Well, no movies opening this weekend and no breaking news, so now's a good a time as any to give my year-end wrap ups. Going for something a little different from the usual "best of" this year, so enjoy:
I don't why anybody is surprised at this. Sure, potentially Sony's metagame/virtual world is a visionary and fantastic idea. If it ever gets done, that is. This could be the Second Life for consoles, but it also could just end up being some ad-filled eyesore to pump merchandise, which seems the more likely of the two. I wouldn't be surprised if this doesn't really see the light of day until at least 2009.
The Helping Amateur Stalkers Everywhere Award:
Xbox Live's Friends of Friends. Seriously. who's fucking bright idea was this? So, anybody can potentially track down anybody on live, which probably isn't that big a deal, but I rarely let people I've never even talked to on an internet forum join my friends' list, much less somebody who is a friend of a friend of a friend. Xbox live isn't Myspace. This really just seems like a tool for advertising where you get asked to be on the friend list of The Burger King or something horrid like that.
The resting on their laurels award:
Yes, it was a banner year for Nintendo. Their waggle system continues to sell like it's the last system ever. But really, what did Nintendo do to please it's already big installed base this year? Not a whole lot, and the sad thing is , it wouldn't have taken much to make us pleased. Better virtual console releases, for one. Yeah, what is classic is subjective, but most of what we've seen this year on the virtual console was questionable at best. I probably should be having trouble keeping my Wii from overflowing with VC titles, but it just isn't happening.
Which leads me to my another major complaint-Nintendo still hasn't made it so that you can play anything from an SD card, which massively limits the memory options. I mean hell, I may have to start choosing between channels and game saves soon, especially with Wii Ware on the way next year. And finally, the ever-lasting complaint of simplifying online play. Their is literally no justification for making your customers have to jot down 16-digit codes for every friend for every individual game. You don;t even enable voice chat, so that whole protecting the kids mantra is complete BS. And even if you did, that's what thing like parental settings (and parents themselves oddly enough) are for. I mean honestly, this is the kind of thing that will make people skip otherwise solid titles like Battalion Wars 2, because it just isn't worth the hassle. These are all easily fixed problems, Nintendo, and shame on you for being lazy as hell about it.
The You only get out of it what you put into it award:
3rd Party Wii developers: Seriously, just how many half-assed pieces of complete shovelware have we seen on Nintendo's console this year? And all of them are by third parties just desperately trying to cash in on the Wii's success. Then they have the gall to piss & moan about how they can't make any money on the Wii. Granted, you're not going to hit monster numbers like Bioshock & Mass Effect, but I thought that was one of the points of the Wii in the first place-that you could make more daring titles that don't have to be monster hits because they cost a fraction of what it costs to develop titles for the 360 or the PS3. The Wii has effectively proved people don't care about graphics that much, but they still need something besides 10,000 minigames to bide their free time.
Granted, several Sony execs were in the running, but the increasingly insane antics of Thompson month after month made him a shoo-in. I mean the guy has targeted everything from Microsoft to the Department of Defense, and even facing disbarment hasn't slowed this maniac down in his crusade to destroy videogames that just ends up destroying any credibility he has left. It's been fun Mr. Thompson, but it's looking like 2008 will find you jobless and possibly in a rubber room where you truly belong.
The biggest disappointment of the year:
Xbox Live Arcade: Seriously, it's been around a year longer than the Virtual Console, yet the amount of quality titles is a hell of a lot less, and it's not because the usually only do one title a week. Sure, there have been a couple of rare gems like Bomberman & Worms, and Streets of Rage 2 was certainly worth the $5 to download; but a look at the rest of the list reads like some hastily slapped together "greatest hits" compilation with only a couple actual hits and most of the running badly on hardware that should have no problem running it. Microsoft can;t even decide what the hell it wants Arcade to be. First it's an outlet for indie developers, then it's a land of mostly badly emulated classics. Now it's trying to reach out to a young and casual crowd that isn't even there with games that feature Spongebob collecting underpants. Arcade is in the middle of a giant identity crisis, and it will be looked upon as one of the great blunders of this generation if Microsoft doesn't get their act together.
All right, that's pretty much it. See you guys next year!