tiistai 7. elokuuta 2012

VGMania: Year Two

Two years ago to the day, I published my first video game review ever. I've had many flings in the past, stuff I've only been able to concentrate on for a few months before pulling the plug and wondering why in the hell did I start in the first place, but in time, reviewing games has become a dear hobby for me, and now my blog, which I thought to have steam for six months at the tops, turns two. It has changed a lot during the last 24 months, in many ways, and personally I think that those changes have only been for the better.

But, if I was a reader, not the author, there are some things I'd like to fix about the blog, the most realistic ones being fact verification and the recent redux in retro game reviews - to which, ironically, I have such passion that it had a huge part in inspiring me to start this damn thing. Actually, games of the current generation, especially brand new games that have hardly been out before I reviewed them, were never meant to be reviewed back when I started - only if they were essential parts of marathons like Batman: Arkham Asylum, Grand Theft Auto IV and Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, which were the only current-gen games reviewed in the August -10 explosion of over a hundred reviews.

Fact verification has been an issue from day one, but only recently it has become extremely important to me. To date, I have relied on numerous data resources, and as time has told, some of those resources are frankly full of shit and garbage data. Recently, I have limited my resources to the most reliable ones, and ended up with a whole lot less offensive and/or patronizing e-mails and comments. I continue to push on to a more and more reliable direction - I learn from my mistakes by making them. Reading my old reviews, I often spot mistakes myself, but I won't fix them - it would take something away from them, including their purity. I've screwed up in the past, but I'm getting there, and that's enough for me.

Pac-Man approves.
The point of all of this is that the underlying "theme" of Year 3 is harvesting these problems. In other words, like I said, I'll pay more attention to facts - and try to bring out the actually interesting facts and not get lost babbling on about useless trivia. There are a lot of new games out, and my shelf is filled with potential games up for a review - I've bought a crazy amount of games in the last 12 months and reviewed (hell, even PLAYED) only a fraction of them, but I'm trying to place them a bit more carefully in my virtual schedule, by making retro the top priority once again. You know, in the old days, it worked like this: I played a lot of retro games, some new game on the side, and managed to review each and every game by the end of the month, both new and old. Today, it works like this: I'm completely devoured by some new game, I don't have any time for "side projects" due to my work, and I end up with zero reviews published during the month, and saying how sorry I am. I'm still doing this mainly for myself, but if I myself am not happy of how things have turned out, there's a problem. So, Year 3 will be about setting priorities straight. You'll get your Resident Evil 6 and Assassin's Creed III reviews in relative time, I guarantee that - but reviews of brand new games will never dominate this blog again. After all, how can one pick on the pixel, if there are no pixels?

Last, before I spill the stats of the last 12 months and go to the drawing board to enjoy and/or lash out at a few choice retro titles, I'm going to speak about the state of VGArchive. Though no updates have been seen for a while and the site still looks quite raw - butt-ugly at its worst - I'm working on it daily by some degree, and I'll get these updates online once there's enough stuff worthy of a hard update. Deciding on how the game pages should look and which information they should include has been a bit of a struggle. I was supposed to get some work published around this time, but it looks like I'll have to postpone it. Well, I'm in no rush. As long as the main collection theater's in there, the site's primary purpose is (nearly) fulfilled.

Let's get on with the stats between August 7th, 2011, and August 7th, 2012. Last year, I said I would try to double the numbers of Year One by this time. As we all know, things went on the dark side of the contrary. This has been a very difficult year to maintain a nerdy blog, you could say I've suffered from a bad case of actual life. I've constantly been on the move, and the job I started on August 15th, eight days after "Year One", has of course had some effect on my activity, although I originally said that was not going to happen. I have to say in my own defense, that back then, I had no idea how exhausting my line of work could be at its worst.


During this period of time, I have reviewed a total of 77 games:

3 for the PC

16 for the Nintendo Entertainment System
3 for the Game Boy
8 for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System
7 for the Nintendo 64
8 for the Game Boy Advance

4 for the Sega Genesis

3 for the Sony PlayStation
6 for the PlayStation 2
15 for the PlayStation 3

1 for the Xbox
3 for the Xbox 360

In addition, I have reviewed 4 individual DLC packs, written 5 DLC Guides, and finally, reviewed 3 movies, raising the total number of reviews written in the last 12 months to 89. By way of comparison, the number of game reviews alone written between August 2010 and August 2011 was 300, sharp. Makes one think.


Highest-rated PC title: Nox (8.5)
Lowest-rated PC title: Die Hard 2: Die Harder (3.5)
Average: 6.7
Excluded: -

Highest-rated NES title: Ninja Gaiden (9.0)
Lowest-rated NES title: Donkey Kong Jr. Math (1.3)
Average: 5.6
Excluded: Donkey Kong Classics

Highest-rated GB title: Donkey Kong Land III (7.5)
Lowest-rated GB title: Donkey Kong Land 2 (6.1)
Average: 6.7
Excluded: -

Highest-rated SNES title: Mortal Kombat II (8.2)
Lowest-rated SNES title: Mortal Kombat (5.0)
Average: 6.6
Excluded: Ninja Gaiden Trilogy

Highest-rated N64 title: Paper Mario (8.9)
Lowest-rated N64 title: Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (3.7)
Average: 7.0
Excluded: -

Highest-rated GBA title: WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$! (8.4)
Lowest-rated GBA title: Mario Pinball Land (4.7)
Average: 6.3
Excluded: -

Highest-rated GEN title: The Adventures of Batman & Robin (5.8)
Lowest-rated GEN title: Batman: Revenge of the Joker (2.4)
Average: 4.1
Excluded: -

Highest-rated PS1 title: Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver (9.2)
Lowest-rated PS1 title: Resident Evil 3: Nemesis (7.6)
Average: 8.3
Excluded: -

Highest-rated PS2 title: Resident Evil 4 (9.3)
Lowest-rated PS2 title: Guitar Hero Rocks the 80s (7.3)
Average: 8.7
Excluded: -

Highest-rated PS3 title: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (9.5)
Lowest-rated PS3 title: Assassin's Creed: Revelations (7.0)
Average: 8.6
Excluded: -

Highest-rated Xbox 360 title: Mass Effect 3 (8.6)
Lowest-rated Xbox 360 title: Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II (4.8)
Average: 7.1
Excluded: -


Best "new" game of the year?
Despite my initial disappointment with certain aspects of the game, I would have to say Batman: Arkham City. Of course I've had a lot of fun with Mass Effect 3, but it just doesn't hit me quite like Mass Effect 2 did - and still does, mind you.

Disappointment of the year?
Assassin's Creed: Revelations, bar none. It didn't get the worst rating possible, but it could've, just because I was so enraged with the game after all that epic build-up, that build-up including the two previous titles in the franchise.

Favourite review(s) of the year?
Fallout 3's GOTY edition was definitely fun to review; Fallout 3 - the standard issue - was one of the first games I ever reviewed, but the original article got lost somewhere in cyberspace. I'm glad I finally got another chance to do the whole game, and all the DLC as a bonus. The Resident Evil marathon was also fun to do, as the best games in the franchise haven't really aged at all. But, after all this, it was Mass Effect 3 which was a big priority for me (you don't say...?) and I think the review turned out a fine conclusion to the line of solid reviews on that subject.

Most awesome gaming moment of the year?
Gutting Kung Lao in the most recent Mortal Kombat game, over and over again, in dozens of different ways. I told him to quit it with the hat, he didn't listen.

Least awesome gaming moment of the year?
Seems that if I was anyone else, I would say the original ending of Mass Effect 3 - but I personally have to go with the final boss battle against Darth Vader in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II, and the ending in general. That goes beyond every all-around bad game I've played whole year.

Game that would most deserve another look?
It's still Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic - the Xbox version - but I think Castlevania: Lords of Shadow would deserve another look as well, as it has presented itself in a whole new way, a whole lot more positive light since I bought it.

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