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January 1, 2015

Planned All Along: 2014 Retrospective

2014 has been a pretty rough year, huh? On the darker side, we had the large number of celebrity deaths, starting with JewWario early in the year and it just kept going. We had to say goodbye to great talents such as Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bob Hoskins, Casey Kasem, Robin Williams, Joan Rivers, Jean Béliveau... Seriously, it's the deadliest year I've ever seen for celebrities. And then, there's my grandmother who passed away...

Now that I think of it, it's been a really, really awful year in almost every way. The racial tensions that increased in the United States, GamerGate, the Quebec politics getting even worse, terrorism coming back in full force... 2014 was a terrible year indeed. It's quite sad, really. We can do only one thing: Hope that 2015 will be better.

For the gamers, 2014 should be remembered as the year of release of some of the best Nintendo games out there: Super Smash Bros. for WiiU/3DS, Hyrule Warriors, just to name two; I know I'm forgetting lots. It's been a fun year for Planned All Along as well. It has now been going for 17 months, which is pretty impressive! In fact, Planned All Along is the greatest project I ever made. What were my other projects? Um... Well, there was that book I wanted to write, and I still want to write it, but between this blog, the job as a journalist I hope to get soon, and other things in life, I might not have the time to write it. Though if any of you is interested, I might try to write a chapter someday. We'll see. No one can tell what the future has in stock.

So, since we're January 1st, I felt it was time for a new retrospective on the blog. Some stats, first.

Number of views: 84,471. In the 2013 retrospective, it was 4,950. An impressive increase in viewership.
Number of posts: Including this one, it makes 228. A year ago, it was 99.
Month with the most page views: December, with 18,508 views. HOLY WOW! All this in just one month?
Most viewed page (not the posts, the pages): Archive, with 657 views. I'm not surprised that it's the mot viewed page. If you want to read everything I've written, you need to check that page!

Number of games reviewed: Not counting the demos, 47. Counting Demo Reviews, 76.
Number of movies reviewed: 3.
Number of review articles (this includes game reviews, movie reviews and Top 12s): 99. HOLY CRUD THE NEXT POST WILL BE THE 100TH REVIEW ARTICLE, AND IT'S GONNA BE A TOP 12 I TOTALLY HAVE TO THINK OF SOMETHING AWESOME.
Number of Top 12 lists: 9. That number is gonna grow in 2015. A lot.

Top 10 most read articles:
10. The Simpsons Game (DS), Part 1.
9. Yu-Gi-Oh! The Sacred Cards, Part 1. Another review on which I worked a lot, because there were a lot of things to discuss. 
8. Anubis II. Thanks to all the people who've read that review, I worked extremely hard on that one, and I'm very happy with how it turned out.
7. How To Train Your Dragon (Wii).
6. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Part 1. The most viewed actual review.
5. Top 12 Pokémon That Could Get New Evolutions. One of my earlier Top 12s, and it's pretty much the most viewed review article, with about 1,600 views.
4. My update on why I dislike Mega Evolutions. I may have warmed up to them, but I still believe that actual evolutions would have been better for the sixth generation than just new forms that appear in-battle.
3. R.I.P. Justin Carmical, AKA JewWario - with 3,600 views, this article was read quite a lot. I just felt like I had to pay a tribute to a great Internet reviewer who left us too quickly. I will never pretend to know exactly what depression is like. We still don't know the details on why Justin committed suicide. Or we have pieces, but no way to complete the puzzle. Rmember him for who he was: A hilarious, fun-loving man who became known through Internet videos about games and Japanese imports.
2. Did The Raving Rabbids Ruin Rayman? - Yep, it's still there, with over 3,500 views.
1. Why Did The Angry Birds Become So Popular? - One of the last Editorial articls I've made, and surprisingly the most viewed article of the year. For the record, it has been viewed over 34,000 times. ...That means over a third of all the views were on this page. ...I don't know if that's a good thing.

Top 5 Views By Country
5. United Kingdom, with 3,162 views.
4. Canada, with 4,922 views.
3. France, with 4,937 views.
2. Germany, with 5,487 views.
1. United States, with over 26,000 views

Page views by browser: Chrome (32,104), Firefox (16,028), Internet Explorer (14,281)...
Page views by operating system: Windows (51,695), Android (9,240), Macintosh (6,900), iPhone (4,956)...

Now, my personal lists.
Top 10 reviews of 2014. For this one, I tried to keep my 10 best reviews. What you see here is a pantheon of the cream of the crop of the best of the magnificent awesomeness that Planned All Along can be... when I try really hard. The result? Very creative concepts, very funny reviews, and a lot of enjoyable reads.
10. Puzzler Collection. ...Wait. I have that game? I don't remember it. ...It's in my collection? I'll go check... um.... Ah! Yes, indeed, it's in my collection. This game is so forgettable that I keep forgetting about it. It's like a memory hole of “meh”. It erases itself from the memory of those who play it, like a thing straight outta the SCP Foundation. And thus I based the whole review around that idea, which made for a pretty funny joke because I kept... Wait, what am I talking about again? And why am I talking about supernatural stuff on my video game review site anyway?
9. The Simpsons Game. A weeeeiiiiird game indeed, but it was intended from the start. And since it's one of the few games that is weird on purpose, and not because of the setting itself or the silly plot decisions, I could only embrace it. The result was a rather satisfying review, with which I could have done more... but at the time, I still hadn't thought about using my webcam to film stuff. ...Not like I would have had time for that, since that review came out while I was doing an internship.
8. Pop-Up Pursuit and, by extension, Mario Party 2. Two luck games, two angry reviews, two epic breakdowns at my own failures (which themselves were caused by my bad luck – damn, what a curse). Mario Party 2 is also the first review that really had a video, and I continued the trend by having a video for the Pop-Up Pursuit review. It's sad to say, but when you make a review show (or blog), sometimes you'll notice that the angrier you get, the more views you get. It's like a correlation between the public's interest in your content and the level of rage you can reach. Ask anyone in the industry. The angrier reviews are frequently the most viewed. That's what I got for those. Mario Party 2 has become a part of this site's history, though, for the first time I used a video.
7. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. This one was also published during my internship, which means iI wrote it in the very little free time I had every week. However, I'm happy with the results, and I think it's one of the few times I actually went and picked Youtube videos with footage from the game so I could add them to the review (By the way, not a fan of the Youtube search system on Blogger. Just saying.)
6. Drawn To Life, and Drawn To Life Month overall. I felt like I had to pay tribute to a wonderful game series that hardly ever gets much recognition for all the creativity it allows to the player AND the creativity of the story overall. That tear-jerking ending is hinted at through the entire story, and yet no one sees it coming.
5. Bass Pro Shops' The Hunt. Rife with references to Channel Awesome (Seriously, the animators are named Douglas and Robert. Think about it for a minute.), as well as one of the few reviews where I tried something entirely new. A narrative! Me, hunting real animals, in the wilderness? There's a reason I don't do that in real life. It might very well be one of the funniest reviews I've written, and it seems to have gotten me a few fans.
4. Gamer (2009). Starting strong is always positive. And thus, a new segment was born with one of the most horrible video game movies I could think of. And I actually didn't think it was that bad, until I realized it was pretty much an insult to gamers. It's also one of the most vile, disgusting movies I've ever seen, as well as (so far) the worst film I've reviewed for the site. Worse is coming in the next weeks... God help us all...
3. Anubis II. My angriest review of all had to have a spot on this list. It's not just the worst game I've ever seen. It's a raspberry blown at gamers by a company who only cares for the money. It's a punch in the face of someone who wasn't expecting something good, maybe something decent at best... and wound up with something shitty. As you can guess, I take the industry seriously, and while I know companies need to make money, they can't just turn up any crap and expect us to gleefully gulp it down. Ubisoft was on the receiving end of such fan rage after the many bugs of Assassin's Creed: Unity were revealed. Bottom line is, YOUR bottom line will suffer if your fans end up hating you. Anubis II represents almost everything wrong with gaming. This review will live on. It is destined to remain famous.
2. Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Of course this one would make the list. I meant it as my big anniversary review. It's over 16,000 words long. It contains an overview of all the modes AND a riff on the Subspace Emissary storyline. With some of my wittiest jokes. (Seriously, that Princess Bride reference with Diddy Kong was priceless.) A review to homage one of my favorite fighting games. Say what you want about it, that Melee is better, that Brawl has too much. I don't care. I love this game.
1. This spot is taken by a rather surprising review: Yu-Gi-Oh! The Sacred Cards. A four-part review, the final GBA review, and a very satisfying one. Not only do I homage a manga/anime I grew up with, but I also point out all the problems with self-insert hero characters who get put in games because they need a protagonist. It's definitely one of my favorite reviews, and I must say it has given me a few ideas for the future.

And now, since I can't be a true critic unless I also criticize myself, here's a small Top 5 of my least favorite reviews of 2014.

Best 5 Games I've Played For My Blog In 2014
5. WarioWare: D.I.Y.. Whether or not you can trade with it is not that important, after all. You can still create, you can still trade with a Wii or with another Nintendo DS. The content is great enough to satisfy most gamers.
4. Super Smash Bros. Brawl. You can agree with me, you can disagree. It's the Smash game I got to play most (by virtue of, you know, owning it, unlike the two before it), and it's got so much material that I'm sure I didn't discuss everything as much as I could have. Then again, that review would have been over 6 parts, and it was already pretty huge as it was.
3. Final Fantasy. It's an awesome RPG. It left a lasting impression on me, it has become one of my favorites. Which doesn't mean that its story is instantly awesome; the first third of the game is a long fetch quest, and it can kinda get on the nerves. Nevertheless, Final Fantasy remains one of the best RPGs ever, still popular to this day (though, to be fair, that has to do with the fact that it doesn't seem to be wanting to end anytime soon).
2. Drawn To Life. I still hold it in high regards as proof that games can give you feels. I cried when I saw the ending for the first time. I CRIED, for Christ's sake, and I'm a man! It still gets me kinda teary-eyed, and so does the sequel's ending. I would have included the second game, but I didn't actually play it. I only reviewed the plot, so it couldn't count for this list. Kinda sad. But hey, at least I dedicated an entire month to the franchise. And it stands as one of my best accomplishments for Planned All Along... so far.
1. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Looks marvelous, has tons of side-quests, the story is pretty great (if you forget the fact that in the end it's still Ganondorf who's behind it all)... Whats not to love? Oh sure, it's probably not as good as Ocarina of Time, but until I've played and beaten OoT I'm gonna have to say that Twilight Princess is my favorite Legend of Zelda game.

Worst 5 Games I've Played For My Blog In 2014
5. Reel Fishing: Ocean Challenge. I've been nicer to that one, but it's still rather poor. The only way you could unlock the rest of the game was through the Wii Shop Channel, and for some reason it wouldn't even work. As a result, I reviewed only what I had seen from this game. And I'm sorry to say that there isn't much to it. It's very meh. Also, since then I got a new fishing game for the Wii, and that one is amazing. It's everything that reel Fishing: Ocean Challenge should have been.
4. Bit Boy. You'll notice three of the games on this Worst 5 list are WiiWare titles. Maybe I'm just unlucky. Maybe it's because I didn't spend my money wisely. Oh well. Bit Boy is a disappointment. It doesn't offer much, and as a result you can't feel very interested in playing it. It means to emulate the old arcade games, for which you needed great talent, or hours and hours of training. There are a few ideas here and there, but overall this game falls flat. And s a result I suggest you don't buy it.
3. Mario Party 2. If Smash Bros. Strengthens friendships, the Mario Party games break them. I can only blame my bad luck for my bad performance at it, but overall this does feel like a weak game, once you get to think about it. Many later Mario Party games were better (I make it my mission to review Mario Party DS in 2015), but this one was just kind of a way for Nintendo to say “Sorry about its quality, we're still playing with this idea of Mario board games with mini-games. Don't worry, we'll get it right at some point. For now, enjoy our latest experimentation, and if you like it just enough, we'll make another one and we promise it'll be even better.” And you know what? If that's really the kind of answer Nintendo has given, I applaud them for that. It shows they're trying to release quality material, that they're caring for the gamers. Mario Party 2 may be a fluke, but somewhere down the road they got that formula right, and from that point on it was a lot better.
2. Pop-Up Pursuit, an uninspired game with so little material for its 8 bucks that it's almost like its makers have scammed the players. There's almost nothing to do, the game relies on luck way too much (compared to this, Mario Party is fair! FAIR!), and it's a deception overall. Sure, I crack jokes at my bad luck, but there's a basis of truth: Nothing in this game isn't influenced by your luck, or the CPU characters' luck.
1. Anubis II. I'll never let this one go. It will never be replaced by another as the worst game I've ever played. It is the most horrible game I've ever seen, and I will forever hold it over a pedestal, to show everyone how horrible it is... and then I'll put that statue in a park so that birds can crap over it all they want.

10 Things I'm Looking Forward To In 2015 (AKA Stuff I will try to do but I can't tell if I will be able to)
10. A website redesign in July, once again.
9. Maaaayyyyyyybe a Mario Month. If it happens, it will be later this year. I will try to have one, but I don't promise anything, unlike the other two theme months I'm planning early in 2015.
8. A Sonic Month, coming this April. Starting with a very special review and then continuing with reviews of two Wii titles.
7. Let's Plays? That's a big “maybe”. It all depends on whether or not I'll have the software to do it. That, or a camera. I will need to find a way to do it right.
6. TheVGFlicks reviews I will try to do this year: TRON: Legacy, Wreck-It Ralph, and Scott Pilgrim VS The World. Big movies, big reviews, and I hope you'll enjoy them.
5. Special stuff for the second anniversary. Yes, I promised it the first time, but this time I'm actually hoping to get what I was hoping for. Well, of course, I'm noit expecting a ton of stuff, but it sure would be fun.
4. I will try to make one “title card” for every review that I wrote that didn't have one. That means all the reviews before the Anubis II review. In simpler terms, that means I'll have about 40 title cards to make. And I expect to do those during the year and make them available to the recently-created Title Cards section of the site.
3. More complex videos. I might try to make better videos by using both my webcam and the camera in my cell phone. I don't expect amazing quality, but if I can make something better than the videos I'm making now, that would be great.
2. The Raving Rabbids Month. Coming, this February! I guarantee I'm gonna do that one.
1. The second anniversary review: Super Paper Mario. I already know how awesome it's gonna be, and I'll make sure it IS every bit as awesome as I want it to be.

Things I said I would do in the 2013 retrospective and got to do...
7. The website redesign in July. I did it! And quite honestly, I largely prefer the new design so far. I'll try to find another way to put the colors and images together so that the site looks just as great after the second anniversary.
6. Inserting some kind of storyline in my reviews. What, you think it's impossible? You think I didn't actually do it? Look closely. You might notice a recurring pattern, recurring comments about me. Maybe you'll then understand what the storyline is... and if you pay very close attention, you might even guess how it's all gonna be solved in the second anniversary review.
5. The Halloween story. It might not be as scary as the first one, but I'm still rather proud of it. I was lucky that Master Core appeared, as it's great scary material. My other plan was a story where Zelda or Peach are missing, and it turns out that their trophy is being held hostage somewhere, by one of the brawlers... Oh well. I'll see what I can do for the 2015 Halloween special. Maybe something about the Mario series.
4. The VGFlicks segments. Really proud of how they turned out. It was a very smart choice to start off with Gamer, as it was quite a strong start. I can't say as much for the other two video game movies I've reviewed... yet, but I'm sure I can find a way to make the next VGFlicks segments interesting.
3. The Super Smash Bros. Brawl review. It was a GIGANTIC project, and I'm very happy with how it turned out. Try to imagine this: Over 16,000 words, a lengthy description of the Adventure Mode's plot complete with riffing, and a thorough analysis of every part of the game. I'm sure I could have done seven parts, but I had to stop somewhere! I would have liked to make a longer video for that one, but I didn't find the time for that.
2. The Drawn To Life Month. Like the Brawl review, it was another huge project, but I really think I did a great job.
1. The videos! I'm just happy that I upgraded the blog, upgraded my way of reviewing stuff, by adding video. Slowly, the blog is getting better. The vlogs I make every week or so are another nice proof of that. I like to make those videos. And I hope 2015 will let me make even better videos. Now I have a webcam, so I can still take easy shots of me in front of my desk, but I also have a cell phone with a camera, so maybe I can make something good with it. From what I could see, the picture quality is decent. I hope I'll use it for a video!

...and the ones I couldn't do after all.
3. The Rock Band 3 DS musical review. I quickly noticed it was going to be very difficult to make it into a musical review. There was a lot to say, and I fear I wouldn't have been able to say everything if I had written it with musical parts. I didn't due to time constraints, but also because I found this review to be extremely challenging to write already. I don't hate Rock Band 3 DS. But I felt extremely uninspired by it, and as a result the review was very hard to write.
2. A Sonic Month. I have all 4 Sonic games for the Wii, and I still haven't reviewed them. I really should do that someday, don't you think? Two Sonic games at a time should be alright.

1. Special stuff for the Anniversary. Sure, since then I've found ways to bypass that problem (partly thanks to the title cards), but through the first half of 2014, I tried to contact artists and ask them to draw a little something for the blog. A picture inspired by one of my past reviews, mostly. I was unsuccessful in that field, sadly. I still got ComicFury artist LeRenardRoux to create a background as well as new titles for the site. I thank her a lot for this. Does it count? Well, it's not quite what I hoped to get, but on the other hand, I can't really complain, since I at least got something.

I guess that's all for now. I wish you all a Happy 2015. Please note that there won't be a review tomorrow.