Looking Back On… the 2014 Year in Review Staff Commentaries

(Well, here we are, a year removed from the 2014 Year in Review, and aside from the fact that I’ve not had a lot of time or energy to update this site, and probably won’t until April or so, when I finally graduate, there are two things I can say definitively: first, that it turns out I went back to three of the games in my 2013 list in Terraria, Saints Row IV and XCOM, for personal fun, review of a rerelease and livestreaming respectively, and second, that holy shit was 2014 a wonderful year in gaming in comparison to 2015, at least for me personally. I can understand if you thought 2015 was a wonderful year in gaming, because indie gaming exploded for a lot of folks, but I was one of those people who was looking forward to a lot of sequels that didn’t deliver, so 2014 feels like a wistful remembrance in comparison. To each their own and whatnot.)

Mark B.’s Top Ten
Senior Editor

1.) Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth (3DS)
2.) Dangan Ronpa 1&2 (Vita)
3.) Akiba’s Trip: Undead and Undressed (PS3)
4.) Valiant Hearts: The Great War (PS4)
5.) South Park: The Stick of Truth (PC/360)
6.) Demon Gaze (Vita)
7.) Goat Simulator (PC)
8.) Dragon Age: Inquisition (XBO)
9.) Persona 4 Arena Ultimax (360/PS3)
10.) Five Nights at Freddy’s (PC)

(I might shuffle the first and second spots around, but otherwise the top five games in the list are honestly more or less fine as is. Goat Simulator would probably move up a slot, and I’d probably slot in something else in place of Demon Gaze in retrospect… maybe If My Heart Had Wings, as weird as that sounds. Otherwise, though, it’s a fine list, and I’m mostly still happy with the majority of the games on it.)

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Looking Back on… Review: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (Sony Playstation 2)

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.
Console: Multiple, but for reference, PS2.
Genre: Adventure/Action/Puzzle solving.
Developer: Ubisoft.
Publisher: Ubisoft. (This is the first in the Sands of Time series, for reference.)

Alright, I am going to deviate from the norm and sum this review up on one simple statement, because everything after this will only be reinforcing that statement, so I might as well get it out of the way now.

I don’t care what console you own, you MUST take the opportunity to at least PLAY this game, if not own it outright. (I still feel at least partially that way, though the rest of the games that come after it are a bit hit-or-miss.)

Everything from this point onward is only validation of the above statement. Thank you.

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Looking Back on… Smoking part 2: The Truth sucks. (Commentary, 9/02)

“But perhaps the single biggest offender in all of this just came about recently, and that’s The Truth. The Truth has single-handedly turned a fairly simple anti-smoking campaign ugly, using blatant smear tactics, grotesque imagery, shock value, and insulting references to push their campaign against “Big Tobacco” using any means necessary. They are the single biggest example in the world today of “The ends justify the means” and frankly, I’m getting a little tired of it. Fine, smoking is bad, WE GET IT. But they keep shoving self-serving facts in our faces that are, at best, factual inaccuracies, and at worst, blatant lies, all while telling us the chemical composition of something we already KNEW was bad for us. They’re beating a dead horse with a spiky steel dildo while wearing backless leather chaps and nothing else, all the while telling us the horse raped our parents and would have raped us had we not killed it, and that’s just disturbing, folks. I’m sorry, it’s time someone told the truth about The Truth.” (I quoted this passage because it was about a month between posts, and I wanted to remind people in case the thirty or so readers I had forgot about this.)

For general reference, that was where we left off last week. The actual rant is in the archives, so if you blinked and missed it, there you go. (God forbid I tell you where it is exactly of course.) But to move this party right along…

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Looking Back on… Smoking part 1: Where’s my revolution? (Commentary, 8/02)

Smoking part 1: Where’s my revolution? (I’m skipping a few weeks of older content, mostly because The Truth is annoying the ever-loving fuck out of me, and I don’t even smoke cigarettes anymore.)

So, anyway, the other day I’m sitting outside of my place of work, enjoying one of the few pleasures left in my life, that being smoking. (That sounds morose, but to be fair, I worked in retail at the time.) Now, I don’t know about you, but I personally enjoy smoking, as it’s a reasonable way to relieve stress, a lot less time consuming than playing video games or writing, and less illegal than masturbation (in public) or murder. (Eh. Logically at this point it’s mostly the fact that, once you get addicted to smoking, a lack of nicotine causes stress attacks, and you develop an oral fixation that needs filling, so really, it’s better not to start.) I imagine some of you thinking of a mental picture involving at least one of, if not BOTH simultaneously, of the following ideas as I were to enact them. Please keep in mind, while I do feel bad for your suffering upon imagining that, I have to LIVE with this body, so trust me, you’ll live. You’ve probably imagined Grandma naked, trust me, I’m not the worst thing you’re imagined. (These days the internet has created and archived so many terrible things that a fat dude jerking off in public is probably on the bottom ten worst things most of us have seen in this lifetime.)

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Looking Back on… My Rant on XPW (Wrestling, 2/18/03)

My rant on XPW, or, why you can’t sell the same thing over again. (I’m italicizing my modern comments since this is already bolded. Anyway, fucking XPW man. Originally a terrible, fifth-rate ECW knock-off with some of the worst “talent” in the business and a bunch of ECW castoffs, run by porn producer Rob Black, they SOMEHOW decided to just BECOME ECW, caused a shitload of problems in the Philly wrestling area, then died off when Black was run through the wringer because of “obscenity charges.” This means porn with peeing and I HOPE IMPLIED murder scenes, so, yeah. Anyway, the whole sordid mess is here on Wikipedia, if you’re bored, and apparently Black wants to bring it back AGAIN so God knows, we may be back here in a few years.)

(A note in advance: first, to those of you who know nothing about XPW, though I loathe plugging those I ridicule, visit xpwrestling.com to give yourself a better idea of those I write about here, if you’re curious. Second, if one Mr. Black is to read this: Consider this publicity. If you want to pull a Jay Bower on me, please do, but remember to link me, god knows I could use the traffic.) (Jay Bower was some dude who wrote for Smarks.com, for reference; we’ll get to him in a little bit.)

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Looking Back on… Review: WWE Raw 2 (Microsoft Xbox)

WWE Raw 2
Console: X-Box
Genre: Sports (Wrestling)
Developer: Anchor
Publisher: THQ (We have about one more YHCOR review left before we have to finish up the other content, ugh, which will then bring us into the DHGF content. Lord knows how long that’ll take to get through, but let’s find out.)

Hey, what’s better than wrestling? (These days, lots of stuff.) More wrestling! THQ, the proud parents of the Smackdown franchise of games, have recently released Raw 2, the second in Anchor’s WWE games series for the X-Box. Now, I don’t want to sound negative or anything, but Raw… well… it had some issues, to put it politely, (It fucking sucked, to put it less so.) and Anchor swore they would take great pains to work out the bugs on the second go-round and produce a superior gaming experience in all possible respects.

Did it work? Well, I think so, but to be fair, the game still isn’t as good as it could’ve been. (They fixed everything but the gameplay, basically.)

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The Gender Gap – Women’s Wrestling (College, 2007)

(I wrote this back in 2007 as part of a college group project discussing the gender gap for female athletes as a general whole; my group members chose golf, soccer and basketball, and I opted to choose professional wrestling, since I had the most exposure to that as a sporting property. It’s been eight years since I wrote this piece, and with the #GiveDivasAChance movement going on and whatnot, I opted to put some time into looking this over and posting it here, since I enjoyed the work I put into it, and I think it’s still relevant today.

Note, however, that the relevant graphs have been removed due to their generally boring nature, and that in the instances where someone asked not to be named, or has since become a major player in US wrestling and might not want their names mentioned, I’ve opted to refer to them as anonymous. That said, I talked to a whole lot of people here, so it’s got a lot of information backing it up.)

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Looking Back on… Final Fantasy VII (Sony Playstation)

Final Fantasy VII
Genre: Role Playing Game
Developer: Squaresoft
Publisher: SCEA
Release Date: 8/31/97 (So here’s a fun thing I haven’t really posted anywhere else: the review I wrote as my application to write for IP Games/DHGF almost a decade ago now. It’s… not great at this point, but it’s fun and considering that it gave me the chance to do all kinds of cool things I wouldn’t have done otherwise, I consider it historically significant at least.)

It’s kind of weird to be playing a Final Fantasy game on any system other than one with the Nintendo name on it. I should admit, I’ve been something of a fan of the games since FF 1 was released back in 1990 on the NES. (This is kind of a fallacy, in that I didn’t play the original Final Fantasy until years after the fact, and in point of fact, Final Fantasy III/VI was my first actual exposure to the series. It’s correct in that I liked the first two games when I played them, but incorrect in that it presents the idea that I played them when they came out, which isn’t even close to true, as I was an SMS kid growing up.) Two SNES titles (as well as a handful of Gameboy games) later, and here we are, facing down the correctly numbered sequel to one of the best RPG’s ever made (that being FF3/6; though I still like Phantasy Star 4 better, I have to give credit where it’s due) (Still true; Final Fantasy VI is almost certainly the very best traditional JRPG ever made, but I still like Phantasy Star IV better because it pays off the franchise storyline well and I like the characters a whole lot. It also kind of pays off the romantic subplot from Phantasy Star II to a point, which is neat, and I wish that the Sega Classics franchise had lasted long enough for PSIV to see a re-release, if only because I’d have paid actual money to see that come to the US. As it is we have a fan translation of the first game, with the sequel being worked on now, so that’s something at least. Maybe someday Sega will finish the series off with a proper remake, but maybe someday I’ll win the lottery, because of the two, that one is the more likely possibility.) on the PSX. I had high hopes as I brought it home and popped it into my system, but I had the utmost faith that Squaresoft would once again deliver the goods with yet another highly entertaining RPG.

Well… not exactly.

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Looking Back on… The rant heard ’round the internet. (8/19/02)

Hello everybody, and welcome to Your Hot Cup of Rant. I’m your host, who you can endearingly refer to as Rantmaster Mark, or Mark, or Rantmaster, or even Betty. (If you don’t get that last one, watch better movies before you come back, I don’t know what to tell you.) Anyway, we as a collective are a group of whack jobs and shitheads devoted to giving you, yes YOU, reasons to fear for the sanity of the world at large. I am the site’s general content provider, moderator, editor, and general lord and master of all you presently survey. (This was the official “first post” on the actual site proper; I’m skipping a bunch of the archived email list rants because they’re tough, even for me, to get through.) Roll call works as follows:

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Looking Back on… WWE Smackdown! Here Comes the Pain (Sony Playstation 2)

WWE Smackdown! Here Comes The Pain.
Console: PS2
Genre: Sports (Wrestling)
Developer: Yuke’s
Publisher: THQ (At this point we’re reaching the end of the YHCOR reviews; about two years after this point, I’d be writing regularly for IPGames, and I only had about two more reviews in me for YHCOR before the entire process basically became something I couldn’t commit time to anymore. If I’d had the sort of easy-to-use tools we have now for posting to the site it might’ve been different, but at the time I was working with writing everything in Word, putting it together in Dreamweaver, passing it to my webmaster, and waiting for him to upload it, so it wasn’t the most intuitive thing in the world. These days I’m just too busy to keep focused on it, sadly, but assuming I don’t die by forty I’ll be back to it eventually.)

Ah, wrestling games. If anyone on this earth is familiar with wrestling games, you can damn well believe it’s me. From the glory days of WWF Wrestlemania on the NES (“Glory days,” he says. That game was the Hershey squirts.) to WWF Royal Rumble on the Genesis (Terrible game but man I loved it.) to WCW Versus the World on the PS1 (A lot of people thought that game was terrible, but it was basically a precursor to the AKI games we all loved to death, and for what it was, it was pretty fun.) to Fire Pro Wrestling D (Which was my go-to wrestling game until Fire Pro Wrestling Returns came out on PS2, which I will never stop playing.) and some version of Touken Retsuden on the Dreamcast (Sporadically; I could never get into the Touken Retsuden games, sadly.) to Def Jam Vendetta on PS2 (Vendetta was closer to an actual wrestling game, but Fight for New York was a better overall experience) to Ultimate MUSCLE on Gamecube (Man AKI made a lot of wrestling games even in their death throes.) to… you get the point, if there’s a wrestling game, I’ve probably played it, or some variant of it. I love ’em. (Loved, these days. WWE games tend to be the shits anymore for a number of reasons, and once you get a Fire Pro game in English you don’t need much else. Though man I wish THQ had paid off that rumor of releasing a downloadable version of No Mercy with an updated roster.)

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