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Iron Moose Awards 2022


 Game of the Year Awards... Basically

Hello and welcome to the first annual Iron Moose Awards!

Join our three esteemed judges – Oswald the Moose (‘THE,' not 'a'), Gaming Guru, and the inimitable Betsu Nomono – as they look back on some of 2022’s most notable game releases. Your host, the always lovable and charming RoomWithaMoose, is here to give categoric ‘Best of 2022’ awards intermittently between what is certainly not another gimmicky cry for help that stretches his creative muscles noticeably thin. Once our totally real judges have put a few would-be Moose recipients through the ringer, they’ll settle on the most deserving Iron Moose of 2022. Then one of the most certainly NOT nonexistent judges whose opinion is most certainly NOT fabricated by me will compare their pick to last year’s Iron Moose (in this case, the honorary Iron Moose of 2021. As this is the first Iron Moose Awards. Are you keeping up?) and see if the elected 2022 representative can best the honorary 2021 representative to truly be crowned the Iron Moose. ‘Cause that sounds kinda fun, right? Look, that part will make more sense, like, four years into doing this. Just go along with it for now.



The Moose:
I lost track of time on every run of this game. It’s easy to get sucked into all the flashy destruction, having a blast all the while. And every time I got a chest, my eyes would light up with excitement. It’s all a lot of fun. But maybe more of a time waster than anything. There’s just not much to the experience. If you’ve seen 30 seconds of gameplay, you've seen about all the game has to offer. It’s addicting, enjoyable, and some of its weapons are awesome. How long that stays entertaining will vary with the person.

Gaming Guru:
This piece recalls flash games of yore. In that it’s based entirely around one novel concept, executes that concept exceedingly well, then grows tiresome once its gimmick has run its course. First impressions of Vampire Survivors are strong. The concept sells itself: an anti-bullet hell. Who doesn’t see the appeal such a power fantasy entails? But that’s not really what Vampire Survivors is. It IS a bullet hell, where the bullets move slow and track you. It’s a bullet hell where all you actively do is avoid bullets. All that offensive stuff is automated, with no input beyond the player choosing what artillery suits them best. Which means that eye scanning avoidance is the extent of Vampire Survivors moment-to-moment gameplay. Put in all the superficial VFX you like to distract from the fact, that doesn’t change what the game is. You walk to avoid things. You walk slowly, with a flaccid sense of satisfaction. I’ll admit, there’s some decent fun in upgrading your arsenal and watching the fireworks. But once you’ve witnessed all that has to offer, you’re left with nothing much of substance.

Basking in excess,
Tickling your dopamine.
Nothing more to see.

Best Boss Battle of 2022:
Mr. Grizz

The Moose:
I love Kirby! His (its?) games are always delightful. The Forgotten Land is no different. It’s hard not to fall in love with this game. It’s easy and approachable. The game is SO fun to play. And everything is filtered through infectious cuteness. Not every Kirby game is great. The Forgotten Land is better than great – it’s fantastic!

Gaming Guru:
In a time when superficialities are catastrophically rife in the industry, leave it to the unassuming Kirby to evoke harmonious design. Kirby and the Forgotten Land’s enlightened focus on action and level design elevates the game beyond the innocent, unambiguous simplicity the series is famed for. The game’s action is minimal and restrained. Despite the series’ dimensional shift, a proposition that might have tempted a lesser game towards self-sabotage, The Forgotten Land foregoes any prospective intricately obtuse or unwieldy combat system. Of Kirby’s customary copy abilities, nary host more than several actions. This not only gives combat an unsullied accessibility, but simultaneously empowers the game’s level design to utilize the copy abilities in meaningful ways. The elegant synergy between action and environment is immaculate. Said elegance only compounded by mouthful mode. An ingenious mechanic wherein Kirby aptly gallivants about, his body molded to some artifact held within gaping maw, subverting movement options and intermittently populating the game with tightly design set-pieces.

Themes of friends abound.
Its light to fight the dark's might.
Standard Kirby fair.

Best Narrative of 2022:
God of War: Ragnorok
Xenoblade Chronicles 3
(I actually played that one)

The Moose:
Horizon Forbidden West could be fun at times. Usually, battling the machines was a blast. And the game is gorgeous! Although, I guess that isn’t a great example of fun… The game gets a lot right. The world is cool. Aloy is cool. Bows are cool – just in general. There’s a vast adventure full of daring and basically-dinosaurs. DINOSAURS! BASICALLY! But when you actually sit down and play the game, a lot of it gets boring.

Gaming Guru:
Midway through Forbidden West’s overabundant campaign, we learn the fate of one of the key perpetrators of the world’s apocalypse. After sequestering themselves to a self-aggrandizing underground bunker, abuses in genetic mortality augmentation have left them immortal and grotesque. Excessive cellular multiplication dehumanized their body into a bloated mass of incongruous matter. We never actually lay eyes on this amorphous humanoid. But, one might imagine that if we did, it would bare more than a striking resemblance to Horizon Forbidden West. The result of masturbatory self-indulgence and unbridled, imprudent design choices, Forbidden West is a bloated slog of a game. Featuring level design more concerned with scale rather than substance, and stuffed with egregiously eclectic action design. Its design given no particular direction besides, “AAA.” Taking place in a leviathan sandbox, made erroneously enormous simply because it could be. Hosting traversal options ripped from contemporaries and combat derivative of any other open-world, big budget, quota-checking game. Horizon Forbidden West is an exemplary case of the ailments facing the modern gaming industry. All its ambition lies in gorging itself with as many marketable attributes as possible with nary a thought given to their implementation.

Might ego falter
Humanity's course; reborn,
We'll fail once more... Trite.

Best New Game I Played in 2022
That Didn't Release in 2022 of 2022:
Jak and Daxter

The Moose:
This game is hard. I know, that’s the point. But is it actually good to be so hard? I dunno. What I do know is I spent more of my time with Elden Ring frustrated than having fun. You go somewhere new. You die. Probably die a few more times. That last time you died, you lost all of your skill points. You go somewhere else, feeling defeated, then die to some new challenge. Again, I get it. It’s hard on purpose. But that doesn't mean it's fun.

Gaming Guru:
Elden Ring is the game of the future, as preordained by a 1990s, PC gaming, RPG fanatic. This duality between archaic and neoteric defining much of the experience. Its level design is lavishly open-ended, respecting the competence of the player in a way few contemporaries would. Yet this yields listless design, denouncing the latest in efficacious direction with meandering environments. While that can have an appeal per se, I would not extend such exemption to Elden Ring’s action design. It is, simply put, clunky. Input animations are labored and plodding. The range of actions are varied and ornate, yet lack a cohesive distillation. The action is overindulgent more than anything; rather than building something intrinsically gratifying, it is an exercise of superfluity. And though it demands the player be deliberate, the game eloquently built around that expectation, that does not change what is, of itself, lethargic movement. Like aforementioned 90s RPGs, which often carry an insular air about them, Elden Ring wears its inaccessibility as a feature. It wears it well, admittedly. However, no matter the execution, inaccessibility is a double-edged sword.

Search The Lands Between.
May you find solace, not doom—
The lines often blur.

Least Embarrassing Thing Written by
RoomWithaMoose of 2022:

Subversion: The Squandered Savior of the Ubi-Like

The Moose:
Some of the coolest gaming moments I’ve ever experienced were in The Stanley Parable. Any time I tried to break the game, just for it to turn out the game had a whole path built around my attempt, blew me away every time it happened. Plus, the game is just hilarious! I was laughing my ass off throughout!

Gaming Guru:
It is difficult to hold The Stanley Parable at fault for its action design. While lacking any meaningful action beyond narrative inputs, that does nothing to compromise The Stanley Parable’s intent. It is, for what it aims to be, designed to perfection. Considerable praise is deserved for its narrative dynamisms. The game intertwines active player-choice and choose-your-own-adventure divergences seamlessly. Not once does it feel artificial. The result is an explicit dialogue between player and designer, the former at the whim of the latter’s immaculate, all-encompassing choreography. That is all The Stanley Parable is, and all it needs to be.

A sleight of design.
To deconstruct with wit, and
Make you accomplice.

Game I Slept on the Hardest of 2022:
Citizen Sleeper
(Heh, get it?)

The Moose:
This was a perfect podcast-game. I didn’t pay too much attention to it, but did spend the better half of a month running around Tokyo mindlessly while listening to other stuff. I guess that doesn’t say too much about Ghostwire, but I loved my time with it. And all the Japanese-ness the game is overflowing with doesn’t hurt either.

Gaming Guru:
Ghostwire suffers from a multitude of banal design choices. Little care is put into the moment-to-moment communication apropos level design. Like a disconcerting range of its contemporaries, Ghostwire employs a clumsy waypoint system to jejunely guide aspiring exorcists. On occasion, a linear section might show a modicum of inspired level design, trite as they may come off. But these moments are marred by a lack of meaningful action. The game diluted into a workaday jaunt through eerie corridors, deluding itself into thinking that constitutes as an exciting set piece. Combat is a similarly prosaic affair. Fundamentally alike scores of other games, the one mechanic of interest therein fumbles miserly in design. A tether of sorts that enables players to emancipate the hearts of foes, an ability represented with a resplendent aesthetic, it ends up lacking the mechanical gravitas to amplify combat in any notable manner. That singular shortcoming is emblematic of the game holistically, never having the mechanical legs to prop itself up triumphantly.

Sights of Tokyo.
Empty, haunted, yet lively—
Melancholic death.

Game of 2022!!!
The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe Edition

Well there you have it, folks. In this cutthroat game of the better game, the game Stanley Parable comes out on top. But…will it be able to best the Iron Moose? That remains to be seen…

And just what is the standing Iron Moose? Game of 2021? It’s none other than…!

That’s right! Samus’ return to form that nobody else talks about anymore. Otherwise known as RoomWithaMoose’s 2021 Game of the Year, and honorary recipient of the title Iron Moose. Now a new challenger comes to claim the Iron Moose for itself. In this match of titans, who will come out on top? The parable that never ends, or the bounty hunter’s dance with dread? We have…uhh – let’s say Gaming Guru. We have Gaming Guru here to settle the score! Gaming Guru, take it away—

{Wait, wait, wait, what is this?}

…Who are you?

{Don’t play coy with me, you MOOSE. You write another blog with a mental construct gimmick and don’t invite me? PESTULIO. THE mental construct himself!}

Pestulio? My old narrative device from that blog? Et cetera, et cetera, and other exposition?

{The one and only.}

Well, it’s nice you’ve grown to have autonomy and all. BUT you’re disrupting the festivities. You can hijack something else I write. However, you have no place at the Iron Moose 2022 ceremony.

{Says who? I can evaluate stuff just as well as…”Gaming Guru.” What kinda a name is that, anyway? Sounds like something a try hard 13-year-old would come up with.}

Nobody even knows who you are. You’re confusing an already obtusely written blog.

{It’s not my fault you can’t drop this gimmick. Or that the reader doesn’t keep up with the lore of this obscure blog series... Ooh, that’s why you insisted against me calling you ‘The’ Moose. What a deep cut…}

Referencing your past only makes it worse!

{And do you really think anyone would bother to translate betsu no mono?}

Enough!!! Stop taking us off the rails! Stop being meta!

{Being meta’s my whole thing…}

If you insist on being here, at least make yourself useful. Why don’t you tell the reader who the Iron Moose is?

{Don’t you mean, “O’ Fearless Reader”? Isn’t that a whole thing you do—}


{Metroid Dread, obviously...}




{Because gameplay. Duh.}

...Care to elaborate?

{Gosh, so demanding. All right, so, The Stanley Parable is a design success. Everything it sets out to accomplish, it nails. If that was the sole criteria, to succeed at one’s design goals, Stanley Parable might have a narrow lead. But we’re talking game of the year, people. And a game without gameplay is…well, I mean, it can still be pretty good. But if I’m picking between a unmitigated design success without much gameplay and a arguably perfect design success with gameplay, I’m gonna go with the one I actually enjoy playing. For all of Stanley Parable’s triumphs, Metroid Dread has one of equal measure. But Stanley Parable has nothing to compare to Metroid Dread’s elegant and satisfying gamefeel. In short – Metroid Dread, obviously.}

...Eh, that'll do.


I dunno, your explanation just didn’t have much pomp and circumstance.

{Kinda like your “awards,” huh}

No comment.

{Does anyone even remember your esoteric, 90s, Japanese cooking show?}

Probably… I think…

{Sure… Welp, here’s to another year of writing mildly amusing blogs. CHEERS!}

…Uh, thanks.

{Hey, maybe you'll even post next year’s awards at a decent time when people still care!}


{Anyway, laters!}




God, I hate that guy.

Uhh, what’s your favorite…game of…20 – ehh, whatever.







The Moose: So…do we get our own consciousnesses, too?
Gaming Guru: I think not. I surmise that is intended to be a characteristic exclusive to that pest fellow.

The Moose: Why do you talk like that?
Nomono-San: He speaks like waves of water grasping towards a sky they’ll never reach.
The Moose: …What?


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About RoomWithaMooseone of us since 5:57 AM on 03.03.2016

In lieu of a bio with actual sentences (ha, sentences. How quaint), I've made you, dear reader, a list. Why? 'Cause lists are popular. What's the list of? You sure do ask a lot of questions...

30. Samurai Jack
29. Clair De Lune
28. Full Metal Alchemist
27. FLCL
S. "S" is for Shadow of the Colossus
26. Ostriches
25. The Most Extreme
25 (cont.). That green dude that runs past all the animals at the end
24. Starry Night
23. Scary Godmother -- JK... Hookwinked
23, but for real. Wall-E
22. The entire MCU
21. The Irony of Fate (an actually good movie)

All right, let's take a break from the list. Time for the RoomWithaMoose bio interim awards!

Best Line I've Ever Heard:
"The air smells different... brighter somehow."

Favorite Thing I'm Not Sure I Should Still Like:

IP Most Deserving of Being Revamped and Subsequently Ruined by Hollywood:

Song That Makes Me Feel More Than I Think It Should:
Rainbow Connection

Joke That Gets Me Every Time:
"I'm bleeding... making me the victor."

Now, back to the show.

20. The Spock hand sign thing
19. The church scene in Kingsman
18. Saitama v. Boros
17. Gogeta v. Broly
16000. Batman v. Superman
16. Scooby-Doo (the character; the shows are terrible)
15. Scrooge (the movie; the character is terrible)
14. The Simpsons
K. "K" is for Kirby's Epic Yarn
13. Ed, Edd, 'n Eddy
Ω. Kratos
12. Steven Universe
11. Grannys
µ. Mew

I wasn't going to do it again, but I just liked the idea so much. Behold, the second annual awards ceremony!!!

Mega-Hit Franchise I Never Cared About:
Harry Potter

Most Stuck-In-My-Head Slogan or Phrase:
"I'm caca for Cocoa Puffs."

Most Powerful Mary Sue of All Time:
Walker, Texas Ranger

Greatest Surrogate Sitcom Family:
The Alf One... Because of Alf

Greatest Occupation of All Time:
Teenage Mutant Ghostbuster Turtle

Before we get back to the proceedings, I think I need to clarify something. When I ranked "Grannys" at 11, it may have been misconstrued as an affinity for older women. I assure you, I did not mean 'Granny' as in the label for certain people. I was referring to M. domestica × M. sylvestris, more commonly called the granny smith apple. Yeah, that's right you creep -- probably inferring I've some kind of fetish... Now that that's clear, on to the top 10.

10. Seinfeld
9. Ratchet & Clank A Crack in Time
8. Hot Fuzz
7. Everything Everywhere All at Once
6. The Bit. Trip

--I'm sorry, I've still a feeling you've an inkling of suspicion about the whole granny thing. Don't try to deny it. You know what? FINE.

11. Oranges

Freakin' reader... See what you made me do!

B. "B" is for Battlefront 2 (the good one)
5. Halo Combat Evolved
4. I Can't Decide, So [Insert Mario Game Here]
3. Half-Life 2/ Metroid Prime (this is hard, okay)
B. "B" is for Banjo-Kazooie (What? I did B already? ...Nah)
2. The Legend of Zelda Wind Waker
1. It's Such a Beautiful Day...
A. "A" is for apple. Maybe it's the tart and green type -- I don't know. I can't say, because someone RUINED IT.

Honorable Mention:
O' Fearless Reader -- that's you! I know, I know, I'm very sweet. You might even be more than an HM if it wasn't for your off-putting fixation with "Grannys." Weirdo...