a title more reflective of flatulence I sure haven't played it (Although I kinda wish I did).

As the year comes to a close, it's time to take a look back at all the games of 2008 and figure out which ones are worthy of mentioning once again in all sorts of feeble, irrelevant little categories. Feeble and irrelevant... Yep, that's One Duck's Opinion, alright!

Best Game With a Title That Sounds Like a Kids' Movie

I can imagine walking into some shady flea market in the depths of China and seeing Professor Layton and the Curious Village sticking out of a pile of bootleg DVDs. Of course, there'd be one hell of a garbled Engrish description on the back... "Open movie, Professor Layton and his young assistant Luke driving the request of the town of St. mysterious widow of the late Baron Lady Dahlia Reinhold. Baron has remained in his last will, who solved the mystery of the Golden Apple will inherit the fate of Baron, some people attempt and failures."

Come to think of it, Professor Layton and the Curious Village would make a good animated film. The art's fantastic, the storyline is solid, and all of its amazing puzzles would translate well to on-screen head-scratchers. Nothing can compare to how it is as a game, though, with its many mind-bending puzzles, exploration elements and investigative segments. Professor Layton is surely a great game all around, even if it the title does make it sound like it belongs in a Chinese flea market bargain bin.

Best Nintendo Game That Europe Actually Got Before North America

Nintendo's well-known for frequently giving the shaft to our European friends. Star Fox 64, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and even the DS Lite all launched in Europe last out of all three major regions, and these few examples are just the tip of the iceberg. It's no surprise that everyone was amazed at Europe receiving Mario Kart Wii only one day after Japan, and nearly two weeks before North America. This may not sound like such a big deal, but ask any European how they felt about waiting for Brawl and prepare to see the tears flow.

Now the tables turn and Europe begins to lord it over us for a good thirteen days. They had every right to do so, what with Mario Kart Wii's amazing track design, so-far-unmatched-on-the-Wii online play, and perfect motion controls. I suppose we had it coming after how loudly we loved Brawl...

Best Sequel With a Change of Main Character

Every Ace Attorney fan had already come to love the story of Phoenix Wright, the rookie defense lawyer who always claimed victory over even the most unfair odds. So when it was announced that Mr. Wright wouldn't be wearing the title of attorney in the fourth game people were understandably upset. Despite all our feelings of dread and our reluctance to love the new lead character, Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney still managed to make a big splash in the realm of law-based gaming.

One place Apollo Justice really managed to shine was in the graphics department. With the DS being so many times stronger than the Game Boy Advance, far more advanced sprite animations, backgrounds, and even 3D imagery became possible here. Like the bonus fifth chapter in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, all of Apollo Justice took advantage of the DS' unique abilities to further enhance the gameplay experience, using the touchscreen for everything from taking fingerprints to pouring plaster to copy a footprint in the mud. And of course, there's no forgetting using the microphone to shout "Objection!". However, unlike many witness testimonies in the game, I have no objections to Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney.

Best Reminder That Life Could Be Worse

First you drop your morning latte, then you step in a mud puddle, and then you barely miss the bus on your way home. You're life couldn't be any worse, right? Well, imagine you instead drop your handgun, got splattered by Boomer bile, then barely miss the helicopter out of this hellhole. Sure sounds a lot worse, huh? This moment of putting life into perspective was brought to you by Left 4 Dead.

From Valve, the company quickly becoming my favourite developer in the business, Left 4 Dead is a new take on zombie games: It's all co-op. The "4" in the title refers to the player's squad, a group of four survivors of the zombie apocalypse. Only by working together can these four survive the seemingly endless waves of zombies of all shapes, sizes and abilities, from the common "horde" zombie, all the way up to the bone-chilling Witch. With rapid-fire clouds of zombies always pouring in from every direction, and each game being different due to the innovative AI Director, Left 4 Dead isn't just a reminder that life could be worse; It's also one hell of a game.

Best Way to Beat the Crap Out of Your Friends Without Getting the Police Involved

Fireballs, bombs, flying jump-kicks, magical blades, and many other objects that defy definition are just some of the weapons available in your Super Smash Bros. Brawl arsenal. Thanks to this game, now you can ignite, blow up, mangle, and altogether destroy your friends without those pesky police getting in the way.

After many months of waiting, wishing and speculating, the world finally got its hands on Super Smash Bros. Brawl this year. With by far the biggest roster yet, an insane amount of different stages and the conversion of just about every former mode into a mini-game made Brawl into one of this year's most amazing titles. Okay, so the online aspect blew massive chunks, but I still hold that Smash Bros. (Like many other games) is best played with your friends in the same room. When it comes to beating the crap out of your friends with the help of the Wii, Super Smash Bros. Brawl is second only to clonking them over the head with the console itself.

Best Indicator That the Apocalypse Might Be Kinda Cool

Whenever I envision a post-apocalyptic world, it usually looks a lot like End of Evangelion, with a red-coloured skies, seas of nothing, and rubble from former proud structures. Usually one figure stands along among it all, speechless at what they're seeing. It's quite the bleak, saddening image. However, that's not the case in Advance Wars: Days of Ruin! Sure, meteors blotted out the sun, but there's tanks and explosions and stuff! Hooray apocalypse!

Advance Wars: Days of Ruin takes the happy-go-lucky attitude of the first three Advance Wars games and thrusts it into the far-flung future of Armageddon. 90% of the world's population has been wiped out, and the remaining few struggle to survive with limited resources. Of course, just about every last shred of the world's law died with those who upheld it, and now anarchy reins. War is everywhere, and the game follows the story of one troop as he joins a brigade and begins trying to bring the world back to normal. The same award-winning gameplay from the rest of the series returns, bringing with it a few more units and a selection of new gameplay elements. If I had a choice as to how the world would end, I'd surely pick the Days of Ruin version. I'll take tanks and bombers over puddles of people any day!

Best Reason to Get Your Rabies Shot

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Time to head on down to the clinic and get my inoculations up to date! I mean, seriously, if I lived in a town with a raccoon shopkeeper, a dog hairstylist and a hedgehog seamstress, I'd probably get the heck out of there before finding out which of the squirrels is rabid. In the happy, care-free land of Animal Crossing, though, we need not worry about booster shots. Good thing, too, or else I'd have more puncture wounds than Hellraiser.

In Animal Crossing: City Folk, there is no real point or goal. The player can just do things as they want, when they want, living a nice, calming secondary life with friendly humanoid animals. Buying furniture, upgrading the house, competing in fishing tournaments... Okay, so it's the exact same thing as the other two games. Same or not, though, get your rabies shots just to be sure. I don't trust the look in K.K. Slider's eye...

Best Game With a Title Reminiscent of Flatulence

No more really needs to be said here.

LostWinds is a unique game in that the player controls two characters at once: A young boy, Toku, and the wind spirit, Enril. The two work in tandem, with Toku being controlled by the analog stick, and Enril taking the role of the Wii remote's pointer. Simply point, click and drag, and a gust of wind will blow along the line you drew. Wind is key to solving just about every puzzle in the game, from fanning coals into a fire to kick-starting a windmill. LostWinds is certainly a great game, even if its name does remind me of methane clouds.

And so end the first ever Golden Duck Awards, giving useless, fictitious trophies to random video games I played. Can you think of some inane and utterly pointless awards you'd like to give to some of this year's video games? Feel free to let your ideas be heard in either the comment section, or this forum thread.

1 comment:

Kyle said...

How about... Best "Tim Burtonish" game that wasn't made by Tim Burton: World of Goo.