Into every life a little rain must fall. It's a patronising cliche, usually used as half-arsed reasurrance by the kind of vacant do-gooders who think that talking in cliches is actually an acceptable thing to do. But it is true. And as good as this year has been for gaming, we have had a whole lot of rain as well. In fact at times it's felt like the mighty Zeus himself has been hosing a big drunken piss right down upon our heads, before doing a bit of sick as he shakes off and zips up.
Want a run-down of the absolute worst crap to happen in gaming this year? Well here. Here is where such a thing might begin.
Remember when Nintendo ads were amazing? If you do, the chances are that it's only barely. The happy memories have been all but beaten out of our minds by the onslaught of stale, sterile, neutrally nice Wii promos of recent years. But, like an emotionally-dead middle-aged salary man trapped in a now-loveless marriage and a dead-end middle management job with no idea of how any of it happened, if we think back hard enough we can just about remember the golden days of old.
They were like this:
Every Nintendo machine had a kickass ad campaign. But now, with its attentions wholesomely aimed very much towards profiting from the body-image anxiety of the everyday housewife, we get this:
For those of you blessedly fortunate enough to live outside of the UK, those two insipid talking drizzles were Ant and Dec, two former child stars who now make a healthy TV presenting career out of a vague, non-specific appeal that science is yet to determine the source of. Thus, Nintendo decided they were a perfect cultural fit for their Wii ads. And in a horrible way, they were.
As for more kid-ccentric campaigns, Ninty UK has now signed up Jedward, the mad-in-the-face pop-performing circus clowns famed for doing pretty well on The X-Factor last year and being certifiably mental in various public places ever since. Comedian Jack Dee once described them as 'the special needs version of each other" They’re a bit like this:
Though to be fair, while we may mock them, in a certain way their gleeful madness and three-year-old-on-mushrooms view of everything actually makes them sort of brilliant. Seriously, you should follow them on Twitter. They’re pretty incredible.
How many decent games should a single mainstream console platform expect to host over the course of a year? Dozens. That's the answer, working off the current evidence. At the time of writing, a quick scan of Metacritic’s lists of top-rated 2010 games for all formats reveals tens of first and third-party delights before you even hit the scores starting with 7.
Sorry, did I say “all formats”? I meant “every format that isn’t the PSP, because the PSP got cock-all in 2010”. A grand total of 14 games in that score bracket is what you’ll find in the case of Sony’s ailing handheld.
Above: "What is this piece of crap, anyway?"
Sorry, what’s that? You wanted games you’ve actually heard of? Oh. Oh well in that case there are about 6 then.
You’ve got your God of War, you’ve got your Metal Gear, and you’ve got your Kingdom Hearts, but after that? Persona is fantastic, but definitely ensconced within the realm of the niche. Valkyria Chronicles? Ditto. Oh, and hello BlazBlue! Hey, guess what, you’re in that category too.
And something else links those games I’ve just listed above. They’re all portable versions of games that already exist in bigger, shinier form on home consoles.
Still, the PSP hardware is still selling well enough. Just a pity they’re all being bought for hacking rather than games.
“Ho ho!”, exclaimed the PS3 fanboys. “Ho ho indeed!”
“Those silly 360 owners. Look at them with their red ring of death, ho ho! They must have bought consoles called Xboxes because they really like boxes, because that’s all they are. Boxes, ho ho! Boxes with red lights on that don’t do anything, ho ho ho ho ho ho!”
But then, on March the 1st, all over the world, PS3s started to fail. It wasn’t just a mess. It was downright eerie. PS3s of every country, all going down with exactly the same error on exactly the same day. The progressive faiure of the Xbox 360 had been bad, but this was some Romero-style shit going on right here. It was like alien sleeper agents scattered across the globe were activating to some arcane, silent signal known only to themselves and their masters. No-one felt safe.
And lo, there was a great disturbance in the gaming community, like a million PS3-owning voices had cried out in terror.
And then another one, as if a million Xbox 360-owning voices finally had a comeback to snarky forum posts.
It turned out the PS3 had a major internal clock problem, which resulted in the original fat consoles mistakenly thinking 2010 was a leap year. This in turned messed things up further, resetting many machines' internal clocks to New Year’s Eve 1999, blocking connections to the PSN and stopping games from loading. It was a tense or hilarious 24 hours, depending on which side, if any, of the fanboy war you came down on, with Sony appearing for a long period to have no idea what was going on.Above: At Radar UK however, we came up with a quick and easy solution. The PS3 fanboys loved us for it
Fortunately, a patch was finally released a day later and things got sorted out. But for a while the internet-dubbed term “apocalyps3” seemed very fitting. Even though “aclockalypse” would have been cleverer.