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.
Brilliam: This game was instrumental to my friends’ ability to keep in touch once everyone moved across this giant, freezing country. Now, I’ll be honest: this is a game best experienced in groups of four or eight. Once you throw strangers into the mix, it’s less fun. But, when you play with a crew that you’ve been gaming with ages, and you know each other’s weird gaming idiosyncrasies and you’re forced to take care of each other while a sadistic AI attempts to bleed you out over the course of a dozen incredibly thoughtful set pieces, you end up realizing how awesome those gaming relationships can really be. My favorite gaming moment of the year was probably when Andy was charging ahead, and Angus was trying to be super-careful and thoughtful, and Travis was accidentally shooting everyone in the back, and I wasn’t paying any attention and a smoker choked me to death. Even though we hadn’t really displayed those tendencies in this game yet, it was so us. And it was great. Add to that some of the most thoughtful social satire in zombie-related media since Dawn of the Dead (‘I miss the Internet,’ the how-many-zombies-I-killed pissing contests, Zoey calling zombie bullshit) and you’ve got a game that was really worth the long wait.
John Justen: Online is great, single player feels mostly pointless and included only as a means to online play.
Nhex: My Left 4 Dead vote is based solely on the demo levels, which were damn good.
JeffLevine: The co-op zombie apocalypse game we always dreamed of.
Mitch Krpata: Each playthrough tells a new and different tale. Left 4 Dead doesn’t follow the traditional rules of survival horror — it’s as slick and responsive a first-person shooter as you’ll find — but it does make its resources scarce, in the classic genre tradition. Each player can carry only one health pack at a time, with the rare opportunity to find more scattered throughout the levels. At least once a game, you’ll have to decide whether to give a spare health pack to a dying teammate or hang onto it because you know you’ll need it later. One of the true pleasures of Left 4 Dead is discovering how other players answer these questions — and how you do.
Polyphonic: Maybe it’s a little weird to put a game I’ve only played three times this high on my list, but this is a seriously impressive game. I tend to overrate games that provide great storytelling and atmosphere. This game has that in spades, and no game has ever been more tense, and few games have ever been as fun to play with friends.
138 points, 11 votes, 1 TOP GAME vote
Geir Hongro: This may be what causes me to invest in a gaming machine.
Antexit: What a drag it is that the release of this game coincided almost perfectly with my getting completely and probably permanently bored with the GH/RB mechanic.
S1ocki: Not innovative, but making the package infinitely more tasteful and less crass than the horrible Guitar Hero games made all the difference to me. Also, a soundtrack way more consistent than any other music game.
JimD: I didn’t really like the Beatles until this year. Paul’s bass parts FTW.
Polyphonic: Here is the ideal way to play this game: my friend Robert is singing, I am on guitar and primary harmonies, my friend Adam is on drums, Robert’s wife Sara is on bass, and our friends Tim and Diane are on secondary harmonies. We are playing either “Revolver” or “Abbey Road” from start to finish. If we’re playing “Abbey Road”, I get to sing the medley.
Webber: This game could only be better if it were motion capture and you got bonus points for doing Paul’s head wiggle.