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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Best and Worst of 2013 - Video Games

Hello, everybody!  We are currently in the final week of 2013, and I decided to do things a little bit differently this time around.  For the last week of the year, I wanted to do a retrospective of the year gone by.  In the world of pop culture, 2013 was a year that was filled with ups and downs, and I thought that it would be good to have a look back on some of the highlights (and lowlights) of the year.

I will be doing this every day this week (except for the December 31 entry, which will be a Tuesday Timeline), and the event will conclude on Thursday, January 2, 2014.  For now, here's the list so far.

12/27/2013 - Best and Worst of 2013 - Television

Okay, I know that we only have one entry on the retrospective list for now, but I will be adding to this list over the next few days.

Like, for instance, today is Saturday, which is typically known as the day of the week known as the Saturday Smorgasbord - a day in which the subject changes from week to week.  Now, normally, on what is supposed to be the fourth Saturday of the month, we would be taking a look at a book or magazine to study.  But because it happens to be the final Saturday of the whole year, I thought I'd switch it up a little bit to present you with...


Now, I'll tell you this much.  In 2012, I would not have been able to even write this entry because I was still stocking milk.  And, somehow, I don't think that any of you would have been all that thrilled to read a list on what the fifteen biggest selling cheeses are.

Now that I'm in electronics , I think I have a really good understanding of what video games and video game consoles were the most requested gifts underneath the Christmas tree this year!  And, that's what this blog is all about.

Now, keep in mind that it's very hard for me to give objective reviews on most of these items, as I don't own any of the three major video game consoles (though I do have a Nintendo 3DS).  I'm just going by what I have seen in the months that I have been in my current department

So, shall we go ahead with the list?  I'll start off with video games and work my way down to the consoles themselves.


Remember when the biggest selling video game was Super Mario 3 back in 1990?  Those days are now over.  The new record holder is the extremely violent and graphic "Grand Theft Auto V".  And, as someone who was working electronics when it first came out, I can tell you that I must have sold at least twelve dozen copies of it in a time frame of 48 hours!  And I live in a small town!!!

Now, here's the deal.  I haven't played Grand Theft Auto V, and really don't have any desire to play it either as I'm not a huge fan of violent shoot-em-ups.  But, hey...the numbers don't lie.  The game is still wildly popular three months after its September 17 release date, and it was certainly one of the most anticipated video games of the year.  I suppose the only con about the game is that it forced people to buy external hard drives and flash drives because the older XBOX 360 and PS3 consoles did not have enough memory to load the game properly.  Of course, I suppose retailers were happy to do the extra business.

Other standout video games this year for the PS3 and XBOX 360 console were "Battlefield 4", "Call of Duty: Ghosts", and weirdly enough, "Farming Simulator"!  Imagine, a video game that teaches you how to farm without going outside!

POKEMON X/Y - Nintendo 2DS/3DS

Nintendo had a rather lacklustre year when it came to consoles.  The only one that Nintendo released was the Nintendo 2DS - a less expensive version of the 3DS that could play 3DS games without the 3D effect.  With me so far?

As far as games went, though, Nintendo made up for a lack of console ideas.  "Super Luigi U", "Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon", "Super Mario World 3D", and two new Zelda games for both the Nintendo Wii U and Nintendo 2DS/3DS were all big sellers over the course of the past six months.

But the biggest selling game for Nintendo had to be the much anticipated release of Pokemon X and Pokemon Y, which was released just months ago.  The popular video game series known for its slogan "Gotta catch 'em all" proved popular with gamers everywhere, as I recall many people pre-ordering this game at least two months before it was released!  In fact, both games sold in excess of four million copies just a few days after its October 12 release date!

As far as gameplay goes, both X and Y are very similar in gameplay (though when the game was first released, we sold more "Y" than "X" at a rate of 2:1.  But as far as the Pokemon you can catch in the series, some Pokemon are only available in X, while others are only available in Y.  So, this makes it necessary to swap games with friends so that they can get all of the Pokemon possible.  Nice little marketing strategy by Nintendo!

And, speaking of marketing strategies...

SKYLANDERS: SWAP FORCE - Nintendo Wii, Nintendo Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, PS3, PS4, XBOX 360, XBOX One

I actually have a personal story to tell you in regards to this video game series.  And no, I haven't played it, but I probably know more about it than I really should because I was the one who set up the display for them when the game was released on August 18.

And what a disaster it was!

I quickly discovered just how popular Skylanders was when I had a crowd of people come in while I was setting it up and rummaging through the boxes of Skylanders figurines before I could set them up properly!  But, you know, I have to admit that if I were twenty years younger, I too would be all over those Skylanders too.

Anyone who has ever played the original Spyro trilogy on the PlayStation console might know a bit about Skylanders.  After all, Spyro is considered one of the main characters of the Skylanders world.  And, in the latest installment of Skylanders, you can play with a variety of characters - provided you bought the starter pack, which contained three figurines, a platform, and the game itself at a price of $75!

Told you that it was a marketing strategy.  Buy the starter pack, then buy the dozens of figurines that go with it to make your game more fun.

To add to the fun, some of the figurines could swap tops with other Skylanders.  And whenever you swapped them, your Skylanders could gain more abilities which could be very advantageous for getting through the actual game.

On a lesser scale, Disney came out with their own version of the game called "Infinity", which used characters from Disney movies such as "Cars", "Toy Story", "Tangled", "Monsters Inc.", "The Incredibles", and "The Nightmare Before Christmas".  It didn't do quite as well initially when it came out, but I do recall that I sold out of the figurines for the Infinity game a few days before Christmas this year, so I suppose that it's starting to pick up steam.


Now, I've made it known that I am a huge fan of this game series, produced by Capcom.  And, the last game that was released in North America was all the way back in 2009.  So, to say that a lot of fans of Phoenix Wright, Miles Edgeworth, and the other motley crew of characters introduced in the series were looking forward to this game would be like saying that Donkey Kong loves bananas.

But there was a twist.  Players who wanted to play the game could only play the game by downloading it from the Nintendo eShop onto their 2DS or 3DS machines, which made some fans cry out in protest.  They really wanted to have the cartridge to play whenever they wanted.  

However, I kind of like the fact that Capcom released it the way they did.  For one, it likely cost less downloading it than it did buying it from a video game merchant.  And for another, it had an additional case that you could download approximately a month after its October 24 release.  And, for fans of the series, I have to say that it's one of the best releases yet of an "Ace Attorney" game.  With Phoenix's magatama, Apollo Justice's perceive ability, and new character Athena Cykes' Mood Matrix, bad guys had better beware.

Seriously, it's worth downloading.  It's quite a challenging game, but well worth it in long run.


Okay, so out of all of the innovations released in the year 2013 for the world of video games, this one was certainly the most anticipated of all.  With the release of the PlayStation 4 on November 15, and the XBOX One released on November 22, I seem to remember a ton of people waiting in line for both consoles, eager to be one of the first ones to get their hands on them.  And, I can only speak for the store that I work at, but let me just say that in the supply vs. demand aspect of things, we had great difficulty keeping both in stock.  

With the PS4, we received about two large orders of them - one in November, one in December - and we sold out of PS4's within 24 hours of each delivery.  With the XBOX One, we would get several small orders of half a dozen a piece, which seemed to not sell as well as the PS4, but we still sold out of them over time.

Personally speaking, I think a September release date would have been better, as the companies could have had more time to perfect and release more consoles so that more people could purchase them without worrying about any glitches or bugs.  But, then again, I don't work for either Sony or Microsoft, so my opinion means nothing.

So, here's the million dollar question.  Which is better?  PS4 or XBOX One?

Well, according to sales, it seems to be the PS4.  It is a hundred dollars cheaper, and according to various reviews, it offers more special features at a lower price than the XBOX One.  However, as far as game selection goes, I would say that the XBOX One has far more titles available than the PS4.

And one major point of contention...neither console appears to be backwards compatible - yet.  So, if you're prepared to buy either console, you keep in mind that you won't be able to play your old PS2 games on them at all.

As for Nintendo Wii U, it's still selling relatively well.  The company seems to be doing more business by creating special Mario and Zelda bundles at a more affordable price.  If ever I get enough living space, I will likely buy a Wii U.  It has more interesting games that I would more than likely play!

So, that's a brief look at video games of 2013.  Most of them were given positive reviews, but there are some negatives to throw in as well.  Ultimately, most gamers will have a sense of loyalty to one company and one company alone.  For me, it would be Nintendo, though I don't mind Sony products (I had a PlayStation 2 way back when).  Never have played an XBOX product, so I have no opinion either way.

What do you think, gamers?  What gaming systems do you play?  And, what were some of your favourite games to come out of this past year?

Well, coming up on tomorrow's blog, we're going to be polishing off our CD's, firing up our mp3 players, and downloading some iTunes cards onto our iPods and iPads, because we're going to be looking at the musical sounds of 2013!  Enjoy!

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