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Power Button - Episode 71: Building A Better Spike Video Game Awards With Philip Kollar

Power ButtonThe Spike Video Game Awards air this Saturday night on — where else? — Spike TV, so ahead of the glut of winners, trailers, and attempted comedy, we thought we'd take an hour or so to discuss whether or not the VGAs matter, how they can be improved, and which nominated games we think will take home a few of the prizes.  Along as our guest this week is Game Informer's associate editor, Philip Kollar.  He'll help shine a little light on how the VGAs work and challenge us to start narrowing down our own personal Game of the Year lists  Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, or subscribe via iTunes, and be sure to catch up on past episodes if you're joining us late. Remember that you can reach all three of us via , you can leave a message on the Power Button hotline by calling (720) 722-2781, and you can even follow all of us on Twitter at @PressTheButtons, @aubradley84, and @JoeyDavidson or for just podcast updates, @ThePowerButton.

Power Button - Episode 71: Building A Better Spike Video Game Awards With Philip Kollar

By request, there is a written transcript of this episode available. Special and unending thanks to my wonderful girlfriend, Nicole, for taking the time to type all of this out.

[Show intro music: “GroundBased” by PrototypeRaptor]

Joey: Hello, welcome to episode 71 of the Power Button podcast. I'm one of your hosts, Joey Davidson. We have a special guest, but I'll get to him in just a second. I also have the normal panel of hosts - owner and operator of Press the Buttons dot com, Matt Green . . .

Matt: Hey, Joey.

Joey: Hello. And also, Brad Hilderbrand . . .

Brad: I wish I could be special.

Joey: You're not. 'Cause you don't even have a title, man.

Brad: I'm just here.

Joey: That rattling in the background is my cat, Zeus; he is not our special guest [laughter]; with us is also Phil Kollar from Game Informer, an old friend of the show when it was on Kombo. Phil, how are ya?

Phil: I'm doin' good; thanks for having me, guys.

Joey: It is a pleasure to have you, my man. We're going to get into, hopefully, some heated discussions tonight - we'll give it our best. We're talking about the VGAs and Matt actually has a letter from one of our listeners, who we've featured on the show before, concerning the VGAs. So, he's the one who suggested this topic. Matt, are you in healthy enough form to read it off?

Matt: Yes, I can do that. This comes to us from Ed Gibson, who we featured, as Joey said, a few weeks ago in a voicemail call. And he sparked this whole discussion, really. He says, "Hey, Power Button podcast, I have a question. The Video Game Awards are coming up on December 10th. My question is, Do the VGAs really matter? What I mean by that question - does winning one of these awards translate into increased sales or development notoriety? As reviewers, what do the VGAs mean to you? Does the fact that a single game or franchise won an award influence you in any way? Thanks, guys; keep up the good work."

Joey: Yeah, so, thank you, Ed, for helping us again. Cause, really, we don't even know what we're gonna talk about most weeks. So, really, you just lined us up. Appreciate it. This is a pretty big discussion; I guess we should start with some of the nominees themselves. And I don't know how you guys wanna tackle that because there's several different categories. If you guys wanna start with overall Game of the Year, I'd be happy to read those off, and then just kinda discuss and use Ed's note as kind of a guide for the discussion.

Matt: And the nominees are . . .

Joey: So the Game of the Year category is the one everybody's gonna be looking towards. The nominees, as I have them, are: Batman: Arkham City; Portal 2; Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim; Zelda: Skyward Sword; and Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception. So, what do you guys think? Do those games deserve to be there, or are there any that they missed?

Phil: I'm gonna throw out something maybe controversial. What is Uncharted 3 doing on that list? I don't think so.

Matt and Brad: Yes.

Joey: Yes, we railed on that game pretty hard a couple weeks ago.

Phil: I do not think Uncharted 3 is by any means a bad game, but it has plenty of problems and I certainly don't think it has game of the year potential, so that - all of the games on that list certainly - we just had our Game of the Year arguments in the office, which will come out in the February issue. The other four games were top of the list, the ones we were arguing about the most. But, Uncharted 3 seems suspicious on that one.

Joey: It kinda sticks out like a sore thumb. Do you think that they picked it because it was the most popular, not Battlefield, or Call of Duty?

Phil: Maybe, and it could have also been an element of - we were talking a little bit before we went on the air, and the timing of the awards (when the judges vote, when the nominees were announced and everything), and Uncharted 3, I think, when the nominees were announced, wasn't quite out. Most reviewers had probably played it, or at least gotten a little time with it, but it wasn't actually out yet, and when the list was put together - who knows when that was? Probably, you know, early to mid October at some point - before people had played it. Maybe they thought Uncharted 3 was going to be on the same level as Uncharted 2, which, I think, for most of us, did not turn out that way.

Joey: Right.

Matt: Agreed.

Joey: Like you said, man, definitely a good game, but sort of sticks out. One that kind of struck me - you guys are gonna look at me like I'm a leper, but - Minecraft. Technically released this year, I guess you could call it a game for this year. It certainly wasn't in consideration last year since its beta format was ridiculously light compared to what it is today. But I think it should have been at least somewhere in the running, and I don't even see it on the list at all.

Phil: And for some reason, I thought they used to do a best indie game or something. Maybe I'm totally making that up, but it seems like that would have been the primary.

Joey: No, it is. It's totally right here.

Matt: Best Independent Game.

Brad: Yeah.

Joey: I think Minecraft had a chance as Game of the Year. I know people that basically spend their lives on that game.

Matt: Minecraft - and please, nobody get insulted -

Joey: Uh-oh.

Matt: - has a strange subculture that I don't totally understand. And when I see Minecraft I don't really see a game happening there, and I know, Joey, you're ready to leap out of the gate and charge at me.

Joey: [laughs]

Matt: I don't see it on the same level as Arkham City and Portal 2 and the others on that list.

Joey: It's definitely a completely different experience, I'll grant you that. I wouldn't necessarily call it a game, so much as I would call Batman: Arkham City a game, or any of the other games. But, Minecraft, it is a video game; it definitely fits that bill, it just plays by different rules. Doesn't mean it should be discounted.

Brad: The bigger issue at hand that that brings up is the idea that the Game of Year nominees are all multimillion dollar, big-budget, heavily hyped, and all of them sequels. Zelda: Skyward Sword is technically not a sequel, but all Zelda games are sequels to some extent. But, everything else, it's a direct sequel from a game.

Joey: So they're the safe bets. Is that kind of what you're getting at?

Brad: Yeah, they're super-safe. There's no risk.

Phil: Here's my question for you - what non-sequel, other than, obviously, Minecraft, would you put on this list? what came out this year that you think deserves to be up there, going up against those games for Game of the Year?

Brad: Yeah, and that is a tough one because, even looking at the list here, the closest thing to a non-sequel is still a sequel, and that is Deus Ex, which, yeah, that is a sequel to a game that was released an umpteen-million years ago. And I would also look at some of the sports games; they never get any Game of the Year recognition, but I think NBA 2K12 stands up as a great game.

Phil: Sure.

Brad: Beyond just the sports genre. And I know, that's a different animal because those are annual releases, and you can say, Well, you know, it's not the same as building something from scratch or building up a really good sequel to a franchise. But that's a game that I would say, I think that game was better than Uncharted 3, for sure.

Joey: I don't think you could even compare those two things.

Brad: [laughter] Driver: San Francisco is another good game, looking at the list here. That's a good, offbeat - that would be a nice dark-horse candidate that would be really cool to have in the Game of the Year discussion.

Joey: What about an LA Noire?

Brad: It's not at Batman-level hype.

Phil: Is LA Noire on this list at all anywhere?

Brad: Not to pick on Batman. I love that game. That might be my game of the year.

Joey: I don't see it [LA Noire] anywhere.

Phil: That's actually kind of a surprising one coming from the perspective of - I'm not necessarily against it not being on the list. I liked LA Noire a lot, it made my top ten for the year, but I can certainly understand why people have problems with that. But -

Joey: Graphics is where it landed.

Phil: Ah, Best Graphics. Interesting. It's surprising that it's missing from the list, coming from Rockstar, and looking at the Spike audience; at least, the stereotype of what they are, you would expect them to have any Rockstar game on there. Not that LA Noire necessarily appeals to that stereotype, but still.

Joey: Yeah. It's a studio that's instantly recognizable - "oh, Rockstar! Those are the guys from GTA."

Brad: We can slot the next GTA game in Game of the Year category already, regardless.


Joey: How is that not in the Most Anticipated Game? You can tell the list came out before Rockstar made that announcement.

Phil: Yeah, actually, that makes sense.

Brad: I'm surprised that that didn't get held off, like Rockstar told Spike, "Don't list this right away, but leave a little blank space in Most Anticipated, like 'coming soon.'"

Phil: Yeah, you know how Rockstar works.

Joey: Yeah, they don't give a fuck. They do not care.

Brad: They live up to their name!

Joey: Yeah. [laughs]

Phil: I think one of the things we should talk about, too - obviously, we have a bunch more different categories we need to look at, but one of the things which is interesting to talk about with the Spike VGAs in particular - you can look at different awards, like website or magazine awards, but with the Spike VGAs, what they have done successfully, is not even the award element, really; they really turned it into an event, where, whether or not you are a fan of the awards or the show they're putting on, if you like video games, you're going to want to watch, regardless. 'Cause you know there's going to be x-number of game announcements and trailers on that.

Brad: Yup. Last year's show, I skipped through the awards and just watched trailers and announcements.

Joey: Right, and they used the VGAs as a platform for Arkham City's announcement.

Matt: That was two years ago, I think.

Phil: Yeah, and I think it's safe to say, for me - and I hope I don't get fired for saying this - there was a time, many years ago, when there were a lot more print magazines, where GI had a lot of competition for what was trying to get covers with other magazines. Nowadays, I would say our prime competition is the Spike Video Game Awards. Developers and publishers are deciding, do we want to announce our game on the Game Informer cover or announce it on the Spike VGAs?

Brad: Sure, yeah.

Joey: Well, think about it - the VGAs are pretty much the only nationally televised gaming showcase publishers have.

Phil: Yeah.

Joey: It's not like E3; yeah, E3 gets on G4, but it doesn't - no offense to G4, I love the network - but somehow, it's a bit higher in the gaming channels. Other than G4, I can't think of any other outlet that publishers have that's as grandiose as this.

Brad: It's a question of, do you want to announce with the big-feature spread like you get in GI, the five, six, seven, eight page - here's the game, here's all the details, the meat-and-potatoes stuff - or do you want to announce with the big, flashy trailer that costs more money but might make a bigger impression with a wider audience? Are you going for the gamers, or the moms and dads and those with a passing interest in the game?

Phil: I feel no shame in saying that GI is the better one to announce with. Publishers, if you're listening, you can contact me at Don't go to Geoff Keighley; he doesn't care about you.

Brad: [laughs]

Phil: No, that's not true. Geoff is a great guy.

Brad: Geoff doesn't love you like Phil can.

Phil: THAT might be true.


Joey: I know the Game Informer treatment is a lot different as to what Spike will provide to these new games. It's kind of a quick, two-minute max spotlight that these trailers are gonna have on the Spike VGAs and it's not even the front-and-center content, whereas Game Informer will provide you with "Bla-DOW, here's our issue. There might as well not even be anything else in it, based on this cover."

Phil: The Spike way is a great way of steadily building buzz, though. A great way of getting people excited, particularly when you're doing something like, for example, Skyrim. The Skyrim announcement at the Spike VGAs last year was great; it was very, very small, revealed virtually nothing about the game, but it got people SO excited immediately. And that was one of the nice situations where we were able to jump off of that the next month, and that ended up being our cover. It still is a great way of building buzz, and getting people talking.

Brad: I do think the companies need to be careful with what kind of games they present and how. For example, the new Game Informer has got the new South Park RPG as the feature cover story, and I think, if they'd shown that at the VGAs, I probably wouldn't have cared. When I read the whole story in the magazine - because I was wondering how they were going to make this work, they've done South Park games before that have sucked - and -

Phil: So if you'd just seen the two-minute teaser, you would have written it off as another crappy South Park game.

Brad: Exactly. It's seeing the whole layout and the whole interview with Trey and Matt, talking about how they are gamers and this is the first time they've gotten involved with the project and written the script, and things like that, as opposed to, "Oh, look, they're putting another South Park game out. I can just go ahead and not even pay attention."

Phil: Yeah, I can kind of see what you're saying.

Joey: And I will say this - I think publishers are totally on to it; it seems this week, all week, the stories I've been writing and I've seen other people writing, are "So-and-so to announce new project at Spike."

Phil: What do we know is going to be there? Cause we already know a bunch of stuff. There's some sort of surprise PS3 exclusive, some sort of Epic announcement -

Joey: Alan Wake.

Phil: Yeah, Alan Wake.

Matt: Tony Hawk.

Phil: Metal Gear Solid Rising; Bioshock: Infinite. I think they said something like, thirteen big trailers and we already know about ten of them at this point. Pretty crazy.

Joey: Thirteen trailers is more reveals that you would ever see at a full Microsoft E3 conference. So, that's what this is turning into and it's funny because I don't know anyone going to the VGAs this year. Like, physically going.

Phil: I think Andy from Game Informer is going to be there; I'm not a hundred-percent sure.

Joey: At E3, we have a full-on megastaff attending these conferences. Granted, there's the whole convention.

Phil: Sure. I think the difference is, these things are gonna be shown with brief trailers; there's not gonna be games, there's not gonna be behind-the-scenes stuff, really.

Joey: What if Spike built a convention off the back of this thing? How crazy would that be?

Phil: That would be . . . awful. I don't want another video game convention.


Brad: And right around Christmas, to really screw up your schedule.

Phil: Yeah, that would be the worst thing in the world. Getting out of Minnesota for a week might be alright.

Joey: Yeah, in December, I bet. So, let's take a turn back to Ed's initial email. Do you think that these awards matter? I think we're already hitting on them mattering as points of - the awards show mattering as point of publication for these video game companies to get the word out about their product, but, beyond that - do you think the VGAs matter?

Phil: I think what you have to ask yourself first is - this is actually an argument I got into with, I believe it was Ben Gilbert from Joystiq, back during E3 this year - you have to springboard off of that and ask yourself, do awards at all matter? Do ANY awards matter? The reason Ben and I got into it was, do the Best of E3 awards matter? And then, going off of that, do any Game of the Year awards anywhere matter? I think you have to decide for yourself on a personal level. Do you care about ranking stuff like that? Do you care about how other people are gonna rank stuff like that?

Joey: I think that it's human nature to care about it. How it influences you is a different matter entirely, but it's the reason why Top-whatever lists are the click-bait of the internet. People just innately want to say, "I have my opinions about this going in; let's see if people agree with me." That's pretty much what it is, and that's why if you go to any top-ten list and, almost invariably, at the comment section down below the post, you're gonna see, "You forgot _blank_" or "I can't believe you listed _blank_." We did that shit at the top of this show. So, I think there's a reason people inherently love seeing this stuff. For publishers - and I'm pretty sure they're the only ones who care about Best of E3; those and fanboys looking for ammo to go on to message boards - it's just stuff they can slap on the back of their boxes.

Phil: From a personal standpoint, I enjoy that stuff. I enjoy writing that stuff and reading that stuff, just as a way of reflection, whether it's E3 or the past year, or whatever else it might be, looking back on and just reflecting, "Okay, which of these games really mattered to me? What were the trends that I saw?" That kind of stuff. So, I guess it matters on that level, but does it translate to sales success? I'm not so sure about that.

Brad: Yeah. Hmm.

Joey: I think it might. I think it might more than you think. I don't know if it has quite a bearing on it as a Metacritic rating would, which is the other much sought-after item for publishers and PR companies, but if Joe Blow just happens to pop on Spike 'cause he's looking for that next episode of Cops, and he sees that it's the VGA marathon, he might just sit down and watch, like "Oh, man, this one won Game of the Year; it must be sweet!"

Brad: I think what we run into - and this is an industry issue, not just a VGA issue - is the idea that, you're looking together at all these forms of media that do the same kind of thing, like the Oscars with movies, or the Grammys with music, or the Emmys with television, and there is one sort of awards show that tops them all. Yeah,you've got the Golden Globes, you've got Critics' Choice, you've got Viewer's Choice, things like that - People's Choice, but they don't hold the same weight as an Oscar or an Emmy. So, you get into games, and I think the VGAs want to be the "Oscars" of video games, but they're not. The way the show is put together, and the way the things are presented - it's been handled up until now; it doesn't really lend itself to that air of authority.

Phil: I would argue that the VGAs aren't trying to be that, and if they are, they're doing a very bad job of it. My impression is that they're trying to be more like the MTV awards, where they want to be more of an entertainment show and something that, in their mind, is appealing to a specific demographic. I don't think they're necessarily concerned with the fact that hardcore gamers or critics are not taking their show super seriously.

Brad: Yeah, I think that's fair.

Joey: The Academy - if you're at all into movies - is a very political, very self-serving committee. That's why the Oscars is always - it's not so much, "Which movie was better?" It's, "Was X better than Y?" "When was the last time So-and-so won an award?"

Brad: Right, right, right. But you're getting into the more arty discussion, and that's fine; there are some people that are looking at it that way. But look at it mass-market; in games you have 50 different outlets handing out awards, they all get diluted. What does it mean if this game is IGN's best game of the year, but this game is Game Informer's best game of the year? Does that really make a difference?

Phil: The Game Informer one is better.


Brad: But, you know, you get into things like the Oscars and the general public says, "Oh, these movies are nominated for an Oscar, I should probably go and see them because that will make me up to snuff on what were the big films of the past year."

Phil: One thing that I will give the Spike VGAs credit for - and I don't think they get enough credit for - is, regardless of how the show is put on, and how off-putting that might be, I think that Geoff Keighley and the people behind the show do a genuinely good job of - despite our complaints at the top - to gather this list of nominees and then putting that list of nominees in front of a very good group of judges to vote.They have people from everywhere - GI, IGN and GameSpot and all the major publications, also getting into the major mainstream publications like the Associated Press, Wired . . . So I think that's definitely a point where they succeed, so - springing off of that, I think they could be more like the Academy Awards if they wanted to. If that was the direction that Spike wanted to move it in.

Joey: Well, here's the thing, though; they need to stop showing game trailers. The direction - it's almost like Spike isn't in control of where they want their show to go, moreso the publisher saying, "We want to show our trailer at your show."

Matt: Spike's not even in control of where their network is going.


Joey: There it is. If it were more like the Academy Awards, you would see more tributes to games, and less, "Check out what's coming next."

Phil: And they really need to shoot for that three-and- a-half to four-hour mark. I think that would be good stuff.


Joey: And a montage dedicated to the periscopes in gaming.


Matt: Too-long musical numbers that everyone just wants to fast-forward through . . .

Phil: Onto something here.

Matt: They already have the awkward jokes that don't get a laugh half the time.

Brad: Yeah, the terrible banter is there; that's done . . . . Well, I guess that leads the question, if Spike are currently the MTV Movie Awards of games, do we want them to stay that way? Should there be something that is more serious and more Best Games of the Year, as voted on by the authorities, more of an official stance? Or are we happy with the current "everyone gets a say, and whatever outlet you read the most, you can just follow what they're saying, and let that be your guide?"

Phil: I would certainly love for there to be a more widely agreed-upon source for, like you said, an Academy Awards style. But, the problem is, I think those kind of exist already. There are other industry awards shows that aren't very well-respected, and those get reported on, but they're not put on TV, and I don't think, as things currently are, they could get put on TV and be successful. Speaking of the Academy Awards, even looking at them, that is an awards show that has struggled over the last ten years with ratings and relevance and getting enough people interested to watch it.

Joey: Well, the Academy Awards also has what's approaching a hundred years of history behind it. So, there's that.

Phil: And that's exactly it. I think that is something that might come with time, but I don't think we're there yet; I don't think there would be enough people interested in watching a show like that, a show that is really more industry-focused.

Joey: I don't know. I think that, first of all, the Country Music Awards succeed, so, that always tells me that there's hope for something like a video game awards show!


Joey: But, if a major network - I think it might be the other way around, Phil. I think that there isn't a viewing body ready for it, I think that it's not a major network, not to hate on Spike, but there isn't a CBS or NBC or ABC willing to put that a show like that on. I don't think that those executives have the balls to put it out.

Phil: I would say both, honestly. I really do believe that, if that show existed, and if they put it out there, as much as I love video games and as much as the industry is continuing to grow, I don't think we're to the point where people would care enough to watch it. Certainly there are people who would; obviously we're in that crowd, but I just don't know if there are enough . . . mainstream people who would watch that.

Matt: I could see FOX trying.

Joey: Yeah, trying it, and people loving it, but it not getting good ratings, so they never do it again.

Matt: And I could also see the CW doing it, but they would turn it into what Spike is doing.

Joey: Probably. So, how about back to Ed's email where he asked, as reviewers, what do they mean to us? What do the VGAs mean to us? We all review games here, right?

Everyone else: Yeah.

Joey: So, what do you guys think? Matt, we haven't really heard from you in a few. As a reviewer, what do the Spike VGAs mean to you?

Matt: Not very much.

Joey: Bam! Brad. Just kidding.


Matt: A lot of these games I'm not going to get the chance to play because they're outside of my realm of interest or they're on hardware that I don't deal with. But, games like Batman and Portal 2 and Uncharted, I have my own opinions on them already, and I don't need the VGAs to validate or differ from what I think. That's the great thing about having your own belief, is that you're allowed to have your own opinion and you back it up and you stick by it. And, sure, you can change your mind as new information comes along, but my thoughts on these games are already pretty well-set. I don't think there's anything the VGAs can do to change my mind on a game. It's not gonna make me think Uncharted 3 is insanely better, or that Batman is so much more weaker than I thought it was. I just don't see it happening.

Joey: Yeah, I think as a reviewer, and Matt, you definitely hit it right on the head, going into this, our minds are already all set. I'm pretty sure that most of the publications we write for, whether it's self-imposed or whatever, we will be printing our own lists, our own versions of our Games of the Year and our Top Ten or whatever. And that's not gonna change based on what happens on Saturday night for me.

Phil: Yeah, I would certainly agree with that. The one thing that I will say, obviously, i'm not gonna look at whether or not a developer has won a VGA or any other award, and decide to take that game more seriously or something silly like that. But I do think from a wider, broader industry perspective, if a developer comes along and wins a bunch of awards - let's say, somebody like a Rocksteady Studios - they came along with Batman: Arkham Asylum and surprised everyone, got lots of critical acclaim, and took home lots of awards from different publications that year. That cemented them pretty quickly as, "These are guys we should pay attention to and watch what they're gonna be doing."

Brad: Yeah.

Joey: Is there anyone like that this year, that you guys see as dark-horsey, but rising to the top?

Phil: I'm not so sure. The couple of things that stand out to me - Zelda being a game of the year candidate is surprising but awesome, just because I feel that Japanese games in general get ignored from Spike. And along the same lines, Dark Souls for Best RPG, which, unfortunately, because Skyrim is on that list, it's very unlikely that Dark Souls will win, but just that it's getting that recognition is really cool, and I think that's something that could help push From Software. They're a developer that, for me personally, has been moving much in the last two or three years much more into a spot where I'm like, "I should really pay attention to these guys and what they're doing."

Joey: Not just From Software, man, but also Atlus.

Phil: Sure, yeah.

Joey: I mean, Atlus has shown recently that they've got the stones to bring a lot of games that other publishers wouldn't to the States, and between Dark Souls, Catherine, I think they did Muramasa for the Wii a few years back . . .

Phil: Dark Souls is Namco, actually. But Atlus did Demon's Souls.

Joey: Is that right?

Phil: Yes.

Joey: Hmm. Okay, well, still.


Joey: Demon's Souls did it then for them. But I do kind of agree with you that these games that are being a little bit more risky and less straightforward with their development should be recognized. It's a shame that Dark souls isn't, probably - aside from Dragon Age 2, in my opinion which has no reason being in the Best RPG category.

Phil: Yeah, I didn't wanna bring that up. What is Dragon Age 2 doing there? Get off it.

Brad: [laughs] Press A to win.

Phil: There are things I like about Dragon Age 2, but, man, that is one incredibly flawed game.

Joey: I completely agree with you and especially standing next to Deus Ex, Dark Souls, and Skyrim.

Phil: Yeah.

Joey: It looks just completely out of sorts.

Brad: I think they said, "We need four," and they're like, "Uhh, this one."

Phil: To be fair, that is probably the case as they probably wanted at least four and there wasn't. There weren't a ton of straightforward RPGs; even Deus Ex is a little bit . . . I guess you could call it an RPG, but not quite.

Brad: You have skill points, but . . .

Phil: A little sketchy, but next year will be better for RPGs.

Joey: Brad, I don't think we hit you on what this means to you as a reviewer.

Brad: Who wins? I could care less. Congratulations to the winners, but you don't change my opinions. What I do like about this list, and all the game of the year stuff that comes out from everyone, is it's a great way for me to look at the games I missed this year, and decide, "Oh, I haven't played dark Souls, but enough people say that's a Game of the Year nominee or an RPG of the Year nominee, I might have to check it out, even though I know I'll play it for five minutes and then hurl my controller in disgust."

Phil: Brad, I actually wanted to jump in. I'm really happy to hear you say that, because for GI, what we've always done (and doing again this year) is a top 50 list at the end of the year (which some people look at us like we're crazy, that it's kind of overkill), but we don't number it at all. The whole point of the list is to say, for somebody who is a really hardcore gamer who wants to play all of the best games, here are the fifty best that we think you should at least give a shot. That's great to hear that that's the way that you approach these lists because that's one-hundred-percent what we're looking to do with ours..

Brad: Yeah, whichever one ends up in boldface is the winner, good for you, but I go through the stuff - Forza 4, I kind of like racing games, but I don't know if I like racing games enough to try Forza, but if enough places tell me, "Hey, this is a really good racing game," I'm gonna check that out.

Phil: Forza 4 is a really good racing game, by the way. You should check it out.

Brad: [laughs] There you go.

Phil: I am a fan.

Matt: There's your validation.

Brad: It's got the Phil stamp of approval.

Joey: I really wish they would blow up the Independent category. And I don't mean destroy it, I mean make it much bigger. Because I feel that those games are definitely the ones that an audience like those watching Spike will probably have never heard of.

Phil: And you know what's the real bummer, is that's probably one of those categories where it's gonna be like, two seconds on the screen before they go to commercial break, instead of actually getting its own announcement. Maybe I'm wrong and I would love for them to prove me wrong, but it's totally what I imagine that being.

Joey: Looking at the categories on the list, outside of RPG (and I think Dragon Age kinda screws that group up), the Independent Game category is the strongest, in my opinion.

Brad: Yeah, I would love to see Bastion go up as a Game of the Year candidate.

Joey: Dude, or Sword and Sorcery EP? How huge would that be for the iPad-type game platform? That game is gorgeous.

Brad: That's the thing. That's an area, and I'll even admit to it, as someone who even works within the industry, I don't play a lot of independent games because there's so much - I need to get through all the big releases - "Oh, I have to know about Modern Warfare, I have to know about Batman," all these big things, and so I would like to spend more time with independent games, but they come and go so quickly that I don't get a chance to see many of them. Now, I picked up Bastion and I picked up Sword and Sorcery; I haven't played Minecraft because I don't think I have the right mindset. Binding of Isaac is one of those games I've heard about, but I don't really know what's going on, if I really wanna try it out.

Joey: [laughs] You won't know what's going on if you do try it out.

Brad: Super Meat Boy is another one; when it came out, I really wanted to try it out, but I had all this other stuff to do.

Joey: Was Super Meat Boy this year, guys?

Phil: That was last year.

Brad: Yeah, that was last year.

Joey: I'm like, Oversight!

Phil: That's something I did wanna ask about, that you kinda brought up there, is do you guys think it's - we talked about the Independent list and it's awesome because it showcases all these games that probably wouldn't be anywhere on this list otherwise - do you think it's weird for them to break it out like that?

Joey: Well, it depends what the goal of the Spike VGAs happens to be. If it's becoming a showcase for the bigger games, then it would be really bizarre for them to spend so much time on these indie games, but if they're treating it as a show for GAMERS, as something that GAMERS would appreciate, then it wouldn't be a mistake at all to blow out the independent section.

Matt: The indie stuff could easily be its own awards show if you wanted to go deep enough.

Joey: No one would watch that, but I love the idea.

Brad: Yeah, but you get that sort of thing - you get it at GDC, you get it at the Penny Arcade Expo, they have the independent game showcase, and it's great they do it, but yeah, no one really cares that's not really heavy into that scene. Which is unfortunate, because there's some really cool stuff coming out of the indie game world. Like indie movies, unless you're someone who is really into that sort of thing, it kind of gets lost by the wayside.

Joey: As an aside, if you are listening to the show, and you guys might not even agree with me here, but I've found the gaming section of Reddit happens to be one of the best places if you wanna keep your ear to the ground for this stuff. They're really good at finding the up-and-coming indie games that I would've otherwise never heard of. There are places online for you to go and check out where these games are coming from; just because Spike doesn't cover them, doesn't mean that they aren't relevant, I guess.

Matt: They're also really good at posting funny pictures of Skyrim things.

["Yeah"s and laughter.]

Joey: That joke is dead. So is there anything else you wanna touch on in regards to Ed's letter?

Matt: I would like to say, the one thing I DO really like about the VGAs (especially last year) is where, for some games that win, rather than a developer come up - which I really think developers need more time on the stage to actually give acceptance speeches - but they would throw to an animation piece of the protagonist of whatever game it was giving the acceptance speech.

Brad: Well, we already know this year, if Uncharted wins, Nathan will be selling us Subway sandwiches while giving the acceptance speech.

Joey: Oh, God!

Matt: I loved last year for Assassin's Creed, where Ezio gives a speech where he thanks everybody for everything and then turns into a warning about Templar mind control. And there was a great one with Kratos for God of War , where basically he just smashes the camera and shouts, "I owe you nothing!"

Brad: See, now, Matt, I would disagree with you and say I don't like that stuff because I think that cheapens the show and the awards. I want it to be taken more seriously.

Joey: Yeah. It totally depends on their audience.

Phil: I think where Matt's coming from is like, that stuff is stupid, but stupid in a way that I can appreciate, which a lot of the show is stupid in a way I can't appreciate.


Phil: I think we should go through and say what our Games of the Year are. I know, it's a little early, but . . .

Brad: Ooh, on the spot. I like it!

Joey: Lemme get out my paper here.


Brad: I need my graphing paper.

Phil: You have some formulas, or?

Joey: Yeah, I'm not ready for this. God, I hope my editor doesn't listen to this show.

Brad: As the parabola approaches infinity, I have to figure out how many dragons that's gonna count for.

Matt: Now, are we just going by these nominees, or are we opening the floor here?

Phil: No, I just wanna know what your choices are. Even if you don't have your number one decided yet, give the two or three that you're mulling over in your head.

Brad: I'll go because I know my one and two, and I'll give you guys a minute to think.

Joey: Whew! Thank you.

Brad: Go ahead and breathe easy. It's really close this year, and up until November 11th, I would have said it was Batman, but I have spent so much time playing Skyrim and enjoying Skyrim, in spite of its flaws, in spite of the bugs, and - I know there's shit that's wrong with it, but there's so much there, and I'm getting so much enjoyment out of it, and it's a game that beyond that - my wife plays maybe one or two games a year, and this year it's been Mass Effect 2. She's been going back to it, she's waiting for Mass Effect 3, but she picked up Skyrim, and started playing around with it, and now is even more into it than I am, and for that, that's what makes it my Game of the year, something that I don't just enjoy, but she's enjoying as well. I'm watching her play and how she plays it so much differently than I do, and I'm getting a kick out of her Battle Mage versus my Rogue Archer and how we're approaching these same quests very differently. I really love the freedom I get in that game and how I can just do whatever I want and watch other people do whatever they want and that can go on forever. I think that's amazing. So, there you go. Skyrim, number one; Batman, a very close second.

Joey: To kind of flip you right now, I still consider Arkham City to be the winner for me, but I definitely have some very strong ties to the DC Comics brand and everything we've talked about on the show before. The game was unbelievable for me; I am loving the shit out of Skyrim as well for the same reasons that you are, Brad. And this is coming from someone who played Oblivion for like, fifty hours but never actually beat the game. [laughs] Just 'cause I kept killing people. But, my other games, the games that I - I've always done my Top Ten in ways that my readers may not agree with, more games that I really fucking loved this year, and played with a smile on my face the whole time, and so far, that's been Skyrim, Arkham City, Super Mario 3D Land blew me away, it is a reason to own a 3DS, in my opinion; Bastion was wonderful, and Rayman: Origins. Awesome.

Brad: I will say, after I watched the Phil And Reiner playing Rayman, I really wanna play that, so.

Phil: Rayman, hands down, is one of my favorite games of the year. I don't know for sure where it is on my Top Ten yet, but it will be in my Top Ten, and it is, by far, the best platformer I've played all year. I love Super Mario 3D Land, but I like Rayman more, actually.

Joey: The game is, honestly one of the - I don't get many opportunities to do the couch co-op; one of my best friends, who is an old Rayman fan, saw this game and was like, "Dude, we are playing this every night for the next week" and we did. The game is that kind of game, hearkens back to that type of platforming. And it doesn't hurt that it's absolutely gorgeous.

Matt: As for me, I would say that Batman: Arkham City is, like you guys said, up near the top. I just enjoyed everything about that game, from start to finish. Super Mario 3D Land - of course, I have a soft spot for Mario, but it was also an amazing game. L.A. Noire, which we mentioned earlier; I still need to finish that.

Joey: Really??

Matt: Yeah. I'm taking my time on that, and I have two weeks off at the end of the year that, somewhere in there, I will finish it.

Joey: Cool.

Matt: Yeah. But, that game is one where just the concept is one that I'd like to see more of. It was one of those procedural police things where it didn't require endless shooting. You actually had to use your brain on it some, and I don't think we get enough of that type of game, where you have to deduce things and find clues and basically, connect the dots yourself. Portal 2 was amazing this year.

Brad: I'm really glad that got mentioned, because I wanted to come back to that as an Honorable Mention if no one said anything about it. That was such a good game, and so funny.

Joey: Oh, yes.

Matt: Yeah, Brad and I, we just did the DLC co-op last week, finally.

Brad: And it was delightful.

Matt: Yes. And I have a soft spot for Back to the Future; even though it's not gonna be number one, I really did enjoy that game.

Brad: Wait, that doesn't count. Shh, don't say that around Matt, he'll get mad.


Matt: But you knew I was gonna say that.

Joey: Yes.

Brad: Same if you'd played a Ghostbusters game this year, you'd be like, "That is the winner."

Matt: Well, they did - Sanctum of Slime, and no, it's not the winner.


Phil: Hold on, Sanctum of Slime is actually my number one.


Brad: I thought your number one was Uncharted 3.

Phil: I will actually list off my personal Top Three, and I just want to clarify, for anybody who's listening, that this is my personal Top Three. This is not necessarily Game Informer's choices. So, you will have to check out the February issue to get our choices. I'm sure we'll also have them online at some point. My personal choices: number one is Skyrim, for reasons that I think have already been listed; I'm kind of a sucker for the Bethesda style of gameplay, but Skyrim really impressed me with the amount of quests, how interesting they were, the way the dungeons were improved from Oblivion, the way that combat was improved from Oblivion, and I just really, really loved it all around, and still expect to play tens upon tens of hours. My number two is Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, which was actually the first game I've ever given a 10 at Game Informer. So, obviously, I like that game quite a bit as well. And also, it was the first game for me that has proven the worth of motion controls; that's a pretty serious, great thing that game did. And my number three is Bastion, which I thought was really incredible and one of the games all year where - I got to the ending in Bastion, and without spoiling anything, you have to make a big choice at the end of the game, and I actually had to set down my controller and spend a few minutes thinking about that choice.

Brad: Yeah, that is a paralyzing moment, for sure.

Phil: Yeah, it was really great.

Brad: That was well-handled. And I'm curious - you say you gave Skyward Sword your first-ever 10, and how many people in the comments section of the review said that wasn't a high-enough score?

Phil: Nobody yelled at me. Thankfully, I think the reason I got out of it is because we don't have comments on our reviews.

Brad: Ahh. Okay. That's probably for the best.

Phil: People can leave user reviews, but they technically can't leave comments. So, I got out of that. I got some crap from somebody on Twitter the other day for giving it TOO high of a score.

Brad: That sucks.

Phil: Yeah. It's Twitter, it's how people react to reviews, it's fine.

Brad: Right. People are just naturally being jerks about everything.

Matt: That happens a lot.

Phil: Have you guys played Zelda yet?

Matt: Not yet.

Joey: I have actually played through Zelda.

Phil: yeah, I don't know how you guys feel about it, but I freakin' adored it.

Joey: I liked it, but one of the things - and this is something that I think Zelda has been doing a lot recently, starting with Phantom Hourglass - it's very back-track reliant. Especially whenever you get to a pivotal plot-point. Seems you get to one, and it goes, "Hey, go back here, I need something."

Phil: I definitely agree; I see where you're coming from, but I think what it did a great job of was, most of the time, when you needed to go back through an area, they really did something to change that zone up, whether it's adding in new enemies or dunking the whole zone underwater, or whatever.

Joey: Right. They made everything like a dungeon, right? That also applied to later on in the game, where typically in a Zelda dungeon, the mechanic goes, you explore one way until you have the item and then you explore it another way. And that applied to the overworld, too. So every time you went back, it was like, "Oh, shit, I have the whip; this is totally different," or "I now have the air-blowy thingy; this is totally different."

Brad: [laughs] Da da da DAH!

Phil: The air-blowy thingy. That classic Zelda item.

Joey: You know what I mean, man!

Brad: I'm always so mad. I need the air-blowy thingy or I can't get through this room.

Joey: See, to me, my favorite thing about a Zelda game are the endless hours I can spend just wasting time and exploring, and I feel like the wasting time portion of the exploration in this game was kind of cut out, because of the way everything is so puzzle-reliant and almost dungeon-esque, I always felt like I was on a task.

Phil: Yeah, I agree, it's awful that they cut out the wasting time. I wish they would have more stuff in the game that wastes my time.

Joey: I don't know if you're being facetious.


Joey: Because I do genuinely love that about Zelda, man.

Brad: With Skyrim, I spent 50, 60 hours just wasting time in that game, so. . .

Phil: No, I totally understand where you're coming from. I knew that, as I played the game, that this was going to be controversial for Zelda fans, for I think there are some Zelda fans that prefer the dungeons more, and there are some who prefer the epic, explore the overworld of Hyrule type stuff, and I definitely think that's why the game connected with me so much, because I definitely fall into the group that is much more interested in the dungeons in a Zelda game. With the idea of turning the overworld into a dungeon, I was completely sold from the beginning.

Joey: I will say that the actual dungeons - three of the nicest things I can say about Zelda: the art style is probably my second favorite in the series but I am one of those weirdees who think Wind Waker is one of the most gorgeous games ever.

Phil: Wind Waker is really beautiful.

Joey: It is. The other thing is I think it's the best excuse, in my opinion, for motion control. And finally, I think that the actual dungeons - not the overworld, the actual dungeons - are some of the most inventive in the series.

Phil: And some of the best bosses in the series, which was a nice surprise.

Joey: Yeah, they changed up the whole, "You're in a circle room, good luck!" That wasn't necessarily the formula here; they were some of the most inventive, for sure.

Brad: I don't think I know how to fight a boss if I wasn't in a circular room with one.

Joey: Good luck! There's ramps.

Brad: I will die so many times.


Brad: You can roll them now, right? You can bowl them?

Joey: Yeah.

Matt: When all else fails, use fire.

Brad: Fuckin' blowing my mind. I can bowl my bombs at people. What? I don't what to believe anymore. Up is down.

Matt: Now you're playing with power.

Joey: So, I'm gonna say this, 'cause this is the one thing I'm always interested in. I may be a little selfish in asking you guys this, but what is the one game that you don't think many people have played but should?

Matt: Sonic Generations.

Joey: Well, that was quick.


Phil: Wait, really?

Joey: I feel like you've been sittin' on that one awhile.

Matt: I have. I've wanted just to talk about this for weeks, but no one seems to be interested. Everyone's writing it off, because well, “it's another Sonic game, I'm sure they've screwed this one up, too”; I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish, and it's not broken in fundamental ways like so many of the other recent ones have been.

Brad: You know, if you fuck up Sonic for ten straight years, it's gonna be hard for us to trust you.

Matt: Well, even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

Joey: Speaking of Reddit, I don't know if you guys saw the comic, it was the old Sega boardroom meeting with the evil, maniacal executives, and one of them says, "I've got it! Let's make a good Sonic game!"


Joey: How 'bout you, Brad? You have one?

Brad: Oh, God, come back to me.

Joey: Fossil Fighters! No.

Brad: Fossil Fighters Champions. I've been playing that.

Joey: Fucking hell, I didn't mean to give you that.


Phil: I have a couple good ones, I think.

Joey: Cool, lay it on me.

Phil: So, I'm gonna go way back to January - Ghost Trick, on the DS. Lot of people forgot that one came out this year, and that is a great - It's from the team who made Phoenix Wright; it's that old adventure-game formula, but it's a really interesting twist on it, and I really enjoyed that game. Clever, fun story. We've already talked about Rayman Origins, but I don't think enough people have played that, so, please, if you are listening and you like good games, check that out. And another one - a very small, independent game - very recent, I don't think a lot of people have checked out - To the Moon. Have you guys heard of this?

Brad, Joey, and Matt: No.

Phil: I highly recommend checking this out; it looks like a 16-bit RPG, but it plays out more like a really simple adventure game. It's actually more of an interactive story than a game, but it is really well-done. The plot is reminiscent of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, so if you're a fan of that film, you will probably enjoy it. It was one of the most well-written, moving, interesting video game stories that I have played through all year, so I highly recommend that.

Joey: That's big praise.

Brad: Alright, I think I'm ready now, if you're ready for me. I'm gonna go back - Phil, we were talking about whether there were any good RPGs this year; I've got two RPGs for people to check out. And the first one - a PSP RPG, so you know no one played it. Legend of Heroes: Trials in the Sky, which -

Phil: Oh, man, great choice! That game is awesome!

Brad: Yes. It's fun, great classic RPG, if you like the old, Japanese-style RPG, (which Joey and Matt don't, so you guys won't play it).

Joey: [yawns] Checking out now . . .

Brad: All us cool kids enjoy it. So, that was a really neat RPG experience on the PSP. And then, for people who missed it originally, it was released on Xbox Live this year, Half-Minute Hero.

Joey: Yes! That was one of mine.

Brad: Another great one.

Joey: Dang it.

Brad: Go get those. HA, I ruined your day, Joey. So there.

Joey: That's okay. I've got a few on hand - Terraria is kind of like a 2D Minecraft-ish with more emphasis on fortress-fighting. That game - if you do try it, just prepare to go in knowing that you may lose your life for a couple days, because it's one that can suck you in. I also had an Xbox Live game; I should have written this down!


Joey: No, I don't think many people played it, obviously those that love Double Fine, but I really enjoyed Stacking, I thought it was a really cool game. Definitely unique; I believe it was an Xbox Live exclusive, maybe it wasn't. I know it's a downloadable Marketplace only game from Double Fine; it's one of the riskier ones since they started moving towards digital distribution as their main platform of choice. They have gone, in a good way, a little bit off the deep end. Stacking is definitely one of the most unique games I played this year. What was the other one I wanted to bring up?.

Matt: Back to the Future.

Joey: And . . . no.


Brad: Jurassic Park.

Joey: I did try Jurassic Park. MAN, even as a fan, that one hurt me. It cut deep.

Matt: I thought you liked Heavy Rain.


Joey: Thank you.

Brad: Now we're just being mean.

Matt: We do that, too.

Joey: I'll just go for double endorsement of Rayman; it really was definitely a surprise for me and one of the games that caught my eye at E3 when they unveiled it as, "Ooh, that's pretty" and it wound up - even the gameplay is wonderful in it, too.

Phil: Michel Ancel needs all of the help that we can give him, because, let's be honest, Ubisoft isn't helping him out.

Joey: Right.

Brad: Yeah, I almost bought that game today, but . . . I didn't.

Joey: Black Friday, twenty dollars. Yeah, I nailed it on that one. Was Rayman Origins supposed to be a retail release all along, or . . . ?

Phil: It was originally announced as an XBLA release, or as a downloadable release, but they switched it, I think, at E3 this year is when they announced they were switching it to retail. Because the project had just grown big enough that they thought it deserved retail release, which it certainly does. I mean, it's got a crapton of levels.

Joey: Not only that, unlocks and I don't know if you found all the gem teeth (people listening are probably like, "What the fuck are you talking about?") but those actually unlock a whole 'nother sequence of events, so the game is not short on content.

Matt: Does anyone have anything good to say about Saints Row: The Third?

Joey: I loved that game! Shit!

Brad: [laughs]

Phil: I just started playing it, and I just wanted to say, that is a game where I totally went in - I expected it to be dumb fun, but that I wouldn't necessarily really adore it. I think it's gonna make my Top Ten of the year, though; what raised that game above just being dumb fun, for me (that I did not expect), it has a really deep upgrade system that is actually super-interesting. They're great at constantly giving you carrot-and-stick - I really want that extra ten-percent damage, or I really want that extra ten-percent health - and I haven't gotten far enough to know this, but judging from my conversations with people who have played the game, it seems like, once you get all of those upgrades and you're at end-game, you're essentially invincible. Which is awesome.

Joey: Oh, you are boss as shit. And when the zombies invade, they can't even touch you.


Phil: Sounds great!

Joey: Not even kidding.

Brad: Well, I was going to play it until you said zombies. Now I'm out.

Joey: Oh, shit. Sorry, man. They come by way of amazing cameo, if that makes you feel any better. I don't wanna give that one away. Honestly, Saints Row: The Third is, in my opinion, the Great White Hope for THQ. It is the Harvey Dent of that publisher. So, I don't know what the hell - they dumped so many brands this year.

Brad: And it was just announced today that their financials are in big trouble.

Joey: Are you kiddin' me? Go buy Saints Row: The Third.

Matt: Yeah, apparently, their stock went under a dollar for a while today.

Joey: What is it? They've got MMA and Wrestlemania games. I can't -

Phil: They've got Warhammer, which, apparently Space Marine is alright. Warhammer is a relatively interesting franchise. They've also got Darksiders coming out next year, which could really be big.

Joey: That is a THQ product.

Phil: The original Darksiders did alright, probably not as well as they had hoped, but, hopefully, Darksiders II picks up, because that game looks really awesome.

Brad: Darksiders was so good. So good.

Phil: Yeah, I agree.

Joey: I hope that Darksiders II plays the course of Batman: Arkham Asylum and then Arkham City. Because Arkham Asylum was, for a time, kind of a sleeper hit and then blew up. I think the same kind of happened for Darksiders, but not to the same extent. If Darksiders II improves upon the original as much as Arkham City did? My God.

Phil: It certainly sounds that way, and the changes they're making, of adding in a whole RPG system and all of that, just sounds perfect to me.

Joey: I agree. More Zelda than Zelda. I love that comparison. Is there anything you guys wanna hit on that you don't think we covered in this space?

Matt: Somehow our VGA talk turned into a Game of the Year discussion.

Joey: That's what they are.

Brad: Now we don't have to do that show next week, so we saved ourselves some work.

Joey: Yeah, but we also lost ourselves a topic.

Matt: I'm sure we can come back to this and flesh it out some more down the line.

Joey: Sure. I'm ready to beat that horse.

Matt: I'll tell you what. We'll come back in two weeks and do that. How d'ya like that? Give you some more time.

Brad: Am I gonna be here in two weeks? I don't even know. Eh, we'll figure that out later.

Joey: You're here right now.

Phil: Are you asking if you're gonna be alive in two weeks?

Brad: Well, that's a question, too. You never know.

Phil: I really hope that you're alive in two weeks.

Brad: That's very existential. Am I even gonna be here in two weeks?

Phil: Wow, this podcast is intense!

Joey: It's deep, man. It's real deep.

Brad: Gonna throw out some French words, like ennui.

Matt: But, if you think about it, are any of us really here at all?

Phil: Gonna need to take some Zoloft, guys.

Brad: How do I know if your blue is the same way I perceive blue? . . . Man.

Phil: You're blowing my mind.

Joey: You know, I just wanted to point out that Ghost Trick is on this Best Handheld list.

Phil: Oh, awesome.

Brad: Fun game.

Joey: Also, Infinity Blade and Super Mario 3D Land. And fuckin' Jetpack Joyride.

Matt: Yeah, what is THAT doing there?

Brad: Jetpack Joyriiide!

Joey: That game's awesome!

Brad: I blew a lot of time on Jetpack Joyride.

Phil: Guys, I'm not gonna spoil our Top Fifty list at GI, but I will say, probably the most hotly-debated game about whether or not it deserved to be on the list, was Jetpack Joyride. I'm not gonna tell you guys whether or not it made it, but I will tell you there was a LOT of debate in the office over whether or not it should make it. There were a lot of people who freaking ADORE that game.

Joey: Yeah. It's great. It pays it a compliment that people were willing to get riled up about it.

Matt: I look at that - and I'm someone who played that and got to level 29, so I certainly sunk my share of time into it - but it's up against Super Mario 3D Land. Those don't belong on the same list. Not to slam at Jetpack Joyride.

Brad: When will Mario ever go fifty meters without collecting any coins, huh? Never.

Joey: Whenever he wants, man. I think that might be a problem with combining the handheld and mobile genres; in my opinion they're two completely different gaming arenas. Just because they're both portable doesn't mean that they're inclined to the same gameplay. Jetpack Joyride probably cost a lot less to make than Super Mario 3D Land. Not that that has any bearing on its quality as a game, but I don't think that they should be lumped together in the same category.

Brad: We can get into that argument one of these days. That will be a fun show.

Joey: Oh, God.

Brad: Not TONIGHT. Not tonight.

Joey: Cool. Well, if you guys are ready for it, I think we've discussed this one pretty fully.

Brad: Matt probably needs to go to bed about now, right, Matt?

Matt: Yeah, 12:11am on the East Coast over here. Fortunately, I took a 3-hour nap before the show this evening.

Brad: Ooh.

Phil: So, let's keep goin'!

Brad: Yeah, let's talk handhelds versus mobile! Let's get into that shit.

Joey Old Man Green is primed for a late night!


Joey: Well, do you want to take us home, Matt?

Matt: Yeah, I can do that. This has been episode 71 of Power Button. I guess we'll do a couple plugs, cause we don't do those every week around this time.

Joey: Why don't we start with Phil?

Matt: Phil, do the plugs.

Phil: What am I doing?

Joey: Plug your stuff, man. Now's your time to shine!

Phil: is an incredible website that will increase your intelligence, make you look better, more attractive to members of the opposite sex - or members of the same sex, if that's what you prefer. It's basically the greatest thing ever invented; I highly recommend going to today. And, check it out.

Brad: Right there, on the home page, I think it says, " enhances both sexual voracity and stamina."

Phil: That's right, it does do both of those things, scientifically-proven. So, yeah, Go check that out. Even if you're not a subscriber to or a fan of the magazine, I think a lot of people may not realize that over the last couple of years, we've really built up the website and our web presence, and have a ton of online stuff now and a ton of great video shows. We also have an awesome YouTube channel now; as of a couple of weeks ago, we're putting all of our video content, in addition to going on our site, into our video player; it goes onto our YouTube channel which is "Replay" is our biggest and most popular video show; we also have "Reiner and Phil," which is me and my boss, Andrew Reiner, playing through games and commenting over them.

Joey: To make the plug seem even more genuine, the "Reiner and Phil" show is genuinely hilarious.

Phil: Thank you. I'm a fan of it. And then of course, I'm sure everyone knows Game Informer magazine. We just had our January issue hit, which is the South Park cover, for the South Park RPG; lots of cool stuff in there. I've got an Afterwords interview in there that I did about Legend of Zelda, so that was really exciting. Lot of other cool stuff, and we have - I will just say a quick, exciting plug for the February issue. The January issue, the South Park one, I hyped it up on Twitter saying that it was gonna be the most surprising cover reveal of the year, which a lot of people started guessing very obvious things - "Is it Half-Life 3? Is it Halo 4?" - and I would have to be like, "That would not be surprising! Those are the kind of covers we always do!"

Brad: You do not understand the word surprising; try again.

Phil: Yeeeah. So, I will not go back on what I said, but February's cover is another really huge surprise. I think people are gonna be shocked, and I think it's gonna be really great, so look forward to that.

Joey: Jealous.

Brad: I wish we made covers of things that we could hype.

Phil: You should. I recommend it.

Brad: Let's start making covers, guys.

Matt: We're audio. How do we have covers?

Brad: Find a way.

Joey: CD covers, man.

Brad: It's the internet; you can make anything.

Joey: Whose turn is it on this Carousel of Progress? . . . Fine, I'll go. If you guys are listening to me regularly, then you already know what I'm gonna plug, and that's both and TechnoBuffalo. Both sites are doing their Game of the Year stuff. Technobuffalo, of course, is the more gadget-focused, so really, if you have any interest in anything from digital cameras, really expensive SLRs, computers, tablets, phones, whatever, we have some of the most awesome dudes in the industry covering that stuff. The site is still super up-and coming and I really can't say that too much longer, 'cause it's just about popular. We are on CNNBC, or whatever the hell that place is. In the daytime.

Brad: [laughs]

Joey: Your mom watches us and you don't; how's that make you feel? Also, on Crave, we're gonna be doing our Game of the Year stuff, which I guarantee some people are gonna be really cranky with what we have to say, so please, get in the comments section and defend our honor. Beyond that, it's the same stuff with me, as per usual.

Matt: Well, be sure to read all the time, because you're missing all that great stuff if you're not. All kinds of interesting stuff comin' up on there in the next week, and from this past week. Got a look at Joe Pencil, which was the prototype for Comix Zone back in the day. Got a look back at Mario Paint, got a look back at the Battletoads game they didn't make . . . so, all kinds of interesting stuff on there. And, of course, you can follow on Twitter @PressTheButtons, or, for just the podcast stuff, @ThePowerButton. You can find us on iTunes; you can find all the old episodes of the Power Button on There are seventy other shows. If you listen to them all, you'll get a commemorative pin.

Brad: Hooray!

Matt: Note - commemorative pins not yet available.

Brad: There's a quiz at the end, so you can't just say you listened; you have to answer questions.

Matt: Yes. There's an essay portion, there's a multiple choice.

Joey: We should have commemorative pins. I'm just saying.

Brad: When we get to a hundred, we need to do a hundredth anniversary show.

Matt: Wheels are turning, gentlemen; wheels are turning. And of course, you can call and leave a voicemail on the Power Button Hotline, if you want to comment on what you've heard on a recent episode, or have an idea for a future episode. Any comment you want to make to us, if email's not your thing, and Twitter's not long enough, give us a call. The number is (720) 722-2781. You can leave an email at Brad?

Brad: Yeah, kind of an interesting wrap-up for me this week, because I'm a little better than 50/50 not sure I'm gonna have a job much longer. Things are being restructured at my current job, and I don't know if I have a place to land once all the dust settles. I very well may in the near future be looking for work, so if anyone out there needs a writer, editor, freelancer, community manager, PR person, social media person, basically any of that sort of thing, find me in the contact on the show and let me know. I'm hoping that things don't fall through, but right now. I'm not really optimistic.

Joey: How close is your house to street corners?

Brad: We-ell . . .

Joey: Not close enough.

Brad: Can you ever be close enough, really?

Joey: No, that is a major bummer, man, and I'm sorry.

Phil: I know exactly what that is like.

Brad: I just found out via "cc" on an email that I wasn't even addressed to. It was one of those, "Hey, somebody needs to take Brad," and then the people responded, "None of us need Brad," so Brad's just kind of here. Le sigh.

Joey: You'll land on your feet, man. Don't sweat it.

Brad: I wanna believe you, I really do.

Matt: Somebody's gonna be very fortunate to pick you up in the near future if this falls apart.

Joey: That's not even a joke about the street corner. They'll pick you up.

Brad: I was going to assume it was until you brought it up. Thanks, Joey, I appreciate that. Like I said, I don't know how that's gonna pan out, so if anybody out there needs somebody, you might have a friend in me.

Matt: If you have an opportunity for Brad, give us a call!

Brad: Dial the phone number. I will send you things, come to your house, do birthday parties. If you really want, I will sing, but that's been proven at the Bethesda party from E3 a couple of years ago not to be a good idea.

Joey: Yeah, they shut off karaoke on him. Love bringing that back though.Glad you did it for me.

Brad: But, it's an option, cause at this point, jobs are tough to come by. But enough about that! We've had a good show; it was fun, good conversation. Ignore my last five minutes of sadness. Everything else was awesome.

Joey: Man, what a downer.

Matt: Merry Christmas, everybody.

Brad: And the timing couldn't be better!

Joey: You're gonna join the GamePro jets, my man.

Brad: yeah, that group is out there, too. You know, I have to compete against those guys, which just makes it even worse; that's a lot of good people who are also looking right now. I wish them all the best, cause that's the worse thing in all this. Whatever happens to me, I'll figure something out; for those guys, to have that whole institution collapse like that, that's a bummer. I truly feel for those guys.

Matt: Does anybody have any closing thoughts for us?

Brad: Cats in washing machines are hilarious?

Joey: Cruel bastard. Matt, you need to get better, dude.

Matt: I know, this is my second week with this cold. Not fun. It's slowly getting better, you wouldn't know that to listen to me.

Joey: No. You sound like you're dying.

Brad: Don't die, Matt. Joey will make me edit the show, and I don't wanna do that.

Matt: Phil, thanks for coming on with us this week.

Phil: No problem, guys. Hopefully, you will have me on again at some point. And I can again put you on the spot with some crazy question.

Brad: We shouldn't have waited so long to have you back on in the first place, but you're so popular now, we were afraid to talk to you.

Phil: That's not true.


Matt: Alright, then, that's gonna do it for us. So, until next time - we don't have a topic yet for next week, so we'll just kind of see what happens. Until then, this has been Power Button, and we'll see you next time.

[Ending music from Sonic Generations]