I love lists. To kick this thing off, here are five of my non-gaming related favorite things I experienced this year.
Ryan’s Top 5 Other Stuff of 2013
I was surprised by just how much I ended up liking Disney’s newest princess movie. The beautiful animation drew me in early and kept delivering throughout the film, using ice and snow effects in interesting ways. The story subverts the expectations out of this sort of film and the characters are much more interesting because of it. Speaking of which, Elsa is one of my favorite new female characters across any medium this year. Her presentation, desires, and abilities all point towards her being the newest Disney villain, but by keeping her sympathetic because of her connection with Anna she becomes the most interesting character of the movie. All of this is capped off by an extremely talented cast and a broadway-esque soundtrack, making it a movie I would happily watch over and over again.
4. Smart Water
Not much to say for this one. I’ve been trying to get healthier this year and this very lightly flavored water is my favorite alternative to sodas and other unhealthy drinks.
3. Seeing The Trans-Siberian Orchestra Live
I have found myself a new holiday tradition. After years of wanting to see TSO live, I finally got the chance to and it was awesome. It feels very fitting to hear the music fill a stadium rather than listening to it via headphones and an iPod, the light show that is the other 50% of the concert is spectacular, and the band members just always look like they are having a great time. This all adds up to a wonderful experience that I want to have again, which is why I am planning on going this coming year and seeing them again!
2. Disney World
This most certainly has the potential to be the longest paragraph I will ever write, but I will keep it short I promise. There is just so much fun to be had in Disney World. My favorite rides were Expedition Everest, The Tower of Terror, and Space Mountain. That being said, riding the rides wasn’t my favorite part of my Disney trip, just letting myself be immersed in the experience was. I know it is going to sound extremely dorky, if you listen to our podcast you already know I don’t care about that, but my favorite thing that happened in Disney that explains why I liked it so much was when I was walking through the France section of Epcot and the cast member portraying Belle walked past me while saying “Bonjour”. It was a small moment, but a moment that I think describes the side of that “Disney experience” you hear so much about and it is an experience I very much want to have again.
1. Adventure Time
What can I say about Adventure Time that we haven’t already talked to death on some other part of the site. It is just a downright fantastic show. What presents itself as a witty cartoon that uses its characters to full effect becomes something much more when you start to get the backstory of the world these characters inhabit. The reason the Candy Kingdom is so colorful is probably so Princess Bubblegum can cover up the dark and dreary past that made the Land of Ooo the way we see it now. I just love it so much you guys, so so much.
And now for the objectively wrong list of games that I have chosen to be my favorites…..
Ryan’s Top Ten Games of 2013
10. Injustice: Gods Among Us
I still don’t understand that title, but man five minutes into playing it I just stopped caring about that. Injustice is crazy, but it is that great kind of crazy you don’t get every year. Everything including the story is just so over the top, of course Batman takes kryptonite steroids so he can go toe to toe with Superman. The action and animations are also presented on a full page scale, how else would The Flash deliver a finish blow other than running around the entire earth to punch is opponent in the face? This game is insane, but it is also very approachable for newcomers, which is what makes it earn this 10th slot on my list.
9. NBA 2K14
Daniel “D” Daniels takes the court. The Trail Blazers are down by 15 with five minutes left in the first half. The coach calls out from the sidelines, telling the rookie to get them back into the lead by the half to show that he has what it takes to lead a professional team. Does he do it? No. Do you want to know why? Because even though Daniels scored 24 points, his teammates felt like now would be the best time to rack up enough shooting fouls to let the opponents keep the lead going into half time. Coach isn’t upset though, he sees Daniels’ numbers and knows he did more than what was asked of him. Daniels might just get a few more minutes next game. Most video games would present a binary check list of “did you do the thing?” but 2K14 admirably goes beyond that to make a more realistic game, and that’s what I like about it. That and the Mass Effect dialogue choices in the career mode.
8. Pokemon X/Y
I can’t put my finger on what it is that I like so much about this new generation of Pokemon. I like the new world. Having everything take place on a 3D plane for the first time in a main entry in the series is fun. It’s always a pleasure to see just how much they cater to the fans of the old games with the Pokemon from the first generation making an appearance. All of these things separately make a pretty good game, but something about putting them all together makes me want to play more and more of Pokemon Y, and I’ll keep playing it until I figure out why.
7. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
Rain splashed across the deck, winds tore at the sails trying to rip my from my path. As I rode a wave up I angles my cannons down and let loose on the pirate hunters that were chasing behind us. Finally! Their masts had cracked and they were dead in the water, all that was left to do was board thei- wait… A rogue wave was headed right towards us! I grabbed the wheel of the ship and yanked it to the right, I would face the wave head on. We came crashing down overtop of it, surviving the impact with minimal damage. My predator-turned-prey was not as fortunate as I and was capsized. I sailed out of the storm and the eerie calm settled around my ship. Then I followed James Kidd.
I went in to Resogun with low expectations. It is an understatement to say how pleasantly surprised I was to finish it and have it be my favorite co-operative experience of the year. Coordinating bombs, sweeps to rescue humans, and tactics to take down bosses provided the most consistent five hours of entertainment I experienced in a long time, going far beyond just this year.
5. Year Walk
Year Walk is a masterpiece of sorts. It thrusts you into the shoes of a character who is performing a ritual to find out what will happen in the coming year. With little company besides the sound of your footsteps, Year Walk presents one of the most tense atmospheres I’ve ever experienced. The addition of its companion app and overall meta narrative make it an insanely unique game that lands itself in the first slot on my top five.
4. GTA V
I was very pleased to hear GTA would head back to it’s more ridiculous roots with its latest entry, that’s all I wanted from it, what I ended up getting was so much more though. No one piece of the game is perfect, like there only being a few heists, online missions getting boring, and some not so funny satire. Even with all this, the game as a whole never stops being fun, and when what the game presents loses it’s luster, there is always so much more to do on your own.
3. Bioshock Infinite
I love crazy sci-fi stuff. Be it Doctor Who and Marty McFly time traveling, the cast of Community creating alternate realities with the roll of a dice, or arguing why midi-chlorians are the dumbest thing on this side of the galaxy, I love to just think about all the different theories and possibilities. Infinite is a fantastic game, it has great characters, fun gameplay, and an interesting world, but what puts it so high on my list is the ending and all of the possibilities it presents that my mind gets to reel over.
2. Gone Home
I was told many times to play Gone Home. I was told when it was on sale, when I have an opening in my schedule to play it, and I just didn’t get why it was such a big deal. Now I do. Gone Home is phenomenal. It is probably the best game that came out this year. It handles environmental story telling and atmosphere in an unmatched way and it is the ultimate marker for “give what you get” in gaming. What sets Gone Home at this slot on my list, though, is how well and tastefully it handles a subject that I haven’t experienced in games before. It does so boldly and I can’t commend Gone Home enough for that.
1. The Last of Us
Remember how I said Gone Home was probably the best game that came out this year? Well The Last of Us may not be the best, but it is most certainly my favorite. Everything comes together in a way I absolutely love. The story always had my full attention, each encounter was a suspenseful game of cat and mouse, and the relationship between Joel and Ellie is my favorite one I’ve seen this generation (due in no small part to the amazing performances by Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson). I let my neighbor borrow it and he is loving it, but I would easily cut his time with it short just so I could play it all over again.