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Episode 183: Debate of the Decade

by Jonathan Metts - February 14, 2010, 5:15 pm PST
Total comments: 22

It's finally time to whittle down the list of nominees for Game of the Decade... but you get to make the final decision!

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Recording this episode was some of the most fun we've ever had making Radio Free Nintendo. We think you'll love the finished product just as much. Before the big feature segment, we have a reduced New Business with Big Bang Mini, Blaster Master: Overdrive, and the amazing free shmup, Genetos.

James missed the first half-hour, but he's definitely present for the gigantic conversation about Game of the Decade. We start with the final round of nominees and then launch right into deliberations. Needless to say, it was a real challenge cutting a list of 20 amazing games down to just a handful. Emotions ran high as we made several Sophie's Choices in this process, but we tried very hard to avoid negativity. Even when games had to be cut, we sent them off with praise. The final result is a short list of incredible games, and thankfully, we didn't have to choose just one in the end. That task goes to you, in fact. While the poll has started, we strongly encourage you to hear this episode of RFN before voting or even looking at the final selections. Not only will you experience the drama of our methodology, but you will hear many great stories about these games and perhaps rethink your position on them.

Next week, we'll finally do RetroActive: Super Mario RPG! Leave your comments and join the discussion in the dedicated forum thread.

We're always looking for great Listener Mail to read and discuss on the show, so please send your questions or comments! (We really love seeing your praise and feedback regarding the show itself; however, in the interest of time, we may edit your letter to be read on the podcast.)

Credits:

This podcast was edited by Greg Leahy.

Music for this episode of Radio Free Nintendo is used with permission from Jason Ricci & New Blood. You can purchase their newest album, Done with the Devil, directly from the record label, Amazon.com, or iTunes, or call your local record store and ask for it!

Additional music for this episode of Radio Free Nintendo is copyrighted to Nintendo, Capcom and Ubisoft, and is included under fair use protection.

Talkback

ReggieFA!February 15, 2010

"Wii Sports saved gaming again" pretty big statement for a podcast, I'd like to hear it expanded on in an editorial.

I'm pretty satisfied that MM is about to unseat WW for the GOTD discussion, but we'll see. I'm liking this podcast a lot so far

Killer_Man_JaroTom Malina, Associate Editor (Europe)February 15, 2010

Phew... there goes most of my Monday morning. That was a seriously excellent discussion, well worth listening to as advertised. I was about to say that I'm not jealous of what you four had to do there, narrowing down so many greats into a short list like that, but then I suppose I have to vote in the poll now (which isn't up yet by the way, unless my eyes are glazing over it stupidly). Must say, there were some unexpected comments and choices from each of you that I really wasn't anticipating you would say - generally, I was surprised at how important the influence factor played in your selections, especially concerning games that you admitted you didn't think too highly of with regard to its actual quality.

I'll spoiler out the rest of what I want to say, so as not to ruin it for anyone who hasn't finished listening to the episode.

I think you picked an extremely deserving last six in general, and really I can't blame you for not being able to reduce it to five.

Super Smash Bros Melee and the incredible multiplayer experiences are something I and just about everyone with a Gamecube can relate to. Back in my early teenage years, it was a regular part of my life; I would have friends over literally every day after school to play it. That's what puts it on a podium above both its predecessor and successor. When I think about it, if I'm honest with myself, Brawl is probably a better overall package. The difference is that I played that in my late teenage years and sadly, having friends come to my house to play it was much more infrequent. I have so many more fond memories with Melee, so this is a very good choice.

Metroid Prime... on a personal level, I don't know if I would rank it among my own top games of the decade. It is a brilliant adventure and there are so many aspects of it that I can definitely appreciate. What sours my impression of Prime is when I first played it, I was 12 years old and honestly, I was quite a bit worse at games when I was younger, so I originally found it too overwhelming and put it down for years. Going back now, I can respect it a lot more, as well as the Metroid series as a whole, but I didn't come away with that feeling that this was something special when I initially played it. As such, Metroid Prime didn't make such a big impact on me, which I guess is sort of a shame.

Super Mario Galaxy is a decision that I can definitely get on board with. I totally agree with whoever it was who said that it is the most imaginative and creative endeavour by Nintendo in the last 10 years. When talking about the world it creates, I can understand where you guys are coming from, about how it feels disconnected compared to Sunshine. Of the three Mario 3D games, Sunshine has the best hub world, in Delfino Plaza. Having said that, the lack of a theme in Galaxy allowed EAD Tokyo to inject a immense amount of variety that few games in existence can rival, while the tropical resort theme in Sunshine did constrict the level variety. It is somewhat surprising, though, at how little influence Mario Galaxy has had. I'm shocked that other developers haven't taken inspiration from it, considering how good the ideas are.

Wii Sports is the single one of the six that I don't believe is worthy of being there. The impact it has had on the industry is beyong comprehension, no arguments. It is staggering to reflect on the past three years since the launch of that game with the system. And there's no doubt that it's simple, accessible design has captured millions of people who had never been interested in this form of entertainment beforehand. HOWEVER, and this is a significant 'however', as I pointed out at the top of this post, you all conceded that you weren't all that keen on the gameplay of it and in my view, I feel a game should not be chosen on influence alone. The other nominations, you did include how impactful they were in your reasoning for selecting them, but you also discussed everything else it had going for it. For Wii Sports to be considered one of the best pieces of software of the decade, we must observe the full picture and I don't know for sure that you did.

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask is likely the best representative you could have picked for the Zelda franchise. I loved Wind Waker too, plus I don't have the negative reservations that many do about Twilight Princess 'cause I really liked that as well. Majora's Mask is in its own league, though. Fantastic dungeons (I concur that the Great Bay Temple may be the best in the series), music is wonderful, particularly the Deku Palace theme, and Clock Town is indeed a pretty magical place. I remember always looking forward to the period of time after completing a dungeon, when I would spend hours trying to finish the side quests that I wasn't able to before. Argh, I'm starting to get the urge to go play it again.

Resident Evil 4 is awesome. I'm struggling to think of more to say about it. I don't revere it as highly as some of these others, but I still see it as a strong candidate. I hadn't played any games in the Resident Evil franchise besides this, and simply purchased it based on the universal acclaim and numerous Game of the Year awards. It did not disappoint. This is Survival Horror at its finest -- maybe not so much the horror because I didn't find it all that frightening, but they did channel the survival elements so well. The health & ammo management, the cunning AI and the fluid controls all come together in those great set pieces, such as the house defence in chapter 2 with Luis. Games after RE4 have copied it, including its derivative sequel, although not as well in my opinion.


Thank you to the whole quartet for a great show, and special thanks to Greg - can't have been much fun to edit a beast of a discussion like this one.

- NintendoFan -February 15, 2010

That was an extremely great discussion. Strong arguments on all sides. I also want to say Melee was also the first Gamecube game I played when the Cube Club came around.

NWR_DrewMGAndy Goergen, AlmunusFebruary 15, 2010

Really happy to see that Majora's Mask made the list.  Bravo, gents.

Thanks for the early feedback! Just a note: the poll will go up on Tuesday. I didn't want to accidentally spoil the podcast ending for anyone, and since Monday is a holiday in the U.S., it makes sense to provide a little extra time to listen before putting up the poll.

- NintendoFan -February 15, 2010

Quote from: NWR_DrewMG

Really happy to see that Majora's Mask made the list.  Bravo, gents.

I second that completely. The game will probably be my pick. And I can't remember who it was, Greg or Jonny, but they were hammering all the right points.

Wow, Majora over Wind Waker? Screw you guys. :-)

Seriously, though, great discussions all around. I'm gonna have a hard time voting tomorrow.

ReggieFA!February 15, 2010

3rd person shooters never worked before RE4? Didn't you guys play Jet Force Gemini?

I was really torn when putting Super Mario Galaxy up against Resident Evil 4.  It's very hard to argue one against the other, because they're both amazing achievements in terms of gameplay and pure technical execution.

One of my reservations with RE4 was that I didn't consider it to be that influential.  Jonny was dead on when he said that CliffyB listed it as a direct influence on Gears of War.  However, I couldn't help but shake the feeling that RE4 was the ultimate evolution of its particular brand of gameplay, and that third-person shooters following it would pick the best bits and pieces of it to incorporate into their own visions, but toss some annoying parts.  With Super Mario Galaxy, I feel that it effectively lays the blueprint for 3D platformers for the next decade.  Like say, a Zelda game vs. Okami, another developer could take Super Mario Galaxy, mimic it wholesale, and have an amazing game on their hands.  It's such a complete, polished package that it's hard to vote against it
.

Plz use spoiler tags! I'm not done the episode!

Good discussion, good discussion.

For a podcast that was hoping to avoid dwelling on the negative, however, I was surprised at how much you guys focused on the things you dislike about Super Mario Galaxy. You conceded the lack of a unifying theme allowed for unbridled creativity gameplay-wise, but it seemed painful for you guys to do so.

That game has a lot of good stuff in it that you chose not to discuss for some reason. Personally it's definitely in my top 5. I was astounded by the variety the game offers. Something like the Matter Splatter galaxy, on XBLA, would probably be an entire game, and would probably be praised to high heavens by critics. In SMG, though, it's just a level, completely different from the one before, and the one that follows.

You play the game, you after a certain number of hours that you've seen everything can throw at you, and then suddenly Mario becomes an expert at figure skating. How can that not put a huge grin on your face?

Anyway, overall this has been fun to listen to. I think in future podcasts you might want to avoid simply saying "Oh, it's really good and the first game I would recommend" without really talking about why, especially if you're then going to launch into why you didn't like the game that much.

broodwarsFebruary 15, 2010

Let's see if I can find a few things Resident Evil 4's directly influenced since it released.  Hmm...let's see.  Ah yes, there are some incredibly minor games like Dead Space, Metal Gear Solid 4, Uncharted, Uncharted 2, Gears of War, Gears of War 2, Resident Evil 5 (of course), Cursed Mountain, and probably more games I just can't think of right now.  That game completely redefined the 3rd person Shooter.

I was happy to see Majora get the nod over Wind Waker.  I really enjoyed Wind Waker's style, but there was always just something...artificial...about that game, like it was a collection of bullet points somewhere getting ticked off as the development team went along.  Majora's Mask may not have had a direct impact upon many other games in the industry, but IMO it had a major impact on the Zelda franchise.  Not only did it signal a new director for the Zelda franchise, but it also ushered in a new era of "emotion" appearing in the franchise from the cutscenes to the music and NPC interactions.  You guys mentioned what a moment in the franchise it is in those final hours of Day 3 as the moon crashes down, but just as big a moment for me is when you summon the Giants to stop the moon and the cutscene that ensues with the "Oath to Order" playing in the background (unfortunately, then you see what the ridiculous design of the Giants, and the drama of the moment is broken).

For the general contest, I'm really pulling for Majora or Metroid Prime to take the prize.  I can't shake the feeling that if this ends up going to Wii Sports just out of the sheer number of units that game has sold, what was the point of having this contest to begin with?

YoshidiousGreg Leahy, Staff AlumnusFebruary 15, 2010

Quote from: Pandareus

Good discussion, good discussion.

That game has a lot of good stuff in it that you chose not to discuss for some reason. Personally it's definitely in my top 5. I was astounded by the variety the game offers. Something like the Matter Splatter galaxy, on XBLA, would probably be an entire game, and would probably be praised to high heavens by critics. In SMG, though, it's just a level, completely different from the one before, and the one that follows.

Anyway, overall this has been fun to listen to. I think in future podcasts you might want to avoid simply saying "Oh, it's really good and the first game I would recommend" without really talking about why, especially if you're then going to launch into why you didn't like the game that much.

Perhaps I was the only person that emphasised the positive strongly with regard to Galaxy--though Jon had it on his shortlist also--but I thought I made a good attempt at capturing what made it so special and deserving for me. As as well as talking about what it did to reconcile 3D Mario with its 2D heritage, I referenced the Matter Splatter Galaxy in particular as an example of the game's incredible creativity. Probably because I was the most enthusiastic about Galaxy, the rest of the guys explored the counter position to some extent, but overall I think we did pay tribute to what Galaxy achieved, which was definitely important to do in this discussion. 

True. I should have acknowledged that you were the exception and that you raised good points in its favor. I'm just shocked you were basically the only one, and that the others seemed to focus more on the negatives, more than anyone did for the other titles. Or so it seemed to me.

We could have been more deferential to Galaxy, but it may have seemed unnecessary given that it is much newer and fresher in people's minds than these other games. It was also nominated in the same episode, when Andy noted that the game received universal acclaim. So at the time, it felt like heaping praise on Galaxy would be redundant. On the other hand, I'd say that our so-called negativity towards it was more like "this is why it doesn't totally click for me" rather than "this is what's wrong with it". Perhaps that is a fine distinction, but I don't think we were exactly harsh.

Quote from: broodwars

Let's see if I can find a few things Resident Evil 4's directly influenced since it released.  Hmm...let's see.  Ah yes, there are some incredibly minor games like Dead Space, Metal Gear Solid 4, Uncharted, Uncharted 2, Gears of War, Gears of War 2, Resident Evil 5 (of course), Cursed Mountain, and probably more games I just can't think of right now.  That game completely redefined the 3rd person Shooter.

You can certainly make that case (and in the case of Gears you're absolutely correct), but you could also say that Gears of War was more influential on those titles than RE4 was, directly at least.  RE4 had some great elements that Gears of War repackaged into something that really brought third-person shooters to the forefront.  I also contend that third-person shooters became the "next big thing" only AFTER Gears, not before it (i.e. not as a direct result of RE4, which I still see as a kind of singular game outside of its direct ripoff, Resident Evil 5).

As for Mario Galaxy, I feel like that game's brilliance is so obvious that it's actually more interesting to see if you can poke holes in it, rather than sing its praises, at least for the sake of interesting discussion.  Remember the underlying basis of this exercise...we're pitting some of the best games ever made against each other, so we have no choice but to put even the pettiest annoyances under scrutiny.  It's really all we have criticize.

yoshi1001February 18, 2010

I would not have nominated GS for GotD, despite my love for the game, though I probably would have nominated Pokemon were the category franchise of the decade. Also, I think WarioWare was probably highly influenced by earlier compilation games such as Action 52, with the major difference that you only had to play the games for 5 seconds at a time (and the games actually had compentent programming). Still, great discussion by all involved.

KDR_11kFebruary 19, 2010

I think Wario Ware is very different from regular compilations because it doesn't try to be a game compilation. It's a game composed of tons of scenes that follow their own rules and having them served up in rapid succession is an important part of the game. Compilations usually try to be multiple games at once.

Killer_Man_JaroTom Malina, Associate Editor (Europe)February 20, 2010

This morning, I downloaded Genetos, the game you spoke of in New Business. I made it to the boss of Generation Shift 4 before succumbing to a laser-y death - yeesh, it is brutal. My experience with shoot 'em ups is limited, but it seems that a lot of the time, you can avoid torrents of bullets by staying directly in the middle and sitting still. That is, of course, until lasers suddenly come from everywhere at once and you're jamming the arrow keys like a maniac.

KDR_11kFebruary 20, 2010

I played Genetos some time ago, back then it had only 3 generations or so and no different evolutions. Sounds like it evolved a lot since then.

vuduFebruary 20, 2010

Quote from: NWR_Neal

Plz use spoiler tags! I'm not done the episode!

Then what are you doing in the TalkBalk thread?  Use some common sense!

Quote from: vudu

Quote from: NWR_Neal

Plz use spoiler tags! I'm not done the episode!

Then what are you doing in the TalkBalk thread?  Use some common sense!

Considering everyone previous to the posts I referenced used spoiler tags, I assumed the rest of the conversation would have spoiler tags.

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