Game of the Year 2014 – Biggest Surprise

hart14-surprise

Surprises can come in a variety of forms. Sometimes it can be a game with an easier challenge than one would expect. Castlevania: Dracula X is a good example of this for me. It still has its moments of higher difficulty with expert enemy placement to trip the player up. However, seeing many opportunities to fall into a bottomless pit during the fight with Dracula can be intimidating. Surprisingly, as the award is titled, it was much less of a problem than it seemed at first glance.

Another surprise was the online co-op mode for 2012’s Syndicate. In single player the game is very by-the-numbers in design, but the co-op makes for a much more exciting and fun experience. When I teamed up with friends, which I enjoy doing anyway, the teamwork needed to finish a level was very satisfying.

Despite those two games above being a fun surprise, no game surprised me more than Hotline Miami. I’m not one to jump to quickly purchase a digital download version of a game even when praised as much as this one was. It’s a good thing I didn’t because I was given a free code to download the game on Steam. I played a bunch of games I’d had sitting on the Steam service and not touched in 2014. Hotline Miami was surprisingly much more fun than I was expecting. I even did a speed run of the game in 1 hour and 49 minutes.

The weapons and masks for certain abilities are all fun to use. The hospital level I could’ve done without, but at least it served its storyline purpose. A very brutal game which would also win the Most Viscerally Satisfying Game award from 2011 if I was offering it up this year.

Hotline Miami comes highly recommended and I don’t say that lightly.

Advertisements

Games Finished In 2014

2014-finished

The list below shows every game that I finished in 2014. The total number comes to 46. That’s up 10 from 2013.

March proved to be the best month for beating games with 16 in total thanks to getting back to my gaming roots. The monthly average throughout the year was 3.8.

1. Bayonetta (PS3) – 1/14
2. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons (PSN) – 1/27
3. The Saboteur (PS3) – 2/4
4. Batman: Arkham Asylum (PS3) – 2/12
5. Mortal Kombat Trilogy (PS) – 2/14
6. Street Fighter II: Champion Edition (VC) – 2/15
7. Robocop (ARC) – 2/21
8. Muramasa: The Demon Blade (WII) – 2/26
9. Soldner-X 2: Final Prototype (PSN) – 3/3
10. Streets of Rage 3 via Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection (PS3) – 3/10
11. Jackal (NES) – 3/11
12. Tetris Plus 2 (ARC) – 3/13
13. Metamorphic Force (ARC) – 3/13
14. Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers (NES) – 3/14
15. P.O.W.: Prisoners of War (NES) – 3/16
16. Vice: Project Doom (NES) – 3/18
17. Fortified Zone (GB) – 3/19
18. Sunset Riders (SNES) – 3/21
19. Castlevania: Bloodlines (GEN) – 3/23
20. Super Double Dragon (SNES) – 3/24
21. Contra (NES) – 3/25
22. Sparkster (SNES) – 3/25
23. Code Name: Viper (NES) – 3/29
24. Operation Logic Bomb (SNES) – 3/31
25. Wild Guns (SNES) – 4/5
26. Return of Double Dragon (SFC) – 4/8
27. Ninja Warriors (SNES) – 4/8
28. Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood (PS3) – 5/3
29. Assassin’s Creed: Revelations (PS3) – 6/30
30. Klonoa: Empire of Dreams (GBA) – 7/7
31. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PS) – 8/20
32. Syndicate (PS3) – 9/3
33. Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II (PC) – 9/10
34. Hotline Miami (PC) – 9/14
35. Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia (DS) – 10/15
36. Castlevania: Dracula X (SNES) – 10/21
37. Splatterhouse (TG-16) – 10/27
38. Ratchet: Deadlocked (PS2) – 11/6
39. Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction (PS3) – 11/16
40. Batman (ARC) – 11/20
41. Crime Fighters (ARC) – 11/20
42. Ratchet & Clank Future: Quest for Booty (PSN) – 11/20
43. Yakuza 3 (PS3) – 12/21
44. RayCrisis: Series Termination (PS) – 12/28
45. Panzer Bandit (PS) – 12/29
46. Strider 2 (PS) – 12/31

Now Playing: September 2014

nowplaying0914

During this previous month of September, I played a bunch of Syndicate co-op on PS3 along with Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II, Hotline Miami, and Bastion via Steam.

My thoughts on the Sonic game and Hotline Miami are already laid out if you wish to read them.

As far as Bastion goes it hasn’t been very engaging like I was hoping for. I think my interest in the game had mainly to do with Greg Kasavin being involved with the development of it since he is working with a talented team at Supergiant Games. I always enjoyed his work from his time at GameSpot and respected his opinion a great deal. However, despite all that and how wonderful looking Bastion is, the minute-to-minute gameplay is rather boring to me. I hate to say it, but that’s simply the way I feel about it. I’m not finding myself drawn back to play it. Bastion is just there.

Syndicate, though, was a very fun co-op experience even if pretty tough at first. The reason for the high difficulty is that the game doesn’t scale the challenge down for a group those numbers are any less than the maximum of four. If you go at it along for with only one other person it can be mostly an impossible task. Otherwise the levels are tough, but doable if you take your time and don’t rush things.

The other side of the coin is also a reality. Once you’ve ranked up enough and have better abilities and skills, since it doesn’t scale the difficulty, the missions become quite easy. You can take a two or three man team of maxed out players and “Rambo” your way through will little care. This even goes for the usually tough enemies called agents. These guys sometimes heal each other in a similar way you can with your teammates via hacking. I eventually found the perfect combo of the Backfire ability and a shotgun to the face made quick work of any agent who was on my backside.

When all was said and done with Syndicate’s co-op, I pulled a “Call of Duty” and skipped over the single player campaign. I mean when you have an awesome game like Hotline Miami, that you didn’t know would be awesome at the time, in your immediate future, you just don’t have time to waste on mediocre story mode.

For more of my thoughts on Syndicate make sure to check out episode 52 of the Hart & Usagi Podcast!

Lastly, don’t forget to vote for what I’ll be playing for Halloween throughout the month of October. Details here!

Hart & Usagi Podcast #52: Castlevania

podcast52

We have a special edition of the Hart & Usagi Podcast for you this time. We’ll be focusing our discussion on the Castlevania series past, present, and possible future. What’s our favorite games of the series? Well you just have to listen to find out. JiibayDan is our guest once again and as usual he’ll give his unique insight into the topics on hand.

Enjoy the show and remember to subscribe via RSS or iTunes and follow the Hart & Usagi Podcast today!

NEWS/TOPICS:
* Yooper problems
* Syndicate and online co-op
* Tearaway
* Air Zonk
* Azure Striker Gunvolt
* Sleeping Dogs
* Google Didn’t Buy Twitch Because of Potential Antitrust Issues – Report
* Report: FCC Considering Reclassifying Broadband Providers as ‘Common Carriers’
* Nintendo unveils ‘new’ 3DS, 3DS XL
* Sega unsheathes Yakuza Zero: The Place of Oath
* Bayonetta 2 gives Wii U a new ‘do on October 24
* Castlevania series

Listen or Download (2:17:41)

Subscribe: RSS | iTunes

Hart & Usagi Podcast at the Internet Archive

Matt: @HartKnight | HartKnight’s Archive

Mike: @usagi704 | WP blog

Dan: @JiibayDan | That Dan Stinehart Blog | ~Natively Awkward

@HartandUsagi

hartusagi52-dan549

Now Playing: August 2014

nowplaying0814

From intriguing to frustrating is how I’d categorize my time with Assassin’s Creed III very early in the month. The story and controls are decent, but pickpocketing in general and specifically later in the game was annoying as hell. I was able to get in 19 hours and 34 minutes of playtime with the game before I was fed up.

I moved onto Castlevania: Symphony of the Night because of the number of others who where playing it at the time of US Gamers’ “Club” playing this very game. It was the first ever time playing the game myself. I had known of it and played many of the other SotN style of Castlevania games on the GBA and DS, but this was a first playing this classic of 1997. I have to say I found the difficulty very easy overall, but it did spike briefly at the beginning of the game and at the start of the inverted castle. Speaking of the inverted castle in the second half of the game, I found the movement around it to be clunky at best. It wasn’t the most fun I’ve had traversing areas in games. I did very much enjoy the nods to the NES games Simon’s Quest and Dracula’s Curse. The former reference was needing to collect the body parts of Dracula to be able to face him and the latter was referenced by the 3-on-1 handicap boss battle against fake versions of Trevor, Sypha, and Grant. My final stats were Lv. 51 with 191% of the castle(s) explored at a total gameplay time of 12 hours and 5 minutes.

More of my thoughts on the series can be heard in an upcoming Hart & Usagi Podcast episode as well as this Pick 5 blog post of which you can read now.

Other games I plan on playing soon are those that were bought as gifts for me on Steam namely Bastion and Hotline Miami. Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II was also purchased for me and I’m beginning to think it was a practical joke played on me by Neal of ++GoodGames. I have never cared much for the Sonic series. Even when I played Sonic 2 a few years ago I didn’t think it was anywhere near as awesome as its reputation claims it is. I did finish it, but I was glad it was over instead of feeling like I played a dynamite game. The same can be said for Sonic 4. I’ll never understand what’s so fun about the games to those who love them.

My current played game is Syndicate on the PS3. Specifically I’m playing the co-op missions with Usagi704 and RivalShadeX. If you would like to join in the fun as we always can use a fourth player, then drop me a line in the comments below or via DM on Twitter.

Thanks for reading and happy gaming!

Hidden Deals

Thanks to Gigastormz on Twitter for letting it be known of, what I like to call, Best Buy’s hidden sale of Darksiders II. The game was listed on the shelf at $50, but was actually available for $15. I tried to see if any others were lower than they were listed, like Saints Row: The Third and Max Payne 3. This was not the case, but the listed price of $20 for Syndicate was good and I picked it up too.

darksiders2-syndicate-tn