The J for Janky Game of the Year Spectacular, 2011 edition — Part 2: Numbers 10-6

You can find part 1, the honorable mentions, right here.

10. To The Moon — Freebird Games

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The J for Janky Game of the Year Spectacular, 2011 edition — Part 1: The Honorable Mentions

It’s that time again. This year I’ve got 14 games to discuss: my 10 favorites of the year and four honorable mentions.

The latter are four experiences that I won’t soon be forgetting. There’s something about each of them that’s unique, effective and intensely admirable, but they didn’t quite make it into my top 10.

Here we go!

El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron — Ignition Tokyo  

El Shaddai is what happens when you give a visual artist free reign over a project. Takeyasu Sawaki, whose previous credits include lead character designer on Okami, and his team at Ignition have created the most visually spectacular game ever made.

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On Uncharted and characterization through play.

Uncharted 3

Uncharted 2 and 3 are special games.

While Naughty Dog’s latest pulp adventure might pull a few too many of the same tricks as its predecessor, they are damn fine tricks and no one else in the video game industry has even attempted to replicate them.

Sure, I’m talking about the massive set pieces — running through burning buildings; hanging onto a piece of free falling cargo hundreds of feet above an endless desert – but what really sets Uncharted apart is its characters.

Naughty Dog has done a great job of bringing Nathan Drake and the series’ supporting cast to life. The characters may be simple adventure flick stereotypes, (hey, it’s pulp, not Tolstoy) their relationships feel real and my attachment to them is staggering.

But what is it that makes Uncharted better at this than most other games? There’s the care and attention given to the writing, of course, but I think it’s something simpler; something only a video game could do.

Minor Uncharted 3 spoilers ahead!

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[Updated]Former Editors-in-chief of Kotaku, Joystiq and The Escapist join Vox Media to create new gaming site

Vox Media

Online media company Vox Media announced today that they will be adding a brand new site focused on video game coverage to its suite of popular portals.

Much like it did earlier this year with technology site The Verge, Vox went on a talent hunt to establish an editorial staff prior to actually building the site and the results are rather impressive. Here’s the staff announced so far:

  • Brian Crecente — former editor-in-chief of Kotaku
  • Chris Grant — former editor-in-chief of Joystiq
  • Russ Pitts — former editor-in-chief of The Escapist
  • Justin and Griffin McElroy — former managing/reviews editors of Joystiq and hosts of the comedy podcast My Brother, My Brother and Me
  • Arthur Gies — former previews editor of Joystiq and host of Rebel FM
  • Russ Frushtick — formerly of MTV Multiplayer
  • Chris Plante — freelancer who has written for Edge, New York Magazine and The Daily

That’s quite a haul.

The new site will be running off the same technology and content delivery platform behind The Verge, but more importantly is being built from the ground up by its staff.

The move is particularly interesting because it poached several high-profile editors from Joystiq, an AOL blog. Earlier this year, Vox, which also owns the sports network SB Nation, pulled a similar maneuver, nabbing a handful of the most prominent editors from AOL’s Engadget blog to create rival website The Verge.

A launch date for the site has not been announced and is likely far off — most member of the staff announced their departures little more than a week ago. The new site’s staff will be posting stories on The Verge in the interim.

Update:

From the sounds of it Chris Grant will be taking the position of editor-in-chief of the new site. Pitts will act as features editor, Gies as reviews editor, Justin McElroy as managing editor and Crecente as news editor.

Reports of Nintendo’s Death are Greatly Exaggerated

Nintendo held a press conference in Japan earlier this week to show off a number of new 3DS titles and announce Monster Hunter 4. Apparently the reception to this news was so negative that it spawned such non-gaming press articles as “Nntendo is Killing Itself” and “Nintendo Faces End of Era After 3DS Flop.”

Oh boy.

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Review: The Rapture – In the Grace of Your Love

The Rapture - In the Grace of Your Love

Brooklyn-based trio The Rapture perfectly exemplifies the devastating hype cycle of music in the Internet age.

They exploded onto the scene in 2002 with the classic single “House of Jealous Lovers,” a danceable blast of punk rock that descended onto the awkward and thoughtful drama geek that was early aughts indie rock like a manic, wedgie-happy bully.

The Internet hype-machine kicked into high gear, hastily labeling The Rapture’s mixture of angular post-punk guitar and disco beats as “dance-punk” and celebrating the resurrection of legendary sounds from bands like Gang of Four, New Order and The Talking Heads.

But the Internet is a fickle beast. It tore The Rapture down just as quickly as it had hoisted the band into stardom, calling them plagiarists and puppets of the now famed production duo DFA, also known as James Murphy and Tim Goldsworthy — the founders of LCD Soundsystem and owners of DFA Records.

That short taste of success was enough to drive the band to a major label for its laughably inconsequential third album, another all too common story among indie bands. Shortly after its release, the band’s lineup began to crumble, with vocalist Luke Jenner quitting then quickly rejoining and bassist Matt Safer splitting for good. It looked like the end for a band that had, only three years prior, changed the face of independent rock.

Now, five years since its last album, The Rapture is back on DFA Records, the label responsible for its glorious “House of Jealous Lovers” moment, for the release of In The Grace of Your Love. Sadly, it seems those Internet naysayers were right all along.

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VideoJank: Fox News Wants to Protect Kids from Ideological Video Games That They’re Not Playing

One of my favorite things to write about is the laughable portrayal of video games in the mass media. While no one mainstream media outlet does a good job of covering games, Fox News has made it a habit of broadcasting or publishing coverage that’s just embarrassing (quite a break from their regular news coverage, am I right?).

In this segment from the September 3 edition of Fox and Friends, our host and his talking head doofus accuse games like SimCity Societies and Fate of the World of liberal indoctrination of children through exploitation and fear tactics.

Wait…what?

This is probably the most laughable product of conservative over-sensitivity I’ve ever seen.

First of all, video games are not exclusively played by and most certainly not exclusively designed for children. What world does this guy live in where a 5 year old is playing Fate of the World!? I can’t even play Fate of the World! It’s an endlessly complex strategy game that simulates the fight against global warming and as such, it’s really frickin hard.

Next, and this is a silly point but still, SimCity Societies came out FOUR YEARS AGO. Why the hell is this moron complaining about it now?

The only people doing fear mongering in this scenario are Fox News. They’re instilling fear into their conservative audience by pointing out the imaginary threat of secret liberal ideologies in video games.

Honestly does anyone out there really think the children of people who watch Fox News are actually playing games like Fate of the World? I’m not saying they’re too unintelligent to handle its systems (wait, they are, they’re just kids), but rest assured, these are the 5 to 10 year olds yelling racist and homophobic obscenities into their Xbox headsets during Call of Duty multiplayer. Where’s Mr. Talk Head Doofus’ outrage over this consumption of incredibly violent media by young children?

Video games are a communicative medium just like books and film and like those other media, anyone with any sort of ideology can design a video game to reflect their beliefs. Some games will have messages, but I can guarantee you, those are not the ones aimed at kids.

Mr. Talking Head Doofus does, however, make a good point toward the end of the segment: these games are boring! What kid is going to want to play them?

No kid, that’s what. And that’s the way it was supposed to be.

Editor’s note: DAMN YOU KOTAKU! I’ve been putting this post together for a while and all this time no one was covering this video. But I turn my back for just a minute and Kirk Hamilton (a wonderful writer) puts up a brilliant summary of this tragedy.