2nd Annual Cult Gaming Awards

Posted: September 14, 2012 by ryanlecocq in Features

Sorry this is late, I was hoping something else really good would come out.  Also I’ve changed some categories because hey, why not?

 

Cult Game of the Year

Dark Souls

“You reckon that was Joe just rung that there bell?

“Yup.”

No contest victory.  While a bunch of other silly games won other awards, only one game could be called the biggest cult hit of the last year.  Dark Souls in not only the most difficult and off-putting game, but also the most demanding of a taste for unique-ness.  The very first thing that narrows this game’s audience is that fact that you just plain don’t get to win all the time.  Some defeats in this game can be so crushing that you may never play the character again.  Not because of shame, but because you have put your character in a situation you almost could not possibly get out of (1/16 health bar cursed in Ash Lake anyone?).  This is offset by the fact that every time you pull off something amazing, it’s more than amazing; it’s the most awesome frigging thing you’ve ever done in a video game.  You’re like Samwise Gamgee after single-handedly storming Cirith Ungol.

The other thing about Dark Souls that puts it in the cult category is the unconventional online communication.  You do not speak, type or symbol chat to other players.  You have 20 or so total emotes you can unlock and that’s about it.  There is no need for lobbies or chat really, as the system of invading and what item or conditions used, determines what sort of multiplayer objectives are involved.  If you’ve never played the game, that must sound really odd.  To anyone who’s played Dark Souls online (and put up with the connection issues), it’s a brilliant system.  You just have to put aside completely your normal expectations for online play.

 

Best HD Remake

Resident Evil 4

“Leon, can you see any important documents?  Anything that could tell us how they did it?”

“Uhh, what would be important?  This one has like, a bunch of numbers and letters and shit.”

“God help us.”

It’s not the Silent Hill collection (No patch for 360, seriously?).  It’s not the MGS collection (no Peace Walker for PS Vita, seriously?).  Not even the Ico/Shadow of the Colossus collection (where can you buy this again?).  It’s the HD version of RE4 that quietly slunk onto XBLA and PSN last fall.  No, it doesn’t include anything amazing besides achievements and the most complete version of the game with all the New Game+ crap.  What makes it the best is that it’s a version of RE4 that works on your modern hardware, looks good and isn’t a total ass port like the PC version.  You can also put it on a flash drive, cloud save and play your save of RE4 anywhere you go.  I’ve never really needed to do that with any of the above games, but RE4 is one of those I can always pick up and play.  It’s also surprisingly useful, since you run into these people who have only played 5, and don’t have any idea how good (better) 4 is.

Games like Resident Evil 4, Zelda Ocarina of Time and Soul Calibur aren’t just merchandise when they get HD remakes.  These games are timepieces like Star Wars, Titanic or The Avengers.  Things that made so much money, influenced the industry to such a degree and entered the minds of so many people that they are their own icons.  Having the HD remake of Resident Evil 4 is like having the digitally remastered Beatles Collection, whereas having the HD remake of Halo is like having Terminator 2 on BlueRay.  Still awesome, but you aren’t going to bust it out every single time someone says they haven’t seen Terminator 2.

 

Game Most Got by Women and Not by Men

Catherine

Sheeple.

Kind of like Odin Sphere, Heavy Rain, Bayonetta and To the Moon, Catherine is one of those games your girlfriend is going to be all over.  Well, assuming she plays video games.  You get the idea.  Now, granted, I have finished most of those games.  Don’t know what that says about me, but I’m also a powergamer and all of those are in genres I play.  Most straight men should not feel ashamed to put down the controller after the 14th time butterflies fill the screen, or being expected to change a diaper.

Catherine doesn’t really feature either of those.  On the most basic level, it’s a puzzle game with all the social aspects of a game like Persona.  If you’ve played Intelligent Cube, any Japanese High School RPG, most of the major puzzle games in the last 5 -10 years, you have seen every part of the gameplay in some form.  Where it gets a bit chicky is the part that the plot centers around a psychotic love triangle.  Protagonist is Dudely McDuderson.  Most stereotypical male bachelor character you ever saw.  Catherine 1 is clingy bubbly, have to text her all the time little Ms. Perfect.  Katherine 2 is ‘hey let’s meet right now at some strange place’ and livin’ life on the edge.  One or both of them could be completely in your head.  Hell, everyone you know could be completely in your head.  You’re a guy who’s cheating on two semi-identical women with the same name and has dreams of being a sheep doing block puzzles.  It’s wacky, it’s out there, it’s totally cult, but Catherine focuses far more on the relationship and emotional side while the puzzle gameplay is about middling challenging.  So definitely a game you play to find out if Harry really slept with Sally and if the Maid is having George’s baby if you know what I mean.

 

Most ‘Artsy’ Game

To the Moon

To think: we could have had this on Super NES if only we’d been smarter.

If Dark Souls was not such an evolution of the human spirit, this game would have taken top honors.  To the Moon is, simply put, the best story ever told in a videogame.  Yeah, I’ve likely played any game you’re about to cite as being the best.  This game is better.  The huge catch being that it was created on RPG Maker and features only the most minimal actual ‘gameplay.’  I’m sure at some point in history, some author created one of the greatest works ever, with crayons, at a time when originality was at an all-time low.  I can’t think of it, but that’s what this is like.  Like I said in the review, it’s hard to say much about this game without spoiling the plot.  The basic premise is that you are someone who’s job is to alter people’s memories before they die, so they can die happy.  That’s really all I need to say to clue you to how unusual this game is.

Also, even more than being an amazing work of art, To the Moon is a giant leap in videogame science.  Psychology in videogames has previously been stuck in the things you learn in Psych 101.  Freud, Jung, Rorschach tests and all that.  The people that made this game have clearly read some medical magazines published after 1920.  Many hot topics in modern psychology make their way into the plot of this game.  Very artistic and very smart.

 

LATE ADD AS IT WASN’T FINISHED IN TIME:

Best New Episodic Game:  The Walking Dead

I don’t think this one really needs a paragraph.  It got the same award everywhere else and long story short, we love it too.  This game was  a big seller, so not really a cult game, but it was so good there really is no competition in the category.

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