Crispy Gamer

I Call Bullshit: The Year in Bullshit

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You know, this was a pretty good year to be a gamer. The PlayStation 3 shrank (a little) and came down in price. The Xbox 360 stopped red-ringing every 45 minutes. The iPhone became a viable gaming platform. And the Nintendo Wii? Well, it just kind of kept Wii-ing on.

Sony made the PSP smaller and plagiarized pretty much every design idea from the iPhone, while also abandoning the UMD format and forsaking previous fans of the machine. Nintendo put a couple of cameras in the DS and asked us to buy it again. And Microsoft gave us a glimpse of the future with Project Natal, even if it sort of, kind of, turned out that the whole Peter Molyneux/"Hello Milo" thing was a hoax on par with the fabled Piltdown Man.

2009? You can go now. Don't let the door hit you on the ass (or, as you call it, your "December") on the way out.

Wii MotionPlus = horseshit

We plugged it in, then spent several hours of our lives trying to deduce exactly how much of a difference WMP made. Our conclusion: After losing those hours of our lives, which we can never get back again, we have come to the conclusion that it is 100-percent unnecessary to attach this utterly useless piece of non-technology to the Wii Remote.

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EA lays off 1,500 people, purchases Playfish in same breath

It is generally accepted that the smaller fork is the salad fork, that you should always hold doors open for old people, and that you should at least wait three days between the firing 1,000-plus people and announcing that you've just spent their salaries on purchasing a new company.

Facing Facts Dept.: Street Fighter IV is really Street Fighter II with nicer graphics

Hardcore Street Fighter fans will joyously describe the ways in which Capcom tweaked the gameplay in Street Fighter IV. But Capcom has been "tweaking" gameplay, and giving us marginal reasons to purchase "new" Street Fighter games, in this fashion since 1994. Hide Your Wallet Alert: Super Street Fighter IV will ship this spring with around eight new characters. If Capcom asks me to fork over another $60 for what's being described as "roughly eight additional characters," that's horseshit.

Satoru Iwata's gassy, unfunny, uninformative keynote address at GDC 2009

That wasn't a keynote; that was a two-hour-long Nintendo commercial.

GTA series = stale, boring

Remember how excited we were when Grand Theft Auto IV expansion packs were first announced? We all cried in unison: Hooray. But after The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony, we've had it. Note to Rockstar: GTA V better not be another drive-here-do-this fest. After 10 years, it's time to evolve.

Let's Be Honest Dept.: Flower wasn't really much fun and/or moving

Mostly I'm angry at Flower for giving so many reviewers the opportunity to trot out the phrase "tone poem." Congratulations, reviewers. You got an A-minus in Mrs. Watkins' 11th-grade English class. And if Flower made you cry, I have the numbers of several good therapists for you.

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Was That Really Necessary Dept.: The Secret of Monkey Island do-over

Why not just repaint the Mona Lisa while you're at it.

New Super Mario Bros. Wii not really very super at all

It's four-player Super Mario Bros. that allows you to play as Mario, Luigi, or -- dream-come-true-alert -- a yellow or blue Toad. The sideways-Wii-Remote control scheme isn't ideal (the original NES game had superior controls); four-player gameplay is too chaotic; the game is marketed as a casual fun-for-the-whole-family experience, but it's too f***ing hard; and a 2-D Super Mario Bros. with some 3-D graphical elements? Played that game already back in 1994 when it was called Super Mario World. This disc comes up short on so many levels Nintendo should have called it Old, Step-in-the-Wrong-Direction, Decidedly Un-Super Mario Bros. Wii.

Pandemic Studios dies, goes to Awesome Developer Heaven

If the studio that made the Star Wars: Battlefront and Mercenaries series can't survive, everyone else in the industry should say a little prayer before starting their cars in the morning.

Electronic Gaming Monthly dies, goes to Awesome Game Magazine Heaven

EGM grew thinner and thinner with each passing month, until it abruptly passed away last January. (Though recent reports say that the EGM brand could, as the famous Altered Beast sound bite says, "Wise from your gwave " in 2010.) But can magazines that aren't named "Game Informer" survive in 2010? And if not, what exactly are we supposed to read in the bathroom?

Videogame art books

Art in videogames can indeed be quite beautiful. Yet is it beautiful enough to hang on the walls of the Louvre? No. Is it beautiful enough to appear in a hardbound book? Again, the answer is no. But that didn't stop the makers of Assassin's Creed II, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed: Ultimate Sith Edition, Metroid Prime Trilogy and Tekken 6 -- yes, Tekken 6! -- from including pack-in collectible hardbound art books with their games. Should you ever stop by my apartment and find me leisurely leafing through any of these art books on a lazy Sunday afternoon, remove one of your white gloves, then strike me across the face with it.

Installs on the PS3: still woefully prevalent, still painfully long

A friend of mine who works as a developer told me that when they are building a cross-platform game, they always build the game for the PS3 first, then adapt it to the 360 and the PC. Why? Because, the PS3, as Gabe Newell has announced on several occasions, is very, very difficult to program for. This no doubt explains why the PS3 version of The Saboteur, the final AAA title of 2009, requires a seven-minute-long install at startup -- after three full years of having the PS3 on the market.

The Modern Warfare 2 Boo Effect: Sad, unfortunate

If you're looking for something to play for the rest of this month and come up empty, blame MW2. Except for a handful of C- and D-grade titles and boredom, and maybe Guitar Hero: Van Halen, there's really nothing new to play between now and 2010. A host of juggernauts -- BioShock 2, Mass Effect 2, Bayonetta, Dark Void, Darksiders:Wrath of War and MAG -- all experienced suspicious production delays that postponed their release dates until January. Translation: They hid under their mothers' skirts.

DSi Store = horseshit

Nintendo squeezed a cute little hard drive inside the DSi, then encouraged us to go online and enjoy what was supposed to be an avalanche of downloadable content. Problem is, there's nothing there. And when I say nothing, I mean nothing. I've got Nintendo points burning a hole in my pocket, but everything that's available, except for maybe Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again, is total shit.

Tony Hawk: Ride: Failure on par with the XFL, New Coke, the Hindenburg

Landfills everywhere are already busy furiously writing to their congressmen to protest the truckloads of Ride copies heading their way.

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Videogame PR: No longer afraid to make absurd, unethical requests and/or threats

After a few attempts by PR people to get me to alter review scores, 2009 will always be remembered as the year that the Machines became sentient. Er, wait. That's the plot of the Terminator. Er, wait. It's actually apropos in this context.

[2009 Honorable Bullshit mentions: PSN's Home (yes, again); Nintendo's stubborn, pig-headed refusal to admit that gamers actually enjoy going online (yes, still); PSP Go "Minis" (Sony: You still owe me $5 for Alien Havoc); Sony's forsaking of UMDs and early PSP adopters; Activision's Bobby Kotick (just because); analyst Michael Pachter (also just because); EA's questionable PR tactics surrounding Dante's Inferno (which I won't repeat here, since I will only be doing exactly what they want me to do).]

What else smelled like bullshit in 2009? Chime in below.

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