It’s award season! Movies, video games, music, it all gets honoured around this time of year. Since we’re trendy people, we thought we’d hand out extremely meaningful and highly important awards, too. Life altering awards, really.

They’ll be up later this week, but until then, SPECULATE AWAY, PUNDITS!

Wednesday, 1:08 pm – Gavin

Also, I didn’t really talk about the Nintendo games I was playing:

1. Super Mario 3D Land is very similar to Super Mario 3D World.  Same style of levels, same style of challenges, basically everything is spiritually the same, minus the overworld.  3D World is leagues ahead by virtue of the power of the Wii U, but I am quite enjoying 3D Land.  The only thing I don’t like is the number of auto-scrolling levels.  Those add an element of stress that I don’t like.  Otherwise, it follows (or precedes, depending on when you played it) SM3DW nicely.  Some of the challenges are brutally difficult.

2. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is a wonderful, joy-filled little title and if you don’t enjoy then you’re a heartless bastard with no soul.

Wednesday, 9:47 am – Gavin

Tick tock, Ricky.  Tick tock.

In the meantime, I’ve had a couple of games on the go.  I’m seven years late to the party, but I’ve been playing Bioshock on PC.  Without getting too far into it, I’m enjoying it, but not quite as much as I enjoyed Infinite.  The setting is unique, the combat is fluid, and I enjoy the backstory from the audio logs, but I feel like I’m retreading old ground, like there’s nothing particularly groundbreaking.  I understand that this is a function of me having played Infinite so recently, but I feel like I’m missing out a bit.  The revolutionary experience that people had in 2007 is the one I had in 2014 with Infinite.  I’m sure I’m in for a trip later on, but as it stands, having just gotten to Fort Frolic, I’m experiencing an interesting first-person shooter with two competing voices talking to me by radio.  There will be a big reveal later, of this I’m sure, but until then, it’s an A game, but not quite A+.

The environment is thoroughly fascinating, and there have been a few moments where I’ve jumped from being scared, but the sticking point for me is the music.  In Infinite, the music felt natural, like Booker would be listening to that as he’s walking around.  It all follows from proper cues, like record-players on tables, NPCs singing around a fire, a calliope on the boardwalk, etc.  In Bioshock, the contemporary music just sort of shows up out of nowhere.  There’s no reason for it to exist.  It’s good that it does, because it’s good music and it matches the setting, but there’s also a solid “yeah…but why?” component to it.

I can appreciate that if you played this in 2007, it would be a remarkable experience, much like Infinite was for me in 2014.  I just felt like there was so much more to Infinite that I’m regressing a bit with Bioshock.  Obviously that’s a function of six years between the games, but nonetheless, that’s my player experience.

I’m also playing Super Mario 3D Land for the 3DS.  Nintendo seems to have shored up a formula for many of their games, where you can mainline through the story quite quickly, and then “the real challenge” opens up.  I beat the main stories for SM3DLand, SM3DWorld, and Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker all fairly quickly, and only then did the game pull back the curtain to reveal significantly more content at a significantly higher difficulty level.  There’s 100% more content in SM3DLand, about 50% more in SM3DWorld, and what appears to be about 125% more in CT:TT.  I can’t tell if I like this method or not – I suppose it’s good for those who only want to barrel through the main stuff, but considering how much content is locked behind that “ending”, the game isn’t even close to “complete”.  I can’t imagine ever being satisfied with not unlocking and playing every level in these types of games (SM3DWorld excepted – I don’t want to find every damn star just to unlock the final level, which I’ve seen played through on Youtube enough).

Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D had a similar approach.  8 regions, one optional locked level in each, one secret level in each, and then one additional world with 9 levels following completion of all of the secret levels.  This is different than just straight-up trying to 100% a game through achievements or get different dialogue options – this is actual playable content that is optional, but I can’t not experience it.  That’s why I had to cut my experience with Skyrim short – I knew that I could spend hundreds of hours just doing stupid fetch quests and running around a map committing genocide against all of the giants because that’s how I roll.

Monday, 11:17 am – Ricky

I really meant to have this and the awards up earlier. I suck. They’ll be coming tomorrow, I promise. I still love you.