Let me get this out of the way first. The whole usual Game of the Year bit, where people talk about what was the best out of all these high profile games and whatnot….that’s not what this is. I’m poor. I was only able to play a couple high profile games, namely Super Street Fighter IV and Starcraft II. I didn’t play New Vegas, Civilization, or any of that stuff. I’ll be talking about the games I played which I really enjoyed. A bunch of it is handheld, mostly DS stuff, because that’s what I do on the train to and from school. I have a lot of time spent just sitting on that train, as my commute is over an hour each way. So, sorry if you’re going to be disappointed by this.
Feel free to read on regardless, bolstering our view count and egos ~WiNG
Dragon Quest IX
I’m starting with this because I’ve already talked about it, and I don’t really enjoy repeating myself, so this will be short. Dragon Quest IX is by and large the best DS game to come out this year. There aren’t many games I’m willing to spend over 100 hours on. And yes, that much more time has gone into this game since my article talking about it 2 weeks ago. I can now finally start farming Greygnarl, and kill Legacy bosses, meaning I’ve finally gotten past the point where I mindlessly farm Liquid Metal Slimes for hours on end and start exploring new dungeons and taking on new quests, along with a bunch of other stuff you won’t get if you don’t play the game. Meaning I’ll still be playing this game for a LONG time. Longevity is a great thing, something that not a lot of console releases have these days. But, that’s why I give DQIX a heavy recommendation from the year 2010.
Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals
Another DS title before I head into the heavy stuff. This iteration of Lufia accompanied me on the train very well. I played it straight through from beginning to end twice in order to get the extra ending. In total this took about 21 hours, 14 the first run through and 7 for the second. This is because Lufia is a very puzzle-oriented game, especially since it’s a reboot of the old SNES jRPG Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals. Although, instead of puzzles in a jRPG, it’s now puzzles in a 3rd-person action-adventure.
If you’ve ever played any of the Kingdom Hearts games and enjoyed them, you’ll feel right at home here. However, instead of having a party of 3 where you only control 1 character, you can freely switch between 6 playable characters in Lufia, each of whom has a different combat style and special mechanic used for solving puzzles. It makes for a pretty varied experience if you switch characters a lot. The puzzles also range from insultingly easy to downright devious. Overall, I’d give it a B+. If you liked Lufia II, I think you’ll like this one too. If you’re looking for something with a new flavor on the DS, than this should satiate your appetite.
Super Street Fighter IV
I haven’t spent nearly as much time in SSF4 as I feel I should have. I just haven’t had the chance. I don’t have a reliable way of getting to tournaments, so I never practice for any. I don’t have too many people around here to play against in person, either. Not to mention I’m too poor to afford a consistent Xbox Live Gold account, so I can’t play anyone online. It sucks hardcore.
However, that being said, what I HAVE played of SSF4 I do love. Some balance changes from the vanilla version were much needed, like toning down Sagat’s damage.* The new characters were also a fantastic addition, even though some of them are fairly ineffectual, being alllll the way on the bottom of the tier list. I’m looking at YOU, Makoto.
Tatsunoko vs. Capcom
This is probably the most fun I’ve had with a fighting game in a long time. Not a lot of people play TvC, but it can be considered a sequel to the original Marvel vs. Capcom game, as its system draws a lot from that version, more so than from Marvel vs. Capcom 2. It was a pain unlocking all the characters, but once you did there were some fantastic team combinations to play around with. It’s also one of the more balanced games out there, where it’s possible to win with pretty much all of the characters if they’re used correctly and in the right combinations. Some people bemoaned the fact that it was only released for the Wii, but the other systems get Street Fighter IV and, soon enough, Marvel vs. Capcom 3, so having their own exclusive hardcore fighting game makes sense. The release of the latter will also unfortunately (and probably) signal the end of TvC’s lifespan, which is a shame. But MvC3 seems to be incorporating some of the more interesting ideas and balance decisions of TvC, so its spirit will live on.
There aren’t many games which can be said to have kept gamers waiting anxiously for almost 12 years, but Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty is one of those games. That’s not to say Starcraft itself didn’t have a good, long lifespan. On the contrary, it lasted right up until Starcraft II came out, being known as probably the greatest RTS game to have ever been made, thanks to its superb balance and heavy focus on juggling micro and macro management equally well. Starcraft II brings back all of this plus more, all of which is welcome.
I do have it say, it is a little lame that we only have the Terran campaign so far, as SCII is being released in thirds. But, that being said, the single player campaign is really deep and engrossing, with missions that offer a ton of variety. The multiplayer is what many people will default to after a while, though. The balance isn’t quite there yet, but at least Blizzard is working on that rather actively, listening very closely to what the community has to say and has already released a few patches for the sake of balance. It’s better than it used to be, but it’ll be a while before they reach anything near perfect. I’m looking at YOU, Terran. I need to play this one more often, to be honest, as I’m rather out of practice right now, but I still love it all the same.
Indie games deserve special mention for this year, as quite a few have made some rather big steps in the industry.
Technically, Minecraft was available for download in 2009. However, I’m speaking of the Alpha version, which started (and will end) in 2010 and introduced many of the features which define Minecraft as the phenomena it is today. That’s right, Beta is fast approaching. This means a couple things, including a price hike and more focus on content and polish, plus the inclusion of gift codes, right in time for Christmas!
If you’ve already read my Win Conditioning article about Minecraft, then you already know a little of what to expect. All of that holds true and more. Notch and his team have been diligently working on the game and with every update it keeps getting better and better. There really is no other gaming experience like it, and I encourage everyone to at least try it out.
Originally released in 2004 on PC in Japan, Cave Story was much beloved there and eventually got a fan translation in the US, spreading its popularity even further. Fans also ported the game to Macs, Linux, and even the PSP. However, it was picked up by developer/publisher Nicalis and upgraded/overhauled for an official mainstream release on WiiWare and DSiWare in March. I can say that this WiiWare version of the game is definitely the definitive Cave Story experience, and if you own a Wii, you should buy this game. The original version showed us all how great a retro experience could still be. With graphics that fit somewhere between the NES and SNES, gameplay reminiscent of Metroid and Mega Man, and a rather dark story given the overall light-hearted nature of the game, Cave Story shows just what a single developer can accomplish, given enough time (it took Pixel 5 years to finish Cave Story; he claims he completely finished several early versions but decided that they did not reflect what he wanted).
The updated version for WiiWare has new music, graphics, and extra game modes. The new graphics make it look more akin to an SNES-era game and are rather delightful in their new detail. The new music was originally horrible, but was updated a few months after the game’s release and is now much, MUCH better and is a suitable alternate soundtrack, just as good as the old soundtrack. The new game modes add to the longevity of the game; they include Boss Rush, a speed-run of the secret area of the game, and playing through the main game with an alternate character. It is a fantastic little indie gem, and people should at LEAST try the PC version, which is still completely free. If you love it, buy the WiiWare or DSiWare version. You’ll be glad you did.
Super Meat Boy
Simply put, we need more games like this. Easy to pick up, RIDICULOUSLY hard to master. This Nintendo-Hard platformer is fun and extremely difficult, but rarely frustratingly so. There’s one particularly satisfying feature: when you have tons of difficulty with a level, dying many, MANY times, and when you finally complete it… you see every single run through you did simultaenously. Hilarity ensues as you watch yourself trip over the same obstacle repeatedly on your way to Bandage Girl.
There’s a ton of content in this monster indie title, including 5 normal worlds, and Dark World variants of each level, which manage to be even harder. There are retro-themed Warp Zone levels which you can play for more Bandages (which unlock characters) and some extra characters themselves, all of whom play differently from Meat Boy, and some of which completely break the game (especially the PC version). The characters really give the game a completely different feel which adds a ton of replayability. If you have a 360, or a PC, download this game.
Mega Man 8-Bit Deathmatch
A Doom 2 mod released a few months ago, Mega Man 8-Bit Deathmatch is a fast and furious FPS with all the asthetic and flair of an NES Mega Man title. Featuring player skins of all the main characters and robot masters from Mega Man 1 through 6 plus more, including the Mega Man Killer robots from the Game Boy exclusive titles, as well as most of their weapons, and stages reimagined from the original 8-bit stages, there is just tons and tons of content in this game. There is a full single player mode which has you playing through each stage in the same sequential order as they were in each of the Mega Man games. The multiplayer is where you’ll get the most of your mileage though. There are a bunch of modes, like deathmatch, capture the flag, team variants, and many more, as well as an official Zombie mode mod named “Roboenza Mode” after the disease featured in Mega Man 10.
The creator of this mod, CutmanMike, also promises to keep releasing updates with content from more Mega Man games, Mega Man 7 being up next (all converted to 8-bit glory, since 7 and 8 were for SNES and Playstation/Saturn, respectively). I simply can’t wait until these updates are released, especially the Mega Man 9 one. It’s safe to say that I’ll be playing this one for quite a while.
And there you have it, my personal picks for 2010. Now, I played more games than this, but these really stuck out; give them a shot if you haven’t already. You should TOTALLY start playing Mega Man so I can show off just how terrible I am at that game in everything other than Zombie mode. Now, I’ll be taking a week off thanks to finals (all right before Christmas, awesome!), but next time you see me, I’ll be talking about another 2010 final which has topped many people’s lists. One hint: it involves cacti.
*This coming from a Sagat main? ~WiNG