My Take on Spike TV’s Video Game Awards

While I don’t believe that any website, magazine, or television channel’s video game awards should be taken as gospel, I do think it is important to discuss what has become the highest profile video game award show out there. Spike’s VGA’s have almost become a mini-E3; an event where new games are announced to the gaming public. At this point, it seems like the awards play second fiddle to the game announcements, celebrity appearances, and bizarre performances. Still, Spike’s Video Game Awards is still a pretty eventful and exciting day for all gamers. Let’s discuss some of the bigger awards:

Best Xbox 360/PS3/Wii Games

Who won: Batman: Arkham Asylum (360), Uncharted 3 : Drake’s Deception (PS3), The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii)

Who should have won: Gears of War 3 (360), Uncharted 3 : Drake’s Deception (PS3), The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii)

I really don’t see any problems with the choices for each system’s best games. The only debatable one is Batman, considering the fact that it isn’t a 360 exclusive. Every nominee in the PS3 and Wii categories were console exclusives. Why wasn’t the 360 held to the same standard? I know it would have likely resulted in two relatively bad games being nominated (possibly Halo and some Kinect game), but it still should have been held to the same standard as the other systems. Gears of War 3 probably should have won the award to keep consistent with the consoles, and it was a pretty damn good game as well. It feels like this award went to Arkham Asylum simply because they felt obligated to give it a few awards since they “robbed” Mark Hamill and Tara Strong of the voice acting awards.

Best Handheld/Mobile Game:

Who won: Super Mario 3D Land

Who should have won: Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective

I know that this I am probably alone on this, but Ghost Trick is just my kind of game. Ghost Trick combines innovative gameplay with an amazing storyline to make one of my personal favorite games of 2011. While I knew it had no actual chance of winning, I am very “proud” of Spike for giving it some attention. Mario is great and all, but I feel obligated to give Ghost Trick some much deserved love.

Best Shooter:

Who won: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

Who should have won: Gears of War 3

I’m not one of those people who hates Call of Duty with all of their being, but I do believe that this particular entry in the series is quite flawed. There’s even less new content in this game than there have been in previous Call of Duty entries.  I can understand why it is so popular, but it doesn’t deserve to be called the best when it is still the same game it was four years ago. While a lot of the same could be said about Gears of War 3, it at least offers a pretty good single player campaign that people actually care about. Gears of War 3 is a fine conclusion to a good series, and should have taken home the trophy. Still, looking at these nominees makes me worry about the future of the shooter genre. Nothing really stands out as great, but it still continues to be the most popular genre. I really hope developers will be able to add some new elements to the shooter genre to make it a bit more exciting than it currently is.

Character of the Year:

Who won: The Joker

Who should have won: Ezio Auditore (not even nominated?!)

In the overall scheme of things, the Joker is clearly the better character, but I really believe that this award belongs to Ezio. Ezio has become one of my favorite characters introduced in this generation. It is hard to find compelling characters in a generation that focuses less and less on single player campaigns and character development. Over the years, we have seen Ezio grow from an irresponsible teenager into a man responsible for an entire order of assassins. Since Ubisoft did such a great job at concluding Ezio’s story in Assassin’s Creed Revelations, I believe he deserved this award. I don’t have any serious gripes against the Joker winning this award, but I think it is an absolute crime that Ezio wasn’t even nominated.

Game of the Year:

Who won: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Who should have won: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim…. Aaaand?

I’m not going to argue with the decision to give Skyrim the game of the year award. Out of all of the games released this year, it was clearly the one that stood out the most. They made the right decision here, and I couldn’t agree more that Skyrim was the best game this year. However, it wasn’t my personal favorite game that was released this year. That game will be saved for another post, but I can safely say that no one expects it, and that only a very small number of people have played it. By no means do I think this game was the best game released in 2011, but it was my personal favorite, and I NEEEEED to write about it! So, congratulations to The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim’s well deserved award!


Will Xenoblade’s Localization Backfire?

Well, it looks like all of that bitching and moaning has finally paid off. Nintendo of America has finally announced that they, along with some unlikely assistance from GameStop, will be releasing the highly demanded Xenoblade Chronicles in North America. This comes as a huge surprise for those who have been demanding the game, due to the fact that Nintendo has commented numerous times about how they have no plans on bringing the popular JRPG stateside. While this is great news for some, is it possible that this move may end up blowing up in the faces of the fans hoping for more JRPGs to make their way over to America?

It’s pretty safe to say that JRPGs have lost the hold they used to have on the console market back in the PS1 and PS2 days. This generation has shown a huge decline in the popularity of JRPGs, which has begun to force the once popular genre almost exclusively onto handheld systems. When Nintendo of America announced that they had no plans to localize Xenoblade Chronicles, the main reason that they gave was that they did not expect the game to sell well enough to warrant a release. Now that they are finally releasing the game, I am afraid that we may prove them to be right.

Most of the fans who were clamoring for Xenoblade’s release have likely already imported the European version of the game. The JRPG fanbase is one of the most loyal in all of gaming; they are usually willing to do anything to get their hands on a game that they want. That being said, there aren’t many people out there who would be willing to buy the same game twice just to prove a point. This, combined with a market where JRPGs aren’t selling well, as well as a dwindling Wii user base could possibly lead to even more restrictions on the number of JRPGs brought to the states in the future.

The good thing is that localization costs are likely to be small due to the fact that the European version of the game already had an English translation. Also, Nintendo will make some of their money off of the exclusivity deal they signed with GameStop. Xenoblade has also received critical acclaim from European and Japanese reviewers, so hopefully a few good reviews from some big gaming websites will be able to draw more people in. It is certainly possible that Xenoblade will be a huge success, but the trends over the last few years point in the other direction.

Personally, I am very excited to finally get my hands on this game. But there is a significant chance that Nintendo of America will hit us with a snarky “I told you so” when this is all said and done.  With localizations of Xenoblade Chronicles, Ni No Kuni, Tales of the Abyss 3D, and Tales of Grace f slated for next year, 2012 will be a pivotal year in determining the fate of the JRPG on home console systems.