Archive for January, 2004

Funnest Fun of 2003

Everyone else is doing it! It’ll make you feeeel goood. Don’t you want to be cool? Well, then join me on the bandwagon and make a top-somethingorother of 2003 list. I know you’re just itching to. Plus, your friends won’t like you anymore if you don’t. So, without further ado, here are my favorite games of the past year in alphabetical order…

  • Amplitude – Frequency refined plus intensely good good online modes including cutting heads? Oh yes!
  • Beyond Good & Evil – Non-Barbied female lead, multicultural cast, cool game world, and Max Headroom styles real-time reporting intrigue and stealth make this game exceptional.
  • ESPN NBA 2K4 – Another upgrade, yes, but one that pushes the envelope for sports games. Who thought you could combine Animal Crossing and a hardcore sports sim. Apparently, Visual Concepts did; and it works!
  • F-Zero GX – With spot on Nagoshi-san control, intensely inventive tracks, gorgeous visuals, and a clever story mode, GX breathes new life into a once proud franchise.
  • Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga – Turning battles in an RPG from watching tiresome stats scroll up the screen into engrossingly interactive events is enough to get this game on the list. Add to that a compelling story and a clever control system that allows one player to control two characters at the same time and you’ve got something very special.
  • Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time – Okay, it’s not Ico, but PoP is impressive in its own right. Particularly impressive is how the game incorporatees action (scaling walls, swinging from poles, and a myriad of attack moves) into the formula that Ico established while telling a more accessible story. Did I mention “the girl” kicks butt now, too?
  • SSX 3 – I wasn’t expecting much from this one, especially since Tricky was really just SSX with tweaked tracks, but SSX 3 really takes the series to the next level. With its wide open tracks, numerous event types, seemingly infinite unlockables, and online play, I think EA Canada is going to have a bit of trouble figuring out how to top this one.
  • Viewtiful Joe – It’s just a beat-em up adventure; nothing new. Just a beat-em up with the most satisfying combo system I’ve seen, a very clever time control mechanic (paying attention Blinx and Max Payne?), impeccable art direction, and inventive level after inventive level. Nope, nothing to see here at all…
  • Wario Ware, Inc: Mega Microgame$ – How could a bunch of extremely simple games put together somehow equal more than their sum? Ask Nintendo. This game is magic and, even when the main game is over, there are enough unlockables that you keep getting drawn back in.

Honorable mentions: NBA Street 2, Pokemon: Ruby/Sapphire

Games I haven’t played but would probably end up on this list: Activision Anthology (GBA), Fire Emblem, Karaoke Revolution, Project Gotham Racing 2, Rise of Nations, Silent Storm 2, Splinter Cell

Fabulous K Bros. Doubleteam the Googleyheim

The Guggenheim Museum hasn’t necessarily been my favorite place over the years — its most recent transgression being Barney’s hopelessly overblown Cremaster Cycle, which took over the place for a seemingly interminable period of time this past summer. Fortunately, the smaller exhibits are still quite enjoyable, most notably the recent Klee and Kandinsky, which takes geometry places you’d never imagine.

The exhibit is admittedly a bit Kandinsky-leaning but Klee gets his fair share in. The juxtaposition of Kandinsky’s explosive images against Klee’s softer but most unusual pastels and intense layering is quite striking. Worth seeing, but perhaps not worth the full $15 admission charge. Fortunately, that fee allows you can grab an eyeful of Rosenquist’s politically minded pop art as well. :-)

For those moved by Kandinsky and his synesthetic landscapes, Rez is a must. Inspired by Kandinsky’s work, this game allows players to dynamically collide sound and visual in intense new ways.

While I’m at it, I may as well point out an exploration of geometries of a different sort that was at the Drawing Center through the end of last year. There, Mark Lombardi’s work took visitors on a tour through politics on a global scale via gorgeous arcs and circles linking the most unlikely of participants in an exhibit entitled Global Conspiracies. Subjects included Watergate, the Pope, Iran-Contra, and others. Striking, powerful stuff.

image grabbed from the guggenheim online

Beyond Good & Evil Resurrection?

How ’bout I breathe life back into this blog with talk of another kind of resurrection?
After selling so poorly that the developers have already publicly stated there will be no sequel (it only came out 2 months ago!), a recently lowered price seems to have sparked much interest in Michel Ancel’s Beyond Good and Evil. It is now sold out in every store in Manhattan as far as I can tell and Jason Berman appears to confirm this. A number of online stores are also sold out. I wonder if it’ll show up on some bestseller lists this week. Gotta say its the first time I’ve seen this phenomenon…

I’ve only played it a tiny bit, but it’s fun so far! Gotta finish PoP (another fine ubisoft title) before I give it any real time, tho. With its non-Barbie female hero, multicultural cast, and good reviews, I hope BG&E gets more attention.

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