legend of zelda

2010 Game of the Year Awards *updated*

Game of the Year Awards

Game of the YearAnnouncing the 2010 Game of the Year Awards from the First Hour! We published over 60 full reviews this year, tripling our output from last year. Of course, our writing staff has grown quite a bit also. I personally beat 30 games, undoubtedly making 2010 my most productive video gaming year ever. We also played over 55 first hours, keeping up a steady pace of one a week. We have not been lacking for great games or content this year.

This isn't your normal Game of the Year awards, we cover everything from older game of the year to worst first hour, so keep scrolling all the way to the bottom! If anything, our game of the year picks are the least interesting decisions. The writers here also don't vote on the categories, instead, everyone is welcome to submit their picks as their own definitive decision.

The Gaming Generation

Blog Post

Mushroom i Dont Want to Grow upVideo games came into homes more or less in the mid 1980's. Sure there were games before then, before the crash, but I'm considering the NES as the start of what we now know (and love) as gaming.  Because of this, my generation is the first that have grown up entirely within the era of videogames.  This holds a lot of implications, and I'd like to look at a few of them over time.

I was born shortly after the NES debuted.  Even though I wasn't an avid gamer until I was a teenager, I do remember video games always having a presence in my life.  When I was about 5 years old, we lived in an apartment complex that had a janitor named Mario.  Even though my family didn't own any video game systems at the time, I remember thinking it was funny that his name was the same as the guy from that one game.  One issue this brings up is this: what becomes of gamers when they "grow up?"

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

First Hour Review

Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess CoverIt's hard for me to go an entire year without playing some Legend of Zelda game, heck, just the first half of this year included Spirit Tracks and The Minish Cap, so why not feature the first hour of another? The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess was released in 2006 on the Nintendo Wii and GameCube. It was originally going to be for just the GameCube, but Nintendo thought it would make for a great launch title on the Wii (which it did, got me to buy the system), so then the GameCube release was delayed a month to let sales of the Wii version have free reign.

Twilight Princess went on to win game of the year awards and was generally praised around the industry for its gameplay and presentation. For the sake of full disclosure, I beat Twilight Princess within a few weeks of its release on the Wii and have mixed feelings about the game. It's been almost four years though since I've played it so here is its second chance with me in the form of the first hour review of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess for the Wii.

The Warning Signs of Bootleg Games

Blog Post

Legend of Zelda Minish cap Link Ezio Gust jar BootyliciousI buy a lot of my games used, most of them, in fact.  I can't even remember the last game before Mass Effect 2 that I purchased brand new in a box, it's just something I've decided is both out of my budget and totally unnecessary.  I've already beaten 13 games this year and have enjoyed most of them, and through a combination of buying used on Amazon, borrowing from friends, presents, spending money on deals for digital games, and a few lucky review copies from publishers, I calculated I've spent less that $100 on games this year, and that was with the $70 Mass Effect 2 Collector's Edition!

So when confronted with the idea of spending $60 on a new game that will be available for $40 in three weeks, $25 in three months, or $10 in three years, I generally think twice.  The used game market is my friend, and I play both sides of it.  However, sometimes an older game suddenly strikes my attention and I'm quickly making what seems like a steal of a deal, only to be burned later when I find out the game I received is actually a fake, a bootleg, a counterfeit cartridge or disc.

I've determined over the years that there are warning signs for bootleg games, so I'd like to share them with you.  These are just general warnings, and even if you follow all of them you might receive something fake.  I'm also not discouraging anyone from buying used games online, as I think they're extremely valuable resources that save gamers tons of money.

This was originally going to be part of my Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap review from yesterday, but I decided to break it into its own post as I believe the information stands on its own.

The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap

Full Review

Legend of Zelda Minish cap CoverOver the course of The Legend of Zelda series, I haven't missed a lot of games.  I've played everything from Zelda II to Majora's Mask to Oracle of Ages, but there was one that I had skipped: The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap.  Why that one? How could I have missed it?  I can only determine that my interest was low due to it being developed outside Nintendo again (Minish Cap, the two Oracle games, and Four Swords were created by Flagship, a former Capcom studio) and that it missed the 2004 holiday window by a few weeks.  Plus, for whatever reason it seemed like a kids game.  I always saw the feature of Link turning into a pixie as... lame.

How wrong I was.

Five years later and I finally determine that it's high time to play The Minish Cap, so I add it to my Amazon wishlist and receive it for my birthday in May.  I plowed through this game like my family's lives depended on it (meaning I ignored them in the process, whoops, won't happen again), but wanted to let the game sink in for a while before I organized all my thoughts and finished the review.

It's probably worth comparing my review of this game to the two previous portable Zeldas: Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks.  I always felt like those games were missing something, but I couldn't lay my finger on it until I played The Minish Cap.  Here's my full review of the one I almost let get away: The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap. 

E3 2010 Predictions Results

Editorial

e3 LogoLike scampering down the stairs on Christmas morning, the excited search for a steady video feed before E3 conferences is filled with anticipation. The annual summer happening is one of the few times on the gaming industry's calendar when we can look forward to some surprise delights from the many publishers playing the role of Santa Claus in business suits. Simply put, it's the industry's biggest event in the year.

As such, the editors of The First Hour tried to guess what unexpected pleasures would manifest at the event. Some were sure bets, like Microsoft showing off Halo: Reach. Others were more risky, like F-Zero hitting the 3DS at launch. And some were planted firmly outside the realm of possibility, with Shenmue 3 topping that list as always.

When all was said and done, The First Hour hit a few out of the park...but mostly struck out.

The Intriguing Games of E3 2010

Editorial

e3 LogoAfter Nate’s excellent and complete wrap-up of the five big conferences, I’m going to cover some of the games that caught my attention over the last few days.  While we knew the existence of some of these games before this week, our knowledge of them was pretty thin.  Hopefully you’ll be seeing these games on the First Hour in the coming year (and hopefully we’ll recommend you keep playing them!).

This list is nowhere near complete, neither as a list of great E3 2010 games or even with games I was impressed with.  Hope you enjoyed the show, I sure did.

A Tale of Two Days - E3 2010 Press Conference Recap

Editorial

e3 LogoThe question at the beginning of E3 always seems to be, "Who's going to win this year?" The gaming community eagerly watches the big press conferences for showstopping announcements and game demonstrations, looking to see which company will have the edge for the next twelve months. E3 2010 featured five big press conferences in its first two days: Microsoft, EA, and Ubisoft on Monday, and Nintendo and Sony on Tuesday. So much has happened in the past 48 hours that I think it's important to take a moment and recap each company's showing. I've definitely missed a few announcements and details in this quick-and-dirty summary, but I think I hit all the major points.

Nintendo Power #37 - My First Video Game Magazine

Magazine Nostalgia

Nintendo Power 37 CoverWay back in May of 1992 for my eighth birthday, my cousins presented me with a subscription Nintendo Power.  I had never received anything as cool as my own magazine in the mail before, so when the June '92 issue arrived a few days later I was in heaven.  It would be another two years until I bought my own Super Nintendo, but my NES and new Nintendo Power subscription were enough for me.

I kicked off my new Magazine Nostalgia section a few weeks back with my own appearance in Nintendo Power #85, but I have a ton more to discuss.  I recently semi-organized all my video game magazines of which I have hundreds, spanning from Nintendo Power, EGM, Game Players, and more.  I know I won't ever be able to discuss them all, but I'd like to pretend to try, so why not cover the first one I ever owned?

Do you have any interesting magazine stories? Let us know in the comments section!

Memorable Ideas from Unforgettable Games - New Game Plus

Gaming Nostalgia

Chrono Trigger Cover SnesMy apologies to Nate in advance for totally stealing his Memorable Ideas theme and twisting it from forgettable games into something far less interesting, but I have to write about this.

New Game Plus is probably one of the coolest, most obvious, and underused features in video games today.  There is no better way to get me to immediately replay your game than to give me every single item, weapon, magic, and point of experience that I finished the game with at the start of the my next playthrough.  Yes, it makes everything Win Button easy, but it is so very satisfying returning to the boss the gave you so much trouble the first time and one-shotting him into oblivion.  New Game Plus should be a required feature of every RPG and adventure game.

For the unaware, New Game Plus means starting the game over but loading your characters from when you last beat it.  You generally retain most non-story items and weapons, and keep your existing level and stats.  It's generally a nice reward for conquering a game, but as we'll see, can also be used for a variety of reasons.

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