December 2008

Biggest Surprise: Tie between Little Big Planet and Mirror’s Edge

Biggest Disappointment: Guitar Hero: World Tour’s loud-ass drums

2008 Game I’ll Play in 2009: Left 4 Dead

2008 in a Sentence: Build-your-own co-operative indie first-person rhythm action-shooter platformer (with mini-games!)

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As the holiday release season comes to a close, Press Pass sees if any journalists survived the onslaught of reviews.

  • Game journalism navel-gazing and its malcontents
  • Hey, who Spiked the Video Game Awards punch?
  • Swimming up the mainstream
  • News bits
  • Quote of the moment

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Virtual Console and WiiWare titles reviewed this month:

  • Boogerman: A Pick and Flick Adventure
  • Forgotten Worlds
  • Metal Slug 2
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 2
  • Space Invaders: The Original Game
  • Space Invaders Get Even

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Xbox Live Games reviewed this month:

  • A Kingdom for Keflings
  • Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix
  • Banjo-Kazooie
  • PowerUp Forever
  • Meteos Wars

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No game this year made me feel as much raw emotion as Left 4 Dead. Surely the game’s itself was part of it — the atmospheric sounds of groaning zombies and the excellently run-down locales definitely helped — but most of it came from simply playing with real people.

L4D’s multiplayer design, especially the versus mode, finds a perfect balance between the every-man-for-himself twitchiness of most deathmatch games and the stick-together camaraderie of co-operative play without missing a beat. There’s a real tension to the survivor portions and a real feeling of vindictive glee during the zombie attacks, feelings that are exacerbated because you know the people behind those screams of joy and anguish in your ear are feeling the same things.

The true sign that I was getting way too into this game was when I stopped a lengthy play session and realized that my throat was bone dry from screaming commands and strategies at my teammates. Not since Karaoke Revolution has a sore throat been such a sure sign of a good time.

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Prince of Persia for Xbox 360 review I must admit, I let out an involuntary laugh when I heard the title character in Prince of Persia let loose with the line, “either of us could die any minute.” This laugh came not because the line was a bit hackneyed (it was) or badly delivered (it wasn’t). No, I laughed because the one thing that sets Prince of Persia apart from other platform games — more than anything else — is the fact that the main characters are never in danger of dying “any minute.” No matter how many 100-foot chasms the Prince falls down, no matter how many times he’s sliced up by an enemy sword, no matter how many times he stumbles into the undulating black “Corrpution” that dots the land, his God-powered magical companion Elika is there to reach out a glowing blue hand and drag him back to the safety of the nearest piece of solid ground.
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The trouble with game of the year awards
by Blake Snow

“It’s important to remember that game of the year awards are being given by individual outlets, not the industry as a whole,” says Kyle Orland, the unofficial media watchdog of video games. “It’s not the Oscars or the Emmys or even the Golden Globes. It’s just a subjective ranking of important games by an editorial staff.”

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I joined Evan Narcisse, Scott Jones, Scott Alexander and Russ Fischer for this unconventional multi-viewpoint look at a Left 4 Dead match.

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Gamers growing up in today’s CD- and DVD-enabled world don’t know how good they have it. They’ve been spoiled by surround sound systems, a billion sound channels and epic soundtracks recorded by full orchestras. Back in our day, we had primitive sound chips chirping out bleeps and bloops that occasionally resembled real recorded music, and daggumit, that’s the way we liked it!

No, I’m serious, we actually did like it. Game music back in the good old days of game music (defined here as anything released during or before the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and Sega Genesis era) actually had a distinctive character that was exclusive to the medium. While today’s game soundtracks are largely indistinguishable from the kind of forgettable background sounds that infuse most movies and television shows, classic game music is instantly recognizable as such, and totally inextricable from memories of long nights spent in front of glorious, glowing, two-dimensional sprites.

Actually, now that we think about it, maybe today’s kids don’t know how bad they have it. In an effort to change that (and in honor of the currently ongoing Blip Festival 2008), we here at the Game Trust thought it would be “groovy” to share some of our favorite classic game tunes with you. While narrowing it down to one song per person was tough (many of our members grappled with their decision for days), each selection here is a true classic of the retro “chiptune” genre, and represents hundreds of hours of childhood gaming bliss. Enjoy!

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Even Alton Brown hinted at such doubts, although he said his 9-year-old daughter, Zoe, couldn’t put down the DS version of Iron Chef. “If you had told me a few years ago we’d be talking about food video games, I’d have thought you were crazy,” he said. “Why would you stand in front of your TV and pretend to chop an onion when you can go into the kitchen and chop a real onion?”Excellent question, and one for which Kyle Orland, author of “Wii for Dummies,” had an immediate answer. “Put me in front of a real onion, and I’ll make a mess of it,” he said. “But in Cooking Mama, I can chop it perfectly every time.”

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