Sunday, June 3, 2012
Top five video games and anime of 2012 - Spring contenders
As has become a tradition over the past few years, I will once again be doing a recap at the end of this year of all the anime I've watched and all the video games I've played in 2012. As June is now under way, I feel that I have a strong indication of which titles from those two categories have a good chance of being labeled by me as the five best by the end of the year. The anime and video game titles listed below are not guaranteed to make into the top five of either category, as there are still others I have yet to experience during the remainder of the year. But I do feel that they presently have a good chance at making the cut.
- Video games -
Super Mario 3D Land - In all honestly, this was the most fun I've had with a Mario game since Super Mario 64. That said, I've always been partial to the free-roam Mario games versus the side-scrolling platformers. The way Nintendo has utilized the 3D hardware with this game is fantastic, and despite the fact that the boss fights are a bit redundant, smart level design and impressive replay value make up for it.
Pokémon Black and White - I think it's safe to say that this game is in the top five for certain. I jumped back on board the Pokémon bandwagon with Soul Silver version, and White version proved a fantastic follow-up. There is as much emphasis on strategy as there is on freedom f choosing your team members, and the game presents a great balance of challenge and fun. Though the gym leader battles seem to become easier as the game progresses, the Elite Four battles are epic. The story is rather well-scripted, and Unova feels more alive and teeming with activity than the regions from previous games.
Resident Evil Revelations - Another game that is almost certain to make it to the top five, Resident Evil Revelations is the best Resident Evil title I've played since RE4. It brings back classic horror elements of the older games by placing Jill Valentine and company onboard a cruise ship infested with a new type of zombie. The ocean life theme is a great new direction for the series to take, as creatures that resemble coral, fish, and crabs are as cool to look at as they are terrifying to encounter. Raid Mode presents a fresh new spin on Mercenaries-style gameplay, and the whole package presents what it easily one of the best handheld gaming experiences I have had to date.
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker - I am not considering the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection in its entirety as eligible for the top five, due in part to the fact that I have previously played MGS2 and MGS3. Peace Walker, on the other hand, is an entirely new beast to me, as I never owned a PSP. Frankly, it is half the reason I purchased the HD Collection, and I find the freedom allowed in its gameplay intriguing. Certainly Peace Walker is not as pretty to look at as either of the two other games, but it is a very full and satisfying experience from beginning to end, and serves as a fitting sequel to the events of Snake Eater.
- Anime -
Darker Than Black: Gemini of the Meteor - It's might not be as good as the original Darker Than Black, but it's a damn good follow-up just the same. Gemini of the Meteor provides a fresh perspective on the relationship between humans and contractors by presenting the story from the point of view of Suou Pavlichenko, a young girl living in Russia. Hei is still important to the story, but take a back seat for the first half of Gemini of the Meteor. It still carries the vibe of the original Darker Than Black, but some of the subject matter and the soundtrack allow Gemini of the Meteor to identify itself as something that is equally similar and different. The staff put some careful thought into this series instead of churning out a crappy, rushed sequel.
Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam - One of my biggest goals with regards to choosing anime to watch in 2012 was picking out many of the classics I missed out on back in the day. Zeta Gundam is essentially the Empire Strikes Back of the original Gundam storyline. As an anime from the 80s, it is not as clean as more modern series. There is plenty of cheesy dialogue and teenage angst. But what it accomplished for its time is truly impressive. The older Gundam series are the primary reason mecha anime is so popular today. Zeta Gundam's story is very well planned, the animation gets better with each episode, and all in all its just plain fun classic sci-fi.
Akira - Another classic, one viewing of Akira made it clear just how much of an impression this film left on the sci-fi anime genre. It's a dark and wonderful look into both the fantastical futuristic city and the practical relationships humans share. The hand-drawn animation is downright gorgeous for its time, and the soundtrack isn't far behind. Trying to explain Akira to someone does not do the film justice. It is something that must be experience to be fully understood.
Cowboy Bebop - This series manages to balance a great storyline with a very distinct musical and artistic style. The end result is one of the most entertaining and just plain fun series from the mid to late 1990s. Spike, Jet, Faye, and Ed play off one another wonderfully, with each presenting a distinctly different personality. The show places emphasis on creating a new subgenre of the sci-fi anime, but just as often succeeds at delivering a very genuine and human story. The show has lots of funny scenes, plenty of action, and even a few sad moments that round out the whole viewing experience.