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Jared’s Top Ten Games of This Horrible, Godforsaken Year

FUCK 2017.

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10. Snake Pass

The two genres I like most out of all of them are platformers and puzzle games, and while I got plenty of retro platformers in 2017 I didn’t receive any new puzzle games. Nothing earth shattering like The Witness, and nothing quaint or novel like Box Boy. But I did get a really lovely mixture of the two with Snake Pass, one of those smaller indies that doesn’t feel like it was scrapped together, and has a wonderful main mechanic: locomotion. Grow Up and Grow Home, and now Snake Pass, represent a movement of games that primarily focus on and champion…well, movement. The act of slithering as a snake to travel is something I’ve never done before, and having to rewire the way I think about moving a character on screen by snaking left and right does a better job of making me feel like an animal than something like the wolf parts of Twilight Princess or Octodad. The thrilling part of the game is the risk/reward to where they plainly place the collectibles, a challenge to see how ballsy you are, or how good you are at gripping obstacles and maneuvering around as Noodle the Snake. It’s not long before I dove into harder levels with moving platforms, timers, switches, levers, traps, hazards, lava, and essentially ended up in a Dark Souls game. It’s brilliant, and I want more stuff like this even though we will never get it. Oh game industry, why do you hate new ideas so much if they aren’t rip-offs.

I was going to make this entire list “best Mark Brown videos” but I don’t think I could just post his stuff and call that my own work. He is the single best games critic and doesn’t write anything, he just shows you the gameplay footage and explains it in a way where you not only slap yourself on the forehead and say ‘son of a gun he put that into words way better than I could’, and also ‘I need to play this game holy shit’.

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10 Bold Predictions For Video Games in 2018

Plus, some 2017 prediction results.

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Us by the end of 2018, probably

I made a bunch of predictions last year, in video form, and I really hate when people make such bold prognostications and then just not go back and check the tape. What are the results? How did you fare? Are you a fraud? Luckily, I am not a wimp, and I have a better batting average than most “analysts” and “commentators” who predict live sports. Flip a coin for each match and you’ll do better than professional betters in Vegas!

This year I do not have a working laptop and for the foreseeable future will not, so we are transitioning from longwinded videos to TL;DR columns. Hooray! I typed out what I said last year, and will just post my new visions of what I see in my crystal ball for 2018. I am clairvoyant, I will bat 1.000 this year, watch me do it. But, before that, let’s review what my predictions were for 2017.

1. “GOTY is a mystery game, yet to be announced”

Correct! Because I count PUBG as a worthy choice for game of the year and it came out of NOWHERE and became a decade defining phenomenon like Counter-Strike once was.

2. “Kingdom Hearts 3 and The Last of Us 2 get no release date and only teases”

Sure, an easy one to make in hindsight, but it wasn’t at the beginning of last year and I’ll make similar claims about this year with these two games and more soon. I expect delays as far as the eye can see, for anything and everything.

3. “E3 is good again”

Sure, why not? It wasn’t as bad as the last few years, but nowhere near as godlike as what we remember it being in our childhoods. Holy shit I am old.

4. “There will be an industry freak out over something money related.”

I’m going to count this one. With loot boxes, blind boxes, EA’s gross versus revenue, and the price tag / budget of Hellblade, I think the industry and #gamers really got blindsided by how sinister and conniving 21st century capitalism has corrupted every facet of life. We are more aware of money now than we’ve ever been as a country, and a society. And the fucking ESA still won’t reveal sales figures, what garbage.

Yeah, this didn’t end well.

5. “Reviews will die”

They did to me, and while it’s not quantifiable in any real capacity (websites will still review games), I think they are essentially as useless as user reviews. IGN gave Prey a 4.0, and then they didn’t. PUBG got both a 9.5 and 5.0 from IGN…and then didn’t. Fortnite came out in a box at full price, and hasn’t traditionally been released yet by old standards. Let’s just throw all of it out the window and start again. And not to pick on IGN, they’re just the most high profile examples, but it’s impossible to review games like we used to; on a scale, with a score or number or letter grade, in a release window as tight as possible, or like how we review monitors and televisions and keyboards. It’s impossible. Just review games like movies; the best stuff comes out decades afterward and doesn’t incorporate what it cost or anything nonsense like that.

6. Everything I said about the Nintendo Switch doing poorly.

Dead wrong. Let’s move on.

7. “It will be the Year of Delays”

Points for me, every year is a year of delays! Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha but I promise I won’t do that again this year. But it will happen. Watch.

Here’s to seeing you in 2018, Red Dead!

8. “eSports creeps more into the mainstream”

Another one that can’t be scientifically proven, but I feel like that has been the case. When both of my parents call me up and tell me they saw a game on TBS, I think that has to count for something.

9. “Valve does something new, not DOTA related”

I WAS SO FUCKING CLOSE and then they had to make their new card game a DOTA 2 thing. Fuck you Valve. I’m giving myself half credit for that and their VR line-up, and that Portal bridge game thing. Collectively, they count!

10. “Borderlands 3 makes its debut”

Eh, you win some, you lose some.


By my skewed point of view, that’s 7.5 out of 10. Not bad! Let’s try and go for 10 out of 10 this year, which is the same score IGN gave Skyward Sword ROFL remember that shit? Reviews died at that exact moment, RIP review scores.

Now let’s get into the nitty-gritty of 2018. Here’s the 10 things that will almost definitely be happening in the world of games this year.


1. Indie games have a weird year

There’s not as many high profile ones as you’d think, and they continue the recent trend of not being a serious GOTY contender for some reason. There will be some flops, kickstarter fails, delays, and whatever the endless runner Super Meat Boy Forever turns out to be. I expect some smaller studios to go for VR, or make a double A type game ala Hellblade and itso facto you have a recipe for a very strange time for indie developers and publishers.

2. More and more trade shows really start to morph into something else we do not recognize, and we are all scratching our heads by the end of the year.

Outliers like Sony’s Playstation Experience a few weeks ago will become the norm as all expos become PAX-lite to get more people, and companies start to break away from the norm and just do their own thing for announcements. EA essentially pulled out of E3 already, Bethesda and Nintendo just hit play on a video, Rockstar doesn’t show up and they already have the biggest game of 2018, and fucking Tokyo Game Show has been on life support for years now. Have less expectations overall, and subscribe to more Twitch channels, that is the future.

3. We get an all-time blockbuster in sales this year

One that sells like crazy hot cakes, and yes I am hedging my bets because it is going to be Red Dead Redemption 2, let’s all be real here. 2K’s financial year is going to look like a supernova with no signs of slowing down. Red Dead 2 could hit some ridiculous number like GTA V, where it comes out of the gate strong, and just hit milestone after milestone: 10 to 20 to 30 to 50 to 80 million, something preposterous like that.

Unless it gets delayed…but let’s hope that doesn’t happen.

4. The industry will begin to self-regulate loot boxes

Worldwide governments (but mostly ours, let’s be honest) will fail to actively do what they SHOULD do and ban loot boxes as forms of gambling that seek to prey upon children and adults who are prone to addictive behavior…a.k.a everyone on planet earth except monks. But the industry slowly self-regulates based around the hot topic created by consumers that there needs to be a certain way to do things for microtransactions, mostly spurred by Apple’s decision to force games on iOS to show the odds on all blind boxes. When Microsoft inevitably unveils their new Avatar achievement reward system, they should be very weary of the consequences.

5. A significant number of high and low profile games will star women this year.

It will mirror the movie industry’s big 2017 (Wonder Woman, The Last Jedi, and Beauty and the Beast were all the highest grossing movies last year). I imagine a top selling game stars a woman as the playable protagonist and if that happens to be The Last of Us Part II then I really nailed this one. Maybe we get a Horizon sequel soon, but that would be asking too much, wouldn’t it?

6. The Nintendo Switch begins to stall

After a ridiculously strong start, Nintendo has less gas in the tank than we would like (Metroid Prime 4 and Bayonetta 3 are not coming any time soon, and I don’t count ports of Wii U games, that is just obvious and necessary). Microsoft has more gas in the tank than you would think (they fucking better for their sake), and Sony does nothing to try and fix their whole “we release nothing during the holidays” approach to their first party line-up (I expect a March through August gameplan for God of War, Spider-Man, Detroit: Being Human, and Days Gone, if that still exists).

Mario and Zelda won’t be here to save you this year, Nintendo!

7. Battle royale games are FUCKING EVERYWHERE

…With lots of fun twists, and a lot of copyright infringement. Maybe even, from franchises you don’t expect. I also predict an actual The Hunger Games announcement because people would be stupid not to license that out in some way.

8. The return of the Dark Souls clone

And they will make much bigger splashes this year. And please, for the love of all that is holy, make it Bloodborne 2, Miyazaki-san, — Jesus Christ already! Just announce it.

9. We finally see get teases for…

Cyberpunk 2077, Borderlands 3, Division 2, a new Diablo, a new Bioshock project, Halo 6, Ghost Story and Ken Levine’s new game, and the return of a very classic franchise. I think Splinter Cell or Crimson Skies or Perfect Dark, but maybe Left 4 Dead? Who is to say, honestly, I don’t know. It won’t be Half-Life 3, though — sorry everybody, that ship has sailed. We also finally hear more about The Last of Us: Part 2, and Kingdom Hearts 3, and the Final Fantasy VII remake, and Shenmue 3, and they are all 2019 or later. Not one of those things is close to this calendar year.

One day we’ll get to play as Lil’ Toy Sora. One day.

10. Sony finally announces PSN name changes

…Then they suffer a major data breach because of the changed coding. Later on in the year, we hear juicy rumors and leaked details of the PS5 and it fuels the fire of a wild year for Playstation. Sony refuses to acknowledge anything. Andrew House is not there anymore, after all…it’s going to be an interesting 2018 for them, that’s for sure.

And for the gaming industry overall, well we’re at it. Let’s just hope it’s also a good one.

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Nintendo Switch Sales Have Reached A New Milestone, But Just How Successful Is The Console So Far?

Compared to Nintendo’s last console, at the very least, the answer is…very.

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At this point in time, I have yet to purchase a Nintendo Switch…but, to be honest, I kind of want to. I’m having some major FOMO with Nintendo’s newest console, especially considering the rapturous response that both Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: The Breath of the Wild received in the past year. I just feel incomplete as a gamer by not playing both games, what with Game of the Year Awards coming around, and both games seemingly taking every prize. There’s no other way to say it — not having a Nintendo Switch makes me feel like I am missing out on a big part of video games…which is the first time I can say that about something released by Nintendo in quite a while. And looking at these newly released Nintendo Switch sales numbers, I am far from the only one who probably has that opinion.

As revealed by Nintendo themselves, the Switch recently pushed over ten million total units in worldwide sales. That number was likely achieved through very strong Black Friday sales, which I can personally bear witness to — during my Black Friday shopping, I witnessed a whole lot of carts with Nintendo Switches (Switchii?) in them, with giant displays set up simply to supply for what seemed to be a heavy demand for the handheld/console combo. But even putting Black Friday aside, the Nintendo Switch has sold pretty well since its release in March…though it’s important to contextualize those numbers just a little bit.

Passing ten million units sold in 10 months is pretty good, but it’s not quite a record-breaking number or anything. In fact, the Nintendo Switch is only slightly ahead of where Microsoft was in sales of its Xbox One after a year of release, and those numbers were widely seen as a disappointment at the time. And both were outpaced by the initial sales of the Playstation 4, which passed the 10 million mark nine months into its release.

Still though, a lot of the conclusions made by the number crunching can mostly be viewed through the prism of expectation: the Playstation 4 was seen as a huge seller not just because it sold a bunch, but because it outpaced its predecessor by a substantial amount (don’t forget that, in the final days of the Playstation 3, it was dead last in terms of sales.) The Xbox One, comparatively, was seen as a sales disappointment, even though it still pushed an impressive amount of consoles…just not as many as the powerhouse that was the Xbox 360 did. And, returning to the Nintendo Switch, ANYTHING would have looked amazing to Nintendo coming off the complete failure of the Wii U, which only sold a staggeringly poor 13.5 million units TOTAL by the time it was discontinued in 2016. So the narrative becomes thus: the Playstation 4 is a massive success, the Nintendo Switch is a noteworthy success, and the Xbox One is a disappointing failure.

The reality? All of them are doing pretty damn good, really. Between the three none are really failures, and as consoles evolve to be more “iteration” based (with the likes of the Playstation 4 Pro and Xbox One X mudding up the works), the competition between them is probably going to became far less noteworthy as things go on. But, still, all three systems are healthy sellers which, for the sake of the industry, is probably for the best. After all, a little competition never killed anyone, right?

 


Also published on Medium.

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Level Design Hall of Fame – Super Mario World

In this newest installment, Jared raises up Mario and crushes Sonic. Just…crushes him completely.

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If you are so inclined, the link for my channel (where you can find other videos in the series) is here. And you can follow me on Twitter here.

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