Final Fantasy X HD Remastered Review

Guardians of  Yuna ready to rock!

Guardians of Yuna ready to rock!

The classic PS2 role playing game has received an HD upgrade by Square Enix. Final Fantasy X has been beloved for over a decade for its excellent turn based gameplay, elegant story, amazing graphics for the time, and one of the best soundtracks in a video game. Do Final Fantasy X hold up after 12 years or should the Fayth have kept dreaming?

Final Fantasy X tells the story of Tidus, an ace athlete with daddy issues who witnesses the destruction of his home town of Zanarkand. He is sent away during the disaster by his father’s friend Auron and a massive beast named Sin. When Tidus awakens he is in the world of Spira 1000 years later. Sin has become a constant threat and the only hope to stop Sin are the teachings and religion of Yevon. Yevon is the religion that governs Spira and requires certain citizens to become summoners to make pilgrimage to defeat Sin…even if Sin’s defeat is only temporary. The story revolves around Tidus as he becomes a guardian to the summoner Yuna and aids her quest to vanquish Sin. The story is excellent as Spira struggles to fight the looming threat of Sin while politics and religion clash over the big question: Should we honor religious tradition or seek a new way to stop Sin? The story itself is great even if the moment to moment voice acting and writing isn’t up to scratch…I’m looking at you Tidus’ laugh scene.

I will liberate you from the disease that is life.

I will liberate you from the disease that is life.

The world of Spira is a sight to behold taking influence from Southern Asia. Even though Final Fantasy X is more linear than most Final Fantasy games there are still many things to do. From secret side quests to the addicting and fully fleshed out Blitzball games, Final Fantasy X isn’t short on keeping the player busy. With tons of collectibles to find, now beasts to capture, and Celestial Weapons to hunt Final Fantasy X is the king of Final Fantasy side quests. The only downsides are the requirements and design flaws of the Celestial Weapons. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to dodge lightning 200 times in the Thunder Plains for Lulu’s Sigil or having to go through the living hell that is the Chocobo Catcher mini-game for Tidus’ Sigil.

Hell is Real...

Hell is Real…

The Chocobo Catcher mini-game is easily the worst gaming experience I’ve had in my entire life. This mini-game requires Tidus to pilot a Chocobo through a race against another Chocobo. Hitting balloons negates 3 seconds off your time, while hitting flying birds adds 3 seconds to your time. To obtain the key item for his weapon the player must beat the race with a time under 0:00 seconds. The problem is the horrible controls of this mini-game make it nearly impossible to achieve this time. The randomness and horrible AI of the birds take the experience from painful to nearly unbearable. This mini-game is completely optional, but if you’re a completionist then prepare for the worst mini-game in history.

In contrast, the Blitzball mini-game is quite possibly the greatest mini-game in video game history (It’s up there with Mario Party Bumper Balls). Blitzball is a simulation of soccer, except it is played underwater, and is a number crunching RPG. What makes it so fascinating is how the developers were able to implement a full league with players to scout and free agents to sign to make your team stronger. It’s so amazing that Square Enix should have made Blitzball its own spin-off game.

Summons are still awesome!

Summons are still awesome!

The core gameplay of Final Fantasy X removes the Active Time Battle System in favor of a more traditional turn-based battle system. This system focuses on the different classes of characters who are strong against different classes of enemies. Tidus is strong against agile fiends, Wakka can snipe out of reach flying enemies, and Auron can pierce the strongest armored foes. This paved the way for more modern RPG systems like Shin Megami’s “Press-Turn” system. Each character also has special moves called Overdrives, which increase in power if the player inputs certain commands. Tidus’ Overdrives require you to stop a meter similar to Mario Golf, Auron requires you to quickly input a Konami-esque Code (UP UP DOWN DOWN Etc…), and Lulu requires you to rapidly rotate the control stick. Yuna’s Summons are easily the highlight of gameplay as these massive beasts appear and decimate the enemy. Considering how I am not a huge fan of the Active Time Battle system I must say that FFX has the best battle system of any Final Fantasy game. I’ve never had so much fun just grinding for levels.

Final Fantasy X uses a unique level up system called the sphere grid. Each character collects spheres for different attributes such as strength, magic, agility, and defense, while ability spheres allow for characters to gain new abilities. The freedom of selecting which attribute or ability to get is refreshing and allows for some incredibly unique character growth. This is especially true if you choose the expert sphere grid at the beginning, which doesn’t immediately lock certain characters into classes such as warrior or thief. Want to build a warrior who can heal while stealing items from enemies? Well you totally can.

SD versus HD

SD versus HD

The presentation is nearly perfect with each vista being so breathtaking that it’s hard to believe the PS2 could handle this game. From the amazing HD graphics to the amazing landscapes, Final Fantasy X is one of the most beautiful worlds ever created. Spira is a world that goes beyond immersion and feels real. This fact is made even more solid by the game’s outstanding soundtrack. I enjoy Final Fantasy X’s soundtrack so much that I’m positive it puts the legendary soundtrack from Final Fantasy VI to shame. The downside…is the voice acting. Being Square Enix’s first FF game with voice acting it is clear that things were a bit rough. Many characters talk like they’re William Shatner having a stroke and some performances go way over the top for no reason. It is so jarring with the rest of the game that the voice acting can’t even be seen as humorous.

Final Fantasy X is an amazing experience and the core game holds up great after 12+ years. Unfortunately, the rough edges that were present in the original game haven’t been improved on at all for this HD remake and are just as terrible as they were the first time around. Luckily, most of the flaws are minor or optional making Final Fantasy X HD a must buy for any fans of Japanese Role Playing Games.

Story: 9.3/10
Design: 8.4/10
Gameplay: 9/10
Presentation: 8.8/10

Final Score: 8.9/10

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Top 10 Greatest Title Screens in Video games

Title Screens are our first impression of many video games past and present. A successful title screen succeeds on the merits of mood, atmosphere, music, and/or relevance to the game you’re playing. The best title screens incorporate all of these features and stand high above their contemporaries. We do have to note that this is strictly limited to title screens and not actual game menus such as Conker’s Bad Fur Day’s bar scene. With that aside, these are the top 10 video game title screens that hypnotized us from pressing the start button.

10. Xenoblade Chronicles (Wii)

The Title Screen for Xenoblade Chronicles tells us so much using so little. The somber theme overlays a beautiful backdrop complimenting it perfectly. The Monado in the grass with no game title as the wind blows delivers a pure minimalist experience. Those who beat the game would leave this title screen on repeat with their jaw on the floor. Xenoblade Chronicles’ title screen is simple, clean, and incredibly effective.

9. Mirror’s Edge (Multiplatform)

The atmosphere accomplished in the Mirror’s Edge is like a breath of fresh air. The white city backdrop shows us the playground before us, while the calming electronica music soothes us into the not so distant future. The title screen invited us to this world and most people let go of any skepticism they had and dove right into Mirror’s Edge.

8. Mass Effect 3 (Multiplatform)

The second you booted up mass Effect 3 you knew this was it. The orchestral theme complimented the feeling of awe most players felt watching their beloved Earth slowly get invaded by the Reapers. Many questions raced through our heads as this title screen played out. Who was alive? What could we do to stop it? Is the ending as shit as everyone says it is? With the success of the previous Mass Effect games this title screen firmly cemented the scary fact that players scrubbed from their minds. THIS IS THE END.

7 Metroid Prime (Gamecube/Wii)

What sells the title screen of Metroid Prime isn’t the creepy parasite-esque images, or the fading film filter…It’s the music. The music sets the unsettling mood of Metroid Prime with its mix of electronics and feedback. The Music is so sci-fi creepy that many players were terrified to press start. It is one of the most uncomfortable and effective title screens. Thank you Retro for sending chills down my spine.

6. The Legend of Zelda Windwaker (Gamecube, HD Remake on WiiU)

It is nearly impossible to not whistle the tune of Windwaker as the title screen begins. Giving us a tour of Link’s home island, Windwaker immediately paints a vivid picture of the flooded world of Hyrule. It prepares our sea legs as we zoom over the vast ocean before us, providing a sense of great adventure. Any prejudice towards toon Link was gone the second Windwaker’s title screen began. *Whistles*

5. Spec Ops the Line (Multiplatform)

A destroyed city, a massive sandstorm, a tattered upside down American Flag…Welcome to Spec Ops. The title screen’s iconic imagery accompanied by the loudspeaker Star Spangled banner proved Spec Ops wasn’t just another military shooter. The electric guitar licked through the National Anthem as the wind blew leaving players with an incredibly valid question “WTF AM I GETTING IN TO HERE?” Spec Ops’ title screen was an inviting welcome to a game that changed the way people perceive narrative within military shooters.

4. Braid (Multiplatform)

Braid’s “Not-so” Title Screen is easily one of the best. With no start button many players realize that you can actually move Tim on the title screen. Silhouetted by the fires behind him, Tim moves to the right into the last remaining house at the beginning of the game. This title screen allowed players to open their minds to this puzzle platforming masterpiece. The contrast between the actual game and its title screen showed that Braid’s narrative was much deeper than players initially thought.

3. Halo (Multiplatform)

If this title screen didn’t pump you up then you have no soul. Now lets listen to this on repeat for 3 hours then go punch buildings!

2. Super Mario 64 (Nintendo 64)

An iconic title screen, Super Mario 64 allows players to morph Mario’s face at their will, while jamming to the toe tapping new music. This title screen was our first true glimpse at 3D Mario and it easily brought a massive fully-teethed smile to our faces.

1. Super Metroid (SNES)

Ceres Station is under attack. The scientists bodies lie dead on the floor. A single Metroid Larva is incased in the center. Eerie sci-fi music sets the scene. Super Metroid’s title screen is flawless. The music sets the horrific tone of loneliness, the images are terrifying, and the mystery surrounding the attack is ever present. Super Metroid’s title screen set a bar in 1994 that will never be reached. Some title screens may be fantastic and incredible, but they still don’t come anywhere close to the masterpiece known as Super Metroid’s Title Screen.

The Top Video Game Headlines of 2014 (Before they happen.)

Now that the new year is upon us we’re predicting what we think the big headlines of the video game year will be. Now some of these may seem completely outrageous, but we here at the Game Jam know we’re pulling all of these out of our ass anyway. So lets look back at 2014…the year that was.

3DS is the 2014 Console of Choice.

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Nintendo’s handheld dominance continues for the second year in a row with huge hits such as Bravely Default, Yoshi’s New Island, and Super Smash Bros. The 3DS easily reaches the 50 million sold milestone and celebrates by releasing even more Streetpass games as Streetpass becomes a major part of Gaming culture.

The Ps3 has better releases than the PS4 in 2014

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In a twist of fate all the major Fall releases for the PS4 have been delayed to Q1 of 2015 including The Order 1886, Witcher 3, The Division, etc. This allows the PS3 to have one final hurrah with Tales of Xillia 2, Persona 5, and other huge names taking the spotlight from Sony’s new console.

The Vita gets another price drop and people still don’t buy it.

This isn’t really news or a prediction…

Xbox One Recovers in late 2014 after Microsoft Announces a cheaper model without the Kinect.

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After the launch of the sub-par Xbox One. Microsoft remains quiet in terms of marketing (Except for Titanfall) until E3 when they unveil an upgraded Xbox One without the Kinect bundled with Titanfall (Or the New Halo). This cheaper model becomes a massive success with an impressive Fall games line-up to back it up.

Capcom has another dismal year after failing to connect with any audience.

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Capcom’s woes continue as Resident Evil 7 bombs after choosing to star Alice (from the films) as a desperate attempt to attract a new audience. Also, still no Mega Man.

Every single game in the history of ever gets a $60 re-release for PS4 and Xbox One under the title of “Definitive Edition.”

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Fuck You Lara Croft.

Nintendo Puts Older Pokemon Games on the WiiU and 3DS Eshop.

This isn’t much of a prediction as it is a wet dream.

The WiiU’s sales turn around after the release of Super Smash Bros. 

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Super Smash Bros. becomes the system seller for the WiiU bringing Nintendo back as a major contender. Super Smash also gains a huge following in the fighting community when the game headlines the 2014 EVO tournament.

Game Jam writer Alex Eich is hospitalized during E3 after having a 10 hour erection following the announcement of Knack 2.

It could happen…

 

Top 10 Favorite Games of 2013

Yesterday was the worst. Today is the best. These are my top 10 favorite games of 2013. Chosen on the merits of story, design, gameplay, presentation, replay value, and fun factor. These 10 games were the pinnacle of gaming in 2013.

Honorable Mentions: Dead Rising 3, Ni No Kuni, Battlefield 4, Rogue Legacy, The Stanley parable, The Last of Us, Resogun.

10. Bioshock Infinite

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Bioshock’s new setting and gameplay features provided some of the best FPS action in years. The story is incredible, the world is fully realized, and Elizabeth is the glue that holds it all together. If only there was more replay value would it be higher on the list.

9. Path of Exile

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This free to play game doesn’t try and bleed you dry with micro-transactions, which is cool. What’s even better is how this free to play game is everything Diablo 3 should’ve been in the first place. Path of Exile is so well designed that it is a complete and utter steal at this point!

8. Gone Home

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Best story of the year. Gone Home achieved so much using so little and the story still resonates with me to this day.

7. Metal gear Rising Revengence

No Snake? No Problem.

No Snake? No Problem.

This spinoff by Platinum Games just rocked in every way possible! The combat was deep and rewarded the patient, the story was bonkers and awesome, and each play through satisfied that arcade itch to unlock more stuff and achieve a better score. No action game came close to the quality of MGR this year.

6. Super Mario 3D World

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Dammit Nintendo! Everyone wanted this game to bomb since it seemed like a recycled attempted at 2011’s Mario 3D Land. Instead what we got is an amazing platformer with great design and tons of charm. Plus beating your friends up in catsuits is a blast!

5. Rayman Legends

Rocking the Touchscreen with Murfy

Rocking the Touchscreen with Murfy

Rayman Legends’ design was nearly flawless with the perfect amount of challenge, unlockables, mini games, and quality boss battles. Nothing compared to the incredible music levels the game provided, which are easily one of the best moments in gaming this year. Plus the game’s art is amazing.

4. Fire Emblem Awakening

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This strategy RPG gives you your moneys worth and then some. The graphics are amazing on the 3DS while gameplay has been streamlined to be more accessible to newcomers. This still doesn’t take away from the game’s brutal difficulty and incredibly deep RPG mechanics. Fire Emblem will destroy you and you will love every minute of it.

3. Animal Crossing New Leaf

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This game ruled my summer. Between paying off debts, catching bugs, listening to bad jokes, fishing, etc. Animal Crossing provided a life sim. with so much charm that it was impossible to pull away. Each villager’s personality shined through and left me feeling a need to care for these townsfolk constantly. Mainly though, having my town them as Final Fantasy’s Victory Fanfare is icing on the cake.

2. The Legend of Zelda A Link Between Worlds

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I tried so hard to find a flaw with this game…but there isn’t any. Link’s latest quest provides more freedom and exploration while being much more accessible than past entries. Every challenge, boss, or puzzle works great and provides one of the most rewarding experiences in video games ever. Buy it!

1. Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag

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I honestly wasn’t expecting this at all. ACIV came out of left field after the disappointing third installment last year and god damn. The beautiful setting, fully realized open world, finely tuned gameplay, great freedom and exploration, and the return of something the series was seriously lacking; FUN. The navel battles were intense, stealth was a blast and there is an overwhelming amount of stuff to do in this game. Did I mention yet that you get to be a badass pirate!? Assassin’s Creed IV rose above the rest this year being my favorite game of 2013. Also, those damn sea shanties are still stuck in my head.

The 10 Worst games of 2013

2013 was a great year for games, but no one really cares about that. Lets take a look at the games that didn’t meet expectations and disappointed massively in 2013. These are the worst games of 2013.

10. Tomb Raider

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The reboot to Tomb Raider was a solid game that played like an arcade version of Uncharted. Unfortunately, tonal shifts in gameplay made Lara Croft’s survival story meaningless with semi-auto bows, an  awful supporting cast, and a severe lack of Tomb Raiding in this game. Lara Croft’s anticipated reboot was brought down by many split ends and not just within the hyped hair physics.

9. Ryse Son of Rome

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Launch title with a Roman setting, combat similar to Arkham and Dark Souls, and stunning graphics? SIGN ME UP. It didn’t take long though to realize Ryse was a repetitive boring mess. Combat consisted of hacking and slashing the same character models over and over, while micro-transactions ruined the solid multiplayer concept. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but at least it lasted longer than the forgettable Ryse.

8. Call of Duty Ghosts

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COD Ghosts almost seemed like a giant joke with Infinity Ward going on and on about the damn dog and the fish physics. Eminem’s new CD was the God damn pre-order bonus and many of the E3 press showings crashed and broke down. When it finally released Ghosts was no where close to the quality of the superb Black ops 2. Maps were too large, gun balance was off, the next gen graphics were underwhelming, and the story was a complete step backwards from Blops 2. Now will you please shut up about the stupid dog.

7. Batman Arkham Origins

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BARE BONES CASH GRAB.

6. Splinter Cell Blacklist

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Sam Fisher’s latest adventure was forgettable with gameplay features that were a step backwards from 2010’s Conviction.  Blacklist lacked the memorable scenarios, characters (Except Kobin), and level design of past games. There was also a severe lack of Michael Ironside in this game, which made his 30 something year old replacement seem much more out of place.

5. Beyond: Two Souls

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Ugh. David Cage. Stop trying to make video games into movies, but since you won’t listen anyway at least try and make them good. The awful storytelling and characters left players with a game that had very few redeeming qualities. Gameplay was mostly nonexistent and/or super linear. Walking Dead showed everyone story driven adventure games could work, but here comes pretentious David Cage to set the genre back 20 years.

4. Grand Theft Auto Online

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Broken for the first couple weeks after launch GTA Online underwhelmed with a broken economy, technical issues, missing content, and an awful community. Being spawn killed by profanity spewing 10 year olds shows GTA’s poor online design…especially after I had to wait 2 weeks to even get spawn killed.

3. Sim City

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Even after the dust cleared and the horrible month long launch disaster ended, gamers were left with the 3rd worst game of the year. Sim City’s economy is a wreck, AI is random and frustrating, city sizes are too small, and people that want to play by themselves are extremely screwed. EA has become a bull in a china shop when it comes to their franchises and thankfully Sim City was their only black spot….OH WAIT

2. Dead Space 3

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EA sacrificed everything that made Dead Space unique…to sell more copies to the Call of Duty audience. Dead Space 3 was a dull, generic piece of crap that alienated the series’ fanbase, while failing to obtain new fans in the process. The action heavy game was a mess in terms of story and design. The inclusion of microtransactions made things worse and easily killed one of the best new IP’s of the past generation. Way to go EA…

1. Aliens Colonial Marines.

GAME OVER MAN!

GAME OVER MAN!

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA this game. THIS GAME. We waited 6 years for Aliens and how were gamers rewarded for their patience? With a buggy unfinished mess that made no sense and graphical looked like it was from the PS2. The drama was made worse with many demos and trailers leading up to release showing a completely different game than the one we received. Some sued for false advertising, while others moved on and let the constant disappointment of the Aliens franchise fade into the void of video game history.

 

Top 10 Video Game Controversies of 2013.

Ah, what an amazing year to be an internet troll. With the console wars back in full swing it’s nice to see that other contributors stole the spotlight with their stupidity and poor decisions. Here are our Top 10 Video Game Controversies of 2013.

10) Sim Shitty

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Simcity’s launch back in March was….eventful to say the least. The always online game suffered the same problem Diablo 3 experienced the year prior. Thousands of gamers weren’t able to log on with Simcity servers crashing, deleting saved data, and other technical hiccups. When players did get into the game they were met with a poorly designed mess based around multiplayer. Those players looking to play Simcity alone were completely screwed.

9) Call of Duty Ghosts: Eminem, Dogs, and Smart Fishies


Call of Duty Ghosts has had one of the strangest promotions in recent memory. Gameplay demos talked more about the god damn dog than the actual game. Eminem’s new album was a preorder bonus and overshadowed the multiplayer reveal. And don’t even get me started on the fish AI thing. Ghost’s marketing campaign was made by morons and it shows.

8) Day One: Garry’s Incident Copyright Abuse

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When Day One launched in October it was met with poor reviews, but none as poor as Youtuber “Totalbiscuit.” In his review, TotalBiscuit destroyed every part of this game and while it is his opinion the Day One Developers wouldn’t have it. They got TotalBiscuit’s review taken down for copyright infringement, which ended up being illegal. TotalBiscuit is protected under copyright laws since he was reviewing the game. Wild Games Studios received a ton of bad press for the conflict and had other shady business practices return from the grave regarding tampering with their kickstarter.

7) Phil Fish- Twitter Meltdown

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Controversial Developer Phil Fish doesn’t respond well to criticism. So when he was called an asshole by Gametrailers’ Marcus Beer he took the fight to Twitter. What followed was a meltdown no one could’ve predicted as Phil Fish told Marcus to kill himself (It was a Futurama reference, but was still inappropriate). This was followed by Phil canceling Fez 2 and quitting the game industry. Well, that’s one way to go about things.

6) Ouya’s Kickstarter Promotion Backfires.

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The Ouya hasn’t been doing so hot and losing hundreds of thousands of dollars isn’t going to improve things. Ouya’s Kickstarter promotion “Free the Games” had Ouya matching an indie game’s Kickstarter fund if they pledged 6 months of exclusivity and raised $50,000. Of course, developers then put in $50K of their own money and walked away with over double the profit. This loop hole has cost Ouya’s creators a ton of money and lowers Ouya’s credibility as a console even further.

5) Ubisoft Delays

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Two weeks before launch Ubisoft delayed the highly anticipated Rayman Legends for 7 god damn months. Not only was there outcry from gamers, but the hardworking developers as well who wanted their game to release. When it eventually came out Rayman was met with poor sales since it had to go up against Rockstar’s juggernaut Grand theft Auto V. This wasn’t the end of Ubi’s troubles as they then delayed the highly anticipated next gen. launch title Watch Dogs a month before release. Gamers now have to wait till Summer of 2014 to get their hands on the open world hacking game. As a launch title Watch Dogs was one of the main reasons people preordered PS4’s and Xbox Ones. When it got delayed preorders suffered and left gamers with a less than stellar launch lineup for each console.

4) Kickstarter’s Honeymoon is Over.

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Like Ouya’s troubles above Kickstarter has gone from being video games’ “indie savior” to “Scams Galore.” The Kickstarter honeymoon has ended and the stories of scams, cons, and exploits from both backers and the people who launch the campaign. It was fun while it lasted, but with the trust in Kickstarter projects gone nobody is willing to blindly throw money at their computer screen.

3) Nintendo WiiU

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The WiiU had a full year to prove it’s worth before it gets overshadowed by more powerful next-gen consoles. In this time Nintendo has released Pikmin 3, Super Mario 3D World, and Wonderful 101. These games have barely made a blip on the radar for Nintendo as bad marketing and poor management reveals that Nintendo has no idea how to appeal to any audience. The WiiU hasn’t even broken a million units in 2013 and Nintendo predicts it will sell at least 9 million by the end of the fiscal year. GOOD LUCK WITH THAT…

2) Fee To Pay

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Putting “Free To Play” Microtransactions in $60 games is bad…like really bad, but Dead Space 3 and Xbox One’s launch games are packed with them. Many of these microtransactions hold back key features of these games and/or are “pay to win.” This constant scraping at a gamer is insulting and no gamer will pay $60 for a shell of a game that has the best parts locked behind a paywall.

1) The Xbox One

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Good freaking God. The Xbox One you made 2013 Neogaf message boards a treat. With your anti-gamer mentality, entertainment features, always on Kinect, DRM problems, Used games conflicts, reversing your policies after poor preorder sales, losing many key higher ups, and hilariously trying to compete with a god damn television. Xbox One had it all. Thank you so much for a year of news stories, laughs, and eye rolls. The Xbox One became the epitome of the worst game industry trends and its constant backtracking was a joy to behold.