Some games I played in 2009

(wherein I totally rip off Galvatron's Games I've Played feature)

(except this features the whole friggin' year)

(I am serious)


I sometimes feel like I never have enough space to talk about a game before I give it a "final" review in the Games I Own section. Yes, those reviews are rewritten occasionally, but if I have more to say, where do I put it? In the blog? Pfft, we all know that's not really a blog and actually just a place for slapdash film reviews and two sentence non-sequiturs these days.

This is the complete opposite of Galvatron's Corner Shop, where he's got like a million sections to talk about games while he's still playing them. I just don't play enough different games in a month to copy his idea, but it's still a concept worth ripping off - so why don't I talk about everything I've played in the entire year of 2009? That sounds like a larf.

This doesn't include games I've played for like one day; it's all stuff I put serious investment into, baby. Also for the love of god this isn't a typical "best of 2009" feature like everywhere on the internet is doing. I don't want to sink that low in a hurry.


Pac-Man World
January 2 - January 4

I've a weird habit of starting this game every two years or so, but I'd never actually played it all the way to the end. I completed it in a few intensive days and I certainly enjoyed it, though I had plenty to rag about - most prominently, the depth perception. The game is vaguely comparable to Crash Bandicoot in how the characters control, but while Crash is mostly running into the distance and thus has a camera suited for that very purpose, Pac-Man World has a lot of side-scrolling emphasis. It's 3D, yes, but most stages still use a primarily 2D plane, so the few times you have to jump into the distance can be particularly nasty, especially in the clown-themed world. Also, the difficulty curve is crazily haphazard. The second boss was easily the most troublesome in the game, spamming a million projectiles at you at once while your only means of harming it was to remain stationary on precarious platforms for unpleasant lengths of time, while the final boss is quite remarkably effortless, and seems more like a reminder of Pac-Man's abilities than a true challenge.

Apparently the game isn't 100% complete until you collect every single thing ever in every level. That includes the teeny tiny Pac Dots. That's not my idea of fun, thanks.


The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
January 10 - January 23

I began and promptly gave up on Twilight Princess near the end of 2008, and thus I was under the impression that I now hated all Zelda games. I enjoyed Four Swords Adventures, no doubt there, but Ocarina of Time never left much of an impression on me, though Twilight Princess was the first to quite explicitly fill me with disgruntled rage. Good thing for Link to the Past, then! I had never gotten into the GBA version, but playing the original SNES version on a big screen is where the action is. I was beyond delighted to see that the game didn't bog itself down with long story sequences, forced sidequests or other needless distractions - you were just left to your own devices. All seven dungeons are accessible, and if you go out of your way to get the right items, you can tackle them in any order! You can muck around on the overworld and find all the secrets! You can KICK SOME ASS! Given how Twilight Princess seemed interested only in stretching itself out neeeeeeedlessly long, I was quite pleased with this. The dungeons are to-the-point and full of entertaining puzzles and challenges, the world map is vast and intriguing, and the bosses aren't hideously dull by-the-numbers but instead are actual challenges. I have a new favourite Zelda game!
I did start it again briefly back in November, but mostly just to kill time, not as my main game dedication. It's still good.


Metal Slug 6
January sometime

I talked about the game briefly in the blog around that time, but I got playing it again with my brother. Multi-player always patches up a game's flaws, personally; it's still one of the weaker instalments and I'm still not fussed on the new enemies and their rather erratic behaviours, but at least it tried to mix things up with the weapon change system and the character features.


The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening
January 23 - September 22

I started this immediately after A Link to the Past, but it wasn't a high-priority game for me so it didn't get a lot of attention until near the end of the Summer. I like the art style more than LTTP, but the game itself just didn't impress me - the dungeons seemed clunky and unenjoyable, and the forced sidequests before I was told where to go next didn't sit well with me. Why am I forced to escort a ghost to his home without any excuse or explanation?

I didn't get around to visiting the DX dungeon, though by the end of the game I was just playing so I could finally say to myself, "I beat Link's Awakening, I don't need to play it anymore."


Star Fox Adventures
January 27 - February 22

My brother completed this back in 2007 or so, and I was keen to try it out. I had remembered it as "Ocarina of Time with less story," but clearly I hadn't remembered the unskippable cutscenes! This game was, for lack of a better term, depressing for me, as it looked like a game that could've been friggin' awesome and be close to my heart among the likes of Super Metroid (I've also just realised that there's only one game that isn't on a Nintendo console that gets my giant happy face 10 out of 10 award on Games I Own. I was unaware of my bias, I'm honest!), but instead became a curiosity with a fixation on awkward sidetracking, time wasting, awkward item or obstacle placement and other such things I don't approve of.

The presentation of the game is amazing, even as an early title for a now-outdated console, and the areas are beautifully designed; each location feels unique and lively, looking like painted concept art brought to life perfectly. Fox controls remarkably smoothly, and there's a plethora of items and abilities to use. My beef with the game is that it never really uses anything to its full extent, and given how we all know it was an unrelated N64 game before getting the license tacked on, I can't help but wish we saw how it should've come out like. I've been meaning to write a longer standalone piece on this, as despite having a rather iffy time with it, there's something strangely captivating about the game. Hopefully not just because of my rampant Nintendo bias. I'm sorry, guys.
I never actually finished the game; I wanted an extra save so I could explore the areas without potentially saving over it past the point of no return, but couldn't find my second memory card. The final boss is a shooter stage anyway, so I can't imagine I'm missing much.


Ardy Lightfoot
February 4

I played this on a whim after reading the Wikipedia article on it regarding the censorship of one of the boss's deaths. That's why the big article about it on OMGWTCT came out of nowhere and also why it has its own directory, as I planned to either make a small shrine for it or just write a longer review of the game. I might still do that!

Basically, the main character has got some interesting abilities (hiding behind a mirror to avoid enemies! having a buddy who eats stuff!) but it never feels like it's utilised as well as it could be, and instead it's just a reasonably generic platformer with some difficult gimmick levels thrown in near the end, made more difficult by wonky collision detection. There's worse platformers out there, but there's certainly plenty of better ones.


Pac-Man World 3
February 23 - unfinished

Okay, it's not much, but still, I need to exaggerate something when I review a game.

One of the million games I downloaded after modding my PS2. It's a weird platformer/brawler game unlike the others in the series, and Pac-Man actually talks. He makes a nonchalant double-entendre about his sex life while talking with a ghost. That was enough to put me off.

 I know I said I wouldn't talk about games I played for a single day and then dropped, but I thought that was worth mentioning.


Mega Man 6
February 22 - February 26

It's Mega Man!!!!
This one has some suits and most stages have alternate paths. I think it's the only NES instalment I've yet to see in full, getting all the items and alternate paths and whatnot.

It's Mega Man. That's the only judgment I can make.


Wario World
February 26 - unfinished

Played it on a whim after realising I never completed it.

Then I realised why I didn't complete it.

Then I promptly sold it.
(it's shiiiiiit)


Paper Mario
March 20 - unfinished

I have vaguely fond memories of the first instalment in the series, which is more than can be said of the other two. I love the presentation to the game and the battle system is engaging, but the problem is that the game loves to test your patience. My patience is very selective when it comes to RPGs, but the often lengthy travelling and inconsistent engagingness of areas kinda put me off a lot. Like, the chapters sound interesting, but most of them pit you in various uninteresting dungeons. Hey, cool, I'm going to be fighting ninja Koopa Troopas! SAY HELLO TO PRISON CELLS AND GREY WALLS. Whoa, I'm in a desert with a dinky little marketplace! TODAY'S DUNGEON IS A BORING BROWN PYRAMID.

The town areas are nice looking because they feel vibrant and alive, and even the castle stages in Super Mario All-Stars were made nice on the eyes by giving it a bit of fiery life with the torches, Podoboos and so on. The dull environments are essentially why it's taking so long - the Tubba Blubba and Lavalava Island chapters are reasonably engaging, but they're followed by the incessantly irritating Shy Guy's Toy Box (I hope you like looking at the same environments over and over again! also liking vaguely-defined music with cornball instrumentation is a plus) and the remarkably dull Flower Fields. The game lacks a real drive to keep me interested, and when I personally feel Mario badge assortment can't be customised as much as I want, that's another downer. It's not terrible, but I don't think it has quite the same drive as the other Paper Mario games, which at least had amusing dialogue to keep you going.


Bomberman Max 2
April 1 - April 4

I've no idea what prompted me to start this. Most Bomberman games without easy access to multi-player are usually kinda drab, though this one adds a bit of replay value by having each area have multiple exits and Karabons to collect, though I can't remember what the purpose of the stupid things was.

I finished with 56% of the game complete. I'll no doubt have to revisit it in more depth when I cover it for the Bomberman Shrine Place.


Super Metroid
April 8 - May 4

I'd already completed this in 2008 on the Virtual Console, but this time I played it on the homebrew emulator. It was interesting playing the game with a limited sense of familiarity - I'd forgotten most of the maps, but I knew the rough whereabouts and order of the items and upgrades, so it was like a selective surprise.

Non-linear games are usually very hit and miss with me, hence why I still haven't finished any of the handheld Castlevania games, but Super Metroid engages me just right - I think the great presentation is partially the reason, not to mention the tough bosses (Symphony of the Night's major downfall is the fact it's a friggin' cakewalk). I still totally loathe those two friggin' Space Pirates you face before Ridley, though. Could that fight be any more obnoxious?


April 11 - unfinished

This game fascinates me. It's not perfect and a lot of time is spent dealing with the slippery slopes and chasms you inevitably fall down, but the game is probably the best representation of actually controlling a huge, hulking sentient car robot. The maps are huge and the variety of Mini-Cons offer a lot of customization - I've completed the game on Easy and Normal yet I still feel I haven't seen all the game has to offer.
I started the game on Hard, and although the game is difficult enough already, this one cranks it up to eleven - the weakest enemies will still sock Optimus Prime around like a ragdoll, there's snipers and sneaky jetpack bastards everywhere, and man, so much trial and error. I love it. I reached the fight with Tidal Wave and haven't progressed from there since, no thanks to the fact that it's hard enough dealing with him alone, he then spawns jetpack guys to harass you!


Mega Man Legends
July 1 - July 17

This is when my comments get even more half-assed because I've already reviewed them. I played this on the Xbox's homebrew PlayStation emulator, and aside from mild polygon tears and the audio being out of sync during movie scenes, it actually ran much better than it did on my PlayStation! It's also the first time I actually completed the game, never mind got past the dungeon after the boat fight with the Bonnes.

It's a good game, but I personally found that it didn't really encourage experimenting with new weapons, given how much hassle you need to go through just to find an area where you can use weapons and decide if the one you selected is good or not. I'd recommend trying it out, though. I meant to start the sequel, but I sold the original version and it can't be emulated on the Xbox. =(


Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
July 18 - August 23

A game I'd long been interested in playing, but never had the chance to play because my brother was only interested in the N64 Castlevania games and buying the game on any format would set me back about 2k monies. Hooray for emulation! It's hard to really wax poetic about the game when everyone else has done it so much better than me, but basically it's a fantasy-gothic themed Super Metroid and injected with super juice. I love the game and have bought myself the Xbox 360 version since then.
The finished date is for Alucard's side; I never finished Richter's side, though I'd like to.


Mega Man 8
July 24 - July 25

Back in the day I was desperate to get Mega Man Anniversary Collection simply because of Mega Man 8 and the two arcade games, and was thoroughly pissed that it was exclusive to the United States. I had tried to play the game on a SEGA Saturn emulator, but it just lacks the punch of playing it on a TV, y'know? Emulation on the Xbox obviously turned that situation around and I could finally get playing the game.
I personally think Mega Man X4 took the X series to 32-bit consoles pretty smoothly; the level design wasn't anywhere at intricate as the SNES games from that point on and constant talking was a bore, but the games still controlled smoothly and played brilliantly. Mega Man 8 seems a bit too keen to throw new things at you, from flying shooter stages with Rush to the dreaded snowboarding parts, and chucks out vital elements of the old games like E-Tanks. I do commend the game for requiring usage of the Master Weapons in the second set of levels, something I felt a lot of the instalments never really emphasised, but bosses were unusually unenjoyable in this game. Bass, for instance, rather than being an interesting battle against an enemy that would theoretically act a lot like Mega Man himself, he just flies around above the arena and has three moves at his disposal. Even the strong weapons do jack against him, meaning it becomes a needlessly slow slog for a fight that's only a mid-boss, not even a fortress boss. So, yeah, Mega Man 8 was pretty bleh. I commend it for mixing things up in a series that most people consider stale, but seriously, who thought these changes were a good idea? Jump-jump slide-slide can go fuck itself.
I admit I didn't actually finish the game, but I reached Wily's second form and it's just one of those friggin' teleport-around-the-room deals which I've seen far too many times, and I watched the ending years ago.


August 29 - August 31

Realised I'd had this sitting on my Wii for quite some time, and decided to sit down and play it. A small non-linear game, it's got beautiful visuals and music and the basic concept is ripe for exploration, but a lot of the game seems almost pointless. Combat is entirely worthless and offers no challenge or entertainment, a lot of things aren't explained (areas are named but you can only guess what name applies to where; what are those blue firefly things? What are those small collectible totem pole items? Where's the bad guy and why has so much of the game been spent faffing around, ignoring this supposedly dangerous threat?) and it's not until the end that you get enough powers for the game to get intriguing. It's certainly not a bad game, but I think getting into it requires more patience than I probably contain, and I guess after playing Super Metroid and Castlevania this year, I had my standards set high for non-linear exploration games.


Super Star Wars
September 1 - September 3

Around this time I had gotten over my fascination with PlayStation emulation and was more focused on finishing games I'd had for years and years but never made much progress in. What better way to start off than with Super Star Wars, the game that haunted me for friggin' years without getting past the sand crawler level? It's a quirky game with an ill-defined raw charm about it which might lie in the freaky-ass monsters you fight and the rather inconsistent difficulty level (which most of the time is set to balls-hard). The ending is a letdown, though, as although the game breaks from canon several times to pit you against increasingly frightening monsters (there's a dude in the Mos Eisley cantina who pummels you to death with his neck), you don't fight Darth Vader in person; you just blow up a tractor beam generator, and then you face Vader in a rather horrible shooting gallery X-Wing level.

I'm sad to say I finished the game on Easy. I couldn't even beat the first boss on Normal. =(


Super Star Wars - The Empire Strikes Back
September 5 - September 9

This one is friggin' brutal. What's a good way to start a video game? With a humongously long level full of strong and erratically-moving enemies and instant-death spikes. And pits. Don't forget the pits. Mercifully, the game's a bit more tolerable after that, but the game still has its share of unnecessary frustrations and absurd design choices. Did the stages really need to be stretched out for so long? I cannot emphasise just how goddamned long Bespin is in mere words, or any other way besides kidnapping you and making you play the game. It's goddamned long. Also, should you reach the last boss in one play-through and forget to pick up Force Heal back in Dagobah, you lose! Then again, having that also makes the fight absurdly easy, so there's no real way to play fair. I admit I can't remember when I started this one, but I know for sure I spent a long time on Hoth and Bespin, so their respective levels are just long, unpleasant blurs to me.


Luigi's Mansion
September 18 - September 19

This game always bugs me. The game never left much of an impact on me the first time, and it's just been continuously sitting on my shelf, goading me with how unremarkable it was. I need to get an opinion out of this, even if it kills me!

It's not bad, but the game gets kinda repetitive and I didn't feel there was enough skill required to suck up ghosts, the process just seemed random. I got past the blackout sequence and found what I assumed was the entrance to King Boo's lair, but the game had worn out its welcome by that point and I had enough nitpicks to make a Games I Own entry out of it. The game now resides with my brother, who appreciates it more than I do.


Super Star Wars - Return of the Jedi
September 19 - September 20

And I finished off the trilogy. The game seemed to realise that Empire's emphasis on drawn-out levels and platforming across tiny ledges was why I did not have a good time with it, and seemed to know how to make a more well-rounded game, which I appreciate. Either I was less terrible by this point or the game was just easier, but I actually managed to beat the game on Normal.

Well, I beat all the last bosses and reached the stage where you're flying the Millenium Falcon out of the exploding Death Star, but it had worn my patience thin. It drags out for so, so long and the Falcon is bigger than the view you're given, not to mention that the graphics are rather frighteningly psychedelic, I couldn't be bothered to finish it. As far as I'm concerned, I beat the game. That part of the game does not exist in my personal canon.


Spider-Man Vs. The Kingpin
September 23

Another game I never made progress in. The game always puzzled me when I was younger; the game seemed very large and mysterious, and Venom just seemed to show up for no reason in the warehouse stage at times. I could consistently make it to the sewers, but I never made it beyond there. I was determined to finish it, and indeed, I finished the game on Easy, but only because it ends after the fight with Sandman.

The real deal takes you to the end confrontation with Kingpin, but the game's collision detection is quite noticeably AWOL for every boss fight, and while the likes of the Lizard can be beaten with some patience, the Kingpin gives you only a minute before Mary Jane is melted. In that time, you have to hop around like a moron and try to kick the Kingpin's itty bitty head. That's as far as I'm ever going to get, but despite that failure, at least I know what the game is like.


Metroid Prime
October 6 - October 26

I had enjoyed watching my brother play the first two Metroid Prime games a couple of years ago, and was interested in trying it out for myself. It took a day or two before I mustered up the patience to get past the distinctly boring opening sequence, but after that, I was engrossed. Yes, I'm sorry, my blatant Nintendo bias is flaring up like a peacock's tail (a peacock's tail that is probably on fire and spraying laser beams), but this game just sucked me in and kept me rolling for several days of distinct enjoyment.

Mind you, the boss fights were totally fucking boring, and I wasn't too chuffed with how after killing an extra couple of hours collecting the last few artefacts the last area turned out to be a complete waste of time, but the rest of the game was very, very enjoyable. I meant to play the other two as my next game playing project, but that didn't really go anywhere.


The Lost World: Jurassic Park
October 10 - unfinished

Another game that's always bugged me because we could never make progress without passwords. I had wanted to play this on the TV, but I had sold the real copy and the game doesn't appear to play on the Xbox emulator, so I had to resort to playing it on the PC, which is not very fun.

The movements are slippery, the level design is odd and the damage ratio is rather off-balance (there's more risk of serious injury from a slight fall than being mauled by raptors).

I reached the last Compsognathus levels but had yet to get past the hunter. On the bright side, the compy friggin' karate-kicks raptors to death. Give that thing a beard and call it Chuck Saurus.


October 26 - unfinished

Yeah, my comment about wanting to focus on games I'd played before but never finished? I guess that went up and took a hike! I don't know what prompted me to start this, but I had serious difficulty getting into it. I never quite got used to the controls, the game didn't run smoothly on the Xbox, and the steep areas seemed to exist solely to rain enemies on my head without end. I think the fact I was busy with work at this time was another problem, and ultimately I never got far with it. I'd like to give it another chance sometime, but I admit I'm in no real rush.


Jurassic Park 2: The Chaos Continues
October 26 - October 28

I had seriously underestimated how hard this game was when I was younger, and I'm surprised I even played it at all back then. I mean, jeez, no continues, one death boots you all the way back to the start of a level; levels which become increasingly longer, maze-like, and jam-packed with enemies that can kill you in a mere second if you don't have super-duper reflex skills or the cautious patience of slowly edging forward inch by inch? Ouch.

I was pleased to finally finish the game, but jeez, it could seriously do with a few design changes, personally. I do applaud it for having 2-player co-op, though.


Jurassic Park (SEGA)
October 31

This game terrified the hell out of me when I was younger. Yes, never mind how Rampage Edition has a giant raptor with blood dripping from its fangs on the title screen, the rather dank and dark atmosphere combined with the clunky controls and frighteningly detailed t-rex sprite spooked the pancakes out of me nearly two decades ago.

Alan's levels were quite a slog and the raft level was the source of much frustration-lined amusement simply because of how outrageously fragile the raft was, but the raptor is where the action's at. Jump-kicking the shit out of dudes with guns? Hell yeah! It's otherwise fairly unremarkable, and now that I've finished it I can't imagine actually touching it ever again.


Jurassic Park: Rampage Edition
November 1

I much preferred playing this one years ago because it offers you a choice of levels and is quicker on supplying action (there's a friggin' electricity gun, for crying out loud! How much more action-supplying could it be?), but looking at it now it seems to be using that as a cover-up for boring level design. The sinking boat is cool, yes, but the others... I can't even remember the other levels. There's one with a raft, which was insultingly easy for Alan and disgustingly frustrating for the raptor, but that's all I remember. I did plan to round this tyrannosaurus trilogy off with either the first SNES game or the Mega Drive version of The Lost World, but I think the length of the former and no experience with the latter were the reasons why I didn't bother. Maybe sometime!


Castlevania Rebirth
November 2 - November 6

I've a bad habit of installing WiiWare games and then never playing them, but upon hearing that this was a remake of a Game Boy Castlevania, I was intrigued! (also, hey, any 2D platformer on anything is going to attract my attention no matter what)
There was a distinct feeling of "eh" when I was playing the game. A feeling that could probably be better described as disinterest or apathy, but I think "eh" just describes it more accurately. Like, it wasn't bad, but it wasn't close to being good, either. It had potential and it seemed like there was some thought put into it, but the result just felt... "eh."
I finished the game on Easy, shamefully. I think I later finished it on Normal, but the game is just a big uninspiring blur for me.


Sonic 3D
November 19 - November 26

Another gaming project I wanted to start was all the Sonic games I'd missed on or had little experience with, such as the Game Gear games and spin-offs. I wasn't in much of a rush to do that because, well, none of the Sonic games are very hard, but I was happy to get Sonic 3D off my conscious. For years I had never progressed beyond Rusty Ruins. For years. I don't want to die knowing that I had a Sonic game for years and didn't even get past the second zone.
It was quite remarkably unenjoyable. I applaud the effort both on a concept and technological level, but jeez, the game seems to be a perfect example of what to avoid when making a game - uncontrollable speed, a camera that doesn't give you enough room to see what's ahead, and excessive platforming from an isometric viewpoint. If that one doesn't sound too bad, throw in "dodgy collision detection" and I think you'll understand. I like the graphical design and the bosses are comparatively enjoyable, even if the last one is kind of incomprehensible at first, but I feel the game could've worked better if it had been a standalone title and not made as a Sonic game.
I didn't get all the Chaos Emeralds, but the only difficulty there is just finding them; the actual special stages are as easy as breathing.


New Super Mario Bros. Wii
November 20 - November 28

I was hoping I could be a big man and actually wait a while after the release of the game so I could pick it up cheaper or, y'know, something sensible like that. Instead I bought it on the day of release and I will not stop reminding everyone of that.

I knew the game would rock my socks for a week at the least, but after that I couldn't estimate how long it'd still keep me entertained - New Super Mario Bros. was wedged in my DS for a fairly long time, but once I'd collected all the Star Coins I only kept it in because of the mini-games. A brand new 2D Mario game is indeed awesome to see, but it didn't really take long to see that the DS game just didn't have the same kind of entertaining level design as the original trilogy. I can distinctly recall some of the more memorable levels from Super Mario Bros. and World, but I struggle to remember any singular level in New SMB. It just becomes a big blurry blur.

So, yeah, New Super Mario Bros. Wii. It's got Yoshi! It's got the Koopalings! It's got new items! IT'S GOT MO'FUCKIN' MULTI-PLAYERRRR

And I've barely touched the game since I got all the Star Coins.


The multi-player does make the game more lively and it only saddens me how it's taken Nintendo so long to incorporate so simple and fun, but as a single-player game there wasn't quite enough to keep me hooked for long. It's an enjoyable game while it lasts, but there's only one level I can distinctly remember and it doesn't last long enough for my liking.


Mickey's Dangerous Chase
December 1

Finished in half an hour! I was interested in maybe making a General Writing out of this game, but it's kind of incredibly unremarkable. Move along.


December 1 - December 2

LostWinds and Castlevania Rebirth didn't leave me with high hopes for WiiWare; sure, they appeared to have actual production values, but the games themselves were pretty lacklustre. NyxQuest turned out to be pretty decent! Crossing over pits of spikes and hiding yourself from the all-seeing eye of a frickin' laser tower via carrying a stone block with omnipresent powers has a certain childish glee about it. As you progress you gain more powers, which arrive at just the right time before the current powers get too dull. The final few stages are a bit of a slog because aiming at tiny meteors with a jittery Wii Remote just isn't cool, but the game makes for an entertaining two or three hours.

For whatever reason I have serious difficult reviewing this game. It took me forever to finish that review on Games I Own, and it's only done because I slapped on a vaguely conclusive sentence to an unfinished review.


Metroid Prime 2
December 6 - unfinished

I was quite keen to get my teeth sunk into the Metroid Prime trilogy, despite all the horror stories my brother had told me about this particularly instalment (absurdly large number of locations, lots and lots of backtracking, and I can't imagine the bosses were going to be any less boring), and I did sink a fair few hours into it, but ultimately any chance of dedicating major time to it was squandered with the arrival of...


Half-Life 2
December 11 - December 18

... my Xbox 360. While The Orange Box did look like the most promising of my first five games, I didn't have much faith that the initial set of games would impress me much, but Half-Life 2 is probably the most fun I've had in an FPS for quite some time. I'm never the kind of guy who cares about stories in video games, so, yeah, I didn't really give much of a hoot regarding the banter or the characters, but the setting and atmosphere was very immersive, personally.

What I really loved, of course, was the action. I couldn't help but get a Turok vibe (of all things!) from the game - the mixture of sensible and far-out weaponry, the variety of simple hominids to crazy-huge aliens, the range of mundane and technologically-foreign areas. It's like a big mish-mash of everything I love. It's got fuckin' zombies and crossbows and insect things! The physics puzzles were a bit hit and miss and some areas were pretty easy to get lost in, but quite frankly, I had a blast with the game. I meant to get started on Episode One, but I wanted to finish off some other games before I did that.


Yoshi's Island DS
December 13 - December 18

My brother bought this back in the Summer, if not earlier, and leant it to me. I'd heard plenty of reviews talking about how hard and challenging it is, but from my experience it seemed to be taking its sweetass time before it got interesting. Maybe if the game had tried to distance itself from the original game by being called "Yoshi's Tangentially Related Baby-Carrying Adventure (on the Nintendo DS)" I might not have been so cranky, but the game just didn't seem to know why the first game was fun, and appeared to believe that forcing you to go very, very slowly is what people enjoy. Fuck the stilts, man, and totally fuck the auto-scrolling levels. Who actually enjoys auto-scrolling, seriously?


December 20 - December 24

Funny story: We completed this on the very same day we bought it. My brother was mildly pissed at that! So just for giggles, I decided to try it on Hard mode. It definitely ups the challenge level considerably, but it also saps all the fun out of combat. The Daily Bugle stages are particularly groan-inducing simply because the symbiotes require so much needless pummelling before they expire; if anything, it's not as bad as the sewers where you're constantly walled into areas and unable to progress until you beat all the lizard men to death, but still. Despite that, the game's pretty fun and I enjoyed playing through it again, though the game has a serious slump in the middle. Sewer levels are never fun, guys, how hard is it to realise that?


Dead Rising
December 21 - January 1

Once I saw this game, I knew I couldn't live without it. I am a total sucker for zombies, but personally, the popular zombie video games don't seem to really understand what makes them appealing: Zombies taking over cities. Unprepared people having to make do with what they can. SHOPPING MALLS. Instead, Resident Evil seemed to favour going into mansions, doing inane puzzles regarding emblems, encountering giant spiders, mutants and transvestites, and fuckin' satellites shooting lasers from space. It's... not bad in its own way, but for someone seeking purebred zombie entertainment, it's a bit of a bummer.
Then enters Dead Rising, which the box tries very hard to remind you that it is not Dawn Of The Dead: The Video Game, but what else is it going to be? The game is a blast. I generally tire of free-roaming games fairly quickly, hence why one Grand Theft Auto game is really all I need (I sold GTA4 in a matter of days), but Dead Rising seems to balance it just the right way for me - you can just faff around and do whatever you please; you can follow the main storyline; you can occupy yourself with the sidequests or scoops; or, of course, you can just find a car and waste three days mowing down lots and lots of zombies. The game runs on a timer so you'd be hard-pressed to accomplish everything in one playthrough, but that's precisely why I like it - it's a sandbox game, but you're not given overwhelming amounts of free will, to use that term inappropriately. Having a ton of ridiculous weapons to use and outrageous psychopaths to use them on certainly sweetens the deal.
I got Ending A and finished Overkill mode. I only saved 14 people, mind you. :{


Spider-Man 2: Enter Electro
December 24 - December 29

Someone gave me a bunch of PlayStation games a few years ago, and I'd only ever touched them just to get screenshots for the Games I Own section, but now was the perfect opportunity to try this out! Playing it only showed how more polished the first game was, sadly. It's not bad, but it's pretty clear that the engine just can't handle what the game expects, as Spidey is a clunky mofo in a world of demanding challenges.

I gave up on this one once the level expected me to scale a humongously large tower with electricity zapping through the air, solely to activate a switch, go all the way down again, and then repeat similarly ridiculous tasks to make my way through areas lined with laser turrets. Without checkpoints. Sorry, game.






Games I completed


Around 25. Not a bad number.


Best game I played in 2009

I'd have to say Dead Rising. I wanted to avoid including a game I played so late in the year in this section as I wouldn't have had the time to play it for longer or had as much time to think back on it, but, sorry, zombies win me over. I had a great time with Metroid Prime and a blast with A Link to the Past (U RAPPIN' GOOD), but they didn't quite generate the same kind of response and emotion as Dead Rising. You could hand me a game bristling with depth, challenge and replayability and I would probably be impressed, but throw me a game about a dude knocking down zombies with a shopping cart and I am mesmerised.


Worst game I played in 2009

Probably Wario World.


Best movie I watched in 2009

I find it difficult to judge films in comparison to games, as I think it's a case of getting more personally involved with a game; you're taking part in it, controlling the character, exploring the world and all that jazz, but most of the time it just means it's easier for a game to piss me off. I was going to include a list of all the movies I'd watched in 2009 with a brief comment thinking back on them, but it ultimately boiled down to me saying "it was pretty rad!" or "not bad." You can invest serious time into a video game, and a lot of that effort can be wasted by dying or getting a game over and so on, so I need to have some degree of passion to keep at it. A movie doesn't start itself from the beginning if I fail to comprehend a plot point the right way, so I guess by that logic I don't give myself much reason to think about a lot of them in any serious depth. While looking through the list I remembered a lot of the movie titles, but not many of the comments I made about them.

If I had to say what movie left the biggest impact on me, I'd have to say Lifeforce. The film has been on my mind a lot lately (no doubt because I read the book recently), and the imagery and themes still stick in my mind. The slow yet tense pacing had me engaged, and the threat that begins as a small but assumedly unremarkable incident eventually escalates into something that threatens the integrity of all mankind. The views of quaint British home life clash considerably with just how pessimistic the events are, and the whole thing becomes a bit of a mind screw at the end. The book has interesting vibes, but its quaint Britishness almost seemed to prevent it from being engaging, as everything is just so cosy and comfy and casual; the threat never leaves the room of the Prime Minister, and everyone happily forgets about the whole thing. The film has no such pleasantry, and the credits roll before we can be informed about what happens after the threat is assumedly quashed. And, of course, the visuals are awesome. It's a good way to get a movie in my good books.

Other worthwhile mentions include The Good, The Bad, The Weird and In The Name Of The King, the former because it's a friggin' badass action movie, the other because it's an action movie that had like an hour's worth of content cut from and it and I'm still curious about what I missed, though it was reasonably decent on its own, if otherwise unremarkable.


Worst movie I watched in 2009

This is tricky. I mean, my opinions on a lot of movies are ultimately just "not bad" or "it's okay;" I never feel strongly enough on a lot of them to outright say that I hate it.

Blade was a bit of a slog to sit through, I will say. And House of the Dead 2 was quite outstandingly bland. I know everyone loves to rag on Uwe Boll, but at least he had a budget that allowed for that one kickass shoot-out scene. House of the Dead 2 just has misogyny.


Overall thoughts

Games-wise, 2009 was a nice change of pace. I started keeping a list of games to play which allowed me to keep track of stuff I hadn't finished, allowing me to finally clear some old games off my conscious (see you in hell, Spider-Man Vs. The Kingpin!) and try out some stuff I wouldn't have been in a rush to play. Okay, it was pretty hit-or-miss, the likes of Link's Awakening and Paper Mario haunting me for most of the year, but I always like experimenting, and I think by the end of the Summer I had a good pattern going of mixing new games between several old games.

Not a bad year.