Tag Archive: legends

2022 was a year that started and ended strong, with a slew of massive triple-A titles and darling indies that kept gamers busy for hundreds of hours across dozens of genres, making deciding my games of the year a particularly tough task. The only thing I am truly sure of, though, was that it was an unforgettable year as I rode the waves of adventure, hashed out my best strategies, and saved the world a few dozen times over before finally whittling down the list of contenders into this top five. 

05Sonic Frontiers

I’ll admit, I had low expectations for Sonic Frontiers, and maybe that’s why I was blown away by the experience it was able to deliver in the end. A couple of issues with the camera couldn’t take away from the fact that Sonic in an open-world setting just plain works here. Every island he explored to save his friends from a digital purgatory was a fresh new adventure that also found various ways to call back to Sonic’s past. Both the islands themselves (pinball anyone?!) and a half-dozen “levels” contained within that you could teleport to paid homage to Sonic games of the past. By the end, the Blue Blur had never looked better, and I had a hankering for some chili dogs. 

04Marvel’s Midnight Suns

Developer Firaxis is likely best known for XCOM, an intense, punishing, turn-based strategy series, so them taking a crack at the practitioners of the dark arts in the Marvel Universe seemed like an interesting idea. The studio was able to deliver both a memorable strategy experience and a game far more accessible than its usual fare. Marvel’s Midnight Suns’ card-based system, the removal of XCOM staples like fog of war and permadeath, and an explorable hub world outside of battles that holds its own secrets come together to provide a special strategy experience that is enjoyable for newcomers and veterans alike. Even the grind outside of story missions in order to enhance the Abbey, your fully upgradable base, never got old. When you take all this and throw in the settings of the larger Marvel universe, it made it difficult for me to put this game down. 

03Nobody Saves the World

It was late January and I had nothing on my docket to play, so I went scrolling through Xbox Game Pass and noticed Nobody Saves the World. It had a catchy title and a cute art style, and I saw it was made by DrinkBox Studios, the folks behind the Guacamelee! games and Severed, some of my favorite handheld releases from recent years. So, I took a chance and was not disappointed. Imagine an overhead adventure game, but filtered through the lens of DrinkBox’s humor and art style. It was both something familiar and new at the same time as you play the titular Nobody who has the power to become anybody: Mermaids, warriors, ghosts, dragons, and more as every new persona opens more to explore and offers you greater power as you try to save the world. It was so brilliantly done that it stayed in my top five the entire year. 

02Pokémon Legends: Arceus

The formula for Pokémon has worked so well for 25 years that while the mainline games have tried adding some bells and whistles, the series has stayed relatively close to its roots. What makes Pokémon Legends: Arceus so special, then, is that it’s probably the biggest deviation from what makes a great mainline Pokémon game, but still has those tenets of exploration, capturing, and battling. Journeying through the ancient Hisui region, finding variations or new evolutions for classic fan favorite Pokémon, and having to strategize more about each catch with the player character doing much of the workwas such a breath of fresh air that it made my return to the mainline series later in the year with Scarlet and Violet almost disappointing. The only hope now is that we’ll get another legend sometime in the future. 

01Horizon Forbidden West

This was my only easy choice on my list this year. There was no other world I spent as much time in as I explored every nook and cranny, completed every quest, and got to know every character on the way to my lone PlayStation Platinum trophy. Aloy and her allies took part in the most captivating story I experienced this year, and when combined with an unbelievably gorgeous world to explore and gameplay that never got old, it was the singular, most complete package I experienced in 2022. Every main and side quest felt organic to the world, whether it was helping out all the strangers Aloy met, laying waste to every robot animal in her path, or clearing the land so that it might heal. It did all this while setting up the next heart-pounding adventure that I cannot wait for. 

SPThe “Best Reason to Dust Off Your PS VR Headset” Award
Moss Book II

With Sony focusing on the future with its next VR headset, it should come as no surprise that support has somewhat dried up for the headset that’s still currently on the market. But one of my most anticipated sequels did finally drop on the PS VR (and later PC) this year, and it was absolutely worth digging out my PS4 controllers for. Moss: Book II continues the tale of Quill, a field mouse turned unlikely hero. With a larger world to explore and more powers to wield, Moss: Book II brilliantly builds on the first game in every way imaginable, and provides a premiere experience as VR continues to slowly grow in the gaming market.

SPThe “Unsuspecting Addiction” Award
Vampire Survivors

Sometimes there’s a game that’s so simple on its surface but has so much depth to it that it takes the gaming world by storm. This year, that game was Vampire Survivors. All you have to do is move around and try to avoid the ever-encroaching horde of undead enemies. But as you find items, meet new bosses, unlock new arenas, and continue to try to stay alive for longer and longer periods of time, a quick pick-up and play experience soon becomes one of the biggest time sinks, and most pleasant surprises, of the year.

SPThe “Don’t Forget About Me Because I Released So Late” Award
High on Life

It’s easy for a game released in mid-late December to get lost in the awards shuffle and then slip from people’s minds the following year. So, I wanted to highlight a solid shooter that is one of the funniest games you’re likely to ever play. If you’re a fan of Rick and Morty, then High on Life will be right up your alley. It feels like you’re injecting a full season of the show directly into your eyeballs as you’re guided through alien worlds by a set of talking weapons whose lack of filter is only matched by their bloodlust. 

Originally Published: December 9, 2010, on Youtube.com/CGRUndertow

As a part of CGR Undertow, I reviewed WWE: Legends of Wrestlemania for the Xbox 360.

Originally Published: July 27, 2010, on ESPNNewYork.com

He is a man who has been critical in helping to expand the WWE brand into the video game realm and is one of the premiere authorities on everything that constitutes the WWE empire. By tapping into his vast knowledge and the deep history of the WWE, he also co-authored the New York Times Bestselling WWE Encyclopedia: The Definitive Guide to World Wrestling Entertainment and will be promoting the book tomorrow night at the Farmingdale Library in Farmingdale, New York, at 7 PM. Of course, I am talking about Brian Shields.

I had a chance to chat with Brian and being the future king of all geek media (who doesn’t happen to have a pencil-neck), it was only natural for me to ask Brian about everything from the WWE Hall of Fame to how the WWE brand has grown in the video game realm over the years. And after checking out my interview with Brian below, be sure to check out his personal website at http://mightypenandsword.com/ ».

CLICK HERE – to hear my interview with Brian Shields, the author of the WWE Encyclopedia!.

-Ray Carsillo

A Legendary Disappointment

Originally Published: July 15, 2010, on ESPNNewYork.com

The beliefs and mythology of cultures long since past have a habit of still influencing much of our media today. From the Clash of the Titans movie from the beginning of the summer to many of our video games like God of War 3, mythology is a favorite of creators everywhere to tap into when coming up with different concepts. In that vein, I present to you Sega and High Voltage’s latest exclusive for the Nintendo Wii, Tournament of Legends.

A budget fighting game (only $30 brand new), Tournament of Legends takes random mythological beings from all over the world, like Baath, the Egyptian god of the sun, or Jupiter, King of the Roman Gods, and pits them against each other in a battle for the enchanted sickle of Thanatos (the god of death) in a bid for power that will propel them to a legendary status they had only dared dream about. So, basically, the standard fighting game plot where all the characters are looking for some form or another of ultimate power.

As fighters go, even for a budget title, this is a bad game. There are only eight playable characters to start with and two unlockables as the game goes along. Last time I checked, there were a lot more legends and mythological creatures out there than 10. For this to even be considered as a decent fighter, it would have needed at least five more playable characters.

And much like Sega and High Voltage’s last over-hyped Wii-exclusive, The Conduit, the graphics are abysmal. They look like something from the last generation of consoles with loose polygons and a lack of detail rarely seen in games nowadays. Include a lack of blood or anything overly graphic in terms of some of the big hits you can deliver and the game comes across as too childish to be taken serious as a fighter.

At least the audio is tolerable though to help even out the peripherals. A great job by all the voice actors involved makes the taunts of each character come across as much more personal that you typically see in a fighting game and the narrator does a good job laying out the story and the conclusion with each fighter’s end scene. Add in solid SFX and some decent instrumentals that try to make the game feel like the epic it was promoted to be and at least the composers seemed to have given their best effort with this one.

As for the gameplay, this is where Tournament of Legends leaves me most on the fence. If you use the Wii’s Classic Controller, then the controls are passable. You have your standard high, low, heavy, and light attack combinations. You have some really cool and unique special powers, like the Roman Centurion throws a slab of beef at his opponent (which I’ve nicknamed the “beefcake” attack) who then gets swarmed by lions if it hits. And you also have some great level design that incorporates traps like giant griffins and kraken that attack both players randomly. Unfortunately, if you use the Wiimote and Nunchuck control scheme though, the game is unresponsive and difficult to handle, making it harder to appreciate those glimmers of brilliance that Sega was able to fit into this game.

The game also really suffered with the replay value. As mentioned above, there are only 10 total characters to play with and unfortunately the game lacks an online vs. multiplayer. Without a lot of characters and being able to play against people online, there is very little to bring you back to this game should you be foolish enough to buy this in the first place.

Originally this game was supposed to be a 300 inspired action game that somehow morphed into this lackluster fighter. After playing this game, you only think of what could have been had Sega stayed with their original idea considering how awful this turned out. I know Sega has the potential to pull off great games for the Wii as I keep looking back at the gem that was Madworld, but Tournament of Legends does not even hold a candle to that masterpiece. I feel dirty even mentioning them in the same sentence as Tournament of Legends is just another example of Sega producing a game that does not live up to the hype or its fullest potential.

Ratings are based on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the best.

Graphics: 4.0: No blood, no guts, and a lack of detail not seen in modern console games anymore. This game is one of the worst looking games I’ve seen since the last time Sega and High Voltage fell flat on their face with The Conduit.

Audio: 9.0: The instrumentals tried their best to convey the feeling of this being an epic game. It’s not their fault it wasn’t. Add in some well-done voice over work and the audio is one of the few aspects of this game that actually delivered all the goods.

Plot/Plot Development: 7.0: Your standard fighter plot where all the characters are looking for a form of ultimate power for some reason or another. Nothing special.

Gameplay: 7.0: With the classic controller, this is a solid fighting game with some creative and humorous elements thrown in to differentiate itself from the crowd. Unfortunately, if you use the Wiimore/Nunchuck combination, this game is a joke to play due to unresponsiveness and difficulty in pulling off maneuvers.

Replay Value: 2.0: Only 10 characters to play with (8 from the beginning) and no online modes makes this one of the flimsiest fighters I’ve ever played.

Overall (not an average): 4.0: A lack of fighters, no online mode, poor controls, and shoddy graphics show that this game didn’t just lack polish, it lacked all the essentials. Avoid Tournament of Legends at all costs.

Tournament of Legends is available now (not that you should care) for the Nintendo Wii.

-Ray Carsillo

Originally Published: July 14, 2010, on Lundberg.me, NationalLampoon.com, and SportsRev.TV

This week I reviewed Batman Odyssey #1 (of 12) and Tournament of Legends from Nintendo Wii. My hot chick pick of the week this week is Daisy (or Daysi, still not sure on that one) Araujo.

A Slobberknocker to Remember

Originally Published: April 3, 2009, on 1050ESPN.com (now ESPNNewYork.com), ESPNVideoGames.com, and Lundberg.me

It’s that time of year again: Flowers are blooming, birds are chirping, 250-pound men are hitting each other with steel chairs and baseball bats covered in barbed-wire…

That’s right, it’s time for Wrestlemania! Wrestlemania has grown over the years into an event that encompasses an entire weekend and the days leading up to the event, almost like the Super Bowl. The WWE Hall of Fame ceremonies are always the night before and with Friday Night Smackdown, ECW on Tuesdays, and Monday Night Raw, the buildup is almost as big as the Pay-Per-View itself.

This year is extra special because it is the 25th Anniversary and in that vein the WWE has released a new video game titled Legends of Wrestlemania. This game takes 38 of the greatest WWE wrestlers to ever grace the squared-circle and allows you to pick your favorites as you re-enact the greatest matches of all-time.

Before we even get into how great this game is, though, I had a chance to catch up with the voice of the WWE, “Good Ol’ J.R.”, Jim Ross, and talk to him about this year’s Wrestlemania matches, Hall of Fame class, and the video game itself.

– to listen to my interview with the voice of the WWE, Jim Ross.

Now, like I said above, Legends of Wrestlemania is amazing. Unlike other wrestling games that struggle to find a storyline or to immerse you in the action, this one is all set in that regard because the storylines were used 10-25 years ago and show they stand the test of time in terms of immersion because everyone remembers where they were when Hogan body slammed Andre at Wrestlemania III, when Bret Hart won back the WWE Championship against Yokozuna at Wrestlemania X, or when Stone Cold stunned the Rock twice at Wrestlemania XV. And if you forgot (shame on you!), there is a short 2-3 minute montage highlighting the development of the rivalry between the opponents before each match which can be reviewed anytime you like in the movie gallery. The opportunity to play through “Relive” mode for these great matches is one of the key selling points of the game and if you are a fan of wrestling then you don’t need much more than that.

But wait! There’s more! Along with the “Relive” mode for all those great matches, there are also “Rewrite”, “Redefine”, and “Legend Killer” modes. “Rewrite” mode has you take on the role of the loser of some of the greatest matches in Wrestlemania history and has you complete objectives to “rewrite” history like Junkyard Dog vs. Greg “The Hammer” Valentine in Wrestlemania I for the Intercontinental Championship.

“Redefine” mode adds new stipulations to classic matches from Wrestlemania lore like turning the Undertaker vs. King Kong Bundy in Wrestlemania XI into a No Disqualification Match or Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka vs. Rick “Ravishing” Rude at Wrestlemania VI into a Steel Cage Match. It’s a great way for the game to introduce different match dynamics, from climbing ladders and steel cages to throwing your opponent around the arena for some hardcore action, without forcing you to sit through a tedious tutorial; or reading what should be an instruction booklet, but what looks more like an instruction novel.

Then there is the “Legend Killer” mode, which has you use the expansive “Create a Wrestler” feature and put your fictional wrestler up to the test as he takes on a random stable of legends in 10-man gauntlet matches. If you win all the 10-man gauntlet matches, you can also test your mettle by taking on the ultimate gauntlet match, a 38-man gauntlet comprised of the entire roster of Legends of Wrestlemania.

There were only a couple of things I found this game lacking. Some really great legends were excluded and the fact that there are no special unlockable wrestlers also takes away from the time you can spend playing the game. No “Macho Man” Randy Savage, “Mankind” Mick Foley, or George “The Animal” Steele is a real disappointment.

There were also no female wrestlers in the game. Being a geek who watches wrestling, one of the major drawing factors is the divas in the WWE (sex, violence, and humor sells what can I say?). I understand that there weren’t as many lady wrestlers as there were guys 25 years ago, it’s just the way the business was, but a handful in their primes might’ve been a nice touch.

Another problem was that the A.I. is beyond simple. I would run through gauntlet matches with nary a punch being landed on me. Only a handful of the objective based “rewrite” matches gave me any difficulty and even then it only took the second or third try before victory was again within my grasp.

Aside from a lackluster A.I. and dearth of wrestler choices, this game delivers everywhere else. Gameplay was as solid as it can be for a wrestling game, with only a minimum of physics problems and glitches (wrestlers falling through one another when missing a clothesline, for example). The attack/counter system is easy to pick up and the new “chain” attack system for certain grapples is a true test of reflexes where you have to punch in button combos to execute moves or counters. When playing in the standard-equipped multiplayer mode, this is a great safety mechanism to prevent relentless friends or online opponents from bashing you into submission.

Graphics were solid for a wrestling game and the audio was as good as could be, with “Good Ol’ J.R.” and Jerry “the King” Lawler doing ringside commentary, and with original entrance themes as the soundtrack for the game. Authentic entrances are always nice to see and having ones like the movable mini-ring to escort the wrestlers through the crowd at Wrestlemania III with accurate character graphics introducing each wrestler was a great touch and shows the meticulous detail that went into this game to make it feel like you were watching the moments live all over again.

Another nice detail is that wrestlers who traditionally had managers, also have them in the game and they make certain matches even more difficult. It isn’t easy trying to avoid Mr. Fuji’s white powder AND wrestle Yokozuna; or how about Bobby “the Brain” Heenan jumping onto the ring apron, when you wrestle Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, distracting you just enough for Valentine to apply the Figure-Four Leg Lock. Jimmy Hart isn’t a picnic when you wrestle Honky Tonk Man either and Paul Bearer wielding that damn golden urn is especially a nuisance when wrestling the Undertaker.

This game delivers for the most part on every front you would want from a game highlighting the greatest matches in wrestling history. The few minor complaints aside, if you are a fan of wrestling or are just getting into it and need a history lesson, then this is a must-have game.

Ratings are based on a system of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest.

Graphics: 7.5: This has the standard graphics for a wrestling game on this generation of consoles. The only real unique effect is that when you make someone bleed, the blood will usually stain the mat like in real life, which has been a complaint for years. Still though, audience members look only good in the distance, for when you get close shots of them in an entrance or a match that ends up around different parts of the arena, they look like polygon zombies. That’ll shock you back to reality.

Audio: 8.5: All the original entrance themes for the wrestling roster serve as the soundtrack (I forgot how much I loved “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes’ theme). Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler is a great touch as the legendary ringside commentators for the WWE, but their limited phrase track begins to get tiresome quickly and is a major factor for me taking points away.

Plot/Plot Development: 5.0: There isn’t an original plot to the game, but that is also part of the appeal. If you picked this game up, it is because you most likely remember the storylines and matches when they happened live and you want to be a part of those historic moments. Still, the plots and development were great on weekly TV 20+ years ago, a 2-3 minute montage fills in the necessary gaps, but doesn’t give all the details you would want as a wrestling fan, and for that the score has to suffer.

Gameplay: 8.0: A sub-par A.I. takes key points away from the greatness of the game. The physics system has a couple of glitches, but that is to be expected with most wrestling games considering the complexity of many maneuvers and this game is fairly smooth compared with those that have come before.

Replay Value: 6.5: After beating all the gauntlets and individual matches and their variations, this game doesn’t have a real lasting appeal. It has a standard multiplayer mode with online capabilities that you can get in any wrestling game. It barely gets a passing score.

Overall (not an average): 7.5:
This is a game devoted to the hardcore wrestling fan and that is all. It does not pull any punches by trying to deviate towards any other audience and it is that single-minded focus that makes it so great and yet so flawed. Only the lack of a broad appeal takes it down a notch. The bottom line is: If you’re a wrestling fan, this is a must have.

Legends of Wrestlemania is out now for the PS3 and XBOX360.

-Ray Carsillo