It’s time to interrupt the endless barrage of Christmas calories
that I seem intent on shoving down my throat as quickly as possible
seriously, it’s like Gluttony Man in Se7en
but I don’t have my body tied down,
my arms are wilfully ladling anything alcoholic or sweet or tasty into my mouth
like it’s going out of fashion
to round up what I think have been my personal favourite games and movies of 2013.
However, there’s a giant BUT here
and I don’t mean the one at the top of my legs
hur hur hurrr
and it’s that I can only,
talk about the games and movies that I have actually seen and played
although that doesn’t seem to apply for many faceless Internet commenters
which leave many, many holes into which your personal opinion may fit
like a giant piece of delicious Christmas stollen.
It’s German Christmas cake,
with a wedge of marzipan running through the middle,
coated with a thick layer of icing sugar.
Seriously, the Germans do Christmas better than anyone.
Also, there’s many worthy Game Of The Year candidates that I’m only now playing through,
therefore they may not get a special mention.
You should probably buy a WiiU
just for Super Mario 3D World.
So, it’s more like a personal 2013 Greatest Hits.
Let’s start with movies, shall we?
Simon’s Best Movies of 2013
As soon as you accept that this really isn’t a zombie movie, it becomes a million times better, just don’t go in expecting it to uphold many of the agreed zombie rules. It uses it more as a theme to separate two star-crossed lovers and show their love literally bringing new life to old hearts. Warm, funny and actually quite clever.
Jurassic Park 3D
Yeah, one of my best movies from 2013 is a shameless cash grab, but it’s a great reminder of why Spielberg is one of the all-time best directors. It still shines in almost every aspect, and I think the pacing of the film might actually be perfect. So, so good. More Jeff Goldblum in everything, please.
Stupid, stupid, wonderful fun. Was in real contention for my film of the year, except that it suffers from the law of diminishing returns quite heavily on repeat viewings. The main problem is Charlie Hunnam’s main character is wooden and stilted when it needed someone that could bring an extra spark. The movie has so many cool elements that could have been focused on. But I guess that’s what sequels are for? Also, my wife got me a giant Gypsy Danger for Christmas, so I get to chase my son around with one of the coolest mech designs from recent years.
The World’s End
Edgar Wright didn’t disappoint with the final part of his Cornetto Trilogy, and you can also see what good effect the Scott Pilgrim experience had on him. So layered with secrets and references, it’s almost required to buy it and scour over each fantastic frame, so it’s just as well Amazon delivered my Blu-Ray today. Also, this was the movie that politely informed the world that Simon Pegg can act his socks off in a dark, mature and bitter role. Fantastic story with a truly wonderful ending.
It’s no Aladdin/Little Mermaid/Beauty and the Beast/Lilo and Stitch, but Frozen is still another fantastic slice of Disney magic. I’m a complete sucker for their good films and this one ticked all the right boxes very neatly. Maybe a little too much Katy Perry in some of the songs, but I guess that’s to be expected. The twist at the end was great, too.
Film Of The Year: Gravity
At the risk of repeating everything I said in my review, Gravity is a masterwork, made by a cinematic genius, telling a story in a way that could only be told as effectively through the medium of cinema. I don’t even care about the hokey script and the fact that each act is very obviously a different spaceship, I was totally enthralled for every single second. The dark room and big screen may be a big part of that, so there’s a good chance it won’t have the same effect when I eventually add it to my Blu-Ray collection, but it’s still going to be a pleasure to experience such an amazing piece of moviemaking.
“WAIT! What about…”
Thor 2? Didn’t see it.
Catching Fire? Didn’t see it.
That movie I loved? Didn’t see it. Lets just say Matt’s end of year film write-up is going to be a little more comprehensive.
Leftover wine in front of me, tin of British Cadbury’s Roses to my right,
you know, with the chocolate that doesn’t taste like brown wax
growing pile of empty wrappers to my left.
Reason and calories be damned.
So, how were the games this year? Well…um…
Simon’s Best Games of 2013
Attack Of The Friday Monsters – 3DS
Charming, full of love and stuffed to the brim with childlike wonder. Its sense of place and mystery is so, so powerful. Made me happy to be a virtual adventurer. Maybe the whole thing is about believing the lie of storytelling, allowing yourself to get swept along as the alternative doesn’t bear thinking about. A game that everyone should be tied down and forced to play (although that may diminish the warm fuzzy feelings). Just beautiful and personal. My review.
Super Hexagon – Android
What? Yes, the 2013 Android release of my game of 2012 counts, especially when I’m still plumbing its depths. I think it might actually be perfect. I use it for meditation, to escape the noise and stresses of real life, and it’s a wonderfully inviting comrade. High times only come when you clear your mind and let go. It’s the closest thing I’ve ever experienced to a drug trip. Still don’t know how to describe how it makes me feel. Have you bought it yet?
Super Mario 3D World – WiiU
It doesn’t matter that I’ve only played this for a few hours. It’s amazing. The design, the graphics, the sound…welcome to the real next-gen. Nintendo may have completely screwed up the WiiU’s message (and are now paying the price with terrible sales), but SM3DW is a wonderful reminder that they are peerless designers of toys.
Saints Row 4 – PS3
As I mentioned in our recent podcast, Saints Row 4 succeeds as it finally fully embraces that which defines it – silliness, extravagance and love. Yes, that’s it – there’s so much love in this game, its heart beats loud and proud. It loves itself, but it also loves you. It wants you to have a great time, and boy, does it know how to deliver. So, so nearly my game of the year, and it certainly the one that I plan on going back to the most. It’s a joy to play and a constant reminder of why I fell in love with games in the first place.
Game Of The Year: Tomb Raider
How do I love thee, Tomb Raider? Let me count the ways. 1) You’re amazing. The end.
Reducing Lara Croft to a young scared girl was a great move. Allowing her to find her feet then fight back was so compelling. Having her scripted by Rhianna Pratchett was a stroke of genius. Lara – and the game she represents – changed in 2013, from an empty, megabreasted shell to a deep and emotive story of adventure, discovery, bravery and tenacity. That most wonderful of character attributes, the absolute refusal to give up. Developers Crystal Dynamics placed Lara’s spirit at the heart of the whole game, then tied in an action adventure that showed Uncharted how it’s really done. More actual tombs for the sequel, please. The one with the wind took my breath away.
“WAIT! What about…”
The Last Of Us? It’s a fantastically made game that I’m slowly working through, but it’s so grim that it often feels like work.
Grand Theft Auto 5? Huge disappointment. Terrible story featuring three absolute arseholes, but set in one of the best technical showcase openworld cities I’ve ever seen. It’s a tourism sim, basically. Simon Parkin perfectly captured it in his Eurogamer article.
Bioshock Infinite? Didn’t finish it. Got bored with the combat and eating cake out of bins. Plan to finish it at some point.
So, that’s it. What will 2014 bring? How can the new consoles convince us to take them into our homes? Can Nintendo finally capitalise on their avalanche of good feeling generated in the last few months? Let’s hope so, because the WiiU is an amazing console and deserves much, much better.
Happy New Year!
Awesome Tomb Raider gif by Hellocati.