Thanksgiving is around the corner. It’s a holiday to be spent with family, sharing clean laughs and dirty plates. As much as we like to pretend that holidays exist, we can’t help but also be thankful for videogames. From the very first videogame released, gamers around the world have come to love an assortment of games. They bring joy, sorrow, and a grab bag full of other emotions. With so many games out there, there’s sure to be a handful that certain gamers can’t possibly spend this month without thanking for existing (if it were extremely normal to thank videogames). So, without further ado, let’s unveil the question for this festive month, from Jeff Nemeth (aka me): What game or game series are you most thankful for?
I’m most thankful for the Souls series. Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls, and Bloodborne are all titles that fall into this series. Souls once again popularized the concept that hard games can be great games. It made difficult games cool again in a time when the industry was dominated by games with impressive graphics and story, but a startling lack of substance and difficulty in terms of gameplay.
Souls titles not only have a great combat system that players can really sink their teeth into, they also make it so that an understanding of these underlying game mechanics, enemy placement and attacks, and sometimes even the game’s very own lore is required to succeed. They may be frustrating at times, but that feeling you get when you finally defeat a boss after 10, 20, or even 50 tries just makes all of the frustration worth it. It’s impressive that a game can even make the simple action of finally opening up a shortcut seem like a massive achievement. I’m excited not only for the next Souls game but to see what impact the Souls series will have on future videogames in the years to come.
Up until this point, I thought Hyperdimension Neptunia was the surefire game that consumed the hours of family bonding. Well, if this new job at GameStop and a friend’s good wisdom (thanks for that Phil) have taught me anything, you can never judge a book by its cover (or, in this case, a game). Such conversations led me to placing that one fateful game in my PlayStation 4, and my life hasn’t gone back since then. That game is none other than Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance.
The Disgaea series is a tactical series set in the Netherworld, where you control various demons and overlords. Each game has its own unique, quirky story. I mean, how can you honestly hope to be serious during a game where the story is about someone finding a bowl of curry?! Disgaea 5 focuses on Killia, a lone wolf demon who is hell-bent on killing the Demon Emperor Void Dark. Along the way, he gains allies without his consent, each with their own specialty and personality. If the game’s story wasn’t silly enough, wait until you learn more about the characters.
First, let’s talk about Seraphina, the Overlord of Gorgeous. She comes from one of the richest netherworlds and believes that men were created to bow down before her and serve her. She is also seen as Killia’s love interest (according to her, at least), and shoots anyone who insinuates she’s in love with him. Seraphina controls an army of Prinnys. Prinnys are the reincarnated version of humans who have done horrible things in their lives. They work for Seraphina to pay off their debt; once their debt has been repayed, they are reborn as a human. Little known fact about Prinnys: if you throw them, they blow up! Sounds exciting, huh? (Five Prinnys ran away that day.)
I don’t want to delve too much more into the story and characters, as this could consume a lot of time. But just know there are characters out there who exhibit the personality of The Rock and Hulk Hogan from WWE. Not only are the character personalities and overall flow of the game humorous, but the customization level of this game is so far over 9,000 that it should be illegal. You can customize how strong a weapon is, how it looks, create new units with personalities, and even make maps to challenge your friends. If there was ever a game I could play for all eternity, this would definitely be it.
“Thankful for” is an odd thing to peg down. I might have enjoyed some Final Fantasy in my time, or I might think that Front Mission deserves some recognition, but it’s difficult to say that I’m “thankful” for those games. To name a game the existence of which I appreciate, I’d probably have to go with Cave Story.
You can debate about the game’s merits, but it struck at exactly the right time in gaming history to bring a spotlight on indie games. Back in a time when “self-published” titles were more often termed “shareware” or “freeware” than “indie games”, Cave Story came around and gave the people what they wanted—pixel art and chiptunes and all that nostalgic stuff that’s come to define a large portion of indie game culture. Would all that have happened even if Cave Story was never released? Maybe. But, I still appreciate the game’s effect on the gaming scene.
The game series I’m most thankful for is Shin Megami Tensei and its affiliated spinoffs. I don’t care if we’re talking about the main series about morality, rebirth, and choosing your battles—ultimately leading up to creating a new world—or any of the side series; they’re all great. Each monster has its own personality, even within their own families, as well as following their own set of ideals and philosophies, changing your playstyle based off the story you follow. Or spinoffs like Persona where you explore the hopes, dreams, and day to day lives of other humans. Even Demikids being an explicit Pokémon ripoff, Devil Survivor being a grid-based strategy RPG, Persona 4 being made into a fighting game, the ill-fated MMO—this is a series promising something for everyone! Featuring Dante from the Devil May Cry series!
Probably someone else has already mentioned this game/series. Well, I’m the one holding the turkey now…this is how you do this thing, right?
Anyway, as some of you may already know, I’m not from your country; and back in the old days, games like The Legend of Zelda were regarded as the most difficult games one could try to beat—not only because of the challenge of the NES/SNES era, but mostly because games back then weren’t translated into Spanish. That pushed many of us to learn English to beat these kinds of games.
In my particular case, I geeked out so much on the Zelda series that I got involved in huge English-to-Spanish translation projects for my personal website, and from there on I learned most of the skills that would make me venture into writing for an American website, and then being found by some nice-bearded guy who invited me to join GameCola.
Writing back to that person was the single best decision I’ve ever made; I’ve learned a lot ever since, and the reason why you haven’t seen me that much lately is because I keep getting hired to put these uncanny skills into a good use. And it all started thanks to the adventures of a young boy, who actually believed that it would be less dangerous to go alone if he equipped himself with a wooden sword given to him by a strange bearded man found in some cave.
This may not be very inspired, but I am probably most thankful for Scorched Earth. Growing up with only a family computer and a Game Boy, I remember most of our earliest games being either repetitive educational offerings, relentlessly difficult platformers, or puzzle adventures with vague directions and bad text parsing. (Mind you, this was back in the days of floppy disks and dinosaurs). Scorched Earth was the first game my brothers and I owned that was pure, reckless fun.
You didn’t need excessive practice, or timed jumps, or speedy typing, or a game map hand-drawn on 15 pieces of computer paper taped together. You could just play for play’s sake. You could be a kid…a kid with an armory of funky bombs, diggers, and napalm. I can’t tell you how many hours we collectively put into that game, but I still remember the sheer joy those little pixelated tanks brought, and it’s that kind of joy that continues to fuel my love of videogames today. I may appreciate a wider array of genres now, but I continue to hold that games, at their most fundamental level, are meant to be enjoyed.
I could easily say Super Mario All-Stars or Mega Man X are the games I am most thankful for, but that’s taking the easy way out. No, there’s a new hero I should be bringing far more attention to, considering his own future as a videogame star hangs in the balance. The games I am most thankful for are Rayman Origins and Rayman Legends. I bought Rayman Origins July 2014 after having listened to the soundtrack for some time, and knew the game vaguely by good word of mouth. I was immediately drawn into Rayman’s (reimagined) world, the Glade of Dreams, and Rayman himself. Origins was the best designed and most fun platformer I had experienced in ages, truly, since my Super Nintendo. I had played Sonic Colors and Donkey Kong Country Returns on my Wii, and while I am indebted to those experiences, there were annoying ticks with those games: bad gimmick levels thrown in to interrupt the speed; stupid difficulty that was against thought process.
Origins flowed through me, spoke to every part of the gamer I was inside, the gamer I didn’t know I still could be. I felt like I was 9 again, discovering each of the bonus pipes in Super Mario Bros. for the first time. The painterly, detailed backgrounds of Origins are exactly what you would expect in your dreams if Super Nintendo-quality platformers were still being made for today. Rayman had just enough spunk to keep you interested and like him for him, without throwing his own needs and wants into the mix. And he had jolly Globox, and tons of magic Teensies to play as, too. And the music. Once I heard the music in Origins, I never thought video game music could quite compare.
Then Rayman Legends came out. If for some reason you didn’t like Origins, even hated it, go play Rayman Legends. There are so few times in life where your are given the utmost of masterpieces, and somehow, they get blown out of the water by a successor. Every tiny hindrance that made Origins slightly annoying was totally put behind by how tight the controls and design are in Legends. Not only that, but everything is improved. More creative level design and environments, more playable characters, more multiplayer options that are NOT shoved down your throat (and which are actually fun!), special speed sections that somehow outdo most Sonic games I’ve played, and remastered levels from Origins. Not to mention the most addicting level-end point-tally screen you could find, making you want to finish the game in one sitting.
And that music. I bought the soundtrack off iTunes for over $10. I would spend honestly probably $35 if I had to, that’s how incredible the music is. It is perhaps one of the best soundtracks I have heard in my life, period, outdoing just about any film score. I could go on and on about Rayman, considering these two are just the most recent games in the series. And for anyone who even knows a little about Ubisoft or the Rayman games, you know Rayman needs you. Please, for the love of Ray, check out Origins or Legends, and maybe you’ll feel like you’re 9 again yourself.
Superlatives are always hard for me to assign. The obvious choice would be to say I’m most grateful for the Mega Man series, what with it being my favorite game series and the reason I found a niche making YouTube videos. I could get sentimental and talk about games that brought me closer to friends and family. I could cite something like Pong or Super Mario Bros. that paved the way for the games we enjoy today. So what I’m going to do is talk about Final Fantasy VIII.
FFVIII is pretty low on the list of Final Fantasy games I’d willingly replay. Despite a few elements I genuinely enjoy, I find too much of the game to be dull, frustrating, or flat-out terrible, and it all goes on for far too long and culminates in one of the most unbelievably inane plot twists I’ve ever seen. At best, you’d think I would be grateful…to be done with it. But as I wrote about forever ago, FFVIII is the game that made me realize I don’t have to force myself to pursue 100% completion if I’ve had enough of a game. You might think it an obvious realization, but you would be underestimating the pull of my completionist tendencies. Giving up on getting that coveted Completed status for some of the games on my Backloggery was something akin to giving up smoking, or maybe Pokémon. Yet it got easier and easier with each game I put back on the shelf when the fun dried up. I can’t begin to chart how much time I’ve saved and how much sanity I’ve retained as a result, but I have FFVIII to thank for it.
Asking me to pick just one game I’m thankful for is like asking me to pick a favorite child. You can’t just do that. So I have three that have greatly influenced me as a person and as a gamer.
First is the one you guys are expecting, Ace Attorney. It was the game that really solidified my love of videogames and of course, also brought me to GameCola (#thanksMichael). It taught me to think outside of the box, to keep smiling even in hard times, and how to tell the difference between a ladder and a stepladder. I thank goodness every day for Ace Attorney…or at least every time a picture of Miles Edgeworth shows up on my Tumblr dash.
Second is Xenoblade Chronicles. Where do I even start? This is the game that I’d give anything to play for the first time again. It’s such a powerful game with lots of emotions and I loved every second of it. I’d better be grateful for a game that I’ve poured almost 200 hours of my life into and that I own on both Wii and 3DS. Do you know how hard it was to get hold of the Wii version? Heck yeah, I’m thankful for that.
Finally, what would this list be without Hatoful Boyfriend? This game was the game that started my YouTube channel and gained me a lot of new friends and fans that I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise, which I’m super thankful for. And I never would have discovered a few of my current boyfriends without Hatoful Boyfriend, which would have been a tragedy, of course.
I’m grateful for Animal Crossing, Donkey Kong 64, and Super Mario All-Stars for getting me into videogames. When I was little, I’d watch the other kids at my school’s aftercare play those game and wanted to play them, too. Unfortunately, the consoles were almost never free, so I had to be content with watching….BUT WHEN I DID GET TO PLAY IT WAS AWESOME.
I’m thankful for Mort the Chicken. While it may not be a legitimate series, it let us know that a game stuffed full of chicken puns and green jello can be lasting and fun.
The game series that I’m most thankful for is The Legend of Zelda. Besides being an excellent series, it was the series that truly introduced me to gaming. Though I had played videogames at a friend’s house a couple times, it wasn’t until I played Ocarina of Time that I thought, “This videogame thing is actually pretty awesome!” This epiphany led to me purchasing a Nintendo 64 solely to play Ocarina of Time. This innocent beginning eventually led to me amassing my current collection of videogames and becoming, for lack of a better word, a “gamer”.
Is there a game you are truly thankful for? Can you think of one series that you truly are grateful for coming across? Well, once you’re done stuffing your face with turkey and mashed potatoes, feel free to leave your dirty plates and opinions down below. Please note you have to clean your own plates, but you don’t have to clean up your grammar (it’s suggested, though).
Got a question you want the staff to answer? Think we’re asking ourselves some stupid questions? Leave your suggestions down below, and if we like your question, we’ll give it some answers. NEW: You can now tweet your question on social media using the hashtag #QAmeCola.