Top five strangest video game news stories of 2012

2012 was a wild year for game news, between blockbuster announcements, the arrival of the first video game system of the next generation (the Nintendo Wii U), and several well-anticipated games, both sequels and originals alike.  But it was also a year of weird news, stuff that came out of left field and caught us off guard.  Some of it is a bit disappointing, while other bits and pieces could lead to an exciting future ahead in 2013.  But regardless, all these stories really came out of left field and knocked us for a loop.

So, with that, here are 2012's five strangest news stories.  Take them as you will…

NRA

1. The NRA goes off its rocker, blames video games.

Following the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary a couple of weeks back, the National Rifle Association was silent for a bit, shutting down its Twitter account and wondering just what it would say in the wake of the nasty assault.  But when spokesman and executive vice president Wayne LaPierre finally broke the group's silence in a speech, he refused to blame guns as the heart of the problem, instead pointing out that violent video games were just one of the instigators.  He then pointed out a flash game called Kindergarten Killer, where the player must take down armed kids and a cop before they get shot.

Why was this weird?: Well, it's really more annoying than weird, especially considering the fact that the NRA has produced a pair of their own video games, titled Varmint Killer and Gun Club, for the E10+ and up audience.  But it's strange that, despite everything that's happened, the NRA still refuses to accept its role of responsibility, instead saying, "Well, it's everything else in society."  C'mon, guys, we know better.

NBA

2. NBA Live 13 Gets Blockbuster Announcement, Then Gets Cancelled…Again

EA Sports, still feeling a bit of pain from the cancellation of NBA Elite 11, was ready to come back in a big way with a new basketball simulation for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, titled NBA Live 13.  The game got a huge promotional push from various NBA superstars, and became the talk of the basketball and video game community…even though the game itself was a no show at E3 and other trade events.  But just when it looked like it was about to gain speed on its chief rival, 2K Sports' NBA 2K13, EA pulled the plug on the project, marking the second time in two years that an in-production basketball game bit the dust.

Why was this weird?  We understand EA losing confidence in one basketball product due to bug-testing issues and a lackluster appeal that couldn't keep up with the likes of NBA 2K.  But TWICE?!  Clearly the company has some work cut out for it, and maybe it should hold off making a huge fuss over a product until it's something worth playing.  Just saying.

Wii

3. Nintendo Wii U Launches…With a Required Memory-Heavy Update

After spending months waiting for their beloved system to arrive (and, for that matter, sitting through a painfully drab pre-E3 press conference), Nintendo finally launched its Wii U game console on November 18th, giving gamers everywhere the required goods to jump into the next generation.  However, before they could even get started, the system came with a downloadable update that was required in order to move forward.  And, unfortunately, things came to a grinding halt, as users had to sit for hours on end for the download to complete.  And if they tried to shut it down beforehand, they inadvertently bricked their system as a result.  Oops.

Why was this weird?  Again, it feels more annoying than weird, but why didn't Nintendo put the update into the system before it was shipped?  Clearly making users wait for hours to download 5 GB worth of data – thus rendering the 8 GB Basic Set completely useless for getting any DLC added – is a pure annoyance.  The fact Nintendo's servers weren't really ready for the blow didn't help either.  Nintendo's slow out of the gate with this error, now it's time to see if they can possibly catch back up.

Mega

4. Classic "Fat" Mega Man Added To Street Fighter x Tekken

When Capcom released Street Fighter x Tekken for PlayStation 3 earlier this year (followed by PS Vita months later), it really got the job done when it came to introducing a new style of cross-over fighting from both Capcom's and Namco's respective game universes.  However, some of the "bonus" character choices are a bit odd to say the least.  It's great seeing Cole McGrath from Infamous, as well as Pac-Man – in a Mokujin suit – dishing out his own brand of justice.  But then Capcom chose…fat Mega Man?  And by that we mean the original Mega Man model that appeared on the cover art of the NES game…NOT the classic hero that appeared in the game itself.  He performed okay, but you can't help but wonder who decided to add him.

Why was this weird?  We could've easily seen the cartoon style Mega Man in the game, complete with his arm cannon and plenty of power-ups provided by Rush.  Instead, Capcom chose to include the "joke" version, complete with a laughable ending straight out of another video game (we won't spoil it, but go check it out on YouTube if you're curious).  This is one of the strangest roster additions since that Japanese comedian got added to Marvel Superheroes vs. Street Fighter.  (Look him up, too.)

Cliff

5. Cliff Bleszinski departs Epic Games.

If there's one thing you can be sure of in this game industry, it's that everyone eventually feels like they could be doing something different.  And a few months ago, following his marriage, Cliff Bleszinski decided to do just that.  He parted ways with Epic Games, the company he's been with for the past several years, stating that he needed a break from the routine, going off to find something different.

Why was this weird?  His actions leaving the company aren't the weird part, but rather what followed after.  In the weeks following his departure, Cliffy B. paid a visit to various companies, leaving teases and hints on his Twitter account as to who he would be teaming up with next.  Nothing has been made official yet, so we have no idea what his plan is.  I suppose it's best to keep 'em guessing, right?

(And on a side note, I'm trying to figure out why Cliff had me throw up "the shocker" in a photo op at the Borderlands 2 launch event.  Maybe he just likes Steel Panther…)

G4

BONUS: G4 Goes the Way of the Dodo, Becomes...Esquire Channel?

G4 may not be the most ideal channel when it comes to geekhood (how many reruns of Cheaters can we take?!), but it did provide some stellar programming that was meant for us, like Attack of the Show, X-Play and Ninja Warrior.  So we found it perplexing when we found out that the channel was being scuttled early next year in favor of...a men's flavored channel based on Esquire Magazine.  We wouldn't be surprised if it had Cops and Cheaters come back in some capacity.

Why was this weird?  Admittedly, G4 didn't always have the greatest of ratings, and lost some of its key staff with departures by Adam Sessler and Kevin Pereira, but still, it was a decent channel for certain movies, as well as shows that did manage to stick with us, like Code Monkeys and Proving Ground.  But, alas, it's all over now, and soon we'll be getting Spike Lite, with shows telling us what cologne will make us manlier.  Yeah, like we needed THAT.

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Robert Workman
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