December 31, 2011
In remembrance of 2011, I thought I’d compile a list of what I thought were the ten best games I played this year. Considering that I don’t play a ton of recent releases, a lot of this list will be older games. As anyone who reads this blog will note, that’s in line with what I actually play. Rather than ranking these games, I’ll simply alphabetize the list.
Animal Crossing: City Folk – This game is up there with Skyrim in the amount of time I devote to it. It’s awfully familiar to previous games in the series but I still find it as addictive as ever. I also had fun getting my friend into it and playing with him.
Batman: Arkham City - What a game! I loved Arkham Asylum and this game upped the ante in so many ways. Such a large environment with so much to do!
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Although I haven’t played a ton of this yet, I’ve already enjoyed it a great deal.
Final Fantasy XII – I can’t imagine I’ll ever like a Japanese RPG more than I like this game. Square Enix took everything to a whole other level with this game.
Gears of War 3 - The best in the series. The best playing, the most expansive content-wise, the best in every regard.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword - This series holds a soft spot in my heart and this game did so many things right that made the similar format feel fresh.
Mass Effect 2 – I had so much fun discussing this game with others, more importantly though, I had so much fun playing this. The gameplay was much improved over the first game and even though there were a lot of things taken out, the options I had were still astounding.
Mansion of Hidden Souls – An unusual pick for sure but this game turned my friend and I onto an unfamiliar genre and we’ve had a lot of fun solving puzzles in similar games since playing this.
Vanquish - Platinum Games took the usually slow moving military third-person shooter and blended it with Japanese quirks. A fantastical futuristic setting, a story with some ridiculous moments, a lot of great set pieces, and super fun and fast-paced gameplay.
You Don’t Know Jack – A stellar mulitplayer game that received a ton of rotation at my house. A great value.
March 19, 2011
Bored. Thought I’d post something, but don’t have anything ready to go up yet, actually that’s not true, I have a review of Universal Studios Theme Park Adventure for the GameCube ready, but whatever. I finished Final Fantasy XII earlier in the week and need to begin writing about that. It’s daunting trying to think where to start, but I know that once I do it’ll just flow out.
Since completing that I began playing Animal Crossing: City Folk for the Wii, just this morning in fact! So far I’m grooving on it, but then again I spent an inordinate amount of time with Animal Crossing and a little less with Animal Crossing: Wild World, needless to say Animal Crossing is one of my favorite games. I’m also playing through The Legend of Zelda on the Nintendo Entertainment System. I’m making a graph paper map of the entire game, so it’ll take much longer than if I just played through it normally. Fairly recently I got the urge to make encyclopedias for the The Legend of Zelda and Metroid series’ containing plot synopses, maps, bestiaries, etc. So yeah.
I also played Gun.Smoke on the NES after completing Final Fantasy XII, but could only get to the third stage. I’d like to play it again and try to complete it, but it is a rather difficult game. And lastly, a friend came over and besides playing You Don’t Know Jack, we played The Typing of the Dead cooperatively on the Dreamcast. We were able to make it the final boss but were unable to beat the game. I really enjoy that game, I find it very funny with its terribly cheesy story and funny word prompts to type, besides the humor though, it’s a genuinely fun title to play.
February 25, 2011
For a series that was at one point as prominent as You Don’t Know Jack was, I’ve had little experience with it. The series debuted in 1995 and there have been many releases since then. Of the games released, I’ve only played the PlayStation version of the first game. I bought the PlayStation version a couple years back and a friend and I play it every now and then. It’s a great game to turn to when we’re in the mood for some trivia, or just something to laugh at. The newly released You Don’t Know Jack, for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii and DS, and of course the PC, has brought the experience back to consoles, and it’s a welcome return, although not much has changed.
You Don’t Know Jack is broken down into episodes, with each episode containing ten questions. The questions are often humorously written while maintaining a clear enough tone to know what’s being asked, mostly. Occasionally, it’s confusing to figure out what the question is asking for, as if the writer got too caught up in attempting to make a joke, instead of maintaining a balance between humor and understandability. The topics vary greatly, from scientific lingo to questions about recent pop culture; throughout our play session my friend and I were equally knowledgeable and lucky in our answers and saw a wide variety of topics.
The episodes contain ten questions along with a minigame or two and each episode ends with a Jack Attack. Episodes are not randomly put together so once an episode is completed, there isn’t much point in returning to it. Each episode begins with the host mentioning the sponsored wrong answer; as the episode proceeds, if you find an answer that relates to the sponsor somehow, pick it, you’ll get the question wrong, but for finding the sponsored wrong answer, you’ll receive a prize and some bonus cash. Before playing each person must create a profile, each person’s profile shows their stats and the prizes they’ve found, the prizes are something to replay older episodes for, but collecting them seems like pretty minor bragging rights.
Besides the sponsored wrong answer, there are a few other unique aspects to the game flow. At some point, the person with the lowest score will get to attempt a Dis or Dat. In Dis or Dat, the player with lowest score is given keywords and picks whether that keyword falls into one of the two categories, or occasionally both. The Dis or Dat that sticks out in my mind was the first one my friend and I got. We had to pick whether the words given were the names of Popes, or the names of Britney Spears songs, this example shows what the developers mean when they call You Don’t Know Jack a blend of high culture and pop culture.
The Jack Attacks play out similarly. The host gives a clue as to what the players are looking for, and they must match the two words that fit the best. In the center of the screen is one large keyword that is coming towards the players. While it’s onscreen, smaller keywords are flashing around, and if the connection between these two keywords is what was asked for, the players buzz in. The person who gets it the fastest gets four thousand dollars, but, if you buzz in on the wrong answer, you lose four thousand dollars. The Jack Attacks gave a chance for those who didn’t do well throughout the course of the game to have a final chance, but in my experience with the game so far, if you did well throughout the game, you’d likely do well during the Jack Attack.
You Don’t Know Jack is a blast, especially for thirty dollars. I haven’t tried the online, and the single player is a quick way to experience the game’s humor but for me, local multiplayer is the only way to play You Don’t Know Jack. With seventy-three episodes, it’ll be a while before I’ve experienced everything You Don’t Know Jack has to offer, and if I’m still left wanting more at that point, I’ll pick up one of the downloadable content packs, not that that’ll happen anytime soon.