Lists


The past year has offered plenty of major stories to keep gamers chattering. Here’s what we thought were the most important stories to hit the industry over the past 12 months.

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Each year brings a host of new technologies to the table that make the gaming landscape seem significantly different from what came before, and 2011 was no different. Here are some of the most important technological advancements the game industry saw in the past 12 months.

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Microsoft’s Kinect 3D camera got its start as an accessory that lets you use your body as a controller for Xbox 360 games like Dance Central. Since then, hackers have used the hardware for everything from art projects to robotic helicopters! Here are just some of the cool things clever hackers have done with Microsoft’s depth-sensing camera.

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Video games are by and large about projecting power, and who’s more powerful than the leader of the free world? Video game appearances by U.S. presidents — both real and fictional — run the gamut from inspiring to embarrassing. It’s one thing to have your leader spur you on with a rousing speech or a cry to battle, but having your president thank you for saving his life by offering to take you out for a burger? That’s humiliating. Thanks, Ronnie.

With the Big Gipper included in the bunch, here are a few of our Presidential favorites on both sides of the coin. While you’re kicking back on this President’s Day, think about your favorite video game leaders, and whether you would have voted for them, or shoved them off the ballot.

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After the plumbing thing didn’t work out, Mario went on to be a juggler, a soldier, and even a pinball flipper!

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Press A to jump. Press the right trigger to shoot. Press X to reload. The standard button mapping for most video games is just so… so… boring.
Video games are all about doing amazing, epic, over-the-top stuff, bt too often you have to press a whole mess of buttons or execute a long string of commands to get that awesome stuff to happen. Where are the controller commands that put epic awesomeness at your fingertips? Where are the games that make doing amazing stuff as simple as pressing a button?
Well, actually, they’re right here after the break.

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There’s something about the physics or Mario games that has been hard-wired into our collective gaming brains. At this point, every gamer just kind of knows how Mario is supposed to act, given the physics of his world. So when rushed programming of sloppy edge cases change those physics, the result is a little surreal — like seeing a childhood friend all grown up, or watching pornography starring favorite cartoon characters from your youth. Not that we’ve ever done either of those things.
Anyway, enjoy the videos…

So, you think you’re hot stuff because you can beat the Japanese version of Super Mario Bros. 2 without warping or continuing? You think finding all the chaos emeralds in Sonic 3 and Knuckles means you can take any platforming challenge out there? You think your no-deaths run of Battletoads means you’ve got mad platforming skillz?
Kid, you ain’t nothing unless you’ve conquered these incredibly punishing indie platformers. Without the constraints of a mass market audience, these downloadable or browser-based PC titles are free to present unreasonably tough run-and-jump challenges without fear of pissing off scaring away the lowest-common-denominator players. Good luck… you’ll need it.

So, you think you’re hot stuff because you can beat the Japanese version of Super Mario Bros. 2 without warping or continuing? You think finding all the chaos emeralds in Sonic 3 and Knuckles means you can take any platforming challenge out there? You think your no-deaths run of Battletoads means you’ve got mad platforming skillz?

Kid, you ain’t nothing unless you’ve conquered these incredibly punishing indie platformers. Without the constraints of a mass market audience, these downloadable or browser-based PC titles are free to present unreasonably tough run-and-jump challenges without fear of pissing off scaring away the lowest-common-denominator players. Good luck… you’ll need it.

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Music has “Weird Al” Yankovic. Pop culture has Saturday Night Live. Saturday Night Live has 30 Rock. And gaming has… these games, which call attention to some of the more ridiculous aspects of our favorite hobby by emulating them all too perfectly.
Get ready to have your mind blown!
(Note: I stuck with free-to-play PC and web-based games for this list, which leaves off a lot of worthy console satires like Half-Minute Hero, Conker’s Bad Fur Day, Retro Game Challenge, Work Time Fun, Takeshi’s Challenge, and even more traditional games like WarioWare Inc. and Eternal Darkness. Check them all out, satire fans)

The past few weeks have seen a distinct ramp up in rumors surrounding a new Google social network in the works — with social gaming being a big part of those rumored plans. Even though we have no details on what such a service would look like, we’re pretty excited about the potential of what a company like Google could do to revolutionize social gaming as we know it. Here are five features we’d like to see Google look into if and when they finally enter the social gaming arena.

Recommendations: One of the best things about Google’s search algorithm is that it almost always seems to magically know exactly what you want, no matter how cryptic the search phrase. Imagine if you had these same sort of magical recommendations to guide you to interesting social games. Google’s experience finding patterns in reams of data could help their social network lead players to the games they’re most likely to like.

And rest assured, Google would have reams of data to work with; from the play habits of you and your friends to your physical location to your search history and even the contents of your Gmail and Google Docs accounts. Sure it’s a little creepy to think about all the data Google collects about an average user, but if they’re going to be mining that data anyway, they may as well pay you back with some interesting game recommendations, right?

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