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Episode 271: And I'll Form the Head!

by James Jones, Greg Leahy, and Jonathan Metts - December 18, 2011, 10:40 am PST
Total comments: 37

RFN assembles to share our shocking lists for the Top 5 games of 2011!

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Sad news: Jon is still AWOL from the show. Good news: We don't need his sorry ass! Well, we do wish he was around but things tend to get crazy around the holidays, so we must go to battle with the forces we have. Anyway, James kicks it off with an update on the insufferably quirky Fishing Resort. Greg continues his affair with Mario Kart 7, shares a few thoughts on the GBA Ambassador launch, and debuts a surprise game that will delight and terrify long-time listeners! Jonny drives it home with his blooming adoration for Pushmo and an exuberant response to the new Club Nintendo awards.

Returning from the break, we divulge our personal Top 5 games of 2011 for Nintendo platforms. The rankings will assuredly ruffle feathers, which is frankly why we do them, and going around the virtual table gives us ample opportunity to revisit a great number of wonderful video games from throughout the year. We've also got honorable mentions and a few favorites from non-Nintendo systems, so perhaps your favorites will be represented at some point. If not, send in your list through this handy email form and maybe we'll read it on next week's special Christmas episode! (Note: due to the holiday, Ep. 272 will probably be posted a day or two later than normal. Don't freak!)

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 (CD) (MP3), 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, and is included under fair use protection.

Talkback

AVDecember 18, 2011

Oh Jonny you make me LOL seriously.


" Did they add FUN to Kid Icarus? "  ;D :D :) :) :)


I totally agree with you 100% on Xevious and Kid Icarus

NinSageDecember 18, 2011

Won't have a chance to listen for a few days, just wanted to give a top o' the hat on the Voltron reference.

GO LION!

I just listened to the second segment and found it one of the most interesting we've done in a long time...and I was there. I really enjoyed it.

This episode made me want to actually play the copy of Disaster: Day of Crisis I bought on the cheap when I was importing NPC Pikmin 2.

As always, my personal gaming preferences line up the closest to Greg out of everyone of the show. Super Mario 3D Land FTW.

BlueStormDecember 19, 2011


Enjoyed the cast, but okay I get it.  You guys don't like Kid Icarus.  I still love that game despite its reverse difficulty level. (gets significantly easier from beginning to end). It was way better than most NES Stuff out there. I had all three "adventure series" titles, and enjoyed each one for different reasons.  I may have liked it less than the other two, but I must politely disagree with the hate given this game.  It had RPG elements, enjoyable music, and because of it, I still hold a special place of hatred in my heart for eggplant. 

Can't say I played enough this year to generate a top 5 list.  Wish I had picked up Radiant Historia when I had the chance.  Maybe they'll explore the possibility of downloadable full DS games to 3DS.
In the meantime I am going to attempt to work on a backlog of games I've bought but have yet to finish. 

Thanks for another great year of podcasts, I appreciate the dedication. 

BlueStormDecember 19, 2011

More importantly Ghost trick is $14.99 at amazon.com

nickmitchDecember 19, 2011

Surprised to hear what won "Game of the Year" when looking at the overall lists, but shouldn't be. It's a deserving candidate and was on my personal shortlist as well.


Really looking forward to playing Radiant Historia - and get more excited about it every time I hear RFN discuss the game. Grabbed a copy while it was still available, but just have too much going on to start playing. Maybe after finishing Xenoblade? That could still be months away at my current pace.

nickmitchDecember 19, 2011

Quote from: NWR_insanolord

This episode made me want to actually play the copy of Disaster: Day of Crisis I bought on the cheap when I was importing NPC Pikmin 2.

...

Planning on importing NPC Pikmin 2 when I have some spare cash (ie: after Christmas bills are paid off), and have been kicking around trying to track down Disaster at the same time. Hearing how hilariously bad it is makes the idea more appealing... are copies still available for cheap?

Quote from: BlueStorm

More importantly Ghost trick is $14.99 at amazon.com


That note as well as the rave comments from the podcast has severely increased my chances of purchasing this item.

Got Fluidity with Club Nintendo coins.  Worth the minimal investment involved with an hour of playtime.  Still unsure of whether or not I would have regretted actually purchasing the game.  I might download the Mario vs Donkey Kong game, but need to do some more reading on how good a game it is.

LolmonadeDecember 19, 2011

I guess I should play Ghost Trick then, I did the first 2-3 scenarios of it but not more than that. But I just bought Tales of the Abyss today.

Retro DeckadesDecember 19, 2011

I didn't know that Mario Vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again was available as a Club Nintendo download.

Silly me, I ordered it assuming (i.e. without reading all off the accompanying text on the page) I would be able to download a DSIWARE GAME on my DSI. Apparently, I need a 3DS. Thanks, Nintendo. I just wasted 150 coins.

LolmonadeDecember 19, 2011

BTW, Sequence is on Steam too and it's included in the Mega Indie Bundle right now.

NinSageDecember 19, 2011

Got a chance to listen today. Not a lot to say other than it was just a stellar podcast.  So enjoyable.  The RFN crew is one of the few places to get legitimately intelligent game discussion.

I haven't been at a loss for games but I think this discussion has helped add a few more to the list.

Keep up the great work!

OneTwenty, that really sucks but is probably due to the differences between the eShop (supports download codes) and the DSiWare Store. They really should make it clear in the checkout process -- you can probably get a coin refund if you call Nintendo customer service. They can easily enough check your Club Nintendo account to verify that you don't have a 3DS registered. On the other hand, you could send that code to a friend as a gift, or even arrange a trade so they send you a WiiWare game or something in return.

Spak_SpangDecember 19, 2011

Or save the code for when you do get a 3DS.

MoRZDecember 20, 2011

Another stellar episode. I don't even know where to begin praising you guys again. Only lacks some Lindemann. Otherwise it has everything, Greg's stellar new business discussions, downplaying his private life by talkign about editing on a  Saturday night and another action movie reference, Disaster talk, James' life-consuming gaming habits and him dropping the big stylus and Jonny's in-depth explanations on his left-field choices. Very Nintendo-centric as well.
Hope you guys never stop...

NinSageDecember 20, 2011

It's true... needs more Lindy.  But really, there was something about this episode that just felt like a cut above.  I will probably shed a tear if the RFN band ever breaks up.

Quote from: NinSage

It's true... needs more Lindy.  But really, there was something about this episode that just felt like a cut above.  I will probably shed a tear if the RFN band ever breaks up.


For the next episode, they should just cut-in some Lindy quote from other episodes.
- "Ok, insert self-deprecating old joke here"

- "And jest on how he never finishes games here"

"Perfect!  Nobody will be the wiser!"

NinSageDecember 20, 2011

Quote from: lolmonade

Quote from: NinSage

It's true... needs more Lindy.  But really, there was something about this episode that just felt like a cut above.  I will probably shed a tear if the RFN band ever breaks up.


For the next episode, they should just cut-in some Lindy quote from other episodes.
- "Ok, insert self-deprecating old joke here"

- "And jest on how he never finishes games here"

"Perfect!  Nobody will be the wiser!"

Whatever they gotta do so we can get our fix. =P

martyDecember 21, 2011

Hearing Johnny praise Skyward Sword made my head hurt. 

Haha! I have The Director Japanese copy of Disaster!

I actually have two copies of Disaster now, since I imported it when I imported Captain Rainbow.

The_Darkest_RedDecember 21, 2011

I knew I should have listened to you guys months ago, Radiant Historia is next to impossible to find online now. I just looked it up on Amazon and the cheapest price from any seller is $84...


Also, I agree with Johnny regarding the story in Skyward Sword. I thought it was really interesting to see the roots of the legend and I felt like the presentation of it was very well executed (especially given the lack of voice work, which I'm fine with).

TrueNerdDecember 21, 2011

Killer episode. It could've used another 3DS vs smartphone games conversation though.

I should probably pick up Ghost Trick, eh?

I'll be back for the last episode of 2011. Work whisked me away for this episode, and family travel (with no reliable access to internet/equipment) eliminates me from the next episode.

In terms of the best games of this year, I don't know if I've played enough of the relevant ones to really have a definite opinion.  I've played Zelda, Pokemon Black & White, and Fluidity, but I have yet to play...

Radiant Historia (in the backlog; had to get this before it disappeared)
Uncharted 3 (just got this as a gift, will play through it when I'm home next week; I feel like I know what to expect though)
Skyrim (don't own it)
Portal 2 (don't own it)
Super Mario 3D Land (don't own a 3DS)
Ghost Trick (don't own it, not really my bag though)
However, of what I've played, I'd be hard pressed to name anything but Skyward Sword as my 2011 GOTY. I honestly can't say whether or not I'd enjoy Skyrim more, and it'll be interesting to see how I feel about Uncharted 3 (will it be exactly what I expected, or will it surprise me?). I liked but didn't love the original Portal, so I couldn't see myself losing my mind over Portal 2, but I can't say for sure without playing it.



Quote from: TrueNerd

Killer episode. It could've used another 3DS vs smartphone games conversation though.

I've already made it quite clear I will stage a walkout if we entertain this topic again.
But yes, Ghost Trick is amazing.

Killer_Man_JaroTom Malina, Associate Editor (Europe)December 22, 2011

Listened this morning. Bang-up episode as usual. It's a breath of fresh air to see a site actively consider handheld games in their game-of-the-year discussions. It is astonishing that so much of the mainstream enthusiast press seems to ignore them. The big spectacle might be easier to observe than the subtle genius of a puzzle game, but the nuanced qualities of these smaller titles deserve to shine through.

nickmitchDecember 22, 2011

Agree that it's nice to see portable games get included in the discussion. With Nintendo consoles, there really wasn't much option this year though.
;)





One thing that struck me as odd about game of the year discussions and awards around the net was just how much people loved Portal 2.


Don't get me wrong: Portal 2 is a solid game with great humor and an excellent co-operative mode, but the puzzles really felt tame. Players are led along a strict path, with never more than a couple of real options to choose from and little room for creativity or alternate solutions on the vast majority of levels. I would recommend trying Portal 2 to anyone, but just wouldn't name it as "best of 2011".


Then again, most of the same criticism (and compliments) could be applied to Ghost Trick - yet I didn't mind putting it at the top of my list. The overall story was better, but there was no co-op option or downloadable content to extend the game.

You know, every gaming podcast I listen to talks about Skyward Sword's glowing features for two minutes, and all the stuff that's crappy for about a half hour afterward. It makes me not want to play the game.

BroodwarsDecember 22, 2011

I haven't beaten Skyward Sword yet and I don't know if I want to.  I think I would have been fine with the game doing the first silent realm, opening up a new land to explore, and ending.

I'll see if I like the rest of it more but from the sounds of it I won't.  The parts that aren't filler are pretty good.

adadadDecember 22, 2011

I'm really glad Greg is going to try Kid Icarus. I have quite similar tastes to Greg when it comes to old-school difficulty and I love that game - I played it for the first time just a few years ago when it came out on the VC, and it became one of my favourite games. I was excited after that to try the original Metroid, but when I finally did play it I was sorely disappointed by how awkward it is to play, especially given the way dying pretty well forces you to reset the game and enter an enormous password just so that you can have some health. Kid Icarus on the other hand is really fantastic. I love the music in the first world especially. Also it feels great when you beat the game and start a new game, so that you can take on the first few levels (the most difficult in the game) with a full arsenal.

I can see how it's not for everyone and it's not perfect, but it has such a lot of charm that I'm powerless to resist.

jimwood27December 22, 2011

Quote from: Halbred

You know, every gaming podcast I listen to talks about Skyward Sword's glowing features for two minutes, and all the stuff that's crappy for about a half hour afterward. It makes me not want to play the game.

Then don't play it, simple.  You seem predisposed to dislike it anyway based on the fact that you are still on the fence about even picking it up.  There are more than two minutes of amazing things in the game and my personal issues with the game are minimal at best (certainly not half an hour's worth) and not nearly enough to even come close to ruining the experience for me.  And, let's be honest, did you really expect other podcasts to be very positive on the game, regardless of what was on the disc?


I was definitely predisposed to love it so of course my take is positive but I agreed with nearly every word Jonny said during the show.  I was going to collect everything anyway so it did not bother me that there were sections like that.  Greg and James definitely overstated the 'DK64' section because it only took me like 30-40 minutes, tops, and I was on my way.


Jonny is dead right about the story, too.  It really is wonderful, filled with great side characters, and little touches that kept me engaged (though the game is quite engaging without the story).  It really sets up the Legend nicely.


I guess it is more fun to complain than enjoy things, though.

CëricDecember 22, 2011

Ah yes, the old Nintendo fanboy standby that other podcasts are being negative on Zelda right now because they all dislike Nintendo to begin with.  It's definitely not because Nintendo is behind-the-curve design-wise or that the game itself is very problematic and lazy.  ::)

Your mileage with Skyward Sword will definitely vary.  I personally really disliked the game, mostly from the wasted potential and ridiculous amount of boring filler.  I think it fulfilled its main objective of showing that motion control could be used in a core-oriented game without completely ruining it, but its achievements beyond that are very few.  With almost no exploration; characters I didn't care about; and a reliance on re-used areas over brand-new experiences, the game just didn't appeal to me.

That said, I don't regret picking up the game and I would still recommend that people give it a try.  What it does doesn't appeal to me; I think the experience is profoundly mediocre overall; and I think 6 months from now quite a lot of reviewers are going to be regretting those gushing 10/10 reviews, but I think the experience is worth seeing once and obviously some people are finding it to their liking.  There are some genuinely good new ideas in this game worth seeing, like the new Beetle item and some of the dungeon designs.

Maybe if Nintendo puts together a team of competent designers next time around (who are willing to make a good game that's exactly as long as it needs to be without regurgitating areas/enemies/ideas), the fundamentals of this game could actually be used in a good Zelda game next time.

jimwood27December 22, 2011

Ah yes, the old standby that since I said something positive about a Nintendo game that I must be a fanboy.  Seriously, if you listened to any podcast this past year, no one was talking about or anticipating Zelda that was not a Nintendo podcast.  That's fine, they talk about what they want, but my point was that their reactions once having played the game were going to be tepid based on their lack of enthusiasm going in.  Since they weren't anticipating it, there must be something wrong with it if they aren't excited and it is from an established franchise.  It is much easier to dwell on issues you have with something than to prop up the positives, especially with Zelda when positives are expected.  If you completely reskinned this game and gave it a different title, the reaction would have been much more glowing.


Problematic? Lazy? Not competent? Mediocre? Gonna disagree with all those assessments.  But that is the good thing about this, we are allowed to have dissenting opinions.  Based on lurking the boards here though, you are much more likely to be negative (draped in the guise of being more critical) while I am more likely to be positive about experiences because enjoying something is enjoyable so I can overlook issues if/when present.

CëricDecember 22, 2011

Quote from: jimwood27

Seriously, if you listened to any podcast this past year, no one was talking about or anticipating Zelda that was not a Nintendo podcast.

After enduring Twilight Princess and Phantom Hourglass, why would anyone who wasn't already a diehard Nintendo fan be looking forward to Skyward Sword?  Even setting that aside, Nintendo of America made sure no one had much (if anything) worth playing on the Wii this year, so the game just got overlooked as no one was using their Wiis.  When Nintendo actually bothers to release games that keep their systems relevant, you tend to hear more anticipation for games on those systems.  Despite this, I hope to hear a lot of Xenoblade talk when that game releases in April.

Quote:

Problematic? Lazy? Not competent? Mediocre? Gonna disagree with all those assessments.  But that is the good thing about this, we are allowed to have dissenting opinions.  Based on lurking the boards here though, you are much more likely to be negative (draped in the guise of being more critical)

That's fine.  The whole premise of my post was that I really didn't like the game, but I still thought it was worth recommending that people play it and form their own opinion.  However much I didn't enjoy it, it's still an interesting game to experience as a new baseline for motion control experiences.  We don't disagree there.  And, incidentally, I think that's a pretty limited way of looking at game criticism. 

I just think a lot of people are quick to give Nintendo a free pass on bad or lazy design simply because they are Nintendo, no more evident than in how quickly the industry turned on Twilight Princess 6 months after launch.  You'll hear reviewers talk a good game about the issues they had with a game in unofficial venues like podcasts and whatnot, but when push comes to shove very few of them seem to have the courage to not give a Nintendo AAA game a high score. 

Take Shane Shatterfield's review of Skyward Sword for GameTrailers, for example.  You listen to his impressions on Invisible Walls or the review, and it's pretty critical and negative overall.  Then the score comes up, and he still caved in and gave it a 9.1 with positive closing thoughts, which doesn't match the "text" of the review at all.  I think this (Skyward Sword) "10/10" Wii game would be getting 7s and 6s (especially on the other consoles) if you stripped away the Nintendo and Zelda branding.

The funny thing is, as the resident dude who totally gave Skyward Sword a 10/10, I understand every single complaint. It's just, when it comes down to it, they weren't major issues for me.

I wouldn't go as far to say that Skyward Sword feels like a Zelda made just for me, but it's very much in line with what I want out of the series. That's different for nearly everybody. For me, Skyward Sword lived up to the hype. If it weren't for the fact that I don't know if I could spare the 30-40 hours to play Hero Mode and 100% the game, I would do it in a heart beat. I really loved Skyward Sword.

And Zach, just play the damn game. You're not going to hate it. It's worth the money.

Killer_Man_JaroTom Malina, Associate Editor (Europe)December 23, 2011

Really, it's nothing new for a Zelda game to be divisive. Not since Ocarina of Time has there been a strong consensus in a single direction for an entry in this franchise. Majora's Mask, Wind Waker, Twilight Princess, Phantom Hourglass, Spirit Tracks - they all have their supporters and their detractors. For this reason, if you are sitting on the fence, my advice is to go ahead with the purchase.

Personally, I'm in the same boat as Neal. Temples are what got me into this series in the first place. Don't get me wrong, there's a lot of fun to be had exploring in Zelda games, but that's always been one of the more passive parts of the experiences. The things that get my neurons firing, that gives me the real sense of accomplishment, it's the environmental puzzles. If I think about my favourite kinds of games, the stuff that I like today, I think of action puzzle titles, which is to say, a game in which you traverse the space you are in by manipulating it with tools. Skyward Sword put a greater emphasis on these elements, with creative dungeons and dungeon-like overworlds. In doing so, they sacrificed some of the exploration elements, no doubt about it. If you come to Zelda to explore, then I understand why Skyward Sword wouldn't be your cup of tea. But for my money, it totally nailed the world design, while also making me care about the swordplay, an aspect of Zelda that I'd been indifferent to until now.

And to the conspiracy theorists who believe that journalists were all giving dishonest positive reviews, I really have to question your thought process. Why would they do it? Why would they compromise their journalistic integrity and their professionalism? Why would they deceive their readers? Because Nintendo is so beloved that nobody can say a bad word about them? Hardly. By that logic, I suppose reviews of Portal 2 are bloated because Valve are renowned, and reviews of Uncharted 3 are bloated because Naughty Dog are renowned, and reviews of Elder Scrolls V are bloated because Bethesda are renowned, and any company with a good reputation gets a free pass from the media, regardless of what the reviewers really think. To be frank, that's crazy talk. Look, I get it if you didn't like Skyward Sword, but it is possible for others to say they liked it and have that be their honest opinion. Maybe the issues they discussed did not take away from their enjoyment of the game.

To be fair, the guys on Player One Podcast really liked the game. They actually haven't said much bad about it. I will get the game--I expect it as a Squidmas present this year--I just worry about all the talk of filler and padding. Mario 3D Land is so damn TIGHT and that's the kind of game I like: focused, epic, and fun.

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