6 Weirdest Gaming News Stories of 2016

Weirdest Gaming News Stories

2016 was an… Interesting year, to say the least.  Both inside the gaming industry and out, one unthinkable news story after another kept breaking.  Naturally, we’ll just stick to gaming here and take this time to look back on some of the most surreal news stories that came out in the last twelve months.  Granted, there are some major events that didn’t make this list, such as the CS:GO Lotto scandal and the controversial release of No Man’s Sky.  While those are undoubtedly important events, they aren’t exactly strange in the same way as these other tales.  That being said, these are the…

Weirdest gaming News Stories of 2016

Street Fighter V Gets Flava Flav DLC

Street Fighter V did not go over well.  Desperate to get on the stage for EVO 2016, the game was shoved out the door way too early with way too little content.  I know the lack of an arcade mode gets brought up a lot, but that’s because an arcade mode is the single most basic form of single player a fighting game can have.  If Capcom couldn’t even muster up the bare basics, that should terrify you.  Hell, we’re still waiting on it to this day.

Something the game has gotten: Costumes inspired by former Public Enemy hype-man Flava Flav.  Believe it or not, this is a picture of Ryu and Chun Li.  Drink it in.  These were released as a part of a sponsorship deal with Red Bull and my brain still hasn’t fully processed the fact that they exist.  Aside from the outfits looking hilariously out-of-character for both fighters… Really?  Flava Flav?  Tekken Tag Tournament 2 was able to get Snoop Dogg for their surreal rapper cross-promotion.  You couldn’t get someone with some relevancy post 2007?

An Anime Fan on Prom Night

Mighty No. 9 hurts my soul on every level.  I’ve been a Mega Man fan since childhood and seeing the Kickstarter for Mighty No. 9 seemed like a dream come true at the time.  Then, mid-2015 rolled around and things got very depressing very quickly.  The point where I knew things had gone off the rails was when Keiji Inafune announced not one, but two new Kickstarters for Mighty No. 9 spinoffs.  Now, let me just say that the Mega Man Legends games are two of my personal favorite video games of all time and my heart shattered when the long-awaited third entry was killed off just before it hit the finish line.  When a Kickstarter for a spiritual successor was announced, I should have been all over it.  Instead, I never put a dime towards it because I just couldn’t trust Red Ash without knowing how Mighty No. 9 turned out first.

Looks like I made the right move, because calling the new blue bomber a disappointment is an understatement.  The visuals were bad, the voice-acting was bad, the attempts at reinventing the Mega Man formula were bad, and the PC version launched with a memory-leak that caused the game to lag the longer you played it until your computer eventually crashed.  The cherry on the sundae of misery was a trailer that seemed specifically designed to mock its supporters.  Now I’m actually excited to see what happens to Mega Man next.  As bad as he’s had it in the last few years, it can’t get much worse than the not-so-Mighty No. 9.

 

Konami Vs Kojima Aftermath

The fallout between gaming auteur Hideo Kojima and his publisher Konami was perhaps the defining story of the gaming industry in 2015 and the aftermath of them parting ways still made for some of the biggest headlines of 2016.  Kojima announced the first game his new studio will be developing, Death Stranding, and has so far released two teaser trailers for it.  Both trailers were Salvador Dali-levels of crazy and apparently weren’t supposed to represent the actual games.

Meanwhile, Kojima’s former taskmaster proved to have a hard time letting things go by announcing Metal Gear Survive, a game based heavily on Metal Gear Solid V‘s engine and is an open-world zombie survival game, the single most diluted genre in the industry today.  With the year ending with gambling being legalized in Japan and Konami’s Japanese stocks being amongst the best in the industry, it looks like the company will survive without Kojima, but it’s doubtful that they’ll thrive.

Greenlight Goes Mad

Steam’s Greenlight program officially reached critical mass in 2016.  What started as a gateway for small developers to get their passion-projects into the public eye didn’t take long to be exploited by amateurs.  Last year seemed to have an unofficial contest to create the absolute worst Greenlight entry possible.

For example, there was Hyrule: Total War, a mod of Medieval II: Total War based on The Legend of Zelda series that was submitted without the approval of the people who made Total War, Legend of Zelda, or even the mod itself.  I’m kind of cheating by including this as this issue dates back to 2015, but UnitZ, a Unity asset pack designed to be a starter kit for developing zombie survival games, has been submitted to Greenlight at least 9 different times by 9 different “developers” who have made little to no changes to the original asset pack.  World of Warcraft was submitted to Greenlight by someone completely unassociated with Blizzard.  A clip of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver was submitted to Greenlight.  No, seriously, someone tried to market a clip of a late-night talkshow as a video game.

The only barrier to entry for Greenlight is a $100 fee and Valve just trusts their user-base to police the service for them.  Fortunately, much of the community has been fairly eagle-eyed and most of these attempts were shut down, but there are still plenty of cracks to slip through.  The floodgates have been opened wide enough that 40% of all games on Steam were released last year.

Everything About Pokemon Go

Oh, Pokemon Go, you could have easily filled a top 20 list of weirdness all on your own, couldn’t you?  Just the game itself was enough of a bizarre phenomenon, drawing millions of otherwise secluded people to wander the wilderness on the hunt for imaginary monsters.  That alone sounds like Nostradamus predicting the end of days and it only got weirder from there.  People found dead bodies while playing the game, thugs used the game to bait people into muggings, people abandoned their cars en masse to catch a Vaporeon, et cetera.

The folks making the game had their own share of bedlam, as well.  A big part of that was that the game didn’t have a dedicated community manager when it launched.  When major problems like the three-step glitch happened, there was nothing but radio silence in response.  As a result, the surprise hit of the year also saw a massive drop-off in players.  I doubt Nintendo was too torn up about it, though, considering they only signed on for a microscopic cut of the profits of one of the most anticipated titles of last year.  Everything that Pokemon Go touches becomes wailing insanity one way or another.  Are we sure that Niantic isn’t secretly some eldritch incantation?

Digital Homicide Sues Everyone

Digital Homicide will probably go down in history as the single worst video game developer to have ever existed.  If anyone is actually able to top them, I will partly be impressed, but mostly terrified.  Digital Homicide first garnered infamy as a shovelware developer for Steam.  Now, shovelware has been around since the Atari 2600 and Steam in particular gets A LOT of it these days, so that’s not such a big deal on its own.  What makes Digital Homicide special is that they were outright psychotic about it.

It all started when Youtuber James Stanton, better known as Jim Sterling, uploaded a first impressions video of one of DH’s earliest games, The Slaughtering Grounds, back in 2014.  The developers than released their own video titled Review the Reviewer that openly mocked Stanton for his criticism.  Animosity between the two parties continued to grow until it all came to a head in 2016 and Digital Homicide filed a lawsuit against Stanton claiming that his videos were damaging their business.  Then it got even crazier and Digital Homicide decided that they would just sue everyone.  I think they even tried to sue me around this time and that is not even a joke.  My name could very well have been on their litigious hit-list.  I honestly don’t know.

What we do know is that a lawsuit was filed against 100 Steam users for the crime of speaking ill of Digital Homicide’s precious garbage heap.  We’ll probably never know the full list of names that DH tried to take to court, but it did include such stellar monikers as Demonsword, Toon Vlux, and JDude330#HaeisBACK.  That case was ultimately dismissed after Valve pulled DH’s entire catalog from their service and left them without a source of income to fund their court case.  At the time of writing, the case against Stanton is still ongoing, but seems to be on the verge of being thrown out as well.

Those were the weirdest gaming news stories of 2016. Got any other bizarre news stories from 2016 that we missed?  Can 2017 end up topping last year in terms of insanity?  Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.

 

Konami Prevents YouTuber from Asking about Kojima, Microtransactions

Things just keep getting worse for Konami. After they pissed off the entire gaming industry by canceling Silent Hills, removing P.T. from the Playstation Store, and attempting to remove creator Hideo Kojima’s name from promotional materials for the upcoming MGSV: The Phantom Pain, they also got into hot water for trying to stifle youtube channel Super Bunnyhop’s insider reporting on the state of the company. Now, Konami is yet again attracting negative press for its attempts to prevent prominent youtuber AngryJoe from even saying Kojima’s name in an interview.

In a follow-up Vlog regarding the interview, AngryJoe reveals that he was taken aside by Konami officials prior to recording and instructed in exactly what could and could not be said. Most prominently, AngryJoe was forbidden from mentioning Kojima at all – and when AngryJoe alludes to the “heartbreak” that Konami fans have been enduring as of late, the PR man for Konami tries half heartedly to shrug it off/ignore it.

(Here’s the actual interview. The awkward ‘heartache’ question begins at 7:00)

(Here’s the Vlog where AngryJoe explains the process of being censored by Konami)

What could have possibly happened at Konami to warrant such enmity against Hideo Kojima? According to Super Bunnyhop’s inside source (see the link in the first paragraph above), it has everything to do with a personal vendetta between Konami’s CEO and its most influential creator.

The questions on every Metal Gear fan’s mind are these: what will Kojima do once MGS5 is released? What will happen of the Metal Gear franchise once Kojima is gone? Is Konami effectively pulling out of video games? It’s a shame that AngryJoe was forbidden from even broaching these topics, as this was the first time in a long while Konami was open to having one of it’s reps be interviewed on camera. MGS5 is sure to be a huge hit – but for Metal Gear fans everywhere, it will be a bittersweet ending to one of the most iconic video game series of all time.

 

6 Things I Don’t Want to See at E3 2015

E3 2015

This year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo is only a week away and there is plenty of excitement surrounding what new games and hardware we might see unveiled.  I won’t deny that I have my own share of excitement for the festivities, but a part of me can’t help but feel cynical at this time of year. As such, let’s go over some of the possibilities that I’m most dreading for this year’s E3.

6. Another Assassin’s Creed Game

AssassinsCreedSyndicateGroup

“Oh, you mean you don’t want Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate to be at E3?”  No, that’s obviously going to be there and it certainly has every right to be.  What I don’t want is for Ubisoft to announce another new Assassin’s Creed game this soon after the announcement of Syndicate.  Before you call that absurd, I’d just like to mention that two Assassin’s Creed games have already been released between the launch of Assassin’s Creed: Unity and now.  Assassin’s Creed: Rouge launched on consoles right alongside Unity and Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China released in late April.  Also, this is probably a wasted wish as the already announced Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India will probably be showing up anyway and may even bring Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: Russia along with it just to spite me.

Now, the number of releases on its own wouldn’t be that big of a deal.  If I was that bothered by oversaturation, I wouldn’t be a Mario fan.  The problem is that the Assassin’s Creed games have been pretty spotty recently and many have been turned off from the series as a result.  I do think that there is still time to turn the series around, but the worst thing that Ubisoft can do right now is machine-gun titles back-to-back to further exhaust their consumers.  If they just focus on making Syndicate into something great, it may be enough to turn the reputation of the series around.  Right now, the failures will speak louder than the successes and the best way to avoid that is to stop churning out buggy, unfinished products and consolidate the series.

ArkhamKnightRedHood

5. More DLC for Batman: Arkham Knight

How sad is it that I’m already tired of a game that hasn’t released yet, I have every reason to be excited for, and have actively been avoiding media coverage of to prevent spoilers?  Warner Bros. Interactive is one of the most frustrating companies in the current industry.  With excellent studios like Netherrealm, Monolith, and Rocksteady working for them, Warner Bros. could easily be on par with the biggest companies in the industry today.  They could stand to hold their own personal E3 conference with all of the prestigious developers they have at their side.  T

he only thing holding Warner Bros. back right now is, well, Warner Bros.  They have been pulling all manner of shady practices recently and they’ve been continuously getting worse with every title.  They nearly sabotaged the release of Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor by placing an unnecessary review embargo on it, which is publicly seen as a game being overhyped trash ever since Aliens: Colonial Marines, despite Shadow of Mordor actually being a landmark title that earned universal praise.  It was actually up to reviewers to save the title from its own publishers, and I’m not sure how you can even reach that level of incompetence on purpose.  Mortal Kombat X has taken some black marks against it for a rocky launch and greedy practices like microtransactions for easy fatalities.  I know Netherrealm is better than this, as displayed with their continued dedication to include a free costume to all customers with every DLC patch, but they’re stuck working for the kind of people that would dodge gold for pennies.

Batman: Arkham Knight is the latest example of Warner Bros. testing the limits of their customers.  Right in the game’s reveal trailer, they announce that a playable Harley Quinn is restricted to preorders.  Later, they announce that you better preorder through Gamestop specifically because that’s the only way you’ll get to play as Red Hood.  I generally don’t preorder games and no amount of incentives is going to sway me on that.  There’s no telling when a promising title is going to fall flat as companies are becoming harder to trust.  I still have faith that Arkham Knight will be fantastic given Rocksteady’s history, but I’m still going to wait to pick it up simply as a matter of wise spending.  Sell us on the actual game itself before trying to push even more it onto us.

GodOfWar

4. More “HD” Remakes of Games that Are Only a Few Years Old

With any new console, quality releases are always going to take some time to build up.  Still, the amount of reliance that has been placed on rereleasing games that the Playstation 4 and Xbox One could already play if they had just made their systems backwards compatible is getting out of hand.  I can understand rereleasing the Halo series as it dates back to the original Xbox and it could use a fresh take, and the Grim Fandango remake was direly needed because the game was impossible to legally get otherwise.  Rereleasing God of War III for the Playstation 4 with no real selling point outside of “It’s on the Playstation 4” is not even worth acknowledging.  Words can scarcely convey just how depressed and enraged I was when one of the most applauded announcements at Sony’s conference last year was that your $400 purchase now made you eligible to buy Grand Theft Auto V a second time.  The game’s most worth remaking are the ones that have either lost some of their luster with age or have become hard to find.  If a remake for Deus Ex, Mother 3, or Battletoads was revealed, it would certainly be cause for celebration.  What we don’t need are remakes of Gears of War, Super Mario Galaxy, or Unchar…  Wait, what’s that?  Uncharted: The Nathan Drake  Collection was just announced?  And it won’t even included any of the multiplayer features from the original games?

$#&*%#@*-$!* WITH A &$#Ω€`#>(%^_¡@`!&@?; AND RUE THE DAY YOU %$#)∑<&*ñ##¶@>Ω<+ THE SIZE OF A GIRAFFE’S [email protected]&^Ü¢?Ø#*%€Ñ<)_¶™$#!+=ü(:¡\Θ^} AND HAVE YOURSELF A NICE DAY!

amiibos

3. Limited Edition Amiibos

While I like the concept of amiibo, the amount of hurdles that people have to go through over them is quickly burning me out on them.  These figures have quickly devolved from cool collectibles with the bonus of interacting with video games into DLC with arbitrary scarcity.  Hopefully, things will even out once Nintendo increases the supply and the scalpers move on to reselling Lego Dimensions figures (you know it’s going to happen), but the last thing I want to hear about right now is limited edition amiibo specifically designed to be rare.  The gold and silver versions of Mario were infuriating enough to see and I don’t want to see the same treatment given to any other figures.  The quantity of normal amiibo is bad enough that it’s impossible to even tell the difference between the standard and special editions of them.

KonamiSlotMachines

2. Konami C-Games

I’ve made it abundantly clear that I don’t have much confidence for Konami after Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain releases.  I fully expect them to start exploiting all of their franchises for cash-grabs in the mobile and gambling markets, but I don’t want them to prove me right and especially not this quickly.  The state of Nevada recently passed a bill for that made Konami ecstatic to hear it.  It’s only a matter of time before Konami starts to go for a gamble – literally – but making it at E3 is going to cost them whatever remains of their dignity in the gaming industry.  I can’t think of anything that could be announced at E3 this year more heartbreaking than to learn that Silent Hills was cancelled in favor of a survival-horror slot machine.

Quantum-Break

1. Trailers that Say Nothing About the Actual Game

I know I’m really asking for the moon with this one, but I would really love it if every new game announced at E3 this year included an actual explanation of what the game is.  The only thing that I hate to see at E3 more than completely unnecessary musical acts meant to fill time (a trend that, thankfully, seems to have died) is reveal trailers that just play a short CGI cinematic with little to no inclination on how the games they’re trying to depict are actually played.  Sequels and spiritual successors have some lenience with this as we have previous games to draw answers from, but this is the worst way to push an entirely new IP.  Last year had plenty of examples of this like Scalebound and Mad Max just showing brief trailers that couldn’t even depict just the general genres that those games would fall under.  The only reason I know that Phantom Dust involves deck-building elements is because I looked up the original myself after seeing the horrendously vague reveal of the Xbox One reboot.  Quantum Break was a personal thorn in my side for two years straight with nothing but wild guesses as to what it even was.  Fortunately, they finally revealed some actual gameplay at Gamescom late last year, so they can’t pull that stunt a third time.  Still, there is bound to be some new title revealed, and we’ll all be stuck waiting another year or two before being given the slightest reason to care about it.

So, that’s my personal rundown of the worst case scenario for E3 2015.  What are your most dreaded possibilities at this year’s showcase?  How much do I need to shut up for not mindlessly obeying the hype machine and being concerned over what might go wrong?  Leave a comment below and let me know what you think.

Why We’ll All Survive Without Silent Hills (Except for Konami)

Silent Hills

On April 1st, I wrote a fake interview regarding Hideo Kojima and Konami.  I stated that The Phantom Pain was the last title Kojima would develop with Konami, that he, Guillermo del Toro, and Norman Reedus had all been dropped from working on Silent Hills, and that Konami would be drastically down-sizing in the future to focus more on using their properties for developing mobile games and pachinko machines.  The article was one half practical joke and one half honest prediction for the future of this once legendary game company.  Sadly, my little prank is becoming more fact than fiction by the day.

Not only have Kojima, del Toro, and Reedus all been dropped from Silent Hills, Silent Hills itself has been dropped altogether with Konami officially confirming that the game has been cancelled.  On top of that, Konami has delisted itself from the New York Stock Exchange, suggesting a downsizing of the company.  Where Konami has been placing its interest is the possibility of gambling being legalized in Japan and hoping to partner with new casino resorts.  All signs point to The Phantom Pain being the last major game that Konami develops and that its iconic franchises will be relegated to promoting mobile apps and gambling devices.  Before you call that a ridiculous idea, I should point out that Konami has already announced a Neo Contra slot machine.  One anonymous source claims that much of the drama surrounding The Phantom Pain and Silent Hills has been the result of a feud between Kojima and Konami founder Kagemasa Kozuki and that many of the development teams have been facing mergers or have are being forced out through unethical means.  It seems that the Konami that we’ve known for the last thirty years is dying and series like Metal Gear, Silent Hill, and Castlevania will never be the same.  However, that doesn’t mean that their legacies can’t live on.

The name Konami isn’t what brought us countless classic games; it’s the people who have worked under that name.  Kojima may never work on another game titled Metal Gear, but he doesn’t need that title and cast of characters to craft intriguing games.  Intellectual properties are merely a canvas for developers to apply their craft upon.  Silent Hills may never be, but what’s to stop Kojima and del Toro from starting over from scratch and creating an original horror game?  Admittedly, it wouldn’t be nearly as easy as I’m making it out to be, but it’s far from impossible.  Even if Konami leaves its IPs to rot, there’s always room for spiritual successors to carry the torch.  We’ve already seen games like Mighty No. 9 and War for the Overworld step up on behalf of the neglected Mega Man and Dungeon Keeper franchises.  While the direction Konami appears to be taking is certainly a set-back for gamers everywhere, it’s not going to stop good games from ultimately being made.

Even if gambling isn’t legalized in Japan and Konami’s expected shift doesn’t work out, I don’t expect Konami to go under anytime soon.  Their development of slot machines for international markets has been making them a steady profit while their game sales have been steadily declining over the last few years.  Just look at this official financial report of theirs where, for the record, video games are listed under digital entertainment and slot machines are listed under gaming and systems and tell me you don’t see a trend.  To a degree, I can actually understand the transition they’re trying to make.  The main takeaway is that the possible end of Konami as a game developer does not necessarily mean the end of your favorite games.  Kojima is an industry legend and it won’t take him long to settle into a new, hopefully more comfortable situation.  Any franchises that end up woefully abandoned will see a revival in one way or another.  It’s a shame that Silent Hills had to be lost as a result of the internal strife, but it is far from being the end of great survival horror games.

Retro Corner: Metal Gear Solid

Solid

We’re stretching the definition of ‘retro’ a little with this one, but nuts to that. Who’s counting? This is a bona fide classic, right here, and that’s good enough for me.

Metal Gear Solid
hit the PlayStation in 1998, the first 3D installment in the stealthtacular Metal Gear franchise. It continues the story of our studly hero Solid Snake, once again sent into hostile territory alone in that skin-tight sneaking suit of his. Avert your eyes, and let’s reminisce.

The game is set six years after the events of Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake. It’s a similar mission for the anti-hero, a story of ventilation shafts, hiding in cardboard boxes like a big girl and lots of grey and brown army bases.

This time around, a terrorist group dubbed FOXHOUND (renegade special forces types) has commandeered a small Alaskan island. Shadow Moses is the site of a nuclear weapons disposal facility, which is just the kind of place you don’t want a angry band of crazies waving their guns and threats around.

Metal Gear Solid 2

The island is home to the nuke-armed mech Metal Gear Rex, whose destruction-tacular capabilities will be unleashed on the world if the group’s demands aren’t met. In short, the U.S government is up to its nose in the brown stuff, and a stealthy one-dude operation is in order.

In keeping with Metal Gear tradition, the story is utterly nutty. There are cliffhangers and bizarre events out the wazzoo right here. Traitors are actually triple agents, nobody’s who you think they are and everyone’s lying to everyone else. But don’t worry, you’ll have half-hour codec conversations about nothing at all to clue you in on all this useless stuff you don’t care about.

There’s little to say that you don’t already know about Metal Gear Solid. It’s perhaps the most ambitious game the console every saw, and years ahead of its time in a world of Crash Bandicoots and Spyro the Dragons. A truly cinematic experience, and a game replete with memorable moments.

Floating physics in gas masks, cyborg ninjas, big ol’ dudes brandishing helicopter gatling guns… this one has it all. As a child, I found the gameplay revolutionary; discouraging the usual mindless trigger happy antics for more methodical play I’d never seen before. Almost two decades later, it remains one of my favourite games of all time.