If over 9,000 is impressive, then 50,000 of pretty much anything is a lot. So when we here at Hardcore Gamer began to sneak up to that number of published articles on the website, we couldn’t help but notice. While the initial magazine dates all the way back to 2005 — having reached our fifteenth anniversary last year — the online-only evolution of the brand as we know it today launched in 2012 and is just about to celebrate its tenth anniversary next year. In that time, we’ve had the privilege of featuring a myriad of fantastic writer’s takes on the last decade of gaming — whether that was the the end of the Xbox 360/PS3/Wii generation, or the launch of the PS4/Xbox One/Switch and now PS5/Series X generation, we’ve had an incredible time being along for the ride at every twist and turn, trying our best to deliver our take on this magnificent industry.
Having just reached our 50,000th article with this very piece, we thought it’d be a great time as a crew to each highlight one of our very favorite personal moments while writing for Hardcore Gamer. Ranging from a milestone review, to a unique interview to a special event, the below list consists of some of the moments that we’ve most cherished bringing to you over the years. We hope you enjoy this walk down memory lane and here’s to another 50,000 more articles to come!
Beck’s favorite moment: Persona 5 Confidant Guide
Among the many articles I’m proudest of, the Persona 5 guides is the first thing that comes to mind. These guides took a lot of time to put together, more than I put into a singular article or feature, and I think it ended up nicely. We were fortunate enough we had a lot of time with the game, giving us this opportunity. It’s simple, displaying the various options and values the answers awarded, but it’s information that was sorely needed for players to traverse the JRPG’s system and ensure their time was properly maximized. It was an exceeding amount of time to actually put this together, though. We had to save before almost every scenario (some of which came after dungeon sections) and then we’d record everything that was said and how many points were distributed, and then load it back to test out the other options. This seems simple enough, but it was 82 pages of notes. I was grateful there are generally only three options per response as any more would no doubt drive me mad, but it was a fun, long journey that paid off in the article we see today.
Chris Shive’s favorite moment: In EVE, The Space Pope Can Hear You Scream
During my time at Hardcore Gamer I’ve done a lot of traveling and interviewed some notable names in the industry, a few of which I can even admit I was a star struck when we met. But my favorite interview was actually with an EVE Online player who goes by the handle of Max Singularity, aka the Space Pope. During this interview we talked about his suicide prevention activities he does within the EVE community. It was moving to see that there was such a large community that was united over a love of video games and within that community something this positive, and how tragic events in his life inspired him to do good in the lives of people he knew through playing an MMO. The interview was an affirmation that video games can be a positive force in a person’s life. That and how often do you get to do shots at nine in the morning with a former astronaut?
Cory Wells’ favorite moment: Resident Evil 3 Review
The moment that stands out the most to me in my nearly five year tenure with Hardcore Gamer would be the first video review I ever created. This involved the remake of Resident Evil 3, which I was extremely high on at the time despite the flack that the game received from the gaming community. While it may have been shorter, I appreciated a lot about the game and the fact that the Nemesis mutations felt similar to the Alien franchise movies. The video review, itself, was difficult due to the pressure of getting everything right. Going through and sorting footage and putting it into a solid flowing reel while making sure to avoid spoilers was the baseline. From there, writing a script that takes the pertinent information from the written review and putting that into condensed and engaging dialogue to back the video was the next step. As I progressed through each step, I could feel the project coming together how I envisioned it. Outside of the awful mic audio that came from it, I felt for my first video review it was a success and the sense of accomplishment on completing that and any other video project going forward is unmatched. It’s a feeling I never want to take for granted.
Jacob Bukacek’s favorite moment: Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings is the Definition of Charming
Previewing Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings gave me a lot of firsts as a writer. It was one of the first games I previewed for Hardcore Gamer, a feature title at the first preview event I ever attended and it was the first game in its series that I’d ever played. I’d actually never heard of the Atelier series before seeing this game at the event, so covering it for Hardcore Gamer represented an interesting challenge for me at the time. Having the chance to meet and speak with some of Koei Tecmo’s game developers as a professional was also new and exciting (and somewhat intimidating). The whole experience was entirely different from what I’d expected, and it was entirely excellent. Getting to write a preview piece about a pretty decent JRPG afterward was just a bonus after that. This game and its event were the first of many great memories here at Hardcore Gamer.
Jake Whritenour’s favorite moment: A Night with Pokémon: Symphonic Evolutions
I’ve covered a lot of Pokémon news and games here on the website. But one of my favorite memories with Hardcore Gamer was a magical night at Pokémon: Symphony Evolutions. Listening to a live performance of iconic Pokémon music surrounded by tons of fans was a memorable moment. Meeting with people, watching them converse and battle each other showed how much they loved Pokémon. I’ve never paid too much attention to Pokémon music until that night, which when presented in a beautiful composition, made my heart swell and brought nostalgia running back. Having been a huge fan of the series and sharing the occasion with a special person in my life just made everything so much better.
James Cunningham’s favorite moment: Downloads Section
My personal highlight is divided between two features, but the prize has to go to the Downloads section way back in Hardcore Gamer Magazine. It’s been a long time since we’ve been printed on paper, but back in 2007 the magazine still lived and I was still trying to find my place in it. I love me some niche gaming but that’s not exactly the kind of thing that makes people spend money at the bookstore, so the focus had to be on the bigger titles. There was a lot of fun stuff there, sure, but Xbox Live, PSN and the PC independent gaming scene weren’t getting much to any attention. I eventually got to do a two-page feature called Downloads, which as its name implied covered games only available in digital format, five a month and whatever I saw fit to include. Gunstar Heroes? 5 out of 5, of course. The lost arcade title only playable through emulation, Teeter Torture? It got a home, with a score of Old because rating it like new release seemed unfair. It was a huge amount of fun to mix higher-profile XBLA releases with weirdness from the internet, whether that be games like Space Giraffe and Pac-Man: Championship Edition or the unreleased GBA shooter World Reborn. Being able to present games based on it being cool that they existed (and always being honest about whether that translated to being a good game), rather than needing to worry about the assignments of the month, was where I finally found my home in Hardcore Gamer. As for the second of the two features, that was Screenshot Saturday. I still miss doing it but that feature took all day and a good chunk of the night. It was hugely fun to research, though.
Jeremy Peeples’ favorite moment: WWE World Champion and 2K17 Star AJ Styles On Why Next Match is Best Match
2K’s 2016 WWE gaming event was something I will personally never forget. It was my first chance to go on a solo trip and my first time visiting San Francisco. Beyond making memories just exploring the city, it was a fun time to play games and conduct interviews. I had the chance to interview both Sasha Banks and AJ Styles, but the AJ Styles interview was something that will always be special to me. Having watched AJ since 2000 in NWA Wildside, seeing him go from an indie group’s shining light to an undercard act in WCW to the guy in TNA/Impact Wrestling at various points was a journey on its own. With a killer New Japan run showcasing that he could be the top guy on the hardest-working roster in the world, his WWE run resulting in a WWE Title run within one year was cool — and it was amazing to be able to interview the active WWE Champion. AJ was gracious with his time and in the fifteen minutes spent with us, didn’t shy away from talking about non-WWE work, injuries or anything for that matter. He was a chill dude and it was a blast to interview him.
Jordan Helms’ favorite moment: E3 2019: Riding Through Rhythmic Bliss in Sayonara Wild Hearts
It was a genuine struggle to decide upon one particular moment to highlight. Do I go with something entirely personal or one that I feel is worthy on the basis of its gravitas as a significant moment in my near-six years writing for Hardcore Gamer. In the end, like a lot of things, I chose the middle-ground: a moment chock full of personal satisfaction but one I feel, in hindsight, was a turning point for the industry from a journalistic standpoint. That of course was E3 2019; for anyone not present for that year’s annual gala of games in Los Angeles, it would’ve been easy to focus entirely on the extravagance of new reveals and updates alike. 2019 did at least bring with it a few surprises and reassurances of anticipated releases here and there, but anyone who was in attendance at the LA Convention Center that year would no doubt have caught wind of that year’s somewhat less-substantial showing. And that’s without mentioning Sony’s repeated absence that year. Halls that struggled to hide unused space — to the point Nintendo was using it to form zig-zagging queues for attendees wanting to enter their booth. Pleasing it was to make that a talking-point as soon as I returned, E3 2019 more than any other year was a clear sign that the old ways of traditional, industry-collective conventions weren’t carrying anywhere near the relevancy they once held. Two years later, the likes of Discord, Parsec and Zoom have both bridged and splintered the nature of video game coverage alike in ways even I was unprepared for. Add to that the increasing reliance on livestreams, online showings and presentations developers/publishers held complete control over, E3 2019’s slightly-more vacant vibe felt prophetic in what was to come for the future of video game coverage.
Kevin Dunsmore’s favorite moment: Kingdom Hearts III Review
Like many others, I had waited more than a decade for Kingdom Hearts III. That mysterious bottle and ‘Birth by Sleep’ film from the end of Kingdom Hearts II made the anticipation for the third entry unbearable. It turns out that the wait would be far longer than anticipated. Don’t get me wrong, I love Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep and still consider it the best entry in the franchise, but the unfinished stories of it, II, 358 Days/2, and Dream Drop Distance left me salivating for Kingdom Hearts III. Then it happened. I was given the opportunity to play the game in advance and provide my professional opinion on it. While some aspects disappointed (mainly the Disney worlds), the way Nomura tied up the many plot threads left me emotionally exhausted. Seeing Roxas, Xion and Lea reunite, witnessing the redemption of Terra, Ventus, and Aqua, and the ultimate defeat of Master Xehanort and his 13 Darknesses left me speechless. Getting the chance to write about the finale for a franchise that has meant so much to me is something I’ll never forget.
Kirstin Swalley’s favorite moment: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice Review
Not long after joining Hardcore Gamer I received my first ever review assignment for Ace Attorney title Spirit of Justice. I was set on doing my best so I spent almost every waking moment for the two weeks I had until it was due playing it in order to finish on time. It was exhilarating and exhausting but I managed to finish it through the ending that made me cry and got to gathering my thoughts to write the review. It felt like a long process at the time and I was worried about what other big assignments I’d have to work on, but I’m thankful it was a series I was familiar with so I could enjoy it and let it soften the blow and prepare me for what was to come. Although I’ve reviewed many games since then and I’ll review many more to come, Spirit of Justice has remained a wonderful memory of some of the first months of my time writing professionally.
Kyle LeClair’s favorite moment: Psychonauts 2 Mental World Collectible Guide
Technically, my inclusion would have to be multiple articles, and perhaps it’s odd that that the articles that possibly mean the most to me are also some of my most recent, but I would have to go with my review and guides for Psychonauts 2, but mainly the Mental Worlds Collectible Guide. I’m proud of virtually everything I’ve contributed towards Hardcore Gamer so far, but when the sequel to one of my favorite games of all time finally appeared, I knew I had to go the extra mile to make sure that it was done justice. So when one of the requirements for the review asked for a possible guide, I realized that in order to do everything possible, I would have to step out of my comfort zone and attempt my very first guides for Hardcore Gamer. It was a few straight days of hard work, and while it was harmed by technical issues (not to mention a now-corrected big error), the end result was not just one of my longest reviews, but my first foray into guides, and it truly felt like the possible labor of love I wanted it to be.
Marcus Estrada’s favorite moment: Senran Kagura Director Kenichiro Takaki Discusses Fanservice, Cultural Differences, PC Gaming
Although Hardcore Gamer was not the first site I ever wrote for, it was the first that gave me opportunities that I never thought would come my way. One early moment was at E3 2015, where I was able to interview Kenichiro Takaki of Senran Kagura fame. Not only had I only done a few interviews at that point, but I had never interviewed someone with the aid of a Japanese interpreter before. I was nervous that something might go terribly wrong or that I’d run out of things to say in our allotted time, but it was a ton of fun. Not only were we able to chat about the upcoming game, we also discussed so many other topics. It was fascinating to hear his perspectives. I loved the conversation and many moments from it still stick with me.
Sam Spyrison’s favorite moment: Uncharted: The Lost Legacy Review
I didn’t end up getting a PlayStation 3 until several years after it first launched, but the console remains one of my personal favorites. Alongside introducing me to all-time great titles like Batman: Arkham City and Portal 2, it was the memorable narrative and engaging gameplay of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves that opened my eyes to what gaming as a medium could offer. So seven years later when I was offered the chance to review what will likely be Naughty Dog’s final Uncharted game, I leapt at the opportunity with the hopes that The Lost Legacy could live up to the games that preceded it. I ended up finishing Chloe and Nadine’s journey in two days, and was delighted to see Naughty Dog continue to evolve their approach to level design through its experimentation with open world mechanics, as well as character depth by transforming two secondary characters from Nathan Drake’s past adventures into worthy protagonists all their own. At a time when it seems like negative opinions can more easily gain traction than positive ones, I’m grateful to Hardcore Gamer for giving me the space to heap well-deserved praise onto one of my favorite series.
Steve’s favorite moment: Dead Space 3 E3 2012 Preview
As I’ve been blessed to have experienced numerous special moments during my tenure at Hardcore Gamer, selecting the one that meant the most to me proved challenging. If I had to choose my favorite moment, it’d be one the myriad of moments I’ve had to interact with my wonderful writers — both past and present — whether that be toasting a drink together after an event or simply laughing about a meme online. But since I suppose that would be against the spirit of this feature, I’ve decided to go with the next best thing: the first preview I wrote from my very first E3. Although I’d been in the industry for several years by the time this E3 rolled around, I never took the opportunity to attend one in person. That finally changed in 2012 when I decided to head out to E3 2012 with fellow writers Beck and James. While I was excited to attend it, I never could have predicted the feeling that washed over me upon first stepping foot into the south hall. All at once, every memory I had about excitedly flipping through the June issue of my favorite gaming magazine years ago or scrolling through show floor photos on my old Dell computer came rushing back at once. I was actually a part of something that I once had thought was an unobtainable dream, a feeling that was as humbling as it was surreal. The week that followed was a whirlwind of lights, sounds, parties and crowds, but I’ll never forget a single moment. And being able to experience it with James and Beck — both of which whom I met in person there for the first time after years of knowing each other online — as we bonded over our shared passions made it all the more special. While this Dead Space 3 preview is certainly not what I hope readers would consider my pinnacle of writing (it didn’t even have a real title, after all), it’s symbolic of what it represents and I’ll never forget sitting down on the expo floor and getting to experience one of my favorite series live at E3. After two years of no in-person attendance, who knows what the future holds for the convention, but I hope that future generations of writers can experience what I was lucky enough to for the first time ten years ago as it’s impossible to substitute the feeling of physical events.