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As 2016 comes to a close, it’s impossible not to look back on the year as a whole. The general consensus of the world at large seems to be that this year, well . . . it sucked. It sucked real hard. Even in the realm of video games, what should be sources of joy and entertainment, there was more than this year’s fair share of duds.

To be fair, we tried to spread the hate around. From consoles to PCs, FPS to RPG, and everything else in between, there was a lot to loathe. And so, for your amusement and soon-to-be groans of remembrance, here are the top 5 worst games of 2016.

5. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare


Some might call this one unfair, seeing as how Infinite Warfare has generally positive reviews, but no one can forget the wave of hatred that the Internet collectively spewed over Infinite Warfare when it’s reveal trailer was first released. The video is currently the second most disliked video on Youtube with over 3 million dislikes and counting.

Why the hate? There are a lot of reasons. Some gamers are just sick of what was once a groundbreaking FPS franchise becoming a stagnant, cookie cutter series. Others hated the jump to full blown science-fiction (Call of Duty has flirted with sci-fi in the past, but Infinite Warfare is the first time the two have officially been together), and were instead attracted to literally the exact opposite of it, World War I era shooter Battlefield 1, which was released to massive acclaim.

In the end, even if Infinite Warfare isn’t that bad of a game, in and of itself, it represents the lowest point in the Call of Duty franchise, and thus earns a spot on our list.

4. No Man’s Sky


At number four on our list, we have a much less controversial entry, No Man’s Sky. Heralded as the promised messiah of the sci-fi genre, No Man’s Sky was to be the most in-depth, immersive, and simply biggest exploration game ever. There were to be quintillions of planets for players to explore. Quintillions. The hype train immediately left the station.

When No Man’s Sky was finally released this year, it was to a gaming public who had expectations so high it never stood a chance. Features had been removed, altered, and overhauled. Things were tweaked. Decisions were made. Essentially, development happened.

Instead of a vast ocean, players were given a shallow ocean. No Man’s Sky was still a massive universe to explore, it just turned out to be not very fun to explore. The internet raged. Claims were made that the developers had falsely advertised the game. Subreddit after subreddit filled to the brim with bile at the mere mention of No Man’s Sky, and ultimately, unjustly or not, ensured that it would be remembered as one of the most reviled games of all time.

3. Metroid Prime: Federation Force


It was a bad year for developers completely misreading what their fans wanted, as Metroid Prime: Federation Force proves. Ever since the Metroid franchise was revitalized by the Metroid Prime series, Nintendo has been trying and failing to recapture the same glory. Nothing showcases that more than Federation Force.

Rather than sticking to series mainstay Samus Aran, Nintendo took a big gamble by opting instead to focus on the exploits of the Galactic Federation’s Marines. And they lost, big. Fans who had been waiting years for even a whisper of another Metroid game revolted at the mere thought of a Metroid game that didn’t focus on Samus.

To rub salt in the wound, Federation Force turned out to be an absolutely terrible game. Poor controls, restrictive mechanics, and just in general being not fun will forever leave Federation Force as a stain on Metroid‘s good reputation.

2. Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness


Never heard of this game? Lucky you. Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness is the newest entry in what was once of the most beloved JRPG series of all time that isn’t named Final Fantasy. Less a game than every JRPG critic’s usual complaints given physical form while lacking any of the redeeming qualities that used to let you ignore said critics, Integrity and Faithlessness was quite simply a mistake.

After the Star Ocean series was considered officially killed by the third entry, and then murdered a second time by the fourth entry, the corpse was stitched back together and revived for entry number five. Despite many fans hopeful expectations, Integrity and Faithlessness turned out to be their worst nightmares come true.

The plot is incomprehensible, the enemies are repaint after repaint, the open world is a drudge to explore, and the gameplay is just so damn boring. What was intended to be a breath of life into the series, only showed just how out of touch it was not only with modern JRPGs but with modern gaming in general. So long Star Ocean, maybe this time you’ll finally stay in your grave where you belong.

1. Mighty No. 9

Does anyone remember playing Megaman? Wasn’t that great? Our beloved little blue boy meeting out nine different flavors of blaster powered death to all the naughty robots of the world. But then Capcom decided, somewhere in the early 2000’s that Megaman was done. Good night, sweet prince, and may a chorus of angels sing thee to thy rest . . .

“But no!”, said Keiji Inafune, the man who first designed Megaman and would go on to become a producer on many later games, and so a Kickstarter was born. Led by the man who had created him, Megaman would be given the spiritual successor we all thought he deserved, and its name would be . . . Mighty No. 9.

And after years of development hell, Mighty No. 9  was finally released, and it was an abomination. First off, the game is U-G-L-Y, and it has yet to give us a viable alibi. But even when you put the gut-wrenchingly awful, near painful to look at aesthetics aside, the gameplay is still subpar. At it’s absolute best moments, it can remind the player of the glory days of Megaman, but those moments are scattered amidst poorly designed environments, controls that “mostly” work, and some truly frustrating and unsatisfying boss battles.

2016 was a dark year for video games, and nothing better represents the lowest of the low than Mighty No. 9. Take a bow, you great big loser.

The Fanboy Report

Brazilian grandma has been accidentally praying to a Lord of the Rings Statue

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Saint Anthony and elrond

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Lord of the Rings fans know how their love of one of the great fantasy series of all time can border on the obsessive. But an Elderly woman and Brazil took that love to an extreme, having spent years praying to a statue of one of the Lord of the Rings characters. Only, she had no idea she was doing it.

It turns out what she thought was a statue of the catholic saint Anthony, was actually an action figure of Elrond Half-elven. And it was a particularly cheap action figure that can be picked up on eBay for $9.

And while Saint Anthony is a 13th- century saint and doctor of the church, prayed to for his assistance in finding lost articles, Elrond is master of Rivendell, and entirely fictional, which probably makes praying to him slightly less effective.

The woman’s granddaughter discovered the mix up after visiting the elderly woman and put the photo up on Facebook with a caption explaining how her grandmother had spent years offering devotion to it. The internet immediately went nuts over the mix-up.

She told Buzzfeed that, “We tried to explain right away but she didn’t understand at first. The next day we explained again and she understood and we got her a new figure of Saint Anthony.”

That makes sense since it is probably quite a task to explain to an old woman in rural Brazil that she has actually been praying for the divine intervention of an elf.

It’s interesting to imagine how a woman in Brazil ended up praying to a figurine of Elrond, and we can make some guesses. The statue is clearly modeled on Hugo Weaving, who played Elrond in the recent Lord of the Rings movies. And since she has had it for years, she probably got it shortly after the movies came out.

So somehow, a figurine that was probably given out during a promotion of the movie made its way to Brazil, where someone noticed its similarity to the robed figure of a catholic saint and sold it as an item of religious devotion. As far as the old woman goes, she probably isn’t that upset, since I would be surprised if she had ever seen the movies and it’s probably the thought that counts when praying anyway.

This post originally appeared on FanboyReport.com as “Brazilian grandma as been accidentally praying to Elrond”

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The Fanboy Report

The guide to playing video games with your partner

If it feels like you only have one chance to get your S.O.’s introduction to video games right, your gut may be correct.

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If your S.O. agrees to watch one of your favorite movies, they are committing four hours of their life – tops – to see why you love it. If you want your S.O. to play one of your favorite video games, you could be asking around a hundred hours of their life.

If it feels like you only have one chance to get your S.O.’s introduction to video games right, your gut may be correct.

The good news is that it can be done, and that there’s pretty much a game for everyone. You just need to find a game that your S.O. will be interested in that will make the learning curve worth it. Before I recommend genres and games*, though, there are some things you need to not do.

The Don’ts

Your S.O. will choose to play games differently than you. Just because they’re inexperienced doesn’t make it the wrong way. If you try to micromanage their game play they will either give up or bludgeon you.

Don’t try to make all your favorite games your S.O.’s favorite games. It’s nice if things work out that way, but don’t be a jerk who cuts off other gaming options due to your own preferences. That kind of behavior will drive your S.O. away from gaming entirely.

Don’t throw your S.O. in the deep end and expect them to swim. First-person shooters, PvP, and raiding are not 101 video game experiences. The fast-twitch responses and familiarity with controls necessary to enjoy them just aren’t there yet for most newbies. (Oh the joys of looking at the ceiling while walking into a wall and getting shot in the back.) Once your S.O. gets the hang of things, you can come back to them.

RPGs

via GIPHY

RPGs are a great choice for those who love stories. The controls are relatively straightforward and the narrative arc is the main focus instead of sheer player ability.

The Final Fantasy series is classic, and the early games allow for a slower, more deliberate battle system if necessary. Heavy Rain is a gritty and emotional mystery. Telltale has several excellent games based on comics, TV, and even other games like The Wolf Among Us, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, and Tales from the Borderlands. For anime lovers, the Persona series is an easy win.

Beat ‘em ups

via GIPHY

Perhaps your S.O. is the kind of person who’ll skip cut scenes and wants to be actively playing most of the time. In this case, RPGs are too slow and your S.O. will feel like they’re being railroaded. For consistent action, a kind of beat ‘em up may be the ticket, and even better if it’s co-op.

Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 is a romp of wrecking your enemies and surroundings. It’s kind of ridiculous, but thoroughly enjoyable. The Lego video games offer lots of destruction opportunities along with humor and puzzle solving embedded in familiar fictional realms. Many people have a soft spot for Harry Potter, Star Wars, or Lord of the Rings, which can be a great initial hook. If all your S.O. wants is the efficient demolition of as many things, people, and monsters as possible, Diablo III: Reaper of Souls is the game you’re looking for, with the addictive touch that Blizzard Entertainment is known for.

 

Puzzle/Platformers

via GIPHY

Maybe your S.O.’s thing isn’t narratives or joyous, wanton destruction, but there’s a lot in between. Puzzle games and/or platformers are rarely vaunted the way other games are, but they provide a good mix of challenge and satisfaction.

Little Big Planet is full of cute things, customizable options, stage building, and teamwork. Catherine is an intense puzzle/platformer with a creepy story about mysterious deaths and a commitment phobic protagonist. Portal is an iconic puzzle/platformer that’s wonderfully creative and makes you feel like the smartest person to ever smart once you get it right. (Or like a monster. I’m sorry companion cube!!!!)

Casual Games

via GIPHY

If your S.O. has been burned by gaming or gamer culture before, low-risk, highly enjoyable digital fluff maybe in order. “Good” games reward skill, persistence, and risk taking. After a stressful job or getting a baby to sleep, may be a “bad” game is what your S.O. needs.

Artifex Mundi makes loads of puzzle games that are not particularly challenging or logical with plotlines that are all kind of the same; yet these games are relaxing and satisfying. Hatoful Boyfriend is a hilarious mess of a dating game involving a world where birds are the dominant species, but you’re a human looking for love anyway. Blue Toad Murder Files: The Mystery of Little Riddle is a delightful episodic game where you improbably solve murders by solving puzzles to gain circumstantial clues.

None of these games came close to winning game of the year, but that’s not the point. Even with a bit of casual gaming, your S.O. will be able to connect with some of your video game experiences. That’s, after all, what you wanted in the first place.

* Sorry it’s so PlayStation heavy, but it’s what I have, and I wouldn’t recommend anything I haven’t played. **

** Yes, I played the pigeon dating game. It is exactly as advertised.

This article originally appeared on Fanboy Report as “The guide to playing video games with your girlfriend.”

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Movies & Television

Breaking down Rogue One easter eggs

Rogue One is so overstuffed with allusions and references to the Clone Wars and original series, you may have missed some of these major Easter Eggs.

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, then you know that there’s a new Star Wars film. Rogue One, the first of the Disney sanctioned Star Wars standalone films, is in theatres and making a boatload of cash; a $155 million boatload, to be exact. Chances are you’ve probably already seen the standalone space heist film, or are planning to do so during the holiday weekend. Who knows, maybe you’re one of those Star Wars obsessives that plan on seeing the film at least three times, so as to bask in its total and unequivocal escapist glory.

We’ll avoid major spoilers in this post –remember, this movie bridges the gap between the Clone Wars and A New Hope – though the outcome has been around for nearly half a century now. For those who don’t remember, the iconic opening crawl of Episode IV: A New Hope references the events that take place in Rogue One.

Let’s not get into the specifics, per se, but let’s talk shop about Rogue One. The big concern for most going into Rogue One wasn’t whether or not the film would make money (Star Wars prints money at this point), but whether it would provide proper fan service while bridging the gap between the prequels and original series. To put it in layman’s terms, we’re talking Easter Eggs.

If you were one of the fortunate folks who didn’t have to sit through an entire film of fanboys of The Force gasping at every allusion or reference to the Clone Wars or original series, then you may have missed some of these major Easter Eggs. Here just a few of the Eater Eggs you may have missed upon your first viewing of Rogue One.

Blue Milk

This was a blink and you’ll miss it tiny, minuscule Easter Egg that came in the beginning of Rogue One. If you’ll remember in A New Hope when Luke’s aunt served him what’s known as Bantha milk (aka “Blue Milk”), everyone thought it was the most clever thing ever. Fast forward (or rewind?) to Rogue One, and in young Jyn’s home, a pitcher of blue milk can be seen. That’s it, small Easter Egg.

Bail Organa

Alright, this was a pretty obvious Easter Egg, that featured actor Jimmy Smits of the prequel series (one of the few good things) making an appearance as a member of the Rebel counsel. If you don’t remember, Senator Organa and his wife adopt Leia after the events of the Clone Wars and raises her as his own. Chances are the Bail Organa scenes were added in the infamous reshoots, because in the film his scenes feel a bit jaunty.

Evazan and Ponda Baba at Jedha Market

Oh yeah! Take us back to Mos Eisley Cantina, why don’t you? No clarinet-y music on the trade planet of Jedha, but, when Cassian and Jyn Erso were looking for Saw Gerrera, they bump into the two swarthy fellas who can be recognized from the Cantina scenes in A New Hope. Both look just as ugly as they ever did.

Red Squadron

This was a cool Easter Egg. The dog-fighting X-wing fighters have always been a fan favorite (and should eventually get their own film, if you ask me), and Rogue One did not disappoint. The film featured the famed Red Squadron (but no Porkins!) along with the new Blue squadron that featured female pilots! Good on you Rogue One, some equality in the galaxy for once!

Yavin Base

The familiar locale of the Rebel base was first seen in A New Hope, and it was back in Rogue One. When the rebels help Jyn Erso escape they take her back to their jungle base of Yavin Base, where we see familiar faces in Mon Mothma and Bail Organa for the first time.

Grand Moff Tarkin

This was an important Easter Egg, even if the actor who played Grand Moff Tarkin in the original trilogy had long been dead. How did they get the character back, you ask? Well with some near perfect CGI – but he still had that weird uncanny valley that happens when CGI is good, but not quite good enough. Anyway, it was nice to have Tarkin their to menace the already menacing Director Krennic.

Whills

The Whills might be the most important of all the Easter Eggs found in Rogue One and it wasn’t even a reference from one of the original films! When Cassian and Jyn are on Jedha and we see Chirrut Imwe and Baze Malbus for the first time, Cassian references the fact that they used to be part of The Whills, otherwise known as guardians of the Kyber temple on Jedha. The Journal of the Whill is referenced in the novelization of The Force Awakens, and could certainly make for a cool standalone idea when Disney runs out of ideas.

This article originally appeared on Fanboy Report as “Breaking down Rogue One easter eggs”.

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