149 points, 10 votes, 2.33 TOP GAME votes
abanana: Proves that Nintendo’s drones can pump out just as good a good a game as Miyamoto can.
if: Putting this at number one feels a lot like the easy route, the vote for the Arcade Fire as album of the year, but in this case there really is no other option. The best game of this gen, remade with new levels and with all of the same invention and creativity intact, as well as a few minor fixes (like the clock pickups making the timed levels more thrilling than frustrating). Clearly it was never going to have the same revelatory effect as the first one, and I’ll take Rosalina and her storybook over the faceship every time, but the basic happiness from playing stills beats everything else.
Polyphonic: This was the year I finally played Super Mario Galaxy 1, and of course this game is not a huge departure from that one. Collectively these two games prove that Nintendo is still unmatched when it comes to level design. Constantly changing but always intuitive and built in a manner that is fun for gamers and noobs alike. When faced with the innovation of games like Portal and Braid, Nintendo proved that they can do stuff like that with their eyes closed without sacrificing mass appeal.
ilxor: Super Mario Galaxy 2 was my go-to game for most of the year. I played it two or three times through; am currently hunting for green coins. The puzzles are extremely clever and can be frustrating in parts (in a good way, promise). Two-player mode is addictive, and the nature of the P2 controls having a simple, secondary role allows for my elementary-aged kiddo to get in on the fun. Well-done Mario games are pretty much in a class of their own as far as I’m concerned. This one’s perfect.
tomofthenest: It’s very good. More of the same, but so many ideas and so much fun. Most of the boring stuff from SMG1 has been ripped out and replaced with new cool stuff that works. Only criticism is that it’s been a little on the easy side.
Jeff Levine: Picked this up tonight and played for about an hour. There’s something about hearing Mario go, “yeah” and “woo hoo” that is instantly more fun than most other games and puts a big, stupid smile on my face. Design and graphics so far impress (no surprise there). I especially enjoyed the first 2d section that introduces the game (I understand the game plays with 2d more?) and riding around on Yoshi – who feels especially powerful – so much better to be able to eat up those enemies than to bounce on their heads, toss star bits at them, do the spin attack, or run away.
J0hn Darnie11e:I agree that the linear “you’re here to do this task right now” nature of it is a little bit of a drag but the game is a blast otherwise. The purple coin treetrunk race was a fucking blast.
Autumn Almanac: I gave up on Sarah Michelle Gellar 2 after star 55 because of all the lazy timed/racing shit. It’s 2010 and I don’t want to be pissfarting around with that crap. It’s a shame, because up until star 40-odd I was infatuated with this game. Thoroughly inventive but very, very boring when you’re expected to execute the same perfectly-timed series of pinpoint jumps etc. 100+ times in succession. That’s not fun.
Captain Lorax: This is better than the first one. I feel that it has a bit more emphasis on the gameplay. One of my top 3 games of the year.
Time for some disappointments.
Every voter was given the option to list their most disappointing game of the year on their ballot. For some, this meant their least favorite game; for some, the one that didn’t live up to their expectations; for some, the reasoning was completely personal.
There was a surprising degree of diversity in what people considered “disappointing”… here’s the gamut:
Physical Infirmity – My “biggest disappointment” was that I tore my biceps tendon so haven’t been able to do any motion controlled gaming since the Spring – no Wii, no trying out Move or Kinect. Honestly, I played so few games this year that I didn’t get a bummer. I ended up frustrated by FIFA11 after 50 or so hours, but it wasn’t broken or shit or anything.
Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth – Before its release the new gameplay mechanic (WALKING) sounded neat but this was the weakest entry in the series. Also: sexism and gaystereotypes.
Angry Birds – Despite the effort I put in (and enjoyment I surely got at the time), I have really no interest in going back no matter what additional content they provide.
Red Dead Redemption – Sure, the good parts are good, but in usual Rockstar style the bad parts are the fucking worst. There’s a reason that westerns don’t have 15-minute chase-cam horse-riding sequences. Especially since it looks nice for about 5 minutes and then it’s alllllllll the saaaaaaaaame. The exposition is brutally boring/bad. The ending is robbed of any gravity due to the epilogue bit (hey, u can keep going lol). Ugh. Bugged me so much. I am officially over these dudes’ games, GTA IV and now this.
Super Mario All-Stars – Seriously, Nintendo? You can’t even see fit to include Super Mario World or even, like, the levels based on those scannable Mario 3 cards on the disc? Fuck, you can’t even include more than TWELVE MINUTES OF MUSIC on the soundtrack CD? FUCKING NINTENDO IS FUCKING US AGAIN FUCK. *buys on day one anyway*
Vanquish – wish it had more unlockables, even just silly stuff like big head mode cheats, stupid suits or fuck-off-big guns. because the core /game/ aspect was so strong it wasn’t that big a deal mind
iPhone/iPod touch gaming – I’m finding myself really fascinated with the growing market and possibilities as much as anyone, but time and time again, I’ll play games feverishly recommended by others in the iPhone thread and come off bitterly disappointed, as just about every game is basically a slightly tweaked (but not significally so) version of a game I played on the DS or Kongregate or Newgrounds years ago. I think people are just amazed at the ability to play on your phone? Worst offender – Game Dev Story. Drop7 gets a pass, though, that one was really good.
Rock Band 3 – Maybe a guitar controller with eight million buttons wasn’t the greatest idea of all time? Also the song list is awful. I think the era of the music game is over.
Monster Hunter Tri – The concept was great, but in the end I shelled out $40 or so for a game that I couldn’t get into because of clunky controls. Currently in line to be thrown up on eBay first chance I get… sorry, Monster Hunter Tri.
Zora / Surfing at Work
Limbo – In a sense, I’m disappointed with myself for not seeing what everybody else saw in this game. Others saw a brain-busting platformer swaddled in the clothes of a tragedy; I saw a pretentious, anachronistic platformer with delusions of grandeur.
Mass Effect 2 – The big selling point for this is supposed to be the characters and the great story, apparently. But the further I got into the game, the more I found myself beginning to sympathize with Roger Ebert’s tripe about video games and art (I eventually stopped playing before I get too close to the edge, but fuck you for that, bioware, party foul). I am confident that someday soon a giant game company will release a game with dialogue that is elevated above the 9th best action film of 1996, but Mass Effect 2 isn’t it. (IMO.) And when the wider non-gamer public is told from a variety of sources that Mass Effect 2 is supposed to be some great achievement in videogame storytelling, it does a great disservice to games in general. It comes across like an excellent 6th grade play. Unfortunately, aside from the story, all that’s left is a really easy action game and a whole bunch of planet probing. The graphics and sound are great, I’ll give it that.
Gran Turismo 5 – The designers refused to follow any known UI convention and the game itself were boring. Even the 3D is underwhelming.
Online Play in Dragon Quest 9 – Again, one of my peculiar old man hangups, but as a rule of thumb, I have never gotten much out of multiplayer. unless there are people physically in a room with me, anyway. I was pretty disappointed when I found out that it was a major component of dq9. it’s likely the reason I haven’t gotten around to playing yet, despite having dutifully bought the game already. (or used a voucher on it, anyway.) I love the series but I play dq games like I read a book: usually before bed or during my commute in 30min intervals. it’s a soothing, hermetic activity for me and online gaming is the opposite of that experience.
none, or the usual “that I didn’t play enough 2010 games”
The PS3 – Only got round to buying one this year, and haven’t enjoyed anything I’ve played on it. The exclusives all feel distinctly last-gen, and the machine itself is just…I dunno, too Japanese? When games aren’t, any more. So there’s a mismatch of form and function. Plus the update mechanisim is plain ridiculous. Oh i dunno, it’s just shit.
A Passing Spacecadet
One Chance (Flash) – Am I a sourpuss if my gaming disappointment is something I didn’t even spend any money or more than 40 minutes on? I just wanted this to be so amazing after reading glowing reviews. ILG was the one gaming-aware online community I’m on that didn’t go nuts over the genius of this thing. A profound artistic statement subverting gamers’ expectations, or a Choose Your Own Adventure book with about 3 choices and a handful of inscrutable and identically bleak endings? So much potential, but it just didn’t hang together for me.
1. Increased use of libraries or plug-ins I’ve got to download and games that look like they’ll run on my computer but actually run just as slow as Duke Nukem Forever would (the 2d runs as slow as 3d complaint)
2. Games and game websites (like Jacob Buczynski’s) previously available on the internet 1 or 2 years ago have disappeared without anyone archiving them.
A pair of intense disappointments apiece for the two NOIR MOVIE GAMES:
Alan Wake – Oh good, an unlikeable self-involved college professor simulator! I should have known that this was going to be awful when in the first hour of gameplay I got to experience one of the laziest moments of game design ever: yer walking around on an island, nothing weird has happened yet so you are just poking around and you decide to see what happens if you walk into the shallow water clearly accessible by the side of the dock. Now, this is obviously a spot the designer doesn’t want you getting too far into, because they haven’t bothered with any sort of swimming/wading mechanic because hey why would you if you set your game ON AN ISLAND. So they do the obvious rational thing, and decide that if you walk into the water YOU EXPLODE. It gets worse from there.
This is one of the lamest “spooky” games ever to splat onto the console market, no scares, nothing interesting, ENDLESS wandering through dark forests while the same 6 scary dudes attack you, puzzles designed for children or the mentally infirm. When one of the most derided budgets titles of the year (Deadly Premonition) manages to outshine you in every way YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG. Oh yeah, the story? It’s dumb as hell. The protagonist? He’s a boring self-involved dick! The whole game is built on a ultra-lame flashlight mechanic that is functionally the same as lock on machine gun spray, but for added fun you get to do that for a while and then you get to shoot the baddie with a regular gun. Of course there are also remarkable innovations like the grenade launcher flare gun and the regular grenade flashbang grenade. Oh wait, did I mention the timed running and jumping third person platforming sections? oh yeah, they suck a whole lot too. As an added bonus you get a couple of product placement moments that are so blunt that you can’t help but hear the designers laughing at you in the background while they line their pockets with corporate Kroners or whatever they use where this game is from. If that wasn’t enough, you get a cliffhanger ending
which fills you with the one true moment of yawning horror in the game, the terrible realization that they are undoubtedly going to make a sequel to this unmitigated piece of shit.
Alan Wake – Reviews/reactions were so disappointing I ended up not playing it at all after eagerly anticipating.
Heavy Rain – 10 hour B movie with terrible script, subpar voice acting and occasional button presses. strip away the cgi and you’re left with this http://www.kongregate.com/games/kthorjensen/press-x-to-jason
Heavy Rain. Heavy Rain sucks you in with an intriguing approach to controls and narrative and then mercilessly mocks your interest with some of the worst storytelling since Kevin Smith’s last movie. Turn on Cinemax After Dark, pop any random Saw on the Picture in Picture, and mindlessly fiddle with a DualShock 3 for an analogous experience.
And the winner and undisputed most disappointing game of the year is
Final Fantasy XIII. Terribly boring game. I was all psyched to get back into Final Fantasy (the last ones I had played were 7 + 8). Instead I got this ‘on the rails’ cliche fantasy world whose tutorial took about 30 hours too long to finish. Meh.
Final Fantasy XIII – in one way it was actually above expectations in that the combat was really, really fun and addictive, but basically almost everything else about it totally sucked, so it still has to take it.
break-ups are hard. but break-ups are rarely interesting to those on the outside of them, the slow deterioration of a relationship rarely manages to achieve the kind of external significance that demands a readers or a viewers attention. particularly the sort of amicable, tectonic break-ups that involve a slow and steady drifting away, of an alienation of affection that eventually swallows any passion, the sort of break-up that happens more out of mutual disregard than anything else. so in that spirit my most disappointing game of 2010 was Final Fantasy XIII which, six months after purchase, was discovered still in its original shrinkwrap in a box of old wii games while i was moving out of my old apartment. previously i would’ve at least made the effort – limned my frustrated nostalgia and worked-up arguments over the merits of this or that mechanical system. but this was the year i didn’t even care enough to try. i gave the game to my 17 yo cousin instead.
91 points, 8 votes
Zappi: People are downplaying this one because it doesn’t “push gaming forward” or whatever. Pfffffft. It’s got what I want: clean simple graphics, responsive controls and brilliant level design. Nobody does this better than Nintendo.
CraigG : This has managed to slightly delay my desire to sell my Wii. I loved New Super Mario on the DS and this is just more of the same. While most of the power-ups are re-skinned from previous Mario adventures, there is a great variety that (like SMB 3) helps keep the game fresh. I guess the main appeal here is nostalgia; I got Mario Bros 3 on the NES for my birthday at an impressionable age. It’s just so endlessly fun to have the same gameplay mechanics in the familiar desert, ice, air, etc, scenarios but with all new levels!
If: Would be on my top ten for the frenzied, hotly contested multiplayer alone, even if it didn’t have a single player with its share of classic moments as well.
Jamescobo: Granted, it was awfully light on content, but the addition of multiplayer effectively makes the game endless in a way LittleBigPlanet could only dream of.
JeffLevine: A 2-D Mario game? For most gamers, that’s probably all I need to say. If it hadn’t released in the middle of a crowded holiday season when there were so many other games to play and without online, I certainly would’ve ranked it even higher.