Board 8 > An analysis of how each year performed in Game of the Decade 2

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MechanicalWall
05/12/20 4:20:04 PM
#1:


I have a strong attachment to the last decade of gaming, as it's when I started having enough disposable income to waste on buying video games en masse. Of the 128 games in bracket, I've played more than 90; and seeing as I'm likely to finish top 10 on the leaderboard of this contest bar a massive Witcher > Zelda upset, I feel I have decent enough knowledge and instinct to take a crack at a Post-Contest Analysis.

I don't really have the heart or time for an Ulti-style PCA, ie go through every single match and write something about it. Too many of the matches were either too predictable, too boring, or too static to be worth it for me to try and say something about all of them (and salute to those of you who DO take on such undertakings!)

Rather, this is a PCA with a bit of a twist. Partially due to the Years Contest and partially due to my own curiosity, I wanted to put together a retrospective on how each year represented in Game of the Decade 2 performed holistically.

That may sound a bit esoteric, so let me list what I intend to do:

1) Provide a list of all the games that made the contest that were released in a particular year, ordered by appearance in bracket. I'm using the American release dates as reference, and I'm only counting full official releases; if a game came out in early access in 2014 but only received an official launch in 2018, I'm counting the 2018 release date. The only exception is Fortnite, as no one in the universe looked at its match and thought of anything but the Battle Royale version.

2) Provide a list of up to 8 notable snubs; I'm consulting Metacritic, sales data, and major cult classic status to decide what counts as a 'notable snub'; some Visual Novel on Vita that no one outside B8 played does not count as a 'notable snub'.

3) Provide a short two or three game list of that year's 'Headliners'; essentially, the games I think did best or stood out the most.

4) Provide a short two or three game list of that year's 'Busts'; which games underperformed RELATIVE TO EXPECTATIONS. I'm not gonna bag on fodder for being fodder.

5) Most importantly, provide commentary and analysis on each year. This includes the performances of the notable games, the different game design trends and genres that seemed most dominant, perhaps attempt to cross reference these results with the Years Contest (although considering that bracket included three whole decades, this might be difficult), and provide my overall thoughts on how the year did.

6) I'll give a letter grade to each year; either an A, B, C, D, or F. No pluses or minuses or anything like that, let's keep it simple.

I am not a numbers guy, so don't expect any hard number crunching or statistics. Maybe when the final x-stats are ready I'll come back to this and try to average them out or something, but for now I intend for this to be relatively lighthearted. Think of it as 8 parts PCA, 2 parts potential reference material. I have no idea if anyone will be interested in what I have to say or this particular formatting, but at worst this satisfies my own curiosity. If anyone finds it interesting or entertaining, all the better!

With the quarantine, I doubt this takes too long; I can probably knock out a year every day or two.

2010 will be coming up soon!

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ZenOfThunder
05/12/20 4:20:42 PM
#2:


oh shit

tag


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MechanicalWall
05/12/20 9:36:47 PM
#3:


Prelude to the Decade:

I was thinking to myself how much more Western this bracket looked in comparison to GotD1 and BGE2, before remembering that I already knew why that was the case. The PS360 era hit Japanese developers HARD; many of them had admitted to simply not being ready for the transition to HD, which had become abundantly clear by 2010. Capcom, Konami, and Square Enix, three Japanese companies whose fame stretches back to the NES era for their high quality and frequent output, not only slowed down immensely, but put out some of their worst work this generation. The most high-profile series of each of these companies appeared very infrequently (Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy), were significantly scaled down relative to previous generations (Kingdom Hearts and Dragon Quest moving to handheld or Mega Man reduced to putting out 8-bit games), or just plain sucked (Resident Evil, Silent Hill, Castlevania, Final Fantasy again). The fact that a mainline, non-MMO Final Fantasy game came out in 2010 and doesnt even warrant a spot on the snubs list speaks volumes; we KNOW why it didnt make the bracket over XIV or XV.

Despite the Wii being considered a laughing stock, Nintendo propped up Japans high-quality output for quite a while this generation with games like Mario Galaxy and Twilight Princess. Unfortunately, 2010 was the last year their output remained on par with the GC/early Wii era. When I was researching potential snubs, I noticed that GameFAQs, of all places, didnt manage to get high-quality Donkey Kong and Kirby games into bracket, though admittedly those are two series that do alright in character battles but are hardly ever represented in games contests. There was also Metroid Other M except no there wasnt, no such game exists outside of fever dreams and nightmares.

Ultimately, it was the smaller Japanese companies that were doing alright for themselves and picking up the slack. In 2010 Platinum released what is essentially their flagship title in Bayonetta, along with Vanquish, two games that are considered top tier representatives of their genre and put the company on the map. Grasshopper Manufacture was churning out games left and right, with No More Heroes 2, Shadows of the Damned, Lollipop Chainsaw, and many more coming out in quick succession. And of course, theres what may be the biggest breakout story of the decade, FROM Software, but well get there when we get there.

This generation was the Wests time to shine. It was no longer Nintendo and Square and Capcom setting the rules and pushing the boundaries; it was Naughty Dog, Bethesda, Bioware, and many more that were leading the charge. Now if you ask me this was all for the worse, and the PS360 generation is my least favorite since the NES. The color spectrum of gaming shifted from a vibrant rainbow to three shades of grey and brown. Simple and intuitive game design was no longer deemed enough for 20 gigabytes worth of game and were tossed out in favor of overcomplex bloat that had to be taught by endless tutorial boxes, where you have to steel yourself for not being able to actually play the game for an hour or two. On and on my critiques go, but what may be the worst of it is that Japan followed America right off the edge. Is it any wonder that games like Castlevania: Lords of Shadow or Resident Evil 6 ended up the way they did? It wouldnt be until the latter half of the decade when Japan would start to reassert itself as the capital of innovation and whimsical fun.

Whinging aside, Id say our bracket was spared the worst of things, and that we did a good job representing the best this generation had to offer.

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HanOfTheNekos
05/12/20 10:02:25 PM
#4:


excited for this

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_SecretSquirrel
05/12/20 10:10:08 PM
#5:


MechanicalWall posted...
I noticed that GameFAQs, of all places, didnt manage to get high-quality Donkey Kong and Kirby games into bracket,
I know Tropical Freeze defied all logic by not handily defeating Devil May Cry 5, but that's quite the shade.

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Peace___Frog
05/12/20 10:12:54 PM
#6:


Tag!

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MechanicalWall
05/12/20 10:13:09 PM
#7:


Oh that was in reference to the first DKCR lol, I planned for that 'Prelude' to be a part of the 2010 analysis but it became so large I put it up by itself.

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NeoElfboy
05/12/20 10:25:59 PM
#8:


MechanicalWall posted...
The fact that a mainline, non-MMO Final Fantasy game came out in 2010 and doesnt even warrant a spot on the snubs list speaks volumes; we KNOW why it didnt make the bracket over XIV or XV.

I suspect FF13 might have done... okay if it had gotten in. 2018 did kinda suggest that Lightning is stronger than Noctis (I'll never forget being burned by that glove twice...). While I understand that games =/= characters, that still doesn't really suggest that XV is significantly stronger than XIII to me.

In general I feel like there were fewer games from really early in the decade, though presumably you're about to post numbers so I'll be interested if I'm wrong. I actually forgot FF13 was even from this decade for instance. DKCR is another good example, again I doubt that game would be significantly weaker than Tropical Freeze, but you could be forgiven for remembering it as a 2000's game.

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MechanicalWall
05/12/20 11:08:36 PM
#9:


NeoElfboy posted...
In general I feel like there were fewer games from really early in the decade, though presumably you're about to post numbers so I'll be interested if I'm wrong.
I'll be noting how many entries came out per year, but I will say that 60 out of the 128 games in bracket came out from 2010-2014, and it's mostly 2017's fault that the contest is so backhanded.

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MechanicalWall
05/12/20 11:10:03 PM
#10:


Also when I count how many games I've listed for each year, I'm only coming to 127, and I have no idea which game is missing. If you notice over the course of this thread let me know please, I'm utterly baffled.

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_SecretSquirrel
05/12/20 11:22:31 PM
#11:


MechanicalWall posted...
Also when I count how many games I've listed for each year, I'm only coming to 127, and I have no idea which game is missing. If you notice over the course of this thread let me know please, I'm utterly baffled.
Does your list have Minecraft listed as its beta year?

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MechanicalWall
05/12/20 11:41:16 PM
#12:


_SecretSquirrel posted...
Does your list have Minecraft listed as its beta year?
Nope, I have it listed as a 2011 release

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MechanicalWall
05/13/20 12:40:18 AM
#13:


I planned on putting out 2010 today, but I just got done writing it and I figure most Americans are turning in anyways. I'll proofread it and put it up tomorrow, I'm excited for whatever feedback people have.

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davidponte
05/13/20 8:39:51 AM
#14:


Tag

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MechanicalWall
05/13/20 10:56:39 AM
#15:




The 14 Games That Made Bracket:
-Halo Reach
-Mass Effect 2
-VVVVVV
-Call of Duty Black Ops
-Bayonetta
-Red Dead Redemption
-Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective
-Starcraft II
-Super Mario Galaxy 2
-Fallout New Vegas
-Heavy Rain
-Civilization 5
-Super Meat Boy
-Pokemon HeartGold/SoulSilver

Notable Snubs:
-LIMBO
-Assassins Creed: Brotherhood
-Donkey Kong Country Returns
-Amnesia: The Dark Descent
-Vanquish
-God of War III
-Kirbys Epic Yarn
-NieR

Headliners: Mass Effect 2, Super Mario Galaxy 2, Pokemon HeartGold/SoulSilver

Busts: Super Meat Boy, Red Dead Redemption

Snubs Analysis:

Just to illustrate my earlier point, 10 out of 14 of these games are Western-made, and this isnt even the most Western dominated year. The ratios get even more outta whack from here.

I wanna touch on the snubs first, because when I was allocating each game to the proper year I thought, Wow, 2010 seems pretty well-represented. Then I started researching potential snubs, and 2010 was the year that made me self-impose an 8 game limit on the snubs list. There was QUITE a bit left out here that would have performed somewhat better than what actually made it in. Not massively, but still.

Assassins Creed has trended WAY down on this site over the years, from going 60-40 with Wind Waker in 2010 to getting more than tripled by FFVI in 2015, but Brotherhood is a relic of the good ol Ezio days and would probably have been a much stronger entry than IV or Odyssey (or at least Odyssey). Swap Starcraft II with it and watch it scare the daylights outta ME3.

With all the dialogue surrounding how much more mature and well-structured God of War 2018 is, along with the fact that it has a continuity reboot style name despite not actually being one, the older God of Wars feel like theyve very quickly faded out of relevance. GoWIII not even making it into bracket feels like proof positive of this (yes I know none of them made BGE 2015, but there was a MUCH lower barrier of entry here). I think thats a shame; the original placed in the top 20 of the GotD1 x-stats, and Im interested to see if the 2018 game really has obsoleted the originals. That and its a damn good game with the reviews, fan reception, and sales that would warrant its inclusion.

While VVVVVV is a great game, I feel LIMBO or especially Amnesia would have made more interesting indie reps. Both those games are the progenitors of very prolifics styles of indie games, and Amnesia essentially transformed YouTubes gaming content into a facecam screamfest that persists to this day. This was for the worse, mind, but you cant say it wasnt influential, and its hardly the games fault that it turned out so poorly.

There are some legacy picks here that Im just sorta surprised didnt make it, even if they wouldnt be worth much. Considering how poorly Tropical Freeze did, Kirby and DKCR probably wouldnt have moved the needle, but theyd be friendly faces for sure. OG NieR and Vanquish making it in out of pure cult appeal and Automatas success are exactly the kinda out of the box picks that would make sense on GameFAQs, so it NOT happening threw me for a loop.

Bust Analysis:

But enough about what DIDNT happen. As the earliest year represented in the contest, it shouldnt be much of a surprise that 2010 did alright on BoomerFAQs, and largely within expectations.

So much so that picking Busts was rather difficult, and one of the games I did pick is being done a disservice. Super Meat Boy is NOT that game; while it wasnt some overwhelming favorite against Sonic Mania, its enormous loss was one of the most striking moments of the contest, and considering how low stakes that match was, thats saying something. Barely breaking 35% in a match considered a complete tossup is the kind of embarrassment that were Super Meat Boy to ever show up in bracket again, theres no doubt people would pick against it almost instinctively. SMB managing to double Slay the Spire puts into perspective how absurdly weak that eightpack was, and why Persona 5 didnt get much props until near the end of the contest.

Red Dead Redemption is a different beast, and if I werent picking a minimum of 2 busts per year, I wouldnt have picked it at all. While I was lucky enough to call the Rockstar games yet again choking on a JRPG, P4 vs RDR was one of the first bracket busters; a 31.05% prediction rate for P4 isnt INSANELY low (though it was still the third lowest in R2, behind Shovel Knight and Horizon making it out of fourpacks against massive casual bait opponents), but that was on a match where either winner would have gotten to Division Finals, and potentially Quarters. RDR cost a lot of smart people a lot of points (picking P4 to win that eightpack is what vaulted me to a top 5 finish on the leaderboard, natch), and though Rockstar choking is a tradition at this point, there was reason to think it could win. The Red Dead series has always seemed a bit more respected on GameFAQs than GTA, with its stronger plot focus and the lack of something as crude as fucking prostitutes and murdering them for the cash you just paid them. The match was certainly close enough that RDR wasnt embarrassed, and considering how well it indirectly performs against Smash Ultimate, its really only a Bust through process of elimination.

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MechanicalWall
05/13/20 10:57:07 AM
#16:


Headliner Analysis:

2010 never had the insane peaks that some other years had, but it got the wins where it needed to. Though just like picking two Busts was difficult, finding two Headliners was also difficult; Mass Effect 2 was a lock, but while deciding between Mario and Pokemon, I realized that I couldnt pick one without the other, because they both had the same reasons to both be and NOT be included here.

Of those two questionable picks Im gonna start with Pokemon, because its probably the one that would have the strongest objections lobbed against it. Skyrim was the overwhelming favorite to make it out of Division 8, but there were whispers of Pokemon upsetting it and making it as far as the Finals! Even those who strongly objected to such notions thought that Pokemon would at least make Skyrim squirm a bit in Division Finals; instead it ate a 60-40 loss, putting it on par with Mario Kart 8 lulz.

Im not gonna deny that was fairly embarrassing after all the hype, but this PCA is naturally gonna be filtered through my perspective. I never felt that Pokemon had a shot at Skyrim, or that it was gonna possess GSC level strength; its REALLY debated match was with Nier Automata, and a lot of smart people thought HGSS was gonna lean more towards modern Pokemon, ie weak as shit. Their eightpack being turbotrash outside of themselves meant that we were flying into this match completely blind, and it ended with Pokemon having a small but comfortable win that Nier never really threatened to take away. A hyped match ending with a 52-48 lead that never threatened to switch sides is always the most boring; you dont get the intensity of a wire-to-wire fight, nor the hilarity of one side just running away with it ala SMB and Sonic. Pokemon did well to hold its ground, and looked to be almost in the middle of X/Y and G/S/C, which in this era of Pokehatred is probably the best it could have asked for.

So what about Galaxy 2? Why is it being blessed with the title of Headliner when it lost all the way back in Round 3, in a match some thought it could win (lol). Well, its godstomp of Obra Dinn was one of the most entertaining moments of Round 1 (no disrespect to that game, I hear its excellent and I fully intend to play it), and providing the biggest blowout of the contest meant the Galaxy>Witcher upset crowd was finding a voice. Though ALSO going out in a 60-40 fashion doesnt look great, wed find out that getting blown out by Witcher is hardly an indictment of the games strength, and once the final x-stats are done I suspect its gonna be a lot closer to Odyssey than initially expected. Thats more credit than Galaxy was being given pre-contest!

But only one of these games is unambiguously the Headliner of the year, and thats Mass Effect 2. Though it was a slight favorite to win its Division, it was dogged with doubt all contest long, starting all the way back in Round 1 with what was perceived to be an embarrassing underperformance against REVII. People started thinking that fucking Fallout 4 was gonna upset it. Fallout 4. The beginning of the end of Bethesdas gamer cred, and part of the reason Witcher killed so many top brackets in the semifinals. Shepard ended up picking the Renegade option in that match and fucking decked it, with a near doubling that stunned everyone and made them question everything they knew at that point in the contest. Was indie fear not warranted and that 70% on VVVVVV was as bad as it would have looked if you ignored the Hollow Knight and Bastion matches (yes)? Was REVII actually good (yes)? Was Mass Effect 2 ok (yes)?

The downtime between Round 2 and Round 3 was the only respite ME2 got all contest; it went 55-45 against Horizon Zero Dawn, which I guess some people were disappointed with because its match with RE2 was considered a massive question mark. As one of Horizons biggest advocates I was pretty certain that ME2 was fine, and it was. The RE2 match was exactly the kind of boring 52-48 affair I described earlier, which after an entire contests worth of doubt was exactly what ME2 needed. Unfortunately it was the weakest 1 seed left, and would have lost to anything other than the non-1 seed in Quarterfinals. Still, no shame in being obliterated by the LAW; plenty of strong games and characters have been sacrificed on the altar of Zelda, and we think no less of them.

Other thoughts:

You know, the more I stew on it, the less I think of this year. Mass Effect 2 was the only real highlight, and even then it was ultimately a 1 seed that did what it was supposed to do and won its Division; every other game did what it was expected to do, with little deviation from the script. None of the wacky Pokemon or Mario upsets panned out, but even more reasonable upsets like Civ 5 > ACIV or New Vegas > God of War didnt happen. But hey, it works the other way around, too; outside of SMB and RDR, nothing got upset, and there was plenty of potential for it with Life is Strange and Dark Souls III being perceived as threats to Halo Reach and New Vegas (and NV holding off DkSIII after the original proved super legit was pretty good for it in retrospect).

By the way, can we talk about how Halo and Blops managed to sneak into bracket? These games dont even warrant any respect points like Modern Warfare 1 or the earlier Halo games, and as the sites userbase shrinks and is boiled down to its base elements, these casualbait FPS games making it in is all the more surprising. I guess the fact that they made it in over Halo 4 or 5 and the 70 Call of Duty games that have come out since then speaks to how the turn of the decade was the last time anyone could stomach this shit, and they ARE pretty representative of their era. Getting godsmacked by Breath of the Wild and Bloodborne is exactly the kind of vindication I needed.

Seven of these games would turn out to be pretty damn weak by any reasonable standard, too: Heavy Rain, SMB, Starcraft II, Blops, VVVVVV, Halo Reach, and Ghost Trick are definitely in fodder town, and Civ 5 isnt that far off if not already there. How Halo, VVVVVV, Starcraft II, and SMB managed to worm their ways into an 8, 9, 9, and fcking 4 seeds, respectively, is beyond me. As this is the first year of the analysis idk how bad a 50% fodder density is, relatively speaking, but I cant imagine its good. Still, when no one expects anything of you, its hard to care when you get blown out.

And thats ultimately where 2010 lies. Its really nothing crazy, either in a positive or negative way.

Final Rating:

C - Mostly did what was needed and expected to be done. No more, no less.

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KanzarisKelshen
05/13/20 11:30:48 AM
#17:


Halo Reach is a very good Halo, and the last truly great one (plus a swan song for Bungie's Halo era in general). It's no surprise it made it in, especially since it finally arrived to PC not long before the contest nomming process began. Blops is the surprise, I didn't know anyone thought that highly of it.

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LinkMarioSamus
05/13/20 12:25:11 PM
#18:


The Fiery Joker, one of the biggest Call of Duty fans on YouTube, named Black Ops one of the most overrated games of all time back in 2012. For what it's worth.

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Snake5555555555
05/13/20 12:29:15 PM
#19:


Blops has easily my favorite campaign of the series and the best zombies of the franchise too.

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MechanicalWall
05/13/20 2:02:56 PM
#20:


I didn't expect the Halo/CoD comment to be the controversial part of this write-up lol

Idk I feel like those series are so insanely past their primes at this point that it seemed strange that they scrounged up enough noms to make it in, especially on this site where even at their best they were pretty weak. As I mentioned in my write-up, the turn of the decade seemed like the last period of time people were willing to indulge in those sorts of modern-style shooters.

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BlAcK TuRtLe
05/13/20 2:07:41 PM
#21:


I think pretty much every game that has come out since 2000/2001 has weakened over time. There's definitely a recency bias in more modern games that doesn't exist for games over a certain age (likely the age when most of the site hits ~13-15).

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davidponte
05/13/20 2:08:37 PM
#22:


I will say Black Ops is one of my favourite CoD's and if we had five more nomination spots I probably would have given one of them to it.

Maybe Allen wanted series representation from two of the most popular series of the decade? Fortnite doesn't rate on Gamefaqs at all either but it wouldn't feel like a GotD Contest without including it. I feel like the same can be said for a Halo game and a CoD game.

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MechanicalWall
05/13/20 2:31:05 PM
#23:


davidponte posted...
Maybe Allen wanted series representation from two of the most popular series of the decade?
I feel that's pretty likely, and I can't blame him if that's the case. You have to at least acknowledge the single best selling series of the decade.

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Joelypoely
05/13/20 2:37:09 PM
#24:


Reach also had Forge mode which was a huge upgrade over the one in Halo 3.
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pjbasis
05/13/20 2:42:54 PM
#25:


Hey great project! Very interesting stuff but I think you're overblowing the FFXIII hate. To think it would lose to Kirby's Epic Yarn is baffling. I wouldn't be surprised if it was even with XV, which won two matches somehow!

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LinkMarioSamus
05/13/20 2:44:01 PM
#26:


MechanicalWall posted...
I didn't expect the Halo/CoD comment to be the controversial part of this write-up lol

Idk I feel like those series are so insanely past their primes at this point that it seemed strange that they scrounged up enough noms to make it in, especially on this site where even at their best they were pretty weak. As I mentioned in my write-up, the turn of the decade seemed like the last period of time people were willing to indulge in those sorts of modern-style shooters.

This reminds me: I can't be the only one who feels like there's a smaller group of games that tend to dominate "Game of the Decade" discussions for the 2010s compared to the 2000s, right? Feels as if there's more of a consensus for the former.

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MechanicalWall
05/13/20 2:52:52 PM
#27:


pjbasis posted...
Very interesting stuff but I think you're overblowing the FFXIII hate.
In my mind it's just like, if there's a 2 game per series cap, does FFXIII have a solid argument to have been included over XIV and XV? I don't really feel it. It's not necessarily that I think it'd have performed worse than the snubs I did include, but that series quota was filled satisfactorily.

I may be somewhat out of the loop here though. More and more I'm seeing people have kinder things to say about XIII, and idk if XV caused that or if time has helped those wounds.

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_SecretSquirrel
05/13/20 2:56:24 PM
#28:


MechanicalWall posted...
How Halo, VVVVVV, Starcraft II, and SMB managed to worm their ways into an 8, 9, 9, and fcking 4 seeds
You do know Meat Boy was the Guru choice, and was guaranteed entry with a high seed as a result, right?

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ZenOfThunder
05/13/20 2:59:47 PM
#29:


whoa nice banner

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KanzarisKelshen
05/13/20 3:08:45 PM
#30:


MechanicalWall posted...
In my mind it's just like, if there's a 2 game per series cap, does FFXIII have a solid argument to have been included over XIV and XV? I don't really feel it. It's not necessarily that I think it'd have performed worse than the snubs I did include, but that series quota was filled satisfactorily.

I may be somewhat out of the loop here though. More and more I'm seeing people have kinder things to say about XIII, and idk if XV caused that or if time has helped those wounds.

It's XV being even worse. NOBODY gives a shit about XV. There's a reason XIV's Shadowbringers expansion was considered such a big deal, after years and years of dogshit FF games and the latest mainline game being flat out unfinished, we finally had one that legitimately brought the magic back again.

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MechanicalWall
05/13/20 3:08:48 PM
#31:


_SecretSquirrel posted...
You do know Meat Boy was the Guru choice, and was guaranteed entry with a high seed as a result, right?
I knew it was the Guru choice, though I didn't know that necessarily meant it would receive that high of a seed. Thank you for making me aware of that.

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davidponte
05/13/20 3:09:54 PM
#32:


MechanicalWall posted...
More and more I'm seeing people have kinder things to say about XIII, and idk if XV caused that or if time has helped those wounds.

I have definitely seen myself feel better about XIII after XV. I wouldn't be surprised if others felt similarly.

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FFDragon
05/13/20 3:11:55 PM
#33:


pjbasis posted...
but I think you're overblowing the FFXIII hate.

underblowing if anything imo tbqh

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MariaTaylor
05/13/20 3:12:43 PM
#34:


p

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UltimaterializerX
05/13/20 3:13:08 PM
#35:


This is a REALLY cool idea from a very, very good stats topic user this year.

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Kotetsu534
05/13/20 4:29:28 PM
#36:


I was genuinely pretty shocked FFXIII didn't make it in. It was obviously underwhelming, but it was still a huge release and quite a few people who persisted with it till it opened up ended up enjoying the hunts (I was certainly one of these, and ended up getting the Plat even though I thought the characters and story were laughably poor). I can see why it got forgotten, but for a mainline FF that was a big deal in 2010 not to even make a cut of 128 stunned me. Much more than DKCR (a far better game, but one that was pretty niche even its own time).

Edit: And yeah, really cool topic idea. My feeling watching the contest was the last half of the decade overperformed a bit while the first half is starting to be forgotten (not surprising since we don't have nostalgia for early 10s games the way we do for early 00s games).

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charmander6000
05/13/20 4:33:16 PM
#37:


I think there was an unspoken two games per series rule. Of course FFXIV getting more nominations than FFXIII was surprising, may have been a rally for it.

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Keltiq
05/13/20 4:41:32 PM
#38:


Halo Reach came out on Steam just before nominations opened, and a lot of people have a decent amount of nostalgia for it, so I'm not surprised it got an okay seed.

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ctesjbuvf
05/13/20 4:42:37 PM
#39:


tag!

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Raka_Putra
05/13/20 5:16:52 PM
#40:


Tag, really liking the concept so far.

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MechanicalWall
05/13/20 9:12:09 PM
#41:


I think the question of whether the latter half of the decade overperformed relative to the earlier half is interesting; while I have the number of entrants from each year (and you'll see where they start getting skewed), one thing I'll add that might help make this a better reference guide and illustrate the strength of each year is add how far each game made it in the contest. Until we have adjusted x-stats that's as good as I can do.

Anyway, 2011 comes up tomorrow!

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MechanicalWall
05/14/20 12:02:42 PM
#42:




The 9 Games That Made Bracket (And How Long They Lasted):
-Bastion (Round 2)
-Deus Ex: Human Revolution (Round 1)
-Dead Space 2 (Round 1)
-Minecraft (Round 2)
-Portal 2 (Division Finals)
-Batman: Arkham City (Round 3)
-Terraria (Round 1)
-Dark Souls (Quarterfinals)
-Skyrim (Semifinals)

Notable Snubs:
-Zelda Skyward Sword
-Uncharted 3
-Pokemon Black & White
-Marvel vs Capcom 3
-Mario Kart 7
-Catherine
-Sonic Generations
-L.A. Noire

Headliners: Skyrim, Dark Souls, Portal 2

Busts: uhhhh, Terraria? Aaaaand Minecraft?

Snubs Analysis:

At 9 entries (only ONE of which is a Japanese game!!), 2011 has the least amount of representation in the entire contest. Its true! Even if my mystery missing game is from this year, it would still only tie with 2016 for least. Its strange because there were plenty of viable additions that were not included.

I mention in the OP of this thread that I judge notable snubs using sales, Metacritic, and major cult classic status. I also want to clarify that I only select games that one could reasonably imagine popping up in a GameFAQs contest. For instance, MW3 and Battlefield 3 were enormous games this year, but no one who follows these contests would be surprised by their absence. Shadows of the Damned is a cult classic, but Sudas games never seem to make it in; No More Heroes 1, his flagship game, showed up in 2010 and was swiftly fodderized; that was the one and only time Suda showed up in a games contest.

Anyway, I know as soon as people see Skyward Sword on the snubs list theyll be calling bullshit on my reasoning for not including FFXIII on the 2010 list, ie the Final Fantasy series was already fairly represented and FFXIII couldnt really have been expected to perform significantly differently. And hey, I didnt include Mario 3D Land on this one for the same reason!

But Skyward Sword is a different beast. One could have argued that ALBWs handheld status may have hampered its potential performance, and many indeed did. SS is a bonafide 3D console Zelda game, and at least twice a week thered be prolonged speculation in the Stats topic about how SS would have done. Would the Zelda name have helped it make a deep run, or would voters turn their back on what is almost universally considered the worst 3D Zelda? It was a spectre that haunted the contest from beginning to end, and you cant say you aint curious yourself.

Along similar lines, there was a lot of speculation surrounding how well a Pokemon game that WASNT a remake of a beloved classic would have fared in this era of Pokehatred. Now, I dont know shit about Pokemon. I really dont. But when I saw names being thrown around, Black and White was the one that I saw the most (along with X/Y, which actually made the 2015 bracket). And considering Pokemon didnt hit the series cap, it is strange that HGSS wasnt accompanied by anything. If B&W is a bad pick Im sure people will let me know.

LA Noire is the only sandbox Rockstar game released this decade to not make an appearance; while we know GTA is an infamous choker, its had perfect attendance in regards to having every console game since III make contest appearances. Ditto with RDR. LA Noire is obviously not in the same league as those series, but it was still highly publicized and even received an HD remaster on every current gen console, including the Switch!

Fighting games outside of Smash and Street Fighter have notoriously done very poorly in contests, and DBZF possibly being the strongest non-Smash fighter in the 2020 bracket is a testament to how the best way to beef up a fighters performance in our contests is to include characters people already recognize. Well, guess what series does that? Marvel vs Capcom 2 actually placed in the top 50 of the GotD1 x-stats, slightly ahead of SFIV. I highly doubt MvC3 would have performed as well in this bracket, but it would have been a fair inclusion alongside Mortal Kombat and Tekken. Put Phoenix Wright in its match pic and watch it win the board vote over literally anything in this contest.

With Persona 4 seemingly being boosted a decent amount and P5 being borderline top 5 material, Im surprised that cult hit Catherine didnt make it. Its Persona-adjacent and has a lot of fan overlap, and JUST received an HD remaster with substantial additions (including a bunch of Persona 5 music).

The rest are mostly just series that already have one entry in and could have been spared another slot. Sonic Generations sticks out as the most huh pick on my list, Im sure, but its inarguably the most well-received 3D Sonic game since Adventure 2, which made the 2010 bracket. Mario Kart 7 and Uncharted 3s younger siblings looked alright this contest (MK8 looked VERY good, in fact), and theyre prolific enough series that youd think they could have swung a second contest entry.

Bust Analysis:

Youre gonna pick on Terraria and Minecraft here? REALLY?

Youre probably wondering why I even bother having a self-imposed minimum of 2 busts per year, when already the first two years havent even had two real busts. Well theres the all important consistency factor, but other than that, it gets people talking and forces me to write about games that I might have otherwise never touched on.

Im not going to put up walls of text where theyre not warranted, though. Truth is, 2011 didnt really have anything that bombed, and I picked these two games for no other reason than I could have seen them doing slightly better.

The Terraria v Bioshock Infinite match happened when Indie Fear was still very real, and I remember actually people entertaining the upset here. And you know, on other websites, Terraria might have done it. You wouldnt know because people on this site dont really talk about it, but Terraria is flippin huge. As in, more than 30 million copies sold huge, which puts it in the same league as Skyrim/Blops/Witcher. The 32% it put on Bioshock might have been good if Bioshock was, erm, good, but it got dropped by Batman pretty easily. Terraria could very well have been as strong as something like Stardew Valley but that never really materialized.

Then theres the game that Terraria took direct inspiration from. Look, Minecraft did pretty well. It scored a blowout on Dota 2 that we could all relish in, because Dota players manage to outdo LoL players in unpleasantness SOMEHOW. It then went 60-40 with Spiderman, a game that proved to be pretty legit. Thing is, theres been this weird Minecraft resurgence manifesting recently, and based on what Ive seen during my web surfing, it emerged as a sort of counter to Fortnites explosion. Why Minecraft? Im not sure, though if I have to hypothesize, it has something to do with the building element and how Minecraft is comparatively more wholesome and creatively fulfilling than Fortnite, or something. Point being, I thought that it might not have been impossible for it to really reach for the stars because of this, but it turned in a decent performance regardless.

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MechanicalWall
05/14/20 12:03:41 PM
#43:


Headliner Analysis:

But TO HELL with all that. Enough half-hearted attempts at making games sound like they did poorly when they didnt. I dont blame anyone who scrolled straight to this section, because as the banner of this year signals, 2011 did fckin amazing. Theres a LOT of good to talk about here.

Of the headliners, theres a noticeable gap between Portal and the other two, so lets start there. Portal 2 had a lot to prove, as it was placed in one of the most debatable eightpacks of the contest, featuring a Rockstar game, a Kingdom Hearts game, and an Animal Crossing game. You could make a case for any one of them making it to Division Finals, and while Portal 2 was the slight Board favorite to make it there, it had to contend with doubts stemming from its baffling 2015 x-stat. It placed well below the halfway line, at 78th place. For such a beloved game, it seems strange, but it makes sense when you consider that it was hidden behind that absurd Sonic-Pokemon match. While most of us knew that, the game still had to prove it was worth the benefit of the doubt.

And prove it Portal did. It started off with a nice 65-35 on an underseeded Tomb Raider, but it was still unclear if that was good enough when RDR2 and Animal Crossing were also taking care of business. The following round provided some great vindication for those who feel that Square has lost a step or ten, when Portal broke 62% on what had formerly been a pretty damn strong series, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that Kingdom Hearts was never going to be what it once was. But it was STILL unclear if Portal was doing well enough, as RDR2 had put down a strong performance on what could very well have been a dangerous entrant in Animal Crossing New Leaf.

So much like the Pokemon v Nier battle, we were flying into this one blind. And also much like that match, it started and ended without much fuss, with Portal putting up a very comfortable 53% on the first Rockstar game in half a decade, a game with INSANE hype around it. There was no doubt now that those who had put their faith in Portal had been richly rewarded, as casual brackets went down in flames around them. It went on to suffer a 57-43 loss to Persona 5; an anticlimactic end to its run, but seeing as Persona would go on to prove itself to be a contender for top 5 of the entire contest, this was hardly a humiliating loss.

Lets graduate from the game that made Division Finals to the game that made Quarterfinals, then. Motherflippin Dark Souls entered this contest with a 1 seed and a lot of pomp and circumstance; between the 2015 and 2020 contests, Dark Souls prestige has continued to go up and up. It has one of the loudest, if not THE loudest, fanbases in modern gaming, one that has evangelized for it on every corner of the Internet. It literally became the shorthand for hard game; everyone reading this is surely aware of how utterly abused the term the Dark Souls of X has become. Developers are increasingly leaning on its style of combat; it used to be that everyone ripped off the Arkham games, but now everyone wants a piece of Miyazakis pie. There are the blatant Souls clones like the Surge or Code Vein or a billion other examples, but even a series as huge as God of War has looked to Dark Souls for guidance.

Unfortunately, much like Portal, Dark Souls had a very strange 2015 performance. In one of the most inexplicable matches of that years contest, it completely and utterly folded to A Link to the Past, looking quite poor after scoring a big win on MGSV. This caused quite a few people to underrate the Miyazaki games in the 2020 bracket, and despite essentially becoming canonized and receiving a MUCH needed HD remaster between 2015 and now, Dark Souls was only the slightest of favorites over The Last of Us.

It would have to wait until Round 3 to prove itself, too, as it was dumped in one of the worst fourpacks in the contest. It cruised to easy victories against Hotline Miami and Rocket League before getting a rematch against MGSV where it proceeded to outdo its 2015 result by 8 percent. At the time, some questioned how legit this result was, as MGSV may very well have dropped in the intervening time, but Dark Souls would prove that boost was very real. I dont really wanna touch on the Division Final here, because who knows how badly the Last of Us was or wasnt hurt by the leaks coming out at a very unfortunate time for it.

BUT before I get to the Quarterfinals lets turn to the last headliner, because as luck would have it, Dark Souls was on a collision course with its fellow 2011-mate, Skyrim. Funnily enough, the Elder Scrolls and its parent company Bethesda have had the complete opposite trajectory that Dark Souls and FROM have had. Skyrim looked absolutely beastly in 2015, and was the single strongest game of the decade at the time. B8ers spent half a decade speculating on how dominant a run Skyrim would have in the inevitable GotD2 contest but all the while, the Internet was starting to shift against Bethesda. Fallout 4 being what it was started a downward spiral for the company, as people began to grow more and more frustrated with their engine and how their games were being dumbed down further and further. Witcher 3 starting to explode in popularity did not help, as the richness of that games writing and world was used as a direct juxtaposition to Bethesdas content. Fallout 76 was the deathblow, though, the last straw that made people throw their hands up and say in unison, FUCK BETHESDA.

Still, at this point Skyrim is old enough to be spared most of the backlash right? Well, not quite. It was the overwhelming favorite to make it out of Division 8, beat whatever made it out of Division 7, and had plurality backing to make it to the Finals. After a beatdown of a game no one on this site cares about, alarm bells were being sounded as early as Round 2, when it noticeably underperformed against Journey. Some tried shrugging it off as an effect of Journey being given away for free around the time of that match, but that 4-5 point underperformance turned out to be pretty consistent. Then we had the hilarious Mario Kart 8 match; Witcher had set the bar with a 60-40 on Mario Galaxy 2 a few days beforehand, so the pressure to perform was on Skyrim. It needed a bigger win than that on a weaker Mario game to have a shot at finals, and so it strut on stage and gave us an identical 60-40 performance.

Now, MK8 would prove to be pretty damn legit, but as much as some people tried to justify their continued faith in finalist Skyrim, this was the Round where it was made clear that Witcher was gonna blowtorch it in the semis. In fact, this was around the point where there were rumblings that it wasnt even going to make SEMIS, as Dark Souls was tearing it up in the adjacent Division. Actually, scratch that; there were rumblings that Skyrim wasnt even going to make it out of the Division! That strain of chatter was silenced pretty quickly when Skyrim put up ANOTHER 60-40 on HGSS, the match that revived a lot of peoples hope in the game (although if you had asked me at the time, this was much more an indictment on Pokemon and Nier than it was some massive flex, and I would be proven mostly right).

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MechanicalWall
05/14/20 12:04:46 PM
#44:


Headliner Analysis continued:

Opinions were in flux at this point. Dark Souls was looking dominant in the lead up to the Quarterfinals until that weird TLOU match that no one could make heads or tails of, while Skyrim spent most of the contest sputtering until kicking it into high gear in the Division Finals. And personally, their match lived up to the hype. If you looked at the final percentages, youd think it was the same sort of boring 52-48 match Ive described before. While it certainly ended that way, both games spent the first half of the match locked in mortal combat; the first couple of hours saw lead shifts, attempts at escape that were quickly thwarted, and best of all, Dark Souls is a game with such wacky trends that no one knew if it was going to fold or end up running away with it. Unfortunately for it, Skyrims trends arent wacky; it had always struggled with the early vote before rising to heaven overnight and throughout the day. Dark Souls had a good enough Euro vote to keep things in reasonable doubt overnight, but the day vote carried Skyrim to a clean 52-48 win. Despite the initial struggle, Skyrim made it look like the match was never in doubt; the fire was ultimately smothered. Still, if you look at the 2015 x-stats, this used to be a 65-35 match. Darks Souls more than legitimized itself here, and is sure to be a bracket threat in the contests to come. Believe it or not, this wasnt even the greatest late-game intra-year duel; you wont have to wait long to hear about the best.

Skyrim would end up stumbling into its WRPG duel staggering from the wounds Dark Souls had inflicted, while Witcher was swaggering in after putting Persona 5 down in grand fashion. My thoughts are best summarized by this portion of my guest Crew write-up for the match:

Witcher vs Skyrim is a match I'm glad happened. Skyrim was once the unambiguous standard bearer for this sort of game, the ideal they were all held to. But just as popular sentiment was turning against Bethesda due to Fallout 4 (only the beginning of that turn, natch!), CDPR challenged them for the throne with Witcher 3, an open-world WRPG with a ridiculous density of quality writing and vaguely better combat, graphics, and performance than Bethesda's games. And as of 2020, I feel CDPR has pretty decisively won that battle. Not only have they, as a company, ingratiated themselves with the gaming community in a way most others can only dream of, but more and more people are using Witcher 3 as the standard bearer of open-world RPGs, of quality writing, of substantive sidequests (ESPECIALLY this one). None of this is to diss Skyrim; it was bound to be surpassed in mind share eventually, and Witcher arguably doesn't exist without it anyway.

Skyrim should be congratulated for resisting Witchers touch of death that was exhibited in all its Western game matches, but the final 55-45 result tells the tale of a match that should never have been in doubt by the time it actually took place.

Other Thoughts:

God, even outside the Headliners, this year did extraordinarily well. Arkham City had a good run, one that probably would have made it a headliner in weaker years. The 55-45 match with Xenoblade 2 foreshadowed the originals amazing contest, and the following Bioshock match was initially in doubt until Batman laid a 60-40 smackdown before bowing out gracefully to the Last of Us (though if the leaks had hit slightly sooner, who knows who might have happened there?)

What about Hollow Knights partner in crime, the co-progenitor of the Indie Fear that would pervade the contest for the entire first Round and well into the second? Bastions 33.76% prediction rate was the second lowest of Round 1, behind only Octopaths upset of Undertale. The Walking Dead was the overwhelming favorite to make it out of the match, and Bastion made the consensus Game of the Year of 2012 (according to GOTYblogs) look like a massive joke.

Shit, even this years weaker games looked alright. Deus Exs performance on Fire Emblem Awakening would clue us in on how poorly that series would undershoot expectations (so yes, Deus Ex did not LOSE by enough), and Dead Space 2 and Terraria didnt look like turbofodder on their way out.

Maybe this years low entrant count meant that there were less opportunities to embarrass itself, but come on. SIX of these games made it out of Round 1, and FOUR would make it past Round 2. In some of the weaker fourpacks Minecraft might have even made it to Round 3. These are amazing ratios, and taking preliminary looks at the next few years, 2011 was undoubtedly one of the powerhouses of the contest.

Final Rating:

A - The star of the first half of the decade.

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streamofthesky
05/14/20 12:08:00 PM
#45:


Biggest snub of 2011 was Radiant Historia.

Best game of the year, and it didn't even make the contest, b/c 99% of people have never heard of it (-_-)
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MechanicalWall
05/14/20 12:22:59 PM
#46:


streamofthesky posted...
Biggest snub of 2011 was Radiant Historia.

Best game of the year, and it didn't even make the contest, b/c 99% of people have never heard of it (-_-)
You know, I entertained including Radiant Historia, but even for JRPGFAQs it's obscure. The 3DS version came and went with hardly a wave.

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squexa
05/14/20 12:24:42 PM
#47:


999 actually made our BGE3 contest in 2015 but didn't make the cut here, so I'd say its a 2010 snub.

For 2011, I'll agree with Radiant Historia being a snub as well and maybe Gears of War 3 since GoW has made past contests before and Gears 3 was fairly well received I believe.

2011 is overall a strong year and I believe it's the only year in the 2010s to have won a match during our Years contest (against 2006).

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ZenOfThunder
05/14/20 12:33:03 PM
#48:


make sure you make a page for this on the wiki so it's archive, this shit is great i am lapping it up

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MechanicalWall
05/14/20 12:55:50 PM
#49:


Thank you! And yes once it's all wrapped up I'll set it up on the wiki

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MechanicalWall
05/14/20 1:38:09 PM
#50:


Also, stand by for a special edition of the analysis this evening!

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