Monday, January 2, 2012

My Favorite Gaming Moments of 2011

Well, 2011 is behind us. Personally, I'm very happy with how the year went. Among many other exciting, wonderful experiences, I also had some fantastic new gaming moments, which, like last year, I'm going to share with all of you now:

Finding My New Drug
The Natural Side Effect Of Getting My First Smartphone

Hmm. Can I have an 'Even More Games!' folder in my 'More Games!' folder?
After having some great portable gaming experiences early in the year with Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective and Radiant Historia, I put away my Nintendo DS and told myself I was going to be good and try to read more during the rest of the year.

Then I got my first iPhone.

Minutes later, I was downloading all the games I'd heard my friends talking about. And then I downloaded all the highly rated games I'd read about online. And most other games were only like, a buck, so it didn't take much for me to check out anything else that caught my eye. I came close to maxing out my 16GB of memory in a very short period of time, and I easily had more games for my iPhone than for any other system I owned. I officially had a new drug. And it was in my hand or pocket twenty four hours a day.

Though I downloaded and played a ton of games, only a handful got me truly addicted. Like our good friend Alec Baldwin, I immediately got hooked on Words with Friends, starting way to many games that really once started, amount to a everlasting back and forth experience until one person one day decides to cut ties. I also had plenty of 'nearly missing my subway stop' moments with Game Dev Story, Jetpack Joyride, Fruit Ninja, and perennial favorite, Angry Birds as well.

I was an early critic of a lot of these smaller mobile phone games, citing lack of depth and overall simplicity, but all of these games make these perceived weaknesses into great strengths and I can honestly say I've had some fantastic and downright addictive gaming experiences on iPhone this past year.

Making Rules Fun For Everyone
Participating In Some Epic Board Game Nights

The future of our relationship depends on your reaction to this photo.
When I quit video games for a year in 2008, I never had to consider whether or not board games needed to be included as well, since I really wasn't playing anything other the occasional game of Taboo or chess. Since then I've been lured into the sprawling world of what I've dubbed "epic" or "non-party" board games. I've referenced plenty of them here before, but between the two groups I play with semi-regularly, (in addition to my time at PAX when I discovered even more games and got to play a fantastic mini-AD&D adventure) I've had some amazing game nights with friends that I'm not sure I would have been able to give up 3 years ago.

Super nerdy games like Munchkin, Road Kill Rally, Last Night On Earth, Invasion From Outer Space, Ninja Burger, Battlestar Galactica, Arkham Horror and Dungeon Lords and many more all made their way into my weekly rotation this year, and like improv, its the kind of thing I can't see myself ever going back in. Board games rolled a natural 20, and scored a critical hit on my heart. Which is the nerdiest possible way to say I'm hooked.

Saving The World With A Friend
1 + 1 Makes Fun in Portal 2, Gears 3, Castle Crashers & More

The most adorable robots ever.
Some truly fantastic games came out in 2011, and I was lucky enough to play most of them (though Skyrim has been reserved for 2012 experiences), but as incredibly well written and engaging as games like Portal 2 and Gears of War 3 are, joining up with a friend for a full co-op campaign will always elevate the experience for me. I don't think I can spend more than a handful of hours in a row playing any one given game, and I rarely will find myself playing a game until the wee hours of the morning. But if a friend joins up with me, and is as into (or more into, which always amazes me) the experience, its easy to lose entire days or nights solving just one more room, or clearing one more wave of baddies before calling it a night.

I would probably not even enjoy playing XBLA games like Castle Crashers or Microbot alone, but with along with a friend or significant other I couldn't think of a better way to spend my time.

"I Think I Just Peed My Pants A Little"
Ridiculous, Hilarious, Competitive Games of You Don't Know Jack, Telestrations, Etc.

Games (and my quest to play them) are neither bound by boards or walls.
Noticing a pattern here? A lot of my favorite gaming moments of the year were spent in a room with friends. This moment may seem similar to some of the others, but here I'm specifically referring to the many laugh-out-loud moments I've had playing party games like You Don't Know Jack, Werewolf, Celebrity or Telestrations, all I've which I've spent some time talking about on this blog. Lighthearted (though those who know me know I'm always dead serious about winning) competition combined with games that are themselves funny (YDKJ) or that inevitably lead to silliness (everything else) lead to what what are easily some of my favorite moments of the year, period.

Creating A Controller Symphony
Reaching A Zen Moment Playing As The Dark Knight

All in a Bat-day's work.
Though most of my favorite gaming moments of the year have been spent with others, this particular moment was only possible through a necessary period of time alone - say about two, two and a half hours - which I spent angrily clenching my controller, restarting the same encounter over and over again attempting to get a five point achievement that exists solely for bragging rights. So please, read on while I commence said bragging.

This video is not me, but this is basically what I eventually accomplished. It may or may not look simple to you, but trust me, it is incredibly difficult:

If you've never played either the Arkham games before, the combat system is one of the best parts of being Batman. And this is in a series that truly captures everything that's awesome about being a totally badass superhero. Hand to hand combat involves precise button presses in conjunction with a careful assessment of the crowd of thugs you're attempting to pummel into the ground. I've dubbed it a kind of "Controller Symphony." I liken it to trying to play the piano while little ferrets scurry along the keys trying to bite your fingers. Except really addicting and fun, if that makes sense.

The experience was entertaining enough that while frustrating, I was never so annoyed that I ever considered stopping. And finally getting that tiny little ping, the acknowledgement and acceptance from my Xbox that I had finally done what I set out to do led to a shameless moment of pure pride.

Picture above: My finest hour.
I can't help but shake the feeling that I've lost a lot of my gamer cred since the days when I could wipe the maps in online shooters or wipe the floor in a Soul Calibur or Street Fighter 3 match. Little moments like these satisfy me enough to enjoy the rest of my life with the knowledge that, on some level at least, I still got it.

That'll do it for 2011. Happy New Year everyone! Looking forward to all the awesome gaming moments yet to come.



justein clark said...

your bog posting and picture are so fantastic. I like it and share with friends.The play nintendo is a system that was created and is run by Nintendo to offer a web portal for gamers around the world to connect and find matches to play. It is a totally free service can be accessed with the Nintendo DS by using Wi-Fi to connect to the Internet.

Tyler said...

spam spam spam spam spam, oh, wait, i'm a human...
i love the critical hit on my heart line. have you ever considered writing, like, you know, seriously?

Buzzers Kuber Natarajan said...

It is one of the best part of the entertainment. I am also playing a games and Angry bird is my favorite fighting game.
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