Best Game - Tales of Monkey Island
1st Runner Up - Retro Game Challenge
2nd Runner Up - Chrono Trigger
I'll confess that I might be overhyping Tales of Monkey Island a bit. Some of the early sections are a bit rough, the French doctor didn't add much, and it could have stood to ease up on the in-jokes, but after how deeply the end of chapter 4 and final boss puzzle affected me, I have to give it the gold for the year. Retro Game Challenge was a wonderful tribute to the NES, as well as a nice collection of minigames in its own right.
Filling in the third place spot wasn't as easy as the first two. I was able to narrow it down the Curse of Monkey Island, 7th Saga, and Kirby Mass Attack because why not, but they all had their issues that left me unable to put one ahead of the others. Finally I decided, you know what? I'm not giving out awards for replays this year, so I'll just throw Chrono Trigger in there.
Worst Game - Pier Solar and the Great Architects
1st Runner Up - Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete
2nd Runner Up - Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II
Pier Solar isn't just the worst game I played this year; I'd go as far as to say it's become my new most hated game overall. I'm not entirely sure what was before that, though. You might think it was Shadow of the Colossus, but while that's still my most overrated game it's really the dumbassed fanbase rather than the game itself that makes me say that. But Pier Solar is both a completely wretched experience and a symbol of just about everything that angers me about gaming culture these days, and the most I got out of both it and Lunar SSSC was a more charitable outlook on the original Lunar. Force Unleashed II might have been the most unncecessary game I played this year, both for being a sequel to a game that really had no opening for a sequel and for being four hours of padding.
Biggest Change of Opinion - Super Meat Boy
Since I didn't replay many games this year, it's time to mix up the awards ceremony a bit. Super Meat Boy's not going to be making my Top 100 anytime soon, but giving it a second chance with a usable controller proved fairly fulfilling, and if nothing else it's made one kickass addition to my iPod. I just wish the game wasn't so aggressively juvenile.
Prettiest Game - Bastion
1st Runner Up - Chrono Trigger
2nd Runner Up - Unmechanical
But what about Curse of Monkey Island, you might ask? Well, it has some nice backgrounds, but sadly the character you spend the entire game looking at is one of the weaker areas of the visuals, and child Guybrush is the stuff of nightmares.
Best Soundtrack - Super Meat Boy
1st Runner Up - The Binding of Isaac
2nd Runner Up - Brain Lord
I've actually spent way more time listening to Super Meat Boy's soundtrack than I did playing the game. Hell, I've probably spent more time listening to Carmeaty Burana alone than playing the game. Danny Baranowsky scores another home run with his work for Binding of Isaac and truth be told, the only reason I gave that game a third chance was because I was adding it to my Music page and wanted to see where in the game the songs were used.
I was kind of torn between Brain Lord and 7th Saga for the 3rd place spot. I went with Brain Lord because it doesn't have anything as obnoxious as 7th Saga's battle theme for the overworld battles in the past, and for all the shit I give it for its slowdown, fiddly plaforming sections, and blacked out rooms, I at least have to commend its soundtrack.
Worst Soundtrack - Shadows of the Damned
Okay, it's not like the entire soundtrack sounds like Akira Yamaoka shoving random instruments and homeless drifters down his garbage disposal. Several of the songs are tolerable. But holy hell, the bad songs are really bad.
Most Pleasant Surprise (Games) - Retro Game Challenge
1st Runner Up - Tales of Monkey Island
2nd Runner Up - Haze
Haze comes with a huge disclaimer, both because the actual game was kind of crap and "pleasant" really isn't the right word. But I was sort of impressed with how sick that game left me when I was done with it.
Biggest Disappointment (Games) - DLC Quest
1st Runner Up - Brain Lord
2nd Runner Up - Blaster reMaster
I went into DLC Quest thinking "Ooh, Metroidvania crossed with Zelda!" and got an insubstantial adventure that can be completed in fourty minutes and fails to get its main message across.
I went into Brain Lord thinking "Ooh, an action RPG from Enix like Soul Blazer!" and got a buggy mess with an admittedly decent soundtrack.
I went into Blaster reMaster thinking "Ooh, something for people so familiar Blaster Master they can practically play it with their eyes closed!" and got the feeling that I should have been replaying Enemy Below.
Most Satisfying to Finally Finish After Tormenting Me For Years - The 7th Saga
1st Runner Up - Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge
2nd Runner Up - Super Mario World with all 96 exits
And all three of these games are at least 20 years old, to boot.
Funniest Game - Tales of Monkey Island
1st Runner Up - Retro Game Challenge
2nd Runner Up - DLC Quest
My, those two games seem to be sweeping the awards this year. But getting Guybrush out of jail was the funniest thing I saw in a game all year, and I was impressed by how well the fifth chapter was able to balance horror with comedy without coming across as schizophrenic, so there's that.
Biggest WTF - Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge's ending
Looks like nothing more screwed up came up since March after all!
Most Insulting - Pier Solar and the Great Architects
Pier Solar was not made for people who wanted a new game for their Genesis; it was made for people so deeply entrenched in the early 1990s that they think the Super Nintendo vs. Genesis console war is still relevant. It's an insult both to SNES fans for failing to realize that these days there's going to be some overlap between people who want to play a new Genesis game and people who are going to be annoyed with constant SNES slamming, and Genesis fans for making them look like they're still obsessing over a long-passed war that everyone sensible has moved on from like a less despicable version of Neo-Confederates (but then again, I guess many of them are), and for reinforcing the notion that the Genesis has to steal all its ideas from the competition it's so determined to prove its superiority to.
Game That I Put A Decent Amount of Effort Into, But Never Got Around to Finishing of the Year - Kid Icarus Uprising
I was half-tempted to throw this into the next category, but something else deserves it more, and I really wasn't that annoyed with the game itself. It's just that it would have worked a lot better if they'd used an MDK2 style control scheme; analog pad to rotate Pit, face buttons for strafing, R for attacking and L for the dodge move. But no, they had to go shoehorn the touch screen in and use the analog pad for both movement and dodging. Not only does this make the controls more fiddly than they need to be, but it restricted me playing hunched over the handheld at a desk with the stand.
Game That I Put A Decent Amount of Effort Into, But Decided Could Go Fuck Itself of the Year - Alien Soldier
Alien Soldier is the video game equivalent of a Michael Bay movie: fast paced, flashy, and completely vaccuous. Not to mention that like the new Transformers, many of the bosses are overdesigned messes that look like a strong wind could knock them over. I had to stifle my laughter the first time I saw Xi-Tiger; I kept looking for the strings controlling him. And for all the glitter and explosions, I spent my time with this game utterly bored, unable to see how it could invoke a thought more substantial than "Fuck yeah!" or maybe "Eat it, Nintendo kiddies!" To add the cherry on top of it all, the Japanese version all but admits on the title screen that it has little to no ambition beyond a tech demo for the 68000, because ideally artwork exists to serve the medium it's been created with.
Not only do the bosses look ridiculous, they're an absolute chore to fight due to taking way too fucking long to kill, the limited ammo, and cumbersome weapon selection that doesn't pause the game as you try to cycle to a different weapon which would have been annoying even if Epsilon Eagle wasn't such a fucking huge target. Oh, but you're not supposed to actually fight them; you're "supposed" to one-shot them all with a special move at the right time. Um, what?
And yes, this was the game my extra-cynical self was referring to towards the end of this.
Best Movie, I Guess - Wreck-It Ralph
1st Runner Up - Hellboy 2: The Golden Army
1st Runner Up - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Pretty slim pickings here, especially since I disqualified Back to the Future because come on, that's a given. And yeah, I know I scored TMNT higher than Hellboy 2, but up until the ending I liked Hellboy 2 more.
I didn't include the first two Tenchi movies because I was so distracted when I watched them it's not fair for me to judge them
Worst Movie - Tenchi Forever
1st Runner Up - Superman III
1st Runner Up - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III
Wow, and these are all the third movies of their respective series. Coincidence?
Best TV DVD - The Big O
1st Runner Up - Mystery Science Theater 3000 Vol. XXIII
2nd Runner Up - Futurama Vol. 5
I still think the Christmas special was completely retarded, but other than that Big O was a solid giant mech anime. Following that is four hilarious episodes of MST3K, and a better grasp on classic Futurama than the movies (although the cat episode can still go to Hell)
Worst TV DVD - Futurama Vol. 6
I know I said the only tolerable episode was the one with the egg, but on reflection, the episode with Bender's ghost was also okay. But man, that barely makes up for how bad most of the other episodes were. Eh, I guess it was still better than Drawn Together and Little Britain.
Best RiffTrax - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
1st Runner Up - Thor
2nd Runner Up - House on Haunted Hill
Since I only read two books, I'll instead highlight some of the RiffTrax films I watched this year.
Most Pleasant Surprise (Everything Else) - The Merged Hulk Comics
Runner Up - Futurama Vol. 5
I really must be a child of the 90s. My favorite games are from the 90s, as are my favorite cartoons like Garfield and Friends, Freakazoid, and The Simpsons, and the only comics I've been able to get into are from the 90s.
Biggest Disappointment (Everything Else) - Futurama Vol. 6
After being surprised with most of the volume 5 episodes, imagine my disappointment when volume 6 was back to the dross of the movies.
2013 was the worst year of my life, and August 2013 the worst month. The people who need to know what happened then already know, and I don't feel like dredging it up here. But now, I'd like to try to look forward to the next year, since it's hard to imagine how it could be as miserable as this one was.