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Tycho / on Fri, Dec 24 2004 at 4:30 am

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The Last Christmas, Page Four

This season’s presentation of The Last Christmas is nearing it’s completion with this, the

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penultimate entry.

On our drive over to “The Can,” the brakes went out while we were going through the mountains, which transformed the rest of the trip into a demonic roller-coaster.  As I supped on true fear, it occurred to me that you would probably find this ordeal entertaining.  Do you see?  Even at death’s door, your amusement is paramount.

It was difficult, and there were compromises, but these are the most important games that hit this year.

10.  City of Heroes

I have a feeling that this situation wasn’t unique to my own experience.  Absolutely every person I knew, even tangentially, was playing the game - creating a vortex which drew me in to a retail purchase practically against my will.  I had imagined that City of Heroes constituted a sort of seedy roadhouse en route to the year’s other top-shelf MMOs, but the actuality was something quite different:  they had boiled the genre’s conventions down to the bones, made unbelievably rich character creation the focus, and sped the pace of the game to an unprecedented degree.  It’s a different kind of “massively multiplayer” experience, based as it is largely on instances where your group is the focus.  Cryptic’s very real commitment to new content - which arrives in the form of story-rich “chapters,” with custom adventure for different levels - is just another way that they’ve done it right, virtually out of the gate.  I like to believe that their ability to buck the assumptions of that “market” means that even greater diversity in multi-user environments is not only possible, but sustainable. 

9.  Myst IV: Revelation

When I think back over the things we accomplished in this game, it’s hard to imagine what thought processes led to those solutions.  That’s the reason I keep coming back to this series:  transplanted to these unheard of realms, the mind is stretched by each elaborate knob that is presented.  One begins to make assumptions based on the properties unique to each world, those assumptions become a foundation, more elaborate projections are made, these are proven true or false, and before you know it you have a reasonable grasp of a truly alien physics and cosmology.  I enjoy the sensation.  Getting stuck saps your will.  You can spend a lot of time suffering as you dismantle firmly held preconceptions.  And when you succeed, oh, when you succeed, it is like leaping from a shard of raw diamond into a pool of liquid light.   

8.  Phantom Brave

Nippon Ichi makes a type of tactical puzzle game that you can play as long as you want to.  Disgaea and La Pucelle introduced us to their unique approach, which bears many similarities from game to game.  We playes Phantom Brave so much that it’s difficult to think of it without warm affection.  The ownership one takes in their games, which emphasize and encourage this to a marvelous degree, is cemented with each new custom class you create, each new weapon and item you advance, each random dungeon you craft, and each new class you earn.  It’s simply very satisfying to play, and when one saves they feel they have accomplished something enduring.  When most of one’s life accomplishments are ethereal, that’s a nice touch.   

I submit that holiday punch that has been spiked be referred to as Holiday Punch +1.  That is all.

(CW)TB out.

moor and mountain


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